Grand Send-off to Moon: Strikingly Similar to Sathya Sai Baba in Life and Death

Two weeks ago, another grand old master of purported religious unification died, age 92: the self-proclaimed Korean Messiah and big business tycoon Reverend Sun Myung Moon succumbed to complications of pneumonia. In a great send-off today, Moon was interred in a marble tomb, following a grand media spectacle eerily akin to Sathya Sai Baba’s send-off last year, in the Kulwant Hall, Puttaparthi.

Moon in his casket carried out of the Hall amidst thousands of followers and dignitaries

The similarities between Sai Baba, his family and his Trust and Moon, his following and Trust, go far beyond their death. Like Sai Baba, Moon led a sectarian, cultlike movement for nearly six decades. Like Sai Baba, Moon was from a humble rural background. Like Sai Baba, Moon claimed a pivotal change took place at a very young age (SB at 14, Moon at 15), after which he started his mission of unifying the world and establishing world peace, believing to be The Second Coming of Christ. Like Sai Baba, Moon was a deeply narcissistic man, who reveled in mass adoration and was in dire need of constant and singular attention, claiming to be a special spiritual entity who, if accepted as a personal master, protected you from harm and opened up the gates of Heaven to his true followers. Like Sai Baba, Moon brainwashed his ‘Moonies’ into believing the most abstruse and far-fetched ‘truths’, and made them give away millions of dollars to ‘charity’. As Moon’s church rose to prominence in the 1970s and 80s, spreading to the United States, it spawned a business empire encompassing construction, food, education, the media and even a professional football club. Like Sai Baba, Moon grew immensely rich, owning a business empire as impressive as Sai Baba’s, including press agency UPI and the Washington Times. Like Sai Baba, throughout his life, Moon assiduously courted political leaders in what critics said was a bid to lend legitimacy to his Unification Church, which has been condemned as heretical by some Christian organisations. Like Sai Baba, Moon and his organisation vastly exaggerated the number of followers. Like Sai Baba, the cult was so deeply personality based, that without Moon’s unifying presence, some experts see potential for conflict between his sons who control the church’s religious and business arms and who do not command the same loyalty as their father from overseas chapters.

See this link for further info: Daily Mail.

For those interested in the kind of mindset a cult like this creates, the following video is quite informative:

Ex-Moonie Diane Benscoter talks from personal experience about some of the changes a ‘disciple’ went through. She mentions an interesting viral-memetic process through which you get infected with circular thinking, ‘gain’ an endless capacity to rationalize each and every doubt away, and alienate yourself from family and the world at large, having found simple answers to complex issues.

Esteemed expose writer on Sathya Sai Baba, Robert Priddy, has published extensively on this same subject matter, see e.g. this post: The Culture of Cults: a serious analysis.

The Case of The Missing Death Certificate, part 3

As I stated in my previous post, Dr. Safaya’s declaration of death, issued on April 24, 2011, is little more than a very brief press release. The cause of death mentioned (cardio-respiratory failure) is in no way a valid one, an Indian physician argued the very same day. I went even further in saying that it is no cause of death at all, legal or not: it is at best a way of dying. The question remains if this release by Dr. Safaya was indeed the only document issued by the hospital or not. Indian law requires quite a bit more, I discovered.

Was Sathya Sai Baba’s death properly registered?
In order to make sure there really is no formal death certificate, I recently made enquiries through Indian state registries if a registration of a death report or a death certificate was available on Sathyanarayana Raju, which was Sai Baba’s real name. I found none. To place this apparent absence of any publicly known or accessible death certificate concerning Sai Baba into context, the following information may be helpful.

If you are hospitalized in India, and inadvertently die there, the law requires the attending physician to issue a so-called Medical Certification of Cause of Death, usually within 72 hours.

India is a member of the World Health Organisation since its inception in 1948. The WHO is divided into regions, one of which is SEAR, the South East Asia Region. The following is part of a 2007 WHO-conference contribution on MCCD (Medical Certification of Cause of Death) in India.

Legal framework

Medical Certification of Cause of Death under Civil Registration System has statutory backing under sections 10(2) and 10(3) of the Registration of Births & Deaths Act, 1969.

Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCD) in India is carried out under the government Medical Certification Scheme, which includes training of medical practitioners, and is mainly carried out by allopathic general practitioners, but also registered medical practitioners of other systems of medicine. As per the RBD Act, the treating doctor during the last 14 days of the patient’s life may issue cause of death only after being fully satisfied as to the clinical diagnosis and corroborative diagnostic tests.

In case of unexpected death, or suspicion of death due to unnatural causes, the doctor may certify death, but not the causes of death and must notify the police for further investigations and postmortem. The doctor must politely decline to issue a medical certification of cause and explain the situation to the family of the deceased. He or she is also expected to guide the family on further steps for obtaining the death certificate. It is the responsibility of the signing medical practitioner to forward the death certificate to the registering authority, although this is usually sent through a relative of the deceased, who receives a permit from the municipality to dispose of the dead body only after presenting the death certificate for registration – as per the RBD Act.

Under Section 23(3) of the RBD Act, any Medical Practitioner who neglects or refuses to issue a certificate under section 10(3) and any person who neglects or refuses to deliver such certificate shall be punishable with fine, which may extend to fifty rupees.

The death certificate used in India is the one recommended by the World Health Organization to ensure national and international comparability. The causes are coded according the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, as of 1999.

So how does the system in India work exactly?

Obtain Death Certificate

What is a Death Certificate and Why is it Needed?
A Death Certificate is a document issued by the Government to the nearest relatives of the deceased, stating the date, fact and cause of death. It is essential to register death to prove the time and date of death, to establish the fact of death for relieving the individual from social, legal and official obligations, to enable settlement of property inheritance, and to authorise the family to collect insurance and other benefits.

The Law
In India, it is mandatory under the law (as per the Registration of Births & Deaths Act, 1969) to register every death with the concerned State/UT Government within 21 days of its occurrence. The Government accordingly has provided for a well-defined system for registration of Death, with the Registrar General, India, at the centre and the Chief Registrars in States, running through district registrars to the village and town registrars at the periphery.

What You Need to Do to Obtain a Death Certificate
A death can be reported and registered by the head of the family, in case it occurs in a house; by the medical in-charge if it occurs in a hospital; by the jail in-charge if it occurs in a jail; and by the headman of the village or the in-charge of the local police station in case the body is found deserted in that area.

To apply for a Death Certificate, you must first register the death. The death has to be registered with the concerned local authorities within 21 days of its occurrence, by filling up the form prescribed by the Registrar. Death Certificate is then issued after proper verification.

If a death is not registered within 21 days of its occurrence, permission from the Registrar/Area Magistrate, along with the fee prescribed in case of late registration, is required.

The application form in which you are required to apply is usually available with the area’s local body authorities, or with the Registrar who maintains the Register of Deaths. You might also need to submit proof of birth of the deceased, an affidavit specifying the date and time of death, a copy of the ration card, and the required fee in the form of court fee stamps.

Definition of Death Certificate
Now, note that legally, a death certificate is the death report issued by the municipal registrar, based on the Death Report (Form 2) and the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (Form 4) he receives from the attending physician(s).

Death Report
Let us first have a look at an example of a Death Report. As can be seen, this Form 2 consists of 3 pages and 17 items.

Death report p.1

By clicking on the image the first series of 6 questions can be seen. They specifically refer to the exact date of birth, the name, sex, age (in completed years) and the place of death of the deceased. Under normal circumstances quite straightforward information. In the case of Sathya Sai Baba, though, they are fraught with uncertainty. What was his exact date of birth? This is a hotly debated topic, and directly related to the answer to the question of his exact age at death. Was Sai Baba 85, 84, 81 (or a ‘lunar’ 94/95) when he died? The answer to this question depends on whether you believe the hagiographic date of birth, November 23, 1926, or more credence is given to an entry in retrieved school records of Sai Baba, which would put his date of birth somewhere around October 4, 1929 (See here). If the ‘official’ date of birth is filled out, then the answer to question 4, the age at death in completed years would have to be 84. If the school records are used as a more reliable source, Sai Baba would have been 81 at death. And then there is the issue of sex of the deceased. Again, normally speaking quite unambiguous. However, much was written about Sai Baba supposedly being able to morph his genitals. So what was he? Male? Female? Hermaphrodite?

Death report p.2

Again, by clicking on the image, the second series of questions can be zoomed in on. They pertain to the town or village of residence, the religion and the occupation of the deceased, and to the type of medical attention received prior to death. I wonder what Sai Baba himself would have answered as to his religion: Love? Sarva Dharma? (I myself would say Hindu). And his occupation? Divine Teacher? Master? Avatar? (I myself would say Nil).


Death report p.3

By clicking on the last image, the final series of questions becomes visible. They have to do with whether the death was medically certified, what the name of the disease or actual cause of death was, and lastly whether the deceased smoked, chewed tobacco, chewed arecanut or drank alcohol habitually. Now, the matter of the areca nut is an interesting one, as it is known that Sathya Sai Baba chewed betel nut for a very long time, and at least in earlier years promoted its use, whereas it is a known carcinogenic, and has various other significant negative effects on a person’s health. See here for a fuller account: areca nut.

Medical Certificate of Death
What does an Indian Medical Certificate of Death look like, and how is it to be filled out? Below, I have copied a standard issue as it is used in India. Notice that a number of primary data are required, as on the Death report, which need to have been checked as thoroughly and independently as possible.

Medical Certificate of Death

Cause of death
The cause of death is to be subdivided in a logical sequence, stating the Immediate cause, the Antecedent cause, and, if appropriate, Other significant conditions contributing to death. The medical part of the certificate is designed by the WHO to facilitate reporting the underlying cause of death and to obtain information of the causal and pathological sequence of events leading to death. It consists of two parts, the first relating to the sequence of events leading to death, and the second to other significant conditions that contributed to the death. This part should be written by the attending medical practitioner having personal knowledge of the case history. The name of the disease should be written in full and legibly to avoid the risk of their being misread. Abbreviations and short form of disease condition should not be used. Only one cause is to be entered on each line of Part I. The underlying cause of death (the condition that started the sequence of events between normal health and the direct or immediate cause of death) should be entered on the lowest line used in this part. Part II comes into play if there existed any premorbid condition or conditions, which contributed to the death, though not directly related to the disease or conditions causing death.

Comments on my first post
I received a couple of thought-provoking reactions on my first post regarding the missing death certificate.  Robert Priddy, esteemed expose writer over many years now, wrote this in January:

As I suspected and stated from the start – the death of Sathya Sai Baba was covered up. There can be little doubt that, since he had been on massive life support for up to weeks (respirator, dialysis not least), his reported time of death was decided in advance by those involved – both so it should coincide with Easter Sunday (to make the bogus association with Jesus Christ) and to allow the already-scheduled arrangements for the funeral, including travel plans for visiting dignitaries to go ahead as organized.

My contention is that Sathya Sai Baba, who had multiple organ failure after having lost weight until he weighed only 28 kilos, most likely died as a result of AIDS. A former student, who claimed to have been sexually abused by him, contacted me and told that Sai Baba had been very angry with one of his sex partner students who had contracted HIV and had not told him.


The student wished to remain anonymous because of the threat to his life – after the murders by police while he stood by and his brother Janakiramiah and high officials in the Sai Trust and ashram negotiated with the police on what they should do. That students still in India wish to remain anonymous is wise is now being validated in the Sydney High Court, where an assassination attempt hit man is under trial, a man who claims he and another were paid $75,000- to eliminate this person.

A few weeks later, Robert Priddy added the following comment:

How did he actually die? Ah! That is the multi-crore rupee question. The medical report states cardio-respiratory failure. Now that is very neutral medical terminology, but what caused this breathing and heart failure? This happens if one is taken off vital life support. So did he jump or was he pushed? Your guess is as good as mine… Those who really know will be tighter than clams if it was a deliberate act by those in charge. If he jumped, then it fitted in extremely well with all the massive planning of the authorities for a big screen send-off, new helicopter pads for VIPs all preparing to descend just today! A miracle of timing from Vishnu Baba, reclining on his serpent bed on the sea of milk? If there is any body one cannot trust in India (rhetorical) then it is certainly the Sathya Sai Central Trust and their minions! See the certificate issued by Dr. Safaya here (The Case of the Missing Death Certificate)

An example
Sai Baba dying as a result of AIDS? Not at all avataric, to say the least. Whether or not Robert Priddy is right in his assumption that Sathya Sai Baba died as a result of an HIV-infection (one could think of quite a few other viable possibilities), the appropriate MCCD would in such a case have read something like this, IF and only IF the death was entirely due to natural causes (the last part of the Form, Manner of Death) and IF we take the medical bulletins into account:

I. Immediate cause: Heart disease, both electrical and muscular, causing heart block and low blood pressure

I. Antecedent cause: Bronchopneumonia carii due to contraction of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome as a consequence of HIV-infection

II. Other significant conditions contributing to the death but not related to the disease or conditions causing it: Multiple system failure: lungs, liver, heart, kidney. The patient died after being taken from life support.

Mind you, this is merely A RANDOM EXAMPLE of how a medico-legally adequate MCCD would read in the case of someone dying of the causes suggested above. We probably will never know exactly what happened in Sathya Sai Baba’s case, as he was interred so quickly. Unless some government authority would request a proper post-mortem and have Sai Baba unearthed from his final resting place, we will probably have to live with an undisclosed cause of death. I am willing to bet, though, that a close examination of his bodily remains would turn out the be as much a treasure trove as his other earthly dwelling turned out to be last year!

For those interested in the whole process of reaching a proper judgement, and of the importance of filing out the form correctly, the following article is useful, among many others. It was published by Dr. P C Srivastava, Dr. Shikha Saxena and Professor M K B Sahai, Rohilkhand Medical College, Bareilly (UP), India, and appeared in IJMU, volume 4, January 2009, titled: MEDICAL CERTIFICATION OF CAUSE OF DEATH.

The Case of The Missing Death Certificate, part 2

As stated earlier by me in my post The Case of The Missing Death Certificate , the only publicly available medical information as to the cause of death of Sathya Sai Baba was the brief typed statement, signed by Dr. Safaya, and issued around 10.00 AM on April 24, 2011. It is little more than a ultrashort press release.

Dr. Safaya’s ‘declaration of death’, April 24, 2011

Dr. Safaya’s statement does in no way represent a full depiction of the history of illness nor of the underlying causes that, directly and indirectly, led to the demise of the renowned and notorious guru. As Indian doctor Soumitra Mukhopadhyaya rightly commented on the NDTV site that day, cardio-respiratory failure is medico-legally unacceptable as a cause of death. I’ll go even further: it’s not even a cause of death. Cardio-respiratory failure, like cardio-vascular arrest, asphyxia, renal failure, vasovagal attack, asthenia, old age and so forth are at best modes of dying, but by no means causes of death.

Prior to and following Sai Baba’s death, speculation reached fever pitch as to all manner of unanswered questions: the nature of his illness; the supposed tardiness of his admission to hospital; the unavailability of his medical history to the team of treating physicians; the supposed prolonged administration of drugs by his personal caretaker, Satyajit, to him for months on end prior to admission; the near-total closing off of the patient from any outsiders during the 28 days of admission (family and press included: not even one photo of Sai Baba in hospital was ever shot, or if so, ever published!); and, last but by no means least, even the actual date of Sai Baba’s demise. Evidence strongly suggests that Sai Baba was (brain)dead much earlier than the day Dr. Safaya pronounced him dead. After all, the VIP freezer box in which the body of Sathya Sai Baba was displayed after death in Sai Kuwanth Hall had been ordered as early as late March (!) by a mister Rajender Reddy, its delivery confirmed by mail on April 1 (or 4), its bill paid for on April 5 (57000 RPS). Immediately following payment it was sent to Puttaparthi and arrived there that very same day (April 5). Company owner Mrs. Lakshmi of Kumar & Co International, Bangalore branch, confirms this in this April 27 TV9 segment.

Below article dated April 29 2011 by Anantapur reporter D. Chaitanya sums up nicely what is said in the TV9 segment: Sri Satya Sai Baba’s Death Date Truth has come out of the coffin/freezer box?

April 29 also, the Times of India had this to say: So, did Sai Baba die on April 24?

All in all
All in all the whole thing reeks to high heaven. What is one to think? Again, the only logical explanation that makes sense to me is that Sai Baba was clinically dead already in late March/early April, some 20 or more days prior to the official pronouncement of death by Dr. Safaya! Interestingly enough, Mr. Srinivasan from the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust did not contradict Mrs. Lakshmi’s account. He refrained from any comment other than something along the lines of: ‘The coffin arrived after Sai Baba’s demise.’  No mention of the date… If the AC casket truly arrived after April 24 it must have been a hell of a job to ‘adorn’ it appropriately in time for the public viewing. Judging the available footage, that must have taken more than just putting some stickers on the glass casing and jot some gold paint to cover up the aluminum trimming.

So, did Dr. Safaya misrepresent the truth? Fact is, from the day of Sai Baba’s hospitalization, March 28, onward, more or less daily ‘health’ updates were issued by him, and an occasional longer bulletin was broadcast. The full series of health bulletins issued from April 1 onwards  by Dr. Safaya can be found here: The Sorry Tale of Sathya Sai Baba’s Final Weeks on Earth. These morsels at least grant us some possibility of tracing back the medical information handed out at the time, whether true or false. To thicken the plot, Dr. Safaya and several other doctors subsequently handed in their resignation from the Super Specialty Hospital where they had treated the man who they saw as god but had died in spite of all their efforts.

In my next post I’ll return to the case of the missing death certificate once more, and deal in depth with some of the more formal and legal issues it raises.

The Sorry Tale of Sathya Sai Baba’s Final Weeks on Earth

Police blocking the gate to Sai Baba’s hospital, keeping reporters and concerned devotees away, a few days prior to the far from avataric end of the fairy tale… SB’s death by taking him off life support.

Twenty doctors a day nor all the police could keep the grim reaper away
Below I have put together in chronological order all health bulletins issued during Sai Baba’s fatal hospitalization, from March 28 2011 up til April 24 2011, the supposed day of his demise. They make for rather tedious reading, to be sure, but I wanted to preserve them for posterity. They clearly played their part in pacifying the crowds and trying to allay all fears and anxieties that the great master could not muster the strength (or will power?) to fight another round with death and old age, and not ‘kick the bucket’. Besides, some morsels are of interest in themselves, I find. For instance, the videotaped interview with Dr. Safaya (see entry  medical bulletin April 5, further down) is telling, since it sums up quite clearly what was going on in the first week of Sai Baba’s admission to the ICU, not just medically, but also as to the vast number of attending specialists. Nothing but the best for their Bhagawan! Another telltale bit to me is the statement made by the Central Trust dating April 15, in which the mass praying for swami’s recovery is commended. It reveals the superstitious nature of thinking of core devotees, who probably had no doubt in their minds that their god would beat death once again. The Trust even states that, given the visible progress made by Baba, everything is being prepared to release the patient from hospital within a fortnight, to return to his residence in Puttaparthi…
Then again, Sai Baba had himself fueled this fervour no end by stating quite clearly on Doctor’s Day, June 5, 2003 (after undergoing extensive hip and eye surgery) that ‘The intense prayers of the devotees are My medicine. You are responsible for my speedy recovery’, a message the ever gullible Dr. Venkataraman made sure was not forgotten in the heat of those eerie weeks. For those who seek a short, poignant resume of that period of time, see Robert Priddy’s excellent overview here.

The withered, embalmed body of the dead Sathya Sai Baba

A short summary
At first, the tone of the press releases is optimistic: there is no need for anxiety. Mind you, it took the Trust nearly one week before they started informing the worldwide community of devotees, but still… Even though the patient had on the day of admission undergone surgery to have a pacemaker implanted, because of slow and irregular heart beat, subsequently underwent another surgery to get an aortic balloon implanted because of a drop in blood pressure and was put on assisted ventilation through the trachea and on dialysis because his lungs and kidneys started to fail, all other parameters were in order, and the team of specialists was confident. After a week, the state of the patient according to the bulletins can be summed up as satisfactory. On April 8 the panel of doctors is upbeat about his chances of recovery, although his lung infection is far from over. His level of consciousness was improving. During the night there seems to have been a slight turn for the worse. A rise in temperature is mentioned and the administering of antibiotics. Nothing to worry, though, for the next couple of days he remains in a steady state of slow improvement, if we are to believe the reports. April 11 shows the introduction of a new term: in spite of all improvements the patient remains in  ‘a critical state’. Any concern is waved away by the next few reports, in which it is mentioned that the patient over all is doing much better than before. On April 12 the panel of doctors for the first time expresses a slight cause for worry, seeing as the patient is not responding quickly enough. On the next day, the term ‘multi organ failure’ is used for the first time. Though any reader with a keen mind could have inferred this from the mention of lung, heart, kidney and liver issues in previous bulletins, it is significant that this diagnosis is used here for the first time, followed shortly by the abovementioned encouraging release from the Central Trust. Meanwhile two extra outside experts (a pulmonologist and a cardiologist) are flown in from the United States to aid in the treatment process (April 16). The very next day, slight worry is expressed because the liver is not responding well and there are episodes of low blood pressure, which continue to cause concern over the next few days, when he is described as being in a very critical state, and being watched around the clock. On April 20 the panel of doctors is reinforced by two more eminent specialists (one being a nephrologist) sent in by the Andhra Pradesh Government. From April 21 onwards the patient’s condition is, for the first time, described as very critical: in no uncertain terms the bulletins spell out what is happening, the total shutdown of his organs and vital functions. Low and erratic heart rate again, alarmingly low blood pressure in spite of all the medication and life support, no functioning of vital organs, it spells precisely what happens next morning: the patient succumbs.

The End
What started out as a daily report to allay the fears of the common devotee around the world ended quite unexpectedly with the premature death of their guru, again if you give credence to these bulletins. So, eventually all the anxieties of the devotees were laid to rest all right, but in a manner most likely not expected by the vast majority of remaining Sathya Sai Baba’s believers.

All worries laid to rest: Sai Baba’s body in the freezer box ordered April 4, 20 days prior to his official date of death

In order to allay the anxiety of devotees, Dr. A.N. Safaya, Director, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram had issued a medical bulletin on 28th March 2011 that a permanent pacemaker had been implanted. As per the latest information received this evening, Bhagawan’s condition is fast improving; He had a restful night; The panel of doctors attending to Him have noted improvement in Bhagawan’s clinical parameters with satisfaction. The medical team is also increasing His nutrition levels carefully.

Updated Saturday, Apr 2, 2011 1300 Hrs. IST

Allaying all fears and anxiety that gripped the fraternity, due to baseless information appeared in the media through various channels, we have the latest bulletin received from SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram about Bhagawan’s physical health: It reads: SWAMI DEVELOPED DIFFICULTY IN BREATHING. HE IS PUT ON SUPPORTIVE RESPIRATORY DEVICE. HE IS NOW BREATHING EASILY. ALL OTHER VITAL SYSTEMS ARE FUNCTIONING NORMALLY. THERE IS NO CAUSE FOR ANXIETY.

Updated Saturday, Apr 2, 2011 1800 Hrs. IST

As per the latest bulletin received from SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram, Bhagawan continues to be on the respiratory support device with which His respiration is showing marked improvement. All other vital systems are functioning normally. The team of doctors attending to Bhagawan is quite satisfied with the progress. It is to reiterate that there is no cause for anxiety.

Updated Sunday, Apr 3, 2011 10:00 Hrs. IST

Latest information received from SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram reads as follows:
Bhagawan is admitted to this hospital on 28th Mar 2011 and had implantation of pacemaker in the heart. He is on ventilator support for assisting the respiration. Dialysis is being done to assist His kidney function. The team of doctors attending on Him is satisfied with the response to the treatment given. Constant watch is kept on His health condition by the medical team. It is to reiterate that there is no cause for anxiety.

Updated Sunday, Apr 3, 2011 1950 hrs.

The latest medical bulletin released at 1730 hrs. by SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram reads as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who has been admitted in the hospital for the last 5 days is responding to the treatment given to Him quite effectively. He is still on assisted ventilation to help His respiratory system and is breathing more easily now. He had a hemodialysis in the morning. The panel of specialists are monitoring all His vital functions including kidneys and are satisfied with His response to the treatment. Today, a team of specialists deputed by the Government of Andhra Pradesh also went through the process of treatment rendered to Him and had a detailed and fruitful discussion with the panel of specialists treating Bhagawan Baba.
This morning’s bulletin by Director, SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram reads as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who was admitted in the hospital on the 28th March continued to show improvement in His clinical condition. He is still on assisted ventilation and on kidney support through CRRT, which is a process of slow dialysis. All other clinical parameters are nearly normal. The panel of doctors attending Bhagawan are satisfied with the progress made so far.

Updated Monday Apr 4, 2011 1900 hrs.

Evening bulletin released by Director, SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram at 1730 hrs.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be on ventilator support for helping His respiration and suction of the secretions from the lungs. He continues to be on CRRT system to help the functioning of the kidneys. The vital systems are not adequately responding. The condition of Baba is critical. The panel of doctors treating Him are doing their best to make the system to respond.
Late night news:
Bhagawan is showing signs of improvement. On this auspicious day of Ugadi, an Akhanda Bhajan was conducted from morning 9 to evening 6:15 hrs. at Sai Kulwant Hall in Prasanthi Nilayam, attended by thousands of devotees.

Updated Tuesday, Apr 5, 2011 0910 Hrs. IST

This morning’s update from SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who is admitted to this hospital continues to be in the same condition as yesterday. However, His level of consciousness has considerably improved. His vital systems are in stable condition. He still continues to be on assisted ventilation through ventilator and CRRT, which is a slow dialysis process, continues to assist His kidneys.

Updated Tuesday, Apr 5, 2011 1900 Hrs. IST

Evening medical bulletin released at 17:30 hrs. from SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in a stable condition as He was in the morning. He is still on ventilator to support His respiratory function and on the CRRT system to assist His kidney function. All other vital parameters are nearly normal and satisfactory. He is under constant watch of the panel of doctors treating Him. Bhagawan’s health conditions shows marked improvement as reported by SSSIHMS this morning at 0800 hrs. Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who has entered His 10th day of treatment at this hospital is in a stable state of health as He was yesterday. There are signs of improvement in the functioning of His kidneys although He is still on dialysis. He continues to be on the ventilator for assisting His respiration. The blood pressure and all other parameters are satisfactory. The panel of doctors treating Him is keeping a constant watch over His health condition.

Updated Wednesday, Apr 6, 2011 1840 Hrs. IST

Medical Bulletin released at 1800 hrs. this evening reads…
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in a stable condition of health. His clinical parameters like blood pressure, respiratory rate, biochemistry of the blood and other parameters are satisfactory. His respiration is easier than before and His dialysis support has also been reduced. The level of consciousness is also showing perceptible improvement. The panel of doctors attending upon Him is keeping a strict watch on all His clinical parameters and state of health.

This morning’s medical bulletin released at 8 am reads as follows:

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be stable and His health on the whole is in the same condition as it was yesterday morning. His vital parameters are near normal including the functional indices of vital systems like heart rate, blood pressure, blood bio-chemistry and blood gas saturation levels. He continues to be on ventilator to assist His lungs and to allow the secretions to be sucked out. The dialysis process has been further reduced. The level of consciousness continues to show improvement.  Although His state of health is still critical, yet the panel of doctors treating Him is satisfied with His response to the treatment being given to Him.

Updated Thursday, Apr 7, 2011 1700 Hrs. IST

Latest Medical Bulletin received at 1700 hrs. this evening…
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be on ventilator support for respiration. His kidney function is being supported by CRRT. There is some positive sign of recovery in the functions of the kidneys. His vital parameters are nearly normal and are satisfactory. He continues to be on treatment in the Intensive Care Facility of the hospital where visitors are not allowed. The panel of doctors treating Baba are satisfied with the response He is continuing to show to the medical management given to Him.

Updated Friday, Apr 8, 2011 0900 Hrs. IST

This morning’s medical bulletin issued by SSSIHMS, Prasanthigrams at 8:00 am reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who was admitted in this hospital on 28th March, 2011 is showing positive signs of response to the treatment being given to Him. His blood pressure and other clinical parameters continue to be nearly normal and satisfactory. His kidneys are also showing signs of recovery. The state of His consciousness also continues to show improvement. Indices of other vital organs like the heart and liver have also shown improvement. He is in a stable condition of health, though He still continues to be on the ventilator and slow dialysis. The panel of doctors treating Him is optimistic about His recovery.

Updated Friday, Apr 8, 2011 1730 Hrs. IST

The latest medical bulletin released by SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram this evening at 1700 hrs. indicates definite improvement in Bhagawan’s health status.
The report reads:
The health condition of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be stable.  All His vital parameters are nearly normal. His kidneys are continuing to show signs of recovery.
The infection in the lungs is also much less, although it is still a matter of concern. He continues to be on ventilator for His respiratory support and He is on slow dialysis.
All other vital systems are functioning satisfactorily. The panel of doctors treating Him are satisfied with the progress Baba has made so far.

Updated Saturday, Apr 9, 2011 0900 Hrs. IST

The Morning Bulletin released at 0800 hrs. reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who entered His 13th day of treatment in this hospital had a fairly stable night as regards to His vital parameters.There is perceptible improvement in the condition of His kidneys. He is on intermittent low hemodialysis. His lung infection has cleared to some extent; however, He is still on the ventilator. He had a mild rise of temperature for which He is on appropriate antibiotics. Doctors attending upon Him are on the whole satisfied with His stable condition of health and response to treatment.

Updated Saturday, Apr 9, 2011 1737 Hrs. IST

Evening’s Medical Bulletin released at 1700 hrs. reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be stable and there is slight improvement in the overall condition of His health. He continues to be on the ventilator and periodic slow hemodialysis. The functions of the kidneys and lungs are also showing improvement. He is responding satisfactorily to the treatment being given to Him by the panel of doctors.

Updated Sunday, Apr 10, 2011 0900 Hrs. IST

This morning’s Medical Bulletin released at 0800 hrs. reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who entered the 14th day of treatment in this hospital has shown slight improvement in the functioning of the kidneys. However, He continues to be on intermittent slow hemodialysis and ventilatory support. His vital parameters of health are stable and satisfactory. The panel of doctors treating Him is satisfied with the progress He is making.

Updated Sunday, Apr 10, 2011 1757 Hrs. IST

This Evening’s Medical Bulletin released at 1700 hrs. reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in a stable condition. His health parameters like heart rate, blood pressure, blood chemistry indices and hemodynamics continue to be stable. His respiration is still supported by the ventilator. His kidneys have started functioning slowly but still need the assistance of dialysis to support them. The panel of doctors working on Bhagawan Baba are satisfied by the response shown by Him to the treatment so far. There is improvement in the functioning of all the other organs also, including the liver, but the rate of improvement is slow. The doctors hope that the rate of improvement will improve further.

Updated Monday, Apr 11, 2011 0900 Hrs. IST

Medical Bulletin released at 0800 hrs. reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has entered His 15th day of treatment in this hospital. His condition is stable. There is an overall improvement in the functioning of all the organs although it is slow. He continues to be on the ventilator and on intermittent dialysis. His liver is also showing improvement in its functioning. The doctors attending upon Bhagawan Baba are satisfied with the improvement shown so far, though He still continues to be in a critical state of health.

Updated Monday, Apr 11, 2011 1745 Hrs. IST

The Medical Bulletin released at 1700 hrs. by Director, SSSIHMS, indicates progress in Bhagawan’s health condition. The report reads as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who continues to be under treatment of this hospital is showing positive response to the treatment being given to Him. He continues to be on the ventilator and is undergoing dialysis periodically. His kidneys and lungs are showing signs of improvement. His hemodynamic values like heart rate, blood pressure, blood gas analysis are nearly normal. The functioning of liver is also showing improvement. His over all condition is much better than earlier although He is still critical.

Updated Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011 0855 Hrs. IST

This morning’s Medical Bulletin released at 0800 hrs. reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who has entered the 16th day of treatment in this hospital is still on ventilator to assist His respiration and intermittent hemodialysis to assist His kidneys.
The vital parameters of His health like the heart rate, blood pressure, blood gas values continue to be stable and at nearly normal levels. His response to the treatment is positive but slow, which is a slight cause of worry to the team of doctors attending upon Him. His liver functions are slowly recovering. He continues to be in a critical state of health.

Updated Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011 1750 Hrs. IST

This evening’s Medical Bulletin released at 1700 hrs. reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be stable as far as His vital parameters of health are concerned. He still continues to be on intermittent hemodialysis and is on assisted respiration. Although He is responding to the treatment, yet the response is slow. His condition still continues to be critical.

Updated Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 0850 Hrs. IST

This morning’s medical bulletin reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who is under treatment in this hospital for multi-organ failure is showing positive but slow response to the treatment given to Him. He is still on ventilator and is on intermittent hemodialysis. His vital parameters of health are nearly normal. The continued stable state of health is a matter of satisfaction to the treating team of doctors, although He continues to be critical.

Updated Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 1755 Hrs. IST

Evening Bulletin released at 1700 hrs. reports:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who was admitted in this hospital on 28th March is responding to the treatment, although the response is slow, which is expected in view that Bhagawan Baba’s body is 86 years old. He still continues to be on ventilator supported respiration. The response of His kidneys is also encouraging, yet the need of dialysis is felt and therefore, He is being given a slow intermittent hemodialysis. The doctors attending upon Him are now quite hopeful about the success of the treatment being given to Him. He continues to be critical.
This morning’s Medical Bulletin released at 0800 hrs. by SSSIHMS reports:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who completed 18th day of treatment in this hospital is in a relatively more stable condition of health. All His vital parameters like heart rate, blood pressure, blood biochemistry values are nearly normal and stable. He still continues to be on assisted ventilation, and intermittent slow hemodialysis is being conducted upon Him to assist the kidneys, which are now showing signs of sustained activity. The doctors attending upon Him are satisfied with the stability of His health condition and His response, although slow, to the treatment being given to Him.

Updated Thursday, Apr 14, 2011 1750 Hrs. IST

Evening Medical Bulletin released at 1700 hrs. by SSSIHMS reports:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be stable clinically with nearly normal parameters of vital indicators of health like heart rate, blood pressure etc. However, His health is still in a critical state. All His systems are showing improvement, although slow. The doctors are satisfied with the response shown by Bhagawan Baba to the treatment.

Updated Friday, Apr 15, 2011 0857 Hrs. IST

This morning’s Medical Bulletin reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in a stable state of health. Most of His vital systems have shown positive response to the treatment being given to Him, but the response is slow. All His clinical parameters of health are nearly normal and are showing improvement over the previous values. He continues to be on assisted ventilation and on intermittent dialysis. The panel of doctors are satisfied with the response shown by Him to the treatment. However, His condition continues to be critical.
Evening’s Medical Bulletin on Bhgaawan released at 1700 hrs. reads as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to have stable status of health. His vital parameters and indicators of functions of various organs of the body like the blood pressure, blood gas analysis, bio-chemical values continue to be nearly normal. There is slight improvement in all His systems, though slow. The panel of doctors is satisfied with the progress shown by Him to the treatment being given to Him. However, He still continues to be critical and is breathing with the help of the ventilator and is being given kidney supporting through CRRT system of dialysis.

Updated Friday, Apr 15, 2011 2129 Hrs. IST

The health status of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is under constant review by Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust in the light of the medical bulletins issued by the Director of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, since the time of His admission to the hospital on the 28th of March, 2011. For several days, His condition was a cause for concern.

In the latest review, as of today, the doctors attending on Him have expressed confidence that He is in a stable condition and is responding satisfactorily to the treatment being given to Him by the team of doctors, though somewhat slowly. They are confident that, if the progress continues to be stable and satisfactory as at present, it might be possible to shift Him from the hospital to His residence at Prasanthi Nilayam in about a fortnight. His residence is being got ready in all aspects to receive Him and provide Him the required level of follow-up medical care as also emergency services.

The Trustees are gratified to note the spontaneous upsurge of prayers, bhajans, namasmarana, candle light processions of millions and millions of His devotees all over the globe for His very early and total recovery. Radio Sai, through its Musings, messages and mails from all over the world has been continuously articulating this upsurge. As Bhagavan has repeatedly said on several occasions, it is only the sincere prayers of His devotees that can cure Him. The Trustees consider it their sacred duty to appeal to all the devotees to be calm and sustain their prayers to restore Bhagavan to His normal health at a very early date.

Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam

Updated Saturday, Apr 16, 2011 1757 Hrs. IST

As per the evening medical bulletin released at 1700 hrs. Bhagawan is continuing to maintain stable parameters of health. Read on:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be having stable parameters of health. He continues to be on assisted ventilation to help the lungs. CRRT, the process of slow hemodialysis, is being given to Him since morning to assist His kidneys. His biochemical and hematological indices are nearly normal. The progress is however slow. The overall condition of Bhagawan continues to be critical. The team of doctors attending upon Him is joined by two experts from the US. Dr. Kalapathi K. Gutupalli, professor-in-chief, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston and Dr. Sridhar, Cardiac Specialist from University of Colorado, Health Sciences Centre.
This morning’s Medical Bulletin issued at 0800 hrs. reads as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in the same stable condition of health as yesterday. All His vital parameters continue to be nearly normal. The panel of doctors treating Him are satisfied with the response, although slow, shown by Him to the treatment. They are satisfied with the stability of the parameters and other indices of His health. He continues to be on assisted ventilation and CRRT (slow long period dialysis) and is being constantly monitored and watched round the clock.

Updated Sunday, Apr 17, 2011 17507 Hrs. IST

This evening’s Medical Bulletin released at 1700 hrs. states as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to show stability in the vital parameters of His health. He is still on assisted ventilation, and on CRRT to help His kidneys. The condition of the liver is causing a slight worry to the doctors, but they are quite hopeful to rectify it in the coming few days. He still continues to be critical and the panel of doctors and foreign specialists are watching and treating Him round the clock.
Medical Bulletin released this morning at 0800 hrs. reads as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba completes His 20th day of stay in this hospital. The vital parameters of His health are nearly normal. He continues to be on assisted ventilation. He is also receiving CRRT system of dialysis. His liver functioning is as yet to recover fully. He continues to be in a critical state of health and is being constantly watched by the panel of specialist doctors attending upon Him.
This morning’s Medical Bulletin released at 0800 hrs. states as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who has nearly completed three weeks of treatment in the hospital continues to be in a stable state of health. Most of His indices of the functioning of the organs and vital parameters continue to be nearly normal. However, the condition of liver and occasional spells of low blood pressure continue to worry the treating doctors. Over all condition of Bhagawan Baba still continues to be critical, however, the panel of doctors treating Him are watching His health round the clock and are satisfied with the response, although slow, shown by Him to the treatment.

Updated Monday, Apr 18, 2011 1741 Hrs. IST

As per the evening Medical Bulletin Bhagawan continues to be in a state of stable health. Read on:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in a stable state of health and is also maintaining stability in the vital parameters of His health. The functioning of the liver is a little worry to the doctors treating Him, so is the slow improvement shown by other organs. The panel of doctors is keeping a continuous round of clock watch on His health condition. He continues to be on assisted ventilation. It is proposed to conduct a cycle of hemodialysis during the late evening. His overall health condition continues to be critical.

Updated Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 0850 Hrs. IST

Morning Bulletin released at 0800 hrs. reports as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who was admitted to this hospital on 28th March continues to be in a critical state of health. His vital systems, including liver, are showing minimal response to the treatment, which is a cause of worry for the treating doctors. He continues to be on ventilatory support and CRRT system of dialysis. His blood pressure continues to show periodic fluctuations, which is being corrected by appropriate drugs. The panel of doctors attending upon Bhagawan Baba is keeping close, constant watch of His health parameters.

Updated Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 1710 Hrs. IST

The evening Medical Bulletin on Bhagawan’s health issued at 1700 hrs. states He continues to be in a critical state of health. Read the full report:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in a critical state of health. His vital parameters of health are quite stable and satisfactory although the vital organs are showing slow response to the treatment, yet the doctors are hopeful of the eventual success of the treatment given to Him. He continues to be on assisted ventilation. His kidneys are supported by CRRT system. The panel of doctors treating are watching the status of His health continuously.
Morning Bulletin that was released at 0800 hrs. reads as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in a critical state of health. Although His vital parameters and indices are nearly normal, yet the condition of the liver and intermittent episodes of low blood pressure are still a cause of worry. He continues to be on assisted ventilation to help His lungs and on CRRT to assist His kidney functioning. The panel of doctors are watching Him round the clock and giving all the necessary treatment to keep Him in a stable state of health.

Updated Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 1714 Hrs. IST

Evening Medical Bulletin released at 1700 hrs. states as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in a critical state of health. His vital parameters and indices are maintained at a nearly normal level by giving adequate treatment, with medicines. The condition of liver and intermittent episodes of low blood pressure are still causing anxiety to the treating doctors.
The panel of treating doctors has been reinforced with the joining of Government of Andhra Pradesh team under the guidance of the Director of Medical Education, Dr. Ravi Raj, who is an eminent nephrologist. Dr. Yegyaraman from the United States who is an eminent electrophysiology specialist has also joined the team of doctors. Bhagawan Baba continues to be on assisted ventilation. He may be dialysed again early in the morning tomorrow. The panel of doctors are working hard on His treatment, which is going round the clock.

Updated Thursday, Apr 21, 2011 1730 Hrs. IST

Evening Medical Bulletin released by Director, SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram at 1700 hrs. reads:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in a very critical state of health. There is very poor response from the vital organs of the body to the treatment. The intermittent episodes of low blood pressure are persisting indicating that the heart is quite weak. The parameters of the functioning of the various organs of the body are also erratic. Every attempt is being made to keep them in the normal limits by the administration of appropriate drugs. The breathing is still assisted by the ventilator. One successful cycle of low hemodialysis was conducted during the past 12 hours to assist the kidney functioning. Doctors are continuing vigorous efforts to make the vital organs recommence their function.
Morning Bulletin released at 0800 hrs. by SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram reads:
The health situation of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is very critical. All the organs are showing very poor response to the treatment. Non-functioning of the liver and persistent episodes of low blood pressure are causing great worry to the doctors. However, most of the parameters have still been kept at nearly normal levels by the use of appropriate medicines. The breathing is still ventilator dependent. And the process of slow hemodialysis has been started in the morning to assist the kidneys. The doctors are putting their best efforts to improve His clinical condition.

Updated Friday, Apr 22, 2011 1705 Hrs. IST

This Evening’s Medical Bulletin released by SSSIHMS, PG reads as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues in the same clinical condition as He was in the morning. There is no sign of change in His health condition. He continues to be in the same critical state of health. He is still supported by ventilator and is on CRRT system of dialysis. His blood pressure and heart rate have been stable for the last 12 hours and are supported by necessary drugs. The panel of doctors treating Him is keeping a close watch on His health.
Morning Medical Bulletin released by SSSIHMS, PG reads as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba still continues to be in a very critical state of health. His respiration is supported by ventilator. He is put on CRRT system of dialysis to assist kidney functioning. The response shown to the treatment continues to be minimal by all the vital organs. His heart rate and blood pressure continue to be low and continue to be supported by drugs. There is no significant change in His overall condition since yesterday. The doctors, however, are continuing vigorous, round the clock treatment of Bhagawan Baba.

Updated Saturday, Apr 23, 2011 0515 Hrs. IST

This Evening’s Medical Bulletin released by the Director, SSSIHMS, PG at 1700 hrs. reads thus:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in a very critical condition of health on the 27th day of His treatment in this hospital. He is still breathing with ventilator support. The episodes of low blood pressure are still a cause of great worry to the doctors treating Him. Bhagawan Baba continues to be under constant attention of the panel of doctors attending upon Him.
This Morning’s Medical Bulletin released by the Director, SSSIHMS, PG at 0800 hrs. reads thus:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to be in the same critical condition as yesterday. He continues to be very critical. He is still on ventilator support. A cycle of slow hemodialysis has been completed on Him this morning. He continues to be under close scrutiny and round the clock treatment by the panel of doctors attending upon Him.

Updated Sunday, Apr 24, 2011 2246 Hrs. IST

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who has been admitted in Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram for the last 28 days breathed His last this morning,  at 0740 hrs., as per the Medical Bulletin released by the Director, SSSIHMS, this morning. After His admission into the hospital on the 28th March with cardiac related problems, Bhagawan has been on ventilator support for many days.

The official bulletin reads as follows:
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is no more with us physically. He left His earthly body on 24th April, 2011, at 0740 hrs. due to cardio-respiratory failure.
Bhagawan Baba’s Body will lie in state at Sai Kulwant Hall for two days (Monday and Tuesday). Arrangements will be made for Darshan after 1800 hrs. today, at Sai Kulwant Hall.

Lying prostate in Sai Kulwant Hall for final darshan

As the news spread, thousands upon thousands are flocking into the Prasanthi Nilayam to have the darshan of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. This includes commoners to celebrities to government dignitaries. As per the announcement, Bhagawan’s physical frame would be lying in state for two days, Monday and Tuesday, allowing devotees to have darshan of Bhagawan. The Divine Body was taken out of the hospital after 1400 hrs., brought to The Divine Abode, Yajur Mandiram at 1425 hrs.
As announced, Bhagawan’s physical frame was brought into the Sai Kulwant Hall after 1815 hrs., in a glass cascade, in a procession led by Vedic chanting and bhajans by students of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. With Bhagawan’s physical frame lying in state for the next two days, bhajans will continue throughout, as thousands upon thousands are expected to flock into the township to have the darshan of their Beloved “Swami”.
All Fears laid to rest…
State Governor and Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh air-dashed to Parthi after hearing the news of Bhagawan’s passing away. Many other prominent figures have also joined in, offering condolences at the grave happening.
All anxieties allayed…
Elaborate arrangements have been made with thousands of police men keeping a vigil around the township, ensuring avoidance any untoward incident.

How Do Victims of Sai Baba Cope?

Do victims of Sai Baba cope, and if so, how? Starting off with a second article by Dr. Kamath, published originally on the Nirmukta site June 21, 2010, during a period when Sathya Sai Baba was still more or less alive and kicking, I aim to return to an earlier subject of mine (see On the Issue of Dealing with Sexual Abuse, Enlightened or Made Light, A Question of  ‘moving on’ ): the matter of self-deception, the machinations of a cult leader and the consequences of brainwashing and sexual abuse on the human psyche per se, and on groups and their dynamics. Beginning with a brief excursion to two landmark post war experiments on conformity and obedience to authority by two figure heads of social psychology, I will then draw heavily on the extensive and excellent work done by Robert Priddy to deepen and broaden the scope of my analysis.

Self-Deception As a Coping Mechanism among Victims of the Sai Baba Cult

by Dr. Prabhakar Kamath
In my previous article, God’s Own Stockholm Syndrome, I discussed how Sai Baba satisfied his sexual appetite by abusing innocent children with complete disregard to consequences to their welfare. Sexual abuse serves another purpose for Sai Baba: Dominating these children and converting them into his lifelong devotees and henchmen. In a sense, the sexual abuse is ritual castration by means of which he is telling them literally, “From now onwards I have you boys by the balls.” In a highly shame-oriented society such as India, victims feel a great deal of shame to admit that they are sex abuse victims, and they are fearful of exposing such a powerful and revered person. This is further made difficult because of social pressure from victim’s fearful well-wishers; fear of corrupt police who do not hesitate to torture or murder accusers in cold blood; distrust of incompetent prosecutors, and lack of faith in the judiciary incapable of separating state and religion.
Almost all these children grow up bodily but not mentally, and they become Sai Baba’s lifelong followers who meekly submit to his demands. Their total submission to Sai Baba is rooted in self-deception.

down-on-their-knees daily dose of darshan

Sai Baba reinforces their slavish mentality by means of gifts materialized by magic, rewards, public praise, bribes and intimidation.
Sai Baba becomes the central figure in their lives, and they become almost totally incapable of critical thinking when it comes to their relationship with him as exemplified by Dr. Naresh Bhatia in the Caravan article by Mr. Arora.
Fear of Sai Baba dominates their lives. Almost all their actions are dictated by what they think Sai Baba would want them to do.

Victims Indulge in Self-deception

Sexual abuse is invariably associated with a surge of intense painful as well as pleasurable emotions in the mind of victims such as fear, hurt, anger, sadness, guilt, shame, disappointment, helplessness, hopelessness, humiliation, frustration, rage, ecstasy, happiness, and a host of other painful emotions. Some victims begin to develop doubt about their abuser and ultimately disassociate themselves from the abuser, like the Rahm family in the BBC video did. Other victims indulge in a defense mechanism known as reaction formation. They convert “sexual trauma” into “spiritual healing.” Or, they declare “sex with a fraud” to be “sex with god.” Instead of saying, “My free spirit has been destroyed” they would say, “My spirit has been liberated.” It is impossible to convince these victims that Sai Baba has so thoroughly stripped them of their true identity that now they are nothing more than mindless zombies or straw men.

What Is Self-deception?

Self-deception is a mental defense mechanism by which some people cope with intensely painful emotions. They avoid becoming aware of, or accepting the truth about, a current life circumstance or person simply because it is too painful or scary to do so. Either they block off their painful emotions by indulging in denial, or they neutralize them by means of screwed-up rationalization, or they give an exactly opposite meaning to their experience.
Individuals, political parties, communities and even nations indulge in self-deception. America’s self-deception about the Vietnam war is a classic example of a great nation indulging in this practice. Nazi Germany is another example. Self-deception is common in all countries where religion plays a major part in people’s daily life. Self-deception is a way of life for religious people.

Self-deception As A Quid Pro Quo

Then there are pseudo-intellectuals such as Dr. Michael Goldstein and Mr. Isaac Tigrett of Hard Rock Cafe who continue to associate with Sai Baba because they hate to acknowledge that he fooled them and took advantage of them all these years. Sai Baba did not abuse them sexually, but he screwed them financially or used them for propaganda purposes. In other words, he played them for suckers. Having been involved with Sai Baba for so many years, they would simply look stupid to acknowledge now that he is a fraud. Besides, they must make sense of all the bribes he had given them for their wonderful work and financial support, which have been their proud possessions all these years. Their way of coping with this dilemma is to compartmentalize the problem of sex abuse. Their screwed up rationalization is, “Well, so what? He is god. He is doing good work.” Here is the interview in the BBC video:
Tanya Datta: But even if it was proven to you that Sai Baba was a pedophile and a serial sex abuser, you’re saying it wouldn’t change the fact that he is your guru. (Tigrett laughs at this rather wildly)
Isaac Tigrett: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. He could go out and murder someone tomorrow, as I said, it’s not going to change my evolution, it’s not going to change the good things that have come out of my relationship down there.
Tanya Datta: Does that mean that some part of you believes there could be some truth to the rumors?
Isaac Tigrett: Oh, absolutely I believe there is truth to the rumors.
Tanya Datta: You believe there is truth to the rumors?
Isaac Tigrett: Sure, there probably is, probably is.
See full transcript and/or video clip here.
In the above conversation with Ms. Datta, Mr. Tigrett asserts that if Sai Baba would murder someone tomorrow, his opinion about Sai Baba won’t change. In other words, Sai Baba is above the law and Mr. Tigrett’s devotion to him is unconditional. Incredible as this might seem, this is the hallmark of Brahmanic brainwashing: The Guru is always right, no matter what. Such unconditional acceptance of Gurus has resulted in accepting their nonsensical and deceitful commentaries on anti-Brahmanic scriptures as true.

Self-deception Could Ruin Lives Of Other People

In the third BBC video, when Marissa and Al Rahm’s teenager son reveals that Sai Baba sexually assaulted him, Al reveals that he too had similar experience with Sai Baba when he was 18 years old. Yet he neither warned his son, nor did he hesitate to deliver him to the cunning predator. If you listen to Marissa and Al Rahm carefully you will realize that before they turned on Sai Baba, they were just “intellectual zombies,” incapable of rational thinking in their relationship with him. Now, years after the alleged abuse, they are full of regret. Their son declares that Sai Baba is an ever-present issue in his life.
Here is an example of dire consequences of self-deception on others:
Case study: A forty-five year old white woman, mother of three girls aged 17, 15 and 13, found herself in a bus station two thousand miles away from her home and she could not explain how she got there. Here is her story: She often woke up at night and did not find her husband beside her in bed. Even though she wondered where her husband could be, she did not bother to investigate for fear of knowing the truth. All her three daughters tried to tell her that they often found their father in their bed at night, but the mother avoided dealing with this bad news by telling her daughters not to “cook up wild stories.”
Detailed past history of this woman revealed that her stepfather had abused her. Admitting that her daughters were being abused would result in resurfacing of buried painful emotions. When finally the children revealed the truth to their school counselor, the father was arrested. Unable to deal with the entire horror the patient went into a fugue-like mental state. She wandered off away from her home, and when she woke up from her daze, she was in a bus station two thousand miles away. Her three daughters became psychiatric cases requiring prolonged treatment.
If this woman was capable of rational thinking, she would have investigated where the hell her husband was if he was not in her bed, and finding him in bed with her own daughters, she would have kicked his ass out of the house, reported him to the police, and filed for divorce. She was too busy deceiving herself to do the right thing. A rational person would have taken extra care not to expose her daughters to the danger she herself had been subjected to as a child.

Self-deceiving People Often Develop Stress Disorders

People who cope with highly conflicting emotions in the mind by means of self-deception often end up developing psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder.
 Case study: A thirty-eight year old white married woman, mother of two children, suddenly developed severe panic attacks immediately after she returned home from a two-week-long highly enjoyable vacation at Gulf Shores, Alabama. When asked if anything went wrong during the vacation, she denied it. When asked if anything was wrong when she returned home, she denied it. When asked if anything at all was wrong in her life, such as anyone being sick, she categorically denied it.
Since the distance between Gulf Shores, Alabama and Cape Girardeau, Missouri was over 650 miles, I asked her where she stayed in between. She said she stayed overnight in Oxford, Mississippi, where her elderly father lived. When asked how her father was doing, she replied blandly, “He said last week his doctor told him he has a golf ball sized cancer tumor in his liver and he had only three months to live.”
When I said empathically, “Oh! So you are about to lose him!” she burst into sobs, saying, “I am sorry! I was determined not to do this!” I encouraged her to grieve over her father’s impending death, accept the reality of his mortality, and move on with her life. Her panic attacks disappeared in the course of the next few days.
The shock of losing her dear father was too much for this woman to deal with and so she indulged in self-deception as evidenced by her denying that anything bad happened. The problem with her self-deception was that whereas she could fool her mind, she could not fool her body. Sensory input about the bad news instantly produced panic attack even after she fooled her mind into believing that nothing bad happened. If this woman was a rational person, she would have dealt with this situation by reacting normally – accepting the reality that her old and sick father must die like everyone does, grieving over his loss, and moving on with her own life.
The purpose of counseling victims of sexual abuse is to gently break down their self-deception, help them to accept the reality, make them become aware of, and express, their painful emotions, and show the irrationality of their thinking. People who are very much in touch with the reality and capable of rational thinking, rarely, if ever, develop emotional disorders. This is because they are quite capable of dealing with the truth, and as the cliché goes, truth has a liberating effect on people.

Dr. Kamath clearly seems to give central importance to the mechanism of self-deception as the key component in his analysis of some of the more astounding behaviour patterns seen by Sai Baba devotees, from sexual abuse victims who were children or youngsters to VIP members who keep on denying or twisting the true nature of what to any outsider is a flagrant and clearcut miscarriage of conduct.

Whilst I do not disagree with his viewpoint, the examples given might lead to a conclusion that only non-rational people can fall into this trap, people who might in some way be themselves intrapsychically vulnerable because of their history. Do fully rational people exist though? The very fact that groups, parties, whole communities, even nations are given to ‘indulge’ in self-deception begs the question as to how this kind of mass-delusion develops: under which circumstances turn people and movements from open and good to closed-off and downright hostile toward ‘former members’?


I believe the concept of conformity is a useful one in starting to address this issue. Dutch philosopher and psychologist Maarten Maartensz uses below framework to aid in understanding some of the basic dynamics of this phenomenon, which he names conformism:

Conformism: To behave according to the current social norms, ideals and practices.Conformism is the basis of all social behavior and of all human groups: Without agreements in assumptions, ends and acts no group and no society can exist, whereas the great majority in any group is not capable of developing rationalideas about most problems by themselves.The essence of all real social conformism is the clear understanding of the conformer that his conformism is a conscious lie, conscious role-playing, intentional theatre, and that his conformism is mostly collusion and deception in cooperation with other conformists, based on the same motives: fear and egoism.

What counts most in (almost) any society – for those who succeed or live peacefully in and with it – is the pretence and appearance of conformism and conformity, based on the conscious effort to conform. The main problem with this is not that this is so, but that many can’t do much better than conform, and indeed act wisely by following others, since they don’t have the wherewithal to lead themselves.

Continue reading

God’s Own Stockholm Syndrome

Dr. Prabhakar Kamath, an Indian born psychiatrist, now residing in the United States, published below article on Sathya Sai Baba and his following on June 10 2010. It was originally posted on Nirmukta, an Indian website promoting free thought, science and a secular state, and appeared just short of two years prior to the premature silence of His Master’s Voice due to his early demise, April 24 2011.

Dr. Kamath describes the deep-rooted psychological need a character like Sathya Sai Baba fulfills in the lives of many people who are afraid of the uncertainties the world has in store for them.
In essence, he depicts His Late Greatness Sathya Sai Baba as a fraud, a deceiver and a sexual predator, whereas many of his true believers remain locked in what he calls a state of shock, known as the Stockholm Syndrome, a state wherein you are basically kidnapped and, for sheer survival, you befriend your assailant(s), even love them.

The case he presents of Dr. Bhatia makes clear how resilient this preset mode of belief is; even having been sexually abused is made insignificant through a pantheistic view which is eerily akin to that of mrs. Jaani Drucker, the wife of longstanding Western VIP devotee Dr. Alvin Drucker.

All is God, and therefore all is well: even rape is, looked upon like that, done for a reason, and done for the best… So: better to forgive and forget then!

God’s Own Stockholm Syndrome

by Dr. Prabhakar Kamath
In previous articles, I discussed how Swamis and Babas cleverly recognized that the primary preoccupations of ordinary people were to fulfill their heart’s desires and to protect themselves from imaginary or real evils. They met these deep-rooted psychological needs by the deception of miracles, sleight of hand or even sheer gift of the gab. To fleece the deluded masses and profit from their weaknesses, they built massive temple-casino complexes.
Sathya Sai Baba's Grandiose Super Specialty Hospital at Whitefield

Sathya Sai Baba’s Grandiose Hospital at Whitefield

They invested a portion of their gains in building colleges, hospitals and other institutions, which gave people the impression that they were doing great socially beneficial services. The reality is that these institutions merely served the purpose of deluding people benefiting from them and silencing their critics.

Pomp and Circumstance in Puttaparthi: SS Hospital

In the process they fulfilled their own desires (sexual and financial) and took care of their own insecurity. Sai Baba and his Puttaparthi temple-casino complex is a classic example of this web of fraud bewildering people and profiting from their delusion.

Mind Control By Force And Intimidation

Here is a classic example of how Sai Baba controlled the mind and behavior of a highly educated doctor by the name of Naresh Bhatia as reported by Vishal Arora in Caravan magazine dated June 6th, 2010:
And I was to find a similar, dangerous, resilience of faith and disregard for doubt when I met devotee Dr. Naresh K. Bhatia, who in October 2000 had told the Daily Telegraph journalist Mick Brown over the phone that he had sexual relations with Sai Baba for a total of “15 or 16 years.” He was also aware that Sai Baba had relations with “many, many students from the college and school, and with devotees from overseas.” Also, The Findings, a dossier of testimonies of ex-devotees of Sai Baba on the Web, claims that Dr. Bhatia exposed “massive sexual exploitation by Sathya Sai Baba of students, including a report on the physically injurious anal rape of a minor, a boy student, with which he personally confronted Sathya Sai Baba.” This led to “his immediate sacking from his position as head of the Blood Bank at Sathya Sai Baba’s hospital in Puttaparthi and total banishment from the ashrams and all Sai Baba institutions.”
I read his account in the Daily Telegraph and on several Internet forums; I wanted to meet the now 59-year-old Dr. Bhatia. I went to see him in his house in Noida. The tall, fair man received me very gently and offered me a seat on a veranda next to his living room. There was a six-foot tall poster of Sai Baba on one of the walls. I wondered why he still had a picture of him.
I told him I wanted to know about his relationship with Sai Baba and whether or not the reports on the Internet were true. “What did you find in Puttaparthi?” he asked. I told him many of his former devotees wouldn’t make accusations against Sai Baba. I also complained that there seemed to be no real consequences for Sai Baba. “No action will be taken against him. Nothing will happen to him,” remarked Dr. Bhatia. “I will suggest that you do not write the article.” I thought it was his pessimism.
“But why do you think nothing will happen to him?” I asked. “He is God,” he replied. “Is what I have read on the Internet about you untrue?” I asked. “Everything is true,” he said, “but so what?” The bell rang and he went to the door and came back with his colleague. I thought it would be difficult to have a frank conversation now. But Dr. Bhatia carried on.
“What is evil, and what is good? Can you separate evil from good? They are two sides of the same coin,” he continued, looking at his friend for his approval, and he nodded. “It is the giving of one’s heart that is more important than giving one’s body. Jesus said if you look at a woman with lust, you have already committed adultery. This means your thoughts are more important than the acts done in body. So if you can give your heart to Sai Baba, what can you withhold? He is the creator.” For about an hour, he carried on with his confusing, contradictory, pantheistic argument.
Before I left he hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, said I was like a son to him and offered help in life. He also gave me a book he’d written, The Dreams and Realities: Face to face with God. The book details Bhatia’s own realization of Sai Baba’s divinity. It was signed by Sai Baba, “With Love and Blessings, Sri Sathya Sai,” and dated 5 June 1993.
'On your knees...'

The frail godman supported by two of his closest VIP-servitors

Stockholm Syndrome

The case of Dr. Bhatia strongly suggests that he suffers from Stockholm syndrome. Here is an excellent write-up on Stockholm syndrome from Ask Yahoo:
Stockholm Syndrome describes the behavior of kidnap victims who, over time, become sympathetic to their captors. The name derives from a 1973 hostage incident in Stockholm, Sweden. At the end of six days of captivity in a bank, several kidnap victims actually resisted rescue attempts, and afterwards refused to testify against their captors.
While some people are suggesting the recent Elizabeth Smart kidnapping sounds like a case of Stockholm syndrome, the most famous incident in the U.S. involved the kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst. Captured by a radical political group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974, Ms. Hearst eventually became an accomplice of the group, taking on an assumed name and assisting them in several bank robberies. After her re-capture, she denounced the group and her involvement.
What causes Stockholm syndrome? Captives begin to identify with their captors initially as a defensive mechanism, out of fear of violence. Small acts of kindness by the captor are magnified, since finding perspective in a hostage situation is by definition impossible. Rescue attempts are also seen as a threat, since it is likely the captive would be injured during such attempts.
It’s important to note that these symptoms occur under tremendous emotional and often physical duress. The behavior is considered a common survival strategy for victims of interpersonal abuse, and has been observed in battered spouses, abused children, prisoners of war, and concentration camp survivors.

Stockholm Syndrome Is Common In Sexually Abused People

Men and women who were sexually abused for years by their fathers, stepfathers or priests, Swamis and Babas starting at an early age often suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. All of them suffer from serious emotional symptoms such as depression and anxiety, and yet they often keep insisting that they still love their abusers. Not only that, they often resent anyone blaming their abusers for their emotional problems. Very often they claim that they had forgiven their abusers and they still love them. Here is a case study in my practice:
A forty-year-old white married woman, mother of two came to see me for depression of many years duration. During her eighteen-year-long marriage to a highly tolerant man, she had numerous extramarital affairs. She was chronically unhappy with her life and her illicit affairs were her way of finding the elusive happiness.
Detailed history revealed that starting around eight years of age, her father began to have sexual relationship with her. This continued even after she married her husband at age twenty-two. She simply could not say no to her father’s demands. Then suddenly, when she was thirty, her father suffered a massive heart attack and became brain-dead. He was kept alive in the Intensive Care Unit for several days. None of her siblings had the courage to pull the plug on him. It fell on the patient to give the doctors consent to terminate all life support and let him die.
The patient’s depression got worse after her father died, not only out of the guilt for pulling the plug on her father, but also because all buried memories of sexual abuse resurfaced and manifested as serious depressive symptoms. In the course of many counseling sessions, she just could not bring herself to condemning her father for years of sexual abuse. Even a faint hint of disrespect for her father in my voice made her resent me for it. She kept defending her father saying, “He meant no harm; that was his way of showing his love for me.” In fact, she confessed to me that during her sexual relationship with other men the only way she could get any pleasure was by thinking of her father.

Is There A Remedy For God‘s Own Stockholm Syndrome?

The vast majority of victims of Sai Baba, or any sex-obsessed Swami, are so deeply delusional that they do not believe they suffer from a serious psychiatric syndrome. Naturally, they do not seek treatment. The intensity of conflicting emotions (ecstasy of the intimacy and terror of retaliation) related to their “spiritual intercourse” with their object of worship seems to create a lasting pathological bond with it. Deep in their mind, they seem to relive the pleasure of their past contacts with that object, no matter how illicit, and at the same time, they are terrified of the consequences of condemning that object. They cope with their predicament by indulging in nonsensical explanations and stupid rationalizations such as the one displayed by Dr. Bhatia. His fear is justified by an incident a few years ago when four stupid sex abuse victims attempted to assassinate Sai Baba (read the above Caravan article here).
Dead men Tell no Tales

Dead men Tell no Tales

The police in cold blood promptly murdered the assassins. The whole matter was hushed-up by the directive from the highest level of the Government of India. The point is if someone from Sai Baba’s camp decides to kill an opponent of Sai Baba, there is not a damn thing anyone can do to stop him or punish him. Sai Baba is absolutely above the law.
Either the rulers of the great country of India, across the board, suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, or the great fraud of Puttaparthi, who controls them all with the wave of his little finger, must really be God.
Below is the first part of the excellent BBC and CBC produced documentary, ‘The Secret Swami’, which documents the sexual abuse and other alleged crimes of Sai Baba.
The remaining parts can can be accessed here: Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7.

Dr. Kamash makes an interesting point. Still, one could argue whether the devotees of Sai Baba, or any other totalitarian-like guru, can in all honesty be likened to the involuntary victims of crime. After all, most victims of crime never sought out their villain! In my opinion, the difference is one of gradation, though, not of either-or. Surely the boys, teens and young men who lived on campus and flocked to him from all over India and the globe who were sexually accosted by the master fall into this category. For further info on poor Dr. Bhatia’s story I gladly refer to Robert Priddy’s blog Dr. Naresh Bhatias Exposure of Sathya Sai Baba.

Many of the more ‘ordinary’ devotees, who did not suffer this horrific trial themselves, can be seen as sufferers of Stockholm Syndrome by proxy. Having invested so much if not everything they hold dear, they simply cannot face the brutal truth, for else they would have to admit to themselves they have lived a lie.

Maybe Stockholm Syndrome is a bit too strong a term for these staunch believers but I would certainly categorize them as suffering from a Delusional Syndrome. For sure, they may well be severely traumatized as well, by all the false promises and their own false beliefs, more often than not having sacrificed years of their lives to what they thought to be God’s work, and helping the less advantaged. And then there is the vast mass of poor souls, the downtrodden ‘just’ seeking solace…

There seems to be no end to the power of self-delusion, and to the inherent suffering, or is there?

Final thought for the day
Did the master himself, His Late Greatness, in the end not also become a victim of his own monstrosity, hurled off against his will into his own hospital like a crying baby by the very people he ‘created’ in his own image, and thereby, however reluctantly, deserving of the title: God’s Own Stockholm Syndrome? Irony of ironies! From all the stories that surround his dying days, one could glean that he was ultimately devoured by some of the monsters he himself helped create.

Taking a Hard Look at the Facts

Professor Narendra Nayak, President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, published the following noteworthy essay on Sathya Sai Baba on May 18 2011 (See Nirmukta, a forum promoting science, freethought and secular humanism in India).

Sai Baba had at that time just passed away, to the utter astonishment and disbelief of his followers. In this down-to-earth epitaph, Professor Nayak takes stock and calls for an unorthodox step pertaining all donated funds held by the Sathya Sai Baba Central Trust.

Nationalise the Assets of the Godman of Puttaparthi

by Narendra Nayak

Now that the dust has settled down around all the hullabaloo created by the demise of an 85-year-old man kept on life support systems for nearly three weeks, provided with the best of medical treatment etc, it is time to take a hard look at the facts. Our movement has been at the forefront of questioning, investigating and exposing so-called paranormal phenomena. Our organisation, the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, was founded by B. Premanand who had taken the lead in exposing the paranormal claims of this individual Ratnakaram Satya Narayana Raju, more popularly known by his alias Sathya Sai Baba. Magicians claiming to be rationalists have rushed to the press, some self-proclaimed leaders of the movement have made statements, and now it is time for the President of the FIRA to review and present the views of the movement before the public.

It has been claimed that the so-called miracles of Sai Baba, like materialisation of ash, small objects etc, were not important. This is far from the truth. It is because of these that he became popular. It is also claimed that he had stopped performing them after a meeting with one famous magician! But, this is not so. The meeting with this magician is supposed to have taken place more than two decades ago and it is on record that in Chennai rings were ‘materialised’ for ministers of the so-called ‘rationalistic’ party the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s top brass! Sai Baba also claimed that these miracles were his calling cards! We fail to understand how such bogus calling cards impressed people, including the past president of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who is supposed to be the very epitome of scientific temper! He who always encourages children to ask questions could have asked this man how he was able to produce matter from thin air!

But, obviously advise is always for others! No one has asked why the man who has supposedly healed thousands by the mere application of his holy ash was unable to heal himself. As he has claimed in his own publication, Sanathana Sarathi, he never suffers from any illness because he has no trace of greed! He had also said in the same that purity, patience and perseverance “are three responsible for my health (arogya) and bliss (ananda)!” One wonders as to how he fell ill then? Is it because he developed greed? Or did his patience, purity and perseverance run out? One of them or all of them? Those who call him Bhagwan would be well advised to refer to him by some other name more befitting his status of mortality!

How did this man with a smattering of English, without any formal education manage to build up such an empire? It is because of his native shrewdness. After attracting the locals with his prestidigitisation, he stepped to the other states and then managed to attract some frustrated people from the West. His name and fame grew. He also acted as a conduit for the ill-gotten gains of the politicians and he mediated in their disputes. This explains his popularity amongst politicians of all shades and ideologies, with the possible exception of some on the left. His trust had been exempted from all the laws pertaining to import of foreign funds, and what better way can there be to get money stashed away in banks abroad? It is funny that those going on fasts to oppose corruption do not see this nexus between religious institutions and corruption. On the other hand, those who were paupers a couple of decades back and possess empires worth thousands of crores today have jumped on to this anti-corruption band wagon. It is also said that Sathya Narayana Raju went abroad only once, and that too to Uganda. It was to bring the illegally begotten wealth from a shady deal involving sale of tanks of the Indian army as scrap to Idi Amin, one of the most infamous despotic dictators in recent history. He has been also known for his donations to an infamous lady –  ‘Mother’ Teresa!

It was not that the laws of the land were not applicable to him in collection of funds. Numerous allegations of pedophilia have been glossed over. There have been many mysterious deaths which have always been written off as if they were minor traffic violations. More importantly, the six murders in his bedroom with the bodies bearing marks of torture and shooting at point-blank range were written off as an internal matter, as if the laws of the land were not applicable to Puttaparthi. The past Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, went on record to state that he was innocent! Though the murders took place in his bedroom Sai Baba was never questioned. So much for the law being the supreme! Laws of the land were never a problem for him. Having an airport in Puttaparthi meant that things could be brought directly in. The tonnes of gold around the place in various forms bear witness to that. When late B. Premanand took him to court under the Gold Control Act, the law came to his rescue by stating that he was ‘creating’ gold which was not covered by that act!

Anyway, on one occasion when he was ‘materialising’ a  gold chain in the presence of the then Prime minister of India, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, the Doordarshan cameras caught the trick he was using – removing a necklace concealed under the memento which he was to presenting.

Sai Baba was also a creation of the media. One weekly called Blitz was initially critical of him, and then in a volte-face started singing praises of him. It was not a surprise, as the integrity of the editor was well-known to many! The TV channels of the South have not shown much courage in exposing him. But many popular ones of the North have had no such qualms. In fact, two years ago when I had handed over some very old footage of the exposure of his so-called miracles to some TV channels in Kathmandu, they went to town as though the expose was theirs and the latest news! It was only the courage of some of the TV channels of Europe which exposed him. Channel IV ran a series called the Guru Busters in which he was totally exposed. In 2004 the BBC aired a documentary called The Secret Swami which exposed his miracles, pedophilia and also the murders in his bedroom. In that documentary, the minister for HRD, Dr. Murali Monohar Joshi, was shown defending Sai Baba very, very vocally – in fact threatening the reporter! There was another one by a Danish TV station called Seduced by Sai Baba (2002), by one of his victims who preferred to be anonymous. One of the reasons why the boys from economically backward sections were kept in his schools with all free amenities was they could be easily exploited sexually and their parents being poor could do nothing about it even if it were to be exposed. Those who praise the charitable work going on there would be informed that children of Manmohan Singh, Aishwarya Rai, Gavaskar or Tendulkar would not be going to these schools! Even they were to go by perchance nothing would have happened to them.

Now about the support from the rich and the powerful. It is quite obvious that the money laundering racket run at Puttaparthi has clients of all shades of politics! There are also film actors and cricket stars who are perceived by the gullible public as the very epitome of virtue and righteousness. One of the cricketing icons was seen sobbing inconsolably at the demise of an ailing 80 plus old man. One wonders where were the tears when six young people around his age were murdered in cold blood in the bedroom of the paragon of truth at Prashanthi Nilayam- the abode of peace. In fact it is told that when the  so-called Bhagwan was attacked he ran away like you and I, ordinary mortals, would have done, and switched on a siren, hearing which thousands of  peace-loving people at the very epicenter of peace and tranquility in the universe came running to the abode of peace with whatever they could lay their hands on, probably for a peaceful demonstration of their love!

How can this issue be tackled? He has been clever enough to start a trust with top retired bureaucrats, supreme court judges etc. who have considerable influence and can affect the outcome of any investigations. The best solution would be to remove all of them and appoint trustees from the government –  from the center and states, and conduct an investigation into all these affairs. If this is not done, it will give the trustees ample time to cover up their misdeeds and financial mismanagement. No one can object to this, as charitable trusts are started with non-profit motives for doing social work. If the same work were to be done better by some others, why not they be allowed to do it? After all the funds have been donated for a charitable purpose with tax exemption. They could be used for the same!

No matter how interesting the professor’s idea of removing all the trustees sounds, I am afraid it might already be too late. The SSB Central Trust has had many months by now to tie up most of the loose ends, and the Indian government has not exactly been keen to take action up til now.

Still: the very idea appeals to me, I must say!

Unearth the money, appropriate it and put it to its rightful use, as it was intended by (most of) the  givers in the first place. And while they are at it, why not also unearth the body of his late greatness Sai Baba alongside, and perform a proper autopsy? Maybe that will yield a valid death certificate after all, and shed some light on what caused the master’s death.

Pray tell: can a dead guru answer prayers?

The question raised by Robert Priddy in his recent post of January 20, 2012, whether praying to Sathya Sai Baba (or God for that matter) can be effective, is a highly interesting one, in my view.

Mr. Priddy deals with this subject in an astute manner, and has some notable remarks concerning the practices followed and testimonies given by Sai Baba devotees, to convince themselves and others of the miraculous nature of their personal God(man).

In short, he who prays earnestly to the master gets his prayers answered. If not, it is through his own lack of faith or some karmic trouble.

Because of the ever-increasing unavailability of direct contact with Sathya Sai Baba over the previous decades, which was the inevitable result of the sheer increase in numbers of visitors to the ashram and the very limited amount of time the master provided for interaction with them (twice a day for maybe twenty minutes darshan, plus the rare interview, accosted to the ‘happy’ few), large groups of devotees resorted more and more

The much coveted daily dose of darshan on its way…

to indirect ‘proof’, whether through prayer, dreams, premonitions, contact with VIP-devotee-clearvoyants like Phyllis Krystal, and other, sometimes all-too-primitive supposed channelers and channelings of the master. The use of the three pieces of paper mr. Priddy refers to, which I too remember well, is a typical example of the latter: a crude form of divination.

Being unavailable is one of the devices cult leaders use in order to gain an ever-increasing aura among their believers, by the way. Especially when their followers are cooped up in primitive dwellings, and are deprived of contact with the outside world their whole day revolves around the master. Not seeing him, not being able to come into close, personal contact with him, makes people anxious, which in turn serves as an incentive to listen to tall tales and boosting the master’s omnipotence through any number of stories heard through the grapevine. It also hides the master quite effectively from any altogether too inquisitive a view from people who are a bit more sceptical.

If a master at all, Sathya Sai Baba certainly was one in this respect! He pulled off the most unlikely feat: not letting himself get caught for the massive fraud, deception and abuse he was involved in during sixty odd years. Instead, he managed to achieve an enormous following and influence the world over, culminating in a state funeral, with full honours, and very few awkward questions asked even after his demise.

The whole issue of whether praying to a personal God is even feasible, let alone effective, has been hotly debated inside and outside the scientific community for well over 140 years. Wikipedia provides a rather extensive and well-informed expose concerning this topic: the efficacy of prayer.

In a debate/interview in Newsweek with Christian evangelical Rick Warren, atheist Sam Harris commented that most lay perceptions of the efficacy of prayer (personal impressions as opposed to empirical studies) were related to sampling error because “we know that humans have a terrible sense of probability.” That is, humans are more inclined to recognize confirmations of their faith than they are to recognize disconfirmations.

Harris also criticized existing empirical studies for limiting themselves to prayers for relatively unmiraculous events, like recovery from heart surgery. He suggested a simple experiment to settle the issue:

Get a billion Christians to pray for a single amputee. Get them to pray that God regrow that missing limb. This happens to salamanders every day, presumably without prayer; this is within the capacity of God. I find it interesting that people of faith only tend to pray for conditions that are self-limiting.’

Another eloquent critic of the inefficacy of prayer is internationally renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. As it happens (and no, not by divine intervention!), Dawkins

visited my alma mater, the University of Groningen, just a fortnight ago (January 12 and 13, 2012). He stayed here for two consecutive days, entering into public debate, giving lectures and appearing as the guest of honour for the opening of the new Biology Building of the University, named after famous Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.

The Linnaeusborg at the south side, September 2010

In his writings (of which the most controversial is his 2006 bestselling book, see picture below), Dawkins claims the ‘God Hypothesis’ is fallacious. In fact, he depicts people who believe in a personal, compassionate God as being delusional.

Whichever way your outlook on this complex question, suffice it to say that I agree with Robert Priddy that Sathya Sai Baba took advantage of many well-intentioned (but perhaps too gullible) people, people from the West and the East, the North and the South, people from all walks of life, from highly educated to illiterate.

Did he answer prayers while alive? I don’t think so. It certainly has not been my experience. He very often broke promises he made in direct contact, that I do know, for sure, first hand. If he is to answer prayers right now, he has had to have been some kind of supernatural being, an otherworldly entity, transgressing the laws of nature.

Is that even possible?

He certainly claimed to be just that, a deity, a supernatural being, nay more: he assured everyone willing to listen he was the highest of the high, the guru of all gurus, master of all masters, god of all gods, king of kings, the centre of the universe, with the whole of creation resting in his almighty palm.

So: do I think Sathya Sai Baba can answer prayers now that he has ‘shed his mortal coil’? No. Dead men tell no tales.  Prayers fall unto deaf ears, as they all too often did whilst the

master was still walking this earth, or did they not? His staunch believers will, I am sure, always see some proof beyond doubt of the divinity of their late master though, and of him answering prayers even from beyond the grave.

It has ever been so: voluntary questioning your innermost belief system is rare. If you have allowed yourself to become brainwashed, it is even harder to really familiarize yourself with opposing information. You’d rather vilify the messenger. Many who harbour doubts rationalize these thoughts away. I am afraid the bottom line is that many of them secretly think themselves unable to confront the harsh truth, and live another day.

We so much like to be sure. We so much seem to need to be…

The Case of the Missing Death Certificate


Below I have posted a copy of the formal announcement of Sathya Sai Baba’s death. It was published widely in India on the very day of his demise, April 24, 2011. To my knowledge, it is the only official document issued by the Sathya Sai Baba Organisation announcing the ‘physical leaving of the body’ of their Chairman, Sathya Sai Baba. It also is the sole source as to the cause of death. The letter bears the signature of Dr. Safaya, the director of the Super Specialty Hospital where Sai Baba was treated and kept on life support during his last weeks on earth. The good doctor has since handed in his resignation.

NDTV, a large Indian Broadcasting Company, put this document up on their website that same day. It elicited the following comment by a trained Indian physician:

Soumitra Mukhopadhyaya NDTV 24-04-2011

(…) As a doctor I should point out that the cause of death mentioned (cardio-respiratory failure) is medico-legally unacceptable. The cause leading to cardio-respiratory failure needs to be clearly mentioned. The international death certificate does not accept cardio-respiratory failure as a valid cause of death (…)

Not producing a death certificate is in strict violation of Andrha Pradesh State regulation, Indian law, and international rule.

For more background information, look here or here, for instance.

A question of ‘moving on’


Survivors ‘Move On’? But Abusers Move On – From Victim To Victim. And Must Be Opposed, Barry Pittard wrote on his weblog on December 23, 2011.

He said there: ‘Tediously, phrases emerge from the mouths of those who could, but do not, speak out forthrightly about their experiences of spiritual and moral betrayal. Often, one hears them say, “I am moving on, now”. But the abusers, the criminals, the bullies, don’t move on. They thrive in the knowledge that their victims will, most often, move on. Essentially cowards themselves, they understand that other cowards will protect them – by preferring the easy way out. By shutting up. By not calling a crime a crime. By leaving undefended the abused. By abandoning any shred of self-respect.

There Is No Healing In Hiding

The Sathya Sai Organization certainly moves on, thinking that their dead guru – despite his countless false promises of healing and absurdly unfulfilled predictions and vast secret hoard of currency, gold, silver and other valuables – moves with them and within them. Those who, against unenviable odds, have continued year after year to expose Sathya Sai Baba and his soviet-style, authoritarian, worldwide cult too often see cases where those who speak of ‘moving on’ get into yet more self-entrapment. Out of one guru’s or cult’s frying pan into another. Again, the problem of lack of self-respect.’

I could not agree more. In fact, I can relate to mr. Pittard’s experience. Having moved on is one of the standard phrases I get when I try to elicit some reaction from former devotees here in my home country and abroad as to their former involvement with Sathya Sai Baba and his Organization. When I enquire how they are doing this or how they have done this, more often than not, I glean from their answers that they have ‘sold the books’ and don’t wish to think about it any further, or I get something like the following response: ‘It was a very happy time for me. I have my own private memories. Those are all I can judge. The rest? That’s  hearsay at best.’

Reacting in said manner seems a rather crude defense against unwelcome news, I find, but the sad thing is: it works. It’s like saying: ‘War is over. Let bygones be bygones. The past is the past’.

This special kind of non-responsiveness is akin to a phenomenon known in the field of social psychology as the bystander effect. Everyone sees something is awry, but no one acts, thinking the others will do it for them. Alas, most people tend to conformity in times of crisis, one way or the other.

It takes courage, self-respect, real empathy and a willingness and capacity to endure loneliness to take a stand instead of remaining a silent bystander. The examples Barry Pittard gives further down his entry of men and women who have done so speak volumes.

And yes, one of the sad and dangerous results of this subconscious conspiracy of silence is the fact that the real culprits DO move on, and are able to, because the majority thinks their position is neutral.