Indian guru Sai Baba buried in state funeral, thousands grieve

April 29, 2011

(Police place India's national flag on a glass coffin containing the body of spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba during his funeral at an ashram at Puttaparti in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh April 27, 2011/Adnan Abidi)

Indian spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba was buried on Wednesday as hundreds of thousands of devotees flocked to pay their last respects at his temple in south India to a man revered as a living God.

Tibetan monks, Muslim clerics, top politicians and military officers sat with hundreds of family members to commemorate the charismatic guru who drew millions of followers around the world with his diverse teachings that blended Hindu and Muslim beliefs.

Revered as the reincarnation of Hindu and Muslim saint Sai Baba of Shirdi, Sai Baba was a cultural icon in a rapidly modernizing Indian economy, where religion and spirituality still remain an integral part of daily life.

Sai Baba, who last month was admitted to hospital in his hometown of Puttaparti, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, died of multiple organ failure on Sunday. He was 85.

Hindu chants echoed around the temple during the funeral, conducted with full state honors, before the guru’s body was hidden behind a curtain for a private family burial. Giant screens around the town broadcast the ceremony to crowds of devotees.

Read the full story by Adnan Abidi here.


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