An Annotated Bibliography for Research on Sathya Sai Baba,
in Three Parts.
(For the Introduction to the 3 Bibliographies, see Here.)
A Bibliography of Apologetic Writing about Sathya Sai Baba.
Presenting Sathya Sai Baba to the World
Brian Steel December 2007 (updated April 2008)
Copyright © 2007 Brian Steel
A few observations about the hundreds of books about Sathya Sai Baba
Section 1. Sathya Sai Baba’s Teachings
1. Direct Teachings via Sathya Sai Baba’s Translated and Edited Telugu Discourses
2. Promoting the Sathya Sai Baba Story via Lectures and Electronic Means: Audiocassettes, Videotapes, Internet and Radio
3. Reference Works on Sathya Sai Baba’s Teachings
4. Study Circles and Discussion Groups
6. The Sathya Sai Organisation and Service / Seva
7. A Selection of Books about Shirdi Sai Baba
Sathya Sai Baba as seen and interpreted by his Devotees and Others
1. Major Accounts, especially of the Early Years
2. Selected Later Accounts
3. Privately Revealed Messages and Teaching
Section 3. Applied Teachings
2. Comparative Religion
3. Hindu Interpretations
Section 4. Devotee-Centred Books and Activities
1. Information on Other Activities Allegedly Associated with Sathya Sai Baba
Section 5. A Selection of Indian Media Articles
Section 6. New Factors for Researchers to Consider
1. Recent Publications and New Promotional Media
2. Public Responses by Sathya Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Organisation Officials, Devotees and Others to Criticism of Sathya Sai Baba and the Sathya Sai Organisation
3. Which Sai Baba Movement? A Writer’s Dilemma
The bulk of Part 3 of the Sathya Sai Baba Bibliography describes the accumulation of literature and ancillary information carriers which existed between 1943 and 2000, a period of uninterrupted growth of the SSB Mission. From the year 2000, important new factors emerged. These and the fundamental changes they brought to the propagation of Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings are briefly outlined in Section 6.
This selection of books, magazines, articles, audiocassettes, videotapes and (more recently) DVDs, deal with the scope of Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings and Mission, his impact on devotees and their interaction with him, including their attempts to apply his teachings in daily life and to promote their belief in his Divine claims. Such reports and many others have been highly effective in facilitating the spread of Sathya Sai Baba’s ideas, actions, lectures and teachings to a very wide audience in India and in many other countries.
Although this Part of the SSB Bibliography may be of use and interest to devotees and hagiographers, it has been compiled to provide researchers and other curious ‘outsiders’ with a judicious selection from the mountain of SSB literature which has accumulated over sixty years. This may facilitate a quicker appreciation of the evolving nature and worldwide expansion of the SSB Mission during that period. With some cross-referencing, if necessary, from Part 2, researchers will discover the process by which contributions by both SSB (especially through his translated and edited Discourses) and his devotees have produced their unquestioning acceptance of him not only as their spiritual guru but also as the Divine Avatar that he has always claimed to be.
Note: Many of the items listed have been selected from a Bibliography I prepared while still a devotee and during the extended research for my two hagiographical studies of Sathya Sai Baba. The amended annotations here are consistent with several years of subsequent research.
A few observations about the hundreds of books about Sathya Sai Baba
The Sathya Sai Baba literature is a unique and important phenomenon. The colossal amount of works produced by SSB himself, his associates and devotees (a total of over 600 in English when I stopped counting in 2000) is a clear mark of the unique worship offered to the guru by his devotees. Two of its special features are its apologist character and its relatively limited accessibility to non-devotees because much of this literature is published outside mainstream publishing outlets (i.e. by the official Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publishing Trust and, in many cases, self-published by individual devotees). The second disadvantage is being rapidly reduced by the mass of materials being made available on Sathya Sai Organisation and other unofficial websites since 2000.
The international book publishing trade is a commercial enterprise and as such uses tried and trusted commercial methods to ensure success and profit. In the process of selection and publication rigorous standards are usually applied and only those books which are considered to stand a chance of either commercial success or public approval are accepted for publication. The publishers’ expert staff and the authors then work together over a period of time, which usually varies between six months and two years, to make sure that the content and the presentation of the material is up to the required standards and that due recognition has been given to work consulted and quoted, with appropriate bibliographical references. This is precisely where a large part of the huge Sathya Sai Baba literature is different. Those books published by the official Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust (SSSBPT) do not seem to be published with profit in mind (although this may well be a minor factor because of the enormous volume of sales in SSO Centres all over the world, in spite of their extremely low retail price – often $2 or less, even when shipped overseas).
Many books written by individual devotees of Sathya Sai Baba appear to be inspired by a rapturous desire to extol their Avatar-guru (often by making or repeating exaggerated or unsupported claims, especially those that ‘prove’ SSB’s claimed Divinity – a feature commented on by a small number of the academic researchers listed in Part 1 of this Bibliography). Since they consider themselves to be devotees of God on Earth, they not unnaturally feel an overwhelming need to share what they feel to be privileged personal and spiritual experiences with other devotees and non-devotees, to spread Sathya Sai Baba’s message to the whole world. Many – perhaps most – of these books deal so intensely with personal experiences and thoughts about Sathya Sai Baba that they would not appeal to the general reading public and would not sell. But the majority of the devotee writers, who usually have little or no experience of publishing, have no interest in profit – merely the desire to extol their Avatar-guru. They are frequently willing to ‘self-publish’ or to publish with very low rates of remuneration from the publisher. (Indeed, ashram gossip suggests that some writers have had to pay substantial amounts in India for the privilege of having their Sathya Sai Baba book published, without receiving any royalties.)
Because of this voluntary and amateur status (and often also with the small proportion of professional writers who produce books about Sathya Sai Baba) content is often extremely self-indulgent (rather like publishing very personal diaries). More significantly from a research point of view, basic standards of reporting and referencing are often not adhered to, especially for many of the events, alleged miracles and conversations reported. Until very recently, even the SSSBPT did not follow normal publishing procedure by printing the year of publication of the large number of books which it issues. Sometimes official editors have also neglected to follow usual reporting practice by failing to indicate those sections of Sathya Sai Baba’s translated Discourses which were summaries, leaving devotees to assume that they are reading SSB’s actual words when this was not the case. In the SSB literature in general (whether published by the SSSBPT, commercial publishers or self-published), quotes, hearsay and gossip are often mingled, and allegations and unsupported assertions (especially of implausible miracles) are frequently presented as facts. A huge and very popular compendium of “ Sathya Sai Baba’s words” (listed below under Reference Works) is, basically, a computer-assisted jumble of quotations from SSB and from many other written sources (which are not clearly identified in the end Bibliography).
On the older of the official Sathya Sai Baba sites (www.sathyasai.org), and more recently on www.sssbpt.org, the full contents of the first 30 volumes of Sathya Sai Speaks are available for downloading in .pdf form. Many subsequent Discourses (since 1997) have also been posted. An unofficial site for Discourses was www.eaisai.com/baba (now www.saidarshan.com).
For a period of just over two years (1999 until mid-2002), ‘Premsai’ (an ashram-based volunteer devotee group of multilingual translators who preferred Sathya Sai Baba’s spontaneous Telugu style to the official edited versions) ran a large website (www.internety.com/Premsai) in several languages. This site offered a treasure trove of rare and revealing literal translations of Sathya Sai Baba’s Telugu Discourses. These were made available in several languages by the devotee-translators between the end of 2000 and mid-2002, when the translations were abruptly discontinued (quite possibly at the behest of associates of Sathya Sai Baba following substantial critical Internet discussion of the multiple discrepancies between the literal and the official translations). (That discussion is still available online to researchers and others for study.) For a time most of the Premsai website material remained available for study, comparison and research on “The Wayback Machine” at http://web.archive.org/web/20030216111817/www.internety.com/premsai/ but it is no longer to be found there.
However, the English versions of the literal Premsai Discourse translations are still on display.
Sathya Sai Baba's Teachings
1. Direct Teachings via Sathya Sai Baba’s translated and edited Telugu Discourses
These are very many in number and form the public basis of his teachings. For decades, Sathya Sai Baba has given a long public Discourse in Telugu (with a simultaneous English interpretation) on all major festival days. From the audiotape (or videotape) recordings made by the Sathya Sai Organisation, the Discourses are translated and edited into many languages and then printed in the monthly subscription magazine Sanathana Sarathi and in the annual volumes of Sathya Sai Speaks, both published by the Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust of Prasanthi Nilayam. All these publications are widely circulated for sale in overseas SSO Centres. Since approximately 1999, when the SSO began to multiply and diversify its Internet offerings, the edited English versions of the Telugu Discourses have been made available for downloading from the Internet (there is now a Search facility as well) and from one or two unofficial sites. The official SSB sites offer a full set of back volumes of Sathya Sai Speaks as .pdf documents. The translated and edited versions of new Discourses are usually posted on these Internet sites within a few days of their delivery. Nowadays, old Discourses are frequently broadcast on another recent SSO outlet, Radio Sai Global Harmony.
Sathya Sai Speaks Series
The first series was compiled from the speeches ofSathya Sai Baba from 1953 to 1982, mainly by N. Kasturi. A New Series of Discourses is now being published (Vols XVI-XXXV so far).
There are at least two different editions in India and one in U.S.A. for the first eleven volumes (which were edited by Kasturi). See under Gries for an Index to Vols. I-XI of the American Editions. See also Steel (1997), under ‘Sathya Sai Speaks’ (pp. 228-239) for a Concordance by volume and chapter between the Revised Enlarged Indian edition and the American edition of Volumes I to XI.
Videos (Archival Note):
Many video recordings were made of Sathya Sai Baba’s Discourses. (Other audiotapes and videotapes were made of lectures and discussions by prominent devotees. See sub-section 2 below.) Most recordings, including those listed below, were produced by James Redmond and marketed by the Video Education Company, formerly of Texas and Arizona. They were bought by devotees and SSO Centres, where they may still be located. The Video Education Company ceased to make SSB videos in about 2000 and finally closed its doors in 2003 to undertake other film work.
November 19, 1990: Service
November 20, 1990: Gaining God's Love
November 22, 1990: Education
November 23, 1990: The Motherland
November 24, 1990: The Biggest Miracle
April, 1991: Talk to Westerners (Kodaikanal)
November 22, 1991: Ideal Lives
November 23, 1991: Winning the Lord's Grace
?1992 Discourse: Importance of a Name
March 3, 1992: Discourse on Bhajans
November 22, 1992: Discourse
November 23, 1992: Discourse
February 19, 1993: Shivaratri
February 20, 1993: Shivaratri (with English sub-titles)
November 20, 1993: Discourse
November 23, 1993: Discourse
December 25, 1993: Christmas Discourse
November 22, 1994: Discourse
November 23, 1994: Discourse
July 8, 1995: Discourse
July 11, 1995: Discourse
July 12, 1995: Discourse
November 18, 1995: Water Project Discourse
November 19, 1995: Women's Day
November 20, 1995: Discourse on E.H.V.
November 21, 1995: Discourse
November 22, 1995: Discourse
November 23, 1995: 70th Birthday Discourse
February 17, 1996: Discourse
February 18, 1996: Discourse
July 29, 1996: Discourse
July 30, 1996: Discourse
November 19, 1996: Ladies Day Discourse
November 21, 1996: Discourse
November 22, 1996: Discourse
November 23, 1996: Birthday Discourse
December 25, 1996: Christmas Discourse
March 7, 1997: Discourse
March 8, 1997: Discourse
July 16, 1997: Discourse
July 17, 1997: Discourse
July 19, 1997: Discourse
July 20, 1997: Discourse
September 22, 1997: Sacrifice
September 23, 1997: Human Values
December 25, 1997: Faith
December 25, 1998: Sacrifice and Surrender
November 18, 1999: Discourse
November 19, 1999: Discourse
November 21, 1999: Discourse
November 22, 1999: Discourse
November 23, 1999: 74 th Birthday Discourse
December 25, 1999: Christmas Discourse
July 16, 2000: Guru Purnima Discourse
Summer Showers Series
Compiled from edited translations of discourses given by SSB during the summer courses on Indian Culture and Spirituality at Brindavan (Whitefield), 1972-1979, 1990, 1993 and 1996 (and perhaps later years).
Translated Extracts from SSB’s Discourses, on Hindu topics like the Bhagavata, Dharma, the Upanishads, etc. Published by Sri Sathya Sai Baba Books and Publications Trust of Prasanthi Nilayam and (by arrangement) by the Sathya Sai Baba Book Center of America:
Sathya Sai Baba, Chinna Katha, 2 vols. (Stories and Parables for Children). Quoted from the Divine Discourses, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications, 1988.
Sathya Sai Baba, Stories for Children, 2 vols, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, [n.d].
Kurzweil, B., Satvic Stories, Puttaparthi, Sai Towers, 1995.
This section introduces a fundamental aspect of the promotion of Sathya Sai Baba which has hitherto received very little public attention. In addition to the hundreds of books, articles and pamphlets written about Sathya Sai Baba (to be commented on in detail in Sections 2 to 7), many other sources of secondary information about SSB are available to devotees. These add to the amount of time and energy spent by many devotees (whether in the ashrams or elsewhere) in finding out and talking (as well as speculating and gossipping) about SSB. All of these supplementary sources of information constitute an important part of the communications between Sathya Sai Baba and his devotees and have been highly influential in spreading news of the teachings and the alleged miracles throughout the development of his Mission, particularly outside India. Such inputs from a large number of third parties more than compensate for any lack of direct impact caused by SSB’s major use of Telugu in his public appearances and Discourses (or for his unwillingness to undertake foreign travel).
Soon after Westerners began to discover Sathya Sai Baba in the 1960s, personal videos and documentary films began to be produced and marketed or passed round. Richard Bock was a well known maker of films on spiritual and religious themes. The best known of these is probably the 1970s bestselling video Christ in Kashmir. The Hidden Years , also known asThe Lost Years of Jesus.
The following early videos on SSB by Bock, and many others, are available for download as streaming videos from the Radio Sai website, www.saicast.org:
Aura of Divinity
His Life is His Message
The Endless Stream
Truth is My Name.
Aura of Divinity
Richard Bock’s popular video on the 1960s and 1970s has now reincarnated as a DVD. It includes video clips of Sathya Sai Baba and the ashram, parts of Discourses and translations by Kasturi and more references to the alleged ancient prophecies.
Some samples of Kasturi’s translations:
“There was no one to know who I am until I created the world at my pleasure with one word.
Immediately, mountains rose up and the rivers started running …”
“The mission of the present Avatar is to make everyone realise that since the same God or divinity resides in everyone, people should respect and love each other …”
“Finally, Prema Sai, the third Avatar, shall preach the message that not only does God reside in everyone but everyone himself is God.”
“In all this Universe there is no other planet that has human life or a similar life form … All [forms of] life may aspire to human birth but only through the birth may God be realised. The purpose of this incarnation is to unite all mankind into one family for the establishment of the Divinity, the atmic reality in every man or woman, which is the basis on which the entire Cosmic design rests. Once this is realised …. the common divine heritage will become apparent.”
Sathya Sai Baba in the Light of Prophecy
This New Age style documentary by Richard Bock contains some of SSB’s bold statements about his Mission (for example, “I have taken this form of my own free will.” “I can cure, save, even resurrect people”) and also offers the researcher a lengthy assertion of the unconvincing collection of alleged prophecies of SSB’s birth or Advent (in Indian scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, Muhammad, Nostradamus, etc.) These prophecies, propagated by associates, devotees and other writers, and unquestioningly accepted and passed on by devotees for nearly 30 years have made such a substantial contribution to the Sathya Sai Baba story that in the year 2000 exhibits illustrating many of them were enshrined as part of the official life story of SSB in the Chaitanya Jyoti memorial Museum in Puttaparthi. (See also: http://bdsteel.tripod.com/More/indmmtrans.htm)
These alleged prophecies appear to have originated not from SSB himself but from enthusiastic associates, writers and devotees. Worthy of special attention in this film is the lengthy detail on the alleged 300 prophecies by Muhammad. The introduction to this material is characteristically vague: 700 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, his followers assembled 12 books of Hadiths – defined here as his Discourses. Among them, it is said, were the 300 characteristics.
Other film makers have also contributed a number of videotapes. Some examples:
Swami’s Mission, Professor N. Kasturi, Christmas 1984.
Two in One: Glimpses of Divine Mission and Shirdi Darshan (Hindi Commentary).
Christmas Days at Prasanthi Nilayam (Peter Rae, 1992)
For the Glory of the Universal Love, (Atilio Spinello)
God Lives in India ( Holland)
Prasanthi Nilayam, Christmas 1992 (Torrensville, South Australia, P.G.Video, 1993)
Pure Love (Peter Rae, 1994)
Sai Baba and His Children (U.K)
Sai Baba. God on Earth ( London, Golden Age Production)
Sathya Sai Baba. His Message and His Works
Sathya Sai Baba – The Inner Voice ( Denmark)
The Way to Baba (Hartley Film Institute, U.S.A.)
Who is Sai Baba? (Victor Tognola, Switzerland)
For over two decades before the advent of the Internet, much of what devotees learned about Sathya Sai Baba came to them not only through hagiographical books and articles but from the mouths of other devotees. Associates of Sathya Sai Baba, officials of the Sathya Sai Organisation (and of the newer executive Prasanthi Council) and those devotees and devotee-writers who become prominent (usually by being favoured by SSB’s attention), as well as local SSO Centre officials in India and abroad acquire various levels of authority as official or unofficial spokespersons and “witnesses” as they enthusiastically propagate their experience and understanding of Sathya Sai Baba and his teachings to those less favoured and, in overseas countries, to many others who have never been (or may never go) to the ashram. These representatives of SSB lecture to groups of devotees on the basis of their experience and impressions of what it is like to be close to him (for example in interviews) and what he says and does (or allegedly does) as well as views on the deeper significance of all this. Since1970, ‘celebrity devotees’ have been travelling from one SSO Centre to another, to national and regional conferences and gatherings, sometimes to different countries, giving lectures and talks, and answering devotees’ insatiable questions about SSB, stimulating even more talk and speculation about the much-discussed guru.
The pecking order is, roughly:
– close SSO associates of SSB (both ex officio and by proximity to SSB, like Kasturi, Hislop, Goldstein and Kumar);
– a handful of prominent overseas SSO office holders, like Jagadeesan and Jumsai;
– voluntary spokespersons (and usually also writers) with special access to SSB (Murphet, Sandweiss, Rao, Krystal, Bailey, etc.);
– New Age oriented writers and practitioners (Mason, Tigrett, Ralli, Jevons, Shaw, etc.
– other devotee writers;
– other devotees.
The best known of these official and unofficial spokespersons, who usually lecture in English, are listed below. In most cases they have also written books or articles about Sathya Sai Baba. Their contribution to the success of the worldwide Sathya Sai Baba Mission is incalculable.
Professor Kasturi, Dr. Bhagavantam, Professor Gokak, Indulal Shah, and more recently, Ratan Lal, Anil Kumar, Dr Bhatia, and Dr G.Venkataraman. (Most of these have also been Sathya Sai Baba’s interpreters in public meetings.)
Indra Devi, John Hislop, Howard Murphet, Dr. Samuel Sandweiss, Phyllis Krystal, Isaac Tigrett, Dr. Michael Goldstein, Dr. Gadhia, J. Jagadeesan, Dr Art Ong Jumsai, Lucas Ralli, Peggy Mason, David Bailey, David Jevons, Connie Shaw and Ryuko Hira. (Half of the above are Americans.)
Note: Two of the celebrity devotees listed above were to became critics of SSB in 2000.
In the 1990s, James Redmond (The Video Education Co.) was permitted to produce and sell a large number of promotional videocassettes. Many of these were centred around the sort of spokespersons described above and were eagerly bought and passed around or shown in Sathya Sai Centres by foreign devotees. For example:
David Bailey, Toronto, December 1996.
David Bailey, Russia, 1995.
Dr N.K.Bhatia of the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences. How he came to Swami, 1993.
Dr. Fanibunda: Blueprint, Practical Spirituality.
Golden Chariot and Paduka Festival.
Dr Jack Hislop at the 17th North and South Central Region Sai Conference, Missouri, May 1994.
The Hospital Video. The Beginning of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences.. nterview with Dr. B. S. Goel.
To give an idea of the range, content and effect on devotees of these electronic sources of ‘inside’ information and insights about Sathya Sai Baba, comments on a few selected audiotapes and videotapes are presented below. Common themes of these addresses by spokespersons are exhortations to follow SSB’s teachings by being good and doing good (seva), strong affirmations of SSB’s Avataric presence and Divine powers (especially the alleged materialisations and healings or rescues) and( especially for ‘Western’devotees) esoteric topics of a New Age kind. References to recent visits to the ashram (including the latest personal interview contacts with SSB, ashram stories and rumours) are also possible (and expected) ingredients.
Dr Samuel Sandweiss
For over thirty years, Dr Sandweiss, an American psychiatrist, has been an immensely important devotee writer, lecturer and spokesperson. He enjoys great prestige within devotee circles for his public advocacy of Sathya Sai Baba’s Divinity and his teachings which is expressed sincerely and passionately and with self-deprecating humour. Many thousands of devotees (possibly hundreds of thousands) have read his two major books (or translations of them) and many overseas devotees must have listened to his live or recorded lectures or seen videos of them.
In the Foreword to Sandweiss’s first book, Dr. V. K. Gokak gives his symbolic interpretation of Sandweiss’s conversion to faith in Sathya Sai Baba with this analogy: “Dr Sandweiss’s own experiences with Baba are not only interesting but fairly typical. He is first rendered unsettled and “unmade” and then remade in the light of spirit. The “monkey mind” crumbles gradually and gives up its struggle and is replaced by a genuine sensitiveness and receptivity.” (The Holy Man …, p. 9)
An audiotape was made of his lecture at the Northern California SSO Retreat in September 1989. Sandweiss’s qualities as a spokesperson for SSB are evident in this powerful discourse. He unquestioningly accepts all of SSB’s claims and makes frequent matter of fact references to SSB’s Divinity and paranormal powers. Following a sceptical beginning to the relationship in 1972, Sandweiss was powerfully impressed by witnessing spectacular materialisations (for example of Shiva lingams on Mahasivaratri Day) and by discovering writers’ accounts of other amazing miracles (including the two major ‘resurrections’ recorded in the early SSB literature, which have been refuted by researchers like Haraldsson). For Sandweiss, SSB knows all languages. He is also amazed that SSB has time for talking about trivia to him when he has to “look after” five billion other people.
As with many other devotees’ claims, Sandweiss’s interpretations of what SSB says are often open to doubt, especially if one takes into account the sceptical theory of stage clairvoyants using the techniques of ‘cold-reading’. Some of SSB’s typical small talk, in English, could very well fit in with this theory. Where Sandweiss assumes Omniscience from enigmatic or teasing reactions by SSB, others might postulate evasiveness or SSB’s misunderstanding of English. Nevertheless, for devotees, Sandweiss is a simpatico teller of the sort of SSB stories that they long for and listen to in rapturous admiration.
Sandweiss’s impressive enthusiasm for SSB and his teachings remains boundless and, at a critical time for SSB, he has recently published a third book in 2003 (see Section 6).
(This material was gleaned from his videotaped guest lectures to Sathya Sai Baba devotees, mainly in 1991 and 1993)
Already a celebrity in his twenties as a millionaire businessman, frequenter of pop music idols and their lifestyle (“the heroes of our time”), Tigrett officially entered the SSB annals in about 1990. The son of a wealthy Tennessee businessman, boyhood friend of Al Gore, in touch with his psychic side since the age of thirteen, with a tragic boyhood behind him, Tigrett launched his business career in 1960 (in his twenties) with the acquisition of the Hard Rock Café in London (with a partner, whom he does not mention). It was a roaring success, attracting the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and other showbiz and celebrity figures. Other branches in other countries were to follow. On a hunch, Tigrett acquired the film rights for the esoteric book The Secret Life of Plants when the book was on the verge of failure. The book and the film proved to be very successful. Tigrett then researched all over the world for a film on parapsychology and went to India to investigate. There he heard about SSB. On a 1973 (or 1974) visit Sathya Sai Baba gave him vibhuti at darshan, but then proceeded to ignore him on his many trips (an average of two per year, each of two weeks or a month’s duration) for many years. Finally he was granted an interview in 1985. Nevertheless, when he had first received the vibhuti from Swami, he had already felt his life beginning to change. In his Hard Rock cafés he posted pictures of Sathya Sai Baba, and notices with one of the guru’s exhortations: “Love all. Serve all”.
With that background and his considerable personal charisma, his dramatic story of spectacularly miraculous rescues by Sathya Sai Baba in the 1970s (from a mountain car crash and from a drug-induced epileptic fit) Tigrett’s addresses to SSB devotee gatherings in America in the 1990s were like nectar to his audiences. Equally inspiring were his anecdotes about:
providing $54 million to build the Super Specialty Hospital (from half of the proceeds of the sale of his share of the Hard Rock Café chain in the late 1980s);
his appointment by SSB to oversee the whole building project in one year (bypassing SSB’s usual Indian building supervisor);
his meeting with Professor Keith Critchlow and the design of the hospital according to principles of sacred geometry and its rapid completion in spite of Indian bureaucracy.
These public addresses (some captured on video and audio) must rank among the most impressive ever heard by groups of people with an almost insatiable appetite to hear more proofs of SSB’s Divine powers.
With those credentials Tigrett was already a devotee hero but in one of his talks, given in the early 1990s, he added the following mind-boggling story: After he disposed of his Hard Rock Café holdings, SSB told him to go to California to study meditation with New Age guru (as well as devotee and spokesperson) Phyllis Krystal. According to Tigrett (in one of his talks), Krystal and he were personally taught by SSB to travel astrally and 400 tapes were made of their regular four-hour sessions. On one of these special trips SSB allegedly took them up to a high level and showed them the great black cloud of “thought-forms” blanketing the Soviet Union. They were, said Tigrett, encouraged by SSB to puncture the cloud in many spots with long needles. (Shortly afterwards, as we now know, the Soviet Union disintegrated.)
The sensation which this revelation caused in American SSB circles is easy to imagine but the sequel for devotees was disappointing. In a later public lecture, when Tigrett was inevitably asked for more information by eager devotees (especially interested in the release of the 400 tapes, or a book on the topic), he declined to speak about the subject, explaining that SSB had asked him not to mention it because it would “confuse” people and (in response to yet another question) that SSB had not given permission for the tapes to be transcribed. (Other apocryphal devotee accounts mention Phyllis Krystal rebuking Tigrett but, as far as I am aware, she has not made any public statements to this effect.)
Kumar met Sathya Sai Baba in 1970 and was selected by him to talk at local Sathya Sai Organisation centres and in the ashram in 1978. He has performed this duty even since, especially on Sundays and Festivals. From 1989 to 1995 he was Principal of SSB’s Whitefield College. In 1995 he was transferred to Prasanthi Nilayam to give talks and to interpret SSB’s Discourses as well as to work in the Biochemistry Department of SSB’s University.
He is an excellent public speaker in English and combines the earnestness of a traditional preacher with the entertainment value of a crowd-pleasing, self-disparaging court jester particularly when he uses a Sathya Sai Baba-Kumar comic dialogue format. This allows him to be humorous, mimicking and even cheeky at times, in the sure knowledge that he will be tolerated like a favorite son. This clowning aspect is reminiscent of the late Professor Kasturi.
Kumar has become a great favourite with ashram audiences and has toured overseas Centres as well. Since 2001 he has had websites which feature his talks (printed, plus audio and video versions). In 2001-2003 he was associated with the multilingual devotee website www.internety.com. As on that former site, his texts on his latest personal website (www.saiwisdom.com) are offered in nine languages.
The objective observer will at times find Kumar’s unquestioning acceptance and repetition of some of Sathya Sai Baba’s idiosyncratic stories sycophantic and ill-judged, as in the case of SSB’s preposterous (and surely best unrepeated) story that he obtained his driving licence at the age of nine and drove to Madras in four and a half hours instead of the normally required eight hours. But Kumar takes this ‘joke’ even further:
“Swami went on speaking about His experiences. “Anil Kumar, for 15 years I drove my car, do you know that?” “Ah, Swami, is that so? Very nice.” “And in those days, because it was war time, petrol was not available. Only one gallon was supplied per month. That gallon was not enough for Me because I moved up and down every day.” “Ah, Swami, then what did You do?”
“I would ask one servant boy, by the name of Subanna: “Subanna, yes, come on! Draw water out of the well there. Come on, pour it out there.” And that water was transformed into petrol! That water only I used, not the government supplied petrol!” “Ah!” (originally from www.internety.com, 10 March 2002) (Acceptance and enjoyment of such material is a common characteristic of Sathya Sai Baba’s devotees.)
Two influential UK spokespersons who have written (books or newsletters) and given many lectures about Sathya Sai Baba are the late Peggy Mason (a New Age personality and writer) and David Jevons (another well known “New Ager”).
Jevons with his wife, Ann, founded and ran the New Age Ramala House in Glastonbury (UK) for twenty years, establishing a Sathya Sai Centre there, visiting India frequently with groups of devotees and marketing a Ramala New Age Newsletter. They moved to Canada a few years ago and remain active in SSB spheres. (See www.ramalacentre.com/newsletter09_01_.htm)
Many British devotees have heard an audiotape of their contributions to an Inter-Faith meeting in UK in 1995. In his lecture (‘Are you taking life seriously?’), David Jevons preaches about SSB’s teachings, and describes the details of interviews with him, even interpreting SSB’s intensely searching stare as meaning ‘Are you taking life seriously?’ In addition, and in common with all SSB’s spokespersons, Jevons clearly and confidently asserts his special Divinity (“the Lord of the Universe is here”, “… Swami is everything so he is Krishna, he is the Cosmic Christ. Yes, he is everything.” ) Jevons and his wife had recently asked Sathya Sai Baba if it was true that Jesus Christ would come again and he relays SSB’s nonchalant reply: “at this time, if the Father is here, why send the Son?”
Jevons refers more than once to the “ashram stories” (that special devotee grapevine), in particular those passed on by the older Indian residents (the privileged ‘verandah men’) to whom “Swami very often says much more” (than to visitors). In particular Jevons has this tasty morsel to offer his audience regarding the present 6 billion population of this planet and the prospect of this doubling:
“One of the things he is supposed to have said is that, on Earth, only 25% of the souls are human” … “The others are of another form, mainly from the animal kingdom”. He continues in New Age mode with an interesting analogy: “We are told that human evolution takes as long as a silk scarf pulled backwards and forwards across Mount Everest to wear it down to sea level” before adding the explanation that the reason all these forms are in a hurry to be born on Earth is because of SSB’s special presence (“greater than Krishna, greater than Rama”) and the promise of a dawning Golden Age – which is commonly predicted by both New Agers and SSB.
The following speaker on this tape reports on a trip to Puttaparthi and visits to the Hospital and the University and conversations with SSB’s associates. She introduces, fleetingly, a topic that crops up occasionally in the SSB literature: an assertion (with no evidence or references) of SSB’s vastly superior scientific knowledge. At the university she “was told” that SSB gives lectures to the students on “new concepts of maths and astrophysics”, so new that “even the lecturers sit there flabbergasted about what is being given.”
After a few brief remarks by Anne Jevons, mainly about her ex-pilot husband and their two special children, who are used to speaking to, and arguing with (the son) or dreaming about SSB, comes the Q. and A. session of the meeting, presented by Peggy Mason and Lucas Ralli (the famous receiver of SSB messages). The audience seems to wish to stay with the New Age topics and asks Peggy (who is very interested in UFOs and entities from other planets) to comment. As most of her audience is well aware, she has written about this in her 1980s book on SSB (on p. 21, she says). Peggy tells her attentive listeners that when she asked Sathya Sai Baba whether UFOs were real and whether they have come to help us, SSB allegedly replied in the affirmative, adding “and they [the UFO passengers] have much to do.” Warming to the subject, Peggy adds a few more references to UFOs before Lucas Ralli intervenes to quote Kasturi, as recorded in the video Aura of the Divine. Translating a Discourse of SSB, Kasturi says: “In all the Universe, there is no other planet that has human life or a similar life form.” Peggy rounds off the session reminding everyone about the many books which deal with ‘entities’ who have visited Earth.
On another audiocassette, Sir George Trevelyan, the venerable New Age guru of the 70s and 80s in UK, gives a speech on the occasion of Sathya Sai Baba’s 60 th birthday in1985. In an eloquent and spell-binding oration to devotees and others, he links SSB’s indisputable Divine arrival and presence with the other good New Age developments taking shape over the globe. He also warns that some will be chosen and others will be rejected. Like other spokespersons, Sir George’s claims about SSB are quite categorical but his style is quite idiosyncratic. Twice during his speech he uses the same rhetorical device. Commenting on Sathya Sai Baba’s claim to be all forms of the Divinity, he slowly enunciates, “Either this claim is arrogant nonsense, [pause] or it is true. [Pause] And WE know it is TRUE.”
Those are characteristic glimpses of the frequent exchanges of information which take place within the Sathya Sai Baba Movement via the “lecture circuit”.
As a single representative of another influential group of shapers of public opinion who endorse Sathya Sai Baba, including New Age writers and practitioners, I offer just one, for its intrinsic interest and, as in the case of Isaac Tigrett, its celebrity appeal:
Roberts, Paul William, Empire of the Soul. Some Journeys in India, New York, Riverhead Books, 1998. (See especially pp. 24-44, 63-64, 124-5 and 285-298.)
Roberts is a deeply spiritual person and an ex-academic, with a background of years of study in India and an expert knowledge of Sanskrit. In his 1998 book about India, this seasoned intellectual writer finally confessed to a long-standing but private devotion to Sathya Sai Baba kept secret since 1974, which was reconfirmed on a return visit in 1992, leading to his effusive but belated public endorsement of SSB’s Divinity.
Among the pages Roberts writes about his first stay of several months in SSB’s ashram in 1974-1975, there are many perceptive comments and well-observed descriptions of ashram life and inhabitants. He admits to being especially impressed by SSB’s knowledge of science. The following statements are also of interest, particularly since they echo statements already quoted above by other spokespersons.
“I once heard someone ask Baba if he was Christ. ‘No,’ he replied. ‘I’m the One who sent him.’” (p. 32)
Of SSB’s intriguing habit of wiggling his fingers in the air, with palm upward, while walking round during darshan, Roberts comments, “Someone told me later that this was how he rewrote destiny” (p. 33).
By offering these powerful claims without comment, Roberts appears to be accepting them and offering them to the reader as true, thereby endorsing them.
Paradoxically, later in this same book of travels in India, Roberts strongly criticises the guru Osho (Rajneesh) for statements which his own allegedly Divine guru, Sathya Sai Baba, has also repeatedly made: “You are God, I am God, we are all God.”
(Anecdotally, even after being made aware of “Exposé” writing in 2002 and choosing to ignore it (and two years later rejecting it, in private correspondence), Roberts’s professional Canadian website continued to feature several photographs of him with Sathya Sai Baba until about 2005, by which time he was fully engaged with the Iraq question.)
3. Reference Works on Sathya Sai Baba's Teachings
Gries, David and Elaine, An Index of Sathya Sai Speaks, Vols. I-XI, Tustin, Sathya Sai Book Center of America, 1993. Compiled by a prominent American devotee who is an academic computer expert, this Index is useful for searching for quotations on specific topics in the American Edition of Sathya Sai Speaks, Vols. I-XI and XV. For those who possess the Revised Indian Editions, there is a Concordance in Steel (1997), pp. 228-239. (See below)
www.sssbpt.org , which lists all of SSB’s published Discourses online, also offers a Search facility.
Leslie-Chaden, Charlene, A Compendium of the Teachings of Sathya Sai Baba, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers, 1997. A huge 740-page computer-derived selection of quotations from Sathya Sai Baba and some of his commentators and anthologists on more than a thousand topics. It is often unclear which quotations are directly from (the edited translations) of SSB’s Discourses and which are from the writings of devotees. The amateur attempt at an end Bibliography is embarrassing in such an ambitious project, but is symptomatic of a general lack of care by devotee writers in presenting references for what they claim (names and dates, in particular).
Priddy, Robert, Back to the Source Sai Index, http://metasci.tripod.com
Archival Note: Worth mentioning as a devotee act of seva, although it is no longer directly available on the Internet. A prodigious and generous labour of love which lists topics alphabetically and offers 18,600 lines of detailed references taken from SSB’s Discourses and official compilations of his teachings. It was up to date to the beginning of the year 2000.
Steel, Brian (ed.), The Sathya Sai Baba Compendium. A Guide to the First Seventy Years, York Beach, Samuel Weiser, 1997. Another devotee act of seva – parts of which I now disown. An alphabetical reference work on 300 topics (many of a factual background nature, for non-Hindus) relating to the life and teachings of Sathya Sai Baba as presented by him and his major commentators in English.
Note: For a fuller listing of mainly hagiographical work on Sathya Sai Baba up to 2000, see also this other Bibliography.
Youngs, Homer S., Translations by Baba, Tustin, California, Sathya Sai Book Center of America, 1975. A useful early reference book, in need of expansion and updating. The translation definitions are taken from the edited English translations of SSB's Discourses.
4. Study Circles and Discussion Groups
Roof, Jonathan, Pathways to God. A Study Guide to the Teachings of Sathya Sai Baba, Faber, Virginia, Leela Press, 1991. A painstakingly assembled selection from 27 subject areas, with comments, questions and many references to Sathya Sai Baba’s Discourses for the intense weekly study group sessions which are recommended by the Sathya Sai Organisation to extract the full value of SSB’s teachings, word by word, rather like the French scholarly exercise of explication de texte.
QUIZ on the Divine Life and Message of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Prasanthi Nilayam, SSSBPT, [n.d.]. An officially published Q. and A. ‘catechism’ booklet about Sathya Sai Baba, labelled as “intended only for fact-finding reading”. It offers many bits of the official story of SSB for rote learning and presents as facts many of the unsupported assertions made by or about Sathya Sai Baba, including some of the wholly unconvincing alleged prophecies of Sathya Sai Baba’s Advent by historical figures like Jesus, Muhammad and Nostradamus (assertions repeated in the Sathya Sai Baba literature and in the official Chaitanya Jyoti Museum in Prasanthi Nilayam).
What were the mysterious intimations of the impending Divine Incarnation? (Part I, Q8)
What was the first divine power that Baba showed in the school? (Part I, Q 23)
What is the significance of the date 21-5-1940? (Part I, Q39) [This date is disputed.]
When and where did Baba declare that He is the Avathaar of the Age? (Part I, Q 44)
[The answer to this is also in dispute.]
What is the meaning of Sai Baba? (Part II, Q 1) [The expected meaning is “Divine Mother and Father”, which is not what Shirdi scholars or devotees believe.]
When did Baba declare that he is Shivashakthi in human form? (Part II, Q 5)
Give the meaning of the following: Man [and others] (Part III, Q 19)
[The expected Answer, in accordance with a Discourse habit of SSB’s: Man = Maya / Aathma / Nirvana, etc.]
What are the prophecies made on the advent of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba? (Part V, Q 1)
This is followed by an answer page of nine alleged prophecies, including 4 palmleaf predictions and others allegedly by Mohammed, Nostradamus and Pope John XXII. [XXIII?] (“A small barefoot man of dark skin, in the red robe, will eventually take over the Vatican.”)
What is the revelation made by Harold [= Frank] Baranowski of the University of Arizona, who had developed the Science of Auronomy by means of his Kirlian photography? (Part V, Q 2)
Access to bhajans sung by SSB are available on the official websites, including Radio Sai. There are also many printed compilations of bhajans (mainly in Sanskrit but also in other languages), especially those published by SSO Centres in many countries. For example:
Bhajanamaala, 2nd ed., ed. D.Witerajne, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, 1995.
6. The Sathya Sai Organisation and Service / Seva
See the official websites listed at the beginning of this Part of the Bibliography.
7. A Selection of Books about Shirdi Sai Baba
Bharvani, A.D. and Malhotra, V., Shirdi Sai and Satya Sai are One and the Same, Bombay, Sai Sahitya Samiti, 1983.
Gunaji, Nagesh Vasudev, Sri Sai Satcharita. The Wonderful Life and Teachings of Shri Sai Baba, Shirdi, Shri Sai Sansthan, 1982. [15th ed. 1991] [Adapted from the Marathi original by Hemadpant]
Hemadpant [=Anna Saheb Dabholkar], Shri Sai Sacharita Shirdi, Shirdi Sai Sansthan, [n.d.].
Kakade, R.T., Shirdi to Puttaparthi, 6th ed., Hyderabad, Ira Publications, 1993 [1st ed. 1985] Translated into eleven Indian languages.
Kamath, M.V., and V.B. Kher, Sai Baba of Shirdi. A Unique Saint, 2nd. ed., Bombay, Jaico, 1991.
Osborne, Arthur, The Incredible Sai Baba. The Life and Miracles of a Modern-day Saint, Bombay, Orient Longman, 1957.
Parthasarathy, Rangaswami, God Who Walked on Earth. The Life and Times of Shirdi Sai Baba, New Delhi, Sterling, 1996.
Ravindran, V., Sathya Sai Baba. Incarnations, Philosophy and Teachings, New Delhi, Vikas, 1996.
Rigopoulos, Antonio, The Life and Teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi, New York, State University of New York Press, 1993. [See Part 1 of this Bibliography.]
Ruhela, S. P.
1994a: The Sai Trinity. Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai, Prema Sai Incarnations, New Delhi, Vikas.
1994b: What Researchers Say on Sri Shirdi Sai Baba, Faridabad, Sai Age Publications.
1994c: Sri Shirdi Sai Baba. The Universal Master, New Delhi, Stirling.
1998a: Divine Grace of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba, New Delhi, Diamond Pocket Books.
1998b: Shirdi Sai Baba Speaks to Yogi Spencer in His Vision, New Delhi, Vikas.
Sahukar, Mani, Sai Baba. The Saint of Shirdi, 3rd ed., Bombay, Somaiya Publications, 1983. 
Shepherd, Kevin R.D. (See Part 1 of these Bibliographies)
1986: Gurus Rediscovered: Biographies of Sai Baba of Shirdi and Upasni Maharaj of Sakori, Cambridge, Anthropographia Publications, 1986.
2005: Investigating the Sai Baba Movement. A Clarification of Misrepresented Saints and Opportunism, Dorset, Citizen Initiative.
This is a revised and extended version of the author’s 1986 work (Gurus Rediscovered …), which dealt with Sai Baba of Shirdi and Upasni Maharaj of Sakori. It contains criticisms of Sathya Sai Baba.
Sholapurkar, G. R., Footprints at Shirdi and Puttaparthi, 2nd ed., Delhi, Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan, 1989.
Warren, Marianne, Unravelling the Enigma. Shirdi Sai Baba in the Light of Sufism, New Delhi, Sterling, 1999. Revised edition, 2004. [See Part 1 of this Bibliography.]
This briefly disputes Sathya Sai Baba’s reincarnation claim.
Sathya Sai Baba as seen and interpreted by his devotees and others
The large number of published accounts are predominantly hagiographical, and often repetitive. The following item, although produced by a research team of devotees in the year 2000, introduced much new textual and photographic evidence about Sathya Sai Baba’s childhood and the early years of his Mission. A large format volume of 600 pages, it supersedes the simplistic Kasturi account of this early period and is essential to any serious research on Sathya Sai Baba. Hitherto, in spite of some attention and debate about it on the Internet, its existence has been largely ignored, especially by academic writers. (Subsequently, the six further advertised volumes, for which research was well under way, have not been published, which is much to be regretted.)
Padmanaban, R. (ed.), Love is My Form, Vol 1, The Advent (1926-1950), Bangalore, Sai Towers Publishing, 2000. (See also Part 2 of these Bibliographies.)
This vital work is referred to in this bibliography and in my other research as LIMF.
1. Major Accounts, especially of the Early Years
In this first section are presented the most influential accounts of devotees’ discovery and interaction with Sathya Sai Baba. Most of the authors listed were privileged to have very close personal contact with (and attention from) him; other authors interviewed early devotees. After the early 1980s, close contact with SSB, apart from the tiny minority who were granted a personal interview with him, became a physical impossibility or statistically unlikely. Since his debilitating illnesses from 2003 on, Sathya Sai Baba has become increasingly less mobile during darshans, so the personal darshan and interview contacts between devotees and SSB have been greatly reduced. In the past decade, a few of Sathya Sai Baba’s very early local devotees have published their memoirs, which add interesting detail about the early years to the mainly secondary or tertiary accounts written by so many others.
The earliest accounts (still to be traced and researched)
Kondappa, V. C., Sri Sayeeshuni Charitra [in Telugu]: ‘The Life Story of Lord Sai’], Dharmavaram, [n.p.],1944. See LIMF, pp. 199 and 203 and for a review by R. Padmanaban, http://puttaparthi.info/parthi/saibaba/faces/faces1.asp. Or at: www.saibaba.ws/articles/kondappa.htm
An English version has recently been published by Sai Towers Publishing. Unfortunately, I have not been able to see a copy.
According to LIMF, there is a Foreword by another of SSB’s teachers, B. C. Subbannachar. Although both of these men had been his teachers in Bukkapatnam [in 1941-42], they apparently visited SSB after the  “Sai Baba” Declarations (so, possibly in early 1944) and he gave them information and, allegedly, a vision of Shirdi Sai Baba, which convinced them of his Divinity. The book appeared later in 1944, in the form of a poem. LIMF adds that Kasturi “had leant heavily on material in this book for his biography, Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram.” (LIMF, 199)]
Here is the promotional statement by Sai Towers Publishing:
“V.C. Kondappa was a school teacher at Bukkapatnam Higher Elementary school. Little Sathyanarayana Raju was his student! It was Kondappa’s great fortune to hear the story of Shirdi Sai as narrated by Sathya Sai, one night, in Puttaparthi and he received Darshan of the Shirdi form. Kondappa recorded this narration by Sathya Sai in the original Telugu and got it published in 1944. It was the first ever book published on Sathya Sai Baba. Read this thrilling narrative in its first English Translation! Originally published as Telugu Poem, this translation provides a prose narrative and prayers.” http://puttaparthi.info/shopping/. Sai Towers Publishing [Seen 22 October 07]
Other early books referred to in LIMF (with images of the book covers only):
Sri Sri Sri Sathya Sai Baba Gari Jeevita Sangrahamu [in Telugu], 1947. (LIMF, p. 361)
Sri Sri Sri Sathya Sai Baba Avarhalin Jeevidha Charitram [in Tamil], 1948. (LIMF, p. 415)
[The following is from the promotional description by Sai Towers:
“Balapattabi visits Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba reluctantly. In a soul-transforming meeting however, the businessman turns His ardent devotee. This was in 1944. In those days Baba moved freely with His devotees, delighting them with His breath-taking miracles, tantalizing them with always a new facet of His exuberant Divinity. Balapattabi, in His close company, participates in this early phase of Baba’s mission of Love. Baba’s grace helps Balapattabi, to square up to life, overcome temptation, surmount trouble. His Divine intervention takes over to avert a crisis. Even if it is resurrecting Balapattabi’s daughter, but does not condone a folly until the lesson is learnt….. Balapattabi lives the agony and the ecstasy of devotion. His story will fascinate, inspire and mellow you.” (http://puttaparthi.info/shopping/ from the SaiTowers Publishing Catalogue – seen 22 October 2007)
Balu, Shakuntala, Living Divinity, London, Sawbridge, 1984.
A close devotee from 1976 until her death, the late Mrs. Balu (a journalist) shares her close observations on Sathya Sai Baba and her interviews with other devotees, particularly concerning miracles. She also offers descriptions and explanations of Hindu ceremonies in Prasanthi Nilayam and Brindavan.
Balu, V., The Glory of Puttaparthi ..., Rev ed., Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1990.
This introduction to Sathya Sai Baba is widely read in India. Of more general interest are the interviews with some of SSB’s students and a chapter on his humour. Mr Balu, an artist, is still a high-profile devotee of Sathya Sai Baba.
Balu, V. and Balu, Shakuntala, Divine Glory, Bangalore, S.B.Publications, 1985.
This book consists of separate parts by Mr Balu and the late Mrs Balu, of Bangalore. Both parts are full of detailed observations, particularly concerning miracles and worship. In their many interviews of Indian devotees, they report extra detail on Sathya Sai Baba’s early miracles, updating the accounts of Purnaiya and Kasturi.
Baskin, Diana, Divine Memories of Sathya Sai Baba, San Diego, Birth Day, 1990.
The American writer and her mother were especially close to Sathya Sai Baba in the 1970s and 1980s. Baskin offers a very personal account of her spiritual path and her relationship with Sathya Sai Baba during this time.
: ‘Sai Baba. The Inexplicable and Inscrutable’, in Karanjia, R.K., God Lives in India, Puttaparthi, Saindra, 1994, Appendix, pp. 81-90. [Originally published in the 4 September 1976 issue of Blitz]
Dr Bhagavantam, a retired distinguished scientist and close associate of Sathya Sai Baba, asserts his belief in SSB’s extraordinary powers and his special qualities in communicating with devotees.
1995: ‘Lord of Miracles’, in Ruhela, S.P., Sai Baba and His Message, pp. 228-235.
Dr Bhagavantam speaks admiringly of Sathya Sai Baba and relates the story of the materialisation of a small copy of the Bhagavad Gita from the sands of the Chitravati river which secured his belief in SSB’s powers in the late1950s. He became one of SSB’s close associates and interpreters for 15-20 years.
Note: The following passage from an article in The Week on 20 June 1993 (quoted by S. P. Ruhela) reflects an unconfirmed old ashram rumour: “Bhagavantam … denounced the godman as a fake towards the end of his life. He never went public with the reasons for his disillusionment with the Baba, but cut the godman out of his life completely.” (Ruhela, 1997: 112) There are similar unconfirmed rumours about Professor V. K. Gokak.
Devamma, N. Lakshmi , Bhaktodhaaraka Sri Sathya Sai, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, [n.d.] [The English translation of a much earlier Telugu original] A short hagiographic memoir by a school teacher who met Sathya Sai Baba in 1952, became a close devotee and taught in one of his schools. Contains sepia photos, one of which is of particular interest to SSB chroniclers.
Devi, Sharada See Pedda Bottu
Haraldsson, Erlendur (See also Parts 1 and 2 of this Bibliography)
1987: ‘Miracles Are My Visiting Cards’. An Investigative Report on the Psychic Phenomena Associated with Sathya Sai Baba, London, Century Paperbacks. (Also marketed for sale in India only by Prasanthi Publications of New Delhi.) [See Part 1 for fuller comment.]
One of the best known general books on Sathya Sai Baba, by a non-devotee visiting parapsychologist. The book is often erroneously regarded and quoted by devotees as a scientific endorsement of Sathya Sai Baba’s materialisations.
1996: Modern Miracles, Norwalk, CT, Hastings House. [The slightly enlarged edition]
The latter has the same content as the new Indian edition listed as the following item here: personal communication.
1997: ‘Miracles are my Visiting Cards.’ An Investigative Report on the Psychic Phenomena Associated with Sathya Sai Baba, New Delhi, Prashanti.
Although wrongly dated 1987, this revision has two extra chapters, one of quotations on SSB’s Teachings (in answer to complaints from readers and Sathya Sai Baba himself), and the other on the subject of a 1992 materialisation controversy also dealt with in the scientific paper listed in Part 1: Haraldsson and Wiseman: ‘Reactions to and an Assessment of a Videotape on Sathya Sai Baba’, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, April 1995, 60, pp. 203 - 213.
The following anonymous ‘review’ reflects how highly Haraldsson’s study is regarded in Indian devotee circles:
“Modern Miracles has merits of unique proportions. Although miraculous phenomena occurring in connection with religious leaders have been reported throughout history, Haralds presentation is a first of its kind. The study is based upon firsthand observation of a scientist and is supported by his careful interrogation of witnesses. It describes paranormal phenomena of extraordinary variety and strength attributed to one of the most remarkable men of the century. India, the land of guru worship, abounds with holy men who are often called ‘babas.’ Sathya Sai Baba is a unique individual – a kind of genius towering over the whole landscape. He sees his mission as primarily devoted to the spiritual and moral renewal of India — extricating his country from its present confusions. Baba’s powerful influence, however, touches the whole fabric of Indian life, be it social justice, political problems, or the educational system. The meek and the downtrodden, as well as the powerful and the mighty, flock around him in never-ending crowds streaming through his ashram. I was present when a person holding one of the highest elected offices in India, escorted by a three-star general, approached him. They both got down on the floor and touched Baba’s feet with their bare foreheads. Thankfully, there is a new book on Sathya Sai Baba which goes a long way to determine the relative authenticity of his miracles... Undoubtedly, Haraldsson’s study is the most balanced book ever written on the miraculous work of Sathya Sai Baba... I highly recommend Miracles Are My Visiting Cards.” http://puttaparthi.info/shopping/shp/bookdetail.asp?itemid=B2384 (page 7 of Catalogue of Sai Towers Publishing)
Prior to becoming a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba, Hislop had worked in an executive position for the 1960s celebrity guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. As well as being a founder of the Sathya Sai Organisation in USA, Hislop was its leader for many years. Because of this key position, his total devotion, and his specially privileged access to SSB, recounted in his books, Hislop was one of SSB’s most influential overseas spokespersons and a popular lecturer in SSO Centres in many countries during the years of overseas expansion of the SSO from 1970 until his death in 1995. His books, which deal with his long conversations with SSBand other experiences (including some alleged miracles), have been widely read, studied and quoted by devotees, in many languages.
1978: Conversations with Sathya Sai Baba, San Diego, Birth Day.
Hislop was one of the first Westerners to write about Sathya Sai Baba’s life and work. These 52 Question and Answer conversations between SSB and Dr. Hislop were recorded (the first two on a tape recorder, the rest in note form following the conversation) between 1968 and 1978. At least some of the conversations seem to have taken place with an interpreter present. The conversations range over a wide variety and depth of spiritual topics. The book is still closely studied by many devotees.
Note: There is a revised and enlarged edition published c1996 by the Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust of Prasanthi Nilayam: Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. This later edition contains, in addition to the 150 pages of the American edition, the 22 conversations included in Hislop’s 1985 book, listed below, as well as three additional conversations and a posthumous eight-page insert containing six letters from Hislop.
1985: My Baba and I, San Diego, Birth Day.
For perhaps hundreds of thousands of readers, this has been one of the principal introductory books on Sathya Sai Baba. It has been translated into many languages. The title was chosen by Sathya Sai Baba himself and the book deals with Hislop’s prolonged and intimate experiences of SSB’s teachings, some miracles (most notably that of the famous Crucifix allegedly materialised for Hislop by SSB from wood reconstituted from the True Cross on Mahasivaratri Day, 1973). The experiences are followed by 22 supplementary conversations (January 1978-October 1984), and a treasure trove of letters from SSB to Hislop (as well as a few from Hislop to SSB) written between 1969 and 1983, during the important formative years of the American Sathya Sai Organization, of which Hislop was such a prominent figure.
1997: Seeking Divinity, Tustin, CA, Sathya Sai Society of America.
A posthumous collection of some of Dr. Hislop’s non-scripted talks and lectures, mainly at San Diego in 1986 and 1994 and in New Zealand in1993 and 1994.]
Jagadeesan J. [also known as J. Jegathesan]
1978: Journey to God. The Malaysian Experience, Kuala Lumpur, [n.p.]
1981: Sai Baba and the World. (Journey to God, Part 2), Kuala Lumpur, [n.p.]
1989: The Journey Within. (Journey to God, Part 3), Kuala Lumpur, [n.p.]
The vigorous activities of this close and highly influential Malaysian devotee (since 1976) and prominent leader of the Malaysian Sathya Sai Organisation have resulted in the publication of many books and a great deal of public popular talks to devotees in Malaysia and overseas. Jagadeesan was an early advocate of vernacular worship of Sathya Sai Baba in the language of the devotee. Volume 2 of his series contains photographs of vibhuti said to have been materialised in puja rooms of many devotees.
“Kannamma” See under Ramamurthy
1976: ‘Sun not Troubled by Glow-worms: Baba’, Blitz, Bombay, 31 July, p. 24.
‘Interview given by Sri Sathya Sai Baba to R.K.Karanjia’, Blitz, Bombay,
September 1976. [Reprinted in Samuel H. Sandweiss, Spirit and the Mind, pp. 235-258.]
‘God is an Indian’, Blitz, 11 Sept. 1976, pp.1, 12-13.
‘Service to Mankind Through Three wings of Sri Sathya Sai Organization’, Blitz, 30 October, 1976.
1994: God Lives in India, Puttaparthi, Saindra. [The 1976 Blitz articles and other shorter ones from the same year]
The well-known investigative Indian journalist and magazine editor allegedly went to interview Sathya Sai Baba to unmask him but came away charmed and a devotee. The re-published articles are especially useful as Sathya Sai Baba has not been in the habit of giving one-to-one interviews of this length and depth to journalists or non-devotees.
1961-1980: Sathyam Sivam Sundaram. The Life of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 4 vols., Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications. [2nd American Printing, 1988.]
[The first volume was originally published as The Life of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.]
The first detailed hagiographical and eulogistic account of Sathya Sai Baba’s early life and his Mission until the late 1970s by his close Indian devotee, assistant, interpreter and editor. Professor Kasturi retired from academic life in 1954 and stayed with SSB until his death in 1987. His work has been quoted or used in most of the accounts which followed and his is still probably the most widely read biography of Sathya Sai Baba. Its contents are also usually quoted unquestioningly as ‘Gospel’. (Now, by courtesy of a zealous devotee, downloadable from http://bababooks.org)
1982: Loving God. Eighty Five Years under the Watchful Eye of THE LORD, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications, 1982.
The late Professor Kasturi’s autobiography.
1984: Easwaramma. The Chosen Mother, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications.
Another hagiographical account, of the life of the person sometimes referred to as Sathya Sai Baba’s ‘earthly mother’, by one who met her in the latter part of her life.
Krystal, Phyllis , Sai Baba – The Ultimate Experience, Los Angeles, Aura Books, 1985. [Reprinted by Samuel Weiser in 1994]
Another prominent American devotee and unofficial spokesperson for Sathya Sai Baba. Her bestselling devotee book describes her extraordinary experiences with SSB in the 1970s and 1980s. As a psychotherapist and author (inspired by Sathya Sai Baba’s personal teachings), Mrs Krystal has been very successful and as a promoter of SSB’s teachings she has travelled indefatigably to Sathya Sai Organisation Centres all over the world.
Leela, M.L.,Lokanatha Sai, Chennai, Sri Sathya Sai Mandali Trust, .
An important but belated account of the early years of Sathya Sai Baba’s Mission (the 1940s and 1950s) by an academic botanist who met SSB as a young girl and whose family enjoyed very close contact with him on their ashram stays and his visits to Madras. The author offers new descriptions of daily life with the young and adored guru and of miracles witnessed during these visits. (One or two dates offered are erroneous.)
1985: Good Chances, 2nd ed., Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers [republished] 1996 1st ed. Tustin.
This account deals with the Arcadian days of the early 1970s in SSB’s ashrams when foreign devotees had begun to visit. A very interesting account of the author’s months of very close daily contact with Swami in the summer of 1970 and in 1971, along with a small group of other young Americans and westerners, including Tal Brooke – see Part 2.
1996: Heart to Heart, Prasanthi Nilayam Sai Towers, 1996.
The author’s continuing experiences during many visits to the ashram up to 1986 and his observations as a devotee with close access to SSB. The book was published ten years after the first volume. It contains this interesting quotation:
Levin: “Doesn’t Swami know the difference between a photostat and a forgery?”
Kasturi: “How can he know that? He’s only from a village.” (H. Levin, 1996b, 54)
LIMF and Love is My Form (2000) See under Padmanaban, below.
1983: At the Feet of Sai, Bombay, India Book House.
1983: The Heart of Sai, Bombay, India Book House.
1985: The Grace of Sai, Bombay, India Book House.
Three simple and highly popular accounts by a South African devotee which include many interviews with people who claim to have experienced SSB’s miracles.]
Mason, Peggy and Ron Laing, Sathya Sai Baba. Embodiment of Love, London, Sawbridge, 1982. [3rd ed., Bath, Gateway Books]
The experiences of an elderly British “New Age” couple, who found favour with Sathya Sai Baba in the 1960s, plied him with questions, often on popular esoteric New Age themes like life on other planets, UFOs, etc., and eagerly reported their conversations with him. Their contagious enthusiasm and proselytising was highly effective in the promotion and running of the British Sathya Sai Baba Organisation. The book is pure hagiography and makes many dubious or unsubstantiated claims which have been repeated by other writers. An egregious example the latter is Peggy Mason’s early propagation of the myth that Sathya Sai Baba is the predicted Muslim Mehdi Moud, or Mahdi.
1971: Sai Baba: Man of Miracles, London and New Delhi.
[Reprinted by Samuel Weiser, York Beach, 1973 and subsequently]
Until very recently, a large number of other devotees’ accounts (including those of many Indian writers) of discovering Sathya Sai Baba have mentioned their serendipitous introduction to SSB’s name on finding or being given a copy of Howard Murphet's seminal 1971 book, Sai Baba. Man of Miracles. What most impressed and attracted them was his account of SSB’s miracles. The book has been reprinted many times and translated into many other languages. In his 40 years of total devotion to SSB, Murphet, the doyen of non-Indian writers on SSB (deceased in 2004, aged 97) produced seven books on his guru and was the centre of attention in many overseas SSB Centres. His SSB books benefit from his previous writing experience (he was in his late 50s when he met SSB) and his diligent research methods but they are also heavily influenced by his solid unquestioning faith in SSB’s Divinity and his total love for Sathya Sai Baba.
Man of Miracles was the first important original account of SSB’s life and teachings to reach the West. It was the result of four years of visits to the ashram (1966-1970) with his wife Iris. At that time the ashram had a mere 700 Indian residents and a few western visitors. Devotees (like the Murphets and the Hislops) were housed in a furnished guest house. From the ensuing very close daily contact with Sathya Sai Baba, Murphet crafts a fascinating account of SSB’s life, charisma, alleged miracles, and teachings and introduces Western readers to some basic Hindu concepts and terminology. Murphet’s reporting of early miracles relies heavily on the work of Kasturi, Purnaiya and other early devotees but he also breaks new ground by presenting contemporary devotee experiences gleaned from patient interviewing.
1977: Sai Baba Avatar. A New Journey into Power and Glory, San Diego, Birth Day, 1977.
Based particularly on an extended stay in Sathya Sai Baba’s ashrams in 1974, this is an attempt at a deeper analysis of SSB’s life, work and significance. Also many new miracle stories are recorded.
1982: Sai Baba. Invitation to Glory, Delhi, MacMillan, 1983.
[Republished in USA in 1993 as Walking the Path with Sai Baba, York Beach, Samuel Weiser.]
A more extensive and scholarly but eminently readable introduction to Sathya Sai Baba and the spiritual path, with less emphasis on the miracles. Murphet attempts to define SSB’s place in the history of the world and offers links between his teachings and those of other religions.
Before his death in 2004 at the age of 97, Murphet published four other similar books, all extolling the love and powers of his beloved Divine guru.
(Keen Internet surfers will notice that such is the drawing power of Murphet’s first book that a daring devotee has made it available online, regardless of copyright considerations: http://sai_baba_2001.tripod.com/manofmiracles)
Padmanaban, R. et al , Love is My Form. Vol. 1 The Advent (1926-1950). Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers, 2000. (Repeated from Part 2 of this Bibliography) [Often referred to as LIMF]
Written by a team of devotees headed by a phenomenally successful Puttaparthi publisher of Sathya Sai Baba books (and ex-photographer of SSB), this is certainly not a book critical of Sathya Sai Baba . It was intended to be the first of a series of definitive biographies of SSB and although basically hagiographical (and derivative of Kasturi’s work), it is also well researched and contains some essential new information about Sathya Sai Baba, including photocopies and a wealth of old photographs. Some of this new material (including the photographs) contradicts or challenges official data, especially when taken in conjunction with other scraps of evidence available in the memoirs of early devotees of SSB and one or two other writers. Examples of these important new insights are: 1990s recorded interviews with (aged) early devotees; the years of Sathya Sai Baba ’s schooling; the date of the two Declarations of Sathya Sai Baba’s Mission before leaving school in Uravakonda (whwhich turns out to be 1943, not 1940), the dating of some early photographs of SSB, local knowledge about Shirdi Sai Baba in the 1940s and a few other details from the remote early years of Sathya Sai Baba ’s Mission for which Kasturi’s first volume had hitherto been the main flimsy source (and much-quoted ‘Gospel’).
In spite of its archival importance, the book has so far received scant attention from academics, critics and devotees. (Some of the latter, aware of the new information, voiced disapproval of the volume in the ashram as soon as it was published. A recent SSB apologist and propagandist has tried to discredit the volume on the spurious grounds that it is a ‘commercial’ publication with a scandalously high price.) This ambitious project to publish five more volumes of this biographical series (one per decade of the guru’s life), which was well advanced, was abruptly abandoned a year or two after the publication of this sole volume, to the incalculable detriment of independent research.
Here is part of the original release note from Sai Towers in October 2000:
“Sai Towers Publishing proudly announces the release of the much awaited book ‘The Advent’, the first volume in the series, ‘LOVE IS MY FORM – A Biographical series of Sri Sathya Sai Baba’.
“Sri Sathya Sai Baba has been the most talked about avatar of the age – and perhaps the most photographed. Here is the unfolding of glorious odyssey, picking up photographs, letters and other documents along the way to relate the most enchanting life story of Baba. In the first twenty five years, of the life, that the book studies, a group of eminent researchers stitch together recorded history and documented interviews of contemporaries narrating landmark events and personal experiences to make the book a rare publication.”
The following details are taken from a Sai Towers advertisement for the LIMF series:
“Currently, research is progressing on the following volumes. To share the Divine Graciousness we offer you, our esteemed customers, a unique scheme.
Work on each volume is proceeding rapidly.
Tentative Dates of Release:
Vol 2 (1951 - 1960) - 23/11/2002
Vol 3 (1961 - 1970) - 23/11/2003
Vol 4 (1971 - 1980) - 23/11/2004
Vol 5 (1981 - 1990) - 23/11/2005
Vol 6 (1991 - 2000) - 23/11/2006”
Pedda Bottu (also S(h)arada Devi and Peddabottu Galisharadevi )
‘My Reminiscences of Shirdi Sai’, in Sathya Sai, The Avatar of Love, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, [c1985], pp. 23-29.
From Shirdi Sai to Sathya Sai, Prasanthi Nilayam, ?1985. [Translated from the Telugu original, Sriya Charitra, 1985] [See Love is My Form, pp. 155-156]
Born in 1888, this ex-devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba claims that Shirdi Sai Baba confided to her in 1917 (a year before his death) that he would appear again in “Andhra with the same name of Sai Baba but in another Avatar” and she would meet him. She alleges that she finally met and recognised SSB in 1940, in Uravakonda, when he was 14 and she was 52. She became a devotee and after her retirement to the ashram in 1958, she was known as Shirdi Ma. (See Marianne Warren, Unravelling the Enigma … p. 373.)
(These bare ‘facts’ raise immediate problems since, as the book Love is My Form makes clear, Sathya Sai Baba was not in his final school in Uravakonda until 1943, when he would have been 16 or 17, assuming he was born in 1926. Also, when SSB was born, Puttaparthi was still part of Mysore State.)
Polisetti, Konnamma , ‘Memories of an Old Devotee’, in Sathya Sai. The Avatar of Love, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, [c1985], pp. 57-60. Interesting biographical details, in an official compilation of tributes. The author, then aged 92, remembers meeting Sathya Sai Baba when he was “about nine years old”. She refers to his early worship of Shirdi Sai and gives the following information about Subbamma, the young Sathya’s virtual foster mother from his infancy:
“Karnam Subbama looked after Swami as her own ‘Bidda’ or baby. …” Then in a reference to his early experiences as a guru [after his Declarations, therefore in late 1943 or early 1944, when he lived in Subbamma’s home for a period], “In those days when local people did not believe in Swami, Karanam Subbamma looked after Swami as her baby and her God.”
“Swami’s schedule in those days was as follows: He would get up early …, have his bath and ablutions, eat his tiffin made for Him by His foster mother Karanam Subbamma and then start talking to visitors who had gone over to the village for the darshan. … He was 18 years old at this time.”
A further time clue is offered by the fact that Konnamma used to cook for him in the ‘Patha Mandiram’ [built in 1945] “the old mandir now converted as Kalyana Mantapam.” (pp. 58-59)
Purnaiya, Nagamani , The Divine Leelas of Sri Satya Sai Baba, Bangalore, House of Seva, 1976. [4th ed., Puttaparthi, Sai Towers, 1995] A very early Indian devotee writes simple accounts of life with Sathya Sai Baba in the first phase of his Mission, i.e. from the 1950s on. Mainly a series of brief accounts of his early miracles, many of which she claims to have witnessed. Unfortunately, no dates are given.
Ramamurthy, Karunamba (or “Kannamma”), Sri Sathya Sai Anandadayi.Journey with Sai, Prasanthi Nilayam, SSSBPT, 2002. [3 rd ed. 2004] Another early devotee who first met Sathya Sai Baba with her husband in 1946. Her mother was also a devotee. As with Vijayakumari and one or two other early devotees, SSB’s contacts with the whole family were very close and caring. This belated work is based on “Kannamma’s” diaries (up to 1970) and includes details of conversations with SSB.
Reddy, A. Adivi, Uniqueness of Swami and His Teachings, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications, 1995. Another long-standing and close devotee presents his hagiography.
Ruhela, S.P. (See also Parts 1 and 2.)
1994: The Sai Trinity. Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai, Prema Sai Incarnations, New Delhi, Vikas. This useful pocket information book, dealing with information on the three alleged incarnations of Sathya Sai Baba, contains a Bibliography on Sri Shirdi Sai Baba (pages 105-110) and a Bibliography of 193 books and articles on SSB, pages 111-128. [A revised edition was published in 2000 by Vikas ( New Delhi).]
1995: Sai Baba and His Message, rev. ed., New Delhi, Vikas. [See also Part 1 for details of the 1976 original version.]
Two versions of the early research efforts of a committed Indian devotee (of both Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai) and Professor of Sociology who was to become the most prolific of all writers about Sathya Sai Baba. This edited volume contains contributions by several other writers, including the late Dr. Gokak, Dr. B. S. Goel and Dr S. Sandweiss. The revised 1995 edition does not include the original chapters by Charles J. S. White, B. S. Goel, Elsie Cowan or M. Balse.
Sandweiss, Samuel H.
1975: SAI BABA. The Holy Man ... and the Psychiatrist, San Diego, Birth Day.
An early and close American devotee (1972-), one of the half-dozen best known devotee writers and lecturers on Sathya Sai Baba. Dr. Sandweiss, a psychiatrist, gives enthusiastic details of his first close experiences with SSB (including many conversations) and of the profound impact on his personal and professional life (partly in the form of letters to his wife). Very readable and highly influential in the spreading of SSB’s fame, claims and Gospel.
1985: Spirit and the Mind, San Diego, Birth Day. Aimed at a more restricted professional readership of health professionals, this serious work has been widely read by educated devotees. In it, Sandweiss presents his view of spiritual reality, particularly in healing. He harnesses this to propounding the need for healing professionals, notably psychiatrists, psychologists and other therapists, to take into account the spiritual dimension of their patients. He also stresses the universal importance of the spiritual teachings of SSB.
Sarin, V.I.K., Face to Face with God, 3rd rev. ed., Prasanthi Nilayam, Saindra, 1995. [1st ed., 1993]
A lengthy account by a distinguished Indian journalist whose association with Sathya Sai Baba goes back to 1971. The detailed description of a large number of miracles, both early and recent, takes up the major part of the book (pages 61-278).
Sathya Sai. The Avatar of Love, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, [n.d.] [c1985]. An official compilation of tributes, probably for Sathya Sai Baba’s 60th Birthday. It contains interesting information on SSB’s early Mission. See especially under Pedda and Polisetti, above.
Schulman, Arnold, Baba, New York, Viking Press, 1971. (See Part 2 for a fuller description)
An interesting and basically favourable early account of two visits in the late 1960s by a successful American screenwriter. Schulman, who (pace Wikipedia) did not become a devotee, contributes a few independent observations which have special interest for the researcher. In spite of the author's proven writing ability, the prestige of the New York publishing house and the clever interweaving of his own account with the story of another visiting devotee, the book does not seem to have been reprinted and is therefore difficult to obtain but it is well worth tracking down in libraries and secondhand bookshops. There are also some early photographs by John Worldie. (Of anecdotal interest is the fact that Schulman’s book was published in the same year as Howard Murphet’s first book.)
1980: Sixteen Spiritual Summers, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust. Essays on the spiritual path with Sathya Sai Baba in the 1960s and 1970s by an early, very close and highly influential devotee and associate of SSB (1965-). Mr. Shah has served at the head of the Sathya Sai Organisation (which he was instrumental in setting up 40 years ago) for many years and until 2003 was the Chairman of the SSO World Council.
Sholapurkar, G. R., Footprints at Shirdi and Puttaparthi, 2nd ed., Delhi, Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan, 1989. This is a comparative study of Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai. It also has a special bibliographical and biographical interest for researchers because of the author’s section on SSB’s “Main Biographers and Devotees” (pp. 93- 134). Sholapurkar adds a footnote to his description of Dr Bhagavantam’s service with SSB to announce that this eminent retired physicist, who had become one of SSB’s closest and most valued associates, mentors and spokespersons in the formative years of the Mission, had just left the ashram, depressed by deaths in the family, and was leading a reclusive life in Hyderabad (p. 104).
Vijayakumari, Smt. , Anyatha Saranam Nasthi. Other than You Refuge is There None, Chennai, [n.p.], 1999. [Available from Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust] This recently self-published 400 page work is a novel addition to early eye-witness accounts of Sathya Sai Baba’s Mission. In the mid 1940s, as a little girl, the authoress, Smt. Vijayakumari (whose later married name was Mrs Hemchand), and her family, from Kuppam, became very close devotees, spending long periods of time in the ashram in close daily contact with SSB. In this account (translated from Telugu), she offers original details and descriptions of SSB’s character and Mission during the 1940s and 1950s which helpfully supplement those given by Purnaiya, Kasturi and other devotees, occasionally to the point of differing from the official record.
For instance, she and her diary are also featured in E. Haraldsson’s careful investigation of the alleged ‘resurrection’ of her father (Radhakrishna) in 1953. Her account here basically corroborates Haraldsson’s conclusion that there was no evidence of the father's death, although there was possibly some privately administered form of healing intervention by Sathya Sai Baba on a very sick or dying man. Unfortunately (a common obstacle in research on the SSB literature), dates and accurate references are few and far between. Some interesting older photographs are also offered.
Viswana(n)dha Rao, T., Fifty Years at the Lotus Feet. Garland of Experiences, Hyderabad, Sree Prasanthi Publication Trust, [n.d.]. Quoted in footnotes in LIMF (p. 224). Another rare work by an eye-witness of the early years of Sathya Sai Baba’s Mission. According to LIMF (p. 203), SSB visited this young man with V. C. Kondappa (q.v.) in the summer of 1944. Not yet seen, and only one faint trace found on the Google Search Engine.
2. Selected Later Accounts
Of the flood of several hundred accounts of personal experiences and eulogies of Sathya Sai Baba, I have selected a few which may be of interest to researchers. The ones by Bailey and Bhatia are particularly interesting because both writers were favourites of Sathya Sai Baba in the 1990s and therefore enjoyed great popularity with devotees but they subsequently left the ashram and spoke out critically about him.
Bailey, D., Journey to Love, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers, 1996. An engaging and entertaining story of a gifted, corpulent and humorous British concert pianist’s meteoric rise to close contact and favour with Sathya Sai Baba in 1994 and 1995. Within 18 months of discovering SSB and totally surrendering to him, Bailey was rewarded by SSB’s loving attention and favours, in return for organising and directing musical concerts at Puttaparthi and speaking to very large audiences from time to time. Sathya Sai Baba also found Bailey a devotee wife, Faye, and over two or three years the two of them made tours of overseas SSO Centres giving lectures. There is also a second devotee book by David and another by Faye. They both left the ashram at the end of 1998 and caused great consternation among devotees when they revealed their controversial Findings in early 2000.
Bashiruddin, Zeba, ‘Truth of a Prophecy’, in Sanathana Sarathi, November, 1990, 298-300. [See also Part 1] Strong support by a Sufi Muslim teacher and devotee of Sathya Sai Baba for a widely accepted but unconvincing, illogical, and possibly blasphemous, prophecy that Sathya Sai Baba is the promised Muslim Mahdi.
Bhatia, Dr. Naresh, The Dreams and Realities Face to Face with God, Prasanthi Nilayam, [n.p.], 1994. An astonishing and widely read story of close devotion and attachment to Sathya Sai Baba by the doctor who for several years was in charge of the Blood Bank at SSB’s Super Speciality Hospital. In recounting his experiences, including miracles witnessed and many mystical visions of Baba, Dr Bhatia’s stated purpose is for readers to “get a glimpse of the majesty and glory of the Divine.” In fact, the depth of Bhatia’s faith in and devotion to Sathya Sai Baba is expressed, time after time, in the strongest of terms. He left the ashram under a cloud in 1999 and, in spite of allegations made in the Findings, attempts to persuade him to give full details of his side of the story have apparently been unsuccessful.
Chaitanya Jyoti. The Millennium Museum depicting the Message and Mission of Sri Sathya Sai Avatar, Prasanthi Nilayam, SSSO, 2001. (Repeated from Part 2) This illustrated (official) guide to the lavish museum opened in 2000 as an official statement on and commemoration of the life and ‘Divine’ mission of Sathya Sai Baba presents an extraordinary collection of both fact and unsubstantiated or discredited claims, including many flimsy assertions propagated by devotees which have entered the mythology surrounding Sathya Sai Baba (like the various alleged prophecies of his Advent by many celebrities and other sources, from Jesus to Edgar Cayce, including Muhammad and Nostradamus). Some of the illustrations in the book are of exhibits obviously aimed at a relatively uneducated audience but they also point to the strongly promotional, proselytising and memorial purpose of the Museum.
Rao, M. N.
“De mortuis, nihil nisi bonum.” However, in any honest report it has to be recorded that this highly educated and distinguished Indian Public Servant, who spent many retirement years in Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram, is an egregious example of those devotees whose intense devotion to SSB and his perceived Divinity inspires them to write excessively hagiographical works containing misleading statements, half truths and dubious allegations.
Nevertheless, the following three books by Dr. Rao, if read with care, offer some useful new data because of his status within the ashram and his access to SSB himself:
1985: Sri Sathya Sai Baba. A Story of God as Man, Prasanthi Nilayam, [n.p.]
[Largely superseded by his 1995 book.]
1995 God and His Gospel, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers. A major broadly-based account of Indian spirituality, saints and SSB.
1998: You Are GOD, Prashanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers, 1998. This offers much standard data on Sathya Sai Baba and Puttaparthi and some useful information on the development of the Sathya Sai Organisation as well as biographical information on some prominent SSB devotees from different countries. Many of its pages may prove to be heavy-going for non-Hindu readers. Rao also shows a reluctance to offer dates and references for his material and displays glaring omissions and a regrettable bias when describing prominent ‘Western’ SSB writers and celebrity devotees.
Rodriguez, Birgitte, Glimpses of the Divine. Working with the Teachings of Sai Baba, York Beach, Samuel Weiser, 1993. A seasoned spiritual searcher who, after a long journey, found Sathya Sai Baba in 1981 and became a resident at Prasanthi Nilayam. She offers the benefit of her deep spiritual insights in this well written book.
Rodriguez also helpfully refutes the unsupported SSO and devotee claim about Sri Aurobindo's "link" with SSB: "It should be quite clear from this quotation that what happened on November 24, 1926 related to Sri Aurobindo. Quite often Sai devotees take this statement by Sri Aurobindo to be a reference to Sathya Sai Baba who was born on the preceding day ... It is an incorrect interpretation." (p. xxiii)
Selby, Richard, Path of the Pilgrim, Prashanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers, 1999. A sensitive and well written contemporary account of the author's path to Sathya Sai Baba, his visit to Prasanthi Nilayam, the first darshans, his impressions and SSB’s impact on him.
Shah, I.,Spiritual Blueprints of My Journey, Bombay, Sarla Charity Trust, 1993. The continuation of the author’s adulatory account of this prominent Sathya Sai Organisation leader’s experiences with Sathya Sai Baba since 1965.
1999: The Powers of Sathya Sai Baba, Delhi, B.R. Publishing Corporation. A thoroughly over-enthusiastic and unquestioning attempt to extract from most of the available Sathya Sai Baba literature in English a classification of the full variety, extent and chronology of SSB’s reported special powers, devotees’ reactions to them and their cumulative effect during the decades of his Mission. (Mea culpa.) Of some interest is the fact that my hagiography also points out that some of the early spectacular types of miracles were discontinued in later years (like the alleged surgical interventions, SSB’s trances, and, for 20 years from 1977, the Shiva Lingam materialisations on Mahasivaratri Day). Also singled out for comment are a few hard-to-believe stories (like the alleged origins of the ‘Mehdi Moud prophecy’), devotees’ love of gossip, and, in addition, one or two more serious discrepancies which continue to be repeated by devotees and writers (like the alleged ‘resurrections’, clearly discredited in Haraldsson’s widely – but not closely – read book) because they have not been officially rectified or disowned by the Sathya Sai Organisation. The book was completed in mid-1998. For the relevant personal sequel, see my statement of disclosure of agenda at the beginning of Part 1 of this Bibliography, or my web page investigations about Sathya Sai Baba.
Thomas, Joy, Life is a Game. Play It, Tustin, Sathya Sai Book Center of America, 1989. This and four other similar titles are by a very popular American writer on Sathya Sai Baba experiences, miracles, teachings and spiritual themes.
Uban, S. S., The Gurus of India, New Delhi, Sterling, 1978. [London,. Fine Books, 1977] Of the retired Major-General’s account of a twenty year search (with a kind Foreword from the Dalai Lama, who is the subject of one of the longer chapters), the entries on Shirdi and Sathya Sai are very peripheral ‘fillers’, typical of secondhand reporting.
Without actually visiting Sathya Sai Baba, the author is impressed by reports of his miracles (including “the surgical operations he performs using astrological instruments”). The general echoes SSB’s defence of such public displays as necessary “to attract the crowd”.
3. Privately Revealed Messages and Teachings
This is a productive and very popular sub-genre of Sathya Sai Baba devotee literature.
Many devotees believe themselves to be blessed with the privilege of receiving communications directly from Sathya Sai Baba , especially in the form of revelations during meditation and dreams. A few claim to have received whole Discourses in this way or to have had visionary Dialogues with SSB, which they then write down and share with other devotees.
Given their special nature, some of the following accounts of visions and dreams may also be of interest to parapsychologists and other students of spirituality.
1996: Sathya Sai’s Amrita Varshini, 2nd ed., Prasanthi Nilayam Sai Towers. [1st ed., 1992]
The author report direct messages from Sathya Sai Baba and 10 detailed visionary conversations and discussions with him.
1997: Sathya Sai’s Anugraha Varshini, Prasanthi Nilayam Sai Towers. More of the same.
Bailey, Elvie , Messages from my Dear Friend Sai Baba, Adelaide, Sathya Sai Baba Organisation of South Australia, 1989. [1997: Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers.]Busto, Graciela , Baba is Here. Conversations with God on His Omnipresence, Faber, VA, Leela, 1998. [Translated from Spanish: Baba está aquí, Buenos Aires, Errepar, 1992.]
Kumari, J. , Sai Baba: My Beloved Mother, Hyderabad, Tumuluru, 1996. The author claims to have had conversations with Sathya Sai Baba through meditation in the period 1974-1978.
Little Heart , Unique Graciousness, rev. ed., Prasanthi Nilayam, Saindra, 1994. Mystical visions and conversations reported by an elderly English lady who claims to have been Radha’s brother in a previous incarnation.
Lunshof, Geesje , Inner Dialogue with Sai Baba, Delhi, B.R. Publishing Corporation, 1999. 62 question and answer sessions carried out in guided writing. A second book of these dialogues has been published in Dutch.
Penn, Charles , My Beloved. The Love and Teaching of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Baba Books and Publications Trust, . The lengthy messages include the very well-known exhortation beginning ‘Your Mission has begun’, from 1979. This message is now circulated among devotees as if it had emanated directly from a Discourse by Sathya Sai Baba.
1985: Sai Messages for You and Me, London, Vrindavanum Books.
1987: Sai Messages for You and Me, Vol II, London, Vrindavanum Books.
1990: Sai Messages for You and Me, Vol III, London, [n.p.].
1993: Sai Messages for You and Me, Vol IV, Madras (Chennai), [n.p.].
Mr. Ralli assures his readers that the messages were confirmed by Sathya Sai Baba , who also gave him permission to publish them.
Ramnath, V.,Waiting for Baba, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers, 1996. A devotee since 1972, Mr Ramnath claims to have frequent dream interviews with Sathya Sai Baba.
?1994: To Transcend the Ego. Divine Messages Received from Sathya Sai Baba
?1998: Gifts of Divine Love. Messages from Sathya Sai Baba. Both English texts are available on the Internet at: www.users.bigpond.com/carolrid/index.html or: www.onelist.com/files/.
Sakunthala, Sai Ma , My Loving Son Sathya Sai, Madras, Ganesh and Co., 1994. A 62-page booklet by a popular Madras healer who claims visionary advice from Sathya Sai Baba.The book contains colour photos of vibhuti which has allegedly materialised on photos and statues in her puja room.
St. John, Gloria, Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down. Becoming a Devotee of Sathya Sai Baba, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers, 1997. This includes descriptions of the writer's visions of Sathya Sai Baba.
Usha, S.,Sai Sandesh. Messages from the Inner Sai, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers, 1995.
Bal Vikas, Bombay, Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vikas. [A monthly magazine]
Burrows, Loraine (ed.), Sathya Sai Education in Human Values, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, [n.d.].
Global Overview of Sri Sathya Sai Education www.sathyasai.org/education/globaloverview/globaloverview.html “The book 'Global Overview of Sri Sathya Sai Education', distributed at Guru Purnima 2007, can now be downloaded in pdf form. This book is the result of a year’s work by the Education Committee of the Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation, with help from devotees throughout the world.”
Gokak, V. K. (ed): A Value Orientation to Our System of Education, New Delhi, M. Gulab Singh & Sons, (1973).
Gokak, V. K. and S. R. Rohidekar (eds), Teachers' Handbook for the Courses in Human Values, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications, [n.d.].
Ruhela, Satya Pal
1994 (ed.): The Educational Theory of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Faridabad, Sai Age Publications. Half of the chapters are analyses and essays by Ruhela and other educationists; the other half consists of Discourses by SSB.
1996: (ed.), Sai System of Education and World Crisis, New Delhi, MD Publications. Nine essays on Sathya Sai Baba’s educational theory and nine chapters of SSB's Discourses dealing with educational topics.
Sampath, S., Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. An Experiment in Integral Education. Placing Human Values at the Forefront, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, 1991.
2. Comparative Religion
1988: Sai Baba. Mercy to the Worlds. (A Muslim View), Anantapur, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.
1993: Sai Baba and the Muslim Mind, Anantapur, [n.p.].
1998: Sai Baba and Sufism. (Journey of Love), Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. This short book is available online: http://sss.vn.ua/sbs.htm.
Karim, C. A., Islam. The Sai Perspective, Sai Towers Publishing, [n.d.] This short book is available online at : http://sss.vn.ua/islam_sp.htm. For a short description of its contents, see www.lerwill-life.org.uk/spirit/islamrethought.htm.
Mazzoleni, Don Mario,A Catholic Priest Meets Sai Baba, Faber, Virginia, Leela, 1994.
[Translated from the Italian: Un sacerdote incontra Sai Baba, Milano, Armenia Editore, 1991]
Based on the difficult experiences of a Catholic priest who became a devotee during the 1980s, the book was written primarily to educate fellow Catholics and priests about the divinity of Sathya Sai Baba and the perceived strong parallels between him and Jesus Christ. It is also a chronicle of the author’s continuing spiritual progress under SSB’s influence. Father Mazzoleni was eventually excommunicated for continuing his apologetic activities on SSB’s behalf. The book became a bestseller in several languages.
1994: Sathya Sai Baba and Jesus Christ. A Gospel for the Golden Age, Sathya Sai Publications of New Zealand, Auckland.
1997: Greater than You Know. Sathya Sai Baba, Jesus Christ and Christianity, Auckland, Sathya Sai Publications of New Zealand, 1997.
Both of these books present a great deal of evidence, comparisons and arguments in an endeavour to prove to Christians (particularly Protestants) the need to begin to accept Sathya Sai Baba as the long-awaited Messiah.
Samarasinghe, Nandini, The Transcendental Truth. A Buddhist Perspective of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, 1997. [1st ed., 1995]
A comparative description of the teachings of Buddha and Sathya Sai Baba.
3. Hindu Interpretations
Balasingham, C.,Sai Baba and the Hindu Theory of Evolution, Delhi, MacMillan India, 1974.
In this slim 70 page book, the author sets out to investigate two questions concerning Sathya Sai Baba, apparently taking for granted that the miracles are miracles and that SSB is God: “What has Hindu philosophy to say about these miracles?” (p. vii). And “How can a man be God?”
Fanibunda, Eruch B., Vision of the Divine, Bombay, Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications, 1976.
With experiences going back to 1970 and very close contact with Sathya Sai Baba, Dr Fanibunda, a Parsi devotee, presents a very personal and vivid early account. Although this erudite book was aimed principally at an educated Indian readership, with the expansion of devotee numbers throughout the world, it has been widely read in other countries also. For foreign devotees, it is particularly helpful on matters of Hindu worship (like the Gayatri Mantra and Lingams). Fanibunda, who was an accomplished amateur magician in his younger days, is on record as stating that he never detected any sleight-of-hand in SSB’s materialisations. He also endorses the Walter Cowan ‘resurrection’ claim (p.10). Of Sathya Sai Baba’s Divine claims, he has no doubt: “In the whole recorded history of mankind, there have been only two Pooorna Avatars. One was Krishna and the other is Sathya Sai Baba. This Truth is of such a magnitude that it is worthy of proclaiming from every housetop in the world” (p. 13).
Ganapati, Ra.Baba: Satya Sai, Parts I and II, Madras, Divya Vidya Trust, 1984-1985. Adapted from an earlier version in Tamil, these two thick volumes recount (from many sources) details of Sathya Sai Baba’s early alleged leelas and miracles. The author is an ascetic and a scholar but his attitude is cloyingly eulogistic. Nevertheless, there are many interesting clues to be gleaned by the attentive reader, especially when Ganapati discusses SSB’s ‘deliberate mistakes’ and the concept of Kshobhana.
Goel, B.S., Third Eye and Kundalini, Kurukshetra, Third Eye Foundation of India, 1985. One of Sathya Sai Baba’s eccentric professional devotees, Goel, a psychoanalyst, wrote two erudite books about SSB, of which this is one. He eventually set up his own ashram in the Himalayas. Both the books, the Kundalini theme and the ashram were reportedly popular with Westerners.
Gokak, V. K.
1983: Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The Man and the Avatar. An Interpretation, New Delhi, Abhinav, 1983 [1st ed., 1975].
An important sophisticated account by a distinguished retired Indian educationist (and ex-Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University) who became a devotee in about 1971. Included is a discussion of Sathya Sai Baba’s views on education. Professor Gokak became a close associate of and spokesperson for Sathya Sai Baba for several years and represented him as his ambassador on a tour of the United States in 1974 (when American devotees believed that SSB would later come to visit them). He sometimes acted as interpreter between SSB and foreign visitors (like Hislop). (According to some ashram rumours, he left the ashram toward the end of his life. His son is now the Vice-Chancellor of Sathya Sai Baba’s university.)
1996: In Defence of Jesus Christ and Other Avatars, Delhi, B. R. Publishing Corporation.[1st ed., 1979] A sophisticated 60-page defence of Sathya Sai Baba against criticisms by the Indian Rationalists, Tal Brooke (referred to obliquely), disgruntled Christians and missionaries. Gokak reveals deep-seated and well known Indian resentments of Westerners’ basic failure to understand Indian mysticism. (In view of the topic, the following quotation on p. 5 seems incongruous: “No saint or godman advertises to the world about his powers and siddhis.”)
Kulkarni, S. D.,Shri Sathya Sai. The Fount of Vedic Culture, Bombay, Sri Bhagawana Vedavyasa Itihasa Samsodhana Mandir, 1992.
Menon, Jaishree D.
1990a: Our Sai Beyond Miracles, Prasanthi Nilayam, [n.p.].
1990b: Self Realization, Mangalore, [n.p.] [= Part 2]
1991: Sai Consciousness (Freedom), Prasanthi Nilayam [n.p.] [=Part 3] An ex-student of Sathya Sai Baba’s College, Mrs. Menon presents complex essays about her guru from an intellectual Hindu viewpoint. Very intense.
Ruhela, S.P.,Sri Sathya Sai as Kalki Avatar, Delhi, BR Publishing Corporation, 1996. The special claim suggested in the title should be noted and followed up.
Shemesh, Jack, When God Walks the Earth, Bangalore, [n.p.], 1992.
4. Business Management
Haksar, Ajit, Sai Baba. Manager Divine, [n.p],[n.p.], [n.d.]. A short introductory book on Business Management in India.
Hawley, Jack, Reawakening the Spirit in Work. The Power of Dharmic Management, San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler, 1993.
Devotee-centred Books and Activities
1. Information on other Activities Allegedly Associated with Sathya Sai Baba
The common factor linking the books listed here is that the association of an activity or a place with Sathya Sai Baba makes it instantly attractive to many of his devotees, especially overseas devotees. Although there may be no evidence that SSB did NOT speak about these phenomena, it is possible that hearsay, or visions, or wishful thinking were the initial stimuli in establishing the special ‘connection’ with SSB; once this link is made by the devotee, interest, then unquestioning belief, follow and the place or activity acquires special importance by association. This phenomenon seems to be a constant characteristic of the whole SSB-devotee relationship. So while not directly attributable to Sathya Sai Baba, any unsupported or dubious stories, like the ones described in this section, or the small percentage of totally far-fetched miracles, are often accepted by many devotees as real through hearsay, repetition and boundless faith in Sathya Sai Baba’s alleged Divine personality and powers. This process is stimulated and strengthened by SSB’s (and his supporters’) past record of encouraging devotees to believe that with him all is possible.
Karnavar, G.K., Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and Patal Bhuvaneswar, 2nd ed., 1995. A unique complex of caves discovered (or re-discovered) in rugged terrain in the Indian Himalayan region where visitors reported having powerful mystical experiences. See also the video, Secret Cave of India – Patal Bhuvaneshwar, Video Education Company, Dallas, Texas.
Warren, Jennifer, A Story of India and Patal Bhuvaneshwar, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers, 1997. The same alluring subject as in Karnavar’s book. Many of Sathya Sai Baba’s overseas devotees were attracted to these caves in the 1990s and a hostel was built there.
Swami Maheshwaranand, Sai Baba and Nara Narayana Gufa Ashram, 3 Parts, translated by B.P. Mishra, Madras, Prasanthi Printers, 1990-1992. The very difficult to believe account but vastly popular, particularly among Indians, of a very special mission of sadhana allegedly undertaken by eleven chosen yogis at SSB’s equest and with his miraculous protection and intervention. The trilogy describes their legendary travel to the remote Himalayan area, extraordinary encounters and their communal devotional experiences in that wilderness. In spite of Sathya Sai Baba’s alleged promise of a long life for the leader, all eleven yogis are assumed to have disappeared.
The main problem with this devotee-based legend, as with many other ventures allegedly associated by devotees with Sathya Sai Baba, is that although the Swami was a resident of the ashram, the alleged meetings between SSB and the yogis and the many claimed miracles have not been referred to by Sathya Sai Baba himself (at least in public), as far as I am aware.
Sanathana Sai Sanjeevini. Healing Fragrances Book, Sai Sanjeevini Foundation. A new method of healing approved by Sathya Sai Baba, according to Lightstorm, Ten Steps to Keshava, pp. 189-192. The alleged connection with SSB’s name made this new therapy very popular, particularly among foreign devotees in the 1990s. Again, there is no public record of Sathya Sai Baba mentioning the method.
2. Prophecies (See also Chaitanya Jyoti Museum in Section 2, Group 2)
Chaitanya Jyoti. The Millennium Museum depicting the Message and Mission of Sri Sathya Sai Avatar, Prasanthi Nilayam, SSSO, 2001. (Repeated from Part 2)
This illustrated (official) guide to the lavish museum opened in 2000 as an official statement on and commemoration of the life and ‘Divine’ mission of Sathya Sai Baba presents an extraordinary collection of both fact and unsubstantiated or discredited claims, including many flimsy assertions propagated by devotees which have entered the mythology surrounding Sathya Sai Baba (like the various alleged prophecies of his Advent by many celebrities and other sources, from Jesus to Edgar Cayce, including Muhammad and Nostradamus). Some of the illustrations in the book are of exhibits obviously aimed at a relatively uneducated audience but they also point to the strongly promotional, proselytising and memorial purpose of the Museum.
Gale-Kumar, Kristina , The Scriptures are Fulfilled, Cardinal Enterprises, 1991. The second half of this book on prophecies relates to those which are frequently alleged (and widely believed by devotees) to have predicted the coming of Sathya Sai Baba.
Kant, Sanjay , God Descends on Earth, 2nd ed. Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Towers, 1995. [1st ed. Panjim, Goa, New Flash, 1990.] Another book detailing the alleged prophecies of Sathya Sai Baba’s Advent by various illustrious figures in history. In this slim 70-page pamphlet, Kant offers no fewer than eight quotations from Nostradamus, which he claims refer to the advent of SSB.
A Selection of Indian Media Articles
Over Sathya Sai Baba’s phenomenally successful career, he has become something of a national icon for the Indian Press, to be treated with deference, especially after he became widely known at an international level and large crowds of devotees began to attend major festivals at Puttaaprthi. Nevertheless, he was never as famous within greater India (especially in the northern half) as his supporters have suggested. Sathya Sai Baba has chosen to remain rooted in his native Puttaparthi, in the State of Andhra Pradesh, and to rely on others to interpret and translate his Telugu Discourses and teachings to the world. Within India, he has met sporadic pockets of media resistance and criticism and for decades he has attracted the attention of the various Indian Rationalist Associations. Such negative publicity has tended to flare up in the Indian Press at particular moments of controversy, like 1976 (The Narasimhaiah Committee and other events), 1992 (the Doordarshan TV controversy, 1993 (the much more sensational ashram killings and the ensuing alleged official cover-up) and the years 2000-2007. These events have been documented in Part 2 of these bibliographies. Offered below is a short selection of favourable Indian Press reports. (See also S. P.Ruhela, Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the Press (1972-1996), New Delhi, UMANG Paperbacks, 1997. This is the only book-length collection of Indian press articles and summaries about Sathya Sai Baba. The bulk of the articles cover the period 1976-1996.)
1976: Karanjia, R. K.,God Lives in India, Puttaparthi, Saindra, 1994. [Repeated from Part 2] This compilation of a rare and important media interview with Sathya Sai Baba and other articles in 1976 offers useful pickings for researchers. The sceptical Karanjia, an experienced Indian journalist and Editor, is alleged to have been charmed by Sathya Sai Baba during this long interview.
1985: Sarin, V.I.K., ‘Sai Baba. The Phenomenon’, Expanse, November 1985, pp. 74-80. This lengthy cover story was written by a prominent associate of Sathya Sai Baba.
1990 Chandramouli, I., ‘Mesmerising Mystic’, The Week, 9-12-1990. Written by a devotee, denigrating Professor Narasimhaiah and the American ex-devotee Tal Brooke (whom he describes (p. 63), as “a former LSD freak” and a favourite of Sathya Sai Baba), who later wrote a book critical of him: Avatar by Night.
1992: Aitken, Bill, ‘The Puttaparthi Phenomenon’, The Statesman, 6 June 1992. The first known pro-Sathya Sai Baba articles by this non-devotee travel writer with close devotee connections. (See Section 6, sub-section 3.)
1994: Lipton, Sheree, ‘Sai Baba’s Big Heart Hospital’, Hinduism Today, January 1994. (www.spiritweb.org/HinduismToday/94-01-Sai_Baba_Hospital.html) A 3-page introduction to Sathya Sai Baba’s first Super Specialty Hospital (opened in November 1991), with brief details about its architecture and its construction. Benefactor Isaac Tigrett and architect Professor Critchlow are mentioned.
1995: Mendonca, Sandhya, ‘Sacred Smash’, Sunday, 10-12-95, pp.17-21. A basically positive celebration of SSB’s celebrity status on his 70 th birthday but there is a certain amount of sub-text which points to another side to the story. The internationally famous Indian is proudly proclaimed “the single largest foreign exchange earner” for India.
The writer establishes that Prasanthi Nilayam is a boom town, especially in real estate and building and and points out (with some ambiguity) that his mammoth community welfare projects (Education, the Hospital, the Water Project in particular) have “turned the tide of public opinion in his favour” (p. 18). The journalist continues in this vein of insinuation that there are hidden truths, quoting a local (Anantapur) Communist Party official: “Nobody is prepared to criticise Sai Baba now” (p. 18). On the following page she hints at a community development of the unlikely sum of 4,000 crore Rupees (40 billion Indian Rupees, or approximately one billion dollars) in the township, called the Sathya Sai Universal Centre, on 150 acres of land. At the end of the article her restraint finally bursts out, without any supporting evidence: “Scratch below the surface ... and ... it’s like an efficient business venture” (p. 21).
1999: Articles published during Sathya Sai Baba's March 1999 visit to Delhi.
Contrary to the myth and to popular belief outside India, Sathya Sai Baba is not uniformly popular in his own country, especially in the northern half. For example, his official visits to New Delhi have been infrequent. When he visited the capital in 1999, it was after an absence of many years and although, as a celebrity, he caused a sensation and traffic jams, his treatment by the Press was mixed as the following selection will show. In a brief and rare Press conference, he gave a very guarded reply when questioned about his claim to be the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba (who has a very strong following in the capital and the north in general.
Modi Foundation , ‘Suswagatam Sri Sathya Sai Baba’, The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 11-3-99. A page of introduction and the news that Sathya Sai Baba’s Programme was paid for by a prominent devotee.
Anon , ‘Goodness Gracious, Baba’, The Times of India, Bangalore, 12-3-99.
Anon, ‘PM Attends Sai Baba’, The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 13-3-99.
Suraiya, Jug , ‘Brief Darshan of Heat, Hope and vibhuti’, The Times of India, Bangalore, 13-3-99.
Kutty, M.P.K ., ‘Sai Baba to Visit Delhi Every Year’, The Times of India, New Delhi, 13-3-99. [This did not eventuate.]
Kutty, M.P.K ., ‘Emulate Satya Sai Baba’s Ideals, PM Tells Nation’, The Hindu, Delhi, 13-3-99.
Singh, Khushwant , ‘Man of Miracles’, The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 20 March 1999.
2000: Bradsher, Keith, ‘A Friend in India to all the World’, New York Times, 1 December. Following an unaccustomed avalanche of negative publicity throughout 2000, the Sathya Sai Organisation and devotees seized a propaganda opportunity in December following the brief visit to the ashram by an American journalist from the prestigious New York Times and his subsequent one-sided article on Sathya Sai Baba. In spite of the significant howls of protest to the NYT, Bradsher’s under-researched article still figures high on Search Engine results on the Internet – and even on one “anti-cult” site. Coincidentally, this article was followed two days later by a light but over-indulgent article in the International Herald Tribune by Shashi Tharoor (a high-ranking Indian United Nations official and a bestselling novelist), writing on a nostalgic annual return visit to his family in India: ‘Old mantras and new software side by side’.
New Factors for Researchers to Consider
1. Recent Publications and New Promotional Media
The 1990s were years of phenomenal success for Sathya Sai Baba and of enormous growth and prosperity for the Sathya Sai Organisation. Numbers of Indian and overseas devotees and Centres continued to increase rapidly, with the addition of sizeable visiting contingents from (post-USSR) Russia, Japan and Indonesia, especially during the major festivals. SSB’s name became even more widely known overseas, while at home he was feted by celebrities and top politicians, in the Indian tradition. By the end of the decade he was rumoured to be India’s top tourist attraction. The coffers of the Sathya Sai Organisation were so full that major projects were undertaken, like the architecturally striking (and free) Super Specialty Hospital in the former village of Puttaparthi and an ambitious regional drinking water system. Major new buildings sprang up in the ashram, including the future SSB Memorial Museum (Chaitanya Jyoti). The boom also produced large volumes of land sales and building in the township of Puttaparthi, bringing in more money and work for local people and more comfortable lodgings and amenities for visiting devotees.
Many new books were written by devotees and published by the Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust or by the new commercial enterprise set up by a devotee (and ex-photographer of SSB): Sai Towers. Among the large volumes of esoterica and SSB memorabilia sold by the street stall owners, large quantities of photos and videos were purchased by devotees at bargain prices.
At the beginning of 1999, the ever-busy ashram grapevine began to spread alarming rumours of the defection of one of SSB’s favoured foreign devotees, a popular musician who had spread the SSB gospel in books, talks and videos. His name was David Bailey. At roughly the same time came the news of the dismissal of another favoured devotee, a doctor at the Super Specialty Hospital, Dr Naresh Bhatia, a popular and passionate SSB apologist who had written a hagiographical book about his experiences as a close favourite of Sathya Sai Baba. The ashram rumours and speculations on forthcoming sensational revelations continued for the rest of that year. When, inexorably, the Bailey ‘Findings’ were released in March 2000, their sexual allegations and other accusations of fake materialisations caused pandemonium. The reverberations of and reactions to this major shock have continued since then, beginning with the exodus of an unknown number of foreign devotees (mainly from USA, Canada, Europe and Australasia), an outbreak of critical writing about SSB and his Organisation together with a reappraisal (or discovery) of a body of dispersed and largely ignored past critical writing about SSB (see Part 2) as well as responses and reactions from the SSO and a few devotees.
From the beginning of this 21st century, three further factors were to effect the SSB Mission:
– The emergence of a booming and forward-looking Indian economy (which had been building up steam sìnce 1990) and a burgeoning, confident and outward-looking middle class.
– The achievement of critical mass state by the Internet as a major source of communication and information for millions of people in most countries.
– The increasing age of Sathya Sai Baba (75 in 2000) and, since 2003, his increasing frailty, with the prospect of another 14 years still to run before his predicted samadhi.
For devotees, from the mid-1990s on, the Internet became a new channel for spreading the latest information about Sathya Sai Baba and his Mission. Printed books, media articles and videos remained important vehicles for promoting SSB and the SSO and their activities, but a small number of SSB devotees who had adopted the new medium began exchanging news and information (including new Discourses and ashram gossip) on bulletin boards and on manyYahoo and other chat groups like SaiNet. During the second half of the nineties, as more and more people flocked to the Internet, numbers of SSB devotee Internauts grew correspondingly. A typical devotee website carried, in addition to colour photographs of SSB and the OM symbol, introductory information about him for newcomers and for others curious to know more about him. Some websites also offer quotations from Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings, online magazines, the text of the latest Discourses, other news about SSB's ashram appearances or about SSO activities, links to Sathya Sai Bookshops in the devotee’s country and lists of available books, cassettes, CDs and Videotapes. The bulletin board SaiNet (run by American volunteer devotees, sevaks, performing a twenty first century form of seva) offered various services, including a discussion group available for devotees to have online satsang.
Finally in April 1999 the SSO also tentatively adopted this new form of mass communications, adding to its books, magazines, audiotapes and videotapes the vast scope of the Internet. From the year 2000, the Sathya Sai Organisation began a much more determined drive to increase its worldwide presence on the Internet (in English), devoting considerable energy and resources (including technical staff) to this powerful medium. The first official website, www.sathyasai.org (representing the International Sai Organisation), which had already been launched on 24 April 1999 (see Note 1 below), was followed on 23 December 2000 by www.srisathyasai.org.in (representing the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust). This site offers “information about the Life, Works and Teachings of Bhagawan Baba and the Service Activities undertaken by the various Trusts and Organisations under the Sai Movement. Besides, for the convenience of the devotees, the site provides basic information about the Ashram and its facilities.”
Next came the Radio Sai Global Harmony Radio station, a 24-hour satellite station for Africa and Asia (www.radiosai.org), launched on 23 November 2001 with the task of offering yet more news, photographs, old Discourses and a monthly magazine (Heart to Heart).
(Radio Sai’s website claims that the Worldspace digital channel was a free gift from WorldSpace because their Managing Director was so impressed with Sathya Sai Baba. However, this implies a misunderstanding of how WorldSpace functions as a business. Since it relies on subscriptions to its digital radio offerings, the company would be interested in any local channel as a source of extra subscribers to the whole service. Also, special receivers, sold by WorldSpace, may be needed by subscribers. Presumably, all local channels have to fund and run their separate premises (buildings, equipment and staff), possibly in return for a tiny commission per subscriber, but since in India the WorldSpace subscriptions are about $5 per month to receive the BBC World Service and over 30 regional stations (including Global Harmony) – mainly for news and music – it would not be unreasonable to assume that the operation of Radio Sai has always represented a substantial running cost on the Sathya Sai Organisation’s budget.)
On 18 February 2004, the greatly modernised Books and Publications Trust, from its new ashram HQ, added its own website, www.sssbpt.org, to cater for the English versions of the Discourses, old and new.
Since 2000 (and particularly since the foundation of the Prasanthi Council in 2003, with its special defence brief), the number and size of official websites (including those of other Sathya Sai Organisation Centres overseas), unofficial group sites and personal devotee sites has continued to snowball, with the result that there is now a huge variety of choice available to the devotee or other surfers. The daily flow of new and old information, discussion or gossip about Sathya Sai Baba is strong and includes articles about SSB as well as the whole of his printed Discourses since 1954. New Discourses are usually available for downloading – translated and edited – within a few days of their delivery by SSB, often with accompanying photographs or videos. (In 2007 the number and frequency of Discourses has dwindled significantly.)
For an idea of the vast amount of information available, see the official sites listed above and especially the unofficial megasite, www.saibabalinks.org (set up in 2003). This devotee-run site is already bursting at the seams with links to articles, free extracts from books, press reports and with individual endorsements of Sathya Sai Baba’s Divinity and powers, many sent in following a specific request for devotees to send in public testimonies of experiences with SSB. Presumably anything that is sent in is automatically posted. This unquestioning and unverified publication of ANY allegations about SSB’s powers has always been a disturbing characteristic of much of the devotee literature about Sathya Sai Baba.
On many of these sites there are multiple links to other regional, unofficial, or personal Sathya Sai Baba websites, so the resulting network is vast. In fact, this veritable ocean of SSB promotional material even includes a few books at no cost. See, for example, http://bababooks.org, which offers a free downloadable version of Kasturi's four volume hagiography, Satyam Sivam Sundaram, or, for a free copy of the seminal Man of Miracles by the late Howard Murphet, go to http://sai_baba_2001.tripod.com/manofmiracles.
Although the Internet has been a 'godsend' for the SSO, the Prasanthi Council and devotees, it is also open to everyone, including those individuals and organisations who have set up websites offering alternative information and opinions about SSB and the SSO following the allegations of 2000 (and, in some cases, since the 1990s). One result of the online controversy caused by the publishing of the Bailey ‘Findings’ in early 2000 was a noticeable orchestrated retreat to privacy by SSB-oriented chat groups. Some of these simply closed down, others, by making vetted membership a condition of entry, virtually closed the door to non-devotees, who had previously been able to participate in and be privy to devotee exchanges of opinions.
Note: Unconfirmed alternative information suggests that the first official SSO website was started in 1996 by American (IT expert) devotees.
In spite of the repercussions of the extraordinary revelations and allegations of 2000 (mainly in The Findings and later that year in the biographical Love is My Form, Vol. 1), devotees have continued to churn out their memoirs. And some longtime devotees seem to have volunteered to add to the body of eulogistic writings, like the octogenarian devotee Vijayakumari (Badri Yatra) and the very prominent international spokesperson for Sathya Sai Baba, the late Dr. D. J. Gadhia ( Sai Smaran. Recollections of Sai .) Also, nearly thirty years after the publication of two very influential and proselytising books, the veteran SSB bestselling author, prominent devotee and popular public speaker, Dr. Samuel Sandweiss, has produced a recent work re-emphasising his complete devotion and positive personal experiences of Sathya Sai Baba’s Divinity ( With Love Man is God ), as if the serious counter-evidence and allegations against the guru he has revered and promoted since the 1970s had never been been made public. The Puttaparthi-based publishing house Sai Towers, which had been so active and successful in the 1990s (and had produced good quality printed books for a reasonable price – that of the SSSBPT being kept at an average of $1 per book, even when sold overseas), scaled down its activities in about 2003, after abandoning its ambitious research project of six or seven volumes of Love is My Form to follow the first volume, published in late 2000. The former CEO, R. Padmanaban, shows signs of continuing activity with five volumes of Sri Sathya Sai Baba Life Story for Children, Sai Towers Publishing (now available from distributors (http://puttaparthi.info/shopping/books). The same site offers many other new and old books, including (on page 35 of the general online catalogue) Love is My Form, Vol 1, for $61 plus airmail postage. (However, the link to www.loveismyform.com is probably now broken).The undisputed main publisher of books on Sathya Sai Baba is the modernised SSSBPT. It now constitutes a major business undertaking (possibly subsidised by SSO funds), as the back pages of any recent volume will confirm: a four-page (small print) list of available books is offered at bargain prices (average: 40 Rupees) and very economical postage rates for India, Asia, and overseas. This Books and Publications Trust also now republishes older popular works (like those of Sandweiss, Hislop and Jagadeesan). From its website (www.sssbpt.org) old and new Discourses may now be downloaded. As “part of its mandate to spread Swami’s message” the Trust also controls Radio Sai Global Harmony satellite radio station set up in 2001. A major part of the radio programming is the broadcasting of old Discourses in Telugu.A far cry from the primitive office conditions and lethargic aura that pervaded this department in the 1990s, this thoroughly modernised publishing arm, working with computers from a very attractive new building, continues to publish the translated and edited Discourses of Sathya Sai Baba in several languages, as well as compilations of extracts from Discourses as well as many other books. With modernisation, and probably more qualified staff, modernisation has not only improved the standard of printing and binding but has finally introduced the normal publishing practice of dating its publications (in about 2002). The SSSBPT claims to stock 1000 volumes on Sathya Sai Baba and although this figure would include many volumes translated into a variety of languages, it does give an idea of the enormous expansion of this publishing arm of SSB’s Mission. (One of their slimmer volumes, for visitors, is The Prasanthi Nilayam Information Booklet, which reached its 13 th edition in 2005. It includes bus and train timetables, and a list of official websites.)In the last few years there has been a noticeable increase in official retrospective books and compilations depicting the most successful decades of the Mission, some of them addressed to a wider (and, possibly, future) public. Some examples:The late spokesperson, interpreter and editor of Sanathana Sarathi, N. Kasturi, acting on SSB’s wishes, wrote four famous volumes of hagiography (published in 1961-1980). In 2005, twenty five years after his death, an officially compiled surrogate fifth volume has been added under the same title, Sathyam Shivam Sundaram. Prepared by B.N. Narasimha Murthy under the guidance of three prominent members of the SSO, it deals with the years 1980 to1986. More such official volumes are promised, to chronicle the rest of the Mission – a project which the energetic Love is My Form research team, now disbanded, had also aimed to carry out. Accompanied by many colour photographs, volume 5 has a useful Chronology section for 1980-1985 (pp. 345-362) but it is basically just another hagiography.Also suddenly resuscitated in 2003 was another virtually unknown booklet by Kasturi from September 1963. In Siva Sakti Swarupa – Miracle Divine, Kasturi attempts to recreate in Question and Answer style the dramatic week on the cusp of June-July 1963 which culminated in the extraordinary Shiva-Shakti story by Sathya Sai Baba (6 July 1963). This event and the ensuing Discourse are officially promoted as one of the four major pillars of his divine claims and a turning point in his Mission. This re-issue of Kasturi’s neglected essay raises more questions about this highly controversial claim than it answers.To the innumerable existing compilations of excerpts from SSB’s Discourses, the following have recently been added by the SSSBPT:Aura of the Divine(1999), grouped under topics (with source references).Birthday Blessings of Bhagavan (2000), consisting of excerpts of most of the Birthday Discourses from 1960 to 1999. (Possibly due to faulty records, especially during the 1970s, nothing is recorded for 1963, 1969, 1971, 1973 or 1977.)His Story as told by Himself (2005), a collection of stories taken from his Discourses of passages dealing with his youth, schooldays and family. The SSSBPT reverts to its unhelpful past habit of not offering any source references for readers to follow up. A cursory reading reveals further discrepancies in SSB’s kaleidoscopic stories of his early life.A far better organised primer of Sathya Sai Baba’s life between 1947 and 1982, compiled by the “Sainet Editorial Committee”, is The Essential Sai (2006). No reason is given for the cut-off date. The volume gives excerpts from many landmark or otherwise revealing Discourses, fortunately with references to the volumes of Sathya Sai Speaks. The Publisher’s Note points out, comfortingly, that the Discourses of “the Avatar of the Age, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba” “answer almost all conceivable doubts that might come up in the minds of His millions in the world who had missed the bus in their earlier appearances on the earth.”Two major glossy illustrated promotional books are also of recent vintage:Chaitanya Jyoti. The Millennium Museum depicting the Message and Mission of Sri Sathya Sai Avatar (Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, 2001). This photographic record of a Museum commemorating the Sathya Sai Baba Mission in its various phases has been listed above.The Mission of Sai at a Glance (SSSBPT, 2005) is a pictorial record of Sathya Sai Baba as a major contemporary philanthropic force in regional education, medicine (hospitals), rural services (especially drinking water facilities) and other forms of service.
From the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation of Australia and Papua New Guinea came three volumes of the ‘Sai Vision Programme’ devoted to the group or individual study of the (translated and edited) Discourses of SSB. The editor’s study notes are by Dr Pal Dhall:
Sivarathri Discourses 1983-1993
Guru Poornima Discourses 1983-1993
Christmas Discourses 1972-1994.
(The introduction to the latter volume makes the bold claim that “every Discourse contained herein has new revelations about the life, works and teachings of Jesus”. The Christmas1972 Discourse is, arguably, the most controversial of them all.)
2. Public Responses by Sathya Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Organisation Officials, Devotees and Others to Criticism of SSB and the SSO
Since 2000, previously ignored or unclear aspects of the history of the Sathya Sai Baba Mission, have been projected, dynamically, into the foreground, thereby giving rise to closer examination of the Sathya Sai Baba story. In seven years the snowballing controversies and polemics have become an essential area for study and careful appraisal by independent observers. Part 2 of this Bibliography has outlined one side of the controversy: the growing body of recent and pre-existing counter-evidence against SSB’s divine and other claims and the sensational allegations of sexual impropriety and abuse. This section lists and comments on the main official and unofficial reactions to criticisms and allegations against Sathya Sai Baba and the Sathya Sai Organisation.
Direct responses by Sathya Sai Baba himself (who is in all probability unaware of the details of the criticisms) are infrequent but on record. Occasional public responses by Sathya Sai Organisation office-holders, spokespersons, prominent devotees, writers and rank and file devotees are now a part of the total SSB database, to be sifted and taken into account by biographers and researchers.
In response to the 40 pages of materials listed and annotated in Part 2 of this Bibliography, there is very little to list here since the main official public attitude to allegations, revelations and criticisms concerning SSB and the SSO has been one of automatic denial and blanket dismissal (often accompanied by gratuitous collective denigration and innuendo directed at the unnamed critics).
Typical ingredients of a (public or private) devotee response to any criticism of Sathya Sai Baba can be seen in the following item:
Fernando, Thilak S., ‘BHAGAWAN SRI SATHYA SAI BABA’, www.infolanka.com/org/diary/110.html
This unpublished letter of complaint to the Daily Telegraph by Clarence H. Fernando on the subject of Mick Brown’s ‘Divine Downfall’ article in 2000, contains the following claims:
“Sathya Sai Baba, as you contend does not consider himself as God; it is a belief held by his devotees.”
“It is relevant here to cite the incident, which took place in Rome. On his deathbed, Pope John XXIII – the most liberal of the Popes of the Roman Papal Curia – is said to have had a vision of a man that would usher in a new golden age of peace and harmony humankind has never known. The late Pope had described the man with brown skin who will wear a distinctive red robe. Similarly the great 16th century seer Nostradamus and American Prophet Edgar Cayce had predicted that a holy man from the East would challenge the major religions of the world as a prelude to a Golden Age. Such developments have shaken the foundations of Christianity ...” ...
“ Since you may wish to delve further into the spiritual world of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, I would very kindly refer you to a book with the title Modern Miracles by Erlendur Haroldson PhD. Professor of Psychology at the University of Iceland. It is an investigative report on the psychic phenomenon associated with Sri Sathya Sai Baba.”
“Having witnessed and experienced events over a long period of time true devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba have no time or the need to listen to the orchestrated campaign of maligning and vilification against a holy man loved by millions of devotees.”
Official Sathya Sai Organisation comments and ‘spin’ on the sensational reverberating allegations of 2000 and the many other criticisms of Sathya Sai Baba and the SSO made public in recent years have been mainly directed at the more spectacular (but historically and theologically less significant) sexual allegations and the 1993 killings. These are the topics which get instant media and public attention and cause heated discussion. The avalanche of subsequent revelations and allegations on many other critical and polemical topics (2001-2007) has been largely ignored or summarily dismissed by SSB officialdom and close associates of SSB – in public at least. Soothing advice has been tendered to bewildered devotees, many of whom seem relieved to do as they are advised.
The main authoritarian thread running through the following official reactions is the tendency to discourage independent thought about or examination of allegations and criticism of Sathya Sai Baba. Time after time devotees have been encouraged to reject, sight unseen, any criticism of SSB on the grounds of his alleged Divinity and infallibility, which, it is argued, automatically invalidate any disparaging mundane criticism. (This process is often referred to as Sandeha Nivarini, or ‘Dissolving Doubt’, the a priori assumption that no doubt or criticism concerning SSB can possibly be well founded. Devotees are thus constantly exhorted to regard any action or word of Sathya Sai Baba as being beyond question or reproach simply because the Divine is unfathomable to mere mortals even though cogent evidence and analyses challenging the claims of Divinity made by SSB (and his assumed omniscience) continue to be published on the Internet. Concurrently, the beleaguered but very wealthy Sathya Sai Organisation has been conducting an expensive campaign of public promotional gatherings in several large cities in USA and Europe. These presentations to the general public emphasise SSB’s twin roles as a world spiritual leader and a supporter of charitable works, usually without direct reference to his alleged Divinity and Avatarhood.
On a devotee chat group in November 1999, when the storm clouds were already gathering as the denunciation from ex-devotee David Bailey was expected among ashram gossipers, the following ‘Thought of the Day’ was posted in the ashram:
“19 October 1999. Subject: Gems from the Lord:”
“Prasanthi Nilayam is holding forth and exemplifying the higher ideals, in the material, ethical, economic, moral, spiritual, worldly and even political fields. There is no place here for anything contrary. This can be asserted without any possibility of contradiction. In spite of this, some ignorant individuals rely more on their guesses than on facts, and indulge in spreading wrong conclusions. Let me tell them that, if a single person in the whole world points out a wrong step in Prasanthi Nilayam, he shall be met and convinced ...”
Such is the background to the following official answers and reactions to the allegations and revelations of 2000-2007.
The first defence, within a month of the spread of the (awaited) Bailey Findings on the Internet in early 2000, was a long, very dignified letter by the nonagenarian Sathya Sai Baba chronicler, Howard Murphet, in which he detailed some of his experiences over 40 years with SSB and also claimed occult confirmation of Sathya Sai Baba’s status as Avatar (and the greatest Avatar in history). Murphet also referred to ‘personal egos’ which serve “dark forces that are battling hard today against the great light that the Avatar is shedding on Earth”.
On 4 December 2000, following a disastrous year of negative publicity for SSB, a senior ashram spokesman was quoted by India Today as saying, “... with every criticism, Sai Baba becomes more and more triumphant.”
During his career, Sathya Sai Baba has occasionally issued emotional reactions to criticism. Some of the recent instances have been commented on by authors listed in Part 2 of these bibliographies. (For example, in July 1993, following the Indian media coverage of the still unexplained ashram killings and again in October 1999, about Internet rumours preceding the Bailey Findings.) In response to the latter, Sathya Sai Baba revealed some of his feelings in his Birthday Discourse in November 2000 but after the critical article in India Today, he was moved to comment on 8 December 2000:
“Swami is not bound to reply to any of these irrelevant things as this Avathar has to do so many hard things.” Later that month, in his Christmas Day Discourse, he expressed such anger that B. S. Manu Rao, writing for the Times of India titled his report on the outburst ‘Sai Baba lashes out at detractors’. Rao describes the parallel drawn by Sathya Sai Baba between the hardships and crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his own travails, caused not by one Judas but by ‘thousands’, all ‘bought’ to tell lies. He also threatened sinners with ‘consequences’ and, xenophobically, blamed the West for corrupting the minds of Indians. He went on to remind his listeners of his own basic qualities of truth and love and listed the extent of his charitable works. Finally, he commanded his devotees to be steadfast in their faith. (That Discourse, along with most of his others, is available for perusal (translated from Telugu and edited) on Sathya Sai Organisation websites.)
By late 2001, with increasing Internet and other media revelations, in full damage control, prominent SSB associates had been busy addressing meetings and conferences urging devotees to be calm and to disregard the rumours and ‘calumnies’. CEO Dr Michael Goldstein himself had flown to several countries to reassure devotees disturbed by the Findings and subsequent discussion about them. Similar forms of ‘spin’ became the standard official response to critics: olympian condemnation and innuendos about their possible loyalties to other unnamed (but transparently obvious) religious causes – quite unsupported by any evidence.
At the end of 2001, there were two further examples of this standard official treatment. On 18 September, Indulal Shah, the veteran International Chairman of the Sathya Sai Organisation, issued a statement which included the following arguments. (Italics have been added.)
“Devotees of Bhagawan may have been perturbed and disturbed by recent newspaper and Internet news reports of a very scurrilous and mischievous nature against Bhagawan Baba. While such calumny has occurred in the past, their [sic] now seems to be a well-planned attempt and conspiracy to denigrate the Sai Mission. Certain vested interests are alarmed by the continued and rapid spread of the glory and grandeur of Sai Avathar throughout the world and have therefore embarked on these spiteful efforts which are of course bound to fail.” Those vested interests again! But who are they? Shah does not say, but Indian history and recent Sathya Sai Organisation custom suggest that Christian organisations or apologists were in his mind.
The elderly Shah, having also denounced vague “blasphemous reports” and “malicious baseless stories”, continued his litany of clichés in this sweeping and simplistic manner:
“Every Avathar has had false and malicious allegations hurled at Him. These canards have never and will never cause any blemish in the lives of Avathars. History does not forgive such perfidious individuals who can stoop so low as to find fault with the divine itself. ...”
Around the same time, at Mr Shah’s request, the then Indian Prime Minister, Vajpayee of the VJP Party, and a few other high officials (all devotees of SSB), issued a public reaction and plea, titled
“SRI SATHYA SAI BABA A LIVING LEGEND. AN EMBODIMENT OF LOVE FOR ALL MANKIND”
In the following extracts, strong epithets, clichés, and unsupported assumptions are asserted by these politicians as fact, and familiar phrases like “vested interests” (a convenient scapegoat) were bandied about once more. (Italics added)
“We are deeply pained and anguished by the wild reckless and concocted allegations made by certain vested interests and people against Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. We would normally expect that responsible media would ascertain the true facts before printing such calumny, especially when the person is revered globally as an embodiment of love and selfless service to humanity.”
Needless to say, this letter was very widely circulated by the SSO, and continues to be re-issued as an automatic response by overseas SSO Zone Coordinators whenever there is a fresh unfavourable media report.
During late 2001 and 2002, amid a rapid and diversified increase in SSB ‘exposé’ activities on the Internet and other media revelations, there was evidence of SSO planning to mitigate the disadvantages of such embarrassing publicity by launching a worldwide PR campaign to extol SSB in his role as a spiritual teacher and public benefactor. (The Divinity label was conspicuous by its absence.) This aspect had already been noticeable in the (by now ex-) Prime Minister’s plea: “We are among several million people in the world who regard Sri Sathya Sai Baba as a great spiritual master and teacher.”It recurs in the following address by Indulal Shah to a select meeting of leaders of overseas national and area Sathya Sai Organisations (in July 2002). They were exhorted in terms like the following (with the Divine epithets restored).
“It is now imperative with Baba’s call for Educare/Medicare/Socicare, that we move to become a force of benefit to the countries in which Sai Organisations exist.” “Bhagwan Himself is showing an example of this in India and how the Sai Organisation is a force in Nation Building recognised by one and all.”
“You are aware that these are testing and difficult times. Even the Avatar faces denigration and attempts to undermine His Glory by resorting to distorted statements and falsehoods made by the ignorant. It is not as if the Avatar needs human effort to glorify Him or that He needs any protection from any such despicable efforts to denigrade [sic] Him, but the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation has a great role to perform to enhance the Divine glory of the Avatar of the Age. This has to be achieved by us with a great sense of sincerity and dedication not with an aim of defending the name of the Avatar in the face of negativity but by positive pro-action of making the world aware by our programmes and the Vision Message and Mission of the Avatar.”
“Our Organisation must reflect what we are and what we do as also our impact on others by living Sai’s message in all spheres of life – local, regional, national, political or economic – of each country.”
“In this context, I have to request you to compile information of all such impacts and expressions of work of nation building carried out by our Organisation in your country by way of news items, press coverage, photographs, message or letter received from a Local Community, Political, Government or Religious Leader acknowledging our work etc. and send the same to me by the end of February 2002.”
In early 2002, with news in the air of a forthcoming Danish TV film on the sexual allegations against Sathya Sai Baba, a senior SSO officer in Europe, interviewed on Danish TV (31 January 2002) tried to talk down the situation (in translation):
“Each year there are millions of people visiting Sai Baba – and now there are some 6-7 persons who for the last 2-3 years have amused themselves by writing and writing and writing about the same stuff on the internet, why is a trial in court not made – why is it not brought forward ... eh... it... you cannot say that these are anything else than some undocumented accusations ...” (Italics added)
In fact, this Danish film (‘Seduced’) caused a furore in devotee and other circles in Northern Europe and two years later (February 2004) it was screened, with considerable impact in devotee circles, on the other side of the globe, in Australia. In the wake of the adverse publicity caused by these visual images and interviews with some of the male accusers, the Central Coordinator for Australasia and Papua New Guinea, posted on the Australian SSO website a copy of his lengthy emotional letter of protest to the TV station. The part of the letter dealing with those who produced and promoted the film contained the following intemperate and unsupported judgements, which far exceed those already quoted from other more prominent and more sophisticated SSO luminaries. Here is a quotation from this counterproductive performance by a spiritual bureaucrat:
“As for the anti Sai group, some of them subsist on the generous welfare handouts of government and exist on Disability Pensions (disability being physical or mental) have the time to conjure up situations. Some of the anti Sai group are eccentric, neurotic and their behaviour and attitude are equally bizarre.” (Italics added)
Later, possibly after the reckless regional Sathya Sai Organisation boss had been rebuked for his less than loving views of non-devotees, he issued a further statement. It ended with this exhortation to do what the writer says, not what he does, as well as a Pollyanna-like hope for the SSB critics’ future and an unconvincing prediction.
“E-mails issued by the anti-Sai group must be accepted (not dumped or reacted angrily) as self-satisfaction (to the issuers of the e-mail) is the first step for their self-discovery. Once people understand their self then they can begin to appreciate and follow the path to reality. We feel confident that with the passage of time, the anti Sai group will join the Sai fold as many who deserted after an earlier show ‘Guru Buster’ [a critical documentary on gurus in general] are in the ever-expanding Sai Mission.”
The emotional SSO bureaucrat’s final quote on Truth from Sathya Sai Baba was perhaps not the best choice in the circumstances: “Untruth might appear to over-power Truth, but its victory would fade away and Truth would establish itself.” (Sri Sathya Sai Baba)
As a result of all this publicity over the Danish film’s screening in Australia, Dr G. Venkataraman broke the official ashram silence on “ irresponsible utterances by foolish people”by broadcasting a comforting pep talk, ‘Truth will Always Triumph’ on Radio Sai (Radio Sai Listeners’ Journal, Volume 2, 1 March 2004). His next major public contribution was to come two years later.
Apart from such standard public attempts by SSO officialdom to brush off serious criticisms, unofficial devotee Internet outlets were devoting more time and energy to apply these same vague dismissive, denigratory and ad hominem techniques. One common ploy was for devotees and the SSO to announce brazenly that Sathya Sai Baba had never claimed to be God (in spite of the copious spoken and written evidence).
For example, in the long letter of protest to Mick Brown by Clarence H. Fernando (already quoted), the writer uses the same invalid denial tactic as a ‘criticism’ of Brown’s writing: “Sathya Sai Baba, as you contend does not consider himself as God; it is a belief held by his devotees.” As is obvious from a study of the materials listed in these bibliographies, this is the sort of officially supported untruth that has been uncritically repeated in many general reference books and even in much scholarly writing on NRMs and Sathya Sai Baba.
On the Internet, the only concerted public devotee responses to the Findings and other more substantial criticisms of SSB have been the following contributions by true believers:
An unofficial devotee website which ‘opened its doors’ in 2000 as a response to The Findings and the other swirling allegations and revelations which followed in their wake. (This was the time when most open devotee Internet discussion groups were closing down, to be replaced by vetted members-only clubs.) The Sai Critic (or Critics) initially endeavoured to calm down the panicky flock, discoursing at length in a general way on uplifting spiritual themes. It followed up with some commentaries and made a few disparaging remarks directed vaguely at individuals (for example, my own SSB research web page was gratuitously referred to as “Spanish taught here”) but, in spite of its debate about the sexual allegations, its writers presented no convincing evidence to refute the new facts and revelations which had been reported. The site also reproduced an excerpt from SSB’s 75th Birthday Discourse in 2000 and the novel but inadequate response to the sexual allegations by devotee Ram Das Awle, which aroused an ephemeral excited debate in some chatty quarters of the Internet. (See commentary below.)
By mid-2002, unable to cope with the increased volume and scope of Internet criticisms of SSB and the SSO, the anonymous Sai Critic website managers unblushingly solved their dilemma by unilaterally declaring the ‘exposé’ ended. Since then they have publicly adopted the head in sand attitude which they promote to others and have ceased to contribute openly to the debate – while the loosely-knit ‘exposé’, which they had declared defunct, continues to maintain its criticisms on several Internet websites and pages and to add new revelations, questions, analyses and discoveries, notably on highly frequented blogspots (another new source of information which must now be evaluated by researchers).
Details of the brief and undistinguished life of ‘The Sai Critic’ website present the following picture. Although usually couched in calmer and more persuasive language than the robust official pronouncements above, the following extracts from the Sai Critic site show the same authoritarian desire to shepherd the devotee in the ‘right’ direction, and to dismiss and denigrate anything (or anyone) critical of SSB without actually bothering to analyse the criticisms or to provide detailed refutation of the voluminous Internet materials. The anonymous Sai Critic writers arrogantly assume that devotees cannot be trusted to judge for themselves what they read or hear in this blatant attempt at brain-washing. (Italics added)
“Your personal experience of Swami is an unbroken experience. It has been continuous throughout your life, even in the days you did not know of Swami. He has nurtured you through hundreds of lifetimes so that you might be here with him now. Your experience is intermingled with and enmeshed in your belief in Swami. Belief is based on your divine experience, not anyone else or anything Swami does.”
Guard your Truth.
“No material outside of you can add to nor detract or alter your own personal divine experience. It is your most valuable possession so guard it jealously.”
The Information on the Internet
“There is a massive illness in humanity in this day and age. It afflicts those who do not use their discrimination and apply their values to the information that is presented to them. Think of the impact of Television. Many do not even know what their values are, and surrender responsibility for decisions and what happens to them by allowing televised material to pour into them, irregardless of truth or falsehood, right or wrong, good or bad. The material is elevated to a value in itself, and presented in terms of ‘culture’ or the ‘public interest’.”
“Please be aware that the same lack of discrimination is happening to material that is published on the Internet. There is little or no values discrimination in material that is encountered, and the values of the Internet are primarily the surf experience, the download, and the chat room. It is a form of mass media, like the newspaper, the radio, the television and the telephone.”
Clarify the Communication
“When persons begin to make assertions, it is helpful to firstly examine the basis of the assertions about Swami or money or hospitals or anything else: To see if one is assuming or discerning, I advise a simple method of determining what is but a rumour and what is genuine history. For example, if you hear some tale, be it good or bad, plausible or bizarre, first ask: ‘If it happened to the person who is telling it. If not, politely ask if that person has confirmed it with the person it did happen to. If not, ask if there are two witnesses available who can confirm it happened as now described.’
“You do not have to answer allegations, defend your humanity or your belief to anyone. Above all, you do not have to defend Swami to anyone, He can and does take care of himself. Speak softly and sweetly and pay attention to the Desiderata; all must be heard, eventhe dull and ignorant. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, for they are vexatious to the spirit. You are not required to defend untruths, and you are not required to correct people with outrageous statements or statements that offend sensibility. Whatever people say is their experience, and you are not required to interpret it. Clarify for them, as suggested above, ask for evidence, and allow what is presented to be. You are not required to make a decision or to answer anyone. You have the right to remain silent.” (The standard protective advice that a solicitor gives a client who is under suspicion.)
Also from this unofficial website comes an admission, which of course is the main inspiration for the whole website: “The Findings were stomach churning, gut wrenching material for most who perused its pages. Minds were blown to smithereens. The foundations of faith were ripped away. The structure we had carefully built around the one we knew and loved was vanquished as the MIND ran out of control, hither, thither, and drove most mad with grief, outrage, betrayal, sadness, and lack of trust.” “A one whom we focussed on the most was the object of hatred. Pictures were taken down, momentos [sic] were put away, books were thrown out and the bridges were well and truly burnt.”
Two more choice selections from the Sai Critic’s pages:
“(12) Four students went to kill Sai Baba but instead policemen wilfully killed them.”
“They were not students, but ex students; they filled the ashram with explosives and sufficient potassium cyanide to put into the water supply and planned to burn down the ashram. This plan to burn down the Central Trust was referred to in a Divine Discourse.”
“For weeks, Swami instructed the Police afterwards where to search for explosives and the Police located and removed sufficient explosives to do massive damage to the ashram. Better facts can be obtained from a rigorous search of the Newspapers along with all the other false trails laid down. The perpetrators used knives and stabbed four men in scuffles. Where are these facts and the deaths that can be laid at the feet of the perpetrators? The police did their duty. Had the perpetrators have [sic] lived, the villagers would have pulled the police station apart brick by brick, and then the perpetrators apart limb by limb.”
Journalist Mick Brown came across the Sai Critic in researching his 2000 article on SSB: “Surfing the internet, I came upon a site called The Sai Critic, established by some devotees to answer The Findings and to ‘counsel’ those whose faith might be wavering in the face of the allegations. The anonymous authors of the site urge devotees to believe only their own experiences and quote an aphorism of Sai Baba's: “When doubt walks in the front door, faith walks out out the back door. Keep your doors closed.” “Addressing the allegations of sexual abuse, the authors state that because ‘Sai Baba is a divine incarnation, one cannot attribute human sexual motives to him, nor interpret him in the light of human sexual experience.’ In other words, because Sai Baba is divine, whatever he does is beyond understanding and beyond accountability.”
Since mid-2002, the Sai Critic website has shown little signs of life. It is quite plausible that this is in keeping with an official SSO policy to avoid the public spotlight and media attention and to restrict public access to ‘inside’ debates and information, which was certainly reflected by the sudden privatisation of many previously open SSB devotee Discussion Groups (on Yahoo.com) in late 2002, as the moderators took the open and sometimes revealing chat sessions into the safety and seclusion of Members-only territory.
The second ephemerally active unofficial SSB defence web site was that of devotee Ram Das Awle (www.saibaba-aclearview.com ). (It was also quoted in detail on the Sai Critic website.) In 2001, Das Awle created a flurry of excitement among computer-literate devotees, reviving the devotee contribution to the debate raging around The Findings. He confidently proclaimed his purpose: “This is a pro-Sai website, written and translated by devotees, for the purpose of clearing away doubts regarding the current controversy surrounding Sai Baba, and helping to make His divine identity more clear to the world.” His approach in Part 1 of his offering was to tackle the sexual allegations head on by saying that the allegations were probably true because it is all a traditional part of the guru helping to raise the devotees’ kundalini. (This point has also been made by several other devotee commentators.) But his lengthy arguments and rationalisations do not really dent the original criticisms of Sathya Sai Baba in 2000-2001, nor has Das Awle since added any counter-evidence to the multiple criticisms of SSB after 2000. Those interested in the detail of the debate on Part 1 of Das Awle’s argument will find enlightenment in the articles of Dr. Timothy Conway, Robert Priddy and Elena Hartgering, amongst others. (See Part 2 of this bibliography.)
In Part 2 of his offering, ‘Who is Sai Baba?’, Das Awle offered alleged evidence of SSB’s Divinity, repeating many of the unsupported or implausible claims usually made by SSB writers and devotees, including an impressive number of celebrity prophecies about his Advent (among them the totally implausible claim – possibly blasphemous for orthodox Muslims – which many devotees believe to be true, that the prophet Muhammad himself clearly prophesied SSB’s coming as the Mahdi). As sole proof of many of these highly contentious or preposterous claims, Das Awle offered endnotes of the type: “This was told to me by ... [an unnamed person].” Such ‘proofs’ have been left unquestioned by SSB devotees for decades.
Rather than continuing to confront allegations and criticisms in public with this standard rhetoric, the Sathya Sai Organisation set about reorganising itself, forming the new five-man Prasanthi Council in 2003 as the supreme SSO authority, especially charged with the following:
“With the blessings and approval of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the Prasanthi Council is hereby convened. The Council will have the responsibility of serving and managing the Sri Sathya Sai Organization outside of India. The members of the Council are: G.Venkataraman [Deputy Chairman], C.Sreenivas, William Harvey, Leonardo Gutter and Michael Goldstein [Chairman].
“The Council will be responsible for the formulation of plans and agendas, policies, guidelines, and decisions that constitute the governance of the Sai Organization outside of India. In addition to the above, the Council will be resource for intervention in difficult circumstances where the sanctity of the Divine Name or the welfare of the Sai Organization can be affected. The Zone Chairmen and Central Coordinators will continue to be responsible for the implementation of those plans, policies, guidelines and decisions that are agreed upon.” (Bold type added) (from a letter published for all overseas Sathya Sai Baba Centres by Michael Goldstein in Sathya Sai Newsletter, USA, May/June 2003)
Simultaneously, the ambitious publicity campaign and public meetings in several overseas countries, notably in USA, were undertaken.
If we are to believe Message 5106 for 23 June 2003 on the Internet Yahoo devotee Group called ‘Saiunity’ (then open to visitors, but now closed down, like other open SSB devotee forums), Chairman Goldstein attempted the following “intervention” in the embarrassing question of regular discrepancies in SSB’s translated Discourses by stating at a Regional meeting in USA on 22 June, 2003: “Regarding discrepancies in discourses, sometimes there are people who take notes during discourses and are eager to be the first to send them out by computer. Be aware that the only official copies of discourses are the ones available after major festivals in the bookstore or in official publications, or those put on the official Sai Website by David Gries, who has excellent computer knowledge. Also, sometimes Swami omits some of what He has said when He approves an official translation, so it may in fact be different from what was heard.” The clumsiness of this manoeuvre was obvious to all those devotees and ex-devotees who had been reading the useful literal translations that a team of volunteer devotees had been posting on the Internet for a couple of years because they preferred SSB’s simple and poetic Telugu style to the highly edited official versions. Although that site had suddenly closed down, copies of the literal translations were still available on the Internet.
Further international commotion and official protests were sparked off by the BBC documentary Secret Swami in June 2004 and Dr Goldstein (whose interview aroused considerable comment) has since fallen silent. Since 2004, against a background of an increasingly frail and wheelchair-bound Sathya Sai Baba and with the self-imposed silence of the Prasanthi Council Chairman, there was relative silence from Puttaparthi until July 2006, when the Deputy Chairman, retired scientist Dr G. Venkataraman, issued a new triumphalist statement as Director of Radio Sai Global Harmony. In this broadcast, he claimed at some length that the sexual allegations and other critical claims about Sathya Sai Baba have foundered. His assertions and a detailed response from Barry Pittard and Robert Priddy may be studied on the following websites:
Venkataraman, G., ‘The Inevitable Collapse of Calumny’, from http://media.radiosai.org/Journals/Vol_04/01JUL06/collapse-of-calumny.htm (Radio Sai Listeners’ Journal: Volume 4, 7 July 2006)
Pittard, Barry and Priddy, Robert, ‘The Sathya Sai Organisation’s Deception and Propaganda Exposed’, 4 parts, http://home.hetnet.nl/~ex_baba/engels/articles/venk1.htm, September-October 2006. (This strong reply, in four parts, centres on the sexual allegations against Sathya Sai Baba.)
It would appear possible that, in Sathya Sai Baba’s twilight years (with fourteen years still to elapse before his self-predicted death), the Sathya Sai Organisation is faced with a basic dilemma of its own (and Sathya Sai Baba’s) making: whether to continue to emphasise the Divine claims (which attracted most devotees to him), especially for Indian audiences both within India and overseas (within whose religious traditions these claims loosely fit), risking a halt in overseas expansion as present devotees dwindle and are not replaced, or to continue on its present preferred path of proselytising Sathya Sai Baba’s appeal as an world ecumenical spiritual leader with a message of Love and Peace.
In the light of the above developments, it is instructive to consider in some detail a book written by the prominent Indian travel writer, Bill Aitken, the most notable non-devotee to empathise with Sathya Sai Baba and his apologists. Listed as a travel writer on Wikipedia (as William McKay Aitken, for reasons of disambiguation), Bill Aitken is the author of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. A Life ( New Delhi, Penguin Books India, 2004). [A paperback edition was issued in 2006.]
This book has two initial distinctions over most of the vast Sathya Sai Baba literature: it was written by a commercially successful writer of non-fiction and it was published not as a paperback or self-published booklet but in hardback form by the Indian subsidiary of a major international publishing house, Penguin Books.
Scottish-born Bill Aitken was drawn from Britain to India over 40 years ago, at first to research for his MA degree on Gandhi, and subsequently to settle for life and become naturalised. He experienced twelve years of the rigours of real ashram life before abandoning that path and settling down as the partner of a prominent aristocratic devotee of Sathya Sai Baba. He is the highly considered author of a dozen books on travel and spirituality in India.
At some time between 2001 and 2003, when the Sathya Sai Organisation was embarking on an ambitious programme of international promotion of Sathya Sai Baba as an important spiritual leader, Aitken was approached by a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba with a firm request that he write an independent account of SSB’s life avoiding the “hagiographic excesses that believers find hard not to indulge in, and which put off the ordinary seeker who wants information not hype”. An interesting topic, presumably with an anticipated general readership of middle-class Indians plus a few sophisticated foreign devotees.
For three decades a distant admirer of Sathya Sai Baba – whom he first met (and was hugely impressed by) in his partner’s Delhi house in 1972 – Aitken has studied the guru more closely during his research travels in the south of India over the past fifteen years. However, he emphasises that the writing of this book was the direct result of his reluctant acceptance of the devotee’s request (and her promise of a copious supply of background research material), bolstered by his respect for the long-standing love and devotion felt by his partner for Sathya Sai Baba. (In SSB’s ashram, and in some of the literature, she is known as Rani-Ma.)
The nature of the difficulties and problems presented by accepting this assignment become apparent in the first few pages: Aitken is too close to his subject. Immediately after his initial statement about “hagiographic excesses” quoted above, Aitken writes: “What Sathya Sai Baba arouses in me is a feeling so maddeningly beautiful that I am convinced everyone in the world would wish to experience it” (p. 2). In that juxtaposition and at various other points in the book, the perceptive reader can witness the fascinated but uncomfortable author squirming as he tries to do justice to the imposed task and to himself as a spiritually sensitive writer. His first authorial decision was to expand the biographical framework and to personalise the project by focussing it on an investigation of an “inscrutable source of grace” and its impact on himself as a beneficiary. Also palpable is his desire to address an Indian audience on this subject and to express his love and appreciation of his adopted country. The net result is a passionate endorsement of a controversial Indian spiritual icon.
In his explanatory introduction, Aitken confesses that he found the (hagiographical) writings on Sathya Sai Baba (supplied by the devotee) tiresome “until some anecdotes shared by …[the devotee] brought them to life.” Concentrating, as most Sathya Sai Baba writers do, on this personal angle, he makes the very valid point that SSB’s direct impact on people and the resulting feelings of love and well-being are central to his Mission, but he fails to examine other aspects of the topic and ends up producing just another hagiography, albeit a more interesting one, much better written than most. Parts of this biographical study echo the standard hagiographers and other parts closely echo the thoughts and statements of SSO spokespersons (especially in response to the controversies of recent years), including the common but unsupported official claim that Sathya Sai Baba has 30 million devotees worldwide. Like the hagiographers, whose selective and protective excesses and unquestioning repetitions Aitken rightly deplored at the beginning of his account (and on other pages of the book), he himself offers material which reflects the official view of Sathya Sai Baba while ignoring other important references which might add other nuances. A prime example is another of the author’s initial strategic decisions: to centre his story of Sathya Sai Baba’s life around the Sai Parampara concept. By this, Aitken says he means, “Sai unity” or “ line of saints”, roughly the combined beneficial effect on southern India of the three Sais – an extension of what others, equally inaccurately, call the Sai Baba Movement, referring to Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai.
The apparent originality and appeal of the Sai Parampara framework quickly dissipates as one realises that Aitken is doing no more than promoting the vigorous assertion launched sixty years ago by Sathya Sai Baba himself that the two – or three – Sais (and by extrapolation, the two sets of devotees) form a single unity, with Sathya claiming to be the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai. As far as non-devotees can see, there is no such unity. We only have SSB’s word for that, but Aitken accepts it without hesitation or question, like any devotee writer. The truth is that, notwithstanding SSB’s frequent early claims of being the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba and in spite of the worship of Shirdi Sai in SSB’s ashram, the Shirdi Sai Association and the Sathya Sai Organisation are two quite separate entities, not a single Organisation. There is no reciprocal recognition and worship of Sathya Sai Baba in Shirdi Sai Centres. Ever since the beginning of SSB’s Mission, there have been two separate Sai Baba Movements – which do not even agree on the meaning of the name ‘Sai’ (‘Saint’ –from Persian – in Shirdi circles, versus Sathya Sai Baba’s etymologically unsound ‘Divine Mother’). Since Aitken produces no evidence for the claimed ‘unity’, his strong promotion of the ‘Sai Parampara’ hypothesis is therefore in conflict with his apparent intention of writing a “non-hagiographical” book on Sathya Sai Baba.
Incidentally, his unquestioning acceptance of the ‘reality’ of the third Avatar-figment predicted by SSB, Prema Sai Baba, also belongs in the ‘hype’ category. On p 17 (and again on p. 121), Aitken tells readers t hat Prema Sai (as predicted by SSB) is believed to have been born already. (This is sometimes heard via the busy ashram grapevine along with other speculation about Prema’s parents.) There are two important considerations here: Not only does the author unquestioningly accept this extension of the official SSB reincarnation mythology but he does not comment on the incongruity of a Hindu reincarnation being born while the previous body is still alive. Be that as it may, an equally interesting question in this book is, why does the non-devotee author occupy valuable space and time speculating on one man’s extraordinary prediction that he will return to earth in a different divine body in approximately twenty years time – the sort of topic which seems to attract the attention of the type of believe-it-all devotees for whom Aitken expresses such strong disapproval?
The author’s decision to follow the trail of both Sai Babas and to include some of his fascinating historical and travel research on southern India in a slim 224 page volume substantially reduces the number of pages devoted to Sathya’s life and may account in part for restricted attention to, or omissions of, vital topics (such as Sathya Sai Baba’s divine claims, his storytelling, the real questions raised by some of his Discourse revelations – inadequately dealt with on pages 123-128 –, the existence and role of the Sathya Sai Organisation and the extensive international expansion of SSB’s flock in the past 40 years, not to mention his sudden interest in Jesus Christ in the late 1960s and the extraordinary annual Christmas revelations on the new topic (especially the Christmas 1972 claim).
This glaring omission of references to the SSO and Sathya Sai Baba’s international dimension – the massive expansion of his Mission over the past 35 years, made possible by the SSO and its overseas branches, and the substantial numbers of overseas devotees attracted to SSB (equally ignored by Aitken) – appears to highlight a significant Indo-centric subtext to this book (previously visible in the dismissive – and sometimes xenophobic – official denunciations of criticisms and critics): "Hands off our Indian / Hindu spiritual icon!" Apart from the fact that Sathya Sai Baba is essentially a Neo-Hindu phenomenon, such parochial sentiments (however deeply felt) are anachronistic since Sathya Sai Baba has had an international profile since the 1970s and is therefore a transnational Neo-Hindu phenomenon. His international following of Non-Resident Indians and foreigners (and their voluminous writings about him) has contributed very significantly to his success and that of the Sathya Sai Organisation and, inevitably, his increasing overseas fame has also attracted more attention to him in India – although it is worth recording that the majority of orthodox Hindus (like the majority of Indians) have never been followers of Sathya Sai Baba.
Aitken’s style of reporting often shows a judgemental bias in favour of Sathya Sai Baba, somewhat akin to the devotee’s habit of rationalising any doubt or inconvenient information about the guru. Nowhere is this clearer than in the few pages where he makes an attempt to explain away SSB’s clearly documented errors and exaggerations (pp.131-136). The author mentions two statements by Sathya Sai Baba which he finds surprising or “somewhat staggering” but in each case, he follows up with a possible explanation (or excuse) which is less than convincing. In the first case, for the incorrect statement “Sanskrit is the parent and core of all languages,” Aitken offers the following exonerating ‘solution’: “Possibly, the translator has been too literal because any student of linguistics knows that Sanskrit is only the parent of the indo-Eurupean group of languages” (pp.131-2). The second of his protective rationalisations is the following: “Baba’s zeal to promote the cause of ancient India’s genius leads him to advance the somewhat staggering claim that in 3043 BCE an Indian yogi had predicted the departure of the British from India.” Nevertheless, Aitken goes on: “Assuming this to be true, the claim suggests …” (p.132). But why should one assume it is true just because SSB said it?
For Aitken, another reason for Sathya Sai Baba’s many factual errors or discrepant statements is that his state of development “can only be commensurate with his schooling” (p. 136). From a logical point of view, this possibility would certainly be worth considering, but it completely ignores the fact that it is SSB himself who has frequently claimed omniscience (especially knowledge of science, languages, etc.) and omnipotence; moreover, many devotee writers have expressed their conviction that he does possess these alleged qualities.
As already noted, the author is obviously uneasy about divine claims and, in particular, with the fact that SSB has made them. This may explain half-truths like the following: “The Sai phenomenon is viewed as an avatar, an incarnation of God by many disciples, but to some, Sai is the Godhead itself” (p. 24). To many, in fact – or to most – because that is what Sathya Sai Baba himself has suggested time after time.
This biography contains other errors and omissions which suggest that Aitken was over-selective in his sampling of the vast hagiographical literature on SSB.
1. “No one in Puttaparthi had heard of the Shirdi fakir” (p. 89) (This statement by SSB, Indulal Shah et al has been refuted – for example in the indispensable research displayed in Love is My Form.)
2. “The fact is that we still do not know Shirdi’s physical origins, whatever mythology may seek to embroider into his past” (p. 57). (This point was also made on page 41.) It is either disingenuous or ignorant of Aitken not to mention that SSB himself famously made not one but two conflicting sets of new ‘mythological’ claims about the early Shirdi years in Discourses in 1990 and 1992 (and on another two occasions). These belong to the large collection of dubious “stories” that SSB has told and which call into question some of the storylike qualities of his claims and anecdotes about his Divinity.
3. A potentially more misleading statement is found on page 182, in a quotation from Howard Murphet’s Sai Baba Avatar. Murphet is said to be quoting from “two academic researchers, Dr Otis [sic] and Dr Haraldsson”. “Both researchers were excited by their findings and the prospect of their changing the face of science.” Such an early scientific endorsement of supernatural powers is one which devotee readers will welcome, remember and repeat to others, or write about, especially as it is associated with the name of Haraldsson. On page 167 of Murphet’s book, however, his exact quotation, following a summary, is that “Dr Karlis Osis wrote an article for the Garland of the Golden Rose” (a commemorative compilation for SSB’s 50th Birthday). In it he said: “Suppose Baba would truly reveal his nature in the best laboratories in the world … what an impact would be made on the scientific world view – new facts forcing science to accept the spiritual reality.” (Italics added) In other words, in the original, a version of the quoted statement appears in a hypothesis which never became fact and it was written not by the two parapsychologists, but by Dr Osis alone, the much more open to psychic phenomena of the two men, and the one who did only a fraction of the investigative work on SSB and his devotees that Haraldsson subsequently carried out over several years before recording a much more open ‘Not scientifically proven’ verdict in his well known 1987 book.
4. The author’s preference for Murphet’s quote about the minor participant (Osis) and his inexplicable lack of curiosity about one of the most influential books in the SSB literature is an important flaw in the research for this book, especially since Aitken fleetingly mentions Haraldsson’s book (on p. 220), but merely to recommend its coverage of miracle stories.
5. A further bibliographical lacuna is the failure to mention Love is My Form, probably the most talked about book published in Puttaparthi in 2000, with its important new biographical and photographic evidence of the early years of Sathya Sai Baba’s Mission.
6. The author quotes only four of the SSB principles. Ahimsa (Non-violence) was added to Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema many years ago. A further sign of over-reliance on early sources (although it is to Aitken’s credit that he does not quote Kastruri’s hagiographical excesses).
Equally disappointing for the general reader is the author’s superficial treatment of recent controversies. On more than one occasion he issues blanket condemnations of all criticisms of Sathya Sai Baba, dismissing them out of hand and even implying interference by “certain rival missions” (p. 189) or speculating that someone “could be a paid informer of the missionary lobby”. Also, Aitken’s preoccupation with the sensational, headline-grabbing sexual allegations (by Tal Brooke, or David Bailey, for example) does not leave him time to deal with more serious aspects of past and present critical research on Sathya Sai Baba, like recurring demonstrations by magicians (and video evidence too, especially of recent Mahasivaratri lingam productions) that some of SSB’s commonest materialisations are easily replicated by others. As for the counter-evidence available concerning the claims of Divinity by SSB, it is just possible that Aitken may not have bothered to read them. More difficult to miss, however, is Sathya Sai Baba’s own primary role in uttering and promoting such strident claims but Aitken is silent about this also.
Aitken reveals his strong emotional affinity with his subject throughout this biography. Towards the end, like a fervent devotee, the author admits that he is in thrall to Sathya Sai Baba’s enormous (and undeniable) charisma: “Sathya Sai possesses easily the most charismatic of presences I have experienced, electrifying in the crackle of the supercharged energy he gives off. My heart spontaneously responds to his divine aura” (p. 242). Basically, this passion has not changed since page 2.
In spite of its intended semi-neutral stance (“This study views the Sai Parampara from the standpoint of a sympathetic outsider”), the book will therefore disappoint many non-devotee readers simply because any account of Sathya Sai Baba’s life that ignores, misrepresents or makes mistakes over relevant available evidence about that life (especially the copious amounts freely available in SSB’s Discourses, the available literature and on the Internet) can hardly be seen as a complete or impartial work. A more accurate title might have been: Sathya Sai Baba. The Fount of Divine Love.
A year after the publication of this book, further evidence was to come that the writing experience and empathy with SSB had brought the stance of non-devotee Aitken closer to that of vigorous pro-Sathya Sai Baba campaigners in India and elsewhere, anxious to stand up for their beleaguered guru. In spite of his professed neutrality between “the hype of unhinged devotees and a howling pack of detractors”, some parts of Aitken’s eulogy, ‘Awareness of Divinity’, written for The Week (27 November 2005) on the occasion of SSB’s 80th Birthday, are no different, in essence, from what a Sathya Sai Baba apologist would assert, especially the blanket dismissal of all criticism as inherently baseless and generalisations like “the critics are so intemperate in their dislike that their vituperation now comes across as almost near comical in its predictability”, as well as a permanent blind spot for serious criticisms of SSB that have not been refuted.
These three Bibliographies have listed and briefly described three large and diverse corpora of information currently available about the guru Sathya Sai Baba, his 60-year spiritual Mission and his organisation (the Sathya Sai Organisation). By winnowing this enormous mass of varied documentation, researchers should be in a better position to separate fact from fantasy and research from propaganda in order to arrive at a fair evaluation of the complex Sathya Sai Baba story.
To these 140 pages describing reference sources ranging over the past 50 years, a further two pages are needed to outline a recent development, peculiar to the Internet, which also needs to be noted and evaluated.
In late 2004, the direct public defence of Sathya Sai Baba was revived when a New Age admirer of SSB and former frequenter of his ashram (possibly inspired by reading the previous efforts by The Sai Critic) suddenly took upon himself a gargantuan task: to reveal the real Truth about Sathya Sai Baba on his website. As he conducted a series of vigorous email interrogations of several prominent SSB critics (subsequently published on the first of his websites), it rapidly became apparent that his modus operandi was simplicity itself: to set himself up as prosecutor, judge and jury and issue unappealable guilty verdicts (usually based on the flimsiest of evidence) on the writers of ALL criticisms of SSB – indiscriminately –, beginning with most of the extremely varied output of 5 years of publishing by www.exbaba.com. (Two flaws in the campaigner’s method were visible from the outset: his refusal to consider any evidence which conflicted with his dictatorial verdicts and an evasion of the central divine claims issue – claims which he had admitted he did not endorse.)
Over the past three years, this propagandist has devoted considerable time and energy to his self-imposed mission, adapting techniques drawn from basic propaganda procedures, ‘spin’ tactics, demagogic talkback radio (talk radio), and low-level Internet discussion forums, in order to bombard Interner surfers with hundreds of articles containing his idiosyncratic versions of the truth about Sathya Sai Baba. From his elaborate network of websites and blogspots, this unofficial protector of SSB is now able, like an electronic Jack-in-the-box, to pop up all over Search Engine results for ‘Sathya Sai Baba’ (or even ‘Sai Baba’) or for individual critics’ names, in an increasingly more strident and dictatorial attempt to impose these opinions on Internet searchers.
As he concentrates more and more on the messenger rather than the inconvenient message, his intemperate language has increased and he resorts to stronger personal denigration and defamatory statements.
This person’s name is Joe Moreno (or, sometimes, Gerald Moreno).
During the three years of Joe / Gerald’s voluminous output of propaganda aimed at exposing the “errors, lies, deceit and smears” of all of SSB’s critics (rationalists, ex-devotees, journalists and other commentators), some of his victims have protested against his bullying tactics, which merely provokes fresh diatribes. His most concentrated bile and “Google massaging activities” seem to be reserved for those of his victims who dare to question or reject the detail of his often dubious “evidence” or who issue strong protests against his personal denigration and defamatory remarks (see, for example, the websites or blogspots of Robert Priddy, Barry Pittard, Sanjay Dadlani, Connie Larsson, Timothy Conway and B. Premanand).
Moreno denies affiliation with the Sathya Sai Organisation and, as far as I know, there is no proof of a direct link, but it must be pointed out that the devotees who manage the largest unofficial promotional SSB website, www.saibabalinks.org, promote his latest provocative website twice (perhaps inadvertently), once directly, under ‘Personal Sites’, with the description: “A Pro-Sai Site exposing the lies, deceit and dishonesty of critics, skeptics and ex-devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba” and, secondly, under ‘Websites’, as a directly linked part of another site, www.sai-fi.net (“All about Sathya Sai Baba”). On the Index page of the “sai-fi” site, following a major presentation of all sorts of standard devotee material and corresponding links (SSB’s story and claims, his alleged miracles, etc.), as well as links to the major official SSO sites, Moreno’s link to his major site is triumphantly advertised to his audience of devotee readers as follows: "Sri Sathya Sai Online Debate & Controversy: Smear Campaigns Against Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba EXPOSED". With such powerful links to devotees and others through the unofficial promotional SSB network and further boosted by his tireless Search Engine Optimization activities, Moreno has engineered, for the moment, a high Internet profile to project his own “smear campaign” with its egregious deceit and dishonesty – and smokescreens.
Nevertheless, whether Moreno and others are aware of this or not, the high risks inherent in his extremist Internet activities are self-evident. The open promotion of his polemical work on the unofficial but high profile "saibabalinks" and "sai-fi" websites underlines the anomaly that Joe Moreno's (unofficial, non-devotee) propaganda is the only direct (official or unofficial) response to the considerable body of allegations and criticisms about Sathya Sai Baba and the Sathya Sai Organisation. Devotees and the SSO may relish (or be comforted by) this non-devotee’s daring in taking their totalitarian Sandeha Nivarini dogma (‘all doubts about SSB can be resolved’) to such wild extremes but they should be aware that the weakness of such facile 'solutions' is that they not only undermine Moreno’s credibility but they focus the spotlight on the credibility of Sathya Sai Baba and the Sathya Sai Organisation. When readers and researchers take note of Moreno’s preference for intemperate language and ad hominem tactics and realise that many of his triumphant boasts and dogmatic ‘refutations’ of criticisms are misleading, unfounded or malicious, many will feel curious to look more closely at the object of Moreno’s ranting: the detailed criticisms and allegations directed at Sathya Sai Baba and the Sathya Sai Organisation.
Already Moreno’s reckless behaviour has earned him public condemnation on the Internet for one high-profile but minor part of his extensive campaign. Thanks to his highly aggressive attempt to dictate toWikipedia contributors what should and should not be included in their (mediocre) article on Sathya Sai Baba, the propagandist has received a significant official rebuff from that prominent Internet institution. After months of Moreno’s abrasive demands and provocative filibustering, the already heated Wikipedia debate became incandescent and vituperative, leading, inevitably, to the intervention of an internal Arbitration Committee. After three months of discussions, in March 2007, Joe Moreno (as ‘User SSS108’) and others involved in the debate were banned indefinitely from contributing to the Wikipedia Sathya Sai Baba article, its Discussion page and related articles. (Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Sathya_Sai_Baba_2)
Much more damaging for Joe / Gerald Moreno’s increasingly fragile credibility are ten substantial analyses of his pattern of bullying and crude ad hominem attacks. These are by no means the only Internet protests about his conduct but they are especially worth a perusal since they were written by reputed researchers of other subjects who have felt the need to express strong criticisms of Gerald (‘Joe’) Moreno’s idiosyncratic methodology with his only known research topic: the ongoing Sathya Sai Baba debate. Moreno’s subsequent furious retaliation against these writers (and others) offers ample further proof (if it is needed) of the inflexibly propagandistic motivation hidden behind his unconvincing claim to be a champion of the Truth.
"Moreno against Robert Priddy"
"Moreno banned from Wikipedia"
'Gerald 'Joe' Moreno's Google infovandalism'
'Gerald 'Joe' Moreno. A Case Study of an abusive devotee'
'Gerald Joe Moreno - Links'
Kevin R. D. Shepherd:
"Sathya Sai and Wikipedia"
‘Kevin R.D. Shepherd in response to Gerald Joe Moreno’
A recent calmer but firm voice of reason is also worth listening to on this topic:
Dr Timothy Conway ('The Crucial John Hislop Letters, Sathya Sai Baba, & Sathya’s Defender Joe Moreno').
A concise presentation of Kevin R.D. Shepherd’s two long essays on Moreno, offered in my ‘Sathya Sai Baba Research Bibliography, Part 2’ gives a clearer idea of the sorts of unusual behaviour Shepherd is highlighting:
2007a: ‘The Sathya Sai Baba Cordon in Wikipedia’, http://citizeninitiative.com/sathya_sai_and_wikipedia.htm
“A substantial and informative Internet article (originally of 30 pages) which meanders far beyond its arcane title referring to the acrimonious 2006 controversy which engulfed the Wikipedia article on Sathya Sai Baba and, at one point, cast malicious aspersions on Shepherd’s scholarly status. The author covers several topics related to Sathya Sai Baba criticism and also offers an explanation and defence of his long-term status as an amateur scholar and as a self-publisher of several books which have attracted academic attention. He also describes and strongly condemns some of the crude tactics of the aggressive pro-Sathya Sai Baba activist and propagandist, Joe Moreno, defends Robert Priddy (and later, himself) from reckless assertions and unfounded ad hominem disparagement, and offers a glimpse of fellow scholar Alan Kazlev’s spirited reaction to a belated discovery of Moreno’s true colours. He also weighs in heavily in support of Sathya Sai Baba’s critics who have promoted allegations of sexual abuse by Sathya Sai Baba, singling out the critical work of Robert Priddy and Basava Premanand and also citing the also relevant disillusionment with Sathya Sai Baba of the late Dr Marianne Warren, a fellow Shirdi Baba scholar.
The original 30 pages consist of four parts, plus Notes and References. (The Internet references and end links given by Shepherd will guide researchers to much of the critical work on Sathya Sai Baba.)
Part 1: Gerald Moreno’s Bias against Robert Priddy and Kevin R.D. Shepherd, and how Dr Marianne Warren became an ex-devotee.
Part 2: Profile of Gerald (Joe) Moreno and the Testimonies to strongly alleged sexual abuse by Sathya Sai Baba.
Part 3: Wikipedia, the rival Citizendium, and the Wikipedia ban on Gerald (Joe) Moreno.
Part 4: [On other matters]
A few months later (in November 2007), Shepherd responded to further personal disparagement and provocation by Moreno on the Internet by appending a substantial (18-page) 'Response' to the above article. Since this complex addendum was later issued for separate consultation, it is listed below.”
2007b: 'Kevin R.D. Shepherd in response to Gerald Joe Moreno',
“As well as cogently expressing his personal grievances against Moreno’s unsupported assertions and verdict, Shepherd comes to the aid of many other victims of the activist’s relentless campaign to disparage and discredit all critics of Sathya Sai Baba. In doing so, Shepherd draws special attention to the extraordinary technological component of Moreno’s aggressive strategy: exploiting the current primitive Search Engine system in order to weight Internet search results for critics’ names (including Shepherd’s) against the critics and in favour of Moreno’s own enormous accumulated stock of questionable articles disparaging them.
A reasonable conclusion one may draw from such a disturbing revelation is that it is now the Search Engines’ responsibility to take note of this serious systemic weakness and improve their service to the public.”
Other selected responses from targets of the intensive Gerald (‘Joe’) Moreno Internet campaign against critics of Sathya Sai Baba
‘Serious Defamation Attempt by Gerald Moreno Defeated’, ed. Barry Pittard, for the 7-person Working Committee of the JuST Group
‘Gerald ‘Joe’ Moreno’s Deception’
‘Diversionary Tactics by an Internet Demagogue. The Campaign of Joe (Gerald) Moreno:
Addendum, 23 August 2008:
A more detailed indictment of Gerald (Joe) Moreno's extensive smear campaigns against all criticism of Sathya Sai Baba has recently been issued by Robert Priddy.
Sathya Sai Baba Bibliography Part 1
Sathya Sai Baba Bibliography Part 2
Brian Steel's Sathya Sai Baba Page