A SHORT HISTORY OF SATHYA SAI BABA
Sri Sathya Sai Baba was born in South India, in the tiny village of Puttaparthi, on 23 November 1926. His given name was Satyanarayana and his family name was Raju. On 20 October 1940, at the age of fourteen, he declared to his family and to the people of his village that he was the reincarnation of an Indian saint who had died in 1918, named Shirdi Sai Baba, and that he would henceforth be known as Sai Baba. Sai Baba's ashram, built by his devotees close to the village where he was born, was inaugurated on 23 November 1950. It is called Prasanthi Nilayam (Abode of Divine Peace). It has been the gathering place of millions of spiritual pilgrims of various faiths from all over the world. During the period 14–23 November 1995, the celebrations for the 70th birthday of Sathya Sai Baba took place in Prasanthi Nilayam. More than one million people, including the President and Prime Minister of India, assembled in Prasanthi Nilayam to pay homage to Sathya Sai Baba during these celebrations.
Today, the Sai Organisation claims over 1,200 Sathya Sai Baba centres, spread through 137 countries around the world.
It is fair to say that Sai Baba is a highly revered spiritual leader, whose life and message has inspired millions of people throughout the world to turn Godward and lead more purposeful and moral lives. The stories of his "miracles" are many and legendary in their telling and retelling. Scores of famous Westerners have added their own exciting synchronistic accounts of how Sai Baba saved them from certain death by "appearing" before them at crucial moments. Accounts of Sai Baba–related manifestations and materialisations are also widespread, adding to the air that Sai Baba is literally the reappearance of God on Earth.
Unfortunately, this is where the fairytale ends. A growing number of boys and young men are coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment, sexual abuse and rape. And now that attention has been focused on the Swami, one finds many more accounts of faked miracles, suspicious deaths, massive financial fraud, weapons and explosives being found in the ashram, an assassination attempt, and yet more cases of paedophilia and homosexual abuse.
With news of these events and other incidents, the seeds of doubt have been sown in many minds. How is it that Sai Baba's own brother-in-law died of rabies? Why did Baba have to be hospitalised for a ruptured appendix and a broken leg? Why does he travel in Mercedes cars and require heavy protection? Why does Sai Baba have to wave his hand in circles before producing anything? Does his occasional transvestism and derision for women really illustrate the male-female principle of the universe?
It is possible we will never find the real truth to many of the above rumours and allegations, with the exception of the sexual abuse cases. We have extracted the following accounts from just three of the many testimonies now emerging. We have also spoken to many former long-term devotees who have now left the organisation.
For those wishing to pursue the matter further, we suggest as a starting point that you get onto the Internet and visit http://www.myfreeoffice.com/saibabaexposed/.
Let me emphasise that this information does not reflect one or two disgruntled devotees "who did not get enough attention". It reflects the fact that many, many boys and young men have been sexually abused by someone in whom they gave their total trust. Their silence was maintained because the victims knew that no one would believe them.
I hope this article can rectify that situation somewhat.
— Duncan M. Roads (Editor)
Terry Gallagher, Hans de Kraker, Jens and Gurprit Sethi
Compiled from the website: www.myfreeoffice.com/ saibabaexposed/
1 • TERRY GALLAGHER'S TESTIMONY (Editorial NOTE: Mr. Gallagher was a major figure in the Sathya Sai Baba Organisation, the top leader in Australia for three years before he resigned in disgust. See also more about him here)
What began as a wonderful spiritual journey ended with total disbelief and bitter disappointment when we found out the truth. Perhaps I should start at the beginning with a brief account of that journey.
After reading a book called Man of Miracles, I set off for India (and Puttaparthi) with my wife and three young daughters, in an organised group for Christmas 1983. What we found when we arrived in India was something I had been searching for all my life: the most beautiful, peaceful atmosphere, with wonderful people searching for their own spiritual truth, living in a community whose whole objective was that of improving self-awareness and achieving self-realisation through the teachings of a living guru—Sai Baba.
Adjacent to the ashram, and provided free of cost to the students, was a primary school for boys and girls, and various colleges for boys where spiritual teachings were incorporated into the normal academic disciplines. We were all very impressed and motivated towards learning as much as possible about what Sai Baba had to teach us.
The celebration of Christmas came and went, after which our family was called for an interview with Sai Baba. As a result of this interview and what appeared at the time to be the most perfect environment for students and devotees to advance their spiritual lives, I made a substantial donation to the Central Trust to help them fund their educational programs. Upon leaving the interview, I was told by Sai Baba that I should sit on the verandah of the mandir in future, with students from the colleges and other devotees. As it turned out, this gave me the opportunity to meet people and observe events very closely that I otherwise might not have had the opportunity to do. We all had mixed feelings when we had to leave the ashram and return to Australia—sad in having to leave, and joy in what we had experienced.
We returned to the ashram again in 1985 for one month; and then in 1986 we stayed for seven months, at which time our daughters attended Sai Baba's school. It was during this time that I began to observe things that made me question what I had experienced on previous visits. Having a scientific background, I began to observe a set routine that Sai Baba followed each morning and evening during darshan and, in particular, how he materialised vibhuti (holy ash). I will never forget the look of anguish on Sai Baba's face when he came onto the verandah of the mandir early one morning and dropped two vibhuti pellets in front of me as he attempted to accept a rose from a college student. There was no vibhuti materialisation during darshan that morning!
In the months that followed, I observed how he transferred these vibhuti pellets from one hand to the other, using the letters he collects from devotees to disguise his movements. In the many interviews that followed, I also observed more than thirty instances of rings, "diamonds", japamalas, vibhuti containers, etc., all being produced by sleight of hand and deception. At first I kept this information to myself. I reasoned that if this was what made people come to see Sai Baba, resulting in their becoming more spiritual, what harm could it do? Eventually I told my wife and children, who also saw through this"materialisation" trickery.
It was the observations and information that followed on from these initial findings that concerned me most, especially those relating to students being sexually interfered with in grotesque ways by Sai Baba. We returned to the ashram several times during the following years, making further observations and having these confirmed by college students and long-term devotees living at the ashram. During this time, I was the Central Coordinator for three years for the Sathya Sai Organisation in Australia.
It wasn't until 1993, following the [6 June] assassination attempt on Sai Baba, resulting in the murder of four college students and two assistants in the mandir, that we made our last visit to India. The purpose of this visit was to find the reason why former students of Sai Baba's college would want to kill him, particularly when they had been given a free education! The eyewitness accounts were horrific! After bursting into the mandir, four students found themselves trapped upstairs where Sai Baba was staying. Each was interrogated by police, then one at a time they were executed. The stench of death was everywhere. I made further inquiries about Sai Baba having sexual relations with college boys and male students— some of these as young as seven years of age—and whether this was the rea son for former students wanting to kill him. I was told, to my horror, that this was an acceptable Indian practice! I felt sick, and just wanted to take my family and leave the ashram and India as quickly as possible.
Before we did, we were all called for interview with Sai Baba, and we told him what we had experienced and been told. Sai Baba made no comment on our accusations and was only anxious to know who had told us these details, requesting us to tell him several times! Having had dozens of interviews over the years, this was the most stressful and uncomfortable interview our family had ever experienced. Sai Baba was tense and agitated, and his body language told us all that what we had found out about him was the truth! We left the interview and returned to Australia.
The following years were very difficult spiritually; we concentrated on all the positive aspects we had experienced over the past ten years and found this comforting. When we attempted to tell others about our experiences and the truth about Sai Baba, no one would believe us, except those who had also had similar experiences—and mostly fear prevents them from telling others. It has only been in the past twelve months that former students and devotees of Sai Baba have begun communicating with each other, confirming experiences to be true and supporting each other spiritually and emotionally when necessary.
I now know the truth about Sai Baba and sincerely pray that others, too, will follow both their logic and intuition and also find the truth. Terry Gallagher Ex–Central Coordinator of Sathya Sai Organisation, Australia
(Source: Terry Gallagher's letter to Faye and David Bailey, The Quarterly, UK, www.myfreeoffice.com/saibabaexposed/)
"In the many interviews that followed, I also observed more than thirty instances of rings, 'diamonds', vibhuti containers... all being produced by sleight of hand and deception."
2 • HANS DE KRAKER'S TESTIMONY
I travelled to India extensively for a period of four years. During this period (1992–94), I had many (35) private audiences with Sai Baba. I got to know him in 1988 through a friend in Italy who had passed on a book. After about four years, I made my first trip to India with my girlfriend, mother and father. The years that followed were making for some very intense years in my life.
Sai Baba, fairly much from the first private audience, had suggested to me and my girlfriend that we were to split up from each other for our own good. He did this in a very public and embarrassing way, purposely humiliating my girlfriend and myself. We had built a lot of "faith and mystery" around him and had by now accepted him has a God incarnate on Earth, the epitome of spirituality, the epitome of human divine spiritual expression. There were many books written by people from all parts of the world that spoke about miracle after miracle. People had been cured from fatal diseases by virtue of touching jewellery "materi alised by Swami". He "appeared" in front of people in all differ ent parts of the world. Millions of people travelled to India to see "God on Earth". Millions of people came and cried upon his sight; some were cured of their illnesses, some freed of their anxieties of life, and some died in peace. Some left laden with trinkets or real golden rings, watches, pendants, all "materialised by Swami".
Sai Baba has been enjoying a lot of popularity in the West. He has a great ability to play with and communicate to large crowds of people. It is this particular power that allows him to manipulate people. It takes a Great Man not to abuse this power...
During these four years of travels to India, Sai Baba would perform a certain ritual each time he would call me in for a private audience or interview. He would ask me to take down my pants. He would then "oint" my umbilical area, testicles and penis with oil which he "materialised". After this ritual, he would ask me to pull up my pants and tidy them up. I had heard of this ritual and it seemed to be "common knowledge" that this was done to balance the sexual energy or kundalini. I had never thought anything of it. When I was in Elementary School in Holland, the school doctor used to check and touch your testicles to see if you were growing properly. I likened this ritual to a visit to the doctor. It was just for a different purpose. Very unassumingly I continued to receive this treatment, convinced it was going to do me some good!
Each and every trip he would "materialise" trinkets, jewellery, vibhuti and oil. I noticed that he was particularly generous with the people that donated a lot of money or equipment for the various kitchens in the ashram. I did also notice that he would call in a lot of young guys out of the crowd, and never girls. In one particular interview, I saw him take a ring from under the handkerchief that was on the armrest of his chair. I thought not much of it. I never really attached much value to the materialisations and knew that the receiver was going to be an ecstatically happy person... Shortly after, one of my friends in the group said to me: "Gosh, what a test! Swami wanted to show me that he did not materialise the ring, but that he took it from under his handkerchief! Isn't he funny! He is really testing us!" I did not give it any focus; I never had focused much on these materialisations, and the thought of accepting that he was not actually materialising these objects was probably very unattractive, tough for my mind. I had also received a ring, two bracelets and a necklace, so I guess I had satisfied that desire!
Through the years I got more and more attention on a personal level from Sai Baba. This went accompanied with receiving VIP seating for doing work in the kitchen. As the crowds grew over the years, it became increasingly difficult to see "Swami" up close. There was a preferred seating area for people who worked in the kitchen, since they were not able to "do the lines". They often worked until 30 minutes before darshan. Arriving that late, they would always find themselves sitting in the back of the large crowd, so by getting this "reserved seat" they were able every now and then to have a close encounter with "the Master". These groups were organised in lines of two or three and rotated so that everybody got a fair chance. Although initially I was very much against this way of operating, I succumbed to my desire to get a close encounter with "the Master" and accepted a preferred seat the third time it was offered to me.
After two years I had become a "steady member" of a group that would travel to India three times a year to do volunteer work in the ashram. The group would cook food for up to 6,000 people around the festivals and various multi-religious celebrations (Christmas, Shivaraatri, etc.). The group would bring thousands of kilos of food at its own expense as well as a lot of industrial kitchen machinery, etc. There were many other groups that brought help in some form or shape, and it was beautiful to be part of this enormous
Our group had a place of its own. We did not have to wait in line and always had front-row seating. On some occasions (on festivals and celebrations), we were even allowed to sit on the verandah. We would always get to see "Swami" from up-close and feel very fortunate. The ego was certainly satisfied with this powerful position! So many people wanted to be close to him. Millions of people travelled to get a glimpse of him, and here we were right up front! It is incredible how the mind comes up with justifications when it suits our personal purpose.
In my last trip to India (November 1996), I arrived early from Australia and my friends from Europe had not arrived yet. The usual kitchen managers were no longer running the kitchen. Upon arrival, Sai Baba asked me to reopen the western canteen and start making food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I collected a group of people and started working. (I was ordered/recommended by ashram management not to allow any Sri Lankans in the kitchen! All people I appointed were screened by the management.) Several days later, my friends from Europe joined me. We had several interviews together. It was around 10 December that they left, except for one of my close friends. We spent some beautiful moments together. It was almost as if we were like the apostles around Jesus. We were moved even further ahead now and we were seated in the ashram management area, very close to the front. Sai Baba came to us every and each darshan and would have a chat with us. These were very special moments. We felt very privileged.
The day of my friend's departure, we were called in for an interview together. Sai Baba materialised another bracelet for my friend and for me. In this same trip, he had "materialised" (one of my friends was "tested" and saw him bring the object from the neighbouring room) a jar of amrita, "divine nectar", with a spoon which he used to give us all a spoonful, after which he said: "From now on, no more bad karma and no more bad luck in your life. You are very special people; this is a privilege! There are so many people out there and you are the lucky ones!" When I asked him why, he said that all our hearts were pure and that there was not self-interest involved in the work we did (we had many power-struggles and quarrels over positions in the group, just like any other group of humans may have). My friend had now left. I was by myself and was called in a few days after he had left. I went into the interview room and was given a private audience in a separate room. When in this separate room, he asked me how things were in Australia. He told me that he would give me everything: money, a house, a wife— everything!
He then signs me to come closer and hug him. He then hugs me (I am on my knees and he is seated on his chair; there are no people present). He now turns his face and puts his lips on mine; my head is spinning and my mind is running at 500 kilometres per hour. I don't know what to do! My mouth tightens up, and I feel extremely uncomfortable and confused with this"perceived incarnation of God on Earth trying to kiss me on and in my mouth! Sai Baba slaps me on my cheek and says: "Loosen up! With other people, not okay; with Sai
Baba, okay." I am even more uncom fortable now and feel disgusted at the same time. Sai Baba realises his and my predicament and decides not to continue. He now tells me again that he will give me everything, and stands up and tells me to do padnamnamaskaar. As I go on my knees and touch his feet with my forehead, he pulls up my arms and indicates he wants his calf muscles massaged. Although very uncomfortable with everything that had happened, I still continued to listen to him. Many people knew how he liked having his calf muscles massaged and I had seen respectable men and women of all walks of life do the same thing...
He now takes my head and pushes it quite firmly into his groin... He then pulls up my arms and asks me to go higher and higher and higher... Now I am holding his buttocks and wonder what the hell my Divine Master is asking me to do! I let go my arms and now I am even more shell-shocked... He pulls up his dress, presents me his half-erect penis and invites me to take up my "good luck chance": "This is your good luck chance." I am now on my knees facing his erect penis, being asked to perform oral sex. He stands there, and I think: Am I supposed to do this? Could I do this? I then instinctively stretch out my right arm and put it on the part of his chest which hides his heart, and say: "I don't want this, Swami; I want your heart." He now drops his dress and tells me: "Yes, yes, yes; of course you have my heart."
He now asks me to take my pants down, "discovers" my penis is not erect and tells me that that is how it is supposed to be! "Swami is inside there, see; Swami is inside there." Hell no! That is mine and mine! And you are certainly not in there, I thought.
He asks me to do padnamnamaskaar again, and again he pulls up his dress. "This is your second good luck chance," he says. I refuse and get up without saying anything. I am now angry, confused and dazed. I feel burning! God just took a back door! A very clever manipulator and professional deceiver had just trashed the fundamentals of the past eight years of my life. I had abstained from any sexual activity because he had suggested it was good for my spiritual evolution. He had harassed and embarrassed my girlfriend and myself because of our difference in age, while he was hitting on someone 42 years his junior. He had told us to break up our relationship, and for what reason? So he could have a go?
In reality, I pulled the carpet myself from under a mental castle which I had built myself. I am responsible for that. He is responsible for abusing the good faith of people, their trust, to the point of putting their life on the line and actually losing it. He asks me to keep this quiet, not to say anything to anyone. I walked out of the interview room and ran to my room. I locked myself in. I blacked out until 6 am the next morning (from 5 pm the day before). A few weeks passed. There was a big power shake-up in the kitchen and I had no interest to participate in the whole situation any longer. I had a chat with the leader of the group because I had not been going to darshan any more.
My last day in the ashram, I talked to the leader of the group. She insisted that I tell her what happened. "So did he try to have sex with you?" was the question. Tired of it all, I told her what had happened. This was the evening of 4 or 5 January 1997. Immediately afterwards she had an interview with Sai Baba, by herself this time. After she came out of the interview room several hours later, I was summoned to meet with an elderly gentleman from Security, whom I knew well, with whom I had built a friendship. This gentleman looked very awkward and asked me if he could take my photo. I said "Of course"—not knowing what was happening, but understanding something had gone wrong. He was accompanied by two seva dals. One of them took a picture from the front and then asked me to turn to the side. When I asked my friend what was happening, he nodded uncomfortably and said "I don't know".
They then escorted me to the secretary of the ashram who told me I was ordered to leave as soon as possible. I had behaved improperly and had to leave. When I asked what the reason was, he commanded that I was not allowed to ask anything, and that I was only allowed to leave. "You are to leave the ashram. You are strongly advised not to hang around the village, but to go as soon as possible to Bangalore and catch the first flight out." I left...
Hans de Kraker Australia, 19 May 2000
(Source: Letter to Faye and David Bailey, The Quarterly, UK)
"A very clever manipulator and professional deceiver had just trashed the fundamentals of the past eight years of my life."
www.nexusmagazine.com AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2000
3 • JENS & GURPRIT SETHI'S TESTIMONY (Editorial NOTE: Jens Sethi lodged an affidavit about his experiences with the Hamburg police and his case was featured in 'Bild' of Munich, Germany)
I am giving you a thorough account of my traumatic experiences with Sathya Sai Baba and hope that this will help people understand what he is all about. All the details are the truth and can be seen as testimony. I could and would testify to the following in an open court.
I am thirty-five years old and have been interested in spiritual matters since my childhood. For a long time I worshipped Jesus and Padre Pio; then after reading Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, I turned towards the yogic path. In October 1988, I became an ardent follower of Sathya Sai Baba, and came to Puttaparthi for the first time in September 1989. Since then, I visited Puttaparthi regularly every year and was totally absorbed in the "aura" of Sai Baba. I was fully convinced of his avatarhood and became so devoted that I was thinking and contemplating all the time about him alone. In 1989, I read Lord of the Air [Lion Publishing, Herts., UK, 1976] by Tal Brooks, a young male USA ex-devotee who wrote of Sai Baba's sexual abuse of him, but I did not believe, thinking "Tal only wants to decry Baba".
Over the years, I had hundreds of darshans but never an interview. In 1993, I became a little suspicious about Sai Baba's lifestyle and the activities in the ashram. Every year I could see costly new buildings and felt an increasing commercialisation was going on. In 1996, I saw Sai Baba leaving the ashram in an expensive Jaguar and other costly cars like Mercedes and BMW of the big class. But I still believed him to be the Kali avatar of the age.
On 17 January 1996, I got my first interview and he was very kind, telling me nice things like "I will give you everything" as he touched and stroked my head. He said: "I know you're not sure about your life and future and so on. Also, unhappiness from women. I know, don't worry. Also, you have some bad thoughts, not good." Then he said: "I give you everything according to health, spirituality and life. Everything. I give you infinite love. You and me will become one." I touched his robe and he put his hand on the top of my head, saying "I give you separate interview".
On 20 January 1996, I got the second interview. Already, days before, he had established a strange eye-contact with me, indicating the coming interview. My wife and I went to the interview and he acted very disappointed at seeing me together with my wife. He took me alone into the interview room and said: "She is diseased and much older than you. Please separate from her." I was really shocked, and replied: "She is attached to me." I asked him to give her some spiritual instruction, which he readily agreed to do, but he had something else on his mind. Without asking permission, he started kissing me on my lips for some time, and later asked me to open my trousers and he "materialised" some oil which he rubbed on the skin above my genitals. I felt very bad about all of this, but accepted, as I fully trusted Sai Baba.
Then he took my wife into the private interview room alone, and told her: "Either you separate from the boy or I throw you out of Puttaparthi!" He appeared wild and furious (my wife told me afterwards) and she shivered all over. When she reappeared in a very short time, looking red-faced and very scared, nobody dared ask her what had happened in there. He saw me again some days later in darshan and asked whether I had separated or not. I said: "Not yet." He turned away and shouted, so all people could hear: "Bad, bad boy!" He was so aggressive and seemed to radiate such an aura of evil that I was really shocked. We immediately left and went to northern India for some pilgrimage.
This was a turning point, but after a time I decided to go once more to Sai Baba to clarify the matter. At the end of 1996, I returned to India and got an interview on 4 December... [I]n the private room, the greedy old man kissed me again directly and continuously on my lips for about twenty seconds and gently stroked my back. By now I was certain that something was very wrong. On 28 December, I was again called for an interview and he produced a golden ring which didn't fit well on my finger in spite of his blowing on it. In the private chamber he said "Come!", and again kissed me on the lips for some time as before. This time I resisted, and he gurgled: "Have no fear." I said: "I have no fear." Then he said: "This is a good opportunity; so many waiting for months and will not get." This baffled me. I'm sure people don't wait for mouth kisses in Puttaparthi.
Then his mood totally changed and I did have some fear. He commanded me to remove my trousers; he unzipped my fly and went with his right hand into my underpants. Sathya Sai Baba, "the divine", touched and massaged my genitals unasked. He expected some erection, but this didn't happen for I didn't feel any sexual excitement, no lust in the presence of a seventy-years-old man. I was really disgusted. Then he had the impudence to say: "It is very weak; don't waste energy." When I looked at him, I realised the truth about him and was shocked indeed. Soon afterwards, without another word, he sent me out of the room.
Back in Germany I did intense research on the Internet and came across an article from Jed Geyerhahn and was very relieved to have found somebody with similar experiences. As I still had some luggage in Puttaparthi, I returned in [late October] 1999 to collect it, taking with me two Internet pages to discuss with some friends there. Unfortunately, a lady came into possession of the material and took it to the Puttaparthi police station. Then I went through several interrogations with the police there... [who] took my passport away... I had another appointment on 1 November with the police, which was the day I intended to go to Delhi, but without my passport it would not be possible.
On 30 October, late in the evening, two people whom I know and an unknown person came to our unit and one of them warned me that my life was in danger and I should leave immediately... So we escaped and reached Delhi, and went immediately to the German Embassy. I got a travel document after telling them of my experience, and the embassy official said a protest note would be sent to the Indian Government. He told me such an act is illegal and they knew of similar cases... I hope that this nightmare comes to an end; and I hope that by the grace of the Almighty, all people round the globe may know about the misdeeds of Sai Baba... He is a master—of deception.
Jens and Gurprit Sethi Munich, Germany
(Source: Jens & Gurprit Sethi's letter to Faye and David Bailey, The Quarterly, UK, www.myfreeoffice.com/saibabaexposed/)
"He commanded me to remove my trousers; he unzipped my fly and went with his right hand into my underpants."
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