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BBC2 uncovers secrets behind India's Secret Swami
Monday 14th June, 2004

The most popular of all Indian Godmen, Sai Baba has always been the Teflon God, the untouchable, charismatic man worshipped by Indian Prime Ministers, Presidents and peasants. His power over both the influential and the downtrodden goes to the heart of Indian society and raises serious questions about the social health of the world’s fastest emerging economy.

Sai Baba claims to be a living God and to millions, his word is truth; his ability to bring clean water and healthcare to thousands, proof of divinity.

In a programme that explores the nature of belief, This World travels from India to California, where the generation whose devotion and donations helped Sai Baba to power are unravelling at the seams. Hard Rock Café owner Isaac Tigrett sent Sai Baba’s message around the world by making the Godman’s Love All Serve All mantra the corporate slogan of his multi-million empire. He now has to confront the fact that his God may have been a sexual abuser.

This World features the story of a family who gave their entire lives to a man they believed was God, only to discover he was exacting a terrible price: the sexual innocence of their son. In an intimate and powerful portrait a family talks openly about their betrayal and the man who controlled their lives.

"The being which I called Sai Baba, the living God that I had taken into my heart had been truly abusing my son, for so long. I felt completely betrayed…" says Marissa, a former devotee. Another, Alaya says: "I remember him saying, if you don’t do what I say, your life will be filled with pain and suffering."

This programme is the first to film inside Sai Baba’s Ashram for a number of years and aims to come closer to the true "face of God" than ever before.

'This World: Secret Swami' is on Thursday 17th June, 9 - 10pm BBC TWO

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