ENCOUNTERS WITH SPIRITUAL FRAUDS
By Dr. Abraham T.Kovoor.
First Jaico Imppression 1976, Published by: Jaico Press Pvt. Ltd., 121 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Bombay, Chapter 3
Dr. Bhagavantham and Sathya Sai Baba
During my visit to Madras in 1972 to appear in my own role in the film "Punarjanmam", I was invited to give a lecture at the Indian Institute of Technology at Guindy. During a conversation before the lecture one of the professors at the institute told me that the majority of youths who take to the study of science and technology do so not because they have any scientific attitude or aptitude, but just because such a course helps them to get lucrative jobs. The reason why some of the eminent scientists of India have given up their science, and become "devotees" of Godmen of that country was because they have found that they can make more money by being in collusive devotion to such hoaxers than by continuing scientific pursuits.
A few months ago the editor of a mass-circulating weekly of India wrote me a letter saying that the Editorial Board of his weekly has decided to publish a symposium on "SATHYA SAI BABA - IS HE AN INCARNATION OF GOD OR A CHARLATAN?", and wanted me to be the first contributor to the series.
My article was serialised in three issues. It was then followed by two articles countering my thesis by Dr. S.Bhagavantham, M.Sc., D.Sc., Ph.D., a former scientific adviser to the Government of India.
Dr. Bhagavantham started his article by saying that in his youth he was a rationalist like me, but after witnessing some of the 'miracles' of Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba, he had to give up his rationalism!
He then continued to describe numerous 'miracles' said to have been performed by Sathya Sai Baba at various times in various places. There was absolutely no mention in the two articles of any one having conducted investigations to establish that they were all genuine miracles, and not conjurer's tricks. The two articles appeared to be clear examples of how unscientific even a good scientist can become if he is a victim of religio-maniacal neurosis or avarise for lucre!
In the whole lot of the miracle stories mentioned by Dr. Bhagavantham, there was only one that was amenable to investigation. I quote below that story:
"The wonderful experience, some years ago, of a world-famous watch manufacturer of Japan, while he was on tour in India, was awe-inspiring.
"After completing the Seiko series of watches he made the model of a more superior type, and kept it in his safe for further tests.
"While touring in India he paid a visit to Sathya Sai Baba's abode just out of curiosity. On seeing the japanese gentleman among the devotees Sathya Sai Baba materialised a small parcel from the air and gave him. On opening the parcel he was astonished to see the same watch that was kept in his safe. When he saw along with the watch the silk ribbon and the label with the new name of the watch and its price marked on it, all his doubts about the divine powers of Sathya Sai Baba simply melted away. He fell prostrate at Sathya Sai Baba's feet and worshipped him. Since then he is an ardent devotee of the Bhagawan.
"On his return to Japan, he was shocked to see that the watch he had kept in his safe was not there. What his Personal Secretary told him was still more startling. The Secretary said that a divine-looking person with bushy hair walked into the office one day, opened the safe and walked away with the watch."
Does Dr. Bhagavantham, who is the holder of covetable qualifications in science, think that a thesis of this nature to prove the miraculous powers of a man, by any scientist, will be accepted by an academic body of scientists if it is not backed by scientific investigations and fool-proof evidence?
Although Dr. Bhagavantham is reluctant to test the veracity of his Godman's miraculous powers, I decided to do it myself. With this aim in view I wrote the following letter to Dr. Bhagavantham:
"Tiruvalla", Pamankada Lane,
Colombo-6, Sept. 11, 1973.
"Dear Dr. Bhagavantham,
I read your story about a Japanese watch manufacturer getting his own watch that was kept in a safe in Japan, materialised in India from air by Sathya Sai Baba.
My scientific attitude does not permit me to accept this fantastic story as true without verification. My doubt is enhanced by the reported statement of his personal Secretary. The first reaction of a responsible Secretary when a stranger walks into the office and opens the safe, would be to raise the alarm and to summon the police.
As I feel it is unscientific even for a scientist to believe this type of cock-and-bull story without verification, I request you to kindly let me know the name and address of this Japanese so that I may verify the truth about it.
Your failure to help me to conduct this investigation by withholding this information, will lead me to suspect your sincerity and honesty, and discard all what you have said about Sathya Sai Baba as utter falsehood deliberately propagated with ulterior motive and vested interest.
Yours in search of Truth,
Abraham T. Kovoor"
As there was no response from Dr. Bhagavantham even after two moths, I decided to pursue the matter on my own. The Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka was kind enough to provide me with the name and address of the proprietor of the Seiko watch manufacturing firm.
In my letter dated 30th October, 1973 to Mr. Shoji Hattori, president of K. Hattori & Co. Ltd., the manufacturers of Seiko watches, I reproduced Dr. Bhagavantham's story about the miracle, and requested him to provide me with answers to the following questions:
1. Did you or any other partner of yours visit Sathya Sai Baba of India any time?
2. Did Sai Baba materialise a watch from air and present it to you or to any of your partners?
3. Did your personal Secretary tell you or any of your partners that a stranger opened the safe and walked away with a watch?
4. Are you or any of your partners a devotee of Sai Baba?
For the benefit of numerous innocent devotees of Godmen of India I reproduce below Mr. Hattori's reply. This I do with the sincere hope that they will be sensible enough to realise the truth that these charlatans who go about in the garb of holy men have numerous agents like Dr. Bhagavantham everywhere working in collusion to propagate the huge hoax and profit materially.
K. HATTORI & CO., LTD.,
5, Koyobashi 2-chome, chuo-ku, Tokyo 104
Established 1881, Cable: Hattori Tokyo.
Phone: Tokyo 563-2111.
November 8, 1973.
Colombo-6, Sri Lanka.,
Dear Dr. Kovoor,
Thank you for your letter of October 30th. I can appreciate your interest in conducting scientific research of paranormal claims, but I am in no way able to further your knowledge as regards the man mentioned in your letter, Mr. Sai Baba. Neither I nor any members of my staff have ever made the acquaintance of this individual. I am sure that these reports are completely unfounded I must therefore reply in the negative to all four of your questions concerning this incident.
K. Hattori & Co., Ltd.,
Sgd. Shoji Hattori, President
On receipt of this letter I wrote the following letter to Dr. Bhagavantham enclosing a photostat copy of Mr. Shoji Hattori's letter.
"Dear Dr. Bhagavantham,
Absence of any response from you to my request made over two months ago has made me suspect the veracity of your story about the Japanese watch manufacturer getting his own watch that was kept in his safe in Japan from Sai Baba. To pursue my investigation in the matter, I got the name and address of Seiko watch manufacturer from the Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka.
In his reply to my enquiry, Mr. Shoji Hattori, President of K. Hattori & Co., Ltd., who are the manufacturers and proprietors of Seiko watches writes:
"I can appreciate your interest in conducting scientific research of paranormal claims, but I am in no way able to further your knowledge as regards the man mentioned in your letter, Mr. Sai Baba. Neither I nor any members of my staff have ever made the acquaintance of this individual. I am sure that these reports are completely unfounded.
If Mr. Shoji Hattori is not the person concerned in your story, please let me know about it, and provide me with the correct name and address. Absence of any reply from you for this letter also, will only confirm my firm belief that you are an agent of Sathya Sai Baba doing propaganda for him with ulterior motive and vested interest.
Yours in search of Truth,
Abraham T. Kovoor".
Since there was no reply so far to this letter also, I had to confirm my belief that Dr. Bhagavantham is in collusion with the charlatan Sathya Sai Baba to do false propaganda for him with ulterior motive and vested interest.