Nearly half a million mourners, including Bollywood stars, celebrities, politicians and hundreds of family members of the revered Indian spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba, have paid their respects to him at a state funeral in the southern Indian town of Puttaparthi.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi were among those paying their respects to Sai Baba — a billionaire guru whose charities and claimed miracles won him both devotion and scorn — at the funeral held at his ashram in Andhra Pradesh state.
He had been suffering from health problems and died Sunday of multiple organ failure at the age of 85. Unlike most Hindus, who are cremated, Sai Baba was buried, as is the custom for people Hindus esteem as holy men.
According to CNN, hymns rang through the ashram as his body was sprinkled with petals and holy water before a private burial behind a maroon curtain.
Since his death on Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people have paid their respects and queued for hours to see his body as it lay encased in a glass casket. Among the visitors to the temple’s auditorium were cricket superstars Sachin Tendulkar and and Sunil Gavaskar.
Sai Baba was admitted to hospital almost a month ago for multiple-organ failure and died after his heart and respiratory organs failed, A.N. Safaya, director at the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, said in a statement on the hospital’s website. The hospital avoided using the word "dead," noting that "Sai Baba is no more with us physically."
In his condolence message on the day Sri Sathya Sai Baba died, Singh remembered the spiritual leader for inspiring millions to lead a meaningful life regardless of their religions. "His teachings were rooted in the universal ideals of truth, right conduct, peace, love and nonviolence," Singh said.
Hard Rock Café founder Isaac Tigrett reportedly sold his stake in the restaurant chain and donated the entire proceeds of $108 million to Sai Baba for the Puttaparthi hospital, which provides free health care to the rural poor.
Sai Baba claims to be the reincarnation of the great spiritual guru Sai Baba of Shirdi, who died in 1918 and is worshipped as a saint by Hindus, Muslims, and Christians.
Hinduism is one of the largest - and oldest - of Urantia's religions. Please click on this link to read the rest of the article.
Like so many religious leaders, Sai Baba was controversial. But if he fostered the ideals that are ascribed to him, he and his followers cannot be so different from us. He is certainly, as Jesus said, "For us."
Read about the evolution of Hinduism, as one of the "composite religions" in the Urantia Book HERE
And HERE is a beautiful sampling of Hindu prayer and belief