RUMOURS FLYING ACROSS THE WORLD?
Testimony from Greg Gerson
Replies, comments on information recently received by one of the JuST group working committee:-
I live in Houston, Texas. I was a devotee of Sai Baba from 1993 till around 2000.
I was introduced to Sai Baba by my professor in graduate school. My professor is a Sai devotee and a well respected Fulbright scholarship winner in the subject of Hindu studies. I went with her to visit Sai Baba as part of a full credit study tour of Hinduism in South India.
To make a long story shorter, on my first visit we only stayed three days at Whitefield, I returned three more times on my own to visit Sai Baba. My longest continual stay was ten months in 1995-96. I wrote my master's thesis on the teachings of Sai Baba. My last visit was for three months at the end of 1997. I will never go back.
During my visits I had five interviews. The first four of which I received private interviews alone with Sai Baba. Sai Baba also gave me two rings: one is silver with his face in gold and the other is a "green diamond". I no longer wear either.
During one interview, which occurred just before I was scheduled to fly home to America, while we were alone, Sai Baba had me pull down my pants. He then "materialized" oil and pulled down my underwear and applied the oil on my lower abdomen below my navel and above my penis. He did not touch me sexually or ask me to do anything to him. He did embrace me for what seemed like a long time (perhaps 30 seconds or more) but nothing else. During that visit I was 26 or 27 years old. At another point in this interview when I was with three or four others in the smaller interview room, Sai Baba slapped me across the face quite hard when I was not looking.
I injured my green gem ring in about 1996 and discovered the silver foil inside. I took the ring to a qualified jeweler in Houston and he confirmed that the "gem" was worthless junk.
I have been reading the exbaba.com web site for some time. I just thought you might be interested in hearing from me regarding these two important topics and my personal experience with them. A) Sai Baba and sexual misconduct B) Sai Baba and fake jewels.
I have no ill will towards Sai Baba. I am trying to move on. I simply want to know the truth and get real proof about these important issues regarding Sai Baba such as: faking materializations, murders, sex offenses, money issues, his true birthdates and personal history, bribes to the police and public officials, and more.
I am no longer a devotee of Sai Baba. I would not recommend Sai Baba as a guru to anyone.
I spent almost a year and a half of my life living in Sai Baba's ashrams. I heard stories from other young men to whom Sai Baba applied oil. So perhaps it is not especially noteworthy. I also heard of a young man who Sai Baba kissed on the mouth and another young man Sai Baba touched inappropriately (on his genitals).
But, as I am sure you are very aware, these types of second and third hand stories are useless. What is desperately needed is the Indian students of Sai Baba's schools who supposedly underwent true molestation to come forward with their stories (apparently there are a lot?). Only then will progress be made in exposing Sai Baba appropriately.
The Few who Dare Speak Out include the writer of the above, Greg Gerson, has kindly given permission to post his name. In this he is an honourable exception to the rule. Members of the exposť receive hundreds of communications which cannot be posted or brought further for reasons of privacy. This is always to Sathya Sai's advantage.
There are many reasons for people who are disaffected not to wish to have their names posted:-
1. It can cause harassment from so-called 'devotees', as is known from many posts on bulletin boards and offensive e-mails received.
2. There are persons in touch with us whose marriages would disintegrate if their spouses knew they were disaffected, and many who would lose all their friends and contacts if their names came out.
3. Most who have been devotees who have lost all Sai contacts do not want this fact commonly known afterwards because many people wonder how they could have been so naive and foolish, not least employers or other important contacts.
4. The majority of those whose faith has been so badly abused (often after great selfless service and years of donating etc.) naturally just want to try to put it all behind them and forget as much as possible. Few people in any serious controversy are willing or able to risk getting anywhere near the public limelight.Above all, the victims of Sathya Sai's various forms of sexual molestation who are so far undeclared (esp. students at the colleges) will probably take years to deal with these traumas and the fear of speaking out (and there is all reason to fear this for those stuck in India)... they deserve all our support in puncturing this myth of Sai's purity and goodness. Then there are all those youth (and others) who have not yet been inducted and who would risk the attentions of Sai and the considerable 'pedophile ring' consisting in former students he had 'initiated' to it.
He was fortunate that he got out before things went further with Sathya Sai. The oiling of stomach and/or the genitals is evidently a method of gradual approach... testing of potential sexual partners. That this unasked-for genital interference takes place has been admitted openly by central coordinators in the Sai organisation (e.g.. Thorbjorn Meyer) and other so-called 'Sai VIPs', including in radio and TV interviews. Some devotees have also tried to rationalise it in postings on the web! However, any touching of genitals by other than doctors with a patient's consent being illegal acts. That Greg did not respond to a long embrace and was slapped suddenly is very like the techniques that psychopaths use to soften up their victims. Similar reactions to other young men with whom Sathya Sai was angry when they did not get sexually aroused are recorded in several of the affidavits on the internet. It is understandably typical of many (but not all) abused people that they can take up to decades to deal with it, if then, and only few come forth in public. It is not a thing one exactly longs to do... explain what was done to oneself and then face suspicion and whatever worse may come. Eventually, when allegations begin to snowball, they can help to bring about legal action, as we now begin to see in Catholic Church communities after decades of abuses all over the world. Later, Greg Gerson explained further:
I would like to make one last point. I have heard so many mystical, fantastical stories told to me by fellow devotees such as: "Sai Baba walked through my bedroom wall in America..." and on and on and on !!! I quickly came to understand that I had to be very wary and skeptical of these fantastic second, third, forth, etc. hand stories. Many of these stories were absolutely absurd and ridiculous.
Even Conny Larsson, one the principle figures in the Exbaba.com site gave a group of Americans (which included me in 1995) a public dharma talk about his miraculous experiences with Sai Baba. He went on and on weaving an amazingly entertaining story, even bursting uncontrollably into torrents of tears. Now he is talking about having had sex with Sai Baba? Sifting through the variety of stories regarding Sai Baba and sex offenses must be a challenging task.
In conclusion, I would like to know if anyone is attempting to contact former students who attended Sai Baba's schools. Is there even one or two Indian students who have fully come forward regarding these allegations? Also, have the number of Westerners who visit Sai Baba diminished since these things have come out?
Second-hand stories as 'rumours' All accounts of sexual abuse are necessarily at second-hand (unless one was personally involved) and the exposure of such practices always has to begin with what can appear to be 'rumours'. There can be no 'smoking gun', no 'corpse' in such cases. Therefore we do find that reports from people - whether first-hand victims or at second-hand via a friend etc. - are not necessarily baseless! This is an unavoidable step in uncovering sexual abuse, in which huge difficulties are involved. The road to conviction and imprisonment is very long and relatively very few pedophiles are brought that far anyhow, and it always begins with allegations coming into the public sphere (often indirectly so as to protect victims). In the case of Sathya Sai, this is no once off or small matter. It involves many dozens of open allegations and over a score of signed sworn affidavits. Also, the time span involved is decades. We in the JuST group have been very cautious about forwarding allegations until extensive investigations were made. We have found it is a case of no smoke without fire. Very smoky, very fiery!
Students in SSB colleges have stood forth as best they could in the dangerous circumstances. Without their contacting David Bailey and begging him to listen and to help them, the entire matter might well still have been unknown. As a devotee David Bailey had over 100 interviews!!! He was maligned by Sai slanderers as being a pedophile himself, and was said to be in prison then to have hung himself. An ex-follower recently mailed to ask about this slander, which is still being spread by members of the Sai Organisation in Canada. Apropos, he is in fine fettle, and anyone who wishes can view him on his 2003 website at http://www.yoga-ez-fitness-wear.com/music-relaxation.html
Mails have been received from several Sai students who declare that it is virtually a death sentence to stand forth in India. Some have e-mailed members of the JuST group in the strictest confidence, which cannot therefore be published. Some have posted very credible accounts that confirm other accounts, using public message boards under cover of pseudonyms. In two cases they have been met with substantial threats in vile language from anonymous posters - including a death threat - and have soon ceased to post more. There is a lot of back-up testimony to the existence of a powerful circle of abusers around Sathya Sai... plus evidence of student deaths on campus at various times (in addition to the four who were executed in June, 1993) which remain uninvestigated due to cover-up by local police, the Sathya Sai Central Trust and the ashram. The evidence of this was in certain local Indian newspapers and is now partly found on the Internet, and not least in the writings of B. Premanand.
A once much-revered close devotee of Sai was Dr. Naresh. Bhatia, the former head of the blood bank at the Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital and author of a self-biographical Sai book (The Dreams & Realities. Face to Face with GOD, Faber, Virginia, USA: Leela Press Inc., 1996. Later withdrawn on orders from Sai Baba). He claimed to have had a longstanding sexual relationship with Sai Baba. Bhatia resigned from his post at the hospital in December 1999 and is now an administrator at a hospital in New Delhi.
The Daily Telegraph reported the following "Contacted by phone, Bhatia said that he had become a devotee of Sai Baba in 1971, at the age of 20, and that he had had sexual relations with Sai Baba for a total of '15 or 16 years'. In that time, he said, he was also aware that Sai Baba had relations with 'many, many' students from the college and school, and with devotees from overseas." Dr. Bhatia has since been effectively silenced, after having fled from thugs who came to his house in Puttaparthi and made some mutual agreement with the Sai Baba authorities.
A former student Ashok Krishnamurthy in 1987-89 posted in February 1999 on society culture australian some of his experiences concerning the existence of late night orgies Sai has with students and how he was warned beforehand by other students. (Apropos, a member of JuST has sometimes seen young students in their best clothes sitting waiting outside the interview room -and innocently wondered why and what for - at about 8.30 p.m. in the evenings, back when Sai still had his bedroom above it, back in the 1980s until 1993.) He also wrote that very few students actually believed in Sai's 'materialisations' and that some students amazed him by doing the same tricks in the hostel to show him how it was done. As another student wrote on a bulletin board, they are unable to tell about any of this without major confrontations with their long-term devotee families who sent them there, and probable expulsion from the colleges, loss of education and future likely job prospects... or yet worse! They are totally trapped and can be misused at Sai's convenience. Practically no one who they might dare to tell will listen to them, and no one can really help them anyhow, except by struggling to bring their cause to public notice. This is harder by far in India than in more enlightened, liberated parts of the world, where it is still more than tough enough.
The manuscript of Conny Larsson's long self-biography, yet to be published, in which he deals with his entire Sai involvement and the crisis through which he went when his disillusionment became critical is an impressive testimony. He answers the many questions that arose in our minds after he finally told how he had long been sexually abused by Sai, long believing it to be some kind of healing (which it most definitely was not!). He describes in very convincing detail the confusion and denial that worked in him and which is operative on so many levels in the mind of a devotee, and not least of course of those who are approached sexually and/or frequently sexually molested and abused by Sai.
Later letter from Greg Gersson
A LETTER CONCERNING CUTTING TIES TO SATHYA SAI BABA
Greg Gerson, USA.
(MA in East /West Psychology)
Even though I have cut ties with Sathya Sai Baba, I am still interested in following the progress of the exposure of the negative side of the Sai Baba movement. As a result of this interest I have been reading the exbaba.com website for some time. Recently I discovered that my former professor who introduced me to Sathya Sai Baba has signed the public petition. (Arlene Mazak Ph.D. No 474 on the petition). In the summer of 1993, she led a study tour of South India that I attended with nine other students. During this tour we visited her guru, Sathya Sai Baba at his ashram near Bangalore. It was then that she and her devotee male companion (I don't know if he is still a devotee) gave me a laminated photo mounted on wood of Sai Baba and extolled his miraculous powers, thus the brain washing of me began.
I remember once during this study tour, Arlene Mazak, her companion, Bill Watson and I were in their hotel room in India. Arlene had a candle burning on a wooden dresser in front of Sathya Sai Baba's picture. Arlene was in the bathroom and Bill went downstairs. The candle was very low, almost to the point of burning the dresser, so I put out the flame. A short time later Arlene came into the room and noticed the candle was extinguished. She immediately said, "thank you Baba," inferring that it was some sort of miracle performed by Sai Baba which prevented a fire. I informed her that I had put out the candle and she disappointedly said "oh....."
I relay this simple story because, looking back, it was the first time I observed the phenomenon of intelligent accomplished people, once they have given themselves over to the Sai Baba movement and all of its brain-washing, begin to see everything in their world as miraculously influenced by Sathya Sai Baba.
This “Sai Baba influenced” world view creates a false sense of special ness, that is very pervasive among devotees and is one of the most difficult barriers to seeing through the brain washing created by the Sai Baba organization. Actually, this false special ness is a main form the brainwashing takes. By “special ness” I mean the notion devotees have that they are the special few who have the karmic good fortune of becoming followers of Sathya Sai Baba, who they believe is God on Earth, possessing omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence, that he knows everything about them, has been watching them all their lives (and past lives) protects them from harm, and has a special purpose for them.
I think this is one of the main reasons why, over the years, so many books have written about Sathya Sai Baba. The authors believe that it is their special duty to tell others about Sai Baba. I also think that to a certain extent, writing a book about one’s personal experiences with “Baba” or “Swami”, as he is often called by his devotees, is a form of ego aggrandizement and bragging on the part of these authors. So many people visit Sai baba (the numbers are lessening because of the accusations of sex abuse) that only a small percent have close contact with Sai Baba. As a result of this, those devotees who have had close contact with him, even if it was 20 or30 years ago, are held in high esteem by many followers who have not had the opportunity. Many devotees are very eager to read books and hear stories about Sai Baba and his supposed miraculous powers. I believe this is a major source of both intentional and unintentional brainwashing in the Sathya Sai Baba organization.
Brainwashing is defined here as indoctrination into new attitudes, beliefs, and values in such a way that the person is unwilling or unable to look critically at his or her new mindset. In my view there are two basic types of brain washing occurring in the Sathya Sai Baba movement: unintentional and intentional.
Unintentional brainwashing, which is milder than intentional, is of the kind carried out by my former professor when she introduced me to Sathya Sai Baba. At the time, she was unaware of any negative aspects of Sai Baba such as accusations of molestation of young men and fake materializations. She simply told me stories about Sai Baba and that he had the miraculous ability to know my thoughts visit me in dreams, protect me from harm and more. This is brainwashing because it altered my view of reality as well as my beliefs and values. Because it was my professor, who was an authority figure, I was more likely to take in these claims about Sai Baba and give them merit. This type of brainwashing is unintentional because my professor believed the things she was telling me and had no ulterior motives such as power, money, and fame. This is also the type of brainwashing that occurs in the books written by devotees as well as in Sai Baba’s ashram and in the Sai Baba centers around the world when devotees tell new people about Sai Baba.
Intentional brainwashing is much more dangerous and malicious. This is the type waged by Sathya Sai Baba and his close leaders as well as anyone else who knows the truth about the negative side of Sai Baba and is using the brainwashing for personal gain (more on this later).
A personal example of my own false sense of special ness due to brainwashing relates to the two rings Sai Baba “materialized” for me. In August of 1994 on my second visit to Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram I had an interview during which he “materialized” (see exbaba.com for how he fakes materializations) a silver ring with his bust in gold on the top. I received the ring in 1994 and yet I wanted to break ties with Sai Baba and remove it as early as 1995 (more on why later). I stopped wearing the green gem ring Sai Baba “materialized” for me in November of 1996 on my third visit after discovering its being fake. But to be honest, my brainwashing was so strong; I still sometimes wore it on a chain around my neck as recently as 2000.
A main reason I was so reluctant to remove the rings Sai Baba gave me, especially the silver ring with his face was that I had read and was told many times by devotees that rings (and other "materialized" objects) given by Sai Baba were talismans which would protect the wearer from harm. I very much wanted this to be true, that Sai Baba was watching over me and protecting me from harm. In addition, Sai Baba told me that the green gem ring would give me "peace of mind".
This type of "special ness" is hard to give up. If I broke ties with Sai Baba and took off the rings I would have to face the anxiety of becoming "normal" again, a regular person, vulnerable to the dangers of this world. I remember that whenever I contemplated breaking ties with Sai Baba (long before any of the negative internet sites) I would feel guilty and nervous and instinctively touch my ring with my thumb. I also used to look at it all the time. It was a constant reminder of my connection to Sai Baba. It was only when I began reading an anti Sai Baba website which I stumbled upon looking for a pro Sai web site that I permanently removed my Sai Baba rings and packed away my Sai Baba books and pictures.
It was like a spell was broken. Questions I had about the Sai Baba organization and Sai Baba himself that had bothered me for several years became clearer. For example, I never understood why he had armed guards with bayonets on their rifles in front of his home in the evenings. And why he had two men with semi-automatic pistols clearly visible under their white shirts accompanying him during darshan. One of the most essential teachings of Hinduism is nonviolence, yet here was supposedly the greatest spiritual teacher of recent times with dangerous guns right under his nose in his ashram. I also found it bothersome that Sai Baba had so many ultra luxury European automobiles that he was chauffeured around in. I could perhaps understand having one Mercedes Benz, BMW or Jaguar, but why five or more? I also did not understand why while we were alone during one interview in the summer of 1994, Sai Baba told me to pull down my pants. He then “materialized” a small amount of oil, pulled down my underwear and applied it to my lower abdomen. If he were God on Earth why would he have to use such crude and inappropriate means to give me some mysterious blessing, which he did not even bother to explain to me?
Many other things concern me about the Sai Baba movement, but returning to my rings for a moment, why did Sai Baba give me a fake gem? At one point, I accidentally injured it so I took it to a jeweler in Houston who confirmed that it was of no value. It was only after examining the exbaba.com web site and learning about the negative side of the Sai Baba movement such as how Sai Baba fakes his materializations, and seeing it captured on film that some of my questions and concerns were answered. The primary answer was both troubling and a big relief, one that I had expected for years.
This answer is a difficult one for many, many brainwashed devotees to face. It is this: Sathya Sai Baba is not God on Earth. He is most likely not even a genuine holy man and his organization is corrupt. He is a cult figure who sometimes uses his power over devotees to take advantage of them. When I realized this I no longer felt anxious over removing my supposedly special rings. I knew they had no mystical power and, that I am not some sort of special devotee.