This article is about the “Shirdi” Sai Baba, an Indian religious figure who lived from the mid-19th to the early 20th century. See Sai Baba for other persons calling themselves Sai Baba.
Sai Baba of Shirdi (1838 – 15 October 1918; resided in Shirdi), also known as Shirdi Sai Baba, was a spiritual master who was and is regarded by his devotees as a saint, fakir, avatar (an incarnation of God), or sadguru, according to their individual proclivities and beliefs. He was revered by both his Muslim and Hindu devotees, and during, as well as after, his life on earth it remained uncertain if he was a Muslim or Hindu himself. This however was of no consequence to Sai Baba himself. Sai Baba stressed the importance of surrender to the guidance of the true Sadguru or Murshad, who, having gone the path to divine consciousness himself, will lead the disciple through the jungle of spiritual training.
Sai Baba remains a very popular saint, especially in India, and is worshiped by people around the world. He had no love for perishable things and his sole concern was self-realization. He taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace, and devotion to God and guru. He gave no distinction based on religion or caste. Sai Baba’s teaching combined elements of Hinduism and Islam: he gave the Hindu name Dwarakamayi to the mosque he lived in, practised Muslim rituals, taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions, and was buried in Shirdi. One of his well known epigrams, “Malik Ek” (“One God governs all”), is associated with Islam and Sufism. He also said, “Trust in me and your prayer shall be answered”. He always uttered “Allah Malik” (“God is King”).
There is no clear verifiable information is given regarding Sai Baba’s real name, place or time of birth. When asked about his past, he often gave elusive responses. The name “Sai” was given to him upon his arrival at Shirdi, a town in the west Indian state of Maharashtra. Mahalsapati, a local temple priest, recognised him as a Muslim saint and greeted him with the words ‘Ya Sai!’, meaning ‘Welcome Sai!’. Sai or Sayi is a Persian title given to Sufi saints, meaning ‘poor one' and in Banjara language, “sayi” means good one. The honorific “Baba” means “father; grandfather; old man; sir” in most Indian and Middle Eastern languages. Thus Sai Baba denotes “holy father”, “saintly father” or “poor old man”. Alternatively, the Sindhi and Urdu word “sāī.n” (سائیں), an honorific title for a virtuoso, a saint, or a feudal lord (i.e. a patron), is derived from the Persian word “sāyeh”, which literally means “shadow” but figuratively refers to patronage or protection. The Hindi-Urdu word “sāyā” comes from the same borrowing. Thus, it could also mean “Master Father.” However, Sāī may also be an acronym of the Sanskrit term “Sakshat Eshwar”, a reference to God. Sakshat means “incarnate” and Eshwar means “God”.
Some of Sai Baba’s disciples became famous as spiritual figures and saints, such as Mahalsapati, a priest of the Khandoba temple in Shirdi, and Upasni Maharaj. He was revered by other saints, such as Saint Bidkar Maharaj, Saint Gangagir, Saint Janakidas Maharaj, and Sati Godavari Mataji. Sai Baba referred to several saints as ‘my brothers’, especially the disciples of Swami Samartha of Akkalkot.
Sai Baba made eleven assurances to his devotees:
- No harm shall befall him, who steps on the soil of Shirdi.
- He who comes to my Samadhi, his sorrow and suffering shall cease.
- Though I be no more in flesh and blood, I shall ever protect my devotees.
- Trust in me and your prayer shall be answered.
- Know that my spirit is immortal, know this for yourself.
- Show unto me him who has sought refuge and has been turned away.
- In whatever faith men worship me, even so do I render to them.
- Not in vain is my promise that I shall ever lighten your burden.
- Knock, and the door shall open, ask and it shall be granted.
- To him who surrenders unto me totally I shall be ever indebted.
- Blessed is he who has become one with me.
Reference by wikipedia