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Sai Baba of Shirdi (September 28, 1838 – October 15, 1918)
Sai Baba of Shirdi (September 28, 1838 – October 15, 1918)

Sai Baba of Shirdi (September 28, 1838 – October 15, 1918)

Sai Baba of Shirdi (September 28, 1838 – October 15, 1918)
Shrine Shirdi Sai
Shrine Shirdi Sai

Shrine Shirdi Sai

SABKA MALIK EK

SABKA MALIK EK

Shirdi Temple Sai Baba of Shirdi also known as Shirdi Sai Baba or in Marathi:

Shirdi Temple

Sai Baba of Shirdi also known as Shirdi Sai Baba or in Marathi: शड चे

साईबाबा, Urdu: در ی ﺷئﺎ ی ںﺳ ﺎ ), was

ﺑﺎﺑ an Indian guru, yogi, and fakir who is

regarded by his Hindu and Muslim devotees alike as a saint.

Sai baba of Shirdi lived between 1838 and 1918, whose real name, birthplace and date of birth are not known. An Indian spiritual guru and a fakir that transcended the barriers of religions, Sai baba of Shirdi was regarded with great reverence by both Hindu and Muslim followers. He lived in a mosque and after death his body was cremated in a temple.

His philosophy ingrained ‘Shraddha’ meaning faith and ‘Saburi’ meaning compassion. According to him Shraddha and Saburi were the supreme attributes to reach the state of godliness.

It is believed that at a tender age of 16 yrs Shri Sai baba arrived at the village of Shirdi in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra and remained their till his death. He found shelter in Khandoba temple, where a villager Mahalsapathi in the temple addressed him as Sai or Saint.

Sai baba of Shirdi lived an extremely simple and austere life, sleeping on the floor of temple and later taking a ruined mosque as his shelter. With his arrival to Shirdi, in no time he began exhibiting a hypnotic attraction among people as they began flocking to him. He is attributed many miracles doing things that were beyond a mortal’s power. He never discouraged these attributes and soon his fame spread like wild fire. Many pilgrims came seeking his blessings. Such was his hypnotism that even the mundane of his activities attracted large crowds.

Popular among both Hindus and Muslims, Sai baba became a great harmonizing force between the two disparate communities. He regularly recited Hindu and Muslim prayers. His Hindu followers considered him to be an avatar or reincarnation of Shiva and Dattatreya. Sai Baba did not leave any written works. All his teachings were oral and catchy. His sayings were short, crisp and in layman language with which the common mass could easily associate.

Sai Baba of Shirdi was unique in the sense that he lived his message through the essence of his being. He lived among the common people adorning a torn kafni (long robe), sleeping over a mat while using brick as his headrest and got his food by begging. Such was his smile that radiated a mystical charisma and deep seated inward look that hypnotized the people who visited him.

His most concise message for one and all alike was ‘Why fear when I am here’.

Sai baba said that he was a slave in the service of those who loved him. He was ever living to help those who turn to him and that he has to take care of his children day and night.

Sai baba’s mission was to restore belief in god and according to him, ‘I give people what they want in the hope that they will begin to want what I want to give them (knowledge of the Ultimate).’ He then taught values of total surrender to the Almighty Master (ALLAH MALIK EK- The only ONE) and experiences his grace.

His life

There is no clear record of Sai's given name, nor of his origins. Sai arrived at the village of Shirdi in Maharashtra state when he was about sixteen years old. He took up residence in a Khandoba temple, where a villager (Mahalsapathi) at worship first called him Sai (‘saint’).

He fostered an extremely simple and ascetic life: living in the village as a mendicant monk, and sleeping on the floor in the temple, and later in a dilapidated mosque.

Sai soon began to attract followers who addressed him by the name Baba (‘father’). He worshipped both at Hindu temples and Muslim mosques, and encouraged tolerance between the faiths.

Numerous miracles were attributed to him. He did not discourage such attributions, and his fame spread. Many pilgrims came for his blessings, and he attracted large crowds even for the most mundane of his activities.

Sai remained in Shirdi all his life. Baba breathed His last with His head resting on one of His devotees lap.

His last words were, ‘Place my Body in Buti's wada (mansion), I will get peace there only. People will serve me only if I am placed in Buti’s wada.’ Thus as per His last wish He was buried in the ‘Buty Wada’ also known as Samadhi Mandir.

Hindu devotees consider him an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. Many devotees believe that he was a Sadguru, an enlightened Sufi Pir, Urdu: پیر, or a Qutub. He is a well-known figure in many parts of the world, but especially in India, where he is much revered.

Sāī is of Sanskrit origin, meaning ‘Sakshat Eshwar’ sa]at $Zvr or the divine.

The honorific ‘Baba’ means ‘father; grandfather; old man; sire’ in Indo-Aryan languages.

Thus Sai Baba denotes ‘holy father’ or ‘saintly father’.

His parentage, birth details, and life before the age of sixteen are obscure, which has led to speculation about his origins.

Sai Baba had no love for perishable things and his sole concern was self- realization. He remains a very popular saint, and is worshipped by people around the world. He taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace, and devotion to God and guru. Sai Baba’s teaching combined elements of Hinduism and Islam.

He gave the Hindu name Dwarakamayi to the mosque he lived in. He practiced both Hindu and Muslim rituals, and taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions. He was buried in a Hindu temple in Shirdi.

One of his well-known epigrams, ‘Sabka Malik Ek’ (‘One God governs all’), is associated with both the Bhagavad-Gita and Sufism. He always uttered ‘Allah Malik’ (‘God is King’).

Though the debate over his Hindu or Muslim origins continues, many of his practices point more to his being a Muslim believing in the unity of God, reciting Al-Fatiha and other Qur’anic readings at Muslim festival times, listening to hamds and qawwali twice daily, practicing Salah (Namaz), wearing clothing reminiscent of a Sufi fakir, eating meat, and abstaining from alcohol.

A mosque still stands in Shirdi, a place wherein he once lived and continued to visit regularly. According to Purdom, when Kulkarni Maharaj requested Upasni Maharaj to pay a visit to Sai Baba, Upasni replied ‘Why should I go to a Muslim?’

Sai Baba is revered by several notable Hindu and Sufi religious leaders. Some of his disciples became famous as spiritual figures and saints, such as Upasni Maharaj, Saint Bidkar Maharaj, Saint Gangagir, Saint Jankidas Maharaj, and Sati Godavari Mataji are few names to remember.

Early Life:

Historians and devotees agree that there is no reliable evidence for a particular birthplace or date of birth. Various communities have claimed that

he belongs to them, but nothing has been substantiated. Many historians support this finding. It is known that he spent considerable time with fakirs, and his attire resembled that of a Muslim fakir.

Baba reportedly arrived at the village of Shirdi in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, India, when he was about 16 years old. It is generally accepted that Sai Baba stayed in Shirdi for three years, disappeared for a year, and returned permanently around 1858. These calculations suggest a birth year of 1838.

Sai Baba led an ascetic life, sitting motionless under a neem tree and meditating while sitting in an asana. The Sri Sai Satcharita recounts the reaction of the villagers:

The people of the village were wonder-struck to see such a young lad practicing hard penance, not minding heat or cold. By day he associated with no one, by night he was afraid of nobody.

His presence attracted the curiosity of the villagers, and he was regularly visited by the religiously inclined, including Mhalsapati, Appa Jogle and

Kashinatha. Some considered him mad and even threw stones at him. Sai Baba left the village, and little is known about him after that. However, there are some indications that he met with many saints and fakirs, and worked as

a weaver. He claimed to have fought with the army of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

Return to Shirdi

In 1858 Sai Baba returned to Shirdi. Around this time he adopted his famous style of dress consisting of a knee-length one-piece robe - popularly known as ‘kafni’ and a cloth cap. Ramgir Bua, a devotee, testified that Sai Baba was dressed like an athlete and sported ‘long hair flowing down to the end of his spine’ when he arrived in Shirdi, and that he never had his head shaved.

It was only after Baba forfeited a wrestling match with one Mohdin Tamboli

that he took up the kafni and cloth cap, articles of typical Sufi clothing. This

attire contributed to Baba’s identification as a Muslim fakir. And this was the reason for initial indifference and hostility against him in a predominantly Hindu village.

According to B.V. Narasimhaswami, a posthumous follower who was widely praised as Sai Baba’s ‘apostle’, this attitude was prevalent up to 1954 even among some of his devotees in Shirdi.

For four to five years Baba lived under a neem tree, and often wandered for long periods in the jungle around Shirdi. His manner was said to be withdrawn and uncommunicative as he undertook long periods of meditation. He was eventually persuaded to take up residence in an old and dilapidated mosque and lived a solitary life there, surviving by begging for alms, and receiving itinerant Hindu or Muslim visitors.

In the mosque he maintained a sacred fire which is referred to as a dhuni, from which he gave sacred ashes (‘Udhi’ – fragrant smoke) to his guests before they left. The ash was believed to have healing and apotropaic powers. He performed the function of a local hakim, and treated the sick by application of ashes. Sai Baba also delivered spiritual teachings to his visitors, recommending the reading of sacred Hindu texts along with the Qur’an. He insisted on the indispensability of the unbroken remembrance of God’s name (dhikr, japa), and often expressed himself in a cryptic manner with the use of parables, symbols and allegories.

Sai Baba participated in religious festivals and was also in the habit of preparing food for his visitors, which he distributed to them as prasad. Sai Baba’s entertainment was dancing and singing religious songs. His behavior was sometimes uncouth and violent.

After 1910 Sai Baba’s fame began to spread in Mumbai. Numerous people started visiting him, because they regarded him as a saint with the power of performing miracles, or even as an Avatar. They built his first temple at Bhivpuri, Karjat.

Teachings and practices

Sai Baba opposed all persecution based on religion or caste. He was an opponent of religious orthodoxy - Christain, Hindu and Muslim. Although Sai Baba himself led the life of an ascetic, he advised his followers to lead an ordinary family life.

Sai Baba encouraged his devotees to pray, chant God’s name, and read Holy Scriptures. He told Muslims to study the Qur’an, and Hindus to study texts such as the Ramayana, Vishnu Sahasranam, Bhagavad Gita, and Yoga

Vasistha. He advised his devotees and followers to lead a moral life, help others, love every living being without any discrimination, and develop two important features of character: Faith (Shraddha) and patience (Saburi).

He criticized atheism. In his teachings, Sai Baba emphasized the importance of performing one’s duties without attachment to earthly matters, and of being content regardless of the situation.

Sai Baba interpreted the religious texts of both Islam and Hinduism. He explained the meaning of the Hindu scriptures in the spirit of Advaita Vedanta. His philosophy also had numerous elements of bhakti. The three main Hindu spiritual paths - Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga - influenced his teachings.

Sai Baba said that God penetrates everything and every being. He emphasized the complete oneness of God which was very close to the Islamic tawhid and the Hindu doctrine of the Upanishads. Sai Baba said that the world is transient, and that only God and his gifts are eternal. He emphasized the importance of devotion to God - bhakti - and surrender to his will. He also talked about the need of faith and devotion to one’s spiritual guru. He said that everyone was the soul and not the body. He advised his followers to develop a virtuous character, and taught them that all fate was determined by karma.

Sai Baba left no written works. His teachings were typically short, pithy sayings rather than elaborate discourses. Sai Baba would ask his followers for money (dakshina), some of which he would give to the poor and other devotees the same day, and the rest was used to buy wood to maintain Dhuni. According to his followers, this was done to rid them of greed and material attachment.

Sai Baba encouraged charity, and stressed the importance of sharing. He said: ‘Unless there is some relationship or connection, nobody goes anywhere. He emphasized if any men or creatures come to you, do not discourteously drive them away, instead receive them well and treat them with due respect. Shri Hari (God) will certainly be pleased if you give water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked, and your verandah to strangers for sitting and resting. If anybody wants any money from you and you are not inclined to give, do not give, but do not bark at him like a dog.

Other favorite sayings of his were: ‘Why do you fear when I am here’, and

‘He has no beginning

He has no end.’

Eleven Assurances

Sai Baba made eleven assurances to his devotees:

1. Whosoever puts their feet on Shirdi soil, their sufferings will come to an end.

2. The wretched and miserable will rise to joy and happiness as soon as they climb the steps of the mosque Dwarakamayi.

3. I shall be ever active and vigorous even after leaving this earthly body.

4. My tomb shall bless and speak to the needs of my devotees.

5. I shall be active and vigorous even from my tomb.

6. My mortal remains will speak from my tomb.

7. I am ever living to help and guide all who come to me, who surrender to me, and who seek refuge in me.

8. If you look at me, I look at you.

9. If you cast your burden on me, I shall surely bear it.

10. If you seek my advice and help, it shall be given to you at once. 11. There shall be no want in the house of my devotee.

Shirdi Sai Baba movement

The Shirdi Sai Baba movement began in the 19 th century, while he was living in Shirdi. A local Khandoba priest - Mhalsapati Nagre - is believed to have been his first devotee. In the 19 th century Sai Baba’s followers were only a small group of Shirdi inhabitants and a few people from other parts of India. The movement started developing in the 20 th century, with Sai Baba’s message reaching the whole of India. During his life, Hindus worshiped him with Hindu rituals and Muslims considered him to be a saint. In the last years of Sai Baba’s life, Christians and Zoroastrians started joining the Shirdi Sai Baba movement.

Shirdi is regarded as the major Hindu places of pilgrimage. The first Sai Baba temple is situated at Bhivpuri, Karjat. The Sai Baba Mandir (Hindu temple) in Shirdi is visited by around twenty thousand pilgrims a day and during religious festivals this number can reach up to a hundred thousand.

Shirdi Sai Baba is especially revered and worshiped in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat.

The Shirdi Sai movement has spread to the Caribbean and to countries such as the United States, Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The Shirdi Sai Baba movement is one of the main Hindu religious movements in English- speaking countries.

Sai Baba disciples and devotees:

Shirdi Sai had many disciples and devotees some of these are as follows:

1. Nana Saheb Chandorkar: Deputy Collector – legend has it that Sai Baba saved this man’s daughter from labor complications.

2. Ganapath Rao: police constable who resigned to become an ascetic, and also known as Das Ganu, He was an itinerant who spread Sai Baba’s message.

3. Tatya Patil: had immense faith in Sai Baba and served him until Sai Baba took samadhi. He is also known to be Sai Baba’s younger brother.

4. Baija Mai Kote Patil: Sai Baba treated her as his mother. She was Tatya Patil’s mother.

5. Haji Abdul baba: He served Sai Baba until Sai Baba died in 1918.

6. Madhav Rao Deshpande: Later known as Shama, one of the staunch devotees of Sai Baba.

7. Govindrao Raghunath Dabholkar (Hemadpant): Sai Baba allowed him to write the Shri Sai Satcharita.

8. Mahalsapati Chimanji Nagare: A priest of Khandoba Temple.

Reported miracles

Sai Baba’s millions of disciples and devotees believe that he performed many miracles such as bilocation, levitation, mindreading, materialization, exorcisms, making the river Yamuna, entering a state of Samādhi at will, and lightning lamps with water, removing his limbs or intestines and sticking them back to his body (Khanda Yoga), curing the incurably sick, appearing beaten when another was beaten, appearing in the flesh after death, preventing a mosque from falling down on people, and helping his devotees in a miraculous way.

According to his followers he appeared to them in dreams after his death, and gave them advice. His devotees have documented many stories.

Historical sources

Biographers of Sai Baba - Govindrao Raghunath Dabholkar, Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja, Smriti Srinivas, Antonio Rigopolous have based their writing on primary sources. One such source is the Shirdi Diary by Ganesh Shrikrishna Khaparde, which describes every day of the author’s stay at Shirdi.

Speculation about the unknown episodes of Sai Baba's life are primarily based on his own words.

The most important source about Sai's life is the Shri Sai Satcharita, written in Marathi in 1916 by Govindrao Raghunath Dabholkar, whom Sai Baba nicknamed Hemadpant.

It consists of 53 chapters, and describes Sai Baba’s life, teachings, and miracles. The book compares Sai Baba’s love to a mother’s love: caring and loving, but reprimanding when needed. It describes Baba’s lifestyle, his selfless attitude, and his love for his devotees. The book describes how one should surrender one’s egoism at God’s feet and trust one’s guru. It explains how God is supreme and His devotees should trust Him and love Him. It teaches that God is omnipresent in all living things, so that everything on Earth must be treated with love and respect.

Sri Sai Baba and His Teachings by Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja is an in- depth study of Sai Baba’s life routine and activities.

B.V. Narasimhaswamiji has written important books such as Sri Sai Baba’s Charters and Sayings and Devotee’s Experiences of Sai Baba.

Hinduism

During Sai Baba’s life, the Hindu Saint Anandanath of Yewala declared Sai Baba a spiritual diamond. Another Saint, Gangagir, called him a ‘jewel’. Sri Beedkar Maharaj greatly revered Sai Baba, and in 1873, when he met him he bestowed the title Jagadguru upon him. Sai Baba was also greatly respected by Vasudevananda Saraswati (known as Tembye Swami). He was also revered by a group of Shaivic yogis, to which he belonged, known as the Nath-Panchayat.

Other religions

In Islam, Sai Baba mainly appears in Sufism as a Pir. Meher Baba declared Baba to be a Qutub-e-Irshad - the highest of the five Qutubs, a ‘Master of the Universe’ in the spiritual hierarchy. Sai Baba is also worshipped by prominent Zoroastrians such as Nanabhoy Palkhivala and Homi Bhabha, and has been cited as the Zoroastrians’ most popular non-Zoroastrian religious figure.

Meher Baba met Sai Baba only once in his lifetime, during World War I, in December 1915. Meher Baba was still a youngster named Merwan Sheriar Irani when he met Sai Baba for a few minutes during one of Sai Baba’s processions in Shirdi. This event is considered as the most significant in Meher Baba’s life. Shri Sai Satcharita (Sai Baba's life story), makes no mention of Meher Baba. But in Lord Meher, the life story of Meher Baba, there are innumerable references to Sai Baba. Meher Baba credited his Avataric advent to Upasni, Sai Baba, and three other Perfect Masters – Hazrat Babajan, Hazrat Tajuddin Baba, and Narayan Maharaj.

Sai Baba left behind no spiritual heirs and appointed no disciples, and did not even provide formal initiation (diksha), despite requests. Some disciples of Sai Baba achieved fame as spiritual figures, such as Upasni Maharaj of Sakori. After Sai Baba took Mahasamadhi, his devotees offered the daily Aarti to Upasani Maharaj when he paid a visit to Shirdi, two times within 10 years.

In India, it is a common sight to find a Sai Baba temple in any city or town, in every large city or town there is at least one temple dedicated to Sai Baba. There are even some in towns and cities outside India. In the mosque in Shirdi in which Sai Baba lived, there is a life-size portrait of him by Shama Rao Jaykar, an artist from Mumbai. Numerous monuments and statues depicting Sai Baba, which serve a religious function, have also been made. One of them, made of marble by a sculptor named Balaji Vasant Talim, is in the Samadhi Mandir in Shirdi where Sai Baba was buried. In Sai Baba temples, his devotees play various kinds of devotional religious music, such as aarti.

Postage Stamp

Indian Postal Service released a Sai Baba commemorative stamp in May

2008.

Largest Solar Plant at Shirdi

On July 30, 2009, the New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah inaugurated what has been acclaimed as the largest solar steam system in the world, at the Shirdi shrine. The Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust paid an estimated Rs.1.33 crore for the system, Rs.58.4 lakh of which was paid as a subsidy by the renewable energy ministry. It is said the system can cook 20,000 meals per day for pilgrims visiting the temple.

His religion, philosophy and practices

By his example, Sai sought to unite the seemingly disparate religious communities of Muslim and Hindus. He regularly recited Hindu and Muslim prayers, such as the Hindu prayer Vishnu Sahasranama. Many of his Hindu followers consider him to be an avatar (incarnation) of Shiva and Dattatreya.

He left no written records; Sai's teachings were oral: typically short, pithy sayings rather than elaborate discourses. Sai often seemed to lose his temper with those around him. His followers believe that he only pretended to get angry, in order to teach humility and foster right spiritual action.

Sai encouraged charity. He said: ‘Unless there is some relationship or connection, nobody goes anywhere. if any man or creature come to you, do

not discourteously drive them away, but receive them well and treat them with due respect. Shri Hari (God) will be certainly pleased if you give water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked and your verandah to strangers for sitting and resting. If anybody wants any money from you and you are not inclined to give, do not give, but do not bark at him like a dog.’ Other of his favorite sayings were: ‘Why do you fear when I am here’,

He has no end’, ‘All things arise from him and into

‘He has no beginning him they return’.

His legacy

Sai Baba is among the most popular of Indian saints, and continues to have a large following. His image seems to be everywhere: it may be seen on

shrines, lockets, billboards and cars of Hindus. While he is recognizable throughout India, his devotees are especially numerous in the state of Maharashtra, the place of his birth and in Andhra Pradesh. His Samadhi is a well-known place of pilgrimage.

Many religious teachers, groups and organizations promote his teachings and devotion to Sai. Among the most prominent is the Shri Sai baba Sansthan Trust, which also takes care of the shrines and temples in Shirdi.

Some followers of Sai Baba achieved fame as spiritual figures: these include Upasni Maharaj of Sakori and Meher Baba of Ahmednagar.

At least three gurus and two youngsters have claimed to be the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba. By far the most famous is Sathya Sai Baba who lives at Puttaparthi Andhra Pradesh, India. Another guru who claims to be Shirdi Sai Baba’s reincarnation is Bala Sai Baba.

Chronology of the life of Shirdi Sai Baba

Chronological list of events (episodes) concerning Sai Baba

1835

Sai Baba was born in very early hours of September 27 or 28, 1835 to a poor Hindu couple, Gangabhavadya and Devagiriamma. The newborn infant is left in the woods, abandoned. The infant is immediately discovered and adopted by a childless Muslim fakir and his wife.

1838

Sai Baba lives with the Muslim couple for 4 years. Meanwhile the fakir dies. The wife is left to tend the child alone. Even as a small child Baba stirs up sentiments between the Hindu and Muslim community by worshiping Allah in Hindu temples, and Hindu gods in the mosque. In fear of increased problems by a sole widow, Baba is handed over for care with a local mendicant and story-teller, Venkusa.

1839-51

Sai Baba spent 12 years with his Guru. The name of his Guru was Gopal Rao Deshmukh (Venkusa, also known as Venkavadhuta) of Selu. Some say, ‘Baba practiced penance at the tomb of His Guru in the cellar under the

Neem Tree at Shirdi’. Arrival of Devidas at Shirdi (Aged 10-11 years) took place in 1846. When he enquired, BABA mentioned the name of his GURU as Venkusa implying VISHNU (Parvardigar – refers to God).

1851

Sai Baba first appeared at Shirdi and stays in the village for two months. He is noted to reside day and night under a Neem Tree at about the age of 16 Years which he claims is growing over the tomb of his old guru. After two months Baba disappeared to an unknown place.

1855-1857

Sai Baba travels about from place to place and finally ends up in Dhoopkheda (or Dhoop) in Aurangabad District. There he ends up attending the marriage of Chandu Patel’s son in 1858.

1858

Sai Baba returns to Shirdi along with the marriage-party of Chand Patil and remained at Shirdi for ever till His Samadhi. A widowed Deputy Collector and Settlement Officer by name H.V. Sathe (Hari Vinayaka Sathe) comes to Shirdi on the death of his wife. Baba takes great fondness to Sathe. Sathe was the first to set up apartments at Shirdi for temporary visitors. Baba regarded Sathe as his right hand in regard to all matters. Because Baba was keeping Sathe close to him and relying on him for everything, the residents of Shirdi grew jealous towards him.

1865

Saint Manik Prabhu of Homanabad in Bidar District of Karnataka passed away in 1878, Chaitra Vadya 14. H. H. Akkalkot Swami left His mortal coil at Akkalkot in Solapur District of Maharashtra. He first appeared in 1835. It is reported that three of them (Manik Prabhu, Swami Samartha and SAI BABA) met at Humanabad.

1885

Saint Anandnath aged 95 years of Yewala Math and a disciple of Akkalkot Swami visited Shirdi and seeing Sai Baba exclaimed, ‘This is a precious real diamond.’

1886, April 16

Mahasamadhi of Shri Ramkrishna Paramahansa of Bengal 1886, Margashirsh 15 Sai Baba got rid of an attack of asthma, by going into Samadhi for 72 Hrs.

1887

Manthrapragada Ramalaksmhi Devi, and my father, Venkata Narasimha Rao

who were childless in spite of efforts visited their Guru, Shirdi Sai Baba, in

1887 and prayed to him for a child. As the fruit of Shirdi Sai Baba’s grace, I

was born to them on August 8, 1888. Shirdi Sai Baba himself gave me my name, Shringeri Sharada Devi. As I am of fair complexion, he used to

lovingly call me Gori.

1889

Abdullah arrived at Shirdi from Nanded (in West Khandesh near Jalgaon and Amalner).

1892 (approx)

Nanasaheb Chandorkar arrived at Shirdi for the first time after being invited by BABA many a time showing his intimate relations with NANA since his many previous births.

1894 (approx)

Das Ganu (Ganesh Dattatreya Sahasrabuddhe) accompanied Nanasaheb Chandorkar to Shirdi for the first time.

1896

Celebration of ‘Urus’ – spiritual gathering started at Shirdi owing to the efforts of Gopalrao Gund, a Circle Inspector of Kopargaon.

1898

Sai Baba was seen sleeping on a narrow plank suspended with old rags about 7 or 8 feet above ground with lighted lamps placed on the plank.

(Uknown year) About this time, the parents of Shyam came to Shirdi with the two-year old child named Mohan Shyam. A small school for children started adjoining Baba’s room. Shyam used to watch Baba at nights through

the ventilator. Baba used to sleep on an eighteen-inch wide plank suspended with old rags about 7 or 8 feet above ground with lighted lamps placed on the plank. Shyam was apprehensive that Baba might fall from his lofty but narrow perch during sleep. Shyam prayed to stay near Baba and serve him for his remaining days.

1899-1900

Nanasaheb Chandorkar visited Shirdi with his sister-in-law’s husband, Shri Biniwale. Baba scolded Nanasaheb for dissuading Biniwale, a devotee of Shri Dattatmya from visiting Datta Temple on the bank of Godavari River to avoid delay in reaching Shirdi.

1900-1902

Sai Baba like a learned Pandit explained Geeta to Nanasaheb Chandorkar, who believed that BABA was not well versed with Sanskrit language of Pandits.

1903

Das Ganu left Govt. service and as per Baba’s instructions settled at Nanded and started performing kirtans and writing life histories of recent saints.

1903

Das Ganu’s book ‘Sant Kathamrit’ was published. (Ch. 57 is about Sai Baba’s advice to Nanasaheb Chandorkar).

1904, April

Rao Bahadur H. V. Sathe first arrived at Shirdi at the age 49 years).

1904-1905

Nanasaheb Chandorkar’s pregnant daughter Mainatai at Jamner in Jalgaon District had severe pains of delivery. Sai baba sent Udi and Arati with Ramgir Gosavi from Shirdi and she had a safe delivery. Sai Baba even took the form of tonga’s Rajput driver to make Ramgir reach Jamner safe and on time.

1906

Das Ganu’s book ‘Bhakta-Leelamrit’ was published. (Chs.31, 32 and 33 about Sai Baba).

1906

Nanasaheb Chandorkar was transferred as Mamlatdar from Nandurbar to Pandharpur. On the way, he stopped at Shirdi with his family and started requesting Baba to accompany them to Pandharpur and stay there permanently with them. The devotees then told Nanasaheb about the singing of bhajan just finished in which Baba’s mood of going to Pandharpur and staying there forever was expressed. The text of the song was, ‘I want to go and stay at Pandharpur.’

1906

Shivamma Thayee’s uncle meets Baba for the first time, while Baba is visiting Vellakinaru in Coimbatore. Baba told Shivamma’s uncle, ‘She is the only girl in the whole lot who will be a highly elevated soul.’ Baba then slowly chanted the Gayatri Mantra to Shivamma.

1907

Radhakrishna Mai (Sunderabai Kshirsagar) arrived at Shirdi. She was young good-looking widow aged 25 years. She was blessed by BABA who used to send a part of food collected as (Bhiksha) to her.

1908

Sathe Wada was constructed.

1908 Ekadashi

Kashirarn Shimpi died on Chaitra Shuddha 11. BABA saved his life in a mysterious way when he was assaulted by thieves in a jungle.

1908

Pundalik Rao of Nanded met Shri Vasudevananda Saraswati of Tembe Swami at Rajahmundry on banks of Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh and Swami gave a coconut to be presented to Sai Baba. BABA showed cognizance of Swamiji’s gilt and showed his oneness with Swami by describing him as his brother (Bhau).

1908

Shri Tatyasaheb Noolkar, then Aged 45 years - the Sub-judge of Pandharpur first arrived at Shirdi in 1908. Gurupournima festival was prompted by Baba for Dada Kelkar, Tatyasaheb Noolkar, Madhavrao Deshpande and others.

1909

Sai baba threw an ochre garment on Balasaheb Bhate, Mamlatdar of Kopargaon, and an atheist, on his very first visit and Balasaheb lost complete interest in worldly matters. He retired prematurely from service and settled down at Shirdi permanently.

1909

Bapu Saheb (Sakharam Hari) Jog on retirement from Govt. service came to stay at Shirdi permanently accompanied by his wife.

1909

Bhimaji Patil of Narayangaon in Pune District came to Shirdi for getting his chronic tuberculosis at the last stage and was cured by Baba’s blessings.

1909, Nov 2

Hari Sitaram alias Kakasaheb Dixit then Aged 45 years, a prominent solicitor and M.L.C. first arrived at Shirdi. Baba used to call him affectionately Langda Kaka and removed fear complex from his mind. Kaka Dixit was known for his obedience to Baba’s orders.

1909, Dec 10

Devotees began to offer regular worship to Baba in the Chavadi, where He slept on alternate days.

1909, Dec 25

Baba gave darshan in the form of Sri Rama to a doctor, devotee of Sri Rama who came with a Mamlatdar.

1910

Baba’s ‘Handi’ ritual, implied occasionally cooking food Himself in a big copper pot and distributing it to devotees and poor people without discrimination. This practice continued till this year. After wards owing to Das Ganu’s kirtans (musical recitals praising Baba), Baba’s fame spread far and wide and devotees started flocking together in large numbers offering large quantities of food as ‘naivedya’ and thus there was no need of Handi.

1910

Ramachandra Atmaram alias Babasaheb Tarkhad from Bandra, Bombay first visited Shirdi.

1910

Rao Bahadur Moreshwar W. Pradhan of Santacruz, Bombay first visited Shirdi.

1910

Govind Raghunath alias Annasaheb Dabholkar then Aged 51 years, the author of Shri Sai Satcharita (Marathi), had his first darshan of Sai Baba and received significant and prophetic title of ‘Hemadpant. Baba gave him his blessings and inspired him to write SAI SATCHARITA - a religious scripture describing BABA’s life story and his divine play (leela) as monumental as GURU CHARITRA - the old monumental POTHI - a poetic religious scripture inspiring worship to GURU, NARASINHA SARASWATI.

1910

Balkrishna Vishwanath alias Balasaheb Deo (Dahanu Mamlatdar) first visited Shirdi prompted by Nanasaheb Chandorkar. Deo used to describe him as Baba's child - with a full sense of surrender.

1910

Bhadrapad Shuddha, H. Gajanan Maharaj of Shegaon (Buldhana District of Maharashtra) left His mortal coil. He first appeared in 1878. At that very time at Shirdi, Sai Baba grieved profusely and said, ‘Hallo! My Gajanan is gone. I must take bath again in reverence to the Great Soul.’

1910

Shrimant Gopalrao Mukund alias Bapu saheb Butty of Nagpur, (a rich statesman) started staying permanently at Shirdi.

1910

Harishchandra Pitale’s son suffering from epilepsy, was cured by Baba’s mere glance at him. Baba gave Pitale three rupees and reminded him of two rupees earlier received by him from Swami Samarth of Akkalkot and thus showed his oneness with all the other SAINTS (Vibhutis).

1910, Ashwin Vady13

Sai Baba pushed his arm into the brightly burning Dhuni to save a blacksmith’s child. The arm was scorched and burnt. Nanasaheb came from Bombay with Dr. Parmananda but Baba did not allow the doctor to treat him. Bhagoji Shinde’s service of massaging the arm with ghee and bandaging it continued till Baba’s Samadhi. This episode is in testimony to BABA’s cosmic existence- HIS super consciousness.

1910 Dec 5

Hon’ble Mr Ganesh Shrikrishna, alias Dadasaheb Khaparde of Amraoti (Maharashtra) first visited Shirdi. Mr.Babasaheb Khaprde was an ardent devotee of BABA and his efforts were instrumental in bringing Loka Manya Tilak - (a great national leader – Khapurde’s contemparary) to Shirdi for Baba’s darshan and blessings in his movement for India’s freedom from the British Rule.

1910, Dec10

Foundation-stone of Dixit Wada was laid with Baba’s permission.

1910, Christmas

Lala Lakhamichand of Santacruz in Bombay came to Shirdi. Baba loved him very much and affectionately accepted his petty gifts given with love.

1910

Megha returns to Shirdi and stays till his death. In Baba’s company he underwent mysterious experiences which transformed Megha from an atheist to an ardent devotee of Baba and spent his life in the service of Sai -

Shiva. He regarded Baba as Shiva-Shankar (Lord Shiva-Shankar -the welfare Doer).

1911

Madrasi Sanyasi Vijayanand, while on a pilgrimage to Manas Sarovar, halted at Shirdi and breathed his last while reading ‘Bhagawat’ (a religious script written by Saint Eknath) for 3 days on Baba’s advice.

1911, March

Tatyasaheb Nulkar then Aged 48, the Sub-judge of Pandharpur breathed his last at Shirdi. Baba showed HIS oneness with Tatya Nulkar and described him as a pure soul and expressed HIS grief at Nulkars demise.

After Tatyasaheb Nulkar passed away, Megha took over the regular daily worship of Baba in the Dwarakamai. He used to stand on one leg while performing the Arati. Tatyasaheb Nulkar relinquished everything and stayed at Shirdi in Baba’s company till his demise Baba bestowed him with the unique experiences in self-realization. Baba advised him and Mr Shyama Deshpande to perform Guru Worship (Pooja).

1911

Ram-Navami Festival was started at Shirdi owing to the efforts of Shri Bhishma and Kaka Mahajani.

1911, Ram-Navami

Construction of Dixit Wada was completed and was inhabited with due rites.

1911

Extension and roofing of the open space in front of the Dwarakamai was carried out by Kakasaheb Dixit. Baba got enraged and tried to shake and uproot a pole. Then removing Tatya Patil’s pugree, struck a match, set the pugree on fire and threw it in a pit along with one rupee as if an auspicious offering to avert evil. Baba never liked renovation of his dwelling place viz. Dwarkamai (the masjid) and opposed any such effort by the devotees.

1911

Somdav Swami alias Haridwar Swami visited Shirdi.

1911, June 27

Kashinath Govind Upaswii then aged 41 years first visited Shirdi

 

and

returned again on 6 July. Baba ordered Khandoba Temple.

him to

stay for

4 years

in

the

1911, Dec

Kashinath Upasani composed the famous ‘Shri Sainath Mahimna Stotra (hymn) in Sanskrit. These are now being recited daily during Arati at Shirdi).

1911, Dec

Bubonic plague raged at Shirdi (Lasted up to March 15 next year) Baba however saved lives of plague inflicted devotees by taking upon himself i.e. on his body the malody.

1911, Dec

Baba’s grinding of wheat in the hand-mill. It was not wheat that was ground but plague or cholera itself was ground to pieces and cast out of village. Seeing this Annasaheb Dabholkar (Hemadpant) was inspired to write ‘Shri Sai Satcharita.’

1911, Dec5

Dadasaheb Khaparde of Amraoti arrived at Shirdi again with family and stayed for 3 months. Shri Krishna Bhishma the author of Arati book ‘Sagunopasana’ accompanied him. Dadasaheb Khaparde wrote diary of daily record of his stay at Shirdi in Baba’s company.

1911, Dec 11

Waman Rao Patel then Aged 22 years, Later Swami Sai Sharanananda first arrived at Shirdi.

1911, Dec 13

Chandrabhan Shet Marwadi, uncle of Khushalchand of Rahata expired.

1911, Dec 16

Dr.

examination.) Baba sent him a message in the dream saying, ‘have you

forgotten me?’.

visited Shirdi (who had just appeared at LCPS

Capt. Hate first

1911, Dec 19

Sai Baba’s great devotee and a great saint of Nath-panth order, Shri Rama Maruti visited Shirdi and stayed for 34 days. Ram Maruti offered ‘Naivedya’ to Baba and Baba very affectionately took a part of it (SWEET SANJA).

1911-12

Sagun Meru Naik arrived at Shirdi at the age of 23 and on Baba’s advice settled permanently running a small restaurant for the devotees visiting Shirdi.

1912, Jan

Dadasaheb Khaparde’s youngest son Balwant was cured of bubonic plague by Baba by taking the disease on himself.

1912, Jan 3

Megha fed some Brahmins on completion of his Gayatri Punascharana (a religious ritual). Dadasaheb Khaparde attended it at Sathe Wada.

1912, Jan 19

Megha died at Shirdi at about 4 A.M. Baba lamented loudly and followed the funeral procession for some distance. Baba showered flowers on Megha’s body.

1912, Jan 20

Bapusaheb Jog started performing Baba’s Pooja and Arati after Megha’s death. He continued this till Baba’s Samadhi and even some years afterwards until he shifted to Sakuri and joined Upasani Maharaj there.

1912

Transformation of Dwarakamai (the masjid) started. Pits were patched up and the stone slabs fixed on the floor. Baba gave up sack-cloth seat and started using cushion scat and bolster in deference to devotees’ wishes.

1912 Jan

Ganapatrao, father of Tatya Kote Patil passed away. Tatya Patil stopped sleeping in the Dwarakamai with Baba.

1912, Feb 25 th

Madhavrao Deshpande (Shama) left Shirdi to attend Kakasaheb Dixit’s son’s thread-ceremony at Nagpur and Nanasaheb Chandorkar’s son’s wedding at Gwalior. From there accompanied by Appa Kote, he went on a pilgrimage to Mathura, Prayag, Ayodhya, Kashi and Gaya. At Gaya Madhavrao saw Baba’s picture at the priest’s house and was reminded of Baba’s words, ‘After visiting Kashi and Prayag I would be reaching the religious place ahead of Shama.’

1912, Mar 15

Dadasaheb Khaparde returned to Amraoti. Mrs. Laxmibai Khaparde stayed behind.

1912, Ram-navami

Dada Maharaj Satarkar, known as ‘Modern Tukaram’, was invited to perform Ram-navami Kirtan. When he bowed down in obeisance, Baba said, ‘I know this man since last 4 years’. Bala Buva had never met Sai Baba before but 4 years ago at Bombay, he had prostrated before Baba’s picture. Thus Baba proved to His devotees that seeing His picture was equivalent to seeing Him in person.

1912, April

Balaram Dhurandhar along with his brothers visited Shirdi for the first time. Before they arrived Baba had expressed, ‘Today many of my Durbar people are coming’. Baba offered Balaram Chillim to smoke and since then his 6 year old asthma was cured forever.

1912, Shravan 15

Guru-sthan padukas were installed under the Neem Tree at Shirdi.

1913.

This was the first visit of Mahadev Rao Sapatnekar of Akkalkot accompanied by his younger brother Pandit Rao. When Mahadev Rao prostrated before Baba, Baba shouted ‘Chal hat’ (Get away) in the protest of absence of faith in Saptnekar’s mind and his prejudice for Baba.

1913

Baba gave at Dwarakamai darshan of himself as Vitthal and Rakhumai of Pandharpur to the wife and mother of R. B. Purandare of Bandra.

1913, Ram-Navami

Bala Buva Satarkar performed Ram-Navami Kirtan at Shirdi and Baba gave him a gift of Rs.150/- for the Kirtan. These coins were collected in a dish (Thali) after Baba’s prayer (Aarti). Baba poured the whole dish in Satarkars bag (zoli)

1913, May

Wamanrao Patel then Aged 24 - 25 Years who later came to be known as Swami Sai Sharanananda ji visited Shirdi again and this time stayed for 11 months.

1913

Rao Bahadur Sathe got a son by Baba’s Grace at the age of 57 years.

1914

Sapatnekar of Akkalkot arrived at Shirdi again with wife and returned being blessed for begetting a son.

1914, Feb 14

Mr. B.V. Deo (Memlatdar of Dahanu in Thane Distict) was charged and reprimanded by Baba for stealing His rag and after lot of abusing and scolding was favored with instruction to read Dnyaneshawari regularly every day as per Deo’s desire. This episode is an example of how Baba sometimes

displayed his transcendental powers to read devotees mental inclinations even without formal oral communication.

1914, Feb 22

A Sadhak of Yoga - Swami Ram Baba visited Shirdi and seeing Baba eating

bread with onion got suspicious and disappointed. However Baba proved His power of omniscience by reading his mind and the Sadhak returned highly

satisfied and blessed.

1914, April 2

Before the year was over, Baba appeared to Deo in a dream and inquired if he understood Dnyaneshwari properly. Deo said ‘No’ and added that without Baba’s Grace it will not be understood. Then Baba explained to Deo how to read it slowly (and without making haste) with full concentration for knowing the subtle meaning between the lines This

is known as Bodha – Knowledge.

1914, Ram-Navami

Das Ganu was ordained by Baba to perform Ram-Navami Kirtan at Shirdi every year.

1914, Shravan

H. H. Shri Vasudevananda Saraswati the Aged 80 years - Tembe Swami left His mundane body at Garudeshwar on the banks of River Nannada in Gujarat.

1914 July 15 th

Kashinath Upasani left Shirdi after the total stay 3 years, 19 days and proceeded towards Nagpur, Khadakpur etc.

1915, Dec

Sai Baba suffered from asthma and was very weak. Yet He climbed over Radhakrishna Mai’s roof with a ladder. Paid Rs. 2/- to the person bringing and placing the ladder. Honoring a worker for his work, Baba showed how Dignity of labor should be maintained.

1915, Dec

Balakram Mankar passed away at Shirdi.

1915, Dec

Mrs Tarkhad the wife of Babasaheb Tarkhad of Bandra sent a pedha (made of milk and sugar) which was already offered as naivedya and that too with Balakram’s son Govindji who was in mourning. Baba swallowed it with great eagerness and love.

1915, Dec 30

Construction work of Butty’s Wada was in progress. Baba occasionally used to go at this place to see the progress of this work and gave instructions.

1916

Sai Baba made Das Ganu to do ‘Nam-saptah and Kirtan’ at Shirdi for a week.

1916

Radhakrishna Mai at the age 35 years passed away. Baba used to bless her by sending a portion of food collected by him by way of Bhiksha.

1916.

A Madrasi Bhajani Mela - Party of the Ramdasi Order arrived at Shirdi. Baba gave darshan to the chief’s wife in the form of her beloved deity Shri Rama. The chief also got a dream and his attitude towards Baba was completely changed.

1916

Nephew of Dr. Mulky from Malegaon (District Nasik), suffering from tubercular bone-abcess, was fully cured by Sai Baba’s Udi and his loving glance. The doctor himself visited Shirdi afterwards and became a staunch devotee of Shri Sai Baba realising that Baba’s service is to be performed not only for the sake of money or other mundane things but for the welfare of the disabled, helpless and downtrodden.

1916

Annasaheb Dabholkar (Hemadpant) retired from Govt. service. On Guru Purnima Day while at Shirdi, Anna Chinchanikar pleaded before Baba for getting some other appointment for Hemadpant as his pension was quite insufficient and his family was growing. Baba assured him about his source of income for livelihood after retirement.

1916, Vijaya Dashami

When in the evening Shirdi residents were returning from ‘Simollanghan’ ceremony (crossing of the border or limits of the kingdom village), Baba suddenly got into wild rage and taking off His head-dress, kafni and langota (loin cloth) etc., tore them into pieces and threw them in the burning Dhuni before Him. The fire in the Dhuni became brighter and Baba stood there stark naked. Later when cooled down and dressed again Baba said, ‘This is My Simollanghan’ and thus hinted at His departure from this world soon on Dassehra Day. This Darshan provided enlightenment that Baba’s body cannot be described as Hindu or Muslim or of any cast or belonging to any religion in vogue.

1916

Ramchandra Dada Patil became seriously ill. One night appearing before him, Baba told him that he would recover soon but Tatya Patil will die on Vijaya Dashami Day in 1918. Thus by substituting Tatya’s name for HIS, Baba foretold Tatya’s passing away. However, Baba sacrificed his body to save devotees life by saying ‘instead of him another person will go?’.

1916

Baba averted Gopal Narayan Ambadekar’s effort of suicide by prompting him to read an appropriate incident from Akkalkot Swami’s Chaiitra (religious scripture) and avoided greatest sin in his devotees life.

1917

Shyam, the faithful servant of Baba falls at Baba's feet and dies, merging in Baba.

1917 - Baba foretelling of his birth again as Sathya Sai

Baba tells Shringeri Sharada Devi, ‘Gori, I will appear in Andhra Pradesh with the same name of Sai Baba but in another Avatar. Then again, you will come to me. I will keep you with me and give you joy.

1917

Baba names a young girl Shivamma Thayee and proclaims that she will be a saint.

1917

Haribhau Karnik of Dahanu (District Thane) wished to offer one more rupee to Baba while leaving Shirdi, but could not do so. On the way at Nasik, in the Kala Rama Temple another saint Narasing Maharaj demanded one rupee from him. Karnik gave it willingly thinking that Baba was demanding the rupee he wanted to offer at Shirdi. Baba fulfilled in HIS many mysterious ways devotees’ desire to offer dakshina through all the media.

1917

Sai Baba appeared at Thane (North of Bombay) to inquire the well-being of Appasaheb Kulkarni’s wife and children when he was away on tour. When Appasaheb returned Baba not only fulfilled his desire of offering Rs.10 as Dakshina but also favored him by returning nine rupees consecrated by His touch. These nine rupees are the symbol of nine bhakti services done to HIM.

1917

Upasani Maharaj then Aged 47 years made Sakuri (near Rahata) his permanent residence.

1918

Rao Bahadur Moreshwar Pradhan purchased Lendi Baug and later presented it to Shirdi Sansthan'. Baba himself planted some trees at the Lendi Baug.

1918, April 1

At Vile Parle (East) (now suburb of Bombay) on Hanuman Road, Narayan Mahadev Thosar’s residence (later known as Narayan Ashram) was built a

Hanuman Temple. On the day it was consecrated, Baba paid Rs. 25 to a Brahmin named Waze and made him perform Shri Satya-narayan Pooja.

1918

Prof. G. G. Narke, son-in-law of Butty got a permanent job by Baba’s Grace as Professor in the Engineering College at Pune. Baba always remembered him by saying ‘where has he (Narke) gone? Baba gave him a begging bag (zoli) for collecting food - an exercise in cultivating humility and eliminating ego.

1918 August

Baba offered Hemadpant a glass of butter-milk and said, ‘Drink it all, you won’t get such opportunity again suggesting that time for his Samadhi has arrived.

1918 Sep 9 th

Das Ganu wrote ‘Shri Sai Stavan Manjaril at Maheshwar (Madhya Pradesh) on the banks of River Narmada.

1918 Sept 28 th

Nath Panthi saint Rama-Maruti of Kalyan passed away.

1918 Sept 28 th

Sai Baba had a slight attack of fever which lasted for 3-4 days. Since then Baba abstained from food and day by day His weakness increased.

1918 Oct 1 st

Baba asked a Brahmin devotee by the name Waze to read ‘Raum- Vijay’ (by Sridhar Swami) and listened to it for 14 days.

1918 Oct 8 th

A tiger

emancipated.

met its death

at

the feet

and presence

of Sai

Baba and

was

1918 Oct 15 th Tuesday

On Vijaya Dashmi, Sai Baba left his mortal coil at about 2-30 p.m. Few minutes before He gave Rs. 9/- as prasad to Laxmi Shinde. These nine coins represent ‘Nine - dimensional devotion to GOD’.

1918 Oct 16 th

Wednesday Early morning Baba appeared to Das Ganu at Pandharpur, in dream and said, ‘The Dwaraka mai has collapsed and all the oilmen and grocers have troubled Me a lot. So I am leaving the place. Go there quickly and cover my body copiously with flowers’.

1918 Oct 16 th

Wednesday in the evening Baba’s body was taken in procession through the Shirdi village and then interred in Butty Wada with due formalities.

1918 Oct 27 th

On the 13 th day Baba’s devotees from all over gathered and funeral rites were performed by Balasaheb Bhate with a feast (Bhandara) to Brahmins and poor. Later Upasani accompanied by Bapusaheb Jog went to Prayag (Allahabad) and performed all the remaining obsequies on the banks of River Ganges.

On one occasion, he stayed in the Maruti temple, behind the Chavadi, in company of a saint Devidas. Later, saint Jankidas also came to Shirdi and the three of them often discussed spiritual matters sitting in the Hanuman or Maruti temple. After this, Baba mostly made the masjid his home. He called it mother (mai) and christened it ‘Dwarka’, after Lord Krishna’s kingdom. Dwarkamai thus came to life.

According to Sansthan’s communication handler, Dilip Kote, Sai Baba, as an incarnation of Shiva, naturally chose a shamshon (burial ground) for his abode. In keeping with the traditions prevalent in the region, Hindus, (as well as Muslims) are also buried, if cremation (as per Hindu custom) is not preferred. Thus, Baba’s own ‘Samadhi’ and those of his close associates, lies in the complex.

Sai Baba and famous Udi

Once there was a cyclonic storm and it was wet and cold. A leper by the name of Bhagoji Shinde lived in a small hut that got swept away in the running waters. No one came to his help for fear of contracting leprosy. Baba rescued him and brought him indoors. He hit his stick on the ground and in that rainy season a fire sprang from nowhere, providing warmth. Soon Bhagoji’s leprosy disappeared and this was taken as Sai’s miracle.

The same fire continues to burn till today and provides udi or vibhuti (holy ash) to millions of devotees. By giving udi, Baba wished to convey that ultimately our bodies will become ash. All our desires, wants and worldly ambitions will be reduced to ash, so why concentrate on such a life? However, the udi also became a symbol of cure and hope to many because when Baba distributed it, many were helped. Although Baba had all the eight major siddhis (celestial powers) at his command, he rarely used them.

The various miracles and curative powers of the udi are several and many have benefited from it. At a philosophical level, Sai encouraged oblation of ego, desires and wants to the dhuni (burning fire) and it made ash of all these, thus cleansing a human being. Till date, udi is used by devotees to all ends. There are instances where it helped in safe birth during a difficult delivery, as in case of Maina Tai. It helped another devotee Narayan Rao’s friend recover from a scorpion bite. On yet another occasion, Shama’s brother’s wife suffered from plague and the udi helped her. Even doctors like Pillai who suffered from guinea-worms used udi.

Sai chose a dilapidated mosque to be his abode and started living in it. His contact in the early days of stay was with a few chosen people only, like Bayajabai (who brought him food), Mhalsapati (who, as priest had first welcomed him), Appa Bhil (who collected firewood for the fire, later to become holy dhuni), and Kashiram Shimpi (the Kumhar who made unbaked earthen pots for Baba to water his patch of garden).

Enlightened masters who came to Shirdi, like Gangagir and Anandnath Maharaj, a disciple of Akkalkot Swami, noted that Sai was no ordinary gardener and stated Shirdi was indeed blessed to have a gem, a kohinoor, like Sai stay there.

This garden today is Lendi Bagh. In his early days at Shirdi, Baba never shaved his head. There was a wrestler in Shirdi called Mohiddin Tamboli. Baba agreed to enter a mock fight with him, in which Baba allowed himself to be defeated. After this fight Baba changed his dress and mode of living. He wore a kafni (a loose robe), under which he wore a langot (undergarment) and covered his head with a piece of cloth, which was blood-stained. By one account, it was the same cloth with which his Guru Venkusa had saved him after being hit on the head with a brick by those who were jealous that Baba got favored treatment from the guru. Baba kept the brick and the bloodied cloth and these two were his constant companions.

By another account, Baba went for some time to Rahata to assuage the ego of a pretender Jowahar Ali, who desired to construct an Idgah adjacent to a Virabhadra temple. Due to a quarrel between the Hindus and Muslims, Ali left Rahata and went to Shirdi. He knew the Quran by heart and wanted Baba to be his disciple, in order to impress the people of Shirdi that Baba was under him. Baba played the part for six months after which the fraudulent guru himself left Shirdi forever, when he realized Baba’s greatness and when he was tested by Devidas.

Sai’s reputation was initially established as a medicine man because he helped various people who were afflicted with diseases. He cured leprosy, eye-infections, cholera and other illnesses that troubled the folks of Shirdi. It was held that due to Sai’s presence, no ill could visit Shirdi.

Till today, servitor T. Govindan holds that tantric and other tamasic powers cannot enter Shirdi.

This incensed the village vaid, Kulkarni and he looked for a chance to humiliate Sai. This opportunity arose when Sai requested oil merchants to give him some oil as alms for his lamps. After some months of indulging Sai, a few oil merchants decided to stop giving him free oil to light the lamps in Dwarkamai under the growing jealousy of the village vaid Kulkarni.

Sai did not react and filled his earthen lamps with water and lit them. They burned brighter! Such is the power of saints. The village vaid who had instigated the oil-merchants was reduced to poverty, and till today (the year 2004) his house lies in ruins in Shirdi.