Snap Talk by Karline McLain
Assistant Professor of Religion
"Hindu Godman, Muslim Saint: The Afterlife of Shirdi Sai Baba"
Abstract: In one devotional poster Shirdi Sai Baba (d. 1918) gazes at the viewer, his hand raised in blessing. Behind him are a Hindu temple, Muslim mosque, Sikh gurdwara, and Christian church; above him is the slogan "Be United, Be Virtuous." In his lifetime, Sai Baba acquired a handful of Hindu and Muslim devotees in western India. In recent decades, he has become a revered persona of pan-Indian significance. Scholarship on modern Hinduism has focused on rising Hindu nationalism. My research focuses on this rising counter-religious movement that seeks to challenge sectarianism through Sai Baba's composite vision of unity in diversity.