Meher Baba on Saibaba
Shirdi was not a big or famous town then. The entire village turned out to welcome the visitors, little knowing what a distinguished guest they had among them. As the wedding procession passed by the Khandoba Temple, a Hindu priest named Bhagat Malsapati caught sight of the young fakir and called out for the first time the words, "Hah Sai, hah!" – "Welcome, Lord, welcome!" From that day on, the young fakir of only sixteen whose name no one really knows, came to be known as Sai.
The young fakir did not remain in Shirdi long, however, and began his wandering from place to place in Maharashtra, begging along the way. Finally, he wandered among the hills surrounding the ancient Ellora caves at Aurangabad, where he entered a small cave atop a hill in Khuldabad.
At the bottom of this hill is the tomb of the Sufi Qutub Zarzari Bakhsh. This Qutub's tomb has been a favorite spot of Mohammedan pilgrims in the area for over seven hundred years. Zarzari Bakhsh was the Master of Sai in a previous lifetime as a Sufi. Sai, inwardly drawn to be near his former Master, entered a cave overlooking the tomb. Sai became God-Realized during this period and stayed in this cave for several years in the state of majzoobiyat, never leaving the cave for food or water.
During these years the strong healthy physique of the young fakir turned into a living skeleton. The skeleton, however, had infinite light – as if Sai's flesh and bones had been transformed into light! But this emaciated fakir had lost his gross consciousness. He now had the body of a mature man, but he was a man who had no bodily consciousness! He had become a God – Realized majzoob. Sai was fully conscious of himself as God – "Anal Haq" – but for over four years was completely oblivious of his own human body and the world around him. Yes it was necessary for Sai to leave that cave; he needed to regain his gross awareness to be able to fulfill his destiny – to wipe away the tear of our Age – to bring the Ancient One into form.
When Sai finally left the cave, he was emaciated – a living skeleton. Inwardly drawn by the power of another Perfect Master, he wandered east to meet the Swami of Akalkot, and by this Hindu Sadguru's grace Sai regained normal human consciousness. In this village of Akalkot, in the mountainous range of Ajanta, the fakir had now become Sai – a Lord of the universe – a living Perfect Master – and his divine work on earth began. He was twenty years old.
Sai wandered back to Shirdi in 1858 and there he stayed, making this humble village his permanent headquarters. At first, it seemed as if a new fakir had made his residence in Shirdi; he kept aloof from the villagers, spending his nights under a neem tree in all seasons. His bodily needs were minimal; whatever food or tobacco he wanted he begged for. The fakir preferred to be alone and he made this known to anyone who invaded his solitude. It appeared he disliked the villagers.
After living for some months under the neem tree, Sai moved into a small tin shed which served as the local mosque in this poor village. Sai renamed the mosque "Dwarakamai Masjid" – the mosque of the Mother of Mercy. Here two men began – once in a glorious state he declared his divine state:
"I am the Attributeless One – the Absolute!
The universe is my abode.
Brahma is my father
and Maya is my mother.
By their interlocking, I got this body.
Those who think I reside at Shirdi
Do not know the real Sai,
For I am formless and everywhere!"
At another time, Saibaba declared his divinity;
"I am God. I am Mahalaxmi,
I am Vithoba…
I am Narayan …
Why do you go to the Ganges River in Benares?
Hold your palm at my feet –
Here flows the Ganges!"