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There are so many conflicts in this. Some peoples are say that Sai Baba of Shirdi is a God while on the other end one the most respected Peeth's (पीठ) head Sankracharya told he is just a normal man. There is no need to worship him.

So what is the truth

  • Is Sai Baba of Shirdi really a God?
  • Is Sankracharya right?
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    To answer this question one needs to know two things: Who really is Sai Baba of Shirdi, and Who really is God? To know Sai Baba of Shirdi you need to experience him, is it not? (just as to know a person X, u should be his friend and then you will know him intimately, rather than listen to someone else's opinion). To the next point, who really is God? Does God refers to a being sitting on a throne somewhere in a world called heaven? Does God refer to our true Self, the core of our being, our inner reality? Or does God imply the formless Absolute? Depending on your view it will change. – Sai Oct 17 '14 at 15:13
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    Devotees of Sai Baba believe that One who has realized His Self, can therefore be considered God Himself. His life and his stories are reflective of his realization of Self. Therefore they believe that he is God. You can choose to believe this definition, if you want. And so are the devotees entitled to their opinion. Basically my point is you need to understand what God really means to you and then you need to look at Sai Baba’s teachings and his life. It depends on which school of thought (dvaita, advaita, etc.) appeals the most to you. All schools are valid and all lead to the same Goal. :) – Sai Oct 17 '14 at 15:14
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It depends upon the perspective one analyzes him from. As per the scriptures God or bhagavan is someone who fulfills six qualities (complete splendor, virtue, glory, opulence, knowledge, dispassion) combinedly known as bhaga:

aiśvaryasya samagrasya dharmasya yaśasariśrayaḥ
jñānavairāgyayoścaiva ṣaṇṇāṃ bhaga itīraṇā
[VP - 6.5.74]

Meaning
Complete splendor, virtue, glory, opulence, knowledge, dispassion - these six are known as bhaga.

So from scriptural point of view he may not be God, but scriptures also say that guru is God Himself. We all know this from gurur brahma gurur vishnu.. And as per the scriptures, the devotion, behavior and respect towards guru should be exactly similar as one would respect, treat and behave towards God:

yasya deve parā bhaktiḥ yathā deve tathā gurau [Sve. Up. - 6.26]
- One who has utmost devotion for God and as for God so also for the guru.

So even though one may not be God as per the first definition of bhagavan above, he is certainly God for his followers and disciples.

And the scriptures also state that God realized souls who know Brahman become Brahman:

brahman vid brahmaiva bhavati [Mundaka Up. - 3.2.9]
mayātma-bhūyāya ca kalpate vai [SB - 11.29.34]
जानत तुम्हि तुम्हि होइ जाइ [RCM]

Meaning
Knower of Brahman becomes Brahman himself.

So by this definition, if someone is a God realized soul, then he is a God. But the Godly powers and opulence may not be there as it is only a definition basing upon the Godly bliss he experiences. (bhogamatra samlingyacha [BrSu - 4.4.21])

Sai Baba is a Siddha. Siddhas are personalities who generally posses mystic powers. But after that, if he is the guru of someone or God realized himself (which he certainly is) then he can be considered as God by some. At least, people who are benefited and helped by him from troubles will certainly consider and respect him as God. But others may say he is not a God just like you have cited that the Sankaracharya of some monastery has said.

In another answer Pradip has beautifully pointed out that one's duty and course of action is also determined by one's conscience. Hence, people will undoubtedly have differing views regarding this and will give different remarks.

PS: I have only shared things as per the scripture. My personal view is complicated to share. For me everything and everyone is God.

  • @Creator yes, right. people generally don't know much about God things so easily get mislead and out of faith, devotion and innocence do silly things and sing what not songs!! – Be Happy Oct 17 '14 at 9:10
  • I suggest you should add these points of violation of your vedic rules in your answer that no one person even if guru of some or aradhaya cannot surpass the veda vanni or rules of vedas and no other vedic or puranic deity should be mixed up with him or manipulated to be worshipped with him, we should be pure in our thoughts and deeds and also in worship. – Yogi Oct 17 '14 at 9:24
  • Also there are two more such saints in maharashtra similar to sai baba Swami Samarth and Gajanaan maharaj but their worshippers never mixed their dietis with vedas they are following rule even now they are seated differently form god's and vedic deities they do not have any association to any vedic god also there is no gyatri 'degsined' for them.... – Yogi Oct 17 '14 at 9:39
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    I'm not sure if Sai Baba or his devotees have ever called him a Siddha. Are you just saying that you consider him a Siddha? – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 17 '14 at 13:41
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Some of the perspectives shared look very complicated and hard for a common man to understand. My personal thought that God is the underlying principle of nature and life. God is seen as the creator, the protector and the destroyer. God is more of a concept mentioned as tatva rather than a person or a personality. In modern times several great saints have been referred as God. It all depends on your understanding of God and how one feels about who is God. Someone who has saved a life is considered God which is actually an act of God. The concept of God is more relative in the context. For people who have seen the acts of the saint Shirdi Sai Baba and they believe in his miracles , he is God but for everyone he continues to be a man who has done wonders to everyone and the society.

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