After Tirumala-Tirupati Shirdi is the most visited pilgrim place in India today. From a small hamlet, just a little over a hundred years ago, it has grown to a huge centre of pilgrimage. The saint who put Shirdi on the world map is Sai Baba.
Sai Baba had no formal name, no family to which his origins could be traced and no lineage to which he can be ascribed. He left no Order, no direct disciples or dogma and has no incarnation. Most importantly, he also did not limit himself to either of the two predominant religions of the times, Hinduism and Islam.
Baba never made any claims to teachings or preaching anything in particular. This is why there is no structured siddhant, or curse, on Baba’s teachings and faith. More and more people are attracted to him because of the very simplicity of his faith. His philosophy is above mantras, vratas, poojas and rituals. All he desires is that we offer our earts, mind and ego to him. Then the five senses will lose their power over us and we will be able to progress spiritually and away from the world’s miseries. Shirdi is a pure bhoomi where God, in the form of Sai Baba, manifested himself, stayed and showed his leelas. Sai Baba is thus unique.
Ashish Mohan Khokar author of over thirty books on Indian arts and spirituality, feels blessed that Sai Baba gave him this opportunity to capture some of his life and times. As a long serving critic and columnist of India’s largest circulated English daily – The Times of India – and as writer of over 3,000 articles in last 20 years, Khokar feels that Goddess Saraswati has been very kind to him. His name finds over 500 entries under a Google search.
As an arts administrator, he served the Delhi state Academy; Festivals of
India in France, Sweden Germany and China; INTACH (under late prime minister
Rajiv Gandhi’s chairmanship) and Martand Singh Consultants. Awarded grants and
projects by the Swedish Institute and the Ford Foundation, he has also interned
at the Lincoln Centre, New York and the Dance Museum, Stockholm. He was awarded
many scholarships, including Government of India, Department of Culture’s Fellowships.
A columnist for magazines like First City, Life Positive, The India Magazine
and Drishti, he has also made popular educational programmes for the television.
He is married to Elisabeth and together they publish dance books and biographies,
including India’ only year-book on dance, attendance.
Baba bole: I was born to serve mankind and to make Shirdi a blessed place, where the rich and the poor, literate and illiterate, the pious and the saintly, the wordly and the wise could assemble and remember the higher spirit of things as manifested by the Supreme Being who is omnipresent.
I live in one and al. I live in Shirdi, but I also live in the heart of each and every devotee who worships me and pays obeisance to me.
My message is simple : Love all and be kind to all because I live and exist in all.
So if you worship all – animals and men alike – you will never fail to serve me.
Be my bhakta and the inheritor of all that I have to give you – blessings, bliss and benediction.
Shirdi is holy.
My Guru stayed here; my friends stayed here; and now you visit here. May God’s abundant grace be upon you all.
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