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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Avatar

  Life Story of Shirdi Sai Baba

The Shirdi Sai Avatar story as told by Himself in the second Avatar as Sri Sathya Sai Baba


Rare original photograph of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba
previous Incarnation of Sri Sathya Sai Baba

On September 29, 1990

In the former Nizam's [Maharaj] dominion, there was a remote village called Pathri. In that village there were a couple named Gangabhavadya and Devagiriamma. They were grieving over the lack of children. In answer to their prayers, a son was born on September 28, 1835. Today is the anniversary of that day. This child was Sai Baba. As Gangabhavadya had developed a feeling of total detachment and renunciation, he decided to retire to a forest regardless of the child. Devagiriamma, who looked upon her husband as God, decided to follow the husband leaving the child.

There was in the same village a Sufi fakir. As he was also childless, he took charge of this child and brought him up in his home. The boy stayed in the fakir's home for four years (1835 to 1839). The fakir passed away in the tide of time. The fakir's wife, who had lavished great affection on the child, was grief-stricken. To add to her worries, the boy was behaving in a troublesome manner. In those days, Hindu-Muslim differences in that area was growing alarmingly. There was considerable bitterness between members of the two communities.

What the boy use to do was to visit a Hindu temple and sing songs in praise of Allah; 'I am God' (Mein Allah ho), 'Allah is the Supreme Lord' (Allah Malik hai). He used to declaim in this manner in the temple. The Hindus used to chastise the boy in various ways for his misbehavior. Nor was that all. He would enter a mosque and declare, 'Rama is God', 'Shiva is Allah'. His behaviour in singing about Allah in a Hindu temple and about Rama and Shiva in a mosque was a puzzle to the public. Members belonging to both the communities went to the fakir's wife and complained about the boy's behaviour. Unable to deal with this situation the fakir's wife handed over the boy to a high-souled, pious scholar named Venkusa, who was living near her house. The boy stayed in Venkusa's ashram for 12 years from 1839 to 1851. Venkusa was extremely fond of the boy. In every matter, he used to give priority to the young Baba's views. Seeing this, in course of time, members of the ashram developed envy towards the boy.

One night in 1851, the boy left the ashram. He reached Shirdi, a very small village at the time. He stayed there for barely two months and then went about wandering from place to place. After strolling for many years, he reached a place called Dhoopkheda. When he was residing there, the marriage of Chandu Patel's brother's son was celebrated there. Baba joined the marriage party and reached Shirdi again. That was in the year 1858. From that day, till 1918, he did not move out of Shirdi. He remained there for 60 years.

At that time there was in the Maharashtra area, a Deputy Collector and Settlement Officer by name H.V. Sathe (Hari Vinaayaka Sathe). He was grief-stricken over the passing of his wife. Professor G.G. Narke, a friend of Sathe, came to his house and advised Sathe that there was no purpose in grieving over his loss and that it was advisable for him to have a change of place to get over his sorrow. He suggested that it was good to have the dracaena of some saint and persuaded him to come to Shirdi.

Sathe was quite an extraordinary person. On reaching Shirdi, he and Narke had Darshan of Baba. On several occasions, looking at Sathe, Baba used to laugh, sing, and make strange gestures. Doubts arouse in Sathe’s mind whether Baba was a real sage or an eccentric person. No one mentioned anything about Sathe to Baba. Sathe and Narke merely went to see Baba and sat in his presence. Baba told Sathe, "Don't worry about anything. Bodies are like water bubbles. Don’t develop any attachment to the body. Develop your attachment to the dehi (indwelling spirit). Worries are passing clouds. Have courage. Protect your child."

The last remark had a reference to the fact that Sathe's wife had died after giving birth to a child. Even Narke had not heard about the survival of this child. On hearing Baba's words Sathe realised that Baba was not a crazy person but one who was a Trikala Jnani (one who knew the past, the present, and the future). Sathe, who had intended to stay for a short while just to have dracaena of Baba, prolonged his stay by two more days.

Making frequent visits to Shirdi, Sathe was the first to realise that there were no proper amenities at Shirdi for those coming to Baba. The place where he provided residential accommodation for visitor's [in Shirdi] is Sathe Wada. Sathe was the first to set up apartments at Shirdi.

While serving in this manner, Sathe went again to Shirdi after he began to feel whether there was any purpose in his continuing to earn income and accumulate wealth. On seeing Sathe, Baba smilingly said, "You appear to be losing interest in your job. You are wondering how to dispose of the wealth you have acquired. Why give it to anyone? Use it for a good cause. Build a Koti in Shirdi." Sathe told Baba, "Swami! I am not a millionaire. How can I build a mansion here?" Baba replied, "Go on doing as much as you can. Why fear when I am here?" Baba encouraged Sathe in this manner.

In due course Sathe's maternal uncle Kelkar settled down in Shirdi. Sathe used to send funds from Poona and his uncle used to carry on the construction in Shirdi.

In this way, Baba used Sathe as his instrument. He regarded Sathe as his right hand in regard to all matters. Because Baba was keeping Sathe close to him and relying on him for everything, the residents of Shirdi grew jealous towards him.

"Many are content to do nothing themselves, but they cannot bear seeing others do things and will carry tales against them." (A Telugu verse)

Several persons used to come to Baba and tell stories against Sathe. What is the appropriate name for such talebearers? They should be called 'enemies of beggars,' namely, barking dogs!

At Shirdi, Baba used to do two notable things. One was to receive money from whoever came to him. He used to ask for Dakshina (cash offering). He did not ask for large sums. It was two rupees or five rupees. He would receive the money and give it away immediately in their presence. He kept nothing with himself.

One day a man by name Pradhan came to Baba. He had intended to offer twenty rupees to Baba. In those days, there were no currency notes. Everything was in silver coins; not like the alloy coins of today. In those days, every rupee contained one full tola of silver. Pradhan thought instead of offering so many silver coins, it would be better to offer one gold sovereign to Baba. Baba turned the sovereign this way and that and remarked, "How is it that I have not seen such a coin before?" A person near Baba said, "It is a gold coin." Baba then observed, "I don't want this. Give me the money in rupees." He asked how much the sovereign was worth. At that time it was worth fifteen rupees. Getting back the sovereign, Pradhan gave fifteen rupees to Baba. Immediately Baba remarked, "Pradhan! You have to give me five more rupees!" Pradhan was a judge at the time. Pradhan as well as persons around him wondered why Baba was demanding five more rupees when a sovereign was worth only fifteen rupees.

Noticing Pradhan's hesitation, Baba told him, "First hand over the five rupees and then think about it." Pradhan gave the five rupees. Then Baba observed, "When you set out from your home, how much did you want to offer to Baba? You intended to give twenty rupees. You gave only fifteen. So I was entitled to ask for five more." When Pradhan heard these words he was stupefied. He admitted that Sai Baba was a good judge.

In this manner, Baba was in the habit of collecting money from those who came to him and to give it away to the needy.

One day, he summoned Kelkar and told him, "Today is Guru Poornima. Perform Guru Puja to me." No one threw the meaning of Guru Puja. Kelkar asked Baba what Guru Puja meant. Baba asked, "Who do you think is a guru? It is not those appointed of Maths [spiritual Organisations] who are gurus. Nor are Sanyasis (renunciates) gurus; God alone is the Guru (preceptor). He is Brahma, He is Vishnu, He is Maheshwara, He is the Supreme Absolute. Salutations to the Supreme Guru. The true guru is one who combines the three forms of the Trinity, the gods who preside over creation, protection, and dissolution. Thus God alone is the real guru," declared Baba.

On hearing this Kelkar asked, "Should I worship Brahma, Vishnu or Rudra?" Baba declared in a voice of assumed anger, "Eh, Saitan! Here I am! Offer worship to Me!" Thereby Baba made known that He was Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. All those present felt that Baba was the Divine incarnate.

As the days passed, the residents of Shirdi developed hatred towards Sathe because he was collecting all the offerings to Baba in a hundi to use the money for building a Mandir. Just at the time, a silver chariot with silver horses, which was in Sathe's keeping, was stolen by some thieves. Sathe was the principal trustee. The people of Shirdi suspected Sathe of complicity in the theft. One day one of the residents planned to strike Sathe with an axe on the way. Getting wind of this, his maternal uncle called Sathe and urged him to leave immediately as it was too dangerous for him to stay there. He told Sathe that he could worship Baba wherever he might be. Reluctantly Sathe left Shirdi.

Baba used to ask for Sathe ceaselessly. But Sathe was not there. Baba appeared to be in great distress. Sathe was near and dear to Baba. The devotees felt that Baba was sorely affected by the absence of Sathe.

About this time, the parents of Shyam came to Shirdi with the two-year old child. Shyam's father had just retired from service and decided to settle down in Shirdi. The boy's name was Mohan Shyam. The parents called him Mohan, while Baba called him Shyam. The boy was put to school at Shirdi and in due course he completed his studies and received training as a teacher. He was appointed as a teacher at Shirdi. The school adjoined Baba's room. During the day, Shyam would be teaching at school. There was a ventilator in the wall separating Baba's room and the classroom. Shyam used to watch Baba at nights through the ventilator. He used to notice Baba talking to himself, getting angry at times, or laughing to himself, or doing other curious things. Baba used to sleep on an eighteen-inch wide plank suspended from the ceiling. Shyam was apprehensive that Baba might fall from his lofty but narrow perch during sleep.

Once he mustered courage to ask Baba while massaging his feet, "Swami! You don't seem to sleep at all at nights. You are laughing to yourself, or talking. What is the secret of all this?"

"You simpleton! Do you imagine you are the only person about whom I am concerned in this world? There are numerous persons who are praying to me. I am speaking to all of them," replied Baba. "When I turn my finger, I am turning their minds. When I laugh, I am amused at their follies. These are the things I am doing for my devotees, dear child."

Shyam prayed to Baba, "Swami! My classes don't take up much of my time. Let me stay with you during the rest of the time and serve you."

At that time there was a woman called Laxmibai who used to cook the food for Baba. Shyam used to go to her and assist her in the preparation of jowar rotis. Baba had great liking for brinjal. Shyam went to Laxmibai to learn how to prepare brinjal dishes. Shyam went on serving Baba in this way and he alone knew the joy he derived from such service.

Baba often used to fly into a temper. This was only an outward appearance. Sometimes he used to throw a stick at someone ten feet away. Shyam once asked him, "Swami! You are hurling the stick at the man in such a rage. Supposing something happened to him and he died, will you not get a bad name?" Baba replied sharply, "Saithan! You keep quiet! That fellows life is in my hands. He will die only if I permit him. You better mind your business. Why are you bothering about others? That man will come to his senses only if he sees me in this manner. If I am indulgent they will try to ride the high horse." Thus, in this way, Baba used to discipline people by threats and harsh words. "It is only with this aim in view I am displaying anger and not for any other purpose." This secret was revealed by Baba only to Shyam and none else. Baba's life is really a saga of love and nothing else.

Keeping Shyam near him and allowing him to serve him, Baba spent many years. One day, Baba called Pradhan and asked him to construct a small tank. Pradhan was thus the first to be involved in the building of a Samadhi for Baba.

It was year 1918. Pradhan's wife, who was living in her native village, had a dream in which Baba appeared to have passed away. Pradhan was in Shirdi. On waking up, Pradhan's wife started crying over the passing of Baba in her dream. At that moment she heard a voice in the house declaring, "Don't say that Baba has died. Say that Baba is in a state of Samadhi." Samadhi means equal-mindedness. "Life and death are alike. Joy and sorrow, profit and loss are the same. Hence, there is no such thing as death for Baba"—this is what the voice declared.

When she was trying to find out wherefrom this voice came, she received a message from her husband conveying the news of the passing of Baba. That occurred on Vijayadashami day in 1918. September 28th (1835) was his date of birth. On Vijayadashami day he gave up his body. Although this year [at date of this discourse], Vijayadashami falls on September 29, in the year of Baba's Samadhi the date was different [October 15, 1918].

On account of the passage of time and circumstances, no one knew the exact dates of Baba's birth and passing. In this context, the mystery relating to Baba's birth should be noted. One devotee wrote a poem in which he offered his "salutations to the one born in Pathri, who lived in Dwarakamayi and who was the protector of devotees."

When Gangabhavadya and Devagiriamma were living in Pathri village, they were worshipers of Iswara and Parvathi. They had no offspring for a long time. They intensified their prayers. Gangabhavadya used to ply boats near the village for a living. One night, when it was raining heavily, Gangabhavadya left his house to take care of the boats, telling his wife that he would not be returning in the night. After the husband had an early meal and left, Devagiriamma ate and went to bed.

At 9 p.m. there was a knock at the door. Devagiriamma opened the door, wondering if her husband had returned. A very old man entered the house. He pleaded, "It is very cold outside. Please permit me, mother, to stay inside." As a pious woman, she allowed him to stay in the inside verandah and went in after bolting the inner door. She opened the door. The old man said, "I am feeling hungry; give me some food." Finding that there was no food, the woman mixed some flour with curd and gave it to him. Another knock sounded after some time. When she opened the door, the old man said, "My legs are aching, Mother, will you massage them?"

Devagiriamma went inside, sat in the prayer room and prayed, "O Mother! Why are you testing me like this? What should I do? Should I serve him or refuse?"

Going out of the house by the backdoor, she went in search of someone who could be engaged to render this service. No one was available. Again there was a knock by the old man. At the same time, a woman knocked at the backdoor. She said, "It appears you came to my house and sought some help? I was away at the time. Please let me know what service I should render you?"

Feeling happy that Goddess Parvathi herself had [come to her rescue and] sent the woman in response to her prayers, Devagiriamma sent the newcomer to the verandah to serve the old man and closed the door. The old man and the new woman were none other than Parameswara (Shiva) and Parvathi, the Divine couple.

Parameswara told Parvathi, "Fulfill the cherished desires of this lady." Parvathi Iswara replied, "You are Supreme. Please shower your Grace on her Yourself." Iswara [another name for Shiva] said, "I came to test her. You came in answer to her prayers. Hence You must bless her."

There was a knock at the door again. This time Devagiriamma promptly opened the door because of the presence of another woman. Parvathi and Parameswara appeared before her in their divine form. Unable to contain her joy, Devagiriamma fell at their feet. Parvathi then blessed her, "I grant you a son to maintain the lineage and a daughter for kanyadan (a girl to be offered in marriage)." Devagiriamma fell at the feet of Iswara (Shiva). Iswara said, "I am immensely pleased with your devotion. I shall take birth as your third child." When Devagiriamma got up, the Divine couple had vanished. Feeling ecstatic by this experience, Devagiriamma eagerly awaited the return of her husband in the morning to relate to him the whole story.

When the husband came home in the morning she related to him all that had happened during the previous night. The husband said, "Devagiri! What is this fanciful tale! It is all a dream. Parvathi and Parameswara appearing before you and giving Darshan! It is pure fantasy!" Gangabhavadya dismissed the whole episode as incredible and fanciful.

As the years passed, Devagiriamma became pregnant and a son was born. A year later a daughter was born. Gangabhavadya was now convinced that the birth of the two children was the result of the blessings conferred by Parvathi and Parameswara. He told his wife, "You had the good fortune (to be blessed by the Divine couple). I did not have that luck."

When Devagiriamma conceived again, Gangabhavadya began to feel an urge to give up hearth and home and go in search of the Divine couple. He announced to his wife that he was leaving for the forest to do penance. The devoted wife that she was, Devagiriamma decided to follow him, though she was in the ninth month of her pregnancy. After proceeding some distance, she developed labor pains. She delivered a boy. Wrapping the babe in a piece of cloth, she left the child by the roadside and followed her husband.

Because of these circumstances, no one knew who the parents of the child were. The Fakir who found the child brought him home and took care of him. Baba's life-story is known only from the time of his arrival in Shirdi.

In 1917, Baba once called Abdul Baba, Nana Chandorkar, Mahalasapati, Dasganu and others and started asking each of them, "Do you know who you are?" Each of them replied, "I am your sishya (disciple)." Baba said, "Nonsense! Don’t use that term any longer. I have no disciples in this world. I have countless devotees. You do not recognize the distinction between a disciple and a devotee. Anyone can be a devotee. But that is not the case with the disciple. A disciple is one who carries implicitly the commands of the guru (the preceptor). The mark of the sishya is total devotion to the preceptor. Only the man who says, 'I have none in the world other than the preceptor,' is a disciple. How far have you respected my injunctions? How are you entitled to claim that you are my disciples? Only the one who follows me like my shadow can claim to be my disciple. The devotee is one who prays to the Lord wherever he may be. Hence, there is a big difference between a disciple and a devotee. The disciple and the preceptor are like two bodies with one spirit. The disciple should have no sense of separateness from the preceptor. He should feel, 'I and you are one.' There are no such disciples to be found in the world. There are millions of devotees, but no disciples."

On hearing this, Shyam was in deep pain. He felt within himself, "Apart from serving at your feet, I have no other concern." Baba then went into another room and called Shyam inside. "In this entire world, for me you are the only disciple. All others are only devotees." At that moment, Shyam fell at the feet of Baba, and cried out, "You alone, you alone (are my refuge)!" and breathed his last.

In all his life of over 82 years, Baba had never shed a tear in the presence of devotees. When Shyam passed away, he shed three drops of tears. The devotees present there said, "Swami! Why do you feel so grieved? All are in your hands." Baba replied, "Dear boys! I am not grieving at all. Almost all his sins had been wiped out already. By the three drops I shed, the remaining of sins (of Shyam) have been washed away."

All that Baba said or did was for the good of the devotees alone. Towards the end, Abdul Baba came to Baba. Baba told him, "I shall appear again and give you Darshan."

"When will that be?" asked Abdul. Baba told him, "It will be after eight years. The first advent of Sai was in Maharashtra. The second advent will be in Madras," Baba said. It should be noted that when this form (Sathya Sai) made its advent, Andhra Pradesh was part of Madras Presidency.

When he was asked, in what form the next advent would take place, Shirdi Baba told Abdul Baba alone, "I will give Darshan in the name of Sathya Sai for upholding Truth." That is the present advent.

The two bodies are different, but the Divinity is one. The first advent was for revealing Divinity. The second advent is to awaken the Divinity (in human beings). The next advent is for propagating Divinity. The three Sai's are Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai, and Prema Sai.

The reason for relating all this is that today happens to be the birthday of Shirdi Baba (September 28, 1835). Baba attained Samadhi in 1918. Bodies are transient. These vestures are assumed only for the sake of devotees. Unless the divine comes with a form, no one can develop faith in the Formless. The Divine in human form is the preparation for comprehending the Formless Absolute.

The truth about God cannot be understood by anyone. He is infinitely vast. He is minuter than the atom. No one can know what is the macrocosm and what is the microcosm. Because of this mystery, one devotee sang:

Can anyone unravel your mystery, O Krishna!

You are vaster than the vastest; you are subtler than the atom.

Al the countless beings in the world cannot grasp your baffling mystery.

How can anyone know your Infinite Cosmic form, O Krishna!

Nor is that all. Among the great thieves, you are the greatest.

How can anyone know you, O Krishna!

 

During the discourse on September 27, 1992, Navaratri Celebrations

This day (the first day of Navaratri) has [a] special significance. Shirdi Sai Baba was born on September 27th, 1838. He was born in a poor Brahmin family in the village of Pathri in Aurangabad District. For various reasons, the parents left the child. A fakir found him. As he was fondling, the fakir had no mutual affection for him. After some years the boy was handed over to one Gopal Rao Deshmukh, who was also called Venkusa by the people on account of his scholarship and wisdom.

The boy grew up in Venkusa's home for some time. However, he was not inclined to stay there for long. In 1854 he went to Shirdi. At Shirdi, Mahalasapati saw him entering the local temple. Looking at this appearance as a Muslim, Mahalasapati turned him out of the temple. The boy went back and sat under a Neem tree. He was 16 years old at that time. No one knew then what his name was. If anyone asked for his name, he would give no answer. He would sometimes retort saying, "Why do you want to know my name?" Because of this nobody could find out his name.

Some villagers from nearby places used to visit him under the tree and get relief for their ailments. He would take out some leaves, crush them, and give them to the ailing person as a medicine. In this manner, he cured many persons of their illnesses. News of the healing powers spread to all the surrounding villages. As a result a large number of persons used to come to him, receive the crushed leaves from him and get cured of their ailments.

Suddenly, one morning he disappeared. A futile search was made in the nearby areas to trace him. Later, in 1858, he came to Shirdi again after three years. There was a village called Dhoop in Aurangabad. One Chandhubhai Patel, belonging to a middle class family, lived in Dhoop. As no other form of transport was available in those days, people used to go on horseback.

Chandubhai went on horse to Aurangabad on some urgent business. When he had finished his business there at the end of three days, he found that the horse was missing. Disappointed over the missing horse, Chandhubhai was returning to Dhoop passing through a dense forest on the way.

At one place, he saw a fakir sitting under a tree in a forest. The fakir appeared to be lost in his own thoughts. Suddenly, the fakir hailed Chandhubhai with the words, "Hey, Patel! Come here." The fakir liked to smoke Chilim (hookah). As there was no water nearby, the fakir hit the ground with a stick and water gushed forth from the place. He hit again another place with a stick and there was a fire. Using the water and the fire, he started smoking his hookah and offered it to Chandhubhai as well. Chandhubhai declined the offer.

The fakir asked Chandhubhai, "What is worrying you, Patel?" Patel asked, "How do you know I am Patel?" "I know everything," replied the fakir. "You are worried about your horse. You are keeping your eyes on top of your head! You must lower them to trace the horse. Your horse is grazing under the tree there." He had made the search for the horse in the same place with some workers, but could not find it. Now he saw it under a tree close to him. Chandhubhai was astonished that the fakir had produced water and fire out of the earth and had located his missing horse. He appealed to the fakir, "Swami! You have rendered great help to me. Please come with me and share my hospitality." "All right, let us go," he said.

About this time, the marriage of Chandhubhai's niece, who was residing in Shirdi, was settled. Chandhubhai had to go to Shirdi for the wedding. He requested the fakir to come along with him. They went in carts to Shirdi. Mahalasapati saw the fakir getting down from a cart, and went to him and said, "Ayiye, Baba! Ayiye Sai! (Come Baba, come Sai)". The name 'Sai' was given by Mahalasapati. Till then—no one had conferred a name on him.

Sometime later, Baba was involved in a criminal case. He had given evidence in a case, which related to the theft of some valuables from a rich man's house by a gang of thieves. The police caught the thieves and questioned them about the stolen articles. The thieves said that the valuables had been given to them by the fakir. Searching for the fakir, they came to Baba. They asked him, "Fakir, did you give these articles to them?" "Yes," he said. "Wherefrom did you get them?" was the next question. Baba replied, "They have come from the same place from which all things come." "Who gave them to you?" "I gave them to myself."

Baba gave such intriguing answers, which the police could not understand. "I am the giver of everything. How can anyone get anything without my sanction?" declared Baba. Feeling that it was futile to question him further, the police prepared a report. Baba received a summons from the magistrate to give evidence in the case. Chandhubhai Patel did not want Baba to go to the magistrate and so arranged for Baba being examined on commission (in Shirdi itself). During the examination on commission, Baba was asked, "What is your fathers name?" He replied, "Baba" (Baba means 'father' and the reply meant that the father's name was 'father').

Q: "What is your religion?"

A: "The religion of God."

Q: "Wherefrom did you come?"

A: "I have come from the Atma (soul)"

Q: "What is your caste?"

A: "The caste of the Divine."

Baba answered all the questions in this manner. Earlier he had been hailed as, 'Sai'. In this examination, he had given his father's name as Baba. By the combination of these two names, he was therefore called 'Sai Baba'. No one knew when and where Sai Baba was born and who gave him that name.

Later, many persons began to have doubts about his transcendental powers. One day, the birth anniversary of Dattatreya was to be celebrated (in the month of Margashira on Panchami day). Several devotees had assembled in Shirdi. Among them was a wealthy man, a great scholar called Kaijack. He is not to be confused with 'hijack'! His name was Balwanth Kaijack. As he was approaching the Masjid, Baba took a stick and waved it at the devotees, asking them to get away. He even beat some o them, shouting, "Saitan! Saitan!" No one could understand why Baba was behaving like this. "I am suffering labor pains. Get away, all of you!" he shouted. In those days, Baba not only used to shout at people, but also wield the stick on them on occasions. He used to even throw the stick at fleeing persons. Everyone used to be afraid of him. They all fled from the place.

Some time later, he called all of them to come. "Balwanth Kaijack, come!" he said. When Balwanth came, Baba went inside the Masjid. Balwanth went in and found that Baba was not there. He found a three-headed baby on the floor. Baba had declared that he was suffering from labor-pains and there was a baby there. The three-headed baby appeared to represent Dattatreya. It was a small baby with a number of hands. Balwanth recognised the child as Dattatreya and called other devotees to come inside. They went in and on seeing the child close their eyes. At that instant, Baba reappeared there. From that time onwards, people started looking upon Baba as the incarnation of Dattatreya.

A controversy arose among the local people as to whether Baba was a Muslim or a Hindu. At one time he used to say, "Allah is Great! Allah is Great (Allah Malik! Allah Malik!)!" At other times he would say, "Dattatreya is Great (Dattatreya Malik!)!" Whenever he shouted 'Allah Malik,' Muslims used to come to him in the Masjid. His appearance was very much like that of a Muslim. Hence, many Muslims used to come to him. Hindus used to also come and offer incense to him. The Muslims did not approve of what the Hindus were doing. The Hindus did not like the way Muslims revered Baba. Consequently, bitterness developed between the two communities.

One day Mahalasapati was sitting near Baba and doing some service to him. Mahalasapati was the priest in the Khandoba temple. The Muslims who were opposed to the presence of a Hindu priest near Baba, came with sticks and beat up Mahalasapati. At every stroke, Mahalasapati cried out, "Baba! Baba!". Each time he shouted the name of Baba, the blow was borne by Baba. Mahalasapati fell to the ground. Baba came out.

Muslims had great reverence for Baba. Baba roared at the Muslim crowd, "Saithan! On the one side you worship me and on the other you beat me. Is this devotion!?" Baba was bleeding all over the body. The Muslims saw it and asked Baba who had beaten him. "Did you not beat me? Did you not beat me?" said Baba pointing to several men in the crowd. They said, "We did not come near you at all. We only beat Mahalasapati."

"Who is in Mahalasapati? I am in him," declared Baba. "He has surrendered to me and hence all his trouble are mine."

On hearing this, the Muslims fell at Baba's feet and craved his forgiveness. Baba then summoned the Hindus and Muslims and told them, "Dear children, you are all the progeny of one mother." Thereby Baba demonstrated the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. He wanted all differences of caste and creed to be eschewed. What mattered for mankind was the heart. One who is only concerned about his creed (matham) will never discover the Divine (Madhava). You must seek the Divine within you. Baba pointed out that all caste and creed distinctions related only to the body. Therefore, you should seek the Supreme in your inner consciousness. Baba, who came to Shirdi with Chandhybhai Patel in 1858, did not leave the place till his passing in 1918. Baba lived for 80 years.

One day, a Pandit came to Baba and said that his biography should be written. His name was Hemanthpanth. He is the author of 'Sai Satcharita' [The gospel of Shirdi Baba's life]. He entreated Baba to disclose facts about the place of his birth, his parentage, his name and his early life. He could not get any information. Baba did not reveal anything to anyone. But on one occasion, when he was alone with Mahalasapati Baba disclosed his date of birth for him. Mahalasapati was no scholar. He had learnt only a few mantras to conduct the Puja in the temple. He noted down the date of birth, on a piece of paper. This came into the hands of Hemadpant. With this, he began to write the life of Baba.

No one knows the real truth about Baba. The world knows some facts about his life after his 16th year. He was born on September 27, 1838, and attained Samadhi on Vijayadashami day in 1918. During his lifetime he taught many sacred things to the people and performed many remarkable deeds. He was worshipped by many devotees. Dada, Nana, Shama, Abdul Baba, Mahalasapati, Chandharkar and Dasganu were always with him. Abdul Baba was active till recently. He was a fervent devotee of Baba. In his view, it did not matter to what religion one belonged. All were one in their devotion to God.

Kaka Dixit was a Judge whose son stayed in Brindavan (Whitefield) for twenty years. The latter's wife is now in Brindavan. Kaka Dixit maintained a diary in which many facts about Baba have been recorded including his statement about when he would pass away.

No one can make any affirmations about the nature of the Divine. One's relationship with the Divine is spiritual—Atma to Atma (soul to soul). In this Kali or Dark Age, however, many become prey to doubts because of their preoccupation with the physical form. This is because of their being immersed in worldly attitudes derived from their perception of the physical elements. The phenomenal nature (Prakriti) is replete with sensory experiences. The spiritual life is based on detachment. Enduring bliss is experienced only when there is sacrifice or detachment.

Man today is not prepared for sacrifice. On the contrary, his desires are insatiable and he is losing all human qualities. The mind is polluted and truth has become a rarity. At every step, man is indulging in wrongdoing. Noble thoughts have taken flight. Envy and hatred are rampant. Men should learn to follow the dictates of their heart and act accordingly to the prompting of their conscience. This conscience is related to the universal consciousness.

 

During the discourse on October 6, 1992, Vijayadashami Celebrations

In my previous body (as Shirdi Sai Baba) everyone was taught through actions. For example, Dhamu and Nana were rendering service to the Lord (Shirdi Baba). Baba collected a few copper coins and was playing with them, by tossing them from one hand to another, and also testing them in various ways. He appeared to examine them individually. He did not exchange a word with Dhamu and Nana. He went on playing with the coins for half an hour in this manner.

Curious to know what Baba was doing, Nana asked him why he was scrutinizing the same coins again and again. Baba replied, "Beta (dear son), it is true I am repeating the same action again and again, repeating the same words. Look at the mango tree in front of you. It is in full bloom. The leaves are hardly visible. If all the flowers in the tree were to become fruits, will the branches be able to bear the weight? But it does not happen that way. Most of the flowers are swept away by the wind. Many others drop of their won account. Only some of them become fruits. Of these some are eaten by squirrels, birds, or monkeys. In this way ninety percent of the flowers do not result in fruits. Only ten percent remain in the tree. Is it not so?" They agreed, that it was so.

Baba continued, "In the same manner thousands of devotees are coming to me. Are they all ripening into good devotees? Many drop away in the middle. Some come for getting their desires fulfilled. Some seek wealth. Many are coming either for study or in connection with jobs, marriage or other personal desires of their own. In each of them, there is some defect or other. No one comes for My sake. I have a precious thing to offer in my coffers. But no one seeks it. It is for this reason that I am examining them (coins). Among these coins there are some which are worn out, some which are debased, and some which are twisted and worthless."

"Just as I am examining the defects in these coins, I am also looking for the defects among the devotees who come to Me. I am trying to find out what defects are there in these people and whether, with those defects; they can really comprehend My Truth. They want Me, but all their desires are related to mundane objects. How can they attain Me with this attitude? How can you reach your destination if you get into a wrong train going in some other direction? They want Me, but they don't make efforts for realizing Me. Among those who come to Me, it is only one in a thousand who really makes the efforts to realize Me."

"The minds of the so called devotees are turned in the wrong directions. If their desires are fulfilled, they praise Me. But, once a desires is not realized they go to the extent of even reviling Me. Even while they are attempting to understand Me, they harbor doubts from head to foot. Some even leave Me, when their worldly desires are not fulfilled. These are not sincere devotees at all. They are in fact worst sinners. How can they reach Me?" said Baba.

At one time, a wealthy man came with a lot of money to Shirdi Baba with the object of gaining Brahma Jnana (Supreme Wisdom). He boasted about his wealth. Baba asked him, "How long will you be here?" He replied that he had come by a taxi, with fixed 'to and from' charges, and had to return in a day or two. Baba said, "When you have greed for wealth, how can you realize God? It is not a goal that can be accomplished in a 'fixed' time. Get away." Baba noticed that he was still sitting and became furious. He chased him out, wielding a stick.

To one who sought His grace with purity of heart and selfless devotion, Baba conferred His grace abundantly. Mataji Krishna Priya was one such devotee. Living in Nagpur, she used to worship Krishna and considered Baba also as another form of Krishna. She frequently visited Shirdi to seek Baba's blessings with genuine devotion. Once she went to Simla. She was offering worship with unstinted devotion to Krishna considering Him as Baba.

She came to know that Baba had left His mortal coil at 2:30 p.m. on Vijayadashami day in 1918. Immediately after this, Ekadashi followed. Baba had told his close devotee, Kakaji, in year 1916, that Dada would be shedding his mortal coil in 1918. Kakaji thought that Baba was mentioning only about Dada Sahib, another devotee, and never thought the reference was to Baba himself.

On September 28, 1918, Baba developed a high temperature. Two days earlier he had collected food by seeking alms in some houses. He took that food and at noon, he expressed his wish to his devotees that he should be taken from the choultry to Bootywada. He hoped to have a quiet time there. In that ward, a Muralidhar temple had been built by a devotee by name Booty. He wanted Baba to install the idol of Krishna in the temple. But Baba was putting off the installation of the idol. He directed Booty and Kakaji to go and take their lunch. Feeling that Baba was better, they went out. Baba had nine rupee coins under his pillow. He took them out and gave them to Lakshmi Bhai. Then Baba summoned Shyam to come near him. Shyam sat close to Baba. Baba reclined on Shyam's shoulder and passed away.

Krishna Priya came to know of this and felt very sad the whole day. The next day she closed all the doors and windows in her house because of the sever cold in Simla. While she was resting in the house, a tall and well-built monk arrived at the next-door and inquired about Mataji's house. He made inquiry not because he did not know where Mataji lived, but only to make others know that he was physically present in Simla. The neighbour sent a servant with an umbrella as it was snowing, to show the stranger Matai's house. He knocked at the door.

Mataji opened and could not believe the evidence of her eyes. She wondered how Baba, who had passed away the previous day, could come to Simla? She asked, "How did you manage to come so soon? It takes at least three days to come from Shirdi to Simla."

Baba said, "Beti (dear daughter), I am everywhere. You have worshipped me in the form of Krishna. Is this all you know about me? I am feeling the cold. First get me hot tea." She prepared tea and offered it to Baba. After taking the tea, Baba said that he was hungry after his long journey. Krishna Priya brought him chapattis and brinjal curry, which Baba used to like very much. After taking the food Baba washed his hands and wiped them in a towel. He then told her, "The purpose for which I came is over and I am going away."

In those days nobody dared to exchange words with Baba. If anybody opposed or said anything to the contrary, Baba would wield the stick against them. He never allowed any contradiction. Hence, Krishna Priya could not tell Him anything. He gave her a jasmine garland.

Krishna Priya watched him as he went out walking through the bazaar. In Simla, on the roadside, there are usually deep valleys. As Baba was walking along, some workmen were engaged in some roadwork. Noticing that Baba had fallen down from the road, they ran to rescue him. But they could find nobody there. Baba had just disappeared.

Before taking leave of Krishna Priya, Baba whispered in her ears, "See me in 1926." She did not know where to see him, how to see him. When I went to Simla about 15 years ago, Krishna Priya came to see me. She was shivering on account of age and the cold weather. She asked, "Baba, have you forgotten the promise that you made to me long ago?" I told her, "It is you who have forgotten, not I. I never forget what I promise."

These are some of the aspects of the Shirdi manifestation. When Shirdi Sai brought to impart wisdom, it was not through discourses. Everything was taught by stern methods. It was because of the conditions prevailing in those days.

Once, Dada's wife brought her child to Baba with the intention of staying for some time in Shirdi. She got her husband's reluctant approval for the visit. At that time plague was rampant in Shirdi. On the second day of her arrival, the child developed fever and boils all over the body. The mother felt sorry that she had not acted on her husband's advice and lamented who could protect her child from the affliction. She immediately rushed to Baba and cried aloud, "Baba! Baba!" Baba asked her what for she had come. "Is your child having fever? Are there boils on his body? Not only the child but I am also having boils. You look at them." So saying, he lifted his Kafni (cotton robe) and showed the boil on his body. Mahalasapati, who was standing near, exclaimed, "Swami! What large boils are these?" He touched Baba's body and found that he was having high fever. The temperature might be as high as 105 or 106 F. The mother cried, "O Baba! Has the disease affected not only my son, but you also? Who will protect you?" She was in deep distress. Baba said, "Is there any other to protect the one who is the protector of all?" The mother immediately begged for Baba's forgiveness. A short while thereafter, Baba's fever came down.

The mother returned home feeling happy. She saw that the fever and the boils had vanished from the child. She exclaimed, "Baba, did you take on my child's illness?"

In this manner, Shirdi Baba used to demonstrate his powers as and when the occasion arose. What was the reason for this? It was solely due to Paripoorna Viswasam (total faith) which people had in Baba. The devotees followed implicitly whatever Baba directed them to do. It is not so these days. Whenever anything is said by Swami ten questions are raised. Besides the questions, they are racked by doubts from head to foot! This is traceable to the influence of modern education. This system is undermining faith in human values. Whatever help a man may receive, he is utterly ungrateful. He forgets all the good done to him and remembers only the harm done to him. Consequently, the demonic nature has grown in human beings.

In the old days, human beings retained at least human qualities. Today, men have only the human form but behave like animals. All their impulses are selfish. When their desires are fulfilled, they come smiling and uttering, "Baba! Baba!" If their desires are not fulfilled they have a different attitude. In such beastly beings, how can devotion to Baba exist? Only when men shed their animal natures, can they become human.

This is the anniversary of the day, when Shirdi Baba gave up his mortal body. The facts relating to his passing need to be understood. On September 28, 1918, Baba developed fever. For 17 days thereafter he was quite well. On October 15, Baba was not to be found anywhere. Nana, Kaka, Das, and Lakshmana Rao made a search for him all over the place. There was a small well nearby and they went to see whether he had fallen there. When they returned to Baba's abode, they found him standing near the door. Baba told them, "Where are you searching for me? I am in one place and you search for me elsewhere. I am in all pure hearts. You are searching for me in all polluted places. How can you find me?" He then sat down.

Baba left his body only on October 15. He developed high fever on September 28. He was keeping well for the next 17 days.

After Baba left his body, several controversies arose. Mohammedans came there and claimed that the body belonged to them. The Hindu's claimed that the body belonged to them. Baba used to declare from time to time, "Allah Malik! Allah Malik!" On account of this, Mohammedans claimed that Baba was a Muslim. At other times, Baba used to say, "Rama Malik! Krishna Malik!" For these reason the Hindu's claimed he was a Hindu. Because of these rival claims, the body was kept for 36 hours as no decision could be arrived at regarding the manner of disposal of the body.

To prevent clashes between the Hindu's and the Muslims, the Collector, the Police Superintendent and other officials arrived there. They asked all the residents of Shirdi to assemble there. They decided to take the vote of the people to find out how the majority of the local population wanted the last rites to be done for Baba. Everybody favored the Hindu way of disposal of the body. When this decision was arrived at, a pit was being dug in the Booty Mandir. Some persons opposed the digging. The dispute went on and ultimately the Collector and the Police arranged for the Samadhi to be consecrated in the Muralidhar temple. The temple is the present Samadhi shrine of Baba.

At this time, a remarkable incident occurred in Simla. The garland given to Mataji Krishna Priya was placed on the idol of Krishna by her in the presence of all in her residence. Many wondered why she was garlanding the Krishna idol when she was devotee of Sai Baba and there was a picture of Baba there. Bhajans were going on at that time. The garland placed on the Krishna figure dropped on the picture of Baba. The garland placed on the picture moved to the figure of Krishna. Everyone in Simla rejoiced in the discovery that Krishna and Sai Baba were one.

When all the people came there the next morning, they found that the garland given by Baba was no longer on the figure of Krishna. The garland was found on the Samadhi of Baba in the Booty Mandir.

Why did Baba manifest such miracles? In those days, there were bitter differences between Hindu's and Muslims. With a view to ending such communal differences, Baba wanted to show through his miracles the truth that Baba is the Supreme master of all beings. He has no differences of caste or community. His religion is common to people of all faiths. It is good for everyone. This is the creed for all mankind.

Spiritual wisdom is not something received from others. It has to blossom from within. Each one has to develop the faith by his own efforts. Those lacking such faith make themselves remote from God. Their own actions account for such lack of faith.

Many spend years here (in Prashanthi Nilayam). But for some reason or other, they go away. This is due to the effect of their karma. No man can escape the consequences of his actions. Whether one is a scholar or an ascetic, whether one is in a forest or a temple, can anyone avoid the consequences of his karma? Many who claim to be great devotees, fall away some time or other. The truth is that they were not true devotees even earlier. It is all make-believe. Whatever devotion existed will not go away; nor will devotion come where it was absent. This means that devotion was absent from the beginning. Those who used to proclaim their devotion by saying, "Swami is everything for us," really had no devotion at all. It was all a show. No true devotee will ever leave Swami. The one who leaves is never a real devotee.

In this context, it must be realized that the true nature of devotion cannot be comprehended by anyone.

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