Devotees from all walks of life bid Sai Baba farewell

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Old 28-Apr-2011
Devotees from all walks of life bid Sai Baba farewell

UNP ImagePuttaparthy: Thousands of grief-stricken devotees on Wednesday bid a tearful farewell to one of India's most revered spiritual leaders, Satya Sai Baba, as he was laid to rest at the splendid Sai Kulwant Hal l of Prashanti Nilayam ashram (hermitage) in Anantapur district.

The grand ceremony, which lasted almost two hours, became an example of Sai Baba's philosophy of the oneness of the religions and brotherhood of people irrespective of their religious faiths.

Priests from different communities offered prayers, one after the other, urging followers to follow the path of "truth and love" as shown by Sai Baba.

Apart from verses from the Gita, Quran, the Bible and the Torah which were recited, a Sikh priest and Buddhist monks also offered prayers. As the slogans of "Jai Sai Ram" echoed through the hall, group of singers from Satya Sai College of Music rendered soulful bhajans (devotional songs) and devotees got emotional, some of them crying uncontrollably.

The religious ceremony was conducted by priests from Rajahmundry headed by Kondakuri Kondavadhani. Sai Baba's nephew R.J. Ratnakar performed the religious rites by sprinkling holy water on the body.

Large gathering

Police also gave a gun salute, with 14 rounds being fired in the air. The VIPs who attended the funeral included E.S.L. Narasimhan and Shivraj Patil, the governors of Andhra Pradesh and Punjab, respectively, and both of them devotees of Baba; N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and B.S. Yeddiyurappa, Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka respectively; L.K. Advani, former deputy prime minister and BJP leader; M. Venkaiah Naidu, another senior BJP politician; and N. Chandrababu Naidu, former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.

While all the religious rites were performed before the gathering, not everyone witnessed the lowering of the body into the grave, as Hindu religious customs bar women from witnessing such an event.

While ordinary people were kept away from the ashram by police, only selected people most of whom work for Sai organisations and students of Sathya Sai universities were allowed in the hall.

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