Salutations -- The Story of Grinding Wheat and Its Philosophical Significance.
According to the ancient and revered custom, Hemadpant begins the work, Sai Satcharitra, with various salutations.
First, he makes obeisance to the God Ganesha to remove all obstacles and make the work a success and says that Shri Sai is the God Ganesha.
Then, to the Goddess Saraswati to inspire him to write out the work and says that Shri Sai is one with this Goddess and that He is Himself singing His own life.
Then, to the Gods; Brahma, Vishnu and Shankar - the Creating, Preserving and Destroying Deities respectively; and says that Sainath is one with them and He as the great Teacher, will carry us across the River of Wordly Existence.
Then, to his tutelary Deity Narayan Adinath who manifested himself in Konkan - the land reclaimed by Parashurama, (Rama in the Hindi version) from the sea; and to the Adi (Original) Purusha of the family.
Significant and Prophetic Title
Object of Writing the Work - Incapacity and Boldness in the Undertaking - Hot Discussion - Conferring Significant and Prophetic Title of Hemadpant - Necessity of a Guru. In the last Chapter, the author mentioned in the original Marathi book that he would state the reason that led him to undertake the work, and the persons qualified to read the same and such other points. Now in this chapter, he starts to tell the same.
Object of Writing the Work
In the first chapter, I described Sai Baba’s miracle of checking and destroying the epidemic of Cholera by grinding wheat and throwing the flour, on the outskirts of the village. I heard other miracles of Sai Baba to my great delight, and this delight burst forth into this poetic work. I also thought, that the description of these grand miracles of Sai Baba would be interesting, and instructive to His devotees; and would remove their sins, and so I began to write the sacred life and teachings of Sai Baba. The life of the saint is neither logical nor dialectical. It shows us the true and great path.
Incapacity and Boldness in Undertaking the Work
Hemadpant thought that he was not a fit person to undertake the work. He said, "I do not know the life of my intimate friend nor do I know my own mind, then how can I write the life of a saint or describe the nature of Incarnations, which even the Vedas were unable to do? One must be a saint himself, before he could know other saints, then how can I describe their glory? To write the life of a saint is the most difficult, though one may as well measure the depth of the water of the seven seas or enclose the sky with cloth-trappings. I knew, that this was the most venturous undertaking, which might expose me to ridicule. I, therefore, invoked Sai Baba’s grace.
The premier poet-saint of Maharashtra, Shri Jnaneshwar Maharaj, has stated that the Lord loves those who write the lives of saints; and the saints also have a peculiar method of their own of getting the service, which the devotees long for, successfully accomplished. The saints inspire the work, the devotee becomes only an indirect cause or instrument to achieve the end. For instance, in 1700 Shaka year, the poet Mahipati aspired to write the lives of saints. Saints inspired him, and got the work done; so also in 1800 Shaka year, Das Ganu’s service was accepted.
The former wrote 4 works-Bhakta Vijaya, Santa Vijaya, Bhakta Leelamrit and Santa Kathamrit, while the latter wrote two - "Bhakta Leelamrit and Santa Kathamrit", in which the lives of modern Saints were described. In chapters 31,32,33 of Bhakta Leelamrit and in chapter 57 of Santa Kathamrit, the sweet life and teachings of Sai Baba are very well depicted. These have been separately published in Sai Leela Magazine, Nos. 11 and 12, Vol. 17; the readers are advised to read these chapters.
So also Sai Baba’s wonderful Leelas are described in a small decent book named Shri Sainath Bhajana Mala by Mrs. Savitribai Raghunath Tendulkar of Bandra. Das-Ganu Maharaj also has composed various sweet poems on Sai Baba. A devotee named Amidas Bhavani Mehta, has also published some stories of Sri Baba in Gujarathi; some Nos. of Sainath Prabha, a magazine published by Dakshina Bhiksha Sanstha of Shirdi, are also published.
Then the question of objection comes in, that while so many works regarding Sai Baba are extant, why should this (Satcharita) be written? and where is its necessity?
The answer is plain and simple. The life of Sai Baba is as wide and deep as the infinite ocean; and all can dive deep into the same and take out precious gems (of knowledge and Bhakti), and distribute them to the aspiring public. The stories, parables, and teachings of Sai Baba are very wonderful. They will give peace and happiness to the people, who are afflicted with sorrows and heavily loaded with miseries of this worldly existence, and also bestow knowledge and wisdom, both in the worldly and in spiritual domains. If these teachings of Sai Baba, which are as interesting and instructive as the Vedic lore, are listened to and meditated upon, the devotees will get, what they long for, viz., union with Brahman, mastery in eight-fold Yoga, Bliss of meditation etc. So I thought, that I should call these stories together that would be my best Upasana. This collection would be most delightful to those simple souls, whose eyes were not blessed with Sai Baba’s darshana. So, I set about collecting Sai Baba’s teachings and expressions - the outcome of His boundless and natural self-realization. It was Sai Baba, who inspired me in this matter; in fact, I surrendered my ego at His feet, and thought that my path was clear; and that He would make me quite happy here, and in the next world.
I could not myself ask Sai Baba to give me permission for this work; so I requested Mr. Madhavrao Deshpande alias Shama, Baba’s most intimate devotee, to speak to Him for me. He pleaded for my cause and said to Sai Baba, "This Annasaheb wishes to write Your biography, don’t say that You are a poor begging Fakir, and there is no necessity to write it, but if You agree and help him, he will write or rather, Your feet (grace) will accomplish the work. Without Your consent and blessing, nothing can be done successfully." When Sai Baba heard this request, He was moved and blessed me by giving me His Udi (sacred ashes) and placing His boon-bestowing hand on my head said :- "Let him make a collection of stories and experiences, keep notes and memos; I will help him. He is only an outward instrument. I should write Myself My autobiography and satisfy the wishes of My devotees. He should get rid of his ego, place (or surrender) it at My feet. He who acts like this in life, him I help the most. What of My life-stories? I serve him in his house in all possible ways. When his ego is completely annihilated and there is left no trace of it, I Myself shall enter into him and shall Myself write My own life. Hearing my stories and teachings will create faith in devotees’ hearts and they will easily get self - realization and Bliss; let there be no insistence on establishing one’s own view, no attempt to refute other’s opinions, no discussions of pros and cons of any subject."
The word ‘discussion’ put me in mind of my promise to explain the story of my getting the title of Hemadpant and now I begin to relate the same. I was on close friendly terms with Kakasaheb Dixit and Nanasaheb Chandorkar. They pressed me to go to Shirdi and have Baba’s darshana, and I promised them to do so. But something in the interval turned up, which prevented me from going to shirdi. The son of a friend of mine at Lonavala fell ill. My friend tried all possible means, physical and spiritual, but the fever would not abate. At length he got his Guru to sit by the bed-side of his son, but this too was of no avail. Hearing this, I thought ‘what was the utility of the Guru, if he could not save my friend’s son? If the Guru can’t do anything for us, why should I go to Shirdi at all?’ Thinking in this way, I postponed my Shirdi-trip; but the inevitable must happen and it happened in my case as follows : - Mr. Nanasaheb Chandorkar, who was a Prant Officer, was going on tour to Bassein. From Thana he came to Dadar and was waiting for a train bound for Bassein. In the meanwhile, a Bandra Local turned up. He, sat in it and came to Bandra; and sent for me and took me to task for putting off my Shirdi trip. Nana’s argument for my Shirdi trip was convincing and delightful, and so I decided to start for Shirdi, the same night. I packed up my luggage and started for Shirdi. I planned to go to Dadar and there to catch the train for Manmad, and so I booked myself for Dadar and sat in the train. While the train was to start, a Mahomedan came hastily to my compartment and seeing all my paraphernalia, asked me where I was bound to.
I told him my plan. He then suggested that I should straight go to Boribunder, and not get down at Dadar, for the Manmad Mail did not get down at Dadar at all. If this little miracle or Leela had not happened, I would not have reached Shirdi next day as settled, and many doubts would have assailed me. But that was not to be. As fortune favoured me, I reached Shirdi the next day before 9 or 10 A.M. Mr. Bhausaheb (Kaka) Dixit was waiting for me there. This was in 1910 A.D., when there was only one place, viz., Sathe’s Wada for lodging pilgrim devotees. After alighting from the Tonga, I was anxious to have darshana, when the great devotee, Tatyasaheb Noolkar returned from the Masjid and said that Sai Baba was at the corner of the Wada, and that I should first get the preliminary darshana and then, after bath, see Him at leisure. Hearing this I ran and prostrated before Baba and then my joy knew no bounds. I found more than what Nana Chandorkar had told me. All my senses were satisfied and I forgot thirst and hunger. The moment I touched Sai Baba’s feet, I began a new lease of life. I felt myself much obliged to those who spurred and helped me to get the darshana; and I considered them as my real relatives, and I cannot repay their debt. I only remember them and prostrate (mentally) before them. The peculiarity of Sai Baba’s darshana, as I found it, is that by His darshana our thoughts are changed, the force of previous actions is abated and gradually non-attachment of dispassion towards worldly objects grows up. It is by the merit of actions in many past births that such darshana is got, and if only you see Sai Baba, really all the world becomes or assumes the form of Sai Baba.
On the first day of my arrival in Shirdi, there was a discussion between me and Balasaheb Bhate regarding the necessity of a Guru. I contended, "Why should we lose our freedom and submit to others? When we have to do our duty, why a Guru is necessary? One must try his best and save himself. What can the Guru do to a man who does nothing but sleeps indolently?" Thus I pleaded freewill, while Mr. Bhate took up the other side, viz., Destiny, and said, "Whatever is bound to happen must happen; even great men have failed, man proposes one way, but God disposes the other (contrary) way. Brush aside your cleverness; pride or egoism won’t help you." This discussion, with all its pros and cons went on for an hour or so, and as usual no decision was arrived at. We had to stop the discussion ultimately as we were exhausted. The net result of this was that I lost my peace of mind and found that unless there is strong body-consciousness and egoism, there would be no discussion; in other words, it is egoism which breeds discussion.
Then when we went to the Masjid with others, Baba asked Kakasaheb Dixit the following:-
"What was going on in the (Sathe’s) Wada? What was the discussion about?" and staring at me, Baba further added, "What did this Hemadpant say?"
Hearing these words, I was much surprised. The Masjid was at a considerable distance from Sathe’s Wada where I was staying and where the discussion was going on. How could Baba know our discussion unless He be omniscient and Inner Ruler of us all?
I began to think why Sai Baba should call me by the name Hemadpant. This word is a corrupt form of Hemadripant. This Hemadripant was a well known Minister of the kings Mahadev and Ramadev of Devgiri of the Yadav dynasty. He was very learned, good-natured and the author of good works, such as Chaturvarga Chintamani (dealing with spiritual subjects) and Rajprashasti. He invented and started new methods of accounts and was the originator of the Modi (Marathi Shorthand) script. But I was quite the opposite, an ignoramus, and of dull, mediocre intellect. So I could not understand why the name or title was conferred upon me, but thinking seriously upon it, I thought that the title was a dart to destroy my ego, so that, I should always remain meek and humble. It was also a compliment paid to me for the cleverness in the discussion.
Looking to the future history, we think that Baba’s word (calling Mr. Dabholkar by the name Hemadpant) was significant and prophetic, as we find that he looked after the management of Sai Sansthan very intelligently, kept nicely all the accounts and was also the author of such a good work "Sai Satcharita", which deals with such important and spiritual subjects as Jnana, Bhakti and dispassion, self-surrender and self-realization.
About the Necessity of a Guru
Hemadpant has left no note, no memo about what Baba said regarding this subject, but Kakasaheb Dixit has published his notes regarding this matter. Next day after Hemadpant’s meeting with Sai Baba, Kakasaheb went to Baba and asked whether he should leave Shirdi. Baba Said, "Yes". Then someone asked - "Baba, where to go?" Baba said, "High up." Then the man said, "How is the way?" Baba said, "There are many ways leading there; there is one way also from here (Shirdi). The way is difficult. There are tigers and wolves in the jungles on the way." I (Kakasaheb) asked - "But Baba, what if we take a guide with us?" Baba answered, - "Then there is no difficulty. The guide will take you straight to your destination, avoiding wolves, tigers and ditches etc. on the way. If there be no guide, there is the danger of your being lost in the jungles or falling into ditches." Mr. Dabholkar was present on this occasion and he thought that this was the answer Baba gave to the question whether Guru was a necessity (Vide Sai Leela Vol. I, No.5, Page 47); and he thereupon took the hint that no discussion of the problem, whether man is free or bound, is of any use in spiritual matters, but that on the contrary real Paramartha is possible only as the result of the teachings of the Guru, as is illustrated in this chapter of the original work in the instances of great Avatars like Rama and Krishna, who had to submit themselves to their Gurus, Vasishtha and Sandipani respectively, for getting self- realization and that the only virtues necessary for such progress are faith and patience. (Vide Sai Satcharita, Ch. II, 191-92).
Bow to Shri Sai - Peace be to all
Sai Baba’s Sanction and Promise - Assignment of Work to Devotees - Baba’s Stories as Beacon - Light - His Motherly Love - Rohilla’s Story - His sweet and Nectar - like Words.
Sai Baba’s Sanction and Promise
As described in the previous chapter, Sai Baba gave His complete assent to the writing of the Sat-Charita and said, "I fully agree with you regarding the writing of Sat Charita. You do your duty, don’t be afraid in the least, steady your mind and have faith in My words. If my Leelas are written, the Avidya (nescience) will vanish and if they are attentively, and devoutly listened to, the consciousness of the worldly existence will abate, and strong waves of devotion, and love will rise up and if one dives deep into My Leelas, he would get precious jewels of knowledge."
Hearing this, author was much pleased, and he at once became fearless and confident, and thought that work was bound to be a success. Then turning to Shama (Madhavrao Deshpande) Sai Baba said:
"If a man utters My name with love, I shall fulfill all his wishes, increase his devotion. And if he sings earnestly My life and My deeds, him I shall beset in front and back and on all sides. Those devotees, who are attached to Me, heart and soul, will naturally feel happiness, when they hear these stories. Believe Me that if anybody sings My Leelas, I will give him infinite joy and everlasting contentment. It is My special characteristic to free any person, who surrenders completely to Me, and who does worship Me faithfully, and who remembers Me, and meditates on Me constantly. How can they be conscious of worldly objects and sensations, who utter My name, who worship Me, who think of My stories and My life and who thus always remember Me? I shall draw out My devotees from the jaws of Death. If My stories are listened to, all the diseases will be got rid of. So, hear My stories with respect; and think and meditate on them, assimilate them. This is the way of happiness and contentment. The pride and egoism of My devotees will vanish, the mind of the hearers will be set at rest; and if it has wholehearted and complete faith, it will be one with Supreme Consciousness. The simple remembrance of My name as ‘Sai, Sai’ will do away with sins of speech and hearing".
Different Works Assigned to Devotees
The Lord entrusts different works to different devotees. Some are given the work of building temples and maths, or ghats (flight of steps) on rivers; some are made to sing the glories of God; some are sent on pilgrimages; but to me was allotted the work of writing the Sat Charita. Being a jack of all trades but master of none, I was quite unqualified for this job. Then why should I undertake such a difficult job? Who can describe the true life of Sai Baba? Sai Baba’s grace alone can enable one to accomplish this difficult work. So, when I took up the pen in my hand, Sai Baba took away my egoism and wrote Himself His stories. The credit of relating these stories, therefore, goes to Him and not to me. Though Brahmin by birth, I lacked the two eyes. (i.e. the sight or vision) of Shruti and Smriti and therefore was not at all capable of writing the Sat-Charita, but the grace of the Lord makes a dumb man talk, enables a lame man to cross a mountain.
He alone knows the knack of getting things done as He likes. Neither the flute, nor the harmonium knows how the sounds are produced. This is the concern of the Player. The oozing of Chandrakant jewel and the surging of the sea are not due to the jewel and the sea but to the rise of the moon.
Baba’s Stories as Beacon- Light
Light houses are constructed at various places in the sea, to enable the boatmen to avoid rocks and dangers, and make them sail safely. Sai Baba’s stories serve a similar purpose in the ocean of worldly existence. They surpass nectar in sweetness, and make our worldly path smooth and easy to traverse. Blessed are the stories of the saints. When they enter our hearts through the ears, the body - consciousness or egoism and the sense of duality vanish; and when they are stored in the heart, doubts fly out to all sides, pride of the body will fall, and wisdom will be stored in abundance. The description of Baba’s pure fame, and the hearing of the same, with love, will destroy the sins of the devotee and, therefore, this is the simple Sadhana for attaining salvation. The Sadhana for Krita Age was Shamadama (tranquillity of mind and body), for Treta Age, sacrifice, for Dwapara, worship, and for Kali (present) Age, it is singing of the name and glory of the Lord. This last Sadhana is open to all the people of the four varnas (Brahmins, etc.). The other Sadhanas, viz. Yoga, Yagya (sacrifice), Dhyana (meditation) and Dharana (concentration) are very difficult to practice, but singing and hearing the stories and the glory of the Lord (Sai Baba) is very easy. We have only to turn our attention towards them. The listening and singing of the stories will remove the attachment to the senses and their objects, and will make the devotees dispassionate, and will ultimately lead them to self-realization. With this end in view, Sai Baba made me or helped me to write His stories, Sat-Charitamrita.
The devotees may now easily read and hear these stories of Sai Baba and while doing so, meditate on Him, His form and thus attain devotion to Guru and God (Sai Baba), get detachment and self-realization. In the preparation and writing of this work, Sat-Charitamrita, it is Sai Baba’s grace which has accomplished everything, making use of me as a mere instrument.
Motherly Love of Sai Baba
Everybody knows how a cow loves her infant calf. Her udder is always full and when the calf wants milk and dashes at the udder, out comes the milk in an unceasing flow. Similarly a human mother knows the wants of her child and feeds it, at her breast in time. In case of dressing and adorning the child, the mother takes particular care to see that this is well done. The child knows or cares nothing about this, but the mother’s joy knows no bounds, when she sees her child beautifully dressed and adorned. The love of mother is peculiar, extraordinary and disinterested, and has no parallel. Sadgurus feel this motherly love towards their disciples.
Sai Baba had this same love towards me, and I give an instance of it below:-
In 1916 A.D. I retired from Government Service. The pension that was settled in my case was not sufficient to maintain my family decently. On Guru-Pournima (15th of Ashadha) day of that year, I went to Shirdi with other devotees.
There, Mr. Anna Chinchanikar, of his own accord, prayed to Baba for me as follows:- "Please look kindly on him, the pension he gets is quite insufficient, his family is growing. Give him some other appointment, remove his anxiety and make him happy." Baba replied - " He will get some other job, but now he should serve Me and be happy. His dishes will be ever full and never empty. He should turn all his attention towards Me and avoid the company of atheists, irreligious and wicked people. He should be meek and humble towards all and worship Me heart and soul. If he does this, he will get eternal happiness".
The question Who is this HE, Whose worship is advocated, is already answered in a note on "Who is Sai Baba" in the prologue, at the beginning of this work.
The story of the Rohilla illustrates Sai Baba’s all embracing love. One Rohilla, tall and well-built, strong as a bull, came to Shirdi, wearing a long Kafni (robe) and was enamoured of Sai who stayed there. Day and night he used to recite in a loud and harsh tone Kalma (verses from Holy Koran) and shout "ALLAH HO AKBAR" (God is Great).
Most people of Shirdi, were working in their fields by day and when they returned to their homes at night, they were welcomed with the Rohilla’s harsh cries and shouts. They could get no sleep and felt much trouble and inconvenience. They suffered in silence this nuisance for some days, and when they could stand it no longer, they approached Baba, and requested Him to check the Rohilla and stop the nuisance. Baba did not attend to their complaint.
On the contrary, Baba took the villagers to task, and asked them to mind their own business, and not the Rohilla. He said to them that the Rohilla had got a very bad wife, a Zantippi, who tried to come in and trouble the Rohilla and Himself; but hearing the Rohilla’s prayers, she dare not enter and they were at peace and happy. In fact, the Rohilla had no wife and by his wife Baba meant DURBUDDHI, i.e. bad thoughts. As Baba liked prayers and cries to God better than anything else, He took the side of the Rohilla, and asked the villagers to wait and suffer the nuisance, which would abate in due course.
Baba’s Sweet and Nectar-like Words
One day at noon after the Arti, devotees were returning to their lodgings, when Baba gave the following beautiful advice:-
"Be wherever you like, do whatever you choose, remember this well that all what you do is known to Me. I am the Inner Ruler of all and seated in their hearts. I envelope all the creatures, the movable and immovable world. I am the Controller - the wire-puller of the show of this Universe. I am the mother - origin of all beings - the Harmony of three Gunas, the propeller of all senses, the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer.
Nothing will harm him, who turns his attention towards Me, but Maya will lash or whip him who forgets Me. All the insects, ants, the visible, movable and immovable world, is My Body or Form".
Hearing these beautiful and precious words, I at once decided in my mind to serve no man henceforward, but my Guru only; but the reply of Baba to Anna Chinchanikar’s query (which was really mine) that I would get some job, began to revolve in my mind, and I began to think whether it would come to happen. As future events showed, Baba’s words came true and I got a Government job, but that was of short duration. Then I became free and solely devoted my self to the service of my Guru-Sai Baba.
Before concluding this Chapter, I request the readers to leave out the various hindrances viz. indolence, sleep, wandering of mind, attachments to senses, etc. and turn their whole and undivided attention to these stories of Sai Baba. Let their love be natural, let them know the secret of devotion; let them not exhaust themselves by other Sadhanas, let them stick to this one simple remedy, i.e. listening to Sai Baba’s stories. This will destroy their ignorance and will secure for them salvation. A miser may stay at various places; but he always thinks of his buried treasure. So let Sai Baba be enthroned in the hearts of all.
In the next chapter, I shall speak of Sai Baba’s advent in Shirdi
Bow to Shri Sai - Peace be to all
SAI BABA’S FIRST ADVENT IN SHIRDI
Mission of the Saints - Shirdi a Holy Tirth - Personality of Sai Baba - Dictum of Goulibuva - Appearance of Vithal - Kshirsagar’s Story - Das Ganu’s Bath in Prayag - Immaculate Conception of Sai Baba and His First Advent in Shirdi - Three Wadas.
In the last chapter, I described the circumstances which led me to write Sai-Sat-Charita. Let me now describe the first advent of Sai Baba in Shirdi.
Mission of the Saints
Lord Krishna says in Bhagvadgita (Chapter IV, 7-8) that "Whenever there is a decay of Dharma (righteousness) and an ascendancy of unrighteousness, I manifest Myself; and for the protection of the virtuous, the destruction of the vicious and for the establishment of righteousness, I manifest Myself in age after age".
This is the mission of Lord, and the Sages and Saints, Who are His representatives and Who appear here at proper times, help in their own way to fulfil that mission.
For instance, when the twice born, i.e. the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas neglect their duties and when the Shudras try to usurp the rights of the higher classes, when spiritual preceptors are not respected but humiliated, when nobody cares for religious instructions, when every body thinks himself very learned, when people begin to partake of forbidden foods and intoxicating drinks, when under the cloak of religion, people indulge in malpractices, when people belonging to different sects fight amongst themselves, when Brahmins fail to do Sandhya adoration, and the orthodox their religious practices, when Yogis neglect their meditation, when people begin to think that wealth, progeny, wife are their sole concern, and thus turn away from the true path of salvation, then do Saints appear and try to set matters right by their words and action. They serve us as beacon-lights, and show us the right path, and the right way for us to follow. In this way, many saints, viz. Nivritti, Jnanadev, Muktabai, Namdev, Gora, Gonayi, Ekanath, Tukaram, Narahari, Narsi Bhai, Sajan Kasai, Sawata, Ramdas, and various others did appear at various times to show the right path to the people, and so presently came Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi.
Shirdi - A Holy Tirth
The banks of the Godavari river, in the Ahmednagar District, are very fortunate for they gave birth and refuge to many a Saint, prominent amongst them being Jnaneshwar. Shirdi also falls in the Kopargaon Taluka of the Ahmednagar District. After crossing the Godavari river at Kopargaon, one gets the way to Shirdi. When you go three Koss (9 miles), you come to Nimgaon, from whence, Shirdi is visible. Shirdi is as famous and well-known as other holy places like Gangapur, Narsinhwadi, Audumbar on the banks of Krishna river. As the devotee Damaji flourished in and blessed Mangalvedha (near Pandharpur) as Samarth Ramdas at Sajjangad, as Shri Narasimha Saraswati at Saraswatiwadi, so Sainath flourished at Shirdi and blessed it.
Personality of Sai Baba
It is on account of Sai Baba that Shirdi grew into importance. Let us see what sort of a personage Sai Baba was. He conquered this Samsar (worldly existence), which is very difficult and hard to cross. Peace or mental calm was His ornament, and He was the repository of wisdom. He was the home of Vaishnava devotees, most liberal (like Karna) amongst liberals, the quint-essence of all essences. He had no love for perishable things, and was always engrossed in self-realization, which was His sole concern. He felt no pleasure in the things of this world or of the world beyond. His Antarang (heart) was as clear as a mirror, and His speech always rained nectar. The rich or poor people were the same to Him. He did not know or care for honour or dishonour.
He was the Lord of all beings. He spoke freely and mixed with all people, saw the actings and dances of Nautchgirls and heard Gajjal songs. Still, He swerved not an inch from Samadhi (mental equilibrium). The name of Allah was always on His lips. While the world awoke, He slept; and while the world slept, He was vigilant. His abdomen (Inside) was as calm as the deep sea. His Ashram could not be determined, nor His actions could be definitely determined, and though He sat (lived) in one place, He knew all the transactions of the world. His Darbar was imposing. He told daily hundreds of stories, still He swerved not an inch from His vow of silence.
He always leaned against the wall in the Masjid or walked morning, noon and evening towards Lendi (Nala) and Chavadi; still He at all times abided in the Self. Though a Siddha, He acted like a Sadhaka. He was meek, humble and egoless, and pleased all. Such was Sai Baba, and as the soil of Shirdi was trodden by Sai Baba’s Feet, it attained extraordinary importance. As jnaneshwar elevated Alandi, Ekanath did to Paithan, so Sai Baba raised Shirdi. Blessed are the grass-leaves and stones of Shirdi, for they could easily kiss the Holy Feet of Sai Baba, and take their dust on their head. Shirdi became to us, devotees, another Pandharpur, Jagannath, Dwarka, Banaras (Kashi) and Rameshwar, Badrikedar, Nasik, Tryambakeshwar, Ujjain, and Maha Kaleshwar or Mahabaleshwar Gokarn.
Contact of Sai Baba in Shirdi was like our Veda and Tantra; it quieted our Samsara (world consciousness) and rendered self-realization easy. The darshana of shri Sai was our Yoga-Sadhana, and talk with Him removed our sins. Shampooing His Legs was our bath in Triveni Prayag, and drinking the holy water of His Feet destroyed our desires. To us, His commands were Vedas, and accepting (eating) His Udi (sacred ashes) and Prasad was all purifying. He was our Shri Krishna and Shri Rama who gave us solace and He was our Para Brahma (Absolute Reality). He was Himself beyond the Pair of dwandwas (opposite), never dejected nor elated. He was always engrossed in His Self as ‘Existence, Knowledge and Bliss.’
Shirdi was His centre; but His field of action extended far wide, to Punjab, Calcutta, North India, Gujarat, Dacca (Now in Bangladesh) and Konkan. Thus the fame of Sai Baba spread, far, and wide, and people from all parts came to take His darshana and be blessed. By mere darshan, minds of people, whether, pure or impure, would become at once quiet. They got here the same sort of unparalleled joy that devotees get at Pandharpur by seeing Vithal Rakhumai. This is not an exaggeration. Consider what a devotee says in this respect.
Dictum of Goulibuva
An old devotee by name Goulibuva, aged about 95 years, was a Varkari of Pandhari. He stayed 8 months at Pandharpur and four months - Ashadha to Kartik (July - November) on the banks of the Ganges. He had an ass with him for carrying his luggage, and a disciple, as his companion. Every year he made his Vari or trip to Pandharpur and came to Shirdi to see Sai Baba, Whom he loved most. He used to stare at Baba and say, "This is Pandharinath Vithal incarnate, the merciful Lord of the poor and helpless." This Goulibuva was an old devotee of Vithoba, and had made many a trip to Pandhari; and he testified that Sai Baba was real Pandharinath.
Vithal Himself Appeared
Sai Baba was very fond of remembering and singing God’s name. He always uttered Allah Malik (God is Lord) and in His presence made others sing God’s name continuously, day and night, for 7 days. This is called Namasaptaha. Once He asked Das Ganu Maharaj to do the Namasaptaha. He replied that he would do it, provided he was assured that Vithal would appear at the end of the 7th day. Then Baba, placing His hand on his breast assured him that certainly Vithal would appear, but that the devotee must be ‘earnest and devout’. The Dankapuri (Takore) of Takurnath, the Pandhari of Vithal, the Dwarka of Ranchhod (Krishna) is here (Shirdi). One need not go far out to see Dwarka. Will Vithal come here from some outside place? He is here. Only when the devotee is bursting with love and devotion, Vithal will manifest Himself here (Shirdi).
After the Saptaha was over, Vithal did manifest Himself in the following manner. Kakasaheb Dixit was, as usual, sitting in meditation after the bath, and he saw Vithal in a vision. When he went at noon for Baba’s darshana, Baba asked him point-blank - "Did Vithal Patil come? Did you see Him? He is a very truant fellow, catch Him firmly, otherwise, he will escape, if you be a little inattentive." This happened in the morning and at noon there was another Vithal darshana. One hawker from outside, came there for selling 25 or 30 pictures of Vithoba. This picture exactly tallied with the figure, that appeared in Kakasaheb’s vision. On seeing this and remembering Baba’s words, Kakasaheb Dixit was much surprised and delighted. He bought one picture of Vithoba, and placed it in his shrine for worship.
Bhagwantrao Kshirsagar’s Story
How fond was Baba for Vithal worship was illustrated in Bhagwantrao Kshirsagar’s story. The father of Bhagwantrao was a devotee of Vithoba, and used to make Varis (annual trips) to Pandharpur. He also had an image of Vithoba at home, which he worshipped. After his death, the son stopped everything - the Vari, the worship and shraddha ceremony etc. When Bhagwantrao came to Shirdi, Baba on remembering his father, at once said - "His father was my friend, so I dragged him (the son) here. He never offered naivaidya (offering of food) and so he starved Vithal and Me. So I brought him here. I shall remonstrate him now and set him to worship."
Das Ganu’s Bath in Prayag
The Hindus think that a bath in the holy Tirth of Prayag, where the Ganga and Yamuna meet, is very meritorious and thousands of pilgrims go there, at periodical times, to have the sacred bath there. Once, Das Ganu thought that he should go to Prayag for a bath, and came to Baba to get His permission for doing so. Baba replied to him - "It is not necessary to go so long. Our Prayag is here, believe me." Then wonder of wonders! When Das Ganu placed his head on Baba’s Feet, out came or flowed streams, of Ganga - Yamuna water, from both the toes of Baba. Seeing this miracle, Das Ganu was overwhelmed with feelings of love and adoration and was full of tears. Inwardly, he felt inspired, and his speech burst forth into a song in praise of Baba and His Leelas.
Immaculate Conception of Sai Baba and His First Advent in Shirdi
Nobody knew the parents, birth or birth-place of Sai Baba. Many inquiries were made, many questions were put to Baba and others regarding these items, but no satisfactory answer or information has yet been obtained. Practically we know nothing about these matters. Namdev and Kabir were not born like ordinary mortals. They were found as infants in mother-of-pearls, Namdev being found on the bank Bhimrathi river by Gonayee, and Kabir on the bank Bhagirathi river by Tamal. Similar was the case with Sai Baba. He first manifested Himself as a young lad of sixteen under a Neem tree in Shirdi, for the sake of Bhaktas. Even then He seemed to be full with the knowledge of Brahman. He had no desire for worldly objects even in dream. He kicked out Maya; and Mukti (deliverance) was serving at His feet. One old woman of Shirdi, the mother of Nana Chopdar, described Him thus. This young lad, fair, smart and very handsome, was first seen under the Neem tree, seated in an Asan. The people of the village were wonder-struck to see such a young lad practising hard penance, not minding heat and cold. By day he associated with none, by night he was afraid of nobody. People were wondering and asking, whence this young chap had turned up. His form and features were so beautiful that a mere look endeared Him to all. He went to nobody’s door, always sat near the Neem tree. Outwardly he looked very young; but by His action he was really a Great Soul. He was the embodiment of dispassion and was an enigma to all. One day it so happened, that God Khandoba possessed the body of some devotee and people began to ask Him, "Deva (God), you please enquire what blessed father’s son is this lad and whence did He come".
God Khandoba asked them to bring a pick-axe and dig in a particular place. When it was dug, bricks were found underneath a flat stone. When the stone was removed, a corridor led to a cellar where cow-mouth-shaped structures, wooden boards, necklaces were seen. Khandoba said - "This lad practiced penance here for 12 years." Then the people began to question the lad about this. He put them off the scent by telling them that it was His Guru’s place, His holy Watan and requested them to guard it well. The people then closed the corridor as before. As Ashwattha and Audumbar trees are held sacred, Baba regarded this Neem tree equally sacred and loved it most. Mhalasapati and other Shirdi devotees regard this site as the resting place (Samadhi-Sthana) of Baba’s Guru and prostrate before it.
(1) The site with the Neem tree and surrounding space was bought by Mr. Hari Vinayak Sathe, and on this site a big building styled Sathe’s Wada was erected. This Wada was the sole resting place for pilgrims, who flocked there. A Par (platform) was built round the neem tree and lofts with steps were constructed. Under the steps, there is a niche facing South and devotees sit on the Par (platform) facing north. It is believed, that he who burns incense there, on Thursday and Friday evenings will, by God’s grace, be happy.
This Wada was old and dilapidated and wanted repairs. The necessary repairs, additions and alterations have been made now by the Sansthan. (2) Then after some years another Wada, Dixit’s Wada was constructed. Kakasaheb Dixit, Solicitor of Bombay, had gone to England. He had injured his leg by an accident there.
The injury could not be got rid of by any means. Nanasaheb Chandorkar advised him to try Sai Baba. So he saw Sai Baba in 1909 A.D., and requested Him to cure rather the lameness of his mind than that of his leg. He was so much pleased with the darshana of Sai Baba, that he decided to reside in Shirdi. So he built a Wada for himself and other devotees. The foundation of this building was laid on 10-12-1910. On this day, two other important events took place. (1) Mr. Dadasaheb Khaparde was given permission to return home, and (2) the night Arti in Chavadi was commenced. The Wada was complete and was inhabited on the Rama-Navami day in 1911 A.D., with due rites and formalities. (3) Then another Wada or palatial mansion was put up by the famous millionaire, Mr. Booty, of Nagpur. Lots of money were spent on this building, but all the amount was well utilized, as Sai Baba’s body is resting in this Wada, which is now called the Samadhi Mandir. The site of this Mandir had formerly a garden, which was watered and looked after by Baba. Three Wadas thus sprang up, where there was none formerly. Of these, Sathe’s Wada was most useful to all, in the early days.
The story of the garden, attended to by Sai Baba with the help of Vaman Tatya, the temporary absence of Sai Baba from Shirdi, and His coming again to Shirdi with the marriage-party of Chand Patil, the company of Devidas, Jankidas and Gangagir, Baba’s wrestling match with Mohdin Tamboli, residence in Masjid, love of Mr. Dengale and other devotees; and other incidents will be described in the next Chapter.
Bow to Shri Sai - Peace be to all