Monday, March 1, 2010



Those were the days when Baba’s fame had not yet spread far and wide. Devotees, who came for Baba’s darshan, could easily spend some time alone with Baba. On one such afternoon, Baba was relaxing and Nanasaheb was tenderly and lovingly massaging Baba’s legs with utmost care. To spend time purposefully, Nanasaheb was trying to repeat and recollect something. He did not want to disturb Baba’s peace, so he was muttering in a low voice. Baba knew what he was mumbling and caught him exactly at the point He wanted to. It dealt with the Guru teaching the sishyas, and that is what Baba wanted—to disabuse him of his conceit and pride based on an ego which barred God-realization or jiva brahma-aikya.

Baba asked, “Nana, what are you muttering?”
Nana: A sloka in Sanskrit.
Baba: Which Sloka?
Nana: From Bhagavad-Gita.
Baba: Say it loudly. Let Me also hear it.
Nanasaheb then recited the sloka from Bhagavad-Gita.

Tadviddhi pranipaatena pariprashnena sevayaa;
Upadekshyanti te jnaanam jnaaninas tatvadarshinaha.
Chap.4, Sl.34

Know that through prostration, inquiry and service. The wise ones who have realized the Truth will impart the Knowledge to you.
Although people may be wise, some of them are apt to know Truth just as it is, while others may not be so. Hence the qualification, 'who have realized the Truth'. The considered view of the Lord is that Knowledge imparted by those who have full enlightenment becomes effective, not any other.

Baba: Have you understood it?
Nana: Yes.
Baba: Then, tell Me.
Nana: It means, “Making Saashtaanga Namaskar, that is, prostration, questioning the Guru, serving him, learn what this Jnana is. Then, those Jnanis who have attained the real knowledge of the Sadvastu (Brahman) will give you Upadesh (instruction) of Jnana.”
Baba: I don’t want the gist of the sloka. Tell Me the meaning of each word and its grammatical significance.

Nana wondered how the intricacies of Sanskrit grammar could be understood by Baba who showed no trace of linguistic, literary or any other education. Still, Nanasaheb explained it word by word with meaning and its import.

Baba : Well, what does ‘Ta’ refer to?
Nana: Jnana.
Baba: Which Jnana?
Nana : Jnana referred to in the previous verse.
Baba : What does pranipata mean?
Nana : It means prostration or bowing down.
Baba : What does 'Pata' mean?
Nana: The same.
Baba: Mere prostration is enough?
Nana: I don’t know any meaning other than ‘making prostration’ for ‘pranipata’.
Baba: What is ‘pariprashna’?
Nana: To ask questions.
Baba: What does ‘prashna’ mean?
Nana: Same, asking questions.
Baba: If ‘pariprashna’ and ‘prashna’ meant the same, why did Vyasa add the prefix ‘pari’? Was he mad?
Nana: I don’t know any other meaning for ‘pariprashna’.
Baba: ‘Seva’. What kind of ‘Seva’ is meant?
Nana said that it was merely service like massaging, which he was doing.
Baba: Rendering such service is sufficient?
Nana: I don’t know what else is signified by the word ‘Seva’.
Baba : Nothing else?
Nana : Nothing else so far as I can see.
Baba: In the next line, ‘Upadekshyanti te jnanam’, is it possible to read any word other than ‘jnanam’?
Nana: Yes.
Baba: What is it?
Nana: We can say Upadekshyanti te {a} jnanam.
Baba: Using that instead of ‘jnanam’, can any meaning be made of the sloka?
Nana: What! This reading of the Guru giving Ajnanam is not in Shankara Bhashya.
Baba: Never mind if it doesn’t give. Is there any objection to using ‘ajnanam’ if it gives a better meaning?
Nana: I don’t understand how to construe a meaning using ‘Ajnanam’.

Nana could not understand how the Guru's giving Ajnanam could make a better meaning. In that way Baba puzzled him word after word and phrase after phrase.

Baba finally asked, “Why does Sri Krishna refer Arjuna to Jnanis or Tattwadarshis to do his prostration, interrogation and service? Was not Sri Krishna Himself a Tattwadarshi and a Jnani?”
Nana: Yes, He was. But I don’t understand why He referred Arjuna to Jnanis.
Baba: Did you not understand this?

Nanasaheb Chandorkar was thoroughly humbled. He understood that he was in front of a giant who knew everything. He then asked Baba himself to explain, and Baba's answers to His own questions revealed a wealth of knowledge of Upanishadic material and mastery of that knowledge in twisting the words to provide a new meaning. Nanasaheb’s pride was knocked on the head. He was deceived by Baba’s external appearance. He knew that Baba came to Shirdi when He was very young and did not have any formal education. So, he thought that Baba’s knowledge was based purely on intuition and as such, He did not know Sanskrit or for that matter the theoretical aspect of any religion. Nanasaheb assumed that Baba’s knowledge grew out of His experiences alone. The way Baba asked sharp, pointed questions and answered them revealed a depth of mind which was totally new to Nanasaheb.

Then Baba began to explain the real significance of the sloka:

“1. It is not enough to merely prostrate before the Jnanis. We must make Sarvasva Sharanaagati (complete surrender) to the Sadguru.
2. Mere questioning is not enough. The questioning should be serious and with a view to achieve spiritual progress or Moksha. The questioning should never be made with a view or attitude to trap the Guru or out of idle curiosity or with any other improper motive.
3. Seva is not rendering service. Rendering service implies that one is free to offer or refuse service. Seva implies that one is not the master of the body, that the body is Guru’s and that it exists only to render service to him.
If this is done, the Sadguru will show what the Jnana is, as referred to in the sloka.”

Nanasaheb was perplexed. Earlier Baba had asked to use ‘Ajnana’ for ‘Jnana’ in the sloka. He could not understand whether the Sadguru teaches ‘Jnana’ or ‘Ajnana’. How does a teacher teach ‘Ajnana ’? He asked Baba.

Then Baba replied:
“How is Jnana-Upadesha done? It is done by removing the veil of ignorance over Jnana. Only a Jnani knows that he is a Jnani. For all others, the fact that they are Jnanis is not known to them. A veil of Ajnana covers their Jnana. A Sadguru removes this veil. Commenting on Gita 18-66, Ovi-1396 of Jnaneshwari says, ‘Removal of ignorance is like this, oh Arjuna. If dream and sleep disappear, you are yourself. It is like that.’ Gita 5-15 says,

Ajnaanenaavritam jnaanam tena muhyanti jantavah.
Knowledge is enveloped by ignorance, thereby beings are deluded.

The next sloka says,

Jnaanena tu tad ajnaanam yeshaam naashitam aatmanah;
Teshaam aadityavaj jnaanam prakaashayati tatparam
But, to those whose ignorance is destroyed by knowledge of the Self, like the sun, knowledge reveals the Supreme (Brahman).

Destroying this ignorance means acquiring knowledge. Expelling darkness means uncovering light. Destroying duality (dvaita) means becoming advaita. Whenever we speak of destroying Dvaita, we speak of Advaita. If we have to realize the Advaita state, the feeling of Dvaita in ourselves has to be removed. Once this is done, what remains is Advaita. That is the realisation of the Advaita state. Only the one who has attained the stage of Advaita can teach others about it. How can anyone speak of Advaita while remaining in Dvaita?

The Sishya, like the Guru, is also an embodiment of Jnana. The difference is that he does not know it. The Guru, on the other hand, knows that he is a Jnani: he has an attitude, high realisation, marvelous super human Satva, unrivalled capacity and Aishwarya Yoga (divine powers). The Guru is formless, Nirguna, Sat-Chit-Ananda. He has taken human form only to uplift the mankind. By taking the human form, his Nirguna nature is not destroyed. His divine powers, wisdom and beingness remain unchanged.

The Sishya also is in fact of the same Swaroopa. But, this Swaroopa is covered by the effect of samskaras of innumerable births in the form of various layers of ignorance. These layers of ignorance prevent him from knowing that he is Shuddha Chaitanya. With each layer of this ignorance, he gets the impression, ‘I am Jiva, a creature, humble and poor.’ The Guru has to root out these offshoots of ignorance by giving proper instructions. To the Sishya who is bound by the ideas of his being a creature, humble and poor for endless generations, the Guru has to teach him for hundreds of births that ‘You are God, you are mighty and opulent.’ When the Guru destroys this ignorance, layer by layer, the Sishya becomes increasingly aware of the fact that he is indeed God. The delusion that he is Jiva, and that God and the world are separate from him, is an error inherited from innumerable past births. To remove this delusion, or error, he must seriously start intense questioning - how did this ignorance arise? Where is it? The answer to these questions, provided by the Guru, is the Guru Upadesha. Examples of the Ajnana of the Sishya are:

1. I am a Jiva (creature)
2. I am the body (body is the soul)
3. God, world and Jiva are separate
4. I am not God
5. Not knowing that body is not the soul
6. Not knowing that God, world and Jiva are not separate, but one.

Unless these errors are brought to his notice, the Sishya cannot learn what is God, Jiva, body and world; how they are interrelated and whether they are different or are one and the same. To teach him these and destroy his ignorance is the instruction in Jnana or Ajnana. Upadesha is merely to show him the error and destroy his ignorance. Why should Jnana be imparted to Jiva, who is a Jnanamurti?”

Baba further added:

1. Pranipata implies surrender. 'Pranipata' must be 'Sashtanga dandavat 'like a stick falling down. You must feel that you are nothing. You are only a zero. The Guru is everything, and, therefore, thorough humility is involved in pranipata.
2. Pariprasna means an earnest questioning and repeated questioning, questioning carried on up to the point of getting full and complete enlightenment impressed upon you. This is pariprasna. It is not merely putting questions with a view to trapping up the master, and catching him at some mistake or simply asking for the fun of it.

Regarding the question, why should Krishna refer Arjuna to other Jnanis? A sadbhakta believes everything to be Vasudeva. Gita says,

Bahoonaam janmanaamante jnaanavaanmaam prapadyate;
Vaasudevah sarvamiti sa mahaatmaa sudurlabhah
Ch.7, Sl.19

At the end of many births the wise man comes to me, realising that all this is Vasudeva (the innermost Self); such a great soul (Mahatma) is very hard to find.

The Guru also takes the Sishya to be Vasudeva. And Sri Krishna treats both as His prana and atma. Gita says,

Udaaraah sarva evaite jnaanee twaatmaiva me matam;
Aasthitah sa hi yuktaatmaa maamevaanuttamaam gatim
Ch.7, Sl.18
Noble indeed are all these; but I deem the wise man as my very Self; for, steadfast in mind, he is established in me alone as the supreme goal.

As Sri Krishna knows that there are such Bhaktas and Gurus, He refers Arjuna to them so that their greatness may increase and be known.”

Nana was observing the vedic injunction that at every meal he should prepare the Vaisvadeva food and, after offering it to God, wait for an Atithi – guest - before he should eat it. Nana was in so many camps and waiting, and yet he never found an Atithi or guest. So, one day he thought, "How could Vedas give such a nugatory or infructuous injunction?" With that thought uppermost in his mind, he went to Baba. Though he did not utter it, Baba himself started the subject.

Baba said, 'Yes, The Devil, they will come. You think that Atithis will come wherever you go. But you do not look at the Atithis when they do come.'
‘Yes, Baba. I want to know how that is', said Nana.
Then Baba answered. 'The mistake is not in the Vedas. The mistake is in your interpretation of the Vedas. An 'Atithi' is not necessarily a person who is a Brahmin by birth, and who would come to your quarters to sit at meal with you. After your pooja is over, take some food out in your hand and leave it in some corner, and thousands of Atithis will be coming one after another, each in its own due course, and partake of it. They are the asses, the dogs, the flies, the ants, etc. To you they do not look like Atithis. But they are Atithis, for God is in them all’. If you do this, the Vedic injunction is satisfied and you will obtain the required punya".

Nana felt duly humbled by seeing that Baba gave an interpretation which made the Vedas sensible, whereas his own interpretation made the Vedas absurd and infructuous. Baba also asked Nana to leave the food outside without crying out or calling for anyone or anything.

Familiarity, if it does not breed contempt, at least breeds liberty-taking, and Nana was the only one or one of the very few who hobnobbed with Baba. All the hundreds of males and females who went to Baba at pooja or Arti time would invariably stand up, and no one would sit. Upasani Maharaj had to stand and so had others to stand. The pujari Bapusaheb Jog had to stand. Every person, male or female whatever his or her position may be, had to stand before Baba. Nana, however, used to sit next to Baba, even at Arti. Having studied Baba's nature, Nana began to get rather weak in his humility and reverence. For instance, the vessel of water held near Baba's lips at the close of the pooja, would be distributed to all as tirtha, and they would all drink it. But Nana and Das Ganu would not take it. Therefore, familiarity had its adverse effect in the case of Nana also. Tirtha taking is after all a minor matter. The more important matter is that Baba's presence, which was magnetic, lost a great deal of its magnetic spell in Nana's case by his repeated contact. The highest lessons one has to learn from a Moksha Guru are first to realise that in a particular person or object there is God, and next that He is in all. That means that one must first have realisation of one's own nature and of God's nature; and God should not be merely that which you worship with flowers.

Nana seeing Baba constantly at the Mosque or in particular places naturally developed sakhya more than daasya and insisted on particularising and humanising or fraternising with Baba and not universalising him, as he ought to have done. Baba had to overcome this difficulty.

So, Baba wanted to make him feel divinity more and more in Baba and the fact that Baba's divinity is not confined to the Baba’s body but extends to all creatures as Baba is their Antaryami or soul or self. These two are closely connected. Baba said, 'I am not at Shirdi alone. I am in all creatures, in the ant, etc’. Intellectually this was understood, but at heart, Nana did not realise it. Baba wanted him to realise it more vividly, as that was very important for higher spiritual progress. So on one occasion, when Nana came up, Baba told him to prepare 8 pooran polis (cakes) for naivedya and then take his food. When Nana placed before Baba eight pooran polis, Baba did not touch them, but flies sat on them. Then Baba asked Nana to take away the Prasad. Nana insisted that Baba should eat some. Baba said that he had eaten. 'When?' asked Nana. Nana said, 'All the eight polis are there'. Baba said he had eaten it at some time. Then Nana got vexed and went away to the Chavadi. When Baba sent for him, the same conversation was repeated. Finally Baba told Nana, 'I say you have been living with me for 18 years now. Is this all your appraisal of me? Does Baba mean to you only the 3'/2 cubits height of this body? Am I not in the fly and the ant that settled upon the polis?' Nana said that he knew that, but could not realise it. If Baba could make him realise it, Nana said, he would take and eat the polis as prasad. Then Baba lifted his hand and made a gesture. He thereby revealed a secret which Nana was hiding very deep in his heart; and Nana discovered that Baba knew the secret. How? The only explanation was that Baba was the antaryami or the inmost soul in his heart. If Baba was his antaryami, he must be the antaryami of the fly and the ant also. So he agreed to take the pooran poli as prasad, and was satisfied. Then Baba told him, 'As you see the gesture I make, you must remember that I am in all creatures'. Thus Baba gave him a very valuable lesson and took him up one very important rung of the ladder, that is, of realising God in one form after another and not confining Him to the object worshipped at home or in a temple.

Nanasaheb Chandorkar, like other Baba devotees, Mhalsapathi, Kakasaheb Dixit, Tatya Patil, passed away on an Ekadashi Day, 21 Aug 1921, at the age of 61 years at Kalyan.

||Sri Sainathaarpanamasthu||

Sunday, February 28, 2010



Bannu Mai, a young Muslim girl of 20, lived in a village, Bodegaon, 50 miles away from Ahmednagar. She was a highly inspired soul and was a saint. She was of great beauty. However, she had the local reputation of being a mad girl. She behaved most erratically and wandered anywhere and everywhere without dress, amidst bushes and thorns, and did not show the least sign of observing the rules of propriety demanded of women. Her mother thought she was hopelessly mad. Most of the villagers also thought the same. Nana wanted to have darshan of her and asked Baba for permission. Baba, though he first objected, finally granted the permission saying, 'Go, you will have darshan'. That darshan was no easy joke. Nana went with plenty of preparations, taking a tent, bathing materials, ornaments, food, sari etc. Setting these up, he waited for her. He could not find out where she was, and nobody could tell him anything about her. Some people even got angry at Nana, a young officer questioning about the whereabouts of a lady who mostly went naked. Finally, worried in his mind, Nana thought of Baba and prayed to him. When he opened his eyes, Bannu Mai was right in front of him on the road. He made his prostration with a feeling of reverence and without the least touch of the sexual urge. He began to take out the thorns that were found on her feet, but in a second, the saint, who did not care for such good offices, got up and went away. Again Nana was in great difficulties. He wanted that she should come, have a bath, wear the cloth and the ornaments he had brought for her, and should taste the naivedyam which he had placed inside the tent. He waited and waited, and at last prayed to Baba. Suddenly Bannu Mayi appeared, entered the tent, had her bath, put on new clothes, the ornaments and the tali or token of Saumangalya, as Goddess Parvati must wear a tali specially prepared for her, and ate some of the naivedyam. Nana fell at her feet, treating her as Mother Goddess, and at once she disappeared. Nana spent the night in a temple within closed doors, and early morning, before starting to go away, he just thought that it would be a special blessing if Bannu Mai should give him one more darshan before he departed. In a second, Bannu Mai was there, within closed doors, right in front of him. Nana fell at her feet. Obviously Bannu Mai was a highly advanced Siddha and perfectly pure, and Nana with perfect purity, thought only of falling at her feet, and had not the least touch of sex urge at the presence of a young and beautiful lady in solitude within closed doors. Thus, Bannu Mai's case is a fairly good proof that Nana had conquered his sex urge at least to the extent possible.

In the case of Nana, Baba used to demand, off and on, various sums, and so Nana was accustomed to take with him large sums, like Rs. 300 or Rs. 400, whenever he visited Shirdi. Whenever Baba asked for money, Nana would give him money. This constant giving of money to Baba would naturally reduce his attachment to wealth.

Nana was under the delusion that he was the great supplier of Baba, and that Baba had to depend upon him for money. Nana had to be disabused of that idea. So, Baba made use of Sri M. B. Rege for this purpose. On one occasion, when Rege visited Baba, Baba exhausted all the funds he had by taking them out as dakshina, and when Rege said that he had no more money, Baba said, 'Borrow'. 'From whom' asked Rege. Baba sent him first to Shama who was a very poor man and had no money at all. Shama's explanation of Baba's demand was that Baba wanted him and not his cash, and, therefore, Baba wanted him to feel the want of cash was nothing. So saying, he sent his namaskars through Rege to Baba. Then Baba sent Rege to Kakasaheb Dixit who also did not have the money with him at that time. He explained Baba's demand to Rege thus: 'You must not feel begging at all to be a shame, much less begging for the sake of your master'. Then Baba sent him to Nana Chandorkar. Nana then explained his policy to Rege. He used to leave one half of his money at Kopergaon and come with the balance to Shirdi, and when this was exhausted, he would send for the reserve at Kopergaon. When Rege reported this, Baba sent for Nana Chandorkar and took from him, by repeatedly asking for dakshina all the money he had in his possession. Then he again asked him for dakshina, before the reserve from Kopergaron arrived. Nana felt humiliated. His moha received a blow. The subjects of moha and dakshina are closely connected with daana.

Baba had to give Nana instructions on daana to reduce lobha, moha and mada especially through increasing contact with God. The first advice was that alms giving should be straightforward. No one, when asked for alms, should utter falsehood and say 'I have not got it' when he has got it, but only decline to give it in polite terms and say that circumstances do not allow the giving. No crooked ways should be adopted. Yet after this advice was given, some time later, Nana, who had promised to pay Rs. 300 for charity at the Kopergaon Datta temple, did not bring the money and therefore avoided a visit to the temple, which was on his way to Shirdi. With the approval of his ‘Sadu’ - husband of his wife’s sister - Sri Biniwalle, Nana took a detour through a very thorny path, as a result of which he and Biniwalle ran thorns in their bodies. When they reached Shirdi, they found that Baba was very angry with Nanasaheb and did not talk to him.

Nana: Why don't you talk to me?

Baba: Nana, when a man says he will remember the lessons I taught him but really does not, how can I talk to him?

Nanasaheb was perplexed. He sat silently without talking.

Baba: Even after being with Me for so many years, how can you do like this? Tell Me, when did you come to Kopergaon? Where did you engage the Tonga and what happened on the way?”

Then Nanasaheb understood the folly he had committed. He said, “As Biniwalle was also with me, we engaged a Tonga at Kopergaon to come to Shirdi for Your darshan. We took bath in the holy Godavari. Biniwalle is a devotee of Bhagavan Dattatreya. He wanted to visit the Datta temple near the Godavari banks. As I was interested in coming here at the earliest, I told him that we could visit the temple on our way back. After taking bath in the Godavari, my foot trod on a big thorn and pained me very much throughout the journey.”

Being an Antaryami, Baba knew everything.

Baba said, “You gentleman, you avoid seeing 'Sarcar' (God Datta) and take a detour. Why? You thought that the sadhu will ask you for Rs. 300. Is this the way to remember my lesson? If you do not have the money, if it was not easy to arrange to get it, you have only to tell him the fact. Will that sadhu eat you? But what device is this to avoid the temple of God for fear of the sadhu demanding money? Well then, have not thorns pierced your feet and body and the posterior part of your sapient friend? How can I talk to such a person?”

Baba definitely looked unhappy.

He said, “Being pricked by a thorn is a very small punishment. How can you ignore Datta Bhagavan when He is on the way?”

Again Baba advised Nana to give his alms without any arrogance or anger. If the beggar was not pleased and wanted more, then the beggar should be answered suavely. Wrath and official authority should not be flung at him. Nana thought this quite easy. On one occasion, his wife was being pestered at Kalyan by a Brahmin beggar woman, who was not content with one-eighth of a measure, one-fourth of a measure, one-half of a measure, or one measure, or even 2 measures, of Bhajani, fried and seasoned rice. She threatened not to leave the house till the whole stock of four measures in the possession of the lady was handed over to her. Nana's wife lost patience and sent for her husband. Nana came and gave it hot to the beggar woman. 'Either you take what is given or the peon will neck you out', he remarked stiffly. Then the beggar woman left. When later Nana went to Baba, Baba again refused to talk to him. "Mitra Dandam Abhashanam" is the well known saying. That means, the way to punish a friend is by refusing to talk to him. When Nana asked for an explanation, Baba said, 'You forgot the lesson I gave. When that beggar woman was asking you for more and more bhajani, why did you show your anger and official authority, and threaten to neck her out? What mattered if you suavely refused to give more? The woman would have remained for some time longer, and left of her own accord'. Nana recognised that this mysteriously over watching guardian angel of his was watching him every moment and anticipating the temptations and evils that would befall him, and that he should be more careful in carrying out Baba's instructions. Thus, Lobha by leading to arrogance, insolence etc. in Nana was put down by Baba, and Nana recognised more and more what true daana was.

Baba's help in the case of Minatai's difficult labour has already been narrated. Unfortunately, within a few months after its birth, her child died. A short time before delivery, the husband of Minatai also had died. Minatai was very young. The whole family was in gloom. They went to Shirdi and sat in silence before Baba.

Baba asked, 'why are you so silent?’

Then Nana said, 'Baba, you know everything. While we are under your care, these calamities have befallen us. We are bereft of child and son-in-law'.

Baba answered, "If you care for child and son-in-law and come to me for that, you are mistaken. You should not come to me for these. These are not in my power. The birth of a child and the death of relatives are dependent on poorva karma. Even Parameswar, the Great God, who has created this world, cannot alter this. Do you think he can tell the Sun or the Moon, 'Rise some two yards farther away from your usual or appointed place?' No, He cannot and will not do that. That would produce disorder and chaos".

Nana asked “if that is so, Baba, how is it that you tell someone, ‘You will have a son’ and he gets a son, and you tell another ‘You will get employment’ and he gets it? Are these not chamatkars of yours?”

Baba answered, 'No, Nana. I do not do any chamatkars. You have your village astrologers. They work at three or four days ahead and give out their predictions, some of which come true. I look just further ahead. What I say happens. My art also is a sort of astrology.

But you do not understand this. To you, my words look like chamatkars, because you do not know the future. So, you regard events as proofs of my power to do miracles, and you worship me. I, in my turn, turn your reverence for me on to God and see that you are really benefited”.

Baba thus weakened his moha or unconditional and excessive attachment to relations.

It was during 1900-02 AD. Nanasaheb Chandorkar used to come to Shirdi frequently for Baba’s darshan. Nanasaheb, being a religious minded person, used to read Gita everyday and had also read the various commentaries on it. In addition, he knew Sanskrit very well and had read several books on Indian Philosophy. He was also a good student of Vedanta and took pride in his knowledge of it. The pride of learning and caste was in him, and it had to be duly toned down. That which is the hardest to conquer is the pride of learning. This over-attachment to learning is called 'Vidya Vasana'. When we have to shake off vasana (tendency) after vasana to get into pure Satva of Brahman, one serious obstacle is this Vidya vasana, the idea 'I am a learned man', ‘I know all the Vedas', 'I must consider everything in my own style and cannot accept somebody else's dictum.' These are all traces of Vidya vasana, and all of them are fatal to one's chance of attaining Mukti. So, Baba had to put down this pride of learning in Nanasaheb. Nana was not very offensively parading his learning, but still had an idea that his knowledge of Sanskrit and the Gita, with Sankara Bhashya, placed him high above the ordinary run of men in knowledge. Baba wanted, at one stroke, to pull him by the heels and show him how dangerous his conceit was and at the same time teach him the duties of a sishya and lay the foundation for Brahma-realization. The 'Vidya Vasana’ ego is an almost insuperable barrier standing in the way of the educated, the cultured, and the intellectual set that approached and still approach Baba. Nanasaheb was the first and foremost of these intellectuals. His Vidya vasana was very powerful. He believed that he could understand and, by his understanding, reach Moksha. This, being a very powerful obstacle, had to be overcome, and the first step or mark of overcoming is humility and preparedness to surrender the ego or egotism.


Saturday, February 27, 2010



Nana Chandorkar and Das Ganu, a kirtankar, were both at Shirdi, and both had to be at Ahmednagar the next day, and so had to catch a train, the scheduled time of which required their immediate leaving of Shirdi. So, they went to take leave of Baba. Baba quietly told them both, 'You had better take your meal and then go for your train'. Nana, having implicit reliance on his Guru did so, though it took some time for him to take his meal. Dasganu did not wish to risk the loss of money which he would get at the next day's engagement, and so, remembering the scheduled time and not Baba's words, started off immediately without food, reached Kopergaon station, and waited there. The train was late by some hours. Baba, knowing the delay, gave the benefit of his knowledge to Nana, who went up leisurely after meal, and found Dasganu waiting at the station with a hungry stomach. Nana was in time to catch the train, and the kirtankar learnt a lesson, which he no doubt would preach to others but did not practise himself, namely, that one must have implicit faith in Great Souls like the Guru Sai Deva, and not throw aside their words and rely upon one's own wisdom.

Another incident also may be quoted here. Nana was staying with Baba at Shirdi and wanted to start one morning to go to Kopergaon, where he had an appointment to meet the Collector. When he went to take leave of Baba in proper time, Baba simply said, 'Go tomorrow'. That meant, leave was denied. Others with less faith than Nana would have simply brushed aside Baba's advice and started off. But Nana had full faith in Baba, and consequently the advantage of staying one more day with Baba. Having been stopped for that day, he took leave of Baba the next day. Baba then said, 'You now go and meet the Collector' When Nana went to Kopergaon and enquired of the office staff there as to what happened the previous day, they said that the Collector had sent a telegram that he was not coming that day but only on the following day. Baba did not receive a copy of the telegram, but by his own antarjnana knew of the postponement of the appointment and gave Nana the benefit of it, with the resulting benefit of an extra day's stay with his Guru. Thus even in the most important official matters, Nana's faith made him follow Baba's words with great advantage to himself, temporally and spiritually.

Nana's benefit in temporal matters from Baba was not merely for himself but also for persons connected with him. Baba who saved Nana from the pangs of hunger and thirst in hill and forest would certainly not leave his disciple when his life was in danger. Such a juncture arrived one day when Nana and Lele Sastri were starting from Poona in a Tonga. They had gone a few miles when suddenly the horse reared, and the carriage capsized. That was a perilous moment. Both the occupants of the carriage were corpulent elderly people who would in such an accident ordinarily suffer serious damage to life and limb. Baba, however, who was watching over Nana wherever he went, at that very moment blew the conch — for at death, people blow on the conch - keeping his hands in front of his mouth as though the hands were a conch. This is a signal of danger and distress.

Baba saved Nana's life, just as Baba's Guru saved Baba's life. There is a saying that the string of a garland borrows its scent from the flowers. Similarly Lele Sastri, who was not himself a staunch bhakta of Baba, derived his safety from his company with Nana Chandorkar.

It is not merely the friend of a devotee that Baba saves. Baba's interest is in every one in whom a devotee is interested. Nana was deeply interested in the fate, health, and life of his daughter Minatai. During 1904-05 AD, Nana Chandorkar was Deputy Collector at Jamner in Khandesh District, then unconnected by train. Shirdi is more than 100 miles away and the nearest railway station was at Jalgaon. His pregnant daughter was with him at Jamner. Her pregnancy was in a very advanced state. Unexpectedly the delivery, being the first one, proved troublesome and risky. The pains were prolonged for many long hours, and the poor young lady suffered torture. What could poor Nana do? He knew that Baba was aware of everything, and that there was no necessity to send a telegram or letter to him. So, he must do what he could in his own place. Being a very orthodox and pious Brahmin, he started a Kashtanivaarana Homa with the help of his purohit. Still no relief was obtained.

All the while, Baba was fully aware of what was going on at Jamner. He called Ramgir Bua, a Gosavi whom he called 'Bapugir Bua', at evening. Ramgir Bua, wanted to go to his native place in Khandesh. Baba called him and told him to go to Jamner, take some rest and then go to his place. Baba commissioned him to deliver to Nana Chandorkar a packet of udhi and a set of papers containing Bhishma's Aratis for the puja of Baba, modelled on the Pandharpur Aratis. Some one present handed over Rs. 2/- to the Gosavi to enable him to perform this journey. Ramgirbuva told Him that he had just two rupees with him and it was sufficient to go from Shirdi to Jalgaon. He did not have money to go from Jalgaon to Jamner, which is about 30 miles. Baba assured him that he need not worry as everything would be taken care of. Then Baba asked Shyama to write down a well known arati composed by Madhav Adkar on a sheet of paper and give it to Ramgirbuva. With full faith in Baba, Ramgirbuva left Shirdi. That was a Friday and he started at once. He reached Manmad at 7.30 PM and Jalgaon at 02.45 AM. He got down at Jalgaon and did not know what to do. At that time plague regulations were in force, and Railway officials were troubling visitors coming by train from infected areas, with a view to enforce quarantine rules, and there was no method by which he could escape them and go to Jamner. At about 03.00 AM, a peon in boots, turban and well equipped with other details of good dress, came to him and asked, "Who is Bapugir from Shirdi?" Then Bua said, "I am 'Bapugir'. And I am from Shirdi". Bua was in panic. The peon said that he had been sent by his "master" with a Tonga to fetch him to Jamner. Then the person took his luggage and led him to an excellent Tonga with a pair of very good horses. The Tonga was going very fast and at the dawn, they were near a small river. On the way at Baghoor, the driver took the horses for watering and Ramgirbuva washed his face and was ready to travel. The driver offered him some thing to eat. Seeing the dress and the beard with the moustache, Ramgirbuva thought that he might be a Muslim and politely declined the offer. Then the driver told him that he was a Kshatriya of Garhwal and was sent by Nanasaheb. Even the eatables were sent by Nanasaheb. Then they both ate the food together and started on their journey. They reached Jamner just when the day was breaking in.. Babugir fancied that Baba had sent word or wired to Chandorkar, and thus provided conveyance and food for him. When they were very near Nana's quarters the carriage stopped, Ramgirbuva alighted to attend to the nature calls. When he returned after a few minutes, he found that his luggage was left on the roadside and there was no trace of either the driver or the Tonga. Both had disappeared. Ramgirbuva did not know what to do. He could not understand how they could disappear so soon on a clearly visible road. He went to a nearby office and found out the address of Nanasaheb. They told him that he was at home only. Ramgirbuva went to Nanasaheb’s house and told him that he had come from Shirdi.

Nanasaheb and his wife had heard the rumble of horses and carriage and were anxiously waiting. Bapugir handed over to Nana the udhi saying, 'this is Baba's udhi sent to you for your daughter's sake’. Nanasaheb was in a very anxious state as his daughter’s condition had become very serious. The moment he received the Udhi and the aarati from Ramgirbuva, he felt a great relief. He called his wife and asked her to give Udhi mixed with water to his daughter to drink and sing Baba’s aarati. Within few minutes, the birth of the baby was joyfully announced and the crisis was over. Nanasaheb profusely thanked Ramgirbuva for taking the trouble of bringing the Udhi and also taking the detour for his sake. Then it was the turn of Ramgirbuva to thank him for the beautiful Tonga, the courteous driver and the excellent food that Nanasaheb had sent for him.

Nana was taken aback. He said he was not aware of anybody coming from Shirdi and so he did not send anything. Both Bua and the Deputy Collector then understood what Baba meant when he said, 'Bapugir, go, God will give’. It was Baba's extraordinary powers that provided the carriage, the horses, the liveried peon and the meal, without Chandorkar knowing anything about them. This shows how deeply Baba was interested in the welfare of Nana's family, and how he took upon himself and used his mysterious powers to help him in such extremities are a difficult parturition in a far off place like Jamner at a time when no proper medical aid was available. Thus Baba saved not merely Chandorkar's life but also the life of those connected with or dependent on him, by the use of his superhuman powers.

Merely saving the physical life of Nana and those dependent on him would not suffice. Baba's work was to save his soul and train it to enable it to reach its goal. Baba used every little occasion to help him. Even in temporal matters, Baba's interference and help had a very good spiritual effect. Nana who noted how Baba's powers were vast, how he was watching him and his people from enormous distances and provided the necessary help in mysterious and apparently superhuman ways, soon began to get deeper and deeper realisation of Baba's divine nature. Baba's powers were far above the human level or limit just as Baba's love and supervision of many were far above the human level. None of us can take interest in even a dozen at a time and look after their affairs. Baba, however, was looking after the interests of hundreds or thousands of devotees, disciples and bhaktas and keeping watch over them all at all times and in distant and different quarters that they occupied. This sort of power to know and power to protect can only be called divine. No other term would fit for this omnipotence, omniscience and ubiquity. Thus, while Nana was getting temporal help, he was also at the same time getting spiritual help, as he derived a very strong impression that Baba was nothing but God. God in the abstract dealt with in the Upanishads is not really accessible or available to people, even if they worshipped Him in the form of images and that, unless and until God took the form of a Gurudeva like Sai Baba, God was a remote unrecognizable or practically unfelt object. Nana noted how his poorva punya had crystallised itself into the very powerful and highly loving Sai Baba.

Nana was a very respectable, married gentleman, having children and having family traditions and a position to maintain. Further, his training had given him excellent qualities of self-restraint and propriety of behaviour. So, he was not ordinarily what one would call a lustful, lewd, or lecherous person. He was on the other hand a very properly behaved and excellent head of a family. Yet, the saying goes 'Even an elephant may slip'. Baba, who was watching Nana wherever he was, and at every moment, noticed that he needed to be taught and trained in the matter of lust also.

Once, Nanasaheb Chandorkar was sitting in the masjid with Mhalsapathi and other devotees. A rich gentleman came from Vaijapur (a place near Shirdi), with his family, to have darshan of Baba. Seeing that all the ladies were clad in burkhas, Nanasaheb wanted to make way for them and go. Baba asked him to stay. The ladies went further, had Baba’s darshan and bowed at His feet. Nothing happened when the elderly lady removed her veil and took her darshan. But when the younger did the same, her face struck Nana as remarkably beautiful. The sheen of the eyes, the brilliance of the countenance, the perfect proportion of the features, and the indescribable charm of the whole person, were such that Nana was at once smitten with her beauty. She removed the veil from her face, touched Baba’s feet and then covered her face again. Nanasaheb was attracted by her face and wanted to see that face again. His desire to see her again was so much that he could not control his mind and was in a dilemma as to how to behave at that moment. He was diffident to look at her openly but very much wanted to. He felt ashamed in Baba’s presence, and hung his head but his eyes wandered. Knowing Nanasaheb’s baffled state of mind, Baba wanted to bring him back to his normal self. Baba at once slapped him on the thigh. Then the ladies departed. Baba asked him, 'Do you know why I slapped you?' Then he said, “Nana, why are you getting agitated unnecessarily? Allow the senses to do their duty. We should not hinder them from doing their tasks. God has made this beautiful creation. It is our duty to appreciate its beauty. This mind will gradually become steady, but when the front door is open, why should we enter through back door? As long as the mind is pure, there is no difficulty. As long as there is no evil thought in our mind, we need not be afraid of anyone. Let the eyes do their work. You need not be ashamed, or become restless because of this. Are there not lovely temples with well coloured exterior? When we go there, do we admire the exterior beauty or the God within? When you are seeing God within, do you ever care for the outside beauty of the building? Similarly, remember God is not only in temples. He is found in every creature.

"Therefore when you see a beautiful face, remember that it is a temple and the image of the God within is the Jiva, a pre¬eminent part of the Universal Soul. So, think at once of God—or the Universal Soul in every object, whether beauteous or ugly. These forms reveal the God within. There is nothing wrong in admiring beauty, but the thought must follow at once, ‘If this object is so beautiful, how much more beautiful and powerful must be the God who made this object and inhabits it?’ Thinking thus, you will not get smitten by a Muslim beauteous face hereafter". Shyama was also there at that time. He did not understand the gist of Baba’s sayings. So, when they were returning to the Wada, he asked Nanasaheb the meaning of what Baba told him.

Though initially reluctant to discuss his weaknesses, Nanasaheb subsequently explained how he was attracted by the extraordinary beauty of the woman and how he wanted to see her face again. Gazing at her publicly was an indecent behaviour. But, his mind had become a slave of the sense organ, eye. Thus, when he was baffled, Baba explained that it was futile and gave the advice. Then Nanasaheb said, ‘Our mind, by its very nature, is always wavering. But, we should not allow it to degrade. Even though the senses become fickle, we should always exercise total control over the mind and not allow it to become restless. Senses are always after the sense objects, but we should not be enslaved by them and take them nearer the sense objects. Gradually, by practice, this restlessness can be controlled. Though it is not possible to completely control the senses, we should not become their slaves. We should curb them properly in a systematic way according to the need of the occasion. Beauty is for the eyes to behold. So, we should see beauty without any fear. When we go to a temple, do we care for the beauty of the exterior or the image of the Paramatma inside? There is nothing wrong with looking at the exterior, but as one looks at it, he must think how clever and powerful is the God that produced such a beautiful abode, how He resides therein, and how nicely ornamented He is. As long as there is no evil thought, we need not be afraid of anyone nor feel ashamed. If you make your mind desireless, and behold the beauty created by God, the senses naturally will come under our control and even while seeing beauty, we are reminded of God. If you allow the mind to run after the senses and get immersed in the sense objects, you will never get released from the eternal cycle of birth and death. Sense objects are always meant to distract the senses from their rightful path. That is why we should make Viveka as our driver and holding the reins of the mind in our control, prevent the sense horses from straying towards the sense objects. Such a driver like Viveka will take us to the divine feet of Lord Vishnu, which is ultimately our residence and going where, no one will ever come back.’

Nana was naturally self-controlled, and with Baba's guidance, he developed so much of reverence for the female form that even when alone in a sequestered chamber, within closed doors with a young, beautiful person, he still would retain reverence for the lady and not have thoughts of sex. This was demonstrated in the case of Bannu Mai.

Friday, February 26, 2010


"Nana is about to die! I will not let him die! If a devotee is about to fall, I stretch out my hands, and thus with four outstretched hands at a time, support him. I will not let him fall.” At that time, Nanasaheb Chandorkar and Lele Sastri were near Poona, going in a Tonga. The horse of the Tonga reared and overturned the it. Chandorkar and Sastri were in peril of their life. But they picked themselves up and found that they had suffered no injury. When they reached Shirdi, they found that Baba had made the above declaration and saved their lives.

Narayan Govind Chandorkar was the first and foremost of Baba's devotees whose work was the basis of the spread of Sai faith for many decades. If Mhalsapathi was the seed, Chandorkar was the stem and trunk of the spreading Baba movement.

Nanasaheb, as he was called by Baba, was born on Makara Sankranti day (14 Jan 1860) to highly respected parents, who were good and pious Hindus, held in high esteem in their social circles and following the sastras to the best of their ability. They did their daily poojas and fed guests. They kept an open house and visitors to Kalyan were expected to be and were actually welcomed and fed by them as guests. His father was a retired Government officer, and had built a decent building there, the Chandorkar Wada, which became and still continues to be, the family mansion for so many generations. Chandorkar's capacity and talents can be seen from the fact that by twenty he was already a graduate. Entering Government service at once he rose to the position of a Gazetted officer, a Deputy Collector, in seven years, which was in those days - and even now - considered to be an exceptional feat. His conduct, character, and spiritual fitness were those of a good Hindu. He had taken up Philosophy as his special subject for the B. A. degree and supplemented his college study by careful attention to the Bhagavat Gita with Shankara Bhashya. In 1878, he married Bayaja Bai, daughter of a zamindar, Nanasaheb Ojha. He had two daughters - Mina Tai, Dwarakamayi - and two sons – Vasudev and Mahadev.
Nanasaheb was anxious to get the best out of the Hindu sastras for his own moral and spiritual equipment and progress. His basic equipment being so good, what was wanted was only the hand of a perfect master to turn him into a brilliant apostle, one high up in the spiritual ladder. Even under ordinary circumstances he would have shone well in life but with Baba as his Guru and guide, he shone resplendently well, and was known throughout the Bombay Presidency as a gentleman of an excellent and noble character, great attainments, and was revered as a Guru by eminent devotees like Sri B.V. Deo and others. His case illustrates the truth of the saying that it is not the sishya that seeks the Guru but very often the reverse. It was the Guru who sought him out. He had no idea of his previous births. But his Guru, Sri Sai Baba was full of jnana. The present, past and future floated before Sai Baba's mind's eye, if we may so term it, as one moment, and he could see every bit of it clearly. He knew that in the past four janmas Chandorkar was his sishya. He was determined to make the pupil continue the contact and derive further benefit till he achieved life's goal. That is why Baba sent for him even though he did not care ordinarily to meet persons in high official position - which in his view counted for nothing at all.

Chandorkar was Personal Assistant to the Collector of Ahmednagar, and was camping at Kopergaon for Jamabandi - that is land revenue settlement work. All karnams of the taluk had to attend the Jamabandi, and the Shirdi karnam was no exception. No one left Shirdi without permission of Baba, as everyone knew that with Baba's permission one was safe, and leaving without permission, ran into many dangers. So the Shirdi karnam, Appa Kulkarni, went to Baba and asked him leave to go to Kopergaon for Jamabandi work, as the Personal Assistant to the Collector, Narayan Govind Chandorkar was there.

Baba gave him leave, and added, 'Tell your Nana to come here'. Nana was the pet name of Narayan Chandorkar, which was used only by equals moving on intimate terms. Appa Kulkarni was astounded at the message. He considered that he was too insignificant a person and that Baba, a fakir, was also too insignificant to invite the Deputy Collector, a high Gazetted Officer of the Government. Baba insisted and told him that he might inform the Deputy Collector that it was Baba who invited him. With great diffidence the karnam, at the close of the day, approached the Deputy Collector and told him that Sai Baba, a fakir of Shirdi, invited him to come to Shirdi. Chandorkar was astounded. He thought that it could not possibly be, and told the karnam that he was a stranger to the fakir and the fakir was a stranger to him, and that he, the karnam, must have some purpose of his own to invite him to his village. In spite of the karnam's protests, Chandorkar would not believe him and sent him away.

When the karnam reported his failure to Baba, Baba repeated the invitation, and again the karnam, with considerable diffidence, approached the Deputy Collector on the second day and repeated the invitation. The second invitation had the same fate, and for the same reasons, as the first. That again was reported to Baba. Baba pressed the hesitating karnam to repeat the invitation for the third time. This time the invitation had the desired effect. Nana Chandorkar thought that there must be something in it, and so he told the karnam that he would visit Shirdi, but not immediately. Chandorkar kept his promise. Sometime after going to Ahmednagar, in 1892, he did go and pay a visit to Shirdi. After making a present of sugar candy and almond with some reverence to Baba, Chandorkar asked Baba whether it was true that he sent for him, and when that was admitted, why had he sent for him. Baba said, 'There are thousands of persons in this world, and do I send for them all? Should there not be some special reason why you alone should be sent for?' Chandorkar said that he was unable to see any special reason. Then Baba made the solemn statement, 'You and I have been connected with each other in four former births. I now invite you to come and again have your contact. Whenever you are free, you may come'. Chandorkar was surprised by this statement, and was not fully impressed. He left the place with the impression that he need not return to Shirdi. But he did come, and began his grand work of carrying on propaganda for Baba.

As Nana still hesitated to renew his contact, Baba revealed to Nana his watch over his interests using his powers to foresee or control the future. The Collector, Nanasaheb’s Superior, was pressing Nana to inoculate himself with a new serum against plague, so that the public could believe and get inoculated. The epidemic plague was playing havoc with the public health. Nana feared the inoculation and hastened to Baba to get his assurance about the safety of the operation. Baba gave it. Again, his father's objections to a Muslim's connection with any one in his family, was an apparently insurmountable obstacle. But it was overcome by Baba's power to control the father's mind. Baba made the latter approve of Nana's acceptance of Baba as his Guru.

The first essential of progress under a Guru is faith. Nana had to be impressed with Baba's divine nature and Baba's personal interest in him or attachment to him. As for the divine nature, Baba declared time and again that He is God, that is, that he has completely realised God or merged his identity with not merely the Impersonal Brahman but also the Personal God known under various names and forms. Thus, it was Baba's lookout to see that his nature and attitude towards his devotees should be thoroughly well impressed upon Nana's mind. Baba was watching over not merely Nana but numerous others and looking after their welfare.

Baba had to repeat his efforts to ensure the thorough fixing of these valuable truths and impressions in Chandorkar's mind. The most common and ordinary things one would suppose in the list of an ordinary man's needs are water to drink and food to eat. Yet at times these assume extraordinary importance, and provisions of drink or food under extremely difficult circumstances becomes clearly a kind act of Divine Providence. This was done for Nana Saheb Chandorkar by Baba under very peculiar circumstances.

Chandorkar was an orthodox Hindu, and, in spite of his corpulence, was anxious to visit hill tops where there were temples. Harischandra Hill, forty miles away from Shirdi, was a noted hill with a Devi's shrine at the top. But the long stretch of barren rock between that temple and the bottom of the hill was one vast treeless, wild, rocky waste, where there was neither water to drink, nor any shelter to hide in. Over that hill, Nana was climbing on a hot, summer day, and, after he had gone some distance, the heat of the sun and the toil of the journey told upon him. He felt very thirsty and asked his friend by his side for water.

The latter replied that there was none and that it was a barren rock. Nana also felt the fatigue of climbing greatly and said he could not climb any further. The friend asked him to climb down. But Nana was unable to do that either, and quietly sat on a huge stone and exclaimed 'if Baba were here, he would surely give me water to quench my thirst'. The friend, who was by his side, remarked that such observations about 'ifs' were useless. He added 'Baba is not here. What is the good of thinking what would happen if he were here?' He had only fleshy eyes and materialistic brains. He could not see with the eye of faith. If he had such an eye, he could have noted the presence of Baba not only on Harischandra hill but in every other place also. Chandorkar was in a slightly better position than this friend. It is because of his faith in Baba that the thought occurred to him that Baba could save him even on that barren rock. But he did not feel certain that Baba was there and that water would be provided. Anyhow his thought of Baba was the tiny hairspring or switch working the magic, the turn that saved the situation.

Prayer saves. But what are prayers but thoughts? Prayer is a means of placing one in contact with higher beneficent powers and there it serves its primary purpose. When a devout soul is deeply concentrating on God, what happens is that the soul gets so thoroughly saturated with the divine that divine power infiltrates into the Jiva and the combined power or the higher power produces certain results. It is the man of prayer that draws down divinity - turns divine at the moment of intense prayer and is responsible for certain results.

His thought was very intense and even if it had been less intense, when it was directed to Sai, it must have had immediate effect. That could not be seen by the friend or by Chandorkar himself on the hill. Sai Baba spoke out immediately in the presence of some devotees, 'Hello, Nana is very thirsty. Should we not give him a handful of water?' To Baba all places and all times were open before his vision, and he could see and hear everything. The persons around him, who did not have the benefit of such a vision, were wondering why Baba should talk of Nana's thirst. Nana the Deputy Collector was not there, and if the Deputy Collector was in thirst, gallons of water would be quickly brought to him by number of persons. Why did Baba talk like that? People around Baba could not make it out. Nor did Baba care to explain. What followed on the hill, gives the explanation. A little time after Nana made his prayer to Baba, a Bhil, that is, a hill tribesman, was seen coming down the hill towards Chandorkar and his friends. Chandorkar stopped him and said 'Hello! I am thirsty; can I get some water to drink?' People wondered how this Brahmin Deputy Collector should ask a Bhil, who is considered an untouchable or a low-caste man, and ask him for water. But necessity knows no law, and the Bhil's reply was most surprising. He said, 'What! You ask for water! Under the very rock on which you are sitting, there is water'. So saying, he moved away and disappeared from view. Nana's subordinates and friends who were with him immediately set about lifting the stone. There was just enough water on that rock, attractive and cool, necessary to save a man from fiery thirst. Nana took that water, his thirst was gone, and he was able to climb up and complete his pilgrimage.

Some days later, Nana had occasion to go to Shirdi and as he stepped into Baba's Dwarakamai, the very first words that Baba uttered to him before anybody could inform him about Nana's experience on the hill, were these, 'Nana, you were thirsty. I gave you water. Did you drink?' Nana's eyes opened with joyous wonder. He felt that his very thought of Baba had worked as a prayer and the appearance of the Bhil and his pointing out where the water was and the appearance of the water there on a waterless rock must all have been due to Baba. How Baba managed it, Baba only knew. And to confirm Nana in his view, devotees at Shirdi mentioned to him that on the memorable day and hour when he was on the Harischandra hill, with burning thirst, Baba spoke the above words. Nana was convinced, more than ever, that Baba was God - omnipresent, merciful and omnipotent, for he had the power to bring water under a rock and a man to show it just at the exact psychological moment. This conclusion of his might perhaps appear to be too weak for a logician to accept. An individual instance does not prove a rule and guarantee the validity of a universal proposition. But Nana was not pestered by doubts of logic. In the circumstances of Nana, there could be no room for doubting that Baba did respond to his very thought, which was an appeal for aid and did provide him with the water which was a necessity to save his life at that perilous juncture. His faith was confirmed and grew stronger and stronger.

Nana, with very little of doubting nature, advanced in the strength of his faith, obtained more and more of wisdom by the grace of Baba and was progressing rapidly towards that shanti or Peace, which is the goal of all spiritual life and endeavour. Thus Nana was convinced that Baba had superhuman power, superhuman love, and made superhuman provision of needs for those who were attached to him and whom he loved. So, he found that Baba was really a Deva (God), and that Baba was pre-eminently fitted to take charge now of Nana's life, of his comfort, and of all his concerns, temporal and spiritual. Thus convinced, Nana was perfectly prepared to take the plunge of Prapatti to the Gurudeva, to surrender himself unhesitatingly to the directions of Baba, being perfectly assured that no harm would result because of such an action, and on the other hand much good—nay every good—would result.

Having provided for the thirst of Nana in one place, Baba marvellously provided for his hunger in another place. In Padmalaya forest, there is a Ganapati temple. It is ten miles away from the nearest railway station and the access to it is through ten miles of forest. Nana had made arrangements for all this, but trains have got a queer way of being late, and in this case, his train being many hours late, all arrangements were upset and there was no conveyance and no assistance forthcoming. Nana's arrival at the railway station was evening time, very near dusk. He was determined to push along with his companions to the temple, come what may. In the absence of any conveyance, Nana had to dare and dared the risk and trouble of walking ten miles to reach the Ganapati temple. So he trudged on. But when he was about half way or more than half way, it was already 9 p.m. and the pujari of the temple would usually lock it up by 9 or 10 p.m. and retire to his cottage at some distance for his night's rest. So, Nana doubted whether he would get into the temple at all. Further, having walked wearily six or seven miles, he felt the pangs of hunger. Naturally he remembered Baba. He prayed, 'Baba, I am not asking for much. I am not over greedy. I will be quite satisfied if, at the close of this journey, I can get one cup of tea to quench my hunger'. Then he and his companions trudged on. It was nearly 11 p.m. when they reached the temple. Instead of the temple being closed, the pujari was on the watch, and on seeing persons at a great distance coming, shouted. 'Is Nana coming?' It would be highly impertinent on the part of any priest to call a Deputy Collector by his pet name, as though he was his chum. But here there was no feeling of resentment, but one of gratification on the part of Nana and his friends when they heard the voice, 'Is Nana coming?' They approached and said, 'Yes. How do you know that Nana is coming?' Then the priest said, "I had an ethereal message from Sri Sai Baba in which he said, 'My Nana is coming weary, thirsty, and hungry. Keep for him one cup of tea'. Here is tea ready for you all." He then gave Nana his cup. This again proved that Baba's eye of supervision was not merely on hills but also in forests to look after the safety, comfort and health of his beloved devotee. Alike from danger of thirst and hunger, Baba had saved him.

Baba, having implanted in Chandorkar sufficiently strong faith in and reliance on the Guru, was constantly watering this plant with fresh instances of his loving watch and care. Even in apparently trivial matters such as catching trains and meeting official superiors, Baba showed his concern for the disciple and helped him. It is this enduring and endless concern of the Guru that grips the disciple, and makes him understand God.

Monday, January 11, 2010



An important event in Mhalsapathi’s life was Baba's trying to leave his body and returning to it three days later. Baba had made him the guardian of his body during that period, indicating the immense faith He had in Mhalsapathi. On a Margasira Poornima day in 1886, Baba suffered from a severe attack of asthma. Baba decided to go into samadhi. Mhalsapathi was with Baba at that time. Baba told him, “Arre Bhagat, look after this body for three days. I am going to Allah. Protect My body for three days. If I do not return, bury My body in that open land (pointing to the space) and fix two flags as a mark.” After saying this, at about 10.0 pm Baba slept in the lap of Mhalsapathi. His breathing stopped. Then His pulse also stopped. For all external appearances it looked as if Baba had breathed His last. Next morning, people coming to masjid for Baba’s darshan were shocked to see Baba lying lifeless in the lap of Mhalsapathi. The entire village came, completely grief stricken, and felt that darkness had enveloped them. By evening of that day, they decided that after conducting an inquest, the body should be buried in the place shown by Baba. No one believed Baba’s words. But, Mhalsapathi strongly opposed all these attempts. He said that Baba had asked him to wait for 3 days and only then they could think of something else. For full three days, with Baba’s body in his lap, Mhalsapathi did not even move slightly. For full three days, he guarded Baba’s body better than he would have guarded his own life. In addition to being confined to the same place, Mhalsapathi had to face severe provocations from the people, from the devotees and from the civilian authorities. To any one who came with an alternate solution, his only reply was, “Wait for three days.” Time does not wait for anyone. The stipulated three days finally came to an end. Almost every one in the village was at the masjid, trying to see the greatest miracle. Then at 3.00 am on the third day, the miracle finally happened. Breathing started once again in the body, the abdomen began to move. Baba slowly opened His eyes and stretched His limbs. Baba had returned back to life and consciousness. Every one assembled in the masjid, heaved a sigh of relief and gave a loud cry of ‘Sainath Maharaj Ki Jai’. Thus, he rendered a valuable service in 1886, after which Baba lived for 32 years to create this huge Sai movement that has covered this land. If Mhalsapathi had failed in his duty, and Baba had been buried, perhaps the course of history might have been different.

Baba used his knowledge of coming events for "Bhagat" - as Baba called this bhakta Mhalsapathi, - and revealed them to him when necessary. Mhalsapathi was a poor man, whose three daughters were married to people at various villages. His Sambandhis - fathers-in-law of those daughters - had no regard for him. On one occasion, one of the Sambandhis at a distant village invited him to dine with him, and Mhalsapathi went to take Baba's leave. When granting leave, Baba said, “Bhagat, at village Asnagaon (Taluka Kopargaon) don’t go to Rambhau Londhe and Dorhale’s daughter. You will be insulted there.” Mhalsapathi went along with his friend, but when he went to his Sambandhi’s house, he found the Sambandhi’s people had already finished their meal and were washing their hands without caring to wait for the arrival of their poor relation Mhalsapathi. This was an obvious insult and he returned refusing to take his meal. He returned to Baba and told him all the facts.

Ram Bhav Londhe, a Sai bhakta, invited Mhalsapathi to go to his village 'Asnagaon' some six or ten miles away from Shirdi. There was to be a Mhalsapathi Purana reading by Mhalsapathi to be followed by a dinner. So it was an interesting occasion, and Mhalsapathi went to take leave of Baba. Baba said, 'Do not go. There will be a fight there'. Yet, having accepted the invitation, he could not avoid going, and he went to that village. He sat and read Mhalsapathi puranam there, and while that was going on, the host's graceless, sturdy and rowdy boys with other boys sat for their meal and began to exchange hot words. From words they quickly came to blows with sticks, and on account of the free use of the cudgels, the audience that was present for the Purana reading fled in fright and Mhalsapathi also had to pack up his purana and follow their wise example. He returned to Shirdi and told Baba, 'Your words have proved true to the letter'.

Baba once warned him in general words 'Don't put your back against the earth'. Not remembering this advice, and in his usual slovenly way, Mhalsapathi, having consumed too much of burfi got giddy, sat on the floor, and losing his consciousness, glided down. He then was with his bare back on the ground He was dreaming or delirious and talking in his dream, keeping his legs stretched on the bare earth all the time. When he returned to consciousness and sat awake, he found he could not bend his leg. His daughters had to massage his knees and legs, and thereafter he was able to walk up to Baba. When he arrived there, Baba told him, 'did I not tell you not to put your back against earth?’

On another occasion, Baba gave him warning that something wrong would happen at Khandoba's, and that, however, he need not be afraid as Baba would do the needful. Then very soon, his wife and daughter fell ill. Soon after, other members of his family also fell ill. Meanwhile Baba told Mhalsapathi, 'Let the sick people keep to bed'. Walking round his Mosque with a short stick in hand, Baba was waving his short stick and using threatening words, 'Come, whatever may be your power, let us see! I shall show you what I can do with my chota stick, if you come out and face me'. This was Baba's treatment of the disease. Mhalsapathi consulted Baba regarding the medicines, but Baba dissuaded him from administering the medicines to the sick at home. Finally, all got well without medicine. Baba's way of fighting disease is not the modern way of medicine, but it was unmistakably effective.

Baba's watching was often of great benefit to Mhalsapathi in other domestic matters also. Mhalsapathi's wife, Shivoo Bai, went to her mother's house at a distant village. When she was there, she developed a painful tumor near her neck, but she did not communicate that to her husband. Baba’s watching eye of supervision, which rests on all those relying on him with loving trust, noted this fact. He told Mhalsapathi at Shirdi, 'Your wife has a tumor in the throat. None can cure it except myself, and I shall cure it'. Mhalsapathi knowing nothing about his wife's health simply said 'Yes, Baba'. Later he received a letter mentioning the painful tumor, adding that it had been cured. Shri Martand, Mhalsapathi’s son, has narrated a beautiful experience in this connection. He says.....

‘A forty year old story. My mother had gone to her brother’s place at village Nandur Shingote. As per his usual practice, my father was sitting near Baba. All of a sudden, Baba said to him, “Arre, My devotee is suffering a lot from a boil. See, there is a boil on My hip also. But, now it will be cured.” My father actually saw that Baba had a boil on His hip and He was suffering from the pains. He was, therefore, worried. But, Baba Himself said, “Don’t worry. It will be alright in two-three days.” All this was ambiguous talk. My father did not realize that it was in fact related to him. After two-three days, the boil on Baba’s hip burst open. Two-three days later, my father received a letter from village Nandur Shingote. It was written that my mother had a boil at exactly the same place and had suffered a lot from it. But, as soon as Baba prayed in Shirdi, she was relieved of the pain and now, even the boil had burst open.

It dawned upon us that when Baba said that He has a boil on His hip, from exactly that time my mother’s sufferings had gone down. And, the day on which her boil burst open, same thing happened at Shirdi also. Once my father realized the connection, he became very sad for the sufferings taken upon Himself by Baba. My father said to me, “Arre Martand, did you see? To give relief to your mother, Baba took the agony of her boil upon Himself. Because of us, He had to suffer a lot.”

Late Kashibai Kanitkar has narrated her 1906’s experience as.....

“On alternate days, Baba used to come to Chavadi for sleeping. On that particular day, as per His custom, Baba and Mhalsapathi came to Chavadi. They sat in the darkened area at the entrance of the Chavadi. My husband late Govindrao Kanitkar also went and sat there. They were having a pleasant chat. While carrying on the conversation, Baba lit His chillum and shared it with Mhalsapathi. It was also passed on to my husband.

It was difficult to know what they were talking about. From time to time, Baba was asking, ‘Ka Mhalsapathi?’ (Isn’t it Mhalsapathi?) And Mhalsapathi was repeatedly saying ‘Beshak, Beshak’ (without doubt, without doubt), repeating the words twice. However, a third person was not able to grasp what they were talking. Then, it was time to light the chillum once again and it was noticed that the piece of stone, required for the purpose had been lost somewhere. This was reason enough for Baba to become livid with anger and as if, He took the Avatar of Narasimha and started showering abuses”

In the evening, once the lights were lit up, Baba’s devotees were forbidden from coming into the Masjid - the only exceptions being Dada Kelkar, Mhalsapathi, Tatyaba, Mahadu, Abdul Baba and Laxmibai. Barring these, no one else was allowed to enter the Masjid at night.

During one of his regular trips to Jejuri, 150 miles from Shirdi, Mhalsapathi and party came to know that plague was raging there. Mhalsapathi sat down dejected leaning against his palki (Kavadi), not knowing what to do. Suddenly he saw Baba behind him and Baba vanished. Then he got bold and told his companions, 'Baba is with us and we need not worry'. Accordingly the pilgrimage was satisfactorily over, and there was no loss of life. When he returned to Shirdi, Baba told him, 'I found you leaning against the Palki at Jejuri'. Mhalsapathi was convinced that his eyes did not deceive him at Jejuri and that Baba was everywhere guarding his bhaktas.

After completing another of their annual Jejuri pilgrimage, they were returning followed by another group, Malam Bhagat Pilki. On the way, they met thieves who were armed with axes and were covering their faces with thick blankets. As they approached the Palki to rob it, Mhalsapathi courageously took out a handful of Bhandar - coloured rice and sandalwood powder - and threw it at them as prasad. Then they quietly retreated to an adjoining wood. Mhalsapathi and his friends went on followed by Malam Bhagat palki, and they noted that there were no images in their own palki. All the party looked into Mhalsapathi’s palki to see whether all their images were there. They found none. Then some one said. 'Are we to carry an empty palki to Shirdi?’ It was a Sunday, and was Khandoba's day. Mhalsapathi had said in the beginning itself that it was a Sunday and no pilgrimage on Sunday. But the others had disagreed, and now Mhalsapathi told the others, 'this is the evil of doing pilgrimage on Sunday’. Suddenly Mhalsapathi got in to a trance, and Khandoba talking through him said, ‘Arre, what day is this? Is it not my day? Why are you carrying palki? Today I am busy hunting out on a hill. After hunting is over, I will come to Shirdi. You had better go now'. Then he woke up from trance, and the palki went on and came to Khandoba’s temple at Shirdi. Shakaram Kandukar and others at Shirdi came to the palki to take Darshan. Shakaram looked into the palki and found all the images there. 'What is the talk of all the images missing?' he asked the people. He showed them, and said 'Here are all the images'.

Mhalsapathi’s increased perfection was getting more and more patent to those associated with him. The heights of self-sacrifice that he reached were most astounding. His selflessness, which was copied by his wife and daughters, resulted in their being left them without the barest necessities, in some cases such as a woolen blanket (kambli). Yet he kept cheerful, contented and ready to crush out self-interest to protect others even if they should viciously work against his interest. When Mhalsapathi lost his kambli, it was traced to a receiver of stolen property in another village. The daughter of the reciever- who was in that village - traced it. The receiver swore that it was hers and not Mhalsapathi’s. The Village Munsif said that she ought to be jailed and the property recovered. Mhalsapathi was shocked at the idea of seeing a woman jailed and tormented for the sake of recovering his ''kambli''. So he said that he would not claim the property or say it was his.

Once, on the occasion of the death anniversary of Mhalsapathi’s father, several people had sat down to have meals. Suddenly, a dog suffering from scabies came at the place and stood in front of them. As per his usual practice, Mhalsapathi asked his wife to throw a piece of bread in front of the dog. However, as the bread was not given, the dog remained at its place. Finally, Mhalsapathi smacked the dog and it ran away. In the evening, while he was preparing Baba’s bed, Baba said to him, “Ka re Bhagat, in the town, there is a dog suffering from diseases like Me. But, people hit it.”

When Baba attained Mahasamadhi in 1918, Mhalsapathi declined all food and fasted for 13 days. It was Mhalsapathi’s custom to spend all his time with Baba except when he went for his meal. Later Baba would send someone to fetch him from his house. Then he would light up chillum, do odd jobs for Baba, and prepare Baba's bed. Baba always kept his head on an old brick. This brick was believed to be given to Baba by Venkusa with a torn cloth. Madhav Fasle, a servant of Baba used to hand over that brick to Mhalsapathi every night. Mhalsapathi would first place the brick and then the torn cloth, and then spread the other cloths. Few days before Vijayadashami in 1918, Madhav False, in handing over the brick, allowed it to slip down to the ground, and it broke into two. Mhalsapathi thought that from that time onwards Baba was dispirited. Then the broken pieces were placed as pillows for Baba. Baba asked 'Who broke the brick?' Mhalsapathi mentioned that Madhav False broke the brick. Baba got very angry with Madhav and placed his hands on his own head and felt extremely sad. Baba said 'Sopat tootli’ (Marathi - the companion is broken). Next day, Kakasaheb Dixit came and said there was no need to deplore the breaking, as he would join the pieces with silver joints. Baba said: "Even if you join them with gold, what is the use? This brick is my Sobatya (Marathi – companion) and its breakage indicates evil." Baba, even before this, had given Mhalsapathi a hint. He told him once when Mhalsapathi was preparing to light a lamp and fill up Baba's pipe, ‘Arre Bhagat, in a few days from this, I will be going somewhere. After that, you come at night for 2 or 4 years'. This was not understood by Mhalsapathi. Baba's spirit passed into the unknown on 15th October 1918, and Mhalsapathi was able to do his usual night pooja to Baba only for 4 years, for he passed away on 11 September 1922.

Mhalsapathi undoubtedly made a good end. In fact, he was fully conscious and knew that death was approaching. He told his friends 'I am going to Heaven'. He was fully conscious of the merit he had stored up as a Khandoba bhakta who had read Khandoba purana times without number, and made numerous pilgrimages to Jejuri. What did Mhalsapathi mean when he said that he was going to Heaven at death? Mhalsapathi unwaveringly believed in the supremacy and power of his Ishta Devata, namely, Khandoba, who was a particular god in a particular place with a particular form of bliss. When he tried to propitiate Khandoba by carrying his image in a palki with others, 150 miles to Jejuri and back, on a Sunday, he declared 'Our Khandoba does not want procession, he is out today being a Sunday enjoying himself with hunting on some hills', Therefore, his notion of Khandoba, in whom his soul was concentrated, was a god that delighted in hunting and wanted a particular hill on a particular day and so had a particular locality or Heaven in which he would be rejoicing and his bhaktas would rejoice with him. This is more or less the outline or rough explanation of what Mhalsapathi meant by saying that he would go to Heaven on the day of his death. No doubt he worshipped Vittal, Shani, Ganapati, and Baba. But, none of them deeply entered into his soul and captured him like Khandoba. They were all fit to be worshipped or respected like the relations of a husband whom a woman respects though it is only the husband whom she embraces. Therefore when Mhalsapathi said that he was going to Heaven, he had undoubtedly Khandoba at the back of his mind and was reaching Khandoba.

The end of such a soul when life passes away must necessarily be a good end - sadgati. Baba made this assurance doubly sure and granted him the merit of dying on an Ekadasi day, just as he did this for several other bhaktas of his. Dying on an Ekadasi day is conducive to departure in a holy mood from this life. When Mhalsapathi’s death was approaching, he retained full consciousness and control of his mind. That was on 11th Sep. 1922 Monday (in the month of Bhadrapada, Ekadasi Somavara, sacred to Shiva and Khandoba). Having finished all his pooja, he said to his family, ‘Today is my father's Shraaddha day. Finish cooking soon. Today I close my earthly life and go to Heaven'. So, Laxman, the Brahmin, came and finished the Shraaddha at once and finished the gift of balis to crows, cows and guests were fed. Then the family meals were finished. Mhalsapathi took betel leaves and nuts after his meal. After chewing a bit, he put on a kupni. Bala Gurav, Ramachandra Kothe and others were near him. He told them to do Ramachandra japa. Japa went on. His son was there, and he gave him his stick. Mhalsapathi said to his son, 'Spend time piously in Uttama Bhakti Marga (holy devotion). All that I told you will happen." Then Mhalsapathi uttered the word 'Ram’ and breathed his last. Thus, Bhakta Manikya and a Mahatma – as he was called by BV Deo in his preface to “Mhalsapathi’s Reminiscences” - passed away in calm faith and cheer on the 11th September 1922. This death was a fitting termination to a pure, lofty and dedicated life—a life of love, faith and total surrender— a death that may be envied by many who may not be prepared to adopt the rigorous course that led up to it and ensured it. His body was consigned to fire near Lendi Baug. His remains are interred in a tomb at Shirdi, worshipped by many grateful devotees.

||Sri Sainaathaarpanamasthu||