Baba’s Dearest devotee – BALAJI PATIL NEVASKAR – Part 4
There is a couplet which reads – Place your Tan-Man-Dhan (body-soul-wealth) at the feet of your Sadguru and spend your entire life in Guru (devotion of Guru).
Balaji Patil of Nevasa truly lived this couplet. He was born in lower cast family. However, through his Bhakti of Sadguru, he traversed the Bhavsagar.
A long time back, the pious Balaji came for the first time to avail Darshan of Baba. The moment he took Darshan he decided to reside permanently at Shirdi. For sometime Baba tried to convince him to return back to his family. However, till the end he was unable to find solace in family life.
Damuanna Kasar came to Shirdi for the first time in 1892. While narrating his experience he writes…
“When I first came to Shirdi, I saw Balaji Patil of Nevasa doing all types of chores to serve Baba. He used to clean the Masjid and look after its lights. He also cleaned the Chavadi and the path on which Baba went to Lendi Baug.”
The villagers used to defecate on the path to Lendi Baug and also threw garbage. Balaji used to get up early morning and clean the mess. He started this practice which was later on followed first by Radhakrishnamai and thereafter by Abdul Baba. Balaji also put soil over the places where Baba used to spit His cough.
While narrating his Sai experience, Shri Saisharananand says – ‘‘The life of this Nevaskar is worth following. He was an ardent devotee of Baba’’
Balaji carried the entire crop from his farm in bullock carts and considering Baba to be its rightful owner, placed the crop at His feet. He took home only that much portion which was given to him by Baba. He managed to run his household within that. Balaji drank the water which was left over by Baba or even that water in which Baba had taken His bath. After Balaji, his son followed both these practices relating to the crop and water.
Every day about four times, Baba ate Bhakri made from Balaji’s milo.
Balaji never did anything without seeking Baba’s permission. He even sought Baba’s permission for stitching clothes for his family members. He had two wives. However, he had few children. Sometimes, the family came from Nevasa to Shirdi to avail Baba’sDarshan. On such occasions, Baba purchased Choli-Lugadi for Balaji’s wives and placed them in their Oti with blessings.
Once, Raghuji Patil of Shirdi (elder brother of Bhagoji Shinde) went to Nevasa. He stayed at Balaji’s home. One day a snake entered the stable of Balaji. The livestock was tied there, got scared and tried to come loose. Everyone was at their wits end as to how to set free the cows etc. and save them. However, the snake was had raised his hood and was sitting quietly.
While this havoc taking place, Balaji was overjoyed. He said, ‘‘Baba has arrived in the guise of the snake. He is no one else but my Sai.’’ He immediately went inside his house and fetched a dish full of milk. He placed the dish before the snake and said, ‘‘What is this Baba ? Are you trying to scare us ? Have this milk ! Finish it completely !! This is my Seva. Please accept it !’’ Then he thought, the quantity of milk offered may not be sufficient. So, he brought the full pot of milk, placed it before the snake and returned to his place.
Everyone was flabbergasted. They were keeping a watch to ensure that the snake should not enter the house ! Here, the snake drank milk and went away as quietly as he had come. Nobody had seen him coming and no one saw him departing. Everyone could not locate in spite of great efforts. All felt relieved; but Balaji was sad. He had seen the snake entering the stable. He wished, he should have witnessed his departure.
Balaji saw Sai everywhere. For him, Sai existed everywhere. Baba also showered this blessed soul with His Krupa.
It was the first death anniversary of Balaji. At that time, his mother was alive. For the anniversary feast, the number of people who had gathered was almost 3 times the expectation. Balaji’s wife panicked on seeing the huge gathering. She informed her mother-in-law. She said, ‘‘Why do you panic when our Baba is behind us ? Bring thatUdi !’’ Balaji’s wife brought Udi. Balaji’s mother to fistful of Udi, put it in all the vessels containing food and covered them with cloth. Thereafter she directed her daughter-in-law, ‘‘Now take as much food out of these vessels as you want and serve it to the people. But, ensure that the vessels remain covered with cloth ! Sai Baba will protect our reputation. Don’t worry.’’ Balaji’s wife followed her mother-in-law’s directions and Baba also protected their reputation.
The above incident was narrated by Balaji’s mother to Kakasaheb Dixit. This is a fine example which illustrates, how Baba looks after those devotees who devote themselves with Shraddha and Saburi.
Shri Saisharananand writes about the last days of Balaji thus :-
‘‘Leaving everything, Balaji came to Shirdi once again. However, Baba persuaded him to return to his home. In his last days he gave up food and water. He only ate the Prasad of Bhakri sent by Baba and drank only water which was touched by Baba’s feet.’’
In this manner, the unique Sai Seva of Balaji bore fruits.
Source : Sai Leela Magazine – translated from Marathi.