Sai Satcharitra Chapter 42

This chapter describes Baba’s death.

Preliminary

The stories given in the previous chapter have shown that the light of the Guru’s grace destroys the fear of our mundane existence, opens up the path of salvation and turns our misery into happiness. If we always remember the feet of our Sadguru, our troubles come to an end, death loses its sting and the misery of this mundane existence is obliterated. Therefore, those who care for their welfare should carefully listen to these stories of Sai Samartha, which will purify their minds.

In the beginning of the original Chapter 42, Hemadpant dwells on Dr.Pandit’s worship and his marking Baba’s forehead with a Tripundra (three horizontal lines). But as this has already been described in chapter 11, it has been omitted here.

Previous Indication

The readers have till now heard the stories of Baba’s life. Let them now hear attentively about Baba’s passing away. Baba developed a mild fever on the 28th of September, 1918. The fever lasted for about 3 days, but after the fever subsided, Baba did not eat at all and thereby progressively grew weaker. On the 17th day, Tuesday, the 15th of October 1918, Baba left His mortal coil at about 2.30 p.m. (Vide Professor G.G. Narke’s letter, dated 5th November 1918, to Dadasaheb Khaparde, which was published in the Sai Leela magazine). Two years before this, in 1916, Baba gave an indication of His Passing away, but nobody understood it then. It was as follows: On the day of Dasara, Baba went into a wild rage in the evening, when people were returning from the Seemollanghan (ceremony of crossing the border of the village). He took off His head-dress, kafni and langota, tore them up and threw them in the Dhuni before Him. Fed by this offering, the fire in the Dhuni began to burn brighter and Baba shone even brighter. He stood there stark naked and with His eyes burning red shouted, “You fellows now have a look and decide whether I am a Muslim or a Hindu.” Everybody was trembling with fear and none dared to approach Baba. After some time, Bhagoji Shinde, the leper devotee, approached Him boldly and succeeded in tying a langota (waist-band) around His waist and said, “Baba, what is all this? Today is the Seemollanghan.” Baba striking the ground with His satka said, “This is my Seemollanghan (crossing the border).” Baba’s anger did not cool down until about 11.00 p.m. and people doubted whether the chavadi procession would ever take place that night. After an hour, Baba resumed His normal condition and dressing Himself as usual, attended the chavadi procession which was described previously. Through this incident, Baba gave a suggestion that Dasara was the proper time for Him to cross the border of life, but no one understood its meaning. Baba also gave another indication which was as follows:

Averting the Death of Ramachandra Dada and Tatya Patil

Sometime after this, Ramachandra Dada became seriously ill and suffered a lot. He tried all kinds of remedies, but was unable to find relief and was waiting for the last moment. One night, Baba suddenly appeared near his pillow; Dada held His Feet and said, “I have lost all hope of life, please tell me when I will die.” The merciful Baba said, “Don’t be anxious, your death-warrant has been withdrawn and you will soon recover. But I am afraid for Tatya Patil. He will pass away on Vijayadashami of Shaka 1840 (1918 A.D). Do not divulge this to anybody, for he will be terribly frightened.” Ramachandra Dada recovered, but he felt anxious about Tatya’s life, for he knew that Baba’s word was unalterable and that Tatya would breathe his last within two years. He only shared this secret with Bala Shimpi (a tailor and a devotee of Baba). Only these two persons− Ramachandra Dada and Bala Shimpi− were anxious about Tatya’s life.

Ramachandra Dada soon left his bed and was back on his feet. Time passed quickly; The month of Bhadrapad of Shaka 1840 (1918 A.D.) was ending and Ashwin was in sight. True to Baba’s words, Tatya fell sick and was bed-ridden and could not come to receive Baba’s darshan. Baba was also down with fever. Tatya had full faith in Baba and Baba in the Lord, who was His Protector. Tatya’s illness went from bad to worse and he could not move at all, but he always remembered Baba. Baba’s condition also began to grow equally bad. The day predicted—Vijayadashami— was impending and both Ramachandra Dada and Bala Shimpi were terribly frightened about Tatya. Their bodies trembled and perspired with fear. They thought that as predicted by Baba, Tatya’s end was near. Vijayadashami dawned and Tatya’s pulse began to slow and he was expected to pass away shortly. But a curious thing happened; Tatya remained, his death was averted and Baba passed away instead. It seemed as if there was an exchange; People said that Baba gave up His life for Tatya. Why did He do so? Only Baba knows why, as His ways are inscrutable. It seems, however, that through this incident, Baba gave a hint of His passing away, substituting Tatya’s name for His.

The next morning (16th of October) Baba appeared to Das Ganu in his dreams at Pandharpur and said to him, “The Masjid collapsed; All the oilmen and grocers of Shirdi teased me a lot, so I am leaving the place. I therefore came to inform you; please go there quickly and cover me with Bhakkal flowers.” Das Ganu also found out about Baba’s death from letters from Shirdi. So he came to Shirdi with his disciples and started singing bhajans and kirtans and sang the Lord’s name, all through the day before Baba’s samadhi. He weaved a beautiful garland of flowers studded with the Lord Hari’s name, he placed it on Baba’s samadhi(divine body) and gave a feast in Baba’s name.

Charity to Laxmibai

Dasara or Vijayadashami is regarded by all Hindus as the most auspicious time and it is befitting that Baba should choose this time to “cross the border-line”. He had been ailing a few days before this, but was always conscious internally. Just before the last moment, He sat up without anybody’s aid and looked better. People thought that the danger had passed and that He was getting better. He knew that He was to pass away soon and therefore He wanted to give some money as charity to Laxmibai Shinde.

Laxmibai Shinde was a good and well-to-do woman. She worked in the Masjid day and night. Except Bhagat Mhalasapati, Tatya and Laxmibai, no one was allowed to step into the Masjid at night. Once, while Baba was sitting in the Masjid with Tatya in the evening, Laxmibai came and bowed to Baba. The latter said to her, “Oh Laxmi, I am very hungry.” Off she went, saying, “Baba, please wait a bit, I shall return immediately with bread.” She returned with bread and placed the same before Baba. He took it and gave it to a dog. Laxmibai then asked, “What is this Baba? I ran in haste, prepared bread with my own hands for You and You threw it to a dog without eating a morsel of it? You troubled me unnecessarily.” Baba replied, “Why do you grieve for nothing? The appeasement of the dog’s hunger is the same as Mine. The dog has got a soul and though creatures may be different, the hunger of every creature is the same. Be certain that he who feeds the hungry, really serves Me with food. Regard this as an axiomatic Truth.” This was an ordinary incident, but Baba thereby propounded a great spiritual truth and showed its practical application in daily life, without hurting anybody’s feelings. From this time onward, Laxmibai began to offer Him bread and milk daily, with love and devotion. Baba accepted it and ate it appreciatively. He took a part of this and sent the remainder with Laxmibai to Radha-Krishna-Mai, who always relished and ate Baba’s remnant prasad. This story should not be considered a digression, for it shows how Sai Baba pervaded all creatures and transcended them. He is omnipresent, birth-less, deathless and immortal.

Baba remembered Laxmibai’s service. How could He forget her? Just before leaving His body, He put His hand in His pocket and gave her 5 rupees and then 4 rupees, in all 9 rupees. This figure (9) is indicative of the nine types of devotion described in chapter 21. Laxmibai was a well-to-do woman and thus she did not really need any money. But Baba might have suggested to her and brought prominently to her notice, the nine characteristics of a good disciple, mentioned in the 6th verse of chapter ten, skandha eleven, of the Bhagwat; In this, first five and then four characteristics are mentioned. Baba followed the order, first paid 5 rupees and then 4 rupees; in all 9 rupees. Many times nine rupees had passed through Laxmibai’s hand, but Baba’s gift of Nine, she would always remember.

Careful and conscious till the end, Baba also took other precautions in His last moments. In order to not be embroiled or entangled in love and affection for His devotees, He ordered them to leave. Kakasaheb Dixit, Bapusaheb Booty and others were in the Masjid anxiously waiting upon Baba, but He asked them to go to the Wada and return after their meals. They could not leave Baba’s presence, nor could they disobey Him. So with heavy hearts and heavy feet they went to the Wada. They knew that Baba’s case was very serious and they could not help but think about Him. They sat for meals, but their minds were elsewhere− they were with Baba. Before they finished, news came to them of Baba’s leaving the mortal coil. Leaving their dishes, they ran to the Masjid and found that Baba finally rested on Bayaji’s lap. He had not fallen down on the ground, nor did He lie on His bed, but sitting quietly on His seat and doing charity with His own hands, threw off the mortal coil. Saints embody themselves and come into this world with a definite mission and after that is fulfilled, they pass away as quietly and easily as they came.

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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