Principles of Sai Baba
Sai Baba of Shirdi (Unknown – October 15, 1918), also known as Shirdi ke Sai Baba was an Indian guru, yogi, and fakir who is regarded by his Hindu and Muslim devotees as a saint. Many Hindu devotees — including Hemadpant, who wrote the famous Shri Sai Satcharitra — consider him an incarnation of Lord Krishna while other devotees consider him as an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. Many devotees believe that he was a Satguru, an enlightened Sufi Pir, or a Qutub. No verifiable information is available regarding Sai Baba's birth and place of birth.
Sai Baba's real name is unknown. 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'.The honorific "Baba" means "father; grandfather; old man; sir" in Indo-Aryan languages. Thus Sai Baba denotes "holy father", "saintly father" or "poor old man". However, Sai may also refer to the Sanskrit term "Sakshat Eshwar" or the divine.
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. Sai Baba's teaching combined elements of Hinduism and Islam: He gave the Hindu name Dwarakamayi to the mosque he lived in,practiced Hindu and 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 always uttered "Allah Malik" ("God is King").
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. Sai Baba referred to several saints as 'my brothers', especially the disciples of Swami Samartha of Akkalkot.
Teachings and practices
Shirdi Sai Baba, leaning against the wall of his masjid, with devotees Sai Baba opposed all persecution based on religion or caste. He was an opponent of religious orthodoxy — Christian, Hindu and Muslim. Although Sai Baba himself led 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 to study texts such as the Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, and Yoga Vasistha. He was impressed by the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita and encouraged people to follow it in their own lives. He advised his devotees and followers to lead a moral life, help others, love every living being without any discrimination, and develop two important features of character: unflinching perseverance (Shraddha) and waiting cheerfully with patience and love (Saburi). He criticized atheism.
In his teachings, Sai Baba emphasized the importance of performing one's duties without attachment to earthly matters and of being content regardless of the situation. In his personal practice, Sai Baba observed worship procedures belonging to Hinduism and Islam; he shunned any kind of regular rituals but allowed the practice of namaz, chanting of Al-Fatiha, and Qur'an readings at Muslim festival times. Occasionally reciting the Al-Fatiha himself, Baba enjoyed listening to moulu and qawwali accompanied with the tabla and sarangi twice daily.
Sai Baba interpreted the religious texts of both Islam and Hinduism. He explained the meaning of the Hindu scriptures in the spirit of Advaita Vedanta. His philosophy also had numerous elements of bhakti. The three main Hindu spiritual paths — Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga influenced his teachings.
Sai Baba encouraged charity, and stressed the importance of sharing. 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 certainly be 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." Other favorite sayings of his were "Why do you fear when I am here" and "He has no beginning... He has no end."
Sai Baba made eleven assurances to his devotees:
1.No harm shall befall him, who steps on the soil of Shirdi.
2.He who comes 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 has sought refuge and has 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 it 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.