Popular Andhra Sai Devotee Late Shri.Basheer Baba hailed from Duvvuru in Kadapa District of Andhra Pradesh. He lead so many devotees on the sacred spiritual path. He was born on 15th July, 1942 in a Muslim family at Proddutur. His real name was "Khaja Hussein". He was very pious right from his childhood. Blessed with equal devotion towards all religions, he would be singing devotional songs. He used to play the role of Prahlada in dramas. Even as he used to regularly visit the Lord Venkateshwara temple near his house, he never showed disrespect towards his own religion.

Once, his mother was very sick. Khaja Hussein then prayed for her wellbeing to Lord Venkateshwara. Very soon, his mother recovered. His father opposed his actions, saying it was against Islam. One of his relatives even thought of kicking him. In a few days, a thorn pricked his foot and it turned to leprosy. That relative then realized his mistake, and begged the pardon of Khaja Hussein. The leprosy subsided immediately.  As his co-religionists incited his father, he threw Hussein out of his house.

Khaja Hussein then took shelter in the Sri Anjaneya Swami temple in that town, and working hard and selling betel leaves, he continued his education. Not aware of these circumstances, the Head Master of his school, planning to punish him for lagging in studies, asked him to extend his hand.

His palm was already having boils due to physical work. Seeing this, the Head Master was very surprised, and learning about his circumstances, felt very sorry for him. He took Hussein to his house, and letting him stay there, helped him. 

One day, while Hussein was seated in the Sri Anjaneya Swami temple, Sri Raghavendra Swamy of Mantralayam, who had attained Samadhi 300 years ago, granted His Darshan and blessed Hussein. From that day, he started worshipping Sri Raghavendra Swamy, too. After some time, due to lack of strength to overcome his difficulties, the young Hussein, planning to end his life, went atop the Dattatreya hills. There, he came across a big tiger. Out of fear, he ran and took shelter in a nearby cave. That cave had many turnings, and was very deep. A little while after entering the cave, he felt very thirsty. At once, an old Sadhu appeared before him, and gave him fruits to eat, and water to drink, and wrote some Beejakshara on Hussein’s tongue. He then ordered him to visit Shirdi and disappeared. Later, Hussein visited Shirdi, and when he saw the idol of Lord Sai Baba, he realized that the old Sadhu who had appeared before him in the cave, was none other than Lord Sai Baba!

Even when Hussein was studying in school, he used to give Teertha to patients and cure them of their diseases. His fame started spreading. He used to save people from snake and scorpion bites. Not only that, it seems, even from childhood, he possessed the superb ability to foresee future happenings. This strange young man’s deeds used to surprise the Head Master. He would regularly leave his home in the middle of the night, and going to the burial ground or the hills, perform deep meditation, and by the time the other members of the house woke up, he would return home! He would tell the Head Master, who was agitated by seeing these strange deeds, that Sri Raghavendra Swamy was always protecting him.

After some days, Sri Sai Baba granted a second Darshan to Hussein, and blessed him with His sandals. Thinking that this was to belittle him, Hussein threw away the sandals. Sri Sai Baba immediately appeared before him, and said that those sandals were a sign of His Grace, and would help Hussein in his spiritual pursuits. Baba then disappeared. Feeling very sorry, Basheer (Hussein) searched for the sandals, but could find only one sandal and Baba’s Kamandalam. It is belived that they are still in the possession of his descendants. From that day, Basheer Baba could clearly learn the feelings and thoughts in people’s hearts. But, Sri Sai Baba had warned him saying that it would not be correct to reveal these thoughts in front of every one.

When Basheer came of age, with an aim to trap him in worldly ties, his father got him married. Yet, Basheer was the brave man, who did not get easily trapped in these ties, and continued with his spiritual pursuits. Till his last days, he was leading a very simple life, as a vegetarian.

On 23rd November, 1964, Sri Sai Baba appeared before him for a third time, in the form of a Gosai (wandering mendicant), and showing Basheer a piece of land near Duvvuru, asked him to develop a Spiritual Centre called “Rama Sai Nagar” there, and also to start a monthly magazine that would help the people to develop Bhakti (devotion) and faith. That whole region had, once upon a time, become sacred as Rishis like Durvasa had performed penance there. Not only that, it is believed widely that, during the times of the Ramayana,  Lord Rama, and during the times of the Mahabharata, the Pandavas, had spent some time in that region. A mile away from that place, there is an ancient village called Beersapalli.  It is believed that, a few years ago, around 50 Muslim saints used to live there. Based on these facts, one can well imagine as to how sacred that region was.

One day, when Basheer Baba was thinking about the responsibility put on his shoulders by Sri Sai Baba, namely the development of Sri Rama Sai Nagar, he came across an idol of Sri Sai Baba, which was half buried in the soil. This very idol was installed in Sri Ram Sai Nagar in the year 1967. The Kumbhabhishekam of this temple was performed on the 4th, 5th and 6th April, 1970. During that function, the "first World Sai Devotees’ Meet" was held there. Around 10 lakh devotees attended the Meet. Efforts are on to construct houses for use by Sai devotees, Dharmashalas (inns), schools, hotels, and also a Hospital big enough to be able to treat 3000 patients simultaneously, at Sri Rama Sai Nagar.Basheer Baba’s devotees are found not only in our country but also many countries throughout the world.

Sri Sai Baba is not just a Sadhu who attained Samadhi several years ago, but a Great Banyan Tree who is continuously providing physical and spiritual succour to all those who seek His Grace. Every one of the various Siddha Purushas, who have originated as the numerous hanging roots of this Great Banyan Tree called Sri Sai, would one day  become a tree – perhaps it is Lord Sai’s Will that they should develop in this way…

(Translated from Telugu Shri Sai Leelamrutha of Acharya Shri.Ekkirala Bharadwaja to English by Shri.B.L.Venkatesha Murthy, Bangalore)