Friday, February 27, 2009

||chapter five||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapter five ||

|| sai baba’s re-appearance in shirdi ||

|| Sri Ganeshaya Namaha || Sri Saraswatye Namaha ||
|| Sri Venkateshaya Namaha || Sri Sai Nathaya Namaha ||
|| Sri Sadgurubhyo Namaha ||

In this chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about the temporary absence of Baba from Shirdi, His reappearance in Shirdi with the marriage party, Baba’s wrestling match with Tamboli, residence in the masjid and other events.


Chand Patil, head of Dhoopkhed village in Aurangabad Zillah, had lost his horse couple of months back and could not find it even after intensive search. He came looking after his horse to a forest between the two villages Sindhun and Bindhun located at a distance of 9 miles from Aurangabad. From a distance, he saw a young fakir seated underneath a mango tree. This fakir had a cap on his head, wore a long sleeved shirt, kafni, and had a satka in his arm pit. The fakir was trying to smoke a chillum. He called the despondent Chand Patil by name as “Chand Bhai” and said, “Come here and have a puff of this chillum”. Chand Patil went and sat beside the fakir. The fakir was preparing the chillum. Chandbhai took the chillum from him and after powdering the tobacco leaf, packed it firmly into the chillum. He said, "I have filled and readied the chillum. But there is no fire. I have left my flints at home. What are we to do now?" The fakir laughed on hearing Chandbhai. He said, “Why are you worried that there is no fire?” Immediately, he hit the ground with his satka and a fire came up. With the same satka, he hit the ground once again and this time a spring of fresh water came up. The fakir soaked the cloth in the water, placed a twig on the fire and lit the chillum with the burning twig. He threw the twig away after the chillum was well lit and drawing satisfactorily, tasted a few puffs and gave it to Chand Patil and asked him to smoke. Chand Patil was stunned beyond speech by seeing the actions of the young fakir. The young fakir then asked Chandbhai about the saddle in his hand. He told the fakir that he had lost his horse couple of months back, and even after exhaustive search, could not find it. The fakir told him, “Why do you worry so much for the horse? Go and see beside that thicket. You will see your horse happily feeding on grass there.” Chandbhai went and searched in the place told by the fakir. To his great surprise, he found his horse there. Patil thought that this fakir was no ordinary fakir, and could only be an aulia (a great yogi). He brought the horse, came back and fell at the feet of the fakir. He invited the fakir to his village, Dhoopkhed. The fakir promised him that he would come later on, and later on he did visit and enjoy the hospitality of Patil.

Chand Patil’s wife had a brother. This brother’s son was of a marriageable age and his marriage was fixed with a girl in Shirdi. The entire marriage party was leaving for Shirdi from Dhoopkhed. The young fakir, at the invitation of Chand Patil, joined the marriage party and traveled with them to Shirdi. At the outskirts of Shirdi, the marriage party stopped near Khandoba temple. The young fakir got down from the cart and started walking towards the temple. Almost at the same time, the poojari of the temple, Mhalsapathi, came out of the temple and saw the young man walking towards him. For all outward appearance, the young man was looking like a Muslim fakir. Wandering Sufi fakirs were very common in those days and were known by their Persian generic name of sa’ih or sayyah. Mhalsapathi and his friends always greeted a gosavi with ‘Namo Narayan’, a bairagi was welcomed as ‘Jai Ram’ and if the visitor was a fakir, he was received with ‘Jai Sai’. “Ya Sai!” Mhalsapathi invited the young fakir and asked him to sit nearby. The young fakir sat there, and liked the surroundings immensely. He said, “How secluded and quiet is this Khandoba temple, best fitted for a fakir to stay”. Being a Hindu and the poojari of a temple which had the idol of Khandoba, Mhalsapathi was afraid that the young fakir’s desire to stay there may prove to be harmful as Muslims do not believe in idol worship. He told the young fakir, “Oh Sai! It is not fitting that you stay here. This is a temple for the Hindus. You look like a Muslim to me. You better go to the masjid or the takia!” The young fakir - who had no intention whatsoever of breaking the idol of Khandoba - was surprised by the words of Mhalsapathi. He said, “It is the same god who has created both these people. Hindu and Muslim are mere words - know this to be the truth. There are temples in this world and there are masjids too. God has not constructed any of them. Try to see the god who is one for all of us. He is Allah-I-llahi. He is the Maha Vishnu reclining on the serpent Adisesha! There is nothing which is other than your Khandoba. Know clearly as to who the real Khandoba is. Those who know the truth do not care for these differences based on religion. Oh pious one! Do not think that these temples or the masjids are the only ones to lead you to god. I will not trouble you. I will respect your feelings and have the darshan of Khandoba from afar. I hope you have no objection to that? ” The young fakir, being an extraordinarily intelligent person, understood that the reason behind Mhalsapathi not allowing him to stay in the Khandoba temple was fear of the young fakir’s religion. Religion, instead of uniting people, had become a divisive force. The fakir was a missionary and had, by concentration on God, achieved practically every siddhi that one can think of. The powers and the mission have a close relation. The mission has to be worked through the powers given and the powers are given only for carrying out the mission. His possession of vast powers both acknowledged and proved in Chand Patil’s case, was in need of a mission. That moment, precisely, defined the mission for the young fakir. It was the unification of the Hindu faith within itself and of Islam within itself, and, by purification and refinement of both, building up of one common central religion or faith that is fitted to be the world faith.

Mhalsapathi was filled with ecstasy of happiness on hearing these words of wisdom from the young fakir. Being highly detached and not governed by lust or other low urges, he could easily appreciate the wisdom of the young fakir, who had the same virtues of purity and non-attachment in a higher degree and therefore was drawn to him. He prostrated at his feet and bowed to him with devotion. He said, "You are truly the embodiment of wisdom. It is the accumulated merit of my past lives which has led me to you." He prayed, "Ya Sai! Please come to Shirdi and stay on in our village." The fakir agreed to do so. They both entered the village. From that day onwards people started calling the young fakir as “Sai Baba”. “Sai” also means God. Kabir used the word Sai to mean Lord, or God. In his book “Goraksha ki mayagar”, Ghoraknath used the word to mean Maha Vishnu. That was in the year 1858 AD.

Having the highest regard for Mhalsapathi, Baba, then, went to the dilapidated masjid in Shirdi and settled there. The process of unification of religions began by giving the masjid, a prayer place of the Muslims, a Hindu name – Dwarkamai.


Through Chand Patil’s story, Baba demonstrated that He could create two mutually incompatible elements like fire and water at the same place. By this, He also demonstrated that He had total control over nature. Both the elements fire and water exist together only in a human being- jatharagni and water. The human being here is represented by Chand Patil. The horse is compared to the wandering mind. Baba showed him how to regain the control over his mind. He showed that He is the sadguru. Guru is there to properly guide those who trust Him. Baba demonstrated that He truly is the God Himself.


Devidas, a sadhu, was living in Shirdi even before Baba’s arrival. He was living in the masjid where Baba made His residence. Both were happy with each other’s company and got on very well. Then one more saint, by name Janakidas, also joined them. They used to spend their time discussing about spiritual matters. Gangagir, a resident of Punatambe, came to Shirdi very frequently. He was a family man and a devout Vaishnavite. One day he saw Baba carrying heavy water pots and tendering plants. He was wonderstruck and commented, “He is now carrying water pots, but he is not an ordinary person. It is only because of the good fortune of the Shirdi people that this gem has come here.” Sri Anandswamy, a Gouda Brahmin belonging to Kudal area in Ratnagiri Zillah of South Konkan, was a follower of Akkalkot Maharaj and in charge of Yevala Math. He had seen Baba when Baba was very young and prophesied, “This young man is an invaluable asset. Though he is in this mud heap, he is not a stone. You will see that he will be doing great deeds in the future.”


When Baba was in His youth, He never cut His hairs short and used to dress like a wrestler. Whenever He went to Rahata, He got marigold, jai and juhi flower plants and put them in pots and tendered them. Vaman Tatya, a devotee of Baba, used to prepare earthen pots. He gave Baba two pots everyday. With those pots Baba used to draw water from a nearby well and water the plants. After His work was over, He threw those pots underneath the Neem tree. As they were not baked, the pots broke easily. Next day, Tatya used to give two more pots. This went on for three years and with Baba’s toil and hard work, a beautiful garden had come up. The present Samadhi Mandir, visited year after year by Sai devotees all over, was built in that garden only.


Bhai Krishnaji was a devotee of Akkalkot Maharaj. He worshipped the Maharaj’s photo everyday. Once he wanted to visit Akkalkot and offer his prayers to Maharaj’s Padukas. The night before his travel, the Maharaj appeared in his dream and said, “I am now in Shirdi. You come to Shirdi itself.” Following the instructions, he went from Bombay to Shirdi and stayed there for six months. As a commemoration of the extraordinary bliss he experienced there, he got Baba’s Padukas made and installed them under the Neem tree. The installation function was performed by Dada Kelkar and Upasani Baba on the Sravana Shuddha Pournami day in 1912. The entire function was organized by Sri Sagunameru Naik.


In 1912, Dr. Ramarao Kothari, a medical doctor by profession, came to Shirdi from Bombay for Baba’s darshan. His compounder accompanied him. Dr.Kothari’s friend, Bhai Krishnaji Alibagkar also joined them. While in Shirdi, Bhai Krishnaji and the compounder became intimate with Bhakta Saguna and G.K Dixit. They wanted to commemorate Baba’s first appearance in Shirdi by performing Paduka pratishta under the Neem tree. Bhai Krishnaji’s friend, the compounder, suggested that if this matter was brought to the notice of Dr.Kothari, he would get Baba’s Padukas engraved in beautiful stone. As soon as he was told about it, Dr.Kothari immediately agreed and took a sketch of the Padukas. Upasani Baba of the Khandoba temple suggested inclusion of a lotus, a Shanku and a chakram. He also suggested that the following verse describing the yogic powers of Baba and the greatness of Neem tree should be inscribed:

Sada nimbara vrikshasya mooladhi vaasaat,
Sudha sraavinam tikta mapya priyantam,
Tarum kalpavrikshadhikam saadhayantam
Namaami eswaram Sadgurum Sainaatham

I bow to the lord Sainath, 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, (nectar) on account of its healing properties) - better than the Kalpavriksha.

As per the suggestions of Upasani Baba, the Padukas were prepared in Bombay and the compounder brought the stone carving to Shirdi. Baba instructed that the installation be done on the full moon day of the Shravana month. That day Dixit carried the stone on his head and came in procession from the Khandoba temple to Dwarakamai. Baba touched the stone Padukas and said that they were the Padukas of God and should be worshipped with great devotion after installing under the Neem tree.

A day before, Seth Pasta of Bombay had sent Rs. 25/- by money order. Baba gave this amount for installation of Padukas. The total expenditure for installation came to Rs. 100/- out of which the remaining Rs.75/- were collected from subscriptions. From then on Bhakta Saguna and Jakhade performed pooja everyday and lit lamps.

Bhai Krishnaji was earlier a devotee of Akkalkot Maharaj. During the Paduka pratishta, he had broken his journey to Akkalkot and halted at Shirdi. After the Paduka pratishta, he sought Baba’s permission to continue his journey to Akkalkot. Baba said, “The Maharaj who is in Akkalkot is here also. And that is I.” Having been thus reassured by Baba’s comforting words, Bhai Krishnaji stopped going to Akkalkot. He visited Shirdi many times. (Hemad Pant was not aware of some of the facts and hence did not include these details in the satcharitra.)


Mohiuddin Bhai Tamboli was a wrestler who sold betel nuts, betel leaves and tobacco in Shirdi. Once there was an argument between him and Baba. As the matter could not be settled and as Baba never used His powers for His own betterment, they decided to have a wrestling bout to resolve the issue. Being a novice, Baba lost the wrestling bout to Mohiuddin. From then on, Baba discarded His pehalwan like dress and resorted to a langoti, long sleeved shirt and a scarf over His head. He used the gunny bag as His seat. He used to say, “The title of Fakir is always superior to that of being called a Maharaj. Poverty is several times better than riches. Allah belongs to the poor. He will always be a friend and companion of the poor.”

Gangagir was also fond of taking part in wrestling bouts. Once when he was fighting a bout, he suddenly lost interest. At the same time, a siddha commented, “As long as the wrestling bout is with God, it does not matter even if the body is lost.” Gangagir heard this, was totally disillusioned with the material world and took to the path of self realization. On the banks of river Punatambe, he established a math and lived there with his disciples.


Sai Baba, on His own, never talked with anyone. He used to reply only when someone asked Him something. He used to sit everyday underneath the Neem tree, or on the banks of the nearby canal, or under a babul tree. Occasionally he walked up a mile to Neemgaon. There He used to visit Jagirdar Tryambak Dengle’s house. He used to talk with him for the entire day. Nanasaheb was Dengle’s brother. He married a second time as his first wife could not conceive. Even then, there were no issues. So, Dengle sent Nanasaheb to Baba. Baba blessed him and soon a son was born to Nanasaheb. From then on, people started visiting Baba. Sai’s fame spread far and wide. It spread up to Ahmednagar.

Nanasaheb Chandorkar had sufficient clout in government offices in Ahmednagar. Chidambar Keshav was a secretary in that Zillah. He invited Nanasaheb, with family and friends, to visit Baba at Shirdi. After Baba’s darshan, Nanasaheb also became one among His devotees. Like him, whoever came for the darshan of Baba became His devotee, and the family of Baba’s devotees went on growing. Though the devotees always thronged Him, Baba was totally aloof. He spent the day with them, and in the night, slept in the dilapidated masjid.


Baba always had with Him a chillum, tobacco and the satka. He draped Himself with the kafni. He covered His head with a white scarf, held in place by a knot over His left ear. He never bathed for days together. For weeks together He never washed His clothes. He used to walk barefoot as He never had any footwear. He sat always on a gunny bag. He never slept on a bed, nor used a pillow. He was always awake. He sat near Dhuni and warmed Himself. “Allah Malik” was constantly on His lips. Having sacrificed egoism and all desires, He sat facing south. The whole place in the masjid was of the size of only two rooms. Baba’s activities were confined to within that place. The floor was of mud, uneven and not leveled. He slept on the uneven floor itself. In the beginning, people were scared of coming to Baba. With the passing of each day, they never left Him alone. They realized the conditions in which Baba was living, and in one night they leveled the floor. Then they laid it with designed stones. All these changes took place in the year 1912. Before coming to this masjid, Baba stayed in ‘takia’ for a long time. Baba used to tie up ghungroo to His legs and dance beautifully and rhythmically to the rhythm of instruments. His singing also was very melodious.


In those days, Shirdi was a humble, poverty stricken village. There were very few shops in the village. Even those few were mostly the grocers. Sai Baba was very fond of burning lamps for pooja. He used to keep small diyas made of mud, and prepare the wicks with old torn cloth pieces. He carried a small tin box and begged for oil. Sai Baba would daily beg oil from the shopkeepers to light the lamps at the Masjid. In the same manner He would light lamps in the temples too. He used to conduct the festivals of lighting lamps at these places of worship. The shopkeepers were irritated at His begging for oil everyday from them. One day they all got together and discussed the matter. "From where can we give this man free oil everyday?" They decided not to give Him any more oil. When Baba went to beg for oil, He got the same answer everywhere. "There is no stock, we are out of oil"

Baba returned to the Masjid without speaking harshly to the merchants who, He knew, were telling lies. He then did a wonderful thing. He placed the earthen lamps all around the Masjid and placed wicks in them. The whole village had come to know by now and had gathered at the Masjid to watch the fun. They talked amongst themselves. How can lamps be lit without oil?

Baba took the tin, which had a little oil remaining at its bottom, and went back in to the Masjid. All were seated silently in the Masjid. Baba had enough oil to light only one lamp in his tin. Baba poured a little water, approximately half the volume of oil, into the tin of oil and closed his eyes in meditation. He took a little of the mixture of oil and water into his mouth and spat it back into the tin after gargling. He poured the mixture in to all the lamps. Incredibly, there was sufficient oil for all the lamps now. He lit the lamps and they burned brightly throughout the night. The people were stunned by this wonderful miracle of Baba. The merchants were taken aback by this miracle and repented for telling a lie. They begged Baba to pardon them. As Baba was above all such petty things, He pardoned them easily and advised them, “Behave always in the manner pleasing to the almighty. Never tell lies. If you stick to the truth, God will be pleased.” Baba had neither enemies nor friends; everyone was equal to Him. The people of Shirdi went back to their homes contentedly.


Five years after the wrestling bout with Mohiuddin, in or around 1890 AD, a fakir by name Jawahar Ali came to Rahata with his followers and camped in the open space near the Veerabhadra Temple. There were several Marathis in that place. One by name Bhagusadaphal became Jawahar Ali’s servant. Jawar Ali Maulana was a distinguished Maulana of that time. He had extraordinary ability and used to describe the entire Quran beautifully. The devotees in Rahata honoured him and respected him. Some considered him to be an aulia.He wanted to build an Idgah and started construction. Idgah is a wall used by Muslims for prayer. As it was built near a temple, people thought that he was desecrating the temple, stopped the construction work of Idgah and expelled Jawahar Ali from Rahata. Then he shifted to Shirdi and lived with Baba in the masjid. He was soft spoken and hence people of Shirdi also respected him.

Sai Baba’s mission in life was to unify Hindus and Muslims into one compact mass with common religious, spiritual and worldly interests. As His Hindu Guru, namely, Gopal Rao Deshmukh alias Venkatesa or Venkusa, had initiated him into all the Hindu scriptures and traditions, initiation into Islamic scripture - like the Quran and Shariat - and tradition by a Maulana was essential. Baba’s destiny had to be fulfilled by his getting a second Guru, a Muslim Maulana. Jawahar Ali initiated him into the mysteries of Islamic spiritual literature, by asking him to accompany him to Rahata. Baba lived there with this Guru for about two months. During this period, Baba did humble seva to the Guru, carrying water pots, fetching faggots, lighting up fire, doing hard physical work, which others would complain of. Baba accepted his position as the sishya of Jawahar Ali with perfect sincerity and underwent with sweet complacency. Jawahar Ali started telling everyone that Sai Baba was his disciple. Baba did not contradict him. The Guru never knew the greatness of his disciple; but the disciple knew everything about His guru. Still, Baba never humiliated him. He implicitly carried out all the duties of a disciple. Though Baba occasionally visited Shirdi, both of them stayed in Rahata only.

Baba’s devotees in Shirdi, headed by Mhalsapathi, thought that Baba had forgotten Shirdi, and despaired that He may not come back to Shirdi. They thought that somehow they should persuade and bring Him back to Shirdi. So they went to Rahata and when they asked Baba to return, He said, “This fakir is bad tempered. He will not leave Me. Do not ask him. Go back to Shirdi; otherwise the fakir will get angry.” Meanwhile Jawahar Ali heard the noise, came to the devotees and asked them, “What are you discussing? You cannot take this boy to Shirdi”. When the devotees requested, he acceded to their request and said, “You take me also with this boy”. Then they both came to Shirdi and lived there.

Devidas, a great man, lived in the Maruti temple of Shirdi. In the year 1846, twelve years before Baba came to Shirdi, he had come to Shirdi as a boy of 10 or 11 years old. He had lustrous eyes and was good to look at. Tatya Ba Patil and Kasinath became his disciples. Appabhillu and Mhalsapathi visited him frequently. Kasinath used to supply him with essential items. Seeing that Jawahar Ali had virtually held Baba captive, Jawahar Ali was drawn purposely into a dispute by Devidas. Devidas's questions cornered Jawahar Ali. The latter had to make so many admissions that the surrounding spectators were moved to laughter. Jawahar Ali resenting this humiliation left Shirdi and did not return there for long years to come. He went to Bijapur and stayed there. After several years, he came back to Shirdi and prostrated at Baba’s feet. He confessed that his delusion of Baba being his disciple had gone and repented for all that he had done. Baba respected him as before.

Baba showed, by example, how a disciple should behave towards his guru by discarding pride and working towards self realization. A disciple should submit himself totally to the guru; and the guru should accept the disciple completely. Those who dry up the vestiges of pride alone will attain fulfillment of life. Such persons, devoid of any egoism, can accept anyone as a disciple and can become anyone’s disciple. Guru and disciple are not distinct. One cannot exist without the other.

Baba’s good physique, the humility and disinterestedness at such a young age attracted people to Him. Great saints are freed of bodily requirements or discomforts. They are not bound by their actions. In them, duality does not exist. They see god everywhere and in everything. Hemad Pant heard the story of Jawahar Ali from Mhalsapathi and included in the satcharitra.

With this the fifth chapter, called Sai’s reappearance, is complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about the efficacy of Baba’s touch, Sri Ramanavami celebrations and the renovation of the masjid.

||Sri Sadguru Sainathaarpanamasthu ||Shubham Bhavatu||
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

No comments:

Post a Comment