Sai Baba’s teachings haven’t touched his Trustees

VIKRAM MUTHANNA writes: Satya Sai Baba is now reported to be in a critical condition and the battlelines to take over one of the wealthiest Trusts in the nation are being drawn.

The hysteria around Sai Baba’s health brings to mind an incident recounted in a book titled Begone Godmen! by the Sri Lanka-born rationalist, Dr Abraham Kovoor. He says when he once wrote an article mentioning about Sai Baba going through an appedicitis operation, many Baba devotees took offence.

Reason: they considered Sai Baba a godman who could not fall ill.

One devotee, who was a doctor, said that Sai Baba had not been admitted to the hospital to remove his own appendix but a diseased one that the Bhagwan had taken into his body from a suffering devotee.

Whether one believes such theories or not is immaterial because the fact is all men fall sick.

All men will die. And everyone is equal in death. Death does not discriminate, death does not disappoint. It will come. Be it godman or an ungodly man. Of course, supposedly, there are various types of deaths, but that is another matter altogether.

Then of course there is the soul, unseen, unexplainable, unbelievably overrated and exploited.

Before we go into the realm of the metaphysical or start talking of the netherland, we must notice the fact that while Sai Baba lies is in a critical state, so is the character of the people in his inner circle.

A few days ago, while Sai Baba was in the hospital, there were two groups having separate meetings the whole day. One comprised the family members of Sai Baba; the other were the trustees of the Satya Sai Central Trust.

It is being reported that there is a war brewing within the Trust.

The Satya Sai Trust consists of five Trustees—the Sai Baba himself who is the founder-Trustee; P.N. Bhagwati, the former chief justice of India; Indulal Shah, a chartered accountant; S.V. Giri, former central vigilance commissioner; V. Srinivas, former president of the confederation of Indian industry (CII); and Sai Baba’s nephew, Ratnakar.

There is so much distrust among the Trustees that electricity was cut off in Puttaparthi so people would not watch a particular programme on a particular channel relayed only by a particular cable operator as the programme being telecast was particularly critical of the Trustees.

Incidentally, Sai Baba’s nephew Ratnakar holds the cable rights to Puttaparthi!

But why this hullabaloo? After all, Sai Baba has said that he will leave his physical body only when he is 96 years old, that’s a good 11 years from now. Considering that people have put their complete faith in his hands, they should not worry. He should be back giving darshans soon.

During such trying times, it is disturbing to see a group of illustrious individuals, one of them a blood relative of the godman, indulge in mud-slinging.

Sai Baba once said:

“If there is righteousness in the heart,

there will be beauty in character;

If there is beauty in character,

there will be harmony in the home.”

Looks like there is trouble in Sai Baba’s home now.

It seems many years of exposure to the godman’s godly teachings has had no effect on the Trustees. Even more disappointing, these Trustees are closer to him than a regular devotee. So, one would think they would be much more righteous and immune to greed.

This is another example that God or godmen can never dictate morality.

We are taught that God is omnipresent and that God is always watching us and so we must be at our best behaviour at all times. But in spite of this 24×7 divine surveillance, the most God-fearing or religious nations in the world are the most corrupt, most immoral, most hypocritical and also most prone to violence.


Is it because religion has a provision for forgiveness? Is it because when convenient to us, God is all-forgiving? Is that why these nations have some of the wealthiest religious establishments? Forgiveness seems to be a big business.

While the Gods have gotten wealthy by dispensing forgiveness, godmen have gotten wealthy by peddling hope and filling the emotional void and indulging in spiritual reconnaissance.

At the same time, the equation between a Guru and his devotee is a personal matter, as long as it is within the legal framework of the nation.

When six boys were shot dead in Sai Baba’s residential area, the statement made by Indulal Shah was, “The matter is purely internal and we do not wish to have any law enforcement agency investigating into it!!!” Six people have died and an educated chartered accountant has the audacity and arrogance to say that law enforcement should not investigate? Even godmen are not above the law.

Yes, indeed many have questioned the legitimacy of godmen. In fact, Sai Baba who was termed Man of Miracles for materialising gold chains, rings and holy ash has been questioned many times. Most famously, for producing gold chains out of thin air which breach the gold bullion import regulations of India. That is, if he actually produced gold out of thin air.

Then there are questions such as, instead of producing gold chains and ash out of thin air, why doesn’t Baba produce food and water and save the poor?

Or even better, tie up with the Reserve Bank of India and pump up the national economy with gold.

We also ask, why don’t godmen, who claim to have telepathic abilities, communicate or visit their political and bureaucratic devotees in their dreams and tell them that they have to stop being corrupt and sadistic? Is it because all these acts are not miracles but well-executed stage shows?

In fact, there is the controversial footage of Sai Baba fishing for ‘something’ under a trophy that he was presenting to an individual and later that something turned out to be a gold chain! The controversial footage was never broadcast as back then Doordarshan was the only TV channel. Of course it is now back, thanks to internet and YouTube.

Whatever it may be, Sai Baba has found mortal ways to achieve what he cannot materialise. There is the water project that has provided water to 750 villages, and medical and educational establishments that have greatly improved the life of millions of people. His charity and tenacity has done what governments have not been able to do.

Yes, godmen or spiritual guides may be accused of manipulation and trickery which rationalists can prove and the law must deal with. But godmen deserve recognition for the work they have done for society. However, they will win us over completely only when they can change the character of their devotees, especially the high and mighty ones.

We wish they could convince their bureaucrat-devotees to work with the same vigour and whole-heartedness at government hospitals as they do at the “god’s” health centres.

We wish they could request their powerful devotees to bless public projects with the same pro-activeness and creativity that they so easily bestow upon holy projects approved by gurujis. After all, isn’t government’s work God’s work? Well, at least that’s what’s proudly proclaimed on the entrance of Vidhana Soudha.

Also, godmen will win everyone’s affection and trust only when they are open to enquiry, even by the highly critical, scientific and the most mundane.

For now, while praying for Baba’s health, we better start investing on real estate in and around Mandya. Why? Because in 11 years, Sai Baba is going to be reborn as Prem Sai somewhere in Mandya. This is going to increase real estate prices and after 11 years, it is going to be a fantastic return on investment.

For others who do not have money to invest in land, they need not be disappointed because with Prem Sai, we will have access to superior educational institutions and medical care. Of course, this will come with a heady dose of miracles and spirituality. But be warned. Take only what you need and only in healthy doses.

(Vikram Muthanna is the managing editor of the evening daily newspaper, Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared)

Photograph: Children take out a march for the recovery of Satya Sai Baba at Puttaparti, in Andhra Pradesh on Saturday (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: Should a former president fall at a godman’s feet?

Should a President rub shoulders with godmen?

Can the Sai Baba make Shashi Tharoor win UN poll?

Do our gods sanction our politicians’ silly games?

Another good swami in the service of mankind

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30 Responses to “Sai Baba’s teachings haven’t touched his Trustees”

  1. Vasanth Says:

    AP govt. should confiscate all the property that he Sai Trust owns. Otherwise it will become a big fight and center of corruption

  2. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    Wonderful post, enjoyed reading it.

    Now we need to decide if earthly Gods and demigods are part of Civil Society….

    I mean should civil society comprise of normal human beings or should it be the exclusive domain of Gods, saints, arrogantly honest, etc.

    It is shocking that Indians are so easy to brainwash. We can never be a nation that is guided reason, science and ethics.

    I am deeply pessimistic about the future. With so many Gods, demigods, saints and moral crusaders interfering in our affairs the future can only be bleak…

  3. kukkumol Says:

    When I had been to Puttaparti before 7 months was deeply touched by the philanthropy & divine power of the Sri Satya Sai Baba . RIP Saibaba

  4. sacredfig Says:

    So this charlatan couldn’t work his miracle on his own heart! Amazing how far you can go in this country if you just grow your hair and don saffron robes, riding high on the utter gullibility of ordinary, often desperately poor people. One fraud less to deal with.

  5. Nastika Says:

    PSB’s charity – very commendable.
    But his design of ash generation, magic with gold coin – very deplorable.

    BTW, is he the richest God-man in India? Are his assets worth $9 Billion?

  6. Satish Says:

    Before its becomes a SC case, I hope the local bodies carefully validtate….there will be millions of claims and i think thins is FIRST CASE for all survers to get off line….

  7. Vinay Says:

    Time to say goodbye to the bad magician. Seeing these videos I really think he should have gone to PC Sorcar for training

    Wat a brahmin-hater this guy was. Any student in his medical college could repeat these miracles after spending a year. Alumni of his college should become the future babas.

    Ashok Krishnamurthy Iyengar exposes this quack:

  8. 'mudi'malnad Says:

    @sacred? Fig
    Milllions are drinking water(riding high on poor ha!) and more than hundred thousand are alive beacause of free medical treatment, especially heart surgeries. How many had free education there? Even availability and array of heart valves were astonishing (at one time, they had better choices of valves than Guys hospital and Cleveland clinic) .One of the greatest heart suregons Dr Ross(google ‘ross procedure’) was his follower(I know this personally).
    These things you call it as ‘fraud’ I call it as ‘MIRACLES’
    I have many unexplained personal stories to tell.
    I was a big fan of HN growing up, never believed in Baba. My wifes family is following Baba since 30 years. Slowly I started to beleive Baba. Once I was stuck in Kathmandu, all flights to Bangalore were cancelled for few days , when flights resumed my flight was rescheduled after 7 days and I was running out of cash. I met this person from royal nepal airlines, she asked me just one question do you know Baba? to which I replied yes, my wife is in puttaparthi now (she was), neverthless I was flying out within three hours.
    Other incidence is I got a file from this lady.(which was given to her by Baba himself, she asked Baba why are you giving this to her to which Baba replied this man, (referring to me) will meet you today and give it to him. Thats the first time ever I met this lady). Two weeks after that I was travelling in an autorickshaw , this got smashed by a lorry. This rickshaw got totally junked, luckily nothing had happened to me not even a scratch.
    There are so many incidences, for which I don’t have any logical explainations.

  9. Curry Hurry Says:

    So why shouldn’t the Government take over assets of all NGOs too ?
    (Including the world’s largest MNC )

  10. Vinay Says:


    Does baba encourage corruption and prejudice on the part of airline officials? Out of compassion, did you consider the case of your fellow passengers who were also waiting for a flight or you merely ‘grabbed’ the opportunity just like baba? Looks like baba devotees are self-centered and crooked instead of changing a system.

  11. Sanjeeva Says:

    I am not a believer of Baba. Yet, he is lot lot lot better than those (mathadhipathis, industrialists, politicians, NGOs and others) who have amassed wealth, kept in Swiss banks and not spending on philanthropy or contributing to the society. That way, I salute Baba. If one does not believe in his divinity or otherwise. it is fine. But to call him fake or quack is not correct.

  12. lp Says:

    wonderful article. thanks for posting it here.

  13. sacredfig Says:

    For all those railing on about his “philanthropic” activities: Where did he get all this money from? Spitted it out from his rotten innards, like his golden lingam did he? What a giant load of rubbish. This was all money accumulated from donations from naive, gullible and very often downright stupid people (the sort who are still sitting around and waitingt for his rebirth and re-arrival, so they could part with some more of their money). There is nothing to be said for the fact that this charlatan gave back people some of their own money, all the while ensuring a highly comfortable life for himself, hobnobbing with the powerful and the glamorous. Any street side thug would agree to this contract !!

    That is the least of my problems. His death will be little consolation to the many innocent children (and men and women) who fell prey to the rapacious clutches of this pederast and paedophile. This punk got away with the most extreme of all crimes – the sexual abuse of defenseless children – ( – all the while keeping idiots in thrall with his third-rate failed-magician tricks.

    The truth is this huckster is dead, and I don’t care how many miracles you’ve seen, the best blessing is that this ugly little toad is not coming back.

  14. Rao Says:

  15. sacredfig Says:

    The correct link to the article in Salon on Sai Baba is here:

  16. Kitapati Says:

    And there was one person to whom Sai Baba gifted a swiss watch by materializing it out of thin air. This person was euphoric for a while but suddenly he went into despair as he realized that the baba had only materialized the watch but not the warrantly card.

  17. Simple Says:

    My friend , an ardent Baba devotee went to Puttaparthi yesterday to pay homage.

    Belief in a Godman or a God doesn’t necessarily make you a good person.

    A friend of mine called M is a classic example. M, a religious addict, sleeps around with girls other than his blissfully unaware wife, he breaks traffic rules with impunity, he thinks of devious ways to avoid paying income tax and he pisses on every public street wall.

    Worse, he is in constant denial. He denies that he is dishonest or doing something illegal.

  18. Nastika Says:

    India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai Baba

    Sanal Edamaruku
    Indian Rationalist Association & Rationalist International

    When Sathya Sai Baba died this morning (24 April 2011) at the age of 85 years, he proved once again that miracles and predictions fail. He had predicted at a public gathering at his head quarters in Puttaparthy, in 2000, and repeatedly many times, that he would die at the age of 96 only. And till the last moment, many of his devotees clung to his word and waited for a miracle. May it be an eye opener for the millions of gullible people whom he misguided and deluded.

    De mortuis nihil nisi bene, they say, say nothing but good of the dead. But I think Sathya Sai Baba’s case qualifies for an exception. Too great is the damage that he did to India. His devastating influence on reason and scientific temper caused huge setback to the country. At a time, when scientific progress led to great social and economic leaps and scientific awakening started spreading all over India, Sathya Sai Baba launched a “counter revolution” of superstition, supported by irresponsible politicians and other public figures who should have known better. In my judgment, this is his greatest crime. I have succeeded again and again to expose him publicly as a fraud, so did some other rationalists. But due to his political protectors he was never held responsible for his crimes against public reason. Nor was he ever booked for any other crime he was accused of. Numerous cases of alleged sexual abuse and murder are yet to be investigated, not to mention the financial secrets of his empire.

    Sathya Sai Baba insisted in all seriousness that he was god, the creator of the universe, and “proved” his divinity with a couple of small “miracles”. As son of a village tantric he was familiar with the hand sleights and tricks of the trade. However, he did not only fascinate poor and uneducated villagers with his fraudulent performances. Over the years, he managed to attract a galaxy of India’s rich and powerful, among them ministers, prime ministers, presidents, chief justices, top industrialists and superstars.

    Sathya Sai Baba had a special modus operandi that was the key for his astonishing success and the root of his enormous clout. Many of his high society devotees came to serve their own vested interests. Some came to rub shoulders with the prominent. Many joined the club because it was working as a powerful syndicate spreading its tentacles all over the political system. It was a way to the top jobs and a way to get things done. Others were seeking financial support or wanted to get rid of ill-gotten black money: The empire, it is alleged, was based on money laundering, using foreign devotees and branches. In fact, the huge foreign donations to Sai Baba stood in contrast to the comparatively modest number of active foreign devotees and the sometimes quite weak foreign branches, some of them residing in private homes. That is no great surprise, when one considers that Sai Baba did not speak any other language than Telugu and traveled only once in his whole life abroad – to visit his friend Idi Amin in Uganda.

    On his 80th birthday, Sai Baba’s supporters announced that he would turn from a miracle man to a philanthropist. That was, after I had demonstrated his miracles so often in TV shows that many kids in the streets could imitate them. That he since spent a part of the great fortunes, swindled out of the gullible, for social development around his ancestral village, is highlighted now to present him as a saint. But as useful and welcome hospitals, schools and drinking water projects for the poor always may be: this kind of alibi-philanthropy is well known even from mafia-bosses. It cannot be weighed against his crimes and the damage he has done to the Indian society.

    In December 2005, I wrote a letter to then President Dr. Abdul Kalam, one of Sai Baba’s ardent supporters, which was never answered. I demanded criminal investigations against Sai Baba. If his social development projects are meant to be indulgence to nullify his crimes, this procedure is unprecedented and unacceptable, I wrote. It is a shame for India that well-founded accusations and numerous reputed witnesses against Sai Baba are ignored without any investigation. Do saffron clothes make an offender untouchable for the law? Do we have to tolerate that political protectionism raises its head so boldly, mocking India’s democracy?

    Sathya Sai Baba caused great damage to India. His irresponsible political patrons corrupted the political culture of India. Encouraged by the clout of Sathya sai Baba, a new clan of miracle mongers imitated him. India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai Baba.

    (This or other articles from the Rationalist International Bulletin may be reproduced by journals, blogs or web sites without change or alteration in its content, and with due acknowledgment.)

    Rationalist International:

  19. mounaprasad Says:

    While it is commendable that Sai Baba build hospitals,educations institutions and was involved in a lot of social programmes for the community, it is also equally true that he had to resort to cheap magic tricks to con the devotees to make them believe he was a incarnation of god. Added, to this he also was responsible for the safe keeping of the wealth of the corrupt,rich and the mighty who did not want their wealth to be accounted for. A recent visit by one of Maharashtra’s CM to collect his Fixed deposit from the ashram is proof of this. Added to this he was rumored to be homosexual who had his pick of good looking boys in the ashram to do “seva” for him. Considering how ugly he looked, I think he chose the right profession to be famous,rich and also have the choicest pick of nubile boys.

  20. Nastika Says:

    Another astonishing fact is Sai Baba didn’t knew any other language than Telugu ! Even after 60+ years of interacting with foreigners, all he picked up was baby-talk !!
    BTW, only a rational person can appreciate this fun in that ’emotionally charged’ atmosphere !!!

    An example:
    In ‘The Findings’, David Bailey who, before defecting and whistle-blowing, had had very close contact with Sathya Sai Baba for a few years, gives this further astounding example of non-comprehension of English by the omniscient guru:

    “In December 1997 on our way to Gatwick airport to leave for India, we collected a letter written to Swami by Peggy. I gave the letter to him during the next afternoon darshan. The following morning I received a fax to say that Peggy had died.

    A few days later I had an interview in the company of the editor of the Sanathana Sarathi, and he told Swami that Faye was now editor of Peggy Mason’s magazine.”

    “SSB: ‘Yes, yes. It’s in very good hands, now make it go! How is Peggy Mason?’”
    Me: “She has merged with you.”
    SSB: “Yes. She lives near you in England?”
    Me: “She lived eighty miles from me, but she died a few days ago Swami. She is with you!”
    SSB: “Yes, yes, her husband was a good man. When you go home, give my regards to her.”
    Me: “She is dead, Swami. Dead! She has merged with you!”
    SSB: “Give her my love when you get back to England.”
    Me: “I cannot Swami, because she is DEAD!”
    SSB: “Oh ?? Oh…..”

    More here:

  21. Alok Says:

    @Vasanth: Cannot agree more with you, since the AP government is a shining example of corruption free body.

  22. raj Says:

    Is it true that Sri Sri Ravishankar is a disciple of Sai baba in his early days?

  23. 'mudi'malnad Says:

    I don’t know how you term airlines official act as ‘corrupt’? Those days Nepalese were taking only US credit cards. I didn’t have any money left with me. it was January in Kathmandu It appears you would have acted differently “hats off” to you.(avaravara bhavakke….!)
    Have you read Michelle Goldberg’s other articles? Her list of headlines suggest she thrives on these kind of issues ( three examples
    i)The prisoner-abuse scandal at home
    The stories sound familiar: Muslim prisoners beaten and sexually humiliated by American guards. But it happened in Brooklyn, not Baghdad.
    ii)”Homosexuals are hellbound!”
    Churches in Ohio are rallying their massive flocks behind the most strident anti-gay marriage amendment in the nation — and the Republican National Committee is in heaven.
    iii) Abortion Under Seige in Mississippi
    Preaching that abortion is as evil as Islam, Nazism and homosexuality, dozens of activists have descended on Jackson, determined to shut down the state’s last abortion clinic ]

  24. vinay Says:


    you never mentioned how the nepal airline official was able to fly you out. Are you saying he had to relax the rule to let you fly just because you are a pedophile devotee?

  25. 'mudi'malnad Says:

    it was ‘she’ not he. I think she was the regional director. I really don’t know how she gave that seat to me,I didn’t care at that time. My guess is that all these transport agencies( KSRTC, Railways, Airlines have their own discretionary quota. {there are many quota’s like MP, MLA, Railway police, railway administrator quota with the railways}
    I will not get into any more arguments/discussions with your allegations. If you think you are right let it be.

  26. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Sai Baba laid the template for other foreign exchange earning gyan-in-a-can babas. Money given to him was probably better spent than money given as taxes to Indian government. For that he is to be appreciated.

    About his doing magic tricks and fooling people, that the individuals problem – if I am the type to fall for magic and miracles, if not Sai Baba, I will find some other baba or religion.

  27. karihaida Says:

    gyan-in-a-can … nice one.. i’m going to steal that :)

  28. twistleton Says:

    Personally i liked Nastika’s “alibi philanthrophy”, but gyan-in-a-can is also good :)

  29. Poongodi Says:

    nicely written article on baba. i like your blog and browse through all the articles written so articulately. baba has done great service socially but as you rightly mentioned about his teachings having no impact on his devotees. the last time i visited putaparthi about 5 yrs back, i was disappointed to see his devotees cum volunteers discriminating between white people & indians. the white people were given preferrential treatment & indians were being treated badly by these volunteers. this disappointed me greatly and also many other things.

  30. Francis Says:

    All who have written negatively need to set their thoughts in order… what ever they written are purely based on hearsay and rumors.. Would they write like this if it was concerning a preacher from Islam or any other religion ..there should be a limit to criticism . People should not write whatever comes to their mind just because they have the freedom of expression. That is why Swami Vivekanananda called these people “half educated half ignorant..”

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