Paul Lewis of The Guardian
the Duke of Edinburgh award to Sai Baba Youth UK, a division of
the Sathya Sai Organisation and published the findings (Saturday, November
4, 2006) under the heading: "The Indian living god, the paedophilia
claims and the Duke of Edinburgh awards."
This was a minor local project by a few youth in London who received
a certificate for the awards at a Buckingham Palace garden party. This
kind of award has been made to countless thousands of participants around
the world. A news story which appeared on the official International
Sai Organisation website exaggerated the significance of this small
local award at length, even claiming that it was made to Sathya Sai
Baba himself. The Radio Sai report stated - "instead of bearing
the name of the Sai Organisation, the certificate instead bore the name
of Divinity - 'Sri Sathya Sai'. This was a thrilling example of Swami's
Omnipresence and guiding hand". This was not so, for the Awards'
Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Peter Westgarth, told The Guardian that
"the event had been misrepresented".. . The notoriously deceptive
and secretive Sathya Sai Organisation's main propaganda website (Radio
Sai, run by a Dr.
G. Venkataraman was made to remove it after an intervention by Mr.
Westgarth. Dr. G. Venkataraman is the Deputy Chairman of Sathya Sai
Baba's international organisation and one
of five beneficiaries of donations given to the Organisation - in
the form of a brand new Japanese saloon car this year). However,
a substantial section of the same Duke of Edinburgh report has appeared
on an official Australian Sathya Sai website instead, yet again showing
Sai Organisation's agenda for what it is... to try to gain credibility
on bogus grounds.
Sathya Sai Baba has been credibly accused by many young men from around
the world for decades of sexual abuses. Sai Baba's alleged role in the
murder of four of his young male followers in his own bedroom on June
6, 1993 was never cleared up since the Central Bureau of Investigation's
case was quashed by the Sai-devoted government of the day (see the BBC's
'The Secret Swami' documentary).
The Duke of Edinburgh
Award executive, Peter Westgarth, reportedly stated that this is just
another "religion accused of paedophilia" and that young people
(many from a North London Sai-oriented school) "choose" to
visit Sai Baba, but their devotee parents and more Sai Baba indoctrination
at school have surely conditioned most of them. His comparison of this
secretive cult to harmless "Church Lads" is tendentious and
his failure to take proper action when warned about this cult makes
The Duke of Edinburgh appear to be endorsing a charlatan guru. A vital
issue in the current faith debate is raised: Should extreme fundamentalist
'Godmen' and unaccountable cults be given any oxygen by British institutions?
The rest of the world can only view with hilarity an absurd spectacle
- that of these devotees of this self-proclaimed God Creator of the
Universe, Sathya Sai Baba, who pretends he is the Father who sent Jesus
etc. etc., eagerly seeking for their guru the endorsement (and blessings?)
of the Duke of Edinburgh through getting a certificate from his award
scheme for youth!
Only one unfortunate myth is perpetuated in the Guardian article: that
the number of Sai followers is an 'estimated 30 million. However, having
been a leader within the organisation 18 years with privileged access
to internal memoranda, I can state authoritatively that there is absolutely
no public statistical information of any kind available which gives
anywhere near this figure; it is simply the inflated propagandising
of Sai Baba and his officials who, already in the 1960s, made it the
official line that he had 60 million followers! Even 600 million has
since been claimed by some! I would reckon the total to be between 10
and 15 million through all the 65 or so years he has been a guru.
The Guardian article has
been referenced by several websites around the world, including Wikipedia
and /'wiki news', The
Taipei Times and The
Kuwait Times See also: "A
Holy Furore Rages in Britain", 'Cybernoon:
"Superstition; A Crutch"
also the website of the cult expert Rick
Ross and on diverse bulletin boards and blogs.
Robert Priddy, Oslo, Norway.
(Retired lecturer in philosophy, University of Oslo. Former national
leader (resigned) of the Sathya Sai Organisation in Norway, 1986-2000)
An irrational attempt
by a pro-Sai fanatic on the Internet to make The Guardian's Staff Reporter,
Paul Lewis, appear to have been subjective and biased has been