Friday, March 6, 2009

|| chapter ten ||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapter ten ||

|| sai baba’s way of living and other stories ||

|| 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 Baba’s way of living, His teachings, His miracles and other matters.


Baba is a never ending stream of love for His devotees. He is always anxious to do anything for the sake of devotees, even undergoing immense pain and suffering. If there is anyone interested in the welfare of the devotees, it is Baba. Call Him anytime, anywhere and He will respond. And in return, can we give Him anything? What can we give to Him who gives His everything to us? Our hearts should bleed with love and affection for Him. We should desire Him with every miniscule part of our body mind, and soul. Showing our affection for Him does not cost us anything.

Baba is the sadguru who can change the destiny, as He is the destination. Indulging in His service will liberate us from all materialistic bondages. Study of Logic or Law is not what is required for us to tide over this life. What is needed is unflinching loyalty and faith in sadguru. Just as we have faith in the boatman who takes us across the river in his ferry, we must have faith in the sadguru who can take us across this ocean of samsara. It is the sadguru who can condense the entire infinite knowledge into small assimilable parts and instill in us. Contemplate on such a sadguru, reflect on a sadguru like Baba and always think of Baba with love.


Around 1898 AD, Nanasaheb Dengale had brought a wooden plank, which was 4 arm spans long, and only 1 arm span in width. He wanted Baba to sleep comfortably on this plank. Baba did not follow the normal practice of laying it on the ground and sleeping on it. Instead, He hung it to the rafters of the masjid by tattered cloth pieces tied together like a rope, around 7' to 8' above ground, and used it like a swing. Baba slept on this swing. Whoever saw this wondered how these so called ropes could sustain the added weight of Baba, when they can not sustain the weight of the plank itself. People were wonderstruck about how He mounted or dismounted the plank. To those, who knew about Baba’s Yoga Siddhi, this was no wonder. His array of Yogic Powers included the ashta siddhis and nava nidhis. Siddhi is a Sanskrit term for spiritual power (or psychic ability); it literally means perfection. The mystic perfections of yoga are acquired by a yogi who has conquered his senses, steadied his mind, conquered the breathing process and fixed his mind on God.

Among the eight primary mystic perfections, the three by which one transforms one's own body are anima, (becoming smaller than the smallest); mahima, (becoming greater than the greatest); and laghima, (becoming lighter than the lightest). Through the perfection of prapti one acquires whatever one desires, and through prakamya-siddhi one experiences any enjoyable object, either in this world or the next. Through isita-siddhi one can manipulate the intricacies of maya, and through the controlling potency called vasita-siddhi one is unimpeded by the three modes of nature. One who has acquired kaamavasaayita-siddhi can obtain anything from anywhere, to the highest possible limit.

Through nava nidhis, one acquires the powers of freeing oneself from hunger, thirst and other bodily disturbances, hearing and seeing things far away, moving the body at the speed of the mind, assuming any form one desires, entering the bodies of others, dying when one desires. The power to know past, present and future; tolerance of heat, cold and other dualities; knowing the minds of others; checking the influence of fire, sun, water, poison, and so on; and remaining unconquered by others are the other perfections acquired.

The ashta siddhis are:

1. Anima (Becoming Small): Reducing one's size to thepoint of an atom (anu). It is said that Lord Hanuman used the Anima Siddhi for entering Lanka. He made his body so small that no one could trace him.

2. Mahima (Becoming Big): Expanding one's size to unimaginably giant proportions, as was done by Sri Krishna.

3. Laghima (Weightlessness or Levitation): Making oneself light in weight so as to float or fly about in air without any support like a feather in the wind.

4. Garima (Heaviness): Making one incredibly weighty so that nobody can move the Sadhaka.

5. Praapti (Pervading): Also known as Vyaapti - penetrating through barriers and obstacles.

6. Praakaamyam (Materializing or Apport): To bring unseen objects within the view of all.

7. Eesitvam (Lordship): Having control over others.

8. Vasitvam (Subjugation): Attracting others.

The nava nidhis are:

1. Parkaaya Pravesh: It means one’s soul entering into the body of some other person. Through this knowledge even a dead body can be brought to life.

2. Haadi Vidya: This Vidya or knowledge has been mentioned in several ancient texts. On acquiring this Vidya, a person feels neither hunger nor thirst, and can remain without eating food or drinking water for several days at a stretch.

3. Kaadi Vidya: Just as one does not feel hungry or thirsty in Haadi Vidya, similarly in Kaadi Vidya a person is not affected by change of seasons, i.e. by summer, winter, rain, etc. After accomplishing this Vidya, a person shall not feel cold even if he sits in the snow-laden mountains, and shall not feel hot even if he sits in the fire.

4. Vaayu Gaman Siddhi: Through this Siddhi a person can become capable of flying in the skies and traveling from one place to another in just a few seconds.

5. Madalasa Vidya: On accomplishing this Vidya, a person becomes capable of increasing or decreasing the size of his body according to his wish. Lord Hanuman had miniaturized his body through this Vidya while entering the city of Lanka.

6. Kanakadhara Siddhi: One can acquire immense and unlimited wealth through this Siddhi.

7. Prakya Sadhana: Through this Sadhana a Yogi can direct his disciple to take birth from the womb of a woman who is childless or cannot bear children.

8. Surya Vigyan: This solar science is one of the most significant sciences of ancient India. This science has been known only to the Indian Yogis; using it, one substance can be transformed into another through the medium of sun rays.

9. Mrita Sanjeevani Vidya: This Vidya was created by Adi Shankaracharya. Through it, even a dead person can be brought back to life.

For a person who was a consummate master of all the Yogic practices, getting on to a wooden plank was indeed a very small feat. These powers came to Baba naturally. Though He had immense power at His command, Baba never used these Yogic powers for His own use. So, when people started assembling to see Baba mount and dismount the wooden plank, He removed it, broke it into two pieces and threw it away.


Just as Baba presented an enigmatic appearance, with some thinking that He was a Hindu and others thinking that He was a Muslim, His being also was a riddle. Though He was enclosed in a frail human frame, He was in the hearts of everyone. Though He was outwardly doing everything for the welfare of His devotees, inwardly He was totally disinterested and detached. Though internally He was totally at peace, externally He was very restless. He was a God inside; outwardly He was a devil incarnate. Internally He was an exponent of Advaita; externally He got entangled with the outside world. At times He embraced people, at other times, He threw stones at them. Though He sat in one place and never travelled anywhere, yet He was all pervasive and omniscient. He was a repository of knowledge, yet He looked like an ordinary beggar. He always said, “Allah Malik”, and carried a small stick in his hand. Always calm and serene, He never discriminated among His devotees. Poor or rich, all were same to Him. Those who understood the enigma that was Baba were fortunate and able to understand the Saguna Brahma. Those who took Him to be an ordinary, mad fakir missed the essence of the concept of Brahman and are really very unfortunate.


In reality, nobody knows any details regarding the birth of Baba. Some say that He was born to a Muslim couple and many others say that He was born to a devout Hindu couple. A rough estimate of the year of birth can be made by considering His stay in Shirdi. Baba attained Mahasamadhi in the year 1918 AD. Prior to that, He had an uninterrupted stay at Shirdi for 60 years. It means that He came to Shirdi with Chand Patil in the year 1858 AD when He was of 20 years of age. From this, His year of birth can approximately be fixed at 1838 AD. It can further be deduced that He first came to Shirdi in the year 1854 AD at the age of 16 years. He then disappeared for the period 1854 AD to 1858 AD. Some say that Baba was born on September 28, 1835 in a dense forest. It is generally believed that Baba spent 80 years on this earth.


During the years 1608 AD and 1681 AD, our country was reeling under the reign of Mohammedans (they were also called as ‘yavanas’). Saint Ramadas through his disciple Chatrapati Shivaji undertook to protect Hinduism. Two centuries later, the rift between the communities widened still further and there were frequent and regular fights and quarrels. It was during these turbulent years that Baba’s incarnation took place. He bridged the gap between them by saying, “Ram and Rahim are one and the same. Then why should Ram’s devotees and Rahim’s disciples fight with each other?” He used to teach both the communities, “Instead of fighting with each other, come together. Join hands. Work together for the betterment of the country. That way alone leads to peace and prosperity. Arguments and disputes do not lead us anywhere. Consider your own interest and welfare more than fighting for someone. If some one hurts you, do not take revenge. If possible, do some good to them. Knowledge, sacrifice, penance and yoga alone can take us nearer God. He will protect all.” Baba’s sane preachings were sound and legitimate then as well as now or at any other time. They are applicable both for spiritual as well as materialistic achievements.


Not all those who look like gurus are real gurus. Most of them teach mantras and give religious sermons for the sake of money. These people say that they teach spirituality but are themselves highly unreligious. How can such fake gurus take their disciples towards the path of self realization and bliss? All their dresses and make up are only for cheating others.

Gurus are basically of two types - Niyata (appointed or fixed) and Aniyata (not appointed or general). The Niyata type of gurus remove the sense of duality in us and make us realize ‘tat tvam asi’ (you are that) resulting in advaitam. They teach spirituality without taking into consideration specific requirements of each and every disciple. The Aniyata types of gurus provide specific advice to enhance our virtues, purify our hearts and take us on to the path of moksha. There are many gurus who can preach the general philosophy but only very few who can identify our requirements, tell us what we lack and then provide guidance towards self realization. These are the sadgurus. Among these sadgurus, Baba was the most prominent. The moment someone went for His darshan, He gave them a clear picture of their past, present and future without their asking. He then took them into His fold and guided them towards their goals. He had no preference for anyone. He had no friend or foe. He saw divinity in all. He did not brood retaliation even on those who hurt Him. He blessed them with all his compassion. Even though He took the form of a human being, He did not have any body consciousness. He was free from its shackles. The body never acted as a barrier for His activities. He was disembodied though embodied.

For people of Shirdi, there was no other God. Sai Baba was their living God. Those people were blessed indeed, as they thought only of Baba at all times. They thought of Him while they ate, while they worked and even while they were sleeping. They loved Him dearer than themselves. And how gratifying was the love of those women of Shirdi! They were uneducated, could not compose erudite lyrics, but they sang about Baba from their hearts full of love. Poetry springs from such spontaneous heartfelt songs. A collection of such folk songs would be an invaluable tribute to those innocent lovable people.


The concept of a formless god took shape in the form of Baba. God had come down to this earth in the form of Baba for the sake of His devotees. Baba had in Him all the six attributes a god should possess - fame, wealth, detachment, knowledge, grandeur and munificence. Baba came to this earth for the benefit of His devotees. He assured them that He would give them whatever they ask till they asked Him what He wanted to give. For their sake, He went to the extent of humility to which no one could go. It was Baba who said, “I am the servant of your servants. I am indebted to you. I have come here for your darshan. I will consider it a great privilege if I am born as an insect in your excreta.” How humble was Baba! The above sentence is included to show Baba’s greatness and not for any other purpose.

Baba was totally detached from this world. Though He ate, He never had any taste. Though He saw, He was not attached to what He saw. Though He saw and loved women, it was only the love of a child towards its mother. He was a total celibate like Lord Hanuman. He was perfection personified and a personification of pure consciousness.


Nanavalli was a strange person of Shirdi. He used to lose his temper for all petty things and used to pick up quarrel with anyone. Still, he looked after Baba and served Him. One day, while Baba was seated on His seat, Nanavalli went to Him and asked Him to vacate His seat. Immediately, Baba got up from His seat and moved away. Nanavalli sat on Baba’s seat for some time and then moved away allowing Baba to occupy His seat. Then he prostrated at Baba’s feet and left. During the entire episode, Baba was totally unmoved. He was as comfortable sitting on His seat as in vacating it for some one else. He did not mind in the least, being asked by someone to get away.

Nanavalli, however, loved Baba very much. He looked after Him as mother looks after her child. He attended to every small needs of Baba. When Baba attained Mahasamadhi, unable to bear the grief, he also left his mortal remains on the thirteenth day after Baba’s Mahasamadhi. Nanavalli’s Samadhi is also located in the Lendi garden.


Listening to the divine stories of great saints, and thus associating oneself with their company, is the shortest and easiest path for salvation. Baba’s story is the most mellifluous of all. Baba is like a lotus flower in a pond called Shirdi. Only His devotees enjoy this scenic beauty. They are the blessed ones.

With a kafni on, and a gunny bag as the seat, Baba used to listen to the woes of His devotees with a totally detached mind. He did not tell them any lengthy sermons, nor did He ask them to do any rigorous asanas. Neither did He utter any secret mantras in their ear, nor did He give them any talismans or amulets. He told them to discard cleverness, simplify their lives and chant ‘sai’ always. That alone would take them across even the most dreaded and complex problems of life. That alone is the definite path for eternal freedom.

The mind knows only one thing to do and that is to think. Invariably, it thinks only of sense objects. Give it a sense object, it will keep thinking about it. It is like giving a toy to a child. Whatever toy it has, it will play with it. Change the toy, the child will play differently. Similarly, instead of a sense object, give the mind a guru. It will think only of the guru. Feed it with the divine stories of Baba. The mind will think only of Baba. It is not at all difficult to listen to the stories of great saints like Baba compared to other sadhanas like pranayama (regulation of breathing), eight fold yoga, offering sacrifices, the five-fire sadhanas ( to sit in the middle with four fires burning around at exactly noon with overhead sun and fix attention on the goal one desires), etc. His stories will take us to the path of righteousness and dispel all the fears about the worldly matters. To listen to the stories of Baba, there is no constraint of caste, creed or sex.
If it is so simple and easy, then why does not everyone do it? The answer is simple. The effect of the deeds of the previous lives follows us in the present life also. In addition, there should be God’s grace. If the past lives were full of bad deeds, then God’s grace will not be there and the mind reverts to its lower state whenever guru’s name is given to it. It requires that much more effort for such persons to push the mind to a higher level of accepting a guru. But, this effort is not a waste. With continuous practice and effort, slowly and steadily the mind attains the higher level.

Udhdharet aatman aatmaanam naatmaanamavasadayet
Aatmaiva hyaatmano bandhuraatmaiva ripuraatmanaha
Ch.6 Sl.5
The mind should not get degraded, it should uplift itself As the mind is its own enemy and its own friend.

Asamshayam mahabaho mano durnigraham chalam
Abhyasena tu Kounteya vairagyena cha gruhyate
Ch.6 Sl.35
Hey mahabaho, it is true that mind is fickle, it is also true that it is difficult to control it, but hey Arjuna, through practice and detachment it can be controlled.

Once the mind starts hearing Baba’s stories, the sadguru takes us into His fold and blesses us.

Listening to stories of the great saints is same as being with them. We are blessed with their company. Such a companionship, also known as ‘satsang’, sets us free from the materialistic bondages. It removes our body consciousness and egoism. It delivers us from the eternal cycle of birth and death. Because of satsang, the mind attains a very blissful state. Even if we do not practice any rigorous sadhanas, if we just recite the names of great saints, they will carry us across this great ocean called samsara. Great saints take birth in this world to redeem those who have lost their way to righteousness. All those who are stranded in wilderness will be brought back in to the mainstream so that they can also attain the peace of mind, bliss, and moksha.

People take bath in sacred rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri etc, to wash away their sins. Even those rivers desire that great saints and yogis should take bath in them so that they will get some of the saints’ purifying powers. That is the greatness of saints. It is only because of some great deeds done in the previous lives that we are able to touch Baba’s feet by our hands and get blessed by Him.

Hemad Pant concludes this chapter by prostrating before the divine figure of Baba - the beautiful, handsome gracious and benevolent Sai Baba standing near the courtyard of the masjid, bending slightly; to give the vibhuti prasadam to the devotees for whose welfare He always strives.

With this the tenth chapter, called Sai Baba’s way of living and other stories, is complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about Sai as the saguna Brahman, how He was worshipped, how He controlled the elements and other matters.

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

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