he predicted himself to be able to live past 96. but he was dead at the age of 84.
PUTTAPARTHI (India) - INDIAN spiritual leader Sai Baba, one of the country's most famous gurus, died in hospital on Sunday, triggering an outpouring of grief from devotees around the world.
He was 85 and succumbed to heart problems, his doctors said in a statement, after being in critical condition for more than three weeks.
Thousands of Hindu followers massed at the Institute of Higher Medical Sciences hospital where Sai Baba was being treated in his hometown of Puttaparthi, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Police used barriers to hold back mourning crowds, and appealed for public calm after the death was announced.
'Sai Baba is no more with us physically. He breathed his last at 7.40 am and died due to cardio-respiratory failure,' the hospital statement said. 'His body will be kept for public worship for two days on Monday and Tuesday.' Devotees congregated in the town over recent weeks to hold special prayers asking for a miracle to allow Sathya Sai Baba - as he was properly known - to recover.
He was credited by millions of followers around the world with having supernatural powers, including an ability to conjure objects out of thin air, remember past lives and cure terminal diseases.
He counted former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, judges, actors, generals and other politicians as devotees, as well as Indian cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar and Hollywood star Goldie Hawn. Sai Baba claimed to be the reincarnation of a former holy man, Sai Baba of Shirdi, who died in 1918. -- AFP