Sai Baba of Shirdi

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Sai Baba of Shirdi
Shirdi sai2.jpg
Sai Baba of Shirdi (Maharashtra)
Born 1838
Era 19th to 20th century
Region Shirdi, Maharashtra, India

Sai Baba of Shirdi (1838 – 15 October 1918), also known as Shirdi Sai Baba,[1] 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 Hindu or Muslim himself. This however was of no consequence to Sai Baba himself.[2] 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.[3]

Sai Baba remains a very popular saint,[4] 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.


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.[5] 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.[citation needed] Some villagers revered the saintly figure and gave him food for sustenance.[citation needed]

Sai Baba's lifestyle and teachings were notable for their syncretism.[6] He named the disused mosque he lived in Dwarakamayi after Dwarka, the abode of Krishna.[7] He practised Muslim and Hindu rituals and taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions. One of his well known epigrams is "Sabka Malik Ek" ("One God governs all"). He also said, "Trust in me and your prayer shall be answered". He saw Narayan (Lord) in all beings, He never said, "I am God," but that He was a humble servant and He always remembered Him and always uttered - "Allah Malik" (God is the sole proprietor or Owner).[8]

In various religions[edit]


Sai Baba depicted on a tapestry

During Sai Baba's life, the Hindu saint Anandanath of Yewala declared Sai Baba a spiritual "Sai Gowri".[9] Another saint, Gangagir, called him a "jewel".[9] Sri Beedkar Maharaj greatly revered Sai Baba, and in 1873, when he met him he bestowed the title Jagad guru upon him.[10][11] Sai Baba was also greatly respected by Vasudevananda Saraswati (known as Tembye Swami).[12] He was also revered by a group of Shaivic yogis, to which he belonged, known as the Nath-Panchayat.[13]

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.[14]

In 1940, Indian guru, Sathya Sai Baba proclaimed himself to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi.[15]


Some members of Muslim community consider Sai Baba as a Fakir.


Sai Baba is worshiped by prominent Zoroastrians such as Nanabhoy Palkhivala and Homi Bhabha, and has been cited as the Zoroastrians' most popular non-Zoroastrian religious figure.[16]


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.[17]

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).[18]

In culture[edit]

Sacred art and architecture[edit]

Sai Baba of Shirdi shrine at dhaba between Dharamsala and Chandigarh, India. 2010

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.[4] There are temples located outside India as well, like United States, Netherlands, Kenya, Cuba, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, United Kingdom and more.[19] 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.[20] In Sai Baba temples, his devotees play devotional religious music, such as aarti.[21]

Steam cooker[edit]

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.[22][23]

Film and television[edit]

Sai Baba has been the subject of several feature films in many languages produced by India's film industry.

Year Film Title role Director Language Notes
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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Be United, Be Virtuous: Composite Culture and the Growth of Shirdi Sai Baba Devotion., Karline McLain, Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, Vol. 15, No. 2 (November 2011), pp. 20-49
  2. ^ Rigopoulos, Antonio (1993). The Life and Teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi. SUNY. p. 3. ISBN 0-7914-1268-7. 
  3. ^ Sri Sai Satcharitra
  4. ^ a b Srinivas Sathya Sai Baba movement
  5. ^ Osborne, Arthur (2002). The Incredible Sai Baba: The Life and Miracles of a Modern-day Saint. Orient Longman. ISBN 9788125000846. 
  6. ^ Kent, Alexandra (2005). Divinity and Diversity: A Hindu Revitalization Movement in Malaysia. NIAS Press. p. 39. ISBN 9788791114403. 
  7. ^ Hoiberg, Dale; I. Ramchandani (2000). Students' Britannica India. Popular Prakashan. Retrieved 1 December 2007. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b "Who is Shirdi Sai Baba". Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2007. 
  10. ^ "A Short Biography of Shree Sadguru Beedkar Maharaj". Retrieved 29 October 2007. 
  11. ^ "Beedkar Maharaj". Sai Vichaar, Oct 06, 2005, volume 8, issue 2001. Retrieved 29 October 2007. 
  12. ^ Dabholkar/Gunaji Shri Sai Satcharita/Shri Sai Satcharitra chapter 50 [1]
  13. ^ Ruhela Sri Shirdi Sai Baba – the universal master p. 27
  14. ^ Narasimhaswami, B.V. (1990). Life of Sai Baba (Vol. 1). Madras: All-India Sai Samaj. p. 24. : "One very closely associated devotee of his, now living, still believes that Baba was 'only a Mohammadan.' What can 'only a Mohammadan' mean? It means that even after 25 years of personal experience of him and 36 years of his post mortem glories, the devotee treats him as a communalist just as he did when Baba was in the flesh." Narasimhaswami, B.V. (1990). Life of Sai Baba (Vol. 1). Madras: All-India Sai Samaj. pp. 24–25. : "Baba wished to convince the devotee, if he was a Hindu, that he was Mahavishnu, Lakshminarayan, etc., and he bade water flow from his feet as Ganga issued from Mahavishnu's feet. The devotee saw it and praised him as 'Rama Vara', but as for the water coming from his feet, that devotee simply sprinkled a few drops on his head and would not drink it coming as it did from a Mohammadan's feet. So great was the prejudice of ages that even one,who thought of him as Vishnu, thought he was a 'Muslim Vishnu'. Prejudices die hard and the devotee wondered and wonders how people can believe that Baba was a Brahmin and that his parents were Brahmins when he had lived all his life in a mosque and when he was believed to be a Muslim."
  15. ^ Lochtefeld, James G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Vol. 2 N-Z). New York: Rosen. ISBN 0-8239-2287-1.(pg 583)
  16. ^ Hinnels J. R. Zoroastrians Diaspora: religion and migration p. 109
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ Kalchuri, Bhau: Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, The Biography of the Avatar of the Age, Meher Baba, Manifestation, Inc. 1986. p. 64
  19. ^ "Directory of Shri Shirdi Saibaba temples around the world". Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  20. ^ Ruhela Sri Shirdi Sai Baba – The Universal Master
  21. ^ "Welcome to Shirdi Sai Trust – Arathi Timings". Retrieved 30 October 2007. 
  22. ^ Deccan Chronicle, "Shirdis solar cooker finds place"
  23. ^ Thai Indian, "Shirdi gets world's largest solar steam system"

Further reading[edit]

  • Arulneyam, Durai, The Gospel of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba. A Holy Spiritual Path, New Delhi, Sterling, 2008. ISBN 978-81-207-3997-0
  • Babuji, Sri Sainathuni Sarath, 'Arati Sai Baba, The Psalm Book of Shirdi Aratis, Saipatham Publications, 1996 available online
  • Bharadwaja, Acharya, Ekkirala Bharadwaja, Sai Baba the Master, Andhra Pradesh, Sree Guru Paduka Publications, 1996 "Sai Baba The Master"
  • Dabholkar, Govindrao Raghunath (alias Hemadpant), Shri Sai Satcharita Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Shirdi, (translated from Marathi into English by Nagesh V. Gunaji in 1944) available online or downloadable as pdf
  • Dabholkar, Govind Raghunath., and Indira Kher. Shri Sai Satcharita: The Life and Teachings of Shirdi Sai Baba. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1999. Print.
  • Hoiberg, D. & Ramchandani, I., 'Sai Baba of Shirdi', in Students' Britannica India. Page available online
  • Kamath, M. V. & Kher, V. B., Sai Baba of Shirdi: A Unique Saint, India: Jaico Publishing House (1997). ISBN 81-7224-030-9
  • Osborne, Arthur, The Incredible Sai Baba. The Life and Miracles of a Modern-day Saint, Hyderabad, Orient Longman, 1957. ISBN 81-250-0084-4
  • Panday, Balkrishna, Sai Baba’s 261 Leelas. A Treasure House of Miracles, New Delhi, Sterling, 2004. ISBN 81-207-2727-4
  • Parthasarathy, Rangaswami, God Who Walked on Earth. The Life and Times of Shirdi Sai Baba, New Delhi, Sterling, 1996. ISBN 81-207-1809-7.
  • Rao, Sham P. P., Five Contemporary Gurus in the Shirdi (Sai Baba) Tradition, Bangalore: Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, 1972. LC Control No.: 75905429.
  • Rigopoulos, Antonio, The Life and Teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi State University of New York press, Albany, (1993) ISBN 0-7914-1268-7.
  • Ruhela, S. P. (ed), What Researchers Say about Sri Shirdi Sai Baba, Faridabad, Sai Age Publications, 1994. ISBN 81-85880-85-9
  • Ruhela, S. P. (ed), Sri Shirdi Sai Baba – The Universal Master, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, 1994. ISBN 81-288-1517-2
  • Ruhela, S. P. (ed), Truth in Controversies about Sri Shirdi Sai Baba, Faridabad, Indian Publishers Distributors, 2000. ISBN 81-7341-121-2
  • Venkataraman, Krishnaswamy, Shirdi Stories, Srishti Publishers, New Delhi, 2002. ISBN 81-87075-84-8
  • Warren, Marianne, Unraveling the Enigma. Shirdi Sai Baba in the Light of Sufism, Revised edition, New Delhi, Sterling Publishing, 2004. ISBN 81-207-2147-0
  • White, Charles S. J., The Sai Baba Movement: Approaches to the Study of India Saints in Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 31, No. 4 (Aug. 1972), pp. 863–878
  • White Charles S. J., The Sai Baba Movement: Study of a Unique Contemporary Moral and Spiritual Movement, New Delhi, Arnold-Heinemann, 1985.
  • Williams, Alison, Experiencing Sai Baba’s Shirdi. A Guide, revised edition, Shirdi, Saipatham Publications. 2004 ISBN 81-88560-00-6 available online
  • Walshe-Ryan, Lorraine, I am always with you, Reprint 2008, New Delhi, Sterling Publishing, 2006. ISBN 978-81-207-3192-9.
  • Guruji Vij Rajesh, Service to Living beings is service to god Jai Sai Naam (1995) India

External links[edit]