Shaila Hattiangadi is a writer who had never set out to be one. After studying economic history at college she started out on her career as a homemaker. Somewhere along the way she found herself developing two major interests: cuisine and spirituality. The first, saw her turn into a cookery columnist, a processed foods entrepreneur and a consultant to leading manufacturers of kitchen appliances and food brands for whom she also began writing cookbooks. Right through, she continued along the path of spiritual self-development. A chance encounter with Swami Anandamoy of the Yogoda Satsanga Society led her to receive the kriya yoga diksha. Meanwhile, she grew to be a steadfast devotee of Sai Baba.
Her first book, "Sai's Story" was released by the Governor of Maharashtra in 1991. Three years later she published, "Sainubhav" an extensively researched collection of devotees' experiences, which she and her husband had painstakingly put together. A second edition of "Sai's Story" has now been published. Both titles are being translated into various languages. This book, she hopes, will help many more people discover the privilege of being close to Sai.
This book is an attempt to put before the reader a unique and divine man who walked the earth. God often comes to earth to save humanity. Sai came to save persons of his time and of all time.
It is always difficult to write about great people as the biographer cannot go into the innermost recesses of their thoughts, nor can the biographer explain how they implemented various methods to achieve what they wanted to.
It is much more difficult to write about men of God. A human cannot reach that thought level. With Sai's blessings and direction, what has been achieved as a glimpse into a divine function, has been written. Forgive the lapses-treasure what is before you.Sai loves all
Sai Comes to Shirdi
c. 1858 AD, at the step of the Khandoba temple, on the boundary of Shridi.
"Aau Sai," said Bhagat Mhalasapati to the young, handsome fakir. Overwhelmed as he was by the fakir's radiance and inner light, these words, this salutation, came from the inner recesses of his heart. Bhagat did not know that he was naming the nameless and creating a beloved name. Sai had come from nowhere, to be in Shirdi and create a world of new thought for men of his time, and for all time.
It was truly a stupendous moment, never to be forgotten. Sai was about to enter the temple when Bhagat suddenly exclaimed, "Thehro (stop)! Do not enter the sacred temple. You are a Muslim." Little did he know that he was being instrumental in creating a vibrant moment of disharmony, a moment of awakening for Sai's function as a unifying force of the times for a people pitted against each other by differences of their own making.
Sai's functions were to be unique, of raising people above artificial differences wealth, status or religion that separate them.
Sai awakened people to the eternal truth: Sab ka Malik Ek (One God Governs All).
Sai was interested in 'Sab' (all) and each one individually. He wanted to bring each and all closer to 'Malik' (God). He wanted to provide each one with two powerful implements to make them stronger and wiser one being 'Shraddha' (faith), the other being 'Saburi' (patience).
All his life, Sai strove towards this goal, one of the functions of his incarnation. Achieve it, he did. His abode was, and still is, a place where everyone could pray together while each had an individual prayer for Sai Baba. He created a mindset which enabled people to be calmer and stronger in their day-to-day lives and, at the same time, come closer to God.
People were drawn to him and still are. In fact, the numbers are increasing even today, over 80 years after his mahasamadhi.
Sai was unique. There was none like him. He wrote no book but influenced more people than the books of many philosophers put together. He received so much money each day, that his income was estimated to be higher than that of the Viceroy of India, the higher paid individual of the time. But he woke up and slept each day a penniless fakir! He distributed food to a large number of people each day but went to beg for his own roti! He lived in a masjid, called himself a fakir, but an increasing number of Hindus worship him.
Such a 'man', such a life, and thoughts of such magnitude, demand a study. This book is an effort in that direction. The material available is very limited and not as well recorded as one would like it to be. It is like gathering scattered seashells from vast, wide seashore.
Today, Sai Baba is a beloved name all over India. One sees his photographs everywhere. Contrasts here again. One sees Sai as a person, cross-legged, sitting on a stone, wearing a torn kafni ( a long robe). One sees pictures of his statue in regal splendour on a throne wearing a brocade shawl and, very often, a bejeweled gold crown. The earlier picture is what Sai really was; and the splendour, what his devotees want him to be.
For Sai's story, we start, we start with the earliest known facts about him. Let us travel back in time to four years before Mhalasapati's spontaneous welcome.
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