Marble Sculpture of Shirdi Sai Baba

Marble Sculpture of Shirdi Sai Baba

Item Code: XF22
White Marble Sculpture
14 inch X 7 inch X 6.75 inch
10.36 kg
This spiritual statue, a manifestation of the timeless spirit rather than the representation of a perishable frame : the body that housed it, visualizes Shirdi’s Sai Baba, a human-born divinity of recent days : who walked the earth and the highest skies together, with millions of devotees and hundreds of temples dedicated to him across the world. Sai Baba did not propound a philosophy nor is known to have ever talked of a dogma or sect. Himself full of compassion, faith and unshakable patience he asked his devotees to have faith in Him Who is One and be patient and they would have a feel of His bounties. Sai Baba is believed to have lived on alms like a ‘fakir’, talked like a human being, as much like a Hindu as like a Musalman or anyone, and died leaving behind thousands of eyes with tears in them. If old beliefs that God visits the earth whenever her inhabitants need Him most are true, Sai Baba is the example of such divine visit. In this era of disharmony and of a divided mankind, tensions, disappointments, failures, unfulfilled desires … the name of Sai is the spiritual balm and salvation from them.

A human-born Sai Baba’s parentage, name of birth-place, or its date, anything in regard to his early childhood, education or other biographical details are not known. Shirdi, an integral part of Sai’s life-journey and now almost synonymous of him, was his spiritual home and the place of his emergence, however, from where he emerged nobody knows. As the story of his life goes, one day, in 1858, a local resident of Shirdi Bhagat Mhalasapati saw a young and quite handsome fakir seated on the steps of Khandoba temple, just on Shirdi’s outskirt. Though with nothing in mind to talk on, Bhagat’s attention was drawn to the young fakir’s divine aura and lustre on his face and he spontaneously addressed him as ‘Oh Sai’, giving a nameless fakir a name for ever after Sai, a Persian term meaning a sage – just a common noun, was his name for ever. Whatever his epithets, Sai is his name ever since.

The incident also gave him his primary motif. Bhagat noticed the young fakir entering into the Khandoba temple. Noticing that he was a Musalman he stopped him from entering the temple. Sai obeyed but found in it the purpose of his life : to rise and lead people to rise above narrow barriers that conservatism created. His humility further impressed Bhagat. As goes a commonplace, the moment Bhagat said that he could not enter the temple for being a Musalman Bhagat saw from inside the scarf that the young fakir tied on his forehead a ‘tri-punda’, the mark of Shaivite sectarian identity. There prevails also a tradition that reveres Baba as Lord Shiva’s incarnation. Sai prayed for all beyond castes and creeds, did not accept barriers but also did not condemn any. He believed in God’s unity and oneness, called him by any name : Allah or whatever, but held in great reverence the gods of different pantheons, Hindu in particular. He celebrated festivals venerated in different religious traditions and was not an iconoclast.

A magnificent work of art this marble image has reflection of Baba’s transcendental being. In a tough medium like marble in the milky translucence of which details usually dilute the sculptor has wondrously carved each one with rare precision and clarity : each hair of his beard, wrinkles on his face, dimples-like welled cheeks and the surging folds of his gown. The pressure on the forehead just above the eyes, as when in some deep concern the forehead is downwards rolled, has been wondrously chiseled. Perhaps in pursuance of the Bhagat’s commonplace, the sculptor has carved Baba’s head and forehead as covered with a scarf but finely chiseled this scarf does not hide the ‘tri-punda’ mark on Baba’s forehead. Except a camera photograph claimed to represent Baba’s real likeness, the portrayal of his likeness has been merely imaginative or imitative; however, the artist of this statue has been quite realistic in rendering various parts. With the age the ankle bones usually bend, the same as represents this statue. The divine figures are believed to have elongated ears and taller arms. The sculptor has used the same standards for the iconography of his statue. The statue’s painting part with soft lemon yellow for gown and a deep magenta line with gold band for border is equally brilliant.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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