I, Robert C. Priddy, have a bounden duty to other people to reveal what I came to know, despite myself and total commitment for 18 years to his work – because I had promoted him in many articles and an eulogistic book ‘Source of the Dream, Samuel Weiser Inc. 1998). Whatever may be good about him is irrelevant to this task – I have been too kind to him for too long! I do not wish to defame Sai Baba but simply stating the facts about him are more than sufficient to make many (especially Indians) believe that I am defaming him.
It took me a long time to learn anything substantial about the reality of Sai Baba himself – few get the opportunity. However, I had the advantage of a very close friendship with the famous V.K. Narasimhan (former editor of the Indian Express group etc.) who opened my eyes to many matters, and who was extremely well-informed about what went on around Sai Baba. That said, I proceed to your questionnaire with one condition – that I am quoted directly in any article rather than paraphrased (unless very accurately done):-
My involvement with Sathya Sai Baba and his organization
After being a national leader for 18 years leading the Norwegian branch of the Sathya Sai Organization, I left due to facts that it was impossible any longer to avoid. My wife and I had been experiencing huge difficulties to function within such an authoritarian, top-down, secretive and moralizing set-up, having many autocratic, self-interested and frequently dishonest office-bearers and complete lack of practical or other feedback – let alone criticism of any kind – were no allowed (and often led to removal of membership of office-bearers). It suffers from all secretive ‘total’ organizations (note that no documents – not even its own Charter – are available to any but fully signed-up followers, usually office-bearers). I made an extensive analysis from a sociological viewpoint – based on documents to which I was privy – which is found at http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/10/International-Sathya-Sai-Organization.htm Warning: this alone would take many hours reading to absorb.
Apart from the usual bureaucracy, power struggles of such organizations, I experienced a constant double morale and contradictoriness (with Sai Baba’s better teachings) in the directives and internal letters and at international conferences and regional meetings. Many others experienced this, as I know from the flood of complaints I would get from those in the same boat as ourselves. The above link contains pages which list many of my experiences. The most succinct overview of the Organization’s failing is found in this page, I think. Perhaps one should look mainly at this page on wastefulness and this one on intensive false propaganda.
I also donated considerable funds and found that I had been deceived entirely in respect of a large portion of them (see here)
Unavoidable facts about the Sathya Sai organization and its misappropriation of funds, abuse of power, illegal transactions, false propaganda
In time it became very clear that the key player in the organiation was not Sathya Sai Baba at all, despite all appearances to the contrary (which were kept up as a solid front). During my time there (1983 – 2000) it was firstly the ex-politician Indulal Shah (International Chairman based in Maharastra) who called the shots. Sai Baba tried through a pronouncement to disband the entire organization, but Shah used all his influence gained through much travel and long control of the various sub-groupings, to continue as if nothing had happened!
I also have posted on Narasimhan’s views ( here): “VKN was not enthusiastic about the Sathya Sai Organisation, though he mostly kept this well under his hat. He corrected a falsely positive impression he thought I gave in my book with various damning information about Indulal Shah, Antonio Craxi and others. Through his strong Maharashtra clan throughout the India Diaspora, Indulal Shah literally managed to reverse Sai Baba’s order to put the Central Office above him. (see scans of my notes recorded at the time) VKN expressed shock at hateful and vicious personal slanders he had ever known by Craxi towards his adversaries. Some of the other struggles to wresting control of positions and influence with Sai Baba were very disappointing to learn about. [Antonio Craxi was also known to be involved with the Italian Mafia, but he was one of Sai Baba’s favourites for many years. His brother was the convicted criminal ex-Prime Minister Benito Craxi who fled justice to Tunisia to avoid a 28-year Italian prison sentence and huge fine for corruption until he died in 2002] .”
A brief page on key players in the Org. until around the 1990s is found here After Shah retired from being International Chairman, an American – Dr. Michael Goldstein – took over. He was exposed as a cover-up merchant by the BBC in 2004 (using a hidden camera)
My present on Sathya Sai Baba: and his miracles: I now finally see him as a man (not a divinity!). He has shown great confidence and strong charm (not to be confused – as so many do – with genuine care and love). He has taught people to read only positive things into himself and his behaviour – all negative things are due to the devotee. All who get close (interviews) have been thoroughly vetted by his officials and are already convinced believers – thus he has them in the palm of his hand, ready to believe anything and very suggestible (hypnotizable) from the start. Anyone who even seems to demur is pushed away, berated, made fun of… in short, typical psychopathical traits to manipulate and control to the extreme. That he has very strong narcissistic traits is clear from his behavious and his many vast pronouncements about his own greatness beyond all others. He has a sharp mind and has developed a very strong intuition about people. He has been able to dominate most people since he was a child – being seen as a divinity (Shiva-Shakthi) probably due too physical hermaphroditism (which is reported from various of his alleging sexual partners). This has given him an unparalleled experience since boyhood of how to do whatever he wants, to manipulate anyone – greatly strengthened by the aura built around him by masses of originally very gullible, religiously dominated villagers. He learned to be an actor and a magician in his intensive family street performing group (as they were very poor). (His own elder brother did not accept his divinity, nor his parents until he managed to override their doubts) He is associated with many phenomena, but those which have been investigated have proven to be bogus. His chief helper (and cover-up agent) for decades was Colonel Joga Rao who is known NOT to have believed in any of the miracles, but though his social ideas were good and wanted to serve!
My colleague Professor Erlendur Haraldsson (author of ‘Miracles are My Visiting Cards’) agree that he has a split personality, much of the time he shows a quite crude (and personally rude) villager mentality, on other occasions he exhibits an afflatus – a seeming holiness – which nevertheless does not seem to be under his control. His teachings are not his own, but a mixed-up collection of different scriptures, theologies and quotations (overwhelmingly from (Indian) scripture which he often interprets literally. This shows him to be the under-educated person his school records are witness to.
Sai Baba totally dominates everyone without exception – he will hear no word of criticism whatever and will often react with extreme anger to such questions. Mostly he ignores whatever suits him, diverts attention from serious questions to other matters or gives inspired guesses as answers (often he knows in advance due to letters devotees send him telling everything (!) or from his large network of informers (which Narasimhan told me about – and which cost lakhs of rupees per week to sustain). He is expert at ‘cold-reading’ – which is a technique that few people know about. It is based on a number of ploys to extract information without actually asking for it, plus what are now called neuro-linguistic techniques (known to many in the Indian guru traditions and learned probably from his uncle).
Foreign devotee number were expanding rapidly, but sharply decreased from 2000 on
Initially, this was due to the exposure of Sai Baba’s sexual proclivities and diverse deceits since David Bailey – a very close devotee (over 100 interviews) – told how he was constantly asked about the seduction of boys and young men, including by a group of student victims. This has a great effect since Bailey was considered a great person by foreign devotees. He had travelled and spoken and played piano for Sai people world-wide and was an associate of the UK Royal family. Add to this the tremendous number of unfulfilled predictions by him, the utterly absurd claims such as his lifting a range of mountains (like Krishna with the Govardhana mountain), having feet that were attracting the earth magnetically so he couldn’t walk properly (but he has a hip join breakdown, it turned out!), that he would fly through the air unaided to see his devotees and much more of that kind. The Internet made it possible to expose these things on an unprecedented scale, and so the controlling and censoring ashrams and Organization were side-stepped. At last all those thousands who had left Sai Baba had a place and a means to communicate their doubts. Add to this the rejection of his educational conference by UNESCO (due to their investigation of sexually abused young men) and the US State Department warning against him as a sexual abuser, and – not least – the extremely revealing BBC documentary ‘The Secret Swami’. Further, foreigners have been discriminated against increasingly at the ashrams and many resident who had no place else to live were rejected or could not tolerate being there any longer. Note that, despite major efforts, the Sathya Sai Organization have never been able to engage any UN organization in their various projects since the advisory appeared!
Once memorable experiences I had became no longer cherishable
Sathya Sai Baba tricked me – gave me a 18-carat gold ring with a ca. 6 carat green stone he says is a rare diamond. This was because I had said I would donate (initially) six thousand pounds to his educational fund.. I see it as a way of trying to ensure I would follow up. The ring, when assayed by the Queen of Denmark’s jeweler in 2002, turned out to be a synthetic sapphire (very cheap in 1986 in India) with greenish tinfoil behind within the setting to enhance the brilliance. This I am certain now is the case with all his so-called ‘diamond’ rings, as not one single person has presented a professional jeweler’s verification of genuineness.
I though I had been help with a back problem I was suffering – much later I realised the improvement (which turned out to be only temporary) was due to the heat in India plus increased walking and physical activity in the ashram.
The ‘unsolved’ murders and executions in 1993 in Prasanti Nilayam
Those who know the full facts of it – if any – are keeping quiet for obvious reasons! Mostly they are those involved and thereby culpable as accomplices to murder or to covering-up crucial facts. The one person who carried out the most intensive set of investigations was the world-famous Indian sceptic, Basava Premanand. I have summarized the matter, which cannot be cut down into a few paragraphs because of the sheer complexity of the issues. However, V.K. Narasimhan told me in a lowered voice, when I asked him: “they did a terrible thing”, using those very words. He referred primarily to Sai Baba’s younger brother, Janakiramiah (now deceased) and other involved ashram officials and Central Trust members. They blackmailed the police into shooting the four intruders and claiming it was in self-defense. As soon as I heard this I knew this was the single worst secret, one I’d rather not have known, and that I would have to carry it thereafter, like it or not. Eventually I found myself alone with it, and knew that I should have to speak out about sooner or later. See my main coverage page on the murders here
Jealously and infighting among close associates of Sahya Sai Baba
The main operative causes of this are surely money, influence, power, and prestige The cover-up of Sai Baba’s activities including the major homosexual culture reported at the colleges are no doubt also an underlying (but implicit) factor in conflicts there . There is also the social struggle to survive (also amid murders, deaths, suicides and disappearances that have been recorded there).
With my extensive knowledge of the cover-up mentality there, I feel able to predict some of the errors and over-rosy reports, and subsequent changes in such reports appear to be partly due to my blogs. I also have informants (once students who were abused) who point out some of the submerged facts involved. However, I cannot know what may being hidden successfully. If he were dead, I think the government doctors would have had to admit it. That he is on life support, without which his crucial organs cannot function, indicates most strongly that he is simply being kept alive quite artificially and would die were he disconnected from the medicines, intravenous feeding, support respirator and dialysis machine. I have long recognized the signs of depression in Sathya Sai Baba and of mental degeneration (persons we know there have reported his speech is often slurred, he says and does strange things and is carefully chaperoned down to his slightest movement. Now, of course, he is almost certainly totally ‘incommunicado’.
Robert C. Priddy