Eswaramma and Ratnakaram Peddavenkama Raju were living in a remote village called Puttaparthi in Andrapradesh. Least they knew then that the child they will give birth to will one day claim to be the reincarnation of God.
It was Sathyanarayana Raju, born to this couple on 23rd of November 1926 who after 14 years of his birth declared that he was the reincarnation of Shridi Sai Baba who in turn Siva was born in Gothra of a Sage, Siva gave boon to.
Claiming the conception itself to be miraculous, his mother described him to be intelligent beyond standard measurements and charitable from the bottom of his heart. Satyanarayana also displayed his talent in different aspects like composing poems, writing plays, dancing and participating in Dramas. But, the best of all, he had a special reputation for materializing objects out of thin air.
It was in March 1940, that the real Sai Baba was born. Sathyanarayana was stung by a deadly scorpion and was unconscious for a few hours. The following days, he went into a kind of silence displaying an entirely different behavior much to the surprise of the entire family members and the ones living nearby. Though not educated in Sanskrit, he was able to sing the verses in Sanskrit. His sudden change and silence worried the family members and hence were visits to doctors, priests and sometimes tantriks. All these visits could not bring in any changes.
Worrying parents got the final answer when on the 23rd of May 1940; he created out of thin air, a candy and other items which angered his father. He felt that his son was influenced by ghosts and hence with a weapon, he approached the agitated Sathya and enquired who sole it was in him. He got the answer as “I am Sai Baba”.
Sai Baba was a saint who lived in Shirdi, Maharastra and passed away (attained Samadhi) in the year 1932. He was known for his teaching, bringing together the beliefs of Hindu and Muslims.
Sathya, who declared himself as reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba walked out declaring his detachment to worldly association. Like a sage he set out on visits to other places and soon started attracting large crowd with his speech. Thus followers have gathered wherever he went.
Four years later, in 1944, he returned to Puttaparthi and his followers built a temple for him which is even now called as old mandir. Sai Baba stayed in the mandir and continued his services. As the funds from devotees accumulated, he decided to enlarge the ashram and hence built “Prashanthi Nilayam” in 1950. From there on it is just one way for this saint who took to public service and built an empire around him. The name and fame of Sai Baba now fondly addressed as Puttaparthi Sai Baba or Sathya Sai Baba. Spread across the world and by 2002 someone took up a study to reveal that his followers numbering more than 10 million were spread across 178 countries with 1200 plus Sathya Sai Baba centers active in around 114 countries. The followers range from poor to rich including the powerful like President and Prime minister of India.
Sathya Sai Baba, made it clear to the world that the service to human is service to God. His prayers and preaching always led towards spreading love and peace. With the funds he received, the first thing did was to construct a hospital for free medical support to the villagers of Puttaparthi in 1954. Later, a super specialty hospital was built in the same premises equipped with the latest of equipment to carryout any kind of medical treatment.
His project of bringing drinking water to the entire Anantapur district was an exercise even the Govt. was thinking twice to venture on. But, now the 1.5 million people in that area could vouch for the benefits the project brought to the place and people. It was mooted and funded by Sathya Sai Baba.
He also ventured on to build Sathyam, Shivam and Sundaram temples in different parts of India. The Sathyam is in Mumbai which was built in 1968 followed by Shivam in Hyderabad in 1973 and Sundaram in Chennai in 1985.
The poor in Bangalore also are indebted to him where he built his second super specialty hospital in 2001.
Thus he was continuously busy in the public service in India that he never felt like visiting countries abroad. However, there was only one trip to Uganda, an African country, which did not have any agenda except preaching Love to the people.
In the year 1963, Sathya Sai Baba suffered a stroke. It was then, he announced the worried followers that he would be re-born as Prema Sai Baba in the neighouring state Karnataka. He claimed that a sage was given a boon by Siva-Sakthi and thus Siva was born as Sai Baba of Shirdi and later created Sathya Sai Baba in the same lineage. It is in this chain that the next will be Sakthi’s incarnation as Prema Sai Baba.
So, as he passed away today (April 24, 2011 at 7:40 AM IST), while the millions of hearts pray for his soul to rest in peace, there is also sincere hope from the same millions of devotees around the world that one day they will be able to see Prema Sai Baba.
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