Shirdi is a charming, old-fashioned, quaint town located in the state of Maharashtra. A well-known spiritual destination in the country, Shirdi was the home to the renowned sage Sai Baba, who is said to have dwelled here aeons ago. It was because of Sai Baba and the words spread by his ardent devotees that Shirdi came to be known globally. The history of Shirdi mainly comprises of life, death, teachings and practices of Sai Baba. According to the facts reported in his biography, Baba was first seen in the town as a 16-year-old boy before he reappeared in the town many years later. Although the origin of Sai Baba remains ambiguous, he is said to have played an important role in shaping and maintaining communal harmony in the place. Read the article below to know more about the history of Shirdi and acquaint yourself to his immense influence on the land.
Although there are no proper documentations available on Baba's birthplace or his lineage, it is assumed that Sai Baba was born in the year 1938. Sai Baba was first sighted under a neem tree. Sai Baba led an abstemious life right from a very young age. The people of Shirdi were extremely intrigued by his behaviour, although there were a few sceptics who found Baba a bit barmy. A few years later, after he left the village of Shirdi, Sai Baba went to work as a weaver and is also believed to have assisted Queen of Jhansi during the Indian revolt against the British in the year 1857.
When he returned to Shirdi a year later, Baba remained inhibited and non-communicative for a long time. It was the people of Shirdi, who persuaded Sai Baba to take shelter in an old mosque, now known as Dwarkamai. With time, people began to understand Baba's otherworldly powers and often came to him to share their grievances. According to the teachings of 'Sai Sathcharita' and other books written by Sai Baba's followers, Baba was opposed to religious orthodoxy and followed both Hinduism and Sufism. Baba encouraged his disciples to read the Hindu scriptures as well as the sacred text of the Muslims. Most of his teachings emphasised on the importance of 'bhakti' (true devotion). He also supported and encouraged his devotees to follow good morals like honesty, sharing, compassion, faith and patience.
During the 19th and the 20th century, the country witnessed Shirdi Sai Movement, which renewed the faith, customs and rituals among the Hindus. During the 19th century, Baba's devotees mainly consisted of a large population of Hindu's and Muslim. However, towards the beginning of the 20th century, even Christians and Zoroastrians began to adopt the principles of Sai Baba. Many believe that the main aim behind this religious renaissance was to bring world peace and harmony. The main people responsible for the movement were his devotees like B. V. Narasimhaswamiji, Guruji C. B. Satpathy and Swami Sai Sharananand, who not only followed Baba's preaching's but also helped in spreading his beliefs. Besides Baba's devotees, the members of the Shirdi Mandir have taken all pains to set up various temples of Baba in the country and across the globe.