Indian Rationalist Association

India's largest rationalist organisation. Founded in 1949. Fights for scientific temper, secularism, freedom of thought and expression. Defends reason and science. Exposes superstition, blind belief, obscurantism, paranormal claims caste-based social divisions and guru-politics nexus. Strives for a post-religious society. President: Sanal Edamaruku Contact: Phone: + 91-11-6569 9012, +91-11-64630651

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sanal Edamaruku on Sathya Sai Baba

India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai Baba
Sanal Edamaruku

President, Indian Rationalist Association & Rationalist International

When Sathya Sai Baba died this morning (24 April 2011) at the age of 85 years, he proved once again that miracles and predictions fail. He had predicted at a public gathering at his head quarters in Puttaparthy, in 2000, and repeatedly many times, that he would die at the age of 96 only. And till the last moment, many of his devotees clung to his word and waited for a miracle. May it be an eye opener for the millions of gullible people whom he misguided and deluded.

De mortuis nihil nisi bene, they say, say nothing but good of the dead. But I think Sathya Sai Baba’s case qualifies for an exception. Too great is the damage that he did to India. His devastating influence on reason and scientific temper caused huge setback to the country. At a time, when scientific progress led to great social and economic leaps and scientific awakening started spreading all over India, Sathya Sai Baba launched a “counter revolution” of superstition, supported by irresponsible politicians and other public figures who should have known better. In my judgment, this is his greatest crime. I have succeeded again and again to expose him publicly as a fraud, so did some other rationalists. But due to his political protectors he was never held responsible for his crimes against public reason. Nor was he ever booked for any other crime he was accused of. Numerous cases of alleged sexual abuse and murder are yet to be investigated, not to mention the financial secrets of his empire.

Sathya Sai Baba insisted in all seriousness that he was god, the creator of the universe, and “proved” his divinity with a couple of small “miracles”. As son of a village tantric he was familiar with the hand sleights and tricks of the trade. However, he did not only fascinate poor and uneducated villagers with his fraudulent performances. Over the years, he managed to attract a galaxy of India’s rich and powerful, among them ministers, prime ministers, presidents, chief justices, top industrialists and superstars.

Sathya Sai Baba had a special modus operandi that was the key for his astonishing success and the root of his enormous clout. Many of his high society devotees came to serve their own vested interests. Some came to rub shoulders with the prominent. Many joined the club because it was working as a powerful syndicate spreading its tentacles all over the political system. It was a way to the top jobs and a way to get things done. Others were seeking financial support or wanted to get rid of ill-gotten black money: The empire, it is alleged, was based on money laundering, using foreign devotees and branches. In fact, the huge foreign donations to Sai Baba stood in contrast to the comparatively modest number of active foreign devotees and the sometimes quite weak foreign branches, some of them residing in private homes. That is no great surprise, when one considers that Sai Baba did not speak any other language than Telugu and traveled only once in his whole life abroad – to visit his friend Idi Amin in Uganda.

On his 80th birthday, Sai Baba’s supporters announced that he would turn from a miracle man to a philanthropist. That was, after I had demonstrated his miracles so often in TV shows that many kids in the streets could imitate them. That he since spent a part of the great fortunes, swindled out of the gullible, for social development around his ancestral village, is highlighted now to present him as a saint. But as useful and welcome hospitals, schools and drinking water projects for the poor always may be: this kind of alibi-philanthropy is well known even from mafia-bosses. It cannot be weighed against his crimes and the damage he has done to the Indian society.

In December 2005, I wrote a letter to then President Dr. Abdul Kalam, one of Sai Baba’s ardent supporters, which was never answered. I demanded criminal investigations against Sai Baba. If his social development projects are meant to be indulgence to nullify his crimes, this procedure is unprecedented and unacceptable, I wrote. It is a shame for India that well-founded accusations and numerous reputed witnesses against Sai Baba are ignored without any investigation. Do saffron clothes make an offender untouchable for the law? Do we have to tolerate that political protectionism raises its head so boldly, mocking India's democracy?

Sathya Sai Baba caused great damage to India. His irresponsible political patrons corrupted the political culture of India. Encouraged by the clout of Sathya sai Baba, a new clan of miracle mongers imitated him. India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai Baba.


Blogger Rajan Kaura said...

I totally agree with you,my mother is a sai baba devotee and i hve been telling her about the sex alleagations etc.often my mother would say but look how can you say that when he provides free hasput a stain on the intellectual image if indians.we who are suppose to be great at everything but fall for these black magic tricks.well done to you and all the brave & hard work in exposing these evil people.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go Sanal. This article is a real eye opener for many people.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said! Your article's been read by many via facebook!

4:55 PM  
Blogger Pramod Ghuge said...

Very well written article. Such people are backed by politicians for getting votes and money-laundering. Would like to see social sharing tools like post to facebook, twitter.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent article and well said.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Mr. Sanal Edamaruku..I have seen several of your demonsrations on TV which shows your falsehood and way to bring bad names to the great souls of Bharat and the world. You have always tried to look at Sai Baba from materializing Vibhuti or tricks. You can never think beyond that. I am not sure why you are so negative about Sai baba always. Have you ever questioned Jesus Christ or any other christian / Muslims for all the falsehood they claim.There are several of them. It's your good luck that Sai Baba gave you all the name and fame. You can throw stones at only that tree which bears fruit and you will get fruits in return to your stones. Why don't you raise your voice against all the churches doing those road shows with Hinn Benny or other tantrics which say Jesus comes and heals you. Same type of patients who was never able to listen and were not able to walk. Why don't you raise your voice their. I want to see that Rationalism. Can you show that? Please go beyond the tablet which Sai baba always show to you but I never saw that. May Jesus make you a better person...Please let me know your number I would like to talk to you..

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Klasco said...

Very good points, thanks for this post! People like Sathya exploit the population that it's sickening especially sick are the ppl who knew better that supported the fraud.

2:30 AM  
Blogger Riti Roy said...

Leave the man alone, he is dead ! His time is gone. True, he made a fool out of many a people. But, most of them who were his followers knew what they were doing.No one can burp out gold eggs and make ash out of thin air ... He's had his laugh and he's gone for good. That's the truth of the matter ..

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Art of Living Foundation, you should look into it too. The following blog run by ex AOL teachers and devotees exposes the inner workings of it.

Please visit and

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Chacko said...

Great job sanal. Sai baba is a fraud no doubt. But his damage to india is much lesser than christian beleifs about virgin birts, turning water into wine and walking on water. It would be good if you concentrate on debunking those also.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Sarab said...

Great post... look at a generation which will grow up their hero Sachin crying.. and think, somehow it was not his sheer hard work, supreme natural talent and undivided dedication alone which was responsible for making him what he is..humans in isolation and human societies as aggregates look up to role models to guide them and its about time we have some rational role models...

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Admin said...

now that the damage has already been done, may his "divine" soul R.I.P.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anoop said...

ravishankar seems to want his share in sai's kingdom -

Btw Ravishankar also performs miracles

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was indeed true. Atleast now it come to an end. Hope IRA continue to educate the poor masses about these kinds of cheats.

7:56 AM  
Blogger SuMa said...

Great article....
But why don't you post more often. I come to this website to read some good stuff but don't find any new article.
There are not many websites which can offer such insights...

Thanks again

Sunil Manohar (Kolkata)

10:11 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Sir, can i become a member of the Indian rationalist association. i am extremely annoyed with all these babas and the superstition that prevails in India even in this century more so among the educated classes.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why blame Satya Sai Baba? If we have a weakness, someone will come forward to exploit that weakness. Most Indians want to believe that there is some God up there and periodically will come down to help us. So many Indians spend hours praying to this "God". When Indians wake up and realize that primarily they are responsible for themselves and God helps only those who help themselves, then the importance of self-proclaimed "godmen" will diminish.
The article blames Satya Sai Baba, but I think the people who go to such "godmen" are responsible.

2:22 PM  
Blogger rajendra chavan said...

i agree with you!

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People go to such people because we have been brain washed for centuries to believe and respect such holy men.
People should understand that there are no miraculous powers in nature and think logically. I myself was very spiritual and did lot of meditation and visited many so-called enlightened beings, they're all absolute unfits, i myself experienced many things like so-called 3rd eye visions etc, i found out that they were all my own thought induced experiences. Miracles ruins people. Please do not fall for such people and deceive your selves. Thanks to Sanal sir.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

+10 for @dinesh

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Indraneel said...

Its truly sad,but unavoidable. For a nation replete with misery as a way of life,people like this are going to make hay,undoubtedly.But I really think people like you,
Sanal,must go on voicing your grievances and one day,our benighted nation will surely overcome.

1:59 PM  
Blogger star said...

gr8 post..................1. movers and packers Chandigarh

4:49 PM  

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