Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Miracles are My Visiting Cards, by Dr. E. Haraldsson
Erlendur Haraldsson's re-edited version of this book, now entitled 'Modern Miracles' does not include any new observations of Sathya Sai Baba since he was dead before EH went to the ashram authorities in Puttaparti to obtain what he might. He presents many of the alleged miracles of Sathya Sai Baba as not being proven to be fraudulent - amazingly to thousands who have left Sathya Sai Baba and many who have publicly reported fraud in materialisations. Despite all tyhe evidence now available he maintains that Sathya Sai Baba was never apprehended in fraud, sleight of hand or the like! This omission is extremely serious and misleading.

As a result, EH seems to have tried to protect his reputation as the author of the original book. Through his pointed avoidance of evidence against Sai Baba's genuineness, he is promoting the belief that these apparent materialisation miracles were genuine psycho-kinetic phenomena. That he has done virtually no serious investigation since well before 2000, which I know to be the case since - during our half-dozen long meetings since 2000 at my home, I constantly advised him to do so. I pointed to contact persons I knew who he could interview - but he refused every time, often saying 'my time is too precious'. After I had repeatedly challenged him to take a new stand. as did my wife, he wrote to her in May, 2011:

 "I am not hiding anything, but I do not write a new paper on Sai Baba uless it is based on personal research and giving new findings and I have neither. Besides my time is too precious for other things to do to waste on squibbles about SB who is dead anyway". (Erlendur Haraldsson and Reidun Priddy e-mail exchange).

Subsequently therefore I published some of his over 150 e-mails to me where what he was hiding all along became crystal clear. His new edition of his book appears as a rather vain damage limitation exercise, but it is will not be effective as the facts become better known about it. One may ask why he wrote it after his repeated and definitive rejections of my urging him to revise his published views and set the record straight. Though we met occasionally in India and often in Oslo and at my house, he dared not mention my name or my very voluminous evidence against Sathya Sai Baba. Had he done so, his relative incompetance and ignorance as an investigator of Sai Baba would have been too well known to all.

This non-empirical study of Sathya Sai Baba still leads people strongly to draw conclusions as to the genuineness of Sai Baba phenomena (except resurrection and bi-location, which he did investigate and thereby in effect denounced as fraud). His standpoint goes against almost all that science has discovered which obviates the need to explain these particular phenomena as miracles and overwhelmingly rejects that they can be such, quite apart from the well-established physical laws which they would then break. His yet more extraordinary glaring omission is his not admitting in public that Sathya Sai Baba's word could not be relied on (as he had repeatedly said to my wife and I), this self-proclaimed Creator of the Universe, Deity of all deities, Father of Jesus and countless yet more extravagant claims and false statements, including lies and numerous widely-reportd deceptions. That alone strongly indicates that the materializations were not to be trusted as such, yet Haraldsson continued to visit to see if he by chance might observe then better!

Haraldsson was interviewed in Sweden on his original investigations in a long article published in late 1987 in the Swedish journal 'Sökaren' on Sai Baba. The translated text is in black and the comments I insert in the translated text that follows directly aim to correct to some extent the lack of critical thinking and omission of facts known at the time (or exposed much later) from which the article suffers, as does Haraldsson's book.

Sai Baba - miracle man

On 23 November I926 a boy was born in the small village Puttaparti in South India. His parents were a poor farmer and his wife. They had the family name of Ramakara and belonged to the raju caste, a low caste whose duties in ancient India was to pay tribute to their king with song and poetry.

The boy was named Sathyanarayana. His full name was Sathyanarayana Raju Ramakara. His parents had previously three children: two girls and a boy. Later, another son was born.

Comment: Accounts promoting Sathya Sai Baba mostly omit the following: "“When Easwaramma entered her eight pregnancy her mother in law vowed a series of Sathyanarayana pujas in order to be blessed with a grandson", N Kasturi wrote in his book about Sathya Sai Baba's mother “Easwaramma the chosen mother”. (p 20)" Where are then the other tour children? We know that Sathya Sai Baba had only three older siblings. when he was born.

Sathya went to elementary school in Puttaparti and Bukkapatnam. then in high school (approx. middle school) in the city Uravakonda. He was an ordinary boy. But in the evening March 8. 1940. something decisive happened in his life. It is said that he gave a scream. jumped up and grabbed a toe as if he had been bitten. Yet no scorpion or snake was discovered. he collapsed - seemingly unconscious - and became rigid all over. It was believed that he had been stung by a scorpion.

A doctor came and gave him an injection, but he seems to have been unconscious during the following night. The next morning the doctor explained that Sathya was out of danger. He seemed healthy. but began to behave in a strange way. Now and then he fell into a kind of trance and did not answer when spoken to; sometimes he suddenly started singing or talking about old India's philosophical wisdom. He was taken to another doctor who believed that he was suffering from a form of hysteria that had nothing to do with the alleged scorpion bite. All attempts to bring Sathya to his old normal self were fruitless. He left school.

On 23 May 1940. when he was 13 years old. he gathered all the members of his family and gave them sweets and flowers that he seemingly took out of the air. The neighbors came running when they got to know what was going on and each of them got a rice ball, boiled in milk, as well as flowers and some sweetmeats, which he brought forth by hand movements. On this occasion Sathya declared that he was Sai Baba reborn.

His father was not impressed and threatened to whip the megalomania of his body. Are you God or are you are a fraud? - he asked and had a stick in readiness. Sathya replied: - I am Sai Baba. who had come back. Worship me! At the same time the stick fell from his father's hand. From that moment on Sathya constantly performed miracles.

(According to some people's belief, Sathya died as a result of the scorpion sting. whereupon Shirdi Sai Baba took over the body when it recovered.)

Comment: In the belief that he was possessed by an evil spirit. his family subjected Sathya Narayana to medicine men and devil-exorcism. including the torture of physical ordeals under a fearful exorcist who marked his scalp physically for life.

Sai Baba of Shirdi

Of whom was it that Sathya Sai Baba claimed to be the reincarnation? His name is not known, but he became known as Sai Baba, which means something like holy father. As a young fakir he settled down in 1872 in a dilapidated mosque in the small town of Shirdi about 20 mil north-east of Mumbai. He eventually became known among both Muslims and Hindus in India. but he remained unknown outside his own country. In India he had many followers. over whom he had great influence. He did wonders - it is told, and he taught a spiritual path. He was a choleric person could rage against his believers. even beat them with a stick; and he could throw stones at visitors who did not believe in him. But he also showed loving care for those who attached themselves to him. Sai Baba stayed in Shirdi till his death in 1918.

Comment: Most followers of Shirdi Baba have never accepted Sathya Narayana Raju as his reincarnation. Since Sathya's death in 2011, Shirdi Baba has again become far more popular that Sathya.

A young swami

Already in his twenties. Sathya Sai Baba, as he was called, was a swami with a number of followers. He performed small miracles every day. By a gesture he produced the sacred ashes vibuti. fruits, sweets, rings, medallions, talismans, small figurines, etc. from the air. This is testified by many who were with him in those days. As a young Sathya was boyish and mischievous. He did miracles for fun, teasing his circle and did not show any really serious disposition’, but over time he changed and became a spiritual teacher with an important message.

The above information about Sathya Sai Baba is in the Icelandic associate psychology professor Erlendur Haraldsson's book 'Miracles are my Visiting Cards' (Century Hutchinson Ltd. London I987) where he in a 300-page report on the results of his studies of the phenomenon of Sai Baba in a total of eleven months during a decade.

Comment: Haraldsson's account is based on anecdotal evidence and his own observations, not scientific investigation, which was disallowed by Sai Baba. In the last two decades much evidence has emerged about Sai Baba's extensive deceptions. sleight of hand and fraud, as well as his being widely accused of sexual and other crimes, all of which he has been protected against at the very highest level in India. Even in 2012 Haraldsson had not up-dated and corrected his presentation of Sai Baba except very peripherally in some articles, having ignored all the exposed deceptions as not worth his time to research.

The scientist Haraldssson

Only a few scientists - para-psychologists - have had an interest in Sai Baba's alleged miracles and wanted to examine them to determine whether they are genuine or not. Erlendur Haraldsson is the most ambitious of these. He has wanted to do experiments with the swami. but he is committed to be a spiritual leader and consider miracles as trifles and nothing to make a big fuss about. Haraldsson had therefore to content himself with making observations at close range and listening to eye-witness reports by people who were close to the swami - many of these witnesses were with the swami around l950 while he was still a young man and had not reached his current renown.

Comment: Haraldsson omits to state that all but a couple of the early witnesses were's highly impressionable villagers and believers in divine powers and divine incarnations before Sathya was born. That visitors were educated does not make them any different to ordinary persons who do not recognised the subtlest of magicians sleight-of-hand and related ruses.Those more educated Indians, including some scientists, engineers. judges and politicians who bear witness to the miracles of Sai Baba were brought up on the mythological Hindu scripture, accepting impossible wonders then believed in by virtually all Hindus, however educated. This well-known otherworldly mentality is yet more marked in Indians than in fundamentalist Christian and other religions.

In his book Haraldsson gives all the essential information to which he had access about Sai Baba. He leaves it to the reader to form their own opinions. But all of the book's contents support the claims of Sai baba as a miracle make: partly Haraldsson's own observations, partly the many other witnesses. Critical voices are few, and the critics' statements do not seem well-founded.

Comment: Haraldsson gave information where relevant to the issue of fraud or not. His book also contains at least two accounts of miracles which his investigations virtually proved never took place. especially the resurrection of an aged US millionaire. Walter Cowan, who Sai Baba claimed he had resurrected from the dead (as he also claimed in other instances).

Critics believe that Sai Baba deceived his public with illusionist tricks; they say he probably has items hidden in the sleeves of his robe. and then he pretends to take them miraculously from the air. But according Haraldsson no one has been able to find a shred of evidence for trickery. Sai Baba's clothes have been investigated: there are no inside pockets where objects may be hidden. (In contrast. some other swamis studied apparently used trickery for achieving paranormal effects.)

Comment: The critical voices mentioned in those days did not uncover any fraud, but there were others of considerable weight than those which Haraldsson chose to take up (notably B. Premanand). Moreover, those assuming fraud have since been vindicated in the light of the filmed sleight-of-hand and other clever deceptions. The subsequent 'divine downfall' of Sai Baba. plus all that emerged prior to and after his suspicious death the scandalous aftermath concerning his huge privately hoarded treasures - has turned the tables from wide renown to wide notoriety.

There is a large amount of testimony about Sai Baba’s constant miracles. but these do not have the nature of final proof. They suggest phenomena, but the best way to determine whether a person can achieve anything paranormal is to do controlled experiments. Haraldsson and his collaborator Dr. Osis had long discussions with Sai Baba on the importance of science and research, but the swami's last words were that he did not have powers for mere display to them. His task was as a spiritual teacher. But he let the scientists study him closely.


Sai Baba regularly brings forth the sacred ash vibuti by a hand movement. Haraldsson says: "He made one of those quick circular motions with his hand which always means that something will appear in the hand. As we sat on the ground and he was standing. his hands slightly above our eye level. It was open and facing down with fingers outstretched as he did a few quick. small circles in the air. When he did this. we observed a grey substance in the air just below the palm of his hand, and Sai Baba seemed to catch it in the hand by a quick downward motion to prevent it falling to the ground."

Comment: At that time neither Haraldsson nor Osis had conceived other ways in which the fraud could be achieved. as is common among magicians. For example. a pellet of vibuti - hardened through wetting and compression. could easily be transferred unseen to Sai Baba‘s hand by the servitor who walked beside or behind him who was responsible for taking over collected letters from devotees as regular intervals. Later video evidence shows a pellet between the first two index fingers. When crushed. the ash can then be retained by a suitable movement and so dropped onto the hand of a recipient. Concealment in the mouth appears to have occurred on occasion. such as when the Dutch Coordinator received a very Met dollop of vibuti from Sai Baba at darsan.

On one occasion. Sai Baba decided to re-marry a couple who have been married a long time. To do so is an ancient Indian custom.

He moved his hand in the air and when he opened it we saw a gold ring. He gave the ring to Mrs. Krystal and told her to put it on one of her husband's fingers, as is customary for the bride to do at a traditional Indian wedding. Sai Baba's open hand was still stretched out without having touched his clothes or anything else. We watched him closely.

Comment: Competent investigators would not have watched him only at that point, but should have ensured one of them kept a sharp eye on SB's hands all the time. His technique was to engage a person face to face and take a prepared object from behind a cushion some time before pretending to materialise it. EH and KO did not mention having done such a thing. His technique is clear from several videos, which EH has never commented on.

Immediately afterwards Sai Baba moved his hand for a few seconds, with the palm facing down, and quickly closed it. His arm was approximately horizontal to the ground, which was not a favorable position if he wanted to get an object to fall out of his sleeve. We watched closely when Sai Baba opened the closed hand and held up a large, bulky necklace. It was a mangalasutra, a traditional piece of jewelry given to a woman at her wedding. It was 8 cm long, 4 cm on each side (cm = centimeter). and it had nine different kinds of stones, arranged in nine groups with a golden pearl between each group. Attached to the necklace was a picture of Sai Baba, set in a gold setting, approximately (1 cm in diameter). This necklace was given to Mrs. Krystal. It was too large to have been hidden in a man's closed hand, especially Sai Baba's hand which is small.

Comment: I have see that ring on her finger and it is a standard 'navagraha' as sold in many jewelers in India. I judge it could easily have been concealed in Sai Baba's hand. He had practiced this for decades by then, so concealement had become second-nature to him. 

Sai Baba constantly does this kind of miracle, seemingly with disturbing ease, and it seems to amuse him.

After Haraldsson and Osis once asked Baba how he accomplishes his miracles. he replied:

Mental creation. I think, imagine, and then it is there.

But then he went on to talk about his philosophy: Spiritual love is the important thing. miracles are trifles. Love is to give and forgive. On another occasion, when Sai Baba was asked how he was doing it, he replied that his ability comes from higher consciousness (the superconscious). He imagines the object he wants to create, and then it is there.

But Sai Baba has also said that the objects he produces come from somewhere else. They are transferred from one location to another in a fraction of a second. He is also alleged to have said that anyone can learn to perform these miracles.

Comment: Sai Baba has also stated that the objects are provided by his helpers, who are very, very quick. Kasturi reported in the official biography that Sai Baba materialised a medallion and said to the group “see how quick my workmen are". (Sathyam, Sivam Sundaram Volume 1 - p.158). Typically, Sai Baba often stated on later occasions the complete contrary of many of his own earlier statements.

Many kinds of miracle

Sai Baba's miracles do not only consist in taking objects from the air or from the sand or makes objects disappear. Many testify that he reads people‘s thoughts and he know things about them that he would not normally know. Haraldsson himself mentions that Sai Baba did not say anything particularly remarkable about his personal life, but what he said was true, such as the Haraldsson been married more than once.

Among the most amazing things reported is that Sai Baba on several occasions could move in an instant from one place to another: one moment he is in the midst of his followers - the next they see him standing on a hill a good distance away. This is mentioned by several witnesses.

He has also been observed in a place far from where he actually was and had then helped some ill person. On these occasions he has often gone into a trance, becoming stiff and seemingly left his body.

Other things eyewitnesses told about him years is that sometimes he could change the color of his garment: for example that at first it was green and shortly afterwards had a different color.

On some occasions, he has produced food from empty vessels, enough for a large number of people (i.e.. the same miracle as related about Jesus‘ bread and fishes). A witness says: "At lunch time he asked everyone to bring their empty containers. I saw this incident clearly with my own eyes, so I can not forget it. Baba just made a movement with his hand over the empty vessels, and I could see food rise up from the bottom of them. I think he brought forth about a dozen different dishes that way, one in each vessel, and they were there in seconds

Comment: The above stories are all hearsay, when all is said and done. There are many reasons why the villagers and other acolytes would want to bolster Sai Baba's proclaimed divinity and the tendency to huge exaggeration and inventions practiced in Indian religious sects should be a warning to those who take all these claims at face value. Such concerns are not indicated in most of this article, for while Haraldsson maintains adherence to inconclusiveness without scientific validation, he nonetheless leans strongly towards presenting the miracles as almost indisputable. Since his field is much maligned among the huge majority of scientists, he could not declare any belief or conviction. Further, were he not to think there must be something paranormal that could be provable, then the purpose of his strenuous and ambitious efforts would appear to be close to futile.

One of Sai Baba devotees, a raja, says swami never does anything miraculous for a selfish purpose and that this is the difference between him and others. What he does is always to other people's benefit.

Defectors attest to miracles

Several people who previously belonged to the circle around Sai Baba but left him are critical of him as a person, but they do not question the miracles. They all say that the materializations are genuine.

A Mr. M. Krishna. who was very close to Sai Baba but then went over to Christianity, says that the swami can really produce objects out of nothing, which is inexplicable, but he emphasizes that this is not proof of divinity. Krishna never noticed that Sai Baba was hiding anything ready in the clothes, and he does not believe that this could be the explanation of miracles.

He was one of those who won the opportunity to get him ready after his morning bath and he could freely explore the swami's clothes, which contained nothing suspicious. There was nothing suspicious at all concerning Sai Baba‘s miracles. They appeared to be genuine. However, it often happened that his followers - and even himself exaggerated what had happened. And it happened many times that the swami promised to cure anyone who fell ill, but that they did not get healthy. Krishna also feels that Sai Baba's predictions were only correct 50 percent of the time.

Krishna did not think much of Sai Baba. He says. among other things. that Swami lacked compassion and that he treated some of his followers badly - but Krishna adds that this was while the swami was young and that he may have changed since then.

Comment: M. Krishna also informed Professor Haraldsson about Sathya Sai Baba's sexual proclivities. W as well as other such facts and his opinions about them. At the time of his book and until around 2000, there was almost no other backing for such claims. other than a book by former US devotee. Tal Brooke (’Avatar of the Night’). However, as the issue exploded with major sworn testimonies and film interviews etc. Haraldsson's e-mail information became strongly relevant to the public. as so many followers regarded him as a major semi-lndependent guarantor for the genuineness of Sal Baba‘s miracles. There are parallels to the scandals and their suppression in the Catholic Church, and in various Hindu and Christian sects. which raise the same moral question of duty of care and mandatory reporting for those endorsing Sathya Sai Baba.

The question of genuineness

Haraldsson wrote that, if the phenomena around Sai Baba are genuine. i.e., if the swami creates the objects he produces out of nothing, by "materialization", or if it is done by "teleportation", i.e. paranormal transportation, then this has enormous theoretical implications for science and psychology. Then science's view of reality and human would have to be changed.

A number of possible normal explanations are considered. Can it be a case of mass hypnosis? Deception by helpers? Could there be hidden appliances to cast up objects? Can Sai Baba hide objects in his clothes or hair? Haraldsson reject all these explanations. It can not be hypnosis. Movies show the same objects and events that witnesses have seen. And susceptibility to hypnosis is very different in different people some can not hypnotized - and it is impossible to imagine that all the people in a large group can be hypnotized to see the same things. Moreover, nothing that even remotely resembles hypnotists‘ methods - especially verbal prompting - was observed in Sai Baba.

Comment: Professor Haraldsson is quick to exclude hypnosis. Firstly, with the fewest exceptions, especially after 1980, those who are devotees who were accepted to an interview group have been vetted to ensure they are not doubters of Sai Baba's divinity. They are already most likely highly susceptible to suggestion, believing what they are told even when their observations clash with the account. The traditional idea of hypnosis with verbal prompting etc. is rather naive, when on knows what Milton Ericksson achieved and what extraordinary fast and complete trance conditions are regularly induced by Derren Brown in individual and even groups public or private without any 'prompting' whatever. Further, there are a number of reports in the literature of persons having seen extraordinary transformations in Sai Baba's appearance without those sitting beside them noticing anything at all. Besides, not all in the interview group were placed so they could see clearly what happened and so relied largely on the reports of what those closer thought they perceived. Hypnosis is irrelevant where sleight-of- hand is concerned. A simple trick of Sai Baba's was to turn on the lights with a switch above a fuse cupboard where vibuti could have easily been placed beforehand. He almost always ‘made vlbuti‘ for ladies directly after having sat down.

But is it not quite natural to think that the swami hides objects in his clothes? To that one may answer that Sai Baba always wears a thin robe of one piece with sleeves that reaches down to the wrists. (He has many similar costumes.) He has only shorts or a loin cloth underneath. His clothes have, as mentioned, no pockets in which objects can be hidden. This is known with certainty. Haraldsson has personally seen some of swami's clothes which he gave away and he has visited Sai Baba's tailors and seen the clothes that he sews for the swami. None of the items examined had pockets or other possible hiding places.

Sai Baba's robe is also so thin that sunlight shines through it. Neither when the sun has shone in through the window in swami's interviews nor outdoors has Haraldsson noticed any shadows that suggested some hidden objects when he was close to the swami. When Swami is outdoors and the wind blows, it may happen that the garment winds tightly around his body, but neither at such times has anyone been able to notice anything suspicious on the swami.

Now and again before skeptics Sai Baba used to pull up his sleeves as he took objects from nothing.

Comment: What use in fixatlng on his sleeves and clothing when the fraud was achieved by taking objects from other places as attested by several sources He often went alone into the private interview room before calling selected persons in and nearly always exited behind those he had taken in there, often after some time. In those cases he could have taken any small object he intended to give to a selected person.

Haraldsson also says that sometimes he had the opportunity to look up the fairly broad and buttonlcss sleeves of the swami's attire. Never did he observe anything suspicious. Nor has anyone else done so.

But since Haraldsson was not allowed to investigate Sai Baba's person. he can not refute or confirm the illusionist hypothesis. He does not have a sufficient basis to accept the phenomena as genuine, but he stresses that neither he nor his colleagues have found anything to indicate deception.

There is, writes Haraldsson, no clear answer to the question of the phenomena surrounding Sai Baba are genuine. However, there are some perplexing facts which require the question must remain open and may lead to a paranormal interpretation. One thing going for the authenticity of materializations is that so many witnesses for so many years have observed these phenomena without anyone has been able to detect cheating. According to several people who have been with Sai Baba for a long time. the swami has continuously produced objects for more than forty years through magical hand gestures.

Another argument for authenticity is that Sai Baba produces objects under many different circumstances, wherever he happens to be, outside or inside, in a car or on an airplane, during private interviews or before a multitude of people. He also produces items on spontaneous requests. such as fruits that are not found nearby or which are out of season. And he picks figs from any tree. A witness says: "He used to say. 'Pray for what you want, and reach. We opened our hands, was the thing we asked for."

Comment: Sleight-of hand can be less easily noticed by a mass of people, and it can be carried out wherever one has helpers willing to collude to deceive the public. Such a person was Sai Baba's very close servitor Colonel Joga Rao, who was known to most resident Indian ashramites to refute that Sai Baba could do any miracles! They were certainly not going to tell Haraldsson that, or they could have been sent away with nothing as outspoken doubters always were, even if they had dedicated their lives and properties to Sai Baba. I came to know of it first through my close friend and editor of Sai Baba's journal, V.K. Narasimhan, and i was flabbergasted! Joga Rao worked for him nonetheless because he wanted Sai Baba to continue to help provide education, health and other facilities to the abject poor, whatever the cost. Joga Rao and other insider helpers prepared the interview room twice daily for decades and he arranged the famous picnics' where Sai Baba would pull larger objects (gold. silver etc.) from the sand!

Most of Haraldsson's book consists of accounts of different interviewed persons' experiences of Sai Baba‘s miracles. It is emphasised that these testimonies are only examples. There is a great variety of similar data. Witnesses were for the most part are wealthy people who speak good English, businessman and scientists and their families, dignitaries, members of princely families and other well-educated people. (This has been most convenient for Haraldsson, who is English-speaking, to interview people with a good command of the English language)

Sai Baba's teaching

As Erlendur Haraldsson is a parasychologist. he has not been interested in Sai Baba's teaching. Others have accounted for that, but he mentions some of the swami's words. Sai Baba says, among other things, that "everything is one" and that he is God, but that all other people also are God, though they are not aware of it. In the core of our being we all divine. This is traditional Indian Vedantic philosophy.


In his revised edition, where Haraldsson (EH) virtually attacks the critics of Sai Baba, it has not received any positive 'peer reviews' so far but been lauded on-line by a staunch devotee. EH approves the review by Iyer on, but says nothing against this blog writings, (which are well over the top!) The toothless new version is hailed by those who are unwilling to study the facts, as proof of Sai Baba as being the miraculous God-Creator he always claimed to be, as one can see from a comment on and diverse blogs by devotees.

EH makes clear his opinion that the major scientific community has an (sometimes equally hidden or outspoken) agenda/motivation/bias towards paranormal phenomena, especially an afterlife, because consciousness is seen as a product of brain activity. In short, while presenting himself as a scientist, he rejects physicalism in favour of mentalism, even 'spiritualism'. Having devoted himself mainly to parapsychology, he has striven to investigate whether such phenomena can be genuine, claiming a neutral stance at all times. However, it is patently obvious to me, who have known him well over 2 1/2 decades, that his unexpressed motivation - shared with most full-time parapsychologists - has all along been to vindicate, if possible, some decisive claims as to their genuineness. In this he is certain he has succeeded in his extensive investigation of an Icelandic medium in showing that there is some kind of consciousness that survives death.
He has consistently stated that his only interest was to investigate the alleged miracles by Sai Baba, but since it has been definitively shown that he practiced massive deceptions in many other respects - despite whatever one assesses his sexual and murder involvements to have been - this narrowness of interest alleged by EH does not wash. If a person lies and deceives to a huge extent, then can one trust his claims of performing miracles, and, moreover of being the Creator of the Universe, the Deity to who all other deities bend and much else even beyond the fantastic besides? (see
When he first visited Sathya Sai Baba together with another para-psychologist - Karlis Osis - in 1973, they wanted to carry out controlled experiments on Sai Baba's supposed 'miraculous materializations', but were firmly denied any such thing by Sai Baba. Nor was he ever able to get SB to agree to any such thing later. This means that Haraldsson still has no scientific evidence, though he presents his survey of devotees' perceptions and interviews with eye-witnesses of Sai Baba materializations as if it constituted scientific evidence and even empirical data (as such sociological surveys are generally accepted as being, as Professor Eyesenck even suggested in a review of Haraldsson's first edition). However, it is not empirical, but a survey of second-hand observations and their interpretations at best, being gathered overwhelmingly from devotees of Sai Baba who - as such - believed him to be God Incarnate, an avatar of Vishnu, Rama, Krishna and other deities. Virtually all of the Indian devotees believed in the literal truth of the scriptures like the Ramayana, Bhagavatam and Puranas, which are thoroughly mythological and legendary in nature, and they regarded Sai Baba as the main figure in all of these scriptures, which he always claimed to be. Such 'data' from deeply religiously-indoctrinated sources, where massed devotion and an intense group press and extremely strict censorship of questioners and especially critics affected all but the most cynical visitors to the ashrams, is highly suspect. Further, numerous devotees have regularly been exposed as having lied about being blessed by miracles - or given powers by Sai Baba - hoping to to be regarded highly themselves. This 'data' rests on layers of uncertainty and interpretation of perceptions. A considerable number of devotees are claimed to have replicated Sai baba's miracles, as any investigation of the hagiographic literature shows.
Now that thousands of devotees managed to break their dependency on Sai Baba and his fantastic promises (see here) - largely as a result of exposure of his fraud and widely testified sexual abuses - and testified to fraud and criminal deceit by Sai Baba did not interest Haraldsson sufficiently for him to seek to contact, visit or interview any of them, which he well knows could easily have done through those of us who have long had many such contacts. He did not even contact the main whistle-blower on Sai Baba, David Bailey, nor did he listed to the long phone call where David Bailey told of his discoveries of fraud and worse (it has been on-line since 2001Hear David Bailey's account of his discoveries in a phone conversation - or read the transcript). Nor any of the Sai organisation national leaders who left after that. Nor did he take up my suggestion to try to interview Colonel Joga Rao, long the closest person to Sai Baba for decades who I had the most reliable knowledge from authoritative V.K. Narasimhan and others did not believe in Sai Baba miracles, though he was constantly at the side of SB for many years! Nor did he contact the BBC which carried out a major investigation of Sai Baba or even consider the evidence of deception on the film 'Secret Swami' which I sent him. Nor does he examine the video evidence of fraudulent 'materializations' or the reports of dozens of students and other who had access to him. Nonetheless,in preparing his latest edition, he visited the remaining believers in Puttaparthi in 2012, a widely-discredited ashram and post-Sai Baba set-up.

It is therefore methodologically indefensible to have persistently neglected this huge number of constantly emerging 'negative instances' to his hypothesis that there was no evidence of fakery. Haraldsson's rationalisations as to his claimed scientific neutrality are clearly unsupportable.

Haraldsson has admitted his 'non-investigation' when he wrote in an article:-

Of Indian God-Men and Miracle-Makers: The Case of Sathya Sai Baba

"In recent years the number of reported observations has increased which indicate sleight-of-hand. Some students in Baba’s schools and colleges, some of whom he often has as company, have made such allegations. Unfortunately most of these claims have only appeared on the Internet where a war has raged about the genuineness of his phenomena and about his sexual morality. These reports are generally not easy to assess and the author has not interviewed any of these persons personally. There seem, however, increasingly to be reasons to believe that Sai Baba is increasingly using sleight-of-hand. EH also wrote there: "The author has detected fraud in three Indian swamis who claimed to produce physical paranormal phenomena (Haraldsson & Houtkooper, 1994; Haraldsson & Wiseman, 1995, Wiseman & Haraldsson, 1995) but failed to do so with Sai Baba."
EH and KO left their cards with the head of the ashram, Kutumb Rao, and asked for an interview explaining to him they were scientists wanting to investigate the phenomena.  SB knew they were parapsychological 'scientists' since his ashram offices held detailed registers and SB always received early daily reports on any interesting visitors. Next day they received and interview, where SB waved his hand like a magician and produced a standard enamel 'Baba ring' for Osis and a 'double rudraksha' for Haraldsson. Both EH and KO were suspicious that was a clever 'set up'. In the light of SB's devious methods so widely exposed by scores of followers, he most likely planned measures to deceive them so as to get - if possible - their endorsement as scientists. 
In the interview SB introduced an irrelevant element when he referred to a 'double rudraksha'. Haraldsson was then comparatively very new to India and its religious culture so asked what that meant. The reply was unsatisfactory so EH persisted in asking. A likely explanation is that he already had two double rudrakshas under his cushion (even devoted believers have reported his taking objects from behind his cushion) - the one an unadorned 'double' or twin-conjoined rudraksha nut, the other one being the bejewelled variant. By prestidigitation Sai Baba could easily have produced first the one, then drop it out of sight and produce the other after blowing on his closed fist. Sai Baba was a master of misdirecting attention, and all eyes would always follow his every facial expression, such was his command of his audience. Notably, Haraldsson told me (Robert Priddy) that SB advised him not to show the double rudraksha to Indian devotees, for some unclear reason about its deep spiritual significance to them. This in fact ensured that EH was mystified about the ornamented bead and so, despite his investigations at botanical museums and the like, could not find out that such double rudraksha trinkets are not uncommon in Hindu religious circles and there has long been quite a market for them (now also on the Internet). (see further documentation
Despite my urging him to do so, Haraldsson has not taken the slightest pains to re-evaluate his views on this incident in view of the massive evidence of fraud and deception by Sai Baba that has emerged, mainly since 2000. Haraldsson's self-defence is that the counter-evidence and sworn testimonies from scores of reliable former followers has not been academically tested by peer review, though he fondly asserts that his own book has passed that test by virtue of being printed and reviewed by a handful of person interested in seeing proofs of paranormal phenomena.
Haraldsson visited Prashanthi Nilayam on at least two occasions after 2000 hoping to see the so-called 'lingodbhava' (alleged materialisation of the egg-shaped Shiva lingam in his stomach, ejected through the mouth). He told me he saw it once from a distance and his view was obscured the other time. As a parapsychological researcher who claims to have been instructed by stage magicians, he did not detect fraud even from the BBC film of the failed attempt in 2002. It appears from his writings he did not know that Houdini developed the trick of swallowing and regurgitating a large egg-shaped object (, a feat that is still performed by magicians and has been seen and also even filmed by fakirs on the streets in India? (see video clip of this  That he visited, well knowing that he would not be allowed to get any new evidence and despite it being Houdini's invention, strongly indicates his degree of ignorance of it in current stage magic and by street fakirs. Further, he never commented on Swami Premananda's production from the mouth of Shivalingams on Shivarathri (link), even though he concluded that this guru was faking the materialisation of 'holy ash'. See also Swami School! Learn Tricks of the Trade to materialize holy ash, linga and laddu, out of thin Air!)
4) Issues & evidence Haraldsson signally failed to address. Firstly, it has been shown indisputably that various 'manifested' objects SB (usually claimed to be unique) are found on sale in various countries and even on-line. These include: 
 a) The alleged crucifix from original wood of the cross.'materialised'_for_Dr._John_Hislop.htm
 b) Alleged 'green diamonds' produced from thin air. The stones are synthetic sapphires of low value and the rings with them are on sale at many jewellers in Bangalore and other cities in India, a fact that EH never discovered. Moreover, he showed minimal interest when I told him of how I had the "green diamond" ring I was given by SB assayed at a top professional jeweller (as he also did in all the serious charge against SB of which I informed him time and again during his visits and by e-mails).
 c) The 'tiny Bible' SB claimed he materialised at Christmas
 d) Wrist watches including Seiko, Citizen and a large range of other known makes. Haraldsson did not take notice of the well-known investigations of the Seiko watch which SB claimed to have materialised and which was definitively proven by the efforts of Abraham Kovoor and B. Pemanand to be untrue.
 e) the above are but a few of the many 'negative instances' affecting the EH hypothesis that Sai Baba was not a complete fraud.
Secondly, among interesting relevant facts that bear on Sai Baba's alleged 'miracles', never mentioned as a critical point by EH in any of his work, is that the same 'miracles' are repeatedly done by numerous other gurus, especially since 2000 by gurus who replicate them in exact detail.  Photos of these acts, some of which show the guru in the same poses, clothing and camera angles, are widely distributed (see This indicates that what believers report about miracles are the result of the same indoctrination and fraudulence with which Sai Baba was widely charged. Perhaps most imitative of these various lookalike and 'actalike' gurus - apart from the deceased Swami Premananda who EH did partially expose - is Bala Sai Baba (who has an almost identical organisation to Sai Baba's, with the same activities and social projects). Had EH been far better acquainted with the huge literature on Indian mahatmas, tantrics, swamis, gurus, seers, godmen, 'spiritual masters', avatars, fakirs and the layer upon layer of their handed-down manipulative and deceptive techniques, he may not have been so transfixed on surveying the blind aspirants' accounts of miracles of Sai Baba.

Concluding: Erlendur Haraldsson, who I have knew well over a period of more than two decades, actually had a relatively limited experience of Sathya Sai Baba, having had relatively few interviews spread over 30 years, and none at all after 1988. The dissidents who subsequently exposed Sai Baba, none of whom Haraldsson deigned to contact, include many who have had very extensive contact with Sai Baba, amounting together to many hundreds of interviews and thousands of other contacts with him. For example, a former favourite who later exposed SB, David Bailey, had more than 100 interviews, top Organisation leaders like the leader in Australia, Terry Gallagher, plus very active social workers like Conny Larsson (over 50 interviews). Nor did Haraldsson have access to V.K. Narasimhan the famous former Hindu and Indian Express journalist who - to my shock - eventually enlightened me about Sai Baba's secret life and deceits. His investigations were intensive only in the 1970s when he interviewed many devotees (overwhelmingly religious and poorly educated local persons) about their experiences with - and interpretations of - Sathya Sai Baba as a miracle maker. Of his claimed 19 visits to India (not all to see Sai Baba), the longish ones were mostly made when collecting testimony from devotees, but after I first met him they were much more of the whistle-stop kind, a maximum of a week and often just days. Haraldsson remained wholly uninvolved and uninterested in the entire spiritual and service activities of the ashrams, and was therefore never able to attend meetings in the Sathya Sai organisation or privy to information from other institutions, all of which were always kept strictly secret within tested and trusted circles. He could make no study the strict methods of control and censorship of the followers, nor observe across time the many known psychopatic/sociopathic features Sai Baba exhibited, though he recognised tha Sai Baba was "a primadonna" who said anything he liked, whether true, false, contradictory or mythomanic. Further, I can attest from numerous conversations with him that his background in Indian scripture and history of gurus, whether bearing on miracles or on the extensive theologically-oriented philosophy around them, is sadly lacking in any depth. He was hardly acquainted with the Vedantic literature on 'illumined masters' from Adi Shankara to Ramakrishna, Yogananda, Vivekananda, Aurobindo and scores of figures famed as 'miracle men' of India, let alone the main scriptures of Hinduism. Nor did he know virtually anything about tantrism and its practitioners, or siddhi yogis in India. He had no insight into the many penetrating works of Mircea Eliade, Paul Brunton, or the major exposer of Indian fraud, corruption and bribery, the highly-awarded polymath Nirad C. Chauduri. He was clearly unaware of the layers upon layers of information that have to be known in order to assess any current Indian spiritual claims.
Read about Haraldsson's own e-mails showing how he sticks to an amoral cover-up of knowledge he had of pedophilia by Sai Baba already decades ago. Haraldsson's own revealing e-mails published. His reason is that he is only interested in miracles and fraud, but he is not interested in fraud because he has ignored the testimony over over 1000 persons of which I informed him without his wanting to follow it up, many leaders in the Sathya Sai Baba Organisation, who he avoided trying to contact because it would have shown him to have himself been taken in.  
A thoroughgoing and extensive examination of Erlendur Haraldsson's failures throughout his study of Sathya Sai Baba is found Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson's many failures and failings in respect of Sathya Sai Baba

See the report on Haraldsson's latest edition by a Dutch psychologist: Professor Haraldsson's final verdict on Sathya Sai Baba and his Western critics

See how Professor of Biology, University of London, Lewis Wolpert, viewed the claims of 'scientists' to credit Sai Baba's materialization 'miracles'.

Erlendur Haraldsson Breaks his Silence on Sathya Sai Baba's Final Decade review and critical comments  by Brian Steel