Pseudoscience & Religion

God’s Own Stockholm Syndrome

In my previous articles, we discussed how Swamis and Babas cleverly recognized that the primary preoccupations of ordinary people were to fulfill their heart’s desires and to protect themselves from imaginary or real evils. They met these deep-rooted psychological needs by the deception of miracles, sleight of hand or even sheer gift of the gab. To fleece the deluded masses and profit from their weaknesses, they built massive temple-casino complexes. They invested a portion of their gains in building colleges, hospitals and other institutions, which gave people the impression that they were doing great socially beneficial services. The reality is that these institutions merely served the purpose of deluding people benefiting from them and silencing their critics. In the process they fulfilled their own desires (sexual and financial) and took care of their own insecurity. Sai Baba and his Puttaparti temple-casino complex is a classic example of this web of fraud bewildering people and profiting from their delusion.

Mind Control By Force And Intimidation

Here is a classic example of how Sai Baba controlled the mind and behavior of a highly educated doctor by the name of Naresh Bhatia as reported by Vishal Arora in Caravan magazine dated June 6th, 2010:

AND I WAS TO FIND A SIMILAR, dangerous, resilience of faith and disregard for doubt when I met devotee Dr Naresh K Bhatia, who in October 2000 had told the Daily Telegraph journalist Mick Brown over the phone that he had sexual relations with Sai Baba for a total of “15 or 16 years.” He was also aware that Sai Baba had relations with “many, many students from the college and school, and with devotees from overseas.” Also, The Findings, a dossier of testimonies of ex-devotees of Sai Baba on the Web, claims that Dr Bhatia exposed “massive sexual exploitation by Sathya Sai Baba of students, including a report on the physically injurious anal rape of a minor, a boy student, with which he personally confronted Sathya Sai Baba.” This led to “his immediate sacking from his position as head of the Blood Bank at Sathya Sai Baba’s hospital in Puttaparthi and total banishment from the ashrams and all Sai Baba institutions.”

 

I read his account in the Daily Telegraph and several Internet forums; I wanted to meet the now 59-year-old Dr Bhatia. I went to see him in his house in Noida. The tall, fair man received me very gently and offered me a seat on a veranda next to his living room. There was a six-foot tall poster of Sai Baba on one of the walls. I wondered why he still had a picture of him.

 

I told him I wanted to know about his relationship with Sai Baba and whether or not the reports on the Internet were true. “What did you find in Puttaparthi?” he asked. I told him many of his former devotees wouldn’t make accusations against Sai Baba. I also complained that there seemed to be no real consequences for Sai Baba. “No action will be taken against him. Nothing will happen to him,” remarked Dr Bhatia. “I will suggest that you do not write the article.” I thought it was his pessimism.

 

“But why do you think nothing will happen to him?” I asked. “He is God,” he replied. “Is what I have read on the Internet about you untrue?” I asked. “Everything is true,” he said, “but so what?” The bell rang and he went to the door and came back with his colleague. I thought it would be difficult to have a frank conversation now. But Dr Bhatia carried on.

 

“What is evil, and what is good? Can you separate evil from good? They are two sides of the same coin,” he continued, looking at his friend for his approval, and he nodded. “It is the giving of one’s heart that is more important than giving one’s body. Jesus said if you look at a woman with lust, you have already committed adultery. This means your thoughts are more important than the acts done in body. So if you can give your heart to Sai Baba, what can you withhold? He is the creator.” For about an hour, he carried on with his confusing, contradictory, pantheistic argument.

 

Before I left he hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, said I was like a son to him and offered help in life. He also gave me a book he’d written, The Dreams and Realities: Face to face with God. The book details Bhatia’s own realization of Sai Baba’s divinity. It was signed by Sai Baba, “With Love and Blessings, Sri Sathya Sai,” and dated 5 June 1993.g-venkataraman-sai-baba-k-chakravarthi

Stockholm Syndrome

The case of Dr. Bhatia strongly suggests that he suffers from Stockholm syndrome. Here is an excellent write-up on Stockholm syndrome from Ask Yahoo:

Stockholm Syndrome describes the behavior of kidnap victims who, over time, become sympathetic to their captors. The name derives from a 1973 hostage incident in Stockholm, Sweden. At the end of six days of captivity in a bank, several kidnap victims actually resisted rescue attempts, and afterwards refused to testify against their captors.

 

While some people are suggesting the recent Elizabeth Smart kidnapping sounds like a case of Stockholm syndrome, the most famous incident in the U.S. involved the kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst. Captured by a radical political group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974, Ms. Hearst eventually became an accomplice of the group, taking on an assumed name and assisting them in several bank robberies. After her re-capture, she denounced the group and her involvement.

 

What causes Stockholm syndrome? Captives begin to identify with their captors initially as a defensive mechanism, out of fear of violence. Small acts of kindness by the captor are magnified, since finding perspective in a hostage situation is by definition impossible. Rescue attempts are also seen as a threat, since it is likely the captive would be injured during such attempts.

 

It’s important to note that these symptoms occur under tremendous emotional and often physical duress. The behavior is considered a common survival strategy for victims of interpersonal abuse, and has been observed in battered spouses, abused children, prisoners of war, and concentration camp survivors.

Stockholm Syndrome Is Common In Sexually Abused People

Men and women who were sexually abused for years by their fathers, stepfathers or priests, Swamis and Babas starting at an early age often suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. All of them suffer from serious emotional symptoms such as depression and anxiety, and yet they often keep insisting that they still love their abusers. Not only that, they often resent anyone blaming their abusers for their emotional problems. Very often they claim that they had forgiven their abusers and they still love them. Here is a case study in my practice:

A forty-year-old white married woman, mother of two came to see me for depression of many years duration. During her eighteen-year-long marriage to a highly tolerant man, she had numerous extramarital affairs. She was chronically unhappy with her life and her illicit affairs were her way of finding the elusive happiness.

 

Detailed history revealed that starting around eight years of age, her father began to have sexual relationship with her. This continued even after she married her husband at age twenty two. She simply could not say no to her father’s demands. Then suddenly, when she was thirty, her father suffered a massive heart attack and became brain-dead. He was kept alive in the Intensive Care Unit for several days. None of her siblings had the courage to pull the plug on him. It fell on the patient to give the doctors consent to terminate all life support and let him die.

 

The patient’s depression got worse after her father died, not only out of the guilt for pulling the plug on her father, but also because all buried memories of sexual abuse resurfaced and manifested as serious depressive symptoms. In the course of many counseling sessions, she just could not bring herself to condemning her father for years of sexual abuse. Even a faint hint of disrespect for her father in my voice made her resent me for it. She kept defending her father saying, “He meant no harm; that was his way of showing his love for me.” In fact, she confessed to me that during her sexual relationship with other men the only way she could get any pleasure was by thinking of her father.police-shootings-sai-babas-bedroom

Is There A Remedy For God‘s Own Stockholm Syndrome?

The vast majority of victims of Sai Baba, or any sex-obsessed Swami, are so deeply delusional that they do not believe they suffer from a serious psychiatric syndrome. Naturally, they do not seek treatment. The intensity of conflicting emotions (ecstasy of the intimacy and terror of retaliation) related to their “spiritual intercourse” with their object of worship seems to create a lasting pathological bond with it. Deep in their mind, they seem to relive the pleasure of their past contacts with that object, no matter how illicit, and at the same time, they are terrified of the consequences of condemning that object. They cope with their predicament by indulging in nonsensical explanations and stupid rationalizations such as the one displayed by Dr. Bhatia. His fear is justified by an incident a few years ago when four stupid sex abuse victims attempted to assassinate Sai Baba (read the above Caravan article here). The police in cold blood promptly murdered the assassins. The whole matter was hushed-up by the directive from the highest level of the Government of India. The point is if someone from Sai Baba’s camp decides to kill an opponent of Sai Baba, there is not a damn thing anyone can do to stop him or punish him. Sai Baba is absolutely above the law.

Either the rulers of the great country of India, across the board, suffer from Stockholm syndrome, or the great fraud of Puttaparthi, who controls them all with the wave of his little finger, must really be God.

Editor’s Note: Below is the first part of the excellent BBC and CBC produced documentary, ‘The Secret Swami’, which documents the sexual abuse and other alleged crimes of Sai Baba. The remaining parts can can be accessed here: Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7. You can continue debating this issue on our forums here.

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Dr. Prabhakar Kamath, is a psychiatrist currently practicing in the U.S. He is the author of Servants, Not Masters: A Guide for Consumer Activists in India (1987) and Is Your Balloon About Pop?: Owner’s Manual for the Stressed Mind.

About the author

Prabhakar Kamath

Dr. Prabhakar Kamath, is a psychiatrist currently practicing in the U.S. He is the author of Servants, Not Masters: A Guide for Consumer Activists in India (1987) and Is Your Balloon About To Pop?: Owner’s Manual for the Stressed Mind.

Links to all articles in Dr. Kamath's earlier series on Heretics, Rebels, Reformers and Revolutionaries can be found here. Dr. Kamath' series on The Truth About The Bhagavad Gita can be found here.

11 Comments

  • These allegations, if they are true, make the whole thing look sick beyond imagination. Our entire country seems to be suffering from a stockhome syndrome after being kidnapped by astrologers, tantriks, babas, mullahs and politicians who lick their feet. Treatment is needed not just for one or two people, but for the entire nation !

    • Well said.

      Clean foresighted leadership that doesn’t appease these mullahs, tantriks, babas etc is needed.

      thanks
      Saifi.

  • The term Stockholm syndrome applies only to people who have been physically or sexually or emotionally abused by people perceived by the victims as all-powerful. Those people, including politicians, who “lick the feet” of astrologers, tantriks, mullahs, Swamis and Babas do not qualify for the title of Stockholm syndrome. They earn a lesser title :Delusional Syndrome. For example, people who claim that Sai Baba can materialize a Swiss watch cannot be convinced that the watch was made in Switzerland and obviously he had hidden it up his sleeve before he waved his hand and produced it. You cannot reson with them that Sai Baba cannot materialize the watch if he stood naked in front of them (though this could be dangerous to the observer!). This is delusion pure and simple.

    Yes, observant rationalists have hard time finding people in India who do not have one delusion or another: Christians who tell you that Jesus fed a thousand people with one fish or Muslims who tell you that Koran fell down from heaven or Hindus who tell you that the Vedas were divinely revealed. There are rationalists in India, but it is mighty hard to find them as they are rare indeed, may be one in ten thousand or even less.

    • 1) Re: There are rationalists in India, but it is mighty hard to find them as they are rare indeed, may be one in ten thousand or even less.

      I sometimes wonder why (biological) evolution has produced such a system, that even Homo sapiens with such big brains are unable to reason things out and lose the delusion. Yes, I have heard evolutionists’ proposal that “Following parents/elders’ suggestions/advice in childhood has great survival benefit, and thus evolution favours such traits”, but I find it incredible that such big brains cant reason out this delusion. I guess I need to read more about brains.

      2) Re: “The vast majority of victims of Sai Baba, or any sex-obsessed Swami…”
      I would like to dispute the claim that these are sex-obsessed people. In fact, each time I hear some guy is “sex-obsessed” (such as Tiger Woods,or even president clinton), I wonder why people say that. It is biologically normal for a male to want to have sex with many female partners. There are evolutionary reasons for this. society’s institution of marriage and monogamy has reined this in, but that doesnt mean that the innate drive has been nullified. In the case of celibate-by-design priests and swamis, they dont have a lifelong partner.. so what do you expect to happen? They will try to abuse their power and find it somehow. That doesnt make them any more sex-obsessed than you or me.

      • “Indoctrination” works very well.

        A child of 2-3 yrs of age cannot differentiate between reality and imagined; thats why we got madarsas, saraswati shishu mandirs, jesuits|catholic|etc boarding schools.

        Once it becomes part of the routine, it appears natural and not doing it looks abnormal. In teenage when identity takes precedence you’ll notice rituals, dressing, group activities and communions are standard tactics to supplant and strengthen the practice and hence the mindset.

        Thats it. you now got a generation ready to carry the tasks and baggage of the last ‘indoctrinated’ generation.

        thanks
        Saifi Khan.

  • Astrokid: “I would like to dispute the claim that these are sex-obsessed people. In fact, each time I hear some guy is “sex-obsessed” (such as Tiger Woods,or even president clinton), I wonder why people say that.”

    PK: Civilized society attempted to control man’s polygamous drive by passing a rule, “You shall legally mate with only one person.” If a man is unable to comply with this rule, which most people in the civilized society do, then the question arises, “Why?” In people such as Tiger woods and Bill Clinton, every time they meet a pretty woman, they start designing, “how am I going to bed this woman?” That preoccupation with having sex with as many women as possible is normal sex drive for man in the African savanna one half million year ago, but the civilized society refers to as “obsession with sex.”

    Astrokid: “In the case of celibate-by-design priests and swamis, they dont have a lifelong partner.”

    PK: Many Swamis, such as some Udupi Krishna Matt Swamis, have life-long partners with whom they have had children. They are monogamous. So Sai Baba also could have one discreet lover -male or female without routinely sexually assaulting innocent boys and men who placed their trust in his hands.

    Astrokid: “So what do you expect to happen? They will try to abuse their power and find it somehow. That doesn’t make them any more sex-obsessed than you or me.”

    PK: The fact that they abuse their power to satisfy their sex drive with complete disregard to the welfare of thousands of innocent people, and in violation of vow of celibacy, is itself reason enough to conclude that his sex drive is an obsession. Sai Baba is a predator.

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