His parentage, birth details, and life before the age of sixteen are obscure, which has led to speculation about his origins.
Sai Baba led an ascetic life, sitting motionless under a neem tree and meditating while sitting in an asana.
In 1858 Sai Baba returned to Shirdi.
Sai Baba had no love for material things and his sole concern was self-realization. He taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace, and devotion to God and Guru.
There are a quite good number of hotels in Shirdi.
Most of the hotel provide free travel to Sai Samadhi Mandir. But it is a walkable distance, which is a better option so unless you have some difficulty in walking, it is preffered.
The central hall, where the samadhi is, also have a beautiful sculpture of Baba sitting in smiling and merciful pose. This was grafted by sculptor Bhausaheb Talim in 1954 AD.
I was there for a few moments in the sanctum Sanctorium....enjoing that blissful state.
Then we came out and visited Ganpati, Shani and Shiva temples, located nearby.
Then we visited Haji Abdul cottage. Haji Abdul was a Baba devotee.
Then we went to "Dwarikamai" It was a mosque and Baba graced this place by living almost 60 years here!!
We went then towards Gate 4 and visited the Dixit wada museum. This is a must for all. It has many things which Baba used personally. Here one can get the "Udi" or the ash from the Baba's Dhuni.
There are also a few tombs here of the devotees of Baba including Haji Abdul, Nanavati and Tatya Patil.
Being blessed by the merciful Sai and feeling happy with his charming smile, we came out of Sai Samadhi Temple and visited Khandoba Temple.
This is the place where Baba came in 1858. It is said that the then priest of Khandoba Temple, Bhagat Mhalsapati greetd the young Baba as "Ya Sai".
The main diety of Khandoba Temple is Khandoba (a form of Shiva) and also his consorts Mhalsa Devi and Banai Devi.
Blessed we were back to hotel for some rest.
In the afternoon we decided to visit the Shani Dhaam at Shani Shingnapur.
It is about 75 KMs from Shirdi off Shirdi AhmedNagar road and takes around 2 hours.
Chaaya Maarthaanda sambhootham tham namami sanaischaram
“I bow down to slow moving Shani Dev, whose complexion is dark blue like nilanjana ointment. The elder brother of Lord Yamaraja, he is born from the Sun and Chhaya.”
Shani Shingnapur or Sonai is a village, situated in Nevasa taluka in Ahmednagar district. This village is known for its popular temple of Shri Shani Dev.
Shingnapur is also famous for the fact that no house in the village has doors. Despite this, no theft is reported in the village. Villagers never keep their valuables under lock and key. Villagers believe that the temple is a "Jagrut Devasthan". They believe that Lord Shri Shani Dev punishes anyone attempting theft.
We tried to get a Bus to go to Shani Shingnapur but at that time, buses were not avaialable. So we took a shared taxi. It was Tata Ace and 4 people were sitting in the seat of two. The journey was quite uncomfortable in that hot afternoon, but was made possible by the grace of Lord Shri Shani Dev.
Because of fear of getting late we missed our lunch and later after Darshan at Shani Sthaan, we took "Vada Paav" to satisfy the hunger a little bit.
After reaching there, we visited Shri Shani temple. The Lord Shri Shani Dev is worshipped here in the form of a stone, which is kept in open.
Till sometime back, all (males only) were allowed to go near the stone idol of Shri Shani Dev but now it has been restricted. Women are allowed to have darshan from a platform in front of the devsthaan.
The idol of Lord Shani Dev (The Stone), has a black complexion is said to be a height of 5 feet and 9 inches and 1 feet and 6 inches in width.
It is said that about 350 years ago, in Shingnapur village it rained very heavily the fields were submerged by flowing water.
Along with the weeds flowing in the flood waters, the stone statue of Lord Shani Dev came flowing and got stuck in the branches of the neighbouring Berry tree. When the rains reduced and the floods receded, the people came out of their huts. They felt happy that by the grace of God, it had rained well. So when the cowherds took the cows and buffaloes for grazing near Panas Nala, they saw a black coloured stone oulder in the branches of the Berry tree. They began to wonder as to how such a big boulder came floating all the way till there!
After a lot of hesitation, they touched the boulder with their sticks. And wherever they touched, blood began trickling from the stone boulder. There, they could see an injury because of a big hurt to it. This was very clearly visible and evident. The cowherds panicked seeing the flow of blood. Abandoning their cattle, they came running into the village.
Listening to it all, the elders also were stunned. All people left their homes and went there to witness the strange occurrence. In the night, they all returned to their homes after deciding that they would do something the next day. Along with this decision and they retired for the night.
One of the villager in his dreams, saw Lord Shani Dev appeared and told him that “Whatever you and the cowherds saw is true”.
“Who are you speaking?” asked the devotee.
“I am Lord Shani himself speaking. Lift me from there and install in the village.”
The very next day, the devotee told the villagers what he saw in the dream. Upon hearing what he said, the people took a bullock cart and went to the spot where the idol was caught in the Berry tree. They even tried to lift the stone idol and place it in the cart, but they were not successful. They tried all day, but the statue would not move at all from its place. In the end, the people were sad and went back to their homes.
Lord Shani again appeared in the dream of the same devotee and said:
“Son, I will move from that spot only when the people, who move me from there are of the real relation of maternal uncle and nephew (Mama - Bhanja). These very people should place me on the branches of the Berry tree. Those bulls who ride the bullock cart should be of black complexion and also should be of the relationship of maternal uncle and nephew.”
Next morning he told the villagers about his previous night’s dream. And the villagers did exactly as was told in the dream.
Then the statue was placed upon the branches of the cut Berry tree. A maternal uncle and his nephew succeeded in taking the stone idol.
It was brought to village and at this place, where it is now, got installed on its own. The devotee, who had the dream wanted to install it in his own land, but the statue did not moved from where it is today.
There was a rich man in the village of Sonai called Shri Jawahar Mal, who had no children. So, he prayed intensely to God Shani that if he got a son, he would erect a beautiful foundation there. And by the grace of Lord Shani Dev, Jawahar Mal get a son and he erected a good foundation there in Shingnapur.
Then, some of the devotees started digging the ground to pull out the idol but were unsuccessful. They wanted to put ot on the foundation. The deeper they dug, the more they saw of the statue. And it could not be dislodged. And then, all the villagers prayed to Lord Shani Dev asking for his Divine directions about what to do next.
One of the devotees had a vision of Lord Shani Dev in which he said, “ Only erect a foundation. Do not try to move or lift me.”
Therefore, they built a three feet foundation on all the four sides of the idol. So, today, as much of the idol of God Shani we see, that much of it is deep seated.
So today, the shrine of Lord Shani Dev consists of a five and a half feet high black rock installed on an open-air platform. A Trishula (trident) is placed along the side of the image and a Nandi (bull) image is on the south side. In front are the small images of Shiva and Hanuman.
Amavasya is believed to the most auspicious day to appease Lord Shani. The village holds a fair in honour of the deity on this day.
Being blessed with the darshan, we returned back to Shirdi and took some rest in the evening.
In the night we decided to go to "Prasadalya" for dinner. In my view, this place is a must for all those who come to Shirdi.
It is in the memory of Sai, who used to cook and distribute the prasad to all.
There were two rows, one for Rs 10/- and another for Rs 40/-. Perhaps the Rs 40/- ticket includes the proper seating arrangements for dining.
The food was quite good. The grace of Sai is everywhere!!
After dinner we retired to our horel room. For some time I watched the world cup final match and slept comfortably as India won!!
Sunday morning, after a qucik breakfast of "Vada Paav" we took a bus from Shirdi to Triambakeshwar.
Trimbakeshwar is an ancient Shiva Jyotirlinga temple. It is situated at the town of Trimbak, in the Nashik District of Maharashtra, about 30 km from the city of Nashik.
It is said that anybody who visits Trimbakeshwar attains salvation. It is said that there is no sacred place like Trimbakeshwar, no river like Godavari, no mountain like Bramhagiri.
The reason for its being so sacred are - Ganga in the form of Godavari river originates at this place, its a place of Tri-Sandhya Gayatri, said to be the birth place of Lord Ganesha, a place of the first Nath of Nath Sampradaya consisting of Gorakhnath and others, a place where Nivrittinath was made to imbibe the holy knowledge by his Guru Gahininath.
The road from Shirdi to Triambakeshwar was not that great but ok as the day progressed the Lord Anshumaan extended heat and by the time we reached Traimbakeshwar, it was quite a hot noon.
It took the Maharashtra SRTC about 3-1/2 hours to cover that distance of about 125 KMs from Shirdi to Triambakeshwar. The route is via Nashik.
We took room in Hotel Sahyadri and after some rest, started for temple, which is at walkable distance.
But before we went for lunch. There was not much rush in the town. The lunch was just ok. Then we headed towards the Shiva Jyotirlinga Temple.
Triambakeshwar is located near to the source of the Godavari River. It originates from Bramhagiri mountains and meets the Bay of Bengal near Rajamundry in AP.
Kushavarta Teertha, a kund nearby the temple, is considered the symbolic origin of the river Godavari, and revered as a sacred bathing place.
The extraordinary feature of the Jyotirlinga located here is, its three faces embodying Lord Bramha, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
The Lingas are covered by a jeweled crown, which is placed over the Gold Mask of Tridev (Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh). The crown is said to be from the age of Pandavs and consists of diamonds, emeralds, and many precious stones. The crown is displayed every Monday from 4-5 PM.
This place has been made sacred by the stay of Rishi Gautam. He is said to have bring Ganga in the form of Godavari to earth. So the Godavari is also known as Gautami.
Once Rishi Gautam saw a cow grazing in the paddy field and he drove her away by throwing Doorbha (sharp, pointed grass). The slender cow died by this. This news upset the Rishis and they refused to take food at his Ashram. Gautama requested Rishis to show a way out of this sin. He was advised to approach Lord Shiva and request him to release Ganga and a bath in the Ganga would set him free of his sins.
Rishi Gautama then practiced penance at the peak of Brahmagiri. Lord Shankara was pleased by his worship and gave him the Ganga.
However, Ganga was not prepared to part with Lord Shiva. Shiva did Tandav Nritya on the peak of Brahmagiri and dashed his jata there. Frightened by this action, Ganga appeared on Brahmagiri. Gautama praised her but she off and on appeared on the mountain at various places like Gangadwar, Varaha-Tirtha, Rama-Laxman Tirtha, Ganga Sagar Tirtha etc. and disappeared in anger. Gautama could not take bath in her waters.
Gautama Rishi then surrounded her with enchanted grass and put a vow. The flow stopped there and the place thus came to be known as Kushavarta (bounded by Kusha - Grass). It is from here that the Godavari flows up to the sea.
The sin of killing a cow by Gautama was wiped off here.
The place is known for its scenic beauty in monsoon season and is surrounded by lush green hills untouched by pollution.
This current temple is built by Shri Nana Saheb Peshawa in 1755-1786 AD. It is built with black stone and the Shivlingam is said to be emerged naturally. The temple is bordered with around 20-25 stone feet wall in height.
Triambakeshwar is a small town. The Temple is at walkable distance from the bus stand and hotels etc.
Entrance gate lead us to the queue, which has logical separation of around 17 lines. The queue to the main temple passes through Nandi temple, which is built in front of the Shiva temple, Nandi facing Shivlingam. Nandi Idol is sitting on a platform and is carved out of white marble. After this, we step in to the Shiva Temple. There is a big hall, whose roof is in dome shape from inside. The sanctum houses the three lingas residing in hollow structure.