December 04, 2000 Issue

  Test of Faith
As India's most enduring god-man enters his 75th year, his spirituality rests uneasily with controversy.


Operation Jungle Storm
Karnataka and Tamil Nadu make a renewed bid to catch the outlaw. But unless the Centre helps, it won't be easy.


The Big Foul-up
Violent protests against a bid to shift polluting units leaves the Government groping for an alternative.


Fifth Column
by Tavleen Singh
Rape of the Law

by Jairam Ramesh
After IT, Time for T

    Economic Graffitti
by Kaushik Basu
Soliciting in Public

    Right Angle
by Swapan Dasgupta
But We Are So Different

by Dilip Bobb
Word Association
Other stories
  Jammu & Kashmir  
  Temples of Doom  

Power Pull


Small Mercies


Hope for Orrisa



Sydney-based HANS DE KRAKER was an ardent devotee of Sai Baba for five years. His allegations of sexual abuse against the godman first appeared in The Sunday Age on November 12.

Allegations (as sent in a signed affidavit to INDIA TODAY): "As I was paying homage according to Indian customs, I touched his feet. He then grabbed my head and pushed it into his groin area. He made moaning sounds. The same sound that would later confirm my thoughts. As soon as he took the pressure off my head and I lifted it up, Sai Baba lifted his dress and presented me a semi-erect member telling me that this was my good luck chance and pushed his hips towards my face. After careful consideration, I determined that this was not what I wanted and should be doing and responded to Sai Baba that I only wanted his heart. He then dropped his dress, clearly 'caught with his hands in the candy jar' and told me that I had his heart. He went on to offer me 'another good luck chance', which I refused again."

STATUS: Kraker has so far not filed any legal complaint against Baba in his own country. The Sai Baba Ashram in Puttaparthi neither denies nor confirms the charge.

JENS SETHI is a German settled in Munich. He was a Sai Baba devotee for 10 years. His charges were published for the first time by the Focus magazine on September 18.

Allegations (as sent in a signed affidavit to INDIA TODAY): "In the private chamber, Baba said 'Come,' and kissed me on my lips for a long time. I resisted and he gurgled, 'Have no fear. This is a good opportunity, so many are waiting for months and will not get.' He asked me to remove my trousers, unzipped my fly and went with his right hand into my underpants. Baba massaged the genitals unasked. He expected some erection but this did not happen for I didn't feel any sexual excitement. I also didn't come for such games to Puttaparthi. I was really disgusted. Baba was disappointed and had the impudence to say, 'It is very weak, don't waste energy.' When I looked at him, I realised the truth about him. He had such an evil vibration that moment. Soon, he sent me out of the room without saying a word."

STATUS: Sethi recently filed a complaint with the public prosecutor in Munich. The Sai Baba Ashram has no comment on the allegations.

CONNY LARRSON, a Swede, was a Baba devotee for 21 years. His allegations first appeared (in part) in The Daily Telegraph, London on October 20.

Allegations (as told to INDIA TODAY): "Baba called me for several private interviews. I did not know what was happening between him and me but I believed him when he said he was God and was helping me with my problems. It was odd since he did this by physically approaching my genitals, sometimes smearing oil, later by masturbating me and asking for the same to be done to him. He also performed oral sex on me several times. He always seemed to enjoy it immensely. When he asked me to perform oral sex on him, I backed out due to my background as a molested child."

STATUS: No formal complaint has been filed so far. The ashram is again mum on the case.


Controversy could well be Sai Baba's middle name. He has been dogged by various kinds of allegations in the past-though none of them has ever been proven.


On June 6, 1993, gunshots rang out in Baba's ashram. In the squalid incident, four persons (all of them devotees) were killed by the police but passed off as an assassination attempt on the godman. There were a lot of questions. Why did the police kill all four? Where was the Swami all this time? Why would four long-time devotees suddenly turn against their own god? The police justified their action saying they had no option as they found the four assailants in Baba's chambers with daggers in hand. And, as usual, the Baba preferred to remain silent on the issue.


In the mid 1980s, Tal Brooke wrote Avatar of Night in which he gave details of sexual advances made by Baba 20 years ago. It became instant controversy and was denounced by Baba's followers. They described it as a crude attempt to make some fast money. Today, a second edition of the book is out.


Material Women
When seven designers experiment with Raymond fabrics, gentlemanly dons clearly eclipse women's outfits.

Looking Glass


Delhi: Music

Chennai: Store

    Web Exclusives

Orthodoxy in economic thought is as odious as obscurantism in the socio-religious context. INDIA TODAY Associate Editor, V Shankar Aiyar, offers a contrarian take on the stock markets and the cause and the impact of policy and practice. Au ContrAiyar.


A study reveals that the use of fertilisers on the west coast of India and their runoff in the Arabian Sea are producing dangerous levels of nitrous oxide or laughing gas. And rising temperature is just one of the effects, warns INDIA TODAY Principal Correspondent Subhadra Menon in


Full coverages
with columns, infographics, audio reports.

1971: The Untold Story
Veerappan Strikes Again
Mission Impossible
The SriLankan crisis
The Kashmir jigsaw
The Nepal Gameplan


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