Millions grieve as Sri Sathya Sai Baba passes away
Baba`s last rites will be performed on Wednesday morning in line with the practice adopted for spiritual leaders in India, with full state honours.
Puttaparthi: After battling with prolonged illness, Godman Sathya Sai Baba, one of India`s most revered spiritual leaders, passed away on Sunday in this Anantapur district town of Andhra Pradesh, sending millions of his followers across the world into mourning.
The 86-year-old spiritual cult breathed his last at 7:40 am at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, where he was admitted on March 28 following problems related to his heart and respiration. Baba, who considered himself a reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi, had been lying critical following multi-organ failure. Sathya Sai Baba died of cardiac and respiratory failure, a health bulletin issued by the hospital said.
“Sathya Sai Baba is no more with us physically. He left his body at 7.40 am due to cardiac and respiratory failure,” said the statement issued by the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences.
Baba’s body was shifted from the hospital to Prashanti Nilayam in this evening, where it will be kept till Wednesday for his devotees to pay homage.
Massive security arrangements have been made in Puttaparthi. More than 6,000 policemen have already been deployed in this town. Additional forces are being rushed to the town to beef up security.
Puttaparthi, a small hamlet in Anantapur district, which Baba turned into a town with state-of-the art medical, educational and infrastructure facilities, has plunged into gloom.
A sea of devotees including top politicians, bureaucrats and celebrities, are making their way to this pilgrim town for a last glimpse of Sai Baba, whose body lies at the Sai Kulwant Hall of Prashanti Nilayam, the place from where he ran his spiritual empire.
Baba`s body lies fully wrapped in saffron cloth. The spiritual guru`s last rites will be performed on Wednesday morning in line with the practice adopted for spiritual leaders in India with full state honours.
An array of personalities, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vice President M Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, BJP leaders L K Advani and Nitin Gadkari and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi condoled the Baba`s death, saying he was a spiritual leader who inspired millions to lead a moral and meaningful life.
In their condolence messages, the leaders cutting across party lines also acknowledged the contribution made by Baba towards education, social work and developmental schemes, especially drinking water supply schemes in drought prone areas.
Expressing "deep and profound sadness" over Baba`s death, the Prime Minister said he was a spiritual leader who inspired millions to lead a moral and meaningful life even as they followed the religion of their choice.
BJP veteran L K Advani said in modern times stalwarts like Swami Ramakrishna Paramhans, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Dayanand and Mahatma Gandhi are reckoned as ideals for the country and of the titans in the spiritual field in present day India, few have had the phenomenal following that the Baba had.
Star cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who calls the Baba his spiritual guru, did not celebrate his 38th birthday.
Sathya Sai centres across India and abroad witnessed gatherings of followers in prayer sessions.
Andhra Pradesh has declared four days mourning in honour of Sathya Sai Baba. Karnataka has also declared to observe two-day mourning.
With Agency inputs