Sathya Sai Baba is a highly revered spiritual leader and world teacher, whose life and message are inspiring millions of people throughout the world to turn God-ward and to lead more purposeful and moral lives. His timeless and universal teachings, along with the manner in which he leads his own life, are attracting seekers of Truth from all the religions of the world. Yet, he is not seeking to start a new religion. Nor does he wish to direct followers to any particular religion. Rather, he urges us to continue to follow the religion of our choice and/or upbringing.
"I am God. And you too are God. The only difference between you and Me is that while I am aware of it, you are completely unaware." This is the answer Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba gives to people who query Him about His identity and divinity. This fundamental truth of man's divine nature is at the heart of His message and mission. Indeed, in His discourses to devotees, He addresses them as "Embodiments of the Divine Atma". All who experience His pure and selfless love, and benefit from His illuminating counsel, and witness His miraculous nature get a glimpse of the glory and majesty of God, and therefore of what one potentially and inherently is.
Sathya 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."
Sai Baba's ashram, built by his devotees close to the village where he was born, was inaugurated on 23 November 1950. It is called
Prasanthi Nilayam (the Abode of Divine Peace). It has been the gathering place of millions of spiritual pilgrims of various faiths from all over the world. Every day, Sai Baba graciously walks among them to guide, comfort, console, and uplift them.
The small temple dedicated in 1950 has grown into a spiritual oasis of unprecedented magnitude. The temple and the darshan area in front of it, which is completely covered by a beautiful roof, together encompass an area that is over 10,000 square yards. During the period 14-23 November 1995, the celebrations of the 70th birthday of Sathya Sai Baba took place in Prasanthi Nilayam. More than one million people, including the President and Prime Minister of India, assembled in Prasanthi Nilayam to pay homage to Sathya Sai Baba during the 70th birthday celebrations.
Revealing the purpose of His Advent, Sai Baba has said that He has come to re-establish the rhythm of righteousness in the world and repair the ancient highway to God, which over the years has systematically deteriorated. In His own words, "This Sai has come in order to achieve the supreme task of uniting the entire mankind as one family through the bond of brotherhood, of affirming and illuminating the Atmic Reality (Atma - The Self) of each being, to reveal the Divine which is the basis on which the entire cosmos rests, and of instructing all to recognize the common Divine Heritage that binds man to man, so that man can rid himself of the animal and rise up to the Divine, which is the goal."
Sri Sathya Sai Baba is lovingly addressed by His devotees as "Swami", "Bhagawan", "Sai" or "Baba". His followers greet each other with the word "Sairam" acknowledging the inherent divinity present in each other.