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

1 comment:

  1. OM Shri Sai Nathaya namah!!!
    "I Shall draw my devotee from across the seven seas like a sparrow with a sting tied to its feet"

    May Shirdi Sai Baba Bless & Guide you in All Your efforts..
    Enroll yourself permanently in Sai~Ka~Aangan Darbaar ..Garden For Baba's Childeren...!

    Sai Om