Sai Satcharitra Chapter 41

Story of the Picture:

Nine years after the occurrence of the incident depicted in the last chapter, Ali Mahomed met Hemadpant and related the following story to him:

One day, while walking on the streets of Bombay, he bought the picture from a street vendor, framed it and hung it on a wall in his house at Bandra (a suburb of Bombay). As he loved Baba, he prayed before it daily. Three months before he gave the picture to Hemadpant, he was suffering from swelling on his leg, for which an operation was performed and he was recovering in the house of his brother-in-law, Mr. Noor-Mahomed Peerbhoy in Bombay. For three months, his house in Bandra was closed and nobody was living there. Only the pictures of the famous Baba Abdul Rahiman, Moulanasaheb Mahomed Hussain, Sai Baba, Baba Tajudin and other saints were there. The wheel of time did not even spare these. It seemed that the pictures also had their ins and outs (births and deaths). All the pictures met their fate, but how Sai Baba’s picture escaped it, nobody has been able to explain. It shows the all-pervasiveness, omnipresence and inscrutable power of Sai.

Ali Mahomed had once gotten a small picture of Saint Baba Abdul Rahiman from Mahomed Hussain Thariyatopan, many years ago. He gave it to his brother-in-law, Noor-Mahomed Peerbhoy, and it had been lying on Mr. Peerbhoy’s table for eight years. Once, the latter noticed it, took it to a photographer, got it enlarged and distributed copies of the same amongst his relatives and friends, including Ali Mahomed who hung it up it in his Bandra house. Noor-Mahomed was a disciple of Saint Abdul Rahiman and when he went to present the picture to his Guru in an open darbar, the Guru got very angry, chased him away and tried to beat him. He felt very sorry and dejected. He thought that he had lost his money and also incurred his Guru’s displeasure and anger. As his Guru did not like image worship, he took the enlarged picture and drowned it at sea. He requested friends and relatives to return their copies, and after getting them all back, had them thrown by a fisherman in the sea. At this time, Ali Mahomed was at his brother-in-law’s house. He was told by his brother-in-law that his suffering would come to an end if he drowned the pictures of the saints in the sea. Hearing this, Ali Mahomed sent his Manager to his Bandra house and got all the pictures of the saints thrown into the sea.

When Ali Mahomed returned home after two months, he was surprised to find Sai Baba’s picture on the wall, exactly where he had left it. He did not understand how his Manager had taken away all the pictures except this one. He immediately took it off the wall and kept it in his cupboard, fearing that if his brother-in-law saw it, he would do away with it. While he was thinking about how it should be disposed and who would keep it well, Sai Baba providentially suggested that he should see and consult Moulana Ismu Mujavar and abide by his opinion. He met the Moulana and told him everything. After thoughtful consideration, they both decided that the picture should be presented to Annasaheb (Hemadpant) and that he would protect it well. Then they both went to Hemadpant and presented the picture in the nick of time.

This story shows how Baba knew the past, present and future and how He skillfully pulled wires and fulfilled the desires of His devotees. The following story shows that Baba liked people who took real interest in spiritual matters, very much; He eliminated all their difficulties and made them happy.

Stealing Rags and Reading the Jnaneshwari

Mr.B.V.Deo, Mamlatdar of Dahanu, wished for a long time to read the Jnaneshwari (the well-known Marathi commentary on the Bhagawad-Gita by Jnaneshwar). He read a chapter of the Bhagawad-Gita and some portion of other books daily, but when he tried to read the Jnaneshwari, some distractions prevented him from reading it. He took three months of leave and went to Shirdi. He could read any other book in Shirdi, but when he opened the Jnaneshwari, evil or stray thoughts came rushing into his mind and prevented the effort. However hard he tried, he was not able to read even a few lines of the book with ease. So he resolved in his mind that he would not begin reading the book until Baba created love for the book and thereby ordered him to read it. Then in the month of February 1914, he again went with his family to Shirdi. There, Jog asked him whether he read the Jnaneshwari daily. Deo said that he wanted to read it, but was not successful and that he would only begin reading it when Baba ordered him to; Jog then advised him to take a copy of the book and present it to Baba, and to start the reading after the book was consecrated and returned by Him. Deo then replied that he did not want to resort to this device, as Baba knew his desire; Would He not know this desire and satisfy it by giving him a clear order to read?

Deo then saw Baba and offered one rupee as Dakshina. Baba asked for 20 rupees, which Deo gave. At night, he met a man named Balakram and asked him how he had secured Baba’s grace. Balakram told him that he would explain everything the next day, after the arati. When Deo went to receive darshana the next day, Baba again asked for 20 rupees as Dakshina, which he paid willingly. As the Masjid was crowded, Deo went inside and sat in a corner. Baba asked him to come close and sit with a calm mind, which Deo did. Then after the noon-arati was over and after almost everyone had left, Deo again met Balakram and asked him what Baba had told him and how he was taught to meditate. Balakram was just about to reply, when Baba sent a devotee to call Deo. When Deo went to Baba, the latter asked him with whom and what he was talking about. He said that he was talking to Balakram and he had heard from Balakram about Baba’s fame. Then Baba asked for 25 rupees as Dakshina, which Deo gladly gave. Then Baba took him inside, and sitting near the post, accused him saying, “You stole My rags!” Deo denied all knowledge of the rags, but Baba asked him to search. He searched but found none. Then Baba got angry and said, “There is nobody here; you are the only thief. Despite being so old, you come here to steal!” After this, Baba lost His temper and yelled and screamed at him. Deo remained silent and watched, and thought that he might get a beating too. After about an hour or so, Baba asked him to go to the Wada. He returned to the Wada and told Jog and Balakram all that had happened. Then in the afternoon, Baba sent for Deo and said that His words might have pained the old man (Deo), but since he had committed the theft, He could not speak out. Then Baba again asked for 12 rupees. Deo paid it and prostrated himself before Baba. Then Baba said to him, “What are you doing?” “Nothing” replied Deo. Then Baba said, “Read the Jnaneshwari daily. Go and sit in the Wada, read something regularly every day and while reading, explain your reading to everyone with love and devotion. I am here, ready to give you the whole, gold-embroidered shawl, then why go to others to steal rags? And why should you get into the habit of stealing?”

Deo was very pleased to hear Baba’s words, for He had asked him to start reading the Jnaneshwari. He thought that he got what he wanted and that he could read the book with ease thenceforth. He again prostrated himself before Baba and said that he surrendered himself to Baba, and thus should be treated as a child and be helped in his reading. He realized what Baba meant by “stealing the rags”; What he asked Balakram constituted the “rags” and Baba did not like his behavior in this respect. As Baba was ready to answer all his questions, He did not want Deo to ask others and make unnecessary enquiries. Deo thought that Baba did not harass and scold him, but rather taught him that He was ready to fulfill all his desires and that there was no use of asking others in vain. Deo took this scolding as a blessing and went home satisfied and content.

The matter did not end here; Baba did not stop with issuing an order to read. Within a year, He went to Deo and enquired about his progress. On the 2nd of April 1914, a Thursday morning, Baba gave him a vision. Baba appeared and asked him whether he understood the Jnaneshwari. “No” answered Deo. Baba asked, “When are you going to understand?” Deo burst into tears and said, “Unless You shower Your grace on me, the reading is mere worry and the understanding is even more difficult. I say this with certainty.” Baba then responded, “While reading, you make haste; read it before Me, in My presence.” Deo, “What shall I read?” Baba said, “Read Adhyatma (spirituality).” Deo went to bring the book and then he opened his eyes and was awakened. We leave the readers to imagine what ineffable joy and bliss Deo felt after this vision.

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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