Sai Satcharitra Chapter 32

Preliminary 

In the beginning, Hemadpant describes the visible world using the allegory of the Banyan tree which has, in the phraseology of the Gita, roots above and branches below. Its branches are spread both downwards and upwards, and are nourished by the qualities. Its sprouts are the objects of the senses. Its roots, leading to actions, are extended downwards to this world of men. Its form cannot be known in this world and nor can its beginning or end be seen. After severing these strong roots with the sharp weapon of non-attachment, one should seek the path beyond which there is no return.

To traverse this path, the help of a good guide (Guru) is absolutely necessary. However learned a man may be, or however deep he might study the Vedas and the Vedangas (sacred literature), he cannot get to his destination safely without a guide. If a guide is there to help him and show him the right path, he can avoid the pitfalls and the wild beasts on the journey and everything will be smooth-sailing.

Baba’s experience in this matter, a story which He Himself tells, is truly wonderful; when remembered, it will give you faith, devotion and salvation.

The Quest

“Once, the four of us were studying religious scriptures and other books and thus feeling enlightened, we began to discuss the nature of the Brahman. One of us said that we should raise the self by the Self and not depend on others. To this, the second replied that he who controls his mind is blessed, thus we should be free from thoughts and ideas, and there is nothing in the world without us. The third said that the world is always changing, the formless is eternal and thus we should discriminate between the Unreal and the Real. And the fourth (Baba Himself) urged that bookish knowledge is worthless and added, “Let us do our prescribed duty and surrender our body, mind and five pranas(life forces) at the Guru’s feet. The Guru is God and is all-pervading. To attain this conviction, strong and unbounded faith is necessary.”

While discussing this, we began to ramble through the woods in our quest for God. The three others wanted to make the quest with their free and unaided intellect. On the way, a Vanjari (a traveling vendor who sells things such as grain) met us and asked us, “It is hot now; where and how far are you going?” “To search the woods”, we replied. He inquired, “On what quest are you bound?” We gave him an ambiguous and evasive reply; Seeing us rambling aimlessly, he was moved and said, “Since you do not know the woods well, you should not wander at random. If you want to walk through forests and jungles, you should take a guide with you. Why do you exert yourselves unnecessarily at this hot noon-hour? You may not want to tell me about your secret quest, but you can still sit down, eat bread, drink water, rest and then resume your search. Always be patient at heart.” Though he spoke with so much affection, we discarded his offer and marched on. We thought that we were self-contained men and needed nobody’s help. The woods were vast and track-less and the trees therein grew so close and tall, and the sun’s rays could not penetrate through them; so we lost our way and wandered for a long time. Ultimately, through sheer good luck, we came back to the place from where we started.

The Vanjari met us again and said, “Relying on your own skills, you lost your way; a guide is always necessary to show us the right way in small or great matters and no quest can be successfully carried out on an empty stomach. Unless God wills it, no one meets us on the way. Do not discard offers of food; served dishes should not be thrust away. Offers of food should be regarded as auspicious signs of success.” Saying this, he again offered us food and asked us to be calm and patient. Again, the others did not like this hospitality and discarded his offer and went away. They were very obstinate.

I was hungry and thirsty and I was moved by the Vanjari’s extraordinary love; we thought ourselves very learned, but were strangers to pity and kindness. The Vanjari was an illiterate fellow and yet he had love in his heart and invited us to share his bread. In this way, he who loves others disinterestedly is really enlightened and I thought acceptance of his hospitality was the best way to begin gaining knowledge. So, very respectfully, I accepted the loaf of bread and drank water.

Then, all of a sudden, the Guru appeared before us and asked “What was the dispute about?” I told him everything that had happened. Then he said, “Would you like to come with me? I will show you what you want. But he alone who believes in what I say will be successful.” I bowed to him reverently and accepted his dictum.

Then he took me to a well, tied my feet with a rope and hung me− head downwards and feet up− from a tree near the well. I was suspended three feet above the water, which I could not reach with my hands. Suspending me in this manner, he went away, no one knew where. After 4 or 5 hours, he returned, took me out quickly and asked me how I had fared. “It was Bliss supreme; How can a fool like me describe the joy I experienced?” I replied. On hearing my answer, the Guru was very pleased with me, drew me near him and stroking my body with his hand kept me with him. He took care of me as tenderly as a mother-bird does of her young ones. He enrolled me in his school; how beautiful it was! There I forgot about my family, all my attachment was destroyed and I was liberated easily. I thought that I should embrace his neck and remain staring at him always. If his image were not fixed in my pupils, I would prefer to be blind. Such was the school! No one who entered it once could return empty-handed. My Guru became everything: my home, property, mother and father−everything. All my senses left their places and concentrated themselves in my eyes, and my sight was centered on him.

Thus, my Guru was the sole object of my meditation and I was conscious of none else. While meditating on him, my mind and intellect were stunned, and I kept quiet and bowed to him in silence.

There are other schools where you see an altogether different spectacle; The disciples go there to seek knowledge and spend their money, time and labor; But ultimately, they have to repent. The Guru there boasts of his secret knowledge and his straight-forwardness. He makes a show of his sacredness and holiness, but he is not tender at heart. He speaks a lot and sings his own glory, but his own words do not touch the disciples’ hearts. So far as Self-realization is concerned, that Guru has none. How can such schools be of any use to disciples and how are they benefited? The master (Guru) mentioned above was of a very different nature. By his grace, realization came to me by itself, without effort or study. I did not have to seek anything and everything became as clear to me as broad daylight. The Guru alone knows how suspending a person upside down can bring happiness!”

Among the four, one was a Karmatha(Ritualist) who only knew how to observe and abstain from certain rites; the second was a Jnani, who was puffed up with the pride of knowledge and the third was a Bhakta who surrendered himself completely to God, believing that he was the sole Doer. When they were arguing, the question of God turned up and they, depending on their unaided knowledge, went in search of Him. Sai, who was Discrimination and Dispassion incarnate, was one of the four. Since Baba was Brahman Incarnate, some may ask, “Why did He mix with them and act foolishly?” He did this to set them an example to follow. Though a great incarnation Himself, He respected a lowly Vanjari, by accepting his food. He firmly believed that “Food is Brahman” and showed how those who rejected the Vanjari’s hospitable offer suffered and how it was impossible to get Jnana without a Guru. The Shruti (Taittiriya Upanishad) exhorts us to honor and worship our mother, father and preceptor, and to study (learn and teach) the sacred scriptures.

These are the means of purifying our minds and unless this purification is effected, self-realization is not possible; Neither the senses nor the mind and intellect reach the Self. It is the grace of the Guru that counts. The objects of our life such as Dharma, Artha and Kama are attainable with our effort, but the fourth object— Moksha(liberation)— can only be attained with the help of a Guru.

In the Darbar of Shri Sai, many personalities appear and play their part. Astrologers come and give their predictions; princes, noblemen, poor men, Sannyasis, Yogis, singers and others come to receive darshan. Many others like jugglers, the blind, the lame, dancers and other players come and are given suitable reception. Biding his own time, the Vanjari also appeared and played the part assigned to him. Let us now turn to another story.

Fasting and Mrs. Gokhale 

Baba never fasted and nor did He allow others to do so. The mind of the faster is never at ease, so how then could he/she attain his Paramartha (goal of life)? God is not attained on an empty stomach, for the soul has to be appeased. If there is no moisture and nutrition of food in the stomach, with what eyes should we see God, with what tongue should we describe His greatness and with what ears should we hear the same? In short, when all our organs get their proper nutrition and are sound, we can practice devotion and other sadhanas(spiritual means) to attain God. Therefore, neither fasting nor overeating is good; Moderation in diet is really wholesome both for the body and mind.

Mrs. Gokhale came to Shirdi with an introductory letter from Mrs. Kashibai Kanitkar (a devotee of Baba) to Dada Kelkar. She came to Baba, determined to sit at Baba’s Feet and observe a three-day fast. The previous day, Baba said to Dada Kelkar that He would not allow his children to starve during the Holi holidays, and that if they had to starve, why was He there? The next day, when the woman went with Dada Kelkar and sat at Baba’s Feet, Baba at once said to her, “What is the necessity of fasting? Go to Dadabhat’s house, prepare the dish of Puran Polis (wheat rotis with gram-flour and jaggery) and feed his children and yourself.” Mrs. Kelkar was then in her menses and there was nobody to cook in Dadabhat’s house. So Baba’s advice was very timely. So Mrs. Gokhale had to go to Dadabhat’s house and prepare the dish as directed. She cooked that day and fed everyone. What a good story and how beautiful its import!

Baba’s Sircar (true boss)

Baba once told a story of his boyhood which was as follows, “When I was a youngster, I was in search of bread and went to Beedgaum, where I got work doing embroidery. I worked hard and spared no pains to do my work well. The employer was very pleased with Me. Three other boys had worked there before Me. The first got 50 Rupees, the second 100 Rupees and the third 150 Rupees. And I was given twice the sum of their amounts, 600 Rupees. After noticing my extraordinary skill, the employer loved me, praised me and honored me with a full dress— a turban for my head and a dress.

I kept this dress intact and did not use it right away. I thought that what a man might give does not last long and it is always imperfect. But what God gives, lasts till the end of time. No other gift from any man can be compared to His. My Lord says, “Take, take,” but everybody comes to me and says “Give, give.” Nobody attends carefully to the meaning of what I say. My Lord‘s treasury (of spiritual wealth) is full, it is overflowing; He says, “Dig it out and take away this wealth in cartloads.” The skill of my Fakir, the Leela of my Bhagwan and the aptitude of my Sircar are quite unique. And what about Me? My Body will mix with the earth and my breath with the air. This time won’t come again; I go somewhere and sit somewhere and the hard Maya troubles Me greatly, and yet I still always feel anxious for My devotees. He who does anything (spiritually) will reap its fruit and he who remembers these words of Mine will get invaluable happiness.”

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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