Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Life of Shirdi Sai Baba

In an earlier posting Mr. K. Bharath Kumar wrote about the “Similarities between two great Mahans,” namely Sri Seshadri Swamigal (of Tiruvannamalai) and Sri Shirdi Sai Baba. 

When I first arrived at Tiruvannamalai I was very surprised that at that time there was no Temple dedicated to the great saint Shirdi Sai Baba. However several years ago, at long last, a Temple was opened which is dedicated to this great Mahan. For an earlier posting I made on my Blog Arunachala Grace with information and photographs of the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple on the Arunachala girivalam roadway, please visit this link here

Below I am posting a narrative recently received from Mr. K. Bharath Kumar about the life of Shirdi Sai Baba. 

Statue of Shirdi Sai Baba at his Arunachala Temple


Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi was a great saint of India who lived about 100 years ago in Shirdi, Maharashtra. He lived a life of utmost simplicity and preached the message of love, unity, brotherhood, and kindness towards all living creatures. 

His date of birth, place of birth, parents, original name, religion and caste ­ none of these details have been found till date. He was well respected by all religions, especially the Hindus and Muslims. He was brought up for a few years among a Muslim family given to them by his real parents and later lived all His life in an old mosque that He named as "Dwarakamayee". He worked very hard for upholding Hindu­-Muslim unity during His lifetime. 

Sai Baba spent about sixty years in His Dwarakamayee mosque in Shirdi village in a most simple manner with least material possessions during His entire lifetime. He redistributed all the wealth that devotees showered on Him back to the needy poor and deserving villagers daily by the end of the day. He started everyday as a "fakir" (sanyasi without money and other attachments) in the morning and finished the day daily in the same state ­ even though very lavish sums of money and valuable items were presented to Him from His devotees daily. 

Even His name i.e., "Sai Baba" was given to Him by Shirdi villagers ­ such was His complete disowning of titles and possessions starting from His very name. His simple assurance "Why Fear When I am Here" has been a life­saving mantra for millions of devotees all around the world. Sai expected only two qualities from His devotees "Shraddha" (Faith) and "Saburi" (Patience) and did not differentiate anybody on the basis of their religion, caste, race or any other factor and behaved the same to beggars and to princely figures. 

He was different from all other saints that India has produced in that He did not establish an Ashram or institution ­ nor did He take any disciples until the end, nor did He preach any special mantras or theories, nor did He leave any successors or heirs. He was an unique "Samarth Sadguru" who guided devotees on every aspect of their lives by first solving their urgent problems (such as money, diseases, lack of child, averting dangers, etc.) while making them interested in following a spiritual path of life finally. Rephrasing His own words, "I give them what they want so that they will like what I give them". 

He retained His simple ways of begging daily for His food till the end ­ although devotees showered Him with choice varieties of food items ­ which He usually distributed to the deserving. Even though His devotees wished Him to be a King ("Maharaja") and provided several costly royal items to Him ­ he never used them till the end, he always wore His usual simple plain robe (torn on one side), never wore slippers, always walked on foot instead of taking any vehicles, and never took anybody's service for free, despite His all­-powerful image in the village. 

He maintained an ever­burning fire altar ("Dhuni") whose ashes called "Udhi" was given free to all devotees. Many diseases were cured by applying Udhi on affected area or by intake. Like Lord Shiva of the Hindus, He showed through these ashes "Udhi" that life was short and material possessions including the human body get reduced to ashes finally. So, Sai Baba reminds us of this fact through His practice. This Dhuni has been burning steadily in Shirdi to this day for over a hundred years. 

Sai Baba has performed innumerable superhuman miracles that even modern science is yet to explain ­ such as mind­reading, foretelling the past, present and future of devotees on seeing them for the very first time, averting dangers occurring in faraway places without physically leaving Shirdi, stopping natural calamities by His voice, and curing diseases given up by doctors ­ to name a few. He performed easily difficult yogic practices such as Kanda­yoga (complete disassembly of body and reassembly). Despite His clear superhuman powers. He claimed humbly that He was just a servant of God, even at the peak of His enchanting, divine life. 

His unique specialty was that He encouraged whatever good qualities devotees had with them and encouraged traditional practices that devotees followed without stopping them or converting them to new rituals. He prescribed appropriate remedies for each devotee depending on their unique situation ­ for some He proposed solitary meditation, for others group discussions and bhajans, for others He suggested continuing worshipping their family deities' idols and so on. He encouraged festivals, rituals and practices of both Hindus and Muslims in Shirdi and these evolved into big festival events attended by lots of people from all over. 

His constant utterances "Allah Malik" (God is the sole proprietor/master), "Sabka Malik Ek" (There is a single master for all) have been unifying phrases that has created a huge following amongst diverse communities in India and abroad ­ who see in Him the very personification of their favorite Gods ­ as Lord Shiva, Rama, Krishna, Venkateswara, Datta, Maruti, Allah, Christ, Nanak to name a few. 

Even after His passing away in 1918, the world is full of increasing instances of Sai Baba's invisible presence protecting and helping devotees across the world. His eleven assurances to all, especially the assurance that He is EVER­living to help those who surrender to Him ­ has been a life­giver to innumerable many ­ including this author. This author was taken into His protection 6 years ago and Sai Baba has always answered his calls for help. 

Written referring several Sai literature sources the author has read thus far, especially "Sai Sathcharita" from Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi by Bharathkumar K., Chennai, India 


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