Sai Baba of Shirdi is the first incarnation of the three (Sai Baba of Shirdi-Sathya Sai Baba and Prema Sai Baba).
Jovial in character, he loved to talk and joke with his many faithful. Nobody ever knew if he was Muslim or Hindu. Excellent connoisseur of both religions, he participated without preference in the feasts of one and the other. Although his habit was reminiscent of the Muslim custom, he called himself fakir and brahmin at the same time and had knowledge of all yogic practices. For Him (Rama the God of Hindus and Allah the God of Muslims) they were the same and only divinity. His teaching was generally done by parables but the most profound teaching, the one that attracted him the deep devotion of the whole country (Initially almost exclusively in the North ... now he is one of the most known and revered Avatars in all of India) took place through the example of His life. Although over the years ever larger sums of money and offerings came to His home, He always lived in absolute poverty, personally going every morning to beg for food for the day. He never had a wardrobe, but he always used the same rag he mended and patched by himself, until some disciple forced him to put on a new one. Everything that came to him was immediately given to those who needed it. He never preached poverty to his disciples and never asked anyone to follow his lifestyle. He was always reachable by anyone 24 hours a day, always ready to answer any questions. He used to ask the richest disciples from 4 to 100 rupees which he immediately distributed to the poorest disciples. His teaching was above all love. He said that the day the disciple realized what Love really was, he would get Revelation. He always insisted that if one could see God in all creation, the quarrel and hatred would have been absurd, thus becoming impossible to feel resentment towards someone. The way to reach the Supreme goal was to surrender totally to God. With him the traditional Indian way of Bhakti (way of devotion and love) had a great impulse.
"Until Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba gave some details a few years ago, the birth and early years of Shirdi Baba's life remained obscure because no story had been told by him or anyone else. Here is what he said to this About.
In the small village of Pathri, a man named Ganga Bhavadia lived: his job was that of the ferryman, and he lived with his wife in a hut outside the village. Much to their regret, they both had no children. One evening the storm, at the time of the monsoons, threatened to overflow the river and Ganga Bhavadia had to run to better dock her boat otherwise the waters would have taken her away. He left his wife alone in the hut and left.
Srimati Devaghiriamma, as his wife was called, while she was praying like every evening, suddenly she heard someone knocking on the porch door. He went to open it and found himself in front of an old ragged man, who looked tired and begged for some bread. In Indian tradition the guest is considered to be the Lord himself who gives you the opportunity to serve him.
Ganga's wife therefore served him with all that was best in the house. Ten minutes later she heard a knock on the door again. Again it was the pilgrim who this time asked if he could spend the night on the veranda. She agreed with kindness and went back into the house.
A few minutes passed and a few more shots on the door. It was still the old man who this time asked the woman to massage his aching legs. The poor woman, not knowing how to please the old man, left the house looking for someone who could help her, since, as a married woman, she could never have massaged a man without losing her honor. She knew that there were two prostitutes in the village who also used to do massages and therefore went to their home. But he didn't find them. She returned home desperate and desolate began to pray hard.
After a while he heard the door knock on the back of the house knock and went to open it. It was one of the two women who had gone to look for a few minutes earlier.
Devaghiriamma said to her: "There is a poor man who suffers from the legs and who needs a good massage. Please do it to him and I will give you what you ask for when you are finished. " And left them alone.
After a quarter of an hour she heard a knock on the door again. And this time he found himself in front of Siva and Parvathi shining in the light of their divinity.
The good woman, at the height of her surprise, fell to her knees, but Parvathi helped her to get up and said to her gently: "Devaghiriamma! The woman you went looking for was Me! And the old man you helped was Siva. To reward you for your kindness, I will answer your prayer and you will have the two children you have longed for ». Siva added, "I will give you the third child and incarnate in him." The vision disappeared and Devaghiriamma remained as in ecstasy until the return of her husband. When the time came, she gave birth to the two children Shakti had promised her and was pregnant again with the third child promised by Siva. But towards the end of the pregnancy her husband was taken by a mystical crisis and decided to abandon his grihasta status (fatherhood) and to retire to some hermitage in the forest to meditate on the Lord until the end of his life.
According to Indian tradition, the husband is considered Vishnu (one of the aspects of the Divine) and his wife Lakshmi (the goddess of fortune, Vishnu's wife), both of whom are inseparable as one entity.
Therefore Devaghiriamma had to follow her husband. They left the two children to their grandmother and went to the forest in search of the hermitage. After a few kilometers, the labor began, but Devaghiriamma did not dare ask her husband to stop. She stopped by a tree and, all by herself, gave birth to a small boy. The poor woman had some hesitant moments, but her dharma (duty) was stronger and therefore, after covering the child with leaves, she quickly left to reach her husband. No one ever heard of them since.
After some time, a tonga (small wagon pulled by a horse) passed not far from the place where the newborn was. A woman sat on the cart while her husband walked pulling the horse by the bridle. They came from a nearby village and were returning to Pathri.
Hearing the baby's cries, they stopped and looked for the place where they came from. They did not delay in finding out and found the baby still wet with blood, who was crying as hard as I can. The woman looked around to see if that little boy's parents were nearby, but in vain. Finally the woman said to her husband: «It is the Lord who sends him to us! We never had a son! ». And they took him home and raised him as if he were their own child. They called him Babu.
Babu quickly became a smart and intelligent child. At six or seven years of age he got into the habit of going to the Hindu temple to sing the sourates (verses of the Quran) and to the mosque to recite the slokas (verses of the Vedas).
In many Indian villages the followers of these two religions, the Hindu and the Muslim (imported by the Arabs many centuries earlier), tolerated each other.
The people of the village were very surprised and everyone was shouting at the scandal, but they were also speechless at the knowledge of that little boy.
Babu used to play with a neighbor friend. One day he won all the marbles and his friend, not wanting to give up, he removed from the room of the puja (prayer) of his house a black colored stone to play it. But Babu won that too!
To prevent the punishment that would surely come when his mother discovered the lack of that stone in the puja, he ran to her crying, saying that Babu was a fool who had taken away all his marbles and even the black stone. His mother became angry and said to him, "Don't you realize what you've done? you took the Sivalingam from the puja! (the lingam is an oval stone that symbolizes the Absolute). It's a sacred object! ". He rushed out in search of Babu to pull his ears and get the lingam back. But Babu had put it in his mouth because he didn't want to return it. The woman then took his nose to force him to open the When Babu opened her mouth, the woman had a cosmic vision of the Divinity! In the blinding splendor of a thousand suns, she saw the stars, the nebulae, the creation and all the creatures. The ananda (ecstasy) which she experienced was ineffable and threw himself at the boy's feet in reverence. From that day on, he paid homage to him every time he met him.
But Babu's conduct was always subject to scandal, as he continued to practice the two religions by reversing the rites. His father decided to send him to the ashram of a guru (spiritual master) named Venkusa to protect him from the anger of the villagers. The night before the young man's arrival, the guru Venkusa had a prophetic dream in which Siva himself announced his arrival to the ashram for the following day. At ten Babu arrived at the ashram.
Venkusa, who was aware of His divine nature, welcomed him with great happiness. Soon the master showed his preferences for the young Babu by creating jealousies among the disciples.
One day the guru sent his boys to the nearby forest to look for certain leaves intended for worship. One of Babu's companions, out of jealousy, had collected a brick on the ground and threw it on the forehead of the boy who did not complain, but returned to the ashram. When Venkusa saw him in that state, he started to cry and wet his brick with his tears. Then, tearing off a corner of his skirt, he bandaged the boy's forehead.
A few years after this incident, when it was time for Babu to leave the ashram, His guru gave him the famous brick still covered in blood, as a sign of initiation (guru-dikhsha). Sai Baba kept it for all his life and used it as a pillow to sleep.
He went to the village of Shirdi and sought asylum from the temple guardian, who refused to let him in, given his Muslim appearance. However, he suggested that he take refuge within the walls of a dilapidated mosque, which he indicated. There He spent the rest of His days.
How can we describe in a few lines the life and teaching of this incarnation of the Lord?
The devotees, Hindus and Muslims, fascinated by the power of his message and the originality of his behavior, came more and more, looking for the light in him.
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over India soon came to the masyd (Shirdi's house-temple). Incredible miracles occurred, of which His life was full.
"I give people what they want so that one day they may want what I want to give them."
In 1918, one day in October, a young man who was sweeping the masyd's floor dropped the famous brick which broke in two. When Shirdi Baba saw this, he said sadly: «It is not the brick that has broken, but My destiny. The lifelong companion left me today. With him I meditated on the higher "Self" and it was as dear to Me as the eyelids of my eyes ».
On October 15 of the same year at 2.30 pm He left His body, and the following day, on the 16th he appeared to one of His devotees saying to him: "The oil merchants and the shopkeepers gave me too many problems, and I decided to leave Shirdi (Shirdi Baba used to keep a fire burning in the mysad - which still burns today - fueled by the oil poured on it. He made ash out of it which was called uddhi which he offered to His devotees who took leave of Shirdi, just as today Sathya Sai offers vibhuti). The mysad (the mosque - but most likely referred to your body) has collapsed and I am leaving. I have come to tell you to go to the Mosque and to cover My body with bhakkhae flowers ».
Some time earlier he had announced to one of his faithful that he would "return" after eight years. On November 23, 1926 Sathya Narayana Raju was born in Puttaparthi.
At the death of Shirdi Baba, Muslims and Hindus paid tribute to him according to their traditional rites.
This is how Shirdi Baba laid the foundations of Sathya Sai Baba's spiritual mission, demonstrating the unity of the two main religions of India who recognized him as Master. "
Shirdi Sai Baba