Tuesday, March 17, 2009

||chapter twenty-one||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapter twenty-one ||

|| nava vidha bhakti ||

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

In this chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about VH Thakur, Anantrao Patankar, a Pandharpur Pleader and other matters.


Seeking the company of saints and benefiting from their teachings does not come to everyone. It will be bestowed on only those who have done good deeds in their previous lives. Rare indeed is the good fortune of meeting such saints and spending time at their divine feet, as an opportune moment should also come. Hemad Pant quotes his own example. When he was a resident magistrate of Bandra, a famous Mohemmadan saint by name Pir Moulana was living there. Irrespective of their religion, Hindus, Muslims, Parsis visited the saint every day and got his blessings. Pir Moulanasaheb had a Muijavar (priest) by name Inus. Hemad Pant knew him very well. Inus was requesting Hemad Pant, day and night, to visit the Pir saheb and get his blessings. As the opportune time had not come, he could not see him despite several efforts. Hemad Pant’s time came when he got the call, went to Shirdi and became a permanent member in the glorious Sai Durbar.

As seen earlier, saints have a mission to fulfill during their stay on this earth. Ours is a ‘Karma Bhoomi’ where there have been many saints. There is no restriction of time or place for them. It is not necessary that one should come after the other. There have been times when several saints were present at the same time. They can exist either in the same place or at different places. Each saint has a specific mission to be carried out as instructed by the God. As long as they are on this ‘Karma Bhoomi’, they work in unison. Even though they do not meet each other, every saint knows what the other is doing and invariably they supplement each other’s work. Let us see how this happens.


Thakur was a clerk in Revenue Department. He had passed his graduation earlier. Because of some official work, he had to go to Vadgaum, near Belgaum (Karnataka State) with his survey party. There he had the good fortune to meet a saint by name Appa. He went to Appa and fell at his feet. At that time, Appa was explaining a portion from the book, ‘Vichar Sagar’ by Nishchal Das (Hindi translation of Vidyaranya’s “Panchadasi”) to the audience. After he got Appa’s blessing, Thakur sought his permission to leave. Then Appa told him, “Study this book, your desires will be fulfilled. By your good fortune, you will meet a great saint when you go to north. He will show you the future path, bring peace to your mind and make you happy.” Few days later Thakur forgot this episode completely.

Subsequently he was transferred to Junnar for which he had to cross the Nhane Ghat. This Ghat was very steep. There was no other conveyance to cross the Ghat except by a buffalo ride. It was very inconvenient and pained him very much. After Junnar, Thakur was transferred to Kalyan. In Kalyan he met Nanasaheb Chandorkar. By this time, Thakur had heard of Sai Baba’s name and fame. He told Nanasaheb about his desire to meet Baba. So, when he next went to Shirdi, Nanasaheb asked Thakur to accompany him. As the opportune time had not yet come, he could not go with Nanasaheb, because he had to attend to a civil case at Thana Civil Court. He expressed his regret to Nanasaheb and went to Thana. Nanasaheb went alone to Shirdi.

After going to Thana, he found that the case was postponed to a future date. Thakur felt happy and decided to go to Shirdi alone. He thought that he could meet Nanasaheb there and through him, he could have darshan of Sai Baba. When he reached Shirdi, he found that Nanasaheb had left the previous evening. However, he met some other friends there. With them, he went to the masjid, saw Baba and fell at His feet. He was so thrilled by seeing Baba that tears rolled down his cheeks and he was all attentive. Baba told him, “The path to this place is very difficult. It is not easy as the teachings of the Kannada Saint Appa, or even the buffalo ride in the Nhane Ghat. The spiritual path is difficult; you have to work very hard.” Thakur remembered Appa’s words and felt happy that they had come true. He prostrated once again at Baba’s feet and begged to be accepted and blessed.

Then Baba told him, “Reading alone will not help. What Appa said is alright; practice what you read. Think before practicing. Other wise it is useless. Reading without Guru’s grace is also useless.” Thakur was regularly reading ‘Vichar Sagar’. Now he got the invaluable advice of how to practice what he had read. Thus, Appa knew what Baba would do and Baba knew what Appa had told. Though they were separated in time and space, they worked in conjunction for the welfare of the devotees.


Anantrao Patankar came from Poona to Shirdi for Baba’s darshan. After seeing Baba, he was overjoyed and fell at Baba’s feet. Clasping both His feet with his hands, he said, “Deva, I have studied Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas. Still my mind is restless. Simple, ignorant and devout people are better than me. Learning from books is of no use if the mind continues to be restless. People have told me that by a mere glance, You give peace of mind. I am at Your feet. Please take pity on me and bless me.” Then Baba told him a parable about the Nava Vidha Bhakti.


‘A saudagar (merchant) came here once. Before him, a mare passed her stools (nine balls of stool). The merchant intent on his quest spread the end of his dhoti and collected all the nine balls of stool. Thus, he got concentration and peace of mind.’

Patankar could not make anything out of this story. However hard he tried, still nothing entered his brain. Then he went to his friend Ganesh Damodar, also known as Dada Kelkar, and asked him the meaning of the parable. Dada said, “I also do not know all that Baba says. With His inspiration, I will tell you this much. The mare in the parable is God’s grace. Saudagar is the devotee. The nine balls of stool are the Nava Vidha Bhakti. They are:

1. Shravana (hearing):
2. Kirtana (praying):
3. Smarana (remembering):
4. Padasevana (worship of the feet):
5. Archana (worship):
6. Namaskara (bowing):
7. Dasya (service):
8. Sakhyata (friendship): and
9. Atma nivedana (surrender of the self).

These are the nine types of Bhakti. If any one of these is followed sincerely, then Lord Sri Hari will manifest in the home of the devotee. All the other sadhanas like Japa (vocal worship), Tapa (penance) and Yoga practice, as well as reading the scriptures and expounding them are useless, unless they are accompanied by Bhakti. Any amount of reading of Vedas, Upanishads is of no use if devotion is absent. Consider yourself as the merchant seeking the truth and be anxious to collect or cultivate any of the nine modes of devotion. Only then can you get peace of mind.”

When he went to Baba the next day, He asked him, “Did you collect the nine balls of stool?” Patankar replied, “Deva, I am an ordinary person. I can do anything only if you bless me.” Baba blessed him and assured him that he would attain peace of mind. Patankar was overwhelmed with happiness.


Baba is omniscient. For Him time and space are no constraints. And He will always be having a watch on His devotees, wherever they are. If they do anything wrong, He will immediately correct them and set them on the right path. A pleader from Pandharpur came to Shirdi for Baba’s darshan. He saw Baba, fell at His feet, placed Dakshina and sat nearby. At that time Baba was explaining certain things to the devotees there. The pleader wanted to listen to Baba’s words, so he sat quietly listening. After some time, Baba turned in his direction and remarked, “People are cunning. They abuse at the back. Then fall at the feet, and give Dakshina also. Isn’t it wonderful?” None of those present understood what Baba said. The pleader understood, as it was meant for him. Still, he did not say anything and remained silent.

He returned to Wada with Kakasaheb Dixit. On the way, he told Kaka that Baba’s remark was meant for him. He continued, “When the sub-judge (or munsiff) of Pandharpur, Sri Noolkar, came to Shirdi and stayed here for improvement of his health, a discussion went on in the bar-room. People were discussing whether his ailments could be cured by merely going to Sai Baba. They wondered whether he could be cured without recourse to medicines. They even commented whether it was appropriate on the part of an educated person like the sub-judge to have such blind faith. Both the sub-judge and Sai Baba were severely criticized. I also took an active part in the discussion. Today, Baba showed the impropriety of my act. I did not feel that it was a rebuke. On the contrary, I felt that it was an advice for me not to indulge in slandering others and not to interfere unnecessarily in others’ affairs.”

Shirdi is about 480 kms away from Pandharpur. As we know, Baba never left Shirdi. How could He know what transpired in a bar-room at Pandharpur? This vast distance of 480 kms with the intervening rivers, jungle and mountains were no barrier for Baba. Time and space were no constraints at all for Him. Seated in His place in the masjid, He could easily read what was going on in the minds of His devotees. Far or near, everything was as clear to Him as broad daylight. Far or near, nobody could avoid the gaze of all pervading Baba. Because of this, the pleader was corrected by Baba and set on the right path.

This story is applicable to all of us. If we search our hearts, we will find that at some time or other, we would have slandered some one and criticized a saintly figure. Baba wanted to correct not just the pleader, but all of us also. We should remember, contemplate and assimilate these stories and benefit by them. Baba’s greatness is unfathomable. To such a kind sadguru, let us prostrate at His divine feet once again and beg Him to have mercy on us.

With this the twenty-first chapter called as Nava Vidha Bhakti, is complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant tells us how Baba rescued Balasaheb Mirikar, Bapusaheb Booty and Amir Shakkar from snake bites and other matters.

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

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