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Offline rajender1555

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    Sai Baba of Shirdi or Shirdi Sai Baba (circa 1838 - October 15, 1918), (real name, birth place, and date of birth unknown), was an Indian guru, yogi and fakir, who is regarded by his Hindu and Muslim followers as a saint. Some of his Hindu devotees believe that he was an Avatar of Shiva, Dattatreya, a satguru and the next incarnation of Kabir.

    In his life and teachings he tried to embrace and reconcile Hinduism and Islam: Sai Baba lived in a mosque, was buried in a Hindu temple, practised Hindu and Muslim rituals, and taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions. One of his well known epigrams says of God: "Allah Malik" ("God is Master").

    Sai Baba taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace, devotion to God and guru. His philosophy was Advaita Vedanta and his teachings consisted of elements both of this school as well as of bhakti and Islam.

    Some disciples of Sai of Shirdi have received fame as spiritual figures and saints.

    Sai Baba is also one of the most popular of Indian saints (worshipped mainly in Maharashtra, southern Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh) and revered by several notable Hindu, Sufi and Zoroastrian religious leaders         

    [edit] Biography

    [edit] Early life
    There is no clear record of Sai's given name, nor of his origins. However, there are some indications based on his own words that he was born in a Brahmin family in the village of Pathri, under the name Haribhau. According to estimates he was born circa 1838. Once he told his devotee - Mhalsapathy - that he had been born in Pathri and his parents had given him to a "Fakir" (it is uncertain what Sai Baba meant using this expression).[1] According to some sources as a boy Sai Baba was brought up by a Sufi fakir and according to others by a Hindu guru. Some people combine both these theories (that Sai Baba was first brought up by a fakir and then by a guru).[2]

    [edit] First stay in Shirdi
    Sai arrived at the village of Shirdi in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra state when he was about sixteen years old (in 1854). There he led an ascetic life - he stayed in a den under a neem tree where he meditated sitting in an asana. He aroused the interest and admiration of a few villagers of Shirdi; they said that it was due to his unusual peace, fearlessness and resistance to difficult conditions.[3]

    [edit] Years 1854 - 1858
    After approximately two months Sai Baba left Shirdi for four years[4]. It is unknown where he stayed at that time or what happened to him. There are some indications however that he met saints and fakirs, worked as a weaver and fought in the army of Jhansi Rani Lakshmibai during Indian Rebellion of 1857.[5]

    [edit] Second stay in Shirdi
    In 1858 Sai Baba returned to Shirdi together with Amin Bhai Patil's wedding procession. When he entered the Khandoba temple in Shirdi he was greeted by the priest Mhalsapathy with the words Ya Sai (welcome saint). The name Sai stuck to him and some time later he started being known as Sai Baba.

    He stayed in Shirdi till his death in 1918. There he lead a simple and ascetic life; e.g. he begged for food. His home was an old mosque. At first he performed the function of a local hakim and treated the sick. In the mosque he kept up a sacred fire - a Dhuni. He had the custom of giving Udhi to his guests before they left - they believed that it had healing powers and could protect them in dangerous situations. Sai also delivered spiritual teachings to his visitors (and according to what the witnesses said) performed many miracles. He took part in religious festivals. He 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).

    In 1910 Sai Baba's fame spread to the whole of India. Numerous people started visiting him, because they regarded him as a saint (or even an Avatar) with the power of performing miracles.[6]

    Sai Baba of Shirdi took Mahasamadhi on 15 October 1918. He died on the lap of one of his devotees with hardly any belongings. He was buried in the "Buty Wada" according to his wish. Later a mandir was built their known as the "Samadhi Mandir".[7]

    TeachingsIn his teachings Sai Baba concentrated on uniting the Hindu and Muslim religion. He took part both in Hindu festivals and Muslim pilgrimages. He prayed in the Hindu and Muslim way. Together with his disciples he read the Qur'an and the Hindu scriptures. He wore the clothes of a Sufi fakir, and sometimes performed salat.[8] Another example of the way he combined both faiths is the name he gave to his mosque - Dwarakamai (it is connected with Hinduism - the sacred place Dwaraka where Krishna lived).[9] Sai Baba also opposed all sorts of persecutions on religious or caste background. (In India at the times when he lived religious intolerance and conflicts were common).

    Sai Baba of Shirdi was also an opponent of religious orthodoxy - both Hindu and Muslim.[10]

    Although Sai Baba himself lead the life of an ascetic, he advised his followers to lead an ordinary family life.

    Sai Baba encouraged his devotees to pray, chant God's name and read holy scriptures - he told Muslims to study the Qur'an and Hindus texts like the Ramayana, Vishnu Sahasranam, Bhagavad Gita (and commentaries to it), Yoga Vasistha.[11] He advised his devotees and followers to lead a moral life, help others, treat them with love and develop two important features of character: faith (Shraddha) and patience (Saburi). He also criticized atheism.[12] In his teachings Sai Baba emphasised the importance of performing one's duties without attachment to earthly matters and being ever content regardless of the situation.

    Shirdi Baba also interpreted the religious texts of both faiths. According to what the people who stayed with him said and wrote he had a profound knowledge of them. He explained the meaning of the Hindu scriptures in the spirit of Advaita Vedanta. This was the character of his philosophy. It also had numerous elements of bhakti. The three main Hindu spiritual paths - Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga - were visible in the teachings of Sai Baba.[13] This does not mean however that they were exclusively Hindu - they had many Islamic elements.[14]

    Sai Baba said that God penetrates everything and lives in every being, and as well that God is the essence of each of them. He emphasised the complete oneness of God which was very close to the Islamic tawhid and the Hindu doctrine, e.g. of the Upanishads. Sai Baba said that the world and all that the human may give is transient and only God and his gifts are eternal.[15]

    Shirdi Sai also emphasised the importance of devotion to God - bhakti - and surrender to his will. He also talked about the need of faith and devotion to one's spiritual preceptor (guru). He said that everyone was the soul and not the body. He advised his disciples and followers to overcome the negative features of character and develop the good ones. He taught them that all fate was determined by karma.[16]

    Sai Baba left no written works. His teachings were oral, typically short, pithy sayings rather than elaborate discourses. Sai would ask his followers for money (dakshina), which he would give away to the poor and other devotees the same day and spend the rest on matches. According to his followers he did it in order to rid them of greed and material attachment.

    Sai encouraged charity and the importance of sharing with others. He said: "Unless there is some relationship or connection, nobody goes anywhere. If any men or creatures come to you, do not discourteously drive them away, but receive them well and treat them with due respect. Shri Hari (God) will be certainly pleased if you give water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked and your verandah to strangers for sitting and resting. If anybody wants any money from you and you are not inclined to give, do not give, but do not bark at him like a dog."[17] Other favourite sayings of his were: "Why do you fear when I am here",[18]"He has no beginning... He has no end",[18]. Sai Baba made eleven assurances to his devotees:

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

    [edit] Miracles
    Sai Baba's millions of disciples, followers and devotees believe that he had performed many miracles. Some of them were: bilocation, exorcisms, curing the incurably sick, helping his devotees in need in a miraculous way, reading the minds of others. Numerous inhabitants of Shirdi talked about these miracles. Some of them even wrote about them in books. They talked and wrote about how they (and others) were the witnesses of his unusual Yogic powers: levitation, entering a state of clinical death at wish, even removing his limbs and sticking them back to his body (Khanda Yoga) or doing the same with his intestines.

    According to his followers he appeared to them after his death, in dreams, visions and even in bodily form, whence he often gave them advice.

    With firm faith one can evoke miracles from Sai Baba. Each of his devotees has many stories and experiences to tell.[19]

    [edit] Notable disciples
    Sai Baba left behind no spiritual heirs and anointed no disciples. In fact, he did not even provide formal initiation. He belonged equally to all, and all belonged equally to him. Some disciples of Sai Baba achieved fame as spiritual figures like Upasni Maharaj of Sakori and Meher Baba of Ahmednagar. It is said that though they appear as disciples, their spirtual status is varied from other disciples. After Sai Baba dropped his body, his devotees offered the daily Aarti to Upasani Maharj when he paid a visit to Shirdi, two times with an interval of 10 years.

    [edit] Historical sources
    Biographers of Sai Baba of Shirdi (e.g. Govindrao Ragulnath Dabholkar, Smriti Srinivas, Antonio Rigpolous, Satya Pal Ruhela) when writing about him base it on what people who knew Sai Baba said and wrote. The words of two devotees of Sai who died at the turn of the twentieth century - Shivamma Thayee and Sharada Devi - are of particularly important to contemporary biographers of Sai. Another source they use is the Shirdi Diary written by Ganesha Shrikrishna Khaparde, which describes every day of the author's stay at Shirdi. When speculating about the unknown episode's of Sai Baba's life, they mainly base their conclusions on his own words.

    The most important source about Sai's life is the Shri Sai Satcharita written in Marathi, in 1916 by Govindrao Ragulnath Dabholkar whom Sai Baba nicknamed Hemadpant, which is an account of his life, teachings and miracles. Other important sources about Sai Baba are books by B. V. Narasimhaswamiji such as Sri Sai Baba's Charters and Sayings or Devotee's Experiences of Sai Baba.

    [edit] Worship and devotees
    Main article: Shirdi Sai Baba movement
    The Shirdi Sai Baba movement began in the nineteenth century, during his life, while he was staying in Shirdi. A local Khandoba priest - Mhalsapathy - is believed to have been his first devotee. However, in the nineteenth century Sai Baba's followers were only a small group of Shirdi inhabitants and a few people from other parts of India. It started developing in the twentieth century and even faster in 1910 with the Sankirtans of Das Ganu (one of Sai's devotees) who spread Sai Baba's fame to the whole of India. Since 1910 numerous Hindus and Muslims from all parts of India started coming to Shirdi. During his life Hindus worshipped him with Hindu rituals and Muslims revered him greatly, considering him to be a saint. Later (in the last years of Sai Baba's life) Christians and Zoroastrians started joining the Shirdi Sai movement.[20]

    The Sai Baba mandir in Shirdi is active and every day worship of Sai is conducted in it. Pilgrims visit Shirdi every day. Shirdi Baba is especially revered and worshipped in the state of Maharashtra. A religious organisation of Sai Baba's devotees called the Shri Saibaba Sansthan is based there.

    The devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba have spread all over India.[21] According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Religion there is at least one Sai Baba mandir in nearly every Indian city.[22] His image is quite popular in India.[23] Some ordinary non-religious publishing houses (such as Sterling Publishers) publish books about Shirdi Sai written by his devotees.[24] Shirdi is among the major Hindu places of pilgrimage.[25]

    The Shirdi Sai Baba movement is partially organised. Only a part of his followers and devotees belong to the Shri Saibaba Sansthan or to other religious organisations that worship him.

    Beyond India the Shirdi Sai movement has spread to other countries such as the U.S. or the Caribbean. Sai Baba mandirs and organisations of his devotees have been built in countries including Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and the USA. The Shirdi Sai Baba movement is one of the main Hindu religious movements in English speaking countries.[26]

    According to estimates the Sai mandir in Shirdi is visited by around twenty thousand pilgrims a day and during religious festivals this number amounts to a hundred thousand.[27]

    [edit] Shirdi Sai Baba in various religions

    [edit] Hinduism
    During Sai Baba's life a Hindu saint - Anandanath of Yewala declared Sai Baba a "[spiritual] diamond".[28] Another saint - Gangagir called him a "[spiritual] jewel".[29] Sri Beedkar Maharaj greatly revered Sai Baba, and in 1873, when he met him he bestowed the title Jagatguru upon him.[30][31] Sai Baba was also greatly respected by Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati (known as Sri Tembye Swami).[32] Sai of Shirdi was also revered by a group of Shaivic yogis, to which he belonged, known as the Nath-Panchayat.[33]

    Swami Kaleshwar publicly worships Sai Baba, and treats him as a great saint and his own guru.[34] Sathya Sai Baba considers him to be an Avatar and his previous reincarnation.[35]

    [edit] Other religions
    In Islamic culture the person of Sai Baba appears mainly in Sufism. Meher Baba declared Sai Baba a Qutub-e-Irshad - the highest of the five Qutubs.[36] Sai Baba is worshipped by several Zoroastrian religious leaders, including Nanabhoy Palkhivala. Sai Baba of Shirdi is believed to be the non-Zoroastrian whose worship attracts most attention of the Zoroastrians.[37]

    [edit] Shirdi Sai Baba in culture

    [edit] Sacral art and architecture
    Sai Baba depicted on a carpetIn India in nearly every larger city there is at least one temple dedicated to Sai Baba. They are even some in towns and countries outside India. 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 also been made. One of them, made of marble by a sculptor named Talim, is in the Samadhi Mandir in Shirdi were Sai Baba was buried. In Sai Baba mandirs, his devotees play various kinds of devotional religious music, such as arati.

    [edit] Film & Television
    In the hugely popular Hindi film Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Rishi Kapoor playing the Muslim character Akbar sings "Shirdi Wale Sai Baba" in a temple. Laxmikant Pyarelal composed the music, Anand Bakshi wrote the lyrics, and Mohd. Rafi was the playback singer. The song became a hit and is still played today.

    A Hindi film, "Shirdi ke Sai Baba", was made in 1977 on his life and Sudhir Dalvi played the title role.[38] In 1986 the telugu film "Shri Shirdi Saibaba Mahathyam" (about Shirdi Sai Baba) was made by K. Vasu. Vijayachander played Shirdi Sai Baba.[39] In 2001 Balraj Deepak Vij made a Hindi film called "Shirdi Sai Baba". Sudhir Dalvi played the title role[40].

    A more recent Hindi TV series, "Sai Baba" was made by Ramanand Sagar and broadcast by Star Plus in 2006, with 31-year old Mukul Nag in the title role.[41] A TV serial on Sai Baba is telecasted on Star TV network on every Sunday at 8:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. by Prof. C. V. Vijendra in Hyderabad

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