Smear campaigns against Hindu Gurus: Presumed guilty until proven innocent?

Smear campaigns against Hindu Gurus: Presumed guilty until proven innocent?
Hindu Voice UK, July 2009

Is it not strange that for many Guru’s, Rishi’s or Seer’s that have emerged from India, there has always been attacks on them. These have come in the guise of slander, misquotes, false allegations and smear campaigns. Why is it the vast majority of these have been orchestrated by westerners? Why do we as Hindus read, hear, accept or turn a blind eye these?

The fact that we are born in the west or we are raised to admire the west may be a reason. There are many who give a lot of credit to anyone from the west, and there are many who believe in the old statement “Where there is fire there is smoke”. Let us start with the historical case of Vivekananda the great philosopher & teacher.

When Vivekananda went to Chicago in 1893 to speak at the parliament of the worlds religions in Chicago, 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 worshipping of animals and nature. Indeed when the Gita was placed on the table, members of the other faiths starting placing their holy books on top of the Gita with each stating the Gita is nothing compared with their book. This resulted in a Vivekananda showing that the Gita is the foundation the ocean of knowledge. Remove this and all other texts will collapse. This incident and subsequent attempts to frame Vivekananda by the church during his maiden US voyage because of his mass appeal; showed 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 now take the current case with Sathya Sai Baba. Many have heard of Sai Baba as the guru or Avatar who has performed untold miracles from childhood. Indeed you will find many who have seen or benefited from the miracles throughout the world. To be sceptic is in our nature, we must all enquire & experience. However, if allegations are proclaimed by people with ulterior motives, then the sceptics will often believe the rumours.

Over 90% of anti Sai allegations can be attributed to Tal Brook (Robert Taliaferro Brooke), who as a westerner 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 demon 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 told he had sexual encounters with Sai Baba. The western media jumped on this, and even the BBC produced a programme which effectively made Sathya Sai Baba appear guilty. However Alaya Rahm (and others) had many opportunities to file a police or court case anywhere in India, this has never occurred. A lawsuit was created in the Superior Court of California on January 6, 2005 (Case No. 05cc01931). But realising expose was high he 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. Amazing some eminent western Hindus have often joined the anti-Sai crusade with enthusiasm, which has often led to more people accepting the false accusations.

Such examples and more (e.g. on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Maharishi Mahesh) show that when anti Guru Statements are made, everyone takes notice. On an international stage, as Hindus we have never done our own research on to try and prove that the Gurus may well be innocent. Worse, when the allegations are proved to be incorrect, we have not been able to use that opportunity to publicise that nationally or internationally.

*Republished in 1979 as “Sai Baba, Lord Of The Air”, renamed “Avatar of Night” in 1982 with a reprint in 1984, was renamed “Lord Of The Air: Tales of a Modern Antichrist” in 1990 and reprinted again as “Avatar of Night” in 1999.

Hindu Voice Reference

TogadiaSpeak – Ignorance And Apathy Are Not The Proofs Of Non-Existence – II

TogadiaSpeak – Ignorance And Apathy Are Not The Proofs Of Non-Existence – II
The good work Sangh is doing
By Dr Pravin Togadia

VHP’s one-teacher schools (Ekal Vidyalayas) number up to 26, 880 and they cover 7,72,065 students of which around six lakh students are from tribal areas. This is the largest Hindu missionary work in India and perhaps even in the world by a single organisation. What’s more, wherever there is an Ekal Vidyalaya, there is a village development unit under which a medical centre is run, making the number of medical centres also to 26,880.

VHP also has other educational projects: About 569 primary schools covering 59,300 students, 156 secondary schools covering 12,750 students and 53 senior secondary schools covering 2120 students. Then there are 15 residential schools, many night schools, 104 hostels including 44 orphanages. All these cover over 75,000 poor and needy children who are given standard quality education and many other facilities of life. (In one of such tribal schools, last year, the Board result was 100 per cent and the highest marks a student got was 93 per cent. Recently I met a smart student of second year MBBS. To my joy, he was from one of VHP’s orphanages.)

VHP has health projects: 34 hospitals, 99 dispensaries, 19 mobile dispensaries, 28 ambulances, 192 first-aid centres, four medicine collection centres, 13 goumutra therapy centres and many such related centres. Total patients covered under these are annually 2,80,000.

Just recently in Pune a project Niramaya has covered 68 slums and 18 construction sites for vaccination of children there in age group of one day to six years. Total 12,025 children are vaccinated and one lakh doses were given. They have a mobile van too so that the poor children do not need to come for it—Niramaya goes where they are.

Not just education or health, some sadhu-sants are doing what ideally falls under the purview of the governments in power only. In Andhra Pradesh, Ananthpur District, 700 villages have been supplied clean drinking water through modern pipes worth Rs 350 crore. Not by any government department, but by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. And it’s free!

Arya Samaj has 700 schools covering 15,00,000 students and 80 colleges covering 16,800 students.

Swaminarayan Gurukul schools are 142 covering 12,000 students, 160 high schools with 1,20,000 students and 25 colleges.

Sadhvi Ritambharaji runs an orphanage for little girls at Vrindavan, which has at this moment 350 little girls taking modern education. They would have been wandering on streets becoming victims of heinous crimes but now they have bright dreams of future in their eyes.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji’s developmental work covers at least 30,000 villages where natural agricultural projects and organic farming are done, in which only in Karnataka 2000 youth are engaged full time and at all-India level at least 20,000 youth look after this. He also has established a programme for awareness about and help to AIDS patients all India. Recently, there was a well-attended caucus of Hindu leaders organised for this and many of us pledged our active support to it.

Hunger is the number one killer in the world and in India. VHP, to fight this is doing a project “Ek Mutthi Anaj”, where the workers of various industries who have lost jobs due to recent economic slowdown are provided with 15 kilos of foodgrains each for their families and the target is to cover at least 12,00,000 families with this anna daan. So far we have covered 15,000+ families. It also has a food bank where housewives take out one mutthi anaj everyday, which is collected by volunteers for distribution systematically. That no family has to resort to begging for the food is the most important part in it. Ek Mutthi Anaj programme goes to their houses and respectfully distributes foodgrains to them.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba also has a high-tech heart hospital where they target to do 1,25,000 heart surgeries. About 25,000 surgeries have already been done at a zero cost.

Not just socio-developmental projects but VHP is also doing a lot in the field of art and culture. In Pune, a music album made waves recently. Songs sung by Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki’s son Shounak, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s shishya Upendra Bhatt and Shri Vasantrao Deshpande’s grandson Rahul Deshpande made this album a great hit and it was done by VHP. The artists gave programmes for VHP and then the album was made, which is now available on the stands. Art is an important part of Hindu Dharma and it is our duty to preserve our fine arts.

This effort was also made in the field of children’s paintings. In tribal schools, a painting competition was organised, which got tremendous response. Twelve paintings were awarded and brought to people as greeting cards. All participants got a certificate each.

At Dharmasthal near Mangalore, Manjunath Devasthana is working on a unique project of innovative natural agri-systems in 500 villages. They also have a legally-accepted local justice system.

Self-reliance projects by us are helping youth and women in many villages with 94 sewing centres, 63 computer training centres, 306 women’s self-help groups with micro credit and savings facility, two mechanical training centres, one honey-bee centre, 16 household industry centres, 112 libraries—the list is long and the beneficiaries are in millions.

Maa Amritanandamayiji has been running a multi-specialty hospital in Kochi, which serves around 48,000 patients annually, has 38 hi-tech departments and 1,650 beds—the largest in Asia

All this is not given here to brag at all, like many governments do—distribute some school bags and brag about it as if they have done a global revolution in girls’ education or run few ambulances and brag about saving every life on the earth. No. The objective of giving the above details is only to draw the attention of all the well-meaning Hindus to the reality that Hindu organisations and sadhu-sants are engaged in a lot of socio-developmental works for Hindus. This is just a glimpse of it. I apologise to many other Hindu organisation and to all sadhu-sants and many Hindu researchers who have been doing mountains of such socio-developmental works for years. But due to limited space and lack of detailed info, I could not mention them here.

From education to health care, from micro credit to self-reliance, from agriculture to clean drinking water supply, from vocational training to free food supply and from child care to women’s welfare—Hindu organisations and sadhu-sants are busy doing what is truly termed as socio-developmental work with utmost dedication. The only part of development, which they are not able to do, is infrastructure development, which obviously governments in power are authorised to do as yet. As it is the responsibility of Hindu organisations and sadhu-sants (and all Hindus) to protect the heritage, monuments, culture and people of Hindu dharma, this responsibility of Hindu socio-developmental work is being perfectly taken up by the Hindu organisations and sadhu-sants, in spite of their limited resources and political pressures.

The happiest part of this socio-developmental work is that it is a great joy to see the tribal, poor children’s eyes shining bright when they study and go ahead in life, to see the poor women happily telling their friends as to how they got their daughters married with their own income, to see a terminally ill, poor old man getting cured, free of cost and walking on his own feet.

The saddest part is that the one-sided media and a few vested interests groups purposely ignore/ demean such a good work and focus on tarnishing the image of Hindu organisations and sadhu-sants with some one-off incidents and paint them (and Hindutva) as anti-development and outdated. The saddest part is also the limited financial and other resources with Hindu organisations. But the Hindu dreams are brighter and the determination to realise them is much more greater.

Organiser Reference