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History and Mysteries of Shirdi Sai Baba
The famous Shirdi Sai Baba also presents several mysteries for his biographers. But if we regard his known history alone, his life comes out as highly fascinating enough. His birth year, month and date are not known but his death was on 15th Oct 1918. He was born at Pathri (District Parbhani) under Nizam’s Dominion and moved over to Shirdi as a grown up. Details of almost all his youthful years till arrival in Shirdi are unknown like the 18 dark and unknown years of Jesus Christ. It seems that Sai Baba has mentioned that he was a soldier for Rani of Jhansi (1857) and so his year of birth would have been perhaps between 1835 to 1840.
However, biographer Narasimhaswamiji, Founder-President of All India Sai Samaj, has stated that his parents were Brahmins who handed him over at a tender age to a fakir. What follows merely in outline is said to be as per Baba's own accounts. The fakir died after five years and the child went to the care of one Gopal Rao Deshmukh (called ‘Gurudeva’), a great devotee of Tirupati Balaji. After spending nearly ten years in pious learning from Gurudeva, Sai went westward from native Pathri and arrived in Shirdi. But he did not at once settle down at Shirdi. He went on some wanderings and then returned there.
His initial years in Shirdi were spent as an ascetic living under a neem (margosa) tree. Later he shifted to a mosque and lived there all his life, for nearly 50 years. He called the mosque “Dwarkamayi” (The place in Dwarka where Krishna was born). This is just one instance of his puzzling identity-dichotomy, whether a Muslim or Hindu. He preached ways to attain god. He spoke of love and brotherhood. Celibacy, truth and austerity marked his life. He wore a single piece kufni, distributed vibhuti and would tell the devotees “Allah Malik” and “Allah bala karenge”. He would do ‘japa’ and ‘dhikr’, the utterance of god’s name. He would do namaz and chant Al-Fatiha . He did not however indulge in or perform any detailed rituals of worship. "
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