Life Story of Shirdi Sai Baba
The Shirdi Sai Avatar story as told by Himself in the second
Avatar as Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Rare original photograph of Sri
Shirdi Sai Baba
previous Incarnation of Sri Sathya Sai Baba
On September 29, 1990
In the former Nizam's [Maharaj] dominion, there was a remote
village called Pathri. In that village there were a couple named
Gangabhavadya and Devagiriamma. They were grieving over the lack
of children. In answer to their prayers, a son was born on
September 28, 1835. Today is the anniversary of that day. This
child was Sai Baba. As Gangabhavadya had developed a feeling of
total detachment and renunciation, he decided to retire to a
forest regardless of the child. Devagiriamma, who looked upon her
husband as God, decided to follow the husband leaving the child.
There was in the same village a Sufi fakir. As he was also
childless, he took charge of this child and brought him up in his
home. The boy stayed in the fakir's home for four years (1835 to
1839). The fakir passed away in the tide of time. The fakir's
wife, who had lavished great affection on the child, was
grief-stricken. To add to her worries, the boy was behaving in a
troublesome manner. In those days, Hindu-Muslim differences in
that area was growing alarmingly. There was considerable
bitterness between members of the two communities.
What the boy use to do was to visit a Hindu temple and sing songs
in praise of Allah; 'I am God' (Mein Allah ho), 'Allah is the
Supreme Lord' (Allah Malik hai). He used to declaim in this manner
in the temple. The Hindus used to chastise the boy in various ways
for his misbehavior. Nor was that all. He would enter a mosque and
declare, 'Rama is God', 'Shiva is Allah'. His behaviour in singing
about Allah in a Hindu temple and about Rama and Shiva in a mosque
was a puzzle to the public. Members belonging to both the
communities went to the fakir's wife and complained about the
boy's behaviour. Unable to deal with this situation the fakir's
wife handed over the boy to a high-souled, pious scholar named
Venkusa, who was living near her house. The boy stayed in
Venkusa's ashram for 12 years from 1839 to 1851. Venkusa was
extremely fond of the boy. In every matter, he used to give
priority to the young Baba's views. Seeing this, in course of
time, members of the ashram developed envy towards the boy.
One night in 1851, the boy left the ashram. He reached Shirdi, a
very small village at the time. He stayed there for barely two
months and then went about wandering from place to place. After
strolling for many years, he reached a place called Dhoopkheda.
When he was residing there, the marriage of Chandu Patel's
brother's son was celebrated there. Baba joined the marriage party
and reached Shirdi again. That was in the year 1858. From that
day, till 1918, he did not move out of Shirdi. He remained there
for 60 years.
At that time there was in the Maharashtra area, a Deputy Collector
and Settlement Officer by name H.V. Sathe (Hari Vinaayaka Sathe).
He was grief-stricken over the passing of his wife. Professor G.G.
Narke, a friend of Sathe, came to his house and advised Sathe that
there was no purpose in grieving over his loss and that it was
advisable for him to have a change of place to get over his
sorrow. He suggested that it was good to have the dracaena of some
saint and persuaded him to come to Shirdi.
Sathe was quite an extraordinary person. On reaching Shirdi, he
and Narke had Darshan of Baba. On several occasions,
looking at Sathe, Baba used to laugh, sing, and make strange
gestures. Doubts arouse in Sathe’s mind whether Baba was a real
sage or an eccentric person. No one mentioned anything about Sathe
to Baba. Sathe and Narke merely went to see Baba and sat in his
presence. Baba told Sathe, "Don't worry about anything. Bodies are
like water bubbles. Don’t develop any attachment to the body.
Develop your attachment to the dehi (indwelling spirit).
Worries are passing clouds. Have courage. Protect your child."
The last remark had a reference to the fact that Sathe's wife had
died after giving birth to a child. Even Narke had not heard about
the survival of this child. On hearing Baba's words Sathe realised
that Baba was not a crazy person but one who was a Trikala
Jnani (one who knew the past, the present, and the future).
Sathe, who had intended to stay for a short while just to have
dracaena of Baba, prolonged his stay by two more days.
Making frequent visits to Shirdi, Sathe was the first to realise
that there were no proper amenities at Shirdi for those coming to
Baba. The place where he provided residential accommodation for
visitor's [in Shirdi] is Sathe Wada. Sathe was the first to set up
apartments at Shirdi.
While serving in this manner, Sathe went again to Shirdi after he
began to feel whether there was any purpose in his continuing to
earn income and accumulate wealth. On seeing Sathe, Baba smilingly
said, "You appear to be losing interest in your job. You are
wondering how to dispose of the wealth you have acquired. Why give
it to anyone? Use it for a good cause. Build a Koti in Shirdi."
Sathe told Baba, "Swami! I am not a millionaire. How can I build a
mansion here?" Baba replied, "Go on doing as much as you can. Why
fear when I am here?" Baba encouraged Sathe in this manner.
In due course Sathe's maternal uncle Kelkar settled down in
Shirdi. Sathe used to send funds from Poona and his uncle used to
carry on the construction in Shirdi.
In this way, Baba used Sathe as his instrument. He regarded Sathe
as his right hand in regard to all matters. Because Baba was
keeping Sathe close to him and relying on him for everything, the
residents of Shirdi grew jealous towards him.
"Many are content to do nothing themselves, but they cannot bear
seeing others do things and will carry tales against them."
Several persons used to come to Baba and tell stories against
Sathe. What is the appropriate name for such talebearers? They
should be called 'enemies of beggars,' namely, barking dogs!
At Shirdi, Baba used to do two notable things. One was to receive
money from whoever came to him. He used to ask for Dakshina
(cash offering). He did not ask for large sums. It was two rupees
or five rupees. He would receive the money and give it away
immediately in their presence. He kept nothing with himself.
One day a man by name Pradhan came to Baba. He had intended to
offer twenty rupees to Baba. In those days, there were no currency
notes. Everything was in silver coins; not like the alloy coins of
today. In those days, every rupee contained one full tola
of silver. Pradhan thought instead of offering so many silver
coins, it would be better to offer one gold sovereign to Baba.
Baba turned the sovereign this way and that and remarked, "How is
it that I have not seen such a coin before?" A person near Baba
said, "It is a gold coin." Baba then observed, "I don't want this.
Give me the money in rupees." He asked how much the sovereign was
worth. At that time it was worth fifteen rupees. Getting back the
sovereign, Pradhan gave fifteen rupees to Baba. Immediately Baba
remarked, "Pradhan! You have to give me five more rupees!" Pradhan
was a judge at the time. Pradhan as well as persons around him
wondered why Baba was demanding five more rupees when a sovereign
was worth only fifteen rupees.
Noticing Pradhan's hesitation, Baba told him, "First hand over the
five rupees and then think about it." Pradhan gave the five
rupees. Then Baba observed, "When you set out from your home, how
much did you want to offer to Baba? You intended to give twenty
rupees. You gave only fifteen. So I was entitled to ask for five
more." When Pradhan heard these words he was stupefied. He
admitted that Sai Baba was a good judge.
In this manner, Baba was in the habit of collecting money from
those who came to him and to give it away to the needy.
One day, he summoned Kelkar and told him, "Today is Guru Poornima.
Perform Guru Puja to me." No one threw the meaning of Guru Puja.
Kelkar asked Baba what Guru Puja meant. Baba asked, "Who do you
think is a guru? It is not those appointed of Maths [spiritual
Organisations] who are gurus. Nor are Sanyasis
(renunciates) gurus; God alone is the Guru (preceptor). He is
Brahma, He is Vishnu, He is Maheshwara, He is the Supreme
Absolute. Salutations to the Supreme Guru. The true guru is one
who combines the three forms of the Trinity, the gods who preside
over creation, protection, and dissolution. Thus God alone is the
real guru," declared Baba.
On hearing this Kelkar asked, "Should I worship Brahma, Vishnu or
Rudra?" Baba declared in a voice of assumed anger, "Eh, Saitan!
Here I am! Offer worship to Me!" Thereby Baba made known that He
was Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. All those present felt that Baba was
the Divine incarnate.
As the days passed, the residents of Shirdi developed hatred
towards Sathe because he was collecting all the offerings to Baba
in a hundi to use the money for building a Mandir. Just at
the time, a silver chariot with silver horses, which was in
Sathe's keeping, was stolen by some thieves. Sathe was the
principal trustee. The people of Shirdi suspected Sathe of
complicity in the theft. One day one of the residents planned to
strike Sathe with an axe on the way. Getting wind of this, his
maternal uncle called Sathe and urged him to leave immediately as
it was too dangerous for him to stay there. He told Sathe that he
could worship Baba wherever he might be. Reluctantly Sathe left
Baba used to ask for Sathe ceaselessly. But Sathe was not there.
Baba appeared to be in great distress. Sathe was near and dear to
Baba. The devotees felt that Baba was sorely affected by the
absence of Sathe.
About this time, the parents of Shyam came to Shirdi with the
two-year old child. Shyam's father had just retired from service
and decided to settle down in Shirdi. The boy's name was Mohan
Shyam. The parents called him Mohan, while Baba called him Shyam.
The boy was put to school at Shirdi and in due course he completed
his studies and received training as a teacher. He was appointed
as a teacher at Shirdi. The school adjoined Baba's room. During
the day, Shyam would be teaching at school. There was a ventilator
in the wall separating Baba's room and the classroom. Shyam used
to watch Baba at nights through the ventilator. He used to notice
Baba talking to himself, getting angry at times, or laughing to
himself, or doing other curious things. Baba used to sleep on an
eighteen-inch wide plank suspended from the ceiling. Shyam was
apprehensive that Baba might fall from his lofty but narrow perch
Once he mustered courage to ask Baba while massaging his feet,
"Swami! You don't seem to sleep at all at nights. You are laughing
to yourself, or talking. What is the secret of all this?"
"You simpleton! Do you imagine you are the only person about whom
I am concerned in this world? There are numerous persons who are
praying to me. I am speaking to all of them," replied Baba. "When
I turn my finger, I am turning their minds. When I laugh, I am
amused at their follies. These are the things I am doing for my
devotees, dear child."
Shyam prayed to Baba, "Swami! My classes don't take up much of my
time. Let me stay with you during the rest of the time and serve
At that time there was a woman called Laxmibai who used to cook
the food for Baba. Shyam used to go to her and assist her in the
preparation of jowar rotis. Baba had great liking for
brinjal. Shyam went to Laxmibai to learn how to prepare
brinjal dishes. Shyam went on serving Baba in this way and he
alone knew the joy he derived from such service.
Baba often used to fly into a temper. This was only an outward
appearance. Sometimes he used to throw a stick at someone ten feet
away. Shyam once asked him, "Swami! You are hurling the stick at
the man in such a rage. Supposing something happened to him and he
died, will you not get a bad name?" Baba replied sharply,
"Saithan! You keep quiet! That fellows life is in my hands. He
will die only if I permit him. You better mind your business. Why
are you bothering about others? That man will come to his senses
only if he sees me in this manner. If I am indulgent they will try
to ride the high horse." Thus, in this way, Baba used to
discipline people by threats and harsh words. "It is only with
this aim in view I am displaying anger and not for any other
purpose." This secret was revealed by Baba only to Shyam and none
else. Baba's life is really a saga of love and nothing else.
Keeping Shyam near him and allowing him to serve him, Baba spent
many years. One day, Baba called Pradhan and asked him to
construct a small tank. Pradhan was thus the first to be involved
in the building of a Samadhi for Baba.
It was year 1918. Pradhan's wife, who was living in her native
village, had a dream in which Baba appeared to have passed away.
Pradhan was in Shirdi. On waking up, Pradhan's wife started crying
over the passing of Baba in her dream. At that moment she heard a
voice in the house declaring, "Don't say that Baba has died. Say
that Baba is in a state of Samadhi." Samadhi means
equal-mindedness. "Life and death are alike. Joy and sorrow,
profit and loss are the same. Hence, there is no such thing as
death for Baba"—this is what the voice declared.
When she was trying to find out wherefrom this voice came, she
received a message from her husband conveying the news of the
passing of Baba. That occurred on Vijayadashami day in 1918.
September 28th (1835) was his date of birth. On
Vijayadashami day he gave up his body. Although this year [at date
of this discourse], Vijayadashami falls on September 29, in the
year of Baba's Samadhi the date was different [October 15,
On account of the passage of time and circumstances, no one knew
the exact dates of Baba's birth and passing. In this context, the
mystery relating to Baba's birth should be noted. One devotee
wrote a poem in which he offered his "salutations to the one born
in Pathri, who lived in Dwarakamayi and who was the protector of
When Gangabhavadya and Devagiriamma were living in Pathri village,
they were worshipers of Iswara and Parvathi. They had no offspring
for a long time. They intensified their prayers. Gangabhavadya
used to ply boats near the village for a living. One night, when
it was raining heavily, Gangabhavadya left his house to take care
of the boats, telling his wife that he would not be returning in
the night. After the husband had an early meal and left,
Devagiriamma ate and went to bed.
At 9 p.m. there was a knock at the door. Devagiriamma opened the
door, wondering if her husband had returned. A very old man
entered the house. He pleaded, "It is very cold outside. Please
permit me, mother, to stay inside." As a pious woman, she allowed
him to stay in the inside verandah and went in after bolting the
inner door. She opened the door. The old man said, "I am feeling
hungry; give me some food." Finding that there was no food, the
woman mixed some flour with curd and gave it to him. Another knock
sounded after some time. When she opened the door, the old man
said, "My legs are aching, Mother, will you massage them?"
Devagiriamma went inside, sat in the prayer room and prayed, "O
Mother! Why are you testing me like this? What should I do? Should
I serve him or refuse?"
Going out of the house by the backdoor, she went in search of
someone who could be engaged to render this service. No one was
available. Again there was a knock by the old man. At the same
time, a woman knocked at the backdoor. She said, "It appears you
came to my house and sought some help? I was away at the time.
Please let me know what service I should render you?"
Feeling happy that Goddess Parvathi herself had [come to her
rescue and] sent the woman in response to her prayers,
Devagiriamma sent the newcomer to the verandah to serve the old
man and closed the door. The old man and the new woman were none
other than Parameswara (Shiva) and Parvathi, the Divine couple.
Parameswara told Parvathi, "Fulfill the cherished desires of this
lady." Parvathi Iswara replied, "You are Supreme. Please shower
your Grace on her Yourself." Iswara [another name for Shiva] said,
"I came to test her. You came in answer to her prayers. Hence You
must bless her."
There was a knock at the door again. This time Devagiriamma
promptly opened the door because of the presence of another woman.
Parvathi and Parameswara appeared before her in their divine form.
Unable to contain her joy, Devagiriamma fell at their feet.
Parvathi then blessed her, "I grant you a son to maintain the
lineage and a daughter for kanyadan (a girl to be offered
in marriage)." Devagiriamma fell at the feet of Iswara (Shiva).
Iswara said, "I am immensely pleased with your devotion. I shall
take birth as your third child." When Devagiriamma got up, the
Divine couple had vanished. Feeling ecstatic by this experience,
Devagiriamma eagerly awaited the return of her husband in the
morning to relate to him the whole story.
When the husband came home in the morning she related to him all
that had happened during the previous night. The husband said,
"Devagiri! What is this fanciful tale! It is all a dream. Parvathi
and Parameswara appearing before you and giving Darshan! It
is pure fantasy!" Gangabhavadya dismissed the whole episode as
incredible and fanciful.
As the years passed, Devagiriamma became pregnant and a son was
born. A year later a daughter was born. Gangabhavadya was now
convinced that the birth of the two children was the result of the
blessings conferred by Parvathi and Parameswara. He told his wife,
"You had the good fortune (to be blessed by the Divine couple). I
did not have that luck."
When Devagiriamma conceived again, Gangabhavadya began to feel an
urge to give up hearth and home and go in search of the Divine
couple. He announced to his wife that he was leaving for the
forest to do penance. The devoted wife that she was, Devagiriamma
decided to follow him, though she was in the ninth month of her
pregnancy. After proceeding some distance, she developed labor
pains. She delivered a boy. Wrapping the babe in a piece of cloth,
she left the child by the roadside and followed her husband.
Because of these circumstances, no one knew who the parents of the
child were. The Fakir who found the child brought him home and
took care of him. Baba's life-story is known only from the time of
his arrival in Shirdi.
In 1917, Baba once called Abdul Baba, Nana Chandorkar,
Mahalasapati, Dasganu and others and started asking each of them,
"Do you know who you are?" Each of them replied, "I am your
sishya (disciple)." Baba said, "Nonsense! Don’t use that term
any longer. I have no disciples in this world. I have countless
devotees. You do not recognize the distinction between a disciple
and a devotee. Anyone can be a devotee. But that is not the case
with the disciple. A disciple is one who carries implicitly the
commands of the guru (the preceptor). The mark of the sishya
is total devotion to the preceptor. Only the man who says, 'I have
none in the world other than the preceptor,' is a disciple. How
far have you respected my injunctions? How are you entitled to
claim that you are my disciples? Only the one who follows me like
my shadow can claim to be my disciple. The devotee is one who
prays to the Lord wherever he may be. Hence, there is a big
difference between a disciple and a devotee. The disciple and the
preceptor are like two bodies with one spirit. The disciple should
have no sense of separateness from the preceptor. He should feel,
'I and you are one.' There are no such disciples to be found in
the world. There are millions of devotees, but no disciples."
On hearing this, Shyam was in deep pain. He felt within himself,
"Apart from serving at your feet, I have no other concern." Baba
then went into another room and called Shyam inside. "In this
entire world, for me you are the only disciple. All others are
only devotees." At that moment, Shyam fell at the feet of Baba,
and cried out, "You alone, you alone (are my refuge)!" and
breathed his last.
In all his life of over 82 years, Baba had never shed a tear in
the presence of devotees. When Shyam passed away, he shed three
drops of tears. The devotees present there said, "Swami! Why do
you feel so grieved? All are in your hands." Baba replied, "Dear
boys! I am not grieving at all. Almost all his sins had been wiped
out already. By the three drops I shed, the remaining of sins (of
Shyam) have been washed away."
All that Baba said or did was for the good of the devotees alone.
Towards the end, Abdul Baba came to Baba. Baba told him, "I shall
appear again and give you Darshan."
"When will that be?" asked Abdul. Baba told him, "It will be after
eight years. The first advent of Sai was in Maharashtra. The
second advent will be in Madras," Baba said. It should be noted
that when this form (Sathya Sai) made its advent, Andhra Pradesh
was part of Madras Presidency.
When he was asked, in what form the next advent would take place,
Shirdi Baba told Abdul Baba alone, "I will give Darshan in
the name of Sathya Sai for upholding Truth." That is the present
The two bodies are different, but the Divinity is one. The first
advent was for revealing Divinity. The second advent is to awaken
the Divinity (in human beings). The next advent is for propagating
Divinity. The three Sai's are Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai, and Prema
The reason for relating all this is that today happens to be the
birthday of Shirdi Baba (September 28, 1835). Baba attained
Samadhi in 1918. Bodies are transient. These vestures are
assumed only for the sake of devotees. Unless the divine comes
with a form, no one can develop faith in the Formless. The Divine
in human form is the preparation for comprehending the Formless
The truth about God cannot be understood by anyone. He is
infinitely vast. He is minuter than the atom. No one can know what
is the macrocosm and what is the microcosm. Because of this
mystery, one devotee sang:
Can anyone unravel your mystery, O Krishna!
You are vaster than the vastest; you are subtler than the atom.
Al the countless beings in the world cannot grasp your baffling
How can anyone know your Infinite Cosmic form, O Krishna!
Nor is that all. Among the great thieves, you are the greatest.
How can anyone know you, O Krishna!
During the discourse on September 27, 1992, Navaratri Celebrations
This day (the first day of Navaratri) has [a] special
significance. Shirdi Sai Baba was born on September 27th,
1838. He was born in a poor Brahmin family in the village of
Pathri in Aurangabad District. For various reasons, the parents
left the child. A fakir found him. As he was fondling, the fakir
had no mutual affection for him. After some years the boy was
handed over to one Gopal Rao Deshmukh, who was also called Venkusa
by the people on account of his scholarship and wisdom.
The boy grew up in Venkusa's home for some time. However, he was
not inclined to stay there for long. In 1854 he went to Shirdi. At
Shirdi, Mahalasapati saw him entering the local temple. Looking at
this appearance as a Muslim, Mahalasapati turned him out of the
temple. The boy went back and sat under a Neem tree. He was 16
years old at that time. No one knew then what his name was. If
anyone asked for his name, he would give no answer. He would
sometimes retort saying, "Why do you want to know my name?"
Because of this nobody could find out his name.
Some villagers from nearby places used to visit him under the tree
and get relief for their ailments. He would take out some leaves,
crush them, and give them to the ailing person as a medicine. In
this manner, he cured many persons of their illnesses. News of the
healing powers spread to all the surrounding villages. As a result
a large number of persons used to come to him, receive the crushed
leaves from him and get cured of their ailments.
Suddenly, one morning he disappeared. A futile search was made in
the nearby areas to trace him. Later, in 1858, he came to Shirdi
again after three years. There was a village called Dhoop in
Aurangabad. One Chandhubhai Patel, belonging to a middle class
family, lived in Dhoop. As no other form of transport was
available in those days, people used to go on horseback.
Chandubhai went on horse to Aurangabad on some urgent business.
When he had finished his business there at the end of three days,
he found that the horse was missing. Disappointed over the missing
horse, Chandhubhai was returning to Dhoop passing through a dense
forest on the way.
At one place, he saw a fakir sitting under a tree in a forest. The
fakir appeared to be lost in his own thoughts. Suddenly, the fakir
hailed Chandhubhai with the words, "Hey, Patel! Come here." The
fakir liked to smoke Chilim (hookah). As there was no water
nearby, the fakir hit the ground with a stick and water gushed
forth from the place. He hit again another place with a stick and
there was a fire. Using the water and the fire, he started smoking
his hookah and offered it to Chandhubhai as well. Chandhubhai
declined the offer.
The fakir asked Chandhubhai, "What is worrying you, Patel?" Patel
asked, "How do you know I am Patel?" "I know everything," replied
the fakir. "You are worried about your horse. You are keeping your
eyes on top of your head! You must lower them to trace the horse.
Your horse is grazing under the tree there." He had made the
search for the horse in the same place with some workers, but
could not find it. Now he saw it under a tree close to him.
Chandhubhai was astonished that the fakir had produced water and
fire out of the earth and had located his missing horse. He
appealed to the fakir, "Swami! You have rendered great help to me.
Please come with me and share my hospitality." "All right, let us
go," he said.
About this time, the marriage of Chandhubhai's niece, who was
residing in Shirdi, was settled. Chandhubhai had to go to Shirdi
for the wedding. He requested the fakir to come along with him.
They went in carts to Shirdi. Mahalasapati saw the fakir getting
down from a cart, and went to him and said, "Ayiye, Baba!
Ayiye Sai! (Come Baba, come Sai)".
The name 'Sai' was given by Mahalasapati. Till then—no one had
conferred a name on him.
Sometime later, Baba was involved in a criminal case. He had given
evidence in a case, which related to the theft of some valuables
from a rich man's house by a gang of thieves. The police caught
the thieves and questioned them about the stolen articles. The
thieves said that the valuables had been given to them by the
fakir. Searching for the fakir, they came to Baba. They asked him,
"Fakir, did you give these articles to them?" "Yes," he said.
"Wherefrom did you get them?" was the next question. Baba replied,
"They have come from the same place from which all things come."
"Who gave them to you?" "I gave them to myself."
Baba gave such intriguing answers, which the police could not
understand. "I am the giver of everything. How can anyone get
anything without my sanction?" declared Baba. Feeling that it was
futile to question him further, the police prepared a report. Baba
received a summons from the magistrate to give evidence in the
case. Chandhubhai Patel did not want Baba to go to the magistrate
and so arranged for Baba being examined on commission (in Shirdi
itself). During the examination on commission, Baba was asked,
"What is your fathers name?" He replied, "Baba" (Baba means
'father' and the reply meant that the father's name was 'father').
Q: "What is your religion?"
A: "The religion of God."
Q: "Wherefrom did you come?"
A: "I have come from the Atma (soul)"
Q: "What is your caste?"
A: "The caste of the Divine."
Baba answered all the questions in this manner. Earlier he had
been hailed as, 'Sai'. In this examination, he had given his
father's name as Baba. By the combination of these two names, he
was therefore called 'Sai Baba'. No one knew when and where Sai
Baba was born and who gave him that name.
Later, many persons began to have doubts about his transcendental
powers. One day, the birth anniversary of Dattatreya was to be
celebrated (in the month of Margashira on Panchami day). Several
devotees had assembled in Shirdi. Among them was a wealthy man, a
great scholar called Kaijack. He is not to be confused with
'hijack'! His name was Balwanth Kaijack. As he was approaching the
Masjid, Baba took a stick and waved it at the devotees,
asking them to get away. He even beat some o them, shouting,
"Saitan! Saitan!" No one could understand why Baba was behaving
like this. "I am suffering labor pains. Get away, all of you!" he
shouted. In those days, Baba not only used to shout at people, but
also wield the stick on them on occasions. He used to even throw
the stick at fleeing persons. Everyone used to be afraid of him.
They all fled from the place.
Some time later, he called all of them to come. "Balwanth Kaijack,
come!" he said. When Balwanth came, Baba went inside the Masjid.
Balwanth went in and found that Baba was not there. He found a
three-headed baby on the floor. Baba had declared that he was
suffering from labor-pains and there was a baby there. The
three-headed baby appeared to represent Dattatreya. It was a small
baby with a number of hands. Balwanth recognised the child as
Dattatreya and called other devotees to come inside. They went in
and on seeing the child close their eyes. At that instant, Baba
reappeared there. From that time onwards, people started looking
upon Baba as the incarnation of Dattatreya.
A controversy arose among the local people as to whether Baba was
a Muslim or a Hindu. At one time he used to say, "Allah is Great!
Allah is Great (Allah Malik! Allah Malik!)!" At other times he
would say, "Dattatreya is Great (Dattatreya Malik!)!" Whenever he
shouted 'Allah Malik,' Muslims used to come to him in the
Masjid. His appearance was very much like that of a Muslim.
Hence, many Muslims used to come to him. Hindus used to also come
and offer incense to him. The Muslims did not approve of what the
Hindus were doing. The Hindus did not like the way Muslims revered
Baba. Consequently, bitterness developed between the two
One day Mahalasapati was sitting near Baba and doing some service
to him. Mahalasapati was the priest in the Khandoba temple. The
Muslims who were opposed to the presence of a Hindu priest near
Baba, came with sticks and beat up Mahalasapati. At every stroke,
Mahalasapati cried out, "Baba! Baba!". Each time he shouted the
name of Baba, the blow was borne by Baba. Mahalasapati fell to the
ground. Baba came out.
Muslims had great reverence for Baba. Baba roared at the Muslim
crowd, "Saithan! On the one side you worship me and on the other
you beat me. Is this devotion!?" Baba was bleeding all over the
body. The Muslims saw it and asked Baba who had beaten him. "Did
you not beat me? Did you not beat me?" said Baba pointing to
several men in the crowd. They said, "We did not come near you at
all. We only beat Mahalasapati."
"Who is in Mahalasapati? I am in him," declared Baba. "He has
surrendered to me and hence all his trouble are mine."
On hearing this, the Muslims fell at Baba's feet and craved his
forgiveness. Baba then summoned the Hindus and Muslims and told
them, "Dear children, you are all the progeny of one mother."
Thereby Baba demonstrated the Fatherhood of God and the
Brotherhood of Man. He wanted all differences of caste and creed
to be eschewed. What mattered for mankind was the heart. One who
is only concerned about his creed (matham) will never discover the
Divine (Madhava). You must seek the Divine within you. Baba
pointed out that all caste and creed distinctions related only to
the body. Therefore, you should seek the Supreme in your inner
consciousness. Baba, who came to Shirdi with Chandhybhai Patel in
1858, did not leave the place till his passing in 1918. Baba lived
for 80 years.
One day, a Pandit came to Baba and said that his biography
should be written. His name was Hemanthpanth. He is the author of
'Sai Satcharita' [The gospel of Shirdi Baba's life]. He entreated
Baba to disclose facts about the place of his birth, his
parentage, his name and his early life. He could not get any
information. Baba did not reveal anything to anyone. But on one
occasion, when he was alone with Mahalasapati Baba disclosed his
date of birth for him. Mahalasapati was no scholar. He had learnt
only a few mantras to conduct the Puja in the temple. He
noted down the date of birth, on a piece of paper. This came into
the hands of Hemadpant. With this, he began to write the life of
No one knows the real truth about Baba. The world knows some facts
about his life after his 16th year. He was born on
September 27, 1838, and attained Samadhi on Vijayadashami
day in 1918. During his lifetime he taught many sacred things to
the people and performed many remarkable deeds. He was worshipped
by many devotees. Dada, Nana, Shama, Abdul Baba, Mahalasapati,
Chandharkar and Dasganu were always with him. Abdul Baba was
active till recently. He was a fervent devotee of Baba. In his
view, it did not matter to what religion one belonged. All were
one in their devotion to God.
Kaka Dixit was a Judge whose son stayed in Brindavan (Whitefield)
for twenty years. The latter's wife is now in Brindavan. Kaka
Dixit maintained a diary in which many facts about Baba have been
recorded including his statement about when he would pass away.
No one can make any affirmations about the nature of the Divine.
One's relationship with the Divine is spiritual—Atma to
Atma (soul to soul). In this Kali or Dark Age, however, many
become prey to doubts because of their preoccupation with the
physical form. This is because of their being immersed in worldly
attitudes derived from their perception of the physical elements.
The phenomenal nature (Prakriti) is replete with sensory
experiences. The spiritual life is based on detachment. Enduring
bliss is experienced only when there is sacrifice or detachment.
Man today is not prepared for sacrifice. On the contrary, his
desires are insatiable and he is losing all human qualities. The
mind is polluted and truth has become a rarity. At every step, man
is indulging in wrongdoing. Noble thoughts have taken flight. Envy
and hatred are rampant. Men should learn to follow the dictates of
their heart and act accordingly to the prompting of their
conscience. This conscience is related to the universal
During the discourse on October 6, 1992, Vijayadashami
In my previous body (as Shirdi Sai Baba) everyone was taught
through actions. For example, Dhamu and Nana were rendering
service to the Lord (Shirdi Baba). Baba collected a few copper
coins and was playing with them, by tossing them from one hand to
another, and also testing them in various ways. He appeared to
examine them individually. He did not exchange a word with Dhamu
and Nana. He went on playing with the coins for half an hour in
Curious to know what Baba was doing, Nana asked him why he was
scrutinizing the same coins again and again. Baba replied, "Beta
(dear son), it is true I am repeating the same action again and
again, repeating the same words. Look at the mango tree in front
of you. It is in full bloom. The leaves are hardly visible. If all
the flowers in the tree were to become fruits, will the branches
be able to bear the weight? But it does not happen that way. Most
of the flowers are swept away by the wind. Many others drop of
their won account. Only some of them become fruits. Of these some
are eaten by squirrels, birds, or monkeys. In this way ninety
percent of the flowers do not result in fruits. Only ten percent
remain in the tree. Is it not so?" They agreed, that it was so.
Baba continued, "In the same manner thousands of devotees are
coming to me. Are they all ripening into good devotees? Many drop
away in the middle. Some come for getting their desires fulfilled.
Some seek wealth. Many are coming either for study or in
connection with jobs, marriage or other personal desires of their
own. In each of them, there is some defect or other. No one comes
for My sake. I have a precious thing to offer in my coffers. But
no one seeks it. It is for this reason that I am examining them
(coins). Among these coins there are some which are worn out, some
which are debased, and some which are twisted and worthless."
"Just as I am examining the defects in these coins, I am also
looking for the defects among the devotees who come to Me. I am
trying to find out what defects are there in these people and
whether, with those defects; they can really comprehend My Truth.
They want Me, but all their desires are related to mundane
objects. How can they attain Me with this attitude? How can you
reach your destination if you get into a wrong train going in some
other direction? They want Me, but they don't make efforts for
realizing Me. Among those who come to Me, it is only one in a
thousand who really makes the efforts to realize Me."
"The minds of the so called devotees are turned in the wrong
directions. If their desires are fulfilled, they praise Me. But,
once a desires is not realized they go to the extent of even
reviling Me. Even while they are attempting to understand Me, they
harbor doubts from head to foot. Some even leave Me, when their
worldly desires are not fulfilled. These are not sincere devotees
at all. They are in fact worst sinners. How can they reach Me?"
At one time, a wealthy man came with a lot of money to Shirdi Baba
with the object of gaining Brahma Jnana (Supreme Wisdom).
He boasted about his wealth. Baba asked him, "How long will you be
here?" He replied that he had come by a taxi, with fixed 'to and
from' charges, and had to return in a day or two. Baba said, "When
you have greed for wealth, how can you realize God? It is not a
goal that can be accomplished in a 'fixed' time. Get away." Baba
noticed that he was still sitting and became furious. He chased
him out, wielding a stick.
To one who sought His grace with purity of heart and selfless
devotion, Baba conferred His grace abundantly. Mataji Krishna
Priya was one such devotee. Living in Nagpur, she used to worship
Krishna and considered Baba also as another form of Krishna. She
frequently visited Shirdi to seek Baba's blessings with genuine
devotion. Once she went to Simla. She was offering worship with
unstinted devotion to Krishna considering Him as Baba.
She came to know that Baba had left His mortal coil at 2:30 p.m.
on Vijayadashami day in 1918. Immediately after this, Ekadashi
followed. Baba had told his close devotee, Kakaji, in year 1916,
that Dada would be shedding his mortal coil in 1918. Kakaji
thought that Baba was mentioning only about Dada Sahib, another
devotee, and never thought the reference was to Baba himself.
On September 28, 1918, Baba developed a high temperature. Two days
earlier he had collected food by seeking alms in some houses. He
took that food and at noon, he expressed his wish to his devotees
that he should be taken from the choultry to Bootywada. He hoped
to have a quiet time there. In that ward, a Muralidhar temple had
been built by a devotee by name Booty. He wanted Baba to install
the idol of Krishna in the temple. But Baba was putting off the
installation of the idol. He directed Booty and Kakaji to go and
take their lunch. Feeling that Baba was better, they went out.
Baba had nine rupee coins under his pillow. He took them out and
gave them to Lakshmi Bhai. Then Baba summoned Shyam to come near
him. Shyam sat close to Baba. Baba reclined on Shyam's shoulder
and passed away.
Krishna Priya came to know of this and felt very sad the whole
day. The next day she closed all the doors and windows in her
house because of the sever cold in Simla. While she was resting in
the house, a tall and well-built monk arrived at the next-door and
inquired about Mataji's house. He made inquiry not because he did
not know where Mataji lived, but only to make others know that he
was physically present in Simla. The neighbour sent a servant with
an umbrella as it was snowing, to show the stranger Matai's house.
He knocked at the door.
Mataji opened and could not believe the evidence of her eyes. She
wondered how Baba, who had passed away the previous day, could
come to Simla? She asked, "How did you manage to come so soon? It
takes at least three days to come from Shirdi to Simla."
Baba said, "Beti (dear daughter), I am everywhere. You have
worshipped me in the form of Krishna. Is this all you know about
me? I am feeling the cold. First get me hot tea." She prepared tea
and offered it to Baba. After taking the tea, Baba said that he
was hungry after his long journey. Krishna Priya brought him
chapattis and brinjal curry, which Baba used to like very much.
After taking the food Baba washed his hands and wiped them in a
towel. He then told her, "The purpose for which I came is over and
I am going away."
In those days nobody dared to exchange words with Baba. If anybody
opposed or said anything to the contrary, Baba would wield the
stick against them. He never allowed any contradiction. Hence,
Krishna Priya could not tell Him anything. He gave her a jasmine
Krishna Priya watched him as he went out walking through the
bazaar. In Simla, on the roadside, there are usually deep valleys.
As Baba was walking along, some workmen were engaged in some
roadwork. Noticing that Baba had fallen down from the road, they
ran to rescue him. But they could find nobody there. Baba had just
Before taking leave of Krishna Priya, Baba whispered in her ears,
"See me in 1926." She did not know where to see him, how to see
him. When I went to Simla about 15 years ago, Krishna Priya came
to see me. She was shivering on account of age and the cold
weather. She asked, "Baba, have you forgotten the promise that you
made to me long ago?" I told her, "It is you who have forgotten,
not I. I never forget what I promise."
These are some of the aspects of the Shirdi manifestation. When
Shirdi Sai brought to impart wisdom, it was not through
discourses. Everything was taught by stern methods. It was because
of the conditions prevailing in those days.
Once, Dada's wife brought her child to Baba with the intention of
staying for some time in Shirdi. She got her husband's reluctant
approval for the visit. At that time plague was rampant in Shirdi.
On the second day of her arrival, the child developed fever and
boils all over the body. The mother felt sorry that she had not
acted on her husband's advice and lamented who could protect her
child from the affliction. She immediately rushed to Baba and
cried aloud, "Baba! Baba!" Baba asked her what for she had come.
"Is your child having fever? Are there boils on his body? Not only
the child but I am also having boils. You look at them." So
saying, he lifted his Kafni (cotton robe) and showed the
boil on his body. Mahalasapati, who was standing near, exclaimed,
"Swami! What large boils are these?" He touched Baba's body and
found that he was having high fever. The temperature might be as
high as 105 or 106 F. The mother cried, "O Baba! Has the disease
affected not only my son, but you also? Who will protect you?" She
was in deep distress. Baba said, "Is there any other to protect
the one who is the protector of all?" The mother immediately
begged for Baba's forgiveness. A short while thereafter, Baba's
fever came down.
The mother returned home feeling happy. She saw that the fever and
the boils had vanished from the child. She exclaimed, "Baba, did
you take on my child's illness?"
In this manner, Shirdi Baba used to demonstrate his powers as and
when the occasion arose. What was the reason for this? It was
solely due to Paripoorna Viswasam (total faith) which
people had in Baba. The devotees followed implicitly whatever Baba
directed them to do. It is not so these days. Whenever anything is
said by Swami ten questions are raised. Besides the questions,
they are racked by doubts from head to foot! This is traceable to
the influence of modern education. This system is undermining
faith in human values. Whatever help a man may receive, he is
utterly ungrateful. He forgets all the good done to him and
remembers only the harm done to him. Consequently, the demonic
nature has grown in human beings.
In the old days, human beings retained at least human qualities.
Today, men have only the human form but behave like animals. All
their impulses are selfish. When their desires are fulfilled, they
come smiling and uttering, "Baba! Baba!" If their desires are not
fulfilled they have a different attitude. In such beastly beings,
how can devotion to Baba exist? Only when men shed their animal
natures, can they become human.
This is the anniversary of the day, when Shirdi Baba gave up his
mortal body. The facts relating to his passing need to be
understood. On September 28, 1918, Baba developed fever. For 17
days thereafter he was quite well. On October 15, Baba was not to
be found anywhere. Nana, Kaka, Das, and Lakshmana Rao made a
search for him all over the place. There was a small well nearby
and they went to see whether he had fallen there. When they
returned to Baba's abode, they found him standing near the door.
Baba told them, "Where are you searching for me? I am in one place
and you search for me elsewhere. I am in all pure hearts. You are
searching for me in all polluted places. How can you find me?" He
then sat down.
Baba left his body only on October 15. He developed high fever on
September 28. He was keeping well for the next 17 days.
After Baba left his body, several controversies arose. Mohammedans
came there and claimed that the body belonged to them. The Hindu's
claimed that the body belonged to them. Baba used to declare from
time to time, "Allah Malik! Allah Malik!" On account of this,
Mohammedans claimed that Baba was a Muslim. At other times, Baba
used to say, "Rama Malik! Krishna Malik!" For these reason the
Hindu's claimed he was a Hindu. Because of these rival claims, the
body was kept for 36 hours as no decision could be arrived at
regarding the manner of disposal of the body.
To prevent clashes between the Hindu's and the Muslims, the
Collector, the Police Superintendent and other officials arrived
there. They asked all the residents of Shirdi to assemble there.
They decided to take the vote of the people to find out how the
majority of the local population wanted the last rites to be done
for Baba. Everybody favored the Hindu way of disposal of the body.
When this decision was arrived at, a pit was being dug in the
Booty Mandir. Some persons opposed the digging. The dispute went
on and ultimately the Collector and the Police arranged for the
Samadhi to be consecrated in the Muralidhar temple. The temple
is the present Samadhi shrine of Baba.
At this time, a remarkable incident occurred in Simla. The garland
given to Mataji Krishna Priya was placed on the idol of Krishna by
her in the presence of all in her residence. Many wondered why she
was garlanding the Krishna idol when she was devotee of Sai Baba
and there was a picture of Baba there. Bhajans were going
on at that time. The garland placed on the Krishna figure dropped
on the picture of Baba. The garland placed on the picture moved to
the figure of Krishna. Everyone in Simla rejoiced in the discovery
that Krishna and Sai Baba were one.
When all the people came there the next morning, they found that
the garland given by Baba was no longer on the figure of Krishna.
The garland was found on the Samadhi of Baba in the Booty
Why did Baba manifest such miracles? In those days, there were
bitter differences between Hindu's and Muslims. With a view to
ending such communal differences, Baba wanted to show through his
miracles the truth that Baba is the Supreme master of all beings.
He has no differences of caste or community. His religion is
common to people of all faiths. It is good for everyone. This is
the creed for all mankind.
Spiritual wisdom is not something received from others. It has to
blossom from within. Each one has to develop the faith by his own
efforts. Those lacking such faith make themselves remote from God.
Their own actions account for such lack of faith.
Many spend years here (in Prashanthi Nilayam). But for some reason
or other, they go away. This is due to the effect of their
karma. No man can escape the consequences of his actions.
Whether one is a scholar or an ascetic, whether one is in a forest
or a temple, can anyone avoid the consequences of his karma?
Many who claim to be great devotees, fall away some time or other.
The truth is that they were not true devotees even earlier. It is
all make-believe. Whatever devotion existed will not go away; nor
will devotion come where it was absent. This means that devotion
was absent from the beginning. Those who used to proclaim their
devotion by saying, "Swami is everything for us," really had no
devotion at all. It was all a show. No true devotee will ever
leave Swami. The one who leaves is never a real devotee.
In this context, it must be realized that the true nature of
devotion cannot be comprehended by anyone.