During my childhood 1980s-90s SaiBaba was not very popular in north india. Gradually(1990s) I saw people started praying or putting his photographs.

Also, initially the Van with Sai Baba posters used to come as Sai is Avatar of Lord Shiva. After few years (2000) , I found people started praying him as "Jagannath" or "Sachhidananda" which is synonym for Lord Vishnu.

So , I have two questions:

a) Since When SaiBaba was incepted in Hindu Religion?

b) Is he Avatar of Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu (Although None of the granthas talk about his incarnation/avatar) ?

I have read the below posts but still needs more clarification :

  • 2
    It's more of a historical question. I can say from Telugus point of view. Most of the devotees who visit Shirdi are from Telugu states. It was started when there was Bus services to Shirdi from Hyderabad in 90s. Slowly, by talks (or may be by belief) Sai worship became popular in Andhra Pradesh and his temples were constructed in mass scale. Due to heavy influx from Hindus, he was incorporated into Hindu Dharma. Also, stories of Sai appearing as Hindu gods to his followers or devotees made all this possible.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 6:10
  • 3
    When I first saw this question I thought it was asking when did Sai get added to Hinduism.SE :-) Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 4:13
  • @TheDestroyer I think he became popular earlier than that. Sathya Sai Baba was already popular in the 80's or earlier, and he was riding the coattails of Shirdi Sai Baba's popularity. Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 4:18
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I don't think so . Might be in A.P and near around reason he was famous earlier coz I don't recall any of his temples or followers were there in north India .
    – dildeepak
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 4:31
  • @dildeepak Yeah, I think he was popular in South India for a while and then his popularity may have spread to North India later on. Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 4:32

2 Answers 2


Truth is bitter, and many will find this hatred against him....just a warning for people who worship him.

Q1) Since When SaiBaba was incepted in Hindu Religion?

Well just after he started 'preaching' people, they were influenced by his magic, and miracles and people started blindly following him.

Quoting from this article, which uses a SaiBaba book and historical records for this speculation.

It is generally accepted that Sai Baba stayed in Shirdi for three years, disappeared for a year, and returned permanently around 1858.

So from this we can make an educated guess, and conclude that his influence(on 'Broad-minded' Hindus) started from(around) year 1858.

Q2) Is he Avatar of Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu (Although none of the granthas talk about his incarnation/avatar) ?

Clearly NO! you've mentioned the reason yourself.

Worship of Sai Baba as a saint!

All of the vedanta followers(atleast Smarthas, Bhagwatas) would deny his worship because of the following reasons

1) He is preaching people without any qualification.

To qualify as an Acharya or just to initiate Vedic Studies you need to go through Upanayana ceremony which involves adhering to rules of Bramhacharya and wearing of Shikha(tuft)/Yagnopavitam.

Some people would say that even Shankaracharyas don't wear Yagnopavitam and Shikha, that is because they follow sanyasa order of Smartha sect(Advaita) for which they don't keep Shikha/Yagnopavitam, but still they have their Ekadanda.

He had no Yagnopavitam, never did he officially declare that he was an Acharya or even a Sanyasi. So there is no purpose or reason for his worship.

2) He never talked about getting Moksha for his people.

All acharyas are concerned about moksha of their shishyas, and they give them(shisyas) tips and tricks(methods) to attain moksha. Vedanta acharyas mainly focus on Upanishadic Bramha vidya and Bhakti marga for moksha.

Conclusion: One should not disrespect Gods by associating random people as their incarnations in Bhuloka.

You can follow/Worship him if you want to but there is no use, at best he can make your life materially successful without moksha(which is eternal success).

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Pandya
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 12:04

In Hinduism apart from Gods, the Gurus, the Saints are given immense importance. And Sai Natha is one such Saint Guru.

God sends such Sadhus, Gurus to earth for doing some work on his behalf. For preaching some mantras may be or for spreading some knowledge. So Sai Baba came on earth probably for fulfilling one or many such purposes.

b) Is he Avatar of Lod Shiva or Lord Vishnu (Although None of the granthas talk about his incarnation/avatar) ?

This is difficult to say as we can't find anything about him in traditional Hindu scriptures . But there are nonetheless a lot of hymns composed on him.

From Sainathashtakam:

Jagadhodharanartham yo naroppa tharo vibuhu Yoginamcha mahathmanam sai natham namamyaham

I salute that Lord Sai, Who took the human form of a saint, For the redemption of this world, And who is the greatest among saints.

I salute that Lord Sai, Who is the disciple of Narasimha, Who is the teacher of all teachers, Who cuts of attachments in life.

Dhana heenaan dhanaatyanyaha sama drishtyaiva pashyathi Karunaa saagaram devam sai natham namamyaham

So, obviously Sai Baba is worshiped or revered just like Gurus are and this is not unusual in Hinduism.

According to this stotram, he is an avatara of Hari or Lord Vishnu.

Shiridi vaasa sai natha Shrihari roopa sai natha Dwantha vinaashaka sai natha Dwaraka vaasa sai natha...(Jaya Guru)

One who lives in Shirdi, Sainatha, One who has form of Hari, Sainatha, One who desrtoys separate identity, Sainatha, One who lives in Dwaraka, Sainatha... (Victory to the great teacher

And further,

Pankaja nayana sai natha Mangala roopa sai natha Vengucha ramana sai natha Sankata harana sai natha...(Jaya Guru)

Lotus eyed one, Sainatha, One with holy form, Sainatha, One who is Balaji, Sainatha, Dispeller of sorrow, Sainatha...(Victory to the great teacher)

But the same stotram (Jai Guru Deva Sai Natha) also mentions him by the name Dakshinamoorthy which is of course the form of Lord Shiva when he is the Guru of all or the universal Guru.

Thathwa bodhaka sainaatha Dakshina moorthe sai natha Dharma supaalana sai natha Dareedra naashaka sai natha...(Jaya Guru)

The teacher of philosophy, Sainatha, The Lord of the South, Sainatha, One who looks after faith, Sainatha, Destroyer of poverty, Sainatha... (Victory to the great teacher)

In any case, it is quite clear to me, that Sri Sai Baba is revered allover just like a Sath Guru is revered by the Hindus.

NOTE- This is only a partial answer.

  • 2
    I think Sai followers don't have any exact authentic sources, like Vedas or Puranas. They describe him as Shiva , Vishnu , Rama,..etc, in their songs and keertans. But Hinduism allows worship of Guru.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 6:02
  • 6
    What is the authenticity of Sainathashtakam and other stotras composed on Sai Baba? They are obviously composed by his devotees. It is same like saying Sai baba is a god. These stotras tell the same. My point: These stotras composed very recently and being composed even today don't add much to the claim that he is god. Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 6:03
  • 2
    @TheDestroyer which scripture says about ramakrishna ? Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 6:13
  • 1
    very nice answer , and although scriptures don't mention there have been various saints , Goswami Tulsidas is also well known saint no previous scripture defines him but his book is considered as scripture. :)
    – Friendy
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 10:35
  • 3
    @TheDestroyer so we have to go more for saints... most of the acharyas are mere scholar and not all are enlightened Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 7:32

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