The news brought an outpouring of grief from his followers, including high Indian officials, who remembered him as a pious person who worked selflessly to help others with the billions of dollars donated to his charitable trust.
Women selling marigold garlands broke down in tears outside the ashram, while devotees began flocking to the temple complex where the guru’s body will lie through Tuesday.
The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, where Sai Baba spent the past weeks on breathing support and dialysis, appealed for calm. Police, heavily deployed since Sai Baba was hospitalized March 28, kept tight control over road traffic and crowds. Shops were told to close to limit the number of people in town.
Sai Baba had a huge following, with ashrams in over 126 countries and devotees in India including high-placed politicians, movie stars, world-class athletes and industrialists.