Sai Satcharitra Chapter 21

In this Chapter, Hemadpant relates the stories of:

  • Vinayak Harishchandra Thakur
  • Anantrao Patankar of Pune 
  • And a pleader from Pandharpur 

All these stories are very interesting and if carefully read and grasped, will lead the readers onto the spiritual path.

Preliminary

As a general rule, it is the result of the accumulation of merits in our past births that enables us to seek the company of Saints and profit thereby. To illustrate this rule, Hemadpant gives his own instance; He was a resident Magistrate in Bandra, a suburb of Bombay, for many years. A famous Muslim Saint named Pir Moulana lived there and many people who followed different religions used to go to him and receive his darshan. The Moulana’s priest tried to persuade Hemadpant many a times to go and see the Saint. But for some reason or the other, he was not able to receive the Moulana’s darshana. After many years, his turn came and he was called to Shirdi, where he was permanently enlisted in Sai Baba’s Darbar. Unfortunate people do not get to meet Saints; It is only fortunate ones who receive this grace.

Saints Working in Unison

There have been Saints in this world, from time immemorial. Various Saints incarnate in various places to carry out the missions allotted to them. And though they work in different places, they work in unison; They work in unison under the common authority of the Almighty Lord and know exactly what each of them is doing in his place, and supplement his work where necessary. An instance illustrating this is given below.

Mr. Thakur

Mr. V.H.Thakur was a clerk in the Revenue Department and he once came to a town named Vadgaum with a survey team. There he met a Kanarese Saint, Appa, and bowed before him. The Saint was explaining a portion from the book “Vichar-Sagar”, by Nischaldas (a standard work on the Vedanta), to the audience. When Thakur was about to leave, Appa said to him, “You should study this book and if you do so, your desires will be fulfilled. And when you go to the North in the discharge of your duties in the future, you will be fortunate enough to come across a great Saint. Then he will show you the future path and give rest to your mind and make you happy”.

Then he was transferred to Junnar, where he had to cross the Nhane Ghat (a rugged valley) every day to get to work. This Ghat was very steep and almost impassible, and no conveyance, other than a buffalo, was of use in crossing it. So he had to take a buffalo-ride through the Ghat; This trip inconvenienced him greatly. He was later transferred to Kalyan on a promotion and there he met Nanasaheb Chandorkar. He heard a lot about Sai Baba from Chandorkar and wished to see Baba. The next day, Nanasaheb had to go to Shirdi and he asked Thakur to accompany him. Thakur could not do so, as he had to appear in the Thana Civil Court for a case. So Nanasaheb went alone. Thakur went to Thana, but there the case was postponed. Then he regretted not accompanying Nanasaheb. Nevertheless, he left for Shirdi and when he arrived, he found that Nanasaheb had left the previous day. Some of his other friends, whom he met there, took him to Baba. He saw Baba, fell at His Feet and was overjoyed. His eyes were full of tears of joy and his hair stood on end. Then after a while, the omniscient Baba said to him, “The path of this place is not as easy as the teachings of the Kanarese Saint Appa or even as easy as the buffalo-ride in the Nhane Ghat. On this spiritual path, you have to put in your best effort, as it is very difficult”. When Thakur heard these significant words, which no one else knew, he was overwhelmed with joy. He immediately knew that the words of the Kanarese Saint had turned out to be true. Then joining both hands and placing his head at Baba’s Feet, he prayed that he should be accepted and blessed. Baba then said, “What Appa told you was right; but these things have to be practiced and lived. Mere reading won’t do. You have to think through and carry out what you read, otherwise it is of no use. Mere book-learning without the grace of the Guru or without self-realization, is of no avail”. The theoretical portion was read from the work “Vichar Sagar”, but the practical way was shown to him at Shirdi. Another story given below will bring out this truth more forcibly.

Anantrao Patankar

A gentleman from Pune named Anantrao Patankar, wished to see Baba. He came to Shirdi and received Baba’s darshan. His eyes were appeased and he was very pleased. He fell at Baba’s Feet and after performing proper worship said to Baba, “I have read a lot, studied the VedasVedantas and Upanishads and heard all the Puranas, and yet I still have not got any peace of mind. Thus, I think that all my reading was useless; Simple, ignorant devout persons are better than me; Unless the mind becomes calm, all book-learning is of no avail. I have heard, from many people, that you easily give peace of mind to so many people by your mere glance and playful words. So I have come here; please take pity on me and bless me”. Then Baba told him a parable, which was as follows:

The Parable of Nine Balls of Stool (Nava-vidha Bhakti)

“Once, a merchant came here and right before him, his mare passed her stool (nine balls of stool). The merchant, intent on his quest, spread the end of his dhotar and gathered all the nine balls in it, and thus he got peace of mind”.

Mr. Patankar could not understand the meaning of this story, so he asked Ganesh Damodar, alias Dada Kelkar, “What does Baba mean by this?” He replied, “I too do not know all that Baba says and means, but I will say what he inspires me to. The mare is God’s grace and the nine balls excreted are the nine forms of Bhakti:  Shravana (Hearing), Kirtana (Praying), Smarana (Remembering), Padasevana (resorting to the feet), Archana (Worship), Namaskara (Bowing), Dasya (Service), Sakhyata (Friendship) and Atmanivedana (surrender of the self). If any of these is faithfully followed, the Lord will be pleased and will manifest Himself in the home of the devotee. All the sadhanas, like Japa (vocal worship), Tapa (penance), Yoga and studying the scriptures and expounding them, are quite useless unless they are accompanied by Bhakti (devotion). Knowledge of the Vedas or fame as a great Jnani and mere formal Bhajan (worship) are of no avail. What is wanted is Loving Devotion. Consider yourself as the merchant or seeker after the truth and be anxious and eager like him to collect or cultivate the nine types of devotion. Then you will attain stability and peace of mind.”

The next day, when Patankar went to Baba, he was asked whether he collected the “nine balls of stool”. Then he said that he, as a poor soul, should first be graced by Baba and then only could they be collected. Then Baba blessed and comforted him saying that he would attain peace of mind and serenity. After hearing this, Patankar became overjoyed and happy.

The Pandharpur Pleader

We shall close this Chapter with a short story showing Baba’s omniscience and His using it to correct people and set them on the right path. Once, a pleader from Pandharpur came to Shirdi, went to the Masjid and received Sai Baba’s darshan. He fell at Baba’s Feet and, without being asked, offered some Dakshina. Then he sat in a corner, eager to hear the conversation that was going on. Then Baba turned towards the man and said, “How cunning people are! They fall at My feet, offer Dakshina and yet insult Me behind my back; is this not wonderful?” This remark fitted the pleader and he had to take it. No one understood the remark, but The pleader grasped it and remained silent. When they returned to the Wada, the pleader said to Kakasaheb Dixit, “Baba’s remark was perfectly accurate; The dart (remark) was aimed at me; It was a hint that I should not indulge in reviling or scandalizing others. When the sub-judge of Pandharpur (Mr.Noolkar) came and stayed in Shirdi for the improvement of his health, a discussion about this matter was going on in the bar-room at Pandharpur (something that occurs in many a bar-room). The lawyers discussed whether the sub-judge’s ailments would ever be cured without medicines; Would he be cured merely by seeking Sai Baba’s aid and was it proper for an educated man like the sub-judge to resort to such methods? The sub-judge was taken to task and was criticized and so was Sai Baba. I also took some part in this affair and now Sai Baba showed me the impropriety of my conduct. This is not a rebuke to me, but a favor; It is advice that I should not indulge in any scandal or slander of others and not interfere unnecessarily in others’ affairs”.

Shirdi is about 300 miles from Pandharpur and yet Baba, due to His omniscience, knew what transpired there in the bar-room. The intervening places were not an impediment to His all-pervading sight and He could read everyone’s mind and see through their hearts. Nothing was secret or veiled from Him; Everything, far or near, was as plain and clear to Him as broad daylight. Let a man be far or near, he cannot avoid the all-pervading gaze of Sai Baba. Through this incident, the pleader learned the lesson that he should never speak ill of others or unnecessarily criticize them. Thus, his evil tendency was removed and he was set on the right path.

Though the story refers to a pleader, it is applicable to everyone. Everyone should take this lesson to heart and profit thereby.

Sai Baba’s greatness is unfathomable and so are His wonderful Leelas. His life is also such, for He is Para-Brahma (Lord God) incarnate.

Adapted from the original Marathi Book SHRI SAI SATCHARITA By Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias ‘Hemadpant’

Om Sai Om Sai Sadguru Sai

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