|Guru Busters Documentary Discussing Sathya Sai Baba|
GuruBusters Broadcast On Channel 4, UK, 1995
Guru Busters Transcript (Only Contains Section About Sathya Sai Baba)
Narrator: One of the biggest gurus of them all Sathya Sai Baba, enjoys a world-wide following numbering in millions. His supernatural feats are legendary. His devotees regard him as a living God. He delights them with his daily audiences by magically producing holy ash and scattering it on the crowd. The people who follow him are not just poor and uneducated they comprise much of the country's intellectual elite.
Khushwant Singh (Journalist): This country is unique in having at least 400 or 500 men and women who not only claim to be incarnations but Gods themselves. Gods or Goddesses. And people believe and worship them. A man like Sai Baba of Puttaparthi has a following running into millions which includes the President, the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Governors of State, Chief Ministers of State. He has many of them. Some decisions and particularly appointments are made in consultation with him. He is only one of them. There are many, so many more and they may have local influence. But people like Sai Baba have National Influence.
Narrator: T.N. Seshan is one of the most powerful men in India. He is Chief Electoral Commissioner and has been picked as a future President. He is also one of Sai Baba's most conspicuous devotees.
T.N. Seshan: I went to Sai Baba last week and he gave me this ring out of nowhere. It is set with nine gems. There is a Ruby. There is a pearl. There is a sapphire in it. There is an emerald in it. There is a diamond in it. God knows what else. It has nine stones. And he materialized this for me out of nowhere (shows a gold bracelet). And now I can touch it. I can pull it. And people say, "I don't believe this". But it happened to me. Personally. And I am not a jungly kind of person. I've got a masters degree in Physics. I have a masters degree in Administration and Economics from Harvard. I find nothing contradictory between my physics and the fact that I believe that this came out of the blue.
Narrator: The profession of scientists do little to challenge such beliefs. This Sai Baba shrine in Bangalore, the center of Indian Science and Technology, attracts professors from national research institutions. Experts in engineering, aeronautics and geology gather to worship a man they believe has superhuman powers.
Dr. Lakshman Rao (Professor of Civil Engineering): [inaudible]...Extraordinary divine and he is one such incarnation. We consider him divine. There is no question about it. I have been a scientist. I was a non-believer in Sai Baba himself. But today, I am an absolutely firm believer. I have seen things happen right before my eyes. The ring I am wearing here...[inaudible]...it was materialized. It was created by Sai Baba just by a wave of his hand. And to prove there is no hide-and-seek in this, at one point in time he produced - he produces lots of vibuthi as you call it or ash, the white ash that you see - in Puttaparthi where I went for the first time to meet him what he did was he asked if I was going to use this vibuthi and then I said "yes". Then gave it to me. He materialized it with a small wave of his hand. He circles his hand like this and it appeared in his hand and he gave it to me. Just to make me believe because I am a scientist, skeptical boy, he raised his hand like this and then rolled up his sleeve and showed me his armpit. "People say I hide these things in my armpit. Do you see that?" I said, "No. I...[inaudible]". So definitely, Sai Baba can transport materials, can materialize anything he wants. There is no doubt about it.
Narrator: The scientists faith in his guru may have blinded him to alternative explanations to these supernatural feats. P.C. Socar is India's best known stage magician. He's sees nothing extraordinary in making jewelry appear from the blue.
P.C. Sorcar (Magician): It is all tricks. We call it "palming" or "sleight of hand". See, out of this particular finger, I bring one ring out and give it to you. And when he comes forward to take it. I give it to him...[inaudible]...It can come out of here. So to pull things out of thin air, it is no magic at all.
Narrator: Scientists may believe that their guru can suspend the law of physics but skeptics are now questioning the evidence. This video of Sai Baba is now being circulated secretly in India. It appears to show the godman using stage magician trick to produce a gold necklace for a distinguished guest. Just before he hands over an award, his fingers seem to be searching for something underneath the wooden box. He then draws back his hand. Waves it around and a necklace appears as if from thin air. The event was witnessed by India's Prime Minister, and recorded by the state controlled Indian television network. But after an editor drew attention to the apparent trickery, this footage was not broadcast. Among the skeptics now speaking out against the godmen is lawyer K. Balgopal. He led a prosecution alleging that Sai Baba's materializations were a breach of gold bullion import regulations, as well as the law of physics.
K. Balgopal (Barrister): Here is a person who claims to materialize something from nothing. Supposing Sai Baba were to materialize food, water for the common man. He were to solve the problem of the common man, irrespective of his antecedents, I would have respected him. But here is a man who caters to the elite. Who gives them gold necklaces they don't require. He gives them diamonds. These things are meant for the poor. Instead, to the poor he gives holy ashes.
Producer/director: Robert Eagle
Assistant producer: Anna Symon
Editor: Adam Finch
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE GURUBUSTERS VIDEO:
For starters, this film was produced and directed by Robert Eagle. It is apparent that Mr Eagle has strongly sympathetic ties with rationalists. For example, Mr Eagle also produced and directed Miracles of Faith, which was an investigation into several alleged Christian miracles and the Ganesha milk miracle that occurred in India. This film had a rationalistic overtone and included an interview Sanal Edamaruku (a very outspoken atheist and rationalist). Mr Eagle also produced and directed Big Questions. This was a movie that discussed how great scientists (such as Darwin, Faraday, Hubble, Mendel and Mendeleev) changed the world with their scientific views. Rationalists also mentioned that Mr Eagle produced and directed a documetary about Indian Rationalists which was broadcast on Flemish TV: BRTV TV 1, 26-1-1997. It was said that this documentary highlighted the work of Abraham Kovoor (one of Sathya Sai Baba's fiercest critics).
The GuruBusters film also discussed a video that allegedly captured Sathya Sai Baba producing a gold necklace by sleight of hand. Sanal Edamaruku (a self-professed atheist and rationalist) said about this video: "In November 1994 during the celebration of his 69th birthday, he was caught red-handed when he 'materialized' a golden chain, a cameraman of the national TV (Doordarshan) filmed the scene and revealed -just by chance- the secret: a close-up shows him plucking the chain from the bottom of a plaque, where it has been fixed before. Sai Baba was powerful enough to get the film clipping confiscated before it could be broadcasted, but copies of the cassette, smuggled out from the Doordarshan studios, were circulated all over India and abroad In Guru Busters, Channel IV's famous documentary by Robert Eagle about the work of Indian Rationalists, which has meantime been broadcasted in twelve countries, the clipping is reproduced in slow motion, proving the case beyond doubts. Sai Baba's reputation suffered serious damage."
The only problem with all these claims, about Sathya Sai Baba being filmed faking a materialization, is that Erlendur Haraldsson (author of Modern Miracles) stated that he and his associates carried out a careful analysis of the video shown in the Guru Busters film. Haraldsson stated the following about the video: "The quality and resolution of the tape leaves much to be desired and limits the inferences that can be drawn from it. Dr. Wiseman took the videotape to a company which specialises in investigating corporate fraud. This company posesses some of the world's best equipment designed to enhance poor quality videotape. The technician kindly offered to enhance the videotape in question. The videotape was run through a real time Snell & Wilcox Kudos Noise Reducer. The machine carries out three operations. First, it removes via recursive filters the random noise on the tape caused by repeated copying. Second, it imporves the graininess of the video by median filters and finally enhances any edges on the the video through edge enhancement filters. After all this the video is certainly easier to watch, and did not contain much of the random noise present on the copy provided by the Deccan Chronicle. However, the resulting tape still did not reveal further information about the incident. In short, the reason for Sai Baba's hand movements still appears unclear and is open for various interpretations, but the tape contained no firm evidence of fraud. The company also analysed several still frames taken from the video. These were scanned into a computer and run through an Improve image processing system (developed by the Home Office in Britain). Again, the images were enhanced via median filters and certain areas of the frames were enlarged. The resulting photographs show the crucial moment as Sai Baba's hands touch under the memento, but do not reveal any further information." Therefore, all these claims about Sathya Sai Baba clearly resorting to trickery, to manifest the necklace, are patently false.
Interesting enough, Khushwant Singh (an Indian Journalist consulted in the Secret Swami programme) stated in the GuruBusters video that he holds Anti-Guru and Rationalist views. Mr Singh said, "What you cannot prove by your reason, we reject...I reject God...I can only be wishful and say I hope that rationalism will thrive in this country as it has in some others." For some mysterious reason, Mr Singh's Anti-Guru and Rationalist views were not divulged in the Secret Swami programme.
Throughout the Guru Busters series, several rationalists clearly stated that they were not "Anti-Religion". Rather, these rationalists claimed they were "Anti-Superstition". However, the rationalist's claim of not being "Anti-Religion" was completely and thoroughly compromised when large posters (at a rationalist exposure, in a village) were filmed that read, in bold, caricatured letters: "RELIGION IS DEADLIER THAN CANCER, MORE DEVASTATING THAN THE ATOM BOMB. IT HAS TO BE UPROOTED". Another poster read, in bold, caricatured letters: "LET US BE RATIONALISTS AND FOLLOW HUMANISM AS THE TRUE RELIGION OF THE DAY". The rationalists gave street children free education in exchange for being indoctrinated, in special schools, with their rationalist views. The street children were forced to chant, over and over, "down with witch doctors, gurus are frauds", "long live the modern science and Rationalists Association" and "long live rationalism". Furthermore, these same rationalists would travel from place to place in a bus and fervently chanted (in true cult-like style) "LONG LIVE RATIONALISM", like a mantra.
The GuruBusters video also stated that Basava Premanand (then 65 years old) had been exposing gurus for 40 years (since the age of 25). This means that Premanand was never a follower or devotee of Sathya Sai Baba (as he, David Bailey and other Anti-Sai Activists have claimed). Basava Premanand had been trying to investigate and expose Sathya Sai Baba since 1968. Premanand was an atheist and rationalist since 1955. Therefore, all the claims that Premanand was a devotee (at one time) of Sathya Sai Baba are completely absurd and unfounded.
For the record, the court case that K. Balgopal and Basava Premanand filed against Sathya Sai Baba for violating the Gold Control Act, was promptly and wholly dismissed. Another failed legal case.
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