Sai Satcharitra Chapter 23

Preliminary

In reality, this Jiva (human soul) transcends the three qualities−SattwaRajas and Tamas− but being deluded by Maya, he forgets his nature which is “Existence-knowledge-bliss”; and thinks that he is the one who does things and thus entangles himself in endless miseries and does not know the way of deliverance. The only way of deliverance is loving devotion towards the Guru’s feet. The great Player or Actor, the Lord Sai, has blessed His Bhaktas and transformed them into Himself (His nature).

We regard Sai Baba as an incarnation of God for reasons already stated, but He always said that He was an obedient servant of God. Though an incarnation, He showed people the way to behave satisfactorily and carry out the duties of their respective stations in this life. He never emulated others in any way, nor asked others to have something done for Him. For Him, Who saw the Lord in all movable and immovable things of this world, humility was the most appropriate. He did not disregard or disrespect anybody, for He saw Narayan (Lord) in all beings. He never said, “I am God,” but that He was a humble servant and that He always remembered God and always said the words, “Allah Malik” (God is the sole proprietor or Owner).

We do not know Saints well enough− how they behave or what they do. We only know that by God’s grace they manifest themselves in this world to liberate ignorant and bound souls like us. If there is a store of merits on our account, we get a desire to listen to the stories and Leelas of Saints. Let us now turn to the main stories of this Chapter.

Yoga and the Onion

Once it so happened that a keen scholar of Yoga came to Shirdi with Nanasaheb Chandorkar. He had studied all the works on Yoga, including the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali, but had no practical experience. He could not concentrate his mind and attain samadhi even for a short time. He thought that if Sai Baba was pleased with him, He would show him the way to attain samadhi for a longer time. With this object in mind, he came to Shirdi and went to the Masjid; There he saw Sai Baba eating bread with onion. On seeing this, a thought arose in his mind, “How can this man, who eats stale bread with raw onion, solve my issues and help me?” Sai Baba read his mind immediately and said to Nanasaheb, “Nana, only he who has the power to digest onion should eat it and none else”. Hearing this remark, the yogi was wonder-struck and he fell at Baba’s Feet in complete surrender. With a pure and open mind, he explained his difficulties and had them solved by Baba. Thus being satisfied and happy, he left Shirdi with Baba’s Udi and blessings.

Shama Cured of Snake-Bite

Before Hemadpant begins the story, he says that the Jiva is very similar to a parrot, since they are both bound− one in the body and the other in a cage. Both think that their present bound state is good for them. It is only when a Helper, their Guru, comes along and, with God’s grace, opens their eyes and liberates them from their bondage, that their eyes are opened to a greater and larger life.

In the last Chapter, we saw how Baba anticipated the calamity that was to befall Mr. Mirikar and rescued him from it. Now let the readers hear an even grander story.

Once, Shama was bitten by a poisonous snake. His little finger was stung and the poison began to spread into his body. The pain was severe and Shama thought that he would die soon. His friends wanted to take him to the God Vithoba, where such cases were often sent, but Shama ran to the Masjid to His Vithoba (Sai Baba). When Baba saw him, He began to yell at him; He got enraged and said, “Oh vile Bhaturdya (Priest) do not climb up! Beware if you do so!” and then roared, “Go! Get away! Come down!” Seeing Baba thus red with wrath, Shama was greatly puzzled and disappointed. He thought that the Masjid was his home and that Sai Baba his sole refuge; but if he was driven away like this, where should he go? He lost all hope of life and sat there dejected. After a while, Baba became normal and calm and Shama went up and sat near him. Then Baba said to him, “Don’t be afraid; The Merciful Fakir will save you; go and sit quietly at home, don’t go out and believe in Me; Remain fearless and have no anxiety”. Then he was sent home; Soon after this, Baba sent Tatya Patil and Kakasaheb Dixit to Shama, with instructions to the effect that he should eat and drink what he liked, should move freely inside his house, but should not lie down and sleep. Needless to say, these instructions were acted upon and Shama soon recovered. The only things to be remembered in this case are the words Baba used. The words, “Go! Get away! Come down!” were not addressed to Shama, as it appeared then, but were a direct order to the snake and its poison to not go up and circulate through Shama’s body. Like others well-versed in Mantrashastra, Baba did not have to use any incantation, charged rice or water. His words by themselves were most efficacious in saving Shama’s life. Anyone who hears this story and other similar ones, will develop firm faith in Sai Baba’s feet. And the only way to cross the ocean of Maya is to always remember Baba’s Holy Feet.

The Cholera Epidemic

Once, Cholera was raging virulently in Shirdi; The residents were very frightened and they stopped all communication with the outside world. The elders of the village assembled and decided upon two ordinances as a remedy to stop the epidemic. The ordinances were that no fuel-cart should be allowed to come into the village and that no goat should be killed there. If anybody disobeyed these ordinances, they were to be fined by the village elders. Baba knew that all this was mere superstition and therefore did not care at all for the Cholera ordinances. While the ordinances were in force, a fuel-cart came there and wanted to enter the village. Everybody knew that there was a shortage of fuel in the village, yet people began to drive the fuel-cart away. Baba came to know of this; He came to the spot and asked the cart driver to take the fuel-cart to the Masjid. No one dared to raise his voice against Baba. He wanted fuel for His Dhuni and so He purchased it. Like a Brahmin keeping his sacred fire alive throughout his life, Baba kept His Dhuni burning all day and night, and for this He always stocked fuel. Baba’s home, the Masjid, was free and open to everyone. It had no lock and key and poor people took some firewood from there for their use. Baba did not grumble about this. Baba knew that the whole universe was pervaded by the Almighty and so He never bore enmity or ill-will towards anybody. Though perfectly detached, He behaved like an ordinary householder to set an example for His people.

The Ordeal of Guru-Bhakti

Let us now see how the second Cholera ordinance fared with Baba. While it was in force, somebody brought a goat to the Masjid. It was weak, old and about to die. At this time, Fakir Pir Mohamad of Malegaon, alias Bade Baba, was there. Sai Baba asked him to behead it with one stroke and offer it as an oblation. Bade Baba was respected by Sai Baba; He always sat right next to Sai Baba. After the chilim (pipe) was first smoked by Sai Baba, it was then offered to Bade Baba and then the others. After the dishes were served at noon, Sai Baba respectfully called Bade Baba and made him sit on His left side and then everyone partook of the food. Baba paid him 50 rupees every day, out of the amount collected as Dakshina. Baba accompanied him a hundred paces whenever he was leaving. Such was his position with Baba. But when Sai Baba asked him to behead the goat, he flatly refused saying, “Why should it be killed for nothing?” Then Baba asked Shama to kill it. He went to Radha-Krishna-Mai and brought a knife from her and placed it before Baba. When she discovered the purpose for which the knife was taken, she recalled it. Then Shama went to get another knife, but remained in the Wada and did not return for a while. Then came Kakasaheb Dixit’s turn; He was undoubtedly as good as gold but had to be tested. Baba asked him to get a knife and kill the goat. He went to Sathe’s Wada and returned with a knife. He was ready to kill it at Baba’s bidding; He was born in a pure Brahmin family and had never in his life killed anything. Though quite averse to performing any act of violence, he made himself bold enough to kill the goat. Everyone looked on in astonishment to see that Bade Baba, a Muslim, was unwilling to kill it, while this pure Brahmin was making preparations to do so. He tightened his dhotar and with a semicircular motion raised the knife and looked at Baba for the final signal. Baba said, “What are you waiting for? Go on, strike!”. Then, as the hand was just about to come down, Baba said, “Stop! How cruel you are! Being a Brahmin, you are going to kill a goat?” Kakasaheb obeyed and put the knife down and said to Baba, “Your nectar-like word is law unto us, for we do not know any other ordinance. We remember You always, meditate on Your Form and obey You day and night; we do not know or consider whether it is right or wrong to kill and we do not want to reason or discuss things. We implicitly and promptly comply with our Guru’s orders− it is our duty and dharma“.

Then Baba said to Kakaseheb that He would Himself do the offering and killing business. It was settled that the goat would be disposed off near a place called Takkya, where fakirs used to sit. When the goat was being taken to that place, it died on the way.

Hemadpant closes the Chapter with a classification of disciples. He says that there are three kinds: The best, the mediocre and the ordinary. The best kind of disciples are those who guess what their Gurus want and immediately carry it out and serve them without waiting for an order from them. The mediocre disciples are those who carry out the orders of their Guru to the letter, without any delay. And the third kind of disciples are those who keep postponing carrying out their orders and make mistakes at every step.

Disciples should have firm faith, backed by intelligence and if they add patience to these, their spiritual goal will not be distant. Control of breath and other difficult practices are not at all necessary. When the disciples get the above-mentioned qualities, they become ready for further instructions and the Masters then appear and lead them on in their spiritual path to perfection.

In the next Chapter, we will deal with Baba’s interesting wit and humor.

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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