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Is Sathya Sai Baba A Reincarnation Of Shirdi Sai Baba?

Kaliyuga [the iron age] is the most fortunate of all ages as it is in this age that the Lord has chosen to incarnate not once, but thrice. The first incarnation was Shirdi Sai Baba (1838 – 1918); the second, Sathya Sai Baba (1926 – 2022); and the third, Prema Sai Baba (2030 – 2126). The subject of reincarnation, however, is often a topic of great mystery, controversy, and disbelief. This article makes a humble attempt to present a few facts that prove beyond doubt that Sathya Sai Baba is a reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba.

The Shiva Shakti Revelation. Thousands of years ago, Sage Bharadwaja, with an intention to propitiate Mother Shakti [Lord Shiva’s consort] for a Yagna [a sacred rite], visited Mount Kailasa. On reaching there he found Lord Shiva and Mother Shakti engrossed in a cosmic dance. Expectantly waiting for them to take notice, he stood still in snow-clad Kailasa for eight long days. Exhausted, the sage suffered paralytic stroke and broke down. The divine couple rushed to his rescue and cured him by sprinkling holy water. Pleased with his devotion, the Lord granted him a boon that He himself would incarnate in his lineage. First, Shiva as Shirdi Sai Baba; second, Shiva and Shakti as Sathya Sai Baba; and third, Shakti alone as Prema Sai Baba.

Mrs. V. Bala Tripura Sundari (age: 106). Mrs. Sundari has had the fortune of worshiping both Shirdi Sai Baba and Sathya Sai Baba. She first visited Shirdi Baba in 1908 when she was only 13. During one of her visits, Shirdi Baba gave her a Shivalingam. On her husband’s death in 1954, she wanted to settle in Shirdi but chanced to visit Parthi instead. At first she did not believe Swami was the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba. Once Swami asked her, “It seems you don’t want to stay here.” “Yes, Swami!” was her immediate response. “What will you do in Shirdi?” Swami asked, “When I am here?” Her immediate response was, “My Baba is there.” “Is it?” Swami asked and said “Look!” Lo and behold, Shirdi Sai was standing in place of Swami in flesh and blood.

On another occasion, Swami asked her, “Where is my Shivalingam?” She was surprised and said, “You did not give me any lingam.” Immediately Swami reminded her of the incidence when Shirdi Sai Baba had given her a silver lingam. She brought the lingam to Swami and it instantly disappeared in his presence.1

The Divine Declaration. Sathya, a young lad, all of fourteen, was materializing sugar candy out of thin air and distributing it to the village folks. Not only sugar candy, this lad was known to have performed the most mind boggling miracles. This lad was performing supernatural feats and lecturing on sublime spiritual topics. The father, and his entire family, was perplexed at the exhibition of this strange behavior. On May 23, 1940, His father could no longer tolerate this behavior. He was convinced his son was possessed. He held a stick and demanded, addressing the so-called spirit: “Who are you? Are you God, ghost, or devil?” “I am Sai Baba,” came the reply. He went on, “I am Sai Baba of Shirdi. I have taken birth in your family because of the prayers of your ancestor, Venkavadhoota.” Everyone present was stunned. They hadn’t heard anything, either of Shirdi or of Sai Baba. Someone challenged Sathya: “If you are really Sai Baba, show us some proof.” Immediately, Sathya picked some jasmine flowers and threw them on the ground. When they fell on the ground, they neatly arranged themselves into the words “Sai Baba” in Telugu script.2

The Queen of Chincholi. The Chaitanya Jyothi museum, at Puttaparthi, showcases one of the greatest testimonials of the Lord's Shirdi Connection. When Swami visited it recently, He was shown a tonga [a horse driven cart]. What was so special about this tonga? Well, this tonga was from Chincholi, a former princely state in South India. When the Queen of Chincholi met Sathya Sai Baba for the first time, Swami described how He had visited Chincholi earlier, while in His previous body. Shirdi Baba had indeed made several extra corporeal visits to Chincholi. Swami described the quarters of the palace that He stayed in, the personal moments He had spent with the Raja and the Queen, and the long drives He had, with the Raja, in the tonga. The accuracy of the details, known only to the Queen, was unbelievable. Here was the same Baba of Shirdi! The Queen was moved, and she presented to Swami, the tonga. This was the very same tonga, which was shown to Swami at Chaitanya Jyothi. When Swami saw it, He casually remarked, that there used to be a small lantern holder, on side of the tonga, which was now missing. It was, as though He rode in it, just yesterday. 2

Years ago, the same queen went to Puttaparthi to see Bhagawan. Even as she was entering the gate, Bhagawan told one of the close devotees standing there: “Ask her to bring the brass lota that I left at her house years ago.” The Rani Saheb herself did not know much about it. But, on a thorough search of heirlooms in the house, it turned out that the brass lota of Shirdi Baba, who had visited the house years ago, had been carefully preserved by elders among other things.

Sri Dixit. Sri Dixit, the nephew of Kakasaheb Dixit, who was a close disciple of Shirdi Baba, went to Puttaparthi to put an acid test to the identity of Sathya Sai Baba. He always carried, in his pocket, a small photo of his uncle. The first thing that Bhagawan asked Dixit to do was to take out the photograph of “My Kaka” from the pocket.

Pedda Venkama Raju’s Sister. There is a miraculous incident related by Pedda Venkama Raju's sister. She was troubling Baba with a request to grant her some vision, to instill faith in her heart, for, she did not want to dismiss the story of Sai Avatar as an invention, an attitude that many in the family found easy to assume. Baba had a liking for this lady because she was a simple soul, steeped in suffering; so, He told her, “I shall show you My previous Body this evening.” As soon as dusk fell, Baba led her across a number of doors, into one of the innermost rooms of the house, and on reaching the farthest, He took off His palm which was all the while covering her eyes and asked her to look at a corner, which He pointed out with His Finger. The lady looked and there sat Shirdi Sai Baba, on the floor, in His characteristic pose, but, she says, with eyes closed and Vibhuti marks on the forehead and arms. The incense sticks before Him were burning and the smoke was rising straight into the air. His Body was glowing with a strange effulgence and there was a beautiful fragrance around.3

The Chairman of Shirdi Samsthan. When the Chairman of the Shirdi Samasthan, charged with the duty of administering the properties and the ceremonials of worship at Shirdi, where the “previous body” is laid to rest, hesitated to swallow the “Vibhuthi” materialized by the “present body”, (Sri Sathya Sai Baba) because he feared it might be a sacrilege, Baba gave him a sign to convince him that the two are the same. His picture on the wall of that room in Bombay gave forth a flash of brilliant light, and the dark doubt in his heart was gone.4

Whenever Swami refers to the Shirdi Avatar, he says “Purva Sariramulo” [when I was in the previous body]. He often describes to his devotees how He, in his previous body dealt with people and situations, what illustrations He gave to amplify certain points, what questions were asked, etc. He quotes what He told Dasganu or Mahalaspati in the last birth. While telling people about Shirdi Baba, he may be saying, just as you have seen me do now or just as I do while in trance, to make the point clear. Sometimes he replies a question with a remark, the same doubt was raised by a man who had come to Shirdi and He would continue the conversation with the reply He gave the other man long ago in Maharashtra. He recognizes all the devotees of Shirdi Baba as His own. In fact, He tells them, I have known you since ten years or Though this is the first time you see this, Sairam, I have seen you twenty years ago when you came to Shirdi and the person will find that he had been to Shirdi exactly twenty years ago.2

The statements awaken us to the fact that He is the one who was in Shirdi and that He has now reincarnated in Parthi. It also points to a subtler and more profound truth: He transcends both the places. He transcends time. He transcends bodies, for He is the Spirit, the immortal Spirit that incarnates from time to time for the redemption of humanity. 2

The purpose of both the Sai avatars is the same. Only the need to transform the modern wisdom has now become more critical. Then, the emphasis was more on community, now it is on the individual; then the message was given to comparatively few, now all are welcome. It is even taken to the doors of the needy. The same love of the unity of religions indicated on the Sarva Dharma Symbol; the same overwhelming love for devotees coupled with utmost detachment; miracles intensely dramatic in a similar fashion, revealing omniscience and omnipresence; the same utter disregard for personal safety, comfort or fame; to know the identity that persists in these matters is to add a new dimension to one's understanding of Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai. The Lord Shirdi Sai Baba has indeed reincarnated in the form of Sathya Sai Baba.


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