Testimony from Shobiekapoor
From shobiekapoor (Shobie) on:
Sathya Sai Baba Discussion Club, message 3933;
Date: 1/9/02 5:10 p.m.
Thank you for your warm welcome!
My family got involved with Sai Baba about 22 years ago when I was 14. One of my family members had a prominent leadership role in the community.
At the age of 16, I came across some Baba teachings which condoned violence against women and I read some inaccurate historical statements made by Baba. I also noticed an anti-western slant (ie. ranting vs 'western' decadence specifically the 2 sins of lust and greed) which had a strong, dishonest emotional charge to it. Spiritual leaders don't react so much from a personality level, they are in their essence more. Being in one's essence more implies to me anyway these qualities: kindness, a lack of reactive emotionalism, a dignified confidence and wisdom, so I was very confused.
Anyway, when I raised these three issues with my family and several prominent Baba leaders, I was treated like a traitor. Unquestioning obedience was required. I was told not to throw baby out with bathwater.
I noticed that when I got an interview, got a pendant from baba, i was trotted around like a one-trick pony...I was not a baby thrower anymore. I remember one baba devotee actually taking a picture of my pendant trying to prove that a spiritual aura was emanating from it. I remember enjoying my elevated status for at least a month. I remember looking at my white grade 11 classmates thinking, "what a bunch of decadent losers. i'm more evolved than them. baba loves meeeeee." IT was a big ego trip, my family loved my obediance. my marks improved. Then, I got disgusted with this farce and threw the pendant out of the window. It was a pivotal moment in my life.
I also noticed that if one spouse believed in Baba, and the other one didn't, some leaders would try to put down the non-believer (which led to marriages deteriorating), that there was a lot of one upmanship going on (e.g. "I got an interview", "Baba looked at me"...)
There were NO checks and balances, accountability, independent peer review, accreditation, supervision, etc. in this organization. It is set up for corruption and abuse. I have heard some leaders say some outrageous, immoral and unethical things, with no fear of any repurcussion. They think they are above the law. The arrogance was unbelievable...
There were also incidents of cruelty directed against me, which hurt esp. as a teenager trying to develop a sense of self.
I hope this helps in understanding my position. I don't feel like getting into specifics because I'm not sure how 'safe' this board is yet...
Baba has a very distorted view of sexuality - his emotional charge re: lust and greed are classic examples of 'shadow boxing'. I believe in the victims - their stories have the ring of truth to them.
Questions and remarks from Andries
Date: 1/9/02 5:47 p.m.
>>At the age of 16, I came across some Baba teachings which condoned violence against women and I read some inaccurate historical statements made by Baba. <<
Could you give references about these 2 items? I couldn't find any inaccurate historical statements apart from Jesus birthdate.
>>There were NO checks and balances, accountability, independent peer review, accreditation, supervision, etc. in this organization. It is set up for corruption and abuse. I have heard some leaders say some outrageous, immoral and unethical things, with no fear of any repurcussion. They think they are above the law. The arrogance was unbelievable...<<
I never noticed this. It is not my experience. It differs per center probably.
Thanks in advance
Answers from Shobie
Date: 1/9/02 7:34 p.m.
Was there any channel for complaints from Sai devotees to be heard? Well, if there was, it certainly wasn't brought to my attention. I certainly did not get a chance to connect with other people who had the same issues I had. I didn't 'see' or 'notice' people who had the same issues because there was no organizational integrity.
Any organization with such power HAS to have checks and balances. I work in the educational field. We don't pretend to teach the ultimate truth and that our teachers are avatars. I don't flounce around with freshly materialized textbooks. Yet, I know that our school, without peer review, accreditation, supervision, feedback, an avenue for student complaints, student representation on our board of directors, an ethics policy, site visits, etc. the abuse of power would be inevitable. Or certain concerns would not get the attention they deserve, or be trivialized.
I think the sexist statement and historical stuff was in some of the satya sai baba speaks books. there was something about a woman being beaten by her husband and then a statement saying that a husband had a right to do this. It was a long time ago. I wish I had documented it.
If there is a Sai Baba library in Toronto, Canada, I could do some research. I don't feel like knocking on devotee's doors or wasting my $ buying his books, though.
I can think of 3 specific incidents of cruelty by Sai Baba leaders. One was attempted obstruction of justice involving a criminal court case, another was discrimination in school admission, another was cruelty involving a woman who had just tried to commit suicide.
I know of nice well-intentioned people who worship Baba and funnel money into the organization. Intention doesn't have to be there to cause harm. Ignorance can cause harm.
If ADULTS want to worship Baba, then there is an element of choice and self-responsibilty there. What gets my goat is that vulnerable kids/teenagers are involved.