Survey vibhuti (translated from the Italian at

by Prof. Mauro Prencipe - mauro.prencipe @
Department of Mineralogical and Petrological Sciences - University of Turin
Member of the Board of Directors of CICAP - Piedmont Group and Scientific Director of the magazine "The Voice Skeptic"

Date: January 27, 2005

If you can play a mov file (can use Quicktime) you can download a video clip showing an electrospectrographic analysis of Sai vibuthi taken from a picture carried out by Dr. Jürgen Evers of Munich University.


Satya Sai Baba is probably the best known among the characters often referred to by the name of Guru or Santoni, his fame is due to a mixture of elements common to many of them, such as the alleged miraculous ability, the ability to materialize objects and a series of other phenomena more or less spectacular, much appreciated by their followers. In the case of Sai Baba , this mixture is particularly successful as seen by the following that the Guru was able to get around the World.

Among the many performances of the Holy Man, one of particular interest is the materialization of vibhuti , also known as the Sacred Ash, that Sai Baba produced in large quantities for its faithful. The vibhuti is in effect as a gray powder that resembles the ashes properties that are attributed to it would be simplistic to define as miraculous, especially for the health benefits that would result from its use.

It is perhaps of some unknown substance with characteristics unknown?

To answer this question, it 's definitely worth a look in-depth at the Sacred Ash , with the tools that science makes available to us: perhaps we could be faced with amazing properties!


From a preliminary observation by optical microscopy showed that the vibuthi is not a simple substance but is of the composite type , being constituted by a mixture of granules colorless ( transparent ) and white granules , accompanied by particles of dark color which , in ' together , give the color gray dust.

The morphology of the grains, the optical properties exhibited in polarized light and type of the numerous fractures observed , strongly suggest a crystalline nature of the material , which has guided the choice of the most refined methods of investigation , particularly suitable for analysis of crystalline materials ( that looks a bit ' in nature constitute the bulk of all solid matter exists) .

Now let's see the details of the individual analytical techniques employed : the X-ray diffraction , electron microscopy and microprobe chemical analysis.

X-ray diffractometry

A certain quantity of substance , equal to a few milligrams , was subjected to analysis by X-ray diffractometry , of powders . The lines in color in the resulting spectrum (see figure) indicate , in position and relative intensity , the diffraction peaks characteristic of three crystalline phases , as well as content in appropriate data base . It is thus ascertained the presence of quartz , albite ( plagioclase ) and microcline (K- feldspar).

The high background in the low angle region of the spectrum ( 20-25 ° ) also shows the presence of a certain amount of amorphous material ( non-crystalline ) or , in any case , poorly crystallized.

In Nature, the association of the three minerals mentioned (the latter two belong to the family of feldspars) is common in many types of rocks such as, for example, granite.


Electron Microscopy

Some of the granules vibuthi were observed at the transmission electron microscope (Philips, model CM12, operated at 120 KV).

The microscope has confirmed the presence of the mineral phases already observed X-ray, and has also allowed us to obtain new information about their origin and to identify the presence of other minerals minority, in a concentration too low for the observation of X-ray

Microscopy investigations have been focused in particular on feldspars (plagioclase and microcline). The quartz not presented instead characteristics of particular interest, which may require further analysis beyond that diffraction.

The left image shows the shape of electron diffraction of a granule of K-feldspar (microcline), oriented according to the axis of zone [102]: the cross shape of the spot of diffraction is produced by the particular type of characteristic of the gemination mineral crystallized in Nature, from a magma at high temperature and cooled very slowly (millions of years) within a body of intrusive rock.

The picture on the right is a positive print of a diffraction produced by K-feldspar, oriented along a different axis of the area. the cross shape of the diffracted spot is particularly noticeable here. The largest spot, in the center of the photo, is the image of the direct beam
The photo on the right is a picture in the dark field of K-feldspar and, specifically, the area that produced the diffraction of the previous photo. The photo shows an area of ??about 2 square millimeter of ten millionths (380000 magnification) are visible where two sets of slats, approximately orthogonal, which constitute individuals twins.

But that's not all! The strange similarity of vibhuti with very common materials, and absolutely natural origin, can also be seen in other features ...

'Alterazione del microclino

The 'Alteration of microcline

The right hand image (still K-feldspar) shows, on the left, the polysynthetic twinning and on the right a gray area with a rounded outer edge (the outer edge is facing the dark area). The gray area, whose brightness depends on the orientation of the specific granule, is clearly amorphous (non-crystalline). Many other granules observed in vibuthi have the same characteristics, relatively to the edge zones.

In Nature, the same characteristics are observed in potassic feldspar those that have been altered by water. The alteration proceeds with the prior training of amorphous material, followed by recrystallization of minerals of the group of clays.

The grains of plagioclase (sodium-calcium feldspar) show altered slightly different as shown in the photo to the right (bright field, magnification 300000) in the area to the left, the darker, the feldspar is visible with its typical gemination (highlighted by the presence of lamellae) in the right area are visible irregular fringes, perpendicular to the edge of the crystal, having the average spacing of 15 millionths of a millimeter. These fringes are traces of lattice planes of a proto-crystalline phase (therefore not completely amorphous, as in the case of K-feldspar), which, at least in Nature, precedes the formation of clays.


The chemical analysis with electron microprobe fully confirm the diagnosis of alteration of the granules of K- feldspar in vibuthi: Precisely, the composition of the microcline, in areas not altered, is that of a K- feldspar pu ; passing instead altered in parts ( amorphous ) we observe the sudden disappearance of the entry of potassium and iron .

The microprobe analysis , accompanied by electron diffraction has also allowed us to identify a large number of other mineral phases present in traces, such as amorphous silica, garnets, biotites, hornblende, smectite, illiti ... In Nature, a vast assortment of minerals can be found in sandy fluvial deposits, from dismantling of rocky bodies, by wate .

In conclusion

Unfortunately, as is clear from what has been presente, the analysis carried out, however sophisticated, did not provide strange results, unexpected or inexplicable, as it would agree to a substance materialized out of nowhere !

By examining together the data obtained , a scientist in the dark about what is claimed by Sai Baba about the vibhuti, easy to conclude very natural source of the substanc:

a clastic sediment , probably of fluvial origin, rather composite from both the mineralogical point of view, both from the chemical point of view , produced by advanced erosion and alteration of rocks and acidic magmatic-intrusive, such as granites.

In a word : soil , perhaps picked up on the shore of the river and some ... without recourse to amazing paranormal powers!