This photograph depicts the vibhuti abhisheka, performed by Sai Baba during festivals, especially MahaShivarathri - the night dedicated to Shiva, part of the Hindu Trinity. Brahma is the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer of illusion and untruth.

Before Sai Baba put his hand into the urn, it was held upside down by a devotee, so that all could see that the urn was empty. Sai Baba would then roll up both sleeves so as to further show lack of trickery. Once he had put his hand in the urn, Sai Baba would move his hand and arm vigorously and large amounts of vibhuti would pour out. Professor N. Kasturi, Sai Baba's biographer, often held the urn. He observed that once Sai Baba inserted his hand into the urn, it instantly became much heavier. Likewise, when Sai Baba withdrew his hand, vibhuti immediately stopped pouring out and Kasturi would be surprised by the fact that the urn would suddenly feel quite light once again.

The late Dick Bock, who produced the early films about Sai Baba, recorded this event and commented that it was almost stranger when Sai Baba took his hand out of the urn and stopped the flow of vibhuti, as the gushing out of vibhuti began to feel like the normal state.

Although one cannot see it in this picture, the vibhuti is being poured over a silver statue of Shirdi Sai Baba, the first of the triple Sai incarnation, who died in 1918. The amount of vibhuti produced in the vibhuti abhiskeka is so great that not only the statue of Shirdi Sai is covered, but so also is the floor.


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