From ordinary believers to the President of India, his clout spread far and wide but controversy also followed Puttaparthi Satya Sai Baba all along.
India had, and has, several godmen but none could match his name and fame.
In fact, Satya Sai Baba's influence had no barriers as his millions of followers spanned the globe.
Top-ranking politicians including prime ministers, Union ministers, governors, chief ministers, filmstars, sportspersons, industrialists and virtually the 'who's who' of the country rank among the high-profile devotees of the Baba.
Born into an ordinary family as Satyanarayana Raju in the sleepy Puttaparthi village in the dry Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, on November 23, 1926, he was to later become Satya Sai Baba, the reincarnation of the saintly Sai Baba of Shirdi.
Now, Puttaparthi - which metamorphosed into a self-contained city - finds itself on the international map, thanks to the large number of the Baba's foreign devotees who visit Prasanthi Nilayam day in and day out. It boasts of an exclusive airport where chartered flights, carrying Baba's devotees from different parts of the globe, land.
As a child, Satyanarayana Raju was described as "unusually intelligent" and charitable. His talents were in drama, music, dance and writing, and he was an avid composer of poems and plays. He was also known as a singer, having released several CDs of bhajans.
It was on October 20, 1940 at the age of 14 that Satyanarayana Raju declared himself as the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi.
Satya Sai Baba invariably referred to Shirdi Sai Baba as "my previous body" whenever he spoke about him.
Satya Sai Baba became famous for his magic tricks by producing objects from thin air. But he was reviled by critics and rationalists who campaigned against him with magic shows.
Frequently, reports alleging scandals in his ashram appeared. Questions were also raised over sexual preferences but they were dismissed by him and his followers as vilification by his detractors or those who had fallen out with him.
On June 6, 1993, an attempt was allegedly made on his life by his close aides. Six inmates of Prasanthi Nilayam were killed right inside the Baba's bedroom. All of them were part of the "inner circle" of Baba. His personal assistant Radha Krishna Menon was among those killed in the incident.
Facts of the case still remain a mystery.