THE SATHYA SAI ORGANISATION'S DECEPTION AND PROPAGANDA EXPOSED
The foes of the 'open society' (Sir Karl Popper's term) are those who use its very openness to achieve their closed and devious ends. Sai Baba and his highly authoritarian and cultist organisation have such ends, which critics have tried to make known. Its foremost leaders silence all those who question it- and never face substantive criticisms. For the first time - after six years of pained and guilty silence - since hundreds of long-term devotees left it in disgust - the Sathya Sai Organisation has found it necessary to try to defuse the debate about Sathya Sai Baba's alleged crimes, deceits and fraudulence. Dr. Venkataraman's tendentious cover-up article expresses untruths which have long circulated within the cult, giving an opportunity to confront him with facts and truth, as follows:-
Comments by the undersigned are in bold blue text:
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THE INEVITABLE COLLAPSE OF CALUMNY
[by Dr. G. Venkataraman]
[text in black from http://media.radiosai.org/Journals/Vol_04/01JUL06/collapse-of-calumny.htm
Radio Sai Listener's journal: Volume 4 - Issue 07 JULY 2006]UNESCO Withdraws Its Criticism
Where the media advisory of the UNESCO was concerned, we took a different approach. The UNESCO is a part of the United Nations and India is in fact one of the founder members of the UN – it was a signatory to the original declaration, way back in 1944. We in Prashanti Nilayam took up the matter with the Government of India through suitable channels, and for its part, the Government, through its Ambassador in Paris, protested to the UNESCO.
Comment: This is a gross untruth! UNESCO has NOWHERE stated that it withdraws its criticism of Sathya Sai Baba by updating its website; there is no evidence of that on their website or anywhere else. Their official spokesperson, Sue Williams, stated to the BBC in mid-May 2004 that UNESCO (Paris) did not regret having posted this document adverse to Sai Baba and “certain of his organizers”! 20 Further, the removal of the posting was the “result of a routine system purge”, a fact clearly stated by another UNESCO Office spokesperson, Isobel le Fournis.
Most noteworthy, however, is that, since UNESCO posted its advisory, there is no proof that UNESCO has sponsored or involved itself in any way in a single Sai Baba-related event anywhere in the world, despite the Sai Organisation’s intense lobbying through diplomatic and governmental channels! Unlike the Sathya Sai Organisation, UNESCO is most definitely not an amateur organization that bases its advisories on mere rumours, non-investigation or wishful guesswork!
I shall not go into the details here but merely say that the Indian Government took strong exception to the UNESCO posting a hostile media advisory, merely on the basis of hearsay, thereby maligning Sai Baba, who is a revered figure in India and has done enormous good to Indian Society. This strong protest worked and the UNESCO backtracked. This retraction by UNESCO was a big set back for the anti-Sai group
Comment: The label ‘anti-Sai group’ points to a common untruth promoted by many Sai devotees that we number only a handful. Instead, there are hundreds of disaffected former devotees and ex-leaders 21 of the Organisation in many groupings. Most workers conduct activities well away from the Net because of security reasons. The UNESCO Advisory remains a huge setback for Sai Baba and those who defend him. It is independently available on-line (click here). UNESCO posted its Advisory only after they had investigated the allegations and were satisfied that they were well founded!
but they now attacked from another angle, namely television. As you well know, most TV channels have sunk to depressingly low levels. It was no surprise therefore that some channels in some countries seized the opportunity to come out with negative programs on Swami.
Comment: Professional media critics and the general public did not deem the BBC to have “sunk to depressingly low levels". Indeed, the contrary was true!
Venkataraman, Indulal Shah, other Sai leaders and Sai Baba himself are alike in playing the ‘blame-the-media game’! When local Indian journalists investigated the murders of four devotees in Sai Baba’s apartment on June 6, 1993, Sai Baba ridiculed them. They published a number of perfectly reasonable questions on his role in relation to the incident (in his supposedly holy building). For example, they asked where he was during these events, and why the Central Trust or ashram authorities reported nothing to the police. However, Sai Baba’s officials hindered them at every point, and, some weeks later, Sai Baba attacked them in a public discourse for publishing "nothing but flights of the imagination" and for being "malicious". The eviction by Sai officials of the BBC crew from Prashanti Nilayam was but another in a long series of suppressive moves. Of course, nothing banishes “flights of the imagination” better than proper accountability and openness!
Sai Baba has often said never to criticize or slander others, and always to speak sweetly and softly with love. Yet his actions frequently belie his words. Being absent, those attacked in this way could not present their case. This behavior Sai Baba often calls ‘back-biting’.
Given the scepticism of many in the West about Gurus, such a program naturally commanded an audience, though not among viewers with discrimination. Hence, though we received complaints from many overseas devotees, we did not bother too much. It was not worth getting into arguments with third-rate TV channels.
Comment: The phrase “third rate TV channels” –encapsulates Venkataraman’s opinion of the world’s most respected news and comment provider since radio and television began! He imagines perhaps that his Radio Sai propaganda station is first rate – but it serves the most boring, verbose, repetitive, preachifying and syrupy hypocrisy! Western cultures have their own traditions of critical enquiry skepticism, and include issues about fraudulence and superstition about gurus. There can be little wonder about “skepticism in the West about Gurus”. There is plenty in the East too – happy to say.The BBC Shames Itself
Things went into a different gear altogether when the BBC came out with an anti-Swami film. This was absolutely shocking because like the London Times, the BBC is an icon - in the broadcasting world that is. And yet, for reasons best known to it, the BBC produced a program that was not only poorly researched but also deplorably low in taste, quite in contrast to what it is known for.
Comment: As Venkatarman would have it, in the face of thousands of programs that maintain the BBC as an “icon”, suddenly it deviates and becomes “absolutely shocking”. Autocratic and corrupt regimes and organisations with much to hide invariably complain like this when the BBC exposes them after exhaustive research!
The Sad Case of Alaya Rahm
Central to BBC’s vilification campaign was one Alaya Rahm.
Comment: The BBC never carries out “vilification campaigns”. Only corrupt and unaccountable people or organizations would claim so. Venkataraman’s statement amounts to slander against the BBC! The fact is that the ashram officials treated the BBC team high-handedly, throwing them out because they dared to ask for responses to the worldwide allegations of sex abuse, etc. This eviction alone shows how secret and autocratic a cult the whole Sai hierarchy has become and how they use all the political power they can muster to suppress anyone who speaks up and cover up everything. It is a cult with despotic tendencies. That led the BBC to dig deeper and they uncovered a great deal, only a small part of which could be included in a coherent one-hour film. Indeed, there remain eighty plus hours of footage in storage.
In “The Secret Swami”, Venkataraman’s superior in the Prashanthi Council, Dr. Michael Goldstein, would not reply to civil, sensible questions, which are those a responsible public would wish to ask. The BBC wanted him to explain the notorious Hislop letters [signed copies of which they had with them 22] which mention Goldstein as a recipient along with other leaders in the US Sai Organisation (but we do not know if the US bosses confided in their ‘brothers’ among the top leadership in India). Therefore, the BBC filmed him with hidden cameras. It acted entirely within the law (including the libel laws of the many countries where the film screened, as Goldstein found out when he tried to pursue them legally) and in the public’s best interests. Dr. Venkataraman has no tenable case.
I have to mention the name of Alaya Rahm because he is the one who filed a case on January 6th, 2006, in the Superior Court of California, Orange County. It was a lawsuit in which the plaintiff sued for money damages. The Court set the case for trial April 28, 2006.
At this point, I shall quote, with permission of course, from a letter we have received from Brother Robert Baskin of California, who is himself a lawyer. He has full knowledge of this case and I think it is best to quote from his report since it would be factually and legally the most accurate account we can present. This is what Baskin says concerning what happened to this lawsuit.
“Although Alaya Rahm’s accusations received some publicity before he filed his lawsuit, his claims were not thoroughly investigated until after the lawsuit was filed. The legal proceeding provided a forum in which his claims could be thoroughly and critically examined. Through this process of investigation, it was discovered that the plaintiff and his family had spoken at a number of retreats and conferences between 1995 and 1999, during the time that the events were alleged to have occurred. Inconsistent with his later accusations, these conference talks, many of which were recorded and have been transcribed, contain no suggestion of any wrongdoing and the earlier words spoken by the plaintiff would appear to refute his later accusations.
Through the process of discovery during the handling of the lawsuit, witnesses were identified and interviewed who were present in the Ashram in India when the events were alleged to have occurred which formed the basis of the plaintiff’s lawsuit. One of these witnesses brought the plaintiff to India in 1995, accompanied the plaintiff to India in 1997, and was present for some of the alleged interviews. The deposition of this witness was taken as a process of discovery in this lawsuit. The witness testified that he had a close and confidential relationship with Alaya Rahm from 1995 to 1997, spoke with the plaintiff on a daily basis when he was in the ashram in 1995 and 1997, discussed the details of each of the plaintiff’s interviews during that period and that Alaya Rahm never suggested during this period of time that any misconduct or wrongdoing had occurred. The deposition of the witness was taken in March 2006. Alaya Rahm dismissed his case after the deposition was taken.
No offers of settlement were made in this case and no money or any other consideration was paid for a dismissal of the lawsuit. This dismissal should be the conclusion of this lawsuit.”
I must at this point, express my deep and personal thanks to Brother Baskin for that succinct account.
Comment: The lawyer who advises the Sathya Sai Society, which set itself up to avoid accountability, is Robert M. Baskin. As such, “Brother Baskin” gives an account that twists and ignores facts in a very tendentious way. Alaya Rahm’s claims, fully supported by his mother and father, were NEVER thoroughly investigated! A wholly predjudiced Sathya Sai Society opposed them. One of its defendants was Dr. M. Goldstein, who the BBC soundly exposed (see the BBC’s “The Secret Swami”) for his rigid prejudice towards Alaya Rahm’s allegations. The Rahm family’s meeting with him in September in La Fayette in Arkansas 1999 is typical of this sort of inaction.
The untruthful deposition by the devotee of Sai Baba, Lewis Kreydick had no effect whatsoever on the decision of Alaya Rahm to withdraw his case. The withdrawal was purely because his attorney could not find any person or accountable body to answer to the Alaya Rahm’s suit. He fully maintains these claims. There is nothing proved against them.
I do not know what you think about it, but as far as I am concerned, this case withdrawal by Alaya Rahm, before the suit came up for formal hearing before a Judge, knocks the bottom out of all the allegations that have been circulated during the last several years.
Comment: Not one accuser, out of scores around the world, has withdrawn his allegations. Read the statement by the International JuST Group, the Rahm Family and the family’s lawyer.
And please remember that Rahm would not have dismissed his own case, if he thought he had a chance of winning. The fact is he had no case, none at all, at any time. For years, Alaya Rahm got away with wild allegations, and the BBC made much of it. Why? Because they were never put to the legal test.
Nor was Alaya Rahm’s case put to the legal test. For reasons former devotee lawyers in the USA and elsewhere are having trouble in understanding, Rahm’s attorney embarked on the case only to discover that there was no legally incorporated entity to sue.
Kreydick's main point is that Alaya never mentioned the abuses to him. In the television documentaries, Alaya stated that he believed, at the time of the abuses, that if he spoke about them his family would reject him. Lewis Kreydick’s deposition is that of a blindly subjective devotee who attempted to slur Alaya Rahm. Kreydick claimed that he was a close friend and advisor to Alaya and made constant speculations about Alaya's state of mind (repeatedly objected to by Rahm’s attorney), claiming he could not have been abused and unhappy because he was all smiles. The attempt was to sully Alaya’s character (and, disgracefully, that of his mother, too!). This was heartless. Kreydick’s testimony totally disregarded the situation that Alaya was going through a tremendous inner upheaval while having to put up a brave face. Experts in sexual abuse attest that abusees, in the face of a situation too painful to admit fully into consciousness, can hide the turmoil about a situation beneath smiles. Here was an individual, knowing the terrible consequences in a US court should anyone perjure themselves, striving to tell his story of a very confusing and traumatic sexual abuse by his former guru, whom he had been raised to regard as God.
Emboldened by the apparent wide acceptance of his claims in the West, Rahm then thought he could seek damages and filed a lawsuit. But his attempt has backfired and the chief accuser has realised that. Quietly, he has withdrawn the case.
This is calumny! Venkataraman - who claimed he never listened - does not know Alaya Rahm’s motives. Alaya Rahm’s and his family’s active support of the JuST Public Statement on the case is not an example of ‘quiet withdrawal’, nor that of his lawyer, William Brelsford, which is plain testimony to Alaya Rahm’s reason for self-withdrawal of his case. Furthermore, there is no evidence whatever that Alaya Rahm proceeded out of a selfish motive, though he did wish to make the Sathya Sai Organisation accountable, although hindered by legal technicalities. He was bravely trying to create a legal precedent for the scores of alleging victims of Sathya Sai Baba, also so they might more easily obtain just compensation for the destruction to their lives. An increasing number of the many Indian Sai alumni (whom we carefully check for their bona fides) contact us. They relate that Sai Baba has sexually abused them or their brothers or friends. Recovery from serious abuses and preparing for public and legal confrontations takes those affected a long time, inner struggle, organization and effort. This is proven by the decades it took for victims of sexual abuses in the Roman Catholic Church, the Hare Krishna (ISKCON) movement and many other institutions to come forth and take action, not least after major top-down cover-ups by top officials in these bodies very similar to those current in the Sai Organisation.
His lawyer, William Brelsford, makes plain Alaya’s reason for self-withdrawal of his case – obstructive legal technicalities. Recovery from serious abuses and preparing for public and legal confrontations takes a long time, and much organization and effort by the survivors. The dossier is growing and some day will illuminate all. The depths of the depravity amaze even us. They will not remain hidden forever. Yes, though very differently from the reasons Venkataraman gives, eventually the truth will out!
signed Barry Pittard and Robert Priddy
Note: Several paragraphs from Venkataraman’s article were omitted in the above since they required no comment.
Footnotes: active links to documentation, (click on any one):
20) The Case of the ‘Missing’ Media Advisory and deception by Sai authorities and their political cronies
21) Some prominent ex-devotees and former leaders in the Sai Organisation
22) Scans of the xeroxed and signed ‘Hislop letters’
BBC’s webpage on Basava Premanand’s claims against Sai Baba
George Orwell’s 1984
Unresolved, quashed investigation of murders in Sai Baba's bedroom, 1993
See The International Sai Petition - over 1,100 signatures