From 1981 onwards, I was actively involved in the Sathya Sai Baba group.
I joined the Bhajan Group at Madras which leads the devotional singing
during the public Bhajans every Sunday and Thursday. I was also part of
the Seva Dal of the service wing of the organization. The powers-that-be
did not want me to be part of the Bhajan group for some reason! They
eased me out so that I, with my prominent Brahmin caste mark on my
forehead (the full Namam), would not be on public display every Thursday
and Sunday as part of the lead singing group. However, I enjoyed being
part of the Seva Dal and took part in many eye camps, physical surgery
camps, etc. I liked going to the slums in Madras and meeting people
first hand. I was appalled at the living conditions of the poor in
India. I did not think then that I could have been part of organizations
such as the Ramakrishna Mission and achieved the same happiness. While
such missions usually focussed on service, the Sathya Sai Baba group
rendered service with one motive: make the name of Sathya Sai Baba a
houeehold name. Most workers or members of the Seva Dal were sincere and
really very good company. I SAY AGAIN, the majority of the Sathya Sai
Baba group are good and innocent people. The crooks are the ones who
manage the organization, starting from the top.
From 1984 onwards, I was even more actively involved in this group. I
spent all my time and energy in village development activities. There is
a village even today, as far as I know, in the midst of urban settings in
West Anna Nagar, Madras, India. This village is called Thirumangalam
and, in addition to other Seva Dals, three of us were VERY MUCH involved
in its development. Our local leader of the Seva Dal group in
Thirumangalam was one Mr. Meganathan, and Mr. Shyam and myself were the
other two. We acted as one body. Every weekday, with the exception of
Friday, we used to go to the village in the evening and be there from
about 6.15 pm to 9.15 pm. We helped the children of the village with
their school lessons (and they really needed help). On Saturday, we had
religious singing on the streets early in the morning from 4.30 am to
6.00 am. After that, we wold go to the village and take census of the
people there or involve ourselves in village-cleaning activities, etc.
On Saturday evening, we had a moral instruction class for about 2.5 to 3
hours. On Sundays, we used to help the children with their lessons in
the morning. This went on for three years (1984-1987).
I felt great. Was I not being a "model Indian" as member of the Sathya Sai
Baba (SSB) group? Events were to prove how wrong I was as far as
believing in SSB was concerned. Two important incidents are worth noting:
1. The elder members of the SSB group heading the local activities
decided to change the name of the village to Sathya Sai Nagar. Why?
Obviously, the name of SSB had to reach every corner of India. On a
Friday evening, we were all asked to assemble at the village for the
inauguration ceremony. We three "key" Seva Dals went a little bit late
(we always met at a common place and went about in a group - some people
jokingly called us the Trimoorthis or the Trinity) and, as we approcahed
the village, realized that something was seriously wrong. The board with
the legend "Sathya Sai Nagar" was lying on the ground at the entrance to
the village. It had been uprooted from the ground. There was a lot of
shouting going on and the elders looked harried. We saw that there were
many village youths and youngsters with bicycle chains in their hands.
Some had knives/daggers and some had stones in their hands. "How can you
change the 300-year-old name of the village?" they demanded. "You have
come today and want to change the name! Even if the elders of our
village have been bought by you, we the youths, will not allow it!"
I dare say that the elders of the SSB group would have been beaten up that
evening if we three Seva Dals had not turned up! The villagers were so
used to seeing us there everyday that they calmed down after we talked to
them. Soon the 200-300 strong crowd dispersed and the idea of renaming
the village was given up.
In retrospect, why the need for changing the name of the village?
Absolutely idiotic. How was this incident "covered up"? I did not know
until I went to Puttaparthi, the HQ of the SSB group in mid-1987.
Some of you may recall from my last posting that the people residing in
Thirumangalam, Madras, India did not want the name of the village to be
changed and almost beat us up.
An MBA student (I am withholding his name for obvious reasons) asked me:
"Are you from Madras?".
"Yes", I said.
"Have you heard of Thirmangalam village in Madras which is considered to
be the model village for social service (SSB had referred to it on
numerous occasions in his speeches) and talked about a lot in our
organization in India and other places?"
"Yes", I quietly replied.
"Well, it seems that the villagers of Thirumangalam wanted to rename it
as Sathya Sai Nagar, but Swami (SSB) refused to do that as he did not
want anything to be named after him. Isn't he very humble?"
You can imagine my surprise! I was glad that I had not told him
beforehand that I was part and parcel of the Thirumangalam village social
service group! This is how the failure of the SSB organization was
covered up. A false story was circulated to maintain the prestige of
the organization. There are many other instances of lies and rumors
being spread around but I wanted to quote one that intimately concerned me.
1. You are a Sathya Sai Baba devotee. You want to know to why Ashok. K.
(me), a follower for 18 years and an MBA student (1987-1989) from
Puttaparthi, is suddenly speaking against Sathya Sai Baba. Is Ashok not
afraid of the consequences - he may even be killed by the Sathya Sai Baba
people? (truth is, Sai Baba cannot harm me and my family more than he and
his occultist group already have done).
2. One person said that SSB was a good person and a saint but those
around him were crooked. Pray tell me, if the saint cannot recognize the
evil going on right under his very nose, is he fit to be called a saint?
Some old students warned me to keep away from certain students because
they were supposed to be gay. Also, I was asked not to go to dark
corners or close to the solar panels on the hostel-top terrace,
especially in the night. Gay activities were going on there and it would
be best if I kept away from those areas and people. I have not actually
witnessed any gay activities myself but realized that the old students
had warned me wisely, as explained below.
Anyway, I had noticed, on many occasions, that he was particularly fond
of a boy of the eighth or the ninth grade in the hostel and used to
publicly fondle him! He used to play with the boy's nose, put his arms
around the boy's shoulders, caress him etc.,! I could see that the boy
did not like it, but he had no choice. None of us had any choice either.
We were all (almost the entire hostel saw what was going on, on many
occasions) helpless because he was one of SSB's favorites and very
dangerous to tangle with.
Anyway, getting back to the story, I noticed as I came to the hostel
around 7.30 pm from the library that no one was around (as it was
dinner-time). As I entered the gates of the hostel, I saw Sonam standing
on the steps of the hostel. A fair man was standing just beneath him on
the steps and was shouting loudly at Sonam. His son was standing next to
him and guess who the son was! It was Sonam's favorite boy from the
eighth or ninth grade whom he used to publicly fondle. The man suddenly
reached up and slapped Sonam soundly! No one was around except we four!
All were in the dining hall, having dinner. The man told Sonam, "If you
ever lay your hands on my son again, I will kill you." These were the
exact words he used. I quickly vanished from the scene, taking a
roundabout route via the sides of the hostel to go to my room to pick up
my dinner-plate. Why should I get into trouble? It was the most
shameful act of my life - running away from the scene because of fear
when I should have also supported the man and probably given Sonam a
I had also seen, on many occasions, in the middle of the night, after
11.30 pm, when mostly everyone was asleep in the hostel and elsewhere
in the Ashram, some students have a bath and dress up really neatly with
perfume all over their clothes and body, going towards the Ashram. Some
of the windows in my room faced the road also. I used to wonder, at first,
why the boys should dress up so neatly as if they were off to a party or
something. I do not have to spell out the reasons to you all, I think.
4. The next physical incident relates to a murder at Puttaparthi which
was passed off as a suicide. But then, I am weary today, and hungry
too. Hope I can publish the rest of the story soon.
[I was not able to find his posting on the above]