My Life As Sathya Sai Baba's Prophecy (Part 5)
How does Sai Baba Trick People?
It seems that I was the first American baby that Sai Baba both predicted and named. I was born because of Sai Baba. But years later, in 1993, he never knew who I was the entire time I was there. Every time I spoke with him, I saw that he did not register who I was. At times, I tried to tell him, remind him, but he never got it. No, he wasn't just pretending - his whole body language was a giveaway. He did not remember my mother, either. Even though my parents, Sharon and Gary Purcell, accompanied the famous multi millionaires Elsie and Walter Cowan on their first trip. Even though Elsie and Walter were my Godparents. Even though Elsie Cowan's picture sits proudly on one of the college walls. He had no idea. I did not expect any special attention because of my name or his prophecy. I just expected that he would know but he didn't.
What about all of the apparent miracles, but that we can't explain? How does he sometimes seem to know details of our lives? For example, what we did the other day, or the contents of our dreams, or our life' problems. As a former amateur magician and member of the International Magician's Society, I can certainly say that there are a lot better magicians than Sai Baba, both amateur and professional. His magic is mediocre at best. In an effort to somehow comprehend why Sai Baba uses tricks, some devotees, who admit that he employs them have said, for example: But you see this is just one of Baba's little games that he plays. Really, his true miracle is his ability to change humans and understand their deepest inner worlds. Devotees had best make up their minds on the issue, because so many of them ridicule anyone who makes the slightest suggestion that he employs tricks, and uses them to manipulate and deceive many people and on many levels.
Early in our trip we all needed to go into town to get fitted for the customary white clothing worn at the ashram. Sai Baba organized a team of taxis to take us into Bangalore, some 20k from his Whitefield ashram, to find clothes. We drove all over town but could not find what we needed. While we were driving around Bangalore, I got into an interesting conversation with my friend Arvind from Arizona, who was very tall and a terrific athlete. I asked him if everyone in his family was tall, and he explained that only his brother and he were tall and that his parents were somewhat small. Together we theorized that it might be the abundant food in the USA that lets so many Indians raised there grow so much larger than their parents. In a casual way that young men might enjoy, we joked about it saying how hard it was to find pants in India for a bunch of big guys. But something strange caught my attention. I noticed the taxi driver listening intently to what we were saying and I intuitively wondered if he was gathering information. It seemed reasonable that he would have taken interest in our conversation but for some reason I sensed that he was up to something more. Accounts of others over the years indicate that Sai Baba's security wing runs a whole information network that comprises taxi and bus drivers, beggars, shopkeepers, restauranteurs, service volunteers and those in the ashram front office, etc., etc.
That afternoon in darshan, Sai Baba approached our group and said that he "saw" us driving around looking for clothes and having trouble. He looked directly at Arvind and said "Some Kurta pajama taaaaall, some short and some quarter sized. I know I was there". Arvind and I looked at each other as if to say "how could he have known about our conversation?" But just under the surface of my expression I sensed how Sai Baba could know. The information had come via our taxi driver. How does he know our deepest secrets? Because Sai devotees are always opening up to him. They are either talking with others or writing letters to him that expose their private prayers and thoughts. It's really an old magician trick. You plant people in the line outside the building and they strike up casual conversations with people to find out some of their life details and then report back to the magician before the show. It is also an old corrupt evangelist's trick. Have a look at Steve Martin's 'Leap of Faith', in which he plays a traveling shyster preacher. It is a brilliant exposure of this type of phenomenon. It is the sort of conmanship that James Randi, Derren Brown, B.Premanand and others have exposed. If Sai Baba or any other rascal does possess an acute intuition or even, if it exists, extrasensory perception, this too may be deployed. A clever confidence trickster will use whatever methods are available.
One of our 1993 group, Jed Geyerhan has since given an account on Danish national television documentary in 2001 of being sexually molested by Sai Baba. He told me of a conversation he had with one of Sai Baba's College students during the last days of our trip. This student told him that quite a number of students know Sai Baba is a fake but they are getting a cheap education so they can't say anything. He said he went to the Sathya Sai College thinking he really had found God-incarnate but that none of it was real. In tears, he explained to Jed that there are boxes filled with rings, necklaces, etc., that are shipped in regularly and that Sai Baba uses tricks to perform his so-called miracles.
To Be Continued
Note: Satya Purcell is today known as Satya and Satch. Sathya Sai and Sathya are names that are yielded to Satya for practical purposes as he grew up in an American school, etc., where the "thya" form was bothersome. He relates that when among devotees, he was happy to bear the name Sathya and felt deeply honored to bear the name given to him by the one he and they regarded as the Divine incarnate on earth.
Barry Pittard's contextualising comments on this Satya (Sathya, Satch) Purcell's series, with added resource links, are found at: