Shirdi is in Kopargam taluk, in Ahmadnagar district in the Maharastra State. The nearest Raiway station is Kopargam at a distance of 18 km. Very recently a rail link has been established from Mumbai to Shirdi via Putamba.
People of all walks of life from all over the country and abroad visit Shiridi in large numbers every day and the number is increasing by leaps and bounds. Sri Saibaba accepted all religions without any discrimination. It was on the last Sri Ramanavami day we visited Shirdi and as anticipated there was an unprecedented crowd of devotees waiting for the darshan of Sri Saibaba. There are several gates in the temple complex and all of them lead to the Samadhi Mandhir. Despite a large crowd, the temple premises was clean, hygienic and bubbling with activity even late at night. The more than the life size marble statue of Sri Saibaba in seated posture with his right leg on the left over his Samadhi is superb and divine. It appears as though he looks at you gracefully showering his blessings on you where ever you are in the big Samadhi Mandir hall. The darshan is continuously open from the early morning till late in the night. There is no ‘special payment darshan’ to cut short the waiting time and all are equal before him, without any discrimination what so ever, within the temple.
Sri Saibaba adopted Shirdi as his dwelling place and he was not merely a sage but one who performed miracles and rare feats to save the people of the village form famine and epidemic diseases. No one knows exactly about his origin or his parents but there is a general belief that he was born to a Brahmin couple and was raised by Muslim parents. He disappeared from Shirdi for some time and returned later with a marriage party. He was spotted by the priest at Kandoba temple, who had invited him fondly saying, ‘Aoo Sai’. From this time on, the name Sai got attached to him with a suffix Baba, meaning a respected person in the society.
Sri Kandoba Temple.
A road near the Temple complex..
Some facts about Saibaba and Shirdi:
Gurustan: Is the place where Saibaba was seen sitting under a neem tree.
Samadhi Mandir: Is the place where his statue is placed on his samathi.
Dwarakamai: is where he lived till the end of his life.
There are statues of a horse and a tiger in the premises and both were buried there after their life. The horse was dearer to him and it is said that it even used to dance before him. The tiger that was brought to Shiradi by an animal show performer breathed its last before him.
He used to prepare food in large quantities and served it to the people. While cooking he leaned on a tree stem using it as a support. This tree has the miraculous property of healing the body pain of the people who embrace it. It is now cordoned off as a measure to preserve it for the posterity.
Firewood is continuously burned at Dwarakamai and the resulting ash has the miraculous curing property. Even now the ash called ‘udi’ is distributed in packets as prasadam and one can get a packet of udi, one at a time, standing in the queue.
Sri SR Jaikar had painted an oil painting of Sri Saibaba and when he brought it to him, Saibaba liked it so much that he asked him to leave the painting there itself. There is a similar painting at Chennai in Mylapore Saibaba temple too.
There is a book called ‘Sri Sai Satcharitha’ on the life and teachings of Saibaba which is available in most of the languages and is sold at the book stall in the Temple complex near Gate 1. The book is moderately priced and is within the reach of every one. The original book was written by Sri Hemadpant with the blessings of Saibaba even while Baba was alive. This book to Sai devotees is what Kuran to Muslims, Bhagavat Gita to Hindus and Bible to Christians. There are 52 chapters in this book and most of the devotees make it customary to read at least one chapter a day.
Sri Saibaba though physically absent, lives in his Samathi forever and is always active as before in guiding and wiping off the tears and sufferings of the humanity. People approach him with great trust and faith that Saibaba will absolve their legitimate problems and sufferings in life. It is he who had said, ‘when I am here why fear?’
Jai Sai Ram!