PM, Sonia pay homage to Sai Baba

PM, Sonia pay homage to Sai Baba

PM, Sonia pay homage to Sai Baba

While dignitaries like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had a smooth but quiet darshan of the mortal remains of Sai Baba, devotees trying to get a glimpse of the guru had to endure ordeals with the numbers of visitors to the town increasing on Tuesday, the day before Baba’s burial.

The Prime Minister, the UPA chairperson, Minister for External Affairs S M Krishna, and other leaders visited Prashanthi Nilayam where the spiritual master’s body was lying in public.
On the contrary, a sea of humanity waited for hours in unbearable heat in serpentine queues that extended for about two km up to Chitravathi Bye Pass Road, the far-end of Puttaparthi. The group of dignitaries who paid homage along with the Prime Minister also included Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni, Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan, and Chief Minister N Kiran Reddy, who arrived through the dedicated route for VVIPs at the Ashram at 5 pm.

After placing wreaths, the group sat to the right of the Baba for 10 minutes before going back.

High profile visitors
The flow of devotees was stopped as soon as the high-profile visitors settled down.
Earlier in the day, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, JD (S) leaders H D Deve Gowda, H D Kumaraswamy, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) International President Ashok Singhal, Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa, among others, visited the Ashram and paid homage to the spiritual leader.

Modi commended the Baba for his “spiritual and social works” and said what he did was actually the government’s job. He said that Gujarat was “heartbroken” over Baba’s death.

Long ordeal
Apart from the visit of the VVIPs, Puttaparthi did have its share of problems as people struggled to reach the Ashram. The ordeal was long and excruciating but they endured it without complaint.

As the number of visitors to Puttaparthi increased, the town got its life back at least partially. Shops, hotels, and banks opened, though most remained shut.

The quantity of free food and water also increased. They were available in such large quantities that donators literally requested the devotees to accept them. But most refused them politely. The few hotels which opened charged double for their fares and services.

Meanwhile the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust stated that Darshan’ was extended from 6 pm to midnight, Tuesday and would resume at noon on Wednesday after the burial. It would continue till April 28.

The Trust’s Council of Management passed a resolution at its meeting at Prashanthi Nilayam in the morning. Besides condoling Baba’s death, the trustees and the members of the Council sought to allay doubts over the Trust’s functioning. Admitting that the task that lies ahead is “unquestionably enormous and complex”, Trustee R J Rathnakar hoped that the Trust would shine “now and forever”.

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