Thousands of mourners waited in a mile-long line to pay their respects to guru Sri Satya Sai Baba, who died on Saturday at age 85. Among the mourners were Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, reported the BBC.
As Time magazine reports, Sai Baba was an unbelievably popular yet complicated spiritual leader:
Believing in the Baba was easy. Devotees were not required to adhere to any particular set of beliefs or renounce worldly pleasures; non-Hindus did not need to change their religion. "I am God," he would say. "You too are God. The only difference between you and me is that while I am aware of it, you are completely unaware." With that approach, he attracted a following of some 6 million people and amassed a fortune in the form of a charitable trust valued at an estimated $8.9 billion. According to its most recent filings with India's Home Ministry, the Sathya Sai Trust received $19.5 million in foreign donations in 2009 alone.
In 2004, the BBC aired accusations that Sai Baba had sexually molested boys. Indian authorities never investigated and Time reports, "the Baba dismissed the accusations as the mere 'cawing of crows.'"
The BBC reports that Indian PM Singh said the guru was "an inspiration to people of all faiths:"
Sai Baba will be buried — rather than cremated — at his funeral on Wednesday.
This is normally the custom for people who Hindus regard as esteemed holy men.
We'll leave you with some video of the mourners from India's NewsX: Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.