Sai Maa and her "group" based primarily in Crestone, CO have been successfully flying under the radar for some time. Although Satya Sai Baba--her Guru to whom she is very close---is monitored by several groups, Sai Maa (his number one pupil) has escaped.
Indeed, her message seems harmless enough. She preaches that in this world there is only fear and love, one destructive and the other constructive. But like many cult leaders, it is not her message that is dangerous, its the way in which she presents it.
For example, she preaches that she is Divine Shakti (female energy incarnate) and that hers is the only path to true Love. In fact, she IS Divine love and the only valid love is one's love of her. Granted, being as cunning as she is...she rarely says this outright. But I have personally witnessed her harshly chastise someone who came to see her when he questioned her approach.
Speaking of cunning, she does a very good job leading her sheep to the slaughter. Firstly, she chooses people that feel lesser, unfulfilled and alone. Or people with addictions. She targeted someone I know when his home life turned bad, encouraging him to move with her to Colorado. She called him her, "special child" and doted upon him in ways she knew he hadn't experienced before. Preying on weak and vulnerable people is no way for any respectable spiritual leader to operate. I have heard many people utter the words, "I was addicted to [insert substance here] but then I found Sai Maa!". She indoctrinates with percision, too. At one point she told the assembled, "Put your fingers over your eyes and press down on them. You will see bright colors and lights, that is the Divine Light spreading over you."
Clever, no? Of course you see splashes of light...you're PRESSING ON YOUR EYES. This is just one of the many examples of simple ways she misleads her flock in order to further their fervor.
She's also running a brilliant business! By indoctrinating people (especially independently wealthy ones) she gets them to buy her full line of Sai Maa products. Not just books or CDs or DvDs. Oh no. Blessed Water! For $18 per 20 ounce bottle! They apparently have sacred geometry written on the outside or something, and she reccommends drinking 2 quarts a day. Any idea how much water that is? Any idea how much PROFIT that is? Oh but add to this the meditation pillow covers (only $117!) and bottles of supplements (supposedly "concentrated Vacha and Brahmi") with no nutritional or ingrediant information on them! Not only is that rididulous (she reccommends taking these "pills" three times a day) its illegal. I've already started a complaint with the FDA over this, but I'm not sure whats worse: that she charges so much for a whole lot of nothing or that people actually buy and INGEST things, simply trusting that they're okay for them.
She tells people that all proceeds go to charity (can you say fraud?), while she walks around with pounds of gold jewelry. She has people to wash her feet and draw her baths...houses, estates, you name it. She asked for a jacuzzi for her birthday from her followers. Now thats holiness, right there. How, exactly, are you supposed to convince people of your humility while you speed on the Autobon in a Mercedes?
I'm risking a lot in posting this. My boss is deeply embroiled in Sai Maa's...um...organization, and goes for what I like to call "reprogramming" on a semi-regular basis. When he gets back from these "intensive" excursions, his eyes take on a funny look and he loves everyone. He often says, "She taught me to get out of my head and into my heart." That is a scary, scary thing. She brainwashes people, for all intents and purposes. A co-worker of mine overheard someone who had gotten back from one of said intensive sessions saying, "The first day was really hard. She had us up all day and night, chanting in a dark room. There were a lot of times I thought I wouldn't make it through. But then the next day, it was fantastic. I felt euphoric in her love!" Does no one else see what she's doing? That she's breaking them down with sensory isolation so they will bend easier?
She needs to be monitored, and closely. Her methods are atrocious at best, and she is sucking people in to use them for her own purposes.
For a wikipedia article a coworker wrote,
So, has anyone else encountered this group? Does anyone know of ANYWHERE she is being monitored?