Sathya Sai Baba (born Sathyanarayana Raju on November 23, 1926, or later than 1927 — with the family name of "Ratnakara") is a guru from southern India, religious leader, orator and philosopher often described as a godman and a miracle worker.
According to the Sathya Sai Organization, there are an estimated 1,200 Sathya Sai Baba Centers in 130 countries world-wide. The number of Sathya Sai Baba adherents is estimated sometimes as around 6 million, and followers cite "50 to 100 million".
Sathya Sai Baba was born Sathyanarayana Raju to Peddavenkappa Raju and Easwaramma, a poor agrarian family in the remote village of Puttaparthi, located in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh. Since he was born after the satyanārāyaṇa pūjā, he was named after that deity. It was said that instruments played on their own accord in his household when he was born.  An official four-volume biography, called a hagiography by the Daily Telegraph, was written by professor Narayana Kasturi.Kasturi wrote in his book about Sathya Sai Baba's mother that she found out she was pregnant after dreaming of the Hindu god Sathyanarayana. Easwaramma claimed that she found out she was pregnant after dreaming of the Hindu God Sathyanarayana and after a huge sphere of blue light rolled towards her, merged into her and made her faint.According to Kasturi, a cobra was found in the bedclothes of the baby shortly after Sathya Sai Baba was born.  Some of his followers identify Sai Baba as the Lord of Serpents, Sheshiasa.The Hollywood screenwriter Arnold Schulman wrote in his 1971 book that Kasturi's story was denied by Sathya Sai Baba's sister who, according to Schulman, asserted that "the cobra was not found under the blanket, but several hours after Baba was born a cobra was seen outside the house." Schulman further stated that "for any episode of Baba's childhood, there are countless contrasting versions and, at this point, the author discovered that it was no longer possible to separate the facts from the legend". According to Schulman, contrasting versions about Baba's childhood may be due to the fact that he needed interpreters to interpret other interpreters (as in the case of his interview with Baba's sister). Schulman concluded that what the translators said may well have been quite different from what was actually said.
A younger Sathya Sai Baba.The Australian journalist and follower Howard Murphet wrote in his 1971 book that Sathya Sai Baba attended the Higher Elementary School at a nearby village, called Bukkapatnam during his 8th year. He had special talents for drama, music, poetry and acting, wrote songs for the village opera at the age of eight. After that Sai Baba joined the high school at Uravakonda, according to Kasturi's biography. Kasturi further wrote in his biography that on March 8, 1940 in Uravakonda around evening, Sathya Sai Baba started behaving as if a black scorpion had stung his foot. Uravakonda means "serpent-hill" and the place was known for serpents and scorpions. However, nobody found the scorpion, according to Kasturi. One night, Kasturi continues, after this strange event Sai Baba entered a state similar to coma, which his devotees call the state of "leaving his body". Kasturi further wrote that after he got out of this state he started behaving in a way that worried his parents - he didn't want to eat, he would often keep silent for a long time, recited ancient shlokas or elaborated on holy Hindu scriptures. Due to his family's pressure Sai Baba went back to Uravakonda High school in June.  In 1940 he proclaimed himself to be a reincarnation of the fakir and saint Shirdi Sai Baba (circa 1838-1918) and subsequently took the fakir's name.According to Kasturi, on October 20 1940, in his 14th year Sai Baba threw away his books, and announced that he was leaving. His words were "My devotees are calling me. I have my work." He then spent the next three days mostly under a tree in the garden of an excise inspector and many people gathered around him, Kasturi continues. He taught them Hindu devotional songs, called bhajans. From this time, when he was fourteen, Sai Baba claimed to be the avatar for our age, ie a divine incarnation sent to Earth to bring about spiritual renewal. He has consistently maintained this position ever since. Sathya Sai Baba is listed in the 1942 school record of Bukkapatnam.In 1944 a mandir for followers of Sathya Sai Baba was built near the village which is now called the "old mandir".The construction of, Prashanthi Nilayam, the current ashram was started in 1948. 
Howard Murphet writes in his 1971 book that the young Sathya was a vegetarian and was known for his aversion to animal cruelty and compassion for the poor, disabled and elderly. According to Kasturi and to Sathya Sai Baba himself, the young Sathya composed bhajans spontaneously (even as young as 8 years of age) and was talented in drama, dance, music and poetry.
In a discourse in 1963 he claimed to be a reincarnation of Shiva and Shakti. In the same discourse Sathya Sai Baba said that Shirdi Sai Baba was an incarnation of Shiva and that his future reincarnation - Prema Sai Baba - would be a reincarnation of Shakti and repeated this claim in 1976. Sathya Sai Baba's biography - Sathyam Shivam Sundaram written by Narayana Kasturi, states that Prema Sai Baba will be born in Mysore state
In 1958 Sanathana Sarathi, the official magazine for the followers of Sathya Sai Baba, was first published. In the late 1960s he attracted Western spiritual seekers and became increasingly popular. As of 2007, he left India only once for a visit to North East Africa in 1968.
Sathya Sai Baba had two sisters, one older brother, the late Seshama Raju, and one younger brother, the late R. V. Janaki Ramaiah.
In 2003 Sathya Sai Baba had an accident that injured his hip, according to the official of the Sathya Sai Organization, Michael Goldstein. As of 2005, Sathya Sai Baba sometimes uses a wheelchair.
In 1960 Sathya Sai Baba said that he would be in this mortal human form for 59 years more. In contrast, he told the American follower John S. Hislop, according to Hislop's 1978 book, that "This body will live to age 96, and will remain young." However this apparent contradiction of dates may have been caused by an erratic replacement of dates from the Indian calendar with dates from the European calendar. According to a 1984 book, Sathya Sai Baba said that "In this body I will not become old or infirm as in my old body."
Sai Baba used to keep a female elephant called Sai Geetha. Sai Geetha was part of almost every festivity in Prashanti Niliyam. She passed away on May 22, 2007.
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