This book is based on in-depth research that triangulates information from several primary sources, to provide hitherto unknown facts about Sai Baba, village Shirdi and some of the people who visited it during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It not only adds to the repository of knowledge about this great saint of India and the role that he played in the context of protecting his devotees during India's struggle for freedom, but additionally provides new insights by raising questions and seeking answers through analysis of rare documents drawn from the National Archives, police records and diaries pertaining to that time as well as reviewing personal documents and literature in different languages. It contains nine chapters dealing with different aspects of Sai Baba's life in Shirdi.
The book has several rare documents and photographs of Shirdi Sai Baba and his devotees as well as compositions of Shirdi of that time. A glossary is provided at the end of the book for ease of reference.
The book will be a valuable asset not just for all those who are devotees of Sai Baba and other Sadgurus, but also for students and academics who have an interest in India's culture and history and in the means used by the British to understand and control developments in different parts of the country.
Dr. Chandrabhanu Satpathy is a noted scholar, author and spiritual thinker. An officer of the Indian Police Service (I.P.S.), he served the Government of India and his allotted cadre (U.P.) with distinction. He superannuated as Director General of Police in the year 2008.
He was awarded an Honoris Causa (D. Litt.-Vachaspati) by Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth University, Tirupati (2012); Doctorate in Law (LL.B.) by Berhampur University, Berhampur, Odisha, (2012); Honoris Causa (D.Litt.) by Ravenshaw University, Cuttack, Odisha (2012); Honoris Causa (Doctor of Science-D.Se.) by Shiksha 0' Anusandhan University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha (2014); and Honoris Causa (D.Litt.) by North Odisha University, Baripada, Odisha (2017).
He has written around fifty-two books which include Shirdi Sai Baba and Other Perfect Masters, Baba - May I Answer, Sai Sharon Mein, Bhakti Naivedya, and The Age of Shirdi Sai. He has also written Gopyaru Agopya, on Hindu cosmology, cosmogeny and Hindu spiritual science, in Odia. This has been translated into Sanskrit as Shrishtitattwanuchintanam and into Hindi as Avyakt se Vyakt. His six-volume epic in Odia, Shri Guru Bhagabata, comprises more than 24,000 lines, depicting various aspects pertaining to the Spiritual Masters. It has been translated as Shri Guru Bhagawat in several languages such as Hindi, English, Marathi, Kashmiri, Gujarati, Bhojpuri, Assamese and Bengali. Some of his books have been translated into more than nine Indian and foreign languages. He has worked with the underprivileged in many ways, including in leper colonies. The temples and trusts inspired by him are engaged in feeding the poor, providing access to medical care through dispensaries and in supporting access to value-based education. They also provide free healthcare to animals in distress.
Dr. Satpathy was invited by the U.S. House of Representatives, through the House Chaplain, to open the U.S. House of Representatives Session on 24th June 2015, as the Guest Chaplain, with a prayer .
With the spread of Sai consciousness across the globe and the increasing number of temples and related activities carrying on in the name of Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi, it is desirable that the devotees and others understand Shri Sai Baba and his philosophy in a proper perspective. This book aims to portray certain aspects related to Shri Sai Baba when he was in Sagun form and thereafter.
My earlier books on Shri Sai Baba describe him from a devotee's view, based on faith and personal experience. However, this book strives to provide an objective and evidence-based narrative about him instead. This is not an easy task. It is quite tough to establish the plausible as the possible. A jump from faith to reasoning is one of the most difficult tasks that any believer can face.
Since long, numerous postulates and hypotheses on aspects of Shri Sai Baba that are shrouded in mystery, are afloat. There is inadequate verifiable information regarding his parentage, place of birth, caste, religion and early childhood. Similarly, divergent views exist about the date on which he first arrived at Shirdi and his age at that time. While some argue that he first came to Shirdi in 1854, others consider this event to be about eighteen years later in 1872. A number of such unanswered questions propelled me to undertake an in-depth research to try and seek evidence-based answers. The search for records and documents took my research team and me to the National Archives at Delhi and Kolkata, the Indian Museum, Kolkata, a number of libraries in Maharashtra and many other places. Some references were found even from the British Library, London.
New Findings on Shirdi Sai Baba My personal interaction with the descendants of devotees who had a direct link with Shri Sai Baba, like Udhav Baba, son of Shama of Shirdi; Shivamma Tai of Bangalore; Shivesh Swamy and many others, between 1990 and 1995, were extremely useful in my quest.
In order to learn about the view of the Imperial British Government of India about Shri Sai Baba, the relevant official documents, particularly of the Police, Revenue and Criminal Intelligence Departments of that time, were extensively reviewed. Primary sources of evidence and data, from hitherto unexplored sources were very useful. Such data include the three weekly intelligence reports from the local units of the Directorate of Criminal Intelligence (D.CI.), Ahmednagar district and sent to the D.CI. Headquarters, Kolkata. During the colonial regime, the Horne Department of the Government of India received political and criminal intelligence reports through the D.CI., which was headed by a British officer usually belonging to the I.CS. (Indian Civil Service).
Thus, the nine chapters contained in this book are mostly based on primary evidence to the extent possible. The earliest literature available on Shri Sai Baba was by Dasganu Maharaj, who was a police constable and a kirtankar. He wrote books entitled Bhakta Leelamrit, Santa Kathamrit and Bhakta Saramrit. Subsequently, scores of persons wrote many books in most of the Indian languages and some foreign languages as well. Many of these have been published by the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi. Not only the prominent Indian writers like B.V. Narasimha Swami, M.V. Kamath, Indira Kher, V. B. Kher and others, but also many foreign writers like Antonio Rigopoulos, Kevin R.D. Shepherd, Arthur Osborne, Marianne Warren, Karline McLain and others have written numerous books on Shri Sai Baba. Above all, Govind Raghunath Dabholkar's book Shri Sai Satcharita has become universally accepted and regarded as a pothi or scripture by the Sai devotees. Some of the books focus on various aspects of Shri Sai Baba, like his arrival in Shirdi, dealings with the devotees, sayings and philosophy, daily routine at Shirdi, miracles performed by him, environment of Shirdi around him, religious, social and philanthropic activities around him and the socio-religious impact of Shri Sai Baba, then and now. Scanning the abundant literature on Shri Sai Baba we can easily discern a certain amount of repetitiveness of anecdotes and themes, where miracles of Shri Sai Baba are mostly highlighted. The language used in many of the books appears to be somewhat similar and replete with oriental hyperboles, which at times cloud the exactitude of the basic theme and events. Nevertheless, the valuable contribution of these writers cannot be understated. As a step forward, this book ventures to further explore some important aspects relating to Shri Sai Baba which were either hitherto unknown or not explained fully.
One of the main objectives of this book is to generate among the readers, writers and researchers a spirit of research and to motivate them to undertake intensive research on the life, deeds and philosophy of Shri Sai Baba. It is written in a style and manner suitable for the devotees as well as the academics and intellectuals. It is desirable that Indian universities, especially those of Maharashtra, undertake research on Shri Sai Baba and related matters. Emphasis on the universities of Maharashtra is laid because many of the documents relating to Shri Sai Baba are in Marathi or Modi language.
It is important to note that any study on Shri Sai Baba's personality and noble deeds would require the formulation of a system which would use a combination of methods that are used for historical, autobiographical, religious and spiritual research. This is required because a lot of opinion and perception, based on assumption and hearsay, have slowly crept into his hagiography. Obscurantism is not good, even in the path of religious belief. Adopting a scientific approach to understanding Shri Sai Baba and the Sai path will be valuable in adding to the body of existing Knowledge for the future of humankind.
Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi is a well-known spiritual personality of India. Today, his name and fame have travelled beyond India to countries across the globe. His religious and philanthropic activities and philosophy are observed by all his followers. His parentage, place of birth, caste, religion, early childhood and date of arrival at Shirdi are shrouded in mystery. The only established fact is that after settling for a few decades in Shirdi, an unknown village of the Central Provinces of British India, he left his body on 15th October 1918. After his departure, known as "Mahasamadhi" in Hindu parlance, his property and the Samadhi Mandir where his body is entombed, were taken over by the Shri Saibaba Sans than Trust, Shirdi, formed in 1922. Presently, the Trust is ensuring the continuation of the daily worship routine of Shri Sai Baba and taking care of the comforts of the devotees and visitors from India and abroad. Reportedly, an average of about sixty thousand people visit Shirdi each day.
Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi has been accepted and heralded as a Sad guru, that is, a spiritual mentor, by his devotees and an avatar or incarnation by most. Some people have tried to associate him with the Sufi sect, others with the Dattatreya sect, yet others with the Vaishnavite sect or Shaivite sect, or even the Avadhoot sect of the Navanaths, though, he cannot be straightjacketed into any of these and goes beyond them. He is addressed by his devotees as Baba, Sai Baba, Shri Sai Baba, Shri Sainath Maharaj, Sai Mauli and by many more epithets. He has also been connected with various deities of the Hindu pantheon, like Ganapati, by various devotees. All this reflects the high spiritual esteem in which Shri Sai Baba is held by them.
Shri Sai Baba's personality, as can be gauged by his activities at Shirdi, did not reflect that he was a religious personality of a classical pattern. His approach towards the spiritual evolution of his devotees was unique and, at times, unconventional. Usually, he did not preach abstract philosophy or ethics in a didactic fashion. Nevertheless, he spelt out the ethical standards when discussing various issues with his devotees. He did not resort to demagogy or pedagogy to influence the devotees and also the public. He behaved spontaneously and naturally with all. His main concern was the qualitative evolution of the mind, leading to pious activities. Essentially, Shri Sai Baba stood for humanitarianism, cutting across the barriers of caste, creed, religion, language and temporal differentiation between individuals. In this way he encouraged social reform. He had an unbiased approach towards his devotees, whether they were big persons or small. He prescribed simple living, universal kinship, mutual tolerance, a spirit of sacrifice and a balanced code of conduct in family and social life. His philosophy is less reflected through his sayings and more through the saintly activities. that he performed. Although he was visited by rich and poor, happy and distressed, educated and uneducated devotees, he treated all of them in the same manner. He was not only a lover of human beings but also of the animals around him. He was a spiritual leader, a social reformer and a protector of his devotees. For all the support and benefits he gave everyone and anyone who approached him, he never sought any material returns. He only wanted them to evolve in life and live a happy life.
As a result of his multi-dimensional activities - both temporal and spiritual- for the amelioration of his proteges, music, literature, folklore, drama and even some amount of gossip filled the social environment of the village. It is said that "not a leaf moves without his desire". That is what used to happen at Shirdi. Be it the construction of a temple or a house, the sickness of an individual, the spread of cholera in the village, the education or rearing of children, the celebration of any religious or social festival, or the settlement of conflict, Shri Sai Baba's word was the final expression of wisdom and judgment. He stood between his devotees and suffering. Most of the villagers and the visiting populace willingly followed this way of living with Shri Sai Baba. Those who failed to do so experienced that any deviation from such practices and procedures, even if not obligatory, became a risky adventure.
A study of the books written by different authors, both Indian and Western, including Shri Sai Satcharita leads to the conclusion that the activities of Shri Sai Baba at Shirdi were multi-dimensional and hyper kinetic. He was virtually the un-throned king of Shirdi, affecting the lives of hundreds of people.
The last two decades have witnessed an exponential growth in the number of devotees of Shri Sai Baba and related activities, like building of temples, educational institutions, healthcare institutions and others. Numerous books exclusively dedicated to Shri Sai Baba, written in most of the Indian languages and some foreign languages including English, are available. These books mostly deal with the life, pious activities and philosophy of Shri Sai Baba. A large number of e-magazines can also be seen.
During the year 2017-2018, the activities pertaining to Shri Sai Baba have proliferated and magnified. The centenary year of his Mahasamadhi has become a pious occasion for the devotees and Shri Sai Baba related institutions to create centenary events, inaugurate temples, schools and hospitals and to conduct multiple humanitarian activities.
There is a substantial increase in the number of foreign nationals who visit Shirdi from across the world. In order to cater to the needs of the devotees, an airport has been opened in Shirdi recently. In response to the growing needs of Shri Sai Baba's devotees who travel from all parts of India to worship him, a number of additional trains to Shirdi have been commissioned by the Ministry of Railways.
|Introduction: Shri Sai Baba||xi|
|List of Photographs||xvii|
|List of Tables||xix|
|1||Shri Sai Baba's Mahasamadhi||1|
|2||Shri Sai Baba Comes to Shirdi||21|
|3||The Governor's Lance||37|
|4||The Govindas at Dwarkamayi||53|
|5||Sathe Wada, Dixit Wada and Navalkar Wada||72|
|6||Buti Wada, Now the Samadhi Mandir of Shri Sai Baba||101|
|7||Dakshina Bhiksha Sanstha||111|
|9||Shri Sai Leela Maasik Pustak||157|
|1||Kakasaheb Dixit's letter to the Collector and District Magistrate, Ahmednagar, dated 22nd October 1918 about the death of Sai Baba of Shirdi||170|
|2||Cleveland Report 1909, Government of India, Political-Deposit Proceedings, June 1909 no. 3||173|
|New Findings on Shirdi Sai Baba Scheme for the management of the Shirdi Sansthan of Shri Sai Baba as in Shri Sai Leela 1923||177|
|Map of Shirdi||181|
|Glossary of Hindi Terms||183|
|Glossary of Names||189|
Item Code: NAP917 Author: Dr. C. B. Satpathy Cover: Paperback Edition: 2019 Publisher: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 9789386245526 Language: English Size: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch Pages: 221 (33 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 320 gms