BBC reporter Tanya Datta
In his attack on myself at saisathyasai.com in 2007, Gerald Joe Moreno blacklisted the BBC Secret Swami documentary of 2004. The title of the G. J. Moreno blog proclaimed accusingly: “Kevin (R. D.) Shepherd referenced the BBC Secret Swami Documentary.” This BBC programme has become so well known and applauded that his reservation may be considered an apologist feat.
The BBC investigated Sathya Sai Baba, and contributed some provocative insights, detailing both sides of the controversy about that guru. Yet Moreno (Equalizer) presented me as being in error for referring with approval to this documentary. He also misrepresented a court case occurring in California, which he associated with the BBC programme via the American ex-devotee Alaya Rahm, who testified to sexual abuse. According to Moreno, Alaya Rahm resorted to street drugs and alcohol, and therefore his testimony was invalid.
The one hour documentary featured the BBC reporter Tanya Datta, who conducted varied interviews. The schedule covered basic components of the allegations made against Sathya Sai Baba, i.e., fake miracles, sexual abuse, and the bedroom murders.
An interview with the Rahm family (Alaya Rahm and his parents) was accompanied by clips of the guru at the Shiva-ratri festival, and performing a supposed miracle. The major Indian critic Basava Premanand was interviewed, and described how he had been investigating the guru since 1968. He and his colleagues were shown explaining how “miracles” could easily be performed in a deceptive manner, e.g., the materialisation of ash (vibhuti) and the ejection of a lingam (sacred object) from the guru’s mouth. The lingam could easily be concealed in a towel, and the ash could appear via sleight of hand.
A contrasting interview with the wealthy American devotee Isaac Tigrett disclosed his belief that the allegations of sexual abuse were probably true. “I believe there is truth to the rumours.” Yet Tigrett also said condoningly: “He [Sathya Sai Baba] could go out out and murder someone tomorrow, as I said, it’s not going to change my evolution.”
An American ex-devotee named Mark Roche was also filmed. He relayed the attempt of Sathya Sai to engage him in oral sex during the year 1976. The Rahm family (in America) referred to similar experiences (and there were many such testimonies from other victims).
In relation to the notorious murders of 1993, occurring at Puttaparthi ashram, the BBC interviewed the ex-Home Secretary for Andhra Pradesh, Veluyudhan P. B. Nair, who was in charge of the state police. He early discovered that the official police report of the controversial event was “riddled with lies and inconsistencies.” This commentator disputed the official version that police officers shot the four intruders in self-defence, and urged a verdict of “cold-blooded murder.” A cover-up is strongly implied.
According to Nair, “the killing of the boys was only to buy silence.” Basava Premanand insisted that the central government stopped an investigation of the murders to prevent “economic offences, sex offences” emerging into the light of day.
Such factors were not welcome to the polemical campaign of Gerald Joe Moreno (Equalizer), who strenuously denied all the negative reports as being an error of the “Anti-Sai” contingent.
See further the BBC Transcript. See also BBC Documentary and A Reflection.
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
ENTRY no. 8
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.