Reply to Well Known Sai Devotee
Barry Pittard, Australia, March 20, 2003
Sent to: www.exbaba.com
following is my reply to a prominent Sai devotee, whose wife has spoken very disparagingly
of former devotee dissent. Unfortunately, I am obliged to suppress their
In this, as in other contacts
by Sai devotees who write sincere letters to former devotees, a pattern emerges of frank
admission of seeing fraudulence practised by Sathya Sai Baba, and of having
experienced grave doubts in the face of his clear mistakes and duplicity.
My respondent's comments are in
I trust that you and I can enter that space
- too rare - where love can flow across the great divide of opinion about Sathya Sai Baba.
I have read most of the
negative articles about Sai Baba and I am sure that some of the incidents described in
them probably did happen.
Having been personally in touch
with the victims of his homo-paedophilia, their families and closest supporters around the
world, I can assure you that there is no 'probably.' He has committed vast-scale
serial sexual abuse, and of a nature that is particularly appalling.
In countless accounts, there is
the same pattern - there is no love there. All the signs are of lust and exploitive
self-serving. He uses threats, promises, bribery. Theists, whatever their
culture or socio-educational status, do not worship God in terms like this. Any worship of
such a God would clearly be a form of devil worship, and conducted from fear than
My only concern is that nothing
has yet been proven in a court of law, either in India or in any other country, and it is
so difficult to separate fact from fiction, truth from hearsay.
Have you tried speaking to any of the young males who
have been sexually molested by Sai Baba, or their parents, or close friends they shared
their experiences with? Do we always have to rely on courts of law to decide on whether we
believe a person's account, especially when they are not given to exaggeration or
Have you considered, for one moment, the immense
obstacles to getting our story into the lawcourts? As one of those who have
having tried to build a legal response, let me assure you - the
problems are formidable. One difficulty is that the Indian police, judiciary and
government are incredibly corrupt. They bury our submissions, refuse to even respond, and
are clearly out to protect Sai Baba and his immensely powerful organisation, along with
the countless politicians from many parties who are partial to him.
Can you imagine what it takes to get anywhere near a
court? If your "only concern" is deep and genuine enough, then I should
not be asking too much of you to support us - in ways small or great
- to establish a fund to hire competent lawyers to represent those victims
who are ready to go public so long as we can ensure a properly accountable justice process
for them, or assist us in getting together pro bono lawyers if we cannot sufficiently fund
paid ones. Will you do it, and therefore substantiate your "concern"
with the warm, living flesh of deeds?
Perhaps you may believe what Sai Baba has said about
those of us who dissent. In his 2000 Christmas discourse, he says that we -
"Judases," "cawing crows," and "demons" who face the most
terrible future karmas - are doing it all for money. Nearly all of the
former devotees I know (and my contact with them is extensive) are either pensioners
or struggling to support their families. Many former devotees, when better
off, gave very substantial amounts to support the work of Sathya Sai Baba.
His unloving, joyless discourse is yet further stark testimony of how he
lies so blatantly, and not least in a discourse that is heard and read by many thousands
Most Indian victims and their families are terrified
of repercussions. For example, of terrible ostracism by other family members who remain
Sai devotees; of diminishing prospects for arranging a 'good' marriage; of social stigma
in workplace and wider community; of loss of job opportunity, and so on.
In the West, Interpol, the FBI, the Australian
Federal Police, the German Chief Prosecutor's Office and other police forces, and a
number of governments have informed former devotees that they themselves have a difficulty
in proceeding against Sai Baba, because the crimes alleged occurred in India.
Of the lack of police prosecution, you say "or
in any other country." In the light of what I have just said, please tell me how on
earth we are supposed to get into the courts? Should we then, as the Sai officials
have done, shut our ears to the testimony of young males from all round the
world - or even one of them?
You say "it is so difficult to separate fact from fiction, truth from
It takes work, I shall grant you that. Conscience
always takes work. The easy life is for those who do not care, and deeply. However, the
difficulty is not so great as you may imagine. For example, it is not so difficult
for former devotee sexual abuse experts who have had contact with the victims. It
is not so difficult for former office bearers of the Sai Organisation, when they
courageously bucked the organisation culture (read CULTure), and carefully
investigated the claims of those accusing Sai Baba of sexually molesting them. In this
they showed what, elsewhere, where proper accountability procedures are in place, is
regarded as normative Duty-of-Care, what to speak of compassion. Now see how revelations
are tearing whole church institutions apart, much less costing them vast fortunes after
being sued, and in private settlements. You say that Sai Baba and his organisation can
defend themselves. But have those, whether they are affiliated with the
organisation or not, who display his picture and praise his name no
I can honestly say to you that
my relationship with Sai Baba over the past twenty years has helped a great deal in my
spiritual awakening and my understanding of the path of advaita.
But this is to say no more than what the vast
majority of former devotees would say. Where, it seems to me, their concept
differs from yours is that they take "spiritual awakening" to include concepts
of ethical and moral responsibility that surpass the private to embrace citizenship and
I heard him make wrong
statements of fact about certain people and saw him palming objects he was supposed
to have manifested, etc.
I have many such accounts, and
find them worth documenting. One day, I shall make a proper study of the patterns, or,
perhaps even better, turn the task over to someone far better equipped for such a
demanding task. In the meantime, I shall be glad for you to share with me what were those
'wrong statements of fact,' and the specific cases of palming of objects that you mention,
too. So long as we document accurately, our researches will assist people far in the
future. Otherwise, they will be reading devotee's accounts only, of which I have (in
the Sai Towers library in 1998), counted some six hundred.
But the Super Sai has always
been present most strongly in our lives and constantly appears to us, helps us
and guides us.
I am wondering if, at some deeper level, you may be
afraid that were you to go public with your doubts and negative experiences of Sai
Baba, these helps and guidances may abruptly halt. If so, I want to assure you that
many former devotees feel themselves to be most wonderfully in touch with wondrous
love, compassion, help and guidance, albeit that it now does not manifest with the Sathya
Sai Baba iconography.
My wife has very vivid dreams
about and with him.
If (your wife) were to regularly see in these vivid
dreams what, with the most shocking and convincing detail, young males from many parts of
the world report of his cruel mistreatment of them, perhaps she would feel differently.
This is where compassion for the terrible cries of the afflicted is significant.
If (your wife) listens to her dreams but will not listen to the victims and
their families and close friends, then I am minded to question whether she is missing
a tremendously important dimension in her overall development as an intelligent, human
The two most powerful words I have ever heard are
these: "Jesus wept." And tears spring from my eyes right now, as I
think of those who will love their God, but not heed the cries of his children. How can it
No-one can deny but that he is
a very special person.
His victims are very special persons, too. Innocence
outraged is very special.
Look what he has achieved as a
peasant boy from a small village in a Third World country.
There have been many remarkable stories of great
achievement by those born in the most straitening circumstances. It does not
matter how towering the achievement - a crime is a crime. We are all accountable, or need
to be made so.
Who else could have built the
Super Specialty Hospital in one year?
Along with the possession of unusual intelligence,
once great, inexplicable powers (whether they are siddhis or something still more) are
unleashed, or appear to be performed, the leader's gathering of great talents to perform
great works will surely be even more effective than some of the colossal human
achievements, such as the pyramids ... So what if, in one year, he (or was it rather his
highly talented crew?) get the Super Specialty Hospital into being, if, in a few minutes,
he damages for the rest of their lives the psyches of boys and young men?
Who else can produce lingams in
public out of his physical being?
Whether he fakes these or some of these productions
is not really the point. The difficulty really relates to the whole bewitching effect
of miracles or supposed miracles. Although Sai Baba refers to the warnings of Lord
Buddha and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (the Sage Patanjali was another) against
performance of miracles, we need not take him at his word (which has so often been clearly
false). We need not jump to the conclusion that his 'miracles, leelas and mahimas' are
necessarily unmixed with what is less than divine. There could be a gigantic deception of
human beings going on by forces little understood by intellect or science, which uses
reference points that we regard as purely divine, but which do not operate on the side of
Who else can cure cancer with a
wave of his hand and the statement 'Cancer cancelled' .
Hang on. This does not prove that he is God or
Avatar. And if he is so powerful as to wave his hand and banish cancer, please tell me how
he cannot, with the same wave of his hand, tame a young man's raging hormones or
raise his kundalini, without having to put his erect penis into the poor astonished young
males' mouths, or by tongue-kissing them, or masturbating them or getting them to
We have to be sure that we
don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.
Actually, we have to be sure of something far more
practical: namely, that we apply proper moral and ethical procedures when complaints
of sexual abuse are made, (not to mention other and terrible allegations, such as Sai
Baba's complicity in the 1993 murders and the vast cover-up by people like Indulal Shah and the Home Minister of the time,
the very powerful S. B. Chavan, that ensued).
Now that is not to say
that he is God manifest or even an avatar, but that he does have powers that are usually
associated with the great Masters.
Please tell me which great Masters you
have in mind, and whether homo-paedophilia and other major crimes were 'usually
associated' with them. If you have the same names in mind as I have, you will have to
reply that NONE of them did these terrible things.
Two long time
devotees, whose opinions I respect, feel that all of this furore is designed to throw
people off his form and back to the formless God.
I respect the cries of young men who are clearly, and most
painfully, telling the truth. I respect a great many long time and short term
devotees, and their opinions, and their refusal to seek any other explanation or rationale
than their most fundamental accountability to the law, and to their utmost duty to
protect the young from sexual abuse as it has been very clearly defined in countless
cultures and legal systems.
In a note to me, the former devotee and the
senior office bearer at the Santa Barbara Sai centre in the USA, Timothy Conway, Ph.D.,
has well clarified an appallingly common confusion of truth levels. He says:
In the classic Hindu and Buddhist spiritual traditions, the great sages commonly
distinguish between the absolute, non-dual level of truth (paramarthika satyam)
and the conventional human level of truth (vyavaharika satyam). The sages warn
about confusing these two levels so that, for instance, one inappropriately undermines the
conventional level of morality and ethics by saying there is neither good nor bad,
only the One. Without distinguishing these levels, we would never have any criteria
by which to judge certain behaviours and policies as unjust or evil, and movements such as
those led by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jnr., Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, et
al., would never have any rationale for getting started.
Imagine what kind of a
religion will be created after his death, and what his devotees will do with it, if he was
to die with his reputation intact so to speak.
If God can manifest, and sexually
abuse hundreds of young boys, and stand by while police execute his students, and cannot,
except out of the most terrible generation of fear and loathing for the form, guide
humankind away from attachment to the form, then God must be weaker than the wave of a
hand that you so handsomely credit Sai Baba with.
So I am still
sitting on the fence, trying to make sense of all of this. I have been wavering
since I first met David Bailey some ten years ago and heard all of his evidence first
Wavering is condition common
to those too fearful of making a mistake. They mistake a fence for a pillar of
truth. Wavering is like blood without the color red. Wavering is really trembling but in a
half comfortable way, that refuses to go out and comfort the comfortless. It is not the
way of truthfulness, which is strong of heart, clear of mind, and bold of hand. We
learn by going where we have to go, and by fencesitting how to warm a fence but not
innocent victims in a chill night, or to yeild our heart to the dangers where alone
meaningful love can be found.
Many have sought out victims. Sai
devotees keep mentioning David Bailey, as if the allegations stand or fall by what he has
said. But there are very many others who have investigated, and with far greater
depth and intellectual and professional capability. What is more, victims of
Sai Baba are not all that hard to find. Just ask around. Most of them respond to our
own sincerity, compassion, and sense of trustworthiness and responsibility.
My head says
'go, you've been deceived', but my heart still wants to hang on.
I don't know why.
Is it not because of the human
tendency to attachment or clinging? No-one learns the joy of parachuting if they
experience only the fear of clinging to the airplane. Hence the strictures of a Jiddu
Krishnamurthi and others who have exposed the nature of attachment to concepts, persons
It is just an
What may we conceive to be the inner
feeling of the boys and young men Sai Baba has so frequently defiled for so long? That is
a more important matter.
Maybe I am in
denial. I don't know. But I respect your point of understanding and your desire for
justice, as you see it. I personally believe that everything that manifests on the Earth
is God's Will, has purpose and design, even the most horrible massacre or the rape of a
We absolutely cannot make this
assumption in the practical realm of ethics and morality. People like Al Drucker
violate this concept very seriously. Referring to his wife Janni's rape in a Sai
centre, he told a large gathering (I have the transcript somewhere) that Janni was not
raped because Janni was not her body. Believe this, act on it, and the world will be
given over to the utterest anarchy. Do not call for a policeman - just for a convenient
experience of the formless.
Sai Baba once
said to us 'Everything is just karma playing itself out'. I wonder what Sai Baba's
karma will be and who are we to judge.
We are our conscience, and our
conscience must judge between right and wrong. Yes, as we see it. No former devotee
I know of says that we are to judge of Sai Baba's karmas. We can be sure
that not one of us would ever claim to see anyone's karmas, so judgement is not even
With Love Across the Great Divide,
Barry Pittard, Australia