Teachings of Sai Baba
He was a man of few words, who refused to talk about his past. He always had time for people, listening to anyone who came to him for guidance and soon his broken down mosque became a true spiritual centre for his followers. For him there was one god for all and he said that in essence all religions were the same. He wanted people to live a simple moral life and inspired them by living a life of an ascetic faqir. Possessions were not important to him and whatever he was given was immediately given away. Once he came to Shirdi, except for a few trips to the nearby village of Rahata, he did not leave it for sixty years.
Even the day he gained maha samadhi seemed to reflect his eclectic philosophy. It was a holy day for Hindus as it was Vijayadashami day of Dussehra. It was also Ramzan, the month of fasting for Muslims. As if sensing that his time on earth was coming to a close Baba had sent some money to the faqir Shamsuddin Mia with a request that he have devotional singing of quawwalis and feed the poor.
Today he is venerated as a wise man but for the people of Shirdi he was also like a benign grandfather who would stand every morning leaning against the wall of Dwarkamai and chat with the people going past. There was something truly magnetic about this simple, wise, generous faqir that made people come from all across the country to sit at his feet. And nearly a century after his death his words of kindness and generosity and his tolerant spirit lives on.
Sai Baba spoke about the tenets of all faiths and at the core of all his words and actions was his belief that all religions were the same and the importance of amity among all religions. Sai Baba did not begin a new religion and he made it clear that he wanted his followers to keep to their own faith and that they should respect the faith of others. He spent his life as an example of religious tolerance and reverence in a common god.
Once one of his devotees named Gopalrao Gund wanted to organise the Sufi festival called Urs in his honour and asked Sai Baba to choose a day. He chose the Hindu festival of Ramnavami that celebrates the birth of Lord Ram. Even today all his devotees gather at Shirdi to celebrate this festival, performing both Hindu and Sufi rituals with complete harmony and joy.
As his popularity grew there was rising curiosity about Sai Baba’s religion. Muslims called him a pir; Hindus claimed he was the incarnation of various gods and gurus. Sai Baba refused to answer any questions. Once he was examined by a magistrate as a witness in a legal case and his replies were very revealing.
When asked his name he said, “They call me Sai Baba.”
What was his religion?
Caste and religion?
Sai Baba was admitting to being a follower of the 16th century poet saint Kabir who spoke of there being only one God and called him both Ram and Rahim. And his religion was of parvardigar, or the Supreme Being.