Document date: 11-10-02
By: Robert Priddy
Website: Sathya Sai Baba - Extensive information and Viewpoints
Part One - Ashram bulwarks against physical and verbal attacks
All who visit any of SSB's ashrams well know from experience how security checks with metal detectors are made on every person, and how every smallest item (however private) is checked and how even the smallest items that could in the wild fantasies be used as a weapon (e.g. even computer diskettes, thick cushions etc!) must be deposited elsewhere before one is allowed into 'the compound'. Anyone can see that there are armed guards with Kalashnikov or Uzi machine guns ready to deploy close to SSB at short notice. To be used against whom? The one who claims that everyone in the world loves him?
Few who visit, however, are aware that they are under constant surveillance by numerous paid undercover agents, employed by the ashram and paid from the apparently bottomless funds available through the Sai Central Trust. Almost anything one says anywhere in the ashram (or even outside it) that can be picked up can be - if at all suspicious - be reported by snoopers, and the average of 500 unpaid male volunteers for the Seva Dal who also to partake in surveillance precautions since the 1993 grand slaughter in SSB's own bedroom. They come in groups for a one or two week tour of guard and similar duties, usually for 12 hours of each day, organised on a rotating basis between the states of India. They are brought in shifts from all over India continually to guard Prashanthi Nilayam and now function as a backup to this security system, whether they quite realise their role or not. It is hard to see of what kind of 'Supreme Peace' (i.e. 'Prashanthi'this may speak.
Who is the target of the feared attacks and why assume that there is reason to attack anyone? I shall be detailing these events that are the main turning point in the fortunes of SSB and the reader can investigate my findings and then draw her/his own conclusions! SSB has many times proclaimed that no one and nothing can harm him. He named his ashram 'The Abode of Supreme Peace' (Prashanthi Nilayam). In numerous books blessed by Baba it is stated that visitors to Prashanthi are under the protection of SSB, no harm can befall them etc. The SS Org. encourages its members to visit SSB ashrams, often arranging group visits and making their travel arrangements. The information given in advance to newcomers is, in all permitted literature and in talks given about conditions there is seriously lacking in frankness as to certain dangers that can be met, even within the ashrams. All information about deaths therein, murders, suicides, fatal accidents and other untoward incidents is suppressed. Those who have found out, usually by chance or private contacts about such events, have had to rationalise hard to sustain belief in all that SSB promises about his protection and with his much-publicised motto 'Why fear when I am here?'
In my diary/notebook covering my visit to Puttaparthi in 1995/6, I wrote what V.K. Narasimhan told me on 1/1/1996 exactly as follows: "Sai is spending 50 lakhs a month on his own protection, with 50 private security men in plain clothes in the ashram and within his building, says Narasimhan. Why, if nothing can harm him? SSB said it was for the benefit of devotees. Why did Sai announce in an interview that he would be killed during an attempt in October 1995?"
The official line, of course, parrots SSB's sly claim that the massive security is for the protection of devotees... a convenient rebuff to those who begin to ask why the invincible Avatar of the Kali Age might need such excessive protection. Oddly, however, few of the most hardened believers actually deny that it is for protecting SSB himself, at least since the alleged assassination attempt on him (which he has publicly denied was against him).
The view that there was an attempt of SSB's life is convenient for those who have most to cover up, not least his younger brother, the multi-millionaire Puttaparthi property mogul, Janaki Ramiah, and other ashram and Central Trust officials, who publicly claimed that it was an assassination attempt on SSB. SSB himself was never actually attacked, as he made clear when refusing to bring charges against the two who were said to be the 'master-minds' behind the attack. Because of this they were freed, but this also meant that they were unable to defend themselves in court, and their motives and roles in the episode were thus officially covered-up. Nor could the claims set forth that one of the intruders' motives was to stop SSB sexually abusing his students could not be examined in public. As another consequence, neither was the widely-held view that the intruders wished to stop widespread financial irregularities and other injustices within the ashrams investigated by any independent body
Here are very big and demonstrable 'vested interests' of several kinds. Whether the intrusion of June 1993 was an attempt at taking SSB hostage and changing the ashram or actually did aim at killing him (for whatever reasons) makes fairly little material difference now, for the blackmail by SSB officials of the police resulting of the execution of the intruders while SSB stood by close at hand (meanwhile consulting with his officials) is by far the most outstanding judicial human rights issue. It is a make or break issue for faith, one which few devotees dare even consider! It may have been, as claimed by some, an attempt to stop the sexual slavery SSB allegedly imposes on his most attractive and captive male students. The case has never been cleared up properly, as I shall detail here later. All in all, then, the safety of devotees today is seen most obviously to be a most secondary consideration at the ashrams, at best. There are no armed guards around their quarters, as there always are around SSB's! It is well-known too that SSB has had constructed for himself a veritably invulnerable abode with balconies that cannot be scaled from the ground and with rooms that are sealed off from the ground floor by a lift, which is deactivated when SSB so desires, such as at night. Moreover, as anyone can observe, there are two sets of identical-looking apartments and balconies etc., one on either side of the Poornachandra Hall.
A very costly and massive array of Black Beret commandos take over at functions which the P.M. and President of India attend, often causing crowd crushes, such as at the bi-decennial birthday celebrations (i.e. 65th, 70th etc,) Bomb threats received by the ashrams are never made known (except by independent sources in the press), and devotees are left in the belief that there are no threats of such dangers. A bomb threat from Tamil Eelam were received prior to the 75th birthday, which was quietly reduced in size by the ashram authorities without giving the reason as reported in the Indian press.