When a luminescent ball of light entered
Easwaramma while she was bathing, little did she, or Pedda Venkappa
Raju, her illiterate husband, realize that the Lord had chosen her
surrogate womb for His next parthenocarpic incarnation. Official
literature enlightens us that the Lord's coming was anticipated
long ago by Jesus and Mohammed. For those who can not find the relevant
passages in their version of the Bible or Koran, a more contemporary
declaration was made by the Lord Himself. In 1918during His earlier
incarnation as the Sai Baba of Shirdi, He had revealed that 8 years
after leaving the Shirdi body, He would be reborn in Puttaparthi
village of Andhra Pradesh as Satya Sai Baba. So in fulfillment of
these predictions, the Lord grew in the womb of Easwaramma, "as
the moon grows in the sky",and a male child was born on
23 November, 1926. To mark the momentous significance of the event,
musical instruments in the house played by themselves at the time
of the birth: the thambura twanged melodiously, the maddela accompanied
it with a soft bet, a divine fragrance pervaded the air, and a cobra,
lord of reptiles, waited in attendance to protect the Lord.It is
fair to assume that just as with the birth of the Buddha, elephants
trumpeted in joy, peacocks danced and the gods rejoiced.Despite
His omniscience, Satyanarayana Raju (his given name) went to school
where the playful display of his miraculous power was soon recognized
by all. Friends came to love him for his magically created gifts,
and teachers feared his chair, unless he begged for forgiveness
and expressed remorse at ill treating the children! In 1940, after
tortuous treatment by doctors for suspected mental illness, at the
age of 15, Satyanarayana Raju revealed His Avatar hood to the world
and identified Himself as Satya Sai Baba. As He was to reveal later
to his disciples, "I, the Lord, incarnated at Puttaparthi,
Buddha,Christ,Mohammed and others were not Avatars. They had some
divine power... My power is infinite; My truth is inexplicable,even
unfathomable. My task is the regeneration of humanity by Truth and
Love. "we are reassured that when the present incarnation would
be over at age 96 in the year 2022,He would be reborned as Prema
Sai in Mandya district of Karnataka.
Man of Miracles
Satya Sai Baba would often say "miracles
are my visiting cards", a phrase which is also the title
of a largely hearsay, cock-and-bull account of Satya Sai Baba's
paranormal powers, by Icelandic para-psychologist Errlelndur Haraldsson.
Despite His insistence that His religious message was more important
that the "tinsel" miracles He performed, the stupendous
"powers" of Satya Sai Baba soon come to be know all over
Based on the "most reliable information",
but mistaking God for guru, the Reader's Digest book entitled "Strange
Stories, Amazing Facts II" gives us this incredulous account:
"Sai Baba is an Indian guru blessed
with extraordinary powers. He can produce gold rings and coins out
of thin air, change rock into candy and flowers into jewels. He
heals the sick with the aid of Vibhuti(sacred wood ash), which seems
to appear from nowhere as he waves his hand. Perhaps the most astonishing
display of Sai Baba's powers took place in 1953, when the blue and
stiff body of Radhakrishna which was cold,shrunken and starting
to be decompose, was brought back to life by Baba. In the 50 years
that Sai Baba has been demonstrating his apparently miraculous powers,
no one has found any evidence of trickery".
In addition of these reports, Dr.
John Hislop, "American industrialist and management consultant",
and also Chairman of the Central Committee of American Sai tells
us earnestly how in 1971 Satya Sai Baba resurrected Walter Cowan,
declared dead due to cardiac failure. The late Dr.Suri Bhagavantam,
director of the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore,
Scientific advisor to the Government of India, and also Baba's interpreter
narrated how once Satya Sai Baba created out of nowhere a copy of
the Bhagavadgita (alas even the Lord is not immune to orthographic
error, as a skeptic pointed out!). In a contemporary enactment of
New Testament miracles, He once converted water into petrol by dipping
His finger into the water. HE relieves devotees' ailments by taking
them onto Himself, conducts surgeries with psychic powers and plucks
out-of-season mango fruit from tamarind trees. It is believed that
Baba was responsible for repelling the Chinese army "invading
India like locusts". Reports abound of His bi-location (having
appeared in two places at the same time) appearance; He Himself
claimed that He never sleeps.
In what can only be described as divine
disapproval of capitalist claims on intellectual property rights,
by the mere stayed to pray. "Noted" American psychologist
Dr. Samuel Sandweiss was convinced when he was told "I am everything,
everywhere, omniscient, omnipotent and so whatever I will, instantly
happens". Dr.Hislop asks in tragically foolish wonder, "Baba
has the inconceivably immense task of the Universe. How can He afford
to spend time talking to people like us?" Baba reassures him:
"Baba with his limitless bodies, is everywhere doing the tasks...
that is Baba's omnipresence. God is not subject to any limitation".
Dr.Hislop is delighted at this explanation.
The credit for polishing Baba's halting
English and capturing his evident lyrical derangement goes to official
biographer, the erudite Kasturi: "I am all that is , all that
can be known, all that seeks fulfillment. Sunrise and Sunset keep
repeating, for I have willed [them] to; the stars that lend sublime
charm to the nocturnal sky hide their faces from human eyes during
the day, in obedience to my desire; the wind blows with no respite
in order to keep animate beings alive, since that is My wish; streams
and rivulets giggle, laugh or roar along beds during their pilgrimages
to the sea, for it pleases Me; mankind itself is molded into a million
faces to present the variety I relish".
This has obviously enlightened the
person from whom I borrowed some Satya Sai Baba literature: he had
written down in pencil, in fervent devotion: "I, befitting
and fortunate slave, carry out every Command of the master without
any question of why and what... I am slave of the master who has
released me from my ignorance, whatever my master does is of the
greatest benefit to all concerned".
The confederacy of irrationality,
gullibility and superstition establishes a kinship which transcends
cultural and national barriers. Among the miracle-mongering Satya
Sai followers are top Indian political leaders and Judges, Presidents
and Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Mauritius, several
former Greek Prime Ministers, the Spanish Royal family, members
of the International diplomatic corps, advocates, engineers, doctors
and common folk. Perhaps because it is they who need the most spiritual
advice, it is very common to see the pacific and teetotaler Satya
Sai Baba in the company of power brokers, associates of international
arms traders an liquor barons. Notable among Baba's international
inner circle are Guilio Andreotti, former Prime Minister of Italy,
currently on trial for murder of a journalist, former Italian Prime
Minister Bettino Craxi, sentenced to 5 1/2 years of imprisonment
for corruption and Princess Poihlavi, sister of the former Shah
of Iran, caught in Switzerland in 1962 for carrying heroin illegally.
Begone Satya Sai!
Into such a community of God-fearing
people came the late Srilankan Dr.Abraham T.Kovoor, Asian President
of the World Union of Freethinkers and Dr.H.Narasimhaiah, India's
best known rationalist and former vice chancellor of the Bangalore
University, who together led the most animated attack on Satya Sai
Baba and his world view.
Dr.Kovoor narrates in his book Begone
Godmen! that in 1973,during a newspaper debate on Satya Sai Baba,
Dr.Bhagavantam (Baba's interpreter from Telugu to English) wrote
of the "awe-inspiring, wonderful experience of the Seiko watch
manufacturer", who, when on a visit to Puttaparthi was presented
by Sai Baba with the very watch prototype that the manufacturer
had kept in a safe in Japan. With this materialization, all his
doubts about the divine powers of Satya Sai Baba melted away. "He
fell prostrate at Sai Baba's feet and worshiped him. Since then
he is an ardent devotee of the Bhagavan". Since Dr.Bhagavantam
was not forth coming with details, Dr.Kovoor, being suspicious,
made inquiries with Shoji Hattori, President of Seiko Watch Company
in Tokyo to Verify the facts. Mr.Hattori wrote back "....I
am in no way able to further your knowledge as regards the man mentioned
in your letter, Mr.Sai Baba. Neither I, nor any members of my staff
have ever made the acquaintance of this individual. I am sure that
these reports are completely unfounded". Bhagavantam remained
silent when confronted with the response.
The national scandal that broke out
when Dr.Kovoor released his correspondence to the press, describing
Satya Sai Baba as a "sleight-of-hand" trickster and exposed
one of India's brilliant scientists as a Satya Sai Agent. It was
only surpassed by unclear scientist Dr.H.Narasimhaiah's crusade
as Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University, when in 1976 he appointed
a 12 member official committee "to investigate rationally and
scientifically miracles and any other verifiable superstitions".
Dr.Narasimhaiah's committee exposed Sai Krishna, a 7 year old child-protege
of Satya Sai Baba, by pulling out the packet of Vibhuti hidden in
Sai Krishna's underclothes. As a result of this exposure, and fearing
investigation, several sun dry Godmen immediately confessed that
they did not have any miraculous powers, including the now famous
Ganapathi Satchidananda Swamy,(who has now picked up courage to
practice his old-trade of spurious miracles). It was Satya Sai Baba's
turn now and the committee requested Him to allow them an investigation.
When they visited Him, a terrified Satya Sai Baba locked Himself
up in His Whitefield residence, close to Bangalore. All He could
do was spew helpless vitriol at the Narasimhaiah committee.
Avatar of the Night
As if these resounding rationalist
responses and public humiliations were not enough, in 1976, another
bomb shell was thrown at Him. Tal Brooke, born-again-Christian who
spent 14 months with Satya Sai Baba, wrote the book avatar of the
night (all three thousand copies of the book released in India were
purchased and destroyed !) describing Satya Sai Baba"s homosexual
lust (how can a good Christian accept that? and assaults on young
boys. It is quite revealing of the submission and intelligence level
of the Sai devotee that despite Sai Baba's enticement. "what
is mine is yours, money, food, anything. Just ask!'',Tal Brooke
said to himself "Lust contradicts Baba's nature;therefore it
doesn't exist in him. Blind faith... Baba is innocent:. It took
Tal Brooke three such consummate encounters and numerous similar
accounts of pedophilia from friends to realize that Satya Sai Baba's
nudging pelvis, pawing hands and intimate behaviour were not part
of any soul-cleansing encounter,
With news of these events and later
incidents, the seeds of doubts were sown in many minds. How is it
that Sai Baba's own brother-in-law died of rabies? Why did Baba,
Himself a psychic surgeon, have to be hospitalized for ruptured
appendicitis and broken leg? And preaching simplicity, why does
He travel in Mercedes cars and require heavy protection? Why did
Sai Baba have to wave his hand in circles, before producing anything?
Was it because of prestidigitation, as emphatically asserted by
the renowned Indian stage magician P.C.Sorcar Jr. and skeptic E.Premanand?
does His occasional transvestism and derision for women really illustrate
the Male-female principle of the universe? why is it that some doctors
have gone on record stating that post mortems of bodies of several
women coming from Puttaparthi showed signs of torture? Is it true
that some of the foreign nationals visiting Puttaparthi were disappearing
after entire properties were bequeathed to Satya Sai Organistion?
Is it true that Prashanti Nilayam (Satya Sai Baba's "abode
of peace" at puttaparthi) was the campus of criminals?
Is it not surprising that the police, in a routine security combing
of Prashanti Nilayam before the visit of the Home Minister of I
India, discover , apart form cyanide and land mines, the deadly
plastic-explosive RDX used by Hindu-Muslim terrorists in Bombay?
And why did Satya Sai Baba, whose religion officially also embraces
the values of Islam,welcome the antiMuslim Hindu fundamentalist
Vishwa Hindu Parishad's virulent campaign in favour of mosque demolition
Let There be a Necklace
But the most spectacular food for
doubt for the believer was the unique birthday gift given to Satya
Sai Baba by the Deccan Chronicle of 23 November,1992. This largely
circulated,Hyderabad-based English daily published what the rationalist
could only dream of! Splashed on the front page were pictures from
a video recording of Satya Sai Baba's "creation" of a
gold necklace, in the presence of the Prime Minister of India, Mr.P.V.
Narasimha Rao. the video tape shows unambiguously Satya Sai Baba
being passed clandestinely a necklace by his personal assistant
Radhakrishna Menon, which later Satya Sai Baba "materializes"
after a wave of his hand in the air. Filmed by a state television
crew covering the Prime Minister, the cassette was suppressed. However,
a copy was leaked and several copies of the cassette were distributed
in India and abroad. A big meeting was organized by the rationalists,
to felicitate the courageous journalist Venu Kodimela (who was told
that his mother's cancer was due to his act), and playing this video
tape became a necessary ritual of all our public meetings for a
long time. Some were shown on local and district cable television
too at a great bodily risk as some rationalists came to know. However,
the publicity remarkably affected the number of devotees visiting
Puttaparthi though some still insist that "miracles" are
performed to attract people to the good work being done by Baba
and that Baba never claimed any special powers!
Crime and karma: Murders in the
Much worse was in store when on 6
June, 1993, six inmates of Prashanti Nilayam were murdered in Satya
Sai Baba's bedroom. It is alleged that two were killed by the assailants
and the police claimed to have shot dead in self defence four of
the assailants, who were armed only with knives. Realizing the danger
to his person, Baba Himself ran for His life, jumped out of an open
window and started off a secret alarm whose existence even the inner
core did not know of. Interestingly, all the people killed were
part of the inner circle of Sai Baba, among whom Radha Krishna Menon,the
personal assistant who was caught on video passing the necklace
clandestinely to Baba.Baba Himself spoke of the murders in His Gurupoornima
lecture and dealt with the question of whether the deaths of his
near and dear were unavoidable: "Birth and death go together,
One should realize that death is a natural phenomenon and avoid
worrying about it... You must note that Swami's life is in His own
hands and not in those of anyone else. If I will it,I can live as
long as I please. Because He is the almighty, God cannot behave
in any arbitrary manner. Not realizing this truth, men who are involved
in worldly ways ask questions as to why in certain situations, God
did not use his limitless powers to avert certain unwanted events..."
The police report was twice changed,
from attempt to murder Baba, to internal squabbles in Prashanti
Nilayam. Mysteriously, Shankar Dayal Sharma, the president of the
Indian Republic deviated from protocol and propricty and said that
the murders were "all about a girl". When asked why Satya
Sai Baba, the head of the Institution in whose bedroom the murders
took place,was not interrogated, Home Minister Chavan who visited
Sai Baba twice immediately after the incident insisted that Sai
Baba was not present at the time of murder, further compromising
the investigation. Surprisingly, Prashanti Nilayam authorities themselves
filed no police complaint. B.Premanand, magician, former devotee
of Baba and today the most important Indian Skeptic and Sai Baba-baiter
alive, however, refused to accept the interference into the investigation
and hauled the government to court, accusing the police of having
willfully destroyed evidence. Amusingly, in the past, premanand
and K.N Balagopal, rationalist advocate in the Supreme Court of
India,had dragged Satya Sai Baba to court for violation of the Gold
Control Act which imposed restrictions on the"manufacture,
possession, sale and transfer of gold" since Satya Sai
Baba "materialized gold ornaments to be given to devotees.
While rejecting the petition, the High Court Judge Justice Y.V.
Anjaneyulu, a member of the Satya Sai innercircle, allowed the argument
that an article materialized by spiritual powers cannot be said
to have been manufactured, prepared or processed. Perhaps for the
first time in jurisprudence, spiritual powers were recognized as
valid defense in law!
In the present murder case, however,
Premanand petitioned to the High court in a public interest petition
that the case be transferred to an impartial investigative agency
that justice might be done. In the High Court, while dismissing
the plea, Premanand was admonished by Chief Justice Mishra, who
even threatened to punish him the next time he "misused"
the Court with such complaints, with the intention of defaming Satya
Sai Baba. In January,the Supreme Court of India expunged all the
remarks made by the High Court judge, boosting rationalists morale.
Also, chastened by the Supreme Court of India, in the first week
of May,the High Court of Andhra Pradesh State, admitted contempt
of Court petition by Premanand against the government and the police.
Premanand and Satya Sai Baba have been brought to the front pages
of news papers again. The judicial mood in India was remarkably
different since the past few months. what with the Indian Supreme
Court taking up an "operation clean hands",arresting several
corrupt politicians and also forcing the Indian Prime Minister Narasimha
Rao to arrest his favorite Godman and arms dealer-power broker,
Chandraswami in the first week of May. Rationalists keep their fingers
The Case of the Missing Kidney
In the Marathi language weekly, Lok
Prabha, of 19 January,1996, was published a most shocking account
concerning the Satya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, set
up at an expense of 2000 million Indian rupees, and where all medical
treatment is done free. Triambak Karvande a peasant from Latur district
of Maharastra, was to have received his son Balaji's kidney in a
transplant operation. A week after the operation, a dying Triambak
was informed that the transplant was failure and father and son
were sent back home. Back in their town, two CT scans and a sonography
done by Dr.Kastur of the Maharastra Institute of Medical Sciences
and Research Center revealed that Triambak was never operated for
a kidney transplant; the scans also confirmed that Balaji's kidney
was indeed , taken out of his body! So where did Balaji's kidney
go? Is the hospital with a hitherto very good reputation, in fact
a part of the international organ theft business? Initial complaints
made by the victim went unheeded, but the Maharastra Superstition
Eradication Committee, after its own independent investigation,
is working on helping the Karvande family get legal aid. The Truth
might be out soon.
Sai Empire and Philanthropy
B.Premanand, also advisor on miracle
exposure to the Rationalist Association of India, member of the
Indian Radical Humanist Association and editor of Indian Skeptic,
estimates the Sai Empire to be worth 60,000 million rupees(1714
million USD). Puttaparthi now has an airport and 3000 small apartments
are available for rentals to accommodate the cash-rich Americans,
Scandinavians, Belgians, Germans, Dutch, Malaysians and Japanese.
Prashanti Nilayam itself has adequate infrastructure to feed 10,000
people at one time. To have an idea of the scale of operations,
consider the fact that in 1982, the target of the Satya Sai Organisation
was adoption of 6000 villages, to "fulfill all the physical
and spiritual needs of the community". There are 3000 Satya
Sai centres in India and 400 centres abroad in 85 countries and
they publicize and market the fact that more than 100,000 children
are taught free in centres run by Sri Satya Sai Bal Vikas Trust
and do propaganda about their social service activities. Union Bank
of India, owned by the state, does not charge any fee for money
transfer to Satya Sai Baba and the money keeps flowing.
When Satya Sai Baba celebrated his
70th birthday in November, 1995, the President and the Prime Minister
of India were in attendance and applauded the Satya Sai Water Scheme
meant to provide drinking water to every village of the dry district
of Ananthapur. It is a matter of great concern that five months
after the inauguration, water is yet to flow from village taps,
as tanks have crashed and pipes burst because of inferior construction
material used due to corruption. Importantly, this is an instance
of how and when governments default in their duties, religious organizations
occupy that space. On this single birthday, a little known foundation
from America and another from Japan donated 1600 million Indian
rupees(45 million US Dollars) for the Satya Sai charity work. Premanand
is investigating whether this is in fact a money laundering operation.
A look into the world view of high-school
dropout Satya Sai Baba should help clarify why His style of philanthropy
and education must be combated: "At the centre (of the world),
everything is liquid. Everything is melted. No temperature. Everything
is liquid, like water. Gold, iron, silver all are liquid. Next there
is solid. Then trees. Then human beings and animals. At the very
centre is the divine. It is the support of everything. First is
liquid chemistry. Then solid Physics. Then the trees, botany. Then
man, the pinnacle of life. But at the centre, supporting all, is
the divine. Without the divine, where is chemistry, physics and
botany? Like this will be the teaching of all courses at the university".
A few years ago, the Satya Sai Institute of Higher Learning has
been declared a deemed University by Madhuri Shah, devotee and Chairperson
of the University Grants Commission, on par with the rest of India's
Centres of Higher Learning! Alas, news of philanthropy in poor countries
drowns out rational discourse. Sadly, Indians are still racists
and when pale-face comes and approves, there is little else to doubt.
State Radio and Television carry out the propaganda for him. Journalists
are either gullible or are on payroll. Judges are at times prone
to decide based on personal beliefs: the situation is worsened by
the political patronage received(Sai Baba's influence increased
manifold ever since superstitious Narasimha Rao and his cabinet
retire and President Sankar Dayal Sharma started visiting Him even
in their official capacity). And in India, criminal and political
identities overlap. Scientists, advocates and intellectuals mislead
the others and set examples by their own mistaken devotion for this
modern Tartuffe. Many well meaning people and there are many such
among the Satya Sai Baba followers and admirers fail to realize
that philanthropy is merely an investment in the Satya Sai Baba
cult and empire and a way of evading tax. It is a great irony that
the intellectuals and the common man's wilful suspension of disbelief
and critical faculties, the Satya Sai octopus has been able to spread
its tentacles far and wide with the lure of miracles.
Bala Sai Baba and the Real Avatar!
Disillusioned by the bedroom murders,
exposes in newspapers, news of Premanand's court battles, power
struggles in the Sai empire and reports like that of the disappearing
kidney and the failed water project, and disappointed by birth day
extravaganzas, many disciples are turning away from Satya Sai Baba.
Their destination now is the Palghat(Kerala) born BALA SAI BABA(the
child Sai Baba), who at 35 years of age is a bit overgrown for his
name. He claims to be the real Sai Avatar, set up an ashram in Kurnool
district of Andra Pradesh ( a State that breeds god-men!) and resembles
Satya Sai Baba trait for trait. This till recently-unemployed youth
also hints that Satya Sai Baba is an impostor! He dresses like Satya
Sai Baba, performs the same tricks as Satya Sai Baba does and has
been very successful in attracting as large number ofdevotees. He
also recruits devotees from Europe and else where and seems to have
hit at the right marketing mix.
Dr.Narasimhaiah said to me in Bangalore
once that our work is like that of Sisyphus . It does not matter
even if the Supreme Court of India puts Satya Sai Baba on trial.
Our work has to continue: after working to expose Bala Sai Baba
in the year 2022, we might still be busy with Prema Sai...
Lesson from Erlendur Haraldsson
Associate Professor of Psychology
at University of Iceland, para psychologist Dr.Erlendur Haraldsson
came to India several times (twice along with Karlish Osis,co-author
of their book on near-death experiences:At the Hour of Death ) to
investigate Satya Sai Baba's paranormal powers.The result of his
efforts over ten years is the book "Miracles are My Visiting
Cards; An Investigative Report on the Psychic Phenomena"associated
with Satya Sai Baba,published in 1987.
Dr. Haraldsson's repeated requests
for controlled experiments were firmly rejected by Satya Sai Baba
and his team was asked "not to pester" Baba with more
requests. Charmed by the charmed by the charisma of Baba and more
predisposed to believe than to investigate, Dr. Haraldsson settles
for his own inefficient and subjective personal - informal observation
as well as hearsay accounts from devotees. Yet, in their article
entitled as The Appearance and Disappearance of Objects in the Presence
of Sri Satya Sai Baba in the Journal of the American Society for
Psychical Research Vol. 71, January, 1977, Haraldsson and Karlis
Osis express their gratitude to Sri satya Sai Baba "for his
kind cooperation in their investigation"!
Dr. Haraldsson's book does not indicate
that he is aware of Satya Sai Baba's father's brother being a tantrik-conjuror.
He could perhaps have been Satya Sai,s teacher.Despite assuring
us that he "tried his very best" to trace all "Critics"
only Dr.H.Narasimhaiah is mentioned. No mention of Dr.Kovoor's whirlwind
tours of Andhra,his challenges to Satya Sai Baba, his largely attended
public meeting (30,000 people for instance) to the accompaniment
of stupendous publicity! Contributors to the national debates in
the then prestigious Illustrated Weekly of India, and the tabloids
Blitz and Current Weekly are ignored. Interestingly, Dr.Haraldesson
is unaware even of the Seiko watch controversy. Later, unconvincingly,
he said that he was unwilling to take it up because of the various
varsions of it! One has not heard of an "investigative"
researcher shy away on such dubious grounds.
Nor does Haraldsson mention Satya
Sai Baba specialist B.Premanand,whose first book in English on Baba,Lure
of Miracles, was published in 1976. Dr.Haraldsson's excuse on 6
April, 1988 to Dale Bayerstein, editor of the excellent 1994 book,
Sai Baba's Miracles: An Overview is that no one in India mentioned
Premanand to him. Then again, Dr. Haraldsson writes in his letter
of 21 October, 1988 to Dale Bayerstein that Dr.H.Narasimhaiah did
not think it worthwhile for him to visit Premanand. When informed
of this Dr.Narasimhaiah issued a issued a written clarification
that he respected Premanand's work and could never have said what
Haraldsson reported. This is not the only complaint of misquoting
about Haraldsson.Two chapters of the book Miracles are My Visiting
Cards are devoted to M.Krishna and Varadu (in no way critics,looking
at the contents of the book), former personal assistants to Satya
Sai Baba in the earlier days; Krishna converted to Cristianity later.
Now,Krishna's son, a good friend of mine, insists that I report
this, and in the manner in which some statements were transformed
to suit Dr.Haraldsson purposes.In an interview with me and Premanand,
P.V.N.Nair, editor of Deccan chronicle, whom Haraldsson accused
of misquoting him as saying that he was "disappointed with
Satya Sai Baba", regretted that out of good faith he had not
tape recorded the interview. Premanand has shown how different version
and sequences of the same event (production of ring for Karlis Osis)
have been written by Haraldsson.When Premanand asked for clarification
and explanation in an undoubtedly long questionnaire,the very prolific
Dr.Haraldsson suddenly has no time to write!
Haraldsson is aware that propaganda
of the claimed resurrection from death of Walter Cowan and Radhakrishna
had the support of Satya Sai Baba. He is also aware that Dr.Fanibunda,
himself a medical doctor, testified to the resurrection of Cowan.
Haraldsson's own conclusion is that the stories of resurrections
are false. Yet, to our scientist-investigator the role of Satya
Sai Baba is not suspect. Nor that of Dr.Fanibunda, whose testimony
he approvingly uses in another case. It also does not occur to this
impartial investigator, forever solicitous of being scientific and
objective that since he himself has found some stories to be false,
he has necessarily to work under controlled conditions. This is
how professional credentials become suspect. Some of the stories
Haraldsson reports are not even amenable to verification by us.
For example, he mentions how a burglar prowling in the house of
a Satya Sai Baba devotee was scared away by Satya Sai's bilocation.
He does not mention the name of the Devotee, nor the name of the
police station which later caught the burglar.
In the April 1995 issue of the Journal
of the Society for Psychical Research, Haraldsson and Richard Wiseman
write an article Reactions To and An Assessment of a Videotape on
Satya Sai Baba, where they make pathetic attempts to show that from
the Deccan Chronicle Doordarshan tape, no evidence of fraud by Satya
Sai Baba can be deduced. Haraldsson and co-author are invited to
watch our copy of the tape, or watch one of the episodes of the
British program, The Guru Busters, a television program on Rationalist
work in India, which has quite clear visuals. They should also read
the analysis of a Satya Sai Baba video tape by Dale Bayerstein,
Leon Mandrake et al (ateam of professional magicians) where among
others, they detect Satya Sai Baba "thumb palming" a necklace,
before "materialisation" published in Bayerstein's book.
Perhaps, Haraldsson is also unaware of Premanand's video cassette
of Satya Sai Baba producing a gold necklace at a wedding in Balakrishna
Eradi's family (a former judge from Kerala).
While waiting to watch this, the authors
should find time to read the account of the Dutch author Piet Vroon
who wrote an expanded version of his article Sinterklass in India
(Santa Claus in India), published in De Volkskrant of 5 December,
1992. Piet Vroon was at Puttaparthi to film Baba at "work",
and he and his partner detected Baba remove rings, necklaces and
watches from behind flower vases and from pillows of his chair.
They also detected Sai Baba holding Vibhuti balls in one hand, transferring
them to the other hand, pulverising them and distributing them.
Vibhuti is also hidden in the mouth and removed while wiping the
face, which Baba does very often. Piet Vroon's conclusion is unambiguous:
"we just think that he is a trickster and a cheat".
It is easy to see these things, especially
when one's work, and perhaps livelihood, does not depend on funding
from parapsychology foundations! The only lesson one can learn from
ERLENDUR HARALDSSON is how not to study the paranormal events.
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