Satya Sai Baba
However, he did not seek to start a new religion. Nor did he wish to direct followers to any particular religion. Rather, he urged us to continue to follow the religion of our choice.
Satya Sai Baba was born in Puttaparthi, a small village in South India, on 23 November 1926. As a child, he demonstrated exemplary qualities of compassion, generosity, and wisdom, which clearly distinguished him from the other children of his village.
On 29 October 1940, at the age of 14, he declared to his family and to the people of his village that he would henceforth by known as Sai Baba and that his mission was to bring about the spiritual regeneration of humanity by demonstrating and teaching the highest principles of truth, righteous conduct, peace, and divine love.
His mission was further amplified in a letter he wrote to his brother in 1947. "I have a task," he said, "to foster all mankind and ensure for all of them lives full of bliss. I have a vow: To lead all who stray away from the straight path again into goodness and save them. I am attached to a work that I love: To remove the sufferings of the poor and grant them what they lack."
Satya Sai Baba encouraged us to recognize who we are: "We are not these minds. We are not these bodies. We are the eternal spirit that temporarily occupies these minds and bodies. We can appreciate and become who we really are by turning inward with faith in God and an intense yearning to know Him. Our conscience is a reflection of the eternal spirit."
Satya Sai Baba told us that our conscience is our master: "When we follow our conscience, our thoughts, words, and deeds will be noble and consistent. Spirituality is having the courage and determination to follow our conscience in all things and at all times. In doing so, we recognize that we are all united in God. We are bound together by divine love."
Satya Sai Baba urged mankind to:
Believe in God - for there is only ONE GOD for all mankind, though He may be called by many names...
Follow sincerely their respective religions and live their daily lives in consonance with the teachings of good behaviour and morality...
Respect all other religions - for no religion advocates the negative and lower qualities of man...
Perform selfless service to the poor, the sick, and the needy without thought of reward or fame...
Cultivate in their lives the values of truth, divine love, right conduct, peace, and non-violence and promote these values among all.
Sadly, Satya Sai Baba died on 24 April 2011, at the age of 84, in hospital in his hometown of Puttaparthi after a cardiac arrest. He had been ill for some time, suffering from respiratory problems and kidney failure.
(Satya Sai Baba said that he was the second of a triple incarnation. The first was Shirdi Sai Baba and the third will be Prema Sai Baba.)