Money – Sex – Gurus – Swamis & The Misleading Association With Sathya Sai Baba
In recent days, Robert Priddy, Barry Pittard, Serguei Badaev and other Anti-Sai Activists have been raising a huge hullabaloo on Anti-Sai websites and their WordPress blogs over an article that appeared in the UK The Times newspaper. The article in question was entitled “Money and sex tarnish Indian guru image” and was written by Jeremy Page.
Needless to say, the article in question did not (either directly, indirectly or otherwise) make a single reference to Sathya Sai Baba. The article is as follows:
First there was the Indian swami, or holy man, who was arrested last week for allegedly raping under-age girls and found to be keeping a tiger pelt, drugs and pornographic videos in his ashram.
Then a second one in Kerala, upset by a local newspaper report, tried to shoot himself in the head in a police station in front of television cameras. A third swami from the same state is now on the run after being accused of failing to repay a loan of one million rupees (£12,000) that he took out in his former life as a film producer.
Swamis have been revered in India for thousands of years, originally as leaders of Hindu religious schools or sects who were often believed to have healing and other divine powers. But the latest cases have exposed the seamier side of many gurus, some of whom claim millions of followers — including top politicians — and become hugely rich from donations. They have also set the government of Kerala — one of two communist states in India — on a collision course with religious groups after a state minister declared that most swamis were frauds.
“They’re conducting all kinds of criminal and material activities behind their spiritual exteriors,” G. Sudhakaran, Kerala’s minister for temples, told The Times. “Ninety per cent of them are fake and criminals. There are so many swamis who have enlightened the hearts and minds of people, but these people are fakes with no idea about spirituality. They are only interested in women and money and muscle power.” His comments outraged many devout Hindus, who consider swamis to be beyond reproach — even above the law.
The minister’s remarks were hailed by atheists and rationalists as a rare example of a senior government official speaking out about a problem that has plagued India for centuries.
“This isn’t just a problem confined to Kerala — the same thing happens everywhere else,” Narendra Nayak, the president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, said.
“You have all sorts of illegal things going on in ashrams, but police won’t go in there because they’re holy places.” Dr Nayak alleged that many swamis abused their holy status to launder money for politicians, businessmen and criminals and to provide a safe place for their clients to drink and have sex with prostitutes.
Part of the problem, he said, was that the swamis were not regulated by any central religious or government body. James Vadakkumcherry, a former teacher at the Kerala police training college who is doing a study on bogus swamis, said that there were about 50 or 60 such “holy men” in Kerala alone.
Santhosh Madhavan — Swami Amritachaitanya — was arrested in March and faces multiple charges including fraud, rape and possessing narcotics. He is accused of sexually assaulting and making pornographic films with several under-age girls.
Police also say that he had been wanted by Interpol since 2004 for allegedly defrauding a Dubai-based Indian woman called Serafin Edwin of 4.5 million rupees when he was visiting the Gulf. She says that she gave him the money to buy a hotel in her name in Kerala but he says it was payment for astrological and other services.
When police raided his four-storey mansion they allegedly found a tiger pelt, drugs, a police uniform and pornographic videos. Some reports said that the videos included secret recordings of “VIP guests in action on the bed”. The case prompted one newspaper to run an exposé on alleged bogus swamis, featuring Himaval Maheswara Bhadranandaji, who stormed into the newspaper’s offices and put a gun to his head, injuring himself before being arrested.
The Times article dealt specifically with Swamis and alleged Gurus who were arrested and formally charged for various crimes.
In stark contrast, however, Sathya Sai Baba has never (ever) been charged with any crime, sexual or otherwise. Nor have any alleged victims even tried to file a basic police complaint or court case against Sai Baba in India. Leave it to critics to distort news articles (as they often do) with irrelevant comparisons and equally irrelevant commentaries.