Undiscovered Photos of Shirdi Sai Baba
Posted by robertpriddy on July 4, 2008
Recently there appeared on some websites what was claimed to be a recently discovered photo of Shirdi Sai Baba (see top image here) . It is clearly a photo of that much revered Indian ‘saint’. However, there are persons who contest the genuineness of the above photo, holding it is a fake (i.e. someone else) and it must be admitted that there are dissimilarities between the few authenticated images and this ‘new’ one. One can see the comparisons and arguments at http://shirdisaiexpose.wordpress.com. In addition, it is held that what has long been accepted by all Shirdi Sai followers as the main biography of his life – namely, Shri Sai Satchirita – is also a faked book, written by Hemadpant years after Shirdi Sai passed away – who hardly knew anything about him.
The left photograph of Shirdi Sai Baba below appears to be one taken when he was young and his hair was darker. The right hand one was evidently taken at the same time as the famous one where he walks beneath an umbrella palanquin.
It is important to note that the claim of Sathya Narayana Raju (aka Sathya Sai Baba) of Puttaparthi to be Shirdi Sai Baba reincarnated is contested by the official Shirdi Sai Sanesthan and that there are strong reasons for this (see here).
Various academic authors have contested the alleged facts stated by Sathya Sai Baba about Shirdi Sai. For example, in Dr. Marianne Warren’s major reissued monograph (see here) she contests the identity of Sathya Sai Baba as reincarnated Shirdi Sai Baba by comparing their works and teachings, with reference to new source materials.
One must, at all events, not confuse Shirdi Sai Baba with the would-be usurper of his name and fame, Sathya Narayana Raju, who took over the name of ‘Sai Baba’ (calling himself Sathya Sai Baba) around the age of seventeen (not 14 as is the official version – for his claimed birth date does not agree with the facts. See a thorough examination of this issue by the scholar Brian Steel here.
Though numerous Shirdi Sai Baba followers have also visited Sathya Sai Baba, the official line of the Shirdi Sai Sanasthan is that Sathya Sai Baba’s claims are bogus and fraudulent.
Various scholarly studies have revealed that Shirdi Sai Baba had a philosophy which differed radically in various respects from that now promoted by Sathya Sai Baba. One prominent scholar was Marianne Warren, whose monograph is introduced here (Marianne Warren, Ph.D. Unravelling The Enigma. Shirdi Sai Baba – In The Light of Sufism. Sterling Paperbacks – New Delhi Revised edition 2004 – ISBN 81-207-2147-0.
See also see Brian Steel (2002) Sai Baba’s Claim to be the Reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba. Still more extensively, [Sathya Sai Sai Baba’s] SB’s Claims of Divinity: Avatar and Triple Avatar (Revised Version, 2002)
One may also see this comment on the issue Shirdi Sai Saint’s Fame Spirited By Puttaparthi
(see photos of Shirdi Sai Baba at http://www.vanamaliashram.org/Shirdi%20Sai%20Baba.html)
A series of postings contesting the holiness of Shirdi Sai baba is found at http://nitwitnastik.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/shirdi-sai-baba-and-a-few-dubious-miracles/