The divine role of Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi in the present embodiment covered a period of about 64 years between 1854 and 1918 manifested the depth and expansiveness of his unique role. India was in a cross - road of cultural and religious mix. The Mughal Empire was vanishing and the British empire was establishing itself. Western culture and Christianity were slowly entering into the mainstream of Indian life. Religious and cultural intolerance were raising their ugly heads in the Post Sepoy-Mutiny Scenario of India. It could not have been possible for any leader or statesman to bring about harmony among the divergent religious, cultural groups in such a situation. It was only a God in human form who could dare and accomplish the task of bringing unity between the different religious and social groups. Shri Sai baba had large number of Hindu, Parsee and Muslim devotees. Christians and Sikhs also used to visit Him.
All were treated by him alike. Under his umbrella, both the Hindus and Muslims happily took part in each other religious festivals. The caste scheme of the Hindus had no relevance with Shri Sai. He had introduced the tradition of group worship, group prayer and group dinning for all and would share his 'Chilum' with all. He even showed highest compassion for animals and birds and encouraged his devotees to feed and take care of them. He recognized no difference in temporal status of human beings. He refused to accept food brought in silver and gold utensils from a queen but relished a single ROTI (hand-made bread) of a beggar woman and showered all His blessings.
- He practiced and preached humanism and universal brotherhood - prophet like.
- He established the superiority of love and compassion above egoism - Christ-like.
- He taught simplicity of livelihood and excellence of human virtue reflected in day to day conduct, Buddha-like.
Today, the world is looking ahead for a magical solution to its problems of cultural, racial, national and religious differentiation. All intellectual exercises to bring about peace in -the world and happiness to mankind has failed for these efforts are not based on humanism, universalism and love as taught by Shri Sai. The ever multiplying number of Sai temples and devotees of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba in India and other countries establishes the ever- increasing relevance of His Preaching today. Jesus as a human embodiment is gone but the spirit of Jesus remains. The body of Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi cannot be seen but the magnetic pull of His Divine Soul is felt by all those who merely think of Him and particularly, those who visit His tomb at Shirdi. Baba had promised that whosoever would put his feet on the soil of Shirdi, his miseries would end or marginalize.
All devotees of Baba find His promise come true, even eighty years after He left the mortal body. Baba used to call His devotees as children, and like the true father, kept busy day-in and day-out for their temporal as well as spiritual upliftment. In today’s world the children of God, torn asunder by religious, social and sectarian strife, should run to the father to experience that love which can only unite them. Human beings may conquer all the planets and stars before they learn the magic formula to conquer the hearts of their fellow beings. The formula has been given by the Master. It is for us to follow to make the world a better place to live.