THE PHOTO OF SAI BABA APPARENTLY MATERIALISING A DIAMOND RING
The above scan of part of a photo sold in Puttaparthi shows what seems to be Sai Baba materialising 'from thin air' a diamond in a gold setting. The object is not detached from the hand, though, and the ring could easily be held in the crook of the thumb. This is therefore no proof of materialisation. It is said that 'seeing is believing' but, especially in this kind of 'incredible' case belief usually precedes seeing... one sees what one already believes, or wishes to see and believe.
Those believe this photo to be proof of his ability to manifest objects are invariably already devoted to Sai Baba. Those who even got as far as an interview so as to be able to watch at all closely such 'materialisations' have already gone through a long process of preparation to believe it must be genuine. They will always have read incredible stories in emotional hagiographic books praising Sai Baba, seen propaganda videos and films, met people who claim to have witnessed miracles of all kinds. They will also already have learned that those who express scepticism or question claims are soon excluded from the groups that gather around Sai Baba, and are not welcome in his organisation meetings (even if not also banned outright from attending them or visiting the ashrams).
The entire business of taking objects out of thin air is, according to Sai Baba, was to help convince those who see it that he was above and beyond all worldly limitations. He attached a mystical symbolism to this act when giving what he pretended are diamond rings (see scanned quotation on left). Yet he was sometimes asked to produce large objects (on one occasion a pumpkin). This he did not do and never did. The largest objects he allegedly 'materialised' were statuettes of Krishna and the like taken by him out of deep sand when he took selected groups out to picnics. However, the places chosen - apparently by chance - were almost certainly pre-arranged by his closest servitor Colonel Joga Rao, who served as his ashram planner and engineer. Residents of the ashram knew that Joga Rao did NOT believe in any miraculous powers, but justified his work with Sai Baba because he felt it led to improvements in the lot of the poor people of Andhra Pradesh, providing money for school, health care etc. This fact was never publicized or written about, but I was told this by the famous journalist, later Sai Baba's editor V.K. Narasimhan, who spoke very freely to me in private on many occasions. When he told me that I could not believe my ears, but he told me a lot about Joga Rao (a man whose filthy jokes he hated but had to endure when Sai Baba allocated them a room in which both must stay while travelling with him). This was confirmed to me again when a Norwegian who was in a group planning an eco waste system for Prashanthi ashram which asked Rao whether they should not consult Baba on some issues. They got the comment: "What does Sai Baba know about it?" So Colonel Joga Rao, who for years walked behind Sai Baba at his darsans and held his hanky for Baba to wipe his hand on and regularly took over the pile of letters he collected, was passing vibuti balls to him the while, convinced that it was for the best all in all!