Sai Baba of Shirdi bigraphy, stories - Hindu and muslim saint

Sai Baba of Shirdi : biography

unknown - 15 October 1918

Sai Baba of Shirdi (unknown – October 15, 1918), also known as Shirdi Sai Baba, was an Indian guru, yogi, and fakir who is regarded by his devotees as a saint.

No verifiable information is given regarding Sai Baba's real name, parents, 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, recognized 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'.Rigopoulos, The Life and Teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi 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".

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, practiced Muslim rituals, taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions, and was buried in Shirdi. 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" ("God is King").Sri Sai Satcharitra

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.Ruhela, S. P. (ed), Truth in Controversies about Sri Shirdi Sai Baba, Faridabad, Indian Publishers Distributors, 2000. ISBN 81-7341-121-2Dabholkar, Govind Raghunath, Shri Sai Satcharita: the life and teachings of Shirdi Sai Baba (1999) Sai Baba referred to several saints as 'my brothers', especially the disciples of sri Swami Samartha of Akkalkot.

Return to Shirdi

In 1858 Sai Baba returned to Shirdi. Around this time he adopted his famous style of dress consisting of a knee-length one-piece robe (kafni) and a cloth cap. Ramgir Bua, a devotee, testified that Sai Baba was dressed like an athlete and sported 'long hair flowing down to the end of his spine' when he arrived in Shirdi, and that he never had his head shaved. It was only after Baba forfeited a wrestling match with one Mohiddin Tamboli that he took up the kafni and cloth cap, articles of typical Sufi clothing. This attire contributed to Baba's identification as a Muslim fakir and was a reason for initial indifference and hostility against him in a predominantly Hindu village.

For four to five years Baba lived under a neem tree and often wandered for long periods in the jungle around Shirdi. His manner was said to be withdrawn and uncommunicative as he undertook long periods of meditation. He was eventually persuaded to take up residence in an old and dilapidated mosque and lived a solitary life there, surviving by begging for alms, and receiving itinerant Hindu or Muslim visitors. In the mosque he maintained a sacred fire which is referred to as a dhuni, from which he gave sacred ashes ('Udhi') to his guests before they left. The ash was believed to have healing and apotropaic powers. He performed the function of a local hakim and treated the sick by application of ashes. Sai Baba also delivered spiritual teachings to his visitors, recommending the reading of sacred Hindu texts along with the Qur'an. He insisted on the indispensability of the unbroken remembrance of God's name (dhikr, japa), and often expressed himself in a cryptic manner with the use of parables, symbols and allegories.

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