Sai Baba of Shirdi
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (July 2014)|
|Sai Baba of Shirdi|
Sai Baba of Shirdi (Maharashtra)
|Era||19th to 20th century|
|Region||Shirdi, Maharashtra, India|
Sai Baba of Shirdi (1838 – 15 October 1918), 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 started by his Muslim 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, and his teaching combined elements of Hinduism and Islam.
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The early life of Sai Baba is still cloaked in mystery as there isn't any reliable record of the Baba's birth and parentage. It is believed that Sai Baba was born in 1838 in Pathri, Maharashtra and arrived at Shirdi in 1872. At Shirdi, Sai Baba stayed on the outskirts of the village in Babul forest and used to meditate under a neem tree Azadirachta indica for long hours. Some villagers revered the saintly figure and gave him food for sustenance.
Sai Baba's lifestyle and teachings were notable for their syncretism. He named the disused mosque he lived in Dwarakamayi after Dwarka, the abode of Krishna. He practised Muslim and Hindu rituals and taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions. One of his well known epigrams, "Sabka 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" ("Allah is King").
In various religions
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 Jagad guru 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.
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.
Some members of Muslim community consider Sai Baba as a Fakir.
Meher Baba, who was born into a Zoroastrian family, met Sai Baba once, during World War I, in December 1915. Meher Baba was 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. He declared Sai Baba to be a Qutub-e-Irshad (the highest of the five Qutubs, a "Master of the Universe" in the spiritual hierarchy).
Sacred art and architecture
In India, it's 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 temples located outside India as well, like United States, Netherlands, Kenya, Cuba, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, United Kingdom and more. 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 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 devotional religious music, such as aarti.
On 30 July 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. 13.3 million for the system, Rs. 5,840,000 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.
Film and television
Sai Baba has been the subject of several feature films in many languages produced by India's film industry.
|1955||Shirdi Che Sai Baba||Unknown||Kumarsen Samarth||Marathi||Won All India Certificate of Merit at 3rd National Film Awards|
|1977||Shirdi Ke Sai Baba||Sudhir Dalvi||Ashok V. Bhushan||Hindi||Also featuring Manoj Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Hema Malini, Shatrughan Sinha, Sachin, Prem Nath|
|1986||Sri Shirdi Saibaba Mahathyam||Vijayachander||K. Vasu||Telugu||Dubbed into Hindi as Shirdi Sai Baba Ki Kahani, into Tamil as Sri Shiridi Saibaba. Also featuring Chandra Mohan, Suthi Veerabhadra Rao, Sarath Babu, J.V. Somayajulu, Rama Prabha, Anjali Devi, Raja.|
|1989||Bhagavan Shri Sai Baba||Sai prakash||Sai prakash||Kannada||Also starring Ramkumar, Brahmavar, Vijaylakshmi.|
|1993||Sai Baba||Yashwant Dutt||Babasaheb S. Fattelal||Marathi||Also featuring Lalita Pawar|
|2000||Maya||Sai Baba||Ramanarayanan||Tamil||Also featuring S. P. Balasubrahmanyam|
|2000||Sri Sai Mahima||Sai Prakash||Ashok Kumar||Telugu||Also featuring Murali Mohan, Jaya Sudha, Sudha, P.J.Sharma|
|2001||Shirdi Sai Baba||Sudhir Dalvi||Deepak Balraj Vij||Hindi||Also featuring Dharmendra, Rohini Hattangadi, Suresh Oberoi|
|2005||Ishwarya Avatar Sai Baba||Mukul Nag||Ramanand Sagar||Hindi||Composite movie drawn from Sagar's Sai Baba (TV series).|
|2010||Malik Ek||Jackie Shroff||Deepak Balraj Vij||Hindi||Released in 2008. Also featuring Manoj Kumar, Divya Dutta, Rohini Hattangadi, Zarina Wahab and Anup Jalota as Das Ganu.|
|2012||Shirdi Sai||Nagarjuna Akkineni||K.Raghavendra Rao||Telugu||Released on 6 September 2012. Also featuring Srikanth (actor), Srihari, Kamalini Mukherjee, Rohini Hattangadi, Sharat Babu, Brahmanandam|
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- Sri Sai Satcharitra
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- Lochtefeld, James G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Vol. 2 N-Z). New York: Rosen. ISBN 0-8239-2287-1.(pg 583)
- Hinnels J. R. Zoroastrians Diaspora: religion and migration p. 109
- sandman (20 January 2009). "Who is Sai Baba' guru? Zarzari Zar Baksh who lived at Khuldabad, says Meher Baba". Asian Tribune. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
- Kalchuri, Bhau: Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, The Biography of the Avatar of the Age, Meher Baba, Manifestation, Inc. 1986. p. 64
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- Deccan Chronicle, "Shirdis solar cooker finds place"
- Thai Indian, "Shirdi gets world's largest solar steam system"
- Arulneyam, Durai, The Gospel of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba. A Holy Spiritual Path, New Delhi, Sterling, 2008. ISBN 978-81-207-3997-0
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- Ruhela, S. P. (ed), What Researchers Say about Sri Shirdi Sai Baba, Faridabad, Sai Age Publications, 1994. ISBN 81-85880-85-9
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- Guruji Vij Rajesh, Service to Living beings is service to god Jai Sai Naam (1995) India
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