Sai Baba of Shirdi was a holy man who lived in India in the 19th century. He is regarded as a God by his devotees and was worshipped by both Hindus and Muslims. Nowadays, people of other faiths like Parsis and Christians, too, have begun to worship him, having heard of his miracles.
Shirdi Sai Baba’s Childhood
Sai Baba was born to a Brahmin couple in 1835. They lived in Patri, which was situated in the Nizam’s state in British India. The exact date of Baba’s birth is not known. It is said that when he was 5 years old, his parents gave him to a fakir. Many communities have claimed him as their own, but the claims have not been proven.
Baba arrived at the village of Shirdi in Maharashtra when he was 16. He sat in meditation under a Neem tree, forgoing food and water for many days. People were filled with wonder when they saw this. They felt curious to know more about him. A woman named Bayajabai, wife of the village chief, would at times, enquire about his welfare, and eventually, she began to bring some food for Baba. As the days went by, Baba began to regard her as his mother. Mhalspati, who was the village chief and a priest, was once possessed by Lord Khandoba, and while in this state, said that a holy spirit was in the village and pointed towards Baba.
One day, Baba pointed to the neem tree and asked the villagers to dig its roots. The villagers began digging it. As the mounds of earth were dug up, they came across a slab made of stone and oil lamps that glowed without any oil or air. They were baffled to see this. They also found a vessel in the shape of a cow’s mouth on a wooden table. Baba explained that this was the sacred place where his guru had once done penance. He also told the villagers not to worship him, and instead, worship the tree, and not to harm it. They agreed, and even now, the tree is still found there. Pilgrims to Shirdi make their first stop at this tree.
Baba was a very remarkable person. He was not afraid of anybody, and there were some who felt he was mad. Some threw stones at him. Baba was in Shirdi for 3 years, after which he left the place and vanished for a year. Nothing was known about Baba during that time. It is said that he met many saints and fakirs, and at one point, worked as a weaver.
In 1858, Baba returned to Shirdi. He would remain there until his death. Baba resided under the neem tree for 5 years. Often, he would wander in the forest near Shirdi and was not very uncommunicative. He spent almost all his time in intense meditation. After a while, he moved to a mosque nearby.
Many Hindus and Muslims took to visiting Baba at this time. Baba maintained the sacred fire, called dhuni, in the mosque, and distributed sacred ash to visitors. People believed that the ash had the power to heal ailments.
Baba began to be seen as a saint and as a God, and he would take part in all religious festivals. He would prepare food and give it to all devotees as “Prasad”. Baba loved to sing religious songs and dance. More and more people came to Shirdi to see him.
Mahalsapati, who was a priest at a local temple, is said to be the first devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba. Now, many people, even in Western countries, are among his devotees.
Sai Baba, the Miracle Maker
Sai Baba of Shirdi is said to have performed many miracles during and after his lifetime. They include acts of levitation, materialization, bilocation, and reading people’s minds. Supposedly, he could enter his tomb at his own will, remove body parts like intestines, and attach them again. It is also said that he was reborn after 3 days. He cured sick people and stopped the mosque from falling down, thereby saving many lives.
Many people read Sai Charitha, his life story, as they think it can resolve many kinds of problems in the family and cure their diseases. Some devotees also say that he had given darshan to them by appearing as Sri Rama, Krishna, etc. Others say that he comes in their dreams and gives them advice on what they should do when they are facing problems in life. The sacred ash which is given to those who visited Sai Baba is said to have cured diseases. His grace comes without the presence of any intermediaries. Ask Shirdi Sai Baba Questions and Answers from astropedia
Baba encouraged his devotees to perform acts of charity and share what they had with the poor. He told them to treat everyone, including animals, with respect and kindness. He took dakshina from his devotees for two reasons. One was to give them to those who needed help, and the other was to improve the karma of the one who offered dakshina. He advised his devotees to lead a humble and ordinary life. His followers were told to chant holy words or God’s name and read their respective holy books.
One day in August 1918, Baba told a few devotees that he would be dying soon. As September came to a close, he suffered high fever and stopped taking food. As his condition became worse, he told his disciples to recite from holy texts. But he continued to receive visitors, despite his ill health. He expired on 15 October 1918. His mortal remains were buried at “Buti Wada” in Shirdi. Now it is a place of worship, called Shree Samadhi Mandir or Shirdi Sai Baba Temple.