Sai Baba of Shirdi (Unknown – October 15, 1918), was an Indian Guru, Yogi and Fakir who is regarded by his Hindu and Muslim followers as a Saint.
The name “Sai Baba” is a combination of Persian and Indian origin, is the Persian term for “Holy One” or “Saint”, usually attributed to Islamic ascetics is a word meaning “Father” used in Indian languages.
The appellative thus refers to Sai Baba as being a “Holy Father” or “Saintly Father”.
It is said that who-so-ever comes for Baba’s Darshan at Shirdi never goes back empty handed because Baba comes to the rescue of each and every devotee in some or the other form.
But, do you know that Sai Baba was not originally from Shirdi. And Baba himself never disclosed to anyone about his past, where he was born nor where he grew up. Therefore, his real name, time/place of birth, his religion/caste, his parentage etc are still unknown, and whatever details known about his life before the age of 16, are Obscure, leading to speculations & theories attempting to explain Sai Baba’s origins.
Although Sai Baba’s origins are unknown, some indications exist that suggest that he was born not far from Shirdi. Baba was notorious for giving vague, misleading and contradictory replies to questions concerning his parentage and origins, brusquely stating the information was unimportant.
He had once reportedly stated to Mhalsapati, that he has been born of Brahmin parents in the village of Pathri. In any case, the only agreement amongst historians and his devotees is that there is no conclusive evidence of his Birth Date & Place.
No Authentic information is available about the birth and the early life of Shri Sai Baba. However it is believed that, Baba was born on 28th September`1838, in the State of the Nizam`Aurangabad, presently in Maharashtra. Soon after he was born, his Brahmin parents, who had developed a feeling of total detachment and renunciation, abandoned the Baba in the forest under a banyan tree and left to do penance.
In the same village there lived Roshan Shah Miyah, a Sufi fakir who was also childless, and on finding the abandoned Baba crying, he adopted him and brought him up in his home. The Baba stayed in the fakir’s home for four years (1838 to 1842). When the Baba was 4 yrs old, Roshan the Sufi fakir passed away and wife,
who had great affection for the child, was grief-stricken. To add to her worries, the Baba was behaving in a troublesome manner, as in Hindu temples, he would sing songs in praise of Allah: “I am God” (Mein Allah hoon), “Allah is the Supreme Lord” (Allah Malik hai)
and in a Mosque he would declare: “Rama is God”, “Shiva is Allah”.
Members belonging to both the communities made complains about the Baba behaviour. Unable to deal with this situation, the fakir’s wife handed over the Baba to a pious scholar named Venkusa, who was living near her house. Thus the Baba at the age of 5yrs, came under the care of Venkusa, who took the boy along with him to other villages.
In the year 1842, during summer, they both came to Shirdi village and they stayed there for 7 days. They took their food in the house of Baijabai and slept in the small temples of the village. This means Baba came to Shirdi first in the year 1842. Same way the Baba had met Nanavali for the first time in 1849. Nanavali used to address Baba as Uncle.
The Baba stayed in the care and guidance of Venkusa for 12 whole years and when the time came for Venkusa to take Samadhi he asked the Baba to leave. The Baba then about 16 years old, walked for three days along the banks of River Godavari, till he reached a place called Kopargaon, in the year 1854, Margashira month on the third day after full moon. After taking rest for a day, he again proceeded and reached the village of Shirdi by evening. Not willing to approach anyone for shelter, he began to live under the shade of a big neem tree. It is said that the Baba stayed in Shirdi for 3 years and then disappeared for a year only to return again to Shirdi permanently around 1858, which posits a possible birth year of 1838. There is no agreement among biographers about the dates of these event though.
After the Baba had left Shirdi, 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.
Some believe that the Baba left Shirdi and proceeded eastwards along the bank of River Godavari. When he reached Trimbakeshwar, finding the high mountains suitable for his meditation, he did penance for a year. Afterwards, he returned by the same route along the banks of River Godavari via Kopargaon and reached the place where he and his Guru Venkusa had parted, on exactly on the same day of the same month.
In the year 1858, again on a full-moon day in the month of Margashira, Venkusa gave darshan to Baba and told him to go back to Shirdi. He further told him that he would also be there in the form of a jyothi (burning light) near the neem tree in an underground structure.
Thus the Baba proceeded till he reached a village called Dhoop Gaon near Aurangabad and took rest near a big boulder, under a Mango tree, where he was first spotted sitting by a Mohammedan gentleman Chand Patil, who was the head of Dhoop Gaon.
Chand Patil requested the Fakir Baba to come and stay with him at his home. The Fakir Baba went to Chand Patil’s house and stayed there for some time. Patils wife’s brother’s son was to be married and the bride was from Shirdi. So Patil made preparations to go to Shirdi for the marriage and the Fakir Baba also accompanied the marriage procession. Thus, after one year again the fakir Baba returned to Shirdi with Chand Patils Nephews Wedding procession. When the marriage – party came to Shirdi, it alighted at the foot of a Banyan tree in Bhagat Mhalsapati’s field near Khandoba Temple. The Carts were loosened in the open courtyard of Khandoba’s temple and the members of the party descended one by one. Bhagat Mhalsapati on seeing the young Fakir getting down, spontaneously accosted Him “YA SAI” (Welcome Sai). Hence this fakir Baba came to be known as “Sai”
After the wedding got over, all returned to Dhoop Gaon but Baba stayed back at Shirdi. For 4-5 years Baba lived under a Neem tree and often wandered alone for long periods in the jungles around Shirdi.
Later, Baba shifted over to an Old mosque which he affectionately called “Dwarkamai”, where he stayed for approximately 60 years and removed the sufferings of people.
Baba always used to laugh and avoid answering to questions asked by the villagers, as to Who he was, from where had he come, who his Parents were and where his family is. As a result, people stopped asking him such questions and till date no one knows anything about Baba’s Background. Baba also never told anything about himself to Baijabai, to whom he was very much attached. When asked about his relatives and other details he gave only one answer: “From very Long”.