threats on his life, Conny Larsson was advised to “go to a country
that doesn’t exist”. When he asked where he could find such a place,
he was told by his friend Lotta Skoglund, a Swedish TV producer: the
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
31 years serving spiritual gurus -10 with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and
21 with self-proclaimed god Sai Baba Mr Larsson says he had finally
realised the truth behind the leaders to whom he had once been loyal,
and had revealed their secrets to the world in his second book. And
they weren’t happy about it.
says his first book, released in 1998 and entitled God’s Little
Clown, had been so favourable to Sai Baba’s Sathya Sai organisation
that it had been used as a promotional vehicle to recruit people. Plans
were made to turn it into a major Hollywood movie until Mr Larsson pulled
book, Behind the Face of the Clown,
originally released in 2005 in Swedish, took Larsson five years to write.
It offers an insight into the life of a man desperate to find love,
but ultimately betrayed by those he trusts until he is finally forced
to face the painful truth.
age of four the young Conny lost the use of his voice - a temporary
phenomenon mainly attributed to the violence within his own home and
the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his father’s boss. Suppressing
realisation of what had happened during his formative years, he went
on to attend drama school in Malmo, where he experimented with his sexuality
and drugs. Then, in 1967, he attended a lecture given by the Maharishi
- whose followers included the Beatles, Mia Farrow and the Beach Boys
- and decided to train as a meditation teacher in India.
the 10 years Mr Larsson spent with the Maharishi as a disciple, until
1977, he served for two years as the guru’s personal secretary. Passing
much of his time in meditation and devoted to the Maharishi , it wasn’t
until the Transcendental Meditation Sidha programme was introduced that
disillusionment set in.
Larsson with (top) Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and (left) the self proclaimed god
ABUSED BY THEIR GODS
programme had students of the Maharishi believing they had special
abilities, that they could levitate, were invisible or could travel
to different planets,” says Mr Larsson. “It was also then that I
realised the young women I had been asked to pass keys to at night were
being seduced. I had been totally naive, gullible and blinkered. I had
also been in love with being in the limelight, so had not wanted to
see what was really going on.”
to Sweden, Mr Larsson went back to the theatre and had a successful
run in a production of One Flew Over
the Cuckoo’s Nest until collapsing from exhaustion. Once recuperated,
a trip to Sri Lanka encouraged him to throw himself headlong into a
new project and he invested in the development of a tourism village-
However, he was forced to abandon the project, saying he refused to
bow to bribery, and it was a chance meeting at this point that sent
him on the way to India to meet Sai Baba.
welcomed as if his arrival had been long awaited and spent the next
21 years as a member of the Sathya Sai organisation. Desperate to find
a father figure, Mr Larsson admits to being emotionally bound
to its leader, Sai Baba, claiming that the molestation he suffered was
just a way of being healed by his beloved master. But after years of
defending Sai Baba to anyone that questioned his ways of healing’’,
Mr Larsson says he finally came to realise what was happening: that
young boys were being used and that “manifestations” from the Sai
Baba to amaze and control his followers were just simple tricks.
the organisation in 1999 totally devastated. I had tried to follow what
1 thought was the right thing, only to find myself in a living hell,”
he says. “I had been one of the most important teachers in the organisation
working with young criminals and drug addicts, teaching the five human
values programme - truth, justice, love, righteousness and non-violence
- only to discover that I had been tricked and used.”.
the Mask of the Clown gives the reader the constant feeling of Mr
Larsson searching to find a sense of belonging and happiness - and unafraid
to show his vulnerabilities or admit his weaknesses in that quest to
find inner peace. His naivety, it shows, has been exploited
on more than more occasion. But writing the book has been a form of
cathartic healing for him, while at the same time exposing the leader
of one of the most powerful sects in the world with an estimated value
of $50 billion to allegations of fraud and child abuse.
there are certain areas that could be further elaborated, on the whole
it gives an interesting insight into how easily the powerful can influence
their followers and abuse their trust.
moving permanently to Alsancak in 2005, 60-year-old Mr Larsson has finally
found some peace, and he is currently working on his third book,
Flower Power: The Beatles, Maharishi and I.
"In the last
year particularly, I have started to feel more settled,” he says. “I no longer
feel the need to find a guru or belief system. 1 am in a new phase of my life
the Mask of the Clown, published by B Premanand in English, is available
from The Garden Bookshop, Ozankoy, and the news agent’s at the top
of Girne high street at a cost of 20YTL.