Monday, 29 December 2008

Witchcraft in India

Superstition institutionalized in India

Support for beliefs in witchcraft and black magic in India comes from many gurus, perhaps most notably the baba Satya Narayana Raju known as Sathya Sai Baba, who is supported right to the top of Indian society, including by P.M. Manoman Singh and by many former Prime Ministers and Presidents.

The Indian Skeptic continues to publish accounts of gruesome consequences of this belief for ordinary Indians throughout most parts of the sub-continent

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Fulfilment of Prophesy - does Sathya Sai Baba fulfil prophesies?

The point of this section is not to dispute Sai Baba's theology, but rather to point out that Sai Baba's reading of the Christian Bible, for example, is completely at variance with everyone else's reading of these passages, and that in some cases the passages he refers to are simply not to be found. If Sai Baba, or his defenders wish to argue that he knows better about these interpretations or what was actually said and lost almost 2000 years ago, this is not my concern. My point is only that he cannot cite these passages as if they were undisputed, clear references. In so far as one already believes that Sai Baba is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ or the Omnipotent Supreme Being Incarnate, one will have no difficulty in accepting that Sai Baba is right and everyone else is wrong. However if one has not already arrived at this conclusion, one cannot look to these passages as evidence that Sai Baba is Jesus Christ or God Incarnate.

Did Jesus Foretell Sai Baba's Arrival?

Sai Baba's Disclosure of the Miraculous Prophecy of Jesus:
Sai Baba's relationship with Jesus Christ becomes even clearer with his disclosure on Christmas Day 1972 of a certain event at the time that Jesus was dying. Speaking to a group of people at Puttaparthi that day, he (Sai Baba) said:

There is one point that I cannot but bring to your special notice today. At the time when Jesus was merging in the supreme principle of divinity, he communicated some news to his followers which has been interpreted in a variety of ways by commentators and by those who relish the piling of writings upon writings and meanings upon meanings, until it all swells up into a meaningless mass. The statement itself has been manipulated and tangled into a conundrum. The statement is simple:

"He who sent me among you will come again" and he pointed to a lamb. The lamb is merely a symbol, a sign. It stands for the voice (the sound of bleating) ba ba; the announcement was of the advent of Baba. "His name will be Truth," Christ declared. Sathya means Truth. "He wears a robe of red, a blood red robe" Christ said. (Here Sai Baba pointed to the robe he was wearing). Christ said, "He will be short, with a crown (of hair)" The lamb is the sign and symbol of love. Christ did not declare that he would come again, he said, "He who has sent me will come again" That ba ba is this Baba."
quoted in V. Kanu's Sai Baba, God Incarnate, p. 5.

Dietmar Neufeld's Analysis of Sai Baba's Claim:
The University Of British Columbia
Department Of Religious Studies
January 19, 1990

To whom this may concern:

In an attempt to legitimize his mission and person Sai Baba establishes continuity with Jesus by drawing on a spurious biblical statement disclosed "at the time when Jesus was merging in the supreme principle of Divinity" (Victor Kanu, Sai Baba: God Incarnate, 5). Sai Baba claims it as a prophetic albeit hidden reference to his name and a priori assumes that the name is a self designation and descriptive of his mission. Furthermore, Sai Baba contends that the `news communicated' by Jesus has been distorted because it has been `interpreted in a variety of ways by commentators and by those who relish the piling of writings upon writings and meanings upon meanings.' The statement, he suggests, is quite simple; "`He who sent me among you will come again', and he pointed to a lamb". Indeed, says Sai Baba, "Christ did not declare that he would come again," rather he said, "He who has sent me will come again." By implication the reader is erroneously led to believe that the statement was uttered by Jesus Christ, that it was commented upon in a variety of ways by many commentators, and that innumerable commentaries exist. Sai Baba, however, does not cite his sources. The supposedly simple remark attributed to Jesus is not uttered anywhere in the New Testament, but rather represents a distortion of what the author of the Fourth Gospel records Jesus to have said: "But now I go to the one having sent me" (John 16:5). Along with a number of other similar references (John 1:33; 8:18, 28; 14:3, 18; 20:21b) the writer of the Fourth Gospel overwhelmingly captures the sentiment of the other gospel writers, namely, Jesus was the one sent by the Father and he would come again (Matthew 24:3,27,37,39; I Thessalonians 3:13; cf. 2:19; I Corinthians 1:8; 15:23; II Thessalonians 2:1, et al). To my knowledge the commentaries to which he refers are nowhere to be found, unless he is alluding to New Testament commentators he feels have "manipulated and tangled the statement into a conundrum". Of course they could not have tangled the statement to which he refers since it does not exist in the New Testament. While the designation `lamb' appears frequently in the New Testament (John 1:29, 36; ...and 28 times in the Apocalypse) as a metaphorical reference to Jesus derived from the Old Testament (Isaiah 53:7,8) nowhere in the New Testament or the Hebrew scriptures is the `lamb' merely a symbol for the sound of bleating, namely, ba ba; the declaration by Christ that Sai Baba's name will be `truth' (Sathya). Whatever else Sai Baba may have thought and wherever he may have obtained the utterance it cannot be attributed to Jesus in order to validate that he is Sathya of which Jesus is the embodiment; i.e., that Sai Baba is the ultimate fulfilment of the one who was to come again.

Sincerely yours,
Dietmar Neufeld
Lecturer, New Testament Studies, (Ph.D. cand.)

It is also clear that the other quotes attributed by Sai Baba to Jesus are equally impossible to attribute to Jesus. These are: (1) "`His name will be Truth' Christ said." (2) " `He wears a robe of red, a blood red robe' Christ said." and (3) "Christ said, `He will be short, with a crown (of hair)'". These three statements clearly contain references to the contents of Revelations 19, and Kanu quotes the passage from Revelations and interprets it just prior to giving the quote of Sai Baba reproduced above to show the source. However Revelations does not purport to be presenting the words of Jesus, but rather of John of Patmos. In a typical introduction to the book of Revelations, we find:

NAB Introduction to Revelations:
The author of the book calls himself John (1, 1.4.9;22,8), who because of his Christian faith has been exiled to the rocky island of Patmos. Although he never claims to be the apostle of the same name, many of the early church Fathers so identified him. This identification is not altogether certain. Vocabulary, grammar, and style make it doubtful that the book could have been put into its present form by the person(s) responsible for the fourth gospel. Nevertheless, there are definite linguistic and theological affinities between the two books. The tone of the letters to the seven churches (1,4-3,22) is indicative of the great authority the writer enjoyed over the Christian communities in Asia. It is quite likely, therefore, that he was at least a disciple of the apostle John who also lived in that part of the world. The date of composition is probably near the end of the reign of Domitian (81-96 A.D.) a fierce persecutor of the Christians.

Editors, New American Bible, Thomas Nelson Inc., New Jersey,1966, p. 1380.

Let us examine the paraphrases given by Sai Baba against the passages from Revelations:

Sai Baba:
"`His name will be Truth', Christ declared" Rev: 19:11 :
"And I saw heaven opened, and as I looked on, a white horse appeared; its rider was called, `The Faithful and True'. Given that this was a vision given to John, the author of Revelations, Sai Baba's claim "`His name will be Truth' Christ declared" is incorrect.
Sai Baba:
"`He wears a robe of red, a blood red robe', Christ said" Rev: 19:13:
"He wore a cloak that had been dipped in blood, and his name was the Word of God". Sai Baba is mistaken in his attribution to Jesus here as well. There is a significant difference between wearing a cloak dipped in blood and wearing a red robe.
Sai Baba: "Christ said, `He will be short, with a crown (of hair)'" Rev: 19: 12:
"On his head were many diadems"("..on his head were many crowns"--the translation Kanu gives). Aside from the great leap from diadems or crowns to ringlets of hair, this is not a quote which is attributable to Christ. And nowhere is there a reference in the Revelations passage or in the Christian materials to a prophecy in which Christ says, "He will be short"!

Sai Baba's sloppiness with the materials is equalled only by the inattention of his devotees. Even Kanu introduces the prophecy in the following terms:

Kanu's Discussion of the Prophecy:

"In Chapter 19, Saint John saw the vision of the Deliverer who was to come again and save mankind from the slippery pathway to self-destruction. That Deliverer is Sri Sathya Sai Baba, for Saint John's vision was as follows: "And I saw heaven opened..."
(Kanu, ibid., p. 3)

Mohammed's Prediction of Sai Baba's Arrival

A prophesy supposedly given by the prophet Mohammed is sometimes quoted as alluding to Sai Baba. This prophecy refers to 27 features of a future teacher, who will be short, whose hair will be profuse, face cleanshaven, with a mole on the cheek, flaming clothes, who will give gifts that are light in weight, etc. The paraphrase of the prophecy also states:

The Prophesy from Mohammed:
Asked by his deciples whether he, Mohammed, was not "the master of the world," he said he was not, and that no prophet of God who had ever come to this world had come with the power with which he would come.

Soham, Feb. 1988 p. 19. Reprinted from Sathya SaiNewsletter, Fall 1983.

This prophecy is found, according to the Sai literature, in the 14th edition of the discourses of Mohammed in 25 volumes, called The Ocean Of Light, specifically, vol 13, "Mehedi Moudi". I have been unable to find any bibliographic reference to this collection, and have been advised that it is not part of the standard collections of the discourses of Mohammed. Moreover the contents of this prophecy are out of keeping with the general spirit of Mohammed's teaching. The book and its prophecy was supposedly stumbled upon somewhere in a near Eastern bookstore. Without a reliable historiographic treatment of the supposed document, there is no point in even beginning to look at the connections or lack of them between the figure supposedly prophesied by Mohammed and the life of Sai Baba. Needless to say, this treatment does not, at present, exist.


After wading through this collection of claims made by or on behalf of Sai Baba and the critics' responses, the reader should be in a position to reach his or her own conclusion about Sai Baba. Mine is based on the adage proposed by Marcello Truzzi, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". The proponents of Sai Baba simply have not met this standard.

We might end with this "not proven" verdict. However, this would be too weak. We must remember that the onus of proof is not on the person who wishes to deny a claim, but on the person who makes it in the first place. The claim that Sai Baba has paranormal powers is no exception to this rule; and I think I have examined the best evidence put forward, and found it unconvincing. In fact, in §85 my magician colleagues have pointed out visible evidence of sleight of hand passed off as genuine paranormal power. The videotape we examined is available to anyone who wants to examine it for herself.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Reports by investigative journalists

Jens Sethi of Munich was sexually molested in a way he commonly does, as reported in the German 'Bild' of Munich on 21st August, 2000 (scan above)
Translation of text:-


By Wolfgang Ranft

MUNICH - Jens Sethi was young, naive, full of religious expectations. In 1988 this resident from Munich who worked that time in a printing office travelled to India the land of the Hindu Gurus. The 24-year-old man was looking for new spiritual fulfillment. He found, what he was looking for. Sethi succumbed to the fascination of a Guru who was already 62-years old that time: Sathya Sai Baba. "I was totally fascinated by the Aura of Sai Baba", he says today. "I surrendered in a way that I was mainly concentrating on him." Every year he travelled together with his wife for four or six weeks to the Ashram of Sai Baba. During the festival time more than 20 000 devotees gather there.

The fascination remained for Sethi just an external moment as he never could approach the Guru during the first years. This happened only in October 1996 when Sethi finally decided to go to India where he settled down in Puttaparthi close to the Ashram. During the daily pilgrim-meeting he was called for an interview by the Guru, the utmost a pilgrim can expect within the Ashram. Sethi enjoyed his good luck. He, one of those rare devotees, who has been personally selected by the Guru.

But the conversation took a different course than he expected. Sethi appeared together with his wife. The Guru was outraged and has sent the woman away. Alone in the room the old man started to kiss the man from Munich, stroke him and went into the trousers. Shocked but still full of faith and naivety Sethi accepted two other meetings some month later. Again the Guru kissed him and finally touched his genitals.

Only then the young man ran away back to Germany. It took him three years to overcome the crisis and to separate himself mentally from his spiritual guide. During that time he did investigations in the internet and came to know about other young men from UK, Sweden, USA who underwent a fate of similar experiences.

Only this summer he did the final step to escape from the spell under the Guru: He brought a charge against Sathya Sai Baba at the public prosecutor´s office in Munich - because of sexual molestation.


No breakthrough yet in Sai Baba case

Express News Service

BANGALORE - Even though a strong contingent of CID sleuths headed by Inspector General of Police Anantha Sayana Reddy and Deputy Inspector General of Police (CID) Ramachandraiah are leaving no stone unturned in the sensational Puttaparthi case, they are yet to stumble on any substantiative clues leading them to unravel the conspiracy.

While a section of the investigating officers are hopeful that they would be in a position to make a breakthrough shortly, others are sceptical about the outcome of the entire exercise as they feel that the very premises from which they have started their investigation is wrong.

They feel that at present the investigation is based on the contents of the First Infor­mation Report and the contents of it are not stated to be correct. If the investigation continuous on the same lines, they fear, either the investigation will not lead them anywhere or help only in covering up the conspiracy hatched to do away with Sai Baba.

A section of the middle level investigating officers also opined that the four slain alleged assailants and the two absconding were not the real culprits but someone else. In order to cover up their crime they might have framed up the four innocent boys they opined.

At Bangalore, while the IG Ananthasayana Reddy and DIG Ramachandraiah are jointly working on their own, without giving a hint at what they are doing or what results are accruing, the middle level officers and lower level officers are working as they are being instructed by the bosses. __ _______


A.P. police chief denies suspect was found

From Our Staff Reporter •____________•

ANANTAPUR, June 23: The Inspector-General of Police (CID-Andhra Pradesh), Mr. P. Ananthasayana Reddy, today denied that a search team had found Boyapati Ravi Babu, a prime suspect in the Puttaparthi case, in an unconscious state in the jungles near Prasanti Nilayam; as reported in newspapers on Tuesday.

The Inspector-General told this reporter at Bangalore on Wednesday that the report was 'false' as police and CID teams had checked hospitals in Puttaparthi to find out if there was anyone matching the description of Ravi Babu but none had been found.

Mr. Reddy, while officially denying the report, suspected that "someone who had vested interests" was indulging in this "misinformation”.

For the past three weeks, CID officials from Andhra Pradesh have been camping at Bangalore, trying to pick up threads which would "help them solve the mystery of the June 6 incident inside Prasanti Nilayam.


Cops 'hired' to silence Sai assailants?

(From K. Shreedhar Rao)

HYDERABAD, June 23: The happenings in the abode of controversial Godman Satya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, took an intriguing turn, with the revelation that the four assail­ants, who made an alleged attempt on the godman's life were mercilessly killed by the armed policemen at the instance of some important functionaries of the Satya Sai Trust.

The vernacular press on Wednesday morning, quoting eyewitness accounts, came out with damning evidence against the trust authorities. The news reports alleged that the police had resorted to this, to hush up the truth.

It is said that the four assailants, who locked themselves up in a room in Prashanti Nilayam were shot dead by the policemen, without any provocation. A sincere and serious inquiry by the Government would reveal all the facts that led to the attack on Sai Baba and the subsequent killings. But it remains to be seen, how far the State Government, would pursue the matter.

Eyewitness accounts said the commotion, which began in the ashram around 6.30' p.m. on the evening of June 6, was followed almost immediately by the wailing of sirens. Residents ofthe neighbourhood and even the police believed to have got the impression that some thieves had entered Prashanti Nilayam, an eyewitness, working in a place nearby, told journalists at Puttaparthi. In an attempt to apprehend the 'thieves', four constables entered the Baba's abode. The villagers, who had gathered in front of the ashram, found the gates ofthe Nilayam closed.

The constables, reportedly, headed back for the police station returning later with reinforcements, in the meantime, the assailants had stabbed dead two Ashram volun­teers Radhakrishnaand Sai Kumar Mahajan. Two others, Vishnu Bhat and Anil Potle, sustained injuries in the scuffle that ensued. When the gates opened, the villagers rushed in only to find the police 'doing nothing'. The eyewitness said the killers had locked themselves up in a room. The Circle Inspector and a Sub-Inspector were attempting to gain access to the first floor with the help of a ladder since the door to the staircase was locked. An ambulance, summoned by one of the villagers, also reached the spot.

When the villagers, inquired ofthe blood stained Seva Dal volunteers, as to what the matter was kept mum and went back into the Nilayam, it is said. As the police reached the room, where the assailants had locked themselves, there was a temporary lull and observers were told that the assailants were being held captive in the room. Sai Baba was taken to the green room, from the mandir by Seva Dal volunteers and people were asked to get back to their houses. The volunteers thereafter formed a human chain around mandir to bar entry. It is said that the mandir wore the look of a battle field, with rods, sticks and swords strewn all over.

After 11 p.m., police officers held discussions with the authorities ofthe Sai Trust. Several police officers had shuttled between Prashanti Nilayam and the police station.

Around 1.30 in the night the Nilayam reverberated with the sound of gun fire. About 20 rounds were fired the eye-witness told the press. The dead bodies were taken to Penukonda Hospital in the wee hours of June 7. The police officials later cooked up a story saying that the four assailants had attempted to attack the police party and in self defence, the cops had to open fire.

The post-mortem report revealed that all me assailants had died due to bullet wounds. The bullets had penetrated into chests, brain and eyes at point blank range. Only the 303 rifle, has the power to send a bullet right through the body. The inquest also con-finned that there were no other injuries. The circumstantial evidence suggests that the police shot at the assailants, who had surrendered to them, and lends credence to the theory that the assailants were not carrying lethal weapons and never attempted an attack on the police force. It is believed that everything had taken place with the total approval and at the behest of top functionaries of the Satya Sai Baba Trust With the killing of the foursome, there is hardly any chance of truth even coming out

The story that some policemen were injured in the attack by the assailants, has few takers. It is said that when the police attempted to break open the door of the room, where the assailants were hiding, the bolt gave in leaving a gaping hole in the door. Whether it was possible to attack the police through the hole, is a question only Sai Baba can answer.

Attempts too have been made by some interested persons to have special awards presented to the policemen for their heroic deeds. -


Sai Baba case: suspect not found

Express News Service

BANGALORE - The Inspector General of Police Ananthasayana Reddy has denied the reports appearing in a section of the press that one of the prime suspects in the Puttaparthi case Boyapati Ravindranath alias Ravi Babu, has been found.

It was reported in some newspapers that Ravindranath was found by a police search party in the hilly region near Puttaparthy in an unconscious state and that he was handed over to the CID.

Reddy told newsmen here on Wednesday that inquiries had been made and the police searched all hospitals in Puttaparthy and those in the neighbouring villages to locate the person who was 'found in an unconscious state' but found no clue.

Reddy said the police will not shield anybody involved in the attempted attack on Sai Baba.

Reddy and deputy inspector general of police (CID) Ramachandraiah who are su­pervising the investigation said that though they had made a headway in the investiga­tion, they were not prepared to disclose any information at mis stage as it may help the culprits tamper with evidence.


Key witnesses in Sai Baba case undergo medical examination

From Our Staff Reporter

ANANTAPUR, June 24: The two persons injured in the June 6 incident at Prasanti Nilayam, 85 km from here involving an attempt on the life of Satya Sai Baba allegedly by four of his devotees, were on Wednesday taken to the Government Hospital at Penukonda, 69 km from here, for what officials termed a "formal medical examination."

Anil Patley and Vishnu Bhatt, aides of Sai Baba, convalescing at the Super Speci­alities Hospital of the Sri Satya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences at Puttaparthi, were taken to a Government hospital, because it was a "medico-legal case". After ex­amination for about 25 minutes, they were taken back, escorted by Satya Sai Seva Dal volunteers and police.

The two are prime witnesses and are being kept in the intensive care unit of the Super Specialities Hospital. They sustained numerous stab injuries when the four as­sailants allegedly pounced on them on that dark evening, inside the private chambers of Sri Sai Baba. They have been examined by CID officials on two occasions but what they might have revealed is still being kept a "closely-guarded secret." Police chief denial: The inspector General of Police (CID-Andhra Pradesh), Mr. P. Ananthasayana Reddy, on Wednesday denied that a search team had found Boyapati Ravi Babu, a prime suspect in the Puttaparthi case, in an unconscious state in the jungles near Prasanti Nilayam, as reported in newspaper on Tuesday.


Notice to Chavan to probe 'bid' on Baba

ENS Legal Bureau

NEW DELHI- A legal notice was issued on Thursday to Union Home Minister S.B. Chavan for instituting within a fortnight an impartial inquiry into the alleged June 6 attack on the Sai Baba of Puttaparthi and as to how the Sai Baba has amassed an empire worth Rs.6000 crore.

The notice sent by Supreme Court advocate K.N. Balgopal on behalf of B. Premanand, Convenor for the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, states that the inquiry must be done by a CBI official or a judge who is not a devotee of the Sai Baba.

The notice points out that Chavan himself is a devotee but he is bound under the Constitution to uphold the rule of law. If no such inquiry is ordered then Premanand would be forced to take necessary legal action at the cost of Chavan.

The notice points out that Chavan had shown an alacrity in rushing to Puttaparthi by a special plane after the alleged attack when he had not done this when Bombay was burning The five page legal notice shows how Premanand has sought to Prosecute the Sai Baba under the Gold Control Act by producing even a cassette of his so-called magic powers of producing necklaces at the marriage of the daughter of a Supreme Court judge who herself exposed the heppening. It also points out the large and powerful political following of the Sai Baba who has been challenge on his various claims by Mr. Premanand.