Thursday, March 19, 2009

|| chapter twenty-three ||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapter twenty-three ||

|| yoga and onion ||

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

In this chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about yoga and onion, how Baba rescued Shyama, ordeal of guru-bhakti and other matters.


The Jeevaatma is beyond the trigunas, Satva, Rajas and Tamas. However, enshrouded by Maya, it forgets its true nature of Existence, Knowledge and Bliss. The Jeevaatma starts thinking that it is the doer and enjoyer, thus entangling itself in the eternal cycle of birth and death. And in between birth and death, it suffers untold miseries without knowing how to extricate itself. It is only when the first ray of guru’s kindness comes through that the darkness dispels. Total dedication to guru alone can lift the Jeevaatma from the inextricable web of Maya that it had sunk itself. It is sadguru Sai Baba alone who can give us Moksha and make us one with Himself.

Though generations after generations of devotees believe that Baba is God incarnate, He never said that He was God. He always said that He was the servant of God - ‘Allah Malik’. He never emulated anyone, nor did He ask anyone to do anything for Him. He believed and preached that God was in every being and should be respected as such. He never disregarded or disrespected anyone. Humility was His prime quality. He also preached humility to others.

Great Saints like Sai Baba are incarnated only to liberate the ignorant and entangled souls like us. It is only because of some divine things done in our previous lives that we come in contact with such saints. Greater is our good fortune that we are able to listen and meditate on their Leelas. We may not have seen Baba as did Hemad Pant or other great devotees, but they have left us an invaluable and inexhaustible treasure house called ‘Satcharitra’ from which even if we draw the pearls any number of times, the treasure house continues to be full. After bowing at the divine feet of Baba, let us draw some more pearls and enjoy the perennial bliss.


Nanasaheb Chandorkar had a friend by name Swami Rambaba. He had read exhaustively on Yoga, including Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras and had acquired great knowledge in Yoga. Due to lack of practical experience, he could not attain samadhi of even a minute’s duration. Learning of Baba’s name and fame, he felt that Baba could help him in attaining samadhi for a longer duration. So, he requested Nanasaheb to take him to Baba.

In Feb, 1914 both of them went to Shirdi. After going there, they went to the masjid for Baba’s darshan. At that time, Baba was eating a dry roti with raw onions. The poor and the lower class people eat in this simple way. The moment Rambaba saw Baba eating roti with onion; he thought “This man who is eating stale roti with onion, can he teach me about attaining samadhi?” Baba’s external appearance was not very encouraging for the newcomer. Baba being a sarvajna, read his thoughts and told Nanasaheb, “Oh Nana, tell your friend that only those who can digest onions, should eat them.” Rambaba immediately realized his mistake and understood that Baba’s external appearance and what was concealed behind that appearance were totally different. He fell at Baba’s feet and submitted himself to His wishes completely. With an unbiased mind he asked his questions and got helpful replies. Having satisfied himself, he got Baba’s blessing and the Udi prasadam and left Shirdi.


Hemad Pant begins this story with a beautiful comparison between Jeevaatma and a parrot. Both are encaged, one in the body and the other in a metallic cage. Both think that their present state is the ideal one and outside of their cage, everything is dark and unknown. Both think a world of their bound cages. It is only when a guru comes, by God’s grace and by the past deeds in the previous lives that the Jeevaatma and the parrot realize how beautiful life is outside the cage. Their eyes are opened to a greater and larger life compared to which their earlier life was nothing.

One early morning, when Shyama was in his house, a snake bit him on the little finger of his hand. The snake was poisonous. The poison started spreading fast. The pain was becoming unbearable. Shyama thought that he had reached the end of his life. His friends wanted to take him to the temple of Vitoba, where such cases were attended to. Knowing that he had only a few moments to live, he wanted to have the last darshan of his god, Sai Baba. So, he ran with all the energy still left in him to the masjid. As he was climbing the steps, Baba shouted from inside, “Oh, wily Bhaturdya (priest), don’t climb up. How dare you do it?” and then roared, “Come down, get away, GO!” Baba’s face had become completely red because of anger. Seeing Baba thus, Shyama was perplexed and disheartened. He had loved Baba more than his own life and had thought that masjid alone was his home. If Baba Himself drives him away, where could he go? Having lost all the hopes, he thought that even if Baba drives him away, it is better to die at His feet rather than elsewhere. So, he coolly entered inside the masjid and sat near Baba, waiting for his last moments. By this time, Baba had calmed down. He had become normal. He put his hand benevolently on Shyama’s head and tenderly caressing it, told Shyama, “Don’t fear, My child. Don’t worry a bit. Nothing will happen to you. Allah Malik will save you. Go home and sit quietly. Don’t go out anywhere. Believe Me, be brave and don’t have any anxiety.” Saying these soothing words, Baba sent him home. As soon as he left, Baba immediately called Tatya Patil. He told him to see that Shyama should eat whatever he liked, could move around in the house, but in no case should he lie down and sleep. When the night fell, He sent word to Kaka that even if Shyama dozes, not to allow him to lie down and sleep. With such intensive care and affection, it was not long before Shyama recovered completely and was back once again in the masjid to serve his God - Sai Baba.

Blessed indeed was Shyama who got so much of care and attention from the God Himself. Blessed indeed was the snake which aroused so much of emotion in Baba to make Him red with anger, and which proved, if at all proof was ever required, of Baba’s colossal love for His devotees. It is only an indication of the immense powers He had that even the deadliest of the poisons of a poisonous snake came down by the utterance of His words. How dare the snake induct poison in someone whom Baba loved so dearly! Will we be able to make ourselves eligible for such love from Him? We have only to ask for it. Baba is there to give it to us in abundance, in quantities no one has ever given! Let us then ask for it and bow at His divine feet.


It was very common in those days that villages were frequently ravaged by epidemics like cholera and plague, due to very unhygienic conditions prevailing. Shirdi was no exception. When the cholera epidemic struck, the residents were frightened and did not know what to do. The village panchayat met and passed two ordinances that

1. no fuel cart should be allowed to come inside the village,
2. no goat should be killed in the village.

There was no rationale behind these decisions. They were promulgated only as a meek measure to check the spread of the disease. Anyone who violated these orders had to pay a fine to be decided by the village panchayat. Baba knew that these were orders passed in mere superstition, and did not care much for them. In spite of the strict vigil of the village panchayat, one fuel cart did indeed come and wanted to enter the village. People were desperate as their piled up stocks of the firewood were fast dwindling, and because of the ordinances, there was no hope of getting any fuel in the near future, unless the cholera epidemic abated. Afraid of the consequences of violating the ordinances, people started driving away the fuel cart, even though they wanted the fuel. Having heard about the disturbances, Baba came there and asked the cart to be driven to the masjid and unload the fuel there. He paid the price of the fuel then and there. Nobody dared to say anything against Baba’s action.

People thought that as Baba was very fond of Dhuni, He bought the firewood for burning in the Dhuni. Like a true Agnihotri, He kept the fire burning day and night. For this purpose, He kept a stockpile of firewood always. But, for some one who had all the elements under His control, and who could create fire with the mere jerk of His satka, where is the necessity of firewood? Everyone knew that the doors of the masjid were always open to all. And Baba knew that there was an acute shortage of firewood in the village because of the ordinances. As expected, people gradually came to the masjid and started taking away the firewood in small quantities. Baba never objected.


Bade Baba’s full name was Pir Mohammed Yasin Mia. He was also called as Fakir Baba. He had no particular place of his own. He was always roaming. In 1909, he came to Shirdi. Sai Baba asked him to stay in Chavadi and read Quran. It is said that before he came to Shirdi, he was in Aurangabad, where Sai Baba initiated him into the spiritual path. After some time he went to Neemgaon. Though he stayed there, he came in the morning to Shirdi and remained till the lunch. Sai Baba had great respect for Bade Baba. As long as Bade Baba was in Shirdi, Sai Baba never took lunch without him. It was only after Bade Baba had his puff of chillum, Sai Baba took His. Bade Baba was always treated like Atithi. According to our tradition and custom, Atithi is always treated like a God. By treating thus, all our sins will be cleansed. From the amount He collected as Dakshina, Baba always gave Rs.50/- to Bade Baba. And when Bade Baba left Shirdi, Sai Baba used to accompany him to at least a few yards and see him off. During the onslaught of the cholera epidemic, Bade Baba was with Sai Baba.


While the cholera ordinances were in operation, somebody brought a goat to the masjid. It was old, weak and about to die. Sai Baba asked Bade Baba to behead the goat with a single stroke and offer it as a religious offering. In spite of all the respect he had for Sai Baba, he flatly refused. Then Baba asked Shyama to behead the goat. He went to Radhakrishna Mai’s house and brought a knife. He placed it at Baba’s feet. When she came to know of the purpose for which the knife was taken, she immediately asked the knife to be returned to her. Shyama went to bring another knife, but stayed back in the Wada and did not come back. Then Baba called Kakasaheb Dixit. He asked Kaka to bring a knife and behead the goat. Kaka went to Sathe Wada and brought a knife. Kakasaheb Dixit was born in a pure Brahmin family, and had never killed even an ant till that day. He had not even seen a goat beheaded. He was simply following Baba’s instructions. People who had gathered there were wondering that when Bade Baba, a Muslim by birth refused to kill a goat, how could a pure Brahmin like Kaka had agreed to do so. Meanwhile, Kaka rearranged his Dhoti, turned around and lifted the knife high up above his head, to bring it down on the neck of the goat. When the knife was about to land on the goat, Baba said, “Stop! How cruel are you? Being a Brahmin, you want to kill a goat!!” Kaka obeyed Baba’s instructions and placed the knife on the ground. With folded hands he told Baba, “Deva, Your word is law for us. We do not know any other ordinance. We remember Your words, meditate on Your form, and obey. We do not know if it is right or wrong to kill. We do not want to reason or discuss. Implicit and prompt compliance of Guru’s orders are our only duty and dharma.” Then Baba told Kaka that He would do the killing and offering Himself. They decided to take the goat to Takkya, a place where fakirs used to sit. While they were taking the goat there, it died on the way itself.

Inspired from the above episode, Hemad Pant categorizes the disciples, in general, into three groups:

1. First or the best
2. Second or the average and
3. Third or the ordinary.

Disciples belonging to the first category are those who anticipate the requirements of the guru, and carry them out without waiting for guru’s orders. The disciples in the second category wait for the guru’s orders and carry them out without any delay and to the satisfaction of the guru. The disciples of the third category go on delaying the implementation and make mistakes at every step. The disciples should have firm faith in the guru. With patience added to their faith and dedication, the spiritual goal will not be far off. When they are ready for further instructions, the Guru appears of his own accord and leads them on to spiritual perfection.

With this, the twenty-third chapter called as Yoga and onion is complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about Baba’s wit and humour and other matters.

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

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