Testimony from Meenakshi
SrikanthFrom : INDIA Subject : SATHYA SAI BABA: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY Posted on soc.culture.tamil by ex-student Meenakshi Srikanth in 1993 after some students tried to kill Sai Baba but failed. Meenakshi writes :
- The following is a chronicle of my experiences in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (Whitefield branch). You have my word about the truth of this article, which has no intention to pass judgment about the personality under consideration. Meenakshi warns that the information may shock. THE GOOD : An excellent orator in Telegu; does not have a radically new philosophy; effectively preaches age old values. Many followers attempt to practice the ideals; and there are numerous charity programmes organised in his name. THE BAD : How does he get his following? 'Miracles'. A few days after I joined the college, during darshan time Swami was casually talking about the power of meditation or some such thing when all of a sudden he waved his hands in the air and produced a pendant containing a beautiful picture of Lord Muruga. I was stunned. I had not seen anything like that before. I was not a devotee when I joined the college (my father asked me to), so this was something that really shook me. I went back to the hostel and waxed eloquent about the power of Swami to some of my seniors. They nodded sagely and smiled cryptically. It was not long before some of them called me aside and said "Don't start believing all this stuff. It does not take much to become a devotee, but it takes a lot to come out of it". Saying this one of them waved his hand and produced vibhuti and another produced a ring. Then they told me all. The simplicity of this is going to baffle you, so be prepared for the gullibility of the common man. Swami produces things out of 'thin air' by turning his right palm to face the ground while rotating it (parallel to the ground) a few times. He then makes a sudden upward motion (as if he is plucking a low lying fruit) and gives out whatever he has produced. The mechanism of doing this is simple. When he comes out of the mandir, his left hand will be holding a kerchief or letter or his flowing robe. Don't look at his smiling face or his overflowing hair. Look at his left hand: clutched in his hand with (mostly) the middle finger, ring finger and the little finger is whatever he is going to give out that session. Vibhuti pellets (those of you who have seen him give out vibhuti will recollect that he makes a powdering action with his fingers when he is actually delivering), rings or whatever. Just keep looking at his hand. There will be a time when a devotee will fall at his feet or when he will lean forward. At that time the stuff gets transferred to between his fingers in the right hand. This would be visible too (if you are looking for it). Very soon thereafter, the 'materialisation' takes place. Right, so you think this method is so stupid that even a goat would have found it out by now. Let me tell you something, just practice this a few times, and try it on your friends. You will be surprised by their surprise. I can do this easily now and have fooled many of my friends. Only I don't call myself god and have VIPs fall at my feet. I have seen these things happen hundreds of times. I have received vibhuti, laddu and such myself. In our hostel there was a coterie (select group) who knew about all these tricks. We used to have a ball of a time in darshan line and then share the hilarious experiences after the show was over. Once, Swami was out of the mandir and was collecting letters. He had a small silver pendant in his hand which we had all seen when he had gone past us in the line. He had transferred it to his right hand and was just waiting for someone to give it to, when a devotee from a back row extended a letter. Swami bent forward and stretched out his right palm to receive it. It was a fine Bangalore morning, the sun was out and the pendant in his hand was gleaming for all to see! We went black and blue for a second and suppressing a threatening-to-explode laugh, looked away. Swami went ahead unperturbed, and gave the pendant to some important looking guy down the line. We were talking about this for a whole week and even thought of writing a letter to Swami asking him to be more careful. On another occasion, a singer had come to Brindavan and we were listening to him. Swami wanted to give him a watch and it was in readiness beneath his left thigh in the sofa on which he was sitting. I was sitting three rows from Swami and watching him closely. The song over, Swami shifted a bit on his seat and the watch was now in his left hand. He bent forward and moved the watch to his right hand. I saw this, then looked up and saw Swami was watching me. I turned red but so did Swami! He started shifting around a lot and asked one of the students to change the direction of the table fan and when the audience was looking away, put the watch back in his left hand. Now, the student who was changing the fan was a nervous wreck with everyone watching him, and whatever happened, there were sparks flying out of the socket! Other students set it right, but by now the watch had gone back below the thigh. The singer never got it that day (I really felt sorry for him). The next morning in darshan line Swami came near me and opening his empty right palm, called me a 'Doubting Thomas'. I wished I could have asked him to open the left palm, since I knew he had something there. Now, this seems funny but I got very scared and wrote a very apologetic letter to him. There are a couple of other tricks he does. During Dussehra he does a vibhuti abhishek of Shirdi Sai Baba. He gets a pot, turns it upside down to show it empty, then puts his hand inside and vibhuti starts flowing out. Even a goat with a rational mind would figure out what he is doing. Take a pot, fill it with vibhuti and solidify it with some water and let it stand. Until you disturb it, nothing will fall out. Another thing he used to do was materialise linga. He does this by regurgitation (yes!). He makes motions as if he is trying to get it out of his stomach and soon enough, has it out of his mouth. You will find plenty of these if you visit the museum in Puttaparthi. The way he does this is also simple. There is always a queue of trusted lieutenants (secret police?) who stand by him and pass him white hand kerchiefs on which he would eventually place the linga. In one of these the linga will come and all he has to do is to take it close to his mouth and make a motion as if the linga had just dropped into the kerchief. I have not seen this myself (he no longer does it) but I have seen videos of this. My point is, once you have proved that one of his miracles is magic, the rest don't need any proof. Some students in the college know this and live a life of forced devotion and false pretence. They have to, for if they don't life can get very unpleasant. The parents of these students are very ardent devotees, whose lives have been defined by their devotion to Swami. It would be impossible to convince them that Swami is not what they think he is, but only a cheap charlatan doing popular tricks. The lives of these students are truly pitiable. They live a constant Jeckyll and Hyde life from which there is no reprieve. But the lives of some students are more horrible. THE UGLY : This I have not had personal experience with (thank holy heavens for that!) but it is 100% true because I have heard first hand accounts of these bizarre things. I have looked at enough circumstantial evidences along with these witness' accounts that I have no hesitation in telling that the following is true. How do I start telling this to you, gentle reader? In my very first few days in our hostel, I had the distinct impression that something ugly was going on about which everybody knew but none wanted to talk. Whenever Swami came to Bangalore, there always used to be a few students who got interviews every other day. These students were often referred to as those who are 'in form' (a cricket analogy) with Swami. These students were among the most privileged in the hostel. They could go outside the hostel (not normally allowed) as and when they like, and behave specially. The wardens and lecturers used to consult them before anything significant was done in the hostel. These students kept within themselves for most of the time. I was preoccupied with my own troubles and did not keep any close look at these, though I was curious. When I got to know about Swami from my seniors, they asked me if I noticed anything strange about the hostel. I told them. They smiled and asked me to keep an open eye, promising they would tell me all about it soon. It did not take me very long to find out what was different about these students. They were all gay. Now, kindly bring down those raised eyebrows my dear reader. All the indications, body languages, special jokes about husband and wives etc were there and it did not take a sleuth's effort to divine what was going on. I told about this to my seniors and the fact they told me was startling to say the least. Many of these students were made gay ('sodomized' would be an unrefined word) by Swami, who himself is a gay. (!) I did not believe it when they told me this. But not long after, I heard the experiences as narrated by students who had undergone the trauma themselves. Now, it so happened that a couple of these students were Tamils, with whom I became friendly quite soon. One of them used to tell me harrowing stories. When Swami was in Brindavan he used to get the call for interview at least once in three days. Whereas a student when he gets an interview is usually so elated and pleased that Swami has recognised his devotion etc - this boy, let's call him Nandan, always had a grim face as he walked into the bungalow. He never attended classes those days in which he got an interview. I have often seen him show marks in his chest and chin and say a flow of choice words of slang. Nandan often used to get covers (envelopes) from Swami in public and sometimes he would be asked to open one. It would contain crisp hundred rupee notes. (David's note: I have seen this happen many times). There is another word for giving money for such acts. Nandan was helpless. He could not go home and complain. His family and parents were devotees for thirty years and their very lives had been defined around Baba. Nandan, since he knew the world, has been knowing Swami and none else as God. He was first initiated into doing this when he was in school. Swami told him that he (Swami) was the only purusha in the world and the whole world was his wife. Nandan was asked to think of himself as Radha, devoted to the Krishna. Nandan's whole attitude towards life is now irrevocably changed.
There was another boy, Kumar (say), who was called for interview the first time. He was so elated. That afternoon a bunch of us went up to him (he was our junior) and asked him what happened. He had a blissful look on his face as he spoke. "Swami asked me if I had stomach ache? I said by Swami's grace I don't. Swami laughed and said 'Why do you have to hide it from me? Tell me, do you have stomach ache?' I don't know why but I said yes. Swami then said he will cure it and produced sandalwood oil from thin air and rubbed it on my stomach and below. I will never forget the experience". We did not need such proofs however. It was always obvious. Jokes with double meanings, pattings on the cheek, pinching students. He had the horrible habit of putting his hand inside the shirt pocket and pinching the chest. Students who entered this quicksand of destruction, whether willingly or otherwise, lead an unspeakable life. Devoted students held them in awe and the students who knew, either despised them or pitied them. And they had no recourse. There were students who went dangerously close to such a fate and escaped. My friend Ramana (say), was high on the hit list when he smartly realised this and moved out of sight by not attending bhajans or hiding in the back rows. That was the time I was on the hit list too, but our guardian angels intervened in the form of a summer vacation.
Towards the end of my stay in the place, the disease was only spreading. I was in Bangalore. In Puttaparthi (where we used to go some five times a year) things were far worse in numbers. I heard that many students there are gay either directly by the big man or transitively. The atmosphere, an all-boys place with zero outer world exposure for a prolonged period during adolescence, is only conducive to such a thing. This, in my opinion is the ugliest part of Swami. We used to divulge the information about Swami to our juniors, whether advisable or not. I always said it should be done if only to make them realise about this ugly part.