Sathya Sai Baba birth anniversary: A look into the life of Puttaparthi-based guru who claimed being the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba

At the age of 14, he left his family and began blessing his devotees, while claiming to be the re-birth of Shirdi Sai Ram Sai Shyam

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, November 23, 2022, 11:07 AM IST
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Sathya Sai Baba birth anniversary: A look into the life of Puttaparthi-based guru who claimed being the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba | FPJ

Sathya Sai Baba was a Hindu guru revered by millions worldwide. He was born at Puttaparthi, and by the name "Sathyanarayana Raju" on November 23, 1926. When he grew to the age of fourteen, he claimed being the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, and left his home to serve his devotees.

Born without wealth or advantage, the Puttaparthi-based guru was once reportedly stung by a scorpion, which lead the teenager begin reciting devotional chants in the ancient language of Sanskrit, which he had never learnt during his present life.

The young religious leader, who accepted devotees from all faiths, quickly won fame for supposed mystical powers including the ability to conjure objects including gold watches out of thin air and to heal. Critics said his miracles were simple magic tricks, but followers believed it to be the divine's glory.

Sai Baba had predicted his own death in 2019 but said that, having been reborn as the second reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi, he would be reborn as the holy man's third and final reincarnation in 2023 in a small village in the state of Karnataka. His followers claim that, as he has died earlier than foreseen, he could return as early as next year.

On his death, several big personalities had expressed grief over the loss. As the death occurred on April 24, 2011, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Baba's death as an "irreparable loss".

Also, there are thought to be more than 1,200 centres of his Sathya Sai organisation in over a hundred countries around the world. These organisations has financed health and education projects, among them hospitals and clinics that claim to cure illnesses beyond the capabilities of mainstream medicine.

While respecting his supposed miracles, as devotees perceive, he has also been subject to criminal allegations. Sai Baba was also the subject of a series of allegations of sexual abuse of young male followers. Participants in a 2004 BBC documentary, The Secret Swami, accused him of massaging their testicles with oil and coercing them into oral sex.

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