PM, Sonia lead devotees in paying tribute to Sai Baba
Puttaparthi: Thousands of mourners led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi paid tribute to revered spiritual leader Satya Sai Baba at the Sai Kulwant Hall on Tuesday, a day before he will be laid to rest in his ashram (hermitage).
The magnificent and sprawling Kulwant Hall, where Baba used to meet his devotees reverberated with devotional songs, sung by the group of young men and women as the devotees filed past the glass casket holding Sai Baba's body.
Sai Baba will be buried in the same hall with full state honours and in accordance with Hindu religious rites.
Tuesday was the last day for the common people to catch a last glimpse of Sai Baba, and people from across the nation and several other countries thronged Puttaparthi, with a 4km long queue snaking outside the town.
At one stage a stampede almost broke out near Narayanswamy temple. Police, however, quickly brought the situation under control.
Sai Seva Dal volunteers formed a chain in and around the ashram, gently guiding the crowd with the chants of "Sai Ram". Nobody was allowed to stand in front of the dais.
"My world has come to an end", said R.K. Sharma, a devotee who came all the way from Vadodra in Gujarat. "I was a devotee of Baba for 40 years. Whatever I am today is because of Baba," he said.
A weeping Neelima, from Chattisgarh, said: "I owe my life to Baba. Other hospitals had told me that I [would] not survive because of my serious heart ailment. They had also told me that the operation will cost Rs600,000 (Dh48,987) but I was operated free of cost at Sai Baba's hospital."
Venkat Prasad, an engineer in the state government, said: "It is for these services to the needy people that Baba is remembered and worshipped, not because of any miracle."
In view of the heavy rush of the people, authorities extended the deadline for the last ‘darshan' — the opportunity to see a holy person — from 6pm to 10pm. Thousands of vehicles, including buses, were parked outside the town
However, except for a few VIPs, close relatives and officials of the Sai Baba Seva Trust, nobody will be allowed inside Kulwant Hall for the burial, district collector Janardhan Reddy said.
The Satya Sai Central Trust was expected to meet last night in the Prashanti Nilayam ashram to finalise the funeral arrangements.
Important leaders who paid respect to Baba yesterday included Mahinda Rajapakse, Sri Lankan President; H.D. Deve Gowda, former prime minister; his son and former chief minister of Karnataka, Kumara Swamy; and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The prime minister and Sonia Gandhi were received by Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and governor E.S.L. Narasimhan upon arriving in Puttaparthi.
Meanwhile security was tightened for all the members of Satya Sai Central Trust, Sai Baba's personal care giver Satyajit and personal physician Dr Iyer.
Re: PM, Sonia lead devotees in paying tribute to Sai Baba
i respect him for providing service to the society , he laid many hospitals, universities to many poor people which no governement has done . And who will forgot the canal project by satha sai which helped chennai people by provideing drinking water to 179 villages
His contribution for society for is immense.....
saints never dies they live in the heart of millions...FOREVER