Sai Baba’s Early Life – Part 2 0f 4
Baba’s Guru Gopalrao guards his purity
Those days, the jagirdars were rapacious men of no morals. They were despotic bandits. They usually had many wives and concubines and using money for their many pleasures used to live with no regard for God. Their houses were more like shops with only the talk of money day in and day out. Even when sunk in the morass of debt, they were blind with pride and sin and used to behave as they willed. Gopalrao was unlike these people. He was the personification of all the good qualities and humility was his only ornament. He used to have a kindly disposition towards all and would look upon all with an equal eye.
Once, an event of great importance occurred in his life at Selu. I will tell you what it is. One day, Gopalrao was walking about the turrets of his fort. A woman of the farmer class, aged about 25, came on some work and sat a little distance away from him. It is not necessary for me to describe the beauties of her body to you. It was evening. Dusk was falling. The cattle were returning from the forest to their biers after having had their fill of grass. Gopalrao, who was seated in the turret of the fort, started drinking in the beauty of the woman with his eyes.
As Shiva was once infatuated with a Bhil (tribal) woman so was Gopalrao infatuated by the beauties of the woman displayed in the soft lights of the dusk. Immediately he realized his mistake in looking at someone else’s woman with his eyes filled with desire. “Oh cupid! How cruel is your shaft! Who knows when you will take us unaware?” cried he in anguish. He rushed to the room where he did his daily worship. He sat before his God, the lord Venkateswara and taking two needles in his hand pierced his eyes with them, destroying his sight. “Oh manifested form of the universe! Oh invincible one! Oh Brahman! Oh Raghava Rama! Oh, succour of devotees! Oh Venkatesa! Oh, the one as dark coloured as the rain bearing cloud! How sinful are these eyes of mine! Oh, Consort of Kamala! I am falling in to sin and maya by the deceit of these eyes. Oh Deva! Could one steeped in sin ever realize you? I had no alternative but to destroy these eyes which were leading me astray. Oh my mother! Oh Vittala! You are the directing force of all my organs from now on. Oh, consort of Rukmini! You are the lord of my mind. We are all puppets in you hand. Oh embodiment of mercy! My sensory organs, intellect and mind are always in your service. How can he, who is enmeshed in this impermanent, evanescent worldly life ever, reach you- who is the embodiment of the truth? This great boon of human birth has been granted to us to realize you, not to sink in the morass of sensual enjoyment. You, who have given us this life granting us a chance to reach you, have shown great kindness towards us all. But, I have wasted this opportunity given by you. Oh Panduranga! Will I never get a human birth again?” He started weeping piteously at his fall from grace.
The news that Gopalrao had blinded himself spread throughout the village. All the villagers rushed to see him. Some said, “Maharaj, why have you done such a deed? Why have you pierced your eyes? This world has now become a very dark place to you now. The world and its sights and beauties which we enjoy so much have become non-existent for you.” They started weeping seeing his condition. His wife and son came to know of the blinding and came running beating their breasts in anguish. They cried, “What is this tragedy? Why did you get the volition to do this awful thing to yourself?” Gopalrao replied, “Look at the way the people conduct themselves. They are leaving aside the truth and accepting the lie. These dastardly deceitful eyes of mine were trying to destroy me. That is why I have punished them thus.” Some said, “This desmukh has gone mad. Is it dispassion to pierce one’s eyes?” In this manner, each expressed his own opinion.
While this was so, God in his infinite kindness granted enough sight to Gopalrao that he could read the spiritual texts and the mantras when he sat for his daily puja. God also granted him the strength to read these books day and night. He became famous as a saint and his fame spread far and wide. People started coming from far off places for his darshan. As Pandharpur, as Paithan, Selu too became famous because of Gopalrao.
One day a woman came for his darshan to Selu. She prostrated in front of him and clasping her hands prayed, “Oh able one! I am blind since birth. There is none who protects me. I will deem it a great boon if you can grant me the sight even in one eye. Even if this world is present for the fortunate – to me it is as if it is absent; because I do not have even one eye to see this beautiful earth. They say that of all the organs the eye is the foremost. But that unkind almighty has seen fit to leave me sightless. All the sastras say that the mahatmas are greater than the almighty. That is why I have come to you for succour. Please take pity on me Oh saint. Present me with the boon of sight. I will not leave your feet till you grant me what I seek.” The Maharaj heard her patiently. He said, “I will give you the boon of sight if you will tell me what you will do when you get your sight back.”
That woman joined her palms in respect and said, “I will be able to lead a better family life. My husband is neglecting me now as I am blind.” The Maharaj laughed with wonder, “How interested are the men and women in the life of a householder.” He obtained some chilli powder from a servant who was grinding chillies in the courtyard and applied the chilli powder with his own hands to the eyes of the blind woman. She could see immediately!
Wonder of wonders! How can one see if the eyes are rubbed with chilli powder? How powerful are these mahatmas? It is certain that the mahatmas are the very forms of God in this age of Kali. In this way, Gopalrao used to cure many diseases. I cannot describe them all. The eight siddhis were Gopalrao’s servants. However, he never cared for them and would always be meditating on that Murari who was existence- knowledge- bliss incarnate and who was always in the heart of Gopalrao. As Janaka the father of Sita resided at Videha so did Gopalrao reside at Selu.
(SRI SAIGURUCHARITRA – by devotee Ganpatrao Dattatreya Sahasra-buddhebetter known as Das Ganu Maharaj)