Sunday, May 3, 2009

||chapters forty-three and forty-four||

|| sri sai satcharitra ||

|| chapters forty-three and forty-four ||

|| the mahasamadhi (contd) ||

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

It is a common tradition among the Hindus that whenever someone is on the deathbed, continuous reading of Ramayana or Bhagavata or Bhagavad Gita is resorted to. This is done with a view to allow the dying person to withdraw his mind from the material world and fix his attention on God so that his subsequent journey to the other world would be smooth and easy. When King Parikshit, descendent of Pandavas, incurred the wrath of rishi Samika’s son and was cursed to die because of a snake bite within a week, the great sage Shuka narrated the Bhagavata Purana during the entire week. Listening to Bhagavata, Parikshit was able to focus his attention on the God and attain moksha. This practice is in vogue even now. Baba did not need any such supports. As people usually follow the path set by great people, and to induce them to continue this practice, Baba requested one Mr. Vaze to read Ramavijaya to Him everyday. Vaze read the entire book in one week. Baba asked him to read it day and night. This time, Vaze finished the book in three days, thus completing eleven days of parayana. Baba asked him to read again. This time also he completed reading in three days and was totally exhausted. Baba allowed him to go. Baba started withdrawing all His attention from outside and focussed on Self.

A couple of days earlier, He stopped His morning walk and also His begging rounds. He simply sat in the masjid. Always conscious, He advised the devotees not to lose their peace and calm. Kakasaheb Dixit and Bapusaheb Booty were having their daily meals with Baba at the masjid. On Tuesday, 15th October, after the arati was over, He asked them to go to their homes and have their lunch and come back. Laxmibai Shinde, Nanasaheb Nimonkar, Bayaji, Laxman Bala Shimpi and Bhagoji Shinde were in the masjid. Shyama, who followed Baba like a shadow, sat desolately on the steps.

He was dreading about what could happen any moment. Inside the masjid, after giving nine coins to Laxmibai, Baba said that He was feeling suffocated there and asked to be taken to the Dagdi (stone) Wada of Booty, where He said that He could breathe freely. While saying these, He leaned on Bayaji’s body. Bhagoji put his hand near Baba’s nose and felt that the breathing had stopped. He told the same to Nanasaheb Nimonkar, who was sitting. Nanasaheb immediately brought holy water and trickled it into Baba’s mouth. The water dribbled out. Nanasaheb could no longer contain his emotions. He gave out a deep cry of anguish, “Oh, Deva”. It appeared as though Baba heard this and seemed to open His eyes and say, “Ah” in a very low tone, but by that time, Baba had already discarded the worn out body and had become omnipresent. From a single human form, He spread Himself to millions and millions of beings, all not necessarily human.

The people of Shirdi reacted very emotionally. The news spread like wild fire, and within no time everyone knew what had happened. They left everything behind them and ran to the masjid. They did not bother whether they had left their food half eaten, or even whether they were completely dressed or not. Their only thought was that the light in their life had gone and there was total darkness. Many worried that they could not be beside their guardian angel during His last moments. Others consoled them that it would not have mattered much. Some cried out loudly, and some others who were delicate, fell down unconscious. Some others who could not control their emotions wallowed on the street. Everyone was in deep shock and grief and everyone was crying miserably with tears flowing down like a deluge.

Someone in the crowd remembered Baba’s words. They said that Maharaj (Baba) had told that He would come back and this time He would come as a boy of eight year old. These were the words of a saint and nobody need doubt them. Earlier, Lord Vishnu did exactly like this. He had told Devaki in a dream that He would come to her as an eight year old boy. When Sri Krishna appeared before her, He was eight year old. Lord Krishna incarnated to lighten the burden of the mother earth. Sai Baba had incarnated for uplifting the devotees. The relationship of Baba with His devotees was not confined to this generation alone. This relationship has been going on for the last 72 generations. It looked as if the Maharaj had gone for a walk and the devotees had a firm belief that He would come back. That was the love Baba had given the people of Shirdi and that was the way they were responding to - with abundant love at the Mahasamadhi of their Maharaj.

Once they were reconciled to the fact that the Maharaj will not return to the same body, the next question arose - disposal of the body. The very thing which Baba struggled hard to remove, throughout His lifetime, reared up its ugly head now. There was a difference of opinion between the Hindus and the Muslims. The Muslims wanted to inter the body in an open space and build a tomb over it. Khushalchand and Amir Shakkar supported that view. But Ramachandra Patil, the head of Shirdi village, did not agree. He insisted, “Baba’s body should be placed only in the Wada.” People were divided on this issue and the body was kept waiting for 36 hours.

On Wednesday morning, Baba appeared in Laxman Mama Joshi’s dream and drawing him by His hand said, “Get up. Bapusaheb thinks that I am dead. So, he won’t come. Perform the pooja and the Kakad Arati.” Laxman Mama was the village astrologer and maternal uncle of Shyama. He was an orthodox Brahmin and only after worshipping Baba everyday in the morning, he used to worship other deities. For him, Baba was the God. After the vision was over, he took all the pooja material and immediately went to the masjid. In spite of strong protests from everyone there, performed the pooja and the Kakad Arati and after prostrating at the feet of Baba left that place. This raised a new hope in the hearts of the bereaved devotees. They felt that Baba had not gone anywhere, and is very much with them.

Bapusaheb Jog came at noon and performed the Noon Arati as usual and as if nothing had happened. All the devotees thought that they should respect and honour Baba’s wishes, and decided to place Baba’s body in the Wada and started digging the central portion there. On the evening of Tuesday, a sub-inspector from Rahata came. Devotees from other places also arrived in Shirdi. Amirbhai came from Bombay and Mamlatdar came from Kopergaon. They all agreed to the proposal to place the body in the Wada. Some, however, persisted with the idea of interring the body in the open space. The Mamlatdar took the opinion of all present there and found that the Wada proposal secured double the number of votes. To be on the safe side, the Mamlatdar thought of referring the matter to the Collector. Kakasaheb Dixit was prepared to meet the Collector and explain the matter. Meanwhile, by Baba’s intervention, the opinion of the people changed and everyone unanimously supported the Wada proposal.

On Wednesday evening, Baba’s body was taken in full procession with the chanting of ‘Sadguru Sainath Maharaj Ki Jai’ and bhajans of Baba’s namavali. The body was then brought to the Wada. The central portion, the garbha, was already prepared. The body was interred there with all formalities and poojas. Baba occupied the place meant for Muralidhara. The Wada became a temple and Baba’s words, “After the temple is complete, I will stay there” proved true. The place Bapusaheb Booty built for Baba to stay became a shrine where millions and millions of people are visiting to find rest and peace.

Balasaheb Bhate and Upasani performed the obsequies with all formality and devotion. Professor Narke observed that even though the body was exposed for more than 36 hours, it did not become rigid and was as elastic as earlier and Baba’s kafni could be taken out without any difficulty.


Baba had an old brick with Him. He loved that brick more than anything else. When He slept, He used the brick as a pillow. Baba used to say that the brick was presented to Him by His guru. Because of that, it was more valuable to Him than anything else in the world. Some days before Baba’s departure a young boy, Madhav False, was sweeping the floor, took the brick in his hand to clean the area below it. Unfortunately, it slipped from his hands and the brick broke into two pieces. This happened in Baba’s absence.

When Baba came to know of this, He was totally grief stricken. He cried, “It was My life-long companion. With it I always meditated on the Self. It is not the brick which has broken. My fate has broken to pieces. It has left Me today.” To those devotees who get the doubt as to why Baba grieved so much over an ordinary brick, Hemad Pant says that though Baba was God incarnate, He was still in human form. And as Baba Himself used to say, sometimes Maya overtook Him in spite of being alert always. Maya did not leave even Brahma. Under the spell of Maya, the God incarnate also laughs and cries like ordinary human beings.


Four months before Baba passed away, Baba asked Appa Bhil at about 8 pm, "Bring four fowls. Guests are to come". Imambhai Chotakhan, who was also present there at that time, wondered who the guests to come were. That night Imambhai stayed on behind the curtain, hanging in the mosque, and was awake. After 2 am, a huge ball of fire - over one foot in diameter - streamed into the mosque, and went up to the nimbar, in the western wall. It sat there for a while, then went up to the ceiling, split into innumerable fragments, spread throughout the mosque and lit up everything there with a blaze so powerful that it was difficult to see anything. Imambhai covered his eyes and bent his neck down. Appa Bhil, who was also with him, did the same. Then Baba went near the Dhuni, and placing one end of His short stick on His bent neck, said something in Arabic for about 10 or 15 minutes. The bright light disappeared as soon as Baba went to the Dhuni. Baba asked Appa Bhil in the morning to bring the four fowls. They were brought and cooked. Baba prepared poli at the fire in the mantap.

According to Sufi practice, certain preparations have to be made prior to death. These include – singing of special refrains about Prophet Mohammed (known as moulus) and devotional songs called as qawwalis, and feeding the poor as charity or nyas. Baba called Kasim, son of Bade Baba, gave him some of the food cooked by Him and told Kasim, "Go to Aurangabad. See Shamshuddin Mea. Give him this Rs.250. Do there moulu and qawwali and do nyas. Next, go to Bannemea Fakir. Garland him with this garland, and then tell him: ‘Navdin, nav tarik. Allah mea ne apna dhunia legaya, marji Allahaki’” (on the ninth day of ninth month, Allah would take away the fire. Such is Allah’s wish). So saying, Baba gave Kasim Rs.250 and garland of Sevanthi flowers. Kasim said he was a stranger to those parts. Then, Baba asked Imambhai to go with him.

They both took Kasim's servant Amir with them and reached Aurangabad station at 3 p.m. When they were at the station, fakir Shamsuddin came there and asked: "Who are the guests who have come from the fakir Sai?" Both Imambhai and Kasim took his darshan. Shamsuddin himself repeated Baba's direction word for word and took them to his house in the fort and fed them. Rs.250 was paid to him. He then fed large number (nyas); Shamsuddin performed both the qawwalis and moulu. They were completed by that night.

Imambhai knew Bannemea's house and they went there next morning. He was standing with one arm upraised and one arm held down. The Arabs around him told them not to approach Bannemea, as he would beat them. After waiting for nearly one hour, Imambhai picked up courage, took Baba's garland in his hand, and put it round Bannemea’s neck. Then Bannemea lowered his upraised arm. Imambhai told him the words uttered by Baba to be told to Banne. Bannemea gazed into the sky and tears rolled down from his eyes. Four months after that, Baba passed away. Imambhai and Kasim had gone to Aurangabad in the Ramzan month.


Thirty two years before, in 1886 AD, Baba had crossed the border line first time. On a Margasira Poornima day, Baba suffered from a severe attack of asthma. Baba decided to go into samadhi. Mhalsapathi was with Baba at that time. Baba told him, “Protect My body for three days. If I do not return, bury My body in that open land (pointing to the space) and fix two flags as a mark.” After saying this, at about 10.00 pm Baba slept in the lap of Mhalsapathi. His breathing stopped. Then His pulse also stopped. For all external appearances it looked as if Baba had breathed His last. Next morning, people coming to masjid for Baba’s darshan were shocked to see Baba lying lifeless in the lap of Mhalsapathi. The entire village came, completely grief stricken, and felt that darkness had enveloped them. By evening of that day, they decided that after conducting an inquest, the body should be buried in the place shown by Baba. No one believed Baba’s words. But, Mhalsapathi strongly opposed all these attempts. He said that Baba had asked him to wait for three days and only then they could think of something else. For full three days, with Baba’s body in his lap, Mhalsapathi did not even move slightly. For full three days, he guarded Baba’s body better than he would have guarded his own life. In addition to being confined to the same place, Mhalsapathi had to face severe provocations from the people, from the devotees and from the civilian authorities. For any one who came with an alternate solution, his only reply was, “Wait for three days.” Time does not wait for anyone. The stipulated three days finally came to an end. Almost every one in the village was at the masjid, trying to see the greatest miracle. Then at 3.00 am on the third day, the miracle finally happened. Breathing started once again in the body, the abdomen began to move. Baba slowly opened His eyes and stretched His limbs. Baba had returned back to life and consciousness. Every one assembled in the masjid, heaved a sigh of relief and gave a loud cry of ‘Sainath Maharaj Ki Jai’.

This time a greater miracle happened. From a body of about three cubits, Baba moved into millions and millions of such bodies, some six feet, some less than that and many even much less than that. From the smallest of the small to the biggest of the big, Baba has assumed all the forms. The human body is composed of the five elements and is perishable. The human form of Baba served Him loyally for nearly eighty years and had to be discarded as it had become old. The divine light that was inside, the eternal flame of knowledge and wisdom and the beacon of kindness and mercy that was inside, found a larger expression than the mere three cubits of body. This divine light cannot fade away with the transient body. Baba’s mission is still incomplete. To fulfill the mission, Baba has assumed the infinite form. He has only discarded the frail human body. Like God Dattatreya, or Sri Narasimha Saraswati of Ganagapur, Baba is always alive.

Though some may feel that it is not possible for them to see Baba’s form now, many others have felt Baba’s presence through the generations. By closing the eyes and concentrating the mind, one can still see the benign face of Baba. Devotees are recounting innumerable ways in which Baba has come to their rescue whenever they called Him in distress. To other devotees to whom the form is important, they can go to Shirdi and visit the Samadhi Mandir. The Mandir is built with stones and Baba’s Samadhi is built with white marble stones. A railing is built in marble around the Samadhi and is full of ornamental decorations. Just behind the Samadhi is the marvellous, life like statue of Baba made of Italian marble. It shows Baba majestically seated on a throne. The sculptor, Balaji Vasant Talim was only an instrument like Hemad Pant. The statue, installed on 7 October 1954, appears as if Baba, for the sake of His beloved devotees, had transposed Himself from a transient human body to an immortal form in the marble stone. Every devotee who sees the idol will feel that Baba is alive and sitting. Every devotee is filled with the satisfaction of Baba’s Darshana. In Dwarakamai, we will also find the life like beautiful portrait which adorned the Mandir, before the idol was installed. Painted by Shamrao Jaykar, a famous artiste and a well known devotee of Baba, this portrait even today gives the same satisfaction that we would have got by seeing Baba in the human form. Being less fortunate than the people who lived a hundred years ago in Shirdi, we have to seek contentment from whatever means are available to us today. To those without faith, he is invisible. To the faithful devotees, He appears wherever they are. In the chavadi, His presence is invisible; in Dwarakamai, it is in the form of Brahman; in the Samadhi Mandir, in a state of samadhi, while everywhere else, it is the bliss of His presence.


Sakharam Hari, also known as Bapusaheb Jog, was the uncle of the famous Warkari Vishnubuva Jog of Poona. Bapusaheb did not have any children. He was working as a supervisor in the PWD. In 1909 AD, he sought retirement and with his wife settled down in Shirdi. Both the husband and wife loved Baba very dearly and spent all their time in worshipping and serving Baba. After Megha passed away, Bapusaheb performed the daily Arati in the masjid and at Chavadi till Baba’s Mahasamadhi. Baba had asked him to read and explain Jnaneshwari and Eknathi Bhagavat to audience in Sathe Wada. One day, Bapusaheb asked Baba, “I have served You for so many years. Why my mind is still restless? Has my contact with Saints not improved me? Please bless me.” Baba replied, “Shortly your karmaphala will be neutralized. Conquer lust and sense of taste. Get rid of all impediments. Serve God whole heartedly and accept sanyas. When you renounce all attachments, I will consider you as blessed.” Baba’s words came true shortly. His wife predeceased him and he had no other attachments. He was free to accept sanyas and before his death, he realised the goal of his life.


“He, who loves Me most, sees Me always. To him, who tells no stories other than mine; to him, who ceaselessly meditates Me and always chants My name; the whole world is desolate to him without Me. I feel indebted to him, who surrenders himself completely to Me and remembers Me always. I shall repay his debt by giving him salvation. To him, who thinks and hungers after Me, who does not eat anything without first offering it to Me, I am always dependent. He, who thus comes to Me, becomes one with Me, just as a river gets to the sea and becomes one with it. With no trace of pride or egoism, you should surrender yourself to Me, seated in your heart.”

Baba expounded several times who this Me is. “You need not go far in search of Me. Other than your physical form and name, there exists in you, as well as in all beings, a sense of Being or Consciousness of Existence. That is Myself. Know this and see Me, inside yourself, as well as in all beings. If you practice this, you will realise all pervasiveness, and thus attain oneness with Me.”

Hemad Pant makes a bow to the readers and requests them humbly and lovingly that they should love and respect all Gods, Saints and devotees. Has not Baba often said, “He who carps and cavils at others, pierces Me in the heart and injures Me. He that suffers and endures pleases Me most.” Baba pervades all beings and creatures, and besets them on all sides. He likes nothing but love to all beings. Baba always spoke of such words, imbibing which any man can become immortal. Hemad Pant, therefore, concludes - those who sing affectionately Baba’s fame and those who hear the same with devotion, both become one with our beloved Baba. Let us once again prostrate at the divine feet of our beloved Baba and say, “Sadguru Sainath Maharaj Ki Jai!!!!

With this, the forty third and forty fourth chapters, called as The Mahasamadhi (Contd), are complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant describes Kakasaheb’s doubt, Anandrao’s vision, wooden plank, Baba’s bedstead and other matters.

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

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