Month: October 2015

At the Feet of Sai Baba – by Purushotham R. Avasthi

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At the Feet of Sai Baba – by Purushotham R. Avasthi

We are pleased to publish a portion of the autobiographical sketch of Late Shri Purushotham Avasthi, an intimate devotee of Sai Baba. Sri Avasthi was a spiritually advanced person and had the benefit of being a devotee of our Master, introduced by Sri M.B. Rege Sahib. Further, the credit of bringing Sri Narasimha Swamiji and Sri Rege Sahib together goes to Sri P.R. Avasthi – Editor

It was Christmas holidays of 1914. My friend M. B. Rege took me to Shirdi along with him to seek the blessings of Sai Baba. During the journey, I was wondering as to whether I have transgressed the advice of my Guru not to visit another saint. I was indeed in a repentant mood for having agreed to go to Shirdi and was beginning to feel that I have been led astray by the jugglery of the old fakir at Shirdi. I felt that I should overpower his sorcery by utterance of Shri Ram Nam. Rege called me ‘Crazy’.

At Shirdi, we met Sai Baba in the Chavdi. My friend Rege went to him and prayed to him to rid of my fit of craziness. Baba looked at me and I was cured of my spell instantly on hearing Baba’s melodious and devout tone ‘Allah Malik Hai’. I apologized to him mentally to pardon my defects. I put my head at his Lotus feet. He blessed me by gently touching my head. Then onwards every creature that I happened to look on our way began to strike me as Sai Baba. In meeting Sai Baba, my quest for a Sadguru was over and Sai Baba was everything for me.

We went to the residence of Mother Radhakrishna Ayi. She appeared to me like the proto-type of my Guru Shanthi Devi. On seeing me Mother Radhakrishna Ayi narrated a few earlier incidents of my life. I was stunned but still did not accept her as a substitute for my Guru Shanthi Devi but as her sister.

Even as I was thinking on these lines, Mother Radhakrishna Ayi cried aloud ‘I am dying’ and fell flat on the ground. I ran up to her and putting her head on my lap loudly chanted one after the other five mantras based on the five letters of ‘Shiv Panchakshari’ which represented the five elements. I implored the deities to revive her in exchange for all the virtues I had acquired in 16 years of my spiritual sadhana. Mother Radhakrishna Ayi opened her eyes and I felt exceedingly grateful to God for this recovery.

I was in Shirdi for four days. Sai Baba passed me through various stages and phases of His miraculous powers and made me realize as to His being an avatar. This visit proved to be a turning point in my life as it weeded out the unholy thoughts about Him as a ‘Muslim’ and drove me towards Him to took upon Him not only as my Sadguru but as my God in whose quest I had been so long hankering after.

It was ‘Ekadashi’ – the last day of my visit. Sai Baba had returned to the mosque from Chavadi after the Kakad Arathi. He sent for my friend M.B. Rege and directed him to take me away. A cart-Tonga was got ready. As we started to go he came out of the mosque to go on for his morning round and we had the good fortune to salute him near the village gate and got his blessings at the time of our departure.

After this visit, I used to go to Shirdi at least twice or thrice a year and on every occasion I was fortunate to get His darshan and blessings. This continued for four years or so without a break.

In November 1917, in the early hours Sai Baba manifested in our residence at Ujjain. I got up from my bed and bowed to Him reverentially. He suddenly disappeared. At that very moment I heard the familiar voice of Abdul Bhai calling me by name from the garden. I opened the door and rushed out to find Abdul Bhai. But I found only a friend of mine plucking flowers who on enquiry told me that no one else had come and called me by name!

I was wondering about the significance of Sai Baba’s visit to our house. On the third day of this incident, I received a letter from Sri Waman Rao Patil of Shirdi about the sad demise of Mother Radhakrishna Ayi in the early hours of the very day Sai Baba had visited our residence.

In May 1918, I visited Shirdi along with my sister and niece. They wanted to offer ‘Naivedya’ of pithala to Sai Baba and were preparing it in the very room that used to be formerly occupied by Mother Radhakrishna Ayi. The fuel was wet and smoke covered the entire room. Unable to bear the smoke, my sister thought of Mother Radhakrishna Ayi to come and help in kindling the fuel. At once they fancied that Mother had come downstairs and helped them in enkindling the wet fuel and then disappeared. While they felt the ethereal presence of the Mother amidst them, reality dawned that Mother had cast off her mortal coil in November 1917 itself. But they were inwardly happy for having her darshan.

Another incident I recall was in October 1918. At Ujjain, ladies in our household had inadvertently washed the husked rice grain twice or thrice and went into the kitchen. Soon they realized the mistake and were at their wit’s end as to what is to be done. By chance, I happened to go there and when they told me about this, I casually asked them to prepare ‘Sakhar Bath’ as Sai Baba liked it (rice mixed with sugar and fried in ghee and a little quantity of saffron added to it). After we offered ‘Naivedya’ to Sai Baba and partook ‘prasad’, we got a letter from Shirdi conveying the saddest news of Sai Baba’s ‘Mahasamadhi’. The news was like a bolt from the blue and we became benumbed and overtaken with grief.

A friend of mine who was there remarked that on such occasions, sweet rice or Meeta Bath is generally prepared according to Muslim rites and Sai Baba, in His own inimitable manner had received ‘Naivedya’ through me. What a coincidence.

Sai Baba is blessing us forever. I am totally incapable of penning themadequately. Beyond the bounds of mind lies all comprehensive intelligence. Beyond the compass of the heart pervades all-embracing love infinite. This great cause of all causes the one truth – God, the Beloved of our heart, in us resides. He is the sweetest companion, giver of true solace, peace and joy Have Him and all your known and unknown Longings are fulfilled.

(Source Saipadananda Magazine October 1994)

 

Blessed Devotee who Experienced Baba’s Miracle before 1918

Blessed Devotee who Experienced Baba’s Miracle before 1918

Baba safe guarding doctor’s son from the devil

In 1917, during Vaishak month a doctor, his wife and son came to Shirdi. He hoped that Baba would drive away the evil spirit that tormented his son.

In the Dwarkamai, the doctor thought that Baba’s grinding of wheat and throwing it at the outskirts was futile and just a superstition. Baba reading his thoughts asked him to come at 3.00 P.M. Exactly at 3.00 P.M.he and his family went to Dwarakamai. The doctor and his son sat and started massaging Baba’s legs upon Baba’s orders.

Just then, an ugly, devilish looking lady came and grabbed his son, wanting to take him away. Baba, undaunted, gave her a blow with His satka. She fled, crying loudly. Baba then said, “She came to eat your son. She was deprived of her ration. I did not throw the flour at the outskirts today, as you thought it was unwanted. But I drove her away with My satka. Now she will not torment your son”.

The father and the son were filled with awe at Baba’s Antarjnan and kindness. Then Baba gave them permission to go on the next day

Leela- 18 in Ambrosia in Shirdi – Part-I

(Baba’s Leelas before 1918)

Baba gave indications of His Maha Samadhi

Baba gave indications of His Maha Samadhi

baba rested finally on baijaamaas lap

Baba had told Uddhavesa Bua some months back not to be “paying fortnightly visits” and bade him final farewell. In Dasara time, Baba was unwell, for a number of days, as also Tatya Patil. In the earlier part he went and begged food in the accustomed places supporting his body on some others. During the last two or three days, he was not able to go out.

On the 15 October 1918, i.e., Dasara day, after Arati was over:

Baba: You Kaka (H S Dixit), Buty, etc., go for your meal.

And then they left. After they left, Baba sat upon his bed, reclined on Bayyaji’s lap and said, “I am going. Carry me to the Wada. All the Brahmins will be living near me.” and then breathed his last. Nana Nimonkar poured water into his mouth; but the water came out. It was about 3 p.m. The day was no doubt Vijaya Dasami, but Ekadasi had begun at that time.

In anticipation of his passing away, he gave gifts (dana) in the morning of that dasami. He sat up and paid from his pocket first Rs.5/- and then Rs. 4/- to Lakshmi Bai Scindhe who was daily preparing and giving him food and daily receiving Rs. 4/- from him.

A few days before Baba passed away, he sent Rs. 200 for feeding fakirs and the chanting of prayers with drum beating, at a holy place.

He sent word to another Moslem saint in these terms, “The light of Allah lit, he is taking away.” That saint received the intimation with tears.

Rama Viyaya had been read during the 14 days of Baba’s illness, i.e., on the 9th, 10th, 11th day of Dasara within Baba’s hearing, as he had said that “Mrityunjaya would be pleased thereby.”

On the night of Dasara, Baba appeared in the dream of Lakshman mama and said, “Get up quick and do my Kakada Arati. Jog thinks that I am dead and he will not come.” And Lakshman did the morning Arati in spite of the protest of the Maulvis. Jog resumed the noon arati on the 16th October 1918.

Baba’s reference to the approach of his Mahasamadhi:

Baba to Chotakhan: Put this garland on the fakir Banne Mea and tell him “Allah is taking away the lamp he placed here.” That was mentioned to the Moulana shortly before 15-10-1918. That fakir then shed tears.

(Baba’s Charters and Sayings, No. 330)

Guruvaar Prarthna

Guruvaar Prarthna

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Our Beloved Sadguru Sainath, please accept our humble prayers on this Holy Day of Guruvaar. Baba,our goal is Sai, our centre is Sai, our ideal is Sai. We turn back to You and realizing everlasting bliss, resting on You we will be saved. As the lamp cannot burn without oil, so too, we cannot live without You. You are within us all the time, inspiring us and lifting us up. No one is against us when You are within us, from now we are confident enough to face all the odds in our life.On this holy day we start our prayers by reading your divine words in Shri Sai Samartha Satcharitra.

Because of my good deeds of the previous births that I could come in contact with all these good things. I will hold these in my heart and will feel lack of nothing till the end.

Thanks to the good fortune of the previous births, I have been able to attain his feet, get peace of mind and contentment in household matters.

Afterwards, however much I may prosper, that happiness will never be regained which I experienced and was blessed to receive in the company of the great Sree Sai.

Sai is the store of ultimate happiness! How could I describe his uniqueness? Whoever surrendered to him was permanently settled for good.

Those sanyasis who have performed penance, holding ‘danda’ and who use deer skins for clothing and for sitting; those who have visited Haridwar and been to Tirthas; those who have practised hard penance; those who have renounced the world and those who are non-attached came there.

He would talk, walk and laugh a lot; he would always recite “ Allah Malik ”; he did not like arguments and discussions and he always carried a ‘satka’.

Ascetic, non-attached by nature, of moderate passions, with malice towards none, his speech flowed with vedantic philosophy (well-versed in vedanta)! Till the end none could fathom, who Baba was.

The rich or the poor were treated equally by him. The son of a wealthy person or of a penniless beggar would be measured by the same yardstick.

He would know the good and bad deeds of anyone and the inner most desires. He would tell them their confidential secrets by some hint which would astound the devotees.

He was the epitome of knowledge and wisdom which he kept under cover. It was a burden for him to be honoured. Such were the characteristics of Sree Sai.

Though he had a mortal body, his deeds were singularly uncommon like that of God. He was definitely the deity of Shirdi. All the people believed this faithfully.

How many were the miracles of Baba! How much can I, an insignificant person describe! Baba had the renovation of numerous deities and temples undertaken.

I bow down to Sree Ganesh

I bow down to Sree Saraswati

I bow down to the Guru

I bow down to the Family Deity

I bow down to Sree Sita-Ramachandra

I bow down to Sree Sadguru Sainath.

Sarveshaam Svaastir Bhavatu

Sarveshaam Shaantir Bhavatu

Sarveshaam Poornam Bhavatu

Sarveshaam Mangalam Bhavatu

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanteeh

-(from Shri Sai Samartha Satchrita, Chapter 7, Ovi 25 – 36)

http://babaprayers.blogspot.in/

Blessed Devotee who Experienced Baba’s Miracle before 1918

Blessed Devotee who Experienced Baba’s Miracle before 1918

Doctors gave up, but Baba didn’t

Moreshwar Pradhan and his wife Chottubai loved Baba from the bottom of their hearts. Baba likewise reciprocated. He looked after their welfare in every way. Once all the children had chickenpox and subsequently they all recovered except the youngest, who was also the weakest. Then the illness took a serious turn. The doctors also gave up hope of child’s recovery. The child turned pale and signs of collapse appeared on the child’s face. The parents tended to the child lovingly, but with a heart full of sorrow. They chanted Baba’s name con­tinuously. Chottubai suddenly fell asleep, only to see Baba before her. Baba said, “What is all this? The child is all right and safe. He will ask for something to eat at 6.30A.M. Do give him whatever he wants without fear.” Chottubai woke up and looked at her child who seemed to have re­covered at that very moment, and was sound asleep. Exactly at 6.30 A.M. the child asked to be fed. The mother joyously gave him all that he wanted. The child Moreshwar Pradhan fully recovered in a few days.

Leela- 16 in Ambrosia in Shirdi – Part-I

(Baba’s Leelas before 1918)

 

AN HOUR AND HALF WITH YOGI Who got mention in Shri Sai Satcharitra Chapter 23 – SWAMI RAM BABA

AN HOUR AND HALF WITH YOGI Who got mention in Shri Sai Satcharitra Chapter 23 – SWAMI RAM BABA

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Four years ago during my visit to Shirdi for the Guru Purnima Utsav, I happened to see a very tall, fair and bearded figure in ochre robe briskly walking towards the Samadhi Mandhir. I was immediately impressed and on enquiry learnt that he was Swami Rambaba from Bombay. Later when he came to Gurus than, I noticed that he did not allow people to bow down and touch his feet, but instead asked them to bow to Shri Sai Baba. My respect was doubled. Next year by chance I learnt about his place of stay ‘SAI NIVAS’ at Shirdi, and visited him in his room. I was received cordially and blessed pleasantly. Since then I continued to visit him in his room every year at Shirdi during Guru purnima Utsava and get this blessings.

This year again I met him as usual at Shirdi on 3rd July during Guru Purnima Utsava and having learnt of his stay at Pune, called on him on 8th July. I was fortunate to have a close and undisturbed meeting with him over an hour and a half and was indeed blessed with the narration of his personal experiences with Sri Sai Baba and his views on religion and other spiritual matters.

Rambaba is a great worshipper of Shri Sai Baba and had the good fortune of first meeting Shri Sai Baba in AD 1914. Rambaba was then practising yoga and wanted to get some clarifications from Baba. But he saw Baba eating onions with bread (which is taboo for a yogi) and immediately thought in his mind that he had come to a wrong and unworthy person. But when Baba shouted, ‘Nana: Drive that dog of a yogi. He does not know that onion should be eaten only by a person who is strong enough to digest it”, Rambaba’s ego was stripped down immediately and he realised the greatness of Shri Sai Baba. (This story is narrated in Ch. 23 of Shri Sai Satcharitra). Since then Rambaba’s only place of worship and devotion is Shri Sai Baba and since then Rambaba has been invariably visiting Shirdi on Guru Purnima Day to pay homage to his Sadguru.

Rambaba has renunciated life since 1910. He does not answer question of his previous life and hence one cannot know his exact age. However during talks he mentioned once that he renunciated life after full enjoyment and satisfaction. If his age at that time (1910) is very conservatively estimated to be 40 years then Rambaba’s age should be at least 115 yrs. But he does not look his age at all, except that his beard and other hair are snow-white. There is no sign of any wrinkles on his very fair and soft skin of hands and feet and only two years ago I had seen him walking very upright and briskly at Shirdi. Probably this is possible on account of his practice of Yoga and penance for a long time. However recently Rambaba due to an attack of paralysis has become a little infirm and unable to walk independently. However his energy and talk are still vigorous as ever.

This is what Rambaba has to say about his worship of Shri SAI BABA:-

“For Ram (i.e. Rambaba himself—he does not use the word ‘I’) to love Him is to love God, the Creator or whatever words one may use. There are millions who offer their worship and homage to Shri Sai Baba, the great Master, the wonderful Sage, the true Fakir, the King without Kingdom and Monk without Monastry. One, like Meera, would find HIM with celestial music that swells up in the hearts of a lover. If one had the enlightenment

of Shri Kabir, then one could reveal to the world the hidden glory of his mystic life. If one had the courage and fearless love like Guru Gobind Singh, then one could give his head as an offering. If one is fortunate to be blessed with the love  that St, Francis had for God and man, then One’s offering could form the life of service of one and all. By the grace of Shri Sainath of Shirdi, it is possible to be intoxicated with Divine Love like Mother Rabia and then there is nothing left to offer by way of worship.

As to Shri Sai Baba’s grace and gift to humanity Rambaba says:

“His grace and blessings are precious, both to the Sinner and to the Saint. Everything else may fail to save the world at this crucial period of human history, but His Grace is the power to bring humanity together in love which one can go to Shirdi and observe. The day is not far for the triumph of love and truth. Everything in nature proclaims God’s infinite love for His Beings, and God has given man the capacity to love and live as one family – which is for Shri Sai Baba, His Main philosophy, or say a gift to humanity.

But alas : Ram must say with all love and due respect and regard to everyone, that it is a tragic period we are passing through, not only for our mother land but for the whole world that the so-called great Personalities of this age do not care to dedicate their lives to the removal of the barriers that divide humanity. Most of the national and religious leaders today (are blind with and for power)

As to religion Rambaba said:

“The truth is that religion cannot afford to be exclusive. The happiness of one depends on the happiness of the many and vice versa. Therefore the true religion can be neither orthodox nor heterodox. For Ram one in Love, one in Truth and one in God is man”.

As to Shri Sai Baba’s method of preaching Rambaba [narrated]:—

“The Enlightened one does not belong to any close group of nation, and such a sage, or say phenomenon on truth, is capable to bring humanity together dissolving all differences in His infinite Love for one and all. Such a one need not give sermons or expound any philosophy, old or new. This is proved by Sri Sai Baba’s philosophy and by His living in the humblest way and on the other hand life of wisdom much more than a King. In silence He receives the love His lovers and in silence He loves those who deny Him. (the word ‘IS’ is used deliberately because for Ramababa Shri Sai Baba always ‘IS’).

As to our behavior in this world, Rambaba explained, advised and prayed:-

“All that we send into the lives of others come back to our own. May noble, loving and humble thoughts come to us from every side? May all of us serve mankind as one’s large self?”

What a wonderful concept, what a wonderful TRUTH and what a wonderful religion:

To conclude, my most vivid impression about Swami Rambaba is that he is true and very sincere devotee of Shri Sai Baba. Like many other exalted Sai Devotees, Rambaba does not care to heighten his own prestige and fame in the name of Shri Sai Baba. He considers himself the most humble disciple of Shri Sai Baba and hence he does not allow visitors to touch his feet or present garlands. Instead he asked them to bow and garland Shri Sai Baba, his guru. Most of all Rambaba like a true disciple has imbibed the teachings of Shri Sai Baba in himself in toto. For instance Sai Baba always preached removal of one’s ego-without which no progress is possible in spiritual matters. Rambaba therefore has cast off the word ‘I’ forever. In his conversation he refers to himself only as ‘Ram’. Secondly Sai Baba incessantly told His devotees to look for Him in every person or even in a beast or a bird. Rambaba follows the same principle and hence while addressing the listeners he used the word “Dear selves (plural of self)” which means that the listeners and Rambaba are one and the same. In short Rambaba is Sai Baba’s preaching and philosophy in life and blood and I consider his above mentioned expressions as inspired by Shri Sai Baba only.

—Lt. Col. M. B. Nimbalkar (Retd.) Source Sai Prema – September 1986.

Baba Saved His Devotee from Death

Baba Saved His Devotee from Death 

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“I first came to know of Sai and His Leelas from Kushabhau (Vedshastra Sampanna Krishnanathbuva Mirajgaonkar Joshi) in 1908. Many people invited him for Puja and honored him. This routine went on for many days in the village. Once there was a Puja at Vedshastra Sampanna Sitarambhatji Ghate’s house. Since he was my maternal uncle, I happened to be present at the Puja. Listening to the stories of Sai, it occurred to me that Sai (i.e. his devotee) should visit my house to perform a Puja. Just then Maharaj said, “I am coming to your house tomorrow”. Thinking about the Puja arrangements, I went home happily and informed everyone about it.

At dawn, my mother Gangabai dreamt of a sage garbed in saffron clothing coming straight into our house. My mother offered him a place to sit, but he stood in that place and as my mother touched his feet with her head, she woke up. She told everyone about her dream, but no one paid much attention to it.

That very day I went for the Puja again at my uncle’s house. While giving Tirtha Prasad, Maharaj gave me Sai’s photo which was kept in the Puja and told me to worship it every day. When I came home with the photo, my family members realized the significance of my mother’s dream. Later I invited Maharaj (Shri Krishnanath Maharaj) for lunch and requested him to perform the Puja. This is how I came to know of Sai.

After listening to people’s experiences of Sai time and again, I felt a desire to take Sai’s Darshan and be blessed. However this could happen only 2-3 years later, in 1912. I was to go to Mumbai to see the arrival of the King of the British Empire, but one fine morning Shri Shivdas Dhate gave me a ticket to Shirdi. I took it as an invitation from Baba, cancelled my Mumbai visit and left for Shirdi the very same evening. There I experienced a lot of miracles and signs. Since I felt like writing some poems on Sai I also wrote a ‘Padyamala’.

An example of the many miracles is that of Late Smt. Malanbai, daughter of Late Shri Damodar Ranganath Joshi Degaonkar and also my maternal cousin. She was suffering from fever for a long time which ultimately turned to be TB. Many doctors and medicines were tried but to no avail. In the end we started giving her Baba’s Udi along with the medicines. Fed up of her illness, Malanbai kept saying, “Take me for Baba’s darshan. Only then will I be cured.” But she was so weak that she could barely sit. Travelling would have been dangerous. In the end the doctors relented and gave her permission to go, thinking there could be some psychological benefit. She was taken to Shirdi accompanied by 2-3 other people.

As soon as Baba saw her he started hurling abuses and said, “Let her lie on a blanket. Give her only water from the matka (clay pot) to drink.” She laid there for 7-8 days surviving only on water, but kept on repeating that only Baba would cure her.

7-8 days later, even though it was past Baba’s time to get up, he did not. People who had gone for Kakad Aarti waited patiently, but kept wondering why Baba was not getting up.

On the other hand Malanbai passed away and some of her relatives started making the funeral arrangements. Her mother and I sat next to Malanbai in grief. Sathe kaka (a devotee) tried to comfort us. Suddenly Malanbai moved, yawned and opened her eyes. She looked quite terrified and looked all around. A wave of happiness spread among the people around her and they listened as she narrated her story. “A black man was taking me with him when I cried for Baba’s help. Baba came and beat up the man with his baton (‘Sota’), saved me from his clutches and took me inside the Chavdi.” She described the Chavdi without ever having been there.

While here in the Chavdi, people were discussing why Baba was yet asleep when suddenly Baba woke up pounding his baton (‘Sota’) and ran to the place where the girl was staying (Dixit’s Wada). People followed him and met those who were coming to report the girl’s miraculous coming to life. Thus Baba proved how he saved his devotees even from death. There are many more miracles but lack of space constrains me.”

(Shri Vasudev Sitaram Ratanjankar Hyderabad Residency, House no.163. Sri Sai Leela Year I Paush Shaké 1845 Vol II)

A Search for the Birth Place of Shri Sai Baba

A Search for the Birth Place of Shri Sai Baba

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[Intrigued by the mystery shrouding the birth, birth place and family background of Shri Sai :Baba, the writer, Shri Kher, paid a personal visit to Pathri along with his wife, picked up clues that were casually dropped in the conversation, pursued them with zeal, patiently culled the evidence and pieced it together with detachment. All evidence, he avers, points to Pathri as the birth place of Shri Sai Baba and the Yajurvedi Deshastha Brahmin family of the Bhusaris as the one in which Baba chose to take his birth. He makes a plea incidentally for the construction of a memorial on the spot consecrated by Baba’s birth. – Editor]

 

“Sai Baba was neither a Hindu nor a Muslim but above both“. Thus spoke Shri S. B. Dhumal an ardent devotee of Sai Baba and a leading lawyer of Nasik in reply to a question of a District Magistrate. This reply is undoubtedly wise and replete with meaning. A man of God, whatever be his caste or color, is worthy of our respect. A popular Marathi saying discourages the search for the origin of a river and the birth of a sage, for the fear, that the researcher may be disappointed with their humble beginnings. Whatever might have been the truth of this adage, the dictum is no longer valid. In this age of fast advancing technology, when all values are in a melting pot, even “every formula of every religion has to submit to the acid test of reason and universal justice if it is to ask for universal assent”. The extended truth is applicable also to holy personages who have left their foot-prints on the sands of time. Those who have read Prof. Erik H Erikson’s “Gandhi’s Truth” which describes” ‘a westerner’s and’ a psychoanalyst’s search for the historical presence of Mahatma Gandhi and for the meaning of what he called Truth, will grasp the full implication of this statement. Researching into the questions as to the place of Sai Baba’s birth, the family in which he was born etc. may give us a historical hindsight into the later events in Sai Baba’s life. In this belief my wife and I made a pilgrimage to the “birth place” of Sai Baba in Marathwada in June, 1975 and the outcome of our search is stated in this article.

Before I do so let me record briefly the information available about the appearance of Sai Baba, his dress, his food habits, his surroundings, in Shirdi and the theories put forward about his place of birth and his family.

Sai Baba was well-built and had arms which reached upto his knees. He was of medium height and had a fair yellowish complexion. But “one’s first impression about him was derived from his eyes“. There was such power and penetration in them that none could continue to look at him without feeling that Sai Baba was reading him through and through. His ears were pierced and he was not circumcised indicating that he must have been a Hindu. But he dressed like a Fakir and lived in an old tumble down mosque which was strangely called by him as Dwarkamai. A sacred fire was constantly burning in the mosque and devotees were allowed to worship him with fanfare including blowing of conches and ringing of bells.

In the courtyard outside the mosque was a Tulsi Brindaban. Ramanavami was celebrated by His Hindu devotees in the courtyard, in which Sai Baba joyfully participated. At the same time, he had no objection to the local Muslims taking out a Sandal procession on the same day. He was catholic in his food habits, and is said he have partaken meat and fish in the company of fellow-fakirs. The name of “Allah Malik” was constantly on the tip of his tongue.

Yet, he appeared in the garb of Rama, Krishna, Ganesh, Shiva, Hanuman, or the guru of the devotee concerned. He had intimate knowledge of Bhagwad Gita as his exposition to Shri Nanasaheb Chandorkar demonstrated. But he also recited the first chapter of Koran in the company of Muslims. He was known to be fluent in many languages, but none knew how and when he acquired such mastery. All in all, he was a phenomenon, and all that one can truly say of him was that he was cast in the mould of renowned yogis of yore, with deep influence of Sufism on him. It is significant to note in this connection, that in examination on commission issued by a Court Sai Baba stated in reply to one of the questions that his “‘creed” or religion” was Kabir.

Mr. H S. Dikshit, Solicitor and the most selfless devotee of Sai Baba, who sacrificed his all in the cause of his Sadguru, says in his foreword to Shri Sai Satcharita as follows: There is no reliable information as to where he was born and who his parents were. But it can be stated authoritatively that he must have had links with the Nizam’s State later called Hyderabad State which under the Scheme of Reorganization of States in 1956 was divided on linguistic lines and merged with Andhra Pradesh, Karnatak and Maharashtra). In his conversation there were often references to places like Sailu, Jalna, Manavat, Pathri, Parbhani, Aurangabad, Bhir and Bedar. Once a visitor from Pathri came to Shirdi for Sai Baba’s darshan. Sai Baba gathering information about conditions in Pathri, enquired with him about many leading citizens of Pathri. This suggests that he had special knowledge of Pathri but it cannot be stated with certainty that he was born in Pathri. It cannot be said also definitely whether Sai Baba was a Brahmin or Muslim by birth.

Mhalsapati, one of the earliest devotees of Sai Baba, has stated that Sai Baba had told him that he (Sai Baba) was born in a Brahmin family at Pathri and his parents had handed him over to a Fakir in his childhood. Soon after Sai Baba had given him this information, a person from Pathri who had come on business to a nearby village called Korhala had visited Shirdi, when Sai Baba, had asked him about several residents of Pathri by their names. Mhalsapati Bhagat was a man of a truth and integrity and was held in high esteem even by Sai Baba because of his vairagya. His testimony is therefore, important and can be said to be indisputable.

Sai Baba discouraged any questions about his parentage and said that Purush was his father and Maya was his mother. A lifelong researcher and biographer observes’ that Sai Baba’s birth remains a mystery and he had not met any individual who had direct knowledge about it.

Another person whose testimony is weighty is Shri Vaman Prangovind Patel, Solicitor, who since he donned the robes of a Sanyasi in 1953, is known as Swami Saisharananand. The new name itself indicates the extent of his reverence for and devotion to Sai Baba. We must examine his credentials further in detail if we are to accept what he says on the subject matter, in his biography of Sai Baba written in Gujarati.

Shri V. P. Patel was born in 1889 and is still living. He graduated in philosophy from Elphinstone College, Bombay in 1910 and passed his LL B. in 1912. Like Swami Vivekanand, he wanted to see God face to face. He met many Sadhus but none could satisfy his desire. Finally, his father suggested that he should visit Sai Baba. So once in 1911, he travelled from Bombay to Kopargaon by train and reached Shirdi by a tonga. When he reached Shirdi, Sai Baba was standing under the famous Neem tree near Sathewada. The tongawala pointed out Sai Baba to Shri Patel. Young Patel alighted and prostrated himself before Sai Baba. Imagine his wonder, when Sai Baba exclaimed to him. “God is there, why do you say He is not?” Swamiji (Shri Patel) personally narrated to the writer an account of his first encounter with Sai Baba, under the Neem tree in the fateful year 1911, which was to change the whole life of young Patel. All his doubts were silenced and he felt that he was in the presence of a Master whom he could accept as his Sadguru and surrender to him his all. In 1913, when Patel visited Shirdi during the summer vacation, Sai Baba detained him at Shirdi for eleven months, and one day without being asked, was given permission to leave Shirdi. During his long stay, Patel was sent on begging rounds by Sai Baba, and he came into close and intimate contact with Baba. Sai Baba affectionately nick-named him “Babu”. In course of time, Shri Patel became a solicitor and practiced, but his real Interest lay in matters of moral and spiritual. Patel is a Savant and has written extensively for Sastu Sahitya-Vardhak Karyalaya. He has also rendered Shri Sai Satcharita into Chaste but simple Gujarati verse. His biography of Sai Baba in Gujarati is a must for every serious student of Sai Baba and his tenets.

With these preparatory remarks about Swami Sai-Sharanananda, let us now turn to his narration of Sai Baba. He says that it is indisputable that Sai Baba considered himself a Brahmin and he got annoyed with anyone who suggested that he was not a Brahmin. In 1912, Patel’s father was suffering from dropsy and there was no hope of a cure. In December of that year, Patel visited Shirdi. Reading his thoughts, Sai Baba asked him to get his father to Shirdi. But the thought crossed his mind, would his orthodox father come to one who looked like a Muslim?

Immediately; Baba intercepted with the remark, “Am I not a Brahmin?” Swamiji also records that the oldest devotee of Sai Baba, Mhalsapati, had been told by Baba himself that he was born in a Yajurvedi Deshastha Brahmin family at Pathri and he was handed over to a Fakir as a child.

The tale of Sai Baba’s birth is also described in article by Sunamra Sundar as said to have been narrated to him by the noted Saint Madhavnath, a summary of which appears on page 16 of Swami Sai-Sharanananda’s biography of Sai Baba. The story goes that there was a Yajurvedi Deshastha Brahmin in Pathri who had three sons. Sai Baba was the eldest. When Sai Baba was five years old, a Fakir came to the Brahmin and said “Give me my own”. The Brahmin replied, “Everything I have is yours”. There upon, the Fakir asked for the eldest son and took him away.

He reappeared after four years, and with the consent of the Brahmin, again took away the boy for three more years. From the age of twelve to eighteen, Sai Baba remained incognito and was seen at Shirdi under the neem tree when he was nineteen.

Yet another version is contained in the biography of Satya Sai Baba, who claims to be a reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi. Swami Sai-Sharananand refers to this story at pages 13 and 27-28 in his biography of Sai Baba of Shirdi. It appears that Sai Baba’s parents were residents of Pathri. His father was Gangabhava and Devagiriamma was his mother.

They were a pious couple and were devotees of the Lord Shankar. As they had no issue they were sad. However, through the practice of penance they obtained a boon from Shankar-Parvati and as a result, Shankar took birth in their family as Sai Baba. Gradually, Gangabhava became more and more absorbed in his tapas, and he decided to renounce the world. Devagiriamma insisted on accompanying him. So, both of them retired to a forest, abandoning Sai Baba under a tree. A Fakir and his spouse were passing by. They saw the child, and regarding it as a gift of Allah adopted it and brought it up until Sai was 12. Later the Fakir was pressurized by local Muslims to turn him out as he was fond of playing with a Shiva Linga which he won in a game he played with the son of the local Zamindar. So began his wandering along the banks of Godavari, in the course of which, he came to Aurangabad. There he encountered Chand Patil of Dhupkhed, who recovered his lost mare through the grace of Sai. The later part of his life story is known to all.

And so Pathri, was our destination! Yet we knew so little about Pathri, when we planned to visit it. The history of Pathri which is recorded hereinafter was collected only after our return; from discussions with a learned friend who is a noted authority on the mediaeval history of the Deccan.

Pathri which was in early mediaeval times known as Parthapur, is situated 80 to 85 miles south-east of Devagiri (Doulatabad) and about 2 miles south-west, from the confluence of Vjdarbha (Mangale) and Godavari rivers. It was a part of Vidarbha Kingdom which was ruled by the Yadavas of Deogiri and was a seat of mathematical learning. As Pathri was a part of the Yadava Kingdom, its history is a part of the history of Devagiri or Daulatabad. It was the village, the Kulkarni Vatan of which was held by a family which rose to great eminence in the days of the Bahamanis. Bahira or Bhairav Kulkarni (chaudhari) of this family who probably had migrated to Vijayanagar and entered the service of that Kingdom was in about 1440, captured by Bahamani troops and brought to Bidar. Here the Sultan appreciative of the intelligence and general behaviour of Bahira enrolled him in royal service after converting him to Islam. Bhairav now became Malik Hasan and in course of time rising to eminence, he was given the title of Nizam-uI-Mulk and was made governor of a Bahmani province. His son Ahmed founded the Nizamshni dynasty of Ahmednagar (1489) when the Bahmani Kingdom broke into five fragments. Finally, the Subhedar of Moguls in the Deccan, the Nizam established his domain over the territory of Daulatabad including Pathri and Pathri has since been a Taluka place.

Pathri is about 10 to 12 miles from Manwat Road Railway Station on the Manmad-Secunderabad Line. When we decided in 1975 Summer, to camp at Pathri for a few days, to get authentic information about Sai Baba’s early life, Manwat had come into prominence because of a series of Murders which showed diabolical pre-planning. By June, we had established links with a family at Pathri who were to be our hosts. Our host was none other than Shri Dinkarrao Vasudeo Chaudhari, a scion of the famous Chaudhari family at Pathri, with a long history behind them. Shri Dinkarrao Chaudhari is a progressive farmer and a lawyer. He was a perfect host. He regarded us and our mission as his own and rendered us all assistance.

There are a number of branches of Chaudhari family at Pathri, but most of them live in the fortress which dates back to about fourteenth century. Shri Dinkarrao Chaudhari has now constructed a house just outside the fortress, where he lives. It was our abode during our halt in Pathri, on 21st June evening, when we sat in the verandah overlooking the fortress, in an informal conversation, Dinkarrao made a point which caught my attention. He said, that years ago, his late father Vasudeorao had pointed to one Bhau Bhusari in Pathri, and remarked at the sad plight of the family descendant of Sai Baba! The next day, some Muslim clients of Dinkarrao who had come for consultation stated that according to their information Sai Baba was born in a Brahmin family of Pathri, but was taken away by a Wali when a child and what happened later was not known. This also furnished another clue. So, we promptly commenced with the task of making a complete list of all Brahmin families of Pathri. Brahmins in Pathri are all Deshastha Brahmins, either Rigvedi or Yajurvedi. There are no Brahmins of any other sect or sub-caste. This list was made while we made the rounds of Pathri going from door to door, interviewing all old residents. Brahmins or otherwise. In discussions, it came to light that the family deity of most of the Brahmin families in Pathri is either Goddess Renuka of Mahur or Yogeshwari of Ambe-jogai. There was only one exception. That is Bhusari family.

Incidentally, Bhusaris are Yajurvedi Deshastha Brahmins. Their family deity is Hanuman of Kumbharbavdi on the outskirts of Pathri. So our minds began working frantically. We recalled the great devotion and respect Sai Baba had for Rama and Hanuman Temple and mused, “Could it out skirts of Pathri be that our search had at last borne fruit”. With alacrity, we made our way to Vaishnav Galli, where we examined with reverence the ruins of Bhusari House (House No 4-438-61) for it is no longer standing, and proceeded silently to pay our respects to Hanuman of Panchbavadi. There is also a “Lendi” River skirting Pathri and we were reminded of “Lendi Baug*’ at Shirdi. The association between the two is obvious. Similarity between the Marathi spoken by Sai Baba and the language spoken in Marath-wada, generally, was also noticeable. We were most impressed by the fact that the language spoken by all the strata of the Society, from the lowest to the highest, is uniform and there is no different even in the speech of the elite.

The population of Pathri is about 10,000. In its appearance, Pathri is as it must have been Ancestral house of Bhusaries at Pathri centuries back. Progress has hardly touched it. Only during the last few years, electricity has been brought to its door-step, and link established with the other parts through the State Transport Service Otherwise life is placid, as it must have been, in the olden days. My mind was carried back to the time when Sai Baba was born. No exact date or year of his birth is known. For that matter, there is also difference of opinion about the time of his arrival in Shirdi. According to Shri Sai Satcharita, he first came to Shirdi in 1854, vanished and reappeared in 1858, and settled down.

According to Shri Narsimhaswami, who, is supported by M.W. Pradhan, Sai Baba first arrived in Shirdi in 1872. All that we know is that Sai Baba breathed his last on 15th October, 1918. And one can only guess how old he must have been from his photographs that are available.

Can we then say with reasonable certainty that Sai Baba was born in Bhusari family?

Excepting the information given by a prominent citizen of Pathri to his son on the subject, is there any circumstantial evidence? To collect this, if possible. I decided to pursue the matter further. I opened correspondence with Prof Raghunath Maharudra Bhusari who owns the house of Bhusaris at Pathri. He was professor of Marathi in Osmania University and later Principal of a Government College, from which post, he retired sixteen years ago, and settled down in Hyderabad. He was born in Pathri and had his early education there. When he was eight, he lost his father. At the age of twelve, he left Pathri and went to Parabhani, a district town, for further education. After matriculating he moved to Hyderabad from where he graduated in Arts, standing third in the University. This won him a scholarship for M A. at the Calcutta University, which he completed successfully. Prof, Bhusari states that Koner-dada was their first known ancestor. No information is available about the next two generations, but the family- tree of three later generations is known which is reproduced below :-

Baba birth

Prof. Bhusari further states that he had learnt from his grand mother, when he was a child, that Haribhau, Ambadas and Balwant had all left Pathri for good. While Haribhau might have gone in search of God, the latter two had gone to seek their fortune. In the next generation, Parshurambapu had also taken Sannyas at Manjartha (In Bhir District), which is situated at the confluence of Godavari and Sindhufena. His son Bhau who was not much educated, and died in poverty, was the person about whose condition Shri Vasudeorao Chaudhari had ,an occasion to speak to his son Dinkarrao. This is sufficient evidence to confirm that the Bhusari family of Pathri has produced persons of higher urges and impulses. Could it not be that Shri Haribhau Bhusari was Sai Baba? I wonder!

The theory advanced above is probable. I discussed it jointly with an experienced lawyer and a reputed historian and both of them agreed that it could be so. I do not wish to add anything either. I leave the matter to the readers to judge for them. Since I decided to pen this article, I have learnt that the residents of Pathri are keen to acquire Bhusari House property at Pathri and to erect on it a memorial to the sacred memory of Sai Baba. May their efforts be crowned with success?

  • B. Kher, Bombay from magazines SAI LEELA Jan 1976.

THERE IS NO DEATH

THERE IS NO DEATH

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“Was Baba living because he had the body, and was He dead because He left it? No, Baba is ever alive, for He transcends both life and death. He who loved Him once whole-heartedly gets response from Him at any time and at any place. He is always by our side and will take any form and appear before the devout Bhakta and satisfy him” – Sri Sai Satcharita, Ch. XXXIII.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa passed away on the night of 15th August, 1883. His many devotees and the thousands of people who revered him, felt bereft, inconsolable.

His wife, Sharadamani, who was regarded as ‘Ma’, the holy mother, felt that she had become a widow. According to prevailing customs and conventions, she could not continue to wear bangles on her arms. So she decided to remove them immediately.

Sharadamani had first put on the ivory bangles when she was married to Ramakrishna as a child bride. The bangles had remained on her wrists all these years. Now she found that they would not come off, no matter how hard she tried.

Finally in her grief, she decided that she would have to break them. She took a heavy hammer and was about to strike at her stubborn bangles when she heard a voice, “Sharada, Sharadha, what are you doing?”

It was the voice of Sri Ramakrishna, the voice she knew and loved so well!!

“I have not died, Sharada,” the voice continued. “I have but moved from one room to another!”

One of humanity’s greatest illusions is that death is the end of life, when actually it is only a movement from one room to another

I am not alone-Baba is with Me

I am not alone-Baba is with Me

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I am pleased to share my following glorious experience with innumerable Sai devotees.

It was during November, 1997. My wife and myself went to our daughter’s home in the United States. I am a diabetic patient and I also had an attack of severe bronchitis before we left India. The doctors here had prescribed medication to be taken during our stay in the US.

We reached US on schedule and continued to stay with our daughter comfortably. As per our routine, we used to worship our beloved deity Sri Sainath by chanting the usual prayers everyday. We had planned our sojourn for three months. On the thirtieth day after our arrival in US, I suddenly had severe cramps in the chest. I could not bear the pain or breath. I lied down wherever I was. We were alone in the house with the infant kids of our daughter, as our daughter and son-in-law had left for their work. I was alone in the drawing room when I had these cramps. I somehow beckoned my wife who was in the kitchen. She was shocked when she saw my plight and immediately phoned my daughter at the office. It was snowing at the time and there was eighteen inches of snow on the road and approach to our home. Temperature outside was below zero. On hearing about my condition at home one of her senior colleague helped her drive through the snow and they rushed to the house within fifteen minutes.

When my daughter saw my distressed state, she did not waste time pondering. She called the emergency service and explained to them of our predicament. Within ten minutes, the emergency squad arrived at our place fully equipped. There were two doctors too in the squad. They checked my condition, took ECG on the spot and decided that it was a stroke and that I have to be immediately admitted to a hospital having facility to perform a heart surgery. There were two hospitals nearby who could perform the surgery. As it was heavily snowing, most of the roads were blocked. I was physically immobile but I was in senses. I pleaded that “I need not be taken to any hospital and I will be all right soon and that I can get necessary medical aid in India.” The emergency squad insisted that I should be taken to the hospital and specialist doctors will decide the future course. They asked for our preference of hospital, and my son-in-law suggested a name known to him, where there was a specialist Indian doctor attached to them. They then put me on the stretcher and we waded through snow on the way to the hospital.

Within 30 minutes we reached the place. On arrival, the staff took me to the emergency cell. I distinctly remember that, lying on the stretcher on way to emergency room, I was continuously chanting and remembering Lord Sainath’s name. Silently chanting his name I may have lapsed into an unconscious state. Within an hour I understand that they conducted various tests including catheterization. The tests suggested that there were four blocks in the arteries. A conference was held among various doctors and surgeons and it was decided that an open heart bypass surgery has to be conducted without delay.

Hospital authorities summoned the anesthetist and within two hours of arriving at the hospital the surgery was commenced. I was not aware of anything that was being performed on my physical body. I was gleefully wandering somewhere in the most pleasant gardens and lawns in a serene atmosphere. I was aware that ‘I’ was not alone and Lord Sainath was with me’.

It nearly took five hours for the surgeon and his assistants, to complete the task of cutting the veins from my calves and thighs and plant them firmly in place in the arteries. The operation was successful. Probably it took another six hours for me to regain my consciousness. My wife, it seems was continuously praying Baba for the success of the surgery and for my speedy recovery. Her prayers were answered. She was there to give me an assuring smile although in tears of joy.

I came to senses all right! But I was trying to find me! I was neither there nor here! It took me some time. May be a minute or two, I am not sure! Suddenly I realized that I was with Baba, and I was walking down from the inside of his heart back to my bed. I was in a state of confusion! I did not for a moment understand why I had to leave Baba and that beautiful garden and walk down to this miserable place. I started looking for him. I could not find! Then after some time, I concluded that he had walked along with me and may have entered my heart! Yes, He is still there! Always there! I am not sure when I will have another opportunity roaming those gardens with Him! Why should I worry? Let Him decide.

One thing that has entered my heart now after the surgery is not the new veins ‘but that’ I am not alone and Baba is always with me! He loves, provides and protects.

“I am not alone, Baba is with me” is not an exclusive privilege of mine. It is a fact decreed for every devotee. We have to be aware of His presence. He is with us hearing and looking at everything we say and do. He is witnessing our every speech and actions. The moment the awareness of his continuous presence is felt, we get transformed. The thoughts which are the cause of our speech and actions will naturally get oriented to speak and do things which have His approval. Our ego the ‘I’ will get a knock and a slap. Our speech will get changed to be very courteous and polite. We start appreciating others. We will start saying “Oh! You have done a great job”. This is because we also feel the Lord’s presence in the person, whom we are addressing. We shall start saying, “I admit I was wrong”. I know how difficult it is to admit our inadequacies. But with the awareness of his presence in us it is easy. The ‘I’ becomes a non-entity. When the ‘I’ gives room for ‘We’ the life turns out to be a happy passing phase.

One more thing we normally say “I did this, I said this, I did that, I said that” etc. We should make it a habit to say “Let us do this, let us do that” etc. Let us include Him also in whatever we say or do. I am a non-entity without Him. It is He who does everything and we are only His instruments.

The eight words “I am not alone, Baba is with me” is a mantra that we have to repeat daily and at all times and feel His presence with us!

– K. S. Shenoy, Kothrud, Pune. Shree Saileela Magazine, May June 2000