Mantra Mandir, Enschede
SAI BABA OF SHIRDI
Sai Baba of Shirdi (1838 – 15 October 1918; resided in Shirdi), also known as Shirdi Sai Baba, was a spiritual master who was and is regarded by his devotees as a saint, fakir, avatar (an incarnation of God), or sadguru, according to their individual proclivities and beliefs. He was revered by both his Muslim and Hindu devotees, and during, as well as after, his life on earth it remained uncertain if he was a Muslim or Hindu himself. This however was of no consequence to Sai Baba himself. Sai Baba stressed the importance of surrender to the guidance of the true Sadguru or Murshad, who, having gone the path to divine consciousness himself, will lead the disciple through the jungle of spiritual training.
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. 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 he lived in, 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 Islam and Sufism. He also said, “Trust in me and your prayer shall be answered”. He always uttered “Vagwan Malik” (“God is King”).
TEACHINGS AND PRACTICES
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: devotion to the Guru (Sraddha) and waiting cheerfully with patience and love (Saburi). He criticised atheism.
In his teachings, Sai Baba emphasised 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 mawlid 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, andKarma 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 favourite 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:
- No harm shall befall him, who steps on the soil of Shirdi.
- He who comes to my Samadhi, his sorrow and suffering shall cease.
- Though I be no more in flesh and blood, I shall ever protect my devotees.
- Trust in me and your prayer shall be answered.
- Know that my spirit is immortal, know this for yourself.
- Show unto me him who has sought refuge and has been turned away.
- In whatever faith men worship me, even so do I render to them.
- Not in vain is my promise that I shall ever lighten your burden.
- Knock, and the door shall open, ask and it shall be granted.
- To him who surrenders unto me totally I shall be ever indebted.
- Blessed is he who has become one with me.
Worship and devotees
Main article: Shirdi Sai Baba movement
The Shirdi Sai Baba movement began in the 19th century, while he was living in Shirdi. A local Khandoba priest, Mhalsapati Nagre, is believed to have been his first devotee. In the 19th century Sai Baba’s followers were only a small group of Shirdi inhabitants and a few people from other parts of India. The movement started developing in the 20th century, with Sai Baba’s message reaching the whole of India. During his life, Hindus worshiped him with Hindu rituals and Muslims considered him to be a saint. Many Hindu devotees – including Hemadpant, who wrote the famous Shri Sai Satcharitra —consider him as an incarnation of Lord Krishna while other devotees consider him as an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. In the last years of Sai Baba’s life, Christians and Zoroastrians started joining the Shirdi Sai Baba movement.
Because of Sai Baba, Shirdi has become a place of importance and is counted among the major Hindu places of pilgrimage. The first Sai Baba temple is situated at Bhivpuri,Karjat. The Sai Baba Mandir in Shirdi is visited by around 20,000 pilgrims a day and during religious festivals this number can reach up to a 100,000. Shirdi Sai Baba is especially revered and worshiped in the states of Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. In August 2012, an unidentified devotee for the first time donated two costly diamonds valuing Rs 11.8 million at the Shirdi temple, Saibaba trust officials revealed.
The Shirdi Sai movement has spread to the Caribbean and to countries such as the United States, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Singapore. The Shirdi Sai Baba movement is one of the main Hindu religious movements in English-speaking countries.
Sai Baba left behind no spiritual heirs, appointed no disciples, and did not even provide formal initiation (diksha), despite requests. Some disciples of Sai Baba achieved fame as spiritual figures, such as Upasni Maharaj of Sakori. After Sai Baba left his body, his devotees offered the daily Aarti to Upasni Maharaj when he paid a visit to Shirdi, two times within 10 years.
Sai Baba’s millions of disciples and devotees believe that he performed many miracles such as bilocation, levitation, mindreading, materialisation, exorcisms, making the riverYamuna, entering a state of Samādhi at will, lighting lamps with water, removing his limbs or intestines and sticking them back to his body (khandana yoga), curing the incurably sick, appearing beaten when another was beaten, rising on the third day after his death, preventing a mosque from falling down on people, and helping his devotees in a miraculous way. He also gave Darshan (vision) to people in the form of Rama, Krishna, Vithoba and many other gods depending on the faith of devotees.
According to his followers he appeared to them in dreams even after he left his body and gave them advice. His devotees have documented many stories
Temple timing: Morni