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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Sai Baba (Sri Satya Sai Baba, 1926- ). The word baba is derived from the Turkish word for “papa.” Born Sathyanarayana Ratnakaru Raju, this modern Indian yogi has a large following all over the world, among them Harry Saltzman, producer of the James Bond films. His organization is ruled from his ashram Prasanti Nilayam (meaning “abode of great peace”) at Puttaparti. He claims to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi (1856-1916).
      His followers claim that he can produce vibhuti (“holy ash”), gold rings, and even modern Seiko wristwatches for them by simply reaching into the air. There are claims that he has raised the dead, levitated, healed cancer, and even done his version of the loaves-and-fishes miracle. These are referred to as siddhis.
      Examination of films and videotapes of Sai Baba's actual performances show them to be simple sleight of hand, exactly the same as the sort used by the other Indian jaduwallahs, or “street conjurors.” Sai Baba has never submitted to an examination of his abilities under controls, so his claims are totally unproven. Parsimony applies here.
      India's leading debunker of the claims of the god-men who infest that country, the famous Premanand, has duplicated all of Sai Baba's tricks and tours the world demonstrating these feats.

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