Sai Baba (Suzanne Newcombe, Fall 2006)

Contributed by Suzanne Newcombe, University of Cambridge

Note: While not completely comprehensive (especially in regards to devotional sources) this provides a good orientation to Sai Baba.

Devotional Sources

There are a number of propaganda films at which help put Sai Baba in the India cultural context.

There is a more comprehensive directory of devotional books at:

Devotional Websites are numerous, included but not limited to:


Hislop, John (1985) My Baba And I. San Diego: Birth Day Pub. Co

Krystal, P. (1985). Sai Baba: The Ultimate Experience. York Beach, ME, Samuel Weiser, Inc

Krystal, P. (1990 (first published in 1982)). Cutting the Ties That Bind. Shaftesbury, Dorset, Turnstone Press Ltd.

Mason, P. and R. Laing (1993). Sai Baba: The Embodiement of Love. Bath, Gateway Books

Murphet, H. (1971). Sai Baba: Man of Miracles. London, Vrindavanum Books

Murphet, H. (1990). Sai Baba Avatar. Springwood, NSW, Butterfly Books

Sandweiss, S. H. (1975). Sai Baba: The Holy Man… …and the Psychiatrist. San Diego, Birth Day Publishing

Critical Sources
Much of the critical information is available on the internet.

The include but are not limited to:

Brooke, Tal (1999) Avatar of Night End Run Publishing. [First published as Lord of the Air in 1976].

Premanand, Basava (2001) The Murders in Sai Baba’s Bedroom. Podanur: Indian Skeptic. Purchase information at:

Shepherd, Kevin R.D. (2005) Investigating the Sai Baba Movement: A Clarification of Misrepresented Saints and Opportunism. Citizen Initiative.

Szandorowska, B. (1991). Escape from the Guru. Eastbourne, East Sussex, MARC.

Videos which (apparently!) point out slight of hand:

Significant Journalistic Reports

Brown, Mick (1998) The Spiritual Tourist. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

BBC (2004) This World: The Secret Swami. Aired on 17 June 2004. Transcript available at

BBC (1995) Guru Busters Aired on Channel 4. Video information available at:

Academic Sources
Babb, L. A. (1983). “Sathya Sai Baba’s Magic.” Anthropological Quarterly 56(3): 116-124

Babb, L.A. (1987) Redemptive Encounters: Three Modern Styles in the Hindu Tradition. Berkley: UC Press.

Bowen, David (1988) The Sathya Sai Baba Community in Bradford: Its origins and development, religious beliefs and practices. Leeds: University Press.

Burghart, R., Ed. (1987). Hinduism in Great Britain: The Perpetration of Religion in an Alien Cultural Milieu. London, Tavistock

Ellwood, R. S. (1973). Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall.

Exon, B. (1995). “Self-accounting for Conversion by Western Devotees of Modern Hindu Religious Movements.” DISKUS 3(2): 74-82

Haraldsson, E. (1987). Miracles are my Visiting Cards. London, Rider Books.

This is the classic investigation into the validity of Sai Babas miracles. The author was able to neither prove nor disprove the miracles in any definitive way.

Kent, A. (2000). “Creating Divine Unity: Chinese Recruitment in the Sathya Sai Baba Movement of Malaysia.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 15(1): 5-27

Palmer, Norris W. (2005) Babas World: A Global Guru and His Movement in

Gurus in America. Thomas A. Forsthoefel and Cynthia Ann Humes (ed) Albany: SUNNY Press, 138-175.

Sharma, A. (1986). New Hindu religious movements in India. New Religious Movements and Rapid Social Change. J. A. Beckford. London, Sage/Unesco: 220-239

Srinivas, S. (1999). “The Brahmin and the Fakir: Suburban Religiosity in the Cult of Shirdi Sai Baba.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 14(2): 245-262

Srinivas, S. (2001) “The advent of the avatar: The urban following of Sathya Sai Baba and its construction of tradition.” In Vasudha Dalmia, Angelika Malinar and Martin ChristofFuechsle, eds. Charisma and Canon: The Formation of Religious Identity in South Asia . Delhi: Oxford University Press: 293-309.

Swallow, D. (1982). ” Ashes and Powers: Myth, Rite and Miracle in an Indian God-Man’s Cult.” Modern Asian Studies 16(1): 123-15

Taylor, D. (1987). Charismatic Authority in the Sathya Sai Baba Movement. Hinduism in Great Britain. R. Burquart. London, Tavistock.

Taylor, D. (1987). Sathya Sai Baba Movement in Britain. The New Evangelists: Recruitment, Methods and Aims of NRMs. P. Clarke. London, Ethnographica

Thomas, C. M. (1987). ” God Men, Myths, Materialisations, and the Kalas of Immortality.” Journal for the Society of Psychical Research 55(819): 377-403

Hugh B. Urban (2003) ‘Avatar for Our Age: Sathya Sai Baba and the

Cultural Contradictions of Late Capitalism’, Religion 33: 73-93.

Vroon, Piet (1993) Santa Claus in India in Indian Skeptic 6(4), p. 8-16