India Independence Day – Celebrations & News Around The World

India Independence Day

India Independence Day

India Independence Day – Celebrations & News Around The World

Today, August 15, 2008, is the 62th anniversary of India’s independence from the British Empire. President Bush sent a Indian Independence Day message of that stated this anniversary is a reminder of the close ties the United States has with India.

At midnight on August 15, 1947, the Indian people became a democratic self-governing country. Mahatma Gandhi led the people in non-violent protests that culminated in what Bush called a great story of “liberty overcoming oppression”. He also noted the significant contribution that Indian-Americans have made to our great country.

One of the most famous Independence Day quotes came from then Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his speech, Tryst with Destiny:

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance ….. We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again.

So on this day, as the Indian people celebrate their independence, we wish you the best!! Have a joyous day. (Ref)

Washington, Aug 15 (PTI) Greeting India on its 62nd Independence Day, President George W Bush said that the occasion reminds America of the “close ties” it shares with India.

“I send greetings to those celebrating the 61st anniversary of India’s Independence,” Bush said in a statement to the Indian-American community released through his Office of Public Liaison.

Terming India’s path to independence a great story of “liberty overcoming oppression”, the president said “led by Mahatma Gandhi the Indian people engaged in non-violent protests and campaigns in the pursuit of freedom.” “On August 15, 1947 they achieved their goal, gained their independence and became a democratic nation. This accomplishment demonstrates that though freedom can be delayed, it cannot be denied,” he said.

Lauding the contributions of Indian Americans in America’s progress, Bush said “it is also a time to remember the rich contributions that the Indian-Americans have made to our country and reminds us of the close ties that our Nation shares with India.” “Laura and I send our best wishes on the occasion,” he added. PTI (Ref)

New York, Aug 15 (PTI) Indian tricolour fluttered in the backdrop, as Neelam Deo, the country’s consul general here rung the closing bell at the world’s largest stock exchange NASDAQ, which celebrated India’s 62nd independence day today.

This was the first time that a consul general has rung the closing bell at the stock market in a prestigious ceremony, which marks the recognition of a fast growing Indian economy.

Outside the exchange, the huge electronic board, which overlooks the historic Times Square and displays quotations during the day was also lighted in saffron, white and green colours, with the words “India Independence Day”.

With approximately 3,200 companies, NASDAQ lists more companies and has more trading volume per day than any other stock exchange in the world.

It lists six Indian companies with a combined market cap of almost USD 35 billion. These include Ex1Service, Rediff.Com, Sify Technologies, Syntel Inc, Cognizant Technology Solutions and Infosys Technologies.

Infosys and Cognizant are members of the NASDAQ 100 Index, which is one of the most prestigious and widely followed indices in the world.

Additionally, Indian Energy Exchange (IEX), India’s first power exchange for trading of electricity, regulated by Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), uses NASDAQ OMX and the FTIL as the primary contractors for the new exchange’s energy trading solution. PTI (Ref)

NEW DELHI, Aug 15 (Reuters) – India rolled out a security clampdown on Friday ahead of annual Independence Day celebrations following recent bomb attacks on some of its cities and violent protests in its northern region of Kashmir.

Snipers will keep a close watch from high-rise buildings as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unfurls the national flag from the ramparts of Delhi’s historic Red Fort to a 21-gun salute before addressing the nation.

But as India celebrates the 61st anniversary of independence from British colonial rule, security forces will be on alert across the country to prevent attacks from separatist militants or Maoist rebels.

“We have geared up resources and will have anti-air attack systems in place in the capital. Some areas have been declared no-fly zones,” said Rajan Bhagat, a Delhi police spokesman.

In Kashmir, at least 27 people have been killed since June in some of the biggest protests since a revolt against Indian rule broke out in 1989.

The trouble began when the government promised to give forest land to a trust that runs Amarnath, a cave shrine visited by Hindu pilgrims. After huge protests by Muslims, it backtracked, in turn angering Hindus in the Jammu region of the state.

The disputed region’s main separatist alliance has called a general strike for Friday.

“We appeal to people to observe August 15 as a black day and stay away from Indian functions,” the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference said in a statement.

In New Delhi, barricades have been put up on roads and police were frisking people in malls and checking bags.

On Thursday, the government sweetened the celebrations for five million of its workers, agreeing to hefty pay rises.

Singh’s ruling coalition has had a tough time of late, struggling to contain inflation while being pilloried by the opposition for failing to prevent or solve a series of deadly bombings in some of the country’s cities.

The attacks have killed more than a 100 people since May.

In forests in central and eastern areas, Maoist rebels are becoming increasingly assertive and have told people not to celebrate.

In the remote northeast, four powerful separatist groups, including the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), have also called a boycott and a general strike.

On Thursday, security forces gunned down four ULFA rebels, but the militants have vowed to strike back.

“Militants are planning disruptive activities in a big way in the region,” a senior intelligence official told Reuters. (Ref)

ISLAMABAD, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) — Pakistan released 34 detained Indian prisoners as a goodwill gesture while celebrating its Independence Day on Thursday.

The 34 fishermen, aging from 18 to 34, were freed from the Karachi Central Jail on the occasion of Independence Day, private Geo TV reported.

The prisoners will be handed over to Indian officials on Friday at the eastern Wagha border between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan and India won their independence from Britain in 1947,and they mark their independence day on Aug. 14 and Aug. 15 respectively. The two countries have exchanged their prisoners in recent years as part of goodwill gesture. (Ref)

Indian missions and expatriate Indian organisations across the Gulf are making elaborate preparations to mark the 61st anniversary of India’s Independence this Friday.

In Abu Dhabi, Indian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Talmiz Ahmad will hoist the tricolour Friday morning and read out extracts from President Pratibha Patil’s speech.

In Dubai, Indian Consul General Venu Rajamony will hoist the flag at the Indian High School and this will be followed by a programme of patriotic songs and dances.

In the evening, the Indian Professional and Business Council (IBPC), Dubai, will hold a cultural programme at a five star hotel in Dubai.

The highlight of the evening will be a performance of the classical ballet ‘Parampara’ by Bollywood actress and Rajya Sabha member Hema Malini and her daughters Esha Deol and Ahana Deol.

In Oman, the Independence Day celebrations already started on Wednesday with a musical evening at the Indian embassy auditorium.

India’s Ambassador to Oman Anil Wadhwa will hoist the tricolour at the Indian School Darsait Friday morning, which will be followed by a tree-planting ceremony by volunteers of the Art of Living foundation.

A cultural programme will also be held at the embassy auditorium Friday afternoon, which will be coordinated by Oman-based Odissi dancer Shubharna Bose.

Oman TV will telecast a half-hour documentary titled ‘A Day in the Life of India’.

In the evening, the embassy lawns will resonate to the fusion tunes of ghazal and jazz in a unique programme called Gazaala. Bollywood singer Roop Kumar Rathod and Fazal Quereshi will be accompanied by other fusion musicians in the programme.

The Indian embassy in Oman is also organising an India-Oman art exhibition at the Omani Society of Fine Arts in Muscat.

The exhibition, titled ‘Mixture’, will run September 16-21, and will feature works of Indian figurative artist Neelam Dhar and well-known Omani artists Abdullah Al Riyami and Saleem Sakhi.

India’s Ambassador to Bahrain Balkrishna Shetty will be the chief guest at the main function to mark Independence Day at the Indian School, Isa Town.

Over 200 schoolchildren will present a cultural programme called ‘India on the Move’ featuring India’s freedom struggle, the post-independence developments and the country’s cultural heritage.

There will also be an Odissi recital by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) artiste Jyoti Srivastava.

Kannada Sangha Bahrain will also celebrate the 61st anniversary of India’s independence in a mega cultural event Friday at the Indian Club, Manama.

The programme will pay tribute to India’s freedom fighters and will feature patriotic songs, dances and dance dramas, all focusing on India and the nation’s freedom movement.

In Doha, India’s Ambassador to Qatar George Joseph will hoist the tricolour at the Indian Cultural Centre and read out excerpts from the President’s speech.

This will be followed by a programme of patriotic songs by schoolchildren.

In Kuwait, Indian Ambassador M. Ganapathi will hoist the flag. This will be followed by a cultural programme in which schoolchildren will give various performances.

India’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia M.O.H. Farooq will hoist the flag in Riyadh. In the evening, the Indian mission will host a reception at the Indian International School.

In Jeddah, newly appointed Indian Consul General Sayeed Ahmed Baba will hoist the flag at the official function in that Red Sea coast city.

Apart from these programmes, major newspapers in the region are also bringing out special supplements to mark the occasion.

There are over 4.8 million expatriate Indians across the six Gulf nations. (Ref)

Children Celebrate India Independence Day

Children Celebrate India Independence Day

India’s Independence Day is celebrated on August 15 to commemorate its independence from the British rule and its birth as a sovereign nation on that day in 1947. The day is a national holiday in India. It is celebrated all over the country through flag-hoisting ceremony . The main celebration takes place in New Delhi, where the Prime Minister hoists the National Flag at the Red Fort and delivers a nationally televised speech from its ramparts. In his speech, he highlights the achievements of his government during the past year, raises important issues and gives a call for further development. The Prime Minister also pays his tribute to leaders of the freedom struggle.

On 3 June 1947, Viscount Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last British Governor-General of India, announced the partitioning of the British Indian Empire into India and Pakistan, under the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947. At the stroke of midnight, on 15 August 1947, India became an independent nation.

Prime Minister Nehru and Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel invited Lord Mountbatten to continue as Governor General of India. He was replaced in June 1948 by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari. Patel took on the responsibility of unifying 565 princely states, steering efforts by his “iron fist in a velvet glove” policies, exemplified by the use of military force to integrate Junagadh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Hyderabad state into India. J&K became a part of India when Pakistan laid siege and the then king Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession with India to save J&K from Pakistan. India responded on behalf of J&K by sending in its armed forces to counteract the Pakistani attack. Later PM Nehru went to UN and a cease fire was declared. Pakistan has not withdrawn its military forces from the occupied Kashmir, and the territory termed as POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) has ever since been a cause of contention between India and Pakistan.

The Constituent Assembly completed the work of drafting the constitution on 26 November 1949; on 26 January 1950 the Republic of India was officially proclaimed. The Constituent Assembly elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India, taking over from Governor General Rajgopalachari. Subsequently, a free and sovereign India absorbed two other territories: Goa (liberated from Portuguese control in 1961) and Pondicherry (which the French ceded in 1954). In 1952, India held its first general elections, with a voter turnout exceeding 62%; in practice, this made India the world’s largest democratic country in the history of the modern and ancient world.

Flag hoisting ceremonies and cultural programs take place in all the state capitals. 15th August is a National holiday of India. In the capital New Delhi In the cities around the country the Flag Hoisting Ceremony is done by politicians belonging to that constituency. In various private organisations the Flag Hoisting Ceremony is carried out by a Senior officer of that organisation. Schools and colleges around the country organise flag hoisting ceremony and various cultural activities within their respective premises. Families and friends get together for lunch or dinner, or for an outing. Housing colonies, cultural centres, clubs and societies hold entertainment programmes and competitions, usually based on the freedom theme. (Ref)

India Independence Day Celebration

India Independence Day Celebration

William McKay Aitken – Bill Aitken – Liam McKay & The Sathya Sai Baba Controversy

William McKay Aitken – Bill Aitken – Liam McKay
& The Sathya Sai Baba Controversy

William Bill Aitken

William Bill Aitken

Bill Aitken is Scottish by birth, a naturalized Indian by choice. He studied comparative religion at Leeds University and then hitch-hiked to India in 1959. He has lived in Himalayan ashrams, worked as secretary to a maharani, freelanced under his middle name (Liam McKay) and undertaken miscellaneous excursions – from Nanda Devi to Sabarimala – on an old motorbike and by steam railway. William McKay Aitken has written on travel and tourism for newspapers, journals and magazines in India for several years and is the author of:

  • The Nanda Devi Affair
  • Riding The Ranges: Travels On My Motorcycle
  • Footloose In The Himalaya
  • Meeting The Mountains
  • Sri Sathya Sai Baba – A Life
  • Exploring Indian Railways
  • Divining The Deccan: A Motorbike To The Heart Of India
  • Branch Line To Eternity
  • Travels By A Lesser Line
  • Touching Upon The Himalayas: Excursions And Enquiries
  • Seven Sacred Rivers
  • Speaking Stones: World Cultural Heritage Sites In India (Supported by the Department of Tourism, Government of India)

Bill Aitken has written insightfully, reasonably and succinctly about the Sathya Sai Baba Controversy in his book “Sri Sathya Sai Baba – A Life”. The following paragraphs are extracts from this book along with comments from Joe Moreno (A Pro-Sai Activist).

Bill Aitken: The most glaring shortcoming of the rationalists is his habit of leaving love out of the equation. Their approach is cerebral and misses out on ordinary human emotions. The rationalists use Sai Baba to attack what is in fact their main enemy – the freedom to cherish the world of the spirit. Reading the abuse they heap on the Puttaparthi teacher, it seems that they are not so much incensed against him as at the poor who flock to his gatherings. Their claim to act in the interest of the common man sounds hollow when they display so much contempt for the villager’s preferences.

My Response: Indian rationalists are notorious for their fanatic and extremist tactics involving deceit and theatrics to influence and convert poor Indian villagers to their atheistic beliefs. For example, in the GuruBusters Documentary (View Video) an innocent dog was subjected to a bite from a venomous snake and an alleged ‘witch doctor’ was produced who said he could cure the dog using mantras. The ‘witch doctor’ failed, instantly embraced rationalism, denounced his trade as a farce and told the crowd they should convert to rationalism and not believe in religion, mantras or gurus. To the educated eye, the entire drama was an unconvincing set up (with a disgusting and brutal killing of an innocent dog). Nevertheless, to the uneducated Indian villagers, it was a convincing performance.

Bill Aitken: Besides the rationalist critics there are those who can be called irrationalist. These follow a well-known pattern in the history of religion where an overenthusiastic disciple turns apostate and, in a bewildering reversal of emotions, denounces as Satan the very person he had the day before declared to be God. The best example of this neurotic behaviour is St. Paul who started his career as an enthusiastic Jewish prosecutor of Christians. (It is an irony that the first Christian missionary gave his church its first martyr when Paul had St. Stephen stoned to death.) There is a discernable pattern of behaviour of the Puttaparthi malcontents. First the guru builds them up, gives them a front-row seat to make them feel they are part of the ashram inner circle and generally showers attention in their direction. Then, assured of their love, the guru starts the work of demolishing their unreal self. They are now ignored, made to sit at the back and generally cut to size. The easy way out is for them to look for another guru who may be more responsive to the sensitivity of their souls. Alternatively, the indignant disciple writes a book damning the guru for his blindness in not recognizing the spiritual gold that lay concealed in the rejected ego.

My Response: Bill Aitken is not the first person (and undoubtedly will not be the last) to recognize the fact that there is a “discernable pattern of behaviour of the Puttaparthi malcontents”. Ex-Devotee’s malicious behavior is actually a documented behavioral phenomenon that Bryan Ronald Wilson (Emeritus Professor) described as The Apostate Syndrome. Many Ex-Devotees praised Sathya Sai Baba as God Incarnate and the Avatar of the Age for many years. Now, however, they condemn him as an obvious fraud, a lousy magician, a poor speaker, a stupid person, a man engaging in public displays of transvestitism (Ref), a guru who is demented and senile, a sex addict who engages in inappropriate sexual behavior in front of thousands of devotees while being recorded on video (Ref), etc. (the list of slurs and defamations are too numerous to list).

Therefore, academic scholars and sociologists (such as A.D. Shupe, Jr., D. G. Bromley, Joseph Ventimiglia, Danny Jorgensen, James A. Beckford, Bryan Ronald Wilson) have recognized the Apostate Syndrome and Atrocity Story as behavioral patterns prevalent among former followers of a particular religion, sect or guru. Ex-Devotees are no exception and their maliciousness, extremism and fanaticism confirms the observations and arguments made by these academic scholars and sociologists.

Bill Aitken: Another disenchanted western devotee David Bailey, a musician from Britain, later used the Internet to try and discredit Sai Baba and his movement. Both Brooke and Bailey allege improper conduct but do not produce any evidence other than hearsay from other disgruntled disciples, many of whom hide behind a pseudonym on Bailey’s web site.

My Response: There are now extensive articles about David Bailey and Tal Brooke on the internet.

To Date: Not even one alleged victim has ever attempted to file a basic police complaint or court case against Sathya Sai Baba in India. Nor have any alleged parents to any alleged victims filed basic police complaints, public grievances or court cases in India for the alleged sexual molestations of their children. These facts strongly solidify the argument that Sathya Sai Baba never abused children (Ref).

It is entirely true that the allegations against Sai Baba are nothing more than internet smear campaigns waged by people (mostly pseudonymous and anonymous) who are so unconvincing, even money-hungry lawyers refuse to represent them. Alleged victims have been unable to obtain legal representation in the past 10+ years despite: 1) The lucrative prospect of a successful suit and; 2) Ex-Devotee’s constant claims that they are in correspondence with “International” and “Top” lawyers.

Bill Aitken: Brooke relies on an unidentified Anglo-Indian boy who, being a poor Christian, could be a paid informer of the missionary lobby. (One paperback edition of Lord Of The Air bears a missionary imprint.) As Whitefield’s young Anglo-Indians have no occasion to frequent the ashram, this boy must have gone to hobnob with the foreigners. The ashram rules – which Brooke breaches – caution devotees (with an almost prophetic insight in this instance): ‘Do not consort with strangers. They are likely to have ulterior motives, leading ultimately to unpleasantness.’

My Response: The only problem with all of Tal Brooke’s tall-stories is that none of the alleged witnesses he cited (who have never been identified as real people) have ever come forward in 30+ years to corroborate his stories. As it turns out, Tal Brooke’s alleged experiences with Sathya Sai Baba (and his subsequent defection) revolved around hallucinogenic and psychedelic drugs (mostly LSD) he was experimenting with at the time (Ref). Tal Brooke is also a fundamentalist Christian who believes that everything non-Christian is either a conspiracy or the work of the Devil. Therefore, Tal Brooke’s objectivity is severely compromised by his religious fundamentalism and extremism.

Bill Aitken: Bailey’s whole case self-destructs when, recognizing his inability to discredit Sai Baba’s reputation by salacious innuendo, he launches into a general tirade, farcical in the wildness of its allegations, against the ashram and its workings: Sai Baba’s vibuthi, he asserts, is prepared in capsule form to dupe the public. But even allowing for the possibility that Bailey is the only discerning witness among half a million fools, how does it explain the copious outpouring of vibuthi at Shivaratri before huge crowds, all of whom cannot be as stupid as he implies. The orchestrated malice of his fulminations sound as overdone as a Victorian missionary’s denunciation of the heathen. Both Brooke and Bailey revealingly revert to the vocabulary of the evangelist, accusing their target of having supped with the devil. This is quite common among the innocents abroad and I recall the visit of a famous British Catholic monk, in Mirtola, whose first impressions of the temple arati ceremony convinced him he was in Hell, listening to (and recognizing) the rites of Satan. What is amusing in all these foreign reactions to culture shock is the implication that the visitors have a close working knowledge of the devil’s tastes!

My Response: An excellent summation about David Bailey by Bill Aitken.

Bill Aitken: Like the stray rationalist voices, what these isolated critics are really saying is that they are the only reliable witnesses and that Sai Baba’s thirty million followers are all simpletons. Such overkill reveals the familiar scenario of an unbalanced believer who, unsure of his moorings, takes on a guru to bail him out of his confusion. Religious hatred is a sign of misguided energies and this may explain why followers who turn apostate invariably express their frustration through sexual innuendo.

My Response: Former Followers of Sathya Sai Baba have a nasty habit of sexualizing everything pertaining to Sathya Sai Baba, Sai Devotees and Sai Proponents. This deviant and perverse sexualization of Sai Baba is a highly prevalent tactic employed by former followers (even with absurd claims that Sai Baba is engaging in questionable sexual acts in full view of thousands of devotees while being recorded on video). For example, see the edited Ex-Baba movie clip entitled Sai Baba Groin (approximately 950kb, wmv file). Ex-Devotees have also maliciously accused Joe Moreno of being sexually abused by Sathya Sai Baba despite his many repeated clarifications to the contrary (Ref). Both Robert Priddy and Sanjay Dadlani allege that Sathya Sai Baba is a homosexual drag queen who openly engages in acts of transvestitism (Ref).

Ex-Devotees (who always boast about their moral supremacy) completely ignore Sanjay Dadlani (a vocal Ex-Devotee) and his homosexual-fantasizing slurs, perverted Jesus-sex fetish and deviant boot-sex fetish. Sanjay Dadlani secretly stalked innocent women at Middlesex University (calling them “bitches” and “sluts”, saying “they want it”, calling Mothers “MILFs”, photographing females and teenagers up their dresses and under tables and published these photos on his streetbitches blog). This is the type of person that Ex-Devotees (including Barry Pittard and Robert Priddy – two of the main spokespersons for the Anti-Sai Movement) publish, promote, link to and endorse.

Sanjay Dadlani even posted on the QuickTopic Forum (using multiple fake names, including female names) and made disgusting posts under the name “Marquis de Sade” about a large penis for anal sex, a feces-covered anus, bestiality, people vomiting into each other’s mouths and a Priest ejaculating on the face of a little girl as related by her brother. Sanjay even posted under the name “kick his head in” and said that someone should murder Sathya Sai Baba (of course, this is the same guy who rejoiced when a Sai Baba temple was bombed).

Even the webmaster for the ExBaba domain, Reinier Van Der Sandt, admitted using numerous fake internet names and admitted to viewing child pornography (Ref). Other Ex-Devotees notorious for their perverse sexual innuendo and libels are Tony O’Clery, Alan Kazlev, UsedByBaba and Barbara Dent.

These are the types of self-righteous pseudo-moralists attempting to take a moral and ethical stand against Sathya Sai Baba.

Bill Aitken: Throughout history every religious teacher worth the name has been the target of some avenging group and the easiest way to cast doubt on a holy person’s character is insinuate deviant sexual conduct. This is the price teachers pay for insisting on the celibate life, though it should be noted that even Gurdjieff, who had no sexual hang-ups, was targeted. Instead of being sympathetic to a guru who gives up the comforts of family life to teach mankind, and make allowance for his inevitable physical loneliness, society sanctimoniously criticizes any apparent deviance from the path of sacrifice. Christ was accused of consorting with drunkards and prostitutes and, like Ramakrishna Paramahansa, alleged to have homosexual proclivities.

My Response: Excellent points by William Bill Aitken.

Bill Aitken: Unlike the famous contemporary guru Amritananda Mata who expresses her love by hugging everyone who comes for her darshan, Sathya Sai’s strict distancing of himself from any human, and particularly female, touch is well vouched for. As with all holy figures who make a point of such segregation, vulgar rumors will ignore the practical precautions necessary in a mass gathering and assume that there must be some hidden homosexual preference. To silence such rumour is hard in a world where the priesthood of religions constrained by the vow of celibacy too often falls short of its proclaimed ideal. Hinduism is the only religion with the wisdom to perceive that sex must be a matter of taboo not because it is profane but because it is too sacred a mystery for idle talk.

My Response: One must remember that all interviews given by Sathya Sai Baba originate from public darshans (in front of thousands of people, trust members, security officers, VIPs and innumerable other high ranking witnesses). Is this the probable course of conduct for a sexual abuser, i.e., to call his victims in front of all these potential witnesses? It is also a customary practice in ashrams in India for women and men to be separated. This custom is not exclusive to Sathya Sai Baba or his ashram.

Bill Aitken: Both Brooke and Bailey plead that their innocent belief has been abused by Sai Baba. By closing their eyes to the reality that every new disciple is fussed over and thereafter conspicuously dumped (for four years in the case of Diana Baskin and her husband), they have only themselves to blame. Sai Baba never invited either to Puttaparthi nor did he ask them to become his disciples. He did not promise them life after death if they made a contract with him to be their saviour. They came of their own free will. When he gave them importance they called him God. When he transferred that importance to others they called him Satan. Half a century of daily practice at Puttaparthi should have warned them of what to expect had they not shut their eyes to everything except their own self-importance. Bailey now admits he finds no need for external gurus which means that Sai Baba did manage to get one critical teaching across. Howard Murphet notes in his latest book that the fallout from these publications has had the salutory effect of purging Prashanti Nilayam of other doubters, hangers-on and the merely cautious.

My Response: These are entirely valid points by Bill Aitken.

Bill Aitken: R.K. Karanjia, the editor of India’s then most populist and outspoken weekly, Blitz, who could be expected to pour scorn on Sai Baba’s mission, was completely bowled over by Baba’s presence and then went to the other extreme by claiming, “God is an Indian”. There is a clue here as to why Sathya Sai’s success has earned a bad press abroad. In all the adverse reports the common thread is phobia, a fear that Sai Baba’s supernormal powers prove he is a bogeyman. To aggravate these often racist feelings of the international press is the economic reality that in the West, where church funds are declining, the newcomer Sai’s mission is attracting high-profile donors. Envy at such spiritual success is another reason behind the critics’ wanton downplaying of Sathya Sai’s true spiritual status.

My Response: Click Here To Read The Blitz Interview with R.K. Karanjia. Russi Karanjia was so overwhelmed with Sathya Sai Baba’s presence, the former Sai critic became a Sai Devotee and wrote a book entitled God Lives In India.

Barry Pittard (one of the main spokespersons for the Anti-Sai Movement) also expressed envy at Sathya Sai Baba’s spiritual success in a public letter he wrote expressing the hope that critic’s internet smear campaigns would impact donations to the Sai Organization (Ref).

It is a fact that Anti-Sai Activists (particularly Barry Pittard and Reinier Van Der Sandt) attempted to polarize Christians against Sathya Sai Baba. It is also a fact that many Christians and Christian Organizations wage Anti-Sai and Anti-Hindu campaigns (Ref). Even more disturbing was Barry Pittard’s attempt to incite Islamic Terrorists to attack and murder Sai Devotees at Puttaparthi.

Bill Aitken: A being with greater reserves of compassion, on entering the human body, has to accept both the severe scrutiny his message will attract and the guarantee that his body is susceptible to all the complaints that the flesh is heir to. As the fare provided by newspapers shows, most readers prefer scandal, violence and calamity to the arts of peace and the balm of the spirit. Sathya Sai has brought life to over a thousand thirsty villages in Rayalseema but no journalist will think it worth his while to spread the word about the historic dimensions of this unique act of charity. However, just one murder in the ashram will bring hordes of press persons keen to revive the mood of the ancient blood sport of throwing Christians to the lions.

My Response: Bill Aitken hit the nail squarely on the head with these comments. However, the Rayalseema project was just the tip of the iceberg.

Sathya Sai Baba also funded several major drinking water projects. The first drinking water project (completed in 1996) supplies water to 1.2 million people in 730 villages in the drought-prone Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh. The second drinking water project, completed in 2004, supplies water to Chennai (formerly known as Madras) through a rebuilt waterway named “Sathya Sai Ganga Canal”. The Chennai water drinking project was praised by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi. Karunanidhi said that although he is an atheist, he differentiated between good spiritual leaders like Sathya Sai Baba and fake godmen. The third drinking water project, expected to be completed in April 2006, would supply water from the Godavari River to half a million people living in five hundred villages in East and West Godavari Districts. Other completed water projects include the Medak District Project benefiting 450,000 people in 179 villages and the Mahbubnagar District Project benefiting 350,000 people in 141 villages. In January 2007, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust revealed that it would undertake another drinking water project in Latur, Maharashtra (Refs: 01020304).

Bill Aitken: When an internal ashram murder did rock Puttaparthi in 1993, Sathya Sai himself summed it up as the fruit of envy. However, this did not prevent the press from having a field day in wild speculation and inventive reporting. A study of the press clippings in the wake of this sensational case must make any professional journalist wince at the shoddy amateurism and cheap innuendo that emerges. If the ashram ever needed a case that it had been right to keep the press at bay, here was the best evidence for it. Some raw young reporter would turn up at the ashram campus, announce that the devotees were observing a ‘conspiracy of silence’ and then from this silence deduce the most ludicrous, unsubstantiated story.

My Response: For a list to some of these newspaper clippings, click here. The Sai Organization had to send emails to all Sai Centers to quash the rumor that Indian newspapers had initially reported that Sathya Sai Baba was assassinated. There are numerous articles that discuss the 1993 police shootings and the absurd and contradictory conspiracy theories dispersed by Anti-Sai Activists (Refs: 01020304).

Bill Aitken: It seems that four of Sai Baba’s own security detail broke into his living quarters (attached to the temple) late at night. Armed with what looked like home-made knives, they murdered Baba’s favourite aide and another student who came to his defence. The four then went upstairs apparently to confront Sai Baba to apprise him of their grievances, slashing everything in their way, but they fell back when Baba ordered them to go. By now the alarm had been raised since senior students were sleeping outside the temple. Baba was rescued by his students and lodged safely in a temple storeroom. Even as he sat on a bag of rice, someone remarked on how he had been betrayed by his own inner circle. Sathya Sai, pointing to the sack, said that only a few grains of rice were bad. At the height of the trauma he still had compassion for the killers.

My Response: The four assailants viciously murdered two Sai Devotees by repeatedly stabbing them to death with home-made knives. They also stabbed two other Sai Devotees who survived the attack. Critic’s conspiracy theories about the 1993 police shootings reveal how little they know and how much they relied on speculation, conjecture and gossipy rumors from anonymous sources.

Bill Aitken: The local police had been summoned in the meantime and climbed up to Sai Baba’s quarters where the four murderers had locked themselves in. Sathya Sai had sounded off an alarm that had been fitted to warn the ashram of any Naxalite threat which had seemed imminent at one time. This aroused the villagers who came armed with sticks to swell the crowd of devotees whose mood had turned volatile on hearing that Sathya Sai was under siege. Not known for their sophisticated response to delicate situations, the local police did what most local police anywhere in India would do – they opened fire on the attackers. A panel of the door behind which they had been hiding had been knocked out by rifle butt and, according to the police, they fired in self-defence after the murderers came at them with knives. All four were killed. Two of the conspirators got away on motorbike and these (who were later apprehended) are thought to be the masterminds behind the attack. However, Sai Baba never brought charges against them and the case lapsed. The press read something sinister in the avoidance of a long-drawn-out legal remedy, overlooking Sathya Sai’s prime concern that the families of those involved (most of whom are his devotees) should not be further afflicted.

My Response: This is an accurate and objective summation of events by Bill Aitken. It is also important to point out that although Sathya Sai Baba expressed concern and compassion for the families of those involved, Ex-Devotees maliciously and deceptively published pictures (in true tabloid-like sleazy style) of these families’ dead sons laying in pools of blood for the world to see. Ex-Devotees care less for the aggrieved mothers and fathers who must now endure the anguish of seeing their sons’ lifeless bodies cheaply broadcast on the internet like entertainment news. Ex-Devotees ceaselessly parrot the claim that Sathya Sai Baba is “implicated” in “murders” although they cannot back up this bold-faced untruth with any credible or legal documentation.

Bill Aitken: To swell the chorus of these abrasive critics, who saw it as their life’s mission to humiliate Sathya Sai and find under his fairy prince image an ugly frog, was Dr Narasimhaiah, the head of a rationalist organization supposedly humane in it instincts yet impudent in its demands that any free citizen should submit himself unreservedly to is self-styled committee for scrutiny. As the vice chancellor of Bangalore University, Dr Narasimhaiah may have thought that the dignity of his office would lend support to his witch-hunt in the name of encouraging the scientific temper. In fact, the VC used the imposition of Mrs Gandhi’s Emergency (which curtailed democratic rights and encouraged petty tyrants) to set up his handpicked committee which, with maximum press publicity, drove in two buses to the Whitefield ashram and demanded that Baba appear and be interviewed by them. The objective of the outing appears to have been no more than creating a public spectacle. The rationalists seemed to bask more in their self importance than in wishing seriously to examine Sathya Sai’s psychic phenomena. Otherwise, they would have adopted a more conciliatory approach. When Sai Baba declined to indulge the whim of the delegation, to the VC’s chagrin, instead of depleting the numbers who went to Sai Baba, public sympathy led to an increase. As if to rub salt in his rationalist wounds, the vice chancellors who followed him happened to be Sai Devotees. When Sathya Sai started his own university at Puttaparthi, the chancellor naturally was Sathya Sai himself. Within a decade, this institution for higher learning has become one of India’s leading universities. There is something profoundly symbolic in the different ways these two figures have approached life’s mysteries. Dr Narasimhaiah, as an earnest intellectual, reached the pinnacle of academic achievement, yet due to his singularly graceless lack of regard for those who did not share his crusading zeal, he failed to move his fellow men. By contrast, the half-educated villager Sathya Sai won over the world with his greater depth of understanding. In addressing the needs of the heart he demonstrated that most people can distinguish between fine-sounding words and inborn wisdom.

My Response: As one can see, Bill Aitken’s views are sober, clear and well-thought out. They are not mere “denial” and “deflection” as Ex-Devotees would have others believe. In 2002, Sathya Sai Baba’s University was the only University in India to receive an A++ rating by the NAAC. In 2007, Sathya Sai Baba’s University was one of two Universities throughout India to receive an A++ rating from the NAAC (Ref).

Bill Aitken: It is interesting to observe the rationalist’s opinion of his own worth and the question arises as to why these people, with so much to teach mankind, spend time seeking to expose fraud in others. Surely, the simplest way to prove Sai Baba’s limitations is for critics like Dr. Narasimhaiah to exceed Baba’s charitable works with their own. When they attract thirty million of their fellow men to their message they have every right to demand that the world take them more seriously.

Writing books against Sai Baba or seeking to tarnish his reputation on the Internet might merit an audience if the authors of these grievances possessed some locus standi in the world of philanthropy. If they had done a thousandth part of what Sathya Sai has accomplished in furthering the welfare of humanity, we would be justified in taking their complaints seriously and consider investigating whether pure water can flow from a polluted spring. The critics belong to the category of intellectuals who cannot face the reality of the spirit and desperately want to explain it away. They are haunted by the truth Sathya Sai embodies and wish to negate a presence that millions of ordinary people regard as the most beautiful evidence they have of life’s ultimate meaning. What is common to all the critics is a boundless contempt for the affections of the common citizen in his or her choice of religious expression. It is to heal these perverse perceptions that the masters of all faiths have arrived amongst us. Sai Baba’s reply to the critics is that whatever miracles happen are not due to his human form but because of compassion and love that made it their tool.

My Response: Critic’s only flair is in their nostrils. They have been unable to attain an iota of reverence, respect, praise or unconditional love that Sathya Sai Baba receives on a daily basis from Presidents of India, Prime Ministers, highly educated individuals, foreigners and common Indian villagers.

William McKay Aitken – Bill Aitken – Liam McKay
& The Sathya Sai Baba Controversy: In Conclusion:

Bill Aitken’s observations and insights about the Sai Controversy are reasonable, objective, intelligent and accurate. It is not surprising that Ex-Devotees have waged their own malicious smear-campaigns against Bill Aitken (as they have done with Sathya Sai Baba, Sai Devotees and Pro-Sai Activists).

For example, Brian Steel, Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard reject everything Bill Aitken had to say despite the fact that they have no verifiable, credible or legal documentation to support their erroneous allegations against Sathya Sai Baba. Critics wage their smear campaigns on the internet because know they would be wholly unconvincing in a legal setting where they would be subjected to critical cross examination.

As a matter of fact, The Rahm Family attempted to file an absurd lawsuit against the Sathya Sai Baba Society Of America and the purposely suppressed information about Alaya Rahm being a drug addict and alcoholic for 6-10 years was made known. This is the type of relevant information that critical cross examination would reveal. This information sheds an entirely different light on the credibility of Alaya Rahm. Needless to say, this information was fanatically guarded and hidden by the Rahm Family, Anti-Sai Activists and the media.

Bill Aitken’s observations about the Secret Swami Documentary (in which Alaya Rahm was the primary interviewee) was particularly insightful:

Bill Aitken: The latest in these so called exposes is a BBC documentary whose agenda was so predetermined to denigrate Baba that it stooped to the unethical use of a spy camera. In a last farcical gesture, the producer hired some roadside entertainers to attempt to simulate Baba’s chamatkar. The result is so ludicrous that it leaves the viewer wondering as to who is funding this bizarre display of hostile reporting. The BBC is ultimately governed by the Anglican establishment, and churches in the west are losing out financially to the appeal of the Sai Baba movement. As a commercial broadcaster, the BBC’s opting for sleaze would have the dual advantage of discrediting a rival as well as getting good audience rating. The Church of England can have no objection to programmes that weaken perceived threats—like the papacy or Hindu holy men—to its (declining) influence in the world. Posing as a lion in Asia, the BBC is a mouse in Britain. It dare not criticise public icons like the Queen, who happens to be the supremo of the Anglican Church. (Reference)

Critics have accused Bill Aitken of making a “blanket dismissal of all criticism as inherently baseless” and that he suffers from a “blind spot” regarding “serious Internet criticisms of Sathya Sai Baba that have not been refuted”. Needless to say, critics wallow in utter denial and attempt to deceive the general public about the fact that the “internet criticisms of Sathya Sai Baba” have been thoroughly refuted and addressed by Joe Moreno on his website.

Important Related Links:
Alaya Rahm Self-Dismissed His Own Lawsuit Against The SSB Society
Alaya Rahm – A 6-Year-Long Daily User Of Illegal Street Drugs And Alcohol
A Scathing Response To Critics About Alaya Rahm’s Failed Lawsuit
The Truth About The ‘Secret Swami’ Program
The ‘Open Letter’ To The Prashanti Council – Defamations Addressed
Prof. Venkataraman Writes About The Sai Controversy
The Truth About The Alleged Sathya Sai Baba ‘Sex Scandal’

Sri Sathya Sai Baba - A Life