Thursday, February 26, 2009

||chapter four||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapter four ||

|| sai baba’s advent 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 Sai’s advent in Shirdi, appearance of Vithal, Dasganu’s bath in Prayag, about the three Wadas in Shirdi and other events.


The life stories of saints and sages enthrall the listeners. Not only are they melodious to the ears, they also soothe the troubled mind. Among those stories, life story of Sai is like amrita. Sai devotees imbibe this amrita and go into raptures of ecstasy. The saints and sages are not born everyday. They are born only to resurrect dharma. Whenever righteousness dwindles, and whenever unrighteousness prevails, a saint will arise from the heart of unrighteousness to set right the dharma and guide people once again towards righteousness. Whenever the righteous are punished for doing the right; when people believe that wealth, wife and progeny are the goals of life; when religious instructions are ignored and everyone thinks that he is the most learned and wise; when in the name of religion, malpractices are carried out; during all those times adharma fosters and dharma perishes. To reinstate dharma to its pristine glory and to annihilate adharma, God takes birth again and again, age after age, in this world. Satpurushas and sadhus personify God’s will for perpetuation of dharma. They are born to give solace to the devout and once dharma is reestablished, they leave this world for their eternal home.

Sai, the causative force behind the sensory organs, was the inspiration for the writing of this story. It was He who suggested an orderly way of writing this story. No one else can describe His behaviour. When words fail, silence alone can do full justice. Only when the Sadguru makes up His mind, He inspires the devotees to experience the unusual. Every sensory organ can only enjoy that sense for which it is meant. The tongue enjoys sweetness by itself. It cannot share its pleasure with other organs. Similarly, every devotee experiences the bliss of Sai’s blessings all by himself. He cannot make any one else share his pleasure. It is only the Sadguru who, whenever He decides, can inspire a devotee to explain in detail His Leelas for the benefit of others.

Great saints and sages adopt certain places for carrying out the mission of their life. Because of the saints, those places achieve an aura and become places of attraction for the innumerable devotees. Narasimhawada, Ganagapur, Audumber and Bhillawadi are such places. Because of Baba’s stay there, Shirdi achieved an aura unmatched by any other place. Located near the banks of Godavari River, it is 3 km away from Neemgaon. Neemgaon is 6 km from Kopergaon in Kopergaon Taluqa of Ahmednagar District. Just as Mangalwada became famous due to Damaji; Sajjangarh became famous due to Samarth Ramadas; Narasimhawada became famous due to Narasimha Bharati, Shirdi achieved greatness because of Sai Baba.

Sai Baba chose Shirdi for propagating the message of universal love. He was generous, and treated rich and poor alike. Beyond misery and happiness, He had a compassionate mind and a consoling word for everyone. Baba was not constrained by religion or caste or creed. He was in everyone, yet He did not belong to anyone. Though He enjoyed flute or ghazals, though He was amidst people, His mind was always fixed on Allah Malik. He was never out of His Samadhi. When the world slept, He was wide awake; and when the world was awake, He was in deep Samadhi. At all times He arduously protected the interests of His devotees. To grant salvation from all worldly bondages to those who surrendered to Him totally was Baba’s mission in Shirdi.

For devotees of Baba, Shirdi itself embodied various pilgrim places like Pandharpur, Badri, Kedar, Puri Jagannath, Kashi, Rameshwaram, Nasik, Tryambakeshwar, Mahabaleshwar and Gokarna. Seeing Sai in Shirdi was the means to the Ultimate. They found Triveni Sangam at the divine feet of Baba. His soothing words are like the mantras of Vedas. Baba Himself is Sri Rama and Sri Krishna. Though Baba is all pervading, Shirdi is the focal point. He is present in Punjab, Calcutta, Gujarat, Deccan, India and other countries, yet having darshan of Sai Samadhi in Shirdi is the ultimate purpose of our life. Udi (Vibhuti Prasadam) offered by Baba is sacred. Baba glorified Shirdi as Eknath did Paithan and Jnandev did Aland. Though He was the enlightened, for all external appearances He behaved as if He knew nothing.

Initially, His devotees come to Baba for fulfilling their material wants. Once they are contented, they turn their minds towards spiritual progress. With Baba as their guide, they attain their supreme goal. Without any discrimination of religion, caste, creed, sex or region, providing spiritual shelter to those who surrender totally to Him is the primary objective of Baba’s incarnation. With Baba’s fame spreading far and wide, people came from all over to attain mental solace at Shirdi. The devotees get as much contentment by the darshan of Sai Baba at Shirdi as they get by seeing Vithal Rakhumai at Pandharpur. This is no exaggeration as the following example illustrates.


Goulibuva was a devotee of Vithal. He was a warkari. Warkaris are those devotees of Vithal, who follow a 600 year old tradition of travelling by foot from Aland to Pandharpur at least twice a year. He was 95 years old. He used to spend the chaturmasyam (four months from July to November) on the banks of Ganga River. He had an ass to carry his luggage and a Sishya as a companion. Every year during his journey to Pandharpur, he used to see Sai at Shirdi. Whenever he saw Baba, he used to say, “Baba is incarnation of Pandarinatha. He is the saviour of the poor and the orphans. Those who wear silk garments are not mahatmas. Baba alone is the personification of Pandarinatha. Devotees will know this by experience”.


One day, in 1916, while reciting Allah Malik, Baba asked Dasganu to perform Nama sapthaham. Dasganu agreed to do, if Vithal appeared on the last day. With a hand on His chest, Baba assured, “Vithal will definitely appear if strongly desired by a dedicated mind. Vithal’s Pandharpur and Sri Krishna’s Dwarka are all here itself. Vithal need not come from somewhere. He will definitely heed to the devotee’s call of love”. At the end of the week, Dasganu really had Vithal’s darshan. Kakasaheb Dixit also had Vithal’s darshan during one of his morning meditations. When he went to see Baba, Baba asked him, “Vithal Patil had come. Did you see Him? He is likely to vanish. Tie Him up securely. Even if you are slightly careless, He will escape.” Baba knew everything. Same day about 25 pictures of Vithal were for sale. Seeing the same posture in the picture as in his morning meditation, Kakasaheb was simply stunned. He bought one picture and securely tied it in his pooja mandir.


Bhagavant Rao’s father was a devotee of Vithal. His name was Kshirsagar. He used to go regularly to Pandharpur. He worshipped Vithal daily. With the death of his father, Bhagavant Rao stopped worship of Vithal. He also stopped offering naivedyam to God. He stopped visiting Pandharpur. When he visited Shirdi, Baba told him, “I have dragged him here as he is son of my friend. He has stopped pooja, naivedyam etc. He is keeping both Vithal and Myself hungry. I will make him start the ritual again.” Baba insisted that everyone should worship their family deities.


On a Mahashivaratri day, Ganpatrao Dattatreya Sahasrabuddhe, affectionately called as ‘Dasganu’ by Baba, wanted to have Gangasnaan (a holy bath in the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna at Prayag) by going to Singaba (about 5kms from Shirdi) and having a dip in Godavari river. Dasganu approached Baba for permission. Baba told him, “If you have unflinching faith, then both Ganga and Yamuna will flow here itself. One need not go that far for the sake of a bath”. With great reverence, Dasganu prostrated at Baba’s feet. The moment his head touched Baba’s feet, Ganga and Yamuna sprouted from both the toes of Baba’s feet and started flowing like rivers. Having witnessed what Baba could do, Dasganu could not contain his ecstasy and began singing Baba’s Leelas.


“Sadguru Baba, Your powers are immeasurable. Your Leelas are stupendous. You are the ferry to take us across the ocean of samsara. You made both Ganga and Yamuna flow from Your toes. You are the confluence of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. At times You preach like Brahma, at other times You are ferocious like Rudra. And during some other time, You show us the childhood pranks of Sri Krishna. You are not Muslim, as You like sandal paste. You are not Hindu, as You stay in a masjid. You are not rich, as You accept alms. You are not poor, as Your generosity puts to shame even Kubera. Dhuni will always be burning for the sake of Vibhuti Prasadam. Devotees throng for Your Pooja right from the morning. They give You aarathi, fan You for comfort, and sing praises of You. At aarathi time You look like radiant sun, nearer Dhuni You appear like Shiva. By being with You, we experience the presence of Trimurthis.” Having worshipped thus, Dasganu prayed Baba to help him keep his mind fixed on Him.


The birth details of many great saints are not known. Both Namdev and Kabir did not have the usual parentage. Namdev was first sighted on Bhimrathi River by Gonayee. Kabir was first sighted on the Bhagirathi River by Tamal. Similarly, nobody knows the birth details of Sai Baba also.

Sri Sai Baba first appeared underneath a Neem tree in Shirdi at the age of 16 years. He was so radiant at that time itself that people accepted Him as a Brahma Jnani.

After seeing Baba underneath the Neem tree, Nana Chopdar’s mother, an old lady in Shirdi, described Baba as, “This young and handsome boy sat underneath the Neem tree in an asana. He used to be in deep meditation without being affected by sun or rain, heat or cold. He never mixed with anyone in the village. And when the villagers saw Him, love for the boy swelled up in their hearts. Though He was a young boy, His actions showed that He was a Mahatma. No one knew about the birth details of the boy.”


Mhalsapathi was a hereditary goldsmith of the village Shirdi. In addition, he was also a staunch devotee of Khandoba and was a poojari of the Khandoba Temple. He read Mhalsapathi Purana daily and at various gatherings. Every year he went on a pilgrimage of 150 miles to a distant place called Jejoori, carrying a Kavadi, to worship at the great temple of that deity. Mhalsapathi was a perfectly pure, straightforward, righteous, guileless and truthful person. His immense bhakti for Khandoba resulted in his getting that god’s obsession in trance, and oracular utterances came from that god through his lips. One day, when he was possessed by God Khandoba, people asked him about this boy. Answering them, the God showed a nearby place and said that if they excavated there, they may get details about the boy. Immediately, the villagers started digging up earth near the Neem tree. They found a layer of bricks, below which was a big stone. When the stone was removed, they found steps leading to a cavern below. Inside of the cavern was lined with lime mortar and there were four lamps glowing brightly. A small wooden seat and a necklace of beads were also found. Khandoba told them that this boy did profound meditation there for 12 years. To know more, the villagers questioned Baba about that place. He told them that the place belonged to His Guru and it should be secured as before and should be worshipped. Later Baba told, “Those who clean this place on Thursdays and Fridays in the evening and burn agarbathis, Sri Hari will be pleased with them and bless them.” From then on, people worship that place as the Gurusthan.


One of Baba’s devotees, Hari Vinayak Sathe, bought the place around the Neem tree. In 1908, he constructed a building there called as “Sathe Wada”. This was the first building which provided shelter to pilgrims coming to Shirdi. In subsequent years, two other buildings, Dixit Wada and Booty’s stone building also came up.

Kakasaheb Dixit, a solicitor by profession, went to London and in a rail accident injured his leg. From then on, he had difficulty in walking. Nanasaheb Chandorkar told him that his problem would be solved by Baba. When Kakasaheb met Baba on 2.11.1909, he prayed Baba that instead of treating his leg, Baba should treat him of the fickleness of his mind. A month later, on 10.12.1909, the night Aarathi was also started in the Chavadi. After seeing Baba, Kakasaheb Dixit decided, from the subsequent year 1910 onwards, to stay in Shirdi itself. With Baba’s permission, he laid the foundation stone for a building on 10.12.1910. The Dikshit Wada was completed in the year 1911 and was inaugurated on the Sri Rama Navami day of that year. Then, the rich man of Nagpur, Sri Gopalrao Mukund (Bapusaheb Booty) constructed a stone building. Lot of money was spent for this building. The money spent was well utilized as Baba’s Samadhi is located in it. With that, there are three Wadas in Shirdi. Earlier, Baba used to feed water to the plants in those sites. Vaman Tatya gave the earthen pots in which Baba nurtured the plants.

With this the fourth chapter, called Sai Baba’s advent in Shirdi, is complete. In the next 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.

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

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