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The Bruces at Prashanthi

A former friend of my wife and I in the Sai movement between 1989 and 2000, Mrs. Rita Bruce, writes gushing panegyrics about Sai Baba and propagates cranky rumours both about major global disasters and giant spiritual awakenings which she believes Sai Baba as God conveys to her in visions and dreams.

Here is an early example of her supposed 'inner voice' from Sai Baba from her first book 'Vision of Sai':

"...I began hearing an inner voice and I thought my sanity was in jeopardy. Never had I experienced, nor could I relate to what was happening to me. I was having a spiritual awakening, but at that time I didn't know it." (Vision of Sai, p. 6)

On the same lines we read: "The Lord closed my eyes but opened my ears. He taught me to tune into His inner station. He saturated my ears with mantras, bhajans and discourses and made me deaf to gossip, profanity, and criticism. The tongue no longer constantly wags but enjoys lying still." (Vision of Sai, p. 34)

To this I must remark that Rita Bruce and her husband Robert were often a main source of information to us about events in the ashram (and we responded with frank and honest accounts from what we experienced and learned at first and second hand). It was a relief to us to hear that our suspicions about ashram authorities were well-founded (especially Mr. N. Suri, a veritable crook who ran the Sathya Sai Book and Publications Trust and who had swindled them and also Al Drucker of money, lost their printing plates - no doubt on purpose - and generally manipulated them to his own profit and advantage, as he also did me (stealing the entire revenue from 900 books I donated for himself). We learned from Robert and not least also Rita much about John Hislop and of the bullying ego Dr. M. Goldstein and others in the US Sathya Sai Organization, also about the most unpleasant Japanese VIP, Mr. Hira and his money solicitations. The list goes on and on, and not least they told us what Sai Baba said to them in interviews (and I have reported some of this, such as what she told us Sai Baba said about Prince Charles and Diana).

Perhaps Rita's choice of the phrase "the tongue... enjoys lying still" is unconsciously well-chosen , for she remains silent in public about all very unpleasant facts she knows concerting Sai Baba, and her whitewashed and glorified images of him amount to lying, being designed to outshine and so conceal his definitive dark sides.

As to her naive belief in all kinds of imagined impressions of warning messages from Sai Baba:-

"One night I was awakened from my sleep by a voice that I heard clearly. "Rita," it said, "close your eyes and watch. Nothing will harm you but you must see this." Then I had my first experience of an inner vision. I was shown a natural disaster happening exactly in the area where we lived. A colossal earthquake. I was told that this disaster was purifying man and the earth from the enormous pollution that had accumulated from waste and hate.
The magnitude of this disaster dazed me for years. I was told that Australia was a safe place to live and because of the vision and inner guidance we moved......to Australia. We sold our house and all of our possessions immediately and moved with our four children. Each one was allowed to bring only two suitcases. All other belongings we left to friends or sold. For three years we lived in Australia."
(Vision of Sai, p. 8)

It turned out this was an unnecessary move, so she and her husband Robert returned to the States. The same happened in the 1990s when they moved house to Tucson, Arizona from the Ozarks so as to avoid a pending disaster she believed Sai Baba had assured her in some way would hit at least the entire Eastern United States. This also proved to be wrong, or - at any rate - they subsequently moved back to the same part of the Eastern US.

As late as 2005, Rita and Robert Bruce were spreading highly unlikely rumours in their role as amateur family counselors to devotee groups around the world. Much the same kind of prediction - first circulated by Sathya Sai Baba in reported interview sessions - has cropped up at regular intervals. Weird theories about the earth entering a spiritual region and 'raising the consciousness of all human beings overnight' have been put out by all manner of sects and deranged persons. However, what is said by Sai Baba in an interview is supposed to be a closely-guarded secret (except from other confirmed devotees perhaps). Yet much leaks out on web sites, in e-mails or at meetings and courses held for members even now, though far less than before the Sai movement developed into a tightly controlling cult (especially after 1999).

Sai Baba's many 'private' rumours and predictions are evidently designed to keep devotees in a state of unknowing and mental indecision about the world. By directing attention future wards, Sai Baba can hope that they will not dig into his past and note all the failed predictions and direct lies he has perpetrated through the decades. ("Forget the past" as he always advises followers!).

Robert and Rita Bruce holding forth

The New Zealand Sai devotees, Poppy and Arthur Hillcoat, were in Cherepovets (Russia) in May, 2005. Poppy reported that she met Rita and Robert Bruce before leaving for Russia, and they told her Sai's latest prediction to them: (Literally translated report on the Russian Forum - click to see screen capture posted by 'Lily' (8.8.2005, 21:29)

"At the conference Rita and Robert conducted a one-day workshop of 'parenting school' and a workshop on 'family and marriage'. I don't recall exact titles. And it was Rita Bruce whom Swami told about practically instant transformation of people's consciousness after his 80th anniversary."

Why Rita Bruce continues, after so many set-backs - to believe and spread further what Sai Baba plants on her and others in interviews is anyone's guess. She has consciously omitted any mention of the 1891 letters to and from Dr. John Hislop, which she and her husband received, thus she covers up all the untoward facts she knows about Sai Baba. It would seem that she does not wish to lose her supposedly exalted position as one of Sai Baba's favourite authors (which can happen all too easily, as shown by the example of Joy Thomas - who was rejected by Sai after she moved to Prashanthi and could not get his even to look at her last pending book, which was therefore never published). One might expect an author, having given credence to false stories and spread information which is one-sided and strictly self-censored to say the least, would have enough civil conscience to respond to questions and guts enough to respond to serious criticisms. I faced exactly the same choice, but there was no question for me of denying the truth of what I came to know, painful and faith-shaking though the realization obviously was.

Rita and Robert were once good friends of ours, but then we became totally convinced that Sathya Sai Baba is guilty of sexual abuses (and on a large scale). After a couple of years, when I had finally got my green "diamond" ring assayed and found - as I already realized - that it was a synthetic gemstone, I wrote and told them so. Robert Bruce still sports an almost identical supposed green "diamond" ring which he had told me back around 1990 had been valued casually by an Australian opals expert as being worth between US$5 and 6 million! (These are cheap synthetic sapphires with greenish silver foil concealed behind it to enhance its brightness). They never replied to me... and, what is more, they deleted their e-mail address shortly thereafter.

Rita Bruce had a ring with a small and dull and dark stone (which later fell out) and she freely said that she envied her husband's bright trinket. My wife and I have remembered a conversation we had with Rita in her apartment in a Prashanthi Nilayam roundhouse - probably in 1994 - when she told of terrible accusations against Sai Baba which had come up in the early 1980s. I had no knowledge of them and she seemed to think I had received some letters from Hislop. I asked what these were but she said it was therefore better if I did not know. Those were obviously the letters which came subsequently to light through Timothy Conway. I'd had no idea that there had been allegations of sexual abuse on the first American boy to study at one of his colleges, a boy who was subsequently expelled. His mother's attempts to get satisfactory replies from the Sathya Sai Organization, then led in the US by Dr. John Hislop, were a subject in the infamous Hislop letters sent privately and unofficially to leaders in the organization at that time. (See Scans of the xeroxed and signed ‘Hislop letters’).

This total cutting off of friends is common behaviour from challenged Sai devotees... their former supposed 'brothers and sisters' are no longer acceptable. So much for that kind of truth and 'spiritual kinship'! Rather than face anything taxing which threatens their beliefs and all they have built up around it, they cut off all connection. Therefore I regard it fair for me to post this information, nor because I am fell anything remotely like hate for them - I have very few ill feelings and I still think they were basically good people. They were among the few generous helpers we ever met in our many visits to the Sai Baba ashrams. Yet, in view of their continued proselytism for Sai Baba, actually misleading and suppressing facts at workshops around the world and sustaining massive deceptions about Sai Baba's actual behaviour for unsuspecting people, I regard it as my public and social duty to challenge this.

It is not surprising that Robert and Rita Bruce cannot allow themselves to look at the facts and seek the truth of these matters, their having invested all their energies, emotions, money and time in supporting Sathya Sai Baba for many years of their lives (from the 1970s until now). For example, Rita had been alone at the ashram for a whole year during which Baba virtually never even looked at her, and she found herself relegated to the rearmost position during his walkabout darshans. Eventually he told her to write a book (about him,. of course). Her excessively glowing tributes to him in that book (Vision of Sai) and other subsequent books were all totally sanitized for any known untoward fact or detail about Sai Baba (of which they knew and told many to us through the years). She is extremely careful never to write any of the unfortunate facts about him. A former Roman Catholic, Rita rather repeats chunks of the more puritanical parts of his 'teachings' and adds to his self-glorifications ad nauseam. Her writing is clichéd and full of 'Prashanthi speak' - that is, in-group conventional expressions of devotion and subservience to Sai Baba himself, his works and teachings. Gradually she became a favourite 'VIP' of Baba and was given prominence through small tasks like the job of handing things he was distributing to him. (Note: 'VIP' status at Sai Baba ashrams give a seat on the temple veranda for men, and in a foremost floor space for women. It also gives privileges over the ordinary run of followers in all food queues and in various other connections at the ashrams.

Rita Bruce also writes small articles (often unattributed) with overwrought descriptions of celebrations (especially at Christmas) in Sai Baba's journal Sanathana Sarathi. She has achieved some of the most grovelling praise of Sai Baba yet published, using capital letters wherever possible in Biblical fashion, rows of exclamation marks and other excesses of shouting zeal.

Now touring about to foreign countries as Sai-sponsored family counselors, Rita and Robert hold free 'parenting workshops' at Sai venues. They have no professional qualifications for such work, but that is so of virtually all 'Sai lecturers'. The sole qualification required is blind belief if Sai Baba's supposed divinity. They may in fact be able to help some devotees through their informal chats about their own marriage experiences and problems with children (which were very considerable in their case). However, they reinforce people's dependency on Sathya Sai Baba through their interpretations of him as the source of all goodness and as the motivator of all people - even of everything that happens in the world and the entire universe! In accordance with the 'party line', they interpret all positive events as due to Sai Baba's influence and all the negative ones as due to themselves or others. This is, of course, psychically dangerous as a recipe for problem-solving, and I have seen many negative and even disastrous results in the lives of those who have tried to rely too much on Sai Baba as the sole helper... because he very seldom responds at all but one has to imagine that he does (somehow).

Wherever I open either of Rita Bruce's 'Vision of Sai' books (Volumes 1 and 2) I find very questionable statements. For example:

"Can you imagine how peaceful it is to know God, His role and ours? To have a moral code, a purpose, and a goal to live for and live by. My agitated mental mind has been put to rest forever. Just imagine how this would change your own life!" (Vision of Sai I, Introduction ii)

However, my wife and I knew Rita well enough after she wrote this to say that she most certainly still had an agitated mind! She still suffered from much uncertainty and various physical ailments when we were with her. So what she wrote is simply a subjective 'imagination' of how nice it would be which applied as much to herself. Of course, she may well have been more depressed, mentally and physically ill as she claims before she came to Sai Baba and she is still certainly forcing the lid down on her big canister of known facts and recurrent doubts about Sai Baba's behaviour. That is also called repression.

I do not expect a response to this, since the strategy of all challenged devotees is now to lie as low in public as possible.

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