Shirdhi Sai Baba temple on Girivalam
The Sai Baba of Shirdi lived in the early part of the 20th century and was a great guru, yogi and fakir. Hindu devotees consider him as an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. Many believed that he was a Satguru and an enlightened Sufi Pir or a Qutub. His real name is unknown. The name Sai was given to his upon his arrival at Shirdi. No information is available regarding his birth and place of birth.
Sai Baba had no love for perishable things and his sole concern was self realization. He taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, charity, contentment, inner peace and devotion to God and guru. Sai Baba’s teachings combined elements of Hinduism and Islam. He gave the hindu name Dwarakamayi to the mosque where he lived, practiced both hindu and muslim rituals, taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions, and was buried in a hindu temple in Shirdhi.
There is now a Shridhi Sai Baba temple on the Arunachala outer girivalam path. It can be found a few hundred metres after the village of Adi Annamalai just opposite the Sudhananada ashram. The temple is housed in a modern concrete structure with a north indian style hindu minaret on the roof. Inside is a vast room with a dazzling white marble floor and many painted pictures of the Baba in various attitudes of compassion and grace. The altar itself is quite lovely with a beautiful marble statue of Baba and little votive pedestals depicting his holy feet. The only aspect that strikes a garish note is the commercial sale of religious commodities like amulets and pictures being done inside the shrine itself which effectively prevents devotees from sitting quietly in the shrine and meditating or worshipping the Baba in silence. Maybe it would be better if this activity alone were shifted to a little room outside the shrine.