Sathya Sai Controversies and the Art of Guru Bashing
It is not uncommon now that for many Gurus, Rishis or Seers who have emerged from India, there has always been an unprecedented number of vicious attacks launched on them. These have come in the guise of slander, misquotes, false allegations and myriad smear campaigns.
Moreover it is interesting to note that most of these attackers often turn out to be either individuals who have been suffering from dysfunctional complexes or personality disorders, or pseudo spiritualists, fundamentalists and Christian missionaries working at religions conversion of Hindus, or self-appointed- rationalist experts with highly opinionated, insular theories or dishonest television reporters and interviewers sensationalizing and tarnishing the image of Hinduism and Hindu Gurus, keeping with the trend of unprofessional, ignorant reporting and the highly biased- ‘paid news syndrome’.
No doubt there have been many isolated cases in history where certain imposters and charlatans have deceived people parading in the garb of self-realized yogis. However to use such cases to generalize on all Hindu gurus is akin to defaming all doctors and the whole medical profession for the malpractices of a few. Such an attitude thus does not only reek of flawed human reasoning but also exposes an irrational bias towards Hinduism as a whole and a long- standing socio- political agenda of a malicious nature and intent to debase India’s sacred culture and tradition.
Let us start with the historical case of Swami Vivekananda the great philosopher & teacher. When Vivekananda went to Chicago in 1893 to speak at the parliament of the world’s religions, he was ridiculed by members of other faiths. This was not because of what he said, but because of everyone’s lack of knowledge of Hinduism and their preconceptions of a faith based in mythology with worshiping of animals and nature. After this there were many attempts to defame Vivekananda by the church during his maiden US voyage because of his mass appeal, displaying that the anti-Hindu guru stance was taken by many over 100 years ago. This approach was also accepted by many and not challenged.
Let us also take the current case with Sathya Sai Baba. Many have heard of him as the guru or Avatar who had performed untold miracles from childhood. Indeed we would find millions who have seen or benefited from his miracles throughout the world. Yet there has been a constant sinister smear campaign to malign his name and mission in the media.
Over 90% of anti Sai allegations can be attributed to Tal Brook (Robert Taliaferro Brooke), who was often seen at Sai Baba’s ashram in the 1970s. He proclaimed he was Sai Baba’s number one western follower. He started the sexual allegations campaign, which initiated from him talking to an unidentified man Surya Das who was told by another unidentified man ‘Patrick’ who had apparently had physical relations with Sai Baba. No one else has met these individuals.
Why did Tal Brooke go to India? He stated that spirit guides, and belief in “psychic stuff” brought him to India and to Sai Baba. Why did he suddenly stop his pro Sai Baba work whilst at the Ashram titled “The Amazing Advent”? Which incidentally Sai Baba refused to bless. Why did he leave the ashram & circulate his anti Sai Baba rumours soon afterwards? Because he stated he had demonic encounters, hearing voices of spirits, out of body experiences, but acknowledged that Sai Baba had Christ like powers that baffled top scientists.
In 1976 Tal Brook published an anti Sai book titled “Lord of the Air”*. In the book and in subsequent years he has attacked Sai Baba & Hinduism, suggesting that enlightenment is an evil path to Satan and that God-Men and Gurus are in a state of perfect demonic possession. He believes that Sai Baba embodies a “timeless, demonic presence”. What does this say about the integrity and objectivity of his claims against Sai Baba? What is also missing is the story of his constant high usage of drugs while at university & India, and his drug induced hallucinations of being self-realized. Other Americans recognised him as a fanatic Christian at the ashram, which is contrary to his claim of becoming a Christian post Sai Baba. He was a member of the Neo-American Church founded by Arthur Kleps (a follower of LSD guru Timothy Leary). Kleps was alleged to be anti-Semitic by the Dutch police who expelled him from Holland. Tal Brooke has denounced Hollywood as being anti Christ, and his smear campaign has lasted 30 years with multiple books and now with expensive internet ad campaigns.
Tal Brooke’s rumours and books led to many copy cat accusers, most of whom who had had a dubious past, but not once has there been any proof. The recent most famous example is of Alaya Rahm who in the 1990s as a young man said he had sexual encounters with Sai Baba. The western media jumped on this, and even the BBC produced a programme which effectively made Sai Baba appear guilty. However Alaya Rahm (and others) had many opportunities to file a police or court case anywhere in India, but this has never occurred.
A lawsuit was created in the Superior Court of California on January 6, 2005 (Case No. 05cc01931). But realizing that the exposure was high Rahm eventually refused to go to court. No other alleged victim came forward to testify in support of his allegations, though anti-Sai activists claimed there were many alleged US victims. Many Hindus themselves have often blindly joined the anti sai crusade with enthusiasm without cross checking for factual evidence,which has often lead to more people accepting these false accusations..
Reporter of the The Pioneer, Sandhya Jain, wrote in 2009 that “As usual, when false accusations are made against Hindu gurus, a high-decibel media campaign begins. But when the innocence of the accused is established, the cacophony melts into stoic silence… No alleged victim ever filed a police or court case against Baba in India for alleged improprieties, though former devotees kept chanting that ‘hundreds’, indeed ‘‘thousands’’ of ‘‘minors’’, ‘‘children’’ and ‘male youth’ were molested by Sathya Sai Baba. Who inspired these venomous former devotees to launch investigations into vile rumours? Devotees say the ‘Anti-Sai Movement’ is an extremist hate group which habitually makes wild allegations, including the laughable claim that the Baba is allied with terrorists!…The truth is that neither Sai Baba nor any organization associated with him has ever been charged or implicated for sexual abuse, either directly or indirectly, and that reputable media agencies and independent journalists have not been able to confirm a single instance of sexual abuse linked to Sai Baba or his organizations.”
Moreover, recently in 2007 the same Alaya Rahm was trying to provide an alibi for a drug dealer friend, however despite his alibi his friend got convicted for thirty years, in return throwing light on Alaya Rahm’s dubious and questionable character.
There have also been years of many unfounded and vicious attacks on Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Yogananada, Mata Amritanandamayi, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, etc. indicating that when anti-Hindu Guru statements are made, everyone naturally takes notice but the media and academia more often than not, instead of conducting an unbiased probe and investigation, rather thrive on further distorting and tarnishing the name of such revered gurus.
On an international stage, Hindus have never done enough research themselves that would throw light on the nature of these malicious anti-hindu guru campaigns. Worse, when the allegations have proven to be incorrect, they have not been able to use that opportunity to publicize that nationally or internationally.
However, now, apart from the Sathya Sai trust, many other individuals and organizations have slowly been waking up to these anti-Hindu movements and agitations and have begun to contemplate taking legal action against media, reporters, editors, and others for defamation, perjury, slander and violation of their indigenous culture and religion.
*For further expose on the Anti Sai Movement*
By Raj Sharma