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Sathya Sai Baba - an appraisal

Sai Baba (my original essay)

31 August 2001

Many people in the spiritual and religious scenes, as well as mainstream society, feel uncomfortable about Sathya Sai Baba.  Indeed, opinions are very polarised regarding the nature of this extraordinary personality.  One the one hand there are those who acknowledge him as the avatar of this age, on the minus side those who consider him a con-artist, paedophile, and even worse.

When I went to visit Sai Baba in India around 1982, I came across in a Bangalore bookshop a book, Sai Baba, Lord of the Air, by Tal Brooke.  I found this book quite amazing.  This fellow Tal was an associate of Timothy Leary and then became a spiritual seeker who visited a number of gurus, including Sai Baba.  he claimed that he became close to Sai Baba and that whenever Sai Baba would see him he (Sai) would hug him and thrust his hims against him in a sexual manner.  Becoming unnerved by this, Tal met some Christians and became a born again christian.  Terrified, and convinced that Sai Baba was the incarnation of the Christian Devil (as well as a homosexual, these two concepts being not too far removed in the fundamentalist christian, especially the Televangelist's, mind  ;-) and aided by his Christian friends, Tal managed to make escape.  He now makes a fine living

Here is what one Sai disciple, Bon Giovanni has to say regarding Tal Brooke and his books

My own experience of Sai Baba has always been very positive.  These included two genuine psychic experiences, once when I was camping at the "Sky to Earth" alternative festival (I think this was in 1984) when I was coming down with a bad cold. I knew once I had a cold I would be screwed, I would be sick as a dog the whole weekend. I prayed desperately to Sai Baba, then I felt his astral presence (it was definitely his aura, that is the sense of a personality that I felt when looking at his picture or reading stuff about him) and his hands grabbed the yuck (the congestion whatever) and took it away. I could sense it on the astral. This was no illusion (in my opinion) and I will swear by it to this day. From that moment on my cold receded and the next day I was better. Since I tend to get very bad headcolds this was unusual, and it has never happened before or since.

About a year later I had another astral experience of Sai Baba which was similar (though not a healing, more a presence) but not as strong.

I have always found tuning into Sai Baba's energy and mantra strong and positive. There is none of that lower emotional energy that I have felt from, say, the Siddha Yoga people. Once (this was during the late 1980s) I went from a Sai Baba bhajan group to a Siddha Yoga bhajan group and it was like going from a place of glowing light to muddy energy. I am not knocking the Siddha people, this is what I experienced, and maybe I am biased.

Because I am always more inclined to believe my own personal experiences (which I know at least are subjectively valid) rather than experiences of others, for many many years I was certain Sai Baba constituted a genuine avatar, albeit one with a rather quirky sense of humour that not everyone appreciates.

I remember watching the Australian national current affairs show 60 Minutes doing a hatched job on Sai Baba (I guess this was the one in 1987 mentioned by ex-devotees), and they were there with Sai Baba - who is this little guy - the reporter a sceptic-type guy showing how sleight-of-hand materialisations are done, and Sai Baba is there sort of laughing I guess because they were all so stern and serious and missing the point. (well that is what I thought at the time). I have no love for 60 Minutes by the way; they have consistently taken a very conservative, judgmental, anti-welfare (I.e. the unemployed are "dole bludgers") and anti-environmental line for many many years. This is typical of all these moralising and pontifical current affairs shows (I agree they serve a purpose in exposing confidence tricksters). Lately at least they have come around to being more pro-environment, which is something of a blessing. But in other respects they haven't changed. So I just thought oh here we again, more Sai Baba bashing.

By the way a good friend of mine who is also a very spiritual person has the same positive feelings about Saui Baba that I have

Now a Sai Baba story

I think it was Moshe Kroy (I'm not sure) who related this to me many years back.

A lady devotee noticed that Sai Baba's hair was showing some grey and she said "Baba you ahve grey hairs!"

Sai Bab said "hmm, really?" and then swept his hand over his head, removing all trace of grey. Since that time he has shown no sign of aging. He also said that he would remain like this until he was 95, when he would leave his body.

It will be interesting to see if in twenty years time Sai Baba still looks the same as he does now! It will certainly be an interesting piece of evidence in favour of his having extraordinary powers if he does.

Since putting up the original (since much modified) version of this page I have received a couple of emails by concerned ex-devotees. At first I thought this is more slander. But now, after going to the site indicated by the last one, I am more starting to feel a little more sceptical. So I have included their emails and the links they specified

My own position on this? Well, I know what I experienced and I know it isn't and wasn't hallucination (I am a phenomenologist after all, not a reductionist!). Explanations? Try on a few for size:

Where do I stand now? Well, I still like the energy. I still like this presence I still continue to call "Sai Baba". I feel nothing muddy or dark in it. Does it come from Sai Baba himself, from my own mind's projection onto Sai Baba, or from another entity who is appearing through Sai Baba's form? I do not know. I still don't think I have done this whole subject justice - there is more to be explained, and I haven't resolved things to my satisfaction. I know that to me and to many other sincere people (including people who can see through fakes) this experience is positive. But I do not wish to ask you to believe that. It is upto you to come to your own conclusions. Ultimately, if the whole Sai Baba experience shows anything, it shows that the only true Guru lies within one's own heart, and that one's own gnosis is the only true teacher.

the above last revised 31 August 2001

A critical reply to the original version of the above page (and my humerous counter-reply)

My current understanding of Sai Baba

Web links Sai Baba Links Web links


Web Site Bhagavan Shri Sathya Sai Baba - The official site of the International Sathya Sai Baba Organization

Web Site Sathya Sia Baba

Web Site Sri Sai Tec - Sri Sai Tec is an organisation which is committed to SEVA (helping the needy) under the guidance and inspiration of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.


Web Site Allegations Concerning Sathya Sai Baba - multilingual

Web Site Ex Baba - important critical website contains scholarly studies and videos of alleged materializations


Yahoo clubschat Sathya Sai Baba - Exploring the Life and Work of India's Famous Guru

"This forum is designed to allow views (positive and critical) on the life and work of Sathya Sai Baba, one of India's most famous gurus."

Wikipedia Page Sathya Sai Baba - wikipedia page


Here is some of the email I received from former devotees of Sai Baba

Sat, 18 Dec 1999

Dear Sir,

I found your website during an engine search for sites related to Sai Baba. I read your views.

I just wanted to inform you that if you want to find out about the real Sai Bab, you can talk to David Bailey, the famous UK devotee who has left Sai Baba for good.  Some of his unique experiences are found at the yahoo forum discussion site:

A forthcoming expose in the Indian and international media and subsequent legal prosecution of Sai Baba's fraud with the Super Speciality Hospital, Water Projects, his long-term paedophile homosexual activities with selected students, cheating of materializations etc. is expected shortly on a worldwide scale.

Sainath (a former devotee)


Thu, 30 Aug 2001


I am an ex-devotee of Sathya Sai Baba. Most unfortunately I lost all doubts that the allegations about sexual abuse are true because it happened to some people that I knew and trusted too. Not seriously though.

See also

I consider Miss Alexandra Nagel's article "A Guru Acccused" the best. Press on English. Press then on Articles and then scroll down to Aug. 15 2001.

Kind regards,
Andries, the Netherlands

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page uploaded 28 May 1998; most recent revision 31 August 2001. Page renamed 16 November 2006