Dattatreya and Maha meru
Behind the idol of Anna Baba is the marble statue of Lord Dattatreya – a symbolic fusion of Brahma Vishnu and Shiva. In front of Dattatreya is the Panchaloka Maha Meru or the Sri Chakra. The Maaha Meru is worshipped by performing the Lalitha Sahasranamam Pooja on Fridays.
Behind Anna Baba is a larger than life towering statue of Lord Venkateswara on the left. Immediately behind the Anna Baba idol is a statue of Krishna Rama Shiva Maruthi Roopa Sai. On the right is the statue of Goddess Meenakshi divinely looking at her devotees.
Dhuni and Udhi
After circumambulating the statue we come to the outer ‘Prahara’ where we find the ‘Dhuni’ on the northern side. The Dhuni or the eternal fire that was ignited with embers from Shirdi, is a feature found in all Sai Baba temples. Shirdi Baba had kept a fire constantly kindled in the Dwarakamaye, which even today continues to burn.
The Udhi or the sacred ash that is distributed as Prasad has medicinal qualities. It is taken from the ‘Eternal Dhuni’, which is kept burning with twigs and logs of trees like Margosa, pipal and banyan, apart from other medicinal herbs dipped in ghee, offered by all devotees on Thursdays and Pournami days. The sacred ash collected from the Dhuni is distributed as Prasad to the devotees. Whoever applies it with faith and devotion will experience the miracle of their mental and physical discomfort vanishing immediately
108 Guru Pravesa Padukas
In front of the Dhuni the silver padukas of the Satguru are installed. These silver padukas are very sacred, because 108 couples have religiously performed pooja during the ‘Gurupravesa’ when Shirdi Baba and Kumar Baba were ceremoniously welcomed to their homes. The padukas were installed on the Second Anniversary (May 2, 2004) of the Mandir by H H Sri Sukumaran of Anna Nagar, Chennai.
108 Sai Souls
Beside the Dhuni on the Northern Wall, is a huge marble plaque, wherein the names of the 108 Sai Souls who had contributed towards the construction of this Mandir has been etched. The 108 Sai Souls have great significance similar to the 108 Potri or Ashtothram of Baba. Every day at 6.00 p.m., Guruji Sri Kumar Baba prays for the Sai Souls offering incense sticks, first to the plaque and only then to Anna Baba. Guruji says that reading the names of the Sai Souls, is equal to reading the Ashtothram of Baba once. At Shirdi, the ardent devotes of Baba and his contemporaries like Shama, Dasganu, Mahalsa, Booti, Tatya and so on are honoured by placing their photographs close to the Samadhi Mandir. Similarly, at the Anna Baba Mandir, the names of 108 Sai Souls, written on marble, is to honour their close association with Guruji and Anna Baba. All poojas in this Mandir commence from this place.
OM in the Pradakshina patha
On the right of the Dhuni is the ‘Anna Dhan’ hall and kitchen. When a devotee circumambulates the Anna Baba idol the Dhuni and the outer prahara of the Mandir he would have completed ‘OM in the pradikshina patha.
The 18 Holy Steps
As we come out of the Mandir we see a flight of 18 steps on the right. These 18 sacred steps have been built with offerings from eighteen Guruswamis of Lord Ayappa ,who have observed the vow and visited the holy shrine of Sabarimala 18 times. Anna Baba in a divine vision to Kumar Baba has said, that he would be present there on Makara Sankaranthi Day as Lord Ayappa. The 18 steps also signify the 18 visits of Guruji Sri Kumar Baba to Shirdi.
As we climb the steps, pay our obeisance to Guru Vinayaka and approach the unique tower another wonder awaits us. On the tower, at the base, on the Western side we see the idol of Dhanvanti Murti – the Doctor of the Gods and Devas, and also of Ayurveda (the ancient science of Medicine). On the North we see the statue of Veda Vyasa who made common the Chathurveda to the whole world and also the Vishnu Sahasranamam. Every evening at 5.30 p.m., the Vishnu Sahasranamam is recited devotedly by all. On the East is seated Sathguru Sai Baba who emphasised the unity of all religions. On the South we find the idol of ‘Agasthiyar’ divine sage of the Tamils, who revealed the Lalitha Sahasranamam to his wife Lopamudra. The Laitha Sahasranamam Pooja is, therefore, performed in this Mandir on Fridays.
Kavacham – Metal Plate
Another unique feature of this Unique Tower, is the metallic kavacham. No other Baba Temple has this. The Anna Baba Mandir is the first temple in the World to have covered the Tower completely with ornamental kavacham. Above the Moorthy of Veda Vyas is the metallic engraving of Gomatha who bestows and ensures offsprings to the childless. Above the Moorthy of Baba, is an engraved work of Anna Pakshi, the celestial bird that has the capacity of separating water from milk. Similarly, Anna Baba takes the good qualities of a devotee, leaving out the evil ones. On the South, above Sage Agasthiyar, the Tamil Guru, is an engraving of Nandikeswarar, representing Lord Annamalai (Shiva). Circumambulating this Tower 12 times on Pournami is equivalent to circumambulating the Holy Annamalai Hill. (Girivalam). Above Guru Dhanvanthri, an aspect of Vishnu, the Doctor of Gods and Devas, is Adisesha (the five headed serpent) to eliminate the evil effects of Raghu and Kethu that are obstacles to performing the marriage of an individual. Thus an individual who circles the Tower, can be assured of securing a happy married life.