Shri Shirdi Sai Baba

Sai Baba, one of the foremost saints of modern India, the Fifth avatar (incarnation) of Lord Dattatreya in this age of Kali, lived in the tiny village of Shirdi in the State of Maharashtra for sixty years and elevated it to the status of a great spiritual centre. He never preached, toured nor discoursed. He never advertised himself. Yet by the sheer brilliance of his spiritual fire did he draw innumerable devotees to him from all over the country, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion.

Surprising as it may sound, a Saint of his stature and fame is without a name. No one knows his original name, time and place of birth, his religion, caste and not even of his caste. "Sai Baba", the name by which he came to be known, is what has been used by one of his first devotees to greet him on his second arrival at Shirdi. 'Sai' means a saint and 'Baba' means father. The name is thus just an expression of love and reverence due to such a spiritual giant as he and is not a personal name.

His arrival at Shirdi was very sudden. He appeared, one day, as a boy of sixteen or seventeen, seated under a neem (margosa) tree in the outskirts of the village of Shirdi, about the year 1854. He stayed under the neem tree for about three years, not bothering about the vagaries of the weather nor did he approach any one for his daily needs. The boy disappeared suddenly the way he had appeared. None knew where he went or why. After a year or so, he again returned to Shirdi and stayed on there for full sixty years.

Sai Baba converted an old dilapidated Mosque as his residence and had named it as 'Dwarakamai' and in this unique place, the essence of all the principal creeds were united and the common worship of the universal god brought home to each and all in a unique and loving manner. The presence of Dhuni (sacred fire) was a temple to the Hindus and the Parsees, the nimbaru (niche) on the western wall made it look like a mosque; and to the Christian it was a church where the bells announce prayers. Shri Shirdi Sai Baba attained his "Mahasamadhi" on the auspicious "Vijayadasami" day in 1918.

(Also refer "Sai Baba- The Master (English)" by Pujya Sri Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja)