BY: NAVINA CHADHA
Om Sai Ram
Madhav Rao Deshpande 'Shama', Baba's closest devotee used to take people for darshan of Baba. He used to present people problems to Baba and help them out, being kind of a Personal Assistant to Baba.
Keeping this in mind, Sai Dham started this 'sewa' of darshan in Shirdi three years ago with 30-40 people in May-09 and then this group increased upto 60 people in Oct-09 .Then one whole bogie went in 2010 twice. Now in Jun11 in the 6th trip ,a group of 170 devotees went with Sai Dham by train in two bogies specially reserved for them. Apart from Baba's darshan & arti, the Shirdi trip includes visit to all important places in Shirdi, Shani Mandir darshan & special events & Pujas.
Every year in June this trip is organized specially to celebrate Chote Baba's birthday ,who came to us on 21st June 07 from Shirdi. Many Special events are organized for this celebration. Chote Baba's pratima is carried by devotees with them to Shirdi in the train where his regular artis are done. Bhakts sing & dance on Sai Bhajans.
This year,Special Vishal Sai Bhandara for 3000 poor & hungry in Shirdi & Vastradan for 2000 needy people is organized right next to Samadhi Mandir. Special Palki was organized where devotees passed through Samadhi Mandir, Chavadi, Dwarkamai & Khandoba Mandir & back to Samadhi Mandir. Palki started with Palki Pujan by Sh. Mukund Rao Patil (grandson of Bayajamai who starts Baba's palki on Thursday in Shirdi) & Chote Baba's pratima & Baba's photo was placed amidst Dhol, Nagade & Trumpets. Devotees sang & danced in the entire route to beats of dhol. At Chavadi, special silver coloured Arjun rath was arranged in which chote Baba was placed with fanfare. Devotees moved alongside the rath dancing with joy & moved to Khandoba Mandir, where Baba had stepped 1st in Shirdi. The palki ended with Baba going for evening arti inside Samadhi Mandir. All the devotees around the Samadhi mandir moved along with Sai Dham group to take blessings of Chote Baba in Vineetji's hands.The charan of Baba at Sai Dham were also in the palki and placed on Samadhi of Baba. After this celebration of Chote Baba's birthday was done at the terrace of the hotel BhagyaLaxmi. Sai bhajans were organized followed by cake cutting ceremony of Chote Baba & buffet dinner.|
Arti and darshan of Baba had been arranged for everyone and all the devotees of the group got to do all the artis daily.
Special VIP lunch at Bhojnalaya (Sai rasoi) is served to entire group and Satya Narayan katha puja is organized for all. Special darshan at Shani Shingnapur where special Shani puja is done, Prasad distribution at Dwarkamai, diyas are lighted at Nandadeep & all other major places are covered.
Right from the start of journey till the end, all responsibility of food, luggage and stay is taken care of by Sai Dham.
Apart from this throughout the year,another sewa is to help devotees going to Shirdi and guiding them regarding Train services, Hotel bookings, arti & Satyanarayan Katha timings in Shirdi .
For those of you who
have not been blessed with the opportunity of going to Shirdi, let me take you
to an overview of what to expect and important things to do while on a first
visit there. A simple Fakir, Baba has Divine Powers of the Trinity-- Brahma
,Vishnu and Mahesh, said to be avatar of Lord Dattatriya. So do not be a mere
spectator but pour out your heart’s desires, worries & problems & surrender
yourself to his feet. If you have full faith & trust, you will be witness to
miraculous changes in your lives. So what are we waiting for. Let’s start our
spiritual journey to the holy place Shirdi ,where Shri Sai Baba first arrived at
the tender age of 16 and remained till the end. He is said to be ever living
here taking care of his devotees day and night. Shirdi is a small village
situated in Ahemadnagar District, in Rahata Taluka in Maharashtra. Shri Sai Baba
lived between 1838 and 1918 and his real name, birthplace are not known. His
‘Shradha’ meaning faith and
compassion. Sai Baba’s mission was to restore belief in God and according to him
“I want to give people what they want, till they want what I want to give
them-the knowledge of the ultimate.
‘SAB KA MALIK EK’ means there is only
One Supreme God was always on his lips.
As soon as one reaches
Shirdi, the main attractions are-
This is the main Mandir. The building of this mandir was constructed
with blessing of Shri Sai Baba by Sh. Gopal Rao Butti, an ardent devotee
of Baba. It is therefore also known as BUTTIWADA. Shri Sai Baba took
Samadhi on Dussehra day i.e. on 15th
October, 1918 and as per his wishes his sacred body has been laid to eternal
rest here now known as Samadhi Mandir. It has Shri Sai Baba’s idol in
white marble gazing with majestic demeanor at his devotees.
Everyday Pooja, Abhishek and four Aartis are performed in Samadhi mandir.
Baba was first spotted here when he first arrived in Shirdi. According to
him, this is the place of his guru located under the Neem (Margosa) tree,
referred to in the book Shri Sai Satcharitra. It is believed that the leaves of
this tree are partially sweet. There is a dhuni stand next to it where it is the
experience of devotees that if they burn incense here on Thursday and Friday
they get rid of their troubles. It is wonderful to sit and meditate near the G u
r u s t h a n as it generates inner peace leading to unison with
The Dwarkamai is one of the cherished treasures of Shirdi. Since his
arrival in Shirdi till he took Samadhi, Sai Baba stayed here and blessed
innumerable devotees. This Shila (stone) on which he used to sit is
located here. Besides, the sacred fire (dhuni) lit by baba is eternally
burning here . Baba used to give UDI from his dhuni to all his devotees
to fulfill their wishes. According to baba this (ash) is what we will
all become in the end and we should never forget this.He would also cook
food and give it to all his devotees. The Palki and chariot are kept
alternate day Shri Sai Baba used to proceed in procession from Dwarkamai
to this place and stay here. Chawdi is located near the Samadhi mandir
on eastern side. Even now on every Thursday, between 9:15 pm and 10:00
pm Baba’s photo, holy Padukas (wooden sandals) and Baton are taken in
Palki from Dwarkamai to Chawdi.
Baba used to go for a stroll in this Bagh (garden), which is located within
the Samadhi Mandir Complex. Nanda Deep (sacred oil lamp) is kept
continuously lit near the Peepal tree, which is planted by Baba himself in this
garden, A small Dutta Mandir is also situated in this garden, where Baba’s
beloved horse Shyamkarna (Shyamsunder) was laid to eternal rest. There is also
a well in this garden, which is known as Baba’s Shivdi.
Baba’s great fortunate devotees, who lived during his lifetime were Sh. Tatya
Patil, Sh.Bhau Maharaj, Sh. P.V. Padmanabh lyyer, Sh. Nanawali and Sh.
Abdullah,whose samadhis are situated near Lendibagh in Samadhi Mandir Complex.
Darshan of articles, which became sacred with the holy touch of Shri Sai Baba
are kept on display in the Museum in Dixitwada near the main Temple. The
Sansthan has preserved the collection of these articles with the aim that
devotees may see them. They consist of Shri Sai Baba’s Padukas, Satka,
Tamrel, Chillim, Kafni, Saripat, Gramophone, Record, Maharajas coat, Stone
Grinder, Baba’s Rath, bed sheet on which Baba performed his last bath, the
Copper vessel, in which Baba cooked food and rare photographs etc are exhibited
here . The museum timings are from 6:00 am till 9:15 pm.
The temple is located near Shri Sainath Hospital , on Nagar–Manmad Road.
When the marriage party of Chand Patil’s wife’s brother came to Shirdi,
they had taken shelter near the banyan tree located near the Temple.
When Shri Sai baba who had accompanied this marriage party, alighted
with others, the pujari-Mahalsapati welcomed this young ascetic with
words ‘AAO SAI’ (COME SAI). So this holds special attraction in Shirdi.
The place where the bullock cart stopped has been commemorated with a
shrine and Baba’s Padukas are placed here.
Other places of interest surrounding Shirdi are the
Shani Singhnapur - seat of lord Shani about 70kms from Shirdi. Devotees come
from all over to seek blessings of lord Shani. The unique quality about this
village is that there are no locks in any houses in this village. It is said
that due to blessing of Lord Shani there is no fear of crime in this village.
Nashik is another holy place about 75 kms from Shirdi where famous temples
like Naroshankar Temple, Kalaram Temple and Sundarnaryan Temple can be seen.
Ajanta and Ellora caves are about 144 kms from Shirdi and are out standing
specimens of Indian architecture excellence.
So as you can judge there is a lot to do when visiting Shirdi. The best time
of course is in the monsoons between June and August when the cool breeze and
drizzling make your journey more heavenly. Winters are also a good time as
winters are not so harsh here and the temperature does not drop below 7degrees
C. The atmosphere of Shirdi becomes vibrant with pooja, bhajans and rath yatra
during festivals of Ramanavmi, Gurupurnima, and Dusshera which is again a good
time to visit.
The sacred abode of Shri Sai Baba is easily accessible from all the corners
of India and major cities of the world by air, train and road. The nearest
airport is Nashik 75 kms away, Aurangabad 150 kms and Pune 231 kms. By train
Kopergaon or Manmad is the nearest station where a number of trains go. By road
Shridi is on Ahmadnagar Manmad Highway and is 250 kms from Mumbai. A railway
station and airport directly upto Shirdi are in the pipeline and will be ready
by next year.
Today Shirdi the obscure village has become a world renowned pilgrim
destination much as Bethlehem or Mecca with over 25000 devotees visiting
everyday. This crosses a lakh on holidays and festivals. Recently a devotee has
gifted a golden throne to Baba and pillars and inner walls of dome have also
been made of gold. As said by Baba “I grant and fulfill wishes of all devotees
who step into my Samadhi Mandir” – and you will not find any single devotee who
is left out. “I am the slave of those who love me and have full faith in me”. I
hope that with his blessings we will be rewarded with the opportunity to visit
Shirdi and be inspired by his teachings not only to fulfill our desires but also
awaken our souls.
Every time one visits Shirdi some new experience always awaits you and one
notices something which was not seen in the previous visit. So more information,
places of importance and new projects being undertaken by Shirdi Sansthan Trust
for the benefit of ever increasing devotees will be highlighted later.