LIFE HISTORY OF SHIRDI SAI BABA - Ch.XI toXII
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Om Sri Sai Ram
LIFE HISTORY OF SHIRDI SAI BABA
By Ammula Sambasiva Rao
English Translation by Thota Bhaskara Rao
Chapter - XI
In the year 1896, Gopal Rao Gundu was the Revenue Inspector of Kopergaon circle. In spite of having three wives, he had no children. With the blessings of Sai Baba, children were born to him. Out of gratitude to him he thought of celebrating Urs festival every year. Baba agreed to do this. It was decided to celebrate the festival on Shree Ramnavami day.
Urs-Shree Ramnavami Festivals
In the year 1897, the Urs celebration was started in Shirdi for the first time on Ramnavami Day. Simultaneously the Muslim devotees started the Sandal Utsav. A devotee, Amir Shakkar, belonging to the village Korah, got the Sandal Utsav performed at Shirdi. They put sandal paste in the big plate and took it in a procession and with drums and cymbals to Dwarakamayi. They smeared the walls of Dwarakamayi with sandal paste.
During Sandal Utsav and Ramnavami Utsav, they got two flags prepared with silk cloth and zari borders; they brought them in a procession and planted them on either side of the mosque. The festival, thus started, had become a full-fledged Ramnavami festival from the year 1912 at the instance of Sri Krishna Rao Jageshwar Bhishma. The celebrations included Hari Kathas, cradle function and spraying coloured powder called Gulal on one another. Next day, they hung a pot from a considerable height. This pot contained curds, rice flakes, etc. Whoever tried to catch it was sprayed with water jets. Baba moved among all the devotees, blessing them. People thought that Lord Rama had come in the form of Sai Baba. Baba used to cry aloud with anger whenever the Gulal powder fell in his eyes. Actually those cries were directed against the evil spirits moving around there.
After the festivities were over, Gopal Rao Gundu wanted to get the mosque repaired and put stone slabs for the flooring of Dwarakamayi. But Baba gave away the stone slabs to the temple in the village for undertaking repairs.
Vasu Devananda Saraswathi
In a �Tapovan� near Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh, there was a great saint with divine and supernatural powers. He was Vasu Devananda Saraswathi. Thousands of devotees visited him. Das Ganu, a native of Nanded, along with four others went to visit this Yogi. After hearing about Shirdi and the name of Sai Baba from Das Ganu, Vasu Devananda was overwhelmed with joy and told them "Children! My elder brother is there in Shirdi. Why did you come here instead of visiting him? People are under the impression that Sai Baba is a Muslim fakir . But he is my elder brother. Please give this coconut to him with my salutations." So saying he gave a coconut to Das Ganu. They returned with Das Ganu to Nanded and after fifteen days started for Shirdi via Manmad and Kopergaon. After reaching Manmad they learnt that the train to Kopergaon was running late. So they sat near the rivulet nearby, to eat the fried rice flakes brought by them. As they found the rice flakes too pungent, they broke the coconut given to them by Vasu Devananda Saraswathi and after crating it, mixed it with the rice flakes and ate it. While eating they suddenly remembered that this coconut was intended for Sai Baba and feared the consequences.
When they reached Shirdi, Sai Baba called Das Ganu and asked him about the coconut given by Vasu Devananda. Surprised as to how Baba knew about it, Das Ganu narrated everything and sought the pardon of Baba. He rose to go to the shop to get another coconut. But Baba prevented him and told him. "Child, do not go. Can the coconut which you intend to bring now be equal to the one sent by my brother? Do not worry. You are also my children. All my possessions are yours. I do not have anything against you". So saying, he blessed them.
Kaka Saheb Dixit heard about the miracles and Leelas of Sai Baba and came to Shirdi for the first time in the year 1909. While in England, his leg was injured in a train mishap and so he came to Shirdi with the hope that Baba would cure him. But after visiting Baba he prayed to Baba to make him emotionally stable rather than physically.
He saw the miracles and Leelas of Sai Baba and decided to permanently settle down at Shirdi. He purchased a piece of land to the north of Gurusthan and constructed a rest house. He kept the first floor for himself while the ground floor was for the visiting devotees. This building was called Dixit Wada.
Bala Saheb Mireekar
Bala Saheb Mireekar was the Tahsildar of Kopergaon. On his way to the village Chitili, he came to Shirdi to visit Sai Baba. He went inside the mosque and after salutation to Baba, sat by his side. Baba told him, "The place where you are sitting now is Dwarakamayi. The mother is very kind-hearted. She is more than a mother to sincere devotees. Those real devotees who sit on her lap are relieved of their difficulties and anxieties. " So saying he put his hand in the shape of a snake�s hood, warning him that the snake was very dangerous. But as long as Dwarakamayi protected her children, the snake could do no harm to you."
After sometime, when Bala Saheb got up to leave the mosque, Baba called Shama and ordered him to accompany Bala Saheb to Chitili. Though Bala Saheb did not agree to this, yet Baba told him, "We wish for your good. But who can change one�s fate?" Reluctantly Bala Saheb agreed to Shama coming with him.
They took rest in the Hanuman temple near Chitili at about 9 o� clock in the night. Bala Saheb read the newspaper. Shama noticed a snake on the upper cloth of Bala Saheb. Bala Saheb was very frightened. The snake slid down and slithered away. The nearby people gathered there and killed the snake. Baba had foreseen this and cautioned Mireekar, also assuring him that nothing would happen. Furthermore, he had sent Shama with him for his protection.
When we pray to Baba and seek his protection, he foresees our coming difficulties and gives us the required protection, and with his blessings, reduces the intensity of our difficulties. According to the theory of Karma if one had to undergo the difficulties, Baba would lessen the difficulties and alleviate our suffering. In the above story, there must have been danger from snakebite for Bala Saheb as per the Theory of Fate. But Baba�s assurance to Bala Saheb was more powerful, and though the snake went up the upper cloth of Bala Saheb, it could not do anything. Some devotees fully believed in Sai Baba, but no miracles or Leelas happened to them and Sai Baba did not do anything for them. But Sai Baba foresaw their difficulties and tried to prevent them . In the eighth chapter, we had seen how Baba had saved Shama from snakebite, by ordering the poison to come down. From these stories, the readers can imagine how Baba protects his devotees with his motherly love.
The need for a Guru
In any Yuga, the need for a Guru was there for spiritual advancement. Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, regarded as incarnations of God, also had Gurus. Any high caste person or wealthy or strong person or a person with knowledge of the Vedas, etc. cannot have spiritual advancement unless he has a Guru. Mere book knowledge is not sufficient to know the path for God-realisation. A Sadguru will be useful for us like a guide in a forest. We shall now learn about this in Baba�s words.
One day Dixit came to Baba and sought permission to leave Shirdi. Baba gave him his permission. Someone there asked, "Where to?" and Baba said, "To a place very far up. There are several ways to reach that place. From Shirdi also there is a way. This is a very difficult one. There are tigers, wolves, etc. in the forest. If you take a guide along with you, he will safely take you to your destination, making you escape from the wild animals. If there is no guide accompanying you, you can get killed by the wild animals, or you may fall in some pit. You can get salvation only by the Guru�s teachings."
The gist of Baba�s teaching is that life�s journey is like traveling through a thick forest. Jealousy, selfishness and hatred will infest this jungle like wild animals. We do not know which moment we may fall prey to them. To move forward avoiding these pitfalls, the help of a Sadguru is very essential.
Shirdi Sai Baba is the incarnation of Lord Shiva, come down to this world from Kailas to show the materialistic people the Jnana Marga and the way to salvation. It is not at all difficult to have the blessings of the Sadguru. Baba said, "If you look to me, I look to you... If you come one step towards me, I will come ten steps towards you.... I shall give you help or advise, the moment you ask for it." Even after leaving the physical body, Sai Baba remained in this world in the form of Guru.
All Sai devotees should consider him as their Sadguru. He is the form of all gods in one. He is the creator and preserver of this world. Let us put everything at his feet and benefit from his human birth.
Das Ganu�s Holy Bath
On Shivaratri day in the year 1905 Das Ganu wanted to bathe in the nearby Godavari river, and sought the permission of Baba. Baba told him, "Why should you go to such a distant place? Godavari water is at my feet," Das Ganu knew that Baba was the incarnation of Lord Shiva and Ganga Devi would be always with him. But he thought that the satisfaction of bathing in a river would not be there. Knowing the thoughts inside Das Ganu, Baba asked him to hold both the palms of his hands together and put them near his feet. When Das Ganu did this, holy water flowed from the toes of Baba�s feet. Wonderstruck at this, Das Ganu sprinkled the water on his head with joy and got the satisfaction of having bathed in River Ganga.
Das Ganu was not able to understand the gist of Isha Upanishad and therefore approached many persons who too could not explain it to him properly. Thereupon, he decided to go to Shirdi and take the help of Sai Baba in understanding the Upanishad properly. Baba blessed him and told him not to be in a hurry to know the gist, saying, "In your return journey, if you go to the house of Kaka Saheb Dixit at Ville Parle, his servant girl will clear your doubts." The other devotees there wondered how an illiterate servant girl could clear his doubts when so many learned people could not do this. But Das Ganu took Baba�s words as divine truth.
On his return journey he stayed in the house of Dixit. He found the servant girl wearing a torn dress and singing happily and attending to the household work. He wondered at the poor servant girl in such a happy mood. He presented a sari to her through his friend Pradhan. The servant girl wore the new sari and sang and danced with joy with other girls. Next day she put her new sari in her box and came to work with the torn dress that she had earlier worn. But there was no change in her behaviour. She was as happy as she was when wearing the new sari. After observing this, Das Ganu realised that sorrows and happiness depend on one�s own moods and thinking and this was the central idea of Isha Upanishad. In this world everything is the creation of Ishwar. But according to one�s mind and thought, one is happy when one has what one wants and unhappy when it is not with one. The cause of sorrow and happiness is one�s mind and thinking and not the creator Ishwar.
What Gautama Buddha realised, sitting under the Bodi Tree was only the above truth. For those who have conquered their minds there will not be sorrow but only happiness. He would always be a contented and happy person. This is the state called Brahamananda.
Today Sai Baba is not with us in flesh and blood. Then how will he teach us Jnana? This question may be in your mind. The way how he taught Das Ganu through a servant girl, in the same manner Baba would also teach us Jnana through our own actions and through the actions of the people around us. But we should have the true desire and understanding capacity. Sai Baba will give us these qualities only if we surrender ourselves completely to him.
Sai Baba will be observing how far you are able to assimilate anything while doing Parayana of his life history. When you have devotion to Baba and are sincere in the Parayana everything will automatically be grasped by our minds. Then Baba will show his Leelas. So, if you want to experience the love of Baba towards you, you should do Parayana in the above-mentioned manner. This is something you yourself have to practice where others cannot help.
Let us end this chapter with a prayer to Sai Baba to impart Jnana to those who read his life history with devotion and also to stay in their hearts permanently and make their houses a Sai Nilayam.
"Om Shanti! Shanti! Shantihi"
The actions of Baba seem impossible to believe sometimes and at times strange. No one understands why Baba did thus.
Baba�s Strange Actions
In the early days when the holy fire (Dhuni) was started in Dwarakamayi, Baba collected used matchsticks and stored them carefully. He took Dakshina half-anna (equivalent to three paisa) from the devotees who visited him. He smoked from a mud pipe called chillum.
With thin and weak cloth pieces measuring five feet in length and one and half feet in width, Baba used to hang a wooden board four inches thick, to the rafters of Dwarakamayi. He put four lamps at the four corners of the wooden board, and slept on the board. While it was surprising as to how the cloth pieces withstood the weight of the wooden board, it was more surprising as to how they withstood the weight of Baba also.
In the afternoons, between 1 and 2 p.m. devotees were not allowed inside the mosque. During this period Baba would take out 15 to 20 old coins from his bag and rub them with his fingers, saying aloud, "This coin is Nana�s, this coin is Kaka�s." Perhaps by doing like this Baba was removing their desires.
Everyday, after watering the plants in Lendi Bagh, Baba would put the earthen pots with their mouths down. Once a person named Kolambi, observing this crazy action of Baba, asked him why he was doing like that. To this Baba replied that people who were coming to him were like the earthen pots with their mouths down, meaning they were not able to receive carefully what Baba wanted to give them.
Baba�s Knowledge of Past, Present and Future (Ruthambara Prajna)
Baba used to tell his devotees frequently:
"Whether you are before me or at far off place, whatever you do and think will be known to me." He used to tell the devotees who visited him, their past, present and future. This is called Ruthambara Prajna in Yoga Shastra. This is found in saints in a limited capacity. But Baba�s power was limitless, covering the entire world and beyond imagination.
Baba sometimes brought to life some persons who were dead. But he did not revive some persons. One day a woman, whose child died, came to Baba and asked for udi. Inspite of her repeated pleas, he declined to give it. When Kaka Saheb Dixit intervened in the matter, Baba told him "Baav! Do not interfere in this matter. Whatever happened has happened for the good. The dead boy has already taken birth in another body in which he will do many good things. If I bring the boy here now, the new body will perish and this body will live. If I do this for your sake, will you accept the consequential responsibility?"
Baba would immediately answer any question that was put to him. Though the answer appeared to be coincidental, his word turned into absolute truth. Though he would appear to be seeing and talking like us, he would always be in a state of Samadhi. He was a confirmed bachelor like Hanuman. Lust feared to approach him. His eyes were like burning lamps and penetrated like searchlights the hearts of many.
How Baba saved Nana Chandorkar
Baba always looked after those who believed in him. One day, Chandorkar and his friend Shastri were traveling in a Tonga from Poona. Suddenly the horse pushed back the Tonga with the result that the Tonga fell upside down. Both men fell down. This was a serious accident. In the ordinary course there was danger to the life of the passengers. At the same hour at Shirdi, putting his hands together like a conch, Baba made sounds like that emanating from a conch. It was an indication of imminent danger. Baba cried aloud, "Nana is falling down! But I will not let it happen." Because of this Leela Nana and his friend escaped unhurt and completed their journey safely.
One day, Nana Chandorkar was climbing the Harischandra hill to see a temple there. Another friend and two servants accompanied him. After climbing for sometime, he felt very thirsty due to severe heat from the sun. Becoming tired, he rested. There was no water nearby. To get water, either one had to go down or else go up the hill. He remembered Baba. He thought that if Baba were to be here, he would have somehow provided him water. But he was 80 miles away at Shirdi. At the same hour, Baba sitting in Dwarakamayi told Shama and others, "Nana is very thirsty. The climate is very hot. He was also tired. I should give him some water." Shama and others could not understand what Baba said.
On the hill, Nana sat silently for sometime. A Bhil (of the forest-dwelling tribe) happened to come there. Coming near Nana he told him that if he was thirsty, water could be had from the water hole under the big stone on which he was sitting. When the stone was shifted, pure drinking water was found. Nana quenched his thirst by drinking the water. After some days, when Shama told Chandorkar what Baba had said a few days back, he recollected the incident and concluded that Baba himself had come in the form of the Bhil to quench his thirst.
Baba taught Nana about Mind Control
One day, a Muslim family from Bijapur came to visit Baba. There were two ladies in their veils. They came to Baba, and removing their veils saluted him. One of the ladies was very beautiful. Nana was sitting next to Baba and at the sight of the beautiful lady, his mind went astray. He wished to see her face again. Observing this Baba hit him gently on the thigh. After the ladies left Baba asked Nana if he know why he had hit him. Nana replied that having noticed his agitated mind, Baba must have hit him. Baba said, "The lady you saw was very beautiful. God had created her so beautifully. When a person created by God is so beautiful, then how much more beautiful would be the creator? Did you ever think of this?"
We should always think of the creator of this beautiful world and not the things created. We go to a temple to worship God and not to see the sculptures. When mind merges with senses then only one gets excited. Our body is like a chariot. The mind is the driver (Sarathi) and the senses are horses. If the charioteer holds the reins firmly, then one can safely reach one�s destination. Instead, if the charioteer loses control over the horses, they would run wildly and one cannot reach one�s destination. Instead, if the Charioteer loses control over the horses, they would run wildly and one cannot reach one�s destination. Those who can control their senses with mind, alone can advance spiritually. Those who become slaves to the senses will use their mind only to achieve their desires. If we tempt the senses with anything, they will desire to have it. Because of this nature of the senses, you desired to see that lady again and again. You can stop that desire by controlling with your mind. Then you can utilise all your leisure time for spiritual purposes. Otherwise, the entire life time will be spent on achieving our desires, and where then is the time to think of God?"
Baba�s Control over all the Five Elements
The entire world is made up of five elements (I) earth (ii) water (iii) fire (iv) air and (v) sky. This was known to Indians even before the ancient Puranas. According to the latest science, the entire creation is a combination of one or more of these elements. Baba had full control over these elements. There were several instances to prove this.
One day, there was a heavy downpour in Shirdi due to cyclonic conditions. The roofs of some thatched houses were about to be blown off. There was knee-deep water in the entire village. All the villagers young and old came to the mosque and pleaded with Baba to save them. The kind-hearted Baba came out of the mosque and commanded the wind and rain to reduce their intensity by saying "Stop! Slow down!" In a few minutes, the rains stopped. In the same way, Baba stopped the rain on an earlier occasion when Nana Chandorkar wanted to return home.
One day the flames in the Dhuni in the mosque went high up all of a sudden touching the wooden rafters. The Baba, striking the floor with his sataka, ordered the flames to come down. On one summer day the haystack of a farmer caught fire, and was burning, assisted by the blowing wind. There was no sufficient water in the village to put out the fire. All feared that the flames would spread to the neighboring haystacks and to the nearby houses. Some ran to Sai Baba and begged him to save them from the calamity. Immediately, Baba went to the raging fire and with a small vessel containing water sprinkled it around the haystack and ordered the fire not to go beyond that boundary. The fire subsided after sometime without spreading.
In the first year of the celebration of Ramnavami in Shirdi, there was acute water shortage. To tide over this shortage, Baba threw flowers into the dried up village well. Immediately water oozed and filled the well. This is another instance to prove Baba�s control over the elements.
Megashyam, a native of Vivergaon, was the Brahmin cook of Sathe. He was a very orthodox person. In the early days of Sathe�s visit to Shirdi, Megashyam was given the work of a Pujari and also to serve Baba. Over a period, Megashyam saw several of Baba�s Leelas and fully believed that Baba was the incarnation of Lord Shiva. He used to daily drink the water with which Baba�s feet were washed. Baba brought about a change in him and made his devotion permanent.
On one Sankranti, Meghashyam wanted to apply sandal paste all over Baba�s body and bathe the body with Ganga water (water from nearby Godavari river). He sought permission of Baba who reluctantly gave it. He walked to and fro 18 miles and brought the water in a pot on his head. It was noontime. He made Baba sit on a low wooden stool. Baba put his head a little forward and told Megashyam that since the head was important part of the body, it was enough if the water was put on his head only instead of on the entire body. But Megashyam crying out ecstatically "Har Ganga" emptied the water from the pot on the entire body . But to his surprise, Baba�s advise, only Baba�s head got wet as Baba desired.
From the above two Leelas, it is evident that Baba had complete control over water also.
A very rich man Gulzar was residing near Malegaon. On hearing about the powers and Leelas of Sai Baba, he decided to go to Shirdi to get Brahma Jnana from Baba. He engaged a Tonga for the journey. After reaching Shirdi, he approached Baba, and asked him to teach him Brahma Jnana without delay, as he had engaged a Tonga for the journey. Baba told him, "Friend, do not get worried. I will show you Brahman just now. All my transactions are for cash only and no account. All who come to me are with selfish desires. Very few ask for Brahma Jnana like you." So saying, Baba diverted the topic. He called for a boy and asked him to get five rupees as loan from Nandu Marwadi. The boy returned after sometime stating that the house was locked. Baba sent him to some other house, with the same result. He sent him to two more places, but without success. Then Baba looked at Gulzar who had come for Brahma Jnana and said, "There are fifty currency notes of five rupees denomination in your pocket. Attaining Brahma Jnana urgently is not materialistic. I have been sending the boy to get a loan of five rupees, with the intention that you should observe. You did not volunteer to give that five rupees to me, that too as a loan, even though you have a lot of money. Such a miser cannot understand Brahma Jnana. You were in a hurry because, if there was delay the tongawala would charge you more."
Baba then added, Oh friend! Brahma Jnana means realisation of Self (Atma). There is no difference between Atma and God. If you want to realise Atma in your body, then you have to surrender to God the following five things: (1) five pranas (2) five senses (3) mind (4) intellect and (5) ego. All these are inside a person. It is easy to surrender the eternal things. But to surrender those which are inside a person is very difficult. It is like walking on the edge of a sharp knife. Those who cannot surrender even the external things are deemed to be fully under delusion. Such persons cannot understand the five inside matters.
A person who wants Self-realisation or Atma Jnana, should be careful in the following matters:
1. A strong desire should be there for Moksha or freedom from worldly matters.
2. One should have detachment from all things of this world and also desires about the other world (paraloka).
3. All the senses of a man are accustomed to seeing external things only. One should make these senses see the self or Atma.
4. When he cannot divert his mind from bad and undesirable things and not be able to control his mind, he cannot get Atma-Sakshathkaram even if he gets Jnana.
5. One should always speak the truth under all circumstances and remain a bachelor.
6. Man should choose only that which would do him good and not that which gives him pleasure. Worldly matters give pleasure. Spiritual matters do him good. Instead of going for temporary or momentary pleasures, one should prefer spiritual matters only, which do good to him.
7. Man should have under control, the mind and sensory organs. If he goes for pleasures, the senses also will keep the mind occupied with these matters and there will not be any room for spiritual matters.
8. He must keep his mind pure. He should do his duties in a proper and satisfactory way, without expecting reward for his actions. Then the mind will be pure. Knowledge comes out from a purified mind and increases detachment, leading to self-realisation. Unless greed, delusions and desires are removed, man cannot get Jnana.
9. If all the above-mentioned thing are practiced rigorously he will achieve results. After this stage, the need for a �Guru� arises. A Guru should be one who has attained Atma-Jnana; otherwise no useful purpose will be served.
10. The first eight are one�s own efforts. To this, if the help of a Sadguru is also there, then God�s blessings will also be there. Knowledge of the Vedas, or riches or great intelligence will not get us Atma-Jnana."
The above lengthy speech of Baba was not only directed to Gulzar but to all other Sai devotees and readers of this life history. May the readers do parayana of the portion of this chapter dealing with Brahma Jnana. Those who read this with devotion will have Sai Baba as their Sadguru permanently. Let their lives journey be towards Atma Sakshathkaram.
What are the needs of a man? Happiness, peace, food and clothing and bodily requirements. Sai Baba has said, "In my devotees house, nothing will be wanting." So we should not waste our life for the sake of food and clothing, name and fame. Attachments to mother, father, brother, wife, husband, etc. are limited to this birth only, but the attachment to Sai will be there for several births (janmas) to come.
Let us wish that through the parayana of this sacred Life History of Sai Baba, Sai will be a part of our family and our lives shall be tied up with Sai Baba.
"Om Shanti! Shanti! Shantihi"
To be continued�
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Sent with Sai love,
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