Sathya Sai Baba
Sathya Sai Baba (born likely on 23 Nov. 1926 - 24 April 2011 ) was India's most famous
magician miracle monger.  He was also a Godman and a religious leader. He is the founder of the Sathya Sai Organization which has 1,200 centers in 114 countries.
There is a worldwide movement known as Sathya Sai Baba movement with approximately 6 to 100 million adherents. The high inaccuracy may stem from the tendency of the movement to inflate numbers to increase its perceived importance, but also because the movement has no clear boundaries.
In spite of his popularity, no serious biography of him exists. His late secretary N. Kasturi wrote a hagiography of him. This is a hagiography in the original, literal sense of the word i.e. not just an uncritical biography. Most writings about Baba are based on this hagiography.
Born as Sathya Narayana Raju in a poor Indian village, he used his cleverness to fool the people and became a Godman and fraudster. Apart from the fraud allegations, Baba has also been also accused of sexual abuse and pedophilia.
There are claims by his followers that he performs the following miracles:
- Materialise vibuthi, or holy ash. See this to know the trick behind this. Also see this where a rationalist is doing the same.
- Materialise rings, gold statues, necklaces and watches. (WOW! Why people bother buying expensive necklaces and watches. Just ask Baba for a necklace or watch when you need one. And why there is poverty? All governments should contact Baba for gold statues to give those to the poor)
- Controlling the weather. (There will be no devastation and death from cyclone. Just ask Baba to control the weather and there will be no cyclone! Not sure why Baba did not receive the Noble Prize till now.)
- Resurrect people from the dead
- Heal sick people.
- Changing water into petrol
However, Sai Baba stated that he refused to make grand changes in world, claiming that this would disrupt the karmic flow of events, though he claims that he has the power to do so.
Skeptics argue that the burden of proof for the miracles is on Sathya Sai Baba because he claims to break natural law. Devotees reply that no deity has ever subjected himself or can reasonably expected to subject himself to testing in a controlled environment.
The ashrams where he stays (Prashanti Nilayam in Puttarpathi and Brindavan, in Whitefied/Kadugodi) have thousands of visitors if he is there. A very important activity there is his darshan (seeing of the guru) which includes hours of waiting before he shows up.
His miracles have been studies by the parapsychologist Erlendur Haraldsson, based on interviews with witnesses because Sathya Sai Baba did not allow Haraldsson to investigate him from nearby. This has been likened by Hari Sampath, a former member of the security department of Sai Baba's main ashram, to a doctor who is not allowed to come near his patient, in other words, one can not come to an informed opinion in such a way.
The philosophy professor Dale Beyerstein compared Sai Baba's claims with a lengthy literature study of Sai Baba's miracles. His personal conclusion based on the statement that exceptional claims need exceptional evidence was that Sai Baba did not provide sufficient evidence for his exceptional claims.
Other prominent persons who have exposed Sathya Sai Baba include David C. Lane (a noted figure in the anti-cult movement), Indian rationalist Abraham Kovoor, physicist H. Narasimhaiah, and above all rationalist Basava Premanand who was the founder of the Indian Skeptic. Apart from that, he has also been criticized by the former follower Tal Brooke who became a conservative Christian and many other former followers. Brooke continued to believe fully in his ability for perform miracles and considered him the Antichrist.
He teaches the unity of religions and claims that all religions lead to God. His teachings are an eclectic form of Hinduism. The anthropologist Lawrence Babb noted that his followers in New Delhi tend to come from the modern, educated, cosmopolitan middle and higher classes.Babb also noticed that devotees tend to see Sai Baba's hands everywhere in their lives, in a reversal of Max Webers's disenchantment of the world. For Indians the personal relationship with Sai Baba makes a person a follower, believing in Sai Baba's miracles is a necessary but insufficient condition: some Indians dismiss Baba's miracles as mere siddhis, acquired magical powers which they do not see as proof of divinity.
Sathya Sai Baba and his followers claimed that he would die after the age of 90. After he passed away when only 84 years old followers claimed that Sathya Sai Baba meant lunar years instead of calendar years and that hence the prediction turned out to be correct anyway. Sathya Sai Baba always used calendar years in his discourses and his birthday was always celebrated on the 23rd of November. He received a state funeral.
- Site devoted to expose the person behind the mask
- Site exposing the fraudster
- Entry in The Skeptic's Dictionary
- ↑ http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Miracles+Godman+just+simple+tricks/4626975/story.html
- ↑ He claims to be a reincarnation of the Shirdi Sai Baba (18??-1918). Unlike most other gurus, his claims of divinity are unambiguous and explicit. 
- ↑ MAJOR EXPOSURE OF ALLEGED SEXUAL ABUSES BY SATHYA SAI BABA
- ↑  Click the "Pictures" section, then click "Inside the Ashram" section, notice the humour used by the author Baba is just very fond of young boys in the caption of this image
- ↑ full English text available online
- Hummel, Reinhart German article published in Materialdienst der de:Evangelische_Zentralstelle_für_Weltanschauungsfragen, 47 Jahrgang, 1 February 1984, Translation by Linda W. Duddy and is reprinted by their permission, available online on the website of the Dialog Center, a Christian Anti-Cult Site: "[..] Sai Baba has an unrivaled reputation as a miracle worker. He »materializes« watches, talismans, sweets, flowers, crucifixes, books, photographs, and, above all, holy ashes (vibhuti) with a wave of the hand. Miraculous cures with help from the ashes, or from Baba himself as the surgeon, and even the resurrecting of the dead are attributed to him."
- ↑ Bowen, David The Sathya Sai Baba Community in Bradford: Its origins and development, religious beliefs and practices. Leeds: University Press. (1988) , based on his dissertation of 1985 page 256-257 "The nub of the crucial problem for those who apply themselves to theology lies in the fact that the gods, by definition, have not been subject themselves to testing under controlled conditions. [...]To be subject to laboratorial testing is to be accessible, to be manipulable, to be no more than an extension, if not of man himself then of the pnysical [sic] world of which he is the steward. It would be to abdicate the from the concept of deity as that on which all else is contingent.[ ..]" page 257 "Sceptics might argue that the onus of proof must rest on the believers, since it is their claim that the observed laws of science are being transcended. The believers, however, will counter that there are factors involved which by definition, are not amenable to such proving."
- ↑ http://www.scribd.com/doc/39951876/Sathya-Sai-Baba-Debunked
- ↑ Babb, Redemptive Encounters' 1986, pages 160, 167, 174