Sai Baba of Shirdi

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Sai Baba of Shirdi
Shirdi sai2.jpg
Sai Baba of Shirdi (Maharashtra)
Era19th to 20th century
RegionShirdi, Maharashtra, India
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"Sai Nath" redirects here. For other uses, see Sai (disambiguation) and Nath (disambiguation).
For other uses, see Sai Baba.
Sai Baba of Shirdi
Shirdi sai2.jpg
Sai Baba of Shirdi (Maharashtra)
Era19th to 20th century
RegionShirdi, 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.[1] 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.[2]

Sai Baba remains a very popular saint,[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] He named the disused mosque he lived in Dwarakamayi after Dwarka, the abode of Krishna.[6] 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").[2]

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 "diamond".[7] Another saint, Gangagir, called him a "jewel".[7] Sri Beedkar Maharaj greatly revered Sai Baba, and in 1873, when he met him he bestowed the title Jagad guru upon him.[8][9] Sai Baba was also greatly respected by Vasudevananda Saraswati (known as Tembye Swami).[10] He was also revered by a group of Shaivic yogis, to which he belonged, known as the Nath-Panchayat.[11]

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.[12]

In 1940, Indian guru, Sathya Sai Baba proclaimed himself to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi.[13]


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.[14]


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.[15]

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).[16]

In culture[edit]

Sacred art and architecture[edit]

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.[3] There are temples located outside India as well, like United States, Netherlands, Kenya, Cuba, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, United Kingdom and more.[17] 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.[18] In Sai Baba temples, his devotees play devotional religious music, such as aarti.[19]

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.[20][21]

Film and television[edit]

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

YearFilmTitle roleDirectorLanguageNotes
1955Shirdi Che Sai BabaUnknownKumarsen SamarthMarathiWon All India Certificate of Merit at 3rd National Film Awards
1977Shirdi Ke Sai BabaSudhir DalviAshok V. BhushanHindiAlso featuring Manoj Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Hema Malini, Shatrughan Sinha, Sachin, Prem Nath
1986Sri Shirdi Saibaba MahathyamVijayachanderK. VasuTeluguDubbed 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.
1989Bhagavan Shri Sai BabaSai prakashSai prakashKannadaAlso starring Ramkumar, Brahmavar, Vijaylakshmi.
1993Sai BabaYashwant DuttBabasaheb S. FattelalMarathiAlso featuring Lalita Pawar
2000MayaSai BabaRamanarayananTamilAlso featuring S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
2000Sri Sai MahimaSai PrakashAshok KumarTeluguAlso featuring Murali Mohan, Jaya Sudha, Sudha, P.J.Sharma
2001Shirdi Sai BabaSudhir DalviDeepak Balraj VijHindiAlso featuring Dharmendra, Rohini Hattangadi, Suresh Oberoi
2005Ishwarya Avatar Sai BabaMukul NagRamanand SagarHindiComposite movie drawn from Sagar's Sai Baba (TV series).
2010Malik EkJackie ShroffDeepak Balraj VijHindiReleased in 2008. Also featuring Manoj Kumar, Divya Dutta, Rohini Hattangadi, Zarina Wahab and Anup Jalota as Das Ganu.
2012Shirdi SaiNagarjuna AkkineniK.Raghavendra RaoTeluguReleased on 6 September 2012. Also featuring Srikanth (actor), Srihari, Kamalini Mukherjee, Rohini Hattangadi, Sharat Babu, Brahmanandam

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rigopoulos, Antonio (1993). The Life and Teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi. SUNY. p. 3. ISBN 0-7914-1268-7. 
  2. ^ a b Sri Sai Satcharitra
  3. ^ a b Srinivas Sathya Sai Baba movement
  4. ^ Osborne, Arthur (2002). The Incredible Sai Baba: The Life and Miracles of a Modern-day Saint. Orient Longman. ISBN 9788125000846. 
  5. ^ Kent, Alexandra (2005). Divinity and Diversity: A Hindu Revitalization Movement in Malaysia. NIAS Press. p. 39. ISBN 9788791114403. 
  6. ^ Hoiberg, Dale; I. Ramchandani (2000). Students' Britannica India. Popular Prakashan. Retrieved 1 December 2007. 
  7. ^ a b "Who is Shirdi Sai Baba". Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2007. 
  8. ^ "A Short Biography of Shree Sadguru Beedkar Maharaj". Retrieved 29 October 2007. 
  9. ^ "Beedkar Maharaj". Sai Vichaar, Oct 06, 2005, volume 8, issue 2001. Retrieved 29 October 2007. 
  10. ^ Dabholkar/Gunaji Shri Sai Satcharita/Shri Sai Satcharitra chapter 50 [1]
  11. ^ Ruhela Sri Shirdi Sai Baba – the universal master p. 27
  12. ^ 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."
  13. ^ Lochtefeld, James G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Vol. 2 N-Z). New York: Rosen. ISBN 0-8239-2287-1.(pg 583)
  14. ^ Hinnels J. R. Zoroastrians Diaspora: religion and migration p. 109
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ Kalchuri, Bhau: Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, The Biography of the Avatar of the Age, Meher Baba, Manifestation, Inc. 1986. p. 64
  17. ^ "Directory of Shri Shirdi Saibaba temples around the world". Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  18. ^ Ruhela Sri Shirdi Sai Baba – The Universal Master
  19. ^ "Welcome to Shirdi Sai Trust – Arathi Timings". Retrieved 30 October 2007. 
  20. ^ Deccan Chronicle, "Shirdis solar cooker finds place"
  21. ^ Thai Indian, "Shirdi gets world's largest solar steam system"

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]