Mumbai, India – Sai Baba, one of India’s best-known gurus, was hospitalised yesterday in Puttaparthi, with lung and chest congestion. The conditions of the 84-year-spiritual leader appeared critical at the time of his admission, but have improved since. Thousands of followers in the state of Andhra Pradesh are praying in front of the hospital. Sai Baba has millions of devotees around the world. Forced to use a wheelchair since 2006 because of a fractured hip, he heads a spiritual empire with millions of followers and hundreds of centres around the world. He also leads an economic empire. According to media estimates, the Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba organisation sits on more than US$ 4 billion.
Sai Baba is also a controversial figure. He has been accused of faking some of the "miracles" attributed to him. Some former followers levelled accusations of sexual abuse against him and other members of his ashram, a charge that he has denied.
Fr Gabriele Amorth, one of the world’s foremost exorcists, is convinced that Sai Baba performs his “miracles” through the help of satanic forces.
Still, some members of the Indian Catholic community are praying for him, including some bishops.
“We wish Sri Sathya Sai Baba a quick recovery, and pray for his health,” Bishop Moses D. Prakasam of Nellore told AsiaNews.
“Sai Baba is responsible for many good deeds in the poorest districts, creating schools and hospitals. He has given the go ahead, thanks to his compassion, to plans for aqueducts. He has provided drinking water to villages in the District of Anantpur. He has provided jobs and irrigation. What he has done deserves appreciation.”
Likewise, “Sai Baba is a unifying force because people at the top of the social ladder, politicians, industrialists and financiers, rush to him,” the prelate added.
“Sai Baba has had a great impact on every type of person, and is open to every religion. His teachings are also directed towards peace and unity. He is a good human being. Let us pray that he may recover.”