Towers’ Booksale and Diversification - a Metaphor?
Investigation into Claims and Realities Surrounding Sathya Sai Baba
Purchase Love is My Form
(Vol. 1 - and only?) for only US$13 (saving $55 - actually, $130 off
the original price of this huge and valuable volume). Buy a copy of
penitent exposé CEO Robert Priddy’s Source of the Dream for a
mere $1-19 (saving a whole $5 to purchase TEN other ‘classics’, like
those by hagiographers Lowenberg, Rao, etc., priced at rockbottom 59
cents each, saving $2-50 on each of them too)!
What is going on?
Sai Towers, the tentacular and
already diversified enterprise set up over a decade ago by devotee
and ex-SSB-photographer Mr Padmanadban (and others?), which offers
both books, hotel accommodation and antiques for Puttaparthi and
Whitefield visitors, has had a meteoric rise over the past 15 years
or so. (For a brief period around 1999-2000 it was also engaged in
importing books and antiques to a posh hotel in Sydney, Australia.)
If you now access the Sai
Towers website, you may be surprised to find that most of the pages
dealing with books are mere shells, that the glossy magazine
‘Spiritual Impressions’ seems to have dried up in 2002 (am I wrong
about that?), and that none of the ‘buttons’ on the magazine’s page
(Archives, Trivia, Readers’ Articles, Contact Us, etc.) lead you
anywhere. If you follow the Sai Towers book pages, you are
immediately shunted to another (commercial) website (www.puttaparthi.info),
which is full of practical and commercial information for visitors
to Puttaparthi, and which appears to be a reincarnation, or alter
ego, of Sai Towers.
The separate linked page for
the very ambitious Sai Towers ‘Love is My Form’ project of
producing six expensive, lavishly illustrated and heavily researched
biographical volumes dealing with each decade of the life of SSB is
equally stagnant now. The page had offered (and still offers)
advantageous pre-purchase rates ($US435, or 25,000 Rs. for 6
volumes) but the advertised publishing schedule was already over 2
years behind schedule (Vols. 2 and 3). Don’t rush to pre-order,
though, because the Order Form is now ‘frozen’. Another facade!
My uncharitable suspicion is
that, for reasons which we can only guess, Volume 1, which leaked so
many ‘inconvenient’ unknown facts about SSB during the remote period
of 1935 to 1950 (school register details, Shirdi Sai worship in
Puttaparthi, early self-doubt, etc.), will not have any companion
volumes. (I would LOVE to be wrong on that, mainly because there are
so many other murky events, especially in the 1950s, for which - God
help us! - we are left with hagiographer Prof. Kasturi as the major
chronicler. Kasturi has a lot to answer for in the promotion of the
mythical aspects of SSB. Prof. Kasturi is also quoted quite
uncritically as a reliable expert by academic specialists on New
Religious Movements - NRMs (many of whom also have a helluva lot to
Although it is not clear
whether Sai Towers is merely clearing out its book remainders to
rationalise its stock or preparing to abandon its publishing wing
altogether, we do know that since January 2004 its Kadugodi offices
are being shared by a new Indian branch of the multinational digital
delivery specialists, Quickcut (www.quickcut.com).
Don’t forget that book sale!