SB's 'Men in suits'
Document date: 07-28-02
By: Robert Priddy
SB is well known for encouraging as central leaders in his organised activities all those 'men in suits' with money and possible influence, letters after their names but of observably weak intellect, and totally subservient in their faith to him (as demanded), to the point of being willing, if ordered - to employ doubtful methods in the supposed interest of SB and his movement. Let me say firstly that I do not doubt that their intentions can be and mostly are of the best sort, and selfishness (for personal blessings) is doubtless a secondary motive for most of them. That they are (with exceptions) largely unwitting instruments of other purpose than they realise, is another matter.
The VIP title is used at SB ashrams for his top officials and visitors of high social status or fame - who sit on the veranda or in privileged, segregated areas during darshan etc. at Prashanti Nilayam and at most other darshan venues too. Most of the persons chosen by SB for leading offices in his organisation and institutions are, remarkably, invariably not very intellectual or astute people, despite the academic titles or letters they mostly like to exhibit after their names (esp. native Indian followers. Note: one can buy doctorates in India, and elsewhere!). Very few persons of high achievements in society have been his followers (for example, Dr. Bhagavantam who researched and successfully copied US atomic weapon discoveries). But Dr. Bhagavantam eventually left SB of his own accord, it took him 20 years to see through many of the excessive claims. I cannot actually come across a single person who has published a serious work of real insight - not to mention originality based on sound experience - among all the hagiographic pro-writers about SB, certainly not in any known field of science, philosophy or other comparable serious literature. Sai Baba would appear to be unknown to any recognised thinkers or major serious writers of the human sciences philosophy, or even religious and inter-faith debate... for he is certainly never so much as referred to by such persons or by major world religious leaders.
The Central Coordinators of the Sai Org. and their associated VIPs, considered to be some kind of 'spiritual leaders' by the International Chairman (I Shah) and even some who are in the Sai Org., are much of a muchness. They are mostly merchants or (rich) businessmen and their kind, who evidently aspire to be something more impressive (egs. are Goldstein, Bozzani, Sinclair, Jumsai, Jagadeeshan, Ramanathan, Hira, Gutter, Meyer, and so on ), but who nearly all tend to be sadly lacking in any deeper and broader kind of cultural, scientific or spiritual knowledge, other than what they have picked up from Sai Baba. He sometimes calls them 'doctors' or 'professors', often persons with no real academic training and publications! The shallow and predictable talks given by such leaders almost always exhibit their own weaknesses in personal spiritual experience and understanding, for they are mainly unable to do more than regurgitate what SB has said (especially in front of him), and none seem able to say anything original or interesting. They speak most for 'captive audiences', and when they appear in public or in the media, I find them mostly unconvincing personalities and too dummylike as devotees. They doubtless really want to believe the best and contribute to the best of all. But they are being duped too and are instrumental in drawing others in to be 'converted' and to get their minds 'washed clean'. There is another term for this long-term, disinformative and psychically-backed religious conversion: it is 'brainwashing', nothing less. I was largely a victim myself for years, and I put all my efforts into trying to do my best (but not seeking any promotion!). However, the neutrally observing discriminative faculty in me somehow never died throughout it!. It might have done so had I not been informed confidentially by very close servitors - like my beloved friend V. K. Narasimhan - of much of the true state of affairs!
The faith of top officials has been thoroughly tested - until they would willingly call a crow an eagle or vice-versa at SB's command. Black becomes rosy white! SB has found that they will willingly swallow anything he hands out to them. They have shown that they can rationalize and cover-up anything he may do, so are securely in his pocket, so to speak, as are the donations they have all made in one way and another (in a few instances into hundreds of millions of dollars). Now a rich Danish bigwig business Director, J. Trygved, is threatening to sue the Danish national broadcaster [DR] for libel etc., even though SB has strongly advised anyone against any kind of litigation and has explicitly insisted time and again that he wants and needs no one to defend him! (perhaps Trygved expects better darshans, higher office? But his recent threat to sue DR turned out to be a bluff. He is undoubtedly in a legal losing position too). Apparently, some of the 'veranda people' donate firstly after being given privileges and being flattered in other ways by SB, who certainly knows how to measure out both carrot and stick and who knows how to land those who are hooked, however big fish they are! He makes them function as some kind of middlemen, like bishops, between him and devotees... while at the same time both he and they deny that this is their role, even while practising it. This is the typical all-permeating 'duplicity' of Sai Baba's teaching and practice.
The VIPs in my experience from many organisational meetings and reports etc. are probably unaware of their sanctimonious and patronising attitudes (or anyhow unrepentant of them), especially certain Indian devotees, of which precocious kind there are enough for all. They manage to remain within the narrow mental confines of an all-too repetitive and doctrinaire world-view, despite its various saving graces and values Despite the CC's constant jet-setting around the world to visit India, and not least centres in other continents where they sound off at retreats, those I have heard seem remarkably narrow in outlook, especially when dealing with persons in their capacity as 'leaders'. One seldom finds a less consistent and ill-founded organisational praxis and personnel management activity than among these 'big shots'... combined with holy pretences. SB has sometimes referred to his VIPs as 'Vipers', and also as 'Very Ignorant Persons'. This may be a typical SB joke, making them the collective butt of his supposed humour, as he loves to do with everyone. But then, as the proverb has it, 'many a true word is said in jest'. To remain a VIP in the SB set-up today requires, certainly, that one remains a Very Ignorant Person as to a number of facts and that one ensures that one does not find out more than one wants to know, and stops everyone else from finding out if this can be done. If not, membership kaput! They give demonstrative proof that heads can be stuck in the sand until even the ears are safely covered!
One would not mind so much about the deficiencies of the leaders - which reflect and also sustain the well-documented and inherent deficiencies of the Organisation itself, as clearly seen in Serguei Badaev's brilliant analysis: 'Sathya Sai Organisation. Divine Tool or Side Effect' on this website). But SB has declared that his Organisation is unique, alone has selfless servers rendering colossal service and alone represents the essence of all religions (see resp. Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 17 p.171; Vol 14, pps 359/60, and Summer Showers at Brindavan, p. 235). The unreasonability and demonstrable falsity of these claims are nevertheless believed assertively by many leaders in the Sai Org., which alone shows the absence of organisational self-examination and lacking breadth of vision or informed understanding of the wider world. Likewise, SB claims that only at his ashrams is Christmas celebrated in a truly spiritual way. Is this sheer ignorance or calculating mendacity? It is an undeniable fact that there are many places where extremely self-sacrificing and devoted Christian believers celebrate Christmas in deeply compassionate and spiritual ways. But by contrast, too, at Prashanthi Nilayam, no Westerners are allowed to celebrate Christmas within the temple (reserved for Indians), for whatever their faith, they must take part in the candlelit procession 'as Christians' (which is invariably filmed for publicity purposes) or not at all! This fact, based on repeated personal experiences, is a parody of universalism and tolerance for otherwise-thinking spiritual persons, as is the terrible pushing for front places at darshan and in the meal queues. Not exactly a model for the world, I can assure everyone! Further, SB celebrated Christmas Day 2000 with an angry, pulpit-beating and unforgiving discourse against the many who allege so convincingly that they were victims of his sexual appetites. Most un-Christlike, I submit, however one looks at it! Anyone who has had open eyes knows that I am telling nothing but recognisable truths in all the above, despite whatever else one could also write in a more positive vein.