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

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