Sai Baba of Shirdi
Sai Baba of Shirdi, also known as Shirdi Sai Baba, was an Indian spiritual master who was regarded by his devotees as a saint, fakir, and satguru, according to their individual proclivities and beliefs. He was revered by both his Hindu and Muslim devotees, and during, as well as after, his life it remained uncertain if he was a Hindu or a Muslim. This, however, was of no consequence to Sai Baba. He stressed the importance of surrender to the true Satguru or Murshid, who, having trod the path to divine consciousness, will lead the disciple through the jungle of spiritual training.
Sai Baba is worshipped by people around the world. He had no love for perishable things and his sole concern was realization of the self. He taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace, and devotion to God and guru. He gave no distinction based on religion or caste. Sai Baba's teaching combined elements of Hinduism and Islam: he gave the Hindu name Dwarakamayi to the mosque in which he lived, practised 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 Hinduism, Islam and Sufism. He also said, "Trust in me and your prayer shall be answered". He always uttered "Allah Malik" ("God is King").
Baba's dress will be always simple Sai Baba's real name, his birthplace and date of birth are unknown. When asked about his past, he often gave elusive responses. The name "Sai" was given to him upon his arrival at Shirdi, a town in the West Indian state of Maharashtra by Mahalsapati, a local temple priest, acknowledging him as a Muslim saint and greeting him with the words 'Ya Sai!', meaning 'Welcome Sai!'. Sai or Sayi is a Persian title given to Sufi saints, meaning 'poor one' and in the Banjara language, "sayi" means good one. In several Indian and Middle Eastern languages the term "Baba" is an honorific signifying grandfather, father, old man or sir. Thus Sai Baba denotes holy father, saintly father or (venerable) poor old man. Alternatively, the Sindhi and Urdu word "sai.n", an honorific title for a virtuoso, a saint, or a feudal lord (i.e. a patron), is derived from the Persian word "sayeh", which literally means shadow but figuratively refers to patronage or protection. The Hindi-Urdu word "saya" comes from the same borrowing. Thus, it could also mean Master Father. However, Sai may also be an acronym of the Sanskrit term "Sakshat Eshwar", a reference to God. Sakshat means incarnate and Eshwar ( Ishvar) means God. 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.