There has been much confusion in the last few weeks regarding the age of Sathya Sai Baba and the timeline of his presence in physical form, for Baba it is said, had declared that he would leave his physical form when he reached 96 years of age.
This confusion in truth pertains to the modes of computation for most people still adhere to the Roman/Gregorian calendar whereas Sathya Sai Baba always referred to the Hindu Nakshatra Kala Ganana (timescales based on stars) in his own discourses.
Accordingly, the Sidereal Lunar year as per old “Vedic” cycles is not 365 days but 324 days or 27 X 12 (12 sidereal months) because a lunar (sidereal) month extends from Aswathi to Revathi stars — that is 27 days. Hence it is important to note that we are not referring to the solar year 365 days or tropical lunar year from full moon to full moon which is 12 X 29 1/2 days or 354 days. We are speaking of the sidereal lunar year with one month consisting of 27 day moon transit of the zodiac and the 27 nakshatras. Therefore the lunar year in this case would have 324 days and not 365 days as in the Gregorian calendar.
Roughly speaking then, if we consider the prediction of death at 96 years of age then 96 lunar years at 324 = 31104 days, divided by 365 solar years= 85.2 solar years. Hence Sathya Sai Baba is no doubt around 85 ‘solar’ years according to the Roman/Gregorian calendar but he is ’96’ lunar years according to the old Vedic Hindu calculation (of the sidereal months). Moreover this information has been confirmed by many Vedic scholars and astrologists, including the eminent Pandit Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley)
It is also interesting to note an incident which took place on the 85th birthday celebration of Sathya Sai Baba. Usually, during any festival celebration, especially Baba’s birthday, the entire Prashanti Nilayam would be temporarily decorated with objects made of materials such as cardboards, etc. which could be easily dismantled and dismembered after the celebration ended since the new celebration would require the new birth date, etc. to be hoarded on the banner. However, during this 85th birthday celebration Sathya Sai Baba told his students “Make all the decorations of “PERMANENT” material”. Accordingly a board had been put up at the Ganesh Dwar which read “85 years of Love” and after celebrations the board has remained and not come down, just as Baba wanted and instructed. Moreover this time around instead of temporary gates, permanent gates were made and they are still there. When the students asked Swami whether they could remove and clear the decorations Swami responded by telling them not to remove the banner or decorations and to let it be there, implying that he knew this would be the last celebration.
Furthermore during his 80th birthday celebration, in the discourse that Sathya Sai Baba gave he declared that “Today is MY 90th Birthday”… and the entire crowd started laughing thinking that Swami had made a mistake…no one took it seriously and the publisher of Sathya Sai Baba in that subsequent volume went on to publish it as 80 years. Yet all of the devotees present that day undoubtedly heard Swami say that he was 90 years of age.
It stands to reason however that even if devotees knew that Sathya Sai Baba was indeed 96 years old, it would not make the situation any better but only worse since most devotees were already heartbroken and suffering even when they were convinced that Baba would not leave his body yet. Hence if devotees knew for sure that Baba would be leaving then Prashanti Nilyam would be subject to complete chaos and most devotees who have been so strongly attached to Baba would certainly succumb to emotional breakdowns, especially in the final years of Baba’s life. Instead, Baba, out of care for his devotees, made all circumstances transpire so fast, and out of the range of our conscious awareness of the actual reality of things, so that most of us would not really experience the real magnitude or impact of the situation making it less emotionally painful, which is why till today most people still feel as if it was all a dream.
More importantly, the way that avatars work ultimately always remains a mystery, so it never does matter whether in the end things add up mathematically or not as Baba’s age would still be irrelevant in the grand scheme of life. What will always continue to remain more important is our experience with him, his life, his message and his work, which is what devotees must continue to set their hearts and minds on.
By Raj Sharma