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Sai Baba of Shirdi-- a Universal Saint

Sai Baba ,who lived most part of his life in a small village called Shirdi ,in
Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra state in India, a village[ about 200 miles from
the sprawling city of Mumbai ] is venerated and worshipped by millions in India and
several thousands in other countries. This Baba ,not to be confused with more recent
Babas who claim kinship/succession from him, lived the life of a faquir---a wandering
Sadhu who lived on alms only...he had no home,no family and did not speak of any
lineage.No one knows for sure where he was born or when he was born....
The only solid fact known about him is date of his death or samadhi in 1918.Perhaps
he was close to eighty years then;probabaly he was born in 1836 or 1856.There is a
refernce that he served in the army of Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi during the sepoy
mutiny..If so he would have born sometime between 1836 and 1840...
He lived the entire life in a small dilapidated mosque in Shirdi village.He called the
mosque later as "Dwarakamai"--Mother Dwaraka.This tells us how he was
integrating Hindu and Moslem communities.He wore a Kafni or long robe,quoted from
Koran was also well versed in Hindu scriptures andarranged Hindu festivals like
Diwali and Rama Navami.....
Who was this Sai Baba? What are his antecidents? Many surmise that he might have
come from far off Afghanistan and part of Pakistan.He was perhaps a brahmin boy
brought up by a muslim fakir...Who knows?
Was he a Sufi mystic,trained in that tradition...some scholars believe so.
His masjid or dwarkamai was open to all---Hindus,muslims,christians,young and old,
rich and poor....He treated them all alike and showered his blessings and healing
Yes,he was noted for healing the sick...but did not claim any credit for
himself..."Allah achha Karega"Allah will do good"..."Allah Malik"--Allah is the
master---he considered himself as the servant of Allah.....
Many who came to scoff,remained to pray..many orthodox Hindus were put off by him
at first sight...Then they realized that he was a great master who can bestow wealth
and prosperity and give mental solace....
Rich lawyers,judges,civil servants like deputy collectors sought him and wished to
stay with him in that little ,unhygienic hamlet for days and weeks....People with
mental struggle found peace in his proximity...He wrought magic in their minds....
Did he preach any new religion or sect or philosophy?...No! He wanted everyone to
follow their own religion and practices.he wanted them to love everyone,show no
hatred and even love animals,like dogs,cats,snakes and wild animals...The pure
vedantic teaching of seeing the Self in all was demonstrated by him...He knew what
would befall someone and forewarn that person.....
Like the great master two thousand years ago in the Sea of Galilee,this master in
Shirdi performed several miracles...He burnt lamps with water instead of using oil.He
cured many persons of terrible diseases;he controlled plague in several cases and in
Shirdi..He multiplied food for poor feeding....what is more,he is performing those
miracles even today in the lives of his devotees....
He protects his devotees even today in various ways...his devotees throng his
samandhi mandir in Shirdi [which is now a small ,modern town with all amenities and
luxury hotels]...Some make pilgrimage to Shirdi every year.
His devotees have built hundreds of temples---- in every small town and big cities in
India, that one can find a Sai temple within a couple of kilometers in India..There are
several Sai temples in major cities in USA,UK and Australia...You will find his picture
in millions of homes in India and also in shops,restaurants and taxi cabs.!
The greatness of Sai is felt by all who worship him in a sincere manner.He lived a
simple life of fakir without any ashram or monastery throughout his life...he did not
collect money for large expenses...he did ask dakshina from some persons,mainly as
dues from them..he did not ask everyone..he spent the money on the same
day...When he died,there was only 16 rupees in his pocket....he wrote no books.he
did not propound any philosophy or sectarian creed....
Sai Baba did not appoint any successor or build an ashram or peetam or seat of
religious institution....But he inspired and guided many masters in his wake: Upasani
Maharaj, Meher Baba,Das Ganu, Abdulla Baba and so on...many later saintly persons
were guided by him,for instance B. V. Narasimha Swami. [This swami moved from
Ramana Maharshi to Meher Baba to Upasani Maharaj and finally to the shores of
Shirdi Baba, some 15 years after Baba's samadhi.]
It is difficult to express how one gets drawn to a saint like Shirdi sai Baba and start
getting his grace...Inscrutable are the ways of Universal masters like Sai Baba.
[Note : The present author does not recognise any other Baba or swami who claim
lineage or kinship with Shirdi Sai Baba .]