Mere Sai- Concept Note Devotees make a beeline for getting a darshan (spiritual communion) of Sai baba at the holy pilgrimage of Shirdi, the place where Sai baba spent most of his life. His devotees offer invaluable jewellery, thrones gilded with precious stones besides the regular offering of ghee and milk at his temple. All of it is symptomatic of the material progress we have made over the years. However, the question which we should ask ourselves is: Do we possess the moral and ethical consciousness needed to understand the simple message which Baba propagated throughout his life, that God is one? Have we ever wondered that did he get the same love and affection from people who have now turned his devotees, while he was still alive? Things weren’t easy for him when he first came to Shirdi as a Balyogi in 1856 CE. No one in the village of Shirdi wished to be associated with a boy who adorned tattered rags, let alone being friends with him. The boy had come to Shirdi just in order to be close to the resting place (Samadhi) of his guru. It was a time when the British had claimed suzerainty over India, but he was oblivious of their laws and petty scheming. He was unmindful of the naivety that words written in certain scriptures had assumed more importance than the only great principle: that of humanity! Only one woman came forward and treated him as one of her own amidst all the rejection he had to face: Baiza. She fed and cared for him like a mother. However, this act of kindness did not go down well with the protectors of faith in the village. The foremost among them was Shirdi’s Kulkarni, the self-appointed protector of the village. He questioned Balyogi’s religion in order to discredit him, and numerous other facile questions. No one, save for Baiza, even cared to treat that Balyogi as a human being, the very same Balyogi who grew up to be the Sai Baba the world loves to worship today. The moment he pointed out that the Samadhi of his guru was under a certain neem tree, Kulkarni ordered the earth around that place to be dug up. What was found beneath the freshly dug earth came as a shock to everyone: an immaculately clean room with four lit earthen lamps. The Balyogi was thus proved correct. However, this act of pure hatred came as a huge blow to him. The inability to protect his Guru shattered his spirit and he went away from Shirdi consequently Providence, however, still had its role to play. He returned to Shirdi after a hiatus of 12 years upon the bidding of his Guru. Nevertheless, Kulkarni’s grip was still very tight over Shirdi and he had turned Shirdi into his fiefdom of hate. In stark contrast to this, Baba was an oasis of love for everyone around him. For him, every living form was equal. Humans and animals were alike for him. Likewise, there were some who reciprocated the love and affection he showered upon everyone. One among them was Jhipri, a jovial kid who belonged to the untouchable community and was consequently despised by everyone. She became Sai baba’s first friend in Shirdi and remained with him till his last. Baba was not just a symbol of humanity and selfless love, he was also a crusader against the unjust practices prevalent in the society at that time, practices which continue to inflict our society even today. One such instance materialized when Jhipri was denied oil to burn earthen lamps on the occasion of Diwali. While on the other hand the entire Shirdi was glowing with lamps burning with the help of oil. Sai performed a miracle and lighted lamps which burnt on water. This was his manner of showing to the world that faith is what is required to propagate happiness amongst people. Over the years, we have made immense material and technological progress. Still, we seem to be lacking the ability to understand a simple fact that any work undertaken with truth and patience at heart, never fails to bear fruit. The one who had the ability to alter the fate of others suffered in silence at the hands of other people only because he had the necessary patience to exercise the immense spiritual power he had. Patience which he christened as Saburi. Faith & Patience, which were the two most essential tenets of his teaching, are fast withering away from our daily lives. The precise reason why it has become all the more important to relive his teachings. Ignorance is as big a wedge driving people away from each other as it was during his time. We have failed to see the inherent fraternal bond between all beings, which also happens to be the message preached by every other religion. It was around a 100 years ago that Baba declared: “Sabka Maalik Ek,” which essentially means that God is one. When Baba was alive, he gave away most of what he begged from the residents of Shirdi, to poor people and animals who were always gathered around him. Today, people make offerings to Baba worth crores of rupees, notwithstanding the fact that Baba never hoarded even an iota of wealth during his entire life. With the arrival of CE 2017, we have entered into the 100th year of Baba’s mahasamadhi but the questions which plagued the society during that period are contextual even today. ‘Mere Sai’ is a small effort in this direction, to help people realize the true essence of the values inherent in our scriptures, and to make them understand that faith and patience are the two pillars which have the potential to help us tide through most of our problems. These are the values which we had very conveniently left far behind in our interminable quest to achieve material pleasures.