Satya Sai Baba, Indian guru, dies at 84

Rickshaws with pictures of Satya Sai Baba, in Puttaparti, India, April 2011 Sri Satya Sai Baba had followers across Indian society and around the world

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One of India's most revered spiritual leaders, Sri Satya Sai Baba, has died in hospital at the age of 84.

The guru, who suffered respiratory problems and kidney failure, died in his hometown Puttaparthi after a cardiac arrest, doctors said.

He enjoyed support from all areas of Indian society and had followers around the world.

But he was dogged by controversy including allegations, never proven, of sexual abuse and charlatanism.

High-profile followers included former Indian Prime Minster Atal Behari Vajpayee and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

Many devotees considered him a living god, and credited him with mystical powers including the ability to conjure objects out of the air.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described his death as an "irreparable loss".

"He was a spiritual leader who inspired millions to lead a moral and meaningful life even as they followed the religion of their choice," said Mr Singh.

Reincarnation claim

His organisation has financed health and education projects, among them hospitals and clinics that claim to cure illnesses beyond the capabilities of mainstream medicine.

Devotees grieve on hearing the news of the Sai Baba's death, outside Baba's ashram in Puttaparthi April 24, 2011 Devotees grieved in Puttaparthi at news of the guru's death

But his career was dogged by controversy.

He was accused of faking some of the so-called miracles attributed to him and some former followers accused him of sexually abusing young male followers.

The allegations were denied and he was never charged with any offence.

The hospital said his body would be available for public viewing on Monday and Tuesday before a funeral ceremony is held.

"We appeal to all not to rush to the hospital, but to remain calm and have Darshan [viewing] in an orderly manner," the hospital said in a statement.

In recent weeks, the hospital has been mobbed by groups of devotees praying for the guru's wellbeing.

Satya Sai Baba's hometown has been transformed into a vast complex of hotels, resorts, university buildings, and an enormous ashram thronging with devotees.

He rose to prominence as a youngster after announcing to his family that he was the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, a 19th Century Indian holy man who had been equally venerated by Hindus and Muslims.

By 1950 he had built his first ashram, and in recent decades managed to build up a global following.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    He brought moral order to many Rich and Powerful along with hope and belief to the poor. Contravercial figure perhaps but the benefits he bought outweigh the misgivings.

    He will be sorely missed by his divotees.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    Twas a mere mortal claiming to be god

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Only someone who never went to find out themselves could begin to say he was a fake HE IS NOT, only the body passes HIS PRESENCE REMAINS until he returns as Prema Sai. As someone who went 9x, witnessed miracles, I think you should be aware millions will grieve our Beloved Swamiji; and if you have no direct experience of him then pray you will next time - Love and Light to ALL x
    Jenny Walker xxx

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    We Indians do not need more spiritual gurus like this GREAT SOUL who has passed away today. No controversy. Lets try to think and solve our own problems by ourselves. These Gurus make us sort of blind and thus his mental dependents. Today is the great day, lets throw these Gurus out of our mind and live an independent life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    The two of the biggest crooks in India are politicians and these so called "Baba's". The Baba's get votes for the politicians from the ill-iterates and vulnerable people of India, while the politician offer immunity from any crime they commit. Wake up India! These corrupt and deceptive individuals are ruining our country, the only way to succeed as a society is if we get rid of them.


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