GOD manifests in many ways and forms. For the devotees of Sai Baba, he is god-incarnate. His spiritual aura spilled across continents and oceans, attracting people from all sections of life. While he had the heads of state bowing to him in obeisance, the commonest of common man felt his presence, cuddled up to the warmth and received unending blessings from Sai Baba. His followers have known him to give them instant darshan, the moment they thought of him. Such was the power of Sai’s presence.
Thousands of people recount the moment they came into contact with Sai and how it changed the course of their lives. It requires an extraordinary personality to influence and guide this vast number of people. It is to this power of Sai that we pay tribute.
India is a land of gods and god men and god women. We believe that only a guru can show us the path of salvation and lead us to it, like the mother guides the first steps of the infant. In recent times we have been benefited by the life and presence of such gurus as Sri Aurobindo, Ramakrishna Paramahans, Swami Vivekananda, venerable Chandrashekara Saraswati of Kanchi peet, Swami Chinmayananda, and several, several such holy men. Some attained a mass reach while the others have been contented to confine their siddhi. In that, Sai Baba reached a level of mass appeal that is rarely witnessed.
The Sai Trust, whose monetary possessions are being valued at thousands of crores, runs mostly on voluntary service. The Sai followers register to offer service in keeping with their trained capacity. Teachers, doctors, computer personnels, store keepers, cooks and cleaners – they all take turns to stay at the Sai Ashram and work a fortnight or a month. There are more volunteers than they can deploy, so the turn of each comes only in a couple of years. This sense of service Sai instilled in them, which also showed in the social service activities taken up by Sai groups. The Sai satsang is a common practice. In all regions of the country, bhajan sessions are held every Thursday. And people join these sessions even uninvited as they feel one in their bhakti.
Sai Baba kept himself away from politics. He refrained from interfering in even socio-religious issues, keeping his attention focused on the individual’s spiritual quest.
But there were people who opposed him, ridiculed his miracle powers and made serious allegations of misconduct. The mud did not stick. He took these criticisms in stoic silence. He did not go on PR overdrive to deflect the charges. He knew that truth would prevail.
To the millions who worship Sai Baba as god, his death is just a moment in this worldly presence. His spirit they believe will live on, guarding, protecting and guiding them. Sai Baba did not anoint a successor. He has reportedly made predictions. The faithful are hopeful and are praying. In the meanwhile there is already a tussle to take over. The Andhra Pradesh government is said to be eying the property and possessions, almost reminiscent of the British Doctrine of Lapse.
Sai Baba is a phenomenon, a divine presence, who by a mere smile and wave of the hand reached solace to millions. To the God in him we pay respectful tribute.