How and Why I and Top Leaders Left the Sathya Sai Organisation


Date: 02-21-05

By: Dave Lyons.

It was about this time 5 years ago that I discovered something was wrong within the Sathya Sai Organization. Due to my hopelessly clogged Compaq computer from December, 1999, until the middle of February, 2000, I was off-line and off the computer. When a couple of my Sai devotee friends (the two Venkats, one from Tulane, one from UNO)got me back on track with the computer, I had discovered that the Regional President and the Regional Devotion Coordinator had resigned. I had known these two since 1987, when we first met in Houston at the Labor Day Retreat of the Sai Org. of Texas. Since 1997 we had formed a new region composed of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma and we became the new South Central Region. We did intensive work in 1997 and 1998 due to the pro-active drive of the president, Rick Raines. The Devotion Coordinator was Al Rahm, who was also the music director of the Region (note: this was different than the bhajans (devotional songs) that were always sung at each of the Sai gatherings). Al had composed several English songs dedicated to SSB (Sathya Sai Baba) and he would teach the group the songs and we would sing them--all aside from bhajan singing. Both Rick and Al are brilliant and beautiful people--along with wives and children. Al and his wife Marisa were in great demand to address other regional meetings, and to sing their music, of devotees in USA and other countries. So, you can expect what a shock it was when I learned that they had resigned their positions and had defected from the organization. They would not tell me via email the reasons for their resignations, so I called them. Both were not willing to say the whole story, and they only revealed that SSB was molesting teenagers, both Indian and others, and that he was a practicing homosexual. This was difficult to believe so I consulted with two of the officers of our N.O. Center. They did not believe what Rick and Al had told me, but they did say there had been rumors over the years that SSB had oiled the genitals of teen boys, ostensibly to control raging sexual hormones or to raise kundalini. I thought this strange at the time as I had never heard of any guru doing such a thing. A few email exchanges with Bongiovanni (a self-appointed human firewall guarding the name and reputation of the avatar via the internet) had inculcated the danger of doubts re SSB to me, and so I accepted his counsel and decided that what Rick and Al told me may be true, but that I was staying the course with SSB. Rick and Al accepted this and we continued our weekly devotional gatherings at my place, which started in Metairie and continued here in New Oleans when I moved here in 1995. Then, in March, 2000, I received a communication from Faye Bailey, who had inherited the British quarterly publication begun by Peggy Mason. When the name of the publication changed from "A Quarterly Magazine dedicated to SATHYA SAI BABA" to "The Quarterly: A Spiritual Digest" I began to wonder why. Faye was married to David Bailey (who is a world-renowned musician) by SSB who had played match maker and actually married them. It was Faye and David who had sent lingham water (water which had been dipped into by a lingham that SSB had produced from his stomach) to Houston from which all attending devotees could take home with them. David Bailey, Conny Larsson, Michael Goldstein and Al Rahm were the highest-profiled devotees in the world from the mid-1990s until 2000. All had the greatest respect of all devotees and were dearly loved by SSB--until the defections began. Michael Goldstein is now the number one devotee in the world and the president of the SSO (Sathya Sai Organization). The others have defected.
The message from Faye was an insert into the magazine saying that she and David could no longer take telephone calls from devotees all over the world, but would gladly send a document called THE FINDINGS for the price of copying and postage. So I sent off for my copy of the document. I received it on Monday, April 3, 2000, and was in total shock as I read the 41 pages of testimony of many of the devotees that I knew, who gave chapter and verse of sexual molestations, pedophilia, faked materializations, etc. From Monday to Thursday I was in turmoil but by mid-day I had called both Rick and Al and then they told me the full story of what they knew. I told them I had decided to defect, that I was calling an immediate officers meeting, and that by Sunday I would have copies of THE FINDINGS for all of our devotees, and we could discuss its import. The meeting that Sunday, April 9, 2000, was another shock for me. After having all the attending devotees read the 41 pages, there was no discussion, no one had a single question; they all simply walked out without comment--not even a single "I don't believe it!", which would have been the impetus for a discussion. I could not fathom such a response--unless they also were in such shock that no word could be spoken at that time. This turned out to be a correct evaluation as all the Indian devotees stuck by SSB (with the exception of one), but the western devotees began defecting soon after. The Center continued on at a different location and they are still operating--but only about 4 or 5 are left to carry on. Within several weeks of defecting, I began investigating the nature of cults. It was difficult to admit to myself that I had been a member of a cult, but it was true.

Read more from Dave Lyons in Witnesses section:

Date: 01-21-02: Of abracadabra and avatars