Sai Baba of Shirdi

   It was for the first time noticed by residents of village Shirdi that there was a young, healthy, smart and extremely handsome person absorbed in Samadhi (meditation) under a Neem tree. He was not concerned at all with heat or cold of the season. People were astonished to see such a young man performing arduous Tapasya (spiritual exercise).

  The young man did not meet anybody in the day time and roamed fearlessly in the desolate tranquility of nights. People were curious to learn about the place he hailed from and inquiring from each other. His look and personality were extremely magnetic. He was always found sitting under the Neem tree and did not visit any house (for alms). Though he looked a young man, his demeanors were like that of a greatly accomplished spiritual person. He seemed an incarnate of renunciation and apathetic to worldly things. Later on he came to be known as ‘Sai Baba’ of Shirdi (at that time, Shirdi was simply a village in Maharashtra).

  Baba once told Bhagat Mahalsapati, a    disciple, that he was born in a Brahman family in Pathardi and that his parents had given-up him to a Fakir (Muslim saint) in his childhood.

  Baba said, “The Fakiri – the destitute state of a saint – is the real prosperity. It is everlasting. What is known as wealth is sure to disaapear.”

  When Baba came to Shirdi for the first time, his age was around sixreen years. He lived in Shirdi for three years and disappeared from there for some time. After some time, he again appeared near Orangabad in Nizam State and came back to Shirdi accompanying the Barat (marriage party) of Chand Patil. At that time he was twenty years old. He lived continuously in Shirdi for sixty years and left his physical body in 1918. Thus, it may be said that Baba was born around 1838.

  Chand Patil of Dhoopgaon in district Aurangabad in Nizam state was a wealthy person. Once, while on his way to Aurangabad, his mare strayed away and was lost to him. He searched the animal for two months but could not find it. Now, he was exhausted of the labor and lost the hope to ever find it. Disappointed and dejected, he was going back to Aurangabad with the saddle of the lost animal on his back.

  After going about fourteen miles, he saw a fakir (a Muslim saint who has renounced the world) under a mango tree, who was about to prepare his hukkah (Indian smoking pipe). The fakir was sporting a cap on his head, wearing a kafani (a scant cloth worn by a fakir) and having a sota (a wooden stick), that was lying nearby. On being called, Chand Patil went upto him.

  The fakir, seeing the saddle, asked Patil, “Why are you carrying this saddle?” In answer, Patil explained him the circumstances and the lost hope. The fakir told him, “Do search it (the mare) near the drain also”. Patil went to the nearby drain and was greatly astonished to see his mare grazing there. He realized that the fakir was not an ordinary person but a great human being.

   On coming back alongwith the animal to the fakir, he found him ready with his chilam (an Indian smoking pipe). What he needed now were only the fire to light it (chilam) and the water to wet the cloth (that is used to filter smoke in chilam).

  Patil now saw that the fakir pierced the earth with his tongs and there came back out of the earth a smoldering fire, which was seated on its own onto the top of the chilam (fire-holding part of chilam). Then the fakir struck his sota on the ground and there gushed back water from the ground, which the fakir used to wet the cloth for his chilam. After arranging all these things in this manner, he smoked the chilam and then handed it over to Patil also for having a smoke. Chand Patil was amazed to witness all these happenings. He requested the fakir to make his house pious by his visit. Next day, the fakir accompanied Patil to his house and stayed there for some time. The fakir was none else but Sri Sai Baba..

  In 1910, on the occasion of Diwali (a Hindu festival of lights), Baba seated near his dhooni (a Hindu holy fire-place), was enjoying its warmth and putting wood logs therein to sustain its fire. Dhooni was fiercely flaming. After a while, suddenly Baba put instead of the wood his hand into the fire. The hand was badly burnt. Madhav, a servant, and Madhavrao Deshpande, on seeing Baba putting his hand in dhooni, ran to him and pulled him back forcibly. Madhavrao asked Baba, “Deva (a word used to address a saintly person), why have you done so?” Being fully alert, Baba said, “At some distance from here, when a blacksmith woman was blowing furnace, she was called by her husband. She, without caring for her infant who was strapped to her back, hurriedly ran to him. Unfortunately, the child slipped and fell into the furnace. I immediately put my hand into the furnace and saved his life. I am not worried of my scalded hand but I am happy that the life of an innocent is saved”

  Mrs. Khaparde (wife of the famous chronicler of ‘Khaparde Diary’) was once staying in Shirdi alongwith her younger son. He was suffering high fever. Thereafter, he developed buboes of plague (at that time India was undergoing the scourge of Bubonic plague). Mrs. Khaparde became alarmed and decided to go back to her native place Amrawati. In the evening when Baba was going for his usual walk, she prayed Baba for his permission to go back. In a chocked voice, she said that her son had got plague and she wanted to leave. Baba lovingly pacified her by saying, “The sky is full of clouds. The moment they are gone, it shall again be clear there”. Saying so, Baba pulled up his kafani up to his back and showed to all present there four egg-sized buboes on his body, saying, “You see, how much pain I have to undergo because of my devotees. Their pains are my sufferings”. The son of Mrs. Khaparde was saved and after a while was restored to his usual self in his health.

  Once, a great storm was raging there at Shirdi. It was evening time. Black clouds gathered and there was lightening in the sky. Soon it started raining, like never before. People of Shirdi were awed at all this Nature’s fury and they approached Baba with a prayer to help them. Baba, responding to their prayer, while standing near the mosque looked at the clouds and in a thundering voice said, “Now, get relaxed!” Soon the fury of the storm was gone and the rain was subsided.

   Baba always kept the fire of his dhooni lit. He kept on feeding it with wood logs to sustain its flaming. The physical fire raging in dhooni has the spiritual symbolic significance. Baba constantly poured physically wood, but spiritually he poured his ego, desires, worldly concerns and all parts of his psychological self into a raging fire of  spiritual dhooni, which all were consumed therein.

  In the spiritual symbolic sense, the flame of dhooni is the Divine fire, which destroys all that is put into it. Once the flames of dhooni became violent and started touching the ceiling of the mosque. All those present there became alarmed. They were in an awkward situation regarding the solution. The fire should be subsided by pouring water over it or Baba be requested to do something about it, they did not know. Baba realized the situation. He struck his sota on the adjacent pillar of the mosque, saying, “Come down and be relaxed!” With each strock of the sota the flame came down by degrees and in a few moments dhooni was its usual self – slowly burning.

  One Balasaheb Mirikar – who was a revenue official of Kopargaon Taluka – was once on his way to a place called Chitali, as part of his official work. He decided to visit Shirdi, which was on the way, and have the blessings of Sri Sai Baba. After darsan (seeing a holy person), he sat down near Baba.

  Sai Baba indirectly warning of the danger waiting him said, “The place where you are sitting now is Mother Dwarka (Divine Mother Dwarka). She saves her children who sit in her lap from all the perils and pains. She is the most merciful. She is the mother of all simple-hearted devotees and surely would save them in their moments of dangers. One who sits but once in her lap is saved from all catastrophes. One, who seeks comfort in her protection, gets in return happiness and joy”. The Baba put his protecting hand in blessing on his head.

  When Mirikar was ready to leave, Sai asked him, “Are you aware of the Lambe Baba (One who is elongated, that is, snake)?” Baba, in an imitating style of snake’s shape, put his one hand’s elbow with a waving- like closed fist on to another hand and said, “He is very dangerous. But what can it do to the children of Mother Dwarka (that is, it cannot do any harm to them)? What power does a snake have, when Mother Dwarka is there to protect them?” On Baba’s bidding, Shama (a disciple of Baba) also accompanied Mirikar to Chitali.

  Mirikar and Shama arrived at Chitali and stayed in Maruti temple there, which was also used as an office for the revenue work. It was dark. Mirikar sat down on the ground on a mat and started reading newspaper.

  There were several persons there. Mirikar was wearing a loose cloth that was hanging across his back. There was a snake sitting on a part of this loose cloth, which no body had noticed so far. The snake with a hissing sound started crawling up the cloth on his back. The peon who was present there, on hearing the sound ran to bring a lantern. Seeing the snake in the light, the peon raised alarm crying, “Snake! Snake!!” Mirikar was trembling with fear. Shama was astonished to see all this happening. Then, all those present there (including Shama) carefully stepped back from there and took lathis (sticks) in their hands. The snake slowly came down the back of Mirikar and was then killed by them.

  Once, Shama, a disciple of Baba, was bitten by a cobra in his finger. The poison was spreading quickly in his blood and he started crying with agonizing pain. He thought it was his end now. His well wishers wanted to take him to the temple of Lord Bithoba, where such accidents were treated by the local traditional medical doctors. But Shama had a great faith in Sai Baba and so he ran to his mosque.

  Baba seeing from afar Shama coming to him started scolding him and became abusive to him. Enraged with anger, Baba said, “O, you simpleton, ungreatful Bamman, do not climb up. Beware, if you ever did so!” He thundered, “Get away, go away, get down”. Shama became hopelessly disappointed. He thought there was no hope left now if Baba does not want him to come near him. He simply sat down on the mosque’s stairs.

  After a while Baba returned to his normal self and became quiet. Shama came near him and sat down there. Thence, Baba addressed him thus, “Do not have fear. Do not worry in the least. The merciful fakir (Allah) will surely protect you. Go home and sit quietly, and do not go out. With the faith that you have in me, be fearless and remove your worry”. Shama was sent home.

  Then, Baba sent Tatya Patil and Kakasaheb Dixit after him to say that he (Shama) may eat whatever he likes, should be walking on his legs, should not lie down or sleep. These instructions were rigidly followed by Shama.

  And, he was saved. The words of Baba though seemed apparently addressed to Shama when he attempted to come to Baba for help but were in fact addressed to the poison (of the snake). Is it possible to command poison? Yes, it is possible. But to be capable of so doing there are certain qualifications that one has to earn. Baba has taught these qualifications.

  Once somebody put a question to Sai Baba, “Baba, what have we to do?” Baba said, “Go up.” “How is the path (for going up)”, queried the person. Baba replied, “There are many paths. One (path) is available from here also (that is, shown by him). But this path is difficult and there are lions and wolves prowling on the way.” The querying man persisted, “How would it be in case one has got a guide on the way?” The reply by Baba was, “Then, there would not be pains (of the way). The guide would take care to guard you against lions, wolves and falls on the way, and would lead you straight to the destination. But in his (guide’s) absence, there is probability that one would loose his right track and have a fall.”

   It is also requisite necessity that one should have faith and intense yearning (to go ahead on the path).”

  Baba said, “Do not spoil you by going on the wrong path in worldly pursuits. Keep your hold tight on your favored God. Turn your mind towards contemplation of Divine and your body organs dedicated towards that path. Do not become attached to any thing; make your mind always busy in remembering Divine, so that it does not turn towards your physical body, wealth and enjoyment. In this way, your mind would usher in the state of stability, tranquility and fearlessness. The presence of this state of mind is an indication that it is on the right path. If the tranquility of mind is destroyed, it can not be concentrated on the proper object.

  Once, Baba pointing to his heart (that is, to the Light that is present in the inmost depth of heart) said, “This Brahman can show the path to millions of people and make them receive what is not obtainable otherwise.”

   Baba used to address people in a very humble manner. He often addressed them by saying, “I, the servant of servants, am indebted to you.”

  Baba used to call his disciples near him and state that he did not know when he behaved in angry manner with them.

  Baba once told Nanasaheb Chandorkar that his entire property consisted in his single Kofin (wearing cloak) and Tamrail (a pot for begging alms); that people un-necessarily make him unhappy by bringing to him valuable offers. The Kamini (sexual attraction of a woman) and Kanchan (wealth or gold) are the two chief obstacles on the (spiritual) path.

  Once, some devotees of Baba were arguing among themselves. The issue was: Whether it was proper to kill living beings, like snake or not. They were divided in their opinion.

  Baba said, “There dwells Divine in all living beings, whether they be snakes or scorpions. He alone is the controller of this universe and all beings – snakes or scorpions – obey His commands only. Without His wish, no one can harm another. The entire universe is subservient to Him and none is free (of His commands). Therefore, we should have compassion and love for all living beings. We should live our life with benevolent heart by renouncing hostility and destruction. Divine is the protector of everyone”.

  He taught that in order to be able to experience Divine, one is required to renounce five things, namely, the demands of firstly, five Pranas (or five planes of vital consciousness), five sense organs, Mana, Mind and the feeling of self as the doer of actions. In nutshell, this is the substance of the science of divine.

  The path of realizing the true self is like treading on the edge of a sword (that is, it is not easy). More over, every body is not qualified enough, or entitled, to tread this path.

  There are ten pre-requisites that a person must possess before he can hope to put him on this path. Firstly, there must be present in him a feeling that he is in some bondage in his present existing circumstances. He must possess a feeling of the great necessity to get out of this bondage.

  Secondly, the person must reach a state of consciousness where he feels apathy towards the worldly attractions and towards any thing beyond this world. This apathy comes into being gradually and naturally to one who systematically cultivates intense urge to get out the bondage spoken of above.

  Thirdly, one has to cultivate an introvert personality. We all are habitually extrovert in our thinking and acting. One must be able to turn his concerns from the outer physical world to the internal intimate world of his psychological personality.

  Fourthly, one must change the normal course of his behaviour in the world around him. He must bring his conduct in tune with his internal changes that are gradually taking place in him. He should turn away from evil deeds.

  Fifthly, the person must be plainly truthful, that is, in his habits and behaviour he should speak truth, remain unattached to worldly attractions and in control of his natural worldly urge of sex, which is the mightiest of all worldly urges.

  Sixthly, one must be discerning about his choice of things present around him and actions in his daily worldly encounters. There are things in the world that possess transient value only and he should be able to refuse their charms. One must be able to stand up against his habitual inclinations and say, “I don’t need these things that have but momentary charm.” There are things that have everlasting value in one’s life and elevate his consciousness. These are resolves, endurance and pursuits against odds and patience, and endure one’s character through out his life. To tread this path one should be able to discern the difference between the two and choose the later one.

  Seventhly, one must be prepared to control his sense organs like a driver of a coach controls his horses.

  Eighthly, one should keep his mind pure of intrusions of the above listed deviating things. All these pre-requisites – the properties of a particular state of consciousness – are interlinked and mutually supporting.

  Ninethly, on this path there is always the necessity of an accomplished guide (Guru). It is a path that is completely unknown to an ordinary human being however knowledgable one may be. It is a path that is more difficult than can be conceived by a human mind.

  And, tenthly, and above all, on this path nothing can be achieved with out the grace of Supreme Being. Even if one possesses all the above listed qualities, one can not achieve any thing on this path unless there is grace of Divine.

  Baba once said, “How can one whose mind is preoccupied with the things of money, begetting progeny and wealth hope to know Divine (Brahmn) without getting rid of these attachments? The attachment to such things and longing for wealth are the whirlpool of sorrow wherein dwell the crocodiles of ego and jealousy. Only one who has conquered his desires can cross over this worldly ocean. The longing for these things and the knowledge of Divine are bitterly hostile to one another.”

  Shri Ganesh Srikrishna Khaparde has recorded in his famous diary entry of December 7, 1910 of Sai Baba having said:

  “This world is strange; all are my people; I treat them all equally; but some turn out to be thief, and what can I do for them? Those who are out to die themselves, they desire others also to die and make preparation for the same. Such persons greatly annoy me; they have hurt me a great. But I kept mum. God is immensely great. His true representatives are every where. Every body should be happy in the conditions in which he is placed by Him. .. I lived here abiut eight – ten thousand years ago.”

  Sai Baba addressing Shri Khaparde once said:

  “There is not a single person (in the world)  who bears unshakable faith in God and who is left without provision of anything.”

  The purity of mind is the most important thing needed because in its absence the spiritual exercise is meaningless and mere ego. It is better that one follows the path that is aggeeable to his liking, that is, follow a spiritual path that is suitable to his psychology.

  What are required are: firstly, the firm faith and secondly, the patience.

  Baba used to say, “I am a servant of Divine.”

  One should be ready and willing to endure pain to offset the effect of one’s past bad acts, or Karmas.

  One who remembers and calls Divine with devotion and love, is responded forthwith by the help of Divine.

  It is not possible for one, however learned and knowledgable he might be, to reach his destination on this path unless he gets the help of an able guide, of whose foot prints alone can save him from the fear of falls and savage attacks on the way.

Baba says, “My lord’s treasury is overflowing with excess. Let any body come and carry it away to his heart’s content. But he has to be brave so as to load it all by himself. The Lila (cosmic drama) of my Fakir, the demeanor of my Lord and the art of my Master are absolutely unparallel… What ever act one does, reaps surely its fruits one day.”

  One should never desire to die.

  Once Baba said to Shama, “You may be aware that the path of karma (actions or conduct) is extremely mysterious. Although I do not do anything, people hold me responsible for the course of events. I am but a mere spectator (of the happenings). It is only Divine alone who is supreme Allah and the inspirer (of happenings). He is the absolute merciful. I am not God and neither am I the Lord. I am but His (Allah’s) obedient servant always absorbed in His rememberance. One, who cultivates unflinching faith in Divine, sincerely feels indebted to Him and is without an ego, is sure to become free of sorrows and reach the destination”.

  To spend money to meet one’s demands (so called needs) is the misuse of money. It should be used in the way that earns spiritual advancement.

  Baba said to Shama, “Our Mana is naturally unrestrained; however we should not allow it to become debauch. Even if the body sense organs become unrestrained, we by keeping complete control over our Mana should not allow its peace to be disturbed. Sense organs always tend to secure their cherished goals but we should not allow overselves to be controlled by them and reach near their cherished goals. This unrestrainedness can be controlled by making constant efforts. Although it is not possible to fully control them but still we should not be controlled by them. Their path should be obstructed according to the circumstances”.

  Then what is the way for an ordinary mortal ignorant person out of this world’s Maya’s jungle? Baba gave a simple formula to get out this complicated cobweb of world. He said:

   “The mind is turbulant. Efforts must be made to make it steady. Just as a fly flies and sits on all objects but turns back when it approaches fire, so the mind longs after sense objects, rejoices in them and merges in them. When it sees i.e. approaches or tries to see Brahman, it turns its face away. When this unruly mind does not merge in God (Brahman), Samsara i.e. rebirth is inevitable. Till the mind is conquered, one is reborn. But among births, human birth is most precious.

  “Therfore do Murtipuja i.e. worship God in form, in his image, to make the mind steady and concentrated. Even the image is God (Parmeshwara). Do not reject image. When an image is worshipped with deep devotion, the mind attains concentration, without which there is no steadiness of mind.

  “Next practise Manana and Dhyana i.e. recollection and meditation; and study spiritual works. Practise what is mentioned in them. Atam Vidya, the science of the Self, is the highest wisdom. If that is mastered, salvation (Mukti) is achieved; and Hari (personal God) is own’s slave. The easy steps to get to that wisdom and to Moksha (i.e. to real seeing or knowledge to God – Brahman) are:

  “Have sadhana Chatushtaya i.e. Anitya Viveka i.e. inquiry into what is real and what is unreal. Vairagya i.e. dispassion, Sama i.e. quiet of mind and other five qualities and Mumukshtva i.e. desire for Mukti. Have Nav-vidha Bhakti i.e. nine-fold devotion etc. Practise these. Surrender yourself to God (Atam-nivedan) Prapatti.

 “Daily take darshan of siddhas i.e. perfect saints. Live a moral life. Then you will be pure even at death. At the time of death, have no desire at all. Concentrate on God i.e. your Ishta-Devta. If death comes when your mind merges in the Ishta-Devta (God), Mukti (salvation) is attained.”

This document is systematically sequential. Read NEXT here.

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