ever after (Sai is a Persian word meaning “saint” or „holy‟, and Baba means “father”). In thisway, it was Mhalsapati who was responsible for Baba‟s name, which has become
the sacredmantra of thousands of his devotees.In those days, the temple was on the periphery of the village in the midst of a burial ground. Thestructure was very basic and did not even have a door. However, it seems to have appealed to
ment as he commented to the incumbent priest, Mhalsapati. That being so quietand solitary, it would make a good spot for an ascetic like him to stay.
Khandoba was the tutelary deity of the Mhalsapati family, and Mhalsapati was the temple‟s
hereditary priest. Khandoba, originally a pastoral deity, is popular in Maharashtra and is nowworshipped as a form of Shiva. The temple here was a simple, rural temple; today, it is a small,well-maintained and neatly kept building.The idol of Khandoba
a colourful image
is flanked on either side by one of his two wives. Onthe right sits Mhalsa, and on the left is Baanai, who represents the business community. Mhalsais worshipped as a form of Parvati and Baanyani is venerated as a form of Goddess Ganga.At the entr
ance to the temple is a large banyan tree which is mentioned in the „Shri SaiSatcharitra‟ as the place where the bullock cart halted. It is now commemorated with a smallshrine and „padukas‟ at its base.
Baba would sometimes stop at Khandoba Temple on his way back from Rahata (which was thena village, five kilometers away from Shirdi).Upasani Maharaj, a prominent devotee of Shri Sai Baba, spent about two years here, oninstruction from Baba to stay in Shirdi for four years. Baba told Shri Upasani that he would win
the grace of Khandoba on completion of the four years‟ tenure. Later, in the 1920s, Upasani
Maharaj sponsored the renovation of the temple as a gesture of gratitude for the benefit he hadderived there.+