(Investigator 211, 2023 July)

Born Satyanarayana Raju in Puttaparti, India, on November 26, 1926, it soon became apparent that there was something "different” about this boy. At school he was popular with the other children because of his strange ability to produce sweets from an empty bag. At about thirteen an accident occurred that changed his life and set him on a course for sainthood. Some say that he was stung by a scorpion, others that after being struck down by a mysterious illness he became delirious. Either way, he recovered and from then on claimed to be the reincarnation of the great Indian Holy man and miracle worker Sai Baba of Shirdi who died in 1918. The original Sai Baba’s fame revolved around his ability to heal the sick with holy ash taken from the fire kept burning at his mosque. Satya Sai Baba plucks vibuti or holy ash from the air or from empty urns and sprinkles on his followers to cure them of disease.

As his psychic abilities grew, Sai Baba became a spiritual leader and his power to perform miracles became legend, among them, producing gold and valuable artefacts from thin air, starting a fire using only the power of his mind, causing flower petals to form words on the ground, curing those rejected by conventional medicine as being terminally ill, and even raising the dead. One particular favourite with the tourists who flock to see him is a souvenir photograph on which for no apparent reason holy ash will spontaneously materialize.

The news of his miracles spread world wide and in India today there are over 3,000 centres devoted to his spiritual teaching. Many books have been written on his life and miracles, some of them by sceptics who set out to discredit Sai Baba but came away witnesses to his extraordinary powers. Sai Baba says his principal aim in this life is to lead people away from violence and hatred and bring peace to the world. To further this he expects to be born again in the next century as Prema Sai in accordance with the Upanishads’ forecast made 5,600 years ago.


Sai Baba’s claims to possess miraculous powers have been exhaustively investigated over a period of twenty years by one of his former devotees, B. Premanand, now one of India’s leading ratlonalists and the convener of the Indian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Premanand’s findings show conclusively that Sai Baba’s so called miracles are simple conjuring tricks well within the scope of any magician, and in fact have been video taped and shown as such.

On August 29, 1992, during an inauguration ceremony, Sai Baba materialised a gold chain to present to the architect who had build the complex. When the tape was being edited for National Television a hand was seen in the film taking the gold chain from under a memento and giving it to Sai Baba.

Further reading:

Premanand, B. 1976. Lure of Miracles.
___________ 1981. The Story of Godmen, Gold and Diamond Smuggling.
___________ Articles on Sai Baba. Indian Skeptic. May, June, July, August, October and November 1988. January and October 1989. April, October and November 1990. April 1993.

From: Edwards, H. 1994 Magic Minds Miraculous Moments, Harry Edwards Publications