Shirdi Sai Baba’s Philosophy About Speech

Shirdi Sai Baba's Philosophy About Speech

The tongue has two functions – to taste food and to speak. Regarding tasting food we had discussed at length in earlier posts.

Use of Scornful and Slightful Speech

We have read about the importance of ‘non-violence’ in our scriptures.

‘Non-violence’ means not hurting anybody physically, mentally or by speech.

Thus Sai Baba also advised us to be humble in our speech. Scornful words hurt a person much more than physical or mental violence. Such words are not easily forgotten and cannot be withdrawn. Consequently, they cause ever-lasting ill-feeling. Thus Baba’s advice was to be soft in speech. Even more, He said, “Let anybody speak hundreds of things against you, do not resent by giving any bitter reply. If you tolerate such things you will certainly be happy” – Chapter 19 of Sacred Text – Shri Sai Satcharitra. To make it more sure that the devotees should follow it, He added, “He, who carps and cavils at others, pierces Me in the heart and injures Me, but he that suffers and endures, pleases Me most” – Chapter 44.

Arguments and Disputes

Another teaching which Sai Baba gave about the speech was to avoid arguments and disputes which spring from egoism. They spread ill feelings, hatred and enmity. We have seen how Baba checked this habit of arguing regarding necessity of a Guru by Shri Hemadpant in Chapter 2. Baba made this habit permanently null by addressing him as ‘Hemadpant’ and gave permission to write Sacred Text – Shri Sai Satcharitra.

Indulgence in Scandal-mongering and Discussions of Other’s Affairs

Sai Baba advised His devotees not to indulge in scandal-mongering or slandering others. Baba by His omniscient nature knew where and when devotees committed any mistakes. He made it a point to correct them by effectively taunting them.

Let us take another incident. A pleader from Pandharpur unnecessarily indulged in a discussion regarding sub-judge Noolkar’s coming and staying at Shirdi for a cure of his ill health. When the pleader went to Shirdi, Sai Baba said, “How cunning people are! They fall at the feet, offer Dakshina, but inwardly give abuses behind the back. Is not this wonderful?” The pleader understood that the remark was aimed at himself, and being convinced, later said to Kakasaheb Dixit, “This is not a rebuke to me but a favour and advice that I should not indulge in any scandal or slander of others and not interfere unnecessarily in others’ affairs”.

Always Speak Nothing But Truth

Repeated stress is laid on always speaking the truth. Our national motto is सत्यमेव जयते (Truth always Triumphs). In Mahabharata, Dharmaraj, the eldest among Pandavas, always spoke the truth, but once in his life, he told a lie and therefore had to spend a few hours in hell. Sai Baba was always practical and realistic in His teachings. It was Baba’s teaching to His devotees to always speak the truth. Even if a person dare to speak untruth, Baba knew it there and then as He is Knower of secrets of every being’s heart.

In Marathi language Sai Satcharitra Hemadpant has written असत्य चालेना सईप्रती | असत्ये नाहीं सईची प्राप्ति | असत्ये जानै अधौगति | अंति दुर्गती असत्ये – meaning untruth does not work before Sai Baba and Sai cannot be procured with untruth. Untruth means downfall. Untruth in the end takes you to hell.

खोटे सांग्नी भागेना काज | साई महाराज सर्वसाक्षी – meaning Success is not possible by telling a lie. Sai Baba is omniscient.

However there were still many instances where Sai Baba Himself told lies. In chapter 27, Baba told lie to Ramadasi who was reading Vishnu-Sahastranaam (1000 names of Lord Vishnu) about His stomach ache and sent him to market to fetch Sennapods. Shama was a very intimate devotee of Baba and Baba wanted to favor him in a particular way by giving him a copy of Vishnu-Sahastranaam. He took the book of Ramdasi in his absence, gave it to Shama, and also played the peacemaker’s role to calm down Ramdasi in the end. Another case was that Baba went with Arti and Udi in disguise of tonga-driver with Ramgirbua for urgent and safe delivery of daughter of Nanasaheb Chandorkar.

Now question arises how can we interpret such acts? Firstly, the saints do not have to bear the consequences of these acts, whether good or bad, since they do not claim the doership of these acts to themselves. Secondly, even if such acts are sinful, they are prepared to bear the consequences for the sake of their devotees. In the first instance, Sai Baba wanted to favor His devotee Shama with some religious practice and hence he enacted this drama. Normal advice by words would not have been that effective. In the second instance, Sai Baba wanted to respond to Nanasaheb Chandorkar’s fervent prayers to save the life of his pregnant daughter who was having severe labor pains and was unable to deliver. In this case, there was an urgency to reach Udi and Arti more than 100 miles away, and that too at night. Hence, Baba not only prompted Bapurgir to go to his native place at that odd hour but helped him to reach Jamner from Jalgaon railway station in a tonga resorting to lies to convince Bapugir. Thus, the deeds of saints who always want to favor His devotees in times of calamities and danger, are never questioned as good or bad. Indeed, we have seen many such instances wherein saints take calamities of their devotees on themselves. Taking example of our Sai Baba, He took four fully developed bubos of Dadasaheb Khaprde’s young son on Himself willingly – Chapter 7. More than that in the year 1910, Baba pulled His arm in Dhuni to save the little child of a blacksmith from falling into the furnace at some distance from Dwarkamai. Baba was not concerned about His burnt arm but He had a sense of satisfaction glowing on His face for saving the child. The burnt arm was not allowed to be medicated, in turn, leper devotee Bhagoji Shinde’s service was accepted. Now, how can we measure such acts of saints? Only it can be said that they showed Godhood and were not natural for us.

Truth as seen and practiced in our daily life – While travelling in bus or autorickshaw, the conductor or driver demands exact amount stating that he has no change. Even if we have changed with us, we prefer to safeguard them for our return journey or other urgent situations. We know that telling lie to a conductor or driver that you need to safeguard the change for the return journey would not be accepted readily, so we resort to telling lie and denying them any change with us. The flip side of this is that the conductor or driver also have change with them, but they too tell us lie. So how can the principle of speaking only truth be followed by us? We can take a vow to speak the truth wherever possible.

Never tell a lie, at least for self-interest or the satisfaction of one’s ego. However, sometimes for benefit of others, there is no harm in telling a little lie. For example, if telling some sad news is likely to shock a person, there is no harm in telling a lie that such a thing has not happened or that we do not know about it. Similarly, if somebody has offered some food with love and care and even if it is not relished by us, will it not be wiser to praise the quality of the food smilingly rather than bluntly telling the truth and hurting the feelings of the person? The following is advocated in our scriptures

सत्यस्य वचनं श्रेय : सत्यादपी हितं वदेत | यम्दूत हितम त्यं नत मेत त्सत्यम मतं मम ! Telling the truth is good but telling what is beneficial to others is better. In my opinion what results in the ultimate welfare of all beings is real truth.
सत्यं ब्रयात प्रियं ब्रयात न बरुतात सत्यमप्रियं | One should speak the truth and speak what is pleasing and agreeable to others. Never speak the truth which is not pleasing and agreeable to others.

Always Keep Your Promise

Sai Baba taught us that if you promise anything to anybody you must fulfill it. So never make a false promise to anybody. Instead do not make any promise if you are not sure of fulfilling it. Still, devotees make a vow or promise to God to act or offer something on condition that their desires be fulfilled, but once fulfilled they forget to fulfill their vow. Such instances were tackled by Baba skillfully. Appasaheb Kulkarni wished to pay Fakir Rs. 10 who had visited his residence during his absence, and Baba got it fulfilled by approaching him again and demanding the full amount – Chapter 33. Similarly we had seen another instance of Shama. In this case, Sai Baba maneuvered to get Shama’s long-pending offering to Saptashringi Goddess fulfilled – Chapter 30. Mr. Cholkar was treated lovingly as Baba was much pleased to note that His devotee gave up sugar and drank tea without it until his vow to offer sugar candy to Sai Baba by visiting Shirdi was fulfilled – Chapter 15.

Talk Less

Sai Baba’s principle was to talk less. He never gave any lengthy lectures but gave His devotees suitable experiences by narrating suitable stories.

For spiritual advancement, observing silence for some time everyday is good.

Baba, Himself practiced this by spending some time twice a day in Lendi Baug till the end of His life regularly. Talking too much consumes a lot of energy and time, hence even in day-to-day business, it is advisable to avoid unnecessary talk.

Repeat God’s Name

In the speech, Sai Baba’s most important advice was about repeating God’s name. He Himself used to repeat ‘Allah Malik Hai’ (God is Lord) constantly. He was fond of making others chant God’s name continuously day and night for a whole week. This is known as Nama-Saptah.

Views of Hemadpant, “The efficacy of God’s Name is well-known. It saves us from all sins and bad tendencies, frees us from the cycle of births and deaths. There is no easier sadhana than this. It is the best purifier of our mind. It requires no paraphernalia and no restrictions. It is so easy and so effective”.

List of Devotees of Sai Baba of Shirdi

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Hetal Patil
Hetal Patil
Articles: 488


  1. Thanks a lot for nice article. Everything in this article is so true.. A true sai devotee should follow these philosophies.. What is the point in praying to baba, and arguing due to ego/jealousy/anger with everyone. Thanks again,i will try my best to implement these rules. om sai ram.

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