If we carefully analyze the Satcharitra, we find two defining moments in the life of Sai Baba, which encompass the entire body of his work. The first occurs when he enters Shirdi with Chand Patil’s wedding party. A young man - dressed in saffron Kafani, saffron topi and saffron dhoti - gets down from one of the carts of the wedding party and starts walking towards the temple. Almost at the same time Mhalsapathi, the poojari of the temple, comes out of the temple, and sees the young man walking towards him. For all outward appearance, the young man was looking like a Muslim fakir. Wandering Sufi fakirs were very common in those days and were known by their Persian generic name of sa’ih or sayyah. Mhalsapathi and his friends were in the habit of greeting a gosavi by ‘Namo Narayan’, a bairagi was welcomed as ‘Jai Ram’ and if the visitor was a fakir, he was received with ‘Jai Sai’. “Ya Sai!” Mhalsapathi invited the young fakir and asked him to sit nearby. The young fakir sat there, and liked the surroundings immensely. He said, “How secluded and quiet is this Khandoba temple, best fitted for a fakir to stay”. Being a Hindu and the poojari of a temple which had the idol of Khandoba, Mhalsapathi was afraid that the young fakir’s desire to stay there may prove to be harmful as Muslims do not believe in idol worship. He told the young fakir, “Oh Sai! It is not fitting that you stay here. This is a temple for the Hindus. You look like a Muslim to me. You better go to the masjid or the takia!” The young fakir - who had no intention whatsoever of breaking the idol of Khandoba - was surprised by the words of Mhalsapathi. He said, “It is the same god who has created both these people. Hindu and Muslim are mere words - know this to be the truth. There are temples in this world and there are masjids too. God has not constructed any of them. Try to see the god who is one for all of us. He is Allah-I-llahi. He is the Maha Vishnu reclining on the serpent Adisesha! There is nothing which is other than your Khandoba. Know clearly as to who the real Khandoba is. Those who know the truth do not care for these differences based on religion. Oh pious one! Do not think that these temples or the masjids are the only ones to lead you to god. I will not trouble you. I will respect your feelings and have the darshan of Khandoba from afar. I hope you have no objection to that?” It was the year 1858 AD.
It is obvious, even to the meanest intelligence and Baba was an extraordinarily intelligent person by any standards (then or now!), that the reason behind Mhalsapathi not allowing Baba to stay in Khandoba temple, either on a short or long term basis, was fear. He went by the outward appearance and not by what Baba really was. Though he looked like a Muslim, Baba was not a Muslim. He was a missionary and had, by concentration on God, achieved practically every siddhi that one can think of. The powers and the mission have a close relation. The mission has to be worked through the powers given and the powers are given only for carrying out the mission. His possession of vast powers both acknowledged and proven in Chand Patil’s case, was in need of a mission. At that moment, precisely, the mission was taking shape in his mind. Mhalsapathi’s reaction focused Baba’s mind on to a single point. Eradication of the fear and protection of the devotees became the mission of his life. And the immediate reason for that fear was religion. Religion, instead of uniting people, had become a divisive force and hence, unification of the two religions, Hinduism and Islam, got top priority in his scheme of things. “Why fear when I am here” and “Sab ka Malik Ek” followed subsequently.
Mhalsapathi not only rejected the shelter for the fakir at the Khandoba temple, but suggested that he should stay in either a masjid, or a takia (travellers’ bungalow). Baba understood that with his appearance (dress, beard etc) he would not be allowed anywhere and thought it fit to accept Mhalsapathi’s suggestion. Among all of his devotees, Baba had the highest regard and trust for Mhalsapathi, proved subsequently when Baba handed over his body for three days and three nights to Mhalsapathi.
Baba, then, went to the dilapidated masjid in Shirdi and settled there. That was only the beginning. The mission was now clearly defined. It consisted of unification of the Hindu faith within itself and of Islam within itself, and, by purification and refinement of both, the building up of one common central religion or faith that is fitted to be the world faith. It was imperative, in this context that the masjid had to lose its identity. This could be done only by giving the masjid a Hindu name, otherwise, it would have continued as a masjid and bulk of the Hindu devotees would have stayed away. The Hindu name had to be associated with the name of a Hindu god. The popular Hindu gods, then and now, are Rama and Krishna, with Krishna being slightly more popular than Rama.
My guruji, Sri MP Sainath in Sri Sai Satcharita Bhava Suma Mala, says:
“Sri Krishna killed Kamsa. To take revenge on Sri Krishna, Jarasandha, Kamsa’s father-in-law, invaded Mathura 17 times and got defeated. On the 18th occasion, he collected a very mighty and large force to attack Mathura. He also sought the help of the demon, Kalayavana. Sri Krishna, did not want any further blood shed, and convinced both King Ugrasena and Prince Vasudeva to shift the capital to Dwaraka, in view of its inherent protection. As Sri Krishna avoided the battle, he got the title of “Ranchodji” (Hindi – one who forsakes the battle). Dwaraka is a very sacred place. It is also called “Dwaravati”, “Dwaramati”, and also “Kushasthali”. It is one of the four most sacred places. The other three are Badrinath, Puri, and Rameshwaram. It is also one among the seven places which confer moksha on a devotee. The other six are Ayodhya, Mathura, Kashi, Kanchi, Avantika (Ujjain), and Haridwar.
Sai told Balasaheb Mirikar, “This is our Dwarakamai. Do you know? This is our mother Dwaraka. This masjid mother is very kind”. On another occasion, he told the Malegaon doctor, “This is not masjid. It is Dwaravati”. This also implies that Baba is Dwarakanath. And he has confirmed this belief of his devotees.”
Just as Sri Krishna founded Dwaraka for the protection of his people, Baba also had in his mind the protection of his devotees, while naming the masjid after Dwaraka. In addition to Dwaraka, who else can give a better protection than a mother (mai)? Dwaraka and Mai came together to become Dwarakamai. And towards this end, Baba used all his yogic and divine powers, throughout his sojourn on this earth, to eradicate all the evil spirits (let us say, thoughts) from the earlier masjid. Several stories illustrate this.
Another interesting source "Sai Sarovar" says:
“The Masjid was named after Dwaraka, the Karma Bhoomi of Lord Krishna. Baba once told His devotees about the history of Dwarakamai. One day, Lord Krishna and Queen Satyabhama were talking with each other in the palace. Queen Rukmani went there. Seeing Lord Krishna and Queen Satyabhama together, she became angry. She at once ordered the servant and taking the palanquin, elephants, horses; she prepared the palki and at once left the palace. She left Dwaraka and came to Pandharpur. After some time, Lord Krishna thought that now Queen Rukmani would have calmed down, so He started from Dwaraka to bring the angry queen back to the palace. On the way the place where Lord Krishna halted to take rest, he named it “Dwarakamai”. Just think, where was the Dwapar Yug and where is the Sat Yug and how Sai Baba knew these very things and details. Baba never showed off his greatness to anybody. He used to only say that He was a Fakir and an ardent servant of Allah Taallah.”
Another prominent aspect of Dwarakamai, in particular and Shirdi in general, is that, its aura and prominence is increasing exponentially, day by day, even after the Mahasamadhi of Sai Baba, unlike other places which faded away once the protagonist of the place left the scene.