Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple of Austin

The Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple of Austin is a Hindu temple on West New Hope Drive in Austin, Texas. The temple’s aim is to provide a site for traditional Hindu worship as well as religious, humanitarian, cultural, and educational resources to the local Hindu population.

Shirdi’s Sai Baba

The majority of knowledge about Shirdi Sai Baba comes from a book called Shri Sai Satcharitra, which was authored in Marathi in 1922 by a disciple named Hemadpant (also known as Annasaheb Dabholkar / Govind Raghunath).

The book is a compilation of numerous disciples’ experiences and Hemadpant’s firsthand observations from 1910 onwards. Sri Narasimha Swamy, another follower, wrote the book Life of Sai Baba.

The early years

Although Shirdi Sai Baba’s birthplace and date of birth are uncertain, there are some clues that he was born nearby, at a town currently located in the west Indian state of Maharashtra. He was born in the small town of Pathri in Maharashtra to a boatman named Ganga Bhavadia and his wife Devagiriamma, according to some sources. It is also stated that Sai Baba was born in Tamil Nadu. His mother’s name was Vaishnavdevi, while his father’s name was Abdul Sattar, according to this version.

Baba was infamous for offering vague, confusing, and conflicting answers to enquiries about his paternity and origins, dismissing the material as irrelevant. He reportedly told a close follower, Mahalsapati, that he was born in the village of Pathri to Deshastha Brahmin parents and was committed to the care of a Muslim fakir as a child. He was raised as a child by a Fakir, according to numerous reports. On another occasion, Baba reportedly stated that the fakir’s wife had placed him in the care of a Hindu guru, Venkusa of Selu, and that he had remained as Venkusa’s follower for 12 years.

Baba supposedly arrived in Shirdi, Maharashtra, India, when he was about sixteen years old, in the Ahmednagar District. Although biographers disagree on the exact date, it is widely assumed that Baba resided in Shirdi for three years, then vanished for a year before returning permanently around 1858, right after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. This means that he was born in 1838. He lived an austere life, sitting immobile under a neem tree and meditating in an asana. The Sai Satcharita describes the peasants’ reactions.

The villagers were astounded to witness such a young lad doing strict penance, regardless of heat or cold. He hung out with no one during the day and feared no one at night.

Some religiously motivated locals (Mahalsapati, Appa Jogle, and Kashinatha) paid him frequent visits. The village kids thought he was insane and flung stones at him. He left the village after a while, and it is unknown where he went or what happened to him. Some evidence suggests that he met with several saints and fakirs and worked as a weaver. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, he is supposed to have fought with Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi’s troops.


Sai Baba’s true name is unknown. When he returned to Shirdi in 1858, the temple priest Mahalsapati gave him the name Sai. The term Sai can refer to both a religious mendicant and God. Baba is an honorific epithet in numerous Indian and Middle Eastern languages that means grandfather, father, old man, or sir. As a result, Sai Baba means “holy father,” “saintly parent,” or (venerable) destitute elderly guy.

Back to Shirdi

Around this period, Sai Baba began wearing a knee-length one-piece Kafni robe and a cotton cap. A devotee, Ramgir Bua, claimed that when Sai Baba arrived in Shirdi, he was clothed like an athlete and had “long hair flowing down to the end of his spine,” and that he never shaved his head. Baba didn’t start wearing the kafni and cloth cap until he was forced to surrender a wrestling battle with one Mohiddin Tamboli. This dress contributed to Baba’s identification as a Muslim fakir and was one of the reasons for the village’s early antagonism toward him.

Baba spent four to five years living under a neem tree and practicing lengthy periods of meditation. His demeanor was described as withdrawn and uncommunicative, and he was known to wander for lengthy periods of time in the jungle surrounding Shirdi. He was eventually persuaded to live alone in an ancient and decaying mosque, where he survived by begging for charity and accepting itinerant Hindu or Muslim guests. He kept a sacred fire (dhuni) in the mosque and offered sacred ash (‘Udi’) from the fire to guests as they left. The ash was thought to have therapeutic and apotropaic properties. He performed the duties of a local hakim, treating the sick with ashes. He gave spiritual lectures to his visitors and urged that Hindus read the Ramayana and Bhagavat Gita and Muslims read the Qur’an. He insisted on the unbroken recall of God’s name (dhikr) and frequently articulated himself in a cryptic manner through the use of parables, symbols, and allegories.

Baba is said to have tended a garden called Lendi Baug, named after a local river called Lendi.

The garden still remains and is visited by pilgrims; it features temples (samadhis) honouring persons and animals linked with Baba’s life.

Some of Shirdi Sai Baba’s followers went on to become well-known spiritual personalities and saints, most notably Mahalsapati, a priest at Shirdi’s Khandoba temple, and Upasani Baba Maharaj, who later became Meher Baba’s teacher. Other saints who admired him included Bidkar Maharaj, Gagangiri Maharaj, Janakidas Maharaj, and Sati Godavari Mataji. Several saints, particularly the disciples of Swami Samartha of Akkalkot, were referred to as “my brothers” by Sai Baba.

Shirdi Sai Baba’s renown began to spread in Mumbai in 1910.

Many people flocked to see him because he was regarded as a saint with the power to perform miracles, and even as an avatar. His first temple was established in Bhivpuri, Karjat.

Death and the final years (Samadhi)

Shirdi Sai Baba informed several of his devotees in August 1918 that he would be “leaving his mortal body” soon.

He developed a high fever and stopped eating near the end of September.

As his condition worsened, he requested that his pupils recite holy passages to him, while he continued to receive visits. He died on October 15, 1918, the same day as the Vijayadashami festival that year. His ashes were placed at Shirdi’s Buti Wada, which later became a center of worship known as Shree Samadhi Mandir or Shirdi Sai Baba Temple.

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