His face adorns the yellow motorized rickshaws zipping down the streets. Billboards bear his simple motto, “Love All, Serve All.” His portrait hangs in almost every shop: a tiny man with a gravity-defying crown of curly hair regarded by millions of worldwide devotees as a god.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who declared himself a “living god” as a teenager and spent decades assembling a spiritual empire, permeates every corner of this small Indian city. He transformed it from a village of mud huts into a faith center with a private airport, a university, two major hospitals, rising condominium towers and a stadium ”” a legacy now forcing a question upon his followers: What happens when a god dies?
India can sometimes seem overrun with gurus, spiritualists and competing godmen (as they are sometimes called). But when Sai Baba died last month at the age of 84, the nation paused in respect and reverence, if blended with skepticism, too….