The Simple Saint of Shirdi

December 30, 2009 Pune, India - 'What is it that makes an ordinary human achieve the status of a Saint' is the first question that tickles my mind whenever I happen to come across a never ceasing stream of disciples following one of the most famous saints in Maharashtra - Sai Baba. It was not before a couple of weeks that I had been to the village of Shirdi to visit the temple of Saint Sai Baba - for the very first time. As we are moving towards the end of the present year, each one of us is hoping that the new year could bring us happiness and prosperity. In an attempt, numerous devotees have started crowding the religious places like Shirdi in large numbers. A strong belief in the miracles of Shirdi's Sai Baba compel almost all of the devotees to hit the village every year. The crowds are really intriguing but I am an atheist when it comes to believing into all the miraculous stories that have been said and heard.

The temple of Sai has been regarded as a holy place for a century. We had reached the village of Shirdi in the afternoon. Shirdi is around 210 kms from Pune City and almost a 4-5 hours straight drive on the Pune-Ahmednagar Road. Provided that it is not the holiday season, it should not be a problem to find a good room for a overnight stay. The Shirdi Sai Sansthan also provides accomodation to the devotees who travel long distances to Shirdi. The all new Sai Prasadalya offers Prasad (the holy meal and breakfast) to the devotees at a very nominal price - this is something that truly promotes Sai's teachings of feeding the hungry. There are numerous hotels around the main Sai temple that gives you a feel that the place has been increasingly commercialized illicitly using the renowned name of Baba. Nevertheless, the place has provided employment to many vendors and hawkers that sell Sai Baba statues, fFowers, Prasad items, Sweets etc. The overall ambience of the place was filled with devotion but it was rather disheartening to see so many people spoiling the sanctity of the place by spitting and throwing garbage around the temple. I am sure that many of such acts happening around the temple will be ruining the sanctity of the holy place.

India has always been a land of saints and Sai Baba was one among such great souls. Most of the devotees are merely attracted to the word-of-mouth being passed about Baba. There are many fables being told about him that overall gives us an impression of his divine powers. I am sure that many youngsters today are blindly following Baba without even trying to explore his teachings or bother to understand the message he always tried to impart to the world. To say Sai Baba lived his life as a 'Fakir' - a person who has no possessions and who begs for food to live. Now that was the punch line being used by an old beggar who asked me for money in the name of Sai. Certainly, begging for food is a lot more different than begging for money. The act of the numerous beggars around Baba's temple simply contradicts the very own teachings of the Saint.

I simply do not understand why so many Indians believe that it is their birthright to spit around the streets and paint it red. The holy places are a no exception to it. The experience just gets worse when you decide to park your shoes at a flower seller's stall and walk naked feet towards the temple's entrance. Watch out your step lest you would step upon a fresh spit of the vendor from whom you just bought a bouquet of roses. This reminds me of Sant Gadge Maharaj, another renowned Saint of Maharashtra and a social reformer who strongly believed in the philosophy of lead by example by sweeping the roads of the place where ever he went. Gadge Baba was known as the master of the broom. He earned money by his impressive work and used it to build schools and orphanages. It immensely hurts when the names of the Saints are used to accomplish selfish motives often recklessly dis-respecting their very own teachings.

Saints have always worked to promote humanity and peace. Saints like Sai have always lived their life trying different ways to induce the good into the minds of the general public. Although mysterious, the miracles what they refer might be a simple trick to convince a good thought into our minds or merely to attract mass attention. Lighting the oil lamps using water, initiating a downpour using a wooden stick or healing an ailing body by means of a mere touch sounds intriguing to the reluctant mind. Probably, tricks was a better approach Baba would have thought of in order to inculcate values of humanity among the people. He has always been trying various means to achieve the same feat - singing and dancing on the poems (Dohas) written by Saint Kabir, spreading around health awareness and the importance of Yoga and Pranayam and so on.

Gaining a firm control on oneself is the toughest job in the whole world. A person who gains this divine power is truly a saint by himself. Unfortunately, people keep on searching Godliness within the confines of a holy place and opt to leave their problems to God. Nonetheless, the world has always been like this. It has always been hard to be simple. Hope to see a day when majority of the people start working for humanity rather than relying on some noble souls to lend a helping hand.


  1. "Gaining a firm control on oneself is the toughest job in the whole world. A person who gains this divine power is truly a saint by himself".

    This sentence in itself says it all.......

  2. I am a staunch devotee of baba, and this comes from the person who was very reluctant to believe in saint gods before 10 years, tehre were many miracles that took place in my life, may be its not significant to others, but to me they were truely miracles. And its really hard to explain to others the amount of faith and belief you posses as the relationship with saint or god is purely personal.
    I am so glad u wrote about him and at 2:15 on a thursday morning, last day of the year I am reminded that he is all around me even when I dont bother to look or pray.

    Have a blessed year ahead!

  3. @Srivats - Every problematic situation has a negative probability and a positive probability. When the probability that the situation would land up into the negative side is quite high, we hope and we pray. Subsequently, when the rarest possiblity turns out to be a reality, they term it as a miracle. For me, I believe in hope and faith. Miracles are mere fantasies.

  4. Thanks for sharing this info. Not only does the good word spread through mouth , it also does through blogs nowadays.
    The last paragraph was really profound. Controlling one's true self is the most difficult task and if that is attained this world shall be infinitely better.

  5. Yes You are right. I am a follower of Baba.
    Incidentally,I am maintaining a CHALIA these days.

  6. ohh Indians have no regard for shrines too?? pathetic. I visited Bada Imambara in Lko and the paan stains on the ancient walls were appalling!