Shirdi Sai Baba, also known as Sai Baba of Shirdi, was an Indian guru, yogi and fakir who is regarded by his Hindu and Muslim followers as a saint. Some of his Hindu devotees believe that he was an incarnation of Shiva or Dattatreya, and he was regarded as a sadguru and an incarnation of Kabir.
The name ‘Sai Baba’ is a combination of Persian and Indian origin; is the Persian term for “holy one” or “saint”, usually attributed to Islamic ascetics, whereas Bābā is a word meaning “father” used in Indian languages. The appellative thus refers to SaiBaba as being a “holy father” or “saintly father”. His parentage, birth details, and life before the age of sixteen are obscure, which has led to a variety of speculations and theories attempting to explain the SaiBaba’s origins. In his life and teachings he tried to reconcile Hinduism and Islam: SaiBaba lived in a mosque, was buried in a Hindu temple, practiced Hindu and Muslim rituals, and taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions. One of his well known epigrams says of God: “Allah Malik” (“God is Master”). Shirdi SaiBaba remains a popular saint and is worshiped mainly in Maharashtra, southern Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.Historical researches into genealogies in Shirdi give support to the theory that Baba could have been born with the name Haribhau Bhusari. SaiBaba was notorious for giving vague, misleading and contradictory replies to questions concerning his parentage and origins, brusquely stating the information was unimportant.He had reportedly stated to a close follower, Mhalsapati, that he has been born of Brahmin parents in the village of Pathri and had been entrusted into the care of a fakir in his infancy. On another occasion, Baba reportedly said that the fakir’s wife had left him in the care of a Hindu guru, Venkusa of Selu, and that he had stayed with Venkusa for twelve years as his disciple. This dichotomy has given rise to two major theories regarding SaiBaba’s background, with the majority of writers supporting the Hindu background over the Islamic, while others combine both the theories (that Sai Baba was first brought up by a fakir and then by a guru).
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