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.

Dear Mr. Beyerstein: April 6, 1988.

Thank you for your letter. I have just returned from a couple of weeks stay in the USA, hence my late reply.

1) My statement that Sai Baba "was not a man of science" was not primarily based on his refusal to participate in experiments, but is rather a description of his general approach and the values he seems to cherish, which are more like that of a religious preacher than a scientist. Considering that Sai Baba did not finish high school he does not seem particularly uninformed but his understanding of science seems at best quite shallow. He is definitely a shrewd and intelligent man and my guess is that he would have been able to study up to a university level if he had tried to.

2) My last visit to India was in 1983 and I finished the book about that time. Much time was spent trying to find a publisher. It was first published in a German translation in 1986, an English edition appeared in 1987 and the USA edition in January this year. I had long discussions with Dr. Narasimhaiah and members of his committee and the name of Premanand simply never came up at that time. I inquired about other critics but even then Premanand's name was not mentioned, but Dr.Kovoor's name was very familiar to me and anyone interested in the controversy about Sai Baba. Premanand's work and his committee (when was it founded?) was, I believe, was very little if not practically unknown in the seventies and early eighties when my research and writing took place. Dr. Narasimhaiah's contribution and his "Miracle Committee" were widely publicised and known to almost everyone. If Narasimhaiah or other members of his committee had known about Premanand's work and found it relevant or substantial in any way I am surprised why they did not tell me about it or bring it up in our discussions. I would certainly have tried to meet him on one trip I made to Podanur. Unfortunately Premanand does not seem to have had any direct contact with Baba or opportunities to observe him at close range. My interest was primarily for those who had first hand experiences and observations.

3) You mention the Seiko watch materialization. I thought there had been a few of them. No, I have not heard of Sam Dalal. I would appreciate if you would give me his address or give me a reference to his contribution. Did he make some first hand observations? I have seen Sai Baba give forth brand-marked objects but never a watch. Once out in the open walking his rounds a retarded child in the group started to get loud and disturbing. He then threw to the young boy a toffee that silenced him. Immediately afterwards I saw the paper it was wrapped in. It was a well-known brand produced in Bombay.

4) I know very well of Neelakantha Baba Tataji. I never met him but knew well one close associate of his, a physician in Bombay who later left him. He believed that Tataji had had some paranormal powers but then lost them and become involved in fraud. I never learned of any association between Sai Baba and him - although Tataji in some ways resembled Sai Baba. Tataji had very much his own group around him.

Karlis Osis and I made our study of the bilocation evidence in 1974-75. I do not recall ever hearing that Tataji was associated with this case although his dress and some of the things he was reported to do (on a much smaller scale though) resembled that of Sai Baba. Their looks however are clearly different.

Tataji was one of a group of swamis I termed minibabas. I found or heard of a few of them. They were reported to produce either vibuti, small objects or both and more. I found two of them clearly engaged in fraud. There was no evidence to indicate that any of them had any kind of affiliation with Sai Baba. Indian Swamis are usually at least as competitive as electronic church leaders in America, probably even more, so.

5) I have not sent Sai Baba a copy of the book. I have not had any comment from him (nor do I expect any) or from any of his devotees regarding the Cowan case although my impression is that some of them may believe in some conspiracy theory on part of the physicians who attended Mr. Cowan to keep "the facts" hidden. On the other hand one devotee, Richard Bock, who led the SAI foundation in Los Angeles and who also tried to investigate the case several years ago, seemed last january when I met him in Los Angeles to have come to the same conclusion as I did. Dr. Hislop I have not met or heard from for many, many years.

I appreciate your interest. I would be happy to learn of any comments or facts important or relevant to the contents of my book as I hope at a later time to be able to revise it for a second edition.

With best regards,

Yours sincerely,

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