Sai Satcharitra Chapter 48

At the beginning of this chapter, someone asked Hemadpant whether Sai Baba was a Guru or a Sadguru. In order to answer the question, Hemadpant describes the signs or marks of a Sadguru:

The Signs of a Sadguru

A person who teaches us the Veda and Vedanta or the six Shastras (systems), controls his breath or brands his body with Mudras (metallic marks of Vishnu’s weapons), gives pleasing discourses regarding Brahma, gives mantras (sacred syllables) to his disciples and orders them to chant the same a certain number of times; and explains beautifully the Ultimate Principle, but has himself got no experience or self-realization, is not a Sadguru. But He, who through his discourse, creates in us distaste for the enjoyments of this world and the next, gives us a taste of self-realization and is well-versed in both theoretical and practical knowledge (of self-realization) deserves to be called a Sadguru. How can he, who is himself devoid of self-realization, help his disciples attain it? A Sadguru does not, even in his dreams, expect any service or profit from his disciples. On the contrary, he wishes to serve them; He does not think that he is great and the disciple small. Not only does he love them as his children, but regards them as equal to himself or Brahma. The main characteristic of a Sadguru is that he is the abode of peace. He is never restless or ruffled and has no pride of His learning. The poor and the rich, the small and the great, are all the same to him.

Hemadpant thinks that on account of the accumulation of merits in his past births, he had the good fortune of meeting and being blessed by such a Sadguru− Sai Baba. Even in his youth, Baba hoarded nothing (expect perhaps chillim). He had no family, friends, home or any support. Since He was eighteen, His control over His mind was perfect and extraordinary. Earlier in his life, He lived fearlessly in a secluded place and always abided in His Self. Seeing the pure attachment of His devotees, He always acted in their interests and hence He was in a way dependent on them. Experiences similar to the ones He gave His devotees while he was alive, are even today, after His Mahasamadhi, experienced by those who attach themselves to Him. What the devotees have to do is trim their heart’s lamp of faith and devotion and burn in it wicks of love and when this is done, the flame of knowledge (self-realization) will be lit and will shine brighter. Mere knowledge without love is dry; nobody wants such knowledge. Without love, there is no contentment and thus we should have unbroken and unbounded love. How can we praise love? Everything is insignificant before it; Without love, our reading, hearing and study are of no avail. In the wake of love follow devotion, dispassion, peace and liberation with all their treasures. We do not love anything unless we feel earnestly about it. So where there is real yearning and feeling, God manifests Himself.

Now let us revert to the main story of this chapter. If a man goes to a true saint with a pure mind or even fraudulently and holds his feet, ultimately he is sure to be saved. This is illustrated by the following stories.

Mr.Shevade

Mr. Sapatneker from Akkalkot was studying law. Mr.Shevade and a few other classmates met him and they all compared notes of their study. It was found through discussion about the subjects in the exam, that Mr.Shevade was the least prepared for the examination and therefore all the students derided him. But he said that though he was not prepared, he was sure to pass the examination, as Sai Baba was there to get him through it successfully. Mr.Sapatnekar was surprised at this remark; He took Mr.Shevade aside and asked him who this Sai Baba was, whom Shevade extolled so highly. Shevade replied, “There lives in a Masjid in Shirdi a fakir; He is a great soul. There may be other saints, but He is truly unique. Unless there is a great store of merits on one’s account, one can’t see Him. I fully believe in Him and what He says will never be untrue. He has assured me that I will definitely pass this year and I am confident that I will get through the final examination with His grace.” Mr.Sapatneker laughed at his classmate’s confidence and jeered at him and Baba.

The Sapatnekars

Mr.Sapatnekar passed his examination, settled at Akkalkot and practiced as a pleader there. Ten years after this, in 1913, his only son succumbed to a throat disease. This broke his heart; He sought relief by a pilgrimage to Pandharpur, Gangapur and other holy places. However, this did not restore his peace of mind. Then he read the Vedanta, which also did not help him. In the meanwhile, he remembered Mr.Shevade’s remarks and his faith in Baba, and he thought that he too should go to Shirdi and see Baba. He went to Shirdi with his younger brother, Panditrao, and was very pleased to see Baba from a distance. When he went near Baba and prostrated himself and placed a coconut before Baba with sincere devotion, the latter at once cried out, “Go away!” Saptnekar hung his head, backed away and sat in a corner. He wanted to consult somebody who would advise him on how to proceed. Somebody mentioned Bala Shimpi’s name and Sapatnekar met him and sought his help. They bought Baba’s photos and came with them to the Masjid. Bala Shimpi gave Baba a photo and asked him whose photo it was. Baba said that this photo was His friend’s, pointing to Sapatnekar. Saying this, Baba laughed and everyone else joined Him. Bala asked Baba the significance of the laugh and beckoned Sapatnekar to come forward and receive darshan. When Sapatnekar began to prostrate himself, Baba again cried, “Get out!” Sapatnekar did not know what to do. Then they both put their hands together and sat before Baba, praying. Baba finally ordered Sapatnekar to leave immediately. Shimpi and Sapatnekar were both sad and dejected. As Baba’s orders had to be obeyed, Sapatnekar left Shirdi with a heavy heart, praying that he would be allowed to receive darshan next time.

A year passed and Sapatnekar’s mind was not at peace. He went to Gangapur, where he felt even more restless. Then he went to Madhegaon to rest and finally decided to go to Kashi. Two days before he was to leave for Kashi, his wife had a vision. In her dreams, she was walking with a pitcher to a well. There, a fakir with a piece of cloth around his head, who was sitting at the foot of the Neem tree, came close to her and said, “My dear, why get exhausted for nothing? I shall get your pitcher filled with pure water.” She was afraid of the fakir and ran back with the empty pitcher. The fakir followed her. At this point, she was awakened. She described her vision to her husband. They thought that this was an auspicious sign and they both left for Shirdi. When they reached the Masjid, Baba wasn’t there as He had gone to the Lendi. When He returned, she was surprised to see that the fakir she saw in her vision looked exactly like Baba. She reverently prostrated herself before Baba and sat looking at him. Seeing her humility, Baba was very pleased and began to tell a story in his peculiar fashion to a third party:

“My arms, abdomen and waist have been paining for such a long time. I took many medicines and yet the pains did not abate. I got sick of the medicines, as they gave me no relief, but I am surprised to see that all the pains have now disappeared at once.” Though no name was mentioned, it was the story of Mrs. Sapatnekar herself. Her pains, as described by Baba, left her soon and she was happy.

Then Mr.Sapatnekar went ahead to receive darshan. He was again welcomed with the former, “Get out!” This time though, he was more penitent and persevering. He realized that Baba’s displeasure was due to his past deeds and resolved to make amends for the same. He was determined to see Baba alone and ask to be forgiven for his past actions. He placed his head on Baba’s feet and Baba placed His hand on it and Sapatnekar sat stroking Baba’s leg. Then a shepherdess came and sat massaging Baba’s waist. Baba, in his characteristic way, began to tell the story of a bania(businessman); He related the various vicissitudes of his life, including the death of his only son. Sapatnekar was surprised to see that the story which Baba related was his own, and he wondered how Baba knew every detail of it. He realized that Baba was truly omniscient and knew everything about everyone’s lives. When this thought crossed his mind, Baba, still addressing the shepherdess and pointing to Sapatnekar said, “This fellow blames Me and charges Me with killing his son. Do I kill people’s children? Why does this fellow come to the Masjid and cry? Now I will bring that very child back into his wife’s womb again.” With these words, He placed His blessing hand on Sapatnekar’s head and comforted him saying, “These feet are old and holy, you are care-free now; place your entire faith in Me and you will soon reach your objective.” Sapatnekar was greatly moved and he bathed Baba’s feet with his tears and then returned to his residence.

Then he made preparations for worship and naivedya and came with his wife to the Masjid. He offered this to Baba and accepted prasad from Him. There was a crowd in the Masjid and Sapatnekar went there and bowed before Baba repeatedly. Seeing heads clashing, Baba said to Sapatnekar, “Why do you prostrate yourself repeatedly? One Namaskar, offered with love and humility is enough.” Then Sapatnekar witnessed the chavadi procession described before. In that procession, Baba looked like a veritable Pandurang (Vithal).

When leaving the next day, Sapatnekar thought that he would first pay one rupee as dakshina and if Baba asked again, he would again pay one more, reserving with him a sufficient amount as expenses for the journey back. When he went to the Masjid and offered one rupee, Baba asked for another as per Sapatnekar’s intentions and when it was paid, Baba blessed him saying, “Take this coconut, put it in the upper fold of your wife’s sari and leave without the least anxiety.” He did so, and within a year, a son was born to him. And with an infant of 8 months, the couple came to Shirdi, placed him at Baba’s feet and prayed thus, “Oh, Sainath, we do not know how to redeem Your obligations; therefore we prostrate ourselves before You, bless us poor helpless people and let Your holy feet be our sole refuge. Many thoughts and ideas trouble us when awake and asleep, so turn our minds away from them to Your bhajan and bless us.”

The son was named Murlidhar. Two others (Bhaskar and Dinakar) were born afterwards. The Sapatnekar pair thus realized that Baba’s words were never untrue or unfulfilled.

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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