Baba didn't live 96 years, but devotees await return

Baba died at the age of 85 but some devotees still believe that he will return to prove himself right while others claim he lived for 96 years as per the lunar calendar.

"He lived for full 96 years," said devotee Anil Kumar, while claiming that Baba had once appeared over the moon.

The devotee was referring to an incident four years ago when word spread among Baba's followers at Puttaparthi that he will make a 'moon appearance'. However, they did not see anything as a cloud cover hid the moon.

"I am sure he will come back. He is the embodiment of god and there is no death for him," said Eswaramma, a devotee in Visakhapatnam.

Baba died while battling for life for 28 days at Sathya Sai Super-Speciality Hospital at Puttaparthi in Anantapur district. The best medical experts in India and even some from the United States were flown in to the town during the last three weeks but they failed to save him.

Even when the doctors had termed his condition very critical, his devotees, including former judges, police officers and even doctors kept faith that he will recover and live for 96 years as he had predicted on several occasions.

Not ready to believe that Baba is no more, the ardent devotees say he is in 'yoga nidra' or a state of sleep. "He will continue to help us even in yoga nidra. People will continue to visit Puttaparthi to seek his help," said R. Prabhakar Rao, former police chief of Andhra Pradesh, and a staunch devotee of Baba.

The former director general of police claims there is no death for incarnations of god. "This is the reason why people go to dargahs and samadhis to pray. They may not be there physically, but pilgrims believe they are alive and help them," he said.

Sai Baba as a teenager had claimed to be a reincarnation of the famous Shirdi Sai Baba, who had reportedly stated before his death in 1918 that he would reappear in the then Madras Presidency eight years later.

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