What about Baba's powers?


Dear Friends,

On July 13th 2001 it will be a year since I read with sadness "The Findings" compiled by David and Faye Bailey. The past year has been a time of deep contemplation and reflection, and a transformative time, moving on from ardent and loyal Sai devotee to a seeker of truth, no matter where that truth would take me. It has been a time of re-defining reality and discovering God, the real one, not in the confines of any faith community, but rather, in my own heart. I was a Sai devotee for 20 years, a very long time to be wearing blinders.

A question has tugged at the corners of my mind. Others ask the same question, perhaps in different ways, but nevertheless, the question remains – WHAT ABOUT BABA’S POWERS? All of us in our term of devoteeship have had ardent prayers answered, and perhaps experienced the miraculous. I have told numerous miracle stories, because I experienced what I believed to be Baba’s miracles. Baba appears to devotees in dreams leaving a profound impact on the dreamer’s life. He appears from great distances and rescues devotees in distress or danger. He has healed many from catastrophic illnesses. He became part of our thoughts and answered many inquiries telepathically. Baba seems to have supernatural powers. He is also a liar, a criminal, a charlatan, a fraud and a child molester, and perhaps even a murderer. How can we explain his powers in the context of his crimes?

Most sai devotees have read Howard Murphet’s Sai Baba Man of Miracles. Actually, this was the first book I read about Sai Baba and it convinced me that he was truly a divine incarnation. It is also a book that I shared with many seekers, some who also became devotees, and sadly, remain so. We are familiar with the "scorpion story" which was purported to be the event that set Baba off to proclaim himself a reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, a deceased saint from Northern India. He later became a self proclaimed god of the universe, an avatar, the Poona avatar, the avatar of the age. Is he a god, or is he a demon? This was the question asked by Pedda Raju, Baba’s father who was exasperated with his son’s bizarre behavior.

When we take this story out of context and examine it with a critical eye, a different picture emerges. What Murphet described was actually a psychotic episode. If a youngster in the United States suddenly became delusional, reciting scripture, breaking out in song, falling into long periods of unconsciousness, speaking gibberish and remaining in this state for weeks or months, and then declaring himself god of the universe, he would be committed to a psychiatric facility. In this remote and backwards village, untouched by the modern world, young Raju was revered without question because his bizarre behavior was viewed as the sign of one touched by the divine.

I am reminded of a case a woman who was the victim of brother/sister incest shared with me. Her brother, seven years older than she had a strange occurrence. One night he awoke out of a sound sleep and went running out of the house shouting incoherent words and phrases. In subsequent days he broke out into operatic arias to which he had not been exposed. He masturbated almost constantly and began sexually molesting his two sisters. Eventually he became a fugitive from justice when his children accused him of sexually molesting them. The family discovered quite by accident many years later that he had been brutally raped by a male sex offender. The excruciating pain of anal penetration had apparently set off a psychotic episode that went unrecognized for his entire life. He was 13 at the time, coincidentally the same age as Baba’s "scorpion event." This also occurred in 1945 when child sex abuse was not recognized as a crime in the same sense it is today in the western world.

Sai devotees tend to idealize both Baba and India. For some, the disdain for western religious dogma and practices, and I plead guilty to that, led to the absolute idealizing of all things eastern while turning blind eyes to the social, political, and economic ills of India.

India, socially, if not legally, upholds a caste system that grants privilege to those whose only claim to high rank is the accident of birth. They attribute their good fortune to the law of karma. That same law condemns the misfortunate born to the lower classes to a life of demeaning labors and social ostracism. India is where girl babies are slaughtered daily because females are considered another worthless mouth to feed. In India brides are burned by their in-laws so the kingly sons become eligible once again for another bride with a larger dowry. In India women and children are possessions of the male dominated culture; rape and sexual abuse is rampant, and almost never prosecuted, and female children who are not murdered at birth, are often sold into slavery or indentured servitude. Many crimes in India go unpunished. It is not surprising that two of its northern states, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, are virtually lawless and dangerous to Indian citizens, let alone westerners. There are areas of India that still practice the black arts of witchcraft and sorcery. This is the backdrop that spawned Sathyanarayana Raju, a 13 year old, who had a psychotic episode and declared himself lord of the universe, and now at age 75 boasts a worldwide following of millions of devotees.

To spiritual seekers India is the Mother of Spirituality with its various yoga, ascetic practices, and spiritual disciplines. Many westerners benefit from these practices. It is not these that concern us here. It is the dark side of some of these practices that may explain Baba’s supernatural powers, as well as that of other self-aggrandizing gurus.

Tantra yoga is commonly understood to be spiritual sexuality which became quite popular in the west with the publication in English of the Kama Sutra. There is, however, another side to Tantra. In one of our trips to India we met an Indian gentlemen who told us he had been possessed by his daughter-in-law whom he claimed was a Tantric witch. Through sorcery she acquired all of his property which he said was substantial and he was left ruined and penniless. In his book, "Riders of the Cosmic Circuit" a former Baba Devotee, Tal Brooke says of these practices:

" ‘All features associated with European witches are…claimed also by Indo-Tibetan yogis and magicians.’ And, along with a range of occult powers common to both, the Indians, ‘boast that they break all the religious taboos and social rules: that they practice human sacrifice, cannibalism, and all manner of orgies, including incestuous intercourse, and that they eat excrement…and devour human corpses...’" (Brooke 2000, p. 205). (Tal Brooke took this quote from a publication of the University of Chicago, entitled "Occultism, Witchcraft and Cultural Fashions" by Mircea Eliade).

Sai Baba is accused of 50 to 60 years of sexual misconduct with young men and boys. Rajneesh the now deceased sex guru who had ashrams in Poona, India and Oregon, was a sexual fanatic. Many of his followers were subjected to group rapes, ritual murder, and other perversities that many succumbed to insanity. Muktananda was accused of molesting young girls. Satchidananda was accused of sexual involvement with female employees and devotees at his ashram in Pomfret, Connecticut. The allegations tore the community apart and have followed him to his new residence in Virginia. Amrit Desai of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts was ousted for committing adultery with numerous female attendees. Each of these men are or were spiritually enlightened, touched by the Divine, if you will, and possessing supernatural powers. Yet, each was inappropriately sexual with their devotees, and often with the weakest and most vulnerable amongst them? Why? What is the correlation between advanced spirituality and sexual impropriety? It is suggested by a number of sources that it is the premature awaking of the kundalini energy. It can be described as the awakening of divine power in an impure vessel. All manner of power in the absence of goodness and conscience seems to make monsters out of holy men.

When kundalini is awakened in one who is not sufficiently pure there is a danger. Rather than moving along the spine and energizing the chakras in a balanced, orderly and highly spiritual fashion emerging through the crown awakening one’s latent divinity, it instead charges downward exacerbating the functions of the lower chakras, the seats of human greed, power, and sexuality. There is an expansion of consciousness that can be confused with divine powers which are in fact, in the hands of these unfortunates, demonic powers. When this happens the conscience is crushed and what is left is a shell of a human being whose humanness is replaced by demonic power far beyond our understanding. I suspect in Baba’s case some dangerous occult practices were the precipitating factor that set off his psychosis. This is obvious because his parents believed him to be possessed by something or someone evil. Why else would they take him to various witch doctors and exorcists?

Words of caution concerning the misuse of these practices have been handed down through the ages. Charles Leadbeater, the co-founder of The Theosophical Society said:

"The Danger of Premature Awakening: This fiery power, as it is called in The Voice of the Silence, is in very truth like liquid fire as it rushes through the body when it has been aroused by the will; and the course through which it ought to move is spiral like the coils of a serpent. In its awakened state it may be called the World’s Mother in another sense than that already mentioned, because through it our various vehicles may be vivified, so that the higher worlds may open before us in succession (emphasis mine).

For the ordinary person it lies at the base of the spine unawakened, and its very presence unsuspected, during the whole of his life; and it is indeed far better to allow it thus to remain dormant until the man has made definite moral development, until his will is strong enough to control it and his thoughts pure enough to enable him to face its awakening without injury (emphasis mine). No one should experiment with it without definite instruction from a teacher who thoroughly understands this subject, for the dangers connected with it are very real and terribly serious. Some of them are purely physical. Its uncontrolled movement often produces intense physical pain, and it may readily tear tissues and even destroy physical life. This, however, is the least of the evils of which it is capable, for it may do permanent injury to vehicles higher than the physical.

One very common effect of rousing it prematurely is that is rushes downwards in the body instead of upwards, and thus excites the most undesirable passions --- excites them and intensifies their effects to such a degree that it becomes impossible for the man to resist them, because a force has been brought into play in whose presence he is as helpless as a swimmer before the jaws of a shark. Such men become satyrs, monsters of depravity, because they are in the grasp of a force which is out of all proportion to the ordinary human power of resistance. They may probably gain certain supernormal powers, but these will be such as will bring them into touch with a lower order of evolution with which humanity is intended to hold no commerce, and to escape form its awful thralldom may take them for than one incarnation (emphasis mine).

I am not in any way exaggerating the horror of this thing, as a person to whom it was all a matter of hearsay might unwittingly do. I have myself been consulted by people upon whom this awful fate has already come, and I have seen with my own eyes what happened to them. There is a school of black magic which purposely utilizes this power for such purposes in order that through it may be vivified a certain lower force-centre which is never used in that way be the followers of the Good Law. Some writers deny the existence of such a center; but Brahamanas of Southern India assure me that there are certain yogis who teach their pupils to use it – though of course not necessarily with evil intent. Still, the risk is too great to be worth taking when one can achieve the same results in a safer way.

Even apart from this greatest of its dangers, the premature unfoldment of the higher aspects of kundalini has many other unpleasant possibilities. It intensifies everything in the man’s nature, and it reaches the lower and evil qualities more readily than the good. In the mental body, for example, ambition is very quickly aroused, and soon swells to an incredibly inordinate degree. It would be likely to bring with it a great intensification of the power of intellect, but at the same time it would produce abnormal and satanic pride,(emphasis mine) such as is quite inconceivable to the ordinary man. It is not wise for a man to think that he is prepared to cope with any force that may arise within his body; this is no ordinary energy, but something resistless. Assuredly no uninstructed man should ever try to awaken it, and if such a one finds that is has been aroused by accident he should at once consult some one who fully understands these matters…..

…..The force is a tremendous reality, one of the great basic facts of nature, and most emphatically it is not a thing with which to play, nor a matter to be lightly taken in hand, for to experiment with it without understanding it s far more dangerous than it would be for a child to play with nitroglycerine. As is very truly said in The Hathayoga Pradipika:, "It gives liberation to yogis and bondage to fools." (III, 107). (Leadbeater, pp. 82-85)

It is interesting to note that Leadbeater also sexually molested young boys. That was common knowledge in his time, and obviously ignored. Howard Murphet was a member of The Theosophical Society. Actually, he came to India to explore some of the esoteric teachings and occult practices he learned from the two founders, Blavatsky and Leadbeater. What he found instead was a young Sai Baba, and wrote his first book, Sai Baba, Man of Miracles.

Another interesting point to be made is this. The seminal work that defines The Theosophical Society is Madame Blavatsky’s, "The Secret Doctrine" which in addition to cosmology, also describes in detail many of the occult and esoteric teachings of ancient India and other ancient cultures. The world’s power mongers seem to gravitate to these teachings, whether they be set forth as pure spiritual teachings for the good of humankind as is obviously the intent of The Secret Doctrine, or the twisted and perverse kind that are passed on from generation to generation in the darkness of ignorance.

It may surprise many of you to know that Adolf Hitler was an initiate of The Secret Doctrine and a practitioner of the black arts. He even derived the symbol of the Nazi party, the swastika, from India. Actually his inner circle of henchmen were required to be initiated in the same way as was he.

"Attainment of a certain high degree of initiation into The Secret Doctrine was the only acceptable qualifications or entry into this exclusive satanic circle." (Ravenscroft, p. 244).

Baba is extremely charismatic, so much so that we, his former devotees, gave him our undying love and devotion, we surrendered our will to him, believing that he was our savior, the lord of the universe. We believed he loved us, and had only our best interests at heart. He filled our hearts and our heads, and there was no other love truer and deeper that that of Sai Baba. He read our minds and often spoke to us, it seemed from the divine mind to our individual minds.

We live in a world of opposites. Where there is good, there is also evil. I hesitate to use the word, "evil" because it has such a strong religious connotation. Yet it is the only word that fully describes the enigma which is Sai Baba. I frankly do not know if Baba is all good or all evil. I believe he has supernatural powers which many of us have experienced both in his presence and at great distances. I believe some of what appear to be powers are simply magicians tricks which we have already seen on the video tapes. I believe he has the power to use group hypnosis and much of what we believed to be miracles are only his control over our minds. Minds that were brain washed, tired, and deprived of sleep and appropriate nutrition.

Let us not forget a very important fact. We surrendered our will to Baba in many ways. We prayed to him and when those prayers were answered we gave him the credit. We grew spiritually and again, gave him the credit. We became more loving, caring of others, and compassionate, and gave Baba the credit. When I think about it, Baba was actually a neutral force in my life. I did the spiritual work, not he. He was merely the focus of my devotion. I have changed the focus of my devotion to God and the changes keep taking place within me. We so revered him that I believe this too gave him extraordinary powers in ways we cannot understand.

For me it is ended. I am pleased to have left the darkness behind me in order to find the light of truth that lies before me.

My Love and Blessings,

Elena A. Hartgering

May 2001

Blavatsky, H. P. (1982) The Secret Doctrine. The Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, California.

Brooke, Tal. (2000). Riders of the Cosmic Circuit. iUniverse.com,Inc.

Leadbeater, C.W. (1927). The Chakras, The Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, Illinois.

Ravenscroft, Trevor. (1973) The Spear of Destiny. Samuel Weiser, Inc. York Beach, Maine.