Who was Sai Baba and where was he born, these questions are such that no one has the answer. Sai never mentioned these things. There is no information available about who his parents were. Just once, when asked by one of his devotees, Sai said that he was born on 28 September 1836. That’s why Sai’s birth anniversary is celebrated on 28 September every year.
Sai Baba spent a major part of his life in an old mosque which he called Dwarka Mai. Sai used to live in Shirdi as a fakir with a white cloth on his head. Due to this form of his, some people consider him to be a Muslim. Whereas some people consider him a Hindu because of his devotion and love for Dwarka. But Sai never bound himself in caste bondage like Kabir. Whether Hindu or Muslim, Sai treated everyone equally and never mentioned which caste he belonged to. Sai always considered humanity, love and kindness as his religion.
Whoever came to him, he would have been kind to him without any discrimination. This behavior of Sai made him Sai Baba of Shirdi and Lord of devotees. However, there is an interesting story of how Sai Baba got the name Sai.
It is said that in the year 1854, for the first time Sai Baba appeared in Shirdi. At that time Baba was about sixteen years old. The people of Shirdi saw Baba for the first time being absorbed in samadhi under a neem tree. People were very surprised to see Balayogi doing hard penance at a young age without worrying about cold, heat, hunger and thirst. Sai, who became an idol of renunciation and detachment, gradually captivated the villagers. After staying in Shirdi for some time, Sai suddenly left without saying anything to anyone. After a few years Sai again reached Shirdi with the procession of a man named Chand Patil. The priest of Khandoba temple, Mhalsapati, on seeing Sai said, ‘Come Sai’.
The people of Shirdi initially thought Sai Baba to be insane but gradually after knowing his power and qualities, the number of devotees increased. Sai Baba used to beg alms twice a day from only five families of Shirdi. They used to collect liquids in tin vessels and bread and solids in cloth bags hanging over their shoulders. He used to bring all the ingredients to Dwarka Mai and mix them in a big earthen pot. Dogs, cats, birds used to come and eat some portion of the food without hesitation, Sai Baba used to eat the remaining alms by sharing it with the devotees.
Sai performed many such miracles during his lifetime, which made people feel the part of God in them. These miracles made Sai the incarnation of God and God. A woman named Lakshmi was yearning for the happiness of children. One day Sai reached Baba with her request. Sai gave her udi or Bhabhut and said half you should eat and give half to your husband. Lakshmi did the same. At a certain time, Lakshmi became pregnant. With this miracle of Sai, she became a devotee of Sai and wherever she went, she would sing the praises of Sai Baba. To destroy the womb of Lakshmi, some opponent of Sai gave medicine to destroy the womb by deceit. Due to this Lakshmi started having stomach pain and bleeding. Lakshmi reached Sai and started pleading with Sai. Sai Baba gave Lakshmi Udi to eat. After eating Udi, Lakshmi’s bleeding stopped and Lakshmi got child happiness at the right time.