Thursday, May 7, 2009

||chapter forty-eight||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapter forty-eight ||

|| warding off devotee’s calamities ||

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

In this chapter, Hemad Pant describes stories of Shevade and Sapatnekar and other matters.

Before beginning this Chapter, Hemad Pant offers an explanation. Some one asked Hemad Pant whether Sai Baba was a Guru or a Sadguru. As an answer to that question, Hemad Pant describes the qualities of a Sadguru in the beginning of this chapter.


He, who is an expert in providing education of Vedas and Vedantas as also the six Shastras and can give a beautiful commentary on Brahman, is not a Sadguru. He, who can control the inhale and exhale of breath and in a natural way give ‘mantropadesh’ and tell how many times to chant it in a given time, is not a Sadguru. He, who by sheer manipulation of words teaches the ultimate goal of life but has not experienced self realization himself, is not a Sadguru. On the other hand, he, who by his behaviour shows detachment from the activities of this or the next world and makes us experience the bliss of self realization, is a Sadguru. He, who can make his devotees experience the self realization in a constructive and practical way is a Sadguru. How can he, who has not experienced self realization himself, make his devotees experience it? Even in his dreams, a Sadguru does not desire any benefit or service from his devotees. On the contrary, he will always be eager to serve them. A Sadguru never feels that he is superior and his devotees are inferior to him. In fact, he considers the disciple as a mirror image of himself or even as Brahma. The significant quality of a Sadguru is that he is always completely at peace in his heart. He never becomes unstable or restless and is never proud of his knowledge. For him, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, high caste or low caste, male or female, great or small, all are same.

Hemad Pant says that it was because of the result of good deeds in the past life that he was fortunate enough to worship the divine feet of a Sadguru like Sai Baba and get His blessings. In His younger days, Baba did not accumulate any material wealth. He did not have any family, children or even friends. He did not have any shelter or support. At the age of 18 years itself, He had an astonishingly perfect control over his mind. At that age itself He lived without any fear, in dense jungles and places where nobody dared to even enter, and was always immersed in the welfare of His devotees. For Him, His devotees were everything. Baba always observed His devotees. It was only after seeing the selfless devotion of the devotees that He acted in their interests. Baba used to say that He was always under the control of His devotees. Whatever experiences His devotees experienced, while Baba was in human form, the same experiences are being experienced even today by those, who have surrendered to Him totally. Devotees have only to make their heart a ‘diya’ of devotion and faith and light it with the flame of love, then Jnana Jyothi will illuminate on its own. Jnana or knowledge without Love is dry and waste. Such knowledge will not benefit anyone. Without Love, there is no happiness. Because of this, our love should be boundless and unchanging. Once the seed of love sprouts, then devotion, detachment, tranquility, and munificence will naturally accrue. As long as love for anything does not spring, the desire to acquire it also does not arise. Where there is love and pining, God will manifest Himself. Love is implicit in the feeling and that alone leads to liberation. By falling at the divine feet of a Saint, even he, who has impure thoughts, is saved. The following story illustrates this point.


Sri Sapatnekar of Akkalkot (Sholapur District) was studying Law. One day he met his classmate Sri Shevade. Several other students also met at the same place and tested how much each had learnt. After sufficient question and answer sessions, it was evident that Shevade had learnt the least and was most unprepared to write the examinations. When all his friends made fun of him, he said, “Even though my study is incomplete and I have not prepared satisfactorily, I will still write the examinations and definitely pass. It is my Sai Baba who gives success to everyone.” Sapatnekar was astonished by this statement and he took Shevade aside and asked, “Who is this Sai Baba about whom you speak so highly?” He replied, “He is a fakir in Shirdi (Ahmednagar) and resides in a masjid. He is a great Saint. There are other saints also, but He is different from them. As long as the results of good deeds in the past life do not accrue, it is impossible to meet him. I have total faith in him. The words which come out of his mouth are never false. He has assured me that I will definitely pass the examinations next year. I am also confident that I will certainly pass the examinations with His blessings.” Sapatanekar was amused by the blind faith of his friend and made fun of Sai Baba also. He was still more surprised when Shevade did pass the examinations in the subsequent year.


After passing the examinations, Mahadev Waman Sapatnekar settled down in Akkalkot and started his legal practice there. He lost his wife and his only son due to a throat disease. At the age of 33 years, he married Parvathi Bai, aged 13 years. Even after 4-5 years of marriage, she could not give him any children. Because of all these depressing events, he was totally shattered. He lost his peace of mind. In 1913 AD, his father advised him to go to Shri Sai Baba at Shirdi. As he did not have any faith in Sai Baba, he did not go to Shirdi. Instead, to regain at least some peace of mind, he went to Pandharpur, Ganagapur, and other pilgrim centres, but the restlessness continued. He read plenty of Vedanta, but that was also of no avail. When in Ganagapur, he suddenly remembered his conversation with Shevade. Also, as he did not want to disobey his father’s advice completely, he felt that he should go to Shirdi and have darshan of Sai Baba. He went to Shirdi with his younger brother Pundit Rao. After he had darshan of Baba, he found that his mind was completely at peace. He went near Baba and when he offered fruits to Baba, He said, “Get out from here”, and pushed him with such force that his headwear fell down. Sapatnekar hung his head and went back a few steps and sat down.

He wanted to know how he should present himself to Baba. Some one suggested that he should contact Bala Shimpi. Sapatnekar met Bala Shimpi and requested him to help him. They bought a portrait of Baba on their way to masjid. Bala Shimpi took the portrait to Baba and asked Him whose portrait was it. Baba indicated towards Sapatnekar and said, “This is My friend’s.” After saying this, He began to laugh loudly. Other devotees also laughed with Baba. Following Bala Shimpi’s gestures, Sapatnekar bowed at Baba’s feet. Then Baba shouted, “Get out”. Sapatnekar did not know what to do. He folded both his hands reverentially, and sat down. But, Baba again asked him to go out immediately. Sapatnekar was disappointed. How can anyone ignore Baba’s orders? Both Sapatnekar and his brother left Shirdi with a heavy heart. On the way, Sapatnekar prayed in his mind, “Oh Baba, I beg for Your mercy. Please assure me that at least some time in the future, You will permit me to have Your darshan.”


One year passed, even then Sapatnekar’s restlessness did not subside. He went to Ganagapur, where his restlessness increased. Then he went to Madhegaon for rest and from there thought of going to Kashi. Two days before his planned departure to Kashi, his wife had a vision. From the time her father – in – law asked her husband to visit Shirdi, Parvathi Bai had nourished a desire to go to Shirdi and have darshan of Sri Sai Baba. In her vision, she saw a very bright flash. During those days, there was acute shortage of water in Madhegaon. Parvathi Bai realised that there was not a drop of water in their house. So, she took a pitcher and went towards a nearby well, known as Lakkadsha’s well. She was in a great hurry as women were not supposed to go out of the house alone. When she went near the well, she saw a fakir standing there, with a cloth tied over his head. He came near her and said, “My child, why are you taking so much trouble? I will fill your pot with pure water.” Scared of the fakir, she ran away with the empty pot, without taking any water. Fakir followed her and continued to say, “Do not run away, you will regret later. I have come to give you something.” On reaching home, she closed the door, but the fakir came to the door and continued to say, “I have come to give you something.” She did not know what to do and was about to shout, when she woke up from her dream.

Next morning when her father – in - law heard about her dream, he thought that there was some divine purpose in Parvathi Bai’s vision. He told Sapatnekar to take her to Shirdi. With this auspicious sign, both left for Shirdi. When they went to the masjid, Baba was not present. He had gone to Lendi Baugh. Both sat in the masjid waiting for Baba. When Baba returned, Mrs. Sapatnekar was astonished by seeing Baba. He was the same fakir who had appeared in her dream. With great reverence and devotion, she bowed to Baba, sat near Him and looked at Him continuously. Looking at her, holding His abdomen with both hands, Baba started yelling, “Oh! Mother dear! How much my abdomen is paining and waist is aching too.” Mrs. Sapatnekar was baffled by this and wanted to know what was wrong with Baba. Devotees who were near her, told her that Baba acted like this whenever one of His devotees was suffering and subsequently, the devotee was cured. After 2 – 3 months, when the pain in her abdomen and waist disappeared on its own, she realised that Baba’s acting was for her sake only. Baba was very happy with her humility and devotion. In His own inimitable way, He started telling a story to a third person. “From a long time, I suffered pain in My hands, abdomen and back. I tried treatment, but it did not help. I was fed up with medicines as they did not help. But, I am surprised that all My pains are vanishing one by one.” Though no name was taken, the matter referred to Mrs. Sapatnekar. As Baba said, all her problems vanished and she was very pleased. When she placed her head on His feet, she was overjoyed and forgot everything. Then Baba took handful of Udi, rubbed it on her head and said, “Take one, two, three or four. How many you want?”

Then Sapatnekar proceeded for Baba’s darshan, and again Baba said, “Get out”. But this time, he had come with lot of perseverance, humility, and repentance. He understood that Baba was unhappy with him because of his past actions, and he had decided to improve his behaviour. He decided not to leave Shirdi unless and until he received Baba’s blessings. He once saw Baba sitting alone in the masjid and immediately ran and held Baba’s feet firmly and prostrated at His divine feet. All the while tears were rolling down his eyes. He apologised to Baba regarding his past actions. Baba blessed him by caressing his head with His hand and made him sit next to Him. Sapatnekar sat beside Baba and was tenderly massaging His legs. Then a shepherdess came and started massaging Baba’s back and waist.

As He did always, Baba started telling a story about a bania. He was narrating the various ups and downs of the bania’s life and when he told about the loss of bania’s only son, Sapatnekar felt that it was his own story. He was astounded how Baba could know every detail of his life. He was convinced that Baba was an Antaryami and knew the details of everyone’s life. Just as this thought was passing through in Sapatnekar’s mind, talking to the shepherdess and pointing to Sapatnekar, Baba said, “This great man is accusing Me that I killed his son. Do I kill people’s children? Then, why does this gentleman come to the masjid now and shout? I will do one thing. I will bring the same boy again into his wife’s womb.” Saying this, Baba placed His protective hand on Sapatnekar’s head and consoled him. Baba said, “These feet are very ancient and sacred. When you become free from worries and trust Me completely, only then you will achieve your aim.” Sapatnekar was deeply moved. Tears rolled down his cheeks and with those tears he washed Baba’s feet and then returned to his lodging.

After some time, he collected all the pooja material and came with his wife to the masjid. Both of them worshipped Baba and offered naivedyam. They followed this practice every day and accepted prasadam from Baba. Even when the masjid was overcrowded, they used to go and prostrate at Baba’s feet. When heads were colliding with each other in the anxiety to bow to Baba’s feet, Baba said, “If performed with love and devotion, even a single namaskara is acceptable to Me.” The same night the Sapatnekar couple had the good fortune of seeing the Chavadi Procession. There Baba appeared to them as Panduranga.

Next day they decided to leave Shirdi. On the way, while going to see Baba, Sapatnekar told his wife, “I shall offer Re. 1/- as Dakshina to Baba. If Baba asks for more, then I will offer one more rupee. But if He asks for more, I shall have to sell my gold ring and your bangles also.” To their great surprise, when they went to the masjid and prostrated at Baba’s divine feet and offered Dakshina of Re. 1/- Baba understood Sapatnekar’s intentions and asked for one more rupee and said, “I shall not ask for more since you will have to sell your ring and wife’s bangles”. When he happily gave the rupee, Baba blessed him, gave him a fruit and said, “Take this fruit. Keep it in your wife’s oti (upper fold of her sari), and go home without any worry.” Sapatnekar followed Baba’s instructions and within a period of one year, in 1915 AD, his wife delivered a baby boy. When the child was of eight months old, the couple brought the baby to Baba and placed it at His feet. Then they prayed, “Hey Sainath! How can we repay Your obligations? We prostrate at Your divine feet again and again. Kindly protect both of us always. Otherwise, we don’t know how many doubts arise in our minds. Kindly bless us that our minds should always indulge in Your Bhajans only.”

They named their son as ‘Muralidhara’. Subsequently they had two more sons (Bhaskar and Dinkar). Thus the Sapatnekar couple surrendered themselves completely at the divine feet of our beloved Baba. Let us also submit ourselves at those divine feet and pray the ever merciful Baba to bless us that our minds also should indulge always in His Bhajans only. Samarth Sadguru Sainath Maharaj Ki Jai!!!!

With this, the forty eighth chapter, called as Warding off Devotee’s Calamities, is complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant describes stories of Hari Kanoba, Somadeva Swami, Nanasaheb Chandorkar and other matters.

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

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