Sri Sai Master was a mystic saint, an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. Many are the devotees whose sorrows and tribulations have been alleviated by just one glimpse of him. Now that he is no more in his physical form, his Samadhi at Ongole in Andhra Pradesh is a guiding spirit and millions find refuge here.
While the chief role of the first two incarnations of Lord Dattatrreya was to reinstate the ashrama of sannyasa and restore it to its former pristine state, the role of Shirdi Sai Baba is stated clearly in Acharya Sai Master’s own words, “What is of special relevance to present day India in Sai Baba’s gospel and example is that religious and communal differences are meaningless in matters of the spirit.” (Sai Baba the Master pg 14). However, “the fundamental for this is transformation in the attitude of mankind at the spiritual level. The incarnations of Sai Baba similar to Akkalkot Maharaj was for laying the foundation stone for this magnificent task” (Sai Sannidhi pg 3).
Keeping this context in mind and having read only a few of his writings, it appears to my mind that the advent of Sri Sai Master was for the moral upliftment of mankind. Where there is unrighgteousness or adharma, dissatisfaction, selfishness, greed, corruption, hatred, violence, war and revolt make their ghastly appearance. The root cause for all this flow of negativity is the imperfect understanding of ourselves and our needs and desires, as has been explained extensively in ‘Sai Prabodhamrutham’ and ‘Matam Enduku’ by Sri Sai Master.
Morality and ethics have to be inculcated in our lives as it forms the bedrock on which spirituality makes a foothold and allows people to lead peaceful, stress-free lives. As Smt. Vedavathi says, “Mankind needs physical, mental, familial, social, national and world security. Which means that we have to do away with false pretensions and inculcate a culture that is mutually beneficial and uplifting. Such an attitude is called righteous living (Sai Baba 29:11, 2012 pg 12)”. For accomplishing this formidable task, Sri Sai Master targeted the youth and children (Mahanandi speeches). He dedicated his life to imparting the importance of morality to the younger generation, in the tradition of the spirit of Lord Dattatreya, forsaking his influential career as an IAS officer as a mere trifle.
He reinterpreted the scriptures in a manner that would be suitable, easily comprehensible and feasible to the current generation. He further explained that “the basis for all the major religions in the world is ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you’. It is valid for any place, time, age and individual. It is an eternal law. (Sai Sannidhi pg 23)”.
Being an atheist himself in his younger days, Sri Sai Master was able to lucidly discuss, debate and explain the presence and nature of God, quoting extensively from a wide range of scriptures and correlating them with current scientific evidence (Edi Nizam, Vignaan Veechikalu) convincingly to the disbelieving and cynical youth he encountered in his chosen profession as a lecturer. It also became the subject matter of many a discourse that he gave amongst the scientific elite such as in the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Several debates were conducted by the Sri Venkateshwara University on theism vs atheism (Asti Nasti Speeches).
Sri Sai Master writes in Sai Sannidhi (pg 25), “However, moral transformation in mankind cannot be achieved swiftly. New generations of people are constantly taking birth. Hence this is an impressive enterprise that has to be continuously performed for generations together.” And that I believe is one of the foremost reasons for his appearance on this earth.
In his own words, “Establishing ‘righteousness’ in each one’s heart is the goal. It is indeed an act of valour if an individual is able to plant this firmly in the hearts of a good number of people.” (Sai Baba 29:11;2012,pg 4)
He was the man of the age and times who paved the way for righteousness and thereby spirituality.
All the references mentioned above can be found in http://www.saibharadwaja.org