Response Series, Part
Posted: Barry Pittard.
Date: Saturday August 23,
A long letter to me from an SSB devotee named Seema has prompted
this series, in which the one devotee's letter is readily seen to
reflect many points scattered throughout many devotee letters received
by SSB Exposé activists.
Coming Soon! Some Psychologists look at
the psychological denial 'mechanism' in Sathya Sai Baba devotees such
Seema's comments are in red.
All those so called victims should be
thoroughly investigated in every aspect of their lives.
In making a serious allegation, supported
by sworn testimony, a person has a right to be fairly heard.
Shamefully, the present Indian government denies this right to those
who accuse your guru. The world Sathya Sai Organisation denies this
right. See how far you get if you dare even to raise with its
officials the issue of the allegations, much less proffer a victim
testimony! Prominent former devotees who personally knew the top
leaders have made strenuous efforts to get them to look at the sheer
integrity of the testimony, but failed.
To the head of the Australian Sathya Sai
Organisation, T. Sri Ramanathan, retired commercial lawyer who
now works for the Law faculties of both the University of Sydney and
the University of New South Wales, I dared
to suggest (afternoon, April 4, 2003) that his
organisation put in place a proper complaints mechanism. I also
suggested that he consider having a meeting, mediated by an
independent professional mediator, where he and his executives, along
with the parents of alleging victims and their families, could bring
matters into the open. He said "I have only one simple mechanism which
I have applied down the years" - which is to deal with such matters,
as he was dealing with “this one with you - Personally.” (I should
add that it was he who contacted me – hard on the heels of my success
in getting the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide to
investigate the provenance of the allegations and cancel the Sai
National Conference 2003). There was no need, said T. Sri Ramanathan,
for such a mechanism in the Sai Organisation, which is "special and
different to any other organisation." It is, he said, “a divine
organisation.” As if totally oblivious to accountability policies that
virtually every other organisation in democratic countries has now put
in place, he said that my thinking was "clouded" here, and that the
one issue was "Swami's glory. There is no other issue." Clearly, he
has not realized that he is living in a democracy, and will be in for
a shock when the Sathya Sai Organisation, which likes the community to
accept its Sai Schools and social service programs, is exposed to the
same community as shockingly lacking in those checks and balances that
are now expected throughout civil society.
A dear friend of mine, a highly
respected former leader of that far less than ‘divine organisation,’
Stephen Carthew, a documentary filmmaker, was the Spiritual
Coordinator for South Australia. After speaking to a number of
families who accessed him to alarming first-hand accounts of sexual
molestation by Sathya Sai Baba, he was, as so many others have been,
In 1999, shortly
after the three NEXUS article had appeared (September-October )
Stephen called a formal meeting of devotees in Adelaide to discuss the
allegations openly. Summarily, however, in a gesture so typical of
cult leaderships, T. Sri Ramanathan cast him out.
Moreover, on Mother’s Day 1999, Stephen Carthew had dared to
suggest to a South Australian Sathya Sai Organisation’s ladies' group
- who warmly endorsed his speech - that the Organisation was highly
male chauvinistic. With all the myriad male officials in it - is it
not? Please tell me that.
In various parts of
the world, other courageous and truthful individuals have received the
same draconian treatment. For a similar bloody-minded casting out of a
former top leader of the Russian Sai Organisation, see Serguei
Do you want all of the attention on the
accusers, and none on the accused? If so, what a sense of justice you
have! One of the great dangers in sexual abuse matters is what is
called 'blaming the victim.' It is utterly pernicious. Those who
allege paedophile crimes, especially minors and young people,
have an acute right to be heard without duress, and by those
well-trained, skilled and licensed to do the hearing.
Because the truth and the fact is that so
many more lived there and went to school there and they can only say
Did you not know that
sexual molesters thrive on a culture of extreme secrecy? In any case,
neither a majority nor a minority is always right. There are but the
facts to be established. Obviously, it would be impossible for Sathya
Sai Baba to molest every boy at his institutions. We are concerned for
those who have suffered.
Doesn't statistics have a place in this world
anymore? 200,000,000 happy people across the Globe against 30 odd
buggered persons and a few thousand or so ex-devotees.
capacities are prodigious! It may pay you to recall the adage: there
are lies, damned lies, and statistics. A great many more
than thirty accuse SSB of molesting them, but even if there were one
person who had been sexually molested it is one too many!
Your rubbery figures
remind me of those of your teacher himself. It is worth having a look
how one of the closest individuals around Sathya Sai Baba spoke
privately of SSB's vast exaggeration of crowd numbers. I refer to
Robert Priddy's and my much loved and respected friend the late Sri V.
K. Narasimhan, who was, until he died March 9th, 2000, the Editor of
Sanathana Sarathi. See: http://home.hetnet.nl/~ex-baba/engels/shortnews/numbers.html .
We also have evidence of how SS centre leaders have trumped up falsely
high membership numbers.
Robert what you choose to believe is
really your business. I believe that I have answered all of your
Robert? You mean Robert Priddy? You do
No, you scarcely answer any of my
questions. Your inability to answer direct questions is highly typical
of the Sathya Sai devotee mail to former devotees, and of the pro-Sai
contributions to the vast literature on the bulletin boards.
Frequently, you need to face the issues
squarely, instead of racing off into presumption, emotionalism,
defensiveness, the use of argumentum ad hominem (i.e.,
attacking persons rather than addressing their arguments), and the
slandering of so many people round the world who are noted for their
moral and ethical uprightness and intellectual probity.
Wishing for the best in all of us,