Sai Satcharitra Chapter 33

In the last Chapter, we described the greatness of the Guru and now in this one we will describe the greatness of Udi.

Preliminary

Let us now bow before the great saints; Their merciful glances will destroy mountains of sins and do away with all the evil streaks in our character. Their casual talk gives us valuable lessons and confers on us imperishable happiness. Their minds do not know any difference such as “This is ours and that is yours.” Such differentiation never arises in their minds. Our obligation to them will never be repaid by us in this birth as well as in many future births to come.

Udi

It is well-known that Baba asked for or received Dakshina from devotees who visited Him. And out of the amount thus collected, He spent a lot on charity and purchased fuel with the remaining amount. He fed this fuel into the Dhuni−the sacred fire which he always kept burning. The ash from this fire was called Udi and it was freely distributed to the devotees at the time of their departure from Shirdi.

What did Baba teach by this Udi? Baba taught us that all the visible phenomena in the universe is as transient as ash. Our bodies, composed of the five elements, will perish after all the worldly enjoyments are over and will be reduced to ashes. In order to remind the devotees of this, Baba distributed Udi to them. Baba also taught, through Udi, that the Brahman is the only Reality, that the universe is ephemeral and that no one in this world—son, father or wife— is really ours. We come into this world alone and we have to leave alone. While Udi also cured many physical and mental maladies, Baba wanted to teach his devotees the principles of discrimination between the Unreal and Real and non-attachment for the Unreal. The Udi taught us discrimination and Dakshina taught us detachment. Unless we have these two things, it is not possible for us to cross over the sea of mundane existence. So Baba asked for and received Dakshina, and when the devotees took leave, He gave them Udi as Prasad, besmeared some of it on their foreheads and placed His boon-conferring hand on their heads. When Baba was in a cheerful mood, He used to sing merrily; One of the songs he sang was about Udi. The chorus of that song was, “Oh playful Rama, come and bring with you sacks of Udi.” Baba used to sing this song in a very clear and sweet tone.

Udi also had its material significance; It conferred health, prosperity, freedom from anxiety and many other worldly gains. Thus, Udi helped us to gain both our ends−material as well as spiritual. Inspired by Baba, we shall now begin to tell you the stories about Udi.

The Scorpion-Sting

Narayan Motiram Jani of Nasik was a devotee of Baba. He was working for another devotee of Baba, named Ramachandra Vaman Modak. Once, he went to Shirdi with his mother and saw Baba. Then Baba told the mother that her son should not work for anyone and should start his own business. A few days after this, Baba’s prophecy came true; Narayan Jani quit his job and started a boarding house, which later thrived.

Once, a friend of Narayanrao’s was stung by a scorpion and the pain caused by it was severe and unbearable. Udi is very efficacious in such cases and should be applied to the area of pain. So Narayanrao searched for it, but found none; Then he stood before Baba’s picture, invoked Baba’s aid, chanted Baba’s name and taking a pinch of the ashes of the incense burning in front of Baba’s picture and thinking it to be Baba’s Udi, he applied it to the area that had been stung. As soon as he applied it, the pain vanished and both persons were moved and were grateful to Baba.

The Bubonic Plague Case

A devotee in Bandra came to know that his daughter, who was living in another place, was down with bubonic plague. He had no Udi with him, so he sent word to Nanasaheb Chandorkar to send the same. Nanasaheb got this message on a road near the Thana Railway Station, when he was travelling with his wife to Kalyan. He had no Udi with him at the time. He therefore took some earth from the road, meditated upon Sai Baba, invoked His aid and applied it to the forehead of his wife. The devotee heard about this and when he went to his daughter’s house, he was very glad to learn that his daughter (who had been suffering for three days) had begun to improve from the very moment Nanasaheb invoked Baba’s aid.

The Jamner Miracle

About the year 1904, Nanasaheb Chandorkar was Mamlatdar at Jamner, which is more than 100 miles from Shirdi. His daughter Mainatai was pregnant and was about to deliver. The case was very serious and she had been suffering from labor pains for about two or three days. Nanasaheb tried all sorts of remedies, but they proved in vain. He then remembered Baba and invoked His aid.

In Shirdi at about the same time, a man named Ramgirbuva (who Baba called Bapugirbuva) wanted at this time to visit his native place in Khandesh. Baba called him and told him to rest a little at Jamner on his way home, and give the Udi and Arati to Nanasaheb. Ramgirbuva said that he only had two rupees with him and that this amount was barely sufficient for the railway fare up to Jalgaon. And thus it was not possible for him to go from Jalgaon to Jamner, a distance of about 30 miles. Baba assured him that he need not worry, as everything would be provided for him. Then Baba asked Shama to write out the well-known Arati, composed by Madhav Adkar (a translation of which is given at the end of this work), and give a copy of it with Udi to Ramgirbuva. He then asked Ramgirbuva to deliver this to Nanasaheb. Relying on Baba’s words, Ramgirbuva left Shirdi and reached Jalgaon at about 2.45 a.m. He had no money left with him and was in hard plight. To his great relief, he heard somebody calling out, “Who is Bapugirbuva of Shirdi?” He went to the man and told him that he was Bapugirbuva. Then the peon, claiming to be sent by Nanasaheb, took him out to an excellent tanga with a good pair of horses. The tanga drove fast and early in the morning they came to a brooklet. The driver took the horses to water them and the peon asked Ramgirbuva to partake of some eatables. On seeing the beard, moustache and the livery of the peon, Ramgirbuva suspected he was a Muslim and was thus unwilling to take any refreshments from him. But the peon satisfied him by saying that he was a Hindu. The peon also said that Nanasaheb had sent these refreshments and that there should be no hesitation or doubt about accepting them. Then both of them ate and started on the journey again.

They reached Jamner at dawn; Ramgirbuva alighted to attend the call of nature and returned within a few minutes, but found that there was no tanga, driver or peon. He was dumbfounded. Then he went to the nearby village office and upon making enquiries, learnt that the Mamlatdar was at home. He went to Nanasaheb’s house, introduced himself and gave Nanasaheb Baba’s Udi and Arati. At this time, Mainatai’s case was very serious and everyone was very anxious about her. Nanasaheb called out to his wife and asked her to give the Udi mixed with water to their daughter, and sing Baba’s Arati. He thought that Baba’s help was very timely. In a few minutes, she delivered safely and the crisis had passed. When Ramgirbuva thanked Nanasaheb for the peon, tanga and the refreshments, Nanasaheb was rather surprised. He had not sent anyone to the station, as he did not know someone was coming from Shirdi.

Mr. B.V. Deo of Thana, Retired Mamlatdar, made enquiries about this matter with Bapurao Chandorkar (Nanasaheb’s son) and with Ramgirbuva, and then wrote an elaborate article−part prose and part poetry− in the Shri Sai Leela magazine (Vol. 13 Nos. 11, 12 and 13). B.V. Narsimhswami also took down the statements of Mainatai, Bapusaheb Chandorkar and Ramgirbuva and published them in “Devotees’ Experiences, Part III.” The following is quoted from Ramgirbuva’s statement:

“One day, Baba called me and gave me a packet of Udi and a copy of Baba’s Arati. I was planning on traveling to Khandesh at the time. Baba directed me to go to Jamner and told me to deliver the Arati and Udi to Nanasaheb Chandorkar. I told him that all I had was 2 rupees, and asked Him how that would take me by train from Kopergaon to Jalgaon and then by cart from Jalgaon to Jamner. Baba said, “God will give.” That was Friday and I started at once. I reached Manmad at 7.30 p.m. and Jalgaon at 2.45 a.m. Plague regulations were being enforced and I had quite a bit of trouble getting to Jalgaon.  At about 3 a.m., a peon in boots, a turban and well equipped with other details of good dress appeared and took me to a tanga and drove me on. He claimed that he worked for Nanasaheb Chandorkar; I was rather surprised. On the way, I shared the refreshments he offered me. We reached Jamner early in the morning and by the time I returned from attending the call of nature, the tanga, the peon and its driver had disappeared.”

Narayanarao

A devotee named Narayanrao (surname not given) had the good fortune of meeting Baba twice during the latter’s lifetime. Yet, even three years after Baba passed away, Narayanrao wanted to come to Shirdi but could not come due to an illness; Within a year of Baba’s Mahasamadhi, he had fallen sick and suffered a lot. All ordinary remedies gave him no relief and so he meditated on Baba day and night. One night, in his dreams, Baba came to him through a cellar and comforted him saying, “Don’t be anxious; you will improve from tomorrow and within a week you will be on your legs.” Narayanrao recovered fully within the time mentioned in the vision. Now the point of this story is: Was Baba living because he had a body, or was He dead because He had left it? Baba is always alive, for He transcends both life and death; Even a person who gives Baba wholehearted affection once, gets a response from Him at any time and at any place. He is always by our side and will take any form and appear before the devout disciple and satisfy him.

Appasaheb Kulkarni

In 1917, Appasaheb Kulkarni had a chance to meet Baba; He was transferred to Thana and began to worship Baba’s picture which Balasaheb Bhate had given him. He earnestly worshipped the picture (offered flowers, sandal-paste, and naivedya (religious offering of food)) and had an intense desire to meet Baba. In this connection, it can be said that bowing before Baba’s picture earnestly is equivalent to seeing Him in person. The following story illustrates this statement.

Balabuva Sutar

A Saint from Bombay named Balabuva Sutar, who on account of his piety, devotion and bhajans (devotional songs) was called “Modern Tukaram”, came to Shirdi for the first time in 1917. When he bowed before Baba, the latter said, “I have known this man for the past four years”. Balabuva wondered how this could be? He had never been to Shirdi before or met Baba and thus he wondered why Baba said this. But upon thinking about it carefully, he recollected that he had prostrated himself four years ago before Baba’s portrait in Bombay. Thus, he was convinced about the significance of Baba’s words. He said to himself, “How omniscient and all-pervading are the Saints and how kind they are to their devotees! I merely bowed to His photo and this was noticed by Baba. And in due course, He made me realize that seeing His photo is the equivalent of seeing Him in person!”

Appasaheb Kulkarni’s Story Continued….

Now we return to Appasaheb’s story. While he was in Thana, he had to go on tour to Bhivandi and was not expected to return for a week. In his absence, the following wonderful thing took place on the third day after his departure. At noon, a fakir turned up at Appasaheb’s house; His features resembled those of Baba. Mrs. Kulkarni and the children asked him whether he was Sai Baba of Shirdi. He said he wasn’t, but that he was an obedient servant of His and he had come there at Baba’s direction to enquire about the health of the family. Then he asked for Dakshina and Mrs. Kulkarni gave him a rupee. The fakir then gave her a small packet of Udi and asked her to keep this in their shrine next to Baba’s photo. Then the fakir bade goodbye and left. Now listen to this wonderful Leela of Sai;

Appasaheb could not proceed with his tour, as his horse had fallen sick at Bhivandi. He returned home that afternoon and learnt from his wife about the fakir’s visit. He thought it was unfortunate that he did not receive the darshan of this fakir and was not happy that only one rupee was paid as Dakshina. He said that had he been present, he would have offered no less than ten rupees. Then he immediately left to find the fakir, on an empty stomach; His search was in vain. He then returned home and had his food. The reader may remember here, Baba’s dictum, that the quest for God should not be made on an empty stomach. Appasaheb learnt a lesson about this. Then after his meals, he went out for a walk with a friend. After walking some distance, they saw a man approaching them rapidly. Appasaheb thought that he must be the fakir that came to his house at noon, as he resembled Sai Baba. The fakir immediately put forth his hand and asked for Dakshina. Appasaheb gave him a rupee. Yet, He demanded money repeatedly and so Appasaheb gave him two more. And the fakir was still not satisfied. Then he borrowed three rupees from his friend and gave them to the fakir; And yet the fakir wanted more; Appasaheb asked the fakir to accompany him home. Then they all returned home and Appasaheb gave him another 3 rupees; in all nine. He looked unsatisfied and demanded more. Then Appasaheb told him that he had a currency note of ten rupees. The fakir asked for the same and took it, returned the nine rupees and left. Appasaheb had said that he would pay ten rupees and that sum was taken from him and nine rupees, consecrated by Baba’s touch, were returned to him. The figure 9 is significant; It denotes the nine types of devotion. It may also be noted here that Baba gave nine rupees to Laxmibai Shinde in His last moments.

Appasaheb examined the Udi-packet and found that it contained a few flower-petals and Akshata. Then a few years later, he got a hair from Baba when he received His darshan at Shirdi. He put the Udi-packet and the hair in a talisman and always wore it on his arm. Appasaheb also discovered the power of Udi in other ways; though he was a very intelligent man, he made 40 rupees as pay initially, but after he secured Baba’s photo and Udi, he got many times forty rupees per month and also got a lot of power and influence. And in addition to these temporal benefits, his spiritual progress was also rapid. So those who are fortunate enough to get Baba’s Udi should, after a bath, apply it to their forehead and drink some of it mixed with water as holy Tirth.

Haribhau Karnik

In 1917, Haribhau Karnik of Dahanu (Thana District) came to Shirdi on the Guru-pournima day (in the month of Ashadha) and worshipped Baba with all due formality. He offered clothes and Dakshina, and after taking Baba’s leave through Shama, walked down the steps of the Masjid. Then he thought that he should offer one more rupee to Baba and was about to return. Shama signaled that as he had received Baba’s permission to leave, he should go and not return. He then left and, on his way home, went into the temple of Kala Rama at Nasik to receive darshan. The Saint Narsing Maharaj, who used to sit inside the big door of the temple, left his devotees and came to Haribhau, caught his wrist and said, “Give me my one rupee”. Karnik was surprised; He paid the rupee willingly and thought that Sai Baba had recovered the rupee, which he intended to give, through the Saint Narsing Maharaj. This shows how saints work in unison.

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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