Yeh Jo India Hai Na, It’s the Land of Sai Baba, Not His Haters

Was Sai Baba Hindu or Muslim? For some, the duality is the essence of India. For others, it’s a reason to hate

News Videos
3 min read

Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
Cameraperson: Shivkumar Maurya

Yeh Jo India Hai Na… yahan par Shirdi ke Sai Baba ko lakhon log poojte hain (here, lakhs of people pray to Shirdi Sai Baba).

But was Sai Baba a Hindu sadhu, or a Muslim fakir? For some, not knowing this, is the wonderful essence of India. But, for some, it's a reason to hate!

For Padam Panwar, a businessman from South Delhi, and for Narsinghanand Saraswati, head priest of a temple in Ghaziabad, Sai Baba was a Muslim, a jihadi, a pakhandi or fraud.

A video recently went viral, showing Panwar having a statue of Sai Baba demolished at a Shiv Mandir in Delhi, adding a few blows himself for the camera and calling Sai Baba a Muslim – whose statue, he said, had no right to be in a Hindu temple.

Narsinghanand, Is Our Prime Minister Wrong?

Another video surfaced showing Panwar with Narsinghanand, who congratulates Panwar for destroying and removing the Sai Baba statue, even calling Hindus ‘moorkh’ or fools to be worshipping him!

Moorkh? Was Narsinghanand referring to the country’s prime minister? In October 2018, on Dussehra, as holy a festival as can be for Hindus – Modi was in Shirdi, celebrating the centenary of Sai Baba’s death.

This is what the PM had said:

“I felt immense peace after darshan of Saibaba. His message of faith inspires all humanity. Today, Saibaba’s mantra ‘sabka malik ek’ is important for the world.”
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister

Narsinghanand, Here’s What’s the Real ‘Moorkhta’?

Yeh Jo India Hai Na… yahan par asli moorkhta kya hai, jaante hain (do you know what is the real stupidity here)?

That the hate mongering of people like Narsinghanand is not called out by those in power today, that he gives hate speech after hate speech, year after year and whether it's the UP government, or the central government, or police – no one takes any action.


The Life of Sai Baba

But let us go back to Sai Baba and understand why Narsinghanand hates him so much. Why is this benign fakir, whom my grand-dad, a devout Telugu Brahmin, worshipped all his life, such a big pain for fanatics like Narsinghanand? For that we need to look at Sai Baba’s life.

For the record, two books considered the most reliable on Sai Baba’s life were both written by Hindus – the ‘Shri Sai Satcharitra‘ written by a disciple called Hemadpant in Marathi in 1922. And the ‘Life of Sai Baba’ by Sri Narasimha Swamy, a Sai Baba devotee from Chennai.

So, Sai Baba told one of his closest devotees, Mahalsapathy, that he was born into a Brahmin family from the village of Pathri, in Maharashtra’s Parvani taluka – which should make him a Hindu.

But then, he also told Mahalsapathy that when he was just five-years-old when his parents handed him over to a Muslim fakir – so, maybe that should make him Muslim.


But then, nearly five years later, the fakir died – after which the young boy was brought up by Gopal Deshmukh, a senior government official.

Deshmukh was also deeply spiritual, and a devotee of Tirupati Venkatesa and influenced the young boy greatly – such an upbringing should define Sai as Hindu.

But then, as a young ascetic, when Sai Baba came to Shirdi, he started wearing a ‘kafni’ and a cloth cap – clothes often worn by Muslim fakirs. He chose to live in an old rundown mosque – so, maybe that does make him a bit Muslim. But then, the name he gave to that mosque was Dwarkamayi – a distinctly Hindu name.

Sai Baba’s Life, Teachings and Devotees Represent India’s Unity in Diversity

Hindu or Muslim? How to define Sai Baba? For hate mongers like Narsinghanand, Sai Baba cannot be both. His life, his teachings, his followers from multiple faiths represent India’s composite culture.

That is totally opposite to Narsinghanand’s idea of India, where there is no room for diversity. As a fanatic, he cannot accept this saint who had Muslim and Hindu followers, who looks like a Muslim fakir but is housed in ‘Sai Baba Mandirs’ all over the country, all over the world.

So, should we worry about one Narsinghanand, who bizarrely calls Sai Baba a jihadi named Chand Khan? Unfortunately, Yeh Jo India Hai Na… here, the voices of people like Narsinghanand are getting louder, and while the government of the day keeps looking away from the hate spread by such people, we must call them out again and again.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!