Sai Baba's date of birth including his birthplace remains unknown and is debatable due to lack of evidence and no definitive information exists to prove it. Most definitive information about Shirdi Sai Baba tends to be derived from a book called Shri Sai Satcharitra written by a disciple called Hemadpant (also known as Annasaheb Dabholkar / Govind Raghunath) in 1922 in Marathi. The book itself is a compilation based on accounts by his various disciples and Hemadpant's personal observations observing Sai Baba from 1910 onwards.
Sai Baba's real name remains unknown. The name Sai was given to him by Mhalsapati when he arrived at Shirdi, a town now in the west Indian state of Maharashtra. The word Sai refers to a religious mendicant but can also mean God. In several Indian and Middle Eastern languages the term Baba is an honorific signifying grandfather, father, old man or sir. Thus Sai Baba denotes holy father, saintly father or (venerable) poor old man.
Some of Sai Baba's disciples became famous as spiritual figures and saints, such as Mahalsapati, a priest of the Khandoba temple in Shirdi and Upasni Maharaj. He was revered by other saints as well, such as Saint Bidkar Maharaj, Saint Gagangiri Maharaj, Saint Janakidas Maharaj and Sati Godavari Mataji. Sai Baba referred to several saints as 'my brothers', especially the disciples of Swami Samartha of Akkalkot.