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Sathya Sai Baba Is Dead. Said He Would Rule the World and Die Aged 96

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 24, 2011


Sathya Sai Baba died today, Sunday morning.  A Puttaparthi hospital official says:

“Sai Baba is no more with us physically. He breathed his last at 7:40am and died due to cardio-respiratory failure.”

The self-described fullest incarnation of God ever to visit the earth has been clearly documented as saying that he would live until circa 2022, aged 96.  But 85 years of age cannot, by any miracle, be said to be 96. There are his well-documented promises that he would rule the world before leaving it. That he would avert the worst calamity mankind has ever faced. That he would usher in a long ‘Golden Age of Sai’. These and other declarations have clearly not even begun to look at all likely. See: my article: Sathya Sai Baba’s Amazing Predictions.

The late Howard Murphet, an Australian journalist, and author of best-selling hagiorgraphical books on Sai Baba, with whom he was close for years, wrote:

“Swami once, a good many years ago told me that He would not travel abroad until His own house was in order, by that He means India, of course”. Source: Online version, “The Lights of Home”.

In a February 1 16, 2007 ‘divine discourse’, Sai baba said: 

“I intend to undertake a world tour, shortly”.

Godman proposes, God disposes, it would seem.

Sathya Sai Baba was perhaps the most wealthy and politically powerful in India’s long history. As of today, the world shall have just have to battle things out without him.

I was a faith-smitten devotee of 25 years, and a lecturer in his Whitefield College (via Bangalore, South India) – 1978-9), at the ashram where Sai Baba mainly lived in those days. I taught the 3 years of the degree course, a source of greatly happy memories. I have him to thank for that, and for his protection of my innovations in what was a very conservative, rote-dominated learning milieu. He showed me other kindnesses, too, which I shall always treasure as I do my own breath. 

But October 1999 marked the beginning of my intense and far-reaching investigation of profoundly disturbing accounts from around the world. Until then, I thought he would usher in a spiritual and social revolution, the like of which the world had never seen.  See:

It must seem odd to anyone but a faith-smitten devotee, but here were just some of the assurances he gave:

“Usually old people have wrinkles on their faces … I do not have any signs of old age. (loud applause). There is not a single wrinkle on My face”. (The official monthly official journal: Sanathana Sarathi, October, 2002)

 “I do not suffer from any kind of disease because there is no trace of greed in Me. That is why I am always healthy…”  (Sanathana Sarathi September 2001, page 257f) 186)

“Desire to which you are too fondly attached breeds anger and its nefarious brood. Discard it and you can have perpetual youth! The Aanandha that the Aathman can manifest will keep age and ageing away!” (Discourse of Sathya Sai Baba, Prashanthi Nilayam, 22 Feb 1971. Published by Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust.)

“Millions and Millions” of Devotees!  But Has Anyone Done A Proper Head Count?

His devotees – very inattentively followed by many duty-derelict sections of an unquestioning media – speak, as did a Sathya Sai Central Trust bulletin of only days ago, of “millions and millions” of devotees around the world. See:  Sathya Sai Trust Officials Say Sai Baba Out of Hospital Soon.  Posted by Barry Pittard on April 16, 2011.  This statement appeared in the long and anxiously awaited “Important Press Release by Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust”, Friday, April 15, 2011. This read, in part:

“His residence is being got ready in all aspects to receive Him and provide Him the required level of follow up medical care as also emergency services.

…. The Trustees are gratified to note the spontaneous upsurge of prayers, bhajans, namasmarana, candle light processions of millions and millions of His devotees all over the globe for His very early and total recovery”.

As anyone in any virtually any street around the world knows perfectly well, this talk of “millions and millions” is a nonsense, where faith and imagination far outrun reality. Let Sathya Sai devotees provide some facts, figures, television footage of these alleged remarkable turnouts round the world. Or ask all the candle manufacturers if they ran out of candles owing to extreme demand by these candle-carrying “millions and millions” of Sathya Sai devotees ….

Let anyone in countries round the world stop any passer-by and ask whether they have heard of Sathya Sai Baba, and they will, frequently, get blank looks for answers. On the other hand, ask people if they know of Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela or Prince William and his wife-to-be Kate Middleton, and one will fare a great deal better.

Will One of So Many Failed Prophecies Fare Any Better With His Foretellings Yet To Be Tested?

Times of India’s report hands us the excellent opportunity to do a countdown for the next 40 days – for that is the amount of time to be taken for the fulfilment of his reported prophecy of returning from the dead. 

PUTTAPARTHI: Did Sathya Sai Baba have premonition 10 years ago that he would fall seriously ill? Yes, claim his followers. According to them, Sai Baba had predicted in 2000 that he would be indisposed for 40 days but would come back strong to give darshan to his devotees.  This was revealed in a book ‘Tapovanam — Bhagawan Sri Sathya Saibaba Satcharitra Nityaparaya-nam’ in which the author Jandhyala Venkateswara Sastry has written an essay on Baba’s ill-health. Sai Baba had told his students at his Sai Shruti ashram in Kodaikanal in 2000: ”Though most of my disciples fall at my feet, they don’t know my real value. A time would come when I would vanish and take a walk across the skies. During that phase, my body would face serious health problems and devotees would be desperately praying for my recovery.”

But  can we take his word?  See:  Sathya Sai Baba’s Amazing PredictionsIn fact, many are his failed predictions, and broken promises of miraculous cure. In his February 1 16, 2007 (so-called ‘divine discourse’, Sathya Sai baba said: “I intend to undertake a world tour, shortly.” See, too:  Wealthy Americans Prepare Mansions For “God’s” Visit

Or for further solemn unreality, read and account of what one of India’s most powerful Hindu nationalist leaders, Ashok Singhal, who has an international profile in the Hindu world, told an assembly of political and religious luminaries in Delhi of a prophecy he says Sathya Sai Baba shared with him:  ‘World Hindu’ by 2030. VHP’s Singhal Reports Sathya Sai Baba Told Him 

Below is Tanya Datta’s obituary. She was part of the BBC team which made ‘The Secret Swami’.  See my view as having been closely involved with documentation and international coordination of primary and other witnesses in the making of this 2004, hour-long documentary:  The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ – A Revision .  See too Robert Priddy’s Indisputable facts about Sathya Sai Baba by BBC. And for a man upon whom many duties will now focus, see:  Sathya Sai Baba’s Chief Broadcaster Dr G. Venkataraman:  Select Critical Articles by Barry Pittard.

Further Reading

My obituries for two men of remarkable courage, compassion and determination in standing up to the execrations and, indeed, serious defamations of many Sathya Sai devotees from the most prominent to the rank-and-file:

Glen Meloy (“Standing up for truth and goodness”) – In Memoriam

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 18, 2009

Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach

Posted by Barry Pittard on October 6, 2009


 BBC News South Asia

24 April 2011 Last updated at 05:03 GMT
Obituary:  Indian guru Sai Baba

By Tanya Datta Documentary maker

Sai BabaSri Satya Sai Baba, India’s revered spiritual guru who counted presidents, prime ministers, judges and generals amongst his millions of followers around the world, has died at the age of 84.

Until the last, he was a man who inspired passionately conflicting emotions (as I discovered when I made a BBC investigative documentary about him in 2004 called Secret Swami).

To his devotees, Sai Baba was an avatar, an incarnation of God in human form, who appeared on Earth to preach his inspirational message in one of India’s poorest corners.

To his critics, he was a fraudster dogged for years by controversial allegations of sexual abuse yet protected from prosecution by virtue of his powerful political sway.

Whatever he was, there was no doubt that over time he rose in prominence to become India’s premier “god-man”, eclipsing the likes of Maharishi and Shri Rajneesh who had first drawn Westerners east in the Sixties and Seventies.

A petite, softly spoken man dressed in full length saffron robes and perpetually sporting a trademark afro hairstyle, Sai Baba’s appeal was not limited to Western hippies but cut across Indian society from its lowest to highest echelons as well as spreading to many other countries beyond.

‘Immaculate conception’Satya Sai Baba was born Sathyanarayana Raju on 23 November 1926 in the remote village of Puttaparthi in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, although like many born at this time, there is no proof of his date of birth.

Stories abound of the early signs of his divinity.

It is said that his mother claimed her son was born out of an immaculate conception just as Jesus Christ had been, another messiah who Sai Baba often identified himself with.

On another occasion, he was alleged to have survived a scorpion bite and on his recovery, was miraculously able to speak Sanskrit, a language he did not know before. Indeed, throughout his childhood, he was said to have been abnormally gifted in artistic pursuits such as music, dance, drama and writing.

Supporters of Sai Baba Sai Baba had a huge following

When he was 13 years old, the young boy announced to his family that he was the incarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, a 19th century Indian holyman who had been equally venerated by Hindus and Muslims alike. Changing his name was a key spiritual metamorphosis.

The teenage Sai Baba soon began to attract followers and by 1950, had constructed an ashram called Prasanthi Nilayam (Abode of Peace) near his village to accommodate them.

It heralded the start of the transformation of Puttaparthi into a Sai Baba wonderland spread over some 10 square kilometres; the vast complex of hotels, resorts, university buildings, speciality hospital, airport and enormous ashram thronged with devotees that I witnessed while making the documentary.

Non-dogmaticPart of Sai Baba’s huge global popularity may be explained by his non-dogmatic, non-doctrinal approach to spirituality.

In contrast to many sects, followers were not required to give up their previous religious beliefs as the guru stated that he believed in the one God that lay behind all religious paths.

Certainly, Sai Baba inspired love and admiration.

During our time spent filming at the ashram, devotees from around the world would volunteer stories about how Sai Baba had visited them in a dream or had called to them though moments of curious serendipity.

In addition, his mystical ability to manifest vibhuti (holy ash), food as well as jewellery and watches out of thin air was often cited as further proof of his divinity and akin to the ‘miracles’ ascribed to other past prophets.

His opponents, however, refuted this to me.

In the Secret Swami, I was shown how these manifestations could easily be explained by illusionists’ techniques and sleight of hand tricks.

A hospital built by Sai Baba A hospital in Puttaparthi set up by Sai Baba

For decades, various scientists, rationalists and magicians have in turn, attempted to challenge the guru to perform his ‘miracles’ under controlled conditions.

Sai Baba always refused to submit to these tests, once saying: “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.”

Sexual Abuse

The most damning allegations against the “god-man”, however, concern the sexual abuse of young boys and male adults during private interviews with him.

Damaging rumours have circulated since the seventies of the guru’s sexual exploits but have always been dismissed out of hand by the tightly controlled Sai Baba organisation.

We interviewed the Rahm family in America who had been Sai Baba devotees for years. Both father and son stated that they had been subjected to Sai Baba rubbing oil on their genitals.

“He took me aside,” said Alaya Rahm, “put the oil on his hands, told me to drop my pants and rubbed my genitals with oil. I was really taken aback.”

Former Indian PM Atal Behari Vajpayee with Sai Baba Sai Baba counted former Indian prime ministers as his followers

Dr Michael Goldstein, chairman of the international Sai Baba organisation, admitted he had heard rumours, but told us that he did not believe them. He said: “My heart and my conscience tell me that it is not possible.”

Sai Baba was never investigated on this issue. All attempts to prosecute him failed.

Nor was there any satisfactory resolution to the gruesome killing of four male devotees in 1993 who allegedly entered Sai Baba’s bedroom, armed with knives.

The police claimed they had been shot in self-defence.

The lack of any legal proceedings against the guru was perhaps not surprising in light of the level of influence that he commanded.

A previous Indian prime minister, Atal Vajpayee, once issued a letter on his official notepaper calling the attacks on Sai Baba “wild, reckless and concocted”.

Since 2005, Sai Baba’s health had been deteriorating. Although he once predicted he would die in his mid-90s, he also claimed he could choose the moment of his death.

In death as in life, he remained an enigma to the last.

Tanya Dutt is a London-based radio and television broadcaster and writer. She made Secret Swami, an investigative documentary on Sai Baba for BBC Two.

2 Responses to “Sathya Sai Baba Is Dead. Said He Would Rule the World and Die Aged 96”

  1. david argo said

    He better not resurect himself this easter,why didnt he just kick the bucket on april fools day-that woulda stuck it right up the devottees-It is scary how a single person can influence the configuration of a normal inteligent persons brain without them it would almost seem be only sublimley aware at most-hitler did it jim jones did it,

  2. lady said

    Its funny how its such a brief time and no devotee or friend or sons or student have said if their was a way to restore him, that is re animation we would donate, not even $5.00 dollars, time or nickel. so weird that it is as so. i predicted he would be forgotten in time and already people do not feel the need to erect him and it is true i have the finished formulas just not capital for a lab. The property fallen 50% store vendors broke and worried even people as TATA gong to check his face to see if he faked it as he had invested in that company now in land slide. His own family fighting over money and his servants taking things in his own room, bit by bit losing his living dignity, what a shame. And its just the beginning of a dark cloud over puttaparthi its not his departure at all, many guru and avatars dies and business was great. You broke your contract with those he made understanding with, and those in charge know very well about what. Eventually the government will perhaps foreclose the property as in USA,GREECE, Portugal and other countries, now you will feel in next year what is coming for all bad things said unto Mother and her family in Canada. Donation will be less and less to nothing comes in. lessons of the heart that you misplaced in wrong pocket.

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