Mortal remains murdered Australian grandmother found, and cremated in Puttaparthi

As feared, the body of Toni Anne Ludgate has indeed been found buried at the site one of the alleged assailants pointed out to the local Indian police.

Indian man, Pothulayya, points to the site where he allegedly buried the body of Australian woman Toni Anne Ludgate. Photo / AFP

Indian man, Pothulayya, points to the site where he allegedly buried the body of Australian woman Toni Anne Ludgate. Photo / AFP

The Daily Telegraph (Sidney) confirmed this news last night local time. Indeed, her mortal remains will be cremated in Hindu style so fast that her family will be unable to attend the service, due to the short time frame, we learn. For those who have read my previous blog, this sad outcome will alas not come as much of a surprise. Indeed, in the meantime, Mrs. Ludgate’s body has in fact been cremated. In an ABC article released later on, graphic detail of the circumstances surrounding her death is added:

Ms Ludgate was reportedly doing charity work at the ashram of popular Hindu guru Sai Baba, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, when she went missing in August.
Police said three men, including the guard at the building where she was living, were arrested.
Police Inspector B. Venugopal told the ABC investigators [they] believe Ms Ludgate gave the guard approximately $600 to pay her rent, but he only passed $200 to the landlord. Inspector Venugopal said when Ms Ludgate asked for the money back a few days later the guard and his two friends murdered her.
“They went 16 kilometres into the fields and they buried her,” he said. “They burned all her belongings – laptop and camera and documents … and passport.” “After that they kept quiet.”
Inspector Venugopal said police suspected the guard may have been involved after he told investigators he had not seen Ms Ludgate since August 24; others had reportedly seen her in the area up until August 28. He said the accused eventually confessed and told police where to find her body.
Police said her remains were cremated in a traditional Hindu ceremony at the request of her family. They said the accused are facing murder charges but the investigation is ongoing. Police are trying to recover Ms Ludgate’s phone, which they believe the guard sold or gave to a friend who has since left the state.
Earlier this month, Ms Ludgate’s daughter Traci Harding released a YouTube video offering a reward for any information that would lead to finding her mother. In the video, Ms Harding said her mother was a seasoned traveller who visited India every year to do charity work.

The Times of India posted the following video, detailing the whole sad affair with footage from Puttaparthi itself and interviews with many of the people closely involved in this human tragedy: ToI Andhra 3 arrested in Autralian woman murder case

In a first reaction to the press, Ms. Harding, daughter of Mrs. Ludgate and noted science-fiction author, reportedly said:

‘[My] mother was a source of happiness to all she knew. She was in love with the place; she had a karmic connection to it even. Considering what’s happened, you’ve just got to look at that.’

‘We are just happy to have found her so that we can put her to rest.’

‘She had a deep connection with this place (i.e. the ashram of Sathya Sai Baba, Prasanthi Nilayam), she wanted to end her days there – not like this obviously. She wanted an Indian burial and wanted her ashes spread at the ashram.’

To those not familiar with this kind of metaphysical reasoning, the family’s reaction might well be regarded as quite astonishing. One person commenting on the website of the Daily Telegraph voices exactly what to me also is most striking, the total absence of anger (Mind you, I do not agree with the racial slur). A woman naming herself susie writes there: ‘Am I alone in sensing a deplorable lack of anger from this woman’s family at this horrible crime? Let me put it this way … When an Indian citizen is attacked in Australia it is called a race-hate crime and people scream their heads off about it. Where is the same outrage for this poor woman and what happened to her at the hands of an Indian citizen in India – hypocrisy anyone????

Hodgepodge philosophy

It is exactly this kind of new-age, karma-driven philosophy, so prevalent amongst even highly educated Westerners, that accounted for much of Sathya Sai Baba’s popularity whilst still alive. Anything bad happening to someone under his protection could safely be attributed to their ‘bad karma’, and hey, life was just a fleeting illusion, so why worry about anything? The master of the universe was in control, after all… This cultish indoctrination also enabled the late guru of gurus to get away with many a vice: massive bribery, hoarding of money, abusing followers in all possible manners and building an empire for himself the likes of which has rarely been seen.

To me the lasting truth is this, though: Sathya Sai Baba was no saint. His ashram was no place of supreme peace but a den of corruption. And his empire is turning out to be as empty as his asham is nowadays, scarce three years after his demise.

Missing Australian woman presumed murdered in Prasanthi Nilayam

Just yesterday, November 7, news broke across India that an elderly Australian devotee, who was reported missing, has been murdered in Puttaparthi, within the confines of Prasanthi Nilayam, the ashram of guru Sathya Sai Baba, who himself died there under suspicious circumstances in April 2011.

If this turns out to be true, this latest murder in the ‘Abode of Supreme Peace’ is one in quite a few, and just goes to show that this remote place was nor is a safe haven at all. It was not so while the master was still alive, it is not so now.

What makes it doubly sad is that the victim, identified as 75 year old mrs. Ludgate, went to the ashram to do seva, voluntary work, every year, even after the premature demise of her guru. Apparently, she arrived in Puttaparthi in July and was supposed to fly back to Australia on October 27.

The case drew national attention in Australia, as Mrs. Ludgate is the mother of noted novelist Traci Harding.

tracihardingmrsludgate

Author Traci Harding with her mother, mrs. Ludgate

The family, filled with hope even on November 6, judging by an extensive report in The Daily Mail (Family missing grandmother optimistic), now most likely has to deal with the stark reality of a mother and grandmother brutally murdered for money and possessions.

Though reports from India state the murder as a fact (Times of India: Missing Australian woman found murdered), up til this morning the body of mrs. Ludgate has not been found. The alleged killer, mr. Bhagwanth, the keeper of Sai Gauri House, her lodgings, has confessed to the murder to the local police. The victim’s remains are allegedly buried on the shore of a nearby lake. The location will be searched today.

‘Why fear when I am here? I am always guarding you’
As stated, this murder does not stand alone. It fits in a long line of similar cases in what is still considered by many as a saintly place. Though Sathya Sai Baba always boasted that no one under his protection would ever need to fear anything, he himself did not even walk his talk. Judging from all reliable reports, he fled an infamous murder scene in his own chambers in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram in 1993, and amped up his personal security to an unprecedented level afterwards.

Many other, not so powerful devotees of the late master met with a fate far worse: they either disappeared, suffered and sometimes died from terrible accidents, killed themselves or were murdered, like mrs. Ludgate.

The self-proclaimed avatar, who could not effectively protect himself without the help of hired security forces and who took near permanent shelter in a fortress-like new appartment complex for the remainder of his life, was never any good in protecting those who sought his refuge and thought he was their saviour. Poor mrs. Ludgate is to be pitied as the latest victim who paid the ultimate price based on an entirely false sense of protection, actively promoted by her late master.

Puttaparthi is not a safe place. The few Westerners who are still living there or go to visit the Abode of Supreme Peace are in fact in real danger of being taken advantage of, robbed, or worse.

More to follow.