Updated on Sunday, April 24, 2011, 14:30Zeenews Bureau
Puttaparthi: After battling with prolonged illness, 85-year-old spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba passed away on Sunday in this town in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur district, sending millions of his followers across the world into mourning.
Sai Baba died of cardiac and respiratory failure, a health bulletin issued by the hospital said. His condition had deteriorated further early this morning and his organs too had stopped responding to treatment, doctors said.
“Sathya Sai Baba is no more with us physically. He left his body at 7.40 am due to cardiac and respiratory failure,” said the statement issued by the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences where Sai Baba was undergoing treatment.
The bulletin said Baba's body will lie in state at Sai Kulwant Hall here for two days – on Monday and Tuesday. Arrangements will be made for darshan after 6.00 pm today, it added.
"We appeal to all not to rush to the hospital, but to remain calm and have Darshan in an orderly manner," the bulletin said.
Baba will be buried at the Sai Kulwant Hall in Prashanti Nilayam on Wednesday in line with the practice adopted for spiritual leaders in India, contrary to the Hindu custom of cremating bodies.
State Major Industries Minister J Geetha Reddy said the members of Baba's family and the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust have decided that his burial will take place on Wednesday morning. The exact time will be announced later.
Security was also tightened in Puttaparthi before the news was passed on to the media. More than 6,000 policemen have been deployed in the town.
The 86-year-old Sai Baba was hospitalised on March 28 following problems related to heart and respiration.
For the first time since Sai Baba was admitted to the hospital, the doctors did not issue a morning bulletin today, heightening anxiety in this pilgrim town.
Though prohibitory orders have been in force in Puttaparthi for the last several days, lakhs of devotees have congregated in the town, most of them at the 'Prashanti Nilayam', the spiritual resort of the leader, 6 kms from the hospital.
It was at Prashanti Nilayam that Baba, whose followers range from top politicians to industrialists, has been giving darshan and blessing his devotees for over four decades.