Puttaparthi: Spiritual leader Sri Sathya Sai Baba passed away at the Sathya Sai super speciality hospital at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur district today. (In Pics: Sri Sathya Sai Baba)
Doctors said he passed away at 7.40 am of cardio-respiratory failure. The 84-year-old was admitted to hospital on March 28 with breathing and heart problems. (Watch: Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Faith unlimited)
His condition since Thursday morning had been described as "very critical" by doctors attending to him. Most of his organs were not responding to treatment. The condition of his liver and his low blood pressure were causing concern, they had said.
The doctors appealed to people to be calm and not rush to hospital. Security has been tightened in the area. All roads leading to the hospital have been blocked and shops have been ordered to close at Puttaparthi.
Godman to some, miracle-man to others and revered as God by lakhs of his followers, Sathya Sai Baba had the rich, famous and powerful from the world of politics, business, films and sport flocking to his doorstep in Puttaparthi, the small Andhra Pradesh village that he made internationally famous.
Born on 23 November 1926 in a modest family in Puttaparthi, Satyanarayana Raju declared himself a reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba at the age of 14. From then on his devotees and admirers only grew in numbers over the years.
Though a few controversies did cast shadows on Sai Baba's image and critics have been skeptical about claims that he would produce holy ash, golden rings and mementoes from thin air, Sathya Sai Baba also earned respect for setting up world-class educational and health institutions and also for charitable work like drinking water projects for four semi-arid districts of Andhra Pradesh and in Chennai. The institutions and properties that he built are estimated to be worth over Rs 27,000 crore.
After a hip fracture in 2006, Sathya Sai Baba was confined to a wheel chair and gave darshan from his car or a portable chair.