Monday, July 18, 2016

How and why I became a whistleblower and publicly named and exposed few persons in Sai university

Last updated on 20th July 2016

Given below are mail extracts (my content only; significantly edited) from a mail exchange in May 2016 I had with a correspondent who had been supportive of me via his mail responses during my challenging days of March to June 2012 when I was fighting Sai university administrators via an email campaign for justice. I would like to publicly thank him for this support. [For details on the latter, please see my post, My May 2012 service record & record tampering related correspondence with Sai university (SSSIHL) administrators, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2015/11/my-may-2012-service-record-record.html, published in Nov. 2015.]

BTW this mail exchange was triggered by my blog post, Indian Supreme Court rejects petition arguing criminal defamation law as unconstitutional; Defamation law in India, http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2016/05/indian-supreme-court-rejects-petition.html, dated May 2016, whose contents I had sent to him over email.

In 2011-12 in my mail campaigns (there were some other mails besides the March to June 2012 mails mentioned above), I had limited myself to PRIVATE mails shared with colleagues and few friends but not on the Internet. Even that was viewed as inappropriate by some, including another person who also was shown FALSELY as Teaching Assistant who had left the Sai university and moved out of Puttaparthi a few months after Mahasamadhi (bodily passing away of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in April 2011). But as I had been informed either directly or by reliable sources, how senior faculty (--snip--) had been viciously humiliated by Naren Ramji (Registrar) and Sashidhara Prasad (vice-chancellor) in the months & year following Mahasamadhi (April 2011), I could not help but humiliate them back, PRIVATELY, using my designation issue. The vice-chancellor, Sashidhara Prasad, called me for a meeting through his PA in Jun/Jul 2012 (after I had finished my mail campaign which exhaustively documented my record tampering case and my services rendered to the Sai university), ostensibly on another matter I had raised related to an academic paper I wanted to publish with student feedback information included in it. I showed my contempt for them by refusing to meet him and asked for a written response instead. The PA was shocked; perhaps no other faculty/staff of Sai university would dare to refuse to meet the VC and ask for a written response! I did not get any written response, as expected. But my contempt for them had been well conveyed.

Once that was done, I felt I had done my duty bit to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba by putting up a PRIVATE fight for Sathya (Truth) & Dharma (Ethical behaviour) in the Sai university. I felt that insisting on an apology from the Sai university and demanding a proper service record from them was not appropriate, for a Sai spiritual aspirant, and would not be approved by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

I switched off from Sai university stuff (in mid 2012), and moved on to a new life in outside ashram Puttaparthi as an Indian CS & IT (Computer Science & Information Technology) academic reform activist-blogger, blogger on spirituality & religion, and focused on leading a spiritual recluse type of life.

After around two years, in May-June of 2014, Muddenahalli group started its really weird stuff of publicly giving Darshan, interview and discourses of a so called subtle body of Sathya Sai, which was invisible and inaudible to everybody except a so called communicator who claimed to be able to see and communicate with it, Madhusudhan Rao Naidu, and which was PUBLICLY endorsed by Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy, Shri Indulal Shah, Mr. Isaac Tigrett and others including Prof. G.V. Prabhakar Rao (GVP), former faculty of my former dept., Dept. of Mathematics & Computer Science (DMACS), of the Sai university. GVP had had a lot of personal proximity to Bhagavan as, in the past (before I moved to Parthi in Oct. 2002) he used to walk behind Swami during darshan round for some years perhaps, and was then viewed as a sort of close assistant to Swami besides being faculty at the university campus. This Muddenahalli group weird stuff seems to have been privately endorsed at that time, May-June 2014 onwards, by then vice-chancellor Sashidhara Prasad (he publicly endorsed it the very next day after he stepped down from VC post of Sai university in Nov. 2014, by sitting on stage in Muddenahalli group's celebrations of Bhagavan's birthday then). To my utter surprise, in the months following the May 2014 dramatic events of Muddenahalli group, I started hearing that many (but not all) Parthi Sai devotees including ashram staff & university staff & hospital staff, are flocking there!

This forced me to get involved with Sai university affairs again. Rumours began to float that the VC, Sashidhara Prasad, believes in Madhusudan Rao Naidu too (besides Narasimhamurthy's dreams). Many people in Administrative block as well as among faculty, for whom Sashidhara Prasad had become a godlike figure as he had pushed through sixth pay commission increase for all regular employees, and regularization on payscale for many juniors, in Jul/Aug. 2011, resulting in dramatic jump in their salaries, started believing in or at least showing support for Madhusudan Rao Naidu's claims. Note that Sathya Sai in his public discourses had repeatedly advised devotees NOT to believe in such claims made by mediums and communicators. So, essentially, what the Raja/King (VC, Sashidhara Prasad) of the Sai university was doing was followed by the Praja/subjects (staff including faculty)!!!

A few faculty privately disagreed but were TERRIFIED of saying so publicly as they feared getting into the bad books of the VC! I had come to the above assessment a few months into the second half of 2014 (say August/Sept. 2014), based on inquiries I made with some staff in the university, and others in Puttaparthi. Now by Aug/Sep. 2014 I had come out of the Sai staff mode, and was back into the regular India world in which I had spent most of the first four decades of my life (in low-nonsense-tolerance, practical and quite democratic Mumbai/Bombay). Further, I was following a lot of prominent cases of injustice in India and in democratic countries of the West, and how people reacted to injustice and fought for justice. I had also read/viewed about history of dictatorship/power abuse in countries like Russia under Stalin, North Korea, Libya under Gaddafi ... as well as domineering kind of leaders like the cyclist Lance Armstrong and even --snip-- of BCCI/IPL.

It was clear as daylight to me that SSSIHL had been hijacked by Sashidhara Prasad & Narasimhamurthy, and that they had done a superb purge of anybody who had dared to oppose them aggressively, which would have made Stalin proud. Now the people who had fought Stalin and Lance Armstrong and --snip--, basically had to name them and criticize them for their wrong actions. Unless they had done that people would not have realized the mistakes of these people! As simple as that. The effective whistleblower has to name people and not just limit himself/herself to criticism of ideas which makes it only an intellectual exercise without giving anybody proof of wrongdoing that can hold up in an official investigation.

Sometime in Aug/Sep. 2014 I came to know that Sashidhara Prasad was shortly going to finish his VC term and that a shortlist had been made of new VC candidates. V. Chandrasekaran, HOD of DMACS, was one of the names shortlisted to be vice-chancellor of the Sai university!!! I freaked out!!!

Meanwhile I had also studied how democracies like the USA go through a PUBLIC vetting process before appointing key persons in USA government (e.g. head of Federal Reserve Bank, Treasury Secretary). I realized the importance of this, many times unpleasant, PUBLIC vetting process, as a mechanism to weed out flawed candidates from sitting in very powerful positions in USA govt. whose decisions may have tremendous impact on millions of USA citizens.

While I had not yet started my publicly name wrongdoers approach, I felt I need to do my bit of exposing Chandrasekaran's flaws as candidate for vice-chancellor and so I sent out private mails about it.

Eventually, an IISc. prof. of Material Science, K.B.R. Verma, who was not a Sai devotee, was made VC in Nov. 2014 (replacing Sashidhara Prasad), at a salary of Rs. 2 Lakhs per month (some say it is higher). Note that all earlier VCs during my stint in the Sai university from Jan. 2003 to Mar. 2012 were providing FREE SERVICE.

I was very relieved to know that somehow V. Chandrasekaran was not made vice-chancellor as that, in my considered view, would have been disastrous for the Sai university. I do not know whether my private mails at that time, being critical of Chandrasekaran, played any role in the final decision. In all probability, it may have not even been seen by the decision makers. Still, I felt as if I had done my bit to prevent a powermonger and unethical fellow who also seems to be very wealthy and uses wealth to buy influence, being made VC of the Sai university.

By end 2014 I had become a noted voice in the Sai fraternity through my much visited blog post on Muddenahalli, posted in July 2014 (Radio Sai article on recent Swami (Sathya Sai Baba) subtle form appearance controversy, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2014/07/radio-sai-article-on-recent-swami.html) which became a top Google Search result link for Muddenahalli subtle body searches, and where my view was that the service work being done by them is fine but "the claim that Swami is going to reside in Muddenahalli (and Kodaikanal) in His subtle form till He becomes 96 years old (solar calendar) (and provide discourses, darshan and instructions through chosen intermediaries), seems to me to be something related to the imagination of some very devoted and senior Sai devotee-leaders. I personally prefer to pray to Swami directly for divine direction (and help, many times :)) rather than go to an intermediary." So I was able to influence opinion to some small extent in the Sai devotee fraternity through my blog!!! This was quite a new experience and somewhat of a shock to me. But I realized that it was a responsibility that I should take up and not shirk.

Slowly I moved into a LIMITED reformer mode. While most of my (public) posts were about issues that needed to be addressed in ashram setups, I would not criticize any current people by name.

Meanwhile I also realized that I was not spiritually evolved enough to forgive Sashidhara Prasad, Naren Ramji and Chandrasekaran (without them apologizing and seeking my forgiveness) for their power abuse and humiliation actions against me. I realized that given my current level of spiritual evolution I wanted justice like most people in the regular world want justice. Like most people in the regular world, I was willing to forgive only after these three fellows acknowledged their power abuse and humiliation actions against me, repented for it and sought my forgiveness. I have in the past sought forgiveness of those who I had wronged intentionally or inadvertently. That brought closure to the issue, at least for me. So I expected the same from these three fellows. This was very different (say in end 2014/early 2015) from how I thought about it in 2011-12! I (i.e. my mind-personality; different from changeless Atma) had changed!

But how could I get justice? Was I willing to file a case in Penukonda court that would force these fellows to come clean in court and then apologize to me? No, I was not willing to do that as it not only would cost me lot of money and time, but I would then have had to leave Puttaparthi and move back to Dombivli/Mumbai where I could get some moral and other support from family & friends. Going to court is considered to be a very serious step in India and can invite very strong retaliation from the targets, especially if the targets are wealthy and politically powerful. And the very idea of going to court or the police station on a matter involving an institution founded by and bearing the name of my beloved Guru, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, was, and still is, anathema to me.

So I decided to follow the publicly name and expose approach by PUBLICLY documenting what they have done and naming them. As I put up my name and expose public blog posts and Facebook posts (those facebook posts got lot more visibility in Sai fraternity than blog posts) as well as mails to my mailing group, I expected some negative reactions and even threats. A few alumni staff and one non-alumni staff, in the university and the ashram, gave me dirty looks; one tried to brush his body against me (I think he lightly brushed his body against me but I don't recall it very clearly now, though I recall his aggressive posture towards me during those days, quite well) as I came down the steps of Sai Surya hotel (outside PN ashram). I exercised regularly, ate well and walked aggressively whenever I saw these fellows, showing them that I am willing to fight them, if it comes to that. What I had realized quite early in life was that, in such matters, far more than physical muscle power and strength, it is the mindset of a fighter that scares opponents. So even if I was on the thinner side, I showed them that I am willing to use all my strength and energy, (and also whatever spiritual power/thought wave power that I have), to fight them, if it came to that.

[Don't forget that it was four Sai university students/alumni in 1993 that knifed Swami's close servitor Radhakrishna, another Sai university alumnus, to death due to jealousy of his closeness to Swami and powerful position which, I was told, included power over some money matters. These four student/alumni attackers were later shot dead by the police.]

I was prepared to be beaten and even killed for these publicly name and expose posts, and even for my private critical of Chandrasekaran mails earlier around Aug/Sep. 2014. I had even written in private mails critical of Chandrasekaran around Aug/Sep 2014, that I was willing to be martyred like the apostles of Jesus who became the first Christian martyrs. I am quite sure these Aug/Sep 2014 private mails of mine would have got read by some of the guys in positions of power in the Sai university then. My physically fit and aggressive walk sent out the clear message to the few PN (Prasanthi Nilayam ashram) staff, including university staff that I mentioned above, that I am not going to be intimidated by them, and so they backed off. That reiterates my point that muscle power alone is not the issue in such matters. It is the willingness to fight that matters, and that willingness can overcome weakness of lesser muscle power. Of course, my plan was that I would fight only in self-defence to protect myself, and once the fight is over, make a police complaint against those who physically attacked me. And follow up that complaint by hiring a good lawyer. ... Fortunately, it never came to that as the few university and ashram staff who tried to be thugs/goondas backed off.

Rather interestingly, this aggressive walk and posture of mine got noticed by some roughneck-types on Chitravathi Road and elsewhere in Puttaparthi. One Muslim shop keeper with a somewhat long beard, whom I had no interactions with earlier, made an action of poking his two fingers into my two eyes as I crossed  him and his two friends while walking in the evening! I was taken aback. Note that I was wearing spectacles and his fingers did not even touch my spectacles. But it clearly was a signal of aggressive warning from him.

The next few days I tried to figure out who he was, where his shop was, and what his issue with me was. Slowly I realized that my aggressive walk was getting misinterpreted by these guys. I reached out to some Muslim shopkeepers (though not to this person). They realized that I am not having any aggression towards them. This guy did not repeat his aggressive action with me, and so that problem got resolved. I was prepared to file a police complaint against him if he had repeated it. Fortunately that was not required.

Similarly, a youth leader of Chitravathi Road (local Hindu guy), gave me a dirty look as I was walking on Chitravathi Road. Note that I had stopped wearing white-shirt-and-white-pant dress (official ashram staff dress) completely from mid-2012. So I would have been viewed by these people as somebody who is not staff and so will not be protected by ashram bosses.

On some other matter - Swacch Bharat/Swacch Puttaparthi initiative, this person and his associate leader got involved for the activity on Chitravathi Road. I used that opportunity to meet one of them, and thanked them for the initiative. I also offered to contribute to the expenses they had incurred in putting up waste collection bins on Chitravathi Road. The youth leader spoke well to me, and I think his group understood that I was not a threat to their leadership in the Chitravarthi Road area.

I also took care to ensure that I took on an aggressive posture while walking only when I came across those few university and ashram staff who had given me a dirty look or worse. I realized that inadvertent aggressive posture walk at other times was creating problems for me, as some people seem to have thought that I was having some plans to be the new don in town!!!!

Over the months after March 2015 as I began my public naming-and-exposing mainly of these three fellows (Sashidhara Prasad, Naren Ramji and V. Chandrasekaran), slowly and steadily I achieved my objective of successfully naming-and-exposing them publicly. Sashidhara Prasad by then was ex-VC and based in Mysore. So he could not do much to intimidate me. V. Chandrasekaran (wealthy guy), I presume, would have just complained to others in the ashram about me, and perhaps explored legal avenues for which I was, and still am, prepared. It is Naren Ramji and group who are the bullies of the university system. They tried to do some intimidation but in the face of my willingness to fight them in self-defence, and be willing to even die fighting them in self-defence, they backed off.

A few months ago I heard a rumour about Naren Ramji being considered to be made trustee of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. Now trustee positions may even turn out to be life term positions. Like in the case of Chandrasekaran being candidate for vice-chancellor of Sai university, I freaked out!!! But this time I wrote publicly against Naren Ramji being made trustee of Central Trust [Naren Ramji being considered for trustee position in SSSCT? My strong objections about it, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2015/12/naren-ramji-being-considered-for.html, dated Dec. 30th 2015].

Perhaps the above post would have made some negative impact on Naren Ramji being considered for trustee. Of course, that impact could have been minor or just ignored or no impact at all, among the real decision makers.

As of now, nobody else has been made trustee (two positions were made vacant, and they remain vacant for some months now).

My view, which I think seems to be in line with what mainstream media considers fair, is that only name-calling without providing evidence and/or arguments for the name-calling is unacceptable. But criticism which states that so-and-so has been unethical and involved in wrong-doing, backed by evidence and/or arguments, is fair, even if somewhat unpleasant.

...
[Some snippets of my part of previous mails in this same mail conversation are given below.]

My motivations for going public with my criticism of a few administrators in the Sai university are:
1) Frankly, I wanted to punish them for how they abused & bullied me using their power & position. The Internet provided me a way to punish them, after I had severed connections with them, stopped going to the ashram, and gathered the courage to expose them even though I was living in Puttaparthi (outside ashram).

2) Let other people who join Sai university or other Sai institutions know about the record tampering and power abuse indulged in, by these guys, and to view them with suspicion rather than as holy people who can be fully trusted.

3) A possibility that exposure will bring fear in administrators of Sai institutions that others too can do the same thing that I did, and thereby hold them back from doing malicious defamation and record tampering. That would be of great benefit to salaried staff in these Sai institutions as they are not in a position to fight the administrators like I did (due to my financial independence from them and my ability to make my case on social media (and in an Indian court of law, if needed)).

So my public posts on these matters, including very critical comments (teacher-drohis [those who cause harm to teachers] & Asathya [untruthful] and Adharma [unethical] crooks) against a few named administrators of the Sai university, is also an attempt to force reform in the system by bringing in fear of whistle-blower exposure and court/police cases for record tampering kind-of fellows in the Sai institution setup. It was a kind-of service to the many paid employees in the Sai institutions who are not in a position to challenge administrators like I could.

All this will make the PN ashram system strong and durable. I mean, no spiritual ashram system which indulges in nasty power mongering and nasty politics, will survive the test of time. So bosses of PN ashram system must have FEAR of action from employees, volunteers and/or govt. if they indulge in nasty power mongering and/or nasty politics. And the bosses should also know that good work that they do will be appreciated by the Sathya Sai devotee community and/or the govt.
...
And BTW it was just not them showing me with a wrong designation (very junior designation of Teaching Assistant) but humiliating me with it. ... That's the issue. How will you feel if --company-name-snipped-- bosses tell you that you are a programmer trainee and not a software engineer, and say it in a way to humiliate you? [Humiliation is one of the ways with which powermongers attempt to acquire dominance and control over people who dare to challenge them.]

The (former) HOD Chandrasekaran is a nasty fellow. So are Naren Ramji, the Registrar, and Sashidhara Prasad, the (former) vice-chancellor. ... They thought that they could bully me and that I could do nothing about it. So I had to teach them a lesson. With bullies, only powerful retaliation works - nice words do not get you anywhere.
...

I used the words: teacher-drohis (those who cause harm to teachers) and (Asathya & Adharma/untruthful and unethical) crooks for them, not frauds. I think I am justified in using these words as they combined together to deny any wrong doing in the Registrar showing me as a Teaching Assistant (and saying I was a Seva Dal and not a Visiting Faculty), and instead some of them tried to blame me!!!

Note that the action of showing me as Teaching Assistant is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE for which, if I wanted to, I could file a criminal complaint in Penukonda court against them. Therefore I am justified in labelling them as teacher-drohis and crooks.

The right attitude for them would have been to apologize for their mistake and confirm that my designation is visiting faculty. That they have not done till date!!!
...

The big issue was that Indulal Shah and Shashidhara Prasad continued to stay on as trustee of Central Trust and vice-chancellor of Sai university respectively even though they were backing a breakaway group!!! Unthinkable in a professionally managed company, or even a professionally managed NGO.
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Yes it (the dispute over Muddenahalli group claims) has become very ugly. Treachery is a very ugly thing.
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The Central Trust which appointed Sashidhara Prasad as vice-chancellor did not endorse the belief. So Sashidhara Prasad should have quit as vice-chancellor (in 2011 itself) and joined hands with Narasimhamurthy's trust. That would have been a clean break. If a Google top guy starts following the Yahoo top boss's instructions the right thing is for the Google top guy to quit Google and join Yahoo, isn't it?

But Sashidhara Prasad stayed in the powerful seat of vice-chancellor of Sai university and was essentially following Narasimhamurthy's instructions as he thought that Swami was speaking/communicating through him (and later Madhusudhan Naidu), from Jul 2011 to Nov. 2014. That was the conflict of interest. He should have quit as VC and joined Narasimhamurthy in Jul 2011 itself - then it would have been ethical.
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Belief in subtle body alone does not create conflict of interest. Holding official Sai orgn. office bearer position (official Sai orgn. publicly dismisses the claim of subtle body of Muddenahalli), and following subtle body, creates a conflict of interest.
...
I am afraid that some in top positions in Parthi orgn. were not following the principles taught by Swami, especially in the very traumatic period of a year or two after Mahasamadhi. So there was an atmosphere of power craze and money craze, and some hypocrisy. However, there were, and still are, many nice people too who, however, dare not say anything publicly against the top bosses when the top bosses do something wrong. ... But, now in mid 2016, things in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system seem to be much better. I think people realize that power craze and money craze is not good and that Swami's teachings about ceiling on desires, self-sacrifice etc. are the real thing for a spiritual ashram system to be focused on.
...
I am out of the Parthi ashram system. But I must also say that I did get a lot of benefit from interactions with the nice guys in the system and, most importantly for me, very good spiritual guidance from my beloved and revered Gurudev, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
...
As Muddenahalli group started going abroad and getting great responses from Sai devotees abroad, they became a DIVISIVE threat to the Sathya Sai movement internationally. Given this situation, sometime around March 2015, I got involved in the matter as a blogger giving my frank views about the matter that the claim of Madhusudan Rao Naidu is false. In a very short period of time both on Facebook and on blog, my writings on the Muddenahalli matter became rather well known, and so I started getting targeted by Muddenahalli believers. Initially it was polite but as I did not budge from my stand, some of them started becoming nasty. As they questioned my background as a Sai university teacher (Honorary Staff/Honorary Faculty/Visiting Faculty designations), I had to reveal the reasons why I quit Sai university. So the private email campaign stuff was made public. That made me some enemies in Parthi. It was a tough six to nine months as I came to terms with my new role as a whistle-blower as well as Muddenahalli group opponent (as viewed by some Muddenahalli group supporters like Mervyn Hughes referred to below). Now things are calmer as I have shown them that I can fight back.

One of the recent showdowns was with an anonymous kind-of Facebook user called Mervyn Hughes who attacked me with some wild allegations. I threatened to file a cyber police complaint against him. Perhaps that scared him off, as he deleted the offending posts (but I retained the screenshots on my blog as evidence in case he attacks me again). Just in case you want to have a quick look, here's the first of three blog posts on the matter (other two posts are provided as links in it), Refuting Mervyn Hughes' latest attacks on me, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/04/refuting-mervyn-hughes-latest-attacks.html, dated April 12th 2016.

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