Thursday, April 16, 2009

||chapter forty-two||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapter forty-two ||

|| the mahasamadhi ||

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


Hemad Pant begins this chapter with a reference to Dr. Pandit’s worshipping of Baba in his own way. Pandit was a friend of Tatyasaheb Noolkar and once he came to Shirdi. He had darshan of Baba and when his turn came, took the sandal paste from Dadabhat and applied it on Baba’s forehead, drawing a tripundra - three horizontal lines as per Shaiva tradition. Till then Baba had never allowed anyone to touch his forehead. Even Mhalsapathi did not dare touch Baba above His throat. He used to apply sandal paste to Baba’s throat. To the surprise of all, when Pandit applied the tripundra, Baba patiently allowed him to do it. Then Baba explained, “His guru is a Brahmin. I am of the muslim caste (mi jaticha mussalman-in Marathi), but he thought of me as his own guru and was performing ritual worship to the guru (guru pooja). He did not even entertain the thought that he himself was a pure Brahmin and that I was an unclean yavana”. The argument as to whether Baba was a Hindu or a Muslim was very much prevalent at that time even though Baba allowed each devotee to worship Him in his own way.


On the Vijayadashami day of the year 1916 AD, people in Shirdi were celebrating ‘Seemollanghan’ or ‘Shilangan’. On the ‘Seemollanghan’ day the people cross the border (seema) of their village, spend the day in the other village and return back to their homes in the evening. On that day, when they were returning, they had an unexpected experience. As they crossed the masjid on their way home, they saw Baba standing stark naked, eyes red hot and shouting, “You fellows, have a look now and decide finally whether I am a Muslim or a Hindu.” All those who saw Him thus, were totally shocked and were scared to go anywhere near Him.

In those days, there were many devotees of Baba who were anxious to know the religion of Baba by birth i.e. whether he was a Hindu or a Muslim. In any case, he was in human form so he must have taken birth from a human body, in which case whether his parents were Hindu or Muslim was the question. This was uppermost in the minds of the devotees assembled in Dwarakamai that evening.

Being an antaryami, Baba knew what was passing in their minds, and was slowly turning into an angry mood. He started abusing people who had assembled over there. The fire in the Dhuni was also raging higher and higher in the same proportion as Baba's angry mood. Entire Dwarakamai was lit up with the light from the firewood. By now Baba was charged with rage. He removed the cotton cloth tied to his head and threw it in the Dhuni. Suddenly the fire flames rose higher. Baba's long hairs became free. After a little while Baba removed his Kafani and threw the same in the Dhuni. The fire flames rose still higher, so much so that people feared that the Dwarakamai would catch fire. Baba's anger was reaching its zenith. He stood in front of the people in that angry mood and in a fraction of a second, he removed his langoti (loin cloth) and threw the same in raging Dhuni. He had thus become naked and stood in front of the people in that form. He then shouted at them and told them to look at his body and decide for themselves and ascertain whether he was Hindu or a Muslim. What a way to give proof of oneself! Baba had acquired a very fiery posture. His eyeballs had turned red hot like burning coal and rays of light were emanating from every pore of his body and his entire body was hidden behind that glow of spiritual ball of light. The light rays were so powerful that people had to close their eyes. In that electrifying moment, people totally forgot about the identity of Baba's religion. All present in Dwarakamai were stunned as Baba's shouts continued. The flames from Dhuni were reaching very high and throwing enormous amount of light. There was severe lightening and thunder outside. People were trembling with fear, when Bhagoji Shinde, came forward and with great courage tied the new langoti (loin-cloth) around his waist and said, “Deva, what is this? Today is the Seemollanghan day”. Baba jerked His satka and angrily said, “This is My Seemollanghan day.” Then Baba cooled down to normalcy. He lifted his satka and came close to the Dhuni. He started hitting the flames with the satka and was saying "Ugi...Ugi”, (calm down, calm down – in Marathi). With each stroke of satka the flames lowered in height and soon everything was back to normal. Then people got the courage to make Baba wear a new Kafani and his hairs were tied with a new piece of cloth.

When Bhagoji Shinde tied the langoti to Baba’s waist, it was already 9.00pm and people were worried whether the Chavadi Procession that day would take place or not. By 11.0 pm Baba was dressed as usual and the Chavadi Procession took place with all its grandeur. In the din and noise of the procession and celebrations, people forgot Baba’s words. He had given indication to his devotees that this will be the day on which He would cross the border of life and death and would bid bodily good bye to this world. Baba had selected Vijayadashami day with a purpose. Later, in the year 1918 on the Vijayadashmi day Baba took Samadhi.


Some time after the above incident, the head of the Shirdi village, Ramachandra Patil became seriously ill. He suffered very much. In spite of taking all the varieties of medicines, there was no improvement and he was gradually sinking. He knew that his end was near, but did not know how long he had to endure the suffering. Then, one midnight, Baba appeared to him and stood near his pillow. Patil mustered all his physical strength and fell at the feet of Baba and begged, “Deva, I have lost all hopes of life. Please tell me, definitely, when it will end.” Merciful as ever, Baba said, “Don’t worry. Your hundi (death warrant) is withdrawn. You will recover. But, I am worried about Tatya. He will pass away on the Vijayadashami day of Shaka 1840 (year 1918 AD). Don’t tell this to anyone. He will be terribly frightened if knows.” Ramachandra Patil recovered soon enough. Baba’s words were eating away his mental peace as he was very fond of Tatya. It was a truth which he could neither tell anyone nor live with it. Under some compelling circumstances, he told it only to Bala Shimpi. Now, two persons were counting the days with fear and suspense - Ramachandra Patil and Bala Shimpi.

Time does not wait for anybody. Ramachandra Patil had resumed his normal activities, the month of Bhadrapada of Shaka 1840 (1918 AD) had passed and the subsequent month was on its way. True to Baba’s words, Tatya fell sick and was bed ridden. Because of his illness, and as he was too weak to get up and walk, he could not go to masjid to have darshan of Baba. Curiously, Baba also fell sick at the same time. He was down with fever. Tatya had always trusted Baba implicitly. For him, Baba was not just God but his everything. Tatya’s illness took a turn for the worse. He could not move even on the bed. He had to lie down in one position only. However, not a single moment went without his remembering Baba. Simultaneously, in the masjid, Baba’s health was also deteriorating.

One day Baba sent word to Tatya to come to the mosque and have his meal there, but as Tatya could not summon enough strength to even rise from his bed, some devotees helped him to go to the mosque where Baba fed him with semolina pudding with his own hands despite his ill health. Tatya could only swallow a couple of mouthfuls with great difficulty. Baba told him, "Tatya, I had arranged for two swings (carriages) for both of us initially. But I have changed my mind. I will go alone. Now you may go home." Tatya understood the import of Baba’s words and started sobbing. He said, "Baba, why do you not send me first?" Baba replied, "I am a fakir, there is no one to cry for me when I go away. But all your people will grieve if you go." Tatya heard the tone of finality in Baba’s words and his sorrow intensified and he started weeping piteously. He said, "Baba, if I go, it is only my relatives who will grieve. But if you go, you will make many people of this world orphans. If you live on, many people will attain salvation by your mere darshan. What of me? My life is a burden to me and to my relatives too." Baba would not listen to any further talk in this vein from Tatya. He scolded him lovingly, "Alright, no more talk from you. Go home." He put udi on Tatya’s forehead and sent him home, watching him with a heavy heart until he was out of sight.

Vijayadashami day finally dawned. In the Muslim month of Muharram, it was the ninth day and that night was the ‘night of slaughter’. Most of Baba’s devotees were with Tatya near his bedside. His pulse had almost stopped beating. The day was 15 October 1918, Tuesday, and the time was nearing 2.00pm. The tenth day of the lunar month was already over when the clock struck 12.30 in the afternoon. The eleventh day had begun. Almost miraculously, Tatya’s health started improving. The pulse was beating faster and acquiring the normal rate. People heaved a sigh of relief that Tatya had crossed the perilous moment and was on the way to recovery.

Within an hour, people got the news that their beloved Sai Baba had breathed His last at 2.30pm. Entire Shirdi, and all the devotees, world wide, were plunged in deep sorrow. Many thought that Baba had exchanged His life for Tatya’s.

Dasganu Maharaj was away in Pandharpur at that time. The next morning, on 16th, Baba appeared in his dream and said, “The masjid has collapsed. All the oilmen and grocers of Shirdi teased Me very much, so I am leaving the place. I have come to inform you. Please go there quickly and cover Me with ‘Bhakkal’ flowers.” Almost at the same time, he got letters from Shirdi mentioning about the sad event. Dasganu left for Shirdi immediately. He started singing Bhajans and kirtans throughout the day near Baba’s samadhi. He weaved a beautiful garland of flowers studded with Sri Hari’s names and placed it on the samadhi. He also performed anna daanam in the name of Baba.


Baba’s illness started with a slight attack of fever on 28 September 1918. Though the fever subsided, Baba gave up taking food and became weaker day by day. He suffered like this for 17 days. On the 17th day was the fateful Vijayadashami day. Dasara or Vijayadashami day is considered by all Hindus to be the most auspicious day, and it was only appropriate that Baba selected this day for His ‘Seemollanghan’. Till the last moment, He was very conscious though His body was suffering. At the last moment, He sat up erect and the very few who were around, thought that the danger had passed. He put His hand in the pocket of His kafni, removed five coins of one rupee and gave it to Laxmibai. He again put His hand in the pocket and removed another four coins of one rupee and gave them to her. In all He gave her nine coins of one rupee.

Laxmibai was a good and well to do woman. She was not poor. It was because of pure love for Baba that she was working in the masjid day and night. Baba never allowed anyone other than Mhalsapathi, Tatya and Laxmibai to remain in the masjid during night time. Once, it happened that Laxmibai came in the evening and prostrated at the feet of Baba. Baba told her, “Laxmi, I am very hungry.” She said, “Deva, wait a minute. I will get you bhakri (roti prepared with jawar flour)” and immediately left for her home. She came back within no time and gave the rotis to Baba. Baba took those rotis and fed them to the dog which was resting there. Laxmibai felt hurt. She said, “What is this Deva, I took so much trouble to prepare the rotis fast and you are feeding the dog, without even taking a small bite? Unnecessarily You troubled me.” Baba replied, “Why do you complain? Appeasement of the dog’s hunger is same as appeasing My hunger. Like Me, the dog also has a soul. Creatures may be different, but hunger of all is same. Know that he, who feeds the hungry, really serves Me. Regard this as an axiomatic truth.” Though this is an ordinary incident, Baba explained a great spiritual truth and showed its practical application. From then onwards, Laxmibai started bringing milk and roti everyday to Baba with great devotion and love. Baba ate a part of this and sent the remaining to Radhakrishna Mai, who considered it as prasadam and ate it.

Baba never forgot any service rendered to Him. As He said frequently, if He took one rupee, He had to repay ten rupees. When He was leaving His body, He gave nine coins of one rupee to Laxmibai. The figure nine could mean Nava Vidha Bhakti as explained in Chapter 21. It could also mean the Dakshina offered during Seemollanghan. As Laxmibai was not in need of any money, it could also mean the nine characteristics of a good disciple as mentioned in the Skanda11, Chapter 10 and Sloka 6 of the Bhagavatam:

amāny amatsaro disco nirmamo dṛḍha-sauhṛdaḥ
asatvaro 'rtha-jijñāsur anasūyur amogha-vāk

The servant or disciple of the spiritual master should be free from false prestige, never considering himself to be the doer. He should be active and never lazy and should give up all sense of proprietorship over the objects of the senses, including his wife, children, home and society. He should be endowed with feelings of loving friendship toward the spiritual master and should never become deviated or bewildered. The servant or disciple should always desire advancement in spiritual understanding should not envy anyone and should always avoid useless conversation.

Here also, the first couplet lists 5 characteristics and the second mentions the remaining 4. Sri Krishna told Uddhava the various ways in which the disciple should behave with his guru. He also tells the five ways first and then the four. The 5 and 4 has many layers of significance. Baba indicated all these when He gave the coins to Laxmibai. This was her prized possession.

Baba also took other precautions. As He did not want His love for the devotees to entangle Him in the last moment, He told all of them to go away. He asked Kakasaheb Dixit, Bapusaheb Booty and others who were with Him, to go to Wada and come back after their lunch. Knowing Baba’s condition, they did not want to leave Him. As it was Baba Himself who had asked them to go, they could not ignore His orders also. Very reluctantly, they went to Wada and sat for taking food. Before they could finish the meals, news came of Baba’s Mahasamadhi. They ran to the masjid. There they saw their beloved Baba resting peacefully on Bayaji’s (Appa Kote) lap. He did not fall to the ground, nor did He lie on His bed. He sat quietly on His seat and breathed His last while giving charity with His own hand.

Eleventh Century Sufi poet Bedil had such a profound understanding of those who mystically attain God in the Sufi tradition that he wrote:

These men do never die,
They become the Praised Ones.
They bestow mercy on the world with myriad hands.
They help the helpless.
They aid the depressed.
They leave not those that follow them
When the time of danger comes.
They are men only in name.
In reality they are God Himself.
These solitary ones are marvelous.

Saints come to this earth with a definite mission to accomplish. Having accomplished, they go back to their heavenly abode as silently as they had come. Sai Baba had come to Shirdi without any fanfare. He had come as a total stranger. When He left this world, not many were there with Him. He was always alone, taking on the unbearable responsibility of anyone who called Him for help. For all that He did to everyone, He did not ask anything from anyone except love, affection and a few kind words. Whether in human form or beyond it, He has been giving everything His devotees asked Him. To this great soul, to this most kind and merciful god let us shed a drop of tear of pure love and affection. That is the only way we can express our gratitude to Him.

With this, the forty second chapter, called as The Mahasamadhi, is complete. In the next two chapters, Hemad Pant continues the story of Baba’s Mahasamadhi and other matters.

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

Sunday, April 12, 2009

||chapter forty-one||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapter forty - one ||

|| the story of a picture ||

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

In this chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about Story of a picture, Stealing the Rags, Reading of Jnaneshwari and other matters.


The effects of good or bad deeds, accrued because of the karma done by this body, do not disappear with the perishing of the body. The effects persist long after the doer disappears. To escape from this, one should realise that Jiva is not the body. Once this realisation is attained, the effects of karma do not bind the Jiva as Jiva is not the doer. For this realisation to dawn, one must surrender at the divine feet of Baba. Once this is done, the Sadguru will lift us and make us go through such divine experiences which we can never even imagine. The easiest way to get the Sadguru’s blessings is by repeated parayana of Satcharitra. We should forget our egoism and bow at the feet of Baba, endowed with the divine Shadgunas - Fame, Affluence, Munificence, Knowledge, Detachment, and Tranquillity. Baba is always kind. Even if we are not devoted to Him, even if we do not worship Him, if we just call Him once, He will respond immediately.


We saw how Baba kept up His promise to His devotees and made them happy. To Hemad Pant, He told in the dream that He would come for lunch. At the stroke of the time for lunch, He appeared as a portrait and accepted Hemad Pant’s pooja and naivedyam. Hemad Pant was curious to know how Ali Mohammad came to know of him and how he got the photograph of Baba. Ali Mohammad had told him that he would tell the story when they next meet. That meeting occurred nine years later.

Once, when Ali Mohammad was going through the streets of Bombay, he saw the big portrait of Baba with a hawker. As he was a devotee of Baba, he liked the photograph immensely, bought it and framed it. He took the framed picture to his home in Bandra and hung it on a wall. Everyday he used to bow to the portrait. Three months before he visited Hemad Pant, he developed an abscess on his leg and suffered acute pain. The doctors suggested that surgery was necessary. He duly got operated and stayed in the house of his brother-in-law, Noor Mohammad Peerbhoy for post operative care. Ali Mohammad stayed there for three months.

During these three months, nobody took care of his house in Bandra. His home contained the photographs of famous saints like Baba Abdul Rahman, Moulanasaheb Mahomed Hussain, Baba Tajuddin, Sai Baba and few others. The way in which Ali Mohammad got the photograph of Baba Abdul Rahman was also strange. Ali Mohammad had obtained a small picture of Baba Abdul Rahman from Mahomed Hussain Thariyatopan some years ago. Hoping that it would bring good luck, he gave the picture to his brother-in-law, Noor Mohammed. The picture was lying in the drawer of Noor Mohammad’s table for eight years. One day, he saw it and then took it to a photographer, got it enlarged to life size, made several copies of it, framed them and distributed them to his relatives and friends. He gave one photograph to Ali Mohammad also. Noor Mohammed was a disciple of Baba Abdul Rahman and wanted to give one photograph to his guru in an open durbar. The moment the guru saw his own photograph in the hands of Noor Mohammad, he was wild with anger, ran to beat him and drove him away. Baba Abdul Rahman did not like image worship.

Noor Mohammad felt very sorry and dejected. In addition to losing so much money in making enlarged copies and framing them, he had lost the confidence of his guru and also incurred his wrath and displeasure. Following his guru’s belief, he took the big photograph with him to Apollo Bunder (in Bombay), hired a boat and drowned it in the sea. He asked his friends also to return the photographs, six in number, and when he got them, gave it to a fisherman to throw them in the Bandra sea. Ali Mohammad was convalescing in Noor Mohammad’s house. Ali Mohammad was told that all his suffering would come to an end if he also took the photographs of all the saints in his house and drowned them in sea. On hearing this, Ali Mohammad sent his manager to his house in Bandra and asked him to drown all the photographs in the sea.

After two months, when he returned back to his house, Ali Mohammad had a surprise waiting for him. The moment he opened the doors and entered inside, he saw the photograph of Baba looking at him. He was surprised how his manager could have missed Baba’s picture. Afraid that if Noor Mohammad saw it, he would take it and dump it in the sea, he immediately removed it and kept it in his cupboard. Ali Mohammad had a special love for Baba’s portrait. He was now in a dilemma as he could neither hang it on the wall, nor throw it away. While he was worried about what to do, Baba inspired an idea that he should meet Moulana Ismu Mujavar and follow his advice.

Next day he met the Moulana and told him the complete story about the photograph. After mature consideration, the Moulana suggested that the photograph should be given to Annasaheb Dabholkar (Hemad Pant) who would protect it well. Then both went to Hemad Pant’s house and presented him with Baba’s photograph at the most opportune time.

The above story shows how carefully Baba interlaced the lives of His devotees and brought happiness and cheer to every one of them. Such interaction is possible only for someone who knows the past, present and the future. For Baba, time and space were no constraints.


Sant Jnaneshwar, the well-known saint of Maharashtra, was not only a realised soul but a gifted poet. At a very early age (around 19 years), he wrote his masterpiece, ‘Jnaneshwari’, a commentary on the Gita in Marathi in exquisite poetry. He has explained the Gita not by recourse to rational arguments but by the profuse use of similes, metaphors and illustrations. ‘Jnaneshwari’ was one of Baba’s favourite books. He called it ‘Pothi’. Balakrishna Vishvanath Deo, (BV Deo or Balasaheb Deo as he was affectionately called) the Mamlatdar of Dahanu, wanted to read ‘Jnaneshwari’ from a long time. He was able to read completely one chapter of Bhagavad-Gita and some parts of other scriptures every day, but when he took up ‘Jnaneshwari’ for reading, some difficulties always cropped up and he was prevented from reading further. He took three months’ leave and went to Shirdi and then to Poud for taking rest. In Poud also, he was able to read other books but not ‘Jnaneshwari’. Whenever he opened the book, some evil or stray thoughts came crowding in his mind and stopped him from further reading. However hard he tried, he just could not make any progress. Finally, he decided that he would read ‘Jnaneshwari’ only when Baba created some love for it and ordered him to read it. He had visited Baba for the first time in 1910 at the insistence of Nanasaheb Chandorkar.

In 1914 AD he went with his family to Shirdi. When he met Bapusaheb Jog, on his way to the masjid for Baba’s darshan, Jog asked him whether he read ‘Jnaneshwari’ daily. Deo told his story to Jog. He told him of the innumerable attempts he made to read the book, but his inability to read. He also told that he would read the book only after Baba orders him to read. Jog advised him to take a copy of the book and present it to Baba, so that He would consecrate and give it back. Then he could start reading it. Deo told him that he did not want to do like that as Baba knew his desire and would wait till Baba ordered him to read.

Subsequently, Deo had darshan of Baba and offered Re 1/- as Dakshina to Baba. Baba asked him Rs.20/- as Dakshina which Deo gave happily. That night, he met one Balakram and asked him how he became a devotee of Baba and how he was able to secure the confidence of Baba. Balakram told him to wait till aarati next day, when he would tell him everything. As usual, Deo went for Baba’s darshan next day. Baba asked him a Dakshina of Rs.20/- which he gave willingly. It was aarati time and the masjid was overcrowded, so Deo went to a corner and sat there. Baba called him to come closer and sit with peace of mind. Deo followed his instructions.

Noon aarati was over and people had dispersed. The masjid was almost empty. Deo saw Balakram there and asked him the same questions again. When Balakram was about to answer, Baba sent Chandru, a leper devotee, to bring Deo to Him. Deo went to Baba with all submissiveness. Baba asked him what he was talking, with whom and when. Deo told him that he was talking with Balakram and heard from him about Baba’s fame. Then Baba asked for a Dakshina of Rs.25/-. Deo gave it happily. Baba took him inside and sitting near the post, charged him, “You stole My rags, without My knowledge.” Deo, who was shocked with this allegation, denied all knowledge of any rags. Baba asked him to make a search. He searched and found nothing. Baba was getting increasingly angry and shouted, “There is nobody here. You are the thief. You are grey haired and old; still you come here for stealing.” After that Baba lost his temper totally, gave all sorts of abuses and was about to beat him. Some time later, Baba cooled down and asked him to go to Wada.

Deo returned to Wada. There he met Jog and Balakram. He told them what all had transpired. They also did not understand why Baba got so angry. After some time, Baba sent for all of them. When all reached the masjid and bowed at the feet of Baba, Baba said that his words might have pained the old man (Deo) but as he had committed the theft, He could not keep quiet. He asked him for a Dakshina of Rs.12/-. Deo did not have the two coins. He had only currency notes. He collected the amount and gave it to Baba and prostrated at His feet. Then Baba told him, “Read Pothi (Jnaneshwari) daily. Sit in the Wada and read some part regularly everyday. While reading, explain what you read to all with love and devotion. When I am sitting here to give you gold embroidered Shella (shawl), why go to others to steal rags? And, after all, why should you get into the habit of stealing?”

Deo was immensely pleased with these words, as he got what he wanted. He was happy that Baba had asked him to read ‘Jnaneshwari’. He could now read his favourite book with ease. He again prostrated at the feet of Baba and requested Him to treat him as a child and help him in his reading. Deo surrendered himself totally to Baba. He then understood what Baba had meant by ‘stealing the rags’. What he had asked Balakram constituted ‘rags’. Trying to know about the fame of Baba without His knowledge, was stealing. When Baba was ready to answer any question, He did not like anyone to know about Him through some one else. Hence He had scolded and harassed. Deo realised that it was not really ‘harassing and scolding’, but a lesson taught to him. He learnt that it was useless to ask someone else about Baba, when Baba Himself is present to fulfil all his desires. Deo considered Baba’s scolding as blessings and went home satisfied and contented.

As we have seen in earlier cases, Baba always kept a watch on His devotees. Their welfare was His prime and only concern. Within one year, He went to Deo to find out about the progress made by him in ‘Jnaneshwari’. On 02 April 1914, Thursday morning, Baba appeared in Deo’s dream. He sat on the upper floor and asked him whether he understood the Pothi. Deo told Him that he did not. Baba asked, “Then, when are you going to understand?” Deo was in tears and said, “Unless You shower Your grace, reading it is a problem. Understanding is very difficult.” Then Baba said, “Read slowly. Read it before Me, in My presence.” Deo asked Him, “What shall I read?” Baba told him, “Read Adhyatma.” Deo went to bring the book, Adhyatma Ramayana, but found that he had already opened his eyes and was wide awake. The immense joy and bliss he felt after this is indescribable.

If we surrender to Him, Baba will guide us even in the smallest matter possible. With Sadguru’s guidance and blessings, it is not at all difficult to cross this endless ocean of ‘Bhavasagara’. All the miseries and difficulties will vanish and life will be smooth and happy. By bowing at the divine feet of the Sadguru everyday, all the obstacles will disappear. Sadguru Sai can snatch us even from the jaws of certain death. The power of Sadguru Sai is inestimable. Let us all prostrate at the divine feet of our beloved Sadguru Sai Baba and pray that His blessings should always be with us and that He should protect us from going astray and guide us to our destination. Sadguru Sainath Maharaj Ki Jai!!!!

With this, the forty first chapter, called as The story of a picture, is complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about Baba’s Mahasamadhi and other matters.

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

Friday, April 10, 2009

||chapter forty||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapter forty ||

|| udyapana 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 Stories of Baba - attending Mrs Deo’s Udyapana, Hemad Pant’s house and other matters.


Blessed are the devotees who prostrate at the divine feet of our beloved Baba. The moment we place our head at His feet, He caresses our head lovingly with His hand and lifts us up. By placing His hand on our head, Baba transfers His powers to us, destroying the ignorance that Jiva and the world are separate. The sense of duality is removed for ever. Sai becomes one with us and we become one with Sai. It is like the sea welcoming the rivers. When rivers join the sea, the river and the sea become indistinguishable. To become one with Baba and to get the immense powers, we do not have to labour very hard. Listening to Baba’s stories is enough to make us attain the unattainable. Nothing pleases Baba more than the devotees singing songs of these stories. The God likes those who sing the praise of His devotees more than Himself. By listening to these stories and describing them to others, various sins accrued from the misdeeds of all previous lives will be washed away.


BV Deo was a Mamlatdar in Dahanu (Thana District). His mother was a religious lady. She had taken 25 to 30 different vows and performed all the poojas. It is a tradition that with the successful completion of a vow and the pooja, an Udyapana has to be performed. This includes feeding the Brahmins and all the other invited guests. Deo’s mother combined all the 25 to 30 Udyapanas into a single one and invited about 100 to 200 guests for the lunch. Deo, who was a staunch devotee of Baba, felt that it would be nice if Baba would also attend the lunch. He knew that Baba always stayed in Shirdi and never went anywhere except Rahata, Rui and Nimgaon in person. Still, his love for Baba was such that he desired His presence on that happy occasion. So, he wrote a letter to Bapusaheb Jog, to request Baba on his behalf to attend the ceremony. He also wrote that without Baba’s presence, the function would remain incomplete. Bapusaheb Jog duly read out the letter to Baba. Baba said, “I always think of him who remembers Me. I don’t need any conveyance like tanga, train or airplane to go from one place to another. I manifest Myself to him who calls Me lovingly. Write to him a pleasing reply that the three of us (Myself, yourself and a third) will attend the function.” Deo was immensely happy to read the letter. He knew that Baba would not come in person. Still, he thought that nothing was impossible for Baba and He may suddenly turn up in any form He likes and fulfil His promises.

A few days earlier to the Udyapana day, a sanyasi dressed like a Bengali got down from a train and went to the station master at Dahanu. He introduced himself as a volunteer working for the promotion of welfare of cows. He wanted to know if the station master could help him in collecting donations for this noble purpose. The station master felt that he was not the competent person for this and suggested that the gentleman should contact the mamlatdar of the place. By a coincidence, Deo who was also the mamlatdar, walked into the station master’s room. The station master introduced the sanyasi to Deo. Both of them discussed about the welfare of cows. Deo liked the idea very much and really wanted to help. He told the sanyasi that as Rao Saheb Narotham Shetty was collecting donations for some other purpose, it would be better to wait for a couple of months and then start the movement on cow welfare. Sanyasi agreed and told him that he would come back after some time and left.

On the day of Udyapana, the sanyasi dressed as before, came in a Tonga, got down in front of Deo’s house. The time then was about 10.0 AM in the morning. Deo was very busy organizing the Udyapana. Seeing him again within such short notice, Deo felt that he had come for the charity work, and was slightly irritated. Reading Deo’s expression on his face the sanyasi said, “Sir, I did not come for charity. I want to take food in your house today.” Deo was immensely happy as uninvited guests are treated as God. He said, “Please come. It is my good fortune that you have come today to my house. Please treat this as your own home.” The sanyasi told him that two of his friends were also with him. Deo replied, “Please tell me where they are staying. I will bring them here.” The sanyasi told him not to bother and that all the three of them would come exactly at the time of lunch. Deo told him that food would be ready to be served around noon. Exactly at noon, the trio came and joined others for the Udyapana meals. Deo served them as though he was offering naivedyam to the God. After completing the lunch, the three accepted tambulam from Deo and left. Deo waited the entire day for Baba, and at the end of the day when Baba did not turn up, he felt very unhappy.

After completion of the function, Deo wrote a letter to Bapusaheb Jog, complaining of the way in which Baba disappointed him. Jog went to Baba with the letter. Even before he could read the letter, Baba said, “He says that I promised him to come, but deceived him. Write to him that I did attend the Udyapana lunch with two others. He didn’t recognize Me. He thought that the sanyasi had come for the charity. I told him that I did not come for charity, but for lunch. I also told him that there were two more with Me. All the three of us came in time and took our lunch. Look, to keep up My promise, I would even sacrifice My life. I am never untrue to My words.”

Jog was very happy with Baba’s reply and wrote the entire conversation to Deo. As soon as he read the letter, Deo was extremely happy that Baba did visit his house and had food. He also cursed himself for not recognizing Baba in spite of all the indications provided. He was also unhappy that he wrote very uncharitable words about Baba to Jog. Whenever someone calls Baba affectionately and lovingly, He never disappoints. He would go to any extent to make them happy. To such a benign God, let us prostrate once again and invite Him to visit our houses.


In Deo’s story, Deo invited Baba for lunch; Baba accepted the invitation and attended the lunch. Here is a slightly different variation. On a full moon morning in 1917 AD, when Hemad Pant was in Bandra, he had a vision. In that vision, he found himself fast asleep. Baba appeared in the dream, in the form of a well dressed sanyasi, woke him up and told him that he would come to him for meals that day. When he finally woke up, he could not find either the Sanyasi or Sai. What surprised Hemad Pant most was that he could remember every word spoken in the dream very distinctly. Another surprise for him was that, though he was with Baba for the past seven years, Baba never expressed any desire to come to his house and Hemad Pant also never expected that Baba would come for meals. Those were the Shimga days. So, he went to his wife and told her that being the Shimga day, a sanyasi guest was coming for meals and that she should prepare sufficient food items. Being curious, she asked him who the guest was and wherefrom was he coming. Not to create any misunderstanding, he told her the entire story of his dream. She doubted if Baba would leave the nice dishes at Shirdi and come to Bandra to take the ordinary food they were preparing. Hemad Pant told her that Baba may not come in person, but may attend in any other form as a guest. They would lose nothing by preparing additional food items.

All the food items were prepared with great care and were ready for serving by noon. The Holika pooja was also over and plantain leaves were spread for taking food. Rangoli was drawn around the leaves. Two rows with a central seat for the guest were arranged. All the family members - daughters, their husbands, grandsons - came and occupied their respective places. Serving of food also commenced. Still there was no trace of the guest. Naivedyam was also offered to Sri Krishna. When they were about to begin, foot steps were heard near the door and someone knocked on the door. Hemad Pant anxiously went to the door and opened it. He found that two persons, Ali Mohammad and Moulana Ismu Mujavar, were standing near the door with a packet in their hand. They saw that meals were served and that everyone was ready to begin. They immediately apologized to Hemad Pant and said, “Pardon us for disturbing you like this when you are about to begin eating. Others are also waiting. Please take your packet and open it immediately. We will tell you about it afterwards, at your convenience. Please go and have your food.” Ali Mohammad took out a packet wrapped in an old news paper and placed it on the table.

Hemad Pant opened the packet immediately and to his great surprise and wonder, found that it was a nice, big portrait of Baba. Hemad Pant was so much moved by seeing the picture that tears rolled down his eyes and without wasting any time, he prostrated at the divine feet of Baba. He thought that Baba was true to His word and came there to bless him. Unable to contain his curiosity, he asked Ali Mohammad how he got that picture. Ali Mohammad was already feeling guilty for having disturbed their lunch. He said that he would tell him all the details at a later date, and that they should continue with their lunch. Hemad Pant thanked them, bade them good bye and joined other for the lunch. The picture was placed in the seat reserved for the guest. After offering naivedyam to the guest, Hemad Pant and others commenced their lunch. Everyone was extremely pleased and wondered at the miracle wherein Baba told in advance that He would come for lunch and at the correct time, appeared as a picture and accepted the pooja and naivedyam. From then on, Hemad Pant kept that photograph in his pooja room along with the photographs of other gods and goddesses. On every subsequent Holi day, he used to offer special pooja to Baba’s portrait.

Whether in dream or in reality, Baba always kept up His promise to the devotees and made them happy. To that beloved Baba, our beloved Baba, let us prostrate again.

With this, the fortieth chapter, called as Udyapana and other stories, is complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about Story of a picture, Stealing the Rags, Reading of Jnaneshwari and other matters.

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

||chapter thirty-nine & fifty||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapters thirty - nine and fifty ||

|| interpretation of bhagavad geeta ||

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

In these two chapters, Hemad Pant tells us about Baba’s interpretation of a verse from Gita, construction of the Samadhi Mandir and other matters.

This chapter deals with Baba’s interpretation of a verse in Bhagvad Gita. Some people believed that Baba did not know Sanskrit and the interpretation given was Nanasaheb Chandorkar’s. Refuting this belief, Hemad Pant wrote chapter 50, which also deals with the same subject. Hence these two chapters are combined together.


Shirdi was a small village. After Baba came to Shirdi, it attracted plenty of attention and subsequently became a Teertha or a holy place of pilgrimage. Blessed is Shirdi and blessed indeed is the Dwarakamai, where Sai lived. Blessed are the people of Shirdi, for whose welfare Sai came there. The people also gave everything they had, to Him. Their passionate love for Him and their implicit faith in Him was unparalleled. Every family in Shirdi treated Him as their own family member. For them, Baba’s words were commands which had to be implemented. They never thought of any other option. Such was their devotion. The women of Shirdi sang His glories all the time, while bathing, grinding, pounding grains, or doing other house hold work. The lyrics were simple, easy to sing and the lines spoke of their abundant love for Baba. Expression of undivided affection for Baba was the sole purpose. The songs not only did this, but always soothed the troubled mind. Blessed indeed are the people of Shirdi.


It was during 1900-02 AD. Nanasaheb Chandorkar used to come to Shirdi frequently for Baba’s darshan. Nanasaheb was born of highly respected parents, who were good and pious Hindus, held in high esteem in their social circles and following the sastras to the best of their ability. His father was a retired Government officer, and had built a decent building in Kalyan, called the Chandorkar Wada. Nanasaheb’s capability and talents could be seen from the fact that by twenty he was already a graduate, and that entering Government service, he at once rose to the position of a Gazetted officer, a Deputy Collector, in seven years, which was in those days considered (and must be considered even now) to be an exceptional or marvellous feat. His conduct, character, and spiritual fitness were those of a good Hindu. He had taken up Philosophy as a special subject for the B. A. degree and supplemented his college study by careful attention to the Bhagavat Gita with Shankara Bhashya. He was anxious to get the best out of the Hindu sastras for his own moral and spiritual enlightenment and progress. His basic equipment being so good, what was needed was only the hand of a perfect master to turn him into a brilliant apostle, one high up in the spiritual ladder.

Nanasaheb had no idea of his previous births. But his Guru Sri Sai Baba knew everything. Being a sarvajna, He knew that in the past four janmas, Nanasaheb was His sishya. So He was determined to make the pupil continue the contact and derive further benefit till he achieved life's goal. That is why He sent for him even though He did not care ordinarily to meet persons in high official position which, in His eyes, counted for nothing at all. Baba wanted to coach His dear devotee Nanasaheb in respect of the shadripus and show how they were impediments for self realization. Baba's work (like most divine work) is subtle (sukshma), unseen, easily forgotten, and not properly interpreted.

The shadripus are Kaama, Krodha, Moha, Lobha, Maatsarya and Mada. Mada is pride, conceit, vanity, or display of one's ill-conceived high opinion of oneself in a way displeasing and disgusting to others. That pride may be based upon caste or wealth or learning or physical strength, etc. In the case of Nanasaheb, being a religious minded person, he used to read Gita everyday and had also read the various commentaries on it. In addition, he knew Sanskrit very well and had read several books on Indian Philosophy. He was also a good student of Vedanta and took pride in his knowledge of it. The pride of learning and caste was in him, and it had to be duly toned down. That which is the hardest to conquer is the pride of learning. This over-attachment to learning is called 'Vidya Vasana'. When we have to shake off vasana (tendency) after vasana to get into pure Satva of Brahman, one serious obstacle is this Vidya Vasana, the concept of 'I am a learned man', ‘I know all the Vedas', 'I must consider everything in my own style and cannot accept somebody else's dictum.' These are all Vidya Vasana traces, and all of them are fatal to one's chance of attaining Mukti. So, Baba had to put down this pride of learning in Nanasaheb. Nanasaheb was not very offensively parading his learning, but still had an idea that his knowledge of Sanskrit and the Gita with Shankara Bhashya placed him high above the ordinary run of men in knowledge. Baba wanted, at one stroke, to pull him by the heels and show him how dangerous his conceit was and at the same time teach him the duties of a sishya and lay the foundation for Brahma-realization (which cannot coexist with Ego and Egotism).

The 'Vidya Vasana’ ego is an almost insuperable barrier standing in the way of the educated, the cultured, and the intellectual set that approached and still approach Baba. Nanasaheb was the first and foremost of these intellectuals. His Vidya Vasana was very powerful. He believed that he could understand and by his understanding reach Moksha. This, being a very powerful obstacle, had to be overcome, and the first step or mark of overcoming it is humility and preparedness to surrender the ego or egotism.

Those were the days when Baba’s fame had not yet spread far and wide. Devotees, who came for Baba’s darshan, could easily spend some time alone with Baba.

On one such afternoon, Baba was relaxing and Nanasaheb was tenderly and lovingly massaging Baba’s legs with utmost care. To spend time purposefully, Nanasaheb was trying to repeat and recollect something. He did not want to disturb Baba’s peace, so he was muttering in a low voice.

It was a sloka from Bhagavad-Gita:

Tadviddhi pranipaatena pariprashnena sevayaa;
Upadekshyanti te jnaanam jnaaninas tatvadarshinaha.
Chap.4, Sl.34

Know that through prostration, inquiry and service. The wise ones who have realized the Truth will impart the Knowledge to you.

Although people may be wise, some of them are apt to know Truth just as it is, while others may not be so. Hence the qualification, 'who have realized the Truth'. The considered view of the Lord is that Knowledge imparted by those who have full enlightenment becomes effective, not any other.

Baba knew what Nanasaheb was mumbling something and caught him exactly at the point He wanted to. It dealt with the Guru teaching the sishyas, and that is what Baba wanted—to disabuse him of his conceit and pride based on an ego which barred God-realization or jiva brahma-aikya.

Baba asked, “Nana, what are you muttering?”

Nana: A sloka in Sanskrit.

Baba: Which Sloka?

Nana: From Bhagavad-Gita.

Baba: Say it loudly. Let Me also hear it.

Nanasaheb then recited the above sloka from Bhagavad-Gita.

Baba: Have you understood it?

Nana: Yes.

Baba: Then, tell Me.

Nana: It means, “Making Saashtaanga Namaskar, that is, prostration, questioning the Guru, serving him, learn what this Jnana is. Then, those Jnanis who have attained the real knowledge of the Sadvastu (Brahman) will give you Upadesh (instruction) of Jnana.”

Baba: I don’t want the gist of the sloka. Tell Me the meaning of each word and its grammatical significance.

Then Nanasaheb explained it word by word with meaning and its import.

Baba: Mere prostration is enough?

Nana: I don’t know any meaning other than ‘making prostration’ for ‘pranipata’.

Baba: What is ‘pariprashna’?

Nana: To ask questions.

Baba: What does ‘prashna’ mean?

Nana: Same, asking questions.

Baba: If ‘pariprashna’ and ‘prashna’ meant the same, why did Vyasa add the prefix ‘pari’? Was he mad?

Nana: I don’t know any other meaning for ‘pariprashna’.

Baba: ‘Seva’. What kind of ‘Seva’ is meant?

Nana: Just what we are doing always.

Baba: Rendering such service is sufficient?

Nana: I don’t know what else is signified by the word ‘Seva’.

Baba: In the next line, ‘Upadekshyanti te jnanam’, is it possible to read any word other than ‘jnanam’?

Nana: Yes.

Baba: What is it?

Nana: ‘Ajnanam’.

Baba: Using that instead of ‘jnanam’, can any meaning be made of the sloka?

Nana: No. Sankara Bhashya doesn’t give such a meaning.

Baba: Never mind if it doesn’t give. Is there any objection to using ‘ajnanam’ if it gives a better meaning?

Nana: I don’t understand how to construe a meaning using ‘Ajnanam’.

Nana could not understand how the Guru's giving Ajnanam could make a better meaning. In that way Baba puzzled him word after word and phrase after phrase.

Baba finally asked, “Why does Sri Krishna refer Arjuna to Jnanis or Tattwadarshis to do his prostration, interrogation and service? Was not Sri Krishna Himself a Tattwadarshi and a Jnani?”

Nana: Yes, He was. But I don’t understand why He referred Arjuna to Jnanis.

Baba: Did you not understand this?

Nanasaheb Chandorkar was thoroughly humbled. He understood that he was in front of a giant who had distilled the knowledge of all the Vedas and the Upanishads, and who knew everything. He then asked Baba himself to explain, and Baba's answers to His own questions revealed a wealth of knowledge of Upanishadic material and mastery of that knowledge in twisting the words to provide a new meaning. Nanasaheb’s pride was knocked on the head. He was deceived by Baba’s external appearance. He knew that Baba came to Shirdi when He was very young and did not have any formal education. So, he thought that Baba’s knowledge was based purely on intuition and as such, He did not know the theoretical aspect of any religion. Nanasaheb assumed that Baba’s knowledge grew out of His experiences alone. The way Baba asked sharp, pointed questions and answered them revealed a different dimension of mind which was totally new to Nanasaheb.

Then Baba began to explain the significance of the sloka:

“1. It is not enough to merely prostrate before the Jnanis. We must make Sarvasva Sharanaagati (complete surrender) to the Sadguru.

2. Mere questioning is not enough. The questioning should be serious and with a view to achieve spiritual progress or Moksha. The questioning should never be made with a view or attitude to trap the Guru or out of idle curiosity or with any other improper motive.

3. Seva is not rendering service. Rendering service implies that one is free to offer or refuse service. Seva implies that one is not the master of the body, that the body is Guru’s and that it exists only to render service to him.

If this is done, the Sadguru will show what the Jnana is, as referred to in the sloka.”

Nanasaheb was perplexed. Earlier Baba had asked to use ‘Ajnana’ for ‘Jnana’ in the sloka. He could not understand whether the Sadguru teaches ‘Jnana’ or ‘Ajnana’. How does a teacher teach ‘Ajnana ’? He asked Baba. Then Baba replied:

Baba: Is not Brahman jnana or sadvastu?

Nana: Yes.

Baba: Then, everything else is asat or ajnana, is it not?

Nana: Yes.

Baba: Do not the scriptures declare that Brahman is beyond the range of speech or mind?

Nana: Yes.

Baba: Then, the guru’s speech is neither Brahman nor jnana, is it?

Nana: Yes.

Baba: Then, you agree that what the guru teaches is not jnana, but ajnana?

Nana: It seems so.

Baba: Then, you agree that the guru’s instruction is a piece of ignorance used to remove the ignorance of the sishya, just as we use a thorn to remove another thorn from the foot, is it not?

Nana: I suppose so.

Baba: The disciple is just a jiva, whose essential nature is jnana, is it not?

Nana: Yes.

Baba: Then, there is no necessity to give him jnana, but simply to remove the veil of ignorance that hides the pre-existent jnana.

Continuing Baba further expounds,

“How is Jnana-Upadesha done? It is done by removing the veil of ignorance over Jnana. Only a Jnani knows that he is a Jnani. For all others, the fact that they are Jnanis is not known to them. A veil of Ajnana covers their Jnana. A Sadguru removes this veil. Commenting on Gita 18-66, Ovi-1396 of Jnaneshwari says, ‘Removal of ignorance is like this, oh Arjuna. If dream and sleep disappear, you are yourself. It is like that.’ Gita 5-15 says,

Ajnaanenaavritam jnaanam tena muhyanti jantavah.

Knowledge is enveloped by ignorance, thereby beings are deluded.

The next sloka says,

Jnaanena tu tad ajnaanam yeshaam naashitam aatmanah;
Teshaam aadityavaj jnaanam prakaashayati tatparam

But, to those whose ignorance is destroyed by knowledge of the Self, like the sun, knowledge reveals the Supreme (Brahman).

Destroying this ignorance means acquiring knowledge. Expelling darkness means light.

Destroying duality (dwaita) means advaita. Whenever we speak of destroying Dwaita, we speak of Advaita. If we have to realize the Advaita state, the feeling of Dwaita in ourselves has to be removed. Once this is done, what remains is Advaita. That is the realisation of the Advaita state. Only the one who has attained the stage of Advaita can teach others about it. How can anyone speak of Advaita while remaining in Dwaita?

The Sishya, like the Guru, is also an embodiment of Jnana. The difference is that he does not know it. The Guru, on the other hand, knows that he is a Jnani: he has an attitude, high realisation, marvelous super human Satva, unrivalled capacity and Aishwarya Yoga (divine powers). The Guru is formless, Nirguna, Sat-Chit-Ananda. He has taken human form only to uplift the mankind. By taking the human form, his Nirguna nature is not destroyed. His divine powers, wisdom and beingness remain unchanged.

The Sishya also is in fact of the same Swaroopa. But, this Swaroopa is covered by the effect of samskaras of innumerable births in the form of various layers of ignorance. These layers of ignorance prevent him from knowing that he is Shuddha Chaitanya. With each layer of this ignorance, he gets the impression, ‘I am Jiva, a creature, humble and poor.’ The Guru has to root out these offshoots of ignorance by giving proper instructions. To the Sishya who is bound by the ideas of his being a creature, humble and poor for endless generations, the Guru has to teach him for hundreds of births that ‘You are God, you are mighty and opulent.’ When the Guru destroys this ignorance, layer by layer, the Sishya becomes increasingly aware of the fact that he is indeed God. The delusion that he is Jiva, and that God and the world are separate from him, is an error inherited from innumerable past births. To remove this delusion, or error, he must seriously start intense questioning - how did this ignorance arise? Where is it? The answer to these questions, provided by the Guru, is the Guru Upadesha. Examples of the Ajnana of the Sishya are:

1. I am a Jiva (creature)

2. I am the body (body is the soul)

3. God, world and Jiva are separate

4. I am not God

5. Not knowing that body is not the soul

6. Not knowing that God, world and Jiva are not separate, but one.

Unless these errors are brought to his notice, the Sishya cannot learn what is God, Jiva, body and world; how they are interrelated and whether they are different or are one and the same. To teach him these and destroy his ignorance is the instruction in Jnana or Ajnana. Upadesha is merely to show him the error and destroy his ignorance. Why should Jnana be imparted to Jiva, who is a Jnanamurti?”

Baba further added:

1. Pranipata implies surrender

2. Surrender must be of body, mind and wealth. One must feel that he is nothing. The Guru is everything, and, therefore, thorough humility is involved in pranipata.

Regarding the question, why should Krishna refer Arjuna to other Jnanis? A sadbhakta believes everything to be Vasudeva. Gita says,

Bahoonaam janmanaamante jnaanavaanmaam prapadyate;
Vaasudevah sarvamiti sa mahaatmaa sudurlabhah
Ch.7, Sl.19

At the end of many births the wise man comes to me, realising that all this is Vasudeva (the innermost Self); such a great soul (Mahatma) is very hard to find.

The Guru also takes the Sishya to be Vasudeva. And Sri Krishna treats both as His prana and atma. Gita says,

Udaaraah sarva evaite jnaanee twaatmaiva me matam;
Aasthitah sa hi yuktaatmaa maamevaanuttamaam gatim
Ch.7, Sl.18

Noble indeed are all these; but I deem the wise man as my very Self; for, steadfast in mind, he is established in me alone as the supreme goal.

As Sri Krishna knows that there are such Bhaktas and Gurus, He refers Arjuna to them so that their greatness may increase and be known.”

There is a Sufi notion that every soul before birth passes through seventy thousand veils which separate the soul from Allah, before it enters the world of matter and sense objects, according to its own merit. The passage through the veils brings forgetfulness of one’s true divine source. The goal of Sufism and the role of the Sufi Master is to help the aspirant recover his original unity with God while still in the body. Sai Baba’s unique interpretation of the Bhagavad-Gita sloka was thus very much in line with Sufi understanding, that removing layers or veils of ignorance, was the task of the Master to reveal what was inherently there all along, rather than teach wisdom.

Baba’s mission was to reinforce the Sufi love of God, which is similar to the intense devotion towards God advocated by the Bhakti tradition, and to emphasize the essential oneness of all paths towards the goal of God realisation.


Bapusaheb Booty, as we know, was a multi millionaire of Nagpur. After he became an intimate devotee of Baba, he started living in Shirdi with his family. For some reason, he felt that he should have a building of his own in Shirdi and was waiting for an auspicious moment to seek Baba’s permission. Once, when he was sleeping in Sathe Wada, he got a vision. Baba appeared in his dream and ordered him to build a Wada of his own with a temple. Baba, being a sarvajna, understood the desires of all His devotees. When these desires were legitimate and useful to everyone, Baba’s blessings were always there.

Shyama was also sleeping in Sathe Wada at that time. When Bapusaheb was having the vision, Shyama also had a vision. Baba appeared in his dream and told him exactly the same thing. When Bapusaheb Booty woke up, he found Shyama also awake and crying. Bapusaheb asked him why he was crying. He replied, “Baba had come in the dream. He said, ‘Build the Wada with the temple. I shall fulfill the desires of all.’ On hearing Baba’s sweet and loving words, I was overpowered with emotion. My throat was choked and my eyes were overflowing with tears. I was crying.” Bapusaheb was astounded by the identical visions the two of them had.

Having no difficulties with financial resources, he decided to build the Wada with the temple. He and Shyama together prepared the plan for the building. After the plan was ready, it was placed before Baba for His final approval. Baba immediately gave His blessings for the project. The construction work started without any delay. Under the able supervision of Shyama, the ground floor, cellar and the well were completed. Every time Baba passed that place on His way to Lendi Baug, He suggested some modifications which were immediately carried out. Bapusaheb Jog carried out the supervision of the building after the ground floor was ready.

Bapusaheb Booty was always present at the site of construction. One day, seeing the building which was half completed, Bapusaheb got an idea. He felt that the building should have an open room or platform. In the centre of that wide space, he felt that an idol of Muralidhara (Sri Krishna with flute) should be installed. He requested Shyama to seek Baba’s opinion regarding this matter. When Baba came next time to the site of construction, Shyama asked Him His opinion regarding Bapusaheb’s proposal. Baba immediately gave His consent. Seeing the way the building was shaping up, Baba said, “After the Wada is complete; I will come here and stay. We shall use it for ourselves. We will move, play, live and embrace each other here. We will be very happy here.” Then Shyama asked Baba whether that moment was auspicious for beginning the foundation work for the central room of the Shrine. Baba answered in the affirmative. Then Shyama immediately brought a coconut and broke it, symbolizing the start of the work.

Very shortly, the building was completed. An order for making of a marble idol of Muralidhara was also given. Before the idol could be completed, the events took a different turn. Baba became seriously ill and everyone around were afraid that He may pass away. Bapusaheb, who loved Baba very much, was greatly dejected. He thought that if Baba was not there, then for whom was that building? Who would consecrate it? He had built it very tastefully so that Baba would come and live in it. Without Him, it was like a temple without an idol. Understanding Bapusaheb’s feelings of love and affection for Him, just before He attained Mahasamadhi, Baba said, “Place Me in the Wada.” His last words were a small consolation for Bapusaheb, who had dreamed of a Mandir with Baba and not a Samadhi for Baba. In due course of time, Baba’s holy body was placed and preserved in the central shrine meant for Muralidhara and Baba Himself became Muralidhara. With Baba’s blessings, the building became Samadhi-Mandir of Baba. And, as Baba said, whoever comes to the Samadhi Mandir will always be happy. Blessed and fortunate indeed is Bapusaheb Booty who was able to build a permanent resting place for our beloved Baba.

Let us prostrate, surrendering our everything, to our beloved Baba. Sadguru Sainath Maharaj Ki Jai!!!

With this, the thirty ninth and fiftieth chapters, called as Baba’s knowledge of Sanskrit, is complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about Stories of Baba - attending Mrs Deo’s Udyapana, Hemad Pant’s house and other matters.

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

||chapter thirty-eight||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapter thirty - eight ||

|| description of the handi ||

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

In this chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about Baba’s Handi, disrespect of shrine, Kala or hodge-podge, the cup of buttermilk and other matters.


With Baba’s blessing we were able to witness the grand scene of the Chavadi Procession in the last chapter. We also saw that when everyone had gone and Baba was alone, He prepared His bed Himself by spreading 50 to 60 bed spreads, one on top of another and slept. We bow, once again, to the Sadguru who had given everything to His devotees. Baba had taken birth only for the purpose of doing good to others. His life was dedicated for the betterment of His devotees. It is only because of satkarmaphala of the previous births that one can get in contact with the divine feet of the Sadguru. Once we take recourse to the divine feet of the Sadguru, He removes all our afflictions and liberates us from all our bondages. Sai is the abode of all eternal bliss. He is the destination of our search. He is the ever blazing, radiating pure self. He is Atmarama Himself. Like a mother who knows what her child should eat, and what it should not, and then feeds her child with the required food, Sai knows what is best for us. Initially enticing us by giving what we ask, Sai finally takes us on to the path of spiritual progress and self realization.


The sadhanas for attaining spiritual progress, as described in various religious scriptures, depend on the age in which the aspirant is living. In Kruta Yuga, the prescribed sadhana was tapas (penance). When the Kruta Yuga gave way to the Treta Yuga, the sadhana became Jnana. In the Dwapara Yuga, the aspirant had to perform Yagnas. In Kali Yuga the prescribed sadhana for spiritual progress is Dana (charity). Among the various types of Dana, like Vitta Dana, Vidya Dana, Kanya Dana, Vastra Dana, Anna Dana, and other Danas, Anna Dana is the best and greatest. The Taittiriya Upanishad says:

annaadvai prajaha prajaayante |
yaaha ka cha pruthivi shritaaha |
atho anne naiva jeevanti | athainadapi yantyantataha |
annam hi bhootanaam jyeshtam |
tasmaat sarvaushadhamuchyate |
sarvavaite annamapnuvanti | yeh annam brahmopaasate |
annah hi bhootanaam jyeshtam |
tasmaat sarvaushadhamuchyate |
annad bhootani jaayante | jaataan annayena vardhante | adhyate atti cha bhootani tasmatannam taduchyata iti | tasmaadda yetasmaad anna rasamayaat |
Tai. Up. Br.Valli. Anu. 2

All beings that exist on earth are born of food; then they live by food, then again to the food they go at the end. So verily food is the eldest of all creatures. Therefore, it is called the medicament of all. All those who worship food as Brahman obtain all food. Food is indeed the eldest of all creatures. Therefore, it is called the medicine for all. From food all beings are born, having been they grow by food. Food is eaten by the beings and it also eats them. Therefore, it is called food (Anna).

For all Danas other than Anna Dana, the Data (giver) has to think of the eligibility of the receiver. Annadana can be made to any one - rich or poor, male or female, young or old, diseased or healthy. By Mid day, around noon, if we do not have anything to eat, we feel miserable. We have to think that all the other beings are also similar to us. If timely food is not available, they also feel utterly miserable. Feeding the guests, whether invited or uninvited, is the primary duty of a grihasta. Let anyone come to our doorstep at noon, he should be served with food immediately. The lame, crippled, blind and diseased persons should be served first and then the able bodied persons, our relatives etc.

Even other forms of Dana are incomplete, if not accompanied by Annadana. Any Dana without Annadana is compared to: a sky in the night with only the stars and no moon, or a necklace without its pendant, or a crown without its pinnacle, or a tank without a lotus, or Bhajan without any love for the God, or a married lady without the kumkum, or a song sung without a sweet voice, or a butter milk without salt. Just as Varan (soup prepared with dal) excels all other dishes, Annadana is the best of all merits.


Knowing that Annadana is the best of all merits, Baba also indulged in regular Annadana programmes. For Himself, he required very little food. And as we saw earlier, what little food He needed, He obtained by begging from a few houses. When He wanted to arrange Annadana, He made very elaborate preparations. If He had wished, the villagers would have got Him plenty of cooked food, but He did not depend on anyone and troubled none in this regard. He went to the market Himself, bought all the items He needed from His own money, by paying cash. He bought these items after comparing prices at different shops and carefully checking their quality. He even haggled for the best price and only then bought the items. He did all the required grinding alone. In the courtyard of the masjid, He had prepared a hearth. He had also built Himself the room where the firewood was stored. After keeping the firewood in the hearth and lighting it, He used to place a big Handi over it. Baba had two Handis with Him. The smaller one provided food for 50 persons. The bigger one could cater to 100 persons. Depending on the guests He planned to invite, He used to keep either the smaller or the bigger Handi. He knew the recipes for almost all the dishes He liked to prepare. At times, He prepared ‘Mitha Chaval’ (sweet rice) and at other times He prepared ‘Pulav’ with mutton. To enhance the taste, He used to drop small pieces of bread while preparing soup. For the soup, He prepared all the needed spices Himself. He ground the various spices on a stone slab and put the ground paste into the Handi. He was also very keen to make the dishes very tasty and palatable.

One of His specialties was preparation of ‘Ambili’. For this He boiled jawar flour in water and then added butter milk to the hot paste. Then He used to boil both together. He served this as a dessert to the main food. Once, when the broth was boiling, Baba wanted to stir it and could not find a ladle nearby. He rolled up the right sleeve of His kafni and put His bare hand inside the Handi and stirred the boiling contents slowly from side to side and top to bottom, without any thought of what would happen to His hand. And indeed, nothing did happen to His hand as He was the divinity personified. When the cooking of the items was over, Baba got the food duly consecrated by the moulvi. Only after sending the first part of the consecrated food to Mhalsapathi and Tatya Patil, Baba served the food to others. He followed this practice always. He used to serve the food to all the poor and helpless people Himself with His own hands. He made them sit in a row and after distributing plantain leaves, He first served ghee. Then followed other items He had prepared with love and care. At every stage of serving the items, He used to say, “Please have some more! Don’t hesitate. Eat slowly.” Blessed and fortunate indeed must be those people who got food prepared and served by Baba.

Some may get a doubt, “Did Baba distribute non-vegetarian food also as prasadam to all His devotees?” The answer is simple. Baba was very particular about respecting the conscience of the devotees. For those who were not accustomed to non-vegetarian food, He never allowed them to even touch the non-vegetarian food. As a matter of fact, He never even created a wish or desire in the minds of the devotees for such food. When a sishya implicitly follows the instructions of guru, the burden of responsibility lies on the guru to give only those instructions which the devotee can follow and about which a conflict does not arise in the mind of the sishya. Nobody understood this better than Baba. It was not just food alone; Baba did not allow His devotees to even worship any god other than the gods they were used to. He told time and again that one should worship only their family deities.


When the guru gives prasadam, with his own hands, the sishya does not think whether it should be accepted or not. He simply takes it and consumes it. Anyone who thinks about the propriety of acceptance ends up in perdition. An ideal sishya implicitly follows the instructions given by the guru. Though Baba did everything for His devotees, He occasionally tested the amount of faith the devotees had in Him. Only those who passed these tests could become His intimate devotees.
Once, on an Ekadasi day, Baba gave some money to Dadasaheb Kelkar and asked him to buy meat from a shop in Korhala. Dada was extremely fond of Baba and loved Him very much. In addition, Dada was a very orthodox, religious Brahmin who followed all the rituals prescribed in the scriptures. His mind was always steady and never wavered in loyalty to Baba. For him pleasing the guru was the ultimate in life. So, he immediately changed his dress and got ready to go in spite of the fact that he was a strict vegetarian and never even touched meat. When he was about to cross the threshold of the masjid, Baba called him back and asked him to send some one else. Dada sent his servant Pandu. When Pandu was about to go, Baba again called him back and postponed the purchase to some other day. Baba was really not interested in buying meat. He only wanted to know how Dada would react.

On another occasion, Baba had prepared Pulav without mutton. He asked Dada how was the taste of Pulav. Dada, assuming that it contained mutton, did not taste it. However as Baba had asked the question, for the sake of courtesy replied that it was alright. Then Baba said, “Neither have you seen it with your eyes, nor have you tasted it with your tongue. Then, how can you say that it is alright? Just take out the lid and see.” While saying these words, Baba caught hold of Dada’s arm and thrust it into the pot and said, “Draw out your arm and taking a ladle, put some quantity in the plate without caring for your orthodoxy and without blustering.” This was another occasion on which Baba had tested Dada. Baba knew very well what was inside the pot. Just as a mother pinches her child naughtily and then hugs it when it cries, Baba also had slightly pinched Dada. No saint or guru will ever force his disciple to do things he does not want to do. Leave alone eating, even touching mutton was unthinkable for Dada. How could Baba allow him to defile himself?

As seen earlier, till 1910 AD, Baba was not so well known outside Shirdi. It was because of Nanasaheb Chandorkar’s speeches and Dasganu Maharaj’s kirtans that Baba’s fame spread far and wide, including Bombay. Hence, people coming to Shirdi for Baba’s darshan prior to 1910 AD were also less in number. Subsequently, the number increased several times. The devotees brought with them various articles for presentation. They also brought several food items for offering as naivedyam to Baba. The quantity of naivedyam was so much that the fakirs and the poor in Shirdi could easily feed themselves to their heart’s content. Because of this, after 1910 AD Baba stopped preparing food in the Handis.


After arati, everyday, Baba used to give Udi prasadam to all the devotees and bless them individually. When everyone had left, Baba went inside and sat behind a curtain to take His meals. In addition, there were two rows of devotees sitting on either side of Baba for the naivedyam. All the offerings brought by the devotees, like Puris, Mande, Polis, Basundi, Sanza, fine rice etc were mixed in Handi and placed before Baba. Baba used to consecrate it by offering it to the God. Those who were waiting outside were offered part of this mixture as naivedyam. After they were fed, the devotees sitting inside were served this naivedyam. Baba sat in the centre and asked Nanasaheb Nimonkar and Shyama to serve those sitting inside and care for their individual needs. They did this job very willingly and efficiently. Every morsel was holy and auspicious. Every morsel was divine and consecrated. Every morsel had the extra ingredient of Baba’s affection and love for His devotees.


Once, Nanasaheb Chandorkar came to Shirdi with his ‘Sadu’ - husband of his wife’s sister, Mr. Biniwalle. They went inside the masjid and after prostrating at the feet of Baba; all the three sat together and started talking. Baba always advised that alms giving should be straightforward. When asked for alms, no one should utter falsehood and say 'I have not got it' (the money or other things asked for), when he has got it, but only decline to give it in polite terms and say that circumstances do not allow the giving. No crooked ways should be adopted. Yet after this advice was given, some time later, Nanasaheb, who had promised to pay Rs. 300 for charity to be done at the Kopergaon Datta temple, did not bring the money and therefore avoided a visit to the temple, which was on his way to Shirdi. With the approval of his relative, he took a detour through a very thorny path, as a result of which he and his relative ran thorns in their bodies. Baba was suddenly very angry with Nanasaheb.

He said, “Even after being with Me for so many years, how can you do like this?”

Nanasaheb was perplexed. He sat silently without talking.

Baba asked, “Tell Me, when did you come to Kopergaon? Where did you engage the Tonga and what happened on the way?”

Then Nanasaheb understood the folly he had committed. He said, “As Biniwalle was also with me, we engaged a Tonga at Kopergaon to come to Shirdi for Your darshan. We took bath in the holy Godavari. Biniwalle is a devotee of Bhagavan Dattatreya. He wanted to visit the Datta temple near the Godavari banks. As I was interested in coming here at the earliest, I told him that we could visit the temple on our way back. After taking bath in the Godavari, my foot trod on a big thorn and pained me very much throughout the journey.”

Being an Antaryami, Baba knew everything.

He said, “You evade seeing 'Sircar' (God Datta) and take a detour. Why? You thought that the sadhu will ask you for Rs. 300. Is this the way to remember my lesson? If you do not have the money, or if it was not easy to arrange to get it, you have only to tell him the fact. Will that saint eat you? But what device is this to avoid the temple of God for fear of the saint demanding money? Well then, have not thorns pierced your feet and body and the posterior part of your sapient friend?”

Baba definitely looked unhappy.
He said, “Being pricked by a thorn is a very small punishment. How can you ignore Datta Bhagavan when He is on the way?” Baba never liked ignoring the presiding deities.


Once, Hemad Pant had an opportunity to sit with the devotees for partaking of the naivedyam, described earlier. He had eaten his full share of the naivedyam and was even feeling slightly uncomfortable. Then, Baba offered him a cup of butter milk. The cool butter milk, rich with cream and froth, was very much tempting. Hemad Pant wanted to drink it but was not sure whether his stomach could accommodate it. As he could no longer resist the temptation, he took a sip and immensely liked it. Seeing his dilemma, Baba said, “Drink it all. You won’t get an opportunity later on.” Hemad Pant drank the butter milk but could not understand the import of Baba’s words. Two months later, Baba attained Mahasamadhi.

That cup of butter milk was not only cool, creamy and frothy; it gave immortality to Hemad Pant. His Satcharitra will be read as long as there are mountains in the country and rivers are flowing. Just as Valmiki wrote the first authoritative story of Sri Rama, Hemad Pant wrote the first authoritative story of Sai Baba. Several versions of Ramayana have come, several thousands may still come, but Valmiki Ramayana will always have its own pride of place. So is Hemad Pant’s Satcharitra. Every one of the Satcharitra which has come afterwards, and the multitudes which will definitely come later on, will always be indebted to Hemad Pant.

Let us prostrate, once again, at the divine feet of our beloved Baba, who has granted immortality to every one of His devotees, and pray sincerely to bless us always. Sri Sadguru Sainath Maharaj Ki Jai!!!

With this, the thirty eighth chapter, called as Description of the Handi, is complete. In the next two chapters, Hemad Pant tells us about Baba’s interpretation of a verse from Gita, construction of the Samadhi Mandir and other matters.

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