Sai Baba’s origin is completely unknown to this day. He did not disclose to anyone where he was born nor where he grew up. Because of his unknown past, various communities have claimed that he belongs to them. Nothing has been substantiated, however. It is known that he spent considerable period with fakirs. His attire resembled that of a Muslim fakir. He regularly visited mosques and ate meat as well.

Baba reportedly arrived at the village of Shirdi in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, India, when he was about sixteen years old. Although there is no agreement among biographers about the date of this event, it is generally accepted that Baba stayed in Shirdi for three years, disappeared for a year and returned permanently around 1858, which posits a possible birth year of 1838.He led an ascetic life, sitting motionless under a neem tree and meditating while sitting in an asana. The Sai Satcharita recounts the reaction of the villagers.

The people of the village were wonder-struck to see such a young lad practising hard penance, not minding heat or cold. By day he associated with no one, by night he was afraid of nobody.

His presence attracted the curiosity of the villagers and the religiously-inclined such as Mhalsapati, Appa Jogle and Kashinatha regularly visited him, while others such as the village children considered him mad and threw stones at him.After some time he left the village, and it is unknown where he stayed at that time or what happened to him. However, there are some indications that he met with many saints and fakirs, and worked as a weaver; he claimed to have fought with the army of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

In 1858 Sai Baba returned to Shirdi with Chand Patil’s wedding procession. After alighting near the Khandoba temple he was greeted with the words “Ya Sai” (welcome saint) by the temple priest Mhalsapati. The name Sai stuck to him and some time later he started being known as Sai Baba. It was around this time that Baba 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 Baba was dressed like an athlete and sported ‘long hair flowing down to his buttocks’ when he arrived in Shirdi, and that he never had his head shaved. It was only after Baba forfeited a wrestling match with one Mohdin Tamboli that he took up the kafni and cloth cap, articles of typically 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.According to B.V. Narasimhaswami, a posthumous follower who was widely praised as Sai Baba’s “apostle”, this attitude was prevalent even among some of his devotees in Shirdi, even up to 1954.

For four to five years Baba lived under a neem tree, and often wandered for long periods in the jungle in and 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 had the custom of giving sacred ash (‘Udhi’) to his guests before they left and which was believed to have healing powers and protection from dangerous situations. At first he performed the function of a local hakim and treated the sick by application of Udhi. Baba also delivered spiritual teachings to his visitors, recommending the reading of sacred Hindu texts along with the Qur’an, especially insisting on the indispensability of the unbroken remembrance of God’s name (dhikr, japa). He often expressed himself in a cryptic manner with the use of parables, symbols and allegories. He participated in religious festivals and was also in the habit of preparing food for his visitors, which he distributed to them as prasad. Sai Baba’s entertainment was dancing and singing religious songs (he enjoyed the songs of Kabir most). His behaviour was sometimes uncouth and violent.

After 1910 Sai Baba’s fame began to spread in Mumbai. Numerous people started visiting him, because they regarded him as a saint (or even an avatar) with the power of performing miracles and they built his first ever temple at Bhivpuri, Karjat as desired by Sai Baba.

Sai Baba took Mahasamadhi (departure) on October 15, 1918 at 2.30pm. He took samadhi on the lap of one of his devotees with hardly any belongings, and was buried in the “Buty Wada” according to his wish. Later a mandir was built there known as the “Samadhi Mandir”.

Sai left no written records, but a strong oral legacy of teachings and parables. This sayings and teaching have been written down by his disciples. One of his favourite teachings was the omnipresence of God – “Why do you fear, when I am always here. He has no beginning and no end.”

Sai could be a strict spiritual teacher, getting angry with his disciples to shake their egoistic views.

Sai Baba made eleven assurances to his devotees:

1. Whosoever puts their feet on Shirdi soil, their sufferings will come to an end.
2. The wretched and miserable will rise to joy and happiness as soon as they climb the steps of the mosque.
3. I shall be ever active and vigorous even after leaving this earthly body.
4. My tomb shall bless and speak to the needs of my devotees.
5. I shall be active and vigorous even from my tomb.
6. My mortal remains will speak from my tomb.
7. I am ever living to help and guide all who come to me, who surrender to me and who seek refuge in me.
8. If you look to me, I look to you.
9. If you cast your burden on me, I shall surely bear it.
10. If you seek my advice and help, it shall be given to you at once.
11. There shall be no want in the house of my devotee.

His eleven famous sayings are:

1. No harm shall befall him who sets his foot on the soil of Shirdi.
2. He who cometh to My Samadhi, his sorrow and suffering shall cease.
3. Though I be no more in flesh and blood, I shall ever protect My devotees.
4. Trust in Me and your prayer shall be answered.
5. Know that My Spirit is immortal. Know this for yourself.
6. Show unto Me he who sought refuge and been turned away.
7. In whatever faith men worship Me, even so do I render to them.
8. Not in vain is My Promise that I shall ever lighten your burden.
9. Knock, and the door shall open. Ask and ye shall be granted.
10. To him who surrenders unto Me totally I shall be ever indebted.
11. Blessed is he who has become one with Me.

An important aspect of Sai Baba’s teachings was the distribution of sacred udhi (ash) to his followers. This has symbolic meaning and some disciples claimed miracles from this sacred ash. He also asked visitors for money, which he would distribute to others later in the day. This was to improve the karma of his disciples.

The Shri Sai Satcharita, by Govindrao Raghunath Dabholkar, gives a devotional account of Sai Baba’s life.

சீரடி சாயி பாபா வாழ்க்கை வரலாறு

சீரடி சாயி பாபா, 20 ஆம்  நுற்றாண்டின் தொடக்கத்தில் வாழ்ந்த ஓர் இந்திய குரு ஆவார். இதுவரை இந்தியாவில் பிறந்த மிகச்சிறந்த துறவிகளில் இவரும் ஒருவர்.  இவரை இந்துக்களும், இஸ்லாமியர்களும் புனித துறவியாகவும் போற்றுகின்றனர். தன்னை நாடிவரும் பக்தர்களுக்கு பல அற்புதங்களை நிகழ்திக்காட்டினார். நோயுள்ளவர்களை குணப்படுத்தினார். இதனால், இந்துக்கள் இவரை ‘கடவுளின் அவதாரம்’ என்று கருதி, தெய்வமாக வழிபட்டு வருகின்றனர். இஸ்லாமியர்கள் இவரை, ‘பிர் அல்லது குதுப்’ ஆக நம்புகின்றனர். உலகமெங்கும் இருந்து பக்தர்கள் அவர் வாழ்ந்து மறைந்த ஸ்தலத்தை வணங்கி தரிசிக்க, அவர் பிறந்த இடமான சீரிடிக்கு வருகைப் புரிந்த வண்ணம் உள்ளனர். தன்னுடைய வாழ்நாள் முழுவதும் துறவியாகவே வாழ்ந்து மறைந்த புனித சீரடி சாய் பாபா அவர்களின் வாழ்க்கை வரலாறு மற்றும் சிறப்புகளை விரிவாகக் காண்போம்.

சீரடி சாய் பாபா என்றழைக்கப்படும் “சாய் பாபா” அவர்கள் இந்தியாவின் மகாராஸ்டிரா மாநிலம் அகமது நகர் மாவட்டதிலுள்ள “சீரடி” என்ற இடத்தில் பிறந்தார். இவருடைய பிறப்பு மற்றும் ஆரம்ப வாழ்க்கை பற்றிய உண்மையான தகவல்கள் ஏதும் கிடைக்காததால், இன்றுவரையும் அவருடைய பிறப்பு பற்றிய விவரங்கள் மர்மமாகவே உள்ளது. ஆனால், அவர் இந்து மதம் சார்ந்த பெற்றோருக்கு பிறந்ததாகவும், பிறகு ஒரு முஸ்லிம் குடும்பத்தில் வளர்ந்ததாகவும் கூறப்படுகிறது.

ஒரு மகானாக சீரடி சாயி பாபா

அவருக்குப் பதினாறு வயது இருக்கும் பொழுது, ஒரு வேப்பமரத்தடியில் முதல் முதலாக தியானத்தில் ஈடுபட்டிருந்தபொழுது, ஒரு மகானாக காட்சியளித்ததாக கூறப்படுகிறது. பின்னர், அவரை நாடிவந்த மக்களுக்கு சிறந்த ஆன்மீகத் தத்துவங்களை எடுத்துக்கூற தொடங்கினார். அவரை தரிசிக்க அதிகளவில் மக்கள் வர ஆரம்பித்தனர். மேலும், தன்னிடம் ‘உடல் நிலை சரியில்லை’ என்று வருபவர்களுக்கு ஆசி வழங்கி அவர்களுடைய நோயைக் குணப்படுத்தினார். அவருடைய ஆன்மீக போதனைகள், இந்து மற்றும் இஸ்லாமியர்கள் மட்டுமல்லாமல், அனைத்துத்தரப்பு மக்களையும் கவர்ந்தது. அதுமட்டுமல்லாமல், அவருடைய போதனைகளும், தத்துவங்களும், கூற்றுகளும் பொதுமக்கள் எளிதில் புரிந்துக்கொள்ளும் அளவிற்கு மிக எளிமையான மொழியில் இருந்தது. அவருடைய புகழ், இந்தியா முழுவதும் பரவத் துவங்கியது.


இருபதாம் நூற்றாண்டில் இந்தியா முழுவதும் பரவலாக அறியப்பட்ட ‘முதல் அவதாரப் புருஷர்’ எனப் போற்றப்பட்ட சீரடி சாய் பாபா அவர்கள், 1918 ஆம் ஆண்டு அக்டோபர் மாதம் 15 ஆம் நாள் இந்த உலக வாழ்க்கையை விட்டு நீங்கினார். இன்று அவர் இல்லாவிட்டாலும், சீரடியில் அவர் சமாதியான இடம் தற்பொழுது பல்லாயிரக்கணக்கானவர் புனிதமாக வணங்கும் புண்ணியத் தலமாக விளங்குகிறது.