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Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

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Śri Sathya Sai Baba born as Sathyanarayana Raju (23 November 1926 24 April 2011) was an Indian
Indian people
Indian people or Indisians constitute the Asian nation and pan-ethnic group native to India, which forms the south of Asia, containing 17.31% of the world's population. The Indian nationality is in essence made up of regional nationalities, reflecting the rich and complex history of India...

 guru
Guru
A guru is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom, and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others . Other forms of manifestation of this principle can include parents, school teachers, non-human objects and even one's own intellectual discipline, if the...

, spiritual figure, mystic
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

, philanthropist, and educator. He claimed to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi
Sai Baba of Shirdi
Sai Baba of Shirdi , also known as Shirdi Sai Baba , was an Indian guru, yogi, and fakir who is regarded by his Hindu and Muslim devotees as a saint....

, a spiritual saint and miracle worker who died in 1918 and whose teachings were an eclectic blend of Hindu and Muslim beliefs. The materializations of vibhuti (holy ash) and other small objects such as rings, necklaces and watches by Sathya Sai Baba were a source of both fame and controversy; devotees considered them signs of divinity, while skeptics viewed them as simple conjuring tricks.
Photos of him are displayed in millions of homes and on the dashboards of cars, and lockets bearing his photo are worn by many as a symbol of good fortune.

Sathya Sai Organisation


The Sathya Sai Organisation reports that there are an estimated 1,200 Sathya Sai Baba Centers in 114 countries.
However, the number of active Sathya Sai Baba followers is hard to determine. Estimates vary from 6 million up to nearly 100 million. In India itself, Sai Baba drew followers predominantly from the upper-middle-class, the urban sections of society who have the "most wealth, education and exposure to Western ideas." In 2002, he claimed to have followers in 178 countries.

In 2011, shortly before his death, he was listed by Watkins Review as one of the 100 most spiritually influential people in the world.

Sathya Sai Baba founded a large number of schools and colleges, hospitals, and other charitable institutions in India and abroad, the total value of which is usually estimated at Rs. 40,000 crore
Crore
A crore is a unit in the Indian number system equal to ten million , or 100 lakhs. It is widely used in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan....

 (US$ 9 billion).
However, estimates as high as 1.4 trillion rupees (about US$ 31.5bn) have also been made. After his death, questions about the manner in which the finances of the organization were managed led to speculations of impropriety, with some reports suggesting that suitcases containing cash and/or gold had been removed from his personal lodgings.

On 17 June 2011, officials from the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (founded as a charitable Trust in India, and legislated to act separately from religious activities), opened his private residence in the presence of government, bank and tax department officials, including retired Supreme Court Judge A P Mishra and retired judge of Karnataka High Court Vaidyanatha, an assessor approved by the Income Tax Department, and former Chief Justice of India P N Bhagavati. In the residence, which had been sealed since his death, they inventoried 98 kg of gold ornaments, approximate value Rs 21 crore (US$4.7m), 307 kg of silver ornaments, approximate value Rs 1.6 crore (US$0.36m), and Rs 11.6 crore (US$2.6m) in cash. The cash was deposited into the Sai Trust's account at the State Bank of India with payment of government taxes (thus transferring them from religious gifts to Trust assets.) The gold and other items were inventoried, assessed, and placed in secure storage. In July, district authorities found an additional Rs 77 lakh
Lakh
A lakh is a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to one hundred thousand . It is widely used both in official and other contexts in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and is often used in Indian English.-Usage:...

 (US$0.17m) in valuables in another 4 rooms, including valuable watches. The total value is believed to exceed 7.8 million US dollars.
Also found at Yajurmandir were many articles routinely given away as gifts in various ceremonies to devotees and those who did 'seva' (service), including thousands of pure silk sarees, dhotis, shirts, 500 pairs of shoes, a large number of silver and gold “mangala sutrams”, and precious stones such as diamonds. There were also 750 saffron and white robes of the type Sai Baba wore, and dozens of bottles of perfume and hairspray which he reportedly used before meeting dignitaries.In July 2011, a search of his Bangalore-area ashram found 6kg of gold coins and jewellery, 245kg of silver articles and Rs 80 lakh in cash.

Parallels with the transition after the passing of other major gurus in India, for example Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh)
Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh)
Osho , born Chandra Mohan Jain , and also known as Acharya Rajneesh from the 1960s onwards, as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh during the 1970s and 1980s and as Osho from 1989, was an Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher who garnered an international following.A professor of philosophy, he travelled...

 or Mata Anandamayi, suggest that the transition in managing the large Sai organization may not be easy.

Early life and proclamation



Almost everything known about Sathya Sai Baba's early life stems from the hagiography
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

 that grew around him, the presentation of narratives that hold special meaning to his devotees and are considered by them evidence of his divine nature. According to his followers, then, Sathyanarayana Raju was born to Easwaramma and Peddavenkama Raju Ratnakaram in the village of Puttaparthi
Puttaparthi
Puttaparthi is a town situated in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, India. It was also the residence of the notable spiritual teacher Sathya Sai Baba....

, in what was the Madras Presidency
Madras Presidency
The Madras Presidency , officially the Presidency of Fort St. George and also known as Madras Province, was an administrative subdivision of British India...

 of British India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. His birth, which his mother Eswaramma asserted was by miraculous conception, was also said to be heralded by miracles. His siblings included elder brother Ratnam Sesham Raju (died 1984), sister Venkamma (died 1993), a second sister Parvathamma (died 1998), and younger brother Janakiramiah (died 2003). As a child, he was described as "unusually intelligent" and charitable, though not an exceptional student, as his interests were more of a spiritual nature. He was uncommonly talented in devotional music, dance and drama, and an avid composer of poems and plays. He was said to be capable of materialising objects such as food and sweets out of thin air.

On 8 March 1940, while living with his elder brother Seshama Raju in Uravakonda
Uravakonda
Uravakonda is a census town in Anantapur district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.-Geography:Uravakonda is located at . It has an average elevation of 459 metres .-Features:...

, a small town near Puttaparthi, Sathya was apparently stung by a scorpion. He lost consciousness for several hours. Within the next few days there was a noticeable change in Sathya's behavior. There were "symptoms of laughing and weeping, eloquence and silence." "He began to sing Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 verses, a language of which he had no prior knowledge." Doctors believed his behavior to be hysteria. His parents brought Sathya back home to Puttaparthi. Concerned, they took him to many priests, "doctors" and exorcists.

On 23 May 1940, Sathya called household members and reportedly materialised prasad
Prasad
Prasād is a mental condition of generosity, as well as a material substance that is first offered to a deity and then consumed...

and flowers for his family members. His father became furious at seeing this, thinking his son was bewitched. He took a stick and threatened to beat him if Sathya did not reveal who he really was. To this Sathya announced calmly and firmly "I am Sai Baba", a reference to Sai Baba of Shirdi. He proclaimed himself to be a reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi—a saint who became famous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 and had died eight years before Sathya was born.

Later that year, Sathya Sai Baba declared that he had no worldly relationship with anyone and, around this time, devotees began to gather to him. In 1940, he began to travel to Madras and elsewhere in South India and soon had a large regional following.

Later activities and establishments


In 1944, a mandir (temple) for Sathya Sai Baba's devotees was built near the village of Puttaparthi. It is now referred to as the "old mandir." The construction of Prashanthi Nilayam
Prashanthi Nilayam
Prasanthi Nilayam above sea level) is the main ashram of Sathya Sai Baba. The "township of Prasanthi Nilayam is located in the village of Puttaparthi, the hamlet where Sathya Sai Baba was born. This area is part of the Anantapur district in the state of Andhra Pradesh, in South India."."Prasanthi...

, the current ashram, began in 1948 and was completed in 1950. In 1957 Sathya Sai Baba went on a North Indian temple tour. In 1954, Sathya Sai Baba established a small free General Hospital in the village of Puttaparthi.

In 1963, Sathya Sai Baba suffered a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 and four severe heart attacks. It is believed that he healed himself of these in front of the thousands of people gathered in Prasanthi Nilayam praying for his recovery. On recovering, Sai Baba gave a discourse announcing that he would be reborn as Prema Sai Baba
Prema Sai Baba
Prema Sai Baba is the proclaimed future incarnation of Sathya Sai Baba, supposed to be the third and last of the triple Avatar incarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Baba and Prema Sai Baba...

 in the neighboring state of Karnataka
Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

. He stated, "I am Siva-Sakthi, born in the gotra
Gotra
In the Hindu society, the term Gotra broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor. Panini defines gotra for grammatical purposes as apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram , which means "the word gotra denotes the progeny beginning with the son's son"...

 (lineage) of Bharadwaja
Bharadwaja
Bharadwaja was one of the greatest Hindu Arya sages descendant of rishi Angirasa, whose accomplishments are detailed in the Puranas. He was one of the Saptarshis in the present Manvantara; with others being Atri, Vashishtha, Vishvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, Kashyapa.Bhardwaj Rishi was father of...

, according to a boon won by that sage from Siva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

 and Sakthi
Shakti
Shakti from Sanskrit shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes...

. Siva was born in the gotra of that sage as Sai Baba of Shirdi; Siva and Sakthi have incarnated as Myself in his gotra now; Sakthi alone will incarnate as the third Sai (Prema Sai Baba) in the same gotra in Mandya
Mandya
Mandya is a city in the state of Karnataka, India. It is the headquarters of Mandya district and is located 40 km from Mysore and 100 km from Bangalore.-Etymology:...

 district of Karnataka State." He stated he would be born again eight years after his death at the age of 96.
On 29 June 1968, Sathya Sai Baba made his first and only trip overseas, to Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

 and Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

. During a discourse in Nairobi
Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

, Sathya Sai Baba stated, "I have come to light the lamp of Love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have not come on behalf of any exclusive religion. I have not come on a mission of publicity for a sect or creed or cause, nor have I come to collect followers for a doctrine. I have no plan to attract disciples or devotees into my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this unitary faith, this spiritual principle, this path of Love, this virtue of Love, this duty of Love, this obligation of Love." In 1968, he established Dharmakshetra or Sathyam Mandir in Mumbai.

In 1973, he established Shivam Mandir in Hyderabad. On 19 January 1981, in Chennai
Chennai
Chennai , formerly known as Madras or Madarasapatinam , is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the fourth most populous metropolitan area and the sixth most populous city in India...

 he inaugurated the Sundaram Mandir.

In a 1993 incident
1993 Murders in Prashanthi Nilayam
On June 6, 1993, four armed individuals intruded into Sathya Sai Baba's ashram. They were stopped by Sai Baba's attendants who were killed by the armed assailants. Sai Baba escaped unharmed during the incident.-Intruder incident analysis:...

, four intruders armed with knives entered his bedroom, either as an assassination attempt or as part of a power struggle between his followers. Sai Baba escaped unharmed. During the scuffle and the police response, the four intruders and two of Sai Baba's attendants were killed. The official investigation left unanswered questions.

In March 1995 Sathya Sai Baba started a project to provide drinking water to 1.2 million people in the drought-prone Rayalaseema region in the Anantapur district
Anantapur district
Anantapur District , ) is one of the 23 districts in Andhra Pradesh, India. The district headquarters is Anantapur City. It is currently a part of the Red Corridor.- Geography :...

 of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

. In 2001 he established another free Super Speciality hospital in Bangalore
Bangalore
Bengaluru , formerly called Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Bangalore is nicknamed the Garden City and was once called a pensioner's paradise. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city and...

 to benefit the poor. In April 1999 he inaugurated the Ananda Nilayam Mandir in Madurai
Madurai
Madurai is the third largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It served as the capital city of the Pandyan Kingdom. It is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District and is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and...

, Tamil Nadu.

Old age, illness, and death



After 2004, Sai Baba used a wheelchair and his failing health forced him to make fewer public appearances. In 2003, he suffered a fractured hip when a student standing on an iron stool slipped, and both the boy and stool fell on him. After that, he gave darshan
Darshan
or Darshan is a Sanskrit term meaning "sight" , vision, apparition, or glimpse. It is most commonly used for "visions of the divine" in Hindu worship, e.g. of a deity , or a very holy person or artifact...

 from a car or his porte chair.

On 28 March 2011, Sathya Sai Baba was admitted to the Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital
Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital
The Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital is a tertiary health care hospital created to provide patient care facilities to all, free of cost...

 at Prashantigram at Puttaparthi, following respiration-related problems. After nearly a month of hospitalisation, during which his condition progressively deteriorated, Sai Baba died on 24 April at 7:40 IST, aged 84.

Sathya Sai Baba had predicted that he would die at age 96 and would remain healthy until then. After he died, some devotees suggested that he might have been referring to that many lunar years, rather than solar years, and using the Indian way of accounting for age, which counts the year to come as part of the person's life. Other devotees have spoken of his anticipated resurrection, reincarnation or awakening.

His body lay in state for two days, and was buried
Burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...

 on 27 April 2011. An estimated 500,000 people attended the burial, among them the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh is the 13th and current Prime Minister of India. He is the only Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full five-year term. A Sikh, he is the first non-Hindu to occupy the office. Singh is also the 7th Prime Minister belonging to the Indian...

, Congress
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

 president Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi is an Italian-born Indian politician and the President of the Indian National Congress, one of the major political parties of India. She is the widow of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi...

, Gujarat Chief Minister
Chief Minister
A Chief Minister is the elected head of government of a sub-national state, provinces of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, notably a state of India, a territory of Australia or a British Overseas Territory that has attained self-government...

 Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi
Narendra Damodardas Modi is the current Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat.He was born in a middle class family in Vadnagar; and is a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh since childhood, as also an active politician since early in life. He holds a masters degree in political...

 and Union Ministers S. M. Krishna
S. M. Krishna
Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna , generally referred to as S. M. Krishna, is the Minister of External Affairs and a member of the Indian Parliament from Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha. He was the Chief Minister of Karnataka from 1999 to 2004 and the Governor of Maharashtra from 2004 to...

 and Ambika Soni
Ambika Soni
Ambika Soni is an Indian politician belonging to Indian National Congress. She currently serves in the Union Cabinet as the minister in charge of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, after serving in Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Culture from 2006–2009.She is a member of the Indian...

, as well as other political leaders and prominent figures.

Political leaders who offered their condolences included the Indian Prime Minister
Prime Minister of India
The Prime Minister of India , as addressed to in the Constitution of India — Prime Minister for the Union, is the chief of government, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in parliament...

 Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh is the 13th and current Prime Minister of India. He is the only Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full five-year term. A Sikh, he is the first non-Hindu to occupy the office. Singh is also the 7th Prime Minister belonging to the Indian...

. The Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

 also offered condolences. Famous cricketer Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is an Indian cricketer widely regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket. He is the leading run-scorer and century maker in Test and one-day international cricket. He is the only male player to score a double century in the history of ODI cricket...

 cancelled his birthday celebrations. The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu is an Indian English-language daily newspaper founded and continuously published in Chennai since 1878. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, it has a circulation of 1.46 million copies as of December 2009. The enterprise employed over 1,600 workers and gross income reached $40...

newspaper reported that "Sri Sathya Sai Baba's propagation of spiritualism and preaching of Hindu philosophy never came in the way of his commitment to secular beliefs." The Government of Karnataka
Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

 declared 25 and 26 April as days of mourning
Day of Mourning
The Day of Mourning was a day of protest held by Aboriginal Australians on 26 January 1938, the sesquicentenary of British colonisation of Australia...

, and Andhra Pradesh declared 25, 26 and 27 April as days of mourning.

Beliefs and practices of devotees



Sathya Sai Baba said that his followers do not need to give up their original religion, saying
Internationally, Sathya Sai Baba devotees gather daily, or weekly on Sundays or Thursdays or both, to sing group devotional songs, prayer, spiritual meditation, service to the community (Seva), and to participate in "Education in Human Values" (SSEHV) known as "Bal Vikas" (Blossoming of the Child), that can also be described as Sai Sunday School.

A primary aspect of Baba's teachings is the spiritual benefit of darshan for his students. At that time, Sai Baba might interact with people, accept letters, materialize and distribute vibhuti
Vibhuti
Vibhuti is a word that has several meanings in Hinduism.-Sacred ash:Vibhuti is the sacred ash used in religious worship in Hinduism. The main ingredient of Vibuthi is a special kind of wood, but several other substances, such as milk and ghee, prescribed in scriptures are also added...

 (sacred ash) or call groups or individuals for interviews. Devotees considered it a great privilege to have an interview and sometimes a single person, group or family was invited for a private interview.

.

Ashrams and mandirs


Puttaparthi, where Sathya Sai Baba was born and lived, was originally a small, remote South Indian village in Andhra Pradesh. Now there is an extensive university complex, a speciality hospital, and two museums: the Sanathana Samskruti or Eternal Heritage Museum, sometimes called the Museum of All Religions, and the Chaitanya Jyoti, devoted exclusively to the life and teachings of Sathya Sai Baba; the latter has won several international awards for its architectural design. There is also a planetarium, a railway station, a hill-view stadium, an administrative building, an airport, an indoor sports stadium and more. High-ranking Indian politicians such as the former President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee is an Indian statesman who served as the tenth Prime Minister of India three times – first for a brief term of 13 days in 1996, and then for two terms from 1998 to 2004. After his first brief period as Prime Minister in 1996, Vajpayee headed a coalition government from...

, Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

 former Chief Minister Konijeti Rosaiah
Konijeti Rosaiah
Konijeti Rosaiah is the current Governor of Tamil Nadu and a former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. He was previously an MLC, MLA & MP of the Indian National Congress numerous times and has handled many ministerial posts over his long political career spanning over half a century...

 and Karnataka
Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

 Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa have been official guests at the ashram in Puttaparthi. On Sathya Sai Baba's 80th birthday celebration, it was reported that well over a million people attended, including 13,000 delegates from India and 180 other countries.
Sathya Sai Baba resided much of the time in his main ashram
Ashram
Traditionally, an ashram is a spiritual hermitage. Additionally, today the term ashram often denotes a locus of Indian cultural activity such as yoga, music study or religious instruction, the moral equivalent of a studio or dojo....

 called Prashanthi Nilayam (Abode of Highest Peace) at Puttaparthi. In the hot summer he used to leave for his other ashram, called Brindavan, in Kadugodi, Whitefield, a town on the outskirts of Bangalore
Bangalore
Bengaluru , formerly called Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Bangalore is nicknamed the Garden City and was once called a pensioner's paradise. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city and...

. Occasionally he visited his Sai Shruti ashram in Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal
-Climate:Kodaikanal has a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate . The temperatures are cool throughout the year due to the high elevation of the city.-Economy:...

.

Sathya Sai Baba established three primary mandirs
Hindu temple
A Mandir, Devalayam, Devasthanam, or a Hindu temple is a place of worship for followers of Hinduism...

 (spiritual centres) in India. The first mandir, founded in Mumbai
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

 in 1968, is referred to as either "Dharmakshetra" or "Sathyam". The second centre, established in Hyderabad in 1973, is referred to as "Shivam". The third centre, inaugurated on 19 January 1981 in Chennai
Chennai
Chennai , formerly known as Madras or Madarasapatinam , is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the fourth most populous metropolitan area and the sixth most populous city in India...

, is referred to as "Sundaram".

Institutions, organisations and projects


Sathya Sai Baba supported a variety of free educational institutions, hospitals, and other charitable works in over 166 countries.
The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning is the university founded by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act of 1956. Sathya Sai Baba is also the chancellor of the institute...

 (now changed to Sri Sathya Sai University) in Prashanthi Nilayam is the only college in India to have received an "A++" rating by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council
National Assessment and Accreditation Council
The National Assessment and Accreditation Council is an organization that assesses and accredits institutions of higher education in India. It is an autonomous body funded by University Grants Commission of Government of India headquartered in Bangalore.-History:NAAC was established in 1994 in...

 (an autonomous body established by the University Grants Commission). Sri Sathya Sai University of which Baba was the Chancellor, has three campuses, one at Puttaparthi for men, one at Whitefield, Bangalore
Bangalore
Bengaluru , formerly called Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Bangalore is nicknamed the Garden City and was once called a pensioner's paradise. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city and...

 for men and one at Anantapur for women. His charity supports an institute for Indian classical music
Indian classical music
The origins of Indian classical music can be found in the Vedas, which are the oldest scriptures in the Hindu tradition. Indian classical music has also been significantly influenced by, or syncretised with, Indian folk music and Persian music. The Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, describes music...

 called the Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music. Baba's educational institutions aim to impart character education along with excellence in academics with emphasis on human values and ethics.

Sathya Sai Baba chaired the Muddenahalli-Sathya Sai Loka Seva School
Muddenahalli-Sathya Sai Loka Seva School
Located in the twin towns of Muddenahalli-Kanivenarayanapura, the birthplace of legendary Indian engineer, Sri Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya in Kolar District of Karnataka State. The Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Educational Institution is run by the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust...

 and Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust Educational Institutions
Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust Educational Institutions
The two campuses of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust are located at the educational hub of Muddenahalli-Kanivenarayanapura in Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka state and in Alike, Kannada district of India. With the help of Sri Madiyala Narayana Bhat and Sri Sathya Sai Baba...

 in Muddenahalli
Muddenahalli
Muddenahalli is a centrally located town situated 7 km from Chikballapur and 1 km from Kanivenarayanapura in Chikballapur District of Karnataka State...

-Kanivenarayanapura
Kanivenarayanapura
Kanivenarayanapura is a centrally located historical town situated 6 km from Chikballapur, 3 km from Nandi Town and 1 km from Muddenahalli in Chikballapur District of Karnataka State. It is adjacent to the birth place of the renowned Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya, one of India's most...

 regions. In addition, a Sathya Sai Baba University and Medical School as well as a world class hospital and research institute are being constructed on over 200 acre (0.809372 km²) to serve the destitute population. Baba said that the campus will be modeled after Puttaparthi and will infuse spirituality with academics.
The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences
Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital
The Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital is a tertiary health care hospital created to provide patient care facilities to all, free of cost...

 in Puttaparthi is a 220 bed facility that provides free surgical and medical care and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao
Narasimha Rao
Narasimha Rao or Narasimharao is one of the Indian names.* Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Rao served as the 10th Prime Minister of India.* Modireddy Venkat Narasimha Rao, is a former Indian cricketer....

 on 22 November 1991. The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Bangalore is a 333 bed hospital meant to benefit the poor. The hospital was inaugurated on 19 January 2001 by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The hospital has provided free medical care to over 250,000 patients.

The Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital was opened in Whitefield, Bangalore, in 1977 and provides complex surgeries, food and medicines free of cost. The hospital has treated over 2 million patients.

The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust runs several general hospitals, two specialty hospitals
Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital
The Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital is a tertiary health care hospital created to provide patient care facilities to all, free of cost...

, eye hospitals and mobile dispensaries and conducts medical camps in rural and slum areas in India. The Trust has also funded several major drinking water projects. One project completed in 1996 supplies water to 1.2 million people in about 750 villages in the drought-prone Anantapur district
Anantapur district
Anantapur District , ) is one of the 23 districts in Andhra Pradesh, India. The district headquarters is Anantapur City. It is currently a part of the Red Corridor.- Geography :...

 in Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

. The second drinking water project, completed in 2004, supplies water to Chennai
Chennai
Chennai , formerly known as Madras or Madarasapatinam , is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the fourth most populous metropolitan area and the sixth most populous city in India...

 through a rebuilt waterway named "Sathya Sai Ganga Canal". Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi
M. Karunanidhi
Muthuvel Karunanidhi is an Indian politician and a former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. He is the head of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam , a Dravidian political party in the state of Tamil Nadu. He has been the leader of the DMK since the death of its founder, C. N...

 praised the Chennai water project and Sai Baba's involvement. Other completed water projects include the Medak
Medak
Medak , is a municipality in Medak District in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is 100 km to the north of Hyderabad.-Geography:Medak is located at . It has an average elevation of 442 metres .-Demographics:...

 District Project benefiting 450,000 people in 179 villages and the Mahbubnagar
Mahbubnagar
Mahabubnagar or Mahboobnagar is the biggest town in Mahabubnagar District of Andhra Pradesh, India. The city of Mahabubnagar is located at a distance of 100 km from Hyderabad. Formerly known as, Rukmammapeta and Palamoor, it was named as Mahabubnagar on 4 December 1890, in the honour of Mir...

 District Project benefitting 350,000 people in 141 villages. In January 2007, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust said it would start a drinking water project in Latur
LaTur
La Tur was a Mexican airline that operated from 1988 until 1992 when it was taken over by TAESA.-Company history:Set up in 1988 to help develop the tourist market, La Tur began operations using McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft. One year later, the Airbus A300-600 was introduced for flights to Europe...

, Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

. In 2008, 2 million people in the state of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 were affected by floods. As a relief measure, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization, has built 699 houses as a part of their first phase in 16 villages by March 2009.

Sathya Sai Baba's Educare program seeks to found schools throughout the world with the goal of educating children in the five human values. According to the Sai Educare site, schools have been founded in 33 countries, including Australia, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Peru. The Times of Zambia states, "The positive influence of Sathya Sai is unprecedented in the annals of education in Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

. Sai Baba's education ideals as embodied in his human values-based approach in education are an eye opener to educationists in Zambia."

In Canada, the Fraser Institute
Fraser Institute
The Fraser Institute is a Canadian think tank. It has been described as politically conservative and right-wing libertarian and espouses free market principles...

, an independent Canadian research and educational organization, ranked the Sathya Sai School of Canada as one of the top 37 elementary schools in Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

. The Sathya Sai School scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in the Institute's overall rating for academic performance.

On 23 November 1999, the Department of Posts, Government of India, released a postage stamp and a postal cover in recognition of the service rendered by Sathya Sai Baba in addressing the problem of providing safe drinking water to the rural masses.

On 23 November 2001, the digital radio network Radio Sai Global Harmony
Sai Global Harmony
Sai Global Harmony is a WorldSpace digital satellite radio channel airing programs by/on Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, India. Programs include, Sai Baba "discourses, bhajans, songs, talks, interviews and plays."A webstream of the same channel is available on...

 was launched through the World Space Organization, United States. Dr Michael Oleinikof Nobel (distant relative to Alfred Nobel
Alfred Nobel
Alfred Bernhard Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer. He is the inventor of dynamite. Nobel also owned Bofors, which he had redirected from its previous role as primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other armaments...

 and one of the patrons for the radio network) said that the radio network would spread Sathya Sai Baba's message of global harmony and peace.

In January 2007, an event was held in Chennai Nehru stadium organised by the Chennai Citizens Conclave to thank Sathya Sai Baba for the 200 crore water project which brought water from the River Krishna in Andhra Pradesh to Chennai city. Four chief ministers attended the function.

Reputation for miracles and clairvoyance


Devotees said they observed Sathya Sai Baba manifesting vibhuti (holy ash), and sometimes food and "small objects" such as rings, necklaces and watches.
In books, magazines, filmed interviews and articles, Sathya Sai Baba's followers reported miracles of various kinds that they attributed to him. Internationally, devotees reported that vibhuti, kumkum
Kumkum
Kumkum , is a powder used for social and religious markings in Hinduism. It is either made from turmeric or saffron...

, turmeric
Turmeric
Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is native to tropical South Asia and needs temperatures between 20 °C and 30 °C and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive...

 powder, holy water, Shiva lingas, statues of deities (brass and gold), sugar candy, fruits, herbs, amrita
Amrita
Amrit is a Sanskrit word that literally means "immortality", and is often referred to in texts as nectar. The word's earliest occurrence is in the Rigveda where it is one of several synonyms of soma, the drink which confers immortality upon the gods. It is related etymologically to the Greek...

(a fragrant, nectar-like honey), gems, colored string, writings in ash and various other substances spontaneously manifested and materialized on the walls, furniture, pictures and altars of Sathya Sai Baba. Sathya Sai Baba's devotees also believed that he relieved them from pain, by transferring it to himself.

The first ever record of Baba's miracles by a foreigner was made by Howard Murphet
Howard Murphet
Howard Murphet was an author and devotee of Sathya Sai Baba.Howard Murphet was born in Tasmania and educated at the University of Hobart. During the Second World War he served with the Eighth Army at El Alamein and Tunis, took part in the invasion of Sicily and Italy and, later, with the British...

 in his 1971 book, Sai Baba – Man Of Miracles. The retired Icelandic psychology professor Erlendur Haraldsson
Erlendur Haraldsson
Erlendur Haraldsson is a Professor emeritus of psychology at the Faculty of social science at the University of Iceland who, despite having retired from his former post at the University of Iceland, continues to be an active academic. He has published work in various parapsychology journals, and...

 wrote in 1997 that he did not obtain Sathya Sai Baba's permission to study him under controlled circumstances, but that he investigated the guru's alleged miracles and manifestations through interviews with devotees and ex-devotees. Some of the reported miracles included levitation (both indoors and outdoors), bilocation
Bilocation
Bilocation, or sometimes multilocation, is a term used to describe the ability/instances in which an individual or object is said to be, or appears to be, located in two distinct places at the same instant in time...

, physical disappearances, changing granite into sugar candy, changing water into another drink, changing water into gasoline, producing objects on demand, changing the color of his gown while wearing it, multiplying food, healing acute and chronic diseases, appearing in visions and dreams, making different fruits appear on any tree hanging from actual stems, controlling the weather, physically transforming into various deities and physically emitting brilliant light. Haraldsson wrote that the largest allegedly materialized object that he saw was a mangalsutra
Mangalsutra
A Mangalsutra is a symbol of Hindu marriage union in South Asia. It is a sacred thread of love and goodwill worn by women as a symbol of their marriage...

 necklace, 32 inches long, 16 inches long on each side. He stated that some miracles attributed to Sathya Sai Baba resembled the ones described in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, but that although healings certainly figured in Sai Baba's reputation, healings did not play as prominent a role in Sathya Sai Baba's activities as in those of Jesus.

Sathya Sai Baba explained the phenomenon of manifestation as being an act of divine creation, but refused to have his materializations
Materialization (parapsychology)
In spiritualism, paranormal literature, and some religions, materialization is the creation or appearance of matter from unknown sources. It is the transformation of something abstract or virtual into something concrete and tangible...

 investigated under experimental conditions. In a 1974 discourse, he stated, "The optical sense cannot visualize the truth. It gives only false and fogged information. For example, there are many who observe my actions and start declaring that my nature is such and such." He said of his "miracles", "those who profess to have understood me, the scholars, the yogi
Yogi
A Yogi is a practitioner of Yoga. The word is also used to refer to ascetic practitioners of meditation in a number of South Asian Religions including Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.-Etymology:...

s, the pundits, the jnanis, all of them are aware only of the least important, the casual external manifestation of an infinitesimal part of that power, namely, the "miracles"! This has been the case in all ages. People may be very near [physically] to the Avathar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

, but they live out their lives unaware of their fortune; they exaggerate the role of miracles, which are as trivial, when compared to my glory and majesty, as a mosquito is in size and strength to the elephant upon which it squats. Therefore, when you speak about these 'miracles,' I laugh within myself out of pity that you allow yourself so easily to lose the precious awareness of my reality."

Critical examinations


In April 1976, H. Narasimhaiah
H. Narasimhaiah
Hosur Narasimhaiah was a physicist, educator, freedom fighter and rationalist from Karnataka, India. He was popularly known as HN. He was conferred Padma Bhushan by Government of India in 1985.-Early life:...

, a physicist, rationalist and then vice chancellor of Bangalore University
Bangalore University
Bangalore University is a public university located in Bangalore, Karnataka State, India. The university is one of the oldest in India, dating back to 1886...

, founded and chaired a committee "to rationally and scientifically investigate miracles and other verifiable superstitions". Narasimhaiah wrote Sathya Sai Baba three letters that were widely publicized, in which he publicly challenged him to perform his miracles under controlled conditions. Sathya Sai Baba said that he ignored Narasimhaiah's challenge because he felt his approach was improper, adding that "Science must confine its inquiry only to things belonging to the human senses, while spiritualism transcends the senses. If you want to understand the nature of spiritual power you can do so only through the path of spirituality and not science. What science has been able to unravel is merely a fraction of the cosmic phenomena ..." Narasimhaiah's committee was dissolved in August 1977. According to Erlendur Haraldsson, the formal challenge from the committee came to a dead end because of the negative attitude of the committee, and perhaps because of all the fanfare surrounding it. Narasimhaiah held the fact that Sathya Sai Baba ignored his letters to be one of several indications that his miracles were fraudulent. As a result of this episode, a public debate raged for several months in Indian newspapers.

Indian rationalist Basava Premanand
Basava Premanand
Basava Premanand was an eminent skeptic and rationalist from Kerala, India.-History:Premanand was born on 17 February 1930 in Kozhikode, Kerala. His parents were followers of the Theosophical movement....

 stated in a BBC documentary that he had been investigating Sathya Sai Baba since 1968 and that, in his opinion, Sai Baba faked his materialisations. He sued Sai Baba in 1986 for violations of the Gold Control Act, citing Sathya Sai Baba's purported "materializations" of gold objects. When the case was dismissed, Premanand unsuccessfully appealed on the grounds that claimed spiritual power is not a defense recognized in law. The magician James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

 wrote about Sathya Sai Baba and Premanand, "Examination of films and videotapes of Sai Baba's actual performances show them to be simple sleight of hand, exactly the same as the sort used by the other Indian jaduwallahs, or 'street conjurors.' Sai Baba has never submitted to an examination of his abilities under controls, so his claims are totally unproven. Parsimony applies here. India's leading debunker of the claims of the god-men who infest that country, the famous Premanand, has duplicated all of Sai Baba's tricks and tours the world demonstrating these feats."

A 1995 TV documentary Guru Busters, produced by filmmaker Robert Eagle for UK's Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

, similarly accused Sathya Sai Baba of faking his materializations. The clip from the film was mentioned in the Deccan Chronicle
The Deccan Chronicle
Deccan Chronicle is an Indian English-language daily newspaper. It is published in Hyderabad, India by Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited. The newspaper's name derives from the originating place, the Deccan regions of India. Supplements are "TV Guide", "Sunday Chronicle", "Chennai Chronicle", and...

, on 23 November 1992, on a front page headline "DD Tape Unveils Baba Magic". However, Haraldsson stated that, on investigating the DD video, researchers did not find evidence of fake materialisation as claimed by Deccan chronicle. According to Haraldsson, the video was taken to a company which investigates corporate fraud. In spite of improving the graininess of the low quality video with enhanced filters and running it through advanced image processing systems, Haraldsson stated the DD video did not provide firm evidence of sleight of hand.

In 1998, British journalist Mick Brown stated in his book The Spiritual Tourist that Sathya Sai Baba's claim of "resurrecting" the American devotee Walter Cowan in 1971 was probably untrue. His opinion was based on letters from the attending doctors presented in the magazine Indian Skeptic, published by Premanand. Brown also related, in the same book, his experiences with manifestations of vibuthi from Sathya Sai Baba's pictures in houses in London, which he felt were not fraudulent or the result of trickery. Brown wrote with regards to Sathya Sai Baba's claims of omniscience, that "skeptics have produced documentation clearly showing discrepancies between Baba's reading of historical events and biblical prophecies, and the established accounts."

In December 2000, the magazine India Today
India Today
India Today is an Indian weekly news magazine published by Living Media India Limited, in publication since 1975 based in Mumbai. India Today is also the name of its sister-publication in Hindi...

published a cover story about Sai Baba with allegations of fakery made by the magician P. C. Sorcar, Jr.
P. C. Sorcar, Jr.
P. C. Sorcar, Jr. is an Indian magician based in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. He is the second son of legendary Indian magician P. C. Sorcar, and is today considered the most prominent magician in India...

 Documentaries produced by the BBC and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, analyzing videos of the supposed miracles, suggested that they could be explained as sleight of hand
Sleight of hand
Sleight of hand, also known as prestidigitation or legerdemain, is the set of techniques used by a magician to manipulate objects such as cards and coins secretly....

.

In his book Redemptive Encounters: Three Modern Styles in the Hindu Tradition, Lawrence A. Babb wrote about Sathya Sai Baba, "Whoever he is, he is certainly more than the mere parlour magician many of his critics claim that he is."

Criticism and controversy


The Vancouver Sun in 2001 reported that Sathya Sai Baba told his adherents not to browse the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 due to allegations rapidly circulating on various Internet website
Website
A website, also written as Web site, web site, or simply site, is a collection of related web pages containing images, videos or other digital assets. A website is hosted on at least one web server, accessible via a network such as the Internet or a private local area network through an Internet...

s and in a few newspapers. In a 2000 public discourse, Sathya Sai Baba said, "These teachings (the Vedas) are highly sacred. Today people are ready to believe all that they see on television and internet but do not repose their faith in the Vedic declarations. Internet is like a waste paper basket. Follow the 'innernet,' not the internet."

Unverified charges leveled against Sathya Sai Baba by detractors and ex-followers included money laundering
Money laundering
Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

, fraud
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

 in the performance of service projects, child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities , indecent exposure with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to...

 and murder. In 2004, in the UK and internationally, the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 and other national networks aired a documentary titled The Secret Swami, as part of its series "The World Uncovered". One central theme of the BBC documentary was Alaya Rahm's sexual abuse allegations against Sathya Sai Baba. The documentary interviewed him together with Mark Roche, who had devoted 25 years of his life since 1969 to the movement and alleged abuse by Sai Baba. A spokesman for the BBC told Asian Voice that the documentary had gone to great lengths to be balanced and fair, and that the story was one of a crisis, and ultimately a betrayal, of faith. Another documentary, Seduced By Sai Baba, carried interviews of abuse allegations. It was produced by Denmark's national television and radio broadcast company, Danmarks Radio (DR). During an interview with Asian Voice magazine Ashok Bhagani, a trustee of the Sai Organization in the UK, said that the allegations in the Secret Swami documentary were baseless and factless. Bhagani said that devotees never met Sai Baba alone.

Neither Sathya Sai Baba, nor any organizations associated with him, have been charged or convicted with sexual abuse or any other crime in a court of law.

Responses to criticism


Devotees generally responded to allegations such as those of sexual misconduct with outright denial, asserting that ex-followers were vindictive and not reputable – fickle people who one day sang Sathya Sai Baba's praises and then turned against him when some wish of theirs wasn't fulfilled. A second common response was that even if some of the allegations by critics were correct, they simply lacked the vision to understand things in their correct spiritual context, or were failing to understand the meaning of lila, Sathya Sai Baba's divine play. Devotee Bill Aitken
Bill Aitken (traveller)
William McKay Aitken is a Scottish born, naturalized Indian travel writer. He is the author of a number of books about India, its mountains and its spiritual core....

 was quoted by The Week
The Week
The Week, styled as THE WEEK, is a weekly news magazine.-History:It was founded in the United Kingdom by Jolyon Connell in 1995. In April 2001, the magazine began publishing an American edition; an Australian edition followed in October 2008. Dennis Publishing publishes the U.K. and Australian...

as saying that Sathya Sai Baba's reputation had not been harmed by the negative stories published about the guru. He said that the more detractors railed against Sathya Sai Baba, the more new devotees went to see him. In the article Divine Downfall, published in the Daily Telegraph, Anil Kumar, the ex-principal of the Sathya Sai Educational Institute, said that he believed that the controversy was part of Baba's divine plan and that all great religious teachers had to face criticism during their lives. Anil Kumar also said that allegations had been leveled at Sathya Sai Baba since childhood, but with every criticism he had become more and more triumphant.

In an official letter made public in December 2001, Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee is an Indian statesman who served as the tenth Prime Minister of India three times – first for a brief term of 13 days in 1996, and then for two terms from 1998 to 2004. After his first brief period as Prime Minister in 1996, Vajpayee headed a coalition government from...

 (then Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister of India
The Prime Minister of India , as addressed to in the Constitution of India — Prime Minister for the Union, is the chief of government, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in parliament...

 and a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba), P.N. Bhagawati (Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India), Ranganath Misra
Ranganath Misra
Justice Ranganath Misra of Orissa served as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India from September 25, 1990 to November 24, 1991, and has served as the Chief Scout of the All India Boy Scouts Association since 1992.-External links:* -References:...

 (Chair Person, National Human Rights Commissioner of India and Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India), Najma Heptulla (President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; UNDP Distinguished Human Development Ambassador) and Shivraj Patil (Member of Parliament, India; Formerly of the Lok Sabha & Union Minister) all signed a letter which stated as follows:
The Times Of India on 26 December 2000 said that Sathya Sai Baba "lashed out at his detractors in a rare display of anger" while referring to criticism published in a magazine. The Times quoted him as saying, "Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 Christ underwent many hardships, and was put to the cross because of jealousy. Many around him could not bear the good work he did and the large number of followers he gathered. One of his disciples, Judas
Judas Iscariot
Judas Iscariot was, according to the New Testament, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He is best known for his betrayal of Jesus to the hands of the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver.-Etymology:...

, betrayed him. In those days there was one Judas, but today there are thousands. Just as that Judas was tempted to betray Jesus, the Judases of today, too, are bought out to lie. Jealousy was the motive behind the allegations levelled at him."

Sathya Sai Baba publicly responded to the allegations on 25 December 2000:
In 1974 in Sathya Speaks Volume 12, Sai Baba stated, "The Sai Principle, the Sai Divinity can never be affected by
any slander; it can never be shaken by any tactics; its progress can never be halted. Do not pay
heed to the barkings you hear.Truth may be clouded for some little time by the fog of slander but, victory is certain. The forces
of hate will be defeated by their own wiles; they dig for their own downfall; their action results
in reactions, ruinous for themselves"

External links