Brief Life History of Shirdi Sai Baba

Who is Shirdi Sai Baba?

Shirdi Sai Baba (~1838/42-1918) was a very unique Avatar of God; he was a realized saint who knew his oneness with God. His Avatar perhaps was ordained to foster Hindu Muslim unity, though a vast majority of his devotees were essentially Hindus even during his times, as it is now; he lived in Shirdi (which was not his birthplace) for almost 60 years. Shirdi is in Marathwada region where Islamic population too is considerable.

He emphasised ‘Sabka Malik Ek‘ (God of all people is one). Saibaba was, in all probability, had no formal education, but he had extensive knowledge on Bhagavad Gita. His life and utterances reflected the highest truth of Vedanta. He was also very knowledgeable in Koran.

It is widely believed that his Guru was a Muslim fakir (a Sufi saint), who too was a knower of God. Sai Baba dressed up like a Fakir and lived in a dilapidated mosque. That lead some people to think that he was a Muslim Fakir.

Sai Baba did not put any of his teachings in writing; he never gave any discourses; however, his sayings have been recorded by his followers.

Sai Baba often hinted that he did not come to teach, but to awaken. He brought this awakening through his unconditional love towards his followers. Surrender to him unconditionally and he will never let you down –that was the level of confidence he imbibed into his devotees. Baba’s response to his devotee’s call for help is as eager, as ardent and as urgent as the devotee’s call itself. His sayings too stand testimony to this. It is true even today.

The way devotees throng at Shirdi in thousands on a daily basis and in lakhs on festive occasions despite the passage of more than a century after his departure from the world stand testimony to this assurance and faith.

Crowd of devotees waiting for Darshan at Shirdi Sai Samadhi. (Inset: Image of Sri Sai at his Samadhi mandir)

Birth and Early years

Little information was available from Sai Baba about his origins. Connecting historical happenings during his period, it is believed that he was born somewhere between 1838 to 1842.

There was no solid proof available about Sai Baba’s place of birth, religion or caste during his lifetime. Sai Baba never revealed anything about his origins to his devotees.

Two evidences from people who lived close with Sai Baba at Shirdi lead researchers to believe Sai Baba was a Hindu — one, he had his ears pierced and two, he was not found circumcised.  In later period, researcher (Shri V.B,Kher, a Sai devotee and a biographer of Sai) based on several hints collected from Sai Baba’s conversations with devotees in his authentic biographies, by visiting places mentioned there, meeting people etc,  was able to reasonably deduce where his birth place is.

It is believed to be villege Pathri, situated in Parbhani district of Maharashtra, some 150 km south east of Daulatabad. Connecting events of the distant past with family histories learned from aged residents of the village, the researchers also felt that a boy born in a Brahmin family of Bhausaris (Shukla Yajurvedi Brahmins of Koushika Gotra) who had reportedly left his home at an age of about five with a Muslim Fakir was Sai Baba in all probability. They also located the ruined house  of the Bhausaris at Pathri. The name of the Sufi Fakir who became the custodian and spiritual master of the young Brahmin boy was (deduced to be)  Roshan Sha Mia.

The family deity of Bhausari family was Hanuman. After picking up bits and pieces from Sai Baba’s utterances, Baba’s deep knowledge of Hinduism, his practice of celebrating Ram Navami regularly at Shirdi during his final years and the liking he had on Hanuman and a couple of other coincidences, Shri V.B. Kher satisfied himself on his findings. Shri Kher bought the piece of land in 1978 from a descendent of Bhusari Brahmin family at Pathri. Construction of a Sai temple there began in 1994 and On 19th October 1999, the Sai Janmasthan Temple was inaugurated.

Sai Janmasthan temple at Pathri, Maharashtra.

So, it is now more or less an agreed belief that Sai Baba was a Brahmin by birth. Even if he were to be a Muslim, Islam does not have any scope or provision to worship any person as God.

Saibaba reportedly traveled across several places of Marathwada along with his Fakir Guru. He (according to his own statements) was under the care of his guru for 12 long years and served him with love and humility and received love and blessings from his guru in abundance.  It is also believed that Sai Baba was indeed ‘born perfect’ and his innate divinity got just rekindled by association with such a formal Guru. Several statements of Saibaba reveals that he remained in a state of Advaita (a state of non-duality — being one with God) and uttered them with utmost authority and assurance.

It is learnt that Baba, after remaining a wandering monk upto his age of 25 to 30 and before coming and settling Shirdi, was staying in Aurangabad and he was the spiritual master of a fakir by name Bade Baba or Fakir Baba for 12 years. Incidentally,  many years later,  Bade Baba returned to stay with his erstwhile master at Shirdi in the year 1902.

Arrival at Shirdi

Sai Baba arrived for the first time at Shirdi some time the year 1868-1872, when he was around 25 to 30 years old. He was a serene looking young man, tempered by a disciplined life of tapas and austerity. He came to Shirdi along with a marriage party of Chand Patil of Dupkhed; Chand Patil (a muslim)  had brought Sai Baba along with him, to attend the marriage of his sister with one one Hamid of Shirdi.

How did Chand Patil get acquainted with Sai Baba?

The story goes that Chand Patil met Sai Baba on his way from his village towards to Aurangabad while going by walk after he unfortunately lost his mare. He met this young man (Baba) looking like a fakir under a tree, who told him that his lost mare was just in the nearby vicinity, close to a stream there. Patil went in search and was surprised to find his mare there. As he returned to the young Fakir to thank him, he found him preparing his hookah by getting a piece of burning charcoal and also some water by simply digging into earth! The fakir shared the smoke with the traveller too. Impressed by these miracles, Chand Patil took the Fakir reverentially with him to his home to be his guest. Subsequently, he also took him to the marriage ceremony at Shirdi to bless the couples.

No one knew the name of this Fakir. The story goes that when he arrived at Shirdi and got down from the cart, the local Khandoba temple owner and priest Bhagat Mhalsapati saw him first and welcomed him “Ya Sai!” (Welcome Sai) and this name Sai stuck. (The word Sai or Sain/ Sayi denotes Lord,God, saint, husband (beloved) or Fakir. Baba means father). Incidentally, after a couple of  years of arrival of  Sai Baba, Mhalsapati accepted Sai Baba as his Sadguru and became a lifelong devotee to serve Him.

After the marriage, the party with Chand Patil left Shirdi, but Sai Baba stayed back. Initially, Saibaba stayed at the outskirts of Shirdi in Babul forest for nearly 2.5 years, then under a neem tree for four to five years. During this period, he was deeply immersed in Self, ignoring rain and shine and living day and night in the open.

Living under Neem tree and Guru Sthan

According to another version of the story , it is said that he came to Shirdi much earlier, when he was about 16 or 17 years old and  lived with his Guru near the neem tree without much of public gaze across 12 years.

Sai Baba had mentioned about the existence of the tomb of his guru underground adjacent to the neem tree. When dug, four earthen lamps and a japa mala were found there. Baba prevented further digging as the tomb of the guru existed further below. Sai Baba mentioned the existence of a tunnel there where he did his tapas without getting disturbed from the outer world. His utterances on this matter were not so clear whether he was mentioning about his Guru and his life in the present Avatar or in his previous birth. This tunnel reportedly extended upto the Masjid to which Saibaba shifted to live later.

Later he shifted to the dilapidated Masjid where he lived permanently thereafter.

During these early years, Sai Baba had no proper food. He would go for alms and be content to eat whatever people gave him. However, a kind-hearted lady by name Bayajabai somehow seemed to understand the high spiritual status of Sai Baba and she took a vow to feed Baba before she ate her food. She would take the meals for Baba. go in search of him near the neem tree oand surrounding places in the jungle, locate him and feed him.

People by and large thought he was a mad Fakir, till a well known Vaishnava Saint by name Gangagir Bua, who often visited Shirdi, met Baba; he could grasp Baba’s true stature of divinity and he spread word.  Two other sadhus who lived in Shirdi at that time by name Devidas and Janakidas too started liking the company of the saintly Sai Baba. Soon, one by one people started going to him and were amply rewarded by his blessings.

Living at Dwaraka Mai (Masjid)

An old photo of entrance of Masjid (Dwarakamai). Sai Baba seen at the right extreme.

Mhalsapati, Kashiram Shimpi and Appa Jagle of Shirdi were the earliest disciples of Sai Baba, who surrendered to him and served him with devotion.  It is by their efforts that Sai Baba shifted from the neem tree to the dilapidated Masjid in Shirdi; This masjid became his permanent abode till the end of his life, spanning about 60 years. He named the place Dwaraka MaiMhalsapati became the closest of all and he served his Master till Baba left his mortal body.

An artist view of Sai Baba sitting inside the Masjid (Dwarakamai).

 In fact, it was Sai Baba who attracted devotees and ardent seekers living in distant places by creating circumstances in their lives or by sending word to them to come and meet Him. He said that his relation as  Guru with some of his disciples started a couple of births ago and he was duty-bound to take care of them and lead them to enlightenment across births.

After his permanent occupation at Dwaraka mai, more spiritually inclined seekers like Appa Kulkarni, Nana Saheb Dengle, Chidambar Keshav, Madhav Rao Deshpande, Nanasaheb Nimonkar, Nanasaheb Chandorkar, Das Ganu and others frequently visited Sai Baba and accepted Him as their Sadguru and surrendered to him.

By the grace and blessings of Sai Baba, Das Ganu  (real name Shri Ganapat Dattatreya Saharabuddhe) a former policeman left his job, surrendered to Sai and later blossomed into a great poet, singing the glory of his guru through his kirtans. He was hailed as a santkavi.

It was through Nanasaheb Chandorkar (a well educated person in Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures) that the outer world came to know of Sai Baba’s extensive knowledge on Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures of Hinduism.

Abdul, the Muslim disciple of Sai Baba too came to Sai Baba through his calling. Abdul was earlier a servitor of Amiruddin fakir of Nanded. It was through Abdul that the world came to know of the extensive knowledge Sai Baba had on Islam, the Koran, Sira— the life of Mohammad, Sunna (code of conduct) , hadith (traditions), sharia (laws) and so on.

Common people started coming to Sai Baba in large numbers for curing them of their ailments and seeking solutions to their worldly worries. During his early days, Sai Baba prepared some indigenous medicines and gave to them. People got cured miraculously and they spread words; more and more people came to him for the purpose.

The Dhuni and Udi as prasad

At Dwaraka mai, Sai Baba started a Dhuni — a fire place where he arranged to keep a sacred fire burning perpetually. Baba stopped preparing and giving medicines;  instead, he started giving the ash (Udi) from the Dhuni as his prasad.  Sai Baba’s udi prasad soon became a ‘cure all’ medicine for many people, including people having mental problems. Through the udi, what they really received was the unconditional love and divine blessings from Sai Baba.

As Baba’s popularity grew, people started bringing food for him to the Masjid and gradually, the need for him to go around the village for seeking alms came down.

Sai Baba as a Saint and Sadguru

Baba radiated divine love; his compassion flowed unconditionally towards all those who came to him with faith and trust hoping their problems to get solved. Spiritually inclined seekers who came to him, grasped his divine nature and surrendered to his feet considering him to be their Sadguru.

Baba remained a unique blend of all religious faiths and he did not discriminate people based on religion, sect, caste, race, sex or language. He strengthened the faiths of devotees to their respective religions and guided them individually on spiritual practices suited to each one’s capacity, calibre and taste.

He taught his devotees self-restraint, detachment, faith in God and faith in guru.Without being preachy, he taught philosophy, devotion, spiritual discipline, morality, right conduct for daily life and fellow-feeling towards all living beings.

He encouraged sadaks whose worldly duties were over, to live with him and concentrate on sadhana for spiritual enlightenment.  He discouraged youngsters from relinquishing worldly life out of over-enthusiasm without the necessary mental strength for renunciation.

Many devotees of Lord Dattatreya who came to him considered him to be an avatar of Dattatreya. Akkalkot Swami (Shri Swami Samarth)  was a highly revered and a contemporary saint of Sai Baba who was considered  an Avatar of Dattatreya. Many of his devotees held Sai Baba in very high regard. It is said that Akkalkot Swami directed some of his disciples to go to Sai Baba for guidance after his departure.

Likewise devotees of other God forms (Lord Ganesha, Hanuman and so on) too considered Saibaba as the divine Avatar of their personal Gods.  Some such devotees, who had taken vows to make certain money offerings to their deities in times hardships faced in their lives,  conveniently forgot to make the offerings to their deities once they came out of the difficulties. When they came to Saibaba, there were several instances where Baba asked for and collected such money from them!

Sai Baba strongly condemned religious conversions. Once a person who had  converted to Islam from being a Hindu came to Sai Baba for his darshan, Sai Baba slapped him on his face saying, “Are you not ashamed of changing your father?”

Baba’s daily Life – Simplicity personified

Saibaba always donned a Kafni (long full sleeved kurta), wore a langot (waist band) and covered His head with a piece of cloth. He sat on a piece of sackcloth, and his bed too was a sackcloth. He wore his dress till they were torn and turn to become rags. He always said “Poverty is better than Kingship, far better than Lordship. The Lord is always brother of the poor.”

During his early years, Saibaba went out for begging his food; whatever solid and liquid food items he was given, he collected them separately, brought them to the Masjid, kept them in open pots and ate from them. Those who came to him and those who did service to him (like cleaning the masjid premises) could also partake the food from the pots. Dogs too came to him and had their share from the collection.

In later periods, as the number of close devotees increased, devotees brought food for him from their homes to the masjid and the need for going out for daily alms stopped. Using the provisions that people brought, Saibaba sometimes cooked the food and offered it as prasad to the devotees. The prasad he made at times contained meat too that non-vegetarians devotees partook from him.

Baba’s close devotees always worshiped him and revered him as God. As part of the daily routine in Dwarakamai, an aarati (formal worship with lighted lamp) in the noon and one aarati at night was performed to Sai Baba by close devotees (like Mhalsapati) amidst chanting of hymns. Of course, this practice was not to the liking of some people of the Muslim community in and around Shirdi.

Baba had no personal wants or needs. For so many years, Baba never had any need for money. During his later years in life, Sai Baba accepted dakshina (offering of money) from his devotees. Whatever Sababa received — be food, provisions or cash, he distributed amidst the visiting needy devotees and also to his close associates who served him and had families to take care of. Many devotees observed that the money Sai Baba distributed daily to others appeared to be more than what he used to receive as dakshina!

When Sai Baba attained Samadhi, a Policeman present on duty at Dwarakamai at that time officially took charge of Sai Baba’s possessions and according to the report, Sai Baba had just 16 rupees with him in his possession!

Baba and miracles

Baba in numerous miraculous ways played the role of God, a mentor, a Guru, a guide and a savior in the lives of devotees who surrendered to him with unflinching faith. Practically all devotees of Baba had some miraculous experience or other in their lives  to come out of worldly worries and calamities. Such experiences redoubled their faith on His divinity and helped them to tread the path of dharma and spirituality.

Baba’s devotees experienced that He knew every detail of their lives without the need of telling him; Baba read their good and bad thoughts and constantly warned them from going astray.  When caught up in deep troubles, Baba heard their prayers and came to their rescue in some way or other, in some human form or other wherever they were. Sai Baba willingly took up the bad prarabdhas (effects of bad karmas of the past) of some of his devotees on himself in order to reduce their suffering and burden.

There were many instances when Sai Baba blessed progeny to childless couples, saved devotees from accidents and life threatening diseases, protected them from financial disasters, helped them in getting the right match in marriages and so on.  Reviving the dead to life was also performed by Sai on one or two rare occasions.

Very occasionally, Baba also openly displayed a few miracles. Here are a few of them:

  • Baba in deep Samadhi bordering on death for 3 days. This happened in the year 1885. Sai Baba had a severe bout of asthma; he called Mhalsapati and said, “I am going into samadhi; please take care of my body for 3 days”. Mhalsapati stayed day and night with the motionless body of Sai that looked almost dead. Some people in Shirdi believed that Sai Baba was dead and wanted to cremate his body. But Mhalsapati stood very firm. Baba regained outer consciousness after three days.
  • Stirring boiling food with bare hands. Devotees had witnessed  Sai Baba sometimes cooking Prasad for feeding the gathering in a large pot. He would simply use his hands instead of a ladle to stir the boiling contents in the pot.
  • Arresting spread of Cholera. During 1910, Shirdi was affected by Cholera. A few people died. One day Sai Baba was seen single handedly grinding a sack of wheat in a hand grinding stone. Local ladies came to assist him and when the work was over, they attempted to take the flour with them to their houses. Sai Baba scolded them severely and asked them to collect the flour and spread it along the borders of the village. Wondering why, they obeyed his words. Sai Baba clarified later that by this weird gesture, he had prevented spreading of Cholera in Shirdi.  After this incidence,  no death occurred on account of Cholera in Shirdi.
  • Preventing Plague deaths. In 1911, plague epidemic broke out and it started affecting Shirdi too. At that time, seven or eight buboes appeared in Baba’s body and he got fever. His devotees got scared. Baba used his own medicine (ghee) for applying over buboes which he recommended to others too. Baba assured them that neither He nor anyone in Shirdi would die on account of plague and he had taken up the calamity on himself to ward off the epidemic. It was proved true.
  • Bringing holy waters. Once, Das Ganu thought that he should go to Prayag for a bath, and came to Baba to get His permission for doing so. Baba replied to him – “It is not necessary to go so long. Our Prayag is here, believe me.” When Das Ganu placed his head on Baba’s Feet, out came or flowed streams of water — of Ganga and Yamuna, from both the toes of Baba.

Baba’s two Biographers who were direct devotees

Shri Govind R Dabholkar was a Brahmin by birth and he was a 1st class Resident Magistrate in Borsad before he retired. Nana Saheb Chandorkar was his friend and due to the later’s insistence, he came and met Sai Baba initially with some reluctance in the year 1910. He was bowled by Sai Baba’s radiating divinity and his thirst to have a guru came to an end. He started visiting Baba regularly. in 1916, a year before Sai Baba’s departure, Shama, a friend of Dabholkar and an ardent devotee of Baba convinced Baba for the need of having an authentic biography of Him written and Baba gave his blessings to Dabholkar for writing it.

With the help of all close Sai devotees, Dabholkar collected information about Sai Baba’s sayings, leelas and miracles from the real life experiences of many devotees for 13 years from 1917 to 1929. He wrote Shri Sai Satcharitra in Marathi in the form of verses and they first got serialized in Sri Sai Leela magazine from 1923 (6 years after Sai Baba’s Maha Samadhi). Shri Sai Satcharitra complete in book form came out 1929. Sri Dabholkar passed away in the same year.

After his retirement, Dabholkar served Sai Baba very sincerely till Baba’s Mahasamadhi and afterwards managed very skillfully and efficiently Sai Baba’s Shirdi Sansthan till his death in 1929.

Shri Sai Satcharitra was the first authentic source book on the Avatar and leela of Shirdi Sai, and it was written not as a biography in chronological order, but in the form of a Pothi, a religious book. It contained 53 chapters and 9308 verses. This book, in later years, got translated into English and  other Indian languages.

Sri Vaman Prangovind Patel (Later Swami Sai Sharan Anand) was one of the most faithful and true disciples of Sai Baba. He was  a Gujarati Brahmin by birth, studied B.A., L.L.B and worked as a solicitor at Mumbai. When Vaman was five, Sai Baba (identified by his mother as an unknown person who appeared before her as a Fakir) saved his live from acute diarrhoea by giving sacred udi. Vaman as a youth longed for getting a Guru who can assure him of getting direct perception of God; he first met Sai Baba at Shirdi when he was 22 years old, in the year 1911.

He visited Sai Baba again in 1913 and was was retained by Baba to be with him for 11 months. Baba engaged Vaman in reading scriptures like Jnaneshwari under his guidance, made him do Gayathri Purascharan and seek alms from the local households.

Again in 1916, Vaman stayed with Baba for 3 weeks when he was blessed with valuable spiritual experiences. In 1946 (some 28 years after Sai Baba’s maha samadhi) Vaman wrote two books in Gujarati on the life of Baba — Sai Leelakhyan and Shri Sai Baba. After his wife and daughter passed away, Vaman  took up Sanyas (with the monaistic name Swami Sai Sharan Anand) at the age of 64. He lived to ripe old age (93 years) and passed away in 1982.  3 more books of him  Sainathne Sharane, Brahma Parimal and Siddhamrit got published posthumously.

His books exemplify his great devotion to Sai Baba and they remain one of the best sources of information on Shirdi Sai.

Sathe Wada – The first dormitory for visiting devotees

Over years, as Sai Baba’s residence in the Dwaraka Mai Masjid became permanent and devotees from outstation started coming in large numbers, Baba’s devotee Hari Vinayak Sathe bought the land covering the sacred neem tree, Gurusthan and adjacent areas. In 1908, he constructed a wada (traditional mansion) there which was called Sathe Wada. The wada served as the sole resting place for visiting devotees, till the time Dixit Wada too came up.

Dixit Wada – the second dormitory for visiting devotees

Kaka Saheb Dixit, a rich solicitor from Mumbai first met Sai Baba in the year 1909. He became an ardent devotee of Sai Baba and decided to settle in Shirdi to live the rest of his life in the holy company of Baba. He bought land adjacent to Gurusthan and constructed Dixit Wada,   to be his residence as well as a resting place for people visiting Sai Baba from distant places. The Wada was constructed and inaugurated on the day of Ram Navami in the year 1911.

Sai Baba and Muslims

Devoted Muslims

As we saw already, Sai Baba had two earnest devotees who stayed with him were Muslims – Abdul and Bade Baba (Fakir Baba).

Sai Baba had many other Muslim devotees who considered him as a Pir (A Sufi Saint) or Awliya (An Islamic guardian/ protector).

From 1911, when Ram Navami celebrations (with a procession ending at  Dwaraka mai masjid) became an annual festival celebrated with fanfare at Shirdi as per suggestion of Sai Baba, some Muslim devotees headed by one Amir Shakkar too pitched in with a Sandal Procession (Urus festival) on the same day; Hindus and Muslims participated in both processions, thereby building a good interfaith comradery.

Discordant Muslims

In 1894, some intolerant Muslims with the support of Kazi of Sangamner assembled with lathis in order to attack the devotees who worshiped Sai Baba as God inside the masjid. Mhalsapati, who used to do the  daily aarati was in a fix and he did not know what to do. However, Sai Baba summoned him inside and asked him to proceed with his daily worship. The militant assembly of armed Muslims stood there transfixed, unable to move their limbs! They got scared of Sai Baba’s divine power and retreated never to attempt any such move there after.

Some 20 years after this incidence, a fundamentalist Pathan was dead against Hindus worshiping Sai Baba and he sought Sai’s permission to massacre all the Hindus sleeping at the Chavdi. Sai Baba told him to cut His throat first before attempting to do any harm to Hindus. A few days later, with hatred brimming on Baba, the Pathan came to attack Sai Baba with a large stick. Sai Baba simply caught him by his wrist and the pathan fell to ground losing all his power.

Muslims also created trouble when Sai Baba attained Maha Samadhi. (This is covered later in the article).

Construction of Buti Wada – and the end of Sai Baba’s avatar

Gopalrao (Bapusaheb) Buti, The man who built Buti Wada where Sai Baba’s samadhi exists.

Gopalrao Buti was an extremely rich devotee of Sai Baba who hailed from Nagpur met Baba in 1907.  From 1910, he shifted to Shirdi permanently to live with Sai Baba and was contemplating to build a house for him there. One night, Baba appeared in Buti’s dream and asked him to construct a Wada (Mansion) with a temple in it.  Very surprisingly, in the same night, Baba appeared in Madhavrao Deshpande’s dream and said “Let there be a wada with temple so that I can satisfy the desires of all”. Both were sleeping in Dixit Wada when this happened.

When they shared the experience with each other, Buti decided to build a grand mansion with black stones. With Sai Baba’s blessing and also approval of the building plan, the construction started in 1915. Buti wanted to install, in the sanctum sanctorum, Lord Muralidhar (Krishna playing flute) there.

Madhavrao supervised the construction of the ground floor. Sai Baba visited the site while construction was in progress and offered some suggestions too. Sai Baba once said “When the temple is built, we shall inhabit it and ever live in joy there!”

While the construction was nearing the end, Sai Baba fell sick and his condition started deteriorating. Gopalrao Buti became restless. He wondered whether Baba would live to see the temple, let alone come and stay there as promised by him. “If Baba is not going to live there, what is the point in constructing this wada and temple?” he thought.

Baba’s close devotees nursed him with all love and care, but there was so sign of recovery. Baba’s last words were: “Take me to the wada. I would feel better there”.   But before his devotees could shift him, He breathed his last at 2:35PM on 15th October 1918 at the Masjid. News spread quickly and all close devotees of Sai Baba thronged at the Masjid.

Unfortunately, there were discordant opinions in conducting the last rites for Baba’ body  between Sai’s Hindu devotees (who were in majority) and the Muslims.  The Muslim devotees headed by Bade Baba did not want Hindus to touch Sai Baba’s body and they wanted to take the body to kabari-sthan as per Islamic rites. Against Muslims’ stiff resistance, Sai’s devotee Laxman Bhat performed puja to Sai’s body as per Hindu traditions and applied tilak at Sai’s forehead. Hindus planned to shift Sai’s body to Buti Wada and place it in a samadhi and started necessary digging work work there.

Mamledar (Revenue administrative officer) of Kopargaon mediated between Hindus and Muslims and a compromise was arrived. Muslims finally yielded and allowed the Hindu devotees to proceed with their Samadhi plan at Buti Wada on the condition that Muslims would be given continued access to Masjid and also to Sai Baba’s samadhi, to which Hindus gladly agreed.

On 16th October evening, Sai Baba’s body was taken ceremoniously in procession to Buti Wada and placed in the sanctum sanctorum where originally an idol of Lord Muralidhar had been planned to be installed. Saibaba’s body was laid and a samadhi was built there.

Sai Baba had said earlier:

  • “I never forsake anyone who relies on me.    If you cast your burden on me, I will bear it.   My eye is ever on those who love me.”
  • “Remember my words even when I am no more. My bones will assure you from my samadhi. It will communicate with you, it will respond to him who surrenders to it.”
  • Here, in Shirdi, my men will come like ants“.

It is indeed true — even after passage of a century!

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