Pseudoscience & Religion

Sai Baba: A Whiff of Fraud

(This article was written and adapted for Nirmukta by Sanjay Dadlani. The original post can be found here)

As a former devotee of Sathya Sai Baba I would like to relate an experience I had of his apparent omnipresence.

Back in my college days, travelling to the college naturally required me to cross a few streets when walking to the building. One morning, just as I was about to turn into a street crossing and walk over, the most fantastic smell entered my nostrils. It was the well-documented jasmine smell that is associated with the Baba and it was unmistakably ‘his scent’, and which led me to the conclusion that Sai Baba was near me in a disembodied and etheric form. Similar experiences have been reported by other devotees. I would have liked to have stopped there and inhale more of “the divine presence” had I not been conscious of my educational committments, and so I thanked Sai Baba for his presence with me that morning and moved on.

A few months later I found the same smell assaulting my nostrils. I was initially filled with a sense of wonder and was about to thank Sai Baba for his divine omnipresence again when I suddenly realised that I was at the same street-crossing and it was around the sametime as the previous experience!

Something sure smelled fishy, pun not intended, and I took a few minutes to do some detective work. I discovered that the smell was originating from a shop about 4-6 meters away from the street-crossing, a dry-cleaning business run by an Indian family. As a part of their own religiosity they had the custom of offering prayers to God before they started work, and sure enough there was a couple of agarbatti (incense) sticks burning in front of a deity’s picture. The smell had wafted out into the street because the shop door was kept open, and as I neared the entrance to the shop the smell became stronger. Incidentally, this family were devotees of Sathya Sai Baba though I do not recall noticing his picture there.

I was disgusted. Sick and thoroughly disgusted. Not only did I have to suffer the painful realisation that Sai Baba was not with me at those instances, but I had to deal with the fact that I had bought into the propaganda that such events were typical of Sai Baba’s “omnipresence” when they had a perfectly mundane and rational explanation. It also made me wonder about the authenticity of the other experiences recorded by Sai devotees. Knowing their capacity for exaggeration, it’s perfectly possible that a large number of “omnipresence” instances accompanied by otherworldly smells and other ‘signs’ can have their occurrences explained in a similarly rational manner.

Written by Sanjay Dadlani

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  • It’s interesting that even though I spent 14 years of my life (the first few of which my cognitive abilities were no better than a chimp’s) as a “Sai devotee”, I never knew about this relationship between incense and Baba’s omnipresence.

    Whenever I did smell anything of the sort, which was quite often, I just thought it smelled nice. Alas, had I known Baba was blessing me with his presence, I may not have become the atheist I am today.

    It’s also rather interesting that something which makes believers believe more made you believe less. Perhaps Baba should have stopped stalking you after the first time.

    Good post all the same, Sanjay.

  • It is sad to know that India’s famous cricketer is hardly rational in his thinking.

    Gavaskar celebrates 60th birthday in Puttaparthi

    Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, Jul 10 : Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar today celebrated his 60th birthday at the ashram of Satya Sai Baba in Puttaparthi.

    The legendary cricketer, the first batsman to reach 10,000 runs in the history of test cricket, told mediapersons that he came here to the Ashram on a call from the spirtual teacher.

    The ”little master” was accompanied by his family, including his cricketer-son Rohan Gavaskar and brother-in-law former test cricketer Gundappa Viswanath.

    He refused to be drawn into any serious discussion on cricket.
    — UNI

  • It is pretty obvious that all those watches and vibhuti are by sleight of hand. But how does one set up a water project, and sanitation facility, or a tertiary care hospital through magic? Instead of hyperventilating over Sathya Sai Baba’s so-caled miracles, you would do the world a service if you studied his charitable activities. I do know a few doctors who spend sabbaticals there, more info would be welcome.

  • If he can bring lingams,gold chains and watches by waving his hand surely he can bring hospitals,sanitation facilities etc by waving his hand or may be he can gurgle out more gold lingams non stop(Gold’s price is now sky rocketing)


  • world would have been a better place if each and every man thinks of betterment in himself rather than thinking/criticizing others.Sai Baba is a man who is doing so many good deeds for poor,For education,for health and many things like this..Every man on this earth should know his deeds rather than just critisize.Tell me what have you done?

    • The progress of a culture occurs when bad ideas are cirticized. Criticism is a very important aspect of civil society. Sai Baba is a rapist and a pedophile. You may find comfort in defending such lowlifes, but at least defend them by examining the criticism and not by simply asking others to not criticize people who keep India backward. As for the good deeds the charlatan has done, I don’t see how conning millions of people into donating millions of dollars and then using a part of that loot to maintain the image you have built for yourself, thus ensuring more donations from deluded fools, constitutes ‘good deeds’.

  • As a newcomer seeking information on the Sai Baba phenomenon, I read Phyllis Krystal’s book, SAI BABA THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE.

    It was very convincing that Baba is legit; however, I read the court transcripts of one of Yogananda’s favorite disciples, Donald Walter. The transcripts, indeed, revealed a sexual predator on the loose in Ananda Village in Northern California.

    Some of the posts are critical of Baba but I don’t find any concrete evidence – with Walters I found very damaging concrete evidence.

    I am still neutral re Baba and am seeking the truth. I would appreciate any enlightening comments (pun intended).

    • Andrew Treacy.. plz do not cum to any conclusion until u see him!go to puttaparthi find out by yourself don read books & cum to conclusions..believe ur eyes not anytin else!

  • This man pulls gold rolexes out of his hair to demonstrate his spiritual wisdom – does that sound like the real thing to you? I met so many desperate people in India, going to him for help. He’s never helped anyone. I went to see one of the “great” hospitals he supposedly built – it was just an empty structure – it didn’t even have windows.

    He’s a filthy rich fraud.

    Please, don’t turn to charlatans like this for spiritual guidance.

  • It is all whiff of fraud, this man is a fake, why do we want to believe in miracles performed by a human being? Believe in yourself. Not to mention that this cult is also dangerous. Go against them and you are finished.

  • How could u initially fall for that? u obviously were an educated person. Gosh, someone who did not finish primary could con graduates, learned man. I guess that.s the power of religion. There is no life after this. accept it! then u will have set urself free. isnt that what enligtenment is all about2

  • Estimated assets grossed up with the sai trust is between 40K to 100K Cr. tax free money.
    What was spent on hospitals/education and other charities is not more than 4K cr till date.

    Trustee’s enjoy power & wealth. Most of the money ended up at the temples and these kind of trusts is not legally earned.

    Politicians spend hell lot of money of tax payers for visiting these psudo’s.

    donnow when people will learn.

  • I’m shocked to see ur foolishness.Ur mind was compl. involved in a fantasty ‘sai world’.Its offcourse part of the indian,hindu freternity to imagine all that glitters is gold.

    Common sence is jus not common in the worshipping lot of people.Guys!Leave stop pointing out fingures,take the best & leave the rest for HIM to decide.

    Dont 4get to put on ur thinking caps even in a religious matter.Reason out & function ur brain jus like how the open parachute does.


  • I don’t understand why these devotees couldn’t use their brain to think intelligently.
    My basic questions are:
    1. If he is a god man, why is he suffering with disabilities? Some people said, being in a human form, he should undergo the normal karmic cycle. Ok, they agree that this man had committed some sins in his previous birth, which should definitely disqualify him to be born as a god man.
    2. While he is unable to cure his own decease, how could they expect him to treat theirs?
    3. He has been proved of hoarding illegal treasures in his room. Now, people try to put the blame on his greedy nephew. So, this god couldn’t even mould his own nephew in to a good citizen, how could others expect godly blessing from him?

    I can’t understand these people.


  • I studied in his college for 5 years and had the chance to observe him closely. He was not only a fraud but also a dangerous one at that…several of my classmates were sexually abused by Sai Baba.

  • Multiple places with >500kms distances saibaba devotees/homes nearby in any of these location….actually people here do not care about godmens…try to find find out the origin of smell with logical /scientific way ..found no agharbatti sticks or anyone using scents at home …how come I am experiencing the same jasmine smell again and again ?

  • My family still believes him. I am not sure how to convince them that he is a fraud. Anyway I am looking for some good ex-sai baba atheist friends.

  • To say Satya Sai Baba is great he should have some qualities…
    1) Predict the future of India
    2) To lead a simple life style
    3) Should wear a torn cloth and should give immediate remedies to a pauper…..

    Providing education, water facilities can be done by the Govt if there is money.. Please Believe in yourself and dont fall at the feet of kaliyuga false babas….

  • U all r those ones bcoz of whom devi sita has to go to forest.those peple were like u all, who said sita is impure but today u all worship her don’t u feel same! U all r those same frauds who used to trap radha and her friends in the prisons bcoz they think gopikas and kanha has illegal physical relations. Had anybody at that time thought what actualy the feelings of gopikas r? What actually is the truth? Nobody did that. The peple of gokul even sent krishna out of the villag. They even trid to fire radha and her sister alive in front of all. Was that little? Who protected them? Is it not the same kanha?Villagers were fully modified thence. People of shirdi tried many a times to throw sai baba out but they ultimately have to take refuge of His protection.bcoz of kaikai rama’s glory spread bcoz of u al BABA’S glory wil spread. Truth shal win ultimately. One thing also,all won’t get the sweetnes of the avatar as like kamsa-kauravs. U al r reapting the history it is not new that god has chosen u as his critics.

  • I’ve no any expectations that by this post u al will go to search truth! When the mind of kaikai was stirred by manthra,whose suggestions she had listened? Even when dasarath died she was not transformed.kaikai loved rama most but which brick of ayodhya has ever thought that this tragedious masterplan is also in HIS drama,making own dearest mother the instrument. Who u al r? In the mind of ur ayodhya the doubting devil manthra has stirred the kaikai, ur intellect which will be restored by bharat the pillar of devotion. My friends nobody is forcing u to go and worship sai baba to follow him. It is enough if u follow ur own path,ur own name and form of ur dearest LORD. U r busy in critisizing others but do u know that this human birth is rarest of the rarers! Follow ur own path and prove that u have realized the truth that all the scriptures declared then come to the ground to dispute . First realize the truth urself then u will know who is fraud and who is god? BABA has also said that authencity shal win.

  • To Sagar Bhandari:

    You are a first-class-fool. I highly encourage that you educate yourself and read the Gita. If you do, you will immediately realise Sathya Sai Baba is undeniably a fraud. I pray and hope God guides you in the right direction, because the one you are heading in right now leads to ignorance.

  • Brother! I’m happy that u call me a fool. How can a fool study gita brother? To me you and your comments r both pleasant. Husband may b a drunkard but for a wife he is equal to god. Think same my brother. Baba may b fraud 4 u and others but he is my life my god unparallel to even brahma visnu and maheswar. But brother this subject must not b the subject of enemity between us. Baba has taught me to love all whatsoever it may be. If only we stop hating others and learn to love all with no exception than we need no other god to follow brother! Love is god, god is love. Except love i neither know gita upanishad brahamasutra or veda and purans. So i am fool my brother but you are a scholar a great vidhwan. In front of u i am valueless my brother. Do not treat me as a opponent. Our views may b different but we are children of same god. The goal of human life is liberation. U move in ur own way and so do i. Then where is the difference my brother?

  • Sai is great, He is divine. All those 2who made those advers comments , i believenevr visitedputtaparthia nd stayed for a monthand watched Sai Howard Murfet, who was an australin was the first person who wanted to be with Baba day and night and watch allhis activities Baba allowed him. He wrote his experiences ina book called Miracleman BaBa.That inspired many foreigners to come to Parthi Read that ook and dozens of books written bydevotees who were rabid disbelievers till they met Baba. Dont make silly, frivolous irresponasible comments. Read about baba from his childhood
    Not a single paise is collected from thousands ofdevotees,Evry single paise is accounted for .Schools colleges were constructed with forgners money who donated in their crores.The only hospiital which freely xconductd heart operations is in Parthy. One foregner TRIGGETdoneted 2crore for . Hospital He was in Parthy for A LONG TIME Sathya sai is no other than Shirdi Sai inhis next avatar. If any one of you want towtrite to me you are free. DGRamarao

  • Each person has their own experiences, some can be explained, but others not. If your experience had a reasonable experience, that is acceptable, but this does not discredit others. Obviously the chances of someone else in India or in a predominantly Indian neighborhood (ie. Such as in Chatsworth, South Africa) is burning Sai Baba’s incense is very high.
    I live in the countryside of Zurich, not another Indian, nor Sai Baba devotee for at least a kilometre radius. Last week for 4 consecutive days I had whiffs of Sai Baba’s incense. It’s been a long time since I meditated to Sai Baba, intact I have been out of touch with him. I was soon reminded that he is still with me.
    So, please do not generalise, each person has their own unique experiences.

  • If you want to know who SSB really was read the books of his former devotee Dr. Goel, also known as Siddeshwar Baba (who passed away in 1998).
    Dr Goel triggered kundalini in himself and almost died, when Sai Baba appeared to him in person (!) and helped him through his kundalini crisis for many years.
    Can a fraud appear in dreams? Can a fraud make holy ash appear on pictures? Can a fraud create whatever he wishes from thin air? Can a fraud appear in the homes of devotees thousands of miles away from India?
    The sexual molestation claims may in parts be accurate, but i would still say that SSB’s good deeds outweigh enormously his bad deeds .

  • I believe people exaggerate their experiences with SSB all the time (regular people may be prone to exaggeration). People who follow religion are not very rational or practical to begin with, and Atheist tend to be immoral because of not having a moral base. I was one now recovering from my lack of simple logic and now putting into practice the scientific method I learned at school. I question before believing. I research before believing. I look for scientific proof and testimonies that seem realistic. I attended a Christian Church which claimed miracles happening all the time. Half the job was made by gullible impressionable beleivers (placebo, remissions…), the other half I believe was staged. It was all shitty and fishy, very corrupted people.

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