His Life – A Summary
Sri Sathya Sai Baba was born in Puttaparthi on Nov 23, 1926 – an auspicious Monday in the lunar month of Kartika, when Lord Shiva is especially adored. He was given the name Sathyanarayana Raju. What intrigued His mother Easwaramma, most was the unbounded compassion her little Sathya had particularly for the poor and downtrodden. Even as a toddler, He insisted that the beggar at the door be served well in spite of their own limited means and would often give His own share to the needy. When He began school, His playmates were inspired by His ability to lead them to be socially responsible, spiritually aware, endowed with individual and national character. His friends were often fascinated by His extraordinary powers of creating things out of thin air, knowing the future, deep understanding of scriptural wisdom and so on.
The inexplicability of His actions greatly disturbed His father Sri Ratnakaram Pedda Venkama Raju, and on May 23, 1940, he angrily accosted Sathya to reveal His true identity. Sathya just took a few flowers and flung them down which arranged themselves to read “I am Sai Baba.” Later that year, on the morning of Oct 20, halfway through the school day, Baba suddenly returned home, cast aside His books and dramatically declared, “I am no longer your Sathya… I am Sai. I have my work, I cannot wait any longer.” Thus, that day forward Sathyanarayana Raju became Sathya Sai Baba.
From that epochal moment on, kings to commoners started thronging to His presence seeking solace and succour as Baba cancelled an incurable disease of one, sorted out familial problems of another, and likewise. His growing fame, accompanied by rising ridicule from envious quarters, rattled His elder brother Seshama Raju, who wrote a letter cautioning Him of His activities. In His reply, dated May 25, 1947, Baba emphatically stated that He has a ‘Task’ to ‘foster all mankind with bliss’, a ‘Vow’ to ‘lead all onto the path of righteousness’, and a ‘Work’ of ‘removing the suffering of the distressed’, also assuring that He would never give up on those who attach themselves to Him.
Towards this end, in the 1960s Baba germinated the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations in India, through which people across religions, class and caste, could collectively engage in selfless service and foster the eternal values of Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Non-violence, for their own spiritual uplift. In no time the movement grew global to more than 126 countries with Prasanthi Nilayam being its epicentre.
While millions of inspired individuals took to practising selfless love, to create working models for them to emulate, Baba founded the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust in 1972. Since then this umbrella institution is engaged in the implementation of trailblazing projects like free primary to tertiary-care hospitals, free education from primary schooling to doctoral research, free drinking water to remote villages, free housing rehabilitation initiatives, etc., demonstrating to the world new paradigms to raise society’s quality of life inspired by love, service and universal brotherhood. Baba, Himself exemplified this higher life incessantly for 86 years where the power of pure love was in glorious action.
On His 83rd and 85th Birthdays in Nov 2008 and 2010, on His devotees’ request, Baba rode on a golden chariot. Only later did everyone realise, those were indeed symbolic of the golden culminating moments of Baba’s earthly sojourn. Baba discarded His bodily vesture on April 24, 2011. The devotees miss His physical form, nevertheless, they continue to experience His guidance and grace, as enigmatically as ever. The Universal Consciousness that is Sri Sathya Sai eternally lives on.
Luminaries with Sri Sathya Sai
In His eight-decade-long sojourn, Sri Sathya Sai Baba inspired, influenced, and impacted crores of people from India and across the globe. Lakhs flocked for His Darshan across the length and breadth of India and felt blessed with a distant glimpse or a proximate smile. A few privileged individuals, by the merit of their stature or their talents, were blessed to interact with Him closely on several occasions. Nine Prime Ministers of India and five Presidents of India were blessed to receive His benediction on important occasions of their public life. Similarly, academics and scientists, corporate captains and entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders and renunciants, lawyers and judges, vocalists and instrumentalists, politicians and bureaucrats, sportsmen and artists, people from all walks of life, all professions, and all geographies flocked to Him and received His grace and guidance. This photo album captures some of those memorable moments when He silently catalysed the public life of a nation that had just emerged from centuries of colonisation.