Wednesday, March 25, 2009

||chapter twenty-eight||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapter twenty-eight ||

|| sparrows drawn to 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 Lakhamichand, the Burhanpore lady, Megha and other matters.


Though we are delighted to have the image of Baba sitting on a stone, with His right leg across the left, and His left hand resting on the right foot, always in our field of view, Sai is not confined to this form alone. Sai is in this form and outside this form also. Sai is present in the smallest of the beings like the ants and insects as well as in the sun, moon, mountains, rivers and everywhere. Sai is all pervading. He is the atman in every being. He is the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings. He is in movable as well as immovable beings. He is in all those objects which the senses can perceive, as well as in all those objects which are beyond the perception of the senses. There is no place, no object, no being in which Sai is not present. Sai is everywhere. Sai is Parabrahma. Sai is Poornabrahma. Only Sai is our sadguru. He alone can lead us to our destination. A father gives birth to the body alone; the sadguru takes us beyond birth and death. He is more kind and merciful than any father. In this connection Baba used to say that wherever His devotee is, however distant the place may be, he would be drawn to Shirdi like a sparrow pulled by a string tied to its feet. Here we will see three such sparrows being pulled by Baba to Shirdi, some even against their will. That is the affection and love Baba has for us. Let us prostrate at His feet with all humility before seeing how He pulled the sparrows.


Lakhamichand worked as a munshi (clerk) in the Sri Venkateswara Press at Bombay. Subsequently he got a better job in the Railway Department. When a private firm, Messrs. Ralli Brothers & Co., offered him a higher salary, he joined the firm. A couple of months before Christmas of 1910 AD, he saw a dream when he was in Santa Cruz (a suburb of Bombay). In that dream, he saw an old man with a beard and surrounded by His devotees. The old man had a long sleeved shirt and a scarf tied round his head with a knot near his left ear. He was slightly stooping, may be because of age. Lakhamichand did not know who he was, and where he was. He tried to find out from his friends, but nobody could help him.

A few days later, he attended a kirtan performed by Sri Dasganu Maharaj in the house of Lakhamichand’s friend, Sri Dattatreya Manjunath Bijur. As was his regular practice, Dasganu Maharaj had kept a big portrait of Sai Baba. In every performance, he did pooja to the portrait first and then started his kirtan. That day also he did the same. The topic was about Sant Tukaram. To his utter bewilderment, Lakhamichand saw that the old man of his dream and the person in the photo were one and the same. Later he learnt the name of the old man to be Sri Sai Baba and that He was living in Shirdi.

As we have seen so many times earlier, Dasganu Maharaj’s kirtans were always electrifying. Whatever may be the subject of the kirtan, the audiences were just spellbound. We also saw earlier that Cholkar and Pitale were so much moved by the kirtan that they decided then and there to visit Shirdi and have darshan of Baba. Lakhamichand was no different. Bowing to the feet of Baba, at the end of the kirtan, he decided that he must visit Shirdi and get Baba’s blessings.

Every devotee has experienced, and is experiencing, that whenever a spiritual decision is taken, God immediately helps. This can be practically verified even today. The night Lakhamichand decided to go to Shirdi, a surprise was waiting for him when he went home after the kirtan. One of his friends, Shankar Rao knocked at his door to find out if he would accompany him to Shirdi. Lakhamichand’s joy knew no bounds. He borrowed Rs.15/- from his cousin and left for Shirdi. When he and his friend Shankar Rao boarded the train, they found that many of their friends and relatives were also in the compartment and were going to Shirdi. After singing some Bhajans, Lakhamichand enquired about Baba with some fellow passengers. They were four Muslims. They told him that Sai Baba was a great saint and was living in Shirdi for many years. This discussion went on till the train reached Kopergaon. When he got down from the train, Lakhamichand wanted to buy some good guavas for offering to Baba. While he was looking for the vendor, he was also seeing the local scenery, and was so fascinated that he forgot about the fruits.

The friends engaged a Tonga for going to Shirdi. On the way, Lakhamichand remembered about the guavas. He repented for his action of not buying them at the station. Then he saw that an old woman was coming to them running behind the Tonga. She was carrying a basket of guavas on her head. Lakhamichand stopped the Tonga and bought four of the best guavas. When he was about to pay the money for them, she said, “Please take the other fruits also and offer them to Sai Baba on my behalf.” The friends were surprised. Lakhamichand thought that the old woman might be a relative of the old man he saw in his dream. They reached Shirdi and got down from the Tonga near the masjid.

When they saw the flags on the masjid, they folded their palms in respect. After buying the pooja materials, they went inside and prostrated at the feet of Baba. They completed pooja and were in indescribable bliss after seeing Baba. Then Baba spoke, “Wily fellows! Do Bhajans on the way, and, ask others? Why ask others? One should see with one’s own eyes. Why ask others? Was the dream false? Find out now. Why borrow money and come here? Is the wish fulfilled now?” Lakhamichand was wonderstruck by Baba’s omniscience. He could not understand how Baba could know what all happened on the way. The most important thing for us to know is that Baba never liked devotees to come to Shirdi, borrowing money from others. He never wanted His devotees to be in debt for seeing Him.


After the noon arati, everyone sat for meals. One of the devotees offered some Sanza to all as prasadam with the meals. Lakhamichand liked the Sanza very much. As it was his first visit, he thought that Sanza was offered as prasadam everyday at Shirdi. So, next day when there was no Sanza for the meals, he was disappointed. He was eagerly looking forward to the time when Sanza would be served again. On the third day, Bapusaheb Jog asked Baba what naivedyam should be prepared. Baba told him to prepare Sanza. The devotees brought two big pots of Sanza. By noon arati, Lakhamichand was very hungry. He also had some pain in the back. Then Baba told him, “It is good that you are hungry. Eat Sanza. Take some medicine for your back pain.” Once again Lakhamichand was stunned. He wondered how Baba could know all that was going on in his mind without his telling.


Lakhamichand then saw the night procession to Chavadi. Baba was mildly coughing. Seeing Baba thus inconvenienced, Lakhamichand thought that some one must have cast an evil eye on Baba. Next day, when he went to meet Baba, Baba was telling Shyama, “Yesterday I had some cough. Some one must have cast an evil eye on Me, that is why I am suffering.” For the third time, Lakhamichand was stunned. He just did not know how Baba knew all his thoughts.

Then he slowly understood Baba’s omniscience and kindness to his devotees. He prostrated at Baba’s feet and prayed, “Deva, there is no other god to me than You. Bless me and protect me always. Allow me to chant Your name always and sing Your Bhajans. Allow me to be always at Your divine feet.” Baba duly blessed him with udi prasad and Lakhamichand returned home. From then on he became a staunch devotee of Baba. He always sent garlands of flowers, camphor and Dakshina when anyone among his acquaintances went to Shirdi.


Let us see how Baba pulled the string of the other sparrow. A lady in Burhanpore (present Berhampore, in Orissa) had a dream one night. In that dream, she saw Baba asking her for ‘Khichdi’ - rice cooked in dal with salt added. She woke up immediately and checked outside her house, found that nobody was there. Still, she narrated the entire dream to everyone she met, including her husband. He was employed in the Postal Department. Within a short time, he was transferred to Akola. When they settled down in Akola, both the husband and wife, being devoted, decided to visit Shirdi and get Baba’s blessings. On a suitable day they started their journey. On their way they visited Gomathi Teertha and then went to Shirdi. They stayed in Shirdi for two months. Both of them went to masjid everyday and served Baba to their hearts’ content. They spent time happily. For the first fourteen days, the purpose for which they came to Shirdi was not achieved. They had come with the intention of preparing ‘Khichdi’ and offering it as naivedyam to Baba. The lady was getting restless and on the fifteenth day, she prepared the ‘Khichdi’ and after noon arati took it to the masjid. As she reached slightly late, everyone was already sitting for the meals, and Baba had gone inside the curtain and about to start the meals. When once Baba goes inside the curtain, nobody dares enter, but this lady was keen on serving Baba. So she entered inside and found that Baba was eagerly awaiting the ‘Khichdi’. The lady served the dish in Baba’s plate and He ate it with great relish. The people who had assembled there were surprised and once again saw how much Baba loved His devotees.


The third sparrow, Megha was a simple illiterate Brahmin cook of Rao Bahadur HV Sathe. Megha was a devotee of Shiva and always chanted the Panchakshari - ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ He did not know how to perform Sandhyavandanam or recite its chief mantra the Gayatri. Beyond Shiva Panchakshari he did not know anything. Sathe somehow liked him and taught him both the Sandhyavandanam and the Gayatri Mantra. Sathe also told him that Shiva has incarnated in Shirdi and that he should go and see Baba. Sathe accompanied Megha up to the Broach railway station. At the railway station, Megha came to know that Baba was a Muslim. He was a very orthodox Brahmin and his mind was perturbed at the thought of prostrating at the feet of a Muslim. He begged his master not to send him to Shirdi. Sathe, however, was equally keen that he should go to Shirdi. He also gave Megha a letter of introduction to his father -in -law, Ganesh Damodar, also known as Dada Kelkar at Shirdi, to introduce Megha to Baba.

Next day he reached Shirdi and with his letter went to the masjid. As soon as He came to know that Megha is entering the masjid, Baba came out and shouted, “Kick out this rascal! You are a high caste Brahmin and I am a low caste Muslim. You will lose your caste by coming here. Go away.” Baba did not allow him to enter the masjid. Megha was stunned about how Baba could know what was passing in his mind. Megha stayed for some days in Shirdi, serving Baba in his own way. But, in his heart he was not happy. After a few days, he went home and then visited Tryambak in Nasik District. Tryambakeshwar or Tryambak is one of the twelve places where Jyothirlingas are worshipped. It is the chief place among the twelve. Megha stayed there for a year and a half.

At the end of that period, he came back to Shirdi. This time, Dada Kelkar and others intervened and Baba allowed Megha inside the masjid. Externally, Baba did not influence Megha by performing any miracles. Baba was working on Megha internally through his mind. After he came back from Tryambakeshwar, he was a changed person and considerably benefited. He began to look upon Sai Baba as an incarnation of Shiva. It is said that Shiva is very fond of being worshipped with Bilvapatri (Bela leaves). Megha used to go miles and miles to collect these leaves for worshipping his Shiva, namely Sai Baba. He followed a procedure of worshipping all the gods in the village first and then come to the masjid. There he worshipped Baba’s seat (gadi). After that, he caressingly massaged Baba’s legs. Then he washed Baba’s feet and took the water which passed through Baba’s feet as Teertha. In short, he worshipped Sai Baba as though he was worshipping Shiva Linga.

Once it so happened that when Megha went to Khandoba temple, it was closed. So he went to masjid without worshipping Khandoba. Then Baba told him, “Complete the worship of the remaining god and come.” Megha told him that the temple was closed. “Go now and see” was Baba’s reply. When Megha went to Khandoba temple, he was surprised to see it open. After worshipping Khandoba, Megha went back to masjid and worshipped Baba.


There is a saying that Shiva is abhisheka priya and Vishnu is alankara priya. The Shiva Bhaktas perform Rudra Abhishekam regularly. Megha being a staunch Shiva Bhakta, wanted to perform Ganga Abhishekam to Baba. The procedure was to initially apply sandal paste to the body and then do the abhishekam. Baba was reluctant, but on repeated requests from Megha, agreed to his request. Happy with this, Megha traveled 8 koss (24 miles) to Gomathi River and brought water. He made all the preparations and requested Baba to come to the abhishekam place. Baba once again requested him to leave him alone, as He was a fakir and had nothing to do with Ganga water. Megha was firm. Then Baba told him that as the head is the most important organ of the body, he should pour water only on the head. Megha agreed. Baba sat down, and amidst chanting of slokas, Megha began to pour water on Baba’s head. During that process, he was so overcome with love that he shouted ‘Har Har Gange’ and poured the water over the entire body. After emptying the pot, he kept the pot aside and looked at Baba. His mind which was till now full of joy at the abhishekam was suddenly surprised. He saw that only Baba’s head was wet and the rest of the body was completely dry.


Megha worshipped Baba at two places. He worshipped Him in person at the masjid and His photo at the Wada. This big picture of Baba was given to him by Nanasaheb Chandorkar. He continued Baba’s worship for twelve months. Happy with his devotion, Baba decided to show His appreciation. Early in the morning, one day, when Megha was still in his bed with his eyes closed, he saw Baba’s form. Baba knew that Megha was awake. He sprinkled akshata on the bed and said, “Megha, draw a trishul”, and disappeared. Hearing Baba’s voice, Megha got up and searched for Baba but did not find Him. To confirm that Baba had come, there were the rice grains of akshata. He then went to Baba, told Him about the vision and asked His permission to draw the trishul. Baba was slightly irritated. He said, “Did you not hear My words, asking you to draw the trishul? It was not a vision but a direct order. My words are always pregnant with meaning and never hollow.” Megha told about his predicament. He said, “I thought you woke me up, but found that all the doors were closed. So I thought that it was a vision.” Baba said, “I require no doors to open. I have no form. I live everywhere. Like a sutradhar, I carry out all the actions of the one who trusts Me and becomes one with Me.”

Megha went back to Wada and drew a trishul on the wall near Baba’s picture. Next day, a Ramdasi bhakta came from Poona, prostrated at the feet of Baba and offered Him a Shiva Linga. At the same time, Megha also came to the masjid. Baba told him, “See, Shankara has come. Take care of Him now,” and gave the Shiva Linga to him. Megha was surprised to see the Shiva Linga so immediately after he drew the trishul.

Here in the Wada, Kakasaheb had finished taking bath and was having a towel over his head. He was chanting Sai nama. Then he saw a vision of a Shiva Linga. He began to wonder how a Shiva Linga could come in his mind when he was thinking only of Sai. A few minutes later, Megha showed him the Shiva Linga presented by Baba. Kakasaheb was taken aback to see that it resembled the Linga he had seen in his vision. After a few days, Baba installed the Shiva Linga near the big picture which Megha was worshipping. Worship of Shiva was very dear to Megha. By arranging the drawing of the trishul and the installation of the Shiva Linga, Baba confirmed His faith in Megha’s mode of worship.

After serving Baba for many years, Megha passed away in 1912 AD. Baba passed His hand over the body and said, “This was a true devotee of Mine.” Baba also arranged, at His own expense, the funeral dinner to be given to the Brahmins. The entire order was carried out by Kakasaheb Dixit.

With this, the twenty-eighth chapter called as Sparrows drawn to Shirdi is complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about Madrasi Bhajan Mela, Tendulkars, Dr Captain Hate, Waman Narvekar and other matters.

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

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