December 04, 2000 Issue COVER
STORY: SATHYA SAI BABA
Test of Faith
The 75th birthday celebrations of
the godman focus attention on his work ineducation, healthcare and social
welfare. But allegations about sexual misconduct persist.
COVER STORY: SAI BABA
Test of Faith
As India's most enduring god-man
enters his 75th year, his spirituality rests uneasily with controversy
By Amarnath K. Menon and Ashok
Malik in Puttaparthi
FACTSHEET SAI BABA
P.C.SORCAR" Baba's A Bad
A GOD ACCUSED
Of all the qualities his disciples
attribute to Sathya Sai Baba, there is one that almost every Indian will
recognise as truly divine: punctuality. On Thursday, November 23, to mark his
74th birthday-or, to use official grandiloquence, "the 75th year of the
advent of the Sri Sai Avatar" – Sai Baba was to drive in to Puttaparthi's
Sri Sathya Sai (SSS) Hill View Stadium at the dot of 7.00 a.m. As usual, he was
bang on time.
The Baba with his VIP guests at
the convocation ceremony
The galleries of the stadium-which
accommodate 30,000 spectators when Sai Baba devotees such as Sunil Gavaskar,
Alvin Kalicharan, Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar help organise cricket
matches-were almost packed. The turf, a remarkably verdant patch in Andhra
Pradesh's otherwise arid Rayalaseema region, seated an estimated 1,00,000
devotees. On the stage – a pink, blue and yellow film set-like construction,
with winged angels playing bugles and flanking the symbols of the world's major
religions - sat a twitching chief guest, Union Human Resources Development
Minister Murli Manohar Joshi. Next to him was the silver throne, waiting, like
the throng, for the Master.
Joshi had arrived only at 6.30
a.m., the others had begun gathering as early as 4.00 a.m. At 5.15 a.m., a
policeman said, the customary white that Sai Baba's disciples wear had more or
less effaced the green of the grass. If there were 1,00,000 and more inside,
there were an equal number outside. Puttaparthi, a town that usually houses
20,000 people, was today playing host to 2,50,000, its precarious infrastructure
fraying at the edges.
All of Puttaparthi as it were
seemed to wait in this private colosseum for the Afro-haired Caesar to ride in
triumphant. At about a minute before 7.00 a.m. came the caparisoned elephant,
then the brass band, troupes of dancing children and, finally, Sai Baba himself,
waving gently from his motorised gold and silver chariot.
As balloons with Sai Baba's
likeness were released and crackers were burst in a rough and ready rendition of
a 21-gun salute, the march past began. China, Saudi Arabia, Liechtenstein, the
Cayman Islands, Nauru, Australia, Western Samoa: flagbearers from 165 countries
(see box) presented themselves before Sai Baba. Later came the birthday hymn. A
multi-ethnic choir sang a trilingual Redeemer of mankind ... yug avatar Sai to
the tune of Happy birthday to you.
The valedictory sermon was, of
course, Sai Baba's 90-minute Telugu discourse on love and truth and the oneness
of God, on "Bad name is debt, reputation is wealth", on "constant
integrated awareness"-translated instantly and with evangelical zeal by the
long-serving Anil Kumar Kamaraju. The Platinum Preacher finally left in his
white Mercedes-a maroon BMW is his other car. The scene shifted to the kitchens
of neighbouring Prasanthi Nilayam (Abode of Peace), Sai Baba's sprawling
100-acre ashram. It was time for the feeding of the multitude.
COVER STORY: SAI BABA
The Decision That Changed It All
The numbers may have been larger
than usual but the adulation and the atmosphere could hardly have been unknown
to Sai Baba. He is after all among India's most enduring godmen; 60 years have
passed since teenaged Sathyanarayana Raju returned home from school, flung away
his books and told his sister-in-law, "I am no longer your Sathya, I am
Sai", the reincarnation of the Sai Baba of Shirdi.
That "Grand Declaration"
changed an individual's destiny-and a village's too. From a nondescript hamlet,
Puttaparthi is now a fairly bustling town. It has a floating population of
10,000 on normal days-adding 50 per cent to its fulltime strength-and survives
thanks to the Sai Baba industry.
In the fortnight leading up to the
birthday, as Prasanthi Nilayam and its surroundings buzzed with the activity of
the World Sai Conference, the convocation of the SSS Institute of Higher
Learning-a deemed university, the vice-chancellor of which is S.V. Giri, former
Union education secretary-and numerous other functions, Puttaparthi commerce was
in its elements.
It was "festival time"
and so the Sai Santosh Hotel trebled its room rent from Rs 350 a night on
November 21 to Rs 1,000 a night 24 hours later. Italian devotees arriving hours
before the birthday bash paid Rs 1,000 for a bed and a pillow in the foyer of
Hotel Sai Plaza. Close by, the "World Peace Cafe & German Bakery"
did brisk business offering, among other items, yak cheese sandwiches, Danish
rolls, French bread, bagels, vegetarian tacos, cinammon sticks from China and
two brands of decaffienated coffee, one Swiss the other American. Puttaparthi
was catering to the world.
No doubt Sai tourists also dropped
in on the 50 Kashmiri carpet sellers who have set up shop in Puttaparthi, the
Tibetan curio shop that has opened and the textile and handicrafts mela that
invited itself to the birthday celebrations. As always in India, the economics
of religion could be matched only by its politics. At the birthday celebrations,
Joshi was kept company by Congress MPs S.B. Chavan and Shivraj Patil and a whole
host of minor politicos.
>From P.V. Narasimha Rao to N.
Chandrababu Naidu, every Andhra Pradesh chief minister has paid obeisance to Sai
Baba. The two exceptions have been the late Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, who was, like
the Puttaparthi savant, a native of Anantapur district, and N.T. Rama Rao, who
with his inclinations towards ochre robes and divinity, thought of Sai Baba's
charisma as a rival to his own.
Where netas go, babus follow. The
bureaucrat club was present in great numbers at Puttaparthi this past week. H.J.
Dora, the director-general of police in Andhra Pradesh and Sai Baba's chauffeur
when the religious leader visits Hyderabad, was at hand. So was P.L. Sanjeeva
Reddy, secretary, Department of Company Affairs at the Centre.
Over the years Sai Baba's
establishment has been served by a galaxy of civil servants. Former Andhra
Pradesh chief secretaries I.J. Naidu and K.V. Natarajan worked for him after
retirement. Another former IAS man, P. Sitapathi, is now Sai Baba's pro. K.
Chakravarthy, an IAS officer of 20 years standing, resigned from the government
in 1981 to become registrar of the Institute of Higher Learning and is now
secretary of the SSS Central Trust, the fulcrum of Puttaparthi. P.N. Bhagwati,
former chief justice, and Y.V. Anjaneyulu, formerly of the Andhra Pradesh High
Court, are members of the Central Trust management committee. So too was Justice
V.B. Eradi till he was removed recently and Justice Padma Khastagir till she
died. Former air chiefs O.P. Mehra and N.C. Suri are Sai Baba devotees. Just
before he took over as chief of army staff, General S. Padmanabhan visited
This intense concentration of
power is both a handicap and an asset for Prasanthi Nilayam. The civil servants
bring with them their penchant for shadowplay. Crowds are meant to be controlled
to the point of regimentation. The press is an unnecessary obtrusion.
Subordinates practically click their heels and address senior ashram
functionaries as "Sir". In some ways, it is the spiritual answer to
Delhi's Shastri Bhavan.
The other side of the story is
that Sai Baba is the sole veto holder. He balances the equations between
competing coteries and keeps everybody on their toes. So when it comes to the
smallest decision, only "Swami" can take it-but nobody has the courage
to ask him to. Like so many institution builders, Sai Baba believes in
centralised command. This has its pitfalls. When the charges of paedophilia (see
accompanying story) began being levelled, nobody at Prasanthi Nilayam was ready
with a counterattack.
Today, even the murder attempt on
Sai Baba in 1993, in which his driver and cook died and the four disciples
turned alleged assailants summarily shot by the police, is linked to
Despite the intrigues, for
literally tens of millions of people around the globe Sai Baba is an object of
reverence. While he himself says, "I am God and you are also God. There is
latent divinity in us all", for the believers he is the embodiment of the
Almighty. "Can an ordinary mortal retain a youthful look? Without wearing
glasses or wrinkles?" asks a wonder-struck Mitsuru Iwakai, a Japanese
creative arts student spending six months in Puttaparthi.
Where does Sai Baba stand in the
pantheon of the mystical men of the east? In terms of political clout, he can be
matched only by the late Chandrasekhara Saraswathi, the shankaracharya of Kanchi
who died at 99 in 1994. While the shankaracharya's influence was derived from an
ancient seat, Sai Baba is a self-made preceptor. In a society governed by a
strict caste hierarchy, his family's origins as a cowherd people of the
Bhattaraju community-consanguineous to the backward caste Kapus and analogous to
north Indian Yadavs-have never
been an issue. Nor is Sai Baba a jealous god. You can worship Christ or Krishna
or Allah, he says, and still believe in him. This has obviously widened his
As opposed to the libertine
permissiveness of a Rajneesh, Sai Baba is quite conventional, men and women not
being allowed to live or eat together in Prasanthi Nilayam. Against the
philosophical profundity of a Jiddu Krishnamurthi or a Swami Ranganathananda,
Sai Baba may appear embarrassingly epigrammatic: "What is youth? You Think
Like Hanuman"; "Help Ever, Hurt Never." Even so, he seems to
speak the language-if not in words in wavelength-of the individual disciple.
Followers explain he dumbs down his message to reach a larger audience.
That last point really is the key
to Sai Baba's future plans. He has predicted that he will die in 2022 and, eight
years later, be reborn in Gunaparthi village of Karnataka's Mandya district to a
woman called Kasturi. His next avatar will be called Prema Sai Baba and will
have nothing to do with Puttaparthi.
In his early days, Sai Baba used
his "miracles"-in 1990, P. Ramachandra Reddy, Hyderabad anaesthetist,
recalls, "The Swami's miraculous healing helped cure a paralytic attack in
my left arm"-to gain a following. Now he realises there is need for a more
lasting impact, in the form of schools, hospitals and drinking water projects.
The first 74 years have been spent converting the individual into the
institution. The remaining 22 will be a shot at immortality.
P.C. Sorcar: "Baba's a bad
trickster" A step by step magician's view of how Sai Baba performs his
Sacred ash. Or little ball?
P.C. Sorcar considers Sai Baba's
vibhuti feat a "common trick" conjured with an ash capsule and a
repertoire of make-believe "mudras" to fool the human eye.
SALT FOR ASH: Baba produces
vibhuti with ash. Sorcar wets salt to form a small mass or ball pressed firmly
between his fingers for later.
THEATRICS: To make salt (or ash)
appear out of thin air, a flurry of deft hand gestures, never once giving away
the ball, will follow.
LAST ACT: The hand is held out and
the salt mass quashed between fingers to pour into a powdery heap.
Gold from air. Or robe?
Sorcar attributes this to a
technique called palming - "holding an object in such a way that the palm
does not look loaded" - to help appearance/ disappearance.
OFF THE CUFF: Sorcar carefully
tucks the object under his sleeve or in the furrow of his palm in quick motions.
The flowing robe is a clever cover.
HANDS FREE: In the palm, the
object is invisible, seen at certain angles "only by close Baba
aides". Swift moves conceal. GOLD GIFTS: Tricking the mind's eye, Sorcar
brings forth the object out of his palm or easing it out from his sleeve.
Shivaling. Or mouth match?
On Shivaratri, Baba produces a
green crystalline Shivaling from his mouth. Sorcar calls it mouth-ball
production. "Anybody can do it, and repeat it too,'' he says.
MATCHING UP: Using a matchbox,
Sorcar uses the palming technique, all the time ensuring hand gestures distract
the eye from the object.
FAKING IT: Sorcar uses both hands,
one concealing the object, the other to cover his mouth, in preparation for the
SPILLING IT: In the "high
drama", Sorcar grimaces as his palm discreetly supplies object into and out
of his mouth.
Factsheet Sai Baba
The village boy from a
middle-class home now meets ministers and runs an empire of the soul
Origins: Born on November 23,
1926, to Pedda Venkama Raju and Easwaramma. He is named Sathyanarayana Raju. The
The early years:
"Materialises" candies and pencils for schoolmates. At 14, declares
himself reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi, the town in Maharashtra whose
saintly figure died in 1918.
Evolution: In 1944 travels to
Bangalore. His first journey as a savant. Gives up striped shirt and dhoti for a
robe, initially greyish-white, then saffron.
Coming home: Between 1948-50
builds Prasanthi Nilayam.
Sai Baba's politics: To date, he
has not asked his 25 million-odd followers to vote for anybody. But he has
immense political clout and many disciples
from among administrators.
Who's close to him: From P.V.
Narasimha Rao and S.B. Chavan to P.N. Bhagwati to T.N. Seshan. In Andhra Pradesh
only NTR stayed away.
The upshot: Job requests, going
back 20 years for foreign secretaries.
How is Puttaparthi run? The SSS
Central Trust manages Prasanthi Nilayam, Music Academy. The Medical Trust runs
the Rs 300-crore hospital. The Education Trust runs the deemed university and
two schools. The Sai Baba establishment's total investment in the town is Rs
2,000 crore, it owns 600 acres of land.
Other homes: Sai Baba has ashrams
in Whitefield, near Bangalore, and Kodaikanal. Spends March-June there.
MNC: Has 2,560 overseas Sai
Centres. Sai bodies run 75 schools. Surprisingly, Sai Baba has gone abroad only
once: to Uganda in 1968.
Among The Believers, There's A Fund Of Faith
"Baba says matter is energy.
If you will anything, you can create it." Shivraj Patil, Former Lok Sabha
"I was introduced to Sai Baba
by S.B. Chavan. Baba helped me preside over the Lok Sabha for a full five years
(1991-96). Whenever the House would get unruly, I would shut my eyes and think
of Baba so that I did not lose my cool. Such thoughts of Baba would inevitably
lead the House to order."
"Baba appeared in a dream and
taught me to wait patiently for my time." Jette Madsen, Postwoman, Denmark
"When I first came to India
in 1977 I was 19. After my relationship with an Indian broke off, I told the
Baba that I had left it all to him. I have been here since November 9 for his
birthday and even had a 'carshan' as he moved in his car. He waved to me and our
eyes met. I am sure Baba will find a spiritual Indian companion for me
COVER STORY: SAI BABA
A God Accused
Allegations of sexual molestation
continue to dog Sai Baba during the 75th anniversary celebrations.
But will they stick?
By Vijay Jung Thapa with Lavina
Melwani in New York and Syed Zubair Ahmed in London
ALLEGATIONS AND THEIR STATUS
What happens when faith shatters?
For the former devotees of Sathya Sai Baba, it's as if in an instant they have
lost their god forever. It is a devastating experience that transports them from
promised moksha to a private hell. A disillusionment that has three
stages-denial, grief and outrage. In the end the anger, they say, pervades
everything. Today, a small but growing number of devotees-both foreign and
Indian-all settled abroad, are rallying in anger, alleging that their divine
avatar is nothing more than a sexual abuser of boys and young men.
One of them is Jeff Young, an
American who was till recently president of the Sai Baba Organisation in the
south-central region of the US. He alleges that his son Sam was sexually
molested by the godman from 1977 (when Sam was 16) to the summer of 1999-an
allegation that was first carried in The Daily Telegraph of London. When
contacted by INDIA TODAY, Young confirmed the charges. "The sexual abuse
included Baba grabbing Sam's head and forcing him to give oral sex ... Baba
would fondle and suck on Sam's penis and get angry because he could not get an
erection. Sam said he did not like boys that way. Baba then promised to change
himself into a beautiful woman and take
Sam inside of him but it never
For the Youngs, this was a
shocking assertion initially because they had revered Baba as a god for over 20
years. They now cringe at the thought that they felt "blessed" in the
belief that the godman was ministering to their son's spiritual welfare and
allege that all along he was only subjecting Sam to systematic sexual abuse. In
one single visit, they recall, they were given seven private interviews while
Sam was called in 21 times alone.
In recent months, a litany of
allegations similar to those of the Youngs has surfaced, mostly spurred by a
document called The Findings that is available on the Internet. This document,
written by a former British devotee, David Bailey, lists graphic allegations of
sexual abuse by a number of former Baba devotees. It has acted like a catalyst
for others to come out with their stories and spawned more critical websites on
Baba. Hari Sampat, a software engineer in Chicago who served as a voluntary
inner-security member in Baba's ashram from 1992-1995, claims: "I had heard
of these paedophilic activities. I investigated them and found all of them to be
true. It was then that I knew I had to expose it all."
Sampat and others like him from
the UK, US, Europe and Australia have identified victims of sexual molestation
by Baba and prompted them to give their accounts to the media in several
countries. These increasing allegations are today being taken seriously in many
western countries, leading to a rash of defections from Sai Baba groups. In
Britain, following The Daily Telegraph story, Labour MP Tony Colman raised the
issue in Parliament. A former home office minister Tom Sackville also took up
matter saying, "The
authorities have done little so far and that is regrettable." There is a
movement now to urge the British Government to issue warnings to people wanting
to visit Baba's ashram.
In Australia too, The Sunday Age
carried an article on Baba's sexual abuse. In Munich, Germany, Jens Sethi, a
former devotee who claims he was molested, has filed a complaint in the public
prosecutor's office. In Sweden, the central Sai group has closed down and so too
has a school based on programmes devised by educationists at the Baba ashram in
Puttaparthi. In the US, disillusioned devotees are "e-bombing" Foreign
Secretary Madeleine Albright's office every day. When contacted by INDIA TODAY,
a State Department official in Washington said, "Our embassy in Delhi and
our consulate in Chennai have been made aware of these allegations. But this
appears to be an issue for the Indian courts."
The impact of these allegations is
difficult to discern within the Sai community. The majority of the devotees
dismiss them. Says Sheela Kumar, an Indian devotee from the Caribbean who also
teaches in a Sai Bal Vikas: "Every avatar has enemies. Even Christ had
enemies. What Baba has done, no one else has. This creates jealousy."
Others higher up in the Sai Baba ashram reason that these allegations have been
going on since decades. Adds a senior member of the Sai Organisation: "With
every criticism, Sai Baba
becomes more and more
The coterie that surrounds Baba
attacks the molestation charges in two ways. One, by simply denouncing the whole
thing as an "anti-Hindu" attack-especially since most of those making
the charges are foreigners. And two, by preaching that everything Baba does is a
"teaching." Even if he is doing something that looks immoral or wrong,
they claim, he is doing it because of a purpose and so cannot be questioned.
The devotees are also countering
the Internet war on two fronts. First, everybody is encouraged to shun the
Internet. Explains Hal Honig, a senior Sai official in New York: "Swami
tells us not to look at the Internet but at the inner net." And secondly,
by posting sites that support Baba's teachings. One such site-The Sai
Critic-urges devotees to believe only their experiences with Baba, stating,
"When doubt walks in through the front door, faith walks out of the back
But Baba's rebels continue to
raise issues even if the mud hasn't stuck, at least among the devout yet. Most
of them claim there is a pattern to Baba's molestations. Usually, they add, he
"chooses his victims" during his daily darshan by granting them
private interviews. Alleges Keith Ord, another former devotee who now lives in
Spain: "In the first interview he rubbed me against his hips ... in the
second, he fondled my genitals and in the last he was more forceful and kept
saying 'do you like to be close to Baba?'"
Baba, the critics allege, also
frequently molests young students who study in the schools and colleges of his
ashram. Says one such former student Krishna Kumar, who now works in Singapore:
"Four of my classmates told me how Baba would occasionally oil their
genitals." At first, most devotees believe this experience has something to
do with "awakening the kundalini". Claims Sampat: "But they
usually realise soon that this behaviour has nothing to do with kundalini and is
pure lust." Students like Kumar allege that most people in the ashram know
about these activities and the boys that Baba chooses are dubbed "in-form
boys". These in-form boys, the critics add, get academic leeway and are not
really expected to follow the rules of the ashram. However, the form only lasts
for a month or so and then these boys are dropped by Baba and subjected to much
torment by their peers. For many of these young boys, the critics point out, the
"molestations" are traumatising because they can't tell their parents
who are usually devotees themselves. They suffer from depression and guilt pangs
of having failed their god who was only "testing" them.
As of now, there are no complaints
that have been filed in India. Does that mean that most of the molestations were
taking place with only westerners? Jed Geyerhahn, an American who alleges he was
molested by Baba when he was 16, disagrees: "I just think the western boys
are talking about it, the Indian ones aren't. The western boys have less at
stake." Critics point to the sheer power of Baba in India and how his
devotees are in the highest rungs of the government. It would take a lot of guts
to take on Sai Baba Inc, they add.
Even among the western cases,
except for one person, no one has moved court against Baba yet. Critics says
this is because they know they won't have the power to summon Baba to court-the
allegations pertain to Indian jurisdiction. Besides, even if a case is filed in
India, to prove homosexual abuse is difficult. Criminal law experts say the
offence would come under Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code that lists sodomy
as an offence. However, if actual sodomy hasn't taken place, as in all these
cases, then proving "an unnatural act" is very difficult.
But, in the end, most of these
disillusioned devotees say they are determined to fight-to initiate some kind of
legal action and keep building pressure until something snaps. Glen Meloy, who
was a Baba devotee for 26 years and now mobilises victims, is more succinct.
"I put Baba in the highest pinnacle. For me, he was the God of gods,"
he says. "Now you're talking to someone who is putting in the same devotion
to expose him." But the truth may still prove elusive.
-with Arthur J. Pais in San
Sydney-based HANS DE KRAKER was an
ardent devotee of Sai Baba for five years. His allegations of sexual abuse
against the godman first appeared in The Sunday Age on November 12.
Allegations (as sent in a signed
affidavit to INDIA TODAY): "As I was paying homage according to Indian
customs, I touched his feet. He then grabbed my head and pushed it into his
groin area. He made moaning sounds. The same sound that would later confirm my
thoughts. As soon as he took the pressure off my head and I lifted it up, Sai
Baba lifted his dress and presented me a semi-erect member telling me that this
was my good luck chance and pushed his hips towards my face. After careful
consideration, I determined that this was not what I wanted and should be doing
and responded to Sai Baba that I only wanted his heart. He then dropped his
dress, clearly 'caught with his hands in the candy jar' and told me that I had
his heart. He went on to offer me 'another good luck chance', which I refused
STATUS: Kraker has so far not
filed any legal complaint against Baba in his own country. The Sai Baba Ashram
in Puttaparthi neither denies nor confirms the charge.
JENS SETHI is a German settled in
Munich. He was a Sai Baba devotee for 10 years. His charges were published for
the first time by the Focus magazine on September 18.
Allegations (as sent in a signed
affidavit to INDIA TODAY): "In the private chamber, Baba said 'Come,' and
kissed me on my lips for a long time. I resisted and he gurgled, 'Have no fear.
This is a good opportunity, so many are waiting for months and will not get.' He
asked me to remove my trousers, unzipped my fly and went with his right hand
into my underpants. Baba massaged the genitals unasked. He expected some
erection but this did not happen for I didn't feel any sexual excitement. I also
didn't come for such games to Puttaparthi. I was really disgusted. Baba was
disappointed and had the impudence to say, 'It is very weak, don't waste
energy.' When I looked at him, I realised the truth about him. He had such an
evil vibration that moment. Soon, he sent me out of the room without saying a
STATUS: Sethi recently filed a
complaint with the public prosecutor in Munich. The Sai Baba Ashram has no
comment on the allegations.
CONNY LARRSON, a Swede, was a Baba
devotee for 21 years. His allegations first appeared (in part) in The Daily
Telegraph, London on October 20.
Allegations (as told to INDIA
TODAY): "Baba called me for several private interviews. I did not know what
was happening between him and me but I believed him when he said he was God and
was helping me with my problems. It was odd since he did this by physically
approaching my genitals, sometimes smearing oil, later by masturbating me and
asking for the same to be done to him. He also performed oral sex on me several
times. He always seemed to enjoy it immensely. When he asked me to perform oral
sex on him, I backed out due to my background as a molested child."
STATUS: No formal complaint has
been filed so far. The ashram is again mum on the case.
Controversy could well be Sai
Baba's middle name. He has been dogged by various kinds of allegations in the
past-though none of them has ever been proven.
A BLOODY SUMMER
On June 6, 1993, gunshots rang out
in Baba's ashram. In the squalid incident, four persons (all of them devotees)
were killed by the police but passed off as an assassination attempt on the
godman. There were a lot of questions. Why did the police kill all four? Where
was the Swami all this time? Why would four long-time devotees suddenly turn
against their own god? The police justified their action saying they had no
option as they found the four assailants in Baba's chambers with daggers in
hand. And, as usual, the Baba preferred to remain silent on the issue.
BETWEEN THE LINES
In the mid 1980s, Tal Brooke wrote
Avatar of Night in which he gave details of sexual advances made by Baba 20
years ago. It became instant controversy and was denounced by Baba's followers.
They described it as a crude attempt to make some fast money. Today, a second
edition of the book is out.
A growing list of former devotees are coming out with graphic
allegations of sexual abuse
They include both Indians and foreigners but all of them live abroad.
No case has been filed in India.
The Sai Baba Ashram is silent on the charges.