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Baba will return, say devotees

“Baba promised us that he would be with us till 2022. How could he leave like this?” said Jamuna Bai, 48. Standing outside the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, this devotee looked bereft.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2011 01:14 IST
Prasad Nichenametla

“Baba promised us that he would be with us till 2022. How could he leave like this?” said Jamuna Bai, 48. Standing outside the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, this devotee from Andhra Pradesh’s Medak district, which also benefited from the Sathya Sai Trust drinking water project, looked bereft. “I promised my villagers that we will return with good news. How can I show my face to them now?” she said.

Along with two others, she had come to serve as a volunteer at Prasanthi Nilayam for 10 days.

“Seva” is a concept Sai Baba devotees ardently adhere to. It involves all tasks — from cooking and serving food to cleaning the premises. Specialist doctors treat patients at the super specialty hospital, while eminent professors teach at the Sai educational institutes.

The hopes of devotees like Bai had come crashing down on Sunday morning when Sai Baba died after battling for life for 28 days. But others claimed Baba had really lived for 96 years as per the lunar calendar. A little further from the hospital gates, sat a saree-clad foreigner, strumming a guitar and singing hymns. A poignant atmosphere pervaded in Puttaparthi, but hope flickered in some hearts. It was, after all, Easter Sunday.

“He is not dead, he will come back to life in three days,” insisted a foreign devotee. Others said the Sai Baba is in “yoga nidra”, a meditation akin to sleep. “There is no death for incarnations of God,” said R Prabhakar Rao, former police chief of Andhra Pradesh and a staunch devotee. “That is why people go to dargahs and samadhis to pray. They may not be there physically, but pilgrims believe they are alive and will help them. The Swami will continue to help us even in yoga nidra, and people will continue to visit Puttaparthi to seek help.”

“There were suggestions that the body should not be embalmed as he might wake up from his sleep any time,” said LV Subrahmanyam, principal secretary (finance) of Andhra Pradesh government.

Thousands from around the town cut across the fields and hills for a last glimpse. They ran along the flower-laden ambulance that carried Sai Baba’s body to Prasanthi Nilayam, where darshan will be on till Wednesday morning. “I can’t believe the Swami is no more,” said Sharada Devi, her voice choked with emotion.

Even well-educated, rational thinkers were in tears. “He was everything for us,” said Ranga Reddy, a local journalist. Many of the people who came there had benefited from Sai Baba’s activities — spiritual and socio-economical —and the cries “Vellipoyaava Swami (our God, have you really left us)” rent the air. Others said Sai Baba will return as Prema Sai in Mandya district of Karnataka, as he had promised.Life and times of Baba

“I am sure he will return. He is the embodiment of God,” said Eswaramma, a devotee from Visakhapatnam.