Aarti Natarajan Sharma
Who Was Sai Baba?
Sai Baba of Shirdi is regarded as a living Saint and the incarnation of God Dattatreya and also of Lord Shiva. Though very little is known about his birth and his parents, it is said he was born in 1835 and died in 1915.
He was seen one day sitting under a neem tree in Shirdi, practicing hard penance. At that time, he was around 16 years old. No one knew where he had come from and Sai Baba refused to give any answers to the questions that the people of Shirdi had.
It is believed that when there is decay and disintegration of the societal values and an increase in disorder, saints incarnate on earth to set things right. Sai Baba also appeared with such a purpose.
Baba always said that though his physical form would not be visible after his death but he would be ever present to help his bhakts or devotees in their time of need. In the famous eleven vacchans Baba has said Tyag shareer chala jaunga, Bhakt hetu dauda aaunga. (I might discard my physical body but if a devotee calls me, I shall come running).
Tenets of Sai Baba
Over time Sai Baba became known in Shirdi for his healing touch and the many miracles he performed. He was known as a Fakir. He led by example and though was a great saint, behaved like an ordinary person. His methods of teaching and instructing his devotees were unique and varied.
The two basic tenets of his teachings were Shraddha or faith and Saburi or patience. He said these two were like twin sisters and each was incomplete without the other.
Baba also followed the practice of taking dakshina or charity by those who came to worship him. Our scriptures say that when we go to a place of worship, we should never go empty handed. Similarly, while visiting a saint, one should always make an offering. Baba has no rule about whom he asked for dakshina from. His reasons for this were to teach his devotees non-attachment and try to make them move away from love for money.
Baba believed that everyone who comes into our life has a purpose or a past relationship. He also told his devotees never to speak ill of anyone and to always follow a path of truth.
Baba believed that one spirit permeated the entire cosmos and all living creatures were part of this. He asked people to treat all living beings with kindness and compassion.
Was Sai Baba a Hindu or Muslim?
Shirdi Baba is worshipped by all sects and religions as there is no concrete proof regarding whether he was a Hindu or a Muslim. He always uttered ‘Allah Malik’ which means ‘God is the sole proprietor or owner.’ He kept a Dhuni or fire burning there all the time and called himself an agnihotra or fire worshipper. He was instrumental in starting the Urus (a thanksgiving festival of Muslims) of the Muslims and the Ram Navami festival, to celebrate the birth of Lord Ram. He used to always say that Ram (God of Hindus) and Rahim (whom the Muslims worshipped) are one and the same. He followed practices which were trademarks of both religions. His purpose was to unify both communities and remove the sense of differentiation between them so that they could co-exist in harmony.
Sai Chalisa by Pen aur Paper
One of the most popular ways in which Sai Baba is worshipped is through the Sai Chalisa. This is a verse prayer in praise of Sai Baba. This chalisa is spiritually uplifting. It is said that regular chanting of this chalisa enables the devotees to gain peace of mind and clarity of thought.
Unlike all other chalisas, this is contains 100 verses instead of the usual 40. The Sai Chalisa is a song describing the life of Baba and the various miracles he performed. Also, this chalisa is different from other chalisas in that while other chalisas are usually only praises of the god they are written for, the Sai Chalisa is more like a story of Sai Baba’s life.
This Sai Chalisa by Pen aur Paper also has the Sai Aarti. It comes in a hardbound form with beautiful images printed on high-quality paper. The verses are written in large English and Hindi scripts for ease of reading. This wonderful book may be bought for oneself or as a persoanlised gift.
Buy your premium copy here.
Description and meaning of Sai Chalisa
The Sai Chalisa begins with an invocation to Sai Baba and then goes on to describe his life’s journey.
Some say he was Ram of Ayodhya, some called him Pawanputra Hanuman, some said he was Mangal murti Gajanan and others called him Krishna or Gokul Mohan Devaki Nandan.
“Kuch bhi mano unko tum par Sai hain sacche Bhagwan.” Whatever one may consider him to be but Baba was God.
Sai Baba came with a baraat or marriage party as an “ati sundar baalak,” a handsome lad.
“Paawan kiya Shirdi nagar...ghar ghar hone lagan nagar mein Sai baba ka gungaan.” He purified Shirdi with his presence and in every household his praises began to be sung.
Healing the sick and helping the needy became the fulcrum of his work. “Deen dukhi ki Raksha karna, Yahi raha Baba ka kaam.”
One Madrassi bhakt appealed to Baba for a child, a son saying he only had faith in Baba. “Aur kisi ki aas na mujhko, Sirf bharosa hai tum par.” He was eventually blessed with a son.
The Chalisa goes on to describe many such miracles. One bhakt was Kashiram who used to earn his living by selling clothes. One day while returning home, he was attacked by dacoits and left lying on the ground after being looted. He uttered the word ‘Sai’ when he regained consciousness. Baba heard his name in Shirdi and became agitated. The people of Shirdi realized that some bhakt was in danger “bhakt pada sankat mein.”
“Jab bhi aur Jahan bhi koi bhakt pada sankat mein
Uski Raksha karne Baba jate hain pal bhar mein.”
The Chalisa extols us to worship Sai “jiske kewal darshan se he saari vipda dur huyi,” seeing whom all difficulties vanish.
If one utters Baba’s name day and night, He is sure to come to our aid.
Once a fake Sadhu came to Shirdi and tried to mislead the simple folks there by offering some herbs by which he alleged their sorrows would vanish and those desirous of having children would beget sons. He also proclaimed that those who did not avail this benefit being offered by him would regret it. A sewak ran and informed Baba about this.
Baba got very angry at hearing this. “Mere rehte bholi bhali Shirdi ki janta ko
Kaun neech aisa jo sahas karta hai chalne ko.” Baba confronted the fraudster who ran away.
“Jab jab jag mein bhar paap ka aage badta jata hai
Usse mitane ki he khatir Avtari bun aata hai.”
Whenever sins accumulate and increase, an incarnation arrives to help people. Sai Baba was such an incarnation.
He was hungry for the love of people and would eat whatever they offered him with love. People would flock to him to share their troubles, hearing which his eyes would fill with tears. ‘De vibhuti har vyatha, shanti unke urr mein bhar dete the.” He would give them vibhuti and their hearts would be filled with peace.
“Jane kya adbhut shakti uss vibhuti mein hoti thi
Jo dharan kar mastak par dukh saara har leti thi.”
Every Sai temple has a Dhuni burning and the ash or Udi from there is distributed among the devotees, just like it has been happening in Shirdi since decades. The devotees have full faith in the miraculous powers of the Udi.
Thursday as Sai Baba Day
Every god has a particular day on which he is worshipped. Thursday is considered to be Sai Baba’s Day. In Shirdi it is said that those who burn incense sticks on Thursdays shall get their wishes fulfilled. Astrologically, Thursday is the day of Jupiter, a planet which stands for Guru. Therefore, it is an ideal day for worshipping ones Guru. Devotees of Sai Baba also keep the Sai Baba Vrat or fast which is kept for 7, 9, 11 or 21 Thursdays.
Benefits of Sai Chalisa
- Removes all physical and mental afflictions
- Gives the devotees a sense of peace
- Enables us to live in harmony with people around us
- Grants us what we intensely desire
- Helps bring prosperity and well-being in the family
Sai Chalisa as a Gift
The Sai Chalisa makes an excellent gift to his devotees. This comes in both Hindi and English and is hardbound. It also comes in two sizes-large and pocket sized. With premium quality paper and a large font, this makes for a beautiful gift. The intricate image of Sai Baba on the cover of the chalisa is pleasing to the eye.
This chalisa comes in a luxurious box and can be personalized with several options- a message, name or even a photograph; thereby adding an extra special dimension to the gift. It is sure to be well received by anyone who is a devotee of Sai Baba.