Lifestyle & Belief

Sai Baba's secret stash: Where's Geraldo when you need him?

Indian police have asked two members of a trust linked to the late Sathya Sai Baba to explain the source of a large amount of cash, the BBC reports.

The police June 19 seized Rs.35.5 lakh being transported in a car from Baba's ashram Prashanti Nilayam at Puttaparthi to Bangalore. Three people were also arrested, according to India's Economic Times newspaper. 

Earlier, after opening Sai Baba's "personal chamber" in an unwitting echo of Geraldo Rivera's infamous cracking of Al Capone's vault, Sai Baba's Sathya Sai Central Trust said it had recovered a large quantity of money and cash, the BBC said (deadpan).

"About $2.5m of cash, 98kg of gold and 307Kg of silver were recovered and deposited in the bank account of the central trust," a statement released by the trust said, according to the Beeb.

The background (courtesy those deadpan Brits):

Followers of Sai Baba believe he had magical abilities to produce objects out of thin air, visit people in their dreams, perform miracles and cure terminal illnesses.

But his critics say that many of these activities were publicity stunts. They say that he was a persuasive fraudster who used his huge popularity to avoid being investigated over allegations of murky financial practices and sexual abuse.

These charges were always strenuously denied by the guru and his huge number of followers and were never proved.

The controversial guru died in April this year, flagging off a scramble for control of his financial empire.