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Sri Sathya Sai Baba: A Life

Bill Aitken (Author)
Synopsis Born to a poor family in the village of Puttaparthi in southern Andhra Pradesh, Sathyanarayan Raju was a bright, talented and confident boy whose charitable nature and religiosity belied his tender age. Deeply suspicious of his spiritual precociousness, his father made him go through a traumatic exorcism. But the boy already had a devoted band of followers and, when he was thirteen, announced that he was the Shridi Sai Baba reborn. Today, Sri Sathya Sai Baba has an estimated thirty million followers worldwide. Acclaimed travel writer and self-described ‘spiritual nomad’ Bill Aitken tells us why so many-royalty, wealthy industrialists, influential politicians, as well as the poor flock to Puttaparthi. Sai Baba’s message, he reveals, can be summed up in one word: love. It is as simple as it is profound, not unlike how his devotees see the Sai himself-the embodiment of deep spirituality wedded to simplicity, elegance and grace. Yet, the Sai phenomenon is less about producing vibhuti from thin air and more about modern-day miracles. Miracles like free schools and universities, superspeciality hospitals which provide free treatment to all and revolutionary projects like the one which has brought drinking water to a million villagers in drought-prone Rayalaseema. Aitken is a rarity-a genuine spiritual seeker with a keen eye for cant and superstition. His study is neither a hagiographic exercise in myth-making nor a dry, objective account of the sai’s life. While never shy of expressing his deep love and reverence for Sai Baba, he squarely confronts the controversies and criticisms which inevitably dog those who claim acquaintance with the holy. The result of many years of inquiry and research, this biography bears testimony to the enduring relevance of the sacred in our times.
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About the author

Bill Aitken

Bill Aitken is Scottish by birth, a naturalized Indian by choice. He studied comparative religion at Leeds University and then gutcg-hiked to India in 1959. He has lived in Himalayan ashrams, worked as secretary to a maharani, freelanced under his middle name (Liam Mckay) and undertaken miscellaneous excursions-from Nanda Devi to Sabarimala-on an old motorbike and by stam railway. Aitken has written on travel and tourism for newspapers and magazines in India for several years and is the author of The Nanda Devi Affair, Riding the Ranges and Branch Line to Elernity among other books.

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Bibliographic information

Title Sri Sathya Sai Baba: A Life
Author Bill Aitken
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2004
Edition 1st. ed.
Language: English
isbn 0670058076
length xi+257p., Index; 23cm.