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Old 2011-04-24, 09:55   Link #13242
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Singapore
Age: 44
Thousands mourn Sai Baba's death
Puttaparthi, India (April 24, Sun): One of India's most revered spiritual leaders, Sathya Sai Baba, has died in hospital at the age of 84.

Doctors said the guru, who is thought to have millions of followers around the world, died following a cardiac arrest. He was admitted to hospital in his hometown of Puttaparthi last month, suffering from respiratory problems and kidney failure.

Thousands of Hindu followers had massed at the town's Institute of Higher Medical Sciences hospital over recent weeks to hold special prayers asking for a miracle to allow Sai Baba to recover.

He was credited by millions across the globe with having supernatural powers, including an ability to conjure objects out of thin air, remember past lives and cure terminal illnesses.

He enjoyed support from all areas of Indian society, from politicians, judges and generals, to cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, Hollywood star Goldie Hawn and legions of the poor.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described his death as an "irreparable loss", adding that "he was a spiritual leader who inspired millions to lead a moral and meaningful life even as they followed the religion of their choice."

Controversial figure
Instantly recognisable for his wild curly hair and saffron robes, the guru claimed to be the reincarnation of a former holy man, Sai Baba of Shirdi, who died in 1918.

His charitable organisation has financed health and education projects, among them hospitals and clinics that claim to cure illnesses beyond the capabilities of mainstream medicine.

Puttaparthi grew from a village into a major pilgrimage town, boasting a university and even an airport as Westerners, Indian students and the destitute clamoured to be close to a man they saw as an incarnation of God in human form.

However, at public meetings, his showman antics in which he would miraculously produce gold coins or watches on stage brought him both fame and notoriety, with critics accusing him of being a fraudster.

He also faced allegations of sexual abuse of young male followers, which his opponents said were ignored by the Indian authorities because of his power and popularity.

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