My credo, why I am writing these
pages and where I stand
Date: March 10, 2001
By: Robert Priddy, Oslo, Norway.
The unavoidable disillusionment
I was once entirely positive to all and everything having to do with Baba, his ashrams, his representatives, his teachings and - above all - what he says in person. That has changed, though I still do my best to preserve the best of it, it must be without compromising the truth. Unfortunately, every time I have been to Baba's ashrams, (nine long visits since 1984) I have - despite myself and my best hopes - come across more and more suspicious and wrong things around SB, and also some very close in to him too, which have been covered up - including major crimes. These did not then weaken my faith, however, for I used all my powers of rationalisation to explain them to myself and others. But I could not help suspect there were many things we were kept in the dark about too. I watched as many people leapt to conclusions either for or against the claims of Baba, but - though I long bought a large part of the whole expensive package - I still could not but maintain a questioning attitude as events unfolded. I also did my best to like and help all those who he had put in place in the Sai Organisation, which proved not only to be too hard a course to complete for anyone still in their right mind, not only for me, but for almost all the people I liked and respected who went through similar trials with uncivil and unloving people in high places and had a gradual awakening! From a convinced follower and believer in Sai Baba, I became more skeptical of many of his extravagant claims. Then in 1996, my extremely good friend, V.K. Narasimhan told me in secret the key facts behind the murders at the ashram in 1993. This shocked me into investigating further for several years, which led to my much greater disillusionment. Subsequently came the increasing number of independent allegations world-wide of sexual abuse of young men and boys by Sai Baba, who so far remains wholly unaccountable through political and judicial protection in India at the highest levels.
As an ex-participant in the Sai movement, I now find myself to have become an independent observer and now relatively neutral witness of the Sai Baba phenomenon and movement. The process by which I became a follower is fully described in my previous book Source of the Dream, while the contrary process whereby I became disillusioned about much that I have been led to believe I recount here. In both cases, however, I ascribe the cause of these two processes as much to objective events external to myself and beyond my control as I do to the actions of my own understanding and voluntary decisions. There is truth, by which we judge the validity of many worldly facts. The truth is no and cannot be entirely foreign to the facts, I think. Getting at the facts is an unavoidable part of the spiritual search, as I see it... at least, that is part of my way since going on 'blind belief' has never worked for me. Any transcendental or eternal truth, if it bears no meaningful relation to anything here and now, is not worth any further consideration.
Having been brought within the figurative circle of those who have been shown beyond doubt of his extraordinary powers and well-intentioned spiritual teaching, and having been drawn - largely despite myself - into the sphere of Sai Baba and been engaged there for so long, I feel I have to face the challenges to the understanding which now arise in it. I do not wish to do any injustice to anyone, for I seek both facts and truth with what faculties I may possess and must use. Without becoming laughably inconsistent, we cannot to my mind say that God is in everyone and everything, yet hold that only Sai Baba is able to will anything that happens, as many devotees actually say. To my mind, that speaks only of invalid logic, irrational belief and a weak will. What I write, for example, cannot have been predetermined independently of my conscience and will. We all choose how much or little we are willing to learn, grow, rethink, transform ourselves and express our inherent values. Regarding divinity as in everyone (SB holds that everything is divine), we all must be partakers in the scenario and agents of its development... within the limits set by those cosmic laws that govern us all. If everything is to be accepted as a gift from God, whatever it is, it will include this Website. To any who doubt me, I swear by all that is good that what I publish here IS true to the very best of my knowledge, the facts having been investigated as far as I could, and carefully cross-checked.
On holding back the truth if hurtful? SB thinks it best to keep to ourselves thoughts that would hurt others if expressed. But then the question arises, 'Which others?' Experience shows that someone will always be offended by almost anything anyone says, however true and however well-meant or positive. Further, one asks how always speaking agreeably and never telling what is unpleasant to anyone can be reconciled to SB's insistence on unity of thought, word and deed?' To dissemble and pretend otherwise than what one thinks and feels is deceit, and this is often seen among leaders in the Sai movement. I am aware of the vulnerability of those who need to cling regardless to the belief that all is well in the sphere of SB, but I cannot afford to help sustain their illusions by not speaking out.
I can just hear Sai followers retorting in quasi-humble bemusement, "And what do we mere humans know about 'truth'." Well, if it were futile for us mere fallible mortals to try to learn the truth about matters in the here and now, that would make life that much less worth living. One recommended spiritual method of truth-seeking is to pray for realization... pray on endlessly and wait for the truth to drop into one's lap. Let those who prefer to risk all on that do so, but there is little evidence that it is fruitful, though some mystics say that some do succeed, if less than one in a million. There is eternal truth and there are many worldly facts, but surely these can't be ENTIRELY foreign to one another? If the higher truth about which Sai Baba always talks flies in the face of all worldly facts, then it seems pointless even to talk about it, for it is beyond any understanding. As to what to tell or not about events at the ashram and concerning Sai Baba, I agree with the proverb 'a half-truth is often worse than a lie'.
One of Baba's most famous aphorisms is 'silence is the language of realization'. Nonetheless, SB talks a great deal, and is ever holding long and drawn-out discourses. In the world, language is a personal, social and economic necessity for the great majority of people. Those of us who have to live in the world, however little we may be worldly-attached in spirit, can at best try to say whenever possible only what is true, kind and necessary. The danger is, though, that by not being ourselves and allowing self expression when we really feel the need - saying what we really feel and think - an air of unreality hangs around us, even until we can hardly breathe. This false atmosphere is not always noticed until it envelops a group of persons, such as is very often the case at ashrams and in religious communities. One wishes only to hear whatever supports what they already believe, and in the social vacuum that this develops, one is so righteously 'right-handed' that soon one can't even see recognize what one's own left hand is doing.
A new regime of threats from SB: Those Sai followers who are well-balanced enough to learn and investigate open-mindedly are still relatively few, it seems. But it does take time and some personal courage. I feel that those who stick their heads in the sand do so more because of fear than for love or righteousness... fear of losses of all kinds. The loss involved would include imagined 'grace', if branded a poor devotee, a Judas, and even a demon by SB - terms he used against his critics and those who 'betray' him in his discourse on Christmas day, 2000, of all days- as if to sneer at and deride the message of forgiveness that Jesus preached, and even during his crucifixion! This reveals more about SB's real, hidden nature than most of his utterances! It suggests a colossal ignorance of Jesus' teaching and the significance of Christmas to Christians!
The vagueness of SB's threats - exactly what 'sins' they apply to - appears well-designed to cow devotees into total submission of any injustice and acceptance of any kind of wrong-doing or cover-up by anyone involved in SB's institutions.
Uncritical acceptance of all one sees and hears and the cultivation of 'blind faith' - especially when this enhances oneself and one's sense of self-importance - opens for a heavy fall from faith once a few disappointments and disillusionments force their way in. From enthusing about Sai Baba and all things positive connected therewith, some appear to have swung to the opposite extreme, denying almost all they held to be true 'only yesterday'. What is true - pro or contra - can be ignored for a long time, but not always by everyone! I have exercised much restraint and continuous reflection upon my own mind and personal, experiential knowledge before reaching the unfortunate conclusions I have had to draw. Many find it too hard to remain undecided until doubts are resolved... for most people everywhere like to get rid of uncertainty quickly and would even prefer to live with false certainties than with inconclusiveness. Unfortunately, this I have found to be just as common in the Sai movement as elsewhere, if not more so. The discoveries I have made and certain conclusions to which I am impelled are the subject of the various items on these pages.
THE SAI SPIDERWEB AND HOW I ESCAPED IT
From: Robert Priddy
Beliefs, once adopted often after much searching and seeking, tend to grow of themselves. The believing mind seeks all that can reinforce the belief and tends to reject or ignore whatever may conflict with it. Often it is because the belief helps inspire and strengthen good qualities in oneself and positive action towards the world, along with a meaningfulness of purpose in life and the cosmos. When the flames of such a positive intention are fed by constant supportive 'spin' and stories of many others' 'subjective experiences' which no one can control and the fewest can investigate to any reasonable extent, they continue to consume people. Our own experience - being all that we really know - can often be distorted if we have allowed our minds to be programmed by a doctrine. It is overshadowed by the false expectations created by remaining in an environment of a sect or a cult.
However, when serious doubts emerge, doubts that will not disappear and can only be ignored with difficulty, they too can grow as the facts go on bolstering them, whether one likes it or not. Otherwise, when confronted face on and investigated, unjustified doubts and rumours subside and fragment. This cannot occur in the case of Sathya Sai Baba, as the coming year will continue to demonstrate on an even wider front. My own strongly-held belief in him for nearly two decades was not shaken, even as it was gradually being nibbled away at the edges all the time due to more and more disturbing incidents and fishy explanations of things that were covered up from most people. Eventually, I was fundamentally challenged by indubitable facts about the murders in 1993 in SSB's bedroom and later by the massive evidence - still emerging - of his constant sexual abuses of young men and boys. It took four years for me slowly to come to terms and investigate with the murders evidence, plus three more to examine and follow-up enough sex abuse facts to be convinced… of SSB's guilt! My doubts were further reinforced as subsequent events have unfolded, not least by the way Sathya Sai and many of his most keen followers have reacted, in a manner quite contrary to his teaching and their proclaimed ethos, which puts truth on a pinnacle (but actually only in word, not action). The rationalisations, lies and often slurs and defamations - also from SSB himself - speak loudly for themselves. This is indeed a threadbare 'God Almighty'!
The basic tenet of the Sai religion, that Sathya Sai Baba he is the predicted great Avatar of the Age, with the more and more fantastic corollaries that he is Vishnu, Rama and Krishna come again, the Father of Jesus, God Incarnate and so on ad. inf. Having finally discovered that this was no longer even a possible hypothesis to accept, I began to look more and more closely with a critical eye at his many claims and teachings, which I knew extremely well from my more intensive 20-year study than anyone else I happened to meet in the Sai movement. While I had previously sought to explain away discrepancies and inaccuracies, sweeping generalizations and wild ideas, I began to examine them in a much more even-minded manner. The results are know to all who have looked into my website in which I demonstrate the tremendous fraud involved in the Sai doctrine at all levels, and especially as regards the continual conflicts between what SSB says and actually does. This has become so blatant that it seems he can get away with anything, having managed to deceive his followers so totally that they have lost all normal human judgment.
A person whose charisma and social power backed up by some scientifically-inexplicable psychic powers had overwhelmed me, as it still does more than a million people, has turned out to fit most of the characteristics of a psychopath and sociopath, with megalomaniacal delusions of grandeur and a power complex which is also expressed through homosexual abuses. Though I could not know many things about him until many years had passed and I happened to learn them from one of his closest servitors (V.K. Narasimhan), I was still somewhat amazed at how I could have been so effectively blinded by his whole doubtful set-up and the apparent light of what he 'teaches' (which are nevertheless standard Indian religious fare - often superficial - all taken from a rich tradition). The greatest possible abuse of others is abuse of their faith. This, above all else, I consider to be the most serious accusation I lay at the door of Sathya Sai Baba.