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Millions mourn as Sai Baba's mortal journey ends

Last updated on: April 24, 2011 21:05 IST

Image: Devotees and mediapersons gather in front of the hospital in Puttaparthi where Sathya Sai Baba passed away on Sunday morning
Photographs: SnapsIndia Vicky Nanjappa in Putthaparthi

The mortal remains of Sathya Sai Baba will be buried at Puttaparthi on Wednesday and a samadhi will be erected.

The body of Sathya Sai Baba reached the Sai Kulwant Hall at  Prashanthi Nilayam in Puttaparthi on Sunday evening, the place where Baba lived all his life. The body which was taken to the Yajur temple and bathed was later taken to the Sai Kulwant Hall where it will lie in state for the next two days before being buried on Wednesday.

Sathya Sai Baba passed away on Sunday morning at 7.40 am at the age of 85, due to cardio-respiratory failure. He was undergoing treatment at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences super speciality hospital in Putthaparthi for the one month.

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Millions mourn as Sai Baba's mortal journey ends

Image: File picture of Sathya Sai Baba giving darshan in Mumbai
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/

Devotees were inconsolable. Padmavathi, a flower vendor at Puttaparthi, has not stopped crying since she heard the news of her Bhagwan's death.

"It will never be the same here. He meant so much to us. We sold flowers in his name and earned our livelihood. It is very sad and we really hoped for a miracle. Today his body has left but his soul will always remain here with all of us," she said.

Millions mourn as Sai Baba's mortal journey ends

Image: AP CM Kiran Kumar Reddy with other ministers pay their last tributes to Sai Baba in Puttaparthi
Photographs: SnapsIndia

The scenes within the Sai Kulwant Hall were that of grief and despair. People coming out of the hall said that it was shocking to see Sathya Sai Baba lie like that.

"I cannot believe it," said Rajendra who came out of the hall. "The place is bustling with people and each and everyone is crying and mourning at the loss of Bhagwan," he added.

Millions mourn as Sai Baba's mortal journey ends

Image: Mortal remains of Sai Baba being taken to the Sai Kulwant Hall in Puttaparthi on Sunday.
Photographs: SnapsIndia

The fact that Baba will be buried was a known fact all along. It is a tradition in India that all God realised persons are buried and not cremated. The case was similar in the case of Shiridi Sai Baba.

Geeta Reddy, minister in the Andhra Pradesh government who has been in the hospital where Baba was lodged too was inconsolable. She announced later that the body would be in state for the next two days. "We need to respect the sentiments of the devotees and each one should have a right of darshan," she said.

Millions mourn as Sai Baba's mortal journey ends

Image: Inconsolable Sai Baba devotees in Puttaparthi
Photographs: SnapsIndia

Meanwhile, crowds of devotees continued to throng into Puttaparthi. The police appear to have done an excellent job with the security arrangements.

A police constable on duty said that there are a lot of restrictions, but the devotees have been cooperating. "No one has been arguing or protesting which is making our job much easier. The devotees and volunteers too have pitched in to ensure that the entire process passes off peacefully," he said.

The burial will take place in the presence of the members of the trust and family members apart from some Andhra Pradesh government ministers and officials. This would be barred for the devotees as well.

Millions mourn as Sai Baba's mortal journey ends

Image: A poster depicting Sai Baba's message on display in Hyderabad
Photographs: SnapsIndia

The Andhra Pradesh government has declared four days of state mourning. A holiday has been declared at the Ananthpur district on Wednesday when the burial takes place.

Karnataka, which houses the second biggest Sathya Sai Baba ashram, has also declared two days of mourning.

A voluntary bandh was observed and a special condolence meeting was organized at the Sai Baba ashram at Whitefield near Bengaluru, which was usually visited by Baba during the summer months.

Millions mourn as Sai Baba's mortal journey ends

Image: Devotees pay their last tributes at the Shivam temple in Hyderabad on Sunday
Photographs: SnapsIndia

The ashram at Whitefield remained shut as all devotees at the ashram left for Puttaparthi to attend the funeral of Baba.

Spiritual guru Shri Shri Ravishankar said, "Baba will continue to live in the hearts of millions of devotees. His message of 'Love All and Serve All' will resonate in the world forever. His messages have always been universal; especially his message of 'Satya Dharma Shanti Prema' which has transcended all barriers of caste and religion."