Despite the myriad controversies surrounding him, Sathya Sai Baba remained a popular Guru thoughout his life with a huge number of followers around the world. Sai Baba, as he is popularly known, was an iconic figure for over five decades, who endeared himself to the people through various institutions, which promote egalitarian values, education and public health. Here's a profile of the Sai Baba of our times.
Birth & Childhood:
Sathya Sai Baba was born in Puttaparthi, a small village in South India, on November 23, 1926. As a child, he demonstrated exemplary qualities of compassion, generosity, and wisdom, which clearly distinguished him from the other children of his village.
Boy Turns Saint:
On October 29, 1940, at the age of 14, he declared to his family and to the people of his village that he would henceforth by known as Sai Baba and that his mission was to bring about the spiritual regeneration of humanity by demonstrating and teaching the highest principles of truth, righteous conduct, peace, and divine love.
His mission was further amplified in a letter he wrote to his brother in 1947. I have a task, he said, To foster all mankind and ensure for all of them lives full of bliss. I have a vow: To lead all who stray away from the straight path again into goodness and save them. I am attached to a work that I love: To remove the sufferings of the poor and grant them what they lack.
His Abode of Peace:
Sai Baba's ashram, built by his devotees close to the village where he was born, was inaugurated on November 23, 1950. It is called Prasanthi Nilayam (the Abode of Divine Peace). It has been the gathering place of millions of spiritual pilgrims of various faiths from all over the world. Every day, Sai Baba graciously walks among them to guide, comfort, console, and uplift them.
The small temple dedicated in 1950 has grown into a spiritual oasis of unprecedented magnitude. The temple and the dharshan area in front of it, which is completely covered by a beautiful roof, together encompass an area that is over 10,000 square yards.
A Highly Popular 'Godman':
During the period 14-23 November 1995, the celebrations of the 70th birthday of Sathya Sai Baba took place in Prasanthi Nilayam. More than one million people, including the President and Prime Minister of India, assembled in Prasanthi Nilayam to pay homage to Sathya Sai Baba during the 70th birthday celebrations.
The Champion of Social Development:
Sri Sathya Sai Baba believed that it is the duty of every person to ensure that all people have access to the basic necessities for sustenance of life. Indeed, no spiritual leader could achieve so much in one life in terms of serving people through developmental work.
Sathya Sai Baba's trust has presence in 186 nations and operates about 1,200 organizations worldwide. The Sathya Sai Central Trust owns or manages colleges, schools, publication houses, general as well as super-specialty hospitals, women's welfare and many social service organizations. Besides, there are famous social welfare schemes such as the Anantapur drinking water scheme, a piped-water project that benefits 750 villages in the dry and barren district of Andhra Pradesh.
Sai Baba passed away after prolonged illness on April 24, 2011 (Easter Day) at the age of 84. He will live on as an inspiration to people of all faiths for his mission of love and humanitarian service.Based on the biography of Sathya Sai Baba at http://www.sathyasai.org/
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