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.
Sathya Sai Baba has created a university with three campuses (Anantapur, for women; Brindavan, near Bangalore, for men; and Prasanthi Nilayam, for men). He has developed two superspecialty hospitals, doing the latest heart operations etc. and serving the poor. He has been responsible for two major water projects, one serving over 700 villages in the state of Andhra Pradesh (which includes Puttaparthy, where Prasanthi Nilayam is located) and the other bringing water to the parched city of Channai, which has no natural river.
All of these projects were entirely free —students in his university and schools pay no tuition, the hospitals are entirely free, and the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust paid for the water projects. Yet, Sathya Sai Baba has never solicited money, and the International Sai Baba Organization also does not solicit.
Sathya Sai Babas Program in Human Values has spread world wide. It is based on the five basic Human Values truth, love, peace, right conduct, and nonviolence and on the principle of educare —these human values are already in each child, and the task is to draw them out. Education does not consist of cramming knowledge and character into a child, it consists of drawing our that which is already in.
In a discourse on 29 September 1960 (Chapter 31 of Sathya Sai Speaks volume 1), Sathya Sai Baba said this:
I will be in this mortal human form for 59 years more and I shall certainly achieve the purpose of this avatar; do not doubt it. I will take My own time to carry out My Plan so far as you are concerned. I cannot hurry because you are hurrying.
I may sometimes wait until I can achieve ten things at one stroke; just as an engine is not used to haul one coach, but awaits until sufficient haulage in proportion to its capacity is ready. But My Word will never fail; it must happen as I will.
Sathya Sai Baba left His physical body on 24 April 2011. This does not contradict his statement on 29 September that he would be in the human form for 59 years, for many signs —not recognized at the time— point to the fact that He meant LUNAR years (a lunar year is 12 lunar months, and a lunar month is shorter than a calendar month) rather than calendar years, as is explained on this web page. More on the events of His Mahasamadhi (the conscious leaving of the physical body by a realized soul) can be found on this webpage.