April 24, 2011 / 7:52 AM / 8 years ago

Indian spiritual guru Sai Baba dies

Devotees sit beside the body of Indian spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba at an ashram at Puttaparti in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh April 24, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba, revered by millions of followers as a living god, died Sunday in a hospital in southern India. He was 86.

Sai Baba, who was admitted to hospital in his hometown of Puttaparti a month ago, died of multiple organ failure, media said.

His followers, estimated to number six million, included top Indian politicians, business tycoons and Bollywoods stars.

Sai Baba, with distinctive frizzy hair and always clad in his trademark saffron robes, ran schools and hospitals through trusts in numerous countries. Questions are likely to arise over the management of his substantial assets.

He was credited with mystical powers including conjuring objects out of thin air.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Sai Baba’s death was “an irreparable loss” to all.

Legions of followers, including top judges and bureaucrats, were expected to take part in his last rites, media said.

Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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