Sai Baba of Shirdi or Shirdi Sai Baba was an Indian guru, yogi and fakir, who is regarded by his Hindu and Muslim followers as a saint. Some of his Hindu followers believe that he was an Avatar of Shiva, Dattatreya, a satguru and the next incarnation of Kabir. Shri Sai Baba is revered as one of the greatest saints ever seen in India, endowed with unprecedented powers, and is worshipped as a God incarnate. (SAI meaning Sakshaat Ishwar) - GOD THE ABSOLUTE
In his life and teachings he tried to embrace and reconcile both faiths: Sai Baba lived in a mosque, was buried in a Hindu temple, embraced Hindu and Muslim practices, and taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions. One of his well known epigrams says of God: "Allah Malik" ("God is King [Lord]"). Sai Baba taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace, devotion to God and guru. When Shirdi was a very small village Baba Predicted that millions of people will flock like ants at Shirdi in future and now one finds that Baba's prophecy has come to be true and a small village has become the prominent Holy place of Universal Religion of Love.
This mysterious Fakir first made HIS appearance in Shirdi as a youth and remained there throughout His long life. HE transformed the lives of those who met Him and continuously is doing so even after HIS Samadhi in 1918 for those whose hearts are touched by his love and who pray and call Him at any emergency in life for his blessings.
Baba is, as one of His contemporary devotees put it, “The embodiment of the Supreme Spirit lighting the sadhakas (seekers') path by His every word and action”.
There is no clear record of Sai's given name, nor of his origins. However, there are some indications based on his own words that he was born in a Brahmin family in the village of Pathri, under the name Haribhau. According to estimates he was born circa 1838. Once he told his devotee - Mhalsapathy - that he had been born in Pathri and his parents had given him to a "Fakir". According to some sources as a boy Sai Baba was brought up by a Sufi fakir and according to others by a Hindu guru. Some people combine both these theories (that Sai Baba was first brought up by a fakir and then by a guru).
He stayed in Shirdi till his death on 15 October in 1918. There he lead a simple and ascetic life; e.g. he begged for food. He lived in an old mosque. At first he performed the function of a local hakim and treated the sick. In the mosque he kept up a sacred fire - a Dhuni. He had the custom of giving Udhi to his guests before they left - they believed that it had healing powers and could protect them in dangerous situations. He also delivered spiritual teachings to his visitors (and according to what the witnesses said) performed many miracles. He took part in religious festivals. He was also in the habit of preparing food for his visitors, which he distributed to them as prasad. His entertainment was dancing and singing religious songs (he enjoyed the songs of Kabir most).
To His devotees, Baba is nothing less than a GOD. This has been a matter of experience and not imaginary.
Mission and Teachings
His philosophy was Advaita Vedanta and his teachings had elements both of this school as well as of bhakti and Islam. Baba stated that His mission is to “Give Blessings” without discrimination to all, and He proves it in myriad ways by healing the sick, saving lives, protecting the vulnerable, averting accidents, granting offspring, facilitating financial gain, bringing people into harmony within themselves and with each other and, above all, in effecting the spiritual evolution and transformation of those who came to him as the last resort.
“I look on all with an equal eye”
An outstanding aspect of Sai Baba is that He is beyond distinctions of religion, caste or creed. He embodied all religions and preached the Universal religion of Love.
Devotees of all faiths find their meeting point in Sai and people from all communities and all walks of life are united by the great love and reverence Baba inspires in them. Baba had great regard for His Hindu devotees and their Gurus and He responded to their needs and permitted worship according to the Hindu and other religious rituals. At the same time His dwelling place was a Masjid (Mosque) and the name of Allah was ever on his lips. HE described himself as in Service to GOD (ALLAH) and as a soul ever remembering ALLAH -(YAD - A - HAKKA)
People today flock Shirdi in ever-increasing numbers to pay homage to the Divine and to experience the truth of Baba’s promise that He would be active in answering devotees' prayers even from his tomb. Like Ten Commandments BABA has given eleven assurances to humanity for welfare.
Baba said that He was a slave in the service of those who loved Him that He was ever living to help those who turn to Him and that He has to take care of His children day and night. He then taught values of total surrender to the Almighty Master (ALLAH MALIK EK- The only ONE) and experience his grace.
In coming to Baba’s Shirdi His children experience the truth how BABA unfailingly fulfils His commitments to his devotees by coming to their rescue in times of crisis.
Location and Transport
Shirdi is a famous centre of pilgimage and can be reached from several important cities of Western and Southern India.
Shirdi town is situated in Rahata Tahasil in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra State (India). It is located at 19o45' North Latitude and 74o25' East Longitude.
It falls on Ahmednagar-Manmad State Highway No.10 at 83 Km. from Ahmednagar, and 15 Km. from Kopargaon.It (the Ahmednagar -Manmad road) was a very busy route in the old times. It is located at 185 Km. to the East from Western Seashore line.
From Hyderabad you can go to Shirdi by a direct bus. It is a 15 Hrs. journey. R T.C. runs 3 buses between 2 P.M. and 5 P.M.
From Bangalore the K K. express runs through Dharmavaram, Ananthapuram and Dond junction to Kopargam and Manmad. You can get down in either of the stations and catch a bus to Shirdi from there.
From Madras the Navajeevan express goes upto Ahmedabad. It passes through Pushaval. Get down there and catch another train to Manmad. You can catch a bus there to Shirdi.
You can reach Shirdi from Bombay in six hours by R.T.C Buses, Private Buses, and Taxis .