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My Sai History
by Barry Pittard - Australia
Re: Hearing rumors about sexual misconduct in the Whitefield or Puttaparthi ashrams: In those many years of living round Sai Baba when, for example, I was a Lecturer in English at Sai Baba's Whitefield college (1978-79), did I give them any credence at all, or did I think they were just malicious gossip?
Very crucially, we speak of April, 1982. I left Puttparthi to seek out two great saints, to get their assistance in how I should dharmically go about handling a report made to me that Sai Baba had been engaged in homosexual activity since he was a boy.
One of these spiritual figures was Swami Chidananda, the successor to the historically renowned Swami Shivandanda, of the Divine Life Mission, at Rishikesh. The other was Ananda Mai Ma, of Haridwar, of whom you can read in Yogananda's famous Autobiography of a Yogi. My process is too involved to do justice to. In essence, I decided that because of my experiences of countless incredible experiences of Sai Baba whom I regarded as totally Divine, the stories could not be true.
I got back to Puttaparthi in July. An Australian woman knew that I had lived lengthily around Sai Baba. She was in some distress. She told me that she had heard Sai Baba was had at some time engaged in homosexual activity. I told her I would do my best to address the matter. I went to the famous author, my fellow Australian, Howard Murphet, who has written a series of best selling books on Sai Baba, and to Richard Bayer, from the U.S.A., the most senior Sai Organization official then present at Puttaparthi. Murphet was as finely courteous as Bayer was extremely rude.
Within days, I was told by Kutumb Rao, the then Manager of Puttaparthi, a retired Judge of the Andhra Pradesh Court, that Sai Baba had ordered him to send me out, never to return. Not before I was called up to the office in the preceding few days and faced a new accusation each day. Each one absurdly untrue, clearly trumped up allegations (e.g., raising funds in the name of the Sai Organization in Australia, giving public discourse on Sai Baba).
The casting out occurred at around 8 p.m. Kutumb Rao refused to allow me to spend the night. I was forced to sleep in the bus shelter, which put me, a westerner especially, at risk of being robbed and possibly physically assaulted.
To the casual eye, I would be regarded no doubt as stupid not to have seen through to the moral turpitude of it all. However, my experiences of very great, and very consistent, experiences such as miracles (in and far beyond Sai Baba's physical presence) made me resolute. I saw myself as being put through tests of faith. Not for God's or Guru's satisfaction but for the sake of my own spiritual growth.
Malicious gossip? It never occurred to me whether malice was involved.
I accepted that all sorts of motivations for people's behavior, such as the spreading of stories, exist within a complex human condition. My overwhelming resolve was to "listen" within to my own experience of Sai Baba. I could not reconcile two notions: that of sexual hypocrisy (from the point of view of a Swami who is renounced any sexual practices of any tendency), and my own notion, based on what I regard as exceedingly profound, ineffable, that Sai Baba was one of the topmost series, even the greatest, of world teachers.
I am now very clear. Even if God should come and molest young boys and men, then I am his implacable foe.
How long was I a devotee?
Until the September 2000 "Nexus" article, almost twenty-five years.
What first drew me to Sai Baba?
A whole series of incidents which go far, far beyond the realm of coincidence. The first was in November 1975. I felt a powerful "inner knowing" that I had to go into a book shop. A book in a vast bookstore popped off a shelf, Arnold Schulman's "Baba." It was about Sai Baba. I decided to challenge the "power" of its subject an hour or so later. From then on, I received vast and continuous experiences (physical miracles, "inner knowings" that predicted with 100 percent accuracy), and more. It all defied all rational explanation. It also went far beyond traditional accounts of yogic siddhis (powers). Living around Sai Baba for three years, teaching at his Whitefield College for two years, I met many others from many countries who shared similar stories. There was something Cosmic pouring into an historic watershed. I then found Sai Baba doing what seemed to me the impossible. Getting hundreds of thousands of Indian people of all the trades and professions taking practical, far less selfish, social responsibility, instead of using karma as an excuse for lack of compassion.
Was I disillusioned upon reading the Nexus article instant, or was it a process?
I hardly had time for disillusionment. There was little process. I knew I had to take action and rigorously question many who were alleging sexual abuse by Sai Baba. For years, I have attempted to be truthful. The Nexus articles had the "ring" of truth. I contacted dozens, then scores of alleging victims, and former Sai devotee activists working immensely hard to bring a justice process to the fore. In speaking to alleging victims and their families and supporters from different countries, again I sensed the "ring of truth." Within the month, I was part of organized activity which dealt with Interpol, FBI, Australian Federal Police, German Police Prosecutor's Office, and other police forces, foreign ministries, UNESCO, the Media, etc.
How did I go about mentally recelebrating myself after losing faith in someone I had seen an a great, Divine Avatar?
Yes, there is hurt. Yet there is also a great strength, and a joy, to be found in acting according, especially against all the odds, to what one believes to be the truth. For the schoolboy part of me that I still honor, it also has an element of wanting to see the great bullies of little children come a cropper. I am therefore one of the global coordinators in the attempt to bring the allegations to light where they can be properly examined.
Barry Pittard. July 14, 2001. Australia