When Shirdi Baba arrived with a wedding party along with Chandhubhai to Shirdi for the first time, Mhalaspathi saw the fakir getting down from a cart and went to him and said: “Aayiye, Baba! Aayiye Sai!” (Come, Baba! Come Sai!) The name “Sai” was given by Mhalaspathi. Till then, no one had conferred a name on him. “Sai” name could have its origin in Persian Language, coming from the Sufi tradition. The term Baba is an endearing term, common in the north and used for accosting an elderly person, father or a Guru. The term, Sai Baba became familiar perhaps only during the days of Shirdi Sai Baba. Sathya Sai Baba gives the true meaning of Sai as mother and Baba as Father and Sai Baba meaning the universal mother and father combined in one.
Once Shirdi Sai Baba was summoned to testify before a Magistrate’s court when a thief said that the stolen goods were given to him by Sai Baba. Many devotees felt that it was not proper to ask Sai Baba to appear in person to give the testimony in the court in Dhulia. The court agreed to their request and sent a first class magistrate to record the testimony of Shirdi Sai baba in Shirdi itself.
|Commissioner||: Your Name|
|Sai Baba||: All call me by the name of Sai Baba|
|Commissioner||: Your father’s name?|
|Sai Baba||: His name was also Sai Baba|
|Commissioner||: Your Guru’s name?|
|Sai Baba||: Venkusa|
|Commissioner||: Your religion?|
|Sai Baba||: The religion of Kabir|
|Commissioner||: Your age?|
|Sai Baba||: Millions of years|
|Commissioner||: You take oath that you will tell the truth only|
|Sai Baba||: I never told any lies before and I shall never tell lies in future also|
|Commissioner||: Do you know the accused?|
|Sai Baba||: There are none whom I do not know|
|Commissioner||: The accused says that he is your devotee and he knows you.|
|Sai Baba||: I am with all and all are mine.|
|Commissioner||: Did you give those articles to the accused?|
|Sai Baba||: In this world, whoever wants anything, I give them|
|Commissioner||: What kind of right do you have over the articles given to him?|
|Sai Baba||: Everything in this world is mine. There is nothing which does not belong to me.|
|Commissioner||: This is a matter of serious nature involving theft. The accused says that you have given him these articles|
|Sai Baba||: What is all this fuss? I have no connection with this affair|
The court later found that accused has never visited the village and all his claims of receiving stolen goods from Shirdi Sai Baba were false. It is interesting to reflect on some the answers Shirdi Sai Baba gave to the routine questions asked by the Court Commissioner. Shirdi Sai claimed his age as millions of years and his religion as Kabir Panth. Kabir means ‘the great’ and it is the 37th name of Allah in Islam.
Kabir (c.1440 – c.1518) was a mystical poet and a Saint who sang about God and spirituality in simple to understand poems called as Doha’s (couplets). He eschewed any orthodox definition of God and was quick to condemn both Hindus and Muslims for not understanding their own holy scriptures. While many historians are not sure about Kabir’s origins, it is widely believed that he was born in a Hindu family; however adopted and raised by a Muslim childless couple, Niru and Nima who were weavers by trade.
Kabir’s sayings are very similar to those of Jalaluddin Rumi , another mystical poet of Sufi tradition. The Sufis believe that all existence and all religions were one, merely different manifestations of the same divine reality. What was important was not the empty external ritual of the mosque or temple, but simply to understand that divinity can best be reached through the gateway of the human heart – that we all have paradise within us, if we know where to look. The central concept in Sufism is ‘love’. Sufis believe that, love is a projection of the essence of God to the universe. God desires to recognize beauty, and as if one looks at a mirror to see oneself, God ‘looks’ at itself within the dynamics of nature. Since everything is a reflection of God, the school of Sufism practices to see the beauty inside the apparent ugly, and to open arms even to sinners. This infinite tolerance is expressed in the most beautiful way by Rumi: ‘Come, come, whoever you are. Worshiper, Wanderer, Lover of Leaving; ours is not a caravan of despair. Though you have broken your vows a thousand times…Come, come again, Come.’
Sufism with its Holy Men and visions, healings and miracles, and its emphasis on the individual’s search for direct knowledge of the divine, has remarkable similarities to Hinduism, and historically the Sufis acted as a bridge between the two religions. One of the greatest Sufis Ibn Arabi, who lived more than 700 years ago expresses the universal spirit of the journey: “My heart has become capable of every form: It is a pasture for gazelles And a convent for Christian monks And a temple for idols And the pilgrim’s Ka’ba And the tables of the Torah And the book of the Koran. I follow the religion of love: Whatever way Love’s camels take, That is my religion and my faith’”
Shirdi Sai Baba’s lesson to Muslims
A controversy arose among the local people as to whether Baba was a Muslim or a Hindu. At one time he used to say: “Allah Malik! Allah Malik!” At other times, he would say “Dattatreya Malik”! Whenever he shouted “Allah Malik!” Muslims used to come to him in the masjid. His appearance was very much like that of a Muslim. Hence, many Muslims used to come to him. Hindus also used to come and offer incense to him. The Muslims did not approve of what the Hindus were doing. The Hindus did not like the way Muslims revered Baba. Consequently, bitterness developed between the two communities. One day, Mhalaspathi was sitting near Baba and doing some service to him. Mhalaspathi was the priest in the Khandoba temple. The Muslims, who were opposed to the presence of a Hindu priest near Baba, came with sticks and beat up Mhalaspathi. At every stroke, Mhalaspathi cried out: “Baba!” “Baba!” Each time he shouted the name of Baba, the blow was borne by Baba. Mhalaspathi fell to the ground. Baba came out. Muslims had great reverence for Baba. Baba roared at the Muslim crowd; “Saithan! On the one side you worship me and on the other you beat me. Is this your devotion?” Baba was bleeding all over the body. The Muslims saw it and asked Baba who had beaten him. “Did you not beat me? Did you not beat me?” said Baba pointing to several men in the crowd. They said: “We did not come near you at all. We only beat Mhalaspathi.” “Who is in Mhalaspathi? I am in him,” declared Baba. “He has surrendered to me and hence all his troubles are mine.” Baba teaches a lesson to all On hearing this, the Muslims fell at Baba’s feet and craved his forgiveness. Baba then summoned the Hindus and Muslims and told them: “Dear Children, you are all the progeny of one mother.” Thereby Baba demonstrated the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. He wanted all differences of caste and creed to be eschewed. What mattered for mankind was the heart. One who is only concerned about his matham (creed) will never discover the Divine (Madhava). You must seek the Divine within you. Baba pointed out that all caste and creed distinctions related only to the body. Therefore, you should seek the Supreme in your inner consciousness.
At an exclusive session in July 1984, Swami had underlined the three-in-one phenomenon of the Sai Baba Trinity. All three have the same Sayeeshwara trinity. All the three have the same Sayeeshwara Divinity. The first-born Shirdi Sai is symbolic of Shiva, the second in line, Sathya Sai is Shiva and Shakti aspects combined and the third Prema Sai would represent the Shakti Element. The three are born in remote villages having the same name and also at the confluence of rivulets. Shirdi Sai Baba was born at Pathri in Aurangabad district, at the confluence of a tributary to the river Godavari in Maharashtra. Sathya Sai was born at Puttaparthi, at the confluence of Chitravathi and once-existing Kushavati river in Andhra. And Prema Sai will be born in Gunaparthi of Karnataka on the banks of Tungabhadra river.
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