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Sri Sathya Baba, who claims to be the reincarnation of Hindu God and preaches love, understanding and universal brotherhood, has thousands of followers in India and abroad including several heads of state, eminent politicians, military officials, judges, film stars and sportsmen. The teachings of Sathya Baba are based on the famous 'five props' of Sathya (truth), Dharma (righteousness) Santhi (peace), Prema (universal love) and Ahimsa (non violence). He is best known for his alleged miracles. Now he has more than 10 million devotees around the world and 10000 spiritual service centres in 166 countries. It is dedicated to the study and practical application of the teachings of Sathya Sai Baba which strongly emphasizes on service to community.
During last few decades, he has built a vast empire worth billions of rupees transforming a small village of Puttaparthi, his birth town into a well regimented city with a state-of-the-art airport, education and health facilities. Thousands of disciples come every day in his main ashram Prashanti Nilayam (abode of Eternal peace) in Puttuparti in quest of miracles and blessings. The ashram was established on November 23, 1950, on Sri Sathya Baba's 25th birthday.
The main attraction in the Ashram is the twice-daily darshan in which Sai baba walks through the crowd with his radiating blessings, distributing sweets and Vibhuti. Sometimes he accepts handwritten letters containing devotees questions and prayers, which he reportedly responds to via dreams and other telepathic communications. During darshans, Sai baba selects individuals of groups for private interviews at a later time.
The Ashram is a massive complex of domed and turreted buildings and it can accommodate thousands of people in unfurnished four- persons rooms with attached toilet or dormitories with communal toilet. Men, women and families are housed separately; there are separate dorms for Indians and Westerners. Meals and snacks are available at 2 inexpensive canteens (Western & Indian). You must stand in line to purchase meal tickets in advance. Other facilities include a book store, museum featuring exhibits on world religions, an auditorium, a large hospital complex and a university.
The ashram's has a large prayer hall. Daily Bhajans and other spiritual activities are held in this hall.
The 23rd of November, the Birth day of Baba usually celebrateswith great joy and enthusiasm by the devotees at the Prasanthi Nilayam.
On arrival at the Ashram, one must register and show passport at the Public Relations Office at (0091) 8555-287390. Modest dress is required - white colour long pants and shirt (worn shirt outside the pants) for men, floor length skirts or pants for women. Women must wrap a shawl across their chest.
Foreigners are only welcome at Prasanthi Nilayam when Baba is there. He has no definite schedule, so call in advance to find out where he is. During the hot season that is in March to June, he is generally at the hill station of Kodaikanal, there are no accommodations at the ashram there. When Baba is in residence, the usual schedule begins with chanting of Omkar (Twenty one Oms) and a song to the dawn at 5.20 am, followed by Nagarsankirtan (chanting of devotional songs by walking around the Ashram). Darshan and Interviews begin at 6.45 am, but you'll need to start lining up around 5am. Devotional singing (Bhajans ) begins at 9am. In the afternoon, Darshan begins at 3.45 pm (Start lining up around 2), followed by bhajans at 5.30. lights out is at 9pm.
Some festivals usually observed at Prasanthi Nilayam are noted below - (February or March), the sacred night of Shiva; Ramnavami (March or April), Rama's birthday; Guru Purnima (July or August), dedicated to the sage Vysa; Janmashtami (August - September), Krishna's birthday; Deepavail (October - November), the festival of lights; Sai Baba's birthday (November 23), Christmas day (December 25).