Sai Slurs, Part Eight
Posted: Saturday, November 29, 2003
Author: Barry Pittard
(Exposé people are Christians out to destroy Hinduism)
Some Indians say this, but by no means do they represent the great traditions of tolerance in that country, nor the ethical imperative: always tell the truth. Given the pernicious history of colonialism in India, its citizens' being hurt at insensitive Christian missionary zeal is understandable, but not condonable when it extends to kindling hatred and prejudice. As if there has not been enough of that.
A poll conducted by the Indian The Newspaper Today, Saturday, September 1, 2001, gave the following results, which alone reduces to ashes the claim that raising questions about Sathya Sai Baba is somehow a put-up job by anti-Hindu Christian activists:
Archived at: http://home.hetnet.nl/~ex-baba/engels/shortnews/India%20News%20-%20The%20Newspaper%20Today.htm
My Response: First of all, the type of poll provided on the no-longer-existent The Newspaper Today, is not a scientific poll. As a matter of fact, these types of polls can be easily spammed and one person can click on it hundreds of times if they so choose. So the poll means nothing.
However, I would like to address the serious and very real problem of Fundamentalist Christians and their role in the Anti-SSB movement. Indians are not the only ones who have made this claim about Christians out to destroy Hinduism and Sathya Sai Baba. It has been made by many foreigners, and these claims do, in fact, have substance to them.
Click Here For The Updated Version To The Christian Anti-Sai/Hindu Page
Many Sathya Sai Baba devotees assume that any questioning of him equates to a questioning of Hinduism. However, Hindus at large do not make this assumption in the least. Travel widely across India and you will know the exceptionally widespread disdain for him. This is especially due to his emphasis on miracles, his claim to be the prime manifestation of God in all history, the vast pomp and circumstance that surround him, his fleet of luxury foreign cars, his cultivation of the rich, his giving special seating positions at darshans to the rich, his flattery of the rich and famous … By the way, his flattery of various visiting Indian Prime Ministers is, unwittingly, documented across issues of Sanathana Sarathi, including the case of Narasimha Rao, who was sentenced to years in jail, convicted on a slew of corruption charges relating to kickbacks from secret arms deals with the Swedish firm Bofors.
My Response: My link to the Christian Anti-Sai/Hindu Movement is applicable here as well. When SSB used to travel to Madras, Bombay, Delhi or Hyderabad, literally tens of thousands of people would gather to just to catch a glimpse of him. This is a well known fact. SSB has also drawn crowds over a hundred thousand on his birthday celebrations. So if there is "widespread disdain" for SSB, it is not evident. However, this is not to say that SSB does not have his detractors. He does.
In 2000, I was a member of a small international group of former devotees which ran a number of potent exposure operations. In one of these, we got a 10-page cover story (December 4, 2000) in the prestigious mass circulation weekly magazine India Today: archived at: http://saiguru.net/english/media/001204india.htm. In eleven languages, millions of Indians read this publication, which is somewhat like a Time or Newsweek magazine for India and Indians abroad. Convincing its proprietors, editor and legal advisors of the good credentials of the Exposé group of Sai Baba dissenters was a very demanding task indeed. It required extensive submission of documentary evidence, such as copies of victim affidavits, the provision of direct access to a number of Sathya Sai Baba's victims, evidence of our presentation of the facts to our own governments, Interpol, FBI, Scotland Yard, CBI New Delhi, etc.
My Response: First of all, reporting in India is nothing compared to reporting in the USA. There is no dearth of poorly researched (and accepted) articles in Indian newspapers and magazines. It is a well known fact that Indian newspapers are sensationalistic and thrive on controversy. For example, just recently (February 2005) all of the Indian newspapers published an article about an Uttar Pradesh High School Senior, named Saurabh Singh, who aced the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's International Scientist Discovery Examination for 2005-2006. Not only did every single paper in India publish this story, there were references stating that A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, India's President, and the late Kalpana Chawla (the NASA astronaut who perished in the Columbia disaster) had also passed this prestigious test! Amidst the numerous tributes and praises circulating in the Indian press, NASA put out an official statement that no such test existed and the story was fabricated! But not even one Indian journalist researched it! So when Barry Pittard cites Indian press sources, one must remember that the standards they adhere to are not as thorough as in other countries.
Barry Pittard makes fantastic claims about well documented evidence that was submitted to governments and investigatory departments. Why haven't Anti-SSB Activists made this documentation public? Where are the FBI, Interpol, Scotland Yard and CBI documents? Where are the official statements from these organizations? As a matter of fact, Anti-SSB Activists have admitted that the FBI has not made any comments about SSB. If this documentation was so extensive, why hasn't anyone filed a court case against SSB in India? Why hasn't anyone even tried? As a matter of fact, Robert Priddy tried answering this question and only ended up putting his foot in his mouth. Click Here to view my article about Robert Priddy and his flip-flopping about the Indian Justice System.
Predictably enough - see: http://home.hetnet.nl/~ex-baba/engels/letters/letters.html - some writers of Letters to the Editor of India Today levelled the Sai slur that this exposure was all a Christian plot against Hinduism; again, as though he and Hinduism are somehow synonymous. Can there be very many educated Indians who think that Arun Shourie of India Today is a pushover? Such letters yielded yet another tiresome case of assertion without evidence, of not being sensitive and intelligent enough to hear the cries of the afflicted, of ignoring the good community standing of those furnishing the information to the magazine, and of being blind to the professionalism of journalist Vijay Thapa and his India Today team who extensively researched and wrote the story.
My Response: Go back to the top of this page and see how the "Christian Plot" is not so far-fetched after all. Arun Shourie is highly controversial and undeniably sensationalistic (as most controversialists are). Once again (yes, this is getting terribly redundant), Barry Pittard is blathering about "evidence". Barry, if it exists, take it to a court of law! The fact of the matter is that by taking this alleged "evidence" to a court of law would generate terrific publicity. All the facts (yes, even the facts about the alleged victims) would be public domain and people could form their own independent observations and draw their own conclusions. If any high-ranking judge tried to quash these investigations, it would be a media feeding-frenzy. However, no one has even tried to file a court case against SSB. Why not? With all these claims to amassed "evidence" and being backed up by governments and well reputed investigatory departments, Anti-SSB Activists should have no problem proving their case against SSB. Nevertheless, no one has even tried filing a court case against SSB (except Hari Sampath who sent his letter to the wrong department via mail)!
In actual fact, not one member of the Exposé group was affiliated with a Christian church. All had been typical Sathya Sai devotees who, whether Westerners or not, had spent years singing Hindu-oriented bhajans and chanting Sanskrit slokas. Those of us who were Westerners on an Eastern spiritual path had typically rejected not Christianity, in some primal sense, but the church - Churchianity. Characteristically, each of the Westerners involved had the same love and veneration of Vedic culture as many serious Sai devotees.
My Response: Whether or not the original Exposé group was affiliated with a Christian Church or not, is irrelevant. The fact remains that there exists a Christian movement against SSB and Hinduism. I have already discussed this, in detail, on this page. Barry Pittard has also written to Christian Organizations to "warn" them of SSB and thereby has attempted to polarize them.
Interestingly one of the letter writers was High Court Judge Y.V. Anjaneyulu, a well-known Sathya Sai devotee whose disgraceful flouting of justice has done far more than a foreigner might do to reveal the corrupt patronage endemic in the Indian power structures. B. Premanand, of television's "Guru Buster's" fame, bravely tried and failed to expose Sathya Sai Baba in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh (in the State where Judge Anjaneyulu's guru lives). He submitted that the usage of the gold in Sathya Sai Baba's so-called materializations, since it is not declared as strictly required by Indian law, contravenes the Gold Standard. Justice Anjaneyulu handed down the ruling that the law requiring a license to produce gold does not apply to Sathya Sai Baba, who, he determined, materialises his gold from a divine realm:
My Response: Many people attribute miraculous materializations to SSB. There are many pictures, in many houses all over the world, where this phenomena is said to occur. Robert Priddy and other Ex-Devotees have acknowledged that SSB does have paranormal powers. Click Here to view pictures to these alleged manifestations.
What is amusing about Basava Premanand's claim (that many Anti-SSB Activists fail to notice) is that in order for Premanand to have won this case, he would have had to prove and accept that SSB does, indeed, materialize gold to begin with! Indian law states that only licensed dealers are permitted to "produce" gold. Of course, this applies to gold mining only. Basava Premanand was trying to argue his case based on the premise that SSB literally materializes the gold, so SSB needed a license to "produce" gold. If the gold was literally materialized, then it would not have been mined. So the licensing issue would be irrelevant! This points, once again, to Basava Premanand and his irrational challenges against SSB.
The same rigor in our dealings with India Today has been the case with the press of many countries: Australia (The Age), Canada (Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun), Denmark (BT), Chile (Gatopardo), Germany (Bild, Focus), Holland (Trouw), India (India Today), USA (Salon.com), the UK (Times of London, Daily Telegraph), Sweden (Göteborgsposten), … and the National broadcasters of Australia (ABC), Denmark (DR), Norway (NRK), UK (BBC) and other broadcasters in Argentina and Holland.
My Response: The proliferation of propaganda is not the same as a criminal case in a court of law. Barry Pittard advocates for SSB being held to the same standards that are required "of the rest of us", yet turns right around and makes criminal accusations against SSB without validating it through a court of law, as would be required "of the rest of us". Thus far, the only trial that has taken place is the trial via internet propaganda, waged by Anti-SSB Activists. If there is any merit to these allegations, they should file court proceedings. They have refused and failed to do so. One can only wonder why.
And - coming up - with one of the major television broadcasting companies in the world!
Despite this sheer quality of journalistic professionalism, the profoundly shameless Indulal Shah, recently displaced as head of Sathya Sai Baba's world organisation though still in charge of India, wrote a letter (September 18, 2001) to leaders of the world Sathya Sai Organisation, in which he said "Devotees, however, must be careful in interacting with the media, which has a strong propensity for sensationalism. A whiff of scandal always helps their sales and therefore they do not even pause to verify the truth."
My Response: I don't think anyone disagrees with Indulal Shah's statement about the media having a strong propensity for sensationalism. This is even more true in India where they definitely "do not even pause to verify the truth". This is evidenced by my earlier comments about the Uttar Pradesh High School Senior, named Saurabh Singh, who aced the non-existent National Aeronautics and Space Administration's International Scientist Discovery Examination for 2005-2006. Needless to say, even well respected journalists published this bogus story.
By thus playing to many people's populist images of an irresponsible media, Indulal Shah dishonestly ignored the credibility of those presenting the allegations, of the facts and arguments presented, and of the superior quality of the media which it is our strict habit to seek out. Typically, it was he who did not "not even pause to verify the truth," which is the case with so many prominent Sai slanderers – to name but a few: Ashok Bhagani, P.N. Bhagawati, Roger Basham, Bob Bozzani, Al Drucker, Bon Giovanni, Michael Goldstein, Leonardo Gutter, William Harvey, Jagadeeshan, Thorbjörn Meyer, Ranganath Mishra, Chris Parnell, S. Piculell, Indulal Shah, Ken Soman, Jørgen Trygved, T. Sri Ramanathan, A.B. Vajpayee… All of these are men, in an incredibly male-dominated Sai milieu.
My Response: Irresponsible media exists. As do irresponsible Anti-SSB Activists who make astounding claims and expect people to believe them based on their word! The most vocal, and hence "male dominated", members to the Anti-SSB movement, are men. There are numerous Anti-SSB Sai Slurrers, the most vocal being: Robert Priddy, Barry Pittard, Reinier Van Der Sandt, Sanjay Dadlani, Said Khorramshahgol, Tony O'Clery, Brian Steel, Serguei Badaev and Dave Lyons.
It is also amusing that Barry Pittard refers to these slurs as "Sai Slurs". "Sai Slurs" would refer to slurs about Sai or slurs made by Sai. None of these slurs are "Sai Slurs" at all. As a matter of fact, the only proper context to use this term would be in relation to Anti-SSB Activists who openly, and relentlessly, "Sai Slur".
Where is the Sathya in these peak Sathya Sai leaders? Where is the leadership of those who ostensibly lead this so-called 'divine organisation'? It is their hypocrisy, whether they come from East or West, that runs the risk of destroying the good repute of Hinduism to the world at large, which is why Hindu former Sathya Sai Baba devotees such as Jeyendran Soma (Sydney, Australia) are now organising to see rigorously documented representations made in these matters to leading Hindu Councils in the world.
My Response: When Jeyendran Soma organizes his "rigoroulsy documented representations" to leading Hindu Councils, the general public would like to see it. Where is the "sathya" in Barry Pittard's claims? It is his hypocrisy to make astounding claims against SSB, then withhold the evidence. I do not want to hear claims. I do not want to hear allegations. I do not want to hear whining, sniveling and acidic, vitriolic attacks. I want documentation, affidavits, letters of acknowledgment, court case numbers and objective data. The years are passing...11 years and counting regarding SSB's alleged complicity in the 1993 police shooting...5 years and counting regarding sexual abuse allegations and fraud...No court cases. No convictions. No new allegations. Nothing.