This world, first witnessed Saibaba as 16 year old respected youth under a neem tree. At that young age itself he had the wisdom of theosophy. Desires never disturbed even in dreams. Worldly illusions ran away seeing his divine face. Beatification served his foot. Day and night never registered him. Hot or cold, the weather never reached him. He never deal with anyone at day time, he never fears at night time. People felt a force of gravity toward him by seeing him, they loved and respected him. Saibaba appeared as a independent youth under neem tree. His words and works denoted that he is a great soul.
When a devotee named Mahal shabathi who does pooja in kandoba temple, first saw Saibaba, he felt sai’s greatness and called him “Ya Sayi”. “Ya” means come or has to come. Later he was called Baba, “Baba” means beloved father. Mahal shabathi’s intuition must have told that he is the incarnation of god. In his personal practice, SaiBaba observed worship procedures belonging to Hinduism and Islam; he shunned any kind of regular rituals but allowed the practice of namaz, chanting of Al-Fatiha, and Qur’an readings at Muslim festival times. Occasionally reciting the Al-Fatiha himself, SaiBaba also enjoyed listening to moulu and qawwali accompanied with the tabla and sarangi twice daily. He also wore clothing reminiscent of a Sufi fakir. SaiBaba also opposed all sorts of persecutions on religious or caste background. (In India at the times when he lived religious intolerance and conflicts were common).
SaiBaba of Shirdi was also an opponent of religious orthodoxy – both Hindu and Muslim. Although SaiBaba himself led the life of an ascetic, he advised his followers to lead an ordinary family life. SaiBaba encouraged his devotees to pray, chant God’s name and read holy scriptures – he told Muslims to study the Qur’an and Hindus texts like the Ramayana, Vishnu Sahasranam, Bhagavad Gita (and commentaries to it), Yoga Vasistha. He advised his devotees and followers to lead a moral life, help others, treat them with love and develop two important features of character: faith (Shraddha) and patience (Saburi). He also criticized atheism. In his teachings SaiBaba emphasised the importance of performing one’s duties without attachment to earthly matters and being ever content regardless of the situation.
SaiBaba also interpreted the religious texts of both faiths. According to what the people who stayed with him said and wrote he had a profound knowledge of them. He explained the meaning of the Hindu scriptures in the spirit of Advaita Vedanta. This was the character of his philosophy. It also had numerous elements of bhakti. The three main Hindu spiritual paths – Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga – were visible in the teachings of SaiBaba.
Another example of the way he combined both faiths is the Hindu name he gave to his mosque, Dwarakamai.
SaiBaba said that God penetrates everything and lives in every being, and as well that God is the essence of each of them. He emphasized the complete oneness of God which was very close to the Islamic tawhid and the Hindu doctrine, e.g. of the Upanishads. SaiBaba said that the world and all that the human may give is transient and only God and his gifts are eternal. SaiBaba also emphasized the importance of devotion to God – bhakti – and surrender to his will. He also talked about the need of faith and devotion to one’s spiritual preceptor (guru).
He said that everyone was the soul and not the body. He advised his disciples and followers to overcome the negative features of character and develop the good ones. He taught them that all fate was determined by karma.
SaiBaba left no written works. His teachings were oral, typically short, pithy sayings rather than elaborate discourses. SaiBaba would ask his followers for money (dakshina), which he would give away to the poor and other devotees the same day and spend the rest on matches. According to his followers he did it in order to rid them of greed and material attachment.
SaiBaba encouraged charity and the importance of sharing with others. He said: “Unless there is some relationship or connection, nobody goes anywhere. If any men or creatures come to you, do not discourteously drive them away, but receive them well and treat them with due respect. Shri Hari (God) will be certainly pleased if you give water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked and your verandah to strangers for sitting and resting. If anybody wants any money from you and you are not inclined to give, do not give, but do not bark at him like a dog.”