SHIRDI SAIBABA`S TIMETABLE - PART 6 OF 8
TIME TABLE OF BABA’S DAILY ROUTINE - 6
It would be around 10 am by the time Baba returned to the mosque from the Lendi garden. His royal court would then be held till 11.30. Some devotees would come to him and tell him of their afflictions, hopes and fears, others would seek his advice. Some would pray to him to satisfy their desires. Singers, dancers, magicians would come and after displaying their arts would go away suitably rewarded by Baba. Baba would usually give them two rupees each.
Devotees would come with offerings to Baba and he would touch these offerings with his hand as a token of acceptance and return to the devotees as his prasad. Sometimes he would have the offering distributed to all the devotees present. Only rarely would he take a little of the offering and put it in his mouth. Those whose offering was thus accepted by Baba would be ecstatic with happiness. In the mango season Baba would taste a little of the fruit every day and order them to be distributed to everyone. Other times he would buy mangoes and have them distributed to all.
Baba would give the sweetmeats offered to him mostly to the children as some of the children used to come to him every day. In case the offering arrived when the children were not present, he would have the delicacies kept aside to give to them later. Baba loved children. He would talk to them gently and with love. He would never tolerate anyone talking harshly or beating children.
Whilst he was so intimate and garrulous with the children, he was a model of brevity when talking to the grownups.. He would smile but never laugh. He used to recount small fables when he was in a pleasant mood. These tales were usually the life story of one of the devotees present, who would be wonder struck at Baba’s omniscience. These stories would sometime contain admonishments too. Only those persons to whom the admonishment was meant for, would understand the story. The others would assume that the story was about someone or of someone’s previous life. Sometimes the devotees would totally forget the story told by Baba and try as they might, they would not be able to remember it even if they got together as a group to refresh their memories. Everyone was astonished by this.
At 11.30 the bell in the mosque went. This was the sign to the devotees that it was time for the noon Arati. All the devotees, wherever they were, would hurry to the mosque and take part in the Arati which would normally start at midday. Baba was worshipped with flowers and sandalwood paste. The ladies would stand in front of Baba in the mosque while the men would stand in the forecourt . Baba’s face would light up with an otherworldly light at this time. Many devotees have written in their diaries that two eyes were not sufficient to drink in the glory, power and beauty of Baba at the times of Arati. One may see Khaparde’s diary for more details. One can imagine how enchanting a spectacle Baba’s aratis were, when he was extant.
After the noon Arati, Baba would bless all the devotees, give them udi and would send them home. He would lovingly greet devotees and ask each one to have his food and return again to the mosque.
Later he would mix his alms with some of the offerings and eat his food together with ten to twelve devotees. Tatya Patil, Ramachandra Patil and Bayyaji Patil would sit on Baba’s left and the fakir of Malegaon (Bade Baba), Shama, Booty and Kaka Saheb Dixit would sit on his right. Tatya, Ramachandra and Bayyaji would eat from one single plate, while Baba and the Fakir of Malegaon would eat from another. Baba never had his midday meal alone and he would not sit for the meal unless Bade Baba was present.
The devotees would wash their hands and feet and sit on either side of Baba, and after mixing all the offerings would keep the vessel in front of Baba. As soon as they sat down to eat the curtains in front of the mosque would be lowered down and no one else was allowed to enter it. Baba would offer the food to god and send a part of it outside as his prasad to be distributed to the devotees. Baba would take the remaining food and mix it with one part of milk, one part of sugar and one part of rotis and knead well. This would be distributed to all.
Later Nimonkar and Shama would serve all the devotees who sat with Baba. If there were a particular food that a devotee liked very much, Baba would have more of it served to him. Shama was given a large helping of semolina pudding at meals as he was fond of it. M W Pradhan describes these occasions thus, "I used to eat with Baba at the mosque. Baba would serve us himself and heap our plates with food. I used to send a part of it to my house which would suffice for the entire household. Baba used to give each of us a fruit at the end of the meal. He noticed that my son Babu did not care for cooked food and gave him fruit instead."