Sathya Sai Baba claimed to be the embodiment of Shiva and Shakti. Image Source: Sathya Sai Baba.
On Easter Sunday, the Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba (1926-2011) died. For the last few days, his body has been lying in state and mourners from India and abroad have paid their respects. His funeral will be held today in Puttaparthi. He was ranked this year by Watkins Review as one of the most spiritually influential people in the world. He established a global network of followers and schools. Among tales of his ability to cure the sick and perform various miracles, he had a hybrid Eastern-Western appeal.
Sathya Sai Baba claimed that he was an avatar, a resurrected form of an earlier guru who was well known around 1910 until 1918, Sai Baba of Shirdi (c. 1835-1918); the latter was a yogi whom Hindus and Muslims alike regard as a saint and the Hindus see as an incarnaton of Lord Dattatreya.
For his part, Sathya Sai Baba is seen as a reincarnation of Shiva and Shakti - rendering him, in his followers' eyes, a living god. Just as Sai Baba Shirdi drew from Muslim and Hindu teachings, Sathya Sai Baba's teachings tell a hybrid story, mingling Hindu, Muslim and Christian theology. He called for a synthesis of these faiths along lines of non-violence, truth, love, peace and right conduct:
My objective is the establishment of sanathana dharma, which believes in one God as propitiated by the founders of all religions. So none has to give up his religion or deity ... I have come not to disturb or destroy any Faith, but to confirm each in his own Faith, so that the Christian becomes a better Christian, the Muslim a better Muslim and a Hindu a better Hindu." According to "Ocean of Love", a book published by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, "there is no new path that He is preaching, no new order that He has created. There is no new religion that He has come to add or a particular philosophy that He recommends ... His mission is unique and simple. His mission is that of love and compassion."His motto was: Love all, serve all; help ever, hurt never. Many of Sathya Sai Baba's devotees have transferred the Christian religious story to him, and expect that his spirit has left his body and that he will be resurrected, according to a BBC International report, "in the next three or four days" after his death. That would mean that he should rise from the dead - today.
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