Trip through Time / India's Icon, His 'Miracles' Still Revered: Sathya Sai Baba (1926-2011) in Puttaparthi

By Tahara, Norimasa | The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan), February 6, 2014 | Go to article overview

Trip through Time / India's Icon, His 'Miracles' Still Revered: Sathya Sai Baba (1926-2011) in Puttaparthi


Tahara, Norimasa, The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)


PUTTAPARTHI, India--After a long drive through the rocky wilderness, I felt as if I had arrived at an oasis in the desert when my destination finally came into view.

The small town of Puttaparthi in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh was home to Sathya Sai Baba, an internationally known spiritual and religious leader whose lifelong practice was grounded in Hinduism.

Based in the town, Sai Baba earned himself worldwide attention by performing what his followers called miracles.

Three years after his death, Sai Baba's presence is still overwhelmingly felt by people in Puttaparthi. Three-wheeled taxis run along the streets with portraits of mop-headed Sai Baba and his message plastered on the back. The message reads, "God is in you."

Thousands of Sai Baba adherents, both at home and abroad, maintain ascetic practices at training centers, or ashrams, in the town. Many followers you meet there speak about Sai Baba, starting with what they call the miracles he has performed.

One evening in late December, I heard the gentle sound of singing coming from the ashram where Sai Baba stayed. It seemed that followers were singing to honor Sai Baba.

Prashant Srivastav, 75, a local volunteer, said: "He waved his right hand in front of me, and while I was staring at it, a pen appeared. He handed it to me, saying, 'Why don't you write a book?' I accepted it as his will."

Srivastav looks back on the experience in 2010 as the greatest moment in his life. Following the guru's wish, he recently wrote and published a book about Sai Baba with the pen. He proudly considers himself among those who took care of Sai Baba in his final years, as Srivastav took a seat in the front row at an assembly in the ashram.

Sai Baba, who had been a religious leader since the 1940s, is best known overseas for allegedly performing such miracles as healing diseases and demonstrating supernatural powers through unusual feats.

Believers claim that he once instantaneously traveled to the United States, bought a watch and returned with a receipt dated with a time he had seemed to be in India. …

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