Sai Satcharitra Chapter 43 and 44

Baba’s Passing Away (Continued):

  • Preparation
  • Placing Baba in the Samadhi-Mandir 
  • Breaking of the Brick 
  • 72 Hours’ Samadhi 
  • Jog’s Sannyas 
  • And Baba’s Nectar-like Words

Preparation

It is a general practice amongst Hindus that when a man is about to die, specific religious scriptures are read out to him, so that his mind is withdrawn from worldly things and is fixed on God. Thus, his future progress is natural and easy. When the king Parikshiti was cursed by the son of a Brahmin Rishi and was about to die a week later, the great sage Shuka expounded to him the famous Bhagwat Puran. This practice is followed even now and the Gita, Bhagawat and other sacred books are read out to dying persons.Since Baba was an incarnation of God, He needed no such help. But just to set an example for His people, He followed this practice. When He knew that He was to pass away soon, He ordered a man, Mr.Vaze, to read the Ramavijaya to Him. Mr.Vaze read the book once that week; Then Baba asked him to read the same book again day and night and he finished the second reading in three days. Thus, eleven days passed. Then he again read it to Baba for three days and was exhausted. So Baba let him go and continued to meditate. He abided in His Self and was waiting for the last moment.

Two or three days before his death, Baba had stopped His morning peregrinations and begging rounds, and remained in the Masjid. He was conscious till the end and was advising his devotees not to lose heart. He did not let anybody know the exact time of His departure. Kakasaheb Dixit and Bapusaheb Booty had been dining daily with Him in the Masjid. That day (the 15th of October) after the arati, He asked them to go to their houses and have lunch. Yet, a few devotees(Laxmibai Shinde, Bhagoji Shinde, Bayaji, Laxman Bala Shimpi, Shama and Nanasaheb Nimonkar) did not leave. Shama was sitting on the steps; After giving 9 rupees to Laxmibai Shinde, Baba said that He did not feel well there (in the Masjid) and that He should be taken to Booty’s stone Wada, where He would be alright. Saying these last words, He leaned on Bayaji’s body and breathed His last. Bhagoji noticed that His breathing had stopped and he immediately told Nanasaheb Nimonkar, who was sitting on the steps below. Nanasaheb brought some water and poured it into Baba’s mouth. It came out. Then he cried out loudly, “Oh Deva!” Baba appeared to open His eyes for a moment and say “Ah!” in a low tone. But it soon became evident that Baba had left His body for good.

Placing Baba in the Samadhi-Mandir

The news of Baba’s passing away spread like wildfire in the village of Shirdi and men, women and children ran to the Masjid and began to mourn His loss in various ways. Some cried out loudly, some wallowed in the streets and some fell down senseless. Tears ran from their eyes and everyone was smitten with sorrow.

Then the question arose: How were they to dispose of Baba’s body? Some Muslims said that the body should be interred in an open space with a tomb built over it. Even Khushalchand and Amir Shakkar shared this opinion. But Ramachandra Patil, the village officer, said to the villagers in a firm and determined voice, “Your thought is not acceptable to us; Baba’s body should be placed in the Wada.” Thus, people were divided in their opinion and discussion regarding this went on for about 36 hours.

On Wednesday morning, Baba appeared in Laxman Mama Joshi’s dreams and drawing him by His hand said, “Get up soon; Bapusaheb thinks that I am dead and so he won’t come; you do the worship and the morning arati.” Laxman Mama was the village astrologer and was Shama’s maternal uncle. He was an orthodox Brahmin and worshipped Baba first every morning and then worshipped all the other village deities. He had full faith in Baba; He came that morning with all the pooja materials and despite the protests of the moulvis(muslim priests), performed the Pooja and the arati with all due formalities, and then left. Then at noon, Bapusaheb Jog came with a few others and performed the noon-arati ceremony as usual.

Paying due respect to Baba’s words, some villagers decided to place His body in the Wada and started digging the central portion there. On Tuesday evening, the Sub-Inspector came from Rahata, other people also turned up and they all agreed to the proposal. The next morning, Amirbhai came from Bombay and the Mamlatdar also arrived from Kopergaon. Yet, people still seemed divided in their opinion. Some still insisted on interring His body in the open field. The Mamlatdar therefore took a vote and found that the proposal to use the Wada secured double the number of votes of the other option. However, he wanted to refer the matter to the Collector and Kakasaheb Dixit got himself ready to go to Ahmednagar. In the meanwhile, through Baba’s grace, there was a change in the opinion of the other people and everyone unanimously voted for the proposal to bury Baba in the Wada. On Wednesday evening, Baba’s body was taken in procession and brought to the Wada and was interred there with due formalities in the central portion reserved for Murlidhar. In fact, Baba became Murlidhar and the Wada became a temple and holy shrine, where so many devotees go now to find rest and peace. All the obsequies were duly performed by Balasaheb Bhate and Upasani Maharaj, a great devotee of Baba.

The Breaking of the Brick

A few days before Baba’s departure, there was an ominous sign foreboding the event. In the Masjid, there was an old brick on which Baba rested His hand. At night time, He leaned against it. Baba had used this brick for many years. One day when Baba was not in the Masjid, a boy who was sweeping the floor picked it up and accidentally broke it. When Baba came to know about this, He bemoaned its loss crying, “It is not the brick, but My fate that has been broken into pieces; It was My life-long companion; With it, I always meditated on the Self; it was as dear to Me as My life; it has left Me today.” Some may raise a question, “Why should Baba express such sorrow for an inanimate brick?” To this, Hemadpant replies that saints incarnate in this world with the express mission of saving poor and helpless people; And when they embody themselves and interact with these people, they act like them. On the outside they laugh, play and cry like everyone else, but inwardly they are wide awake to their duties and mission.

72 Hours’ Samadhi

Thirty two years before this, in 1886 A.D., Baba made an attempt to cross the border line of life. On a full moon day, Baba suffered from a severe attack of asthma. To get rid of it, Baba decided to take His prana high up and go into samadhi. He said to Bhagat Mhalasapati, “Protect My body for three days. If I return, everything will be fine; if I do not, bury My body in that open land (pointing to it) and fix two flags there as a mark.” Saying this, Baba fell down senseless at about 10 P.M. His breathing stopped and so did His pulse; It seemed as if His prana had left His body. All the villagers came there and wanted to hold an inquest and bury the body in the place pointed to by Baba. But Mhalasapati prevented this; With Baba’s body on his lap, he sat there for three days, guarding it. After three days passed, Baba showed signs of life at about 3 A.M. He began breathing again and His abdomen began to move. His eyes opened and stretching His limbs, Baba returned to life again.

From this and other accounts, let the readers consider whether Sai Baba was the three and a half cubits’ body that He occupied or the Self inside it. The body, composed of the five elements is perishable and transient, but the Self within isn’t it is the Absolute Reality which is immortal and non-transient. The pure Consciousness of Being or Brahma, the Ruler and Controller of the senses and mind is Sai. This pervades all things in the universe and there is no space without it. To fulfill His mission, He assumed the body and after it was fulfilled, He threw away the body (the finite existence) and resumed His infinite existence. Sai always lives, as do the previous Incarnations of God. His passing away is only an outward aspect, but in reality He pervades all animate and inanimate things and is their Inner Controller and Ruler. This can be and is even now experienced by many who surrender themselves completely to Him and worship Him with wholehearted devotion.

Though it is not possible for us to see Baba’s form now, if we go to Shirdi we shall find His beautiful life-like portrait adorning the Samadhi Mandir. This was painted by Shamrao Jaykar, a famous artist and well-known devotee of Baba. To an imaginative and devout viewer, this portrait can even today provide the satisfaction of receiving Baba’s darshana. Though Baba has no physical body now, He lives everywhere and will affect the welfare of His devotees. Saints like Baba never die; although they look like men, they are in fact God.

Bapusaheb Jog’s Sannyas

Hemadpant closes this chapter with the account of Jog’s sannyas(renunciation of worldly life). Sakharam Hari, alias Bapusaheb Jog, was an uncle of the famous Varkari Vishnubuva Jog of Poona. After his retirement from Government Service (He was a Supervisor in the P.W. Department) in 1909, he came and lived in Shirdi with his wife. He had no children. Both husband and wife loved Baba and spent all their time worshipping and serving Baba. After Megha’s death, Bapusaheb performed the daily arati ceremony in the Masjid and Chavadi till Baba’s maha-samadhi. He was also entrusted with the work of reading and explaining the Jnaneshwari and Ekanathi Bhagawat to the audience in Sathe’s Wada. After serving for many years, Jog asked Baba, “I have served you for so long, yet my mind is not calm and composed. How is it that my contact with a Saint has not improved me? When will You bless me?” Hearing Jog’s prayer, Baba replied, “In due course, your bad actions (and their fruit or result) will be destroyed, your merits and demerits will be reduced to ashes and I shall consider you blessed. Then you will renounce all attachments and conquer lust and palate. And thereby getting rid of all impediments, you will serve God wholeheartedly and resort to the begging bowl (accept sannyas).” After some time, Baba’s words came true; His wife passed away and as he had no other attachments, he became free and accepted sannyas before his death, and realized the goal of his life.

Baba’s Nectar-like Words

The kind and merciful Sai Baba said the following sweet words many a times: “He who loves Me dearly, always sees Me. The whole world is desolate to him without Me; he tells no stories but Mine. He continuously meditates upon Me and always chants My name. I feel indebted to him who surrenders himself completely to Me and always remembers Me. I shall repay his debt by giving him salvation (self-realization). I am dependent on him who thinks and hungers after Me and who does not eat anything without first offering it to Me. He who thus comes to Me, becomes one with Me, just as a river merges with the sea. So abandon pride and egoism and surrender yourself to Me, Who is seated in your heart.”

Who is this ME?

Sai Baba explained who this ‘Me’ is, on several occasions. He said, “You need not go anywhere in search of Me. Barring your name and form, there exists in you, as well as in all beings, a sense of Being or Consciousness of Existence. That is ‘Me’. Knowing this, you see Me inside yourself, as well as in all beings. If you practice this, you will realize all-pervasiveness and thus attain oneness with Me.”

Hemadpant therefore, bows before the readers and requests humbly and lovingly that they should love and respect all Gods, saints and people. As Baba often said, “He who carps and cavils at others, pierces Me in the heart and injures Me. But he who suffers and endures, pleases Me the most.” Baba thus pervades all beings and creatures and besets them on all sides. He likes nothing better than love for all beings. Such nectar and pure ambrosia always flowed from Baba’s lips. Hemadpant therefore concludes that those who lovingly sing of Baba’s fame and those who hear the same with devotion, both become one with Sai.

Adapted from the original Marathi Book SHRI SAI SATCHARITA By Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias ‘Hemadpant’

Om Sai Om Sai Sadguru Sai

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *