Shri Shirdi Sai Baba

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Sai Baba of Shirdi, also known as Shirdi Sai Baba, was an Indian guru, yogi, and fakir who is regarded by his devotees as "Baba".

No verifiable information is given regarding Sai Baba's real name, parents, place or time of birth. 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. Mahalsapati, a local temple priest, recognized him as a Muslim saint and greeted him with the words "aao 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 most Indian and Middle Eastern languages.

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, practiced 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 "Allah Malik" ("God is King").

Historians and devotees agree that there is no reliable evidence for a particular birthplace or date of birth. Communities have claimed that he belongs to them, but nothing has been substantiated. It is known that he spent considerable periods with Muslim fakirs, and his attire resembled that of a fakir. He did not discriminate based on religion and respected all forms of worship to God.

Little has been officially documented on the early life of Shirdi Sai Baba. An account of Shirdi Sai's missing childhood years has been reconstructed by his disciple Das Ganu, after researching in the area around the village of Pathri. He collected this story in four chapters on Sai Baba, later also called the Sri Sai Gurucharitra. Das Ganu states that Sai Baba grew up in Pathri, with a fakir and his wife. At the age of five, says Das Ganu, the fakir's wife put him in the care of the saintly desmukh Venkusha, where the boy stayed several years. Dasganu calls the young Sai Baba the reincarnation of Kabir. Because Das Ganu was known to take poetic liberties when telling stories about Sai Baba, and as there are no other sources to corroborate this story, it usually is left out of biographies of Sai Baba of Shirdi.

According to the book Sai Satcharita, Sai Baba arrived at the village of Shirdi in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, British India, when he was about 16 years old. He led an ascetic life, sitting motionless under a neem tree and meditating while sitting in an asana. His presence attracted the curiosity of the villagers, and he was regularly visited by the religiously inclined, including Mahalsapati, Appa Jogle and Kashinatha. Some considered him mad and threw stones at him. Sai Baba left the village, and little is known about him after that. It is generally accepted that Sai Baba stayed in Shirdi for three years, disappeared for a year, and returned permanently around 1858. Around this time he adopted his famous style of dress consisting of a knee-length one-piece robe (kafni) and a cloth cap. This attire contributed to Baba's identification as a Muslim fakir and was a reason for initial indifference and hostility against him in a predominantly Hindu village.

For four to five years Baba lived under a neem tree and often wandered for long periods in the jungle around Shirdi. His manner was said to be withdrawn and uncommunicative as he undertook long periods of meditation. He was eventually persuaded to take up residence in an old and dilapidated mosque and lived a solitary life there, surviving by begging for alms, and receiving itinerant Hindu or Muslim visitors. In the mosque he maintained a sacred fire which is referred to as a dhuni, from which he gave sacred ashes ('Udhi') to his guests before they left. The ash was believed to have healing and apotropaic powers. He performed the function of a local hakim and treated the sick by application of ashes. Sai Baba also delivered spiritual teachings to his visitors, recommending the reading of sacred Hindu texts along with the Quran.

Eleven Assurances of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba

  • Entry into Shirdi removes all sufferings.
  • Whether sufferers or very poor people, the moment they enter Dwarakamayi, they will have happiness and wealth.
  • Even after leaving my physical body, I am very ever alert to the needs of my devotees.
  • The protection to my devotees will come from my Samadhi.
  • From my Samadhi itself, I will discharge all my duties.
  • My human body will speak from my Samadhi.
  • It is my duty to protect my devotees who come to me and who seek refuge in me.
  • My blessings are there to those who look to me.
  • Put your burdens on me and I shall carry them.
  • I shall give my advise or help the moment it is sought.
  • There is no question of "Want" in the houses of my devotees.

The Story of Two Lizards

One day, while Baba was seated in Dwarakamai, a lizard on the wall made a noise. A devotee sitting opposite to Baba, asked him why the lizard was making such a noise. Baba replied that the lizard's sister was expected to come from Aurangabad shortly, and so out of joy, it was making the noise. The devotee kept quiet.

Just then a devotee came on horse from Aurangabad to see Baba. He wanted to feed the horse, and taking out the bag which was with him he shook it. A lizard fell from the bag and rapidly climbed the wall. Baba told the devotees who had questioned Baba earlier, to watch the lizards carefully. The lizard from Aurangabad met her sister and kissed. They played out of joy, going round and round. People sitting before Baba were very much surprised Where is Aurangabad? Where is Shirdi? If the lizards were sisters, how did they happen to be at such distances. How did Baba know that the lizard was coming from Aurangabad? Did he know the mind of animals and also their language? Such doubts arose in the devotees and they simply stared at Baba with surprise.

Baba, who read the minds of the devotees said, "Not only about these lizards, but what is happening in every atom in this world, I know. Without my permission, the leaves on the tree also will not flutter. God is all powerful. All should follow the rules of this creation. Even I cannot go against them. God is the creator of all Universe. Allah Malik hai."

The Nine Forms of Devotion

Ananta Rao Patankar of Poona was a Vedic scholar. Though he read all the Vedas, Upanishads and the eighteen Puranas he had no peace of mind. He came to Shirdi and visited Baba. On seeing him he experienced a lot of happiness which he did not experience in his life till then. He fell at Baba's feet and pleaded with him to show compassion and bless him. Then Baba said, "Once a merchant came to me. He wanted to put some questions to me but could not do so. He was looking straight at me. Just then a mare in front of him passed stools in the shape of nine balls. The merchant collected all the nine balls and put them in his upper cloth by which he was able to concentrate his mind and thus have peace." But the scholar Patankar did not understand the analogy between peace of mind and the nine balls. A devotee, Dada Kelkar, at the instigation of Baba, explained the significance of the story as follows.

"Merchant means a person having special qualities not found in ordinary people, a Jnani. A mare means God's Grace. Nine balls of horse's excretion means nine kinds of devotion. The devotee in search of God should fix his mind on the Sadguru, and serve the Guru sincerely. Then God will pity him and show him the nine devotional ways. The devotee can choose any one of the nine ways and reach God. The nine ways are :

  • Shravan - Hearing divine stories and reading the Puranas.
  • Kirtan - Singing devotional songs in praise of the greatness of God.
  • Smaran - To recollect what one had heard through Shravan, and- always remembering them.
  • Pada Seva - Worship of the feet and prostration.
  • Archana - Different kinds of rituals performed daily.
  • Namaskar - Bowing the head in respect, and salutation.
  • Dasya - Doing service to God like a servant.
  • Sukhyatva - Considering God as a friend and making friendship.
  • Atma Nivedan - Surrendering one’s life and Atma to God.

Devotion is of nine kinds. As we progress and the mind begins to settle down, we can worship God in all the nine ways. Let us make sincere efforts to reach God through the nine devotional ways like the Jnani in the story.

How Baba saved Nana Chandorkar

Baba always looked after those who believed in him. One day, Chandorkar and his friend Shastri were travelling in a tonga from Poona. Suddenly the horse pushed back the tonga with the result that the tonga fell upside down. Both men fell down. This was a serious accident. In the ordinary course there was danger to the life of the passengers . At the same hour at Shirdi, putting his hands together like a conch , Baba made sounds like that emanating from a conch. It was an indication of imminent danger. Baba cried aloud, "Nana is falling down! But I will not let it happen." Because of this leela Nana and his friend escaped unhurt and completed their journey safely.

One day, Nana Chandorkar was climbing the Harischandra hill to see a temple there. Another friend and two servants accompanied him. After climbing for sometime, he felt very thirsty due to severe heat from the sun. Becoming tired, he rested. There was no water nearby. To get water, either one had to go down or else go up the hill. He rememberd Baba. He thought that if Baba were to be here, he would have somehow provided him water. But he was 80 miles away at Shirdi. At the same hour, Baba sitting in Dwarakamai told Shama and others, "Nana is very thirsty. The climate is very hot. He was also tired. I should give him some water." Shama and others could not understand what Baba said.

On the hill, Nana sat silently for sometime. A Bhil (of the forest-dwelling tribe) happened to come there. Coming near Nana he told him that if he was thirsty, water could be had from the water hole under the big stone on which he was sitting. When the stone was shifted, pure drinking water was found. Nana quenched his thirst by drinking the water. After some days, when Shama told Chandorkar what Baba had said a few days back, he recollected the incident and concluded that Baba himself had come in the form of the Bhil to quench his thirst.

The Story of Maina Thai

In 1904, Nana Chandorkar was working at a place called Jamner which was about 100 miles from Shirdi . His daughter Maina Thai was in labour pains since two days and was suffering a lot . Eminent doctors came to his house and gave medical aid, but delivery did not take place and she continued to suffer unbearable pains. Then Nana Chandorkar prayed to Baba and sought his help. At the same time in Shirdi, a sanyasi named Ramgiri Buva sought permission of Baba to go home. Baba gave him permission and his blessings and asked him to visit Jamner on the way and hand over the udi and arathi hymn to Nana Chandorkar. But Ramgiri Buva hesitated because he had no money to go to Jamner. Baba told him not to worry and that all arrangements for his journey to Jamner would be made and asked him to proceed immediately. He used to call him Bapugiri Buva.

Having complete faith in Baba, he started for Jamner. He alighted at Jalgaon station at night at about one o'clock. The money he had with him was sufficient for the journey upto Jalgaon only. To go to Jamner he had to go by a tonga ( horse-drawn carriage ) for 30 miles. Not knowing what to do he sat down and prayed to Baba. At the same time, a well built person was calling out "Who is Bapugiri Buva? Who has come from Shirdi ?" On hearing this Bapugiri Buva met him and the person informed him that Nana Chandorkar had sent the tonga. Thereupon, they proceeded in the tonga which travelled very fast. The tonga driver stopped near a rivulet and offered some eatables saying that they were sent by Nana Chandorkar. After eating them and drinking fresh water from the rivulet, they proceeded again. In the early hours before daybreak, the tonga reached the outskirts of Jamner. Babugiri Buva got out of the tonga and went to answer nature's call. When he returned, he did not find the tonga or the driver. He wondered what had happened to them. He went into the village and after making enquiries reached Nana Chandorkar's house. He handed over the udi and the arathi hymn. Everybody was happy to receive the udi sent by Baba. Immediately they mixed it with water and made Maina Thai drink it. While they began singing the arathi song, Maina Thai delivered a male child.

All those present there who saw this miracle praised Baba by saying aloud "Bhagwan Sree Sainath Ki Jai!" When Bapugiri Buva thanked Nana chandorkar for sending the tonga, Nana Chandorkar was wonderstruck and told Bapugiri Buva that he had no tonga and he had not sent anyone to the station. Bapugiri Buva concluded that it was all Baba's leela; it was Baba who called him by name at the Jalgaon station. Baba in the forms of horse, tonga and tonga driver simultaneously had driven him to Jamner. He experienced supreme bliss at Baba's love. So did Nana Chandorkar knowing how Baba saved his daughter. On seeing this miracle, the members of Nana chandorkar's family and people from nearby became great devotees of Baba.

"I am spread all over this world. I do not require a tonga or cart or any other mode of travel, to come to you. If my devotee prays to me, then I shall be by his side." This charter of Baba came true in the case of Nana Chandorkar.

Practice of Yogas by Baba

There was big banyan tree, far from the mosque, towards the north. There was a well near the tree. Once in two or three days Baba went there to take his bath. One day Baba brought out his lungs from his inside by vomiting, cleared them with water and dried them in sunlight; this was acually seen by some villagers of Shirdi. He also used to practise dhouti, which means cleansing the intestines. He used to swallow a piece of cloth measuring 3 inches in width and 22-1/2 inches in length, keeping it inside the stomach for half an hour. Then the cloth would stretch fully into the intestines. Afterwards, he would slowly pull out the cloth, thus cleaning the inside of the intestines.

Similarly, Sai Baba used to separate all the limbs from his body and put them in different places in the mosque. One night, a devotee saw this and feared that someone might have killed Baba. He wanted to report this matter to the village munsif, but later he kept quiet fearing that as he would be the first to complain, the authorities would think that he had something to do with it. Unable to suppress his curiosity, he went to the mosque early in the morning and to his astonishment found Baba sitting as usual there. Then he prostrated before him. The act of separation of all the limbs of the body is called "Kanda Yoga". Similarly, he once treated some nervous ailment in the right leg, by removing the flesh over that part, rectified the affected nerves and again put back the flesh which he had cut. Perhaps, Sai Baba used to wear the long shirt covering his entire body, with a view not to exhibit such things on his body.

He used to practice all kinds of 'Yogas' from his younger days. But he had never exhibited them before anyone publicly. Now and then piercing light rays used to emanate from his eyes and hand (Abhaya Hastha) . These light rays were very powerful and capable of curing all ailments.

In the 14 years between 1886 and 1900, Baba dragged several persons to Shirdi just like tying a thread to a sparrow and dragging it. He taught them Bhakti,Jnana and Vairagya. The tashildar of Kopargaon named Bharva, used to visit Baba frequently and got relief for several of his ailments . In this way, several persons, from high officials to ordinary people from all religions and nationalities used to come to Baba, and Shirdi became a holy place of pilgrimage. For some devotees, the moment they thought of visiting Shirdi, their problems got solved. In those days, there were no proper facilities for the devotees at Shirdi. For those who wanted to stay for a couple of days at there, the only place for their stay was the open place in front of Dwarakamai and under the neem tree in Gurusthan.

" Shri  Sachidananda  Samartha  Sadguru  Sainath  Maharaj  Ki  Jai "

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