Death of a God(?)

I quote from an article in Nexus Magazine dated Jan 3, 2007, by editor Duncan Roads.

‘If only more Sai Baba believers would examine both sides of the debate and see for themselves, but they are obviously too afraid of learning that they have been conned.

Thus these ‘true believers’ still have major ego problems, else they would be able to read and confront the ugly truth of their deception.” Here the writer starts with declaring that more and more people are waking up to the fact that Sai Baba is a rapist and a pedophile.

[Home Page Date: Wed.Jan 03, 04:01:25 2007

On the event of Sai Baba’s demise the nation with its hoards of ordinary & extra-ordinary blind followers have risen up in shock and sorrow --- at the death of a ‘God’. Now the next few days will follow exaggerated stories of the godman’s greatness and power. There are stories of his expected re-birth already in the air. The big money – the vast empire of Sai needs to be managed smoothly, hence the continuity of ‘godmanship’ is required. Looking through the net we found the above clipping from Nexus Magazine. Ha ha. We do not know the truth behind this report, but it is a pity the majority of our countrymen does not read, does not ask, does not search, does not question and does not think.

We cannot miss this opportunity. So we give below excerpts from a book Aloukik noy, Loukik (Natural, not Supernatural) by rationalist Prabir Ghosh from Kolkata, India. The book has been published as “Paranormal Exposed” by Power Publishers. (available through Flipcart).

In chapter three of the said book Prabir writes about Sai Baba:--

Satya Sai Baba

Satya Sai of Puttaparthi is undoubtedly the most publicized and the biggest supernaturally powerful (?) saint of present day India. Among his devotees are eminent people and that enhances his popularity as a ‘true Godman’.

The mystery of the supernatural watch

Dr. S. Bhagawanthan an ex-Scientist and advisor to the Government of India did not believe in the supernatural until he came into contact with Sai Baba. He had personally witnessed the Baba’s occult powers. Let us find out what exactly he had seen during the nineteen seventies. Just out of curiosity Bhagawanthan had visited the Sai Baba Ashram. He saw a Japanese Gentleman in the crowd and Sai Baba called the Japanese man and brought out a small parcel out of thin air and handed over to him. The Japanese man opened the parcel and to his utter surprise found his own watch which he had left at his home back in Japan. Even the small label was intact on this new watch. The Japanese gentleman went back to his own country and found to his dismay that the new watch he had kept in his office cupboard had vanished. On enquiry he found that during his absence one day a man with fluffy hair and a divine aura about him had entered his office, taken out the watch and had left the office in silence. Hearing this Dr. Bhagawanthan became an ardent devotee of Satya Sai.

The Srilankan rationalist Dr. Kovoor (1898 – 1978) heard about this incident and did a thorough follow up. He wrote a number of letters to the Japanese Consulate but failed to find the whereabouts of the mysterious Japanese. He contacted the Seiko Watch Company’s top personnel too, as Dr. Bhagawanthan had earlier mentioned about one such person who visited India. I had seen the reply from the President of ‘Seiko’; he had denied any knowledge about Sai Baba or about anybody in his office having met Sai Baba in India.

When Dr. Kovoor went back to Bhagawanthan with his queries, he was mysteriously silent. Dr. Kovoor’s utmost efforts to unearth the truth produced no result. One can only deduce that the whole story was made up to promote Sai’s mysticism.

Why such things happen?

The popular commercial papers go on making aggressive propaganda on behalf of the popular ‘Avatars’ and their Supernatural powers, thereby further increasing their popularity. The reasons are –

1)               Even now, a majority of readers are emotionally attracted towards such mystic incidents. Made up stories of unnatural happenings form a large part of our papers and magazines.

2)               A large article on a popular ‘Godman’ or woman increases the readership of the concerned paper, as all devotees or fans buy the day’s paper for obvious reasons.

3)               The ‘Avatars’ oblige all these media – be it TV Channel or newspaper by way of advertisements or other favors. One well-known present day ‘Yogi’ reportedly pays two hundred thousand rupees to any channel for a single program made on him.

4)               The top people in the media and their policy makers are common humans. Like the majority of Indians they too may be immersed in blind faith in the occult powers of various established Gurus of India.

Mystic ray of light or halo

During the eighties when Sai Baba’s popularity was at its peak I had come across many eminent and apparently knowledgeable people who believed in various pseudoscientific notions. One such example is Mr. Karanjia, the editor of ‘BLITZ’ Magazine. He believed that there is this never-ending storehouse of cosmic power surrounding us, and through ‘Yoga’ we can use some of it. Great men like Sai Baba have harnessed this great power and it is manifested in the aura visible around them. As a proof he showed a picture of Sai Baba with a halo around his head. We know that it is possible to create such halos photographically around any picture of animal or object, is it not? What surprises me most is that these otherwise clever and able men can be so naïve when it comes to matters of gods and godmen.

‘Vibhuti’ or holy ash

The name of Sai Baba and the manifestation of his greatness through a distribution of a kind of perfumed ash is a common story heard by all and witnessed by many. Seeing these disciples distributing this ‘holy ash’ among themselves and going berserk with ecstasy, I decided to investigate. I wrote four letters to Sai Baba on 1st March, 2nd April, 2nd May and 1st June of 1984 to his address at ‘Prasantinilayam’, Puttaparthi, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. I wrote earnestly requesting him to show me his power of distributing endless flow of ‘Vibhuti’ among his devotees and allow me to investigate the reality behind it. I expected that he would co-operate with me to show that there was no magic trick involved in it. Needless to say, I did not get any reply.

The long robe with huge, loose sleeves of Sai Baba can comfortably hide the gadgets producing this light and fine ash so cherished by his fans. (See diagram). I have showed this trick in our Rationalists’ programs quite successfully. Other than this, our boys have used another method to produce a large quantity of ‘ash’. Ash is mixed to liquid rice starch, made into balls and dried. These balls (perfumed to give a mystic aura) are kept in a pocket at the side of the robe. From the pocket through sleight of hand and using small tong-like tools hidden in the folds of the robe, the ash balls can be brought in the palm of hand and crushed and distributed to the eager crowd. The tightly made balls, when crushed can produce a surprisingly large quantity of ash. Our rationalist members did surprise spectators by going on handing out generously, a similar sweet-smelling whitish ash for a good length of time.

The reader must be wondering why I did not meet Sai Baba at his ashram to challenge him on his own ground. Robert Eagle producer of BBC Channel 4 had the same question. He was making a film titled ‘Guru-Busters’ on Rationalist movement in India, and wanted to shoot a scene of me confronting Sai. ‘I need body-guards; if possible, karate ‘black-belts’ to accompany me’ I said. I had to explain to Robert who had no idea about the religious fanatics in India. It was December 1994, and Sai Baba had a large number of ‘black cat’ security guards in plain clothes. Our member who visited the Ashram earlier posing as a devotee reported to me that the number of security personnel would be one guard per every three devotees. The bee line to the main hall would be long and anyone moving out of line or showing added curiosity was at once faced by these ‘volunteers’. Any kind of challenge or confrontation showing the slightest doubts about the Baba’s mystic powers would result in serious clash. Mass hysteria leading to murders is a common phenomenon in India. It was not a cake walk- Robert understood. There were thousands of paid guards and blind followers who would not hesitate to take the law in their hands.

Finally Robert Eagle went with his team to shoot the Sai Baba. White skinned photographers accompanying none other than the director of BBC were too much for Sai to refuse. After all, he needed publicity too. Sai Baba produced a gold chain from the air and handed over graciously. Little did he know that a hidden camera had clicked exactly how and from where he took out the chain. The sleight of hand or ‘palming’ as you call it in magic parlance was shown repeatedly in slow motion in the popular documentary film GURU-BUSTERS by Robert Eagle. It was good as a magic show. But anyone claiming supernatural power deserves to be exposed.

I remember that during 1993 or 1994 we all read in leading newspapers that four outsiders who tried to enter the palatial abode of Bhagwan Satya Sai were killed on the spot by Baba’s guards. They were robbers - it was reported! But why kill, when the guards could have them arrested? All four were killed and nobody ever heard of them any more. The questions raised by skeptics were all hushed up quickly. Public memory is poor.

Vibhuti from Photograph frames

Like many other rumours, this too had no dearth of ‘eye-witnesses’. Devotees have this practice of hanging huge photographs of Satya Sai in his red robe, his characteristic fluffy hair, one hand raised in blessing. They worship the photo as an image of God. Many had ‘seen’ during the eighties that the Baba blesses the ardent and lucky devotees by oozing out perfumed ash from the photo frames. They have seen the holy ash collected on the floor below their photographs. When I asked these ‘eye-witnesses’ personally whether they had actually seen the ash dropping to the ground, they all replied ‘not exactly’, but they had seen it gathered on the floor. This could happen in two ways.

1)               Some devotees, to show off his or her privileged position in the eyes of the ‘Bhagwan’ (God) could have made up the yarn. They had obviously put it there themselves.

2)               Lactic acid crystals were smeared thinly on the glass when nobody was watching. Then, with contact with air, in due course it reacted and fell on the ground as very fine whitish powder.

Bangalore University had made a Committee of 12 Scientists; they named it ‘Saibaba Exposure Committee’. The then Vice-Chancellor Dr. Narsimhaiya was the head of the Committee. But the Committee failed to carry on their investigation because of the absolute lack of co-operation from Sai Baba.

Such is the awe towards mysticism or spiritualism in our society that people prefer to be kept in the dark and not know the truth, rather than to try and expose a so-called saint or Godman. The government too, prefers to keep mum on such issues.

Diamond ring from the air

In 1981 we knew from a women’s magazine that Sai had ‘created’ a diamond ring for the great Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar from nowhere! This can be repeated by any human magician; we do not need a ‘God’ for that. We would appreciate if God’s avatar could make a plane or a bus or if he could distribute diamond rings to all the poor of our country. No, for them he only had ash!

In this connection, I remember an incident that took place in the beginning of the nineteen seventies. A young boy named Kitty from Karnataka came up and established himself as a combined ‘avatar’ of God Sai and Lord Krishna. He came to be known as ‘Sai Krishna’. He was even promoted by Sai Baba. He used to produce small pictures of Sai Baba by palming and distribute among the followers.

This Sai Krishna’s trick of offering perfumed holy ash or ‘Vibhuti’ was busted by the group of Scientists led by Dr. H. Narsimhaiya of Bangalore University mentioned earlier. This group, comprised of scientists, doctors, psychiatrists, magicians and lawyers barged into ‘Sai Krishna’s’ house and while the boy was serving mystic ‘Vibhuti’, the ash hidden inside his clothes was disclosed and his magic trick was caught red-handed. It was obvious to the crowd gathered that there was nothing ‘supernatural’ in the palming trick. Nobody heard of Sai Krishna after that incident.

[From ‘Paranormal Exposed’ by Prabir Ghosh]

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