Mr. David Christopher Lane,

July 17, 1988.

Del Mar Press, P.O.Box 3508, Del Mar, CA 92014.

Dear David:

It was very kind of you to send me the Research Issue of your most excellent journal, UNDERSTANDING CULTS AND SPIRITUAL MOVEMENTS. Many thanks.

The truth or untruth of the Cowan affair has been a sleeper until the publication of Dr.Heraldsson's book, MODERN MIRACLES. I doubt if the differences of opinion about the Cowan resurrection will ever be resolved in a way that is generally satisfactory. Dr. Heraldsson's conclusion is that the story is false because there is no objective evidence that Cowan died, and that statements made about the incident are themselves false. On the other hand, unless I am to be considered as either lying or in error when I quoted Sathya Sai Baba, there is the other side. Since I did quote Sathya Sai Baba correctly-- there being several conversations between us on the topic-- it really boils down to the issue of whether or not Sathya Sai Baba was lying. Dr. Heraldsson's conclusion has to be taken, I believe, that because of statements made by the hospital's doctor and by Judge Damodar Rao the proper conclusion is that Cowan did not die and therefore Baba lied when he told me (and others) that Cowan had died and had been brought back to life, not once only but on three occasions. I do not see how this inference can be escaped.

I believe you will agree, David, that a definitive conclusion by a scientist should include all pertinent evidence even though a preliminary conclusion might remain after all the evidence was in. Dr. Heraldsson's investigation was shallow indeed since no questions were directed to the remaining principal participant, Sathya Sai Baba, even though Dr. Heraldsson had a number of interviews with Baba. The second principal participant, Walter Cowan, is long dead, but there is his testimony which has been published and which can be consulted, I am sure, by applying to Sathya Sai Book Centre of America, Box 278, Tustin, CA 92681. This was Mrs. Cowan's enterprise.

Even though it is not a personal issue to me, for I believe Sathya Sai Baba said the truth only, yet I have to acknowledge responsibility for this emerging problem (which will probably have eternal life) since the problem comes into print now because of me. In itself, Cowan's resurrection was no 7-day wonder at the time. It came to the attention of some of the people at the large conference being held in Madras, but the next day brought other interests, and "miracles" from Baba were a daily event anyway, and such play from Swami was familiar to everyone. About a month after the event, Mr.Cowan asked me to record my memory of what happened. To that memo, Walter Cowan added his personal experience and the combination was then published by Mrs. Cowan. This multipage pamphlet then found its way to everywhere with the result we are now seeing.

Two points placed into emphasis by Dr.Heraldsson were the denials of the doctor at the hospital in Madras and the denial of Judge Damodar Rao. Mrs. Cowan told me that the doctor came to her at her hotel and demanded that she provide him with a ticket and with sponsorship to the USA. This she would not do and, according to her, the doctor's denials arose thereafter. Judge Damodar Rao is a fine Indian gentleman, respected and admired by everyone who knows him. His son is the Principal of the Sathya Sai Men's College at Whitefield. The Judge and his wife, long-time devotees of Sathya Sai Baba, are now living their retirement years in Baba's Ashram, Prasanthi Nilayam, at Puttaparti. I do not see how Judge Damodar's statement and mine can ever be reconciled. When Dr.Heraldsson asked the Judge, some thirteen or fourteen years after the incident, the Judge's memory was as stated in Dr.Heraldsson's book. When I set forth my account, about a month after the event, my memory was that the Judge told me he had independently gone to the hospital the day following Cowan's death and verified the circumstances of his admittance to the hospital. How can I now deny my memory of that time, and how can the Judge deny his present memory? Neither is possible. Each of us is saying the truth to the best of his knowledge. Thus, I can see no end to the different stories about Walter Cowan's "resurrection".

The one very large gap in Dr. Heraldsson's thesis is his failure to question Sathya Sai Baba, the principal protagonist in the resurrection of Walter Cowan. I hope he will do so and let us know the outcome.

Why not you, David, as an impartial investigative reporter, challenge Dr.Haraldsson to even at this late date provide the missing and essential evidence? I do acknowledge, of course, that the matter may not be of continuing interest to you.

Thanks again for the Journal, and for our past communications.

Sincerely yours,

Hislop.


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Last update: 8 July 1998