The passing of Sathya Sai Baba has thrown up certain questions about the future of the spiritual and service activities managed by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. The fate of the properties of the spiritual guru, estimated to be worth anywhere between Rs. 40,000 crore and Rs. 1.5 lakh crore, remains to be determined.
Since its founding in 1972, the Central Trust has run free schools and hospitals, a university and spiritual centres. It undertakes development and philanthropic work across 165 countries with money received as donations from an estimated 30 million devotees.
The Trust had Sai Baba as Chairman. K. Chakravarthi is the Secretary and R.J. Ratnakar is one of the members. The latter is the son of Sai Baba's younger brother, the late Janaki Ramaiah.
Sai Baba's demise has left a vacuum as he was the guiding spirit all along. There was discipline and a certain sense of awe among the Trustees in carrying out tasks entrusted by ‘Swami.' The question now is whether it would continue in the same manner, asked a staunch follower who runs businesses in Puttaparthi.
“It's quite natural that the flow of funds is bound to slow down drastically after the Baba. The future of his good work in the education and healthcare space depends largely on how the existing funds are managed,” says K.A.N. Moorthy, former chairman of Serifed, who hails from Puttaparthi.
Amid reports of divergences between members of the Trust and the family, the Andhra Pradesh government on Sunday sought to clear the air. Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy clarified that the Trust had been asked to continue its activities as was done when the Baba was alive. “Baba still lives with us and all the matters of the Trust are in order. There'll be no change. The Trust will continue to function the way it did earlier,” he told mediapersons.
Major Industries Minister Geetha Reddy said: “It is a matter of pain that people are speculating on the Trust's activities. There are no differences between the Trust and family members.”
Congress MLA M. Shashidhar Reddy said the Trust had assured the government that it would function as it had functioned so far. “Baba has put a system in place and it will continue.”
Ever since the Baba took ill, there were rumours about a possible takeover of the Trust by the Andhra Pradesh Government due to a rift between a Trust member and Baba's family members. Hence, the trustees were asked to refrain from making any statements.