Volume 14 - Issue 10
October 2016
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Posted on: Oct 11, 2016

Lessons from Then and Now – Shirdi Reminiscences


The Dasara festival is significant for many reasons. It is that time of the year when we worship God as the mother of all beings, showing gratitude for the 'Shaktis' bestowed on man, for the gifts of Nature's bounties, and seeking courage to battle the evil within. In Prasanthi the festival is marked by the grand Veda Purusha Saptaha Jnana Yajna, the Grama Seva and the Prasanthi Vidwan Maha Sabha. In between we also have the festival where the various vehicles blessed to carry our Lord is worshipped. In the years gone by, Swami would come around breaking coconuts before the cars, and even alight the cars and the golden chariot at times. The last day of the Navaratri, Vijayadashami, is celebrated in memory of Rama's victory over evil Ravana and also Goddess Durga's victory over the demon, Mahishasura.

There is one more reason why Vijayadashami is special for devotees of Bhagawan. It was on the Vijayadashami day of the year 1918, Shirdi Baba, the previous incarnation of Bhagawan shed His mortal coil. In that sense, Vijayadashami is the Aradhana Mahotsavam for the Shirdi Avatar. So even as we participate in the Poornahuti of the Yajnam, the final session of Prasanthi Vidwan Mahasabha (in person or virtually), and pay our obeisance to our all-auspicious Mother Sai, let us also travel back to the holy precincts of Shirdi. There in the dilapidated Dwarakamayi lived Baba, acting as mysteriously as only Divinity can; one moment He was the Mother of all beings, compassionate and caring; the other moment He was Rudra Himself, blazing with rage. He wore a ragged kafni and called Himself a Fakir, but He went out on a royal procession as the devotees extolled Him as 'Sainath Maharaj'. And what better way to make this journey, than to do it with Swami Himself. We offer you through this article, excerpts from Swami's discourses, where He related little stories from His previous incarnation. Please do listen, read, contemplate and offer at the feet of Baba the two coins He ever sought as dakshina - the coins of Shraddha and Saburi (Faith and Patience).

What you offer I accept indeed! (From Discourse delivered on 19 Jun 1996)

At times we go back on our words. There is no greater sin than going back on one’s word. Emperor Bali said: “Can there be a greater sin that failing to keep one’s word?!” Therefore we must keep our word as sacred and protect it.

When in Shirdi, many devotees would visit Shirdi. There was a siristidhar (a government officer) by name Tarkhad. He had a wife and a son of 16 years age. The wife and son had immense faith in Baba. Therefore he never obstructed them.

One day the wife and son said, “We wish to go to Shirdi.”

“Certainly, go and come”, he replied.

This person, Tarkhad was affiliated to Brahmo Samaj and so had no desire to visit pilgrim centres. So though his wife requested him a lot, he never visited Shirdi. That too is a sort of weakness. What does it matter to which Samaj (society or group) you belong to, but one should understand the truth that God Almighty is one. Some people consider caste and religion to be of utmost importance and take to the wrong path. So this Tarkhad who belonged to the Brahmo Samaj said, “I am not coming, you both may go.”

But the 16 year old boy said, “Father, I won't go.”

“Why won't you go?” he asked.

“Father, in my everyday worship, from morning to night I observe my disciplines in prayer to God as they ought to be. I take sugar candy and place them as offering to Baba. With the faith that He has accepted it, I partake of it as prasadam. As I don't wish to give up this practice, I won't go to Shirdi.”

The father had a lot of love for his son. Since he did not want his son to be troubled he said, “Son, I will do that work, you can go.”

“Will you really do?” asked the son. “Will you worship Baba as I do? Will you make the offering to Baba? Will you then accept the offering? Then give me your word, only then will I go.”

The father's heart melted seeing the determination of the boy. “How noble is this boy to be so steadfast in his disciplines? I don't have such steadfastness in spite of my age” he thought to himself. He then gave word to his son that he will do. The mother and son then left for Shirdi while the father as promised performed the worship diligently for two three days. Offering sugar candy just like his son, eating that candy before lunch, all of this was happening. The third day was a Thursday and but he had some urgent work in the court. In the morning, he had his bath, offered worship, ate breakfast, put on his dress and rushed to office. When he returned for lunch he sat down and commanded his cook, “Get me that prasadam.” The cook replied, “Babuji, today in your hurry you have not made the offering.”

He felt very bad that he could not keep up the word he had given his son. He was not distressed because of not making an offering to Baba but because he had broken the word given to his son. On the following day, Tarkhad’s wife and son came to Shirdi to offer salutations.

Baba said, “Son, yesterday I visited Bandra, but no one served Me food. I did not even find the sugar candy that you keep for Me every day. I returned very hungry. Will you give Me anything now?”

The boy was shocked. When he went back to his room, he buried his head in the lap of his mother and started crying.

“Father gave his word but failed to make the offering. That is why Baba returned disappointed! Mother, I cannot stay here any longer. I will never miss my duties. I am returning to Bandra.”

Just then Baba sent word; by whom? By a person by name Jog. This person Jog was always with Baba. Not 'Joke', Jog! He sent word saying, “There is no need for you to go back. Your father broke his promise, you didn't. Therefore, My immense grace is there on you. You can stay here as long as you want.”

The son stayed but he was full of disappointment and dissatisfaction all the while. After 10 days he returned home. When he returned home, his father apologised to him.

“Though you are young and I am older than you, I request you to forgive me”, said his father. Then the son replied, “Seek forgiveness from Baba, not from me. Whatever community or culture you may belong to, word is a word. You may belong to Brahmo Samaj, I may belong to Arya Samaj, someone else may belong to Daiva Samaj, but promise is one. Truth is one. It is very essential to adhere to truth. You argue in the court for justice. If you yourself do not adhere to truth, you will become the cause of ruin of many individuals and families. So father, you have studied law. But if you do not adhere to truth, all that you have studied in law will become useless.”

On that day the son told the father, “Father, you be a lawyer, not a liar.”

Therefore, when you follow the code of conduct implicitly in your life you can have the direct manifestation of Divinity. To begin with, the body must be sanctified through good actions. It all begins with discipline. From dawn to dusk, all the daily duties must be performed in a highly disciplined manner.

I shall always follow you (From Discourse delivered on 17 Jun 1996)

God takes a form based on how one prays. For the one who prays saying, “God should always be behind me and protect me”, only the footsteps of the Lord will be heard behind. The one who says, “Oh lord, are my problems not visible to You, is my crying not visible to You?” will have the vision of the eyes alone. “Are my pleas not audible to You, are my prayers not audible to You?” - the one who prays thus, will have only the (vision of the) ears it is said.

The same was said in Shirdi too. Shirdi Baba said, “I am always with you. I am right behind you, following you.” It seems the devotee who heard these words went some distance and turned to look back. When he did not find Baba there, the devotee thought, “What a lie Sai Baba has said. Didn't He say, 'I will be behind you?' How come He is not to be seen behind me?”

He went back to Baba and said, “Baba, You are a great person isn't it? Is it right to lie like this? You said You are right behind me, following me. But when I turned back You were not there.”

“O Shaitan! Is this your intelligence? When you turned, your back turned too, isn't it? When your back turned, I too turned with it!” So when he turned, his back turned and so did Baba; He was right there behind him.

Therefore the words of God are subtle, discreet and mysterious. All cannot understand it. So don't try to understand it. Listen to what is said and follow it. That is your duty. It is not in anyone's ability to comprehend matters pertaining to Divinity. Appears like an ordinary human being, but transcendental powers emanate from Him. So it is not possible for everybody. Do your duty; to clarify your doubts, offer yourself to God. That is your prime duty.

A promise made is a promise kept (From Discourse delivered on 14 Jul 1996)

During the previous Avatar, in a village called Bandra there lived an ardent devotee of Sai Baba by name Hemadpant. His second name was Annasaheb (Dabholkar). He always contemplated on Baba and kept repeating, “Baba, Baba, Baba” all the time. One day he slept and was awakened at night at 3 o’clock. It appeared like a very tall person had come in. The doors too were open. This man came in and patted his back and said, “Annasaheb! Tomorrow I am coming to your house for food.” Annasaheb looked around bewildered and wondered, “Is this my dream or the reality? No, this is no dream. My Baba Himself had come to me. It seems He is coming to my house for food tomorrow.”

So thinking he got up at 3’oclock in the morning and started happily shouting that Baba would come to his house for lunch. Hearing his excited and loud voice his wife got up. She asked, “What's happening? Did you have a dream or is something wrong with you? This must be a dream. How is it possible for Baba to come here at this hour? Where is Shirdi? Where is Bandra? Distance is so much; it’s but your illusion.”

Then Annasaheb said, “O mad one! There is nothing like far or near for God. Where is the question of coming and going for the all-pervasive Lord? God is He whose form is beyond coming and going. He manifests for those who deserve His grace and the undeserving do not see Him. All this depends on one’s faith and belief. He is sure to come tomorrow. So start making all the necessary food preparations as soon as you get up in the morning.”

“Is there any greater fortune for us than Baba really visiting our house?” said the wife. She got up early in the morning, cleaned the house and the cooking utensils, and prepared some special dishes. She prepared payasam, another sweet and some vadas. Having cooked everything they both waited for Baba to come at lunch time. She had decorated the house with mango leaves and garlands of flowers and waited for the arrival of Baba. It was 12 o’clock, but Baba did not come. There were no signs of His arrival. He looked all around, but Baba didn’t come.

“Why Baba didn’t come? Baba won’t go back on His word. He is the Embodiment of truth, He is ‘Sathyanarayana’ and none other. Therefore, Baba will definitely come”, so saying he convinced his wife.

It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon and yet there was no trace of His arrival. As they were thus waiting, two musalmans came to the front door and said, “Annasaheb, you seem to be busy, looks like some relatives are visiting you and you have got ready lunch for that. It's not possible to talk to you now, we shall talk to you later but please do take this package.”

He collected the package, and the moment he accepted it, they left. On opening it, he found there Baba's picture.

“Baba! Have You come in this form to my house?” Saying so they hugged tightly the photo. Devotion is such madness!

He removes madness;
He makes you mad again,
this Sai Baba who is verily Truth-Consciousness-Bliss (Satchitananda) - Poem.

Why should Baba make us mad this way? He relieves you of the madness for the world and makes you mad after God.

Annasaheb took the photo and placed it before the leaf (on which lunch was served) and said, “Baba, You must eat. You have come in this form!” So saying he placed the photo there. But there was no way the photo would stand, so he reclined the photo against a tumbler.

Makes us shed tears
Wipes our tears too,
The Lord of awareness, this playful Baba. - Poem

He wipes away worldly tears. But makes us to shed tears only for Him.

So he said, “Baba, You must partake this food.” He was praying with eyes closed. One vada from the plate was missing. The rice served in a heap by the wife was flattened and in it appeared the impressions of five fingers. Exclaiming in joy, “Baba has eaten, Baba has eaten, it is Baba's prasadam”, he started eating the food himself.

In that prevailing condition of those days such miracles and mysteries satisfied devotees of those times. When He says, “I will come, He would come in some form.” In order to make His devotees realise that all forms are God's form, He would go to their house in the form of a dog and eat; or appear in the form of a buffalo and eat the food served on the leaf; sometimes He would come in the form of a cat. Such forms were assumed then.

Now it is not so; if I say, “I will come to your house and eat”, I go in person and eat there. I have told many, “Dear one, I am coming now to Bombay, when there I will come to your house.” That very moment they would feel the happiness of Me visiting them. Certainly I go as promised and have food. Why so? The nature of feelings then and the nature of the feelings now are quite different. There was complete faith and love those days.

But today’s faith is ‘part-time devotion’. When told they are happy, but immediately thereafter they wonder, “Will He really come or not? Maybe He told for my satisfaction.” They begin doubting this way. No opportunity should be given to doubt so. When one has complete faith, the promise certainly comes true. That is the word of God; nectarous word and a divine word that never is false. But because of the flaws in your faith, it fails at times. 'As is the thought, so is the manifestation!' Keep your faith firm. Come what may, never give up your faith under any circumstances. Be it any sort of difficulty, never forget your faith. Just as your breath is constant in all circumstances, faith too should remain constant.

So in the earlier avatar, in Shirdi, promise would be given but the form would not come, instead He would come in another form. Few devotees who did not understand Baba’s acts lamented, “Baba, You promised to come but You haven’t come. Why did You disappoint us, why did You trouble us thus? What sins did we commit?” And Baba would reply, “O madcap! I did come to your place but you drove Me away with a stick.”

“Baba! Are we such sinners to drive You out?” they would sadly ask thus. Then would Baba reveal, “I came in the form of a black dog.” What does that mean? God is in every being and it is this truth that the culture of Bharath establishes.

Baba gives a glimpse of His Divinity (From Discourse delivered on 23 Aug 1996)

In this world it’s impossible for anyone to know the Divinity. The one who is bound to follow God’s command in totality will have complete knowledge of Divinity.

Once upon a time in Shirdi, Mahalsapathi used to sleep with Sai Baba in the same room. There was a choultry called ‘chavadi’. In that chavadi, Sai Baba used to tie a small plank (from the ceiling) and sleep on it. Do you know the dimensions of that plank? It was merely 5 inches in width. Sai Baba was a tall and majestic person, but He used to sleep on that plank. There was no other place. Mahalsapathi used to sleep down under the plank.

Initially Mahalsapathi was very scared. Even that plank was tied up with rags of old dhotis. Lying down, he would be worried when they would give way. Mahalsapathi was of small stature and quite thin. He would think with fear, “If such a huge person was to fall on me, will I even survive?” He would not sleep the whole night. At the slightest sound he would run away to a side.

At last this principle of divinity was demonstrated to Mahalsapathi. Baba said, “Mahalsapathi, get up!” Baba used to call him ‘chota bhai’ (little brother). Mahalsapathi saw that the plank was just suspended in the air, not even supported by the old rags and on it he found Baba reclining and swinging!

“Mad one, did you think that the old rags were bearing My weight? No, No! My power was bearing the weight of My body”, saying so Baba then added, “Do not reveal this to anyone. In Pathri, some people considered Me a Brahmin boy, some thought I am a Mohammedan, some even thought I was a Patel; like this each one thought I belonged to different communities. But I was born in Pathri village to a Brahmin couple Devagiramma and Gangabhavadhyudu.”

It was then that Mahalsapathi recited,

“Patri grama samuthbhootam,
Dwarakamayi vasinam,
Bhaktabheeshtam pradam devam,
Sainatham! Namamyaham!”

‘Born in Patri village,
Who resides in Dwarakamayi,
Who fulfils the desires of devotees,
O Sainatha, I bow unto you!!’

Baba did not want the secret to be revealed to anybody as in those times in Shirdi and also in Maharashtra, the Hindus and Muslims were at strife and even some were massacring each other. So Baba said, “I am a Mohammedan amongst Mohammedans, a Hindu among Hindus. So do not call Me a Hindu or a Mohammedan.” Thus He took a promise from Mahalsapathi.

Such divine secrets were revealed to one or two and in no incarnation was it revealed to all.

The Elements obey His command (From Discourse delivered on 31 Aug 1996)

There in Shirdi, one time in the year 1916, a big cyclone came. The son-in-law of Lakshmi Bai, Buti had constructed a temple in Shirdi. The temple was built to install the idol of Lord Krishna. But Baba kept on postponing the installation function.

When Shirdi was hit by a big cyclone, people could not bear the torrential rain fall and the hailstorms; the workers and villagers ran helter-skelter and took shelter in different temples and resting houses. There was a small choultry called ‘Dwarakamayi’. People were taking shelter in any place a person could stand. And began crying, “Baba Baba protect us!” Just as the cowherds and gopikas of Dwapara age called out to Lord Krishna to protect them from the hail storms caused by Brahma, likewise the villagers of Shirdi called out to Baba for protection from the cyclone.

Then Baba said, “Ok ok! I will see.” He then went to the pillar and hit it saying, “Enough of your wrath, now calm down. You have used your anger for so long. All have been frightened by your fury. All have come to know of your might. So now why do you have to overdo? So calm down.” The next moment the rain stopped.

It is not that I want to speak about it. You all have to recall as you might have forgotten by now. Two days ago, prior to Swami’s discourse, there was heavy rain and wind all around. Heavy wind, blowing fiercely even inside. I stood there and told all to come inside. The people sitting outside came in and I began, there was not a drop of rain! Nobody noticed it.

Likewise in Shirdi too, in Buti temple there was a fireplace. Many mad devotees, women in particular, used to purchase firewood and put it in the fire without a thought about the effects of such action. Such devotees put the wood in the fire with a satisfying thought that they were offering to the fire god.

The wood thus put in made the fire into a massive flame. Shyam came calling out to Baba, “Dada, dada”; he used to call Baba 'Dada'.
“What is it Shyam? What happened?” asked Baba. Shyam said, “Look! There the fire God has manifested in full glory.” But there was none to see the spectacle.

Then Baba said (addressing the fire), “When there is nobody, why are you exhibiting your powers here? There is no one to drive sense into you. Show your prowess where it is necessary, why exhibit powers when it is not necessary.” So saying He hit the pillar in the temple twice. In a moment the fire extinguished itself. This incident conveys that every element has the principle of cause and effect.

Anantakoti Brahmanda Nayak Rajadhiraja Yogiraja Parabrahma
Sri Sachidananda Sadguru Sainath Maharaj ki... Jai!

Radio Sai Team

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