Document date: 11-11-02
By: Robert Priddy
From: Sathya Sai Baba - Extensive information and Viewpoints
Part Two -Top sacred, top secret?
Serious discussion of certain types of fact, - matters such as I outlined in the first part of this series - is taboo in the Sathya Sai Org. Everything about SB and his works is regarded as sacred and, if it smells at all fishy, it is kept well hidden away. The conflict of belief and reality, and of word and action this involves raises many questions that are quashed by issuing spiritual directives on how it is best to mind one's own business, examine oneself instead, do not try to understand Sai Baba etc.
What appears harmful to us, it is repeatedly told, must be in accordance with the All-Good, All-Knowing Divine Will of SB. Everything that ever happens as all good, says SB but also - on the other hand - there is no good or evil anywhere! He teaches that it is better not to question anything about him because we cannot ever understand him or anything of what he does! The attitude one is supposed to take is that, if SB allowed an event to happen in his ashrams (or nearby or even anywhere in the world!), it must be for the best be it contagious illness, serious injury, sudden death, murder, cover-up, harassment by his officials, beatings by his gatekeepers etc., the sexual abuse of minors etc. To anyone who has not through SB's subtle means been entranced and entrapped in the web of deceptions that surround him and which he covertly supports, this seems incredible and fantastic or even a form of induced madness. The question from outsiders, "How could you ever possibly have believed in all that?" is admittedly something very hard to explain. But we try Most ashrams in India practice internal secrecy and censorship along with outward cover-ups of unfortunate, not to say criminal, incidents, and SB's ashrams are certainly no exception, to the contrary. For example, the International Chairman of the SS Organisation, Indulal Shah is a conniving accountant trained in Indian political manipulations - who is also on the super-rich and secretive SS Central Trust. He told pressmen about the six murders in Sai Baba's apartment on 6-6-1993, "the matter is purely internal and we do not wish to have any law-enforcement agency investigating into it" (according to the Staff Reporter of The Hindu 10-6-1993). The chief lackey, Indulal Shah, lied about there being official UNESCO participation in SS Org. matters, which in fact never occurred. This has been documented from his own published words! (See 'UNESCO conference without UNESCO' by S. Badaev). His statements says it all about the set-up over which Sai Baba rules.
Obtaining any plain facts, even about seemingly trivial matters, is mostly fraught with difficulty at SB ashrams, especially for foreigners, and not at all only due to language and cultural differences. Various officials are as sparing as possible with information other than that they wish to impress on visitors, and may become very recalcitrant and obstructive at any hint of taking issue with their decisions. There is a strong culture of "mind you own business" throughout the Sai movement. SB condones this, for he invariably does not react to letters of complaint against maltreatment by his staff (except in the case of a small handful of favourites like Mr. Kaw of Delhi, the late John Hislop etc.) Nor does he react against the ingrained culture of racial discrimination (esp. against Eurasians - which usually just means whites) met from some servitors by many a visitor sooner or later. The residents are also mostly very cautious, speaking only in lowered voiced privately about anything not thought to be wholly positive about the ashram or could reflect on SB. This secrecy creates an atmosphere of self-censorship and that aids power-wielders and those having any corrupt motives.
Care has doubtless to be taken by any serious spiritual movement as to what is made public knowledge, for any admission of wrongdoing is easily ripped out of its context and make into a feast by anti-spiritual media persons. An unproven allegation is sufficient for many newspapers to print; thin evidence of the slightest misdemeanour is often enough for a field day. Even when certain facts are known with considerable accuracy, they are often interpreted very differently, according to the commentator's character, beliefs or purpose. However, where murders and cold-blooded executions are involved, why do SB and his officials not wish people to know the facts? Nor, extraordinarily, do the majority of Indian news media now want to report on or pursue the many and very weighty sexual allegations. I leave the reader to ponder over this. I firmly believe in the adage, 'Tell the truth always, even when the truth doesn't favour your viewpoint". This, unfortunately, is not practiced at SB institutions and most definitely and despicably in many instances not by SB either, who boasts that his first name is 'truth' (i.e. Sathya). This has been well-documented on quite some scale both by others and I). Because of this, he is bringing down upon himself considerable public criticism and condemnation, which can only grow if he should ever become at all widely known in educated and more democratically accountable societies. The gradual emergence of the web of lies and half-truths that enwrap almost everything connected with SB eventually became too much for my wife and I to bear, especially when we found out definitively about the murders and the sexual abuses, so we had to break out of it. Now I am airing this for the benefit of others and for posterity.
That some criticisms of SB may not be properly justified does not alter the rightness of many of them. Yet his claim of personal perfection and moral superiority in all ways over all human beings dead or alive is the real petard by which he is hoisted. Because of his political influence at the highest levels in India, SB can afford to ignore criticism and leave all injured parties to rot, which he unconcernedly allows. Attempts to obtain justice and reparation by injured parties are suppressed through his network of followers in the Indian judiciary. The relatives of murdered devotees and many others are without recourse to legal compensation. However, foreign critics cannot be silenced so easily and the reduction in the flow of foreign visitors and the massive donations from abroad has already apparently caused him to let fly his wrath at anyone who will not bow to what he outspokenly asserts as his divine prerogatives. Until all this secrecy and misrule is radically changed, the criticisms and very substantial and well-documented allegations will surely not go away, and are already firmly attached to his chosen name 'Sai Baba', (itself perhaps the usurpation of the prestige of the former popular saint, Sai Baba of Shirdi, as claimed by many of that saint's followers).
Granted, total freedom of expression can lead to much confusion and ills, but the world increasingly agrees that secrecy and censorship are yet worse, much worse! Most Sai devotees are constantly faced by a dilemma, for they are kept in the dark about serious matters and told to have no doubts whatever, but they cannot avoid repeatedly hearing disturbing facts, uncontrollable ashram rumours of all kinds... and not least (indirectly) from those who have left the Sai movement. There are few covert grapevines to compare with those in SB ashrams! This dilemma of censorship vs. freedom of speech is nicely illustrated by an anecdote from occupied Norway, where the Nazis imposed a rigorous censorship (to enforce evil propaganda untruths and hide terrible crimes), broken often only on pain of death. One of the German occupiers was amazed to hear that there had been full press freedom previously, because he could not understand how one then could know what was the truth. This neatly sums up the attitude of SB, his officials, VIPs and office-bearers throughout the Sai Organisation.