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Devotees in Britain mourn Baba's death

world Updated: Apr 26, 2011 01:10 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

Devotees across Britain and elsewhere in Europe are holding special prayer meetings to mourn the death of Sathya Sai Baba, although the spiritual leader's relationship with Europe was never an easy one.

Despite the fact that his only ever foreign trip was to Uganda in 1968, Sai Baba's followers across Europe are said to run into millions. The largest base is possibly Britain, according to Govardhan Patel, who runs a Sai centre in northwest London.

However, Britain is also the country, where allegations of sexual misconduct against Sai Baba were reported in the national media, including the BBC and The Guardian.

Famous concert pianist David Bailey was among Sai Baba's leading British followers, but he was eventually disillusioned, and in 1999 published a critical whistle-blower's account of his experiences, called The Findings.

In the 1990s Prince Charles wanted to visit Sai Baba's ashram. Charles was thought to have been dissuaded by the British high commission in New Delhi.