My Life As Sathya Sai Baba's Prophecy (Part 4)
The Infamous Trip to Sai Baba In 1993.
My parents separated when I was a young child and, as many of Sai Baba's devotees do when there is a personal crisis, my mother went back to India for guidance from the Guru. Over the next few years I twice accompanied my mother, Sharon Purcell, to India. With Sai Baba's approval, my parents divorced. At various times, he made promises about our welfare and 'materializations' continued. I grew up with my single mother, visited my father, Gary Purcell and older sister Laurie on weekends, and struggled in school.
Upon my high school graduation in 1991, I traveled to India to see Sai Baba for the first time in many years. Though the trip was uneventful, my devotion to him and involvement in Sai center activities was at its peak. I was actively participating in the young adult group in California and I considered Sai Baba and his teachings as my life's focus. I remember telling a friend in India that, "Yeah. If Swami told me to jump off that cliff I would do it", and I meant it.
I discovered that Hal Honig, a Sai Baba devotee in Manhattan, New York City, was taking a group of young men to see Sai Baba and I quickly became part of it. After the first scheduled trip was cancelled in 1992, we found ourselves at Sai Baba's ashram at Whitefield, outside Bangalore, South India. The main event was Sai Baba's 1993 Summer discourses, which drew many students from India and abroad, from near and far. Our agenda included a musical play, in which I acted the lead role. There was tremendous excitement in all of us as well as there was too from all of those waiting for us at home. The excitement was due in part to what Sai Baba told Hal Honig before the trip, "You bring them. I will change them". He changed us, sure enough - except that the change was shattering.
On this trip we ate with Sai Baba's college students in their canteen. We attended lectures, and spent all of our time rehearsing the play that we were to perform. We sat with the college students during darshan, watching Sai Baba move about, and interacted with him quite closely during the entire trip. To a devoted Sai Baba follower it was a dream come true, but - such closeness can be disturbingly insightful. It was on this trip that many of us in the group witnessed, no mistake about it, Sai Baba poorly performing magic tricks that he passed off as miracles. We were shocked and confused. We also experienced some questionable interactions in the conduct of ashram officials - those who are supposed to be role models to the rest of the world. To our astonishment, we saw him get very defensive, and some of the group were targets of his extremely inappropriate attentions. Particularly horrific was the aftermath of a human slaughter on June 6, 1993, which was cleaned up before the masses could see it. Well after Sai Baba had regained control, the local Puttaparthi police shot dead four students in Sai Baba's bedroom, after which the ashram and the Indian state and central governments ensured that all investigations were suppressed.
To be continued shortly
Barry Pittard's contextualising comments on this Satya (Sathya, Satch) Purcell's series, with added resource links, are found at: