Sai Satcharitra Chapter 39

Some believed that Baba did not know Sanskrit and Hemadpant wrote another chapter (chapter 50) refuting that notion. As that chapter deals with the same subject matter, it is incorporated into this chapter.


Blessed is Shirdi, blessed is the Dwarkamayi where Shri Sai lived; And blessed are the people of Shirdi whom He obliged and for whom He traveled such a long distance. Shirdi was a small village at first, but it attained great importance on account of His contact and became a Tirtha− a holy place of pilgrimage. Equally blessed are the womenfolk of Shirdi; blessed is their whole and undivided faith in Him. They sang the glories of Baba while bathing, grinding, pounding corn and doing other household work. Blessed is their love, for they sang sweet songs which calm and pacify the minds of the singers and listeners.

Baba’s Interpretation

Nobody believed that Baba knew Sanskrit. One day, He surprised everyone by providing a good interpretation of a verse from the Gita, to Nanasaheb Chandorkar. A brief account about this matter was written by Mr.B.V.Deo, Retired Mamlatdar, and published in Marathi in the Shri Sai Leela magazine. Short accounts of the same are also published in Sai Baba’s Charters and Sayings and in The Wondrous Saint Sai Baba, both by B.V.Narsimhaswami. Mr.B.V.Deo has also written an English version of this in his statement dated 27th September 1936. As Mr.Deo had first-hand information about this matter from Nanasaheb himself, his version is given below:

“Nanasaheb Chandorkar was an avid student of the Vedanta. He had read the Gita with its commentaries and prided himself on his knowledge in that domain. He fancied that Baba knew nothing of all this or of the Sanskrit language. So Baba one day pricked that bubble. These were the days before crowds flocked to Shirdi, when Baba had solitary talks at the Masjid with a few devotees. Nana was sitting near Baba and was massaging His Legs and mumbling something to himself.

Baba: Nana, what are you mumbling to yourself?

Nana:  I am reciting a verse in Sanskrit.

Baba:  What verse?

Nana: It’s from the Bhagawad-Gita

Baba: Say it out loud.

Nana then recited B.G.IV-34 which is as follows:

Tadviddhi Pranipatena Pariprashnena Sevaya,

Upadekshyanti Te Jnanam Jnaninastattwadarshinah

Baba: Nana, do you understand it?

Nana:  Yes.

Baba: If you do, then tell me what it means.

Nana: It means, “By Sashtanga Namaskar (prostration), questioning the guru and by serving him, learn what Jnana is. Then, those Jnanis who have attained the real knowledge of the Sad-Vastu (Brahma) will give you upadesha (instruction) about Jnana.”

Baba: Nana, I do not want this sort of summary of the whole stanza. Give me each word, its grammatical force and meaning.

Then Baba made Nana explain it word by word.

Baba: Nana, is it enough to merely prostrate?

Nana: I do not know any other meaning of the word “pranipata” other than “prostrating”.

Baba: What is pariprashna?

Nana:  Asking questions.

Baba:  What does Prashna mean?

Nana: The same (asking questions).

Baba: If pariprashna means the same as prashna (question), why did Vyasa add the prefix ‘pari‘? Was Vyasa out of his mind?

Nana: I do not know of any other meaning for the word pariprashna.

Baba: Seva, what kind of seva is being referred to?

Nana: Service- the kind we always do.

Baba: Is it enough to just render such service?

Nana: I do not know what more is signified by the word seva.

Baba:  In the next line “upadekshyanti te jnanam“, can you replace the word Jnanam with any other word?

Nana: Yes.

Baba: What word?

Nana: Ajnanam.

Baba: Using that word (instead of Jnanam) can any meaning be made out of the verse?

Nana: No, the rules of the language give no such construction.

Baba: Never mind if it does not. Is there any objection to using the word Ajnana, if it gives a better sense?

Nana: I do not understand how to interpret it by placing Ajnana in it.

Baba: Why does Krishna ask Arjuna to see Jnanis or Tattwadarshis and to prostrate before them and serve them? Was not Krishna a Tattwadarshi, in fact a Jnani, himself?

Nana: Yes He was. But I cannot understand why he referred Arjuna to other Jnanis?

Baba: Have you not understood this?

Nana was humiliated. His pride was knocked on the head. Then Baba began to explain:

1) It is not merely enough to prostrate before Jnanis. We must surrender before them completely (Sarvaswa Sharangati).

2) Mere questioning is not enough. The question must not be asked with any improper motive, to trap the Guru and catch mistakes in his answer, or out of idle curiosity. It must be serious and with the objective of achieving moksha or spiritual progress.

3) Seva is not rendering service, retaining still the feeling that one is free to offer or refuse service. One must feel that he is not the master of the body and that the body is the Guru’s and exists merely to render service to him.

If this is done, the Sadguru will show you what Jnana is.

Nana did not understand what was meant by saying that a guru teaches ajnana.

Baba:  How is Jnana Upadesh (imparting of realization) to be effected? Destroying ignorance is Jnana (a verse of the Jnaneshwari commenting on the Gita says, “Is there anything in Jnana besides the destruction of ignorance?”) Expelling darkness means light. Destroying duality (dwaita) means non-duality (adwaita). Whenever we speak of destroying Dwaita, we speak of Adwaita. Whenever we talk of destroying darkness, we talk of light. If we have to realize the Adwaita state, the feeling of Dwaita in ourselves has to be removed. That is the realization of the Adwaita state.

The disciple, like the Sadguru, is really the embodiment of Jnana. The difference between the two lies in the attitude, realization and divine manifestation. The Sadguru is NirgunaSat-Chit-Ananda; He has taken a human form to elevate mankind and raise the world. But his real Nirguna nature is not affected even a bit through this process. His state of being (or reality), divine power and wisdom remain undiminished. The disciple also is in fact the same; But, the disciple’s soul is overlaid by the effect of the samaskaras of innumerable births in the shape of ignorance about the fact that he is in fact Shuddha Chaitanya (see B.G. Ch. V-15). As stated therein, he gets the impression, “I am the Jiva, a creature, humble and poor.” The Guru has to root out these offshoots of ignorance and has to give upadesh or instructions. To the disciple, held spell-bound for endless generations by the ideas of his being a creature, humble and poor, the Guru imparts in hundreds of births the teaching, “You are God, mighty and opulent.” Then, he realizes, a bit, that he is God in reality. The perpetual delusion under which the disciple is laboring— that he is the body, that he is a creature (jiva) and that God (Paramatma) and the world are different from him— is an error inherited from innumerable past births. From actions based on it, he has derived his joy, sorrows and mixtures of both. To remove this delusion, this error, this root ignorance, he must start the inquiry: How did such ignorance arise? Where is it? And to show him this is called the Guru’s upadesh. The following are the instances of Ajnana:

1) I am a Jiva (creature)

2 ) The Body is the Soul (I am the body).

3) God, the world and the Jiva are different.

4) I am not God.

5) Not knowing, that the body is not the soul.

6) Not knowing that God, the world and the Jiva are one.

Unless these errors are exposed, the disciple cannot know what God, the Jiva, the world and the body are and how they are inter-related. To teach him these and destroy his ignorance is this instruction in Jnana or Ajnana. Why should Jnana be imparted to the Jiva, (who is) a JnanamurtiUpadesh is merely to show him his error and destroy his ignorance.

Baba then added:

1) Pranipata implies surrender. Surrender must be of the body, mind and wealth;

2) Why should Krishna refer Arjuna to other Jnanis?: Sadbhakta takes everything to be Vasudev (B.G.VII-19 i.e., any Guru will be Krishna to the devotee) and the Guru takes the disciple to be Vasudev and Krishna treats both as his Prana and Atma (B.G.7-18, commentary of Jnanadev on this). As Shri Krishna knows that there are such Bhaktas and Gurus, He refers Arjuna to them so that their greatness may increase and be known.

Construction of the Samadhi-Mandir

Baba never made a fuss about the things He wanted to accomplish. Rather, He skillfully arranged the circumstances and surroundings such that people were surprised at the slow but sure results attained. The construction of the Samadhi-mandir is an instance in point. Shriman Bapusaheb Booty, the famous multi-millionaire from Nagpur lived in Shirdi with his family. Once, an idea arose in his mind that he should have a building of his own there. Shortly after this, while he was sleeping in Dixit’s Wada, he had a vision; Baba appeared in his dreams and ordered him to build a Wada(mansion) of his own, with a temple attached. Shama, who was also sleeping there, had a similar vision. When Bapusaheb woke up, he saw Shama crying and asked him why he was crying. The latter replied that in his vision, Baba came to him and ordered him distinctly, “Build the Wada with the temple; I shall fulfill everyone’s desires.” “Hearing these sweet and loving words, I was overpowered with emotions, my throat was choked, my eyes were overflowing with tears and I began to cry.” Bapusaheb was surprised to learn that both their visions were identical. Being a rich and capable man, he decided to build a Wada there and drew up a plan with Madhavarao (Shama). Kakasaheb Dixit also approved of it; And when it was placed before Baba, He also sanctioned it immediately. Then the construction was started and under Shama’s supervision, the ground floor, the cellar and the well were completed. Baba, on his way to and from the Lendi, also suggested certain improvements and changes. Further work was entrusted to Bapusaheb Jog and as the building began to take shape, an idea struck Bapusaheb Booty. He felt that the building should have an open room or platform and that in the center of the room the image of Lord Krishna with the flute should be installed. He asked Shama to refer this matter to Baba and get His consent. The latter asked Baba about this when He was passing by the Wada. Baba gave His consent saying, “After the temple is complete, I will come there to stay” and staring at the Wada, He added, “After the Wada is complete, we shall use it ourselves; we shall live, move, play, embrace each other and be very happy.” Then Shama asked Baba whether this was an auspicious time to begin work on the foundation of the central room of the Shrine. Baba answered in the affirmative. Shama got a coconut broken and started the work. In due course, the work was completed and an order was also given to paint a large image of Lord Krishna. But before it was ready, there was a new development; Baba became seriously ill and was about to pass away. Bapusaheb was very sad and dejected, and thought that if Baba passed away, his Wada would not be consecrated by the holy touch of Baba’s Feet. Thus, all the money spent (about one hundred thousand rupees) would be wasted. But the words, “Place Me in the Wada” which came out of Baba’s mouth just before His passing away, consoled everyone. In due course, Baba’s holy body was placed and preserved in the central shrine designed for Lord Krishna and the Wada thus became the Samadhi-mandir of Sai Baba. Thus, Baba became Lord Krishna; His wonderful life is unfathomable.

Blessed and fortunate indeed is Bapusaheb Booty in whose Wada lies the holy and pure body of Baba.

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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