Satya Sai Baba (1926– )
Modern Hindu guru, regarded by his devotees as a reincarnation
of an early twentieth century holy man, Sai Baba (d.
1918). He was born Sathyanarayana Ratnakaru Raju, November
23, 1926, in the village of Puttaparthi, South India. As a
thirteen year old, in 1940, he was bitten by a scorpion and remained
unconscious for some time. He emerged from the experience,
however, a changed person. He stated to those
around him, ‘‘I am Sai Baba,’’ a name hardly known to anyone
in his obscure village. He then became a religious teacher and
healer, manifesting extraordinary miracles.
He quite frequently ‘‘materializes’’ small objects out of the
air—pictures, statuettes, prayer beads, or rings—which he gives
to his devotees. A widespread religious movement has grown
up around him, and he has directed devotees into social work,
resulting in the building of a number of schools and medical
centers. His fame has spread far beyond India into both African
and Western countries due to the distribution of his writings
and the books about him written by Indra Devi, Howard Murphet,
and other Western writers. A charismatic figure, he is regarded
by many devotees as a divine avatar.
Sai Baba remains something of an enigma. He has refused
many parapsychologists the opportunity to study him. Many
have, however, joined his audiences and reported seeing the
extraordinary feats his followers have reported. C. T. K. Chari
raised the question of trickery, but gathered no substantial
proof of it.
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Chari, C. T. K. ‘‘Regurgitation, Mediumship, and Yoga.’’
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 47 (1973).
Haraldsson, Erlendur. Modern Miracles. New York Fawcett
Columbine, 1988.
Murphet, Howard. Sai Baba Avatar. London, Frederick Muller,
1979.
———. Sai Baba, Man of Miracles. Levittown, N.Y. Transatlantic
Arts, 1972.
Schulman, Arnold. Baba. New York Viking Press, 1971.