Satya Sai Baba's Life and Legacy
Sri Sathya Sai Baba passed away at the age of 84 [long before he predicted he would die] in Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh, India, on April 24, 2011. In a country that has never been short of self-proclaimed godmen peddling spiritual succor with commercial motives, he stands out as a rare phenomenon:
He was a spiritual leader whose mass following transcended linguistic, national, and religious boundaries. He channeled the fervor and quest of millions of devotees into giving and sharing. He steered clear of divisive political and communal activities all his life.
In the complex spiritual spectrum of modern-day India, Sai Baba may not have been associated with a metaphysical and transcendent philosophy like Sri Aurobindo, or the fervent devotion to the divine that often sent Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa into a trance, or the self-enquiry and non-dualism that made Sri Ramana Maharishi a silent yet eloquent preceptor. But Sai Baba's simple message of love and harmony -- mostly soaked in the language of Hindu philosophy, often in a universal strain -- was enough to draw the masses towards him....
His early reputation was built on a series of miracles such as producing holy ash (vibhuthi) or rings or miniature Shiva lingas [transferring them somewhere seemingly] out of thin air. This invited disdain from rationalists who saw these as nothing more than sleight of hand [as is clear from some YouTube videos]. But there were other controversies as well [alleged pederasty and sexual abuse]. His ardent devotees, on the other hand, saw the miracles as mere expressions of his divine powers, and his teachings and the manner in which he touched their lives as far more important. More