Influential Indian guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba has been buried at a ceremony attended by political, religious and military leaders as well as celebrities and hundreds of family members.
The funeral was carried out with full state honours at Sai Baba’s ashram in the southern town of Puttiparti. Since his death on Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people have paid their respects and queued for hours to see his body as it lay encased in a glass casket. Among the visitors to the temple’s auditorium were Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar.
The funeral brought together Hindu and Christian priests, Tibetan monks and Muslim clerics. Sai Baba had millions of international followers and ashrams in more than a hundred countries around the world. His eclectic teachings drew on traditional Hindu and Muslim beliefs.
His spiritual empire included trust funds estimated to be worth around six billion euros which were used to create schools and hospitals in India and also abroad.
A diminutive figure with a huge afro hairstyle, Sai Baba was revered almost as a living God by his followers. He was credited with mystical and magical powers, including the ability to conjure jewellery and Rolex watches out of thin air.
Critics however believed he was a charlatan who faked miracles attributed to him.
He had been suffering from health problems and died on Sunday of multiple organ failure at the age of 85.
Full state funeral for Indian guru Sai Baba