University of Iceland, Faculty of Social science,

101, Reykjavik, Iceland, Tel.: 354-1 694300.

Mr. Dale Beyerstein, Department of Psychology,

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T IW5.

October 21, 1988.

Dear Mr. Beyerstein:

Thank you for your letter of Oct. 5th and the interesting material enclosed. Has the review you were going to write about my book been published? If so please send me a copy of it or let me know where it has been published. I have just returned from six weeks overseas so I must be very brief.

I notice that you are getting seriously interested in Sai Baba's phenomena. It is very difficult to get even a very rough notion about Sai baba and the setting in which he operates, and the cultural differences between North America/Europe on one side and India on the other, which must also be taken into account without visiting India and without being something of an anthropologist exercising participant observation. If you have the possibility, make a trip to Puttaparti, get to know the situation there, and get personally to know some of those who truly have some first hand experiences of Sai Baba.

Premanand with whom I have had some correspondence, unfortunately, has practically no first hand observations. Do you find anywhere in his writings a detailed description of any production of objects like I and Dr.Osis have described our rudraksha and ring incidences? To display Sai Baba simply/only as some sort of a rogue is far too simplistic and really ridiculous to practically anyone who has had even a slight aquaintance with him. Sai Baba is a very complex and multi-faceted personality.

I could only spend two weeks in India. I met Dr. Narasimhaiah whom I hold in high respect. He did not think it would be worthwhile for me to spend two days visiting Premanand, such was the quality of his work. His committee is practically unknown in India, whereas Narasimhaiah's Miracle Committee received national attention, also because of the quality of its members.

The Seiko watch story is still only heresay and there seem to be many editions of it. No one has published a checked and verfied account of it, and because of previous experience of similar stories I would distrust any of them till they are properly verfied. One cannot use these unverified second hand stories as argument for anything until they have been verified. What about you trying to check it out? It might be an interesting learning experience for someone who does not know India and the fertile ground of myth-making that exists in Indian ashrams and is also naturally abundantly watered by the enigmatic phenomena around Sai Baba. It might also teach you a lesson about now careful/careless Indians tend to be when it comes to thoroughness and exactness of even a rudimentary inquiry.

I now just returned from India where I had not been for 5 years. To my great surprise I obtained two interviews with Sai Baba. In one of them SB produced an exquisite golden watch beset with many jewels to an Indian lady, evidently much attached to him. Unfortunately she was not willing to let me examine the watch apart from just looking at it unless SB would let her know that he permitted it. This was the end of my few days stay in Puttaparti and there was no way for me to contact SB about it.

As I was in Puttaparti some 2000-3000 people were waiting and hoping to get an interview with him. My estimate is that only 1 to at most 5% of those who come to Puttaparti and want an interview get it. The crowd is such that there simply is no way for Sai Baba to see them all. That Sorcar did not get an interview can not be used as an argument for anything knowing the actual situation in Puttaparti, and the way SB selects people for interviews. He just picks them out as he passes people sitting in rows, and in the majority of those he picks he probably neither knows or cares about their names are who they are. Not revealing your identity, as Premanand states somewhere, really is irrelevent. SB does not select people on the basis of a list of names given to him. Then of course there are those that he has met earlier (I fell into that group this time) and he always picks some of them.

He made several comments about my book, some of them specific and which I will deal with when the time comes for a revised edition. He did not mention the Cowan case. His comments do not require any basic changes. To my surprise he had read my book, perhaps because he had an accident in the fall and was bedridden for some time.

Richard Bock died in Los Angeles. He had suffered from a heart problem for some time and apparently overstrained himself when moving his office from LA over to his home in the Valley. There was nothing mysterious about his death as far as I know.

As far as I know Premanand has not hauled the Sai organization into court. His gold act case was rejected by the courts.

From what journal or news letter is the letter from Hislop that you mailed to me. Where could I get a copy?

I must stop now though I have barely started to respond to your letter.

Best regards,

Erlendur Haraldsson.

The University of Regensburg neither approves nor disapproves of the opinions expressed here. They are solely the responsibility of the person named below.


Last update: 8 July 1998