Sai Baba: The last journey 27-Apr 2011
Close devotees of the spiritual guru, – considered by many as the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, witnessed the rituals with tears rolling down their eyes as he was buried before with full state honours.
Besides BJP leaders LK Advani and Venkaiah Naidu, Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narsimhan, Punjab Governor Shivraj V Patil, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kirankumar Reddy, his Karnataka counterpart BS Yeddyurappa, were among the dignitaries present during the closed door ceremony.
The ceremony was preceded by chanting of verses by religious leaders of Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity and Baha’i.
Sai Baba was offered nine kinds of foodgrains, water from nine rivers and nine precious stones – symbolizing the nine planets. A cow was donated before the body was buried.
Sai Baba was buried lying down on his back sparking debate among religious leaders across the state. Saints and holy men are kept in the Padmasana (lotus position) for Samadhi as they are believed to have attained a level of detachment that makes cremation redundant.
The final burial ritual was performed behind curtains. Chants of Om Sai Ram emanated from the devotees as the curtains were raised.
The politicians were the first to offer prayers at the Samadhi, before the function ended with mangala aarti’ (verses sung in God's praise).
Lakhs of devotees have been flocking the ashram, Prashanthi Nilayam, since Sai Baba passed away following multi-organ failure on Sunday. But the streets wore a deserted look during the ceremony, which was telecast live by the local television channels.