How the International Media began to question the claims of Sathya Sai Baba
The first whistle-blower activated a world-wide exposure of Sai Baba which developed via the Internet was the professional pianist, David Bailey from Wales. He knew the British Royal Family, and had occasionally performed before the Queen and her court. He first visited Sathya Sai Baba in the 1990s, where he was very soon given a highly privileged status by Sathya Sai Baba, also being asked to perform at the ashram and teach music at the Sai College in Puttaparthi. He was a much sought-after person by devotees because of his elevated status as a ‘veranda person’ (i.e. only Sai Baba’s closest favourites can sit there) and his many interviews with Sai Baba – he reports over 100 in all.
David Bailey was asked by Sai Baba and many followers alike to hold talks and lectures about Sai Baba around the world from Russia to Australia, UK to USA, which he did for several years. He was extremely popular – due doubtless to his frequent closeness to Sai Baba (apparently also due to his Royal connections) and much praise was heaped on him by many devotees – and subsequently also on Faye, the wife selected for him and married to him by Sai Baba. Faye and David’s talks were filmed on various occasions and they both wrote and published books recounting their experiences with - and lavishly praising - Sai Baba (all since withdrawn). Later they took over the editing of the UK Sai Baba Magazine which had been started and run by the very popular VIP devotees, Ron Laing and Peggy Mason (authors of much Sai Baba literature).
Great was the horror of devotees when the news spread in 1999 that David Bailey had denounced Sai Baba and decided to expose him as a confirmed paedophile and a charlatan. 'The Findings', were first circulated in 1999 and posted on the Internet in 2000, causing a flood of e-mails from young men who explained how they had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Sai Baba and many other confirmations of his claims of Sai Baba’s fraud from (ex-) devotees around the world. Soon, however, unconvinced devotees were circulating vile rumours about both of them, also on the Internet on websites and bulletin board posts – claiming that he was a convicted paedophile himself (entirely untrue), that Faye had divorced him, that he had been imprisoned and had hung himself in prison! (Because they were untrue, these were never backed by the slightest evidence, but such rumours still circulate in the Sai community, despite the fact that David Bailey is still pursuing his professional music career and has an active website on the Internet).
Having published his views in ‘The Findings’ and taken a lecture tour in UK to spread these findings, David Bailey became the recipient of many defamations and threats. He answered many questions put to him on the Internet and met any who wished to question him and confirm his standpoint and evidence. Eventually, he decided that he had done what he could and was relieved to withdraw permanently from the vicious scene and to continue with his life and music.
Michelle Goldberg writing from Puttaparthi on July 25, 2001 (http://archive.salon.com/people/feature/2001/07/25/baba/index.html)
summarised how long-term devotees David and Faye Bailey, whose marriage was arranged by Sai Baba, She wrote: “Part of the nearly 20,000-word piece is given over to evidence that Sai Baba fakes his materializations and doesn't magically heal the sick -- revelations that seem self-evident to nonbelievers but provoke fierce debate in devotee circles and blazing headlines in the Indian press. Most of "The Findings" consists of testimony of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. "Whilst still at the ashram, the worst thing for me -- as a mother of sons -- occurred when a young man, a college student, came to our room, to plead with David, 'Please Sir, do something to stop him sexually abusing us,'" Faye writes. "These sons of devotees, unable to bear their untenable position of being unwilling participants in a paedophile situation any longer, yet unable to share this with their parents because they would be disbelieved, placed their trust in David; a trust which had built over his five years as a visiting professor of music to the Sai college." These pleas eroded the Baileys' faith and finally made them go public. Since then, the movement against Sai Baba has been snowballing.”
In “India Today”(see http://www.india-today.com/itoday/20001204/cover4.shtml)
an article exposing the Sathya Sai Baba movement wrote of David Bailey’s ‘The Findings’: 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 Sampath, 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."
In The Sunday Telegraph (U.K.) 28/10/02 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fhealth%2F2000%2F10%2F28%2Ftlbaba28.xml), the journalist and author Mick Brown wrote of David Bailey: The Findings quickly found its way on to the internet, where it has become the catalyst for a raging cyberspace debate about whether Sai Baba is truly divine or, as one disenchanted former devotee describes him, 'a dangerous paedophile'.
It is one of the many imponderables of this story that the charges against Sai Baba should have begun with a rotund and jocular concert pianist from Llandudno.
David Bailey became a devotee of Sai Baba in 1994, at the age of 40, drawn by an interest in the guru's reputation as a spiritual healer. 'I couldn't see him as a God,' says Bailey, 'but I did think, this could be a great holy man who has certain gifts.'
An extrovert man, Bailey quickly became a ubiquitous and popular figure among devotees. He travelled all over the world, speaking and performing at meetings and would visit the ashram in India three or four times a year, often performing during darshan and teaching music to students at the Sathya Sai Baba College. Over the course of four years Bailey claims to have had more than 100 interviews with Baba. At Baba's instigation, Bailey married a fellow devotee, and together they edited a magazine to propagate Sai Baba's teachings. But the closer he came to Sai Baba, Bailey told me, the more his doubts multiplied. The 'miracles', he concluded, were 'B-grade conjuring tricks', the healings a myth, and Baba's powers of being able to 'see into people's minds and lives' merely a clever use of information gleaned from others.
Bailey's dwindling faith was finally crushed when students from the college came to him alleging that they had been sexually abused by the guru. 'They said, "Please sir, can you go back to England and help us." They were unable to tell their parents because they were afraid of being disbelieved, and feared for their personal safety.'
Shocked by the allegations, Bailey severed his association with Sai Baba and began to assemble a dossier of evidence from former devotees around the world. The Findings is a chronicle of shattered illusions. It contains allegations of fakery, con-trickery and financial irregularities in the funding of the hospital and over a Sai Baba project to supply water to villages around the ashram, which is habitually trumpeted as evidence of his munificence. Sai Baba has often proclaimed nothing he undertakes can ever fail, for he is the Omnipotent avatar. This is shown to be a seriously false claim since the water project suffered from many setbacks and failures, falling water table and lack of volunteers for maintenance, all resulting in Sai Baba having to pass the whole project over to the Andhra Pradesh state authorities.
David Bailey is alive and well and is living in retirement in France.