Shirdi Sai Baba’s Childhood
The historic details of Shirdi Baba’s birth are unrecorded. The few facts which are known about Baba’s childhood come from his authorized biography, the Sri Satcharitra, and from stories written in a book by Sri Kaleshwar. Baba’s first name and the names of his parents are undocumented. Baba’s parents were simple villagers – his father was a boatman and his mother, a devoted housewife. She was also known to be a great devotee of Shiva, praying that he would grant her wish and be born as a child. Even though the couple remained childless after many years of marriage, her devotion has never wavered, and she persisted in her prayers for a divine son.
The Incarnation of Shiva
One day, while her husband was ferrying passengers across the river, a huge storm came. It was clear to the wife that her husband was in mortal danger. As she stood watching with tears in her eyes, Shiva appeared and asked, “What do you want?” she said,” You have come in my life as my son.” Shiva gave her a fruit and told her to eat it. At the same time, her husband returned safely to shore. He told him of her divine experience showing him Shiva’s fingerprints on the fruit as proof. The husband became jealous, his jealousy increasing when his wife became pregnant. Determined that he, too, should have a direct experience of the Lord, he decided to leave his wife and go to the forest and meditate. However, his wife did not want to be separated from him. Leaving a child in their hut, she went with her husband into a forest where they lived out the remainder of their lives, “Receiving Enlightenment from Shiva”, Swami Kaleshwar said.
A Muslim couple from a nearby Village found the child and adopted him. One day the boy was playing with the son of a local Hindu priest. As part of their game, the priest’s son bought a Shiva lingam from the temple. Upon seeing it, the boy immediately put it in his mouth and gleefully swallowed it. All the Muslims were outraged at his actions, which they felt were blasphemy. The Hindus as well were deeply upset by the loss of their lingam, their secrets, and symbol, that they were determined to cut open the boy’s stomach and retrieve it.
Eventually, everyone calmed down when the parents reminded them that he was adopted: they didn’t even know his birth name or whether he was a Hindu or Muslim. Throughout the incident, the boy remained unconcerned. Soon after, he left home taken by a fakir, who eventually brought the boy to the saint, Vensuka, who would become his master. In later years Baba would freely quote from the Sacred Scriptures of both Islam and Hinduism. When asked whether he was in fact a Hindu or Muslim he would reply, “The ways to God are many but God is one. Serve God. Love each other. This is God’s. way.” His life, from the very beginning, was a message to the world about the unity of all religions.
Baba stayed with Vensuka for 12 years. Because he received more attention from his master than all the other disciples, the disciples became jealous and attempted to kill him by pummeling him with a brick. As a brick flew towards his head, Baba called out his master’s name, and the brick miraculously stopped mid-air thus Baba was saved. Afterward, the brick was given to Baba as a gift by Vensuka. It became Baba’s power object, which he used as a pillow and kept with him until the last days of his life.
Baba in Shirdi
It is known that in his lifetime Baba traveled twice to the tiny village of Shirdi: his first visit lasted only a few months- whereas a young man he lived under a fig tree at the edge of town prescribing healing herbs; the second visit lasted over 50 years.
Early on during the second stay, Baba displayed many miraculous and healing powers. It was at this time that a local priest first named him “Sai” meaning “God-man, saint, or Lord..” Thereafter, he became known as “Sai Baba” (revered saint) of Shirdi. Throughout those years, Baba took residence in an abandoned, dilapidated mosque open to the elements. Much of his time was spent sitting by the fire pit, rain or shine, gazing into the flames, doing his spiritual work: uplifting the souls of all mankind. The simple dwelling became known as the Dwarkami, which today is a holy shrine visited by millions each year. Baba’s samadhi, his tomb, is located there.
Shirdi lived an outwardly simple life. He spent his days in Dwarkamai, visited by devotees, and each day went begging alms in town. Hundreds of miracles attributed to Baba during his lifetime are chronicled in more than a dozen books, some now available in the West. Thousands more have been attested to since he left his body in October of 1918. Around the world, where people have been healed and disasters averted; again and again Baba was subsequently identified as “the old man with the scarf on his head” who intervened. Many times, the people involved had never heard of Baba prior to “seeing” him at the scene; it was only later when introduced to a photograph or picture of him did they recognize him as the one who had helped them. Baba said, “If you look to me, I look to you. If you cast your burden on me, l shall bear it. If you seek my advice and help, it shall be given to you at once. Even after I leave my body, I shall come to the aid of my devotees.”
The Sai Yuga
Throughout the last century, the global spiritual community has spoken of a New Age to come—an age marked by unprecedented humanitarian and spiritual growth. In 1998, Swami first spoke in detail of this new age. It’s a new millennium. It’s not the Kali-yuga anymore. It’s the Sai yuga. Sai means father and at the same time mother. Father and Mother. In the Sai yuga, everyone will come to love Shirdi Sai Baba. Whoever has Baba’s picture in their house will have unbelievable energy and blessings from him. Just thinking about him, “Oh Baba, I love you” that’s enough. They can pull his energy from his samadhi. Like making a phone call, “Hey Baba, I love you.” Then he says, love you too. In this Sai Yuga, after some changes and destruction, things will work very peacefully. Then everyone will want to pray to Shirdi Boba to get his blessings. Everyone will want to know about God, spirituality, and love. There will be a great understanding between each other, loving each other, communicating with each other—being truthful, honest, sincere, showing sympathy, mercy, and kindness.
It will be very easy to know God in this yuga. The rules in this yuga (age) have changed. In every yuga, the rules change. We can’t compare this yuga’s rules with previous yugas’ rules. What Jesus went through 2,000 years back, we don’t need to do it the same way. There are a lot of unbelievable shortcuts. Every 100 and 1,000 years the laws change. Every 5,000 years the yugas change. I always follow the yuga rules. In this yuga, it will be very easy to attain enlightenment after only a couple of years. It will be very easy to find God because Shirdi Baba will be working with everybody. You know, whoever calls, “Hey Baba.” He’s there in the back, saying, “What do you want?” Baba promised, “Take one step towards me and I will take 99 steps towards you.” The way to find God in this yuga is Baba’s way—service. It’s Shirdi Baba’s nature—service: love all, serve all; to see everyone as human, as good, and make everyone happy.
In the Sai Yuga, it will be easier to get enlightened, to win the victory, but this can only happen when we control our ‘blocks’, (negative emotions.) If you think you won’t get success how can you get success? Shraddha and saburi, faith, and determination are important. Determined means wanting to see the edge of spirituality. Is there a limit to spirituality? Yes. If there’s birth, there’s death. When you come from a mother there it’s decided when you’ll die. But if a guru enters your life he can change your life span and lifestyle from a lot of angles. That’s why we say,’_Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara.’ But you have to surrender then you can hit it. Just open your heart and receive what you want. Shirdi Baba’s works will become known and his divine presence felt worldwide. I’m bringing him to the world. I’m trying. Already many have tried. He’s always hiding; he’s been sleeping in Dwarkamai (the abandoned mosque where he lived). Hiding means he is a very intelligent master. He didn’t want to become famous. But now, in India, 85% of the people know about Shirdi Baba. In the world, only 6% know about him. In a few years, many will know of him.
I’m doing my best to bring him to the world. But not as a religion. Jesus never spoke about Christianity. Mohammed never spoke of Islam. Lord Venkateshwara, Lord Krishna, never spoke about Hinduism. God only has one organization and that’s love. I’m going to that point, only there. The love organization—the religion of love.