How to Reach Shirdi:
Shirdi is famous for Saint Saibaba who is endowed with unprecedented powers, and is worshipped as a God incarnate with a white beard and penetrating glance, clad in the traditional attire of a poor fakir a ragged white robe and a kerchief around the head seated barefoot on a rock, his right ankle resting on his left knee.
Both Hindus and Muslims believe in Saibaba and visit the Saibaba Temple at least once in a week, preferably on Thursday. On every Thursday, a special Aarti (prayer) is performed in the temple. Other places of tourist interest are the Gurusthan, the Khandoba Temple, the Shani Mandir, the Narsimha Mandir, the Changdev Maharaj Samadhi and the Sakori Ashram.The sacred abode of Shri Sai Baba at Shirdi is easily accessible from all the corners of India and even from all the major cities of the world. You can reach this pilgrim center by air, train and road, which ever medium that suits you.
By Air. The nearest airport to Shirdi is at Nashik, 75kms away, Aurangabad is at a distance of 150kms, which is connected by all the major towns of India. You can also come till Mumbai by air and travel down to 296kms to reach Shirdi. Mumbai has both international and domestic airports that grant connectivity to the world. Domestic airport in Pune is about 231kms from Shirdi. There are regular public and private transport operators that ensure your easy access to the sanctum of Saibaba.
By Rail/Train. Kopergaon on Daund-Manmad Line is an important railway station about 16kms from Shirdi. This station is on the route of the Karnataka Express from New Delhi to Bangalore. Manmad is another important station about 58kms from Shirdi which carries a number trains from Mumbai and Delhi. Shirdi has a computerized Railway Ticket Booking Center within the temple premises. From here you can have railway tickets of whichever destination all through India.
By Road. Shirdi can be reached by taking a Bus from almost all major cities of Maharashtra. Shirdi is on the Ahmednagar-Manmad Highway, 250 km from Mumbai and 75 km from Nashik. MTDC runs buses from all major destinations
Important Places in Shirdi:
Samadhi Mandir of Shri Sai Baba was actually owned by a millionaire from Nagpur, a famous Sai devotee Shreemant Gopalrao. Gopalrao wanted to keep an idol of Murlidhar here. However, Baba himself became Murlidhar and the Mandir became the Samadhi Mandir of Baba.The Mandir is built with stones and Baba’s Samadhi is built with white marble stones.
A railing is built in marble around the Samadhi and is full of ornamental decorations. In front of the Samadhi are two silver pillars full of decorative designs. Just behind the Samadhi is Sai Baba’s marvelous statue made of Italian marble which shows him seated on a throne. This idol was made by late Balaji Vasant.This statue was installed on 7th October 1954. Above the statue is an open, silver umbrella.
The front of the Mandir has an assembly hall where about 600 devotees can be accomadated. Here is the show-case where various things handled by Baba are kept. On the first floor of the Mandir are pictures depicting the life of Baba.The routine of the temple starts at 5 o’clock in the morning with Bhoopali, a morning song, and closes at 10 o’clock in the night after Shejarati is sung. Only on three occasions the temple is kept open overnight .ie. on Gurupoornima, Dassera, and Ramnavami. Every Thursday and on each fesitival, a Palakhi with Baba’s photo is taken out from the temple.
Shri Sai Baba came to Shridhi with a marriage procession. He stayed at Dwarkamai till the very end of his life. Dwarkamai is situated on the right side of the entrance of Samadhi Mandir. Here he solved problems of the people, cured their sickness and worries.
Before Baba’s arrival in Shridhi, Dwarkamai was an old mosque in a dilapidated condition. Baba turned it into Dwarkamai and proved that God is one.The first level of Dwarkamai has a portrait of Baba and a big stone on which Baba used to sit. This level has two rooms. One contains the chariot and the second a palkhi.
Just in front of the room where the chariot is kept is a small temple. A saffron flag flies over it.The second level of Dwarkamai has a square stool made of stone, which Baba used for taking a bath. The main attraction of this place is the oil painting of Shri Sai Baba sitting in a carved wooden shrine. This level also has the grinding stone and the wooden vessel called Kolamba in which Baba used to keep the Bhiksha brought from the village.
Sai Baba first came to Shirdi in the form of Bal Yogi – a child ascetic. He was first spotted seated under a Neem tree. This place came to be known as Gurusthan. The renovation of Gurusthan was made on 30th September 1941. The present temple was built after this period. There is a small shrine in Gurusthan. On an elevated platform of this shrine a big portrait of Baba is placed. On the side is a marble statue of Baba. In front of the portrait is a Shivling and the Nandi. Photos of twelve Jyotirlingas are kept in the temple. The branches of the Neem tree have come out through the roof of the temple.At a short distance lies Baba’s CHAVADI.
Baba used to sleep here every alternate day. The Chavadi is divided into two parts. One part of the Chavadi has a large portrait of Baba along with a wooden bed and a white chair belonging to him.There is a cottage of Abdul Baba, an ardent devotee of Shri Sai Baba, in front of the Chavadi. The Lendi Baug was looked after by Abdul Baba. There are photos and various things which were handled by Sai Baba and Abdul Baba in the cottage.There is a Maruti Mandir located at some distance from the cottage of Abdul Baba. This mandir was visited by Baba for the sat-sang with Devidas, a Balyogi, who lived at the Mandir ten to twelve years before Baba arrived.There are also temples of village deities named Shani, Ganapati, and Shankar to be visited.
At some distance from Gurusthan there is the Lendi Baug. This Baug was made and watered daily by Baba himself. It got its name from a Nalla (a drain) which used to previously flow there. Baba used to come here every morning and afternoon and take rest under a Neem tree. Baba dug a pit, 2 feet deep, under the Neem tree and kept a Deep lit in that pit. One octangular Deepgriha called Nanda Deep has been built in marble stone in memory of this place. It constantly burns in a glass box. On one side of the Deepgriha is a Peepal tree and on the other side is a Neem tree.
Some distance away is a Datta Mandir below an Audumbar tree. In the Mandir there is a statue of Datta built in marble stone. The statue of Datta was installed on 6th December, 1976. Just behind the Datta Mandir is a Samadhi of the horse, Shyamsundar which belonged to Baba and which used to bow to him.Lendi Baug also has a well dug by Baba with the cooperation of his devotees.At the entrance of the Baug are the Samadhi’s of ardent Sai devotees Tatya Kote Patil, Bhau Maharaj Kumbhar, Nanavalli and Abdul Baba.
This temple is situated on the main road. In front of this temple Baba was welcomed by Poojari Mhalsapati, of this temple, saying “Aao Sai”, when Baba stepped in Shridi. In this temple there are icons of Khandoba, Banai and Mhalsai.
Miracles of Sai Baba
The villagers of Shirdi and afar soon found out that this was no ordinary fakir but an avatar (incarnation) of a very high order. He demonstrated through his miracles and utterances, the purpose and intention for which he had come. He would often say, “My Leela is inscrutable”. To each one he met, he imparted knowledge according to the capacity of the recipient to absorb it. Baba’s Leela’s (miracles) were plenty and varied, and we recount just a few which occurred during and after his lifetime.
Baba’s Leelas ( Miracles )
Lighting lamps with water
Long before Sai Baba’s fame spread, he was fond of burning lights in his Masjid and other Temples. But for the oil needed in those little earthenware lights that he lit, he depended on the generosity of the grocers of Shirdi.
He had made it a rule to light earthenware lamps in the masjid every evening and he would call on the grocers for small donations. But there came a time when the grocers got tired of giving oil free to Sai Baba and one day they bluntly refused to oblige him, saying they had no fresh stocks. Without a word of protest Sai Baba returned to the masjid. Into those earthenware lamps he poured water and lighted the wicks. The lamps continued to burn deep into the midnight.
The matter came to the notice of the grocers who now came to Sai Baba with profuse apologies. Wouldn’t Sai Baba kindly pardon them? Sai Baba pardoned them, but he warned them never to lie again. “You could have refused to give me the oil, but did you have to say that you didn’t have fresh stocks?” he admonished them. But he had made his point.
Premonition of burning fields
Once, harvesting in Shirdi had been completed and the foodgrains of the entire village had been stored in a yard. The summer was on. The heat was intense as only those who have lived in Shirdi know. One afternoon Sai Baba summoned Kondaji Sutar and said to him: “Go, your field is on flrel” Frightened, Kondaji ran to his field and. frantically looked around for any sign of fire. There wasn’t any.
He returned to the masjid and informed Sai Baba that he had looked everywhere but had found no trace of fire and why did Baba have to frighten him? Unfazed, Baba said : “You better turn back and look again.” Baba was right after all. Kondaji noticed that a sheaf of corn was indeed on fire and smoke was billowing from it. A strong wind was fanning the fire and word had gone round to the villagers who now came running to the scene. “Sai Baba,” the people shouted “help us, help us put the fire out!” Thereupon, Sai Baba walked casually towards the yard, sprinkled some water on a stack of sheaves and said: ” There now! The fire will die down!” And so it happened.
Stopping the rain
There is the story of one Rao Bahadur Moreshwar Fradhan who had come to Shirdi to take Sai Baba’s darshan along with his wife. As the couple were about to leave, it began to rain heavily. Thunder and lightning rent the air.
As the Pradhan couple looked round in dismay, Sai Baba prayed. “Oh Allah!” he intoned, “let the rains cease. My children are going home. Let them go peacefully!” The storm thereupon ceased, the downpour reduced to slight drizzle and the Pradhans were able to reach their destination safely.
Raising the water level in well
When Sai Baba first came to Shirdi it had of no basic facilities. There was a well put only in name. It had no natural spring water and if ever there had been one, it must long ago have dried up. Water had to be fetched from a distance. When, therefore, Sai Baba gave his permission to the villagers to celebrate the Ram Navami Fair, (Baba’s Birthday) the big problem facing the organizers was one of water supply. So What should they do but go to Sai Baba with their problem? “‘Oh yes,” said Sai Baba, ‘so you want plenty of water, do you? Here, take this and drop it in the well and wait and see.
” “‘This,” turned up to be a platter of flowers on which some prasad (blessed food) had been placed along with the remnants of alms Baba had received earlier in the day. The villagers had no qualms about doing as they were did. Their faith in Sai Baba was total. No sooner had that platter of leaves been dropped in the well, it is said, water rose from the bottom as if by divine command and completely filled it. And great was the rejoicing of the people.
Saving a child from drowning
One report has it that word had spread that the 3-year old daughter of a poor man called Babu Kirwandikar had fallen into the well and had been drowned. When the villagers rushed to the well they saw the child suspended in mid-air as if some invisible hand was holding her up! She was quickly pulled out. Sai Baba was fond of that child who was often heard to say : I am Baba’s sister!” After this incident, the villagers took her at her word. “it is all Baba’s Leela”, the people would say philosophically. They could offer no other explanation.
Flow of Godavari (river) from Baba’s feet
These were instances of things they had seen with their own eyes. It was not secondhand information they had gathered. Sai Baba was to them as real as their homes and their fields and their cattle and the distant hills.Das Ganu once had an unforgettable experience. On a festive occasion, he sought Baba’s permission to go to a place called Singba on the banks of the Godavari to have a bath in the holy waters. “No,” Baba replied resolutely, “where is the need to go all the way when the Godavari is here right at my feet?” Das Ganu was vexed.
He was willing to concede that Ganga the holy river (Baba frequently referred to Godavari as Ganga) rose from the feet of Sri Narayana (one among the Hindu trinity of Gods) himself, but his faith was not deep enough to believe that the waters of the Godavari could spring form the feet of his master, Sri Sai. Baba who was reading Das Ganu’s mind decided that this was the time to strengthen Das Ganu’s faith.
He told his devotee: “come closer to me and hold the hollow of your palms at my feet!”. As soon as he did so water flowed freely out of the toes of the master’s feet and filled the hollow of Das Ganu’s palms in no time. His joy knew no limits. He sprinkled the water on his head and his body and distributed some more among the assembled devotees as tirtha (holy water).
There was that other occasion when many thought that the masjid which housed Sai Baba itself would be consumed by fire from the flames which leapt up from the dhuni. All that Baba did was to take some swipes at a wooden pillar in front of him. With every blow the flames subsided and the fire died down. “Miraculous,” said his devotees. Often they would notice him stirring some hot concotion over the kitchen fire, not with a ladle but with his bare hands.
There never was a time when his hand was scalded. What supernatural powers did he have? On yet another occasion, Sai Baba was partaking of food with three of his devotees in the masjid when, without any cause for provocation, he exclaimed- “Stop!” Then, as if nothing had happened, the four continued with their meal. Lunch over and the dishes cleared, they stepped out of the masjid, when large chunks of the ceiling fell on the very spot where they had been seated only a few minutes earlier.
Did Sai Baba’s powers extend even to inanimate matter, the devotees wondered. Instances have been quoted by his devotees as to how Sai Baba commanded the rains to stop and the winds to cease.
Understanding Sai Baba
Baba always maintained the “Dhuni” or the perpetual fire. The realisation that all the phenomenons of the nature are perishable and unworthy of our craving, is signified by “Udi” which Sal Baba distributed to all. Baba never left Shirdi.
He talked to people who came to see Him. Sal Baba would often speak in symbols and parables leaving his devotees to work out the answer – such as, “A man had a beautiful horse, but no matter what he did, it would not run in harness. An expert suggested that it should be taken back to the place from where it had come.
This was done and it become tracable and useful”. The explanation of this story is that the horse is the Ego. As commander of the physical and mental powers of man, it is useful but self-willed and therefore cause endless trouble. Taking it back to its source is re-absorbing it in the spirit source which it arises.
It is the return to the source which purifies and enlightens. From there the ego issues forth again, no longer an ego, but a conscious agent of the spirit. Baba would ask for Dakshina (money offered with respect to the Guru) from some of those who came to see Him. This was not because he needed their money.
This was one of Baba’s methods for testing out the devotee’s attachment to worldly things and willingness to surrender his ego. Once one has surrendered himself totally to Him, Baba takes care of all His spiritual and temporal needs. Baba regarded money like everything else, in a symbolical manner. He once said, ” I ask only from those who the fakir (God) points out and in exchange I give them ten times as much”. By the end of the day, all the money Baba had earned was distributed to the destitute, poor, sick and the needy. Baba used to feed the fakirs and devotees and even cook for them. For those who were accustomed to meat, he cooked meat and for the others vegetarian fare.
The Dwarakamayee of Sai Baba was open to all, irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Among those who came to see him and got his darshan (establishing spiritual contact with the Guru) and blessings were ministers, government officials, business people and village folk. He was the common man’s God. He Stayed with them, hejoked with them, He slept and ate with them, he smoked a chillum (pipe) with them, he sang and danced with them, having no pretensions of a God. But all of them Knew that He protected them.
Even today, though He has left his gross body, they feel his presence and realise his worth all the more. Baba would also refer to the sounding of the drum of the beginning of eternity within the soul. This “anahat” sound emerged from Baba’s heart from every limb, every bone and pore of his body. It was permeated with divine essence and Baba claimed that though one day his physical body will not exist, his remains will communicate with from the grave. Therefore, the most important place in Shirdi is Baba’s temple – the Samadhi Mandir is his grave, which literally millions have visited and still continues to draw many more.
Sai Baba of Shirdi History
Sai Baba of Shirdi (Unknown – October 15, 1918), also known as Shirdi Sai Baba, 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 Dattatreya. Many devotees believe that he was a Satguru, an enlightened Sufi Pir, or a Qutub.
He is a well-known figure in many parts of the world, but especially in India, where he is much revered.Sai Baba’s real name is unknown. The name “Sai” was given to him upon his arrival at Shirdi. No information is available regarding his birth and place of birth. Sai baba never spoke about his past life. Sāī is of Sanskrit origin, meaning “Sakshat Eshwar” or the divine. The honorific “Baba” means “father; grandfather; old man; sir” in Indo-Aryan languages.
Thus Sai Baba denotes “holy father” or “saintly father”.He was born in a Hindu family and was adopted by a Muslim family who raised him until he was 16. After that he went as a sannyasi to Shridi and made it his permanent home (however there is no evidence as such).Sai Baba had no love for perishable things and his sole concern was self-realization. He remains a very popular saint, and is worshipped by people around the world. 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 a Hindu temple 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”).The many of his practices point more to him believing in the unity of God, reciting Al-Fatiha and other Qur’anic readings at Muslim festival times, listening to hamds and qawwali twice daily,practicing Salah (Namaz), wearing clothing reminiscent of a Sufi fakir, omnivore and abstaining from alcohol.
A mosque still stands in Shirdi, a place in which he once lived and continued to visit regularly. According to Purdom, when Kulkarni Maharaj requested Upasni Maharajto pay a visit to Sai Baba, Upasni replied ‘Why should I go to a Muslim?’Sai Baba is revered by several notable Hindu religious leaders. Some of his disciples became famous as spiritual figures and saints, such as Mhalsapati,a priest of Kandoba temple in Shridi, Upasni Maharaj, Saint Bidkar Maharaj, Saint Gangagir, Saint Jankidas Maharaj, and Sati Godavari Mataji.
In 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 Mohdin Tamboli that he took up the kafni and cloth cap, articles of typical Sufi clothing. T
his 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 1954 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.
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.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, symbolsand allegories.Sai Baba participated in religious festivals and was also 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. His behavior was sometimes uncouth and violent. 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.
Museum in Shirdi is a rich repository of all things associated with Shri Saibaba. Kept under the maintenance of Saibaba Sansthan of Shirdi, the Museum has some of the most intimate and personal belongings of the Spiritual Guru Saibaba. Devotees from across the world visit this Museum that is a part of Dwarkamai.
The Sai Museum has carefully kept many of the things that were close to this charismatic Guru. It has Saibaba’s padukas or footwear, which are revered by the Sai devotees. The place also has some of the coins that Saibaba gave to Malsapati, the priest of Khandoba. The museum preserves the two utensils that were used to feed people in hordes. In these utensils one was small and other big. The smaller one was used to provide food for 50 people while the big one was used to serve a group of 100 people.
The museum also has a Grinding Mill that was used by Saibaba. This grinding mill has its own significance and is symbolic of the deep-seated philosophy of Saibaba. The Grinding Mill posits the concept of Dharma and Bhakti that must come together for the ultimate salvation. The upper stone symbolized Bhakti and the lower one was representative of Dharma. Deciphering the true essence of life the mill showed that with the faith on Dharma and Bhakti, mankind could achieve the state of Supreme Being.
Articles that were personally used by Saibaba are kept in Samadhi temple. Devotees can witness these articles when in the Samadhi temple. The Sai museum also has the chair that was used by Saibaba regularly.
You can also have a look at the cot on which Saibaba’s last bathing took place after his demise. There is this earthenware, which was used by Saibaba while begging. The pot in which Saibaba stored water is still here and full with water even today. There is the original chimta carefully preserved in here that Saibaba used while singing.
Shri Sai Baba Sansthan
Sai Museum Shirdi