Sai Baba of Shirdi

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Sai Baba of Shirdi (September 28, 1838[citation needed] – October 15, 1918), also known as Shirdi Sai Baba (Marathi: शिर्डीचे श्री साईबाबा), was an Indian guru, yogi and fakir who is regarded by his Hindu and Muslim devotees as a saint. Hindu devotees consider him an incarnation of Lord Shiva or Dattatreya. Many devotees believe that he was a Sadguru or an enlightened Sufi Peer (Urdu: پیر) or a Qutub. There are many stories and eyewitness accounts of miracles he performed. He is a well-known figure in many parts of the world, but especially in India, where he is much revered.

Sāī is from Indian and Arabic/Persian origin, meaning "Sakshat Eshwar" or the divine given by the priest Mahalsapati (a close devotee of Sai Baba) during the evening that Baba returned to Shirdi, having left as a teenager(reference to it could be found in Sai Charitra), although the priest Mahalsapti confesses the fact that he does not remember giving the name of "Sai" to Baba. Baba (honorific) is a word meaning "father; grandfather; old man; sir" used in Indo-Aryan languages. The appellative thus refers to Sai Baba as being a "holy father" or "saintly father".[1] His parentage, birth details, and life before the age of sixteen are obscure, which has led to a variety of speculations and theories attempting to explain Sai Baba's origins. In his life and teachings he tried to reconcile Hinduism and Islam: Sai Baba lived in a mosque which he called Dwarakamayi, practiced Hindu and Muslim rituals, taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions and was buried in a Hindu temple in Shirdi. One of his well known epigrams says of God: "Sabka Malik Ek " ("One God governs all") which traces its root to the Bhagavad-Gita and Islam in general, and Sufism, in particular. He always uttered "Allah Malik" ("God is King"). He had no love for perishable things and was always engrossed in self-realization, which was his sole concern.

Sai Baba taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace,and devotion to God and guru. His teachings combined elements of Hinduism and Islam and tried to achieve communal harmony between these religions.

Sai Baba remains a very popular saint[2] and is worshipped by people around the world. Though the debate over his Hindu or Muslim origins continues to take place, his personal religious practices such as belief in the unity of God, reciting Al-Fatiha among other Quranic verses, liking Namaz as a way of prayer, and other individual preferences such as the attire of a Muslim saint with head covered, consumption of meat and abstinence from alcohol point more to him being a Muslim. A mosque still stands in Shirdi, a place in which he once lived and continued to visit regularly. According to Purdom, when Kulkarni Maharaj strongly requested Upasni Maharaj to pay a visit to Sai Baba, Upasni replied 'Why should I go to a Muslim?'[3] He is also revered by several notable Hindu and Sufi religious leaders. Some of his disciples received fame as spiritual figures and saints such as Upasni Maharaj, Saint Bidkar Maharaj, Saint Gangagir, Saint Jankidas Maharaj and Sati Godavari Mataji.[4][5]

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