OPEN FORUM - An Explanation

Times of India, 28-11-1976 P:8

I have carefully read "Of Scientists and Godmen," (September 12). The writer talks of an earlier article written by him on Sai Baba that was followed by an article allegedly written by me in a mass-circulation weekly and states that he is quoting from my article.

He goes on to give a long passage in quotations about the visit of a watch manufacturer of Japan to Puttaparthi. He also states that he had written to me some letters of which I have no knowledge. I heard earlier that such a story was being circulated about me but since it appeared that some people were getting innocent pleasure in repeating his fantastically untrue story, and others in listening to it, I did not think it worth while making any public statement about it.

Since the story has now appeared in your newspaper, I am writing to you expressing my utter surprise as none of what is contained in quotations, and allegedly written by me, had even been written by me or even spoken by me at any place. The first time I heard of a Seiko watch manufacturer visiting Puttaparthi and my writing about this 'wonderful experience' is through such cooked-up reports.

Nevertheless, an individual purportedly quotes from what he considers to be my writing and appears to be so sure about it that he takes the trouble of making detailed enquiries. I began scratching my head to see if there could be a possible explanation for such an error of judgment.

I recall that some years ago, a friend from Kerala sent me what he called an English translation of an article that appeared in Malayalam in one of the local papers containing an account of several miracles said to have been performed by Baba, and asked me if I had written that or any portion of it. I promptly replied that Malayalam is not my mother tongue, that I could not write in the language and moreover the contents were so fantastic, untrue and unrelated to my experience that I could not have written anything even remotely like it in either English or in any other language. Presumably, someone wrote that and put my name on the article and published it in Malayalam.

Possibly, the present writer thinks I had written it and is quoting from that, or a similar hoax perpetrated in my name. I can find no other explanation. I am not the author of the story regarding the visit of a Japanese watch manufacturer to Puttaparthi.

S. Bhagavantam, Bangalore.

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Last update: 8 July 1998