Sai Baba (ca. 1856–1918)
Indian spiritual teacher and mystic who, like the celebrated
spiritual poet Kabir, was accepted equally by both Hindus and
Moslems. Little is known of his early life. It is believed that he
was born into a Brahmin family in Hyderabad State, left home
at an early age to follow a Moslem fakir, and on the death of
his teacher became attached to a Hindu guru whom he called
Sabian Assembly Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
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‘‘Venkusa.’’ Even these details are uncertain, however, since
there was a profound symbolism attached to all the utterances
of Sai Baba.
It is known that in 1872 he appeared as a lad of 16 in the
village of Shirdi, in the Ahmadnagar district of Bombay. He
first attempted to settle at a small Hindu temple but was asked
to go to a half-ruined mosque nearby.
He made his home at the mud-walled mosque, where he
kept an oil lamp burning and occasionally smoked a clay pipe.
He muttered to himself and performed such strange secret
rites as emptying and refilling water pots, regarded by devotees
as symbolic gestures relating to divine grace. His actions and
instructions were unconventional and erratic but often culminated
in a great many extraordinary miracles and an outpouring
of divine grace. His following grew among both Hindus and
Moslems.
In 1886, almost as a rehearsal for death, he told a devotee
that he was going to Allah and that his body should be preserved
carefully for three days against a possible return. His
heart stopped beating, his breathing ceased, and local authorities
pronounced him dead. On the third day he opened his eyes
and started breathing again.
Sai Baba died October 15, 1918, and was buried in a Hindu
shrine. Since his death, the miracle-working guru Satya Sai
Baba has been regarded by many devotees as a reincarnation
of Sai Baba.
Sources
Osborne, Arthur. The Incredible Sai Baba. New Delhi Orient
Longmans, 1957.
Pradhan, Rao Bahadur M. W. Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi A
Glimpse of Indian Spirituality. Bandra, India R. A. Turkhud, n.d.

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