Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi was a Saint, a Fakir & a Spiritual master. He is considered as an avatar of Lord Shiva. He is also believed to be incarnation of Shri Dattatreya.
It is unclear about his birth, his birthplace or the year he was born. Nothing is known about his parents either.
He manifested in Shirdi as a young lad when he was about 16 years. He practiced hard penance. He stayed in Shirdi for 3 years & then disappeared. He returned again in 1858 accompanying Chand Patil’s nephew’s wedding procession. He appeared at the Khandoba Mandir. The temple Priest Mahalsapati welcomed him & said – ‘Aao Sai’. Since then he was called ‘Sai’
For some years he stayed under a neem tree. He finally started living in a dilapidated mosque. He later called it ‘Dwarkamayi’. He set up a permanent fire which is called ‘Dhuni Mayi’. He would treat people with the ‘ash; from this ‘Dhuni’. It was believed to have healing power.
Sai Baba treated both Hindus & Muslims as equal. He never gave any sermons. He emphasized the importance of performing one’s duties without any attachments. Being kind to all living beings, Never hurting anyone, Doing your duties truthfully. He advised his devotees to lead a moral life.
He emphasized two important features of character –Shradha (Devotion) & Saburi (Patience) & include them in one’s life.
He left his mortal body on 15th Oct 1918. He was buried in Samadhi Mandir in Shirdi.