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Personality of Sai Baba
It is on account of Sai Baba that Shirdi grew into importance. He conquered this Sansar (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 Vaishnav devotees, most liberal (like Kama) 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 railed nectar. The rich or poor people were the same to Him. He neither knew nor cared 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 nautch-girls and heard Gazal 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 Dnyaneshwar elevated Alandi, Eknath 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 study of Veda and Tantra; it quieted our Sansar (world consciousness) and rendered self-realization easy. The darshan 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 Ram, 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, Dhakka (now in Bangladesh) and Konkan. Thus the fame of Sai Baba spread, far, and wide, and people from all parts came to take His darshan 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 Vitthal Rakhurnai. 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 Van 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 Vitthal incarnate, the merciful Lord of the poor and helpless." This Goulibuva was an old devotee of Vitthoba, and had made many a trip to Pandhari; and he testified that, Sai Baba was real Pandharinath.
Vitthal 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 all 7 days of the week. This is called 'Namasaptah'. Once He asked Das Ganu Maharaj to do the Namasaptah. He replied that, he would do it, provided he was assured that, Vitthal would appear at the end of the 7th day. Then, Baba, placing His hand on his breast, assured him that, certainly Vitthal would appear; but for that the devotee must be 'earnest and devout'. The Dankapuri (Takore) ofDakurnath, the Pandhari of Vitthal, the Dwarka of Ranchhod (Krishna) is here (Shirdi). One need not go far out to see Dwarka. Will Vitthal come here from some outside place? He is here. Only when the devotee is bursting with love and devotion, Vitthal wiBnMuifest Himself here (Shirdi).
After the Saptah was over, Vitthal did manifest Himself in the following manner. Kakasaheb Dixit was, as usual, sitting in meditation after the bath, and he saw Vathal in a vision. When he went, at noon, for Baba's darshan, Baba asked him point-blank, "Did Vitthal Patil come? Did you see Him? He is a very truant fellow, catch Him firmly, otherwise. He will escape, if you are a little inattentive". This happened in the morning and at noon there was another Vitthal darshan. 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.
Immaculate Conception of Sai Baba and His First Advent in Shirdi
Nobody knew the parents, birth or birth-place of Sai Baba. Many enquiries 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 years under a Neem tree in Shirdi, for the sake of Bhaktas. Even then, He seemed to be full with the knowledge of Brahma. 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 yotfnglad, fair, smart and very handsome, was first seen under the Neem tree, seated in an Asan. The people of the village were wonderstruck 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 was seen, in which four Samayis (lights) were burning. The corridor led to a cellar, where cow-mouth-shaped structures, wooden boards, necklaces were seen. Khandoba said, "This lad practised 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, this was His Guru's place. His holy Watan, and requested them to guard this 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. Mhalsapati and other Shirdi devotees regard this site as the resting place (Samadhi-sthan) 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 bums incense there, on Thursday and Friday evenings will, by God's grace, be happy. This Wada was old and dilapidated and needed 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 ofMumbai, 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 darshan 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, when Arati in Chavadi was commenced. The Wada was complete and was inhabited on the Ram 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. Buti, 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.
Return with Chand Patil's marriage-party :
There lived in the Aurangabad district (Nizam state), in a village, called 'Dhoop', a well-to-do Mohammedin gentleman, by name Chand Patil. While He was making a trip to Aurangabad, he lost his mare. For two long months, he made a diligent search; but could get no trace of the lost mare. After being disappointed, he returned from Aurangabad with the saddle on his back. After traveling four Koss and a half, he came, on the way, to a mango tree under the foot of which sat a RATNA (queer fellow). He had a cap on His head, wore Kafni (long robe) and had a Satka (short stick) under His arm-pit and He was preparing to smoke a Chilim (pipe). On seeing Chand Patil pass by the way. He called out to him and asked him to have a smoke and to rest a little. The queer fellow or Fakir asked him about the saddle. Chand Patil replied that, it was of his mare, which was lost.
The Fakir asked him to make a search in the Nala, close by. He went and the wonder of wonders! he found the mare there. He thought that; this Fakir was not an ordinary man, but an Avalia (a great saint). He returned to the Fakir with the mare. The Chilim was ready for being smoked, but two things were wanting : (1) fire to light the pipe, and (2) water to wet the Chhapi (piece of cloth, through which smoke is drawn up). The Fakir took His prong and thrust it forcibly into the ground and out came a live burning coal, which He put on the pipe. Then, He dashed the Satka on the ground, from whence water began to ooze. The Chhapi was wetted with that water, was then wrung out and wrapped round the pipe. Thus, everything being complete, the Fakir smoked the Chilim and then, gave it also to Chand Patil. On seeing all this, Chand Patil was wonder-struck. He requested the Fakir to come to his home and accept his hospitality. Next day, He went to the Patil's house and stayed there for some time. The Patil was a village-officer of Dhoop. His wife's brother's son was to be married and the bride was from Shirdi. So, Patil made preparations to start for Shirdi for the marriage. The Fakir also accompanied the marriage-party. The marriage went offwithout any hitch, the party returned to Dhoop, except the Fakir alone stayed in Shirdi, and remained there forever.
How the Fakir Got the Name 'Sai'?
When the marriage-party came to Shirdi, it alighted at the foot of a Banyan tree in Bhagat Mhalsapati's field, near Khandoba's temple. The carts were loosened in the open court-yard of the temple, and the members of the party descended one by one, and the Fakir also got down. Bhagat Mhalsapati saw the young fakir getting down and accosted Him "YA SAI" (Welcome Sai)! Others also addressed Him as "Sai" and henceforth, he became known as 'Sai Baba'.
Contact with Other Saints
Sai Baba began to stay in a deserted Mosque. One saint, named Devidas was living in Shirdi, for many years before Baba came there. Baba liked his company. He stayed with him in the Maruti temple, in the Chavadi, and some time lived alone. Then, came another saint, by name Jankidas. Baba spent most of His time in talking with him, or Jankidas went to Baba's residence. So also, one Vaishya householder saint, from Puntambe, by name Gangagir, always frequented Shirdi. When he first saw Sai Baba, carrying pitchers of water in both hands, for watering the garden, he was amazed and said openly, "Blessed is Shirdi, that, it got this Precious Jewel. This man is carrying water to-day; but He is not an ordinary fellow. As this land (Shirdi) was lucky and meritorious, it secured this Jewel." So also, one famous saint, by name Anandnath of Yewala Mathz, a disciple of Akkalkot Maharaj, came to Shirdi with some Shirdi people. When he saw Sai Baba, he said openly, "This is a Precious Diamond in reality. Though He looks like an ordinary man. He is not a 'Gar' (ordinary stone), but a Diamond. You will realize this in the near future." Saying this he returned to Yewala. This was said, while Sai Baba was a youngster.
Baba's Dress and Daily Routine
In His young days, Sai Baba grew hair on His head; never had His head shaved. He dressed like an athlete. When He went to Rahata (3 miles from Shirdi), He brought with Him small plants of Merry Gold, Jai and Jui, and after cleaning, He planted and watered them. A devotee, by name Vaman Tatya, supplied Him daily with two unbaked earthen pitchers. With these Baba Himself used to water the plants. He drew water from the well and carried the pitchers on His shoulders. In the evening, the pitchers were kept at the foot of the Neem tree. As soon as they were placed there, they were broken, as they were made of raw earth and not baked. Next day, Tatya supplied two fresh pitchers. This course went on for 3 years; and with Sai Baba's toil and labour, there grew a flower-garden. On this site, at present, stands the big mansion - Samadhi Mandir of Baba, which is now frequently used by so many devotees.
The Story of Padukas (foot-prints) under the Neem Tree
A devotee of Akkalkot Maharaj, by name Bhai Krishnaji Alibagkar, worshipped the photo of Akkaikot Maharaj. He once thought of going to Akkaikot (Solapur district: take the darshan of the Padukas (foot-prints) of the Maharaj and offer his sincere worship there; but before he got there, he got a vision in his dream. Akkaikot Maharaj appeared in the vision and said to him, "Now, Shirdi is my resting place, go there and offer yoar worship!" So, Bhai changed his plan and came to Shirdi, worshipped Baba, stayed there for six months and was happy. As a reminiscence of this vision etc., he prepared the Padukas and installed them on an auspicious day of Shravan, Shak 1834 (1912 A.D.) under the Neem tree with due ceremonies and formalities, conducted by Dada Kelkar and Upasani. One Dixit Brahmin was appointed for worship, and the management was entrusted to devotee Sagun.
Complete Version :
In 1834 Shak (1912 A.D.) one Doctor Ramrao Kothare of Mumbai came to Shirdi for Baba's darshan. His compounder and his friend, Bhai Krishnaji Alibagkar, accompanied him. The compounder and Bhai became intimate with Sagun Mem Naik and G. K. Dixit. While discussing things, these persons thought that, there must be some memorial of the fact of Sai Baba's first coming to Shirdi and sitting under the holy Neem tree. They thought of installing Baba's Padukas there; and were going to make them of some rough stone. Then, Bhai's friend, the compounder, suggested that, if this matte" be made known to his master. Dr. Ramrao Kothare, who would prepare 'a~ft?. Padukas for this purpose. All liked this proposal and Dr. Kothare was iflft-1•d. of it. He came to Shirdi and drew a plan of the Padukas. He went toUpasani Maharaj in Khandoba's temple, and showed him UwylM* The latter made manyimproyeinents, drew lotoses, flowers, conch, disc, man etc. and suggested that, the following Shioka (verse), regarding Neem tree's greatness and Baba's Yogic powers be inscribed. The verse was as follows:
"Sada Nimbavrukshasya mooladhiwasat,
Sudhasravinam tiktamapyapriyam tam,
Tarum Kalpavnikshadhikam sadhayantam
Namameeshwaram Sadgurum Sai Natham"
Translation : I bow to the Lord Sai Nath, Who by His constant stay at the foot of the Neem tree, made, it - which though bitter and unpleasant was yet oozing nectar (the oozing of this tree is called 'Amrit', i.e., nectar, on account of its healing properties) - better than the Kalpavruksha (wish - fulfilling tree).
Upasani's suggestions were accepted and carried out. The Padukas were made in Mumbai and sent to Shirdi with the compounder. Baba said that they should be installed on the Pournima (15th) of Shravan. On that day at 11 A.M" G. K. Dixit brought them on his head from Khandoba's temple to the Dwarkarnai (Masjid) in a procession. Baba touched the Padukas, saying that these are the Feet of the Lord and asked the people to install them, under foot of the Neem tree.
A day before, one Parsi devotee of Mumbai, named Pastha Shet, sent Rs. 25/- by money order. Baba gave this sum for the installation of the Padukas. The total expense of installation came up to Rs. 100/-, out of which Rs. 75/- were collected by subscriptions. For the first 5 years, G. K. Dixit worshipped the Padukas daily and then, this was done by Laxman Kacheshwar Jakhadi. In the first five years, Dr. Kothare sent Rs. 2 per month for lighting and he also sent the railing round the Padukas. The expense of bringing the railing from the station to Shirdi (Rs. 7-8-0)' (presently Rs. 7.50 p.) and roofing was paid by Sagun Meru Naik. Now, Jakhadi (Nana Pujari) does the worship and Sagun.Maeu Naik offers the Naivaidya and lights the evening lamps.
Bhai Krishnaji was originally a devotee of Akkalkot Maharaj. He had come to Shirdi at the installation of the Padukas, in Shak 1834 on his way to Akkalkot. He wanted to go to Akkalkot, after taking the darshan of Baba. He asked Baba's permission for this. Baba said, "Oh, what is.~.iir Akkalkot? Why do you go there? The incumbent Maharaj of that place is here. Myself." Hearing this, Bhai did not go to Akkalkot. He came to Shirdi off and on, after the installation of the Padukas.
Wrestling Bout with Mohiddin Tamboli and Change in Life
There was a wrestler in Shirdi, by name Mohiddin Tamboli. Baba and he did not agree on some items, and both had a fight. In this Baba was defeated. Thenceforth, Baba changed His dress and mode of living. He donned Kafni, wore a Langot (waist band) and covered His head with a piece of cloth. He took a piece of sack-cloth for His seat, sack-cloth for His bed, and was content with wearing torn and worn out rags. He always said that "Poverty is better than kingship, far better than Lordship. The Lord is always brother (be friender) of the poor." Gangagir was also very fond of wrestling. While he was once wrestling, a similar feeling of dispassion came over him, and at the proper time, he heard the voice of an adept, saying that he should wear out his body, playing with God. So, he too gave up - Sansara and turned towards God realization. He established a Math on the banks of the river, near Puntambe, and lived there with his disciples.
Sai Baba did not mix and speak with the people. He only gave answers, when he was questioned. By day he always sat under the Neem tree, some times under the shade of a branch of a Babul tree, near the stream at the outskirts of the village. In the afternoon, He used to walk at random and go at times to Nimgaon.llere, He frequented the house of BalasahebDengale. Baba loved Mr. Balas~ His younger brother, named Nanasaheb, had no son, though he married a second wife. Balasaheb sent Nanasaheb for taking darshan of Sai Baba, and after some time with His grace, Nanasaheb got a son. From that time onwards, people began to come in numbers to see Sai Baba, and His fame began to spread and reached Ahmednagar; from thence, Nanasaheb Chandorkar and Keshav Chidamber, and many others began to come to Shirdi. Baba was surrounded by His devotees during day; and slept at night in anold and dilapidated Masjid. Baba's paraphernalia, at this time, consisted of a Chilim, tobacco, a 'Turnrel' (tin pot), long flowing Kafni, a piece of cloth round His head, and a Satka (short stick), which He always kept with Him. The piece of white cloth on the head was twisted like matted hair, and flowed down from the left ear on the back. This was not washed for weeks. He wore no shoes, no sandals. A piece of sack-cloth was His seat for most of the day. He wore a coupin (waist-cloth-band) and for warding off cold, he always sat in front of a Dhuni (sacred fire), facing south, with His left hand resting on the wooden railing. In that Dhuni, He offered an oblation: egoism, desires and all thoughts and always uttered "Allah Malik" (God is the sole owner). The Masjid, in which He sat, was only of two room dimensions, where all devotees came and saw Him. After 1912 A.D., there was a change. The old Masjid was repaired and a pavement was constructed. Before Baba came to live in this Masjid, He lived for a long time in a place, Takia, where with Ghungur (small bells) on His legs, Baba danced beautifully and sang with tender love.
Turning Water into Oil
Sai Baba was very fond of lights. He used to borrow oil from shopkeepers, and keep lamps burning the whole night in the Masjid and temple. This went on for some time. The shopkeepers, who supplied oil gratis, once met together and decided not to give Him oil. When, as usual, Baba went to ask for oil, they all gave Him a distinct "No". Unperturbed, Baba returned to the Masjid and kept the dry wicks in the lamps. The Banias were watching Him with curiosity. Baba took the Tumrel (tin pot), which contained very little (a few drops) of oil, put water into it and drank it and then, forced if fall in the container. After consecrating the tin-pot in this way. He again took the water from the tin-pot and filled all the lamps with it and lighted them. To the surprise and dismay of the watching shopkeepers, the lamps began to burn and kept burning the whole night. The shopkeepers repented and apologized and Baba forgave them and asked them to be more truthful in future.
The Pseudo Guru Javhar Ali
Five years after the wrestling bout, the above-mentioned, one Fakir from Ahmednager, by name Javhar Ali, came to Rahata with his disciples and stayed in Bakhal (spacious room), near Virabhadra temple. The Fakir was learned, could repeat the whole Quran and had a sweet tongue. Many religious and devout people of the village came to him and began to respect him. With the help of the people, he started to build an ldgah (a walled enclosure, in which Mohammedians pray on Id day), near the Virabhadra temple. There was some quarrel about this affair, on account of which, Javhar Ali had to leave Rahata. Then, he came to Shirdi and lived in the Masjid with Baba.
People were captured by his sweet talk, and he began to call Baba his disciple. Baba did not object and consented to be his Chela. Then, both Guru and Chela decided to return to Rahata and live there. The Guru (teacher) never knew his Disciple's worth; but the Disciple knew the defects of the Guru, still He never disrespected him, observing carefully his duties. He even served the master in various ways. They used to come to Shirdi off and on; but their main stay was in Rahata. The loving devotees of Baba in Shirdi did not like that, Baba should stay away from them in Rahata. So, they went in a deputation to bring Baba back to Shirdi. When they met Baba near the ldgah and told the purpose, for which they came, Baba said to them that the Fakir was an angry, ill-tempered fellow, he would not leave Him and that, they should better return to Shirdi without Him, before the Fakir returned. While they were thus talking, the Fakir turned up and was very angry with them for trying to take away his Disciple. There was some discussion and altercation, and it was finally decided that both the Guru and Chela should return to Shirdi. And so, they returned and lived in shirdi. But, after a few days, the Guru was tested by Devidas and he was found wanting. Twelve years before Baba arrived in Silirdi with the marriage-party, this Devidas, aged about 10 or II years, came to Shirdi and lived in the Maruti temple. Devidas had fine features and brilliant eyes, and he was dispassion incarnate and a Learned One. Many persons, namely Tatya Kote, Kashinath and others regarded him as their Guru. brought Javhar Ali, in his presence, and in the discussion, that followed, Javhar was worsted and-fled from Shirdi. He went and stayed in Bijapur and returned after many years to Shirdi, and prostrated before Sai Baba. The delusion, that, he was Guru and Sai Baba, his Chela, was cleared away, and as he repented, Sai Baba treated him with respect. In this case Sai Baba showed, by actual conduct, how one should get rid of egoism and do the duties of a disciple to attain the highest end, viz., self-realization.
Baba's Wonderful Bed-stead
Let us first see, where and how Baba slept, Mr. Nanasaheb Dengale brought, for Sai Baba, a wooden plank, abount 4 arms in length and only a span in breath, for sleeping upon. Instead of keeping the plank on the floor and then, sleeping on it, Baba tied it like a swing to the rafters of the Masjid with old shreds or rags and commenced to sleep upon it. The rags were so thin and worn out that it was a problem, how they could bear or support even weight of the plank itself, let alone the weight of Baba. But, somehow or other, it was Baba's sheer Leela that the worn out rags did sustain the plank, with the weight of Baba on it.
On the four corners of this plank, Baba lighted Panatis (earthen lamps), one at each corner, and kept them burning the whole night. It was a sight for the Gods to see Baba sitting or sleeping on this plank! It was a wonder to all, how Baba up and down the plank. Out of curiosity, many careful observers kept watching the process of mounting and dismounting; but none succeeded. As crowds began to swell so as to detect this wonderful feat, Baba one day broke the plank into pieces and threw it away. Baba had all the eight Siddhis (powers) at His command. He never practised nor craved for them. They came to Him naturally, as a result of His perfection.
Sagun Manifestation of Brahman
Though, Sai Baba looked like a man, three cubits and a half in length, still He dwelt in the hearts of all. Inwardly, He was unattached and indifferent; but outwardly. He longed for public welfare. Inwardly, most disinterested. He looked outwardly full of desires, for the sake of His devotees. Though, inwardly, an abode of peace, He looked outwardly restless. Inwardly, He had the state of Brahman, outwardly He acted like a devil. Inwardly, He loved Adwaita (union ortnoila'Hn), outwardly.
He got entangled with the world. Some times He looked on all with affection, and at times He threw stones at them; some times He scolded them, while at times He embraced them and was calm, composed, tolerant and well-balanced. He always abided and was engrossed in the Self and was well-disposed towards His Bhaktas. He always sat on one Asan and never travelled. His 'dand' was a small stick, which He always carried in His hand. He was calm, being thoughtfree. He never cared for wealth and fame; and lived on begging. Such a life, He led. He always uttered "Allah Malik" (God the real owner). Entire and unbroken was His love for the Bhaktas. He was the mine or store-house for self-knowledge and full of Divine Bliss. Such was the Divine Form of Sai Baba; that boundless, endless and undifferentiated. One principle, which envelopes the whole universe (from a stone pillar to Brahma), incarnated in Sai Baba. The really meritorious and fortunate people got this treasure-grove in their hands, while those people, who not knowing the real worth of Sai Baba, took or take Him to be a man, a mere human being, were and are indeed miserable.
His Stay in Shirdi and Probable Birth-date
None knew or knows the parents and the exact birth-date of Sai Baba; but it can be approximately determined by His stay in Shirdi. Baba first came to Shirdi, when he was a young lad of sixteen and stayed there for three years. Then, all of a sudden, He disappeared for some time. After some time, He reappeared in the Nizam state, near Aurangabad, and again came to Shirdi, with the marriage-party of Chand Patil, when He was about twenty years old. Thence, He stayed in Shirdi for an unbroken period of sixty years, after which Baba took His Maha-samadhi in the year 1918. From this, we can say that the year of Baba's birth is approximately 1838 A.D.
Saint Ramdas (1608-1681) flourished in the 17th century, and fulfilled to a great extent his mission of protecting cows and Brahmins against the Yavanas (Mohammedians); but within two centuries after him, the split between the two communities - Hindus and Mohammedians widened again; and Sai Baba came to bridge that gulf. His constant advice to all was to this effect. "Ram (the God of the Hindus) and Rahim (the God of the Mohammedians) were one and the same; there was not the slightest difference between them; then, why should their devotees fall out and quarrel among themselves? You ignorant folk, children, join hands and bring both the communities together; act sanely and thus, you will gain your object of national unity. It is not good to dispute and argue. So, don't argue, don't emulate others. Always consider your interest and welfare. The Lord will protect you. Yoga, sacrifice, penance, and knowledge are the means to attain God. If you do not succeed in this by any means, in vain is your birth. If anyone does any evil unto you, do not retaliate. If you can do anything, do some good unto others." This in short was Sai Baba's advice to all; and this will stand in good stead both in material and spiritual matters.
Sai Baba as Sadguru
There are Gurus and Gurus. There are many so-called Gurus, who go about from house to house with cymbals and Vina in their hands, and make a show of their spirituality. They blow Mantras into the ears of their disciples and extract money from them. They profess to teach piety and religion to their disciples; but are themselves impious and irreligious. Sai Baba never thought of making the least show of His worth (piety). Body-consciousness, He had none; but He had great love for His disciples.
There are two kinds of Gurus (1) 'Niyat' (appointed or fixed) and (2) 'Aniyat (unappointed or general). The latter by their advice develop the good qualities in us, purify our hearts and set us on the path of salvation; but contact with the former, dispels our quality (sense of difference); and establishes us in Unity by making us realize "Thou art that". There are various Gurus imparting to us various kinds of worldly knowledge; but he, who fixes us in our Nature (Self) and carries us beyond the ocean of worldly .existence, is the Sadguru. Sai Baba was such a Sadguru. His greatness is indescribable. If anybody went to take His darshan, He, without being asked, would give every detail of his past, present and future life. He saw Divinity in all beings. Friends and foes were alike to Him. Disinterested and equal-balanced. He obliged the evil-doers. He was the same in prosperity and adversity. No doubt, ever touched Him. Though, He acted in the body; He was not in the least attached to His body or house. Though, He looked embodied. He was really disembodied, i.e., free in this very life.
Blessed are the people of Shirdi, who worshipped Sai as their God. While eating, drinking, working in their backyards and fields and doing various household works, they always remembered Sai and sang His glory. They knew no other God except Sai. What to speak of the love, the sweetness of the love, of the women of Shirdi! They were quite ignorant; but their pure love inspired them to compose poems or songs in their simple rural language. Letters or learning they had none, still one can discern real poetry in their simple songs. It is not intelligence; but love, that inspires real poetry as such. Real poetry is the manifestation of true love; and this can be seen and appreciated by intelligent listeners. Collection of these folksongs is desirable and Baba willing, some fortunate devotee may undertake the task of collecting and publishing these folk-songs, either in the Sai Leela magazine or separately in a book-form.
Lord or Bhagwan is said to have six qualities, viz., (1) Fame, (2) Wealth, (3) Non-attachment, (4) Knowledge, (5) Grandeur, and (6) Liberality. Baba had all these in Him. He incarnated in flesh, for the sake of Bhaktas. Wonderful was His grace and kindness, for He drew the devotees to Him, or how else one could have known Him! For the sake of His Bhaktas Baba spoke such words, as the Goddess of Speech dare not utter. Here is a specimen. Baba spoke very humbly as follows : "Slave of slaves I am your debtor. I am satisfied at your darshan. It is a great favour that I saw your feet. I am an insect in your excreta. I consider Myself blessed thereby." What humility is this? If anybody would think that by publishing this, any disrespect is shown to Sai, we beg His pardon and to atone for this we sing and repeat Baba's name.
Though, Baba seemed outwardly to enjoy sense-objects. He had not the least flavour in them, nor even the consciousness of enjoy ing them. Though, He ate. He had no taste and though, He saw. He never felt any interest in what He saw. Regarding passion. He was as perfect a celibate as Hanuman. He was not attached to anything. He was pure consciousness, the resting place of desire, anger, and other feelings. In short, ,He was disinterested, free and perfect. A striking instance may be cited in illustration of this statement.
There was in Shirdi, a very quaint and queer fellow, by name Nanavalli. He looked to Baba's work and affairs. He once' approached Baba, Who was seated on His Gadi (seat) and asked Him to get up, as he wanted to occupy the same. Baba at once got up and left the seat, which he occupied. After sitting there a while Nanavalli got up, and asked Baba to take back His seat. Then, Baba sat on the seat and Nanavalli fell at His feet, and then, went away. Baba did not show the slightest displeasure in being dictated to and ousted.
This Nanavalli loved Baba so much that, he breathed his last, on the thirteenth day of Baba's taking Maha-samadhi.
Though, Sai Baba acted outwardly like an ordinary man. His action showed extraordinary intelligence and skill. Whatever He did, was done for the good of His devotees. He never prescribed any Asan, regulation of breathing or any rites to His Bhaktas, nor did He blow any Mantra into their ears. He told them to leave off all cleverness and always remember "Sai" "Sai".
If you did that. He said, all your shackles would be removed and you would be free. Sitting between five fires, sacrifices, chantings, eight-fold Yoga are possible for the Brahmins only; they are of no use to the other classes. The function of the mind is to think, it cannot remain for a minute without thinking. If you give it a sense-object, it will think about it. If you give it Guru, it will think about Guru. You have heard most attentively the greatness, grandeur of Sai. This is the natural remembrance, worship and Kirtan of Sai. Hearing the stories of the saints is not so difficult, as the other Sadhanas, mentioned above. They (stories) remove all fear of this Sansar (worldly existence), and take you on to the spiritual path. So, listen to these stories, meditate on them, and assimilate them.
If this is done, not only the Brahmins, but women and lower classes will get pure and holy. You may do or attend to your worldly duties, but give your mind to Sai and His stories; and then, He is sure to bless you. This is the easiest path; but why do not all take to it? The reason is that without God's grace, we do not get the desire to listen to the stories of saints. With God's grace everything is smooth and easy. Hearing the stories of the saints is, in a way , keeping their company. The importance of the company of the saints is very great It removes our body-consciousness and egoism, destroys completely the chain of our birth and death, cuts asunder all the knots of the heart, and takes us to God, Who is pure consciousness.
It certainly increases our non-attachment to sense-objects, and makes us quite indifferent to pleasures and pains, and leads us onward on the spiritual path. If you have no other Sadhana, such as uttering GOd's name, worship or devotion etc.; but if you take refuge in them (saints) whole-heartly they will carry you off safely across., the ocean of worldly existence. It is for this reason that the saints manifest themselves in this world. Even sacred rivers such as the Ganges, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri etc., which wash away the sins of the world, desire that, the saints should come to them, for a bath and purify them. Such is the grandeur of the Saint. It is on account of the store of merit in past births that we have attained the feet of Sai Baba.
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