Satya Sai Baba, 85, was ill and was in intensive care unit (ICU) for a month. On April 24, it was formally declared that the Baba had passed away due to cardio-respiratory failure in Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh.
Though controversies surrounded him in lifetime, Sathya Sai Baba had a following in 178 countries and he left behind an empire that includes super-specialty hospitals and educational institutions.
Considered an 'avatar' of Shirdi's Sai Baba, the Satya Sai Baba had his devotees in most religions including Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains and even Buddhists. But critics termed his movement as a cult.
Baba faced many allegations in his lifetime. Magician PC Sorcar had thrown a challenge to him also. There was a charge that his miracles were nothing by magician's tricks and that he used to bring out 'sacred ash' or fruits hidden in his sleeve to devout.
Another serious allegation was that of sexual abuse of males, particularly young boys. His devotees claimed all these allegations were false, part of a smear campaign and that they were just a means to get cheap popularity.
Whether a human or a God, the truth is that in a country where most avenues are closed for poor, he had a soothing presence for millions who had strong faith in him and who believed that his 'darshan' could heal them miraculously.
Surely, his death marks the end of an era. It is to be seen how Satya Sai Baba's spirit legacy is carried and whether the cash-rich trust continues to work for the poor and under-privileged with the same zeal, after Baba's demise.