12, May 2022 | CJP Team
Claim: Sai Baba is Muslim, says Hindutva camp
Busted: Sai Baba, a historically recognised spiritual leader, has been revered, honoured and worshipped by lakhs of devotees across religions. Temples, and shrines dedicated to him see thousands of visitors each day, and charities founded in his name benefit thousands, including non-believers.
The latest attack on his name and legacy of Shirdi’s beloved Sai Baba, has been from a Hindutva group named ‘Hindu Rashtra Shakhi’ who want the Sai Baba statue removed from the famous Khajrana Ganesh temple of Indore. They claim the saint revered as Sai Baba, was a Muslim named “Chand Miya”. The Hindutva group gave a ‘memorandum’ to the temple priest asking him to remove the idol of Sai Baba. They claim they are offended, their religious sentiments are hurt and they cannot worship a Muslim. They say having a Sai Baba statue results in ‘love jihad’ as non belivers i.e. Muslims also come here.
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इंदौर स्थित प्रसिद्ध खजराना गणेश मंदिर का वीडियो। जय श्री राम ग्रुप की और से खजराना मे पंडितजी को चांदमिया अर्थात साई की प्रतिमा को हटाने का ज्ञापन दिया गया,उसी का एक दृश्य 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Vr4pNUUFSW
— रत्नेश🇮🇳राष्ट्रहित सर्वोपरी🇮🇳 (@NationSarvopari) May 7, 2022
The claim that Sai Baba was a Muslim, and not a fakir / sufi worshiped by all, is further amplified on social media by users such as Devesh Tripathi, whose Twitter bio states that he is a senior counsel, Supreme Court and a “Free Thinker,Reformist’ etc.
Dear Hindus, Please don’t worship to this Shirdi Sai Baba. Thanks pic.twitter.com/Lya6AaatGy
— Devesh Tripathi (@deveshlawyer) May 11, 2022
Then there are many more who question the popular Sai Baba prayer known as “Sai Chalisa”. They claim it was created to show the spiritual figure at par with Hindu gods.
प्रश्न = क्या साईं चालीसा एक मनगढ़ंत रचना है जिसका एक मात्र उद्देश्य साईं बाबा को हिंदू देवी-देवताओं के समरुप दिखाना है ?
जी बिल्कुल सत्य है । विष्णु जी के आने वाले कलकि अवतार तक का वर्णन है , पर साईं का वर्णन हमारे ग्रंथों – पुराणों में कहीं नहीं है । pic.twitter.com/WnhZTBfz2S
— पंडित विशाल श्रोत्रिय 🇮🇳 (@vishal_shrotriy) May 5, 2022
Some others question his Indianness, claiming Sai Baba’s father came from Afghanistan, and his mother was a sex worker from Ahmednagar. None back their claim with facts.
A video thread on Sai Baba
Watch all parts pic.twitter.com/kwvFNbcAMO
— Kungfu Pande 3.0 (@pb306030) May 3, 2022
Back in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, its Khajrana Ganesh temple is said to be one of the most popular, and arguably the richest in the area. The temple was constructed by the queen Ahilyabai Holkar, and according to the state website it has been taken over by the government. The temple is managed by the descendants of Mangal Bhatt, a local Pandit from Kharjana family who was reportedly “visited by lord ganesha in a dream” and told to build the temple.
According to the government website, “It is believed that in order to safeguard the idol from Aurangzeb, the idol was hidden in a well and in 1735, it was taken out from the well and a temple was established in 1735 by Ahilyabai Holkar belonging to the Holkar dynasty of the Maratha Empire.” It reportedly receives “regular donations of gold, diamonds and other precious jewels at the temple.The gate and the outer wall of the Garbhagriha is made of silver and different moods and festivals are depicted on it. The eyes of the deity are made of diamonds which were donated by a business man of Indore. The upper wall of the Garbhagriha is made of silver”. All the information stated on the official website. Other websites state that “there are 33 temples in the complex” and statues of many deities including Ram, Shiva, Durga, Sai Baba, and Hanuman.
When the ‘Sai Baba is Muslim’ controversy reached Delhi
Last year, a similar controversy had broken out in Delhi, where one Padam Panwar, allegedly demolished a Sai Baba idol at a temple in Delhi’s Shahpur Jat. He was also a temple committee member and was arrested for allegedly making “derogatory” remarks and “removing” the idol of Sai Baba from the temple. The Delhi Police had acted on a complaint filed by Sai Baba devotees who were upset after a video of the purported removal of the idol surfaced on social media.
Panwar too had created a controversy over “what religion Sai Baba represented”. Padam Panwar reportedly said Sai Baba was “no God, he died in 1918, he was a Muslim…” He later denied saying that. He had added that the temple was being reconstructed and added, “The Sai Baba idol was placed here in 2009… For now, a Ganesh idol has been set up and the Sai Baba idol has been removed… All decisions by the temple committee are taken bearing the residents’ wishes in mind and no resident had any complaint.”
Saraswati was seen in the new video reportedly congratulating and blessing the Panwar for “breaking and throwing away” the idol of “pakhandi Sai” (fraudster Sai), and saying, “If I had my way, jihadis like Sai won’t be able to enter temples.” Saraswati told the media persons, “Sai Baba was a pindari lootera (lawless raider). His name was Chand Khan. He was a jihadi. It is the madness of our Hindus that he is now in our temples.” According to the Scroll, one Jitender Panwar, who was also seen in the video instructing the workers removing the idol, had shared a message on the Shahpur Jat society’s WhatsApp group on March 27 claimed that the popularity of Sai Baba “also known as Chand Miyan” was a “conspiracy economically supported by the Islamic world”.
However, Padam Panwar was seen in another video seated next to Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati who is well known for his hate speeches against Muslims. However, Sai Baba of Shirdi holds a special place in the hearts of devotees in the national capital, who were shocked by news of the alleged attack on his idol and filed an FIR.
Sai Baba scares Hindutva ‘leaders’
That the Sai Baba legacy of unity and brotherhood across religions is something that scares Hindutva camp leaders is evident. Even Hindu religious leaders such as the Shankaracharya Nishchilanand of the Govardhan Math, Puri, have said Shirdi Sai Baba should not be worshipped by “Sanatani Hindus”. He claims “Sai Baba statues being installed was political and commercial”. Other religious leaders including this Jain monk, claimed Sai Baba was a fraud descended from a“dacoit” and “rapist” who “betrayed Lakshmibai, the queen of Jhansi.” The video uploaded by Rashtravadi Hindu Youtube channel has nearly 80,000 views:
((TRIGGER WARNING: COMMUNALLY OFFENSIVE CONTENT))
For years now Swaroopanand Saraswati the Shankaracharya of Dwarka Sharada Peetham in Gujarat and the Jyotir Math in Badrinath has been on a mission claiming to “expose” Sai Baba. The issue took over TV news debates in 2014 as well. He said, “There is no mention of Sai Baba in the Shastras and the Vedas, so he should not be worshipped with Hindu gods. He was not god, he was just a Muslim Fakir,” apart from making other claims such as the saint being a meat eating Muslim etc. He later had to apologise for his remarks and in September 2015, had to write to the courts stating his words “were not intended to hurt the religious sentiments”
Guess who sought blessings of Sai Baba?
Interestingly, in October 2018 Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Shirdi and inaugurated, and appreciated the works of Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust. According to a report in the Quint from that year, PM Modi said “I felt immense peace after darshan of Saibaba. His message of faith and patience is one which inspires the entire humanity. In today’s global situations, Saibaba’s mantra ‘Sabka malik ek hai’ (one god governs all) is important for world peace.” Perhaps his supporters in Indore may want to read news archives too.
Image : Representational