In 1993 Sathya Sai Baba proclaimed his mastery of death, saying “...I can live for as long as I please. I can also terminate it at will. It is my will that decides and not any other person. The reason is my purity, selflessness, and divinity.” 
Motivated no doubt by an urge to avoid undue confusion in the medical community he agreed to limit his godly lifespan to nine decades and change.  For reasons time did not permit him to explain his cold and lifeless corpse now lies in state, fawned over by half a million devotees who have undertaken considerable journeys to pay respects to a god man who mistimed his death by almost a decade.
This was not the 84 year old spawn-of-a-virgin’s first brush with death. In 1971 he raised Walter Cowan from the dead not once, not twice, but three times in quick succession, through the improbable method of guided dreaming and materializing a sacred ash formed of burnt cow dung. In 1963 he disappeared from public view for eight days. His immortality had been impertinently questioned by a stroke and four rapid heart attacks. Shortly after emerging from a world renowned hospital he revealed that he suffered the illnesses voluntarily, willing the damage upon himself to spare an unnamed follower. Apparently no western medical care caused his rejuvenation; eyewitnesses attest to his miraculous healing through the self-application of water droplets to his paralyzed thigh.
Water is not the only liquid Sai Baba massaged betwixt male legs. Both the BBC and Denmark’s national broadcast company have produced documentaries on the widespread allegations of sexual abuse and rape of young boys that have dogged his career as fervently as his most devoted followers. The deity Baba caused miraculous oil to spurt forth from his person and then massaged this sweet smelling liquid into his victims’ pelvic and crotch region in a healing ritual of his own creation.
That this odious pederast’s organs slowly failed over the course of the past month is a positive development. That his last eight years of parasitic life were immobile and enfeebled by a combination of failing brain and broken hip, despite his divine predictions to the contrary, brings me some measure of joy. He will continue to decay in the Indian sun and probability is against his proposed reincarnation. Yet his followers, if anything, have grown more devoted. The queue to stand within range of his rotting flesh is a slow-moving mile and I am reliably informed that India does not possess a season in which it is pleasant to undertake such a stroll. Despite only leaving India on one occasion he is credited with worldwide apparitions and healings. He is believed to have floated by the cockpit of a damaged aircraft, telepathically restarted the engine and hovered alongside it – presumably buoyed by his theatrically oversized hair – for twenty minutes to allow a safe landing.  Trinidad and Tobago – a country I honestly thought knew better – has expressed the sadness of thousands of their citizens via their acting president. India (a nation in which I must seriously reconsider my investments) has declared two days of mourning and is lowering their flag as a sign of respect to a man that has swindled himself an empire of 5.5 billion (GBP) in a rather poor country.
He died as he lived – a charlatan, a fraud and a pervert. His estimated fifty million followers are already descending into infighting and conspiracy theories. The stories are tweaking, evolving and adjusting; already we see modifications to official websites. What can we learn from practitioner of autodeification?
Anatole France once said “If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing” and although our paths never crossed I feel she would not object to me extrapolating. We have fifty million followers who on some level accept his divinity, reincarnation, identity as both the Lamb of God and reincarnated Sufi saint, ability to fly, raise the dead, telepathically repair engines, absorb the injuries of others, heal through molestation and defeat death. He also had a sideline in producing Seiko watches.
Does this mean that Mohammed did not fly into heaven on a horse? That Joe Smith did not translate a tale of evil Native Americans killing holy white folk? That John Frum will not emerge from the Yasur volcano and deliver cargo to his followers? Not necessarily. That charlatans exist does not preclude honesty. But when examining supernatural claims, we should always remember Sai Baba and the credulity of his followers.