Controversy over birthplace of Sai Baba ends after CM Uddhav Thackeray’s intervention
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday decided to remove the mention of Pathri as the birthplace of Sai Baba, after objections from residents of Shirdi, which is believed to be the birthplace.
Shirdi is part of Ahmednagar district in western Maharashtra, while Pathri is in Parbhani district of central Maharashtra. Locals from Pathri believe it is the birthplace of Sai Baba, who has followers from all castes and creeds.
Thackeray, during his recent visit to Aurangabad, announced Rs 100-crore grant for development of facilities at ‘Sai Janmsthan’ (birthplace) at Pathri. This irked locals from Shirdi, which houses a Sai Baba temple. On Sunday, 25 villages around Shirdi observed bandh against the CM’s remark. However, the Sai Baba temple remained open. Thackeray then called a meeting of residents and public representatives from Shirdi to discuss the issue in detail. The protest was called off after the meeting.
“The chief minister said he doesn’t want any controversy over the birthplace and asked Shirdi residents and public representatives if they have any problem in giving a development fund to Pathri. As Thackeray was told they have no issue in providing development funds if the birthplace mention was removed, the decision was taken,” said an official.
Local Shiv Sena leader Kamlakar Kote, who was also part of the meeting, said, “The chief minister heard us in detail and agreed to our demand. The issue has been resolved and we have also decided to withdraw our protest permanently.”
The Shirdi residents asked the chief minister to consider Sai Satcharitra written by Govind Raghnath Dabholkar in Marathi as proof if he intends to resolve the dispute.
“The first edition of the book that was published in 1930 says no one had any evidence to show if Sai Baba was born in Pathri. We asked the chief minister to use Sai Satcharitra as a proof,” said Ravindra Gondkar, a corporator from Shirdi, who attended the meeting at Sahyadri guesthouse.