Spiritual leader Sathya Sai Baba, one of the country's most famous gurus still critical on health conditions in his hometown of Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh. Sai Baba is credited by millions of followers around the world with having supernatural powers, including an ability to conjure objects out of thin air, remember past lives and cure terminal diseases. But he was controversial too. Here are key dates and facts about his life and work.
November 23, 1926: Sathya Sai Baba born as 'Sathyanarayana Raju' to Peda Venkappa Raju and Easwaramma in Puttaparthi.
1940: At 14, Sathya Sai Baba declares he is the incarnation of the Sufi mystic, Sai Baba of Shirdi, Maharashtra, who had died in 1918.
1944: Travels to Bangalore; this is his first journey as a savant. Gives up striped shirt and dhoti for a robe, initially greyish-white, then saffron.
November 23, 1950: Prashanti Nilayam 'Abode of Tranquillity', his home as a spiritual guru, is inaugurated on his 28th birthday.
October 1957: Sathya Sai Baba inaugurates a hospital behind Prasanthi Nilayam.
June 1968: Makes his only foreign trip ever, to Uganda.
July 22, 1968: Inaugurates women's college in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.
1972: Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT), a caucus to direct the management of his empire, is established.
November 22, 1981: Sri Sathya Sai University Puttaparthi launched
March 29, 2011: Aged 85, he is admitted to the Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital in Puttaparthi. Doctors say he was suffering from pneumonia and water had entered his lungs
April 4, 2011: Put on ventilator support. Suffering from multi-organ dysfunction, his condition continues to be critical.
April 20, 2011: Liver stops responding to treatment
June 6, 1993: four men armed with knives are killed after they intrude Sai Baba's bedroom. Some suggest the men wanted to kidnap or even kill the Baba, but initial investigation indicates the attack was a result of infighting among ashram inmates over a financial dispute.
December 2001: Then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee, former Supreme Court chief justices P N Bhagawati and Ranganath Misra, former Lok Sabha speaker Najma Heptulla and former union minister Shivraj Patil all sign a letter rubbishing allegations of sexual abuse made in certain media reports against Sai Baba.
June 2004: BBC airs 'Secret Swami', an hour-long documentary on abuses allegedly committed by the Baba on many young men.
April 24, 2011: Dies in Puttaparthi
Sai Baba legacy
Clout: He never asked his millions of followers to vote for anybody but counted former prime ministers and presidents, top businessmen and even cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar among his followers. Former prime minister A B Vajpayee, former Supreme Court chief justice P N Bhagwati, former president A P J Abdul Kalam are just a few of his fans.
Charity: The SSSCT includes Baba's inner circle as members: P N Bhagwati; Sai Baba's nephew R J Ratnakar; K Chakravarthi, a former IAS officer and one of Baba's closest confidants; S V Giri, former central vigilance commissioner. The trust manages Prasanthi Nilayam, the Sathya Sai University Complex, the 220-bed Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Chaitanya Jyoti -a world religion museum, a planetarium, a railway station, a hill view stadium, a music college, an airport, an indoor sports stadium among other assets. The entire Sathya Sai Baba network is estimated to have a value of Rs 40,000cr. Overseas, the trust has 1,300 Sai Centres which run schools, health and cultural centres.
'Reincarnation': Sai Baba had predicted that he will die in 2022 and, eight years later, be reborn in Gunaparthi village of Karnataka's Mandya district to a woman called Kasturi. His next avatar will be called Prem Sai Baba and he will have nothing to do with Puttaparthi.
(With inputs from AFP and PTI)