South Asia

India spiritual leader Sai Baba 'stable' in hospital

Sai Baba
Image caption Sai Baba is estimated to have millions of devotees around the world

The condition of one of India's most revered spiritual leaders, Satya Sai Baba, is showing "signs of improvement", his doctors say.

Thousands of devotees in the state of Andhra Pradesh have gathered outside a hospital where he was admitted last week with breathing problems.

The 84-year-old guru is thought to have millions of followers around the world.

His distinctive orange robes and his hair have made him one of the most recognisable of India's gurus.

Sai Baba was admitted to a hospital in Puttaparthi, where he is based, last week with lung and chest congestion, doctors say.

A health bulletin issued by the hospital said that his condition had improved though he is still on a ventilator and receiving kidney dialysis.

"He is in a stable state of health ... There are signs of improvement in the functioning of his kidneys although he is still on dialysis," a health bulletin issued by the hospital said.

Sai Baba counts former Indian prime ministers, prominent businessmen and India's cricketers among his followers.

But his career has also been dogged by controversy. He has been accused of faking some of the "miracles" attributed to him.

And some former followers levelled accusations of sexual abuse against him and other members of his ashram - a charge that he has denied.

He has never been charged by police in connection with these allegations.

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