The Story of Dutch anti Sai Baba
Activist, Stijn Riemersma
Subject: The Story of Dutch anti Sai Baba Activist, Stijn Riemersma
Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 00:15:43 - 0800
Devotee becomes anti Sai Baba activist, In Noordhollands Dagblad, Saturday December 9th, 2000, by Arthur de Mijttenaere.
In the series 'The Turn around' people are interviewed from the province Noord-Holland whose life got a new turn. Today story seven: Stijn Riemersma. For twenty years she believed deeply in the miracle man Sai Baba, whom she now rejects, and she spends time, energy and money to defame this man.
Name: Stijn Riemersma
City: Broek in Waterland (village near Amsterdam)
The Turn around: Reading The Findings by the British David Bailey who tells about the fraud and Sai Baba's sexual misuse with young boys. For Stijn Riemersma after twenty years of believing deeply in Sai Baba, she is now convinced that the avatar (divine master) is a childmolester, who misuses his power to satisfy his sexual needs. Looking back she recognizes his deception. 'But when you belief in miracles, you aren't that critical; it was a kind of brain washing.' Yet, Stijn Riemersma feels the pain of having lost her faith. 'The thing I want most is to still believe in Sai Baba.'
Stijn Riemersma chooses her words carefully, is not all strange and very down to earth. Her clothing and the interior in her beautiful authentic farmhouse in Broek in Waterland are an example of Dutch soberness and thoroughness. Why did just this 58-year recently retired business woman consider the Indian guru Sai Baba for twenty years to be her Savior? Already in 1972 Riemersma became interested in the Indian guru after reading the book ėSai Baba Man of Miracles', and ten years later followed by the book ėSai Baba, the Holy Man and the Psychiatrist'. Both books were about miracles the Indian guru performed in India. Miracles like curing the sick and healing the lame.
An interest in the Indian avatar was born. And what Sai Baba preached harmoniously fit in with the beliefs of her reformed religion. "The teaching of Sai Baba is a combination based on the ten commandments in the bible and the ideas in the Bhagavad Gita, the holy book of the Hindus. "Love each other and love God above all, a teaching that appealed to me, and still does," she simply explains.
Riemersma attended meetings of Sai Baba devotees in Utrecht. Sai Baba became world famous outside India in the seventies, with hundreds of thousands of followers in the West. With an iron discipline she went to these gatherings of twenty to 25 people. "We didn't do anything wrong at these meetings. We all had the idea: we have found our Savior." When they looked at her strangely in the 'small town community' Broek in Waterland because of her Baba-beliefs, it didn't bother her. "You feel a bit better with Baba, and you know you have to follow your own path." The teachings of Sai Baba were not radical. "He was not like the Bhagwan who advocated free abortion, free euthanasie and free sex. Such extreme points of view are not mine. Sai Baba pretended to be different. He said: "come to me with empty hands and I will fill them with love."
For her life the faith in the Avatar was something she needed to depend on. A source in the search for the good life with from a more peaceful angle look. Just like hundreds of thousands of other Westerners, Riemersma visited India several times, to be near the presence of the de benefactor. In the village Puttaparthi in South-India, the ashram (community with a spiritual leader) Prasanthi Nilayam - the residence Abode of Peace n she often saw the guru perform. His orange robe, mirrors the highest state of being. He is according to his teachings God in human form.
These darshans (divine encounters) take place twice a day. She, as well as other five to six thousand attendees at the temple court, had to draw a number, hoping to get a place with a good view at the Avatar. Six times she traveled to India. Every time she profoundly wished for an interview, a personal meeting with Baba, but this happy occasion never crossed her path. What is the secret that a small man in India can mesmerize such masses of people? Riemersma searches for an answer. "We were moved and happy when we saw him. A tiny man who had obtained the highest degree in divinity. Charisma? Radiance? No doubt he has that. But it also was a form of brainwashing, of mass psychosis."
The darshans consisted of two third visitors from abroad, who could count on a warm interest of their guru. He walked by the crowds and always spent more time at the man's side compared to the woman's side. Especially young men got personal interviews. Looking backwards Riemersma realizes why: "Naturally this was obvious. But then I didn't know."
A chosen young man from Purmerend who had had a private interview with Sai Baba, didn't want to tell anything about it in her group. Sai Baba had told him so. "It heightened the mystery through which this man became the guru of our group. We looked up to him. Of all things, he had spoken with the Savior. Yet now I suspect that this young man was molested, and out of feelings of shame kept his mouth shut."
During personal interviews Sai Baba performs his magical abilities, like materializing (creating something out of nothing) watches and gemstones. "Some said that he just pulls those things from underneath a pillow of his velvet chair. But this couldn't diminish our faith, because 'Sai Baba would do so to test our faith'." Furthermore Riemersma, along with many others, stumbled into buying a small apartment in the Holland-Switzerland house in the ashram, for thousands of guilders. At first it was presented as if she would allowed to stay there for six months per year, but later it became clear that it was only six weeks. During the last decades, the Sai Baba village has grown into a florishing community, with a profitable religious industry. The village functions as a lucrative enterprise for Sai Baba and his Organisation, including schools, universities and many shops selling cheap merchandise about the Avatar.
Change of Faith
In October of 1999, Riemersma visited the Indian guru for the last time. In March the year 2000, in one stroke, the turn around took place. Through the mail, she ordered (out of curiosity) the report The Findings, by ex devotees David Bailey and his wife, from UK, both of whom had been well known members in the religious community, and who had been matched and married by Sai Baba himself.
As a musical teacher in the schools of the guru, Bailey came to know the shocking truth about Sai Baba: the truth that he very often misuses his young, male devotees. The holy man, now 75 years of age, appeared to be a peadophile who in an unrestricted way, abused his power to obtain his sexual pleasures from young adolescents.
Bailey considered it his duty to make this known worldwide, and took distance from the guru. By means of the publication of The Findings the eyes of many Baba-devotees have been opened. Also Stijn Riemersma, who after reading halfway the forty pages of the report, literally dropped her belief. The evidence was conclusive. "For these factual stories, legal documents and sworn statements, I could not close my eyes."
For twenty years she was a devoted believer, but in one stroke this was over. Although she emotionally lost the ground under her feet, the huge shock which changed her life, put her in a grieving process that still continues. "Together with my husband, who never had been attracted to this guru, I took down all pictures of Baba in our house, and destroyed them." On the internet (among others at the site www.exbaba.nl) dozens of the anti-Baba testimonies are to be found. 'These are stories of devotees from Denmark, England, and the United States, who have been abused by him. It happened by a fixed pattern. During a private interview, he asked the guys to drop their pants, upon which he massaged their pubic hair and penis with oil. If they passed the test well, they were allowed to come again. In the second session the guys had to perform oral sex with him. Whereupon they weren't supposed to talk, the godhead told them.'
Even though stories about Sai Baba's peadophilia circulated before, Riemersma ignored them. Naive, she now believes. 'These were always stories of a single journalist. In the testimonies of Bailey it is about a whole list of young men, or older ones who have been abused by him years ago.' The peadophelic power game of Sai Baba is very deceitful. No doubt that everything the holiness does is always good? At least, that is how parents have raised their children. Therefore, the children can hardly protest. 'Completely overruled and upset, they don't know what is happening to them. What is done to them by a holy man!'
Her faith melted away through the stories about peadophilia Riemersma has turned around completely from being a devoted member to an anti Sai Baba-activist. She now is a spokeswoman for the Dutch action committee against the guru. She, when needed, gives interviews, writes letters about the truth concerning Sai Baba, and spends time and money to defame the practices of this man.
With some success, because the following of the Indian guru last year has diminished. Of the about 2800 subscribers to the Dutch Sai Baba Newsletter, 800 have cancelled their subscription, partly because Riemersma distributes The Findings in the Netherlands. If others lose their faith, Riemersma tries to help them. She always uses the same argument. 'I advise: God has stayed the same. But over the years we have created the wrong image.'
Riemersma doesn't blame the regular devotees of Baba, she repeatedly emphasizes. "It is not so that the members are part of it. But the top of the Baba organisation does know, and justifies his peadophile behavior, with the false argument that they cannot understand why God is doing such a thing. I am convinced of this.' What hurts her above all is the fact that the Central Committee of Sai Baba-Netherlands (circa 5000 sympathizers) does not want to talk with her because she is believed to be jealous while ėshe never has had a personal interview with him'. Huge nonsense, according to Riemersma. 'I always tell them that once you know someone abuses his children, your relationship with him changes. Whether he is your neighbor, or Sai Baba."
Devoted believers repeat the argument Sai Baba once used himself when he was accused of peadophilia: namely that his body is pure and therefore it does not need sex. Or they say that Sai Baba treats the boys this way to help them overcome their sexual problems. 'In their words: Sai Baba is God; if Sai Baba does these things, they have to be allright.' In a sect you can be blind and deaf to everything.