Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Maharashtra State
Sai Baba of Shirdi
Shirdi pronunciation (help·info) is a town and falls under the jurisdiction of municipal council popularly known as Shirdi Nagar Panchayat, located in Rahata Tahasil in Ahmednagar District in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is accessible via the Ahmednagar - Manmad State Highway No.10, approximately 83 km from Ahmednagar and 15 km from Kopargaon. It is located 185 km east of the Western Seashore line (the Ahmednagar - Manmad road), which is a very busy route. Shirdi is best known as the late 19th century home of the popular guru Shirdi Sai Baba. It is one of the richest temple organisations
Sai Baba's real name is unknown. 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 'Ya 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 Indo-Aryan languages. Thus Sai Baba denotes "holy father", "saintly father" or "poor old man". However, Sāī may also refer to the Sanskrit term "Sakshat Eshwar" or the divine.
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. Sai Baba's teaching combined elements of Hinduism and Islam: He gave the Hindu name Dwarakamayi to the mosque he lived in, practiced Hindu and 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 always uttered "Allah Malik" ("God is King").
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.
Early yearsHistorians 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.
Sai Baba's biographer Narasimha Swamiji states that Sai Baba was born as the child of Brahmin parents:
"On one momentous occasion, very late in his life, he revealed to Mahlsapathy the interesting fact that his parents were Brahmins of Patri in the Nizam's State. Patri is part of Parvani taluk, near Manwath. Sai Baba added, in explanation of the fact that he was living in a Mosque, that while still a tender child his Brahmin parents handed him over to the care of a fakir who brought him up. This is fairly indisputable testimony, as Mahlsapathy was a person of sterling character noted for his integrity, truthfulness and vairagya." —Narasimha Swamiji, Life of Sai Baba
The above mentioned account is largely overlapped by the narration by Sathya Sai Baba who states as well that the fakir and his wife adopted the baby that was to become Sai Baba shortly after his birth.
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. The Shri Sai Satcharita recounts the reaction of the villagers:
The people of the village were wonder-struck to see such a young lad practicing hard penance, not minding heat or cold. By day he associated with no one, by night he was afraid of nobody.
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. 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 It is generally accepted that Sai Baba stayed in Shirdi for three years, disappeared for a year, and returned permanently around 1858, which suggests a birth year of 1838.
Return to ShirdiIn 1858 Sai Baba returned to Shirdi. Around this time he adopted his famous style of dress consisting of a knee-length one-piece robe (kafni) and a cloth cap. Ramgir Bua, a devotee, testified that Sai Baba was dressed like an athlete and sported 'long hair flowing down to the end of his spine' when he arrived in Shirdi, and that he never had his head shaved. It was only after Baba forfeited a wrestling match with one Mohiddin Tamboli that he took up the kafni and cloth cap, articles of typical Sufi clothing. 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. According to B.V. Narasimhaswami, a posthumous follower who was widely praised as Sai Baba's "apostle", this attitude was prevalent up to 1854 even among some of his devotees in Shirdi.
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 Qur'an. He insisted on the indispensability of the unbroken remembrance of God's name (dhikr, japa), and often expressed himself in a cryptic manner with the use of parables, symbols and allegories.
Sai Baba participated in religious festivals and was in the habit of preparing food for his visitors, which he distributed to them as prasad. Sai Baba's entertainment was dancing and singing religious songs.
After 1910 Sai Baba's fame began to spread in Mumbai. Numerous people started visiting him, because they regarded him as a saint with the power of performing miracles or even as an Avatar. They built his first temple at Bhivpuri, Karjat.
Teachings and practicesSai 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: unflinching perseverance (Shraddha) and waiting cheerfully with patience and love (Saburi). He criticized atheism.
In his teachings, Sai Baba emphasized 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 moulu 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, and Karma 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 favorite 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:
1. No harm shall befall him, who steps on the soil of Shirdi.
2. He who comes to my Samadhi, his sorrow and suffering shall cease.
3. Though I be no more in flesh and blood, I shall ever protect my devotees.
4. Trust in me and your prayer shall be answered.
5. Know that my spirit is immortal, know this for yourself.
6. Show unto me he who has sought refuge and has been turned away.
7. In whatever faith men worship me, even so do I render to them.
8. Not in vain is my promise that I shall ever lighten your burden.
9. Knock, and the door shall open, ask and it shall be granted.
10. To him who surrenders unto me totally I shall be ever indebted.
11. Blessed is he who has become one with me.
Worship and devotees
Main article: Shirdi Sai Baba movementThe 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. 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, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. In August 2012, an unidentified devotee for the first time donated two costly diamonds valuing Rs 1.18 crore 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.
Notable disciplesSai 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 had many devotees, and the most notable among them are:
1. Nana Saheb Chandorkar: deputy collector; legend has it that Sai Baba saved this man's daughter from labor complications.
2. Ganapath Rao Sahasrabuddhe, also known as Das Ganu: police officer who resigned to become an ascetic and singer of kirtans. He was an itinerant who spread Sai Baba's message.
3. Tatya Patil: He had immense faith in Sai Baba and served him until Sai Baba took samadhi. Sai Baba used to treat Tatya Patil as His nephew.
4. Baija Mai Kote Patil: Sai Baba treated her as His elder sister and equivalent to mother. She was Tatya Patil's mother.
5. Haji Abdul Baba: He served Sai Baba until Sai Baba left his body in 1918.
6. Madhav Rao Deshpande: Later known as Shama, one of the staunch devotees of Sai Baba.
7. Govindrao Raghunath Dabholkar (Hemadpant): Sai Baba allowed him to write the Shri Sai Satcharita.
8. Mahalsapati Chimanji Nagare: A priest of Khandoba Temple.
9. RadhaKrishna Mai: A great devotee of Baba, cleaned the temple every day and looked after Baba's needs.
Reported miraclesSai Baba's millions of disciples and devotees believe that he performed many miracles such as bilocation, levitation, mindreading, materialization, exorcisms, making the river Yamuna, 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, after death rising on third day like Jesus Christ, 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
Historical sourcesBiographers of Sai Baba (e.g., Govindrao Raghunath Dabholkar, Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja, Smriti Srinivas, Antonio Rigopolous) have based their writing on primary sources. One such source is the Shirdi Diary by Ganesh Shrikrishna Khaparde, which describes every day of the author's stay at Shirdi.
Speculation about the unknown episodes of Sai Baba's life are primarily based on his own words.
The most important source about Sai's life is the Shri Sai Satcharita, written in Marathi in 1916 by Govindrao Raghunath Dabholkar, whom Sai Baba nicknamed 'Hemadpant'. Consisting of 53 chapters, it describes Sai Baba's life, teachings, and miracles. The book compares Sai Baba's love to a mother's love: caring and loving, but reprimanding when needed. It describes Baba's lifestyle, his selfless attitude, and his love for his devotees. The book describes how one should surrender one's egoism at God's feet and trust one's guru. It explains how God is supreme and His devotees should trust Him and love Him. It teaches that God is omnipresent in all living things, so that everything on Earth must be treated with love and respect.
Sai Baba of Shirdi and His Teachings by Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja is an in-depth study of Sai Baba's life routine and activities. B.V. Narasimhaswamiji has written important books such as Sri Sai Baba's Charters and Sayings and Devotee's Experiences of Sai Baba.
In various religions
HinduismDuring Sai Baba's life, the Hindu saint Anandanath of Yewala declared Sai Baba a spiritual "diamond". Another saint, Gangagir, called him a "jewel" Sri Beedkar Maharaj greatly revered Sai Baba, and in 1873, when he met him he bestowed the title Jagad guru upon him. Sai Baba was also greatly respected by Vasudevananda Saraswati (known as Tembye Swami) He was also revered by a group of Shaivic yogis, to which he belonged, known as the Nath-Panchayat.
(In 1940, Indian guru, Sathya Sai Baba proclaimed himself to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi Sathya Sai Baba had a considerable number of followers in the 20th and 21st centuries.)
IslamIn a minor section of Islam community, Sai Baba is mainly considered as a Muslim fakir. He appears in Sufism as a Pir.
ZoroastrianismSai Baba is worshiped by prominent Zoroastrians such as Nanabhoy Palkhivala and Homi Bhabha, and has been cited as the Zoroastrians' most popular non-Zoroastrian religious figure.
OthersMeher Baba, who was born into a Zoroastrian family, met Sai Baba once, during World War I, in December 1915. Meher Baba was still a youngster named Merwan Sheriar Irani when he met Sai Baba for a few minutes during one of Sai Baba's processions in Shirdi. This event is considered as the most significant in Meher Baba's life. Shri Sai Satcharita (Sai Baba's life story), makes no mention of Meher Baba. But in Lord Meher, the life story of Meher Baba, there are innumerable references to Sai Baba. Meher Baba credited his Avataric advent to Upasni, Sai Baba, and three other Perfect Masters: Hazrat Babajan, Hazrat Tajuddin Baba, and Narayan Maharaj. He declared Sai Baba to be a Qutub-e-Irshad (the highest of the five Qutubs as said in Sufism in Islam), a "Master of the Universe" in the spiritual hierarchy.
Sacred art and architectureIn India, its a common sight to find a Sai Baba temple in any city or town; in every large city or town there is at least one temple dedicated to Sai Baba. There are even some in towns and cities outside India. In the mosque in Shirdi in which Sai Baba lived, there is a life-size portrait of him by Shama Rao Jaykar, an artist from Mumbai. Numerous monuments and statues depicting Sai Baba, which serve a religious function, have been made. One of them, made of marble by a sculptor named Balaji Vasant Talim, is in the Samadhi Mandir in Shirdi where Sai Baba was buried. In Sai Baba temples, his devotees play devotional religious music, such as aarti.
StampThe Indian Postal Service released a Sai Baba commemorative stamp in May 2008.
On July 30, 2009, the New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah inaugurated what has been acclaimed as the largest solar steam system in the world, at the Shirdi shrine. The Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust paid an estimated Rs.1.33 crore for the system, Rs.58.4 lakh of which was paid as a subsidy by the renewable energy ministry. It is said the system can cook 20,000 meals per day for pilgrims visiting the temple.
Film and televisionSai Baba has been the subject of several feature films in many languages produced by India's film industry.
The Shri Sai Gurucharitra is a biography on the life of Sai Baba of Shirdi, written by his devotee Ganpatrao Dattatreya Sahasra-buddhe, better known as Das Ganu Mahara
BackgroundDas Ganu was a havildar (policeman) by profession, but was eventually persuaded by Shirdi Sai Baba to give up his job, after which he became a much sought-after kirtankar: someone who sings kirtans or religious songs. He also talked of saints that he had met or that inspired him. Later in life, Das Ganu wrote three books on different saints, in which he devoted four chapters to Sai Baba. These books are called 'Bhakta Leelamrita', 'Bhakti Saramrita' and 'Sant Kathamrita'. The four chapters have been combined into one book, under the title of "Shri Sai Gurucharitra", and were translated into English in 1949, from a Telugu version by "Sri SVL" with an introductory preface by Sri Sainathuni Sarathbabuji.
Not verifiableIt is not recorded in other sources if Sai Baba ever made such longwinded speeches about spirituality. It was his manner to seize the moment to teach in small sentences and short words . Some of his teachings are available in the form of aphorisms. He never explained the spiritual truths in the style as was shown in these chapters. It is therefore evident that the long passages attributed to Baba in Das Ganu's books or in later histories of Baba are not verbatim transcripts of his teachings.
So Das Ganu Maharaj not always recorded a strictly literal version of Sai Baba's sayings. A detailed explanation by Das Ganu Maharaj may be seen in the 31st chapter of "Bhakta Leelamrit", where he says:
"Some facts, i.e. autobiographical reminiscences, came from Baba's own mouth. But they were very few. Besides, I had not spent much time with Baba. I rarely saw him. When I was at Shirdi, Baba did not allow me to stay long at the masjid. He made me go away to the Vittal temple where I stayed to write lives of saints, or to spend my time in repetition of Vishnu Sahasranama etc. I made some inquiries about Baba also before writing these works. Some facts were within my personal knowledge. I was in active (police) service as a havildar. Three chapters of the book were read as a Poti (holy scripture) at the mosque before Baba, and he said, "It is alright", when Nana Saheb Chandorkar gave him the book. The instruction given to Chandorkar by Baba was mentioned to me by Chandorkar. I expanded it with my own learning and gave it its present shape, but the kernel of it was given by Chandorkar. Baba has several times talked Advaitic philosophy in my presence.
SantakathamritaThe Santakathamrita was the first book I wrote about Sai Baba. This was written bit by bit when I was in service i.e., before 1903, both the portions about Baba and about others. But it was printed in 1903. Baba blessed the effort. None of my books was read to Baba. Nor was Baba asked before-hand to give the information for writing the books. What he spoke of his own accord was picked up. Baba had talked of his "Selu" antecedents and I made inquiries at Selu about Baba's antecedents. Baba said about each book when placed in his hand, That is alright". I do not know whether Baba knew how to write, read or even to sign his name.
The account given in it (in chapter 28) about Baba's antecedents at Selu is based partly on Baba's statements and partly on what the villagers of Selu told me. The only thing Baba said of Selu and the Selu period was that he came from Selu. So I started while I was in service and went to Selu to make enquiries. I cannot specify any villager as having told me anything in particular. My inquiry was 35 years back. The villagers said that there was an old Saint, that a young boy was being trained by him, that some got vexed with the Saint and threw stones at him and killed him and that the boy escaped and that all this took place 100 years previously. Sal Baba told me, in the presence of Chandorkar, that the brick he used as a pillow at Shirdi and which is still retained as a relic of Baba at Shirdi was given by his Guru to him, that his Guru was "Venkusa". The version about Baba's telling Chandorkar is my own, as I wished to avoid dragging my own name into my own work and figuring in it too prominently. Chandorkar did not know if he maintained a diary or note of his experiences."Das Ganu gave the explanation about the teachings contained in these chapters on another occasion:
"The teachings I have attributed to Baba as having been told to Nanasaheb Chandorkar is not a verbatim transcription. Nana told me of some spiritual truths revealed to him by Baba. I used my imagination to enlarge and expound upon these matters. Baba had merely taught the essence."
Bhakti Lilamrita"Next came Bhakti Lilamrita. This was published in Baba's life time, in 1906. There were three chapters (31, 32 and 33 of the book) that were about Sai Baba. These were read as Poti (i.e. holy scripture) at the mosque before Baba.
Lastly came the Bhakti Saramrita. The two chapters relating to Baba therein, no. 52-53, were placed in his hands and he said, "alright". But other chapters were composed later from time to time mostly after 1918; in 1925 this book was printed as a whole."This is the first fictional story, which tells of Sri Sai Baba's birth and antecedents. There is no authentic proof to the facts narrated in this. Das Ganu Maharaj himself revealed this subsequently. In the 31st chapter of "Bhakta Leelamrit" he says,
"No one knows his antecedents or his previous history. What can I tell you of these details when I too am as ignorant as the others? If anyone asked Baba this question, he would answer, "As the rain falls when the clouds in the sky peal with thunder, I too have fallen on this earth. I have no name or place. I am without any attributes. I have assumed this body due to the inevitable karma, which does its work, immutable and unalterable. I am known everywhere as a body. The whole world is my abode. Brahman is my father- the impenetrable Maya is my mother. It is by their conjoining that I have assumed this body which you see with your eyes."
What is interesting in this quote is that even here, Das Ganu ascribes words to Sai Baba that are more his own than Sai Baba's.
Later, in 1925, or 7 years after Baba's mahasamadhi, Sri Das Ganu included his story about Gopalrao Desmukh of Selu in 'Bhakti Saaramrit'. That chapter has not been read in the presence of Sri Sai Baba in the Masjid.
Shirdi Sai Baba movement
HistoryThe Shirdi Sai Baba movement began in the 19th century, during Sai Baba's life, while he was staying in Shirdi, India. A local Khandoba priest named Mahalsapathy is believed to have been his first devotee. However, in the nineteenth century Sai Baba's followers were only a small group of Shirdi inhabitants and a few people from other parts of India. It started developing in the 20th century and even faster in 1910 with the Sankirtans of Das Ganu (one of Sai's devotees) who spread Sai Baba's fame to the whole of India. Since 1910 numerous Hindus and Muslims from all parts of India started coming to Shirdi. During Sai's life Hindus worshipped him with Hindu rituals and Muslims revered him greatly, considering him to be a saint. Later (in the last years of Sai Baba's life) Christians and Zoroastrians started joining the Shirdi Sai movement.
Chandra Bhanu Satpathy, a devotee of Sai Baba, has been instrumental in creating more than two hundred temples of Shirdi Sai Baba in India and abroad. He has also had an important role in the development and propagation of the Shirdi Sai Baba movement. Revered Shri C.B. Satpathy Ji is known to one and all as ‘’Guruji’’. He is an ardent devotee of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba and has been the premier torchbearer of the universal Sai Movement, touching millions of Sai devotees worldwide for over two decades. On the path of His extraordinary journey, creation of a vast collection of Sai Literature and regular magazines, an enchanting collection of Sai Music in Hindi & Oriya language, many Educational and Charitable institutions and above all millions of souls connected to Shri Sai find place as some of His milestones. The “Sai Utsav” a yearly international event on life and teaching of Shirdi Sai Baba was started at USA in the year 2001, which was subsequently organized in Sydney, Johannesburg, Nairobi & London.
Referring to ‘Shri Sai Satcharita’ the main book depicting the teachings of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba, as the prime reference point for the devotees for their conduct and character Guruji stresses upon Simplicity, Purity & Love as the essence of Sai Movement. Scores of people are drawn to Him from all over the world and find solace in His loving compassionate presence thereby moving towards Shri Shirdi Sai with faith and perseverance.
Chandra Bhanu Satpathy has authored books titled ‘Shri Shirdi Sai Baba and Other Perfect Masters’ and ‘May I Answer’ in English that are translated in English, Hindi, Assamese, Oriya, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujrati, Tamil & Telugu etc and in many international languages like Slovenian & Nepali, . He has written 16000 verses on various aspects of a Guru-Shishya relationship published in 4 volumes of ‘Shree Guru Bhagvata’ in Oriya that is translated in Hindi & English. Several magazines like ‘Sai Heritage’ (English), ‘Sai Ananta’ (Marathi), ‘Sai Darshan’ & ‘Sai Kripa’ (Hindi), ‘Sai Baani’ (Oriya), ‘Sai Kirnalu’ (Telegu) are being published by different Sai temples under His regular guidance in India and abroad. Web sites reflecting His activities towards spreading the faith in Sai Baba e.g; www.heritageofshirdisai.org; www.saibaba.org; www.shirdibaba.org; www.shirdisaibaba.com;
The devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba have spread all over India. According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Religion there is at least one Sai Baba mandir in nearly every Indian city. His image is quite popular in India. Some prominent non-religious publishing houses (such as Sterling Publishers) have also published books about Shirdi Sai written by his devotees. According to the book Modern World Religions: Hinduism - Pupil Book Core Shirdi is among the major Hindu places of pilgrimage. According to estimates the Sai mandir in Shirdi is visited by around a hundred thousand pilgrims a day and during religious festivals this number amounts to more than a hundred thousand.
Beyond India the Shirdi Sai movement has spread to other countries such as the USA and the Caribbean. Sai Baba mandirs and organisations of his devotees have been built in countries including Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom, Spain, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. According to the book The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States the Shirdi Sai Baba movement is one of the main Hindu religious movements in English speaking countries.
The Shirdi Sai Baba movement has developed mainly thanks to the Shri Saibaba Sansthan and other organisations of his devotees such as the All India Sai Samaj, authors of publications about Sai such as B. V. Narasimhaswamiji, Swami Sai Sharananand, Guruji C. B. Satpathy, as well as numerous mandirs dedicated to Sai Baba.
Much of the Shirdi Sai Baba movement started because of the deligent work of H.H. Shri B.V.Narasimha Swamiji of Chennai who went to Shirdi 12 years after the Mahasamadhi of Shirdi Sai Baba. Later Shree B.V.Narasimha Swamiji started the all India Sai Samaj and built a beautiful temple in Mylapore Chennai just like the Samadhi mandir in Shirdi. This happens to be the first Sai Baba temple built in South India. His disciple H.H.Radhakrishna Swamiji came to Bangalore and built the beautiful Shirdi Sai centre in Bangalore. Also, H.H. Swami Sai Sharanandji built the beautiful temple of Shirdi Sai Baba at Ahmedabad. Acharya E.Bharadwaja also built Sai Baba temple in vidya nagar(Near Nellore in A.P) which is blessed by several contemporary saints. These saints were themselves considered realized beings and are being worshipped and revered by many people and are often called the apostles of Shirdi Sai Baba. One can find their pictures in the samadhi mandir at Shirdi. Much of the Sai movement owes much to their diligent effort.
PracticesThe practices that Shirdi Sai Baba's devotees use to worship him are mainly traditional Hindu practices such as puja, ritual washing of his images, singing and repeating his name, worshipping his feet (which is a common practice in Hinduism) going on pilgrimage to Shirdi, singing arati or reciting a mantra (Om Sai Shri Sai Jaya Jaya Sai). The anniversary of Sai Baba's Mahasamadhi is an important festival for them. Guru poornima is another auspicious day celebrated by sai devotees. It is told that Brahma gnyan can't be achieved without a guru's help. Hence baba paid highest importance to guru parampara and guru worship. Sai is worshipped by people of many religions.
The Sai Baba mandir in Shirdi is active and every day worship of Sai is conducted in it, including aartis. Pilgrims visit Shirdi every day. Shirdi Baba is especially revered and worshipped in the state of Maharashtra. Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, under the jurisdiction of Government of Maharashtra is based there. It maintains a complex of Sai Baba temples and publishes publications about him. It also conducts free charity, social and medical work and ensures the development of Shirdi. It is governed by a board of trustees
TransportationShirdi is located approximately 296 km from Mumbai, capital of Maharashtra in India. It is called the Land of Sai. The closest and highly connected city from Shirdi is Ahmednagar city.
As of 2011, there are trains from Chennai, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam via Secunderabad, Mysore and other cities/states that have Shirdi railway station as their terminal stop. Trains also run from Manmad station which is 87 km and Ahmednagar station which is 83 km from the heart of Shirdi, alternatively from Kopargaon station which is 15 km from Shirdi, or Nashik city, which is 119 km from Shirdi or Nagarsol. Daund railway station is 200 km from Shirdi.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )