Sai Baba's Statue in Shirdi, which has become the most mesmerizing divine image of Baba, was installed on 7th October`1954, Vijayadashami Day – 36 years after Baba's Mahasamadhi.
Balaji Vasanth Talim
Balaji Vasanth Talim was born in 1888 in Hyderabad. His father Vasanth Rao was a building contractor for the Nizam of Hyderabad. His father died early, leaving behind his wife Saraswathi, and three small children who migrated to Mumbai.
After primary education Balaji joined the J.J School of Art to learn sculpture. He won the "Dolly Khurshatjee" scholarship thus enabling him to complete his education. Balaji was a brilliant sculptor and painter, portraits being his speciality. In 1918 'Thalim's Art Studio' was established. He won many prestigious awards, gold medals, and accolades. Balaji was a highly spiritual, religious, philosophical and a man of principles.
The statue, which has become such a famous and well-loved image of Baba, was not installed until 1954, and there is an intriguing story behind it. Some white marble arrived from Italy at the Bombay docks, but nobody seemed to know anything about it – who it was for, or why it had come. In the absence of a claimant, the dockyard auctioned it and the purchaser offered it to the Shirdi Sansthan (temple authorities). Impressed by the quality of the marble, they wanted to use it for an image of Baba and gave the commission to Balaji Vasant Talim.
However, Balaji Vasant Talim had only one black-and-white photo of Baba to use as his model and was struggling to get the likeness. One night Baba came to him in a dream, remarked on his difficulties and then showed him his face from various angles, encouraging Talim to study it thoroughly and remember it well. This gave Talim the fillip he needed and after that the work flowed easily and the result exceeded all expectations.
Making of Saibaba Idol
Shri.Balaji Talim testified about this to Sri Sai Narayan Baba, as to how Baba himself had directed the Sculpting of the Statue and how at every stage, he could very clearly hear the divine voice of Baba guiding him.
The Shirdi Sai Sansthan immediately approved this Mud Statue of Baba, on the basis of which the present Italian Marble Statue of Sai Baba was carved and installed in the Samadhi Shrine.
In 1954, while working with his workers at the finishing stages of Sculpting the almost ready Marble Statue of Sai Baba, Shri.Balaji Talim found an Air Pocket in a small additional portion below the Left Knee of Baba's Statue, which had to be removed. It seemed dangerous, as in removing an Air Pocket from a Finished Statue, there was every risk of the entire portion coming down, thus leaving the Statue Khandit (Broken), which therefore could not be worshiped at all.
So the work stopped and Shri.Balaji Talim hesitated to strike and chisel out the additional portion.He feared that the entire Statue might get destroyed and all his labour & time would go waste.He became nervous and prayed to Baba, "Baba have mercy on me. Your Murti is ready. Please Baba have mercy on me." Just then he then heard a voice within saying "Balaji, Carry on".
So Balaji instructed his workers to carry on and chisel out the additional portion, but the workers refused to do so fearing that the entire knee portion would just drop out.
naking of saibaba idol
Eventually & quite nervously, Shri.Balaji Talim took the chisel & hammer himself and while praying "Baba, help me" gave a small stroke, touching the additional portion of the marble below the Left Knee. And to his great surprise, only the additional portion of the marble came down leaving the rest of Baba's Statue intact. Seeing this, tears rolled down his eyes and he prostrated before Baba, started dancing and distributing sweets to all.As, he experienced such a wonderful miracle of Sai Baba.
The 5′ 5″ finished Idol of Sai Baba was taken throughout the village with pomp & ceremony.Baba's Idol was so Life like that devotees like Swami Sri Sai Saranananda & Laxmibai, who had personally been with Baba, felt as if Baba had come back alive in the form of his Idol.
On 7th October`1954, Vijayadasami Day, this lifelike Marble Statue of Sai Baba was installed on the platform of the Samadhi Shrine's western side behind Baba's Samadhi and the due formalities of Prana Pratistha were done by Swami Sri Sai Saranananda who had met Baba before His Mahasamadhi.
At the time of preparation of Baba's Statue, one day Baba gave Darshan to Shri.Balaji Talim and said, "Finish the work and you will not do any other Idol in future." So Talim did not prepare any other Idol since then and finally at the age of 82 on 25th December`1970 he breathed his last.
- SHRI B.V.TALIM SCULPTING BABA'S IDOL -