SaiBaba - Shirdi Sai Baba
SaiBaba : Sai Baba Of Shirdi - Fakir - Saint - Guru - Avatar
Shirdi Sai Baba Menu (click on a link to go to relevant section):
- Directions To Sai Baba Shirdi Temple In Maharashtra India
- Visiting Shirdi - Things You Need To Know
- Quotes From Shri Sai Baba Of Shirdi
- Places To Visit At Shirdi Significant To Sai Baba
- Shirdi Sai Baba & Sathya Sai Baba
Travel To Shirdi: Nearest airports are Mumbai (260 km), Pune (185 km), and Aurangabad (125 km). Flights for all the major cities in India and abroad can be taken from Mumbai. The nearest railway station is Manmad (60 km) on the Central Railway, which is connected to many parts of the country with express trains. Most of the trains touching Nasik Road railway station also touch Manmad. Shirdi has railway reservation office for trains from Manmad. Taxis and buses are easily available at Manmad railway station for transfer to Shirdi. Regular taxi service also operates between Manmad railway station and bus stand. State Transport Corporation and private operators run coaches to Shirdi from Mumbai. The easiest way to get to Shirdi is by bus. If you fly into the Mumbai airport, hire a taxi (the ones that are in lines at the very front of the airport) to take you to the Dadar Bus Stand. The cost is about Rs.-150 to Rs.-175 (make sure they turn the meter on). There are also people who will try to redirect you to their own "private" taxis. These "private" taxis charge between Rs. 400 to Rs. 600 to take you to the Dadar Bus Stand. At the Dadar Bus Stand, there are long lines of small ticket counters that sell bus tickets to Shirdi. Preferably, try to get an A/C direct bus (Rs.-300). If you are not able to get an A/C direct bus, get a non-A/C direct bus (Rs.-150). Buses leave almost every 3 hours from Mumbai to Shirdi. So your wait will not be long. The buses make about 2 stops for food. The restaurants are non-vegetarian. So make sure you pack some snacks and bottled water for the trip. Keep an eye on your luggage! Try to get a bus that departs before 11am so you will not arrive too late at Shirdi.
Where To Stay And Eat: I would personally recommend (for foreigners) to stay at Hotel Neeta. Hotel Neeta is directly across from the Shirdi Temple Complex. Hotel Neeta is also easy to find, close to bus-booking agencies and gift shops. The best vegetarian restaurant I found was a restaurant called Sai Sagar, which happens to be located on the ground floor to Hotel Neeta. I tried various vegetarian restaurants and found Sai Sagar to be the best. Their prices are very reasonable and the food portions are generous. Hotel Neeta costs between Rs.-700 to Rs.-1200 per night (depending on whether you want A/C or Non-A/C rooms or single or double beds). That is approximately $20 US Dollars per night. If you would like to make reservations at Hotel Neeta, you can call them at: 952423-255802 / 255801. For your information, I do not have any sort of relations or contacts with Hotel Neeta. I am simply recommending them from my own personal experiences with them. I also stayed at Sai Leela, which is also a very nice hotel, but I did not like their food and thought it was very expensive for the portion size and quality. Sai Leela is similarly priced as Hotel Neeta. Sai Leela has a swimming pool and is about a 10 minute walk to the Shirdi Temple Complex. On the way to Shirdi, there are many billboards advertising the Sai Leela Hotel, saying the cost for rooms is around Rs.-500. Those billboards are old and the prices are incorrect. If you want a swimming pool, you can stay at Sai Leela and eat at Sai Sagar.
What To Expect At Shirdi: A majority of the people do not speak English inside or outside of the Temple Complex at Shirdi. Most of the people who speak English are the ones who run the larger hotels. Purchase anti-diarrheal medications before you leave to Shirdi. The Temple Complex has two main places for you to keep your shoes (cost is 1 rupee). If you are wearing chappals or sandals, you have to store them at a separate shoe counter. This is perhaps the most confusing part of the ashram. I would suggest you buy some cheap sandals, mark you name on them and find a place to put them in case you get confused about the shoe counters. Just remember where you put your sandals, because when you come out of from the Darshan area, you are on the opposite side of the Temple Complex. I was not able to find any sort of public internet facilities when I was at Shirdi. Shirdi does have telephone services for local, state and international calls. When booking a return bus ticket to Bombay, make sure you get the earliest bus (it takes 7 hours to get to Bombay) and make sure the bus is A/C (costs around Rs.-300). Try to sit on the left hand side of the bus so you can keep an eye on your luggage, which is stored in a compartment below the bus. The boys who sell flowers, pictures and statues can be very stubborn and will literally follow your for hours. If you would like to help them out (most are very poor), make your purchases a few hours prior to leaving Shirdi. Otherwise, you will attract large groups of sellers. A small bundle of roses (about 3-4 roses tied together) costs Rs.-3, if you would like to offer flowers in the temple.
Inside The Samadhi Sai Baba Temple: Once you go inside the Temple for Darshan, you can expect long lines if it is a Holy Day. Otherwise, you will not have to wait long at all. Avoid Holy Days (the lines are extremely long and the wait can easily exceed 5 hours). You can expect police officers and Temple workers to be screaming loudly at people to hurry up and move forward. I would suggest you get in the furthest left-hand side line. In that line, you can touch Sai Baba's actual samadhi and the silver chappals that are located there. You can offer flowers and there are places where you can offer money. As soon as you offer your flowers and touch his samadhi, kindly leave the area. Winters are the best season to visit Shirdi. The months from September to April being the ideal period. The daytime temperature is pleasant during this period, making the days excellent for visiting the tourist attractions of the town. The summers can get very hot (May-August). Make sure you drink bottled water.
Sai Baba's place Shirdi (Maharashtra State) is a very sacred, powerful and important place of pilgrimage in India.
Khandoba Mandir: This place is near Shirsainath Hospital. Baba stepped here in Shirdi at the foot of banyan tree near Khandoba Temple along with Chand Patil's wife's nephew's marriage party. The then Pujari Mhalsapati welcome Him by calling "Ya Sai".
Gurusthan Mandir: This is the place where Baba first appeared to the world as a boy of 16 years & this place is supposed to be Baba's Gurusthan. the famous Margosa (Neem) tree is here. it has a reference in Shri Sai Sat-charita. Devotees claim that their ailments are cured by burning incense here on Thursday & Friday.
Sai Baba's Samadhi Mandir: This is the place where Sacred Body of Baba is resting in Samadhi. The articles handled by Baba are preserved & displayed here in a special showroom. All rituals consisting of Pooja. Abhishek & daily four Aratis are performed here. The Samadhi Mandir of Shri Sai Baba was actually owned by a millionaire from Nagpur and a famous Sai devotee Shreemant Gopalrao, also known as 'Butti Wada'. He wanted to keep an idol of Murlidhar there. However, according to the legends, Sai Baba manifested himself as Murlidhar and the temple became the Samadhi Mandir of Baba. The Samadhi of Baba is built with white marble stones. The railings around it are full of ornamental decorations. The idol of Baba is a marvelous statue made up of Italian marble built by Late Balaji Vasant in 1954. The temple has an assembly hall for about 600 devotees. The first floor of the temple has the pictures depicting the life of the saint. The temple opens on 5 AM with morning prayers and close down at 10 PM with night prayers.
Dwarkamai (Masjid): Baba stayed at this place continuously for 60 years. Innumerable devotees got blessing of Baba here. The Shila (Stone) on which Baba used to sit is located nearby. Also Sacred Fire (Dhuni) lit by Baba is ever burning here. Baba used to give Sacred Udi (Ash) to the devotees to solve their problems in life. Udi distributed to the devotees now is only from this Dhuni. Baba used to cook food here for distribution to devotees. Main attraction of the site is the oil paintings of the sage.
Chawdi Mandir: On every alternate day Baba used to proceed in procession from Dwarkamai to this place at night & halt & sleep here. Now also on every Thursday Palanquin procession of Baba's Photo. Holy Padukas & Satka is taken to this place between 9.15 p.m. & 10.00 p.m. The Chavadi is divided into two parts. One part of the Chavadi has a large portrait of Baba along with a wooden bed and a white chair belonging to him.
Lendi Baug: At some distance from Gurusthan, there is the Lendi Baug. This garden was made and watered daily by Baba himself. It got its name from a nullah (a drain), which used to flow there. Baba used to come here every morning and afternoon and take rest under a neem tree. Baba dug a pit, 2 feet deep, under the neem tree and kept a deep (a lighting object) lit in that pit. An octagonal deepgriha (lighthouse) called Nanda Deep has been built in marble stone in memory of this place. It constantly burns in a glass box. On one side of the deepgriha is a pipal tree and on the other side is a neem tree.
Other Places: The Samadhis of Shri Tatya Patil Kote, Shri Bhau Maharaj Kumbhar, Shri V.Padmanabha Iyer, Shri Nanawali & Shri Abdul Baba who were ardent Bhaktas closely associated with Shri Sai Baba during His life time are located in Sansthan premises near lendhi Baug.
In addition 3 other Temples are in Temples premises complex : 1) Shri Ganesh Temple, 2) Shri Shani Temple & 3) Shri Mahadev Temple.
Fairs And Festivals: The most important festivals and events that are celebrated in Shirdi are Guru Poornima, Dussehra, and Ram Navami. These are the only days when the Samadhi Mandir of Shirdi opens for the whole night. Every Thursday, a palakhi bearing a photograph of the sage is taken out from the temple.
Situated around 5 km from Shirdi is Sakori. The place is home to the Upasini Maharaj. Shanisinghnapur is 70 km from Shirdi. A temple devoted to Shani is located there.
The 23rd day of May 1940 the fourteen year old lad, Sathyanarayana Raju, made a revelation to a gathering of family members and neighbours. He announced:
"I AM SAI BABA. I belong to Apasthamba Suthra. I am of the Bharadwaja Gothra. I have come to ward off all your troubles. In your ancestral lineage sage Venkavadhoota, whom you all acknowledge and worship as a Guru, had prayed to Me and responding to his sincere call, I have taken human birth in your family. Worship Me every Thursday and keep your houses and minds clean and pure."
After this historic declaration some challenged Sathyanarayana, "If you are Sai Baba in reality then right at this moment and at this very place give us a convincing and concrete proof". Sathyanarayana instantly responded, "Yes, I shall". He then asked for some jasmine flowers and cast them on the floor. The jasmine flowers fell in an orderly arrangement on the ground, spelling out in Telugu 'SAI BABA'.
Even today, there are many testimonies from people all around the world who claimed to see the Sai Baba of Shirdi in Sathya Sai Baba's physical form. Devotees also attest to dreams, visions and miraculous appearances of the Fakir in association with Parthi Sai Baba.
The Shirdi Sai Avatar
From discourses by Sri Sathya Sai Baba
- Part I
September 29, 1990
- Part II
September 27, 1992 -Navarathri Celebrations
- Part III
October 6, 1992 - Vijayadasami Celebrations
- The Shirdi Connection (The Shirdi Story continues)
The Testimony Of Sharada Devi aka 'Pedda Bottu':
In my sixth year, my elders took me on a pilgrimage to Badrinath in the Himalayas. Soon after this trip, I was arranged in marriage and moved into my husband's household in my twelfth year [as was customary in India in earlier days]. I bore six male children to my husband by the age of 23, but all of them died after living for merely three to four years of age.
As all my children were lost and I failed to bear any more children, I consented for my husband to remarry, and I moved to settle down at Shirdi in the presence of Sai Baba.
I saw Shirdi Sai Baba perform many miracles. Once, a tahasildar, an old devotee of Shirdi Baba came for Baba's darshan. On seeing him Baba said, "I am happy that you have come. I wish to have puran poli [fried sweet]. Bring me one." As there were no hotels in those days the man proceeded all the way to Kopargaon, a larger town about 20 km away from Shirdi, to have a few puran poli's prepared somehow. He brought them to Shirdi the following day for Baba's lunch time.
Baba then told him, "I have eaten my belly full. Why did you bring them? You may take them back." On hearing this, the devotee was stupefied and started weeping. He said, "Because you asked for puran poli's, I got them prepared—straining myself. How could you have your fill when you have not even started your lunch, Baba? Please eat at least one for all my labor."
Baba replied, "When you were getting the sweets prepared, I visited the place in the form of ants and ate them. Can you not believe that my stomach is really full? Look at this," so saying Baba belched and spat out some pieces of puran poli. God is the indwelling spirit of everyone. There were many instances when Baba demonstrated this truth.
Baba never failed to give succour to those who prayed to him with full faith.
One day I requested Baba to give me Mantra Upadesh (Spiritual initiation). Baba replied, "You are young yet. I will give you Upadesh when you grow older." I waited until I was 29 years old and prayed to Baba again. He shouted at me with anger, "You are always obsessed with Upadesh!," and kicked me on the chest with his right foot.
With tears of dejection streaming down my face, I went out and laid down under a tree. I must have slept after weeping for a long time; it was very late at night when Baba came to wake me up. He asked me to follow him to the Lendi Garden. When we reached the garden, he said, "My child! I could not sleep in Dwarka Mayi [Baba's dweling] when you were lying out there without food since morning. I have brought you here, for I want to tell you something. But first you must eat."
He stretched out his right hand with palm up and said, "Allah Malik hai" (God is the master).
Two chapathis and a lemon sized kova [a sweet, made out of milk] materialized in his palm. He gave them to me to eat. Again, he stretched out his hand and this time a very small mud pot full of water materialized. When I ate and drank he asked me, "Gori, is your anger gone?" I mentally replied in all humility, "There is no anger or frustration now. I was a fool not to realize that your kick was in fact your grace. My heartfelt gratitude to you for allowing me to eat your divine materialization's." Baba then told me, "I will tell you something, but before that you should hold my feet and promise me not to tell this to anyone." With pounding heart and anticipating the much awaited Mantra Upadesh, I did as he told me.
"Gori, I will appear in Andhra [Pradesh] with the same name of Sai Baba but in another Avathar. Then again, you will come to me. I will keep you with me and give you joy." I was ecstatic in joy and said, "I am blessed my Lord, this is my greatest fortune! Should I not reveal this fact to anybody?" Baba confirmed, "No, you alone will see my second Avathar, none else will. After you have seen me in my second form, you may tell this to others when occasions arise."
This conversation between us took place in 1917. Later, I was informed that my ailing elder aunt wanted to see me at Rajahmundry. It was when I was at Rajahmundry in 1918 that I learnt that Baba had left his physical body. I was filled with a kind of inexplicable anguish.
One day my aunt told me, "I must arrange my journey on Ekadasi, day after tomorrow. Sri Baba himself appeared in my dream and called me to him." On Ekadasi she passed away with the Lord's name on her lips. I had deserted my family life due to the loss of all my sons. The parents too, who loved me, had left this world long ago. There was no longer the solace and protection I had from Baba. To top it all, now my dearest aunt was also no more! The sense of forlornness and depression was now to the full brim. I learnt that there was a number of learned saints in the hills of Dwaraka and decided to spend the rest of my life in their service.
I started off and after five days of crossing rivers in spate and fearsome forests, I reached a tunnel-like cave. I entered it, walked through its length and reached the other side. A group of people were shouting slogans in praise of a 'Sadguru Maharaj'. I soon understood that this great man was about 360 years old. I was keen on having his darshan and earn some spiritual merit. I sat in meditation under a tree but nobody came to see or talk with me. I was steeped in sorrow. On the fourth day, an old saint, presumably the Sadguru Maharaj, appeared in front of me and asked me the reason for my unhappiness. I replied that when he, the Swamiji, the all-knowing omniscient did not bother about me, I got disheartened. The great one told, "You are new to this place. I wanted to test your endurance. Now, go and take a dip in that holy lake and come back. I shall give you Upadesh." I was elated! I bathed in the holy water, returned, and received the Mantra Upadesh. Now I had a holy word to repeat in meditation and reach the highest level of serenity.
Sadguru Maharaj himself had five Masters. He showed me five caves in which each of these supreme saints sat in perpetual meditation. Sadguru Maharaj advised me to choose one of these supreme saints, sit in meditation in his company and obtain Siddhi [spiritual power]. I selected the Master of the first cave. His name was Sri Chandra Yogi. I preferred him to others because I recollected a person of the exact likeness of Sri Chandra Yogi appearing and calling me to him in a dream in my childhood days. I sat in the presence of Sri Chandra Yogi every day, repeating the mantra twenty million times and obtained the Siddhi.
I spent six more years in those holy hills. Sadguru Maharaj gave me and other disciples a series of discourses on the Vedas; Vedanta, secrets of the entire cosmos, and many topics of spiritual importance. One day the Maharaj told me, "You have learnt everything that there is to know. Now listen to me carefully. You have to do many more good deeds. The God you think you have lost is about to come into this world soon, for the uplift of the entire humanity. You will not see him in the old form with which you are familiar. He will appear in a new captivating form. He will be the most powerful Avathar and will do many extraordinary things. Hence, return to your place, learn about this lovable God and receive your salvation in his service."
I developed a great liking to the sacred atmosphere of the hills, the peaceful and calm life of meditation and the company of the holy, scholarly persons. So, it was with a heavy heart I persuaded myself to return to Hyderabad.
In an effort to spend my time, money, and strength in a beneficial activity, I planned a home for the poor, and destitute children and named it 'All India Sai Sadan'. It started functioning with eighty children. I gave them not only food and formal education, but taught them vocational activities like stitching, making toys, and other handicrafts. After some time, I began to run out of money and supplemented the income by writing Hari Kathas [short stories about God] and singing them wherever I was asked to. One day I was invited to sing a Hari Katha in a village called Uruvakonda. In the house where this event was arranged, I happened to see on the wall a photograph of a beautiful lad. He had a large crown of hair. The face and eyes were most charming and magnetic. I asked the housewife whose photo it was. She told me, "Don't you know? He is Puttaparthi Sai Baba. If you want to see him, I can take you to him tomorrow." The next day I was taken to the house of one Mr. Seshama Raju, the elder brother of Baba. I then saw the young 14 year old Baba. It was in 1940. I was then 52 years old.
The first words that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba uttered to me where, "Gori, you owe me 16 rupees in my Shirdi incarnation." I replied that I had already paid up all my debts to Shirdi Baba. He said, "I know. I said it because you are not able to recognize me. Otherwise, you would have fallen at my feet. All right! After completing all your tasks at the Poor Home you are running, go to Puttaparthi. I shall retain you with me and shall bestow all the joy you want." For the next 17 years, I used to visit Puttaparthi frequently and spend a few months every time in the divine presence of Baba. In 1958, when I was 70, I closed down the Poor Home and went to Puttaparthi to spend the rest of my life there. Baba gave me an apartment to stay in the ashram.
Once I was ill when Baba was away at Bangalore. In spite of my indisposition, I wanted to perform my duty as a lady volunteer in maintenance of discipline and silence in the temple premises. It was 6:30 PM. The post-bhajan meditation pactice was in progress. Suddenly I noticed Bhagavan Baba beckoning me into the temple corridor. Since meditation was going on, he was naturally motioning his hand silently but it was clear he wanted me to go to him. How can Baba be here too at the Puttaparthi temple, when he was in Bangalore right at that moment? I was sure it was some apparition; my sick mind was evidently playing tricks. I looked the other way for a moment and again turned back. Baba was very much there. Losing faith in my faculties, I looked away. This time Baba walked towards me and said very audibly, "Come!" I had to believe the voice at least. Baba might have returned from Bangalore without my knowing it.
He materialised Vibhutti and gave me to cure my illness with. He then motioned me to take Padnamaskar. Filled with bliss at his loving concern for me, I bowed down and had the Padnamaskar. When I raised my head there was no Baba to be seen anywhere. By this time, I was surrounded by many women. Serious doubts of my mental soundness was being freely exchanged. There were few takers when I narrated what actually happened. I showed them the Vibhutti that Baba had given me. Some, at least, in the group must have thought I was a blessed soul. I began to feel better when I ate the Vibhutti. By next morning, I was fit as a fiddle.
This happened again when Baba was away at Bangalore. My eye was swollen and red. The eyelid was hanging down swollen and red. The eyelid was ha and it was giving me excruciating pain. The doctor at the Puttaparthi hospital told that it was a serious condition and that an operation was necessary. I was scared out of my wits and rushed to Bangalore. Baba saw me and admonished, "Why did you come here?"
I wailed, "You are the Lord of all creation. Where else can I go? Look at my eye. I came here because I could not bear the pain." He materialised Vibhutti and poured the entire stuff into my eye. He asked me to close the eye and led me to a place to lie down. He called a security guard and instructed him, "Nobody should disturb this old lady as long as she sleeps." I slept until eight o'clock the next morning. Baba came and examined the eye. He said, "It is normal. Now go back to Puttaparthi and attend to your duties. I shall return tomorrow." On another occasion, I went to Baba complaining of a stomach ache. He materialised Vibhutti with the familiar rotation of his hand and asked me to smear it on my forehead in the form of a big Bottu (dot). Baba added, "Your stomach pain will vanish. And from now on you will be called Pedda Bottu (Big dot)!" Thus Pedda Bottu became my permanent name."
The Testimony Of M.K. Raman In Paul William Robert's Book: "Empire Of The Soul":
Someone once told me a story that appeared to confrim this. M.K. Raman was ninety-seven when I met him. He'd been an ardent devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba, one of those who'd personally heard the holy man announce his next incarnation. Nearly half a century elapsed before he leanred of a south Indian guru who claimed to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba and thus felt 'mildly obliged' to set out for Puttaparthi. He did not really believe he'd find there 'any truth to the outlandish claim.'
When they first met and before either had spoken a word, Sathya Sai Baba waved his hand and materialized two coins for M.K. Raman - four annas in the old and long-obsolete Raj-era currency. 'I knew then that it was true,' Raman recalled, his creaky old voice quavering with emotion. A lifetime earlier, he told me, just before his death, Shirdi Sai Baba had mysteriously demanded of Raman four annas. As this old Sai Baba, like the new model, never asked for anything, and rarely even accepted personal gifts, the incident had stuck in Raman's mind for fifty years. Such stories are common to the point of cliche around Sathya Sai Baba.
The Testimony Of Mr. M S Dixit In Howard Murphet's Book: "Sai Baba: Man of Miracles":
In the company of his uncle Hari, M. S. Dixit told me, he made his earliest visits to Shirdi; first in the year 1909, and again in 1912. Before this second visit he had been suffering what he called "half-headaches".
At sunrise half his head would start to ache agonizingly; then a little before sunset it would stop. This would go on each day for about two months at a stretch; it was very distressing. His uncle took him to Sai Baba hoping for a cure of the strange headaches.
Mr. Dixit recalls vividly how he was sitting near Sai Baba one day when Baba suddenly said to him: "Why are you sitting here - go home!"
Young Dixit replied that he had a bad headache and the heat of the fire near which he was sitting brought him some relief. But Baba insisted that he must go. It was the custom when leaving to take some ash from the fireplace and put it in Baba's hand, so that He might with it give His parting blessing.
The fourteen-year-old boy did this. Baba held the udhi for a moment and then applied it to the lad's forehead with some force. Young Dixit felt that he had been slapped on the head as well as ordered to go away, so he told his uncle that he would not visit Baba anymore.
Hari Dixit replied: "Are you a fool? The slap means that your headache will not recur."
This turned out to be true. The strange and terrible headaches never came back after that day, and young Dixit understood that Baba had been in His enigmatic way ordering, not the boy, but the headache to go away.
Six years later, in July 1918, M. S. Dixit found himself ill again, this time with bad haemorrhoids and an anal fistula. The medical men of Bombay where he was living said he must undergo an operation, but he felt very nervous about having surgery and did not want it.
Yet he was suffering a lot and there was much bleeding. He felt very miserable about his condition. At one of the regular Thursday evening gatherings of Shirdi Baba's Bombay devotees, M.S. Dixit was somehow overcome by the devotional atmosphere combined with his own misery. Although a young man of twenty, he broke down and cried like a child.
That night he had a dream in which Shirdi Baba came to him and chided him for "weeping like a girl". Then the old saint told him what to use as a cure for his ailment.
After waking, Dixit could remember everything except the name of the medicine that Baba had prescribed. He was very distressed about this and decided to go to Shirdi as soon as possible and get the name from Baba's lips.
But before he could go he heard the news Baba had passed away."Now” he thought gloomily, "I shall never know the medicine’s name and must go on suffering."
The next Thursday evening meeting, following the news of Baba's passing, he found himself again overwhelmed with sorrow for himself, and wept once more. The same night brought him another vivid dream.
In this Baba stood before him again, still in the old Shirdi form. He said, "What! Crying like a girl again."
Then he told the young man to "take seven seeds of pepper, crush them to powder, and each day take a pinch of the powder mixed with udhi. All devotees, incidentally, kept some of Baba's udhi in their homes. M. S. Dixit remembered these instructions clearly next morning and carried them out. On the third day of treatment the pain stopped; on the seventh the bleeding stopped.
A complete cure took place and the complaint never returned. The years passed and the pages of Dixit's life turned over: he was in business; he got married; he was a major and Brigade Education Officer in the army during the Second World War and for some years afterwards. The year 1959 found him back in commercial life in the west-coast city of Mangalore.
During his leisure time he would read the ‘Guru Charitra’. It is said that if this book is read through completely within seven days, great spiritual benefits will ensue. On the evening of the sixth day of the reading he had a dream.
In the dream, he was walking along a broad avenue of trees, and felt that someone was following him. He looked back. There was a man, very distinctive looking, close behind him. Dixit asked: "Who are you and why are you following me?"
But there was no reply. The figure just continued to follow silently. After a few minutes Dixit looked back again and saw the man still following him. Neither said anything. Soon the footsteps drew closer, and Dixit felt that something was being poured over his head from behind. He realised that it was ash…
That was all of the dream he could remember on waking, but very clear in his mind remained the striking, unique figure and face of the man who followed him.
Some months afterwards - through an odd set of circumstances he heard that there was a reincarnatian of Shirdi Baba but did not believe it. Then later on he heard the same story again from another quarter and was shown a photograph of Sathya Sai Baba. It was the man who had followed him in the dream.
Now his interest was really aroused. He remembered his uncle's story that Shirdi Baba had once told him: "I will appear again as a boy of eight years."
Was this the boy, now grown to manhood? He decided to go as soon as possible to Puttaparti and find out all he could. It was early in 1961 when he managed to get there, as one of a party of about thirty people. The ashram was choked with the thousands who had arrived for the Shivaratri festival, and Dixit stood among them waiting for a view of Sathya Sai Baba on the high balcony.
When the little red-robed, dome-haired figure with the sweet, lovable face appeared, Dixit knew for certain that it was the figure of his strange dream. Yet, he thought, how can this be the old saint of Shirdi? With His coloured silks, hair like a woman and the big crowds around Him, this man is more like a film star. Shirdi Baba was rugged, homespun, simple: how can this possibly be the same man?, he pondered. Suddenly he wanted to go home.
But he stayed to watch Sathya Sai pour huge quantities of sacred ash from a small bowl over the statue of Shirdi Sai, and the same evening take nine lingams from his mouth. Then during a public discourse next day Baba said: "Some who have come here think I am too much like a film star; they object to my bright-coloured robes and the style of my hair…"
With consternation, Dixit heard all of his own unspoken critical thoughts being repeated from the platform. Then Baba went on to explain the reasons - good reasons Dixit felt - for the striking attire, the unique hairstyle and the other features of this incarnation.
Well, Dixit decided, He is certainly something very special. There is no doubt about His paranormal powers, but.... He is so different from old Shirdi Baba. Can it really be the same soul?
On his second visit to Prasanthi Nilayam three months later, he was called into a room with a group of half-a-dozen people for an interview. Baba came in, spoke to a few people, and then went up to M. S. Dixit who was holding a small photo of his uncle, H. S. Dixit, in his hand. Baba took the photo from him, looked at it, and said: "That's H. S. Dixit, your uncle, your father's elder brother, and my old devotee at Shirdi. Now have you any more doubts?"
His doubts were fewer because all that Baba had just said was true. And Dixit had told no one his name at the ashram. He was there incognito - just an unknown member of a crowd of visitors. But Baba had recognised the face of his uncle in the photo at first sight.
After that Dixit often made trips to the ashram and, through the years, enjoyed the wealth of Sai Baba's miraculous powers, great compassion and spiritual teachings.
Once, speaking of Shirdi Baba's remark to his uncle Hari about coming back to earth "as a boy of eight years", Baba told Dixit that what he had really said was he would return as a boy in eight years, that is, eight years after his death - which he in fact did.
Sathya Sai added that H. S. Dixit must have misunderstood him. But it was, the many, many little things, more than these big ones that finally, convinced him that the two Sais were one, Dixit told me.
He went on to describe these important little things: the similarities in the siddhis (powers), the parallels in the teachings and manner of instruction, the subtle echoes from the past in gesture, phrase and attitude. "Sometimes I even see on his face the same old smile that I saw long ago on the face of Shirdi Baba," he said.
Of course, the differences which he felt so sharply at first are indeed there, he admits. But there, is, after all, a different body, a different setting, a different period in time - a different environment for the Sai mission. And therefore the mission, while in spirit the same, cannot be precisely the same in form and style, and it is to be expected that the outer personality through which the message comes to the world will also be different.
Sai Baba himself comments that He is not as hard or angry now as he was in the earlier manifestation. He is more tolerant and gentle. He explains the difference by means of a simile: "The mother is usually hard when the children enter the kitchen and disturb the cooking; but while serving the food she is all smiles and patience. I am now serving the dishes cooked then. Wherever you may be, if you are hungry and if your plate is ready, I shall serve you the dishes and feed, you to your heart's content."
At another time, concerning the controversy about whether He is the same Baba or not, He said: "When there are two pieces of candy, one square, another circular, one yellow and the other purple in colour, unless one has eaten and realised the taste of both pieces one cannot, believe that both are the same. Tasting, experiencing - that's the crucial thing for knowing the identity."