Pseudoscience & Religion

Nationalise The Assets Of The Godman Of Puttaparthi

Professor Narendra Nayak is the president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA).

Now that the dust has settled down aound all the hullabaloo created by the demise of an 85 year old man kept on life support systems for nearly three weeks, provided with the best of medical treatment etc, it is time to take a hard look at the facts. Our movement has been at the forefront of questioning, investigating and exposing so-called paranormal phenomena. Our organisation, the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, was founded by B.Premanand who had taken the lead in exposing the paranormal claims of this individual Ratnakaram Satya Narayana Raju, more popularly known by his alias Satya Sai baba. Magicians claiming to be rationalists have rushed to the press, some self-proclaimed leaders of the movement have made statements, and now it is time for the President of the FIRA to review and present the views of the movement before the public.

It has been claimed that the so-called miracles of Saibaba, like materialisation of ash, small objects etc, were not important. This is far from the truth. It is because of these that he became popular. It is also claimed that he had stopped performing them after a meeting with one famous magician! But, this is not so. The meeting with this magician is supposed to have taken place more than two decades ago and it is on record that in Chennai rings were ‘materialised’ for ministers of the so-called ‘rationalistic’ party the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s top brass! Saibaba also claimed that these miracles were his calling cards! We fail to understand how such bogus calling cards impressed people, including the past president of India Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, who is supposed to be the very epitome of scientific temper! He who always encourages children to ask questions could have asked this man how he was able to produce matter from thin air!

But, obviously advise is always for others! No one has asked why the man who has supposedly healed thousands by the mere application of his holy ash was unable to heal himself. As he has claimed in his own publication, the Sanathan Sarathi, he never suffers from any illness because he has no trace of greed! He had also said in the same that purity, patience and perseverance…….. “are three responsible for my health(arogya) and bliss(ananda)!” One wonders as to how he fell ill then? Is it because he developed greed? Or did his patience, purity and perseverance run out? One of them or all of them? Those who call him Bhagwan would be well advised to refer to him by some other name more befitting his status of mortality!sathya-sai-baba

How did this man with a smattering of English, without any formal education manage to build up such an empire? It is because of his native shrewdness. After attracting the locals with his prestidigitation, he stepped to the other states and then managed to attract some frustrated people from the West. His name and fame grew. He also acted as a conduit for the ill gotten gains of the politicians and he mediated in their disputes. This explains his popularity amongst politicians of all shades and ideologies, with the possible exception of some on the left. His trust had been exempted from all the laws pertaining to import of foreign funds, and what better way can there be to get money stashed away in banks abroad? It is funny that those going on fasts to oppose corruption do not see this nexus between religious institutions and corruption. On the other hand, those who were paupers a couple of decades back and possess empires worth thousands of crores today have jumped on to this anti-corruption band wagon. It is also said that Satya Narayan Raju went abroad only once, and that too to Uganda. It was to bring the illegally begotten wealth from a shady deal involving sale of tanks of the Indian army as scrap to Idi Amin, one of the most infamous despotic dictators in recent history. He has been also known for his donations to an infamous lady- ‘Mother’ Teresa!

It was not that the laws of the land were not applicable to him in collection of funds. Numerous allegations of pedophilia have been glossed over. There have been many mysterious deaths which have always been written off as if they were minor traffic violations. More importantly, the six murders in his bedroom with the bodies bearing marks of torture and shooting at point blank range were written off as an internal matter, as if the laws of the land were not applicable to Puttaparthi. The past Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajapayee, went on record to state that he was innocent! Though the murders took place in his bedroom Saibaba was never questioned. So much for the law being the supreme! Laws of the land were never a problem for him. Having an airport in Puttaparthi meant that things could be brought directly in. The tonnes of gold around the place in various forms bear witness to that. When late B.Premanand took him to court under the gold control act, the law came to his rescue by stating that he was ‘creating’ gold which was not covered by that act!

Anyway, on one occasion when he was ‘materialising’ a  gold chain in the presence of the then Prime minister of India Mr.P.V.Narasimha Rao, the Doordarshan cameras caught the trick he was using- removing a necklace concealed under the memento which he was to presenting.

Saibaba was also a creation of the media. One weekly called the Blitz was initially critical of him, and then in a volte-face started singing praises of him. It was not a surprise, as the integrity of the editor was well known to many! The TV channels of the South have not shown much courage in exposing him. But many popular ones of the North have had no such qualms. In fact, two years ago when I had handed over some very old footage of the exposure of his so called miracles to some TV channels in Kathmandu, they went to town as though the expose was theirs and the latest news! It was only the courage of some of the TV channels of Europe which exposed him. Channel IV ran a series called the Guru Busters in which he was totally exposed. In 2004 the BBC aired a documentary called the Secret Swamy which exposed his miracles, pedophilia and also the murders in his bedroom. In that documentary, the minister for HRD Dr.Murali Monohar Joshi was shown defending Saibaba very, very vocally -in fact threatening the reporter! There was another one by a Danish TV station called Saibaba Seduced Me, by one of his victims who preferred to be anonymous. One of the reasons why the boys from economically backward sections were kept in his schools with all free amenities was they could be easily exploited sexually and their parents being poor could do nothing about it even if it were to be exposed. Those who praise the charitable work going on there would be informed that children of Manmohan Singh, Aishwarya Rai, Gavaskar or Tendulkar would not be going to these schools! Even they were to go by perchance nothing would have happened to them.

Now about the support from the rich and the powerful. It is quite obvious that the money laundering racket run at Puttaparthi has clients of all shades of politics! There are also film actors and cricket stars who are perceived by the gullible public as the very epitome of virtue and righteousness. One of the cricketing icons was seen sobbing inconsolably at the demise of an ailing 80 plus old man. One wonders where were the tears when six young people around his age were murdered in cold blood in the bedroom of the paragon of truth at Prashanthi Nilayam- the abode of peace. In fact it is told that when the  so called Bhagwan was attacked he ran away like you and I, ordinary mortals, would have done, and switched on a siren, hearing which thousands of  peace-loving people at the very epicenter of peace and tranquility in the universe came running to the abode of peace with whatever they could lay their hands on, probably for a peaceful demonstration of their love!

How can this issue be tackled? He has been clever enough to start a trust with top retired bureaucrats, supreme court judges etc. who have considerable influence and can affect the outcome of any investigations. The best solution would be to remove all of them and appoint trustees from the government- from the center and states, and conduct an investigation into all these affairs. If this is not done it will give the trustees ample time to cover up their misdeeds and financial mismanagement. No one can object to this, as charitable trusts are started with non-profit motives for doing social work. If the same work were to be done better by some others, why not they be allowed to do it? After all the funds have been donated for a charitable purpose with tax exemption. They could be used for the same!

About the author

Narendra Nayak


  • Dr. Nayak,

    You have hit the nail on its head about the true nature of the Satya Sai movement as a giant money laundering racket passing off for philanthropy.

    The so-called reputation of the trustees and their celebrity status acts as a cover and deflects all calls for probity and overhaul of this organization.

    Your solution calling for the removal of all these hypocrites on the Trust is really the need of the hour, but how do we bell the cat?

    Looking at the national and state ‘honors’ for his funeral, do you think we are anywhere close to that remedy.?

    I hate to say it but we have a bunch of eunuchs and slimy creatures who are called leaders of the country and occupying high positions. They speak from both sides of their head. Our ‘Leaders’ are like foxes guarding the hen house. Our Prime Minister, Dr. Singh is the most cowardly of the lot who is more interested in his appearance and ‘Ceasers’ image than acting on setting matters on the right course by firm words and actions. In his ‘jee-huzoori’ service of the ‘Madam’ Dr. Singh can put a medieval court jester to shame.

    We know the dangers of Hindu nationalists. But the secularists in sheep’s clothing are possibly worse

    It is not just corruption that is the problem, as a nation and culture we totally lack moral fiber or a value system.

  • No doubt Sai Baba amassed enormous wealth by deluding people by his magic show. However, he did not rob them like all India’s politicians and bureaucrats did and still do. His deluded followers voluntarily gave him their wealth. The wealth he amassed is miniscule compared to the wealth looted by our “leaders.” Compared to these Robber-Sultans, Sai Baba comes across like a manipulative petty house-servant who became rich by deluding his employer. Are we not barking at the wrong tree?

    • Dr Kamath,

      Maybe we are barking up the wrong tree. But how do we know that for sure?

      To put it in another way, Satya Sai is not the disease or malaise, but a symptom or symbol of it. The true malaise is the lack of ethical values and intellectual integrity co-existing with an ideology that is indifferent to social justice and egalitarianism. And tragically it is almost the identity of our national character and ethos. Besides it is culturally pervasive and socially endemic in the sense that it has existed with us for centuries.

      This is where the lamentations and outcries of Ambedkar against Hinduism still ring loud and clear in my ears. Though Ambedkar’s giving up on Hinduism and denunciation of its character may sound extreme and pessimistic to some, he was right and prophetic in writing off Hindus as a nation and culture. Though ostensibly we now have a republican and democratic national form, a culture with its religious and social aspects, but the intrinsic qualities essential to a functioning society and culture represented by a sense of fraternity and liberality joined with a reasonable idea of equity and fairness, just does not exist. Maybe this is too much to expect from our people and culture and is to be confined to the fancies of arm-chair intellectualism.

      But it may be instructive to note that many Anglo-Saxon and European cultures seem to have reached a level of maturity in their social and political organization, after intense turmoil and massacres of the middle ages. We survived through such ages surely, but learned nothing from it. The adage of Hinduism is that if we can live through and thrive amidst conquests, pillages, slavery and colonialism, we can peacefully co-exist with corruption and venality as well. Even in the morally unacceptable state of the bondage of British rule, we were debating the means of liberation struggle between non-violent and revolutionary (Gandhi vs Tilak, Gandhi vs Bhagat Singh). No wonder we took 150 years to be a free state!. Though it is debatable, I continue to wonder if our freedom was really the culmination of a peaceful struggle or a gift from providence in the form of historical tumults of the 2 world wars that destroyed Britain’s power and political preeminence.

      Coming to the present, we have a Prime Minister that presides over a cabinet that has more than 50% members either corrupt or with doubtful integrity and public record. The cabinet has such glittering stars as Sharad Pawar, Veerapa Moily and Jaipal Reddy. His mentor family (a.k.a. Gandhi family) is among the most corrupt political families of the country. This defacto first or royal family does a lot of sloganeering about the poor and amenities for all, while having close to $10 billion of personal fortunes stashed away in Swiss and other off-shore accounts. How does he reconcile all this with his public pronouncements of the need for probity in public life and good governance. You do this by cultivating a thick skin that makes you impervious to the call of conscience and helps you navigate though the moral crisis and contradictions by making sympathetic noises and sanctimonious speeches. This is what all our Godmen and religious celebrities keep doing. The only difference with Dr. Singh is that he does this in the political domain.

      If ever there is a living national embodiment of the travesty of justice and morality, it has to be Indian politics and society.

      If Anna Hazare’s Lok Pal juggernaut is really earnest in its mission, its first target should be the Gandhi family

      For want of something better right now, we must soldier on as Dr. Nayak does with the calls and protests, which may at times seem misdirected. If history is truly the great teacher that it probably is, these social stresses and contradictions can only be purged by violent means and overthrows. The problem with peaceful mechanisms of effecting radical change and transformation in society is that they leave the dominant and entrenched elite of the time largely unscathed and free to slip into the mask or cloak of a new ideological fashion.

      In India’s case how can you remedy the morass of corruption without sending the guilty behind bars? If this is taken to its logical conclusion, more than 90% of our polity will be in jail. One cannot imagine that this can ever happen (if at all it happens) against a background of peace and passive capitulation by thousands of elite offenders to the process of enforcement. The inherent contradiction between our ideal of peace and the punitive requirement of justice seems quite hopelessly irreconcilable.

      To usher in a radical change, calls for the dismantling of the favored structures and mouthpieces of the dominant political elite like the press, electronic media, bureaucracy and organized corporate business. While the relative peace of the post WW-II eras may have broadened the romantic and idealistic appeal of peaceful methods of social change, the message from the French Revolution and other violent uprisings in history that have effected enduring social transformation, is unmistakable.

      • While the relative peace of the post WW-II eras may have broadened the romantic and idealistic appeal of peaceful methods of social change, the message from the French Revolution and other violent uprisings in history that have effected enduring social transformation, is unmistakable.

        The Satyagraha-type campaigns ostensibly emphasize ‘behavioral’ over ‘structural’ change, while advocates of revolutions claim that behavioral change is hard occasion without structural overhaul. Readings of history may lead to more than one diagnosis, as has been discussed at length here (Part1 and Part2).

  • Someone said,we are barking at the wrong tree.No, we are barking at the right tree.the so called Trustees of sai baba are renowned men and women and all of them know about the LEELAS of the supposedly self claimed godman.If all these people agreed that he was a fraud then what would happen to their credibility.that is the reason they are sticking to their conviction. My story started with my father who became a devotee of this person who seems to have cured my father’s ailment,which in my opinion any SIDHA would have done.this man seems to have cured my father of his illness and that called for a great celebration.he was invited to our village and made him lay the foundation for a KRISHNA temple which still stands.Later my father donated 3 acres of Prime land in Ooty,which he sold and consequently , my father advised all our brothers not to believe in father had his own reasons for telling us this and he never told us the reason.I follow my father’s father,who was one of the earliest exponent of this man knew him and told us that he was a fake,a womanizer,money launderer and whatnot.Now that he is dead, even his own predictions have turned him into a JOKER,although dead and gone forever.Only hope that the world doesn’t see any of his Kind

  • There is something more to add. We were te Brothers and only two of us are suffering the worst because both of us married sisters who are staunch devotees(I would rather Say slaves) of this godman and my brother is dead and his wife is living in puttaparthi like a beggar and I am surviving insptite of my wife’s allegiance to this godman(who destroyed my family by his EVIL SPELL on our family.I would like to bring to your attention that it was my father who donated to this evil man in a big way in the year 1961 or 1962.After this my families fortunes declined.Today my brother’s and my family are the worst hit,because both the women worship this man who with the help of his BLACK MAGIC had cast a spell but I am able to counter him because of my faith in THE LORD SHIVA. Anyone who is connected with this man seem to be suffering.Why is that?Can you answer me?But I know! After all,we are Children of GOD just like that person who called himself the incarnation of my LORD EESHWARA.HE fooled us all and still fooling us even after his death,which should have happened at his 90th year but happened earlier than he predicted.

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