Sunday, January 10, 2010


||Om Sri Sainaathaayanamaha||

ya sai” (in Marathi) could be the two most harmless words ever uttered in the history of mankind by an unknown priest in a remote, unknown village to a young, poor, wandering fakir. These two words, however, changed the course of entire mankind.
Justify Full
At the outskirts of Shirdi, a marriage party halted underneath a banyan tree near Khandoba temple. A young fakir - dressed in saffron Kafani, saffron topi and saffron dhoti - got down from the cart and started walking towards the temple. Almost at the same time Mhalsapathi, the pujari of the temple, came out of the temple, and saw the young fakir walking towards the temple. Wandering Sufi fakirs were very common in those days and were known by their Persian generic name of sa’ih or sayyah. “Ya Sai!” Mhalsapathi invited the young fakir and asked him to sit nearby. The young fakir sat there, and liked the surroundings immensely. He said, “How secluded and quiet is this Khandoba temple, best fitted for a fakir to stay”. Being a Hindu and the pujari of a temple which had the idol of Khandoba, Mhalsapathi was afraid that the young fakir’s desire to stay there may prove to be harmful as Muslims do not believe in idol worship. He told the young fakir, “Oh Sai! It is not fitting that you stay here. This is a temple for the Hindus. You look like a Muslim to me. You better go to the masjid or the takia!” The young fakir - who had no intention whatsoever of breaking the idol of Khandoba - was surprised by the words of Mhalsapathi. He said, “It is the same god who has created both these people. Hindu and Muslim are mere words - know this to be the truth. There are temples in this world and there are masjids too. God has not constructed any of them. Try to see the god who is one for all of us. He is Allah-I-llahi. He is the Maha Vishnu reclining on the serpent Adisesha! There is nothing which is other than your Khandoba. Know clearly as to who the real Khandoba is. Those who know the truth do not care for these differences based on religion. Oh pious one! Do not think that these temples or the masjids are the only ones to lead you to god. I will not trouble you. I will respect your feelings and have the darshan of Khandoba from afar. I hope you have no objection to that?” It was the year 1858 AD.

That moment was perhaps the most defining moment in the life of both Mhalsapathi and the young fakir. A wandering fakir till that time, Sai Baba spent his entire life towards the unification of various religions and projecting the concept of a single god for all – “sab ka maalik ek” – till another defining moment on the Seemollanghan day, when Baba discarded all his clothing and stood naked in public view to show that there was no difference between a Hindu or a Muslim. It may also be reasonably believed that the events during Baba’s lifetime and later, proved the frustration manifested on the Seemollanghan day. Baba’s mission of a unified religion is gradually taking shape throughout the world with the coming up of thousands of temples for Baba, where devotees of all religions are freely allowed without any restrictions whatsoever.

Being highly detached and not governed by lust or other low urges, Mhalsapathi could easily appreciate the wisdom of the young fakir when he explained his concept of a single god. Mhalsapathi had the same virtues of purity and non-attachment of a very high order and therefore was drawn to Baba. Mhalsapathi’s heart was filled with ecstasy of happiness on hearing the words of wisdom from the young fakir. He prostrated at his feet and bowed to him with devotion. He said, "You are truly the embodiment of wisdom. It is the accumulated merit of my past lives which has led me to you." He prayed, "Ya Sai! Please come to Shirdi and stay on in our village." Sai Baba then made his residence in the masjid of Shirdi and gave it a Hindu name, “Dwarakamai”. The unification began from the beginning.

Mhalsapathi’s case is an excellent instance of Baba's method of unifying religion and creeds successfully. Mhalsapathi was only an ordinary, conservative, orthodox worshipper of Khandoba. Khandoba is an Avatar of Siva. Mhalsapathi considered Sai Baba a Muslim and even objected to his entry into Khandoba's temple when Baba came to Shirdi. Subsequently, this same man became Baba's ardent devotee and worshipped him. In fact, not only was he the first in point of time amongst the worshippers, but he was also the foremost in excellence. Mhalsapathi felt that Baba was God. Whatever may be the difference in name and form, Shanker, Shani, Ganapati, and Khandoba are all one, and Baba with divine power was also the same. Mhalsapathi had no sectarian - Siva or Vishnu – prejudices. Being a Shiva devotee he went to Pandharpur to worship Vittal. Vittal is a form of Vishnu. He and his friends honoured all saints, Hindu and Muslim, and they applied Tukaram's famous saying 'Jo Sant, Toch Dev! Jo Dev, Toch Sant', meaning 'God is the same as the Saint and the Saint is the same as God' to fakirs as well as Hindu saints. They greeted gosavi with ‘Namo Narayan’. bairagi was welcomed as ‘Jai Ram’ and if the visitor was a fakir, he was received with ‘Jai Sai’. Mhalsapathi was the first to do pooja to Baba and even apply sandal to him. Baba's objection to his being worshipped in that fashion melted away under the keen sense of Mhalsapathi’s love and devotion. As Mhalsapathi made no difference between Khandoba and Baba, and as all thoughts of men were known to Baba, Baba could not object to any of the ways adopted for worship at the Khandoba temple being applied to him. Baba's divine heart of love responded to the outpourings of Mhalsapathi’s love, and so, Mhalsapathi became Baba's ankita sishya. Baba said by unmistakable utterance and conduct, 'He is mine'.

Mhalsapathi Chimnaji Nagare was a hereditary goldsmith of the village of Shirdi. Shirdi had been the residence of his family for several generations. He had a mud house consisting of about 14-15 rooms and land measuring nearly 7 to 7 ½ acres at Shirdi. In his community he was noted for his fervent devotion to his deity Khandoba, also known as Mhalsapathi. Mhalsapathi Purana was his Bible or Ramayana for daily study and for sacred reading at the periodical gatherings of sonars
(goldsmiths) and at the temple. Every year he went on a pilgrimage of 150 miles to distant Jejoori carrying a Kavadi or palki along with a musical band to worship at the great temple of that deity. Full fruition of Mhalsa bhakti resulted in his getting that god's obsession in trance and oracular utterances came from that god through his lips. He was Khandoba. He was perfectly pure, straightforward, righteous, and truthful. For, only such a guileless person can be favoured by the god coming on his body. He was fairly free from worldly desires. The family had a scanty income from the voluntary offerings at their temple which went to the temple maintenance and the 7½ acres of land was without water supply, and yielded practically nothing. The very old building outside the village, the Khandoba temple, a poor mud structure, was dedicated to the public. To make his living, therefore, he had the hereditary profession of a goldsmith. But in a poor village with very few houses and fewer visitors, even this brought very little income. Mhalsapathi was not perturbed unduly about it, being absorbed in his religious ideas and practices. He had frequent visions and trances with obsession and his goal in life was to get free from the cycle of rebirths and attain liberation through the grace of Khandoba. To achieve this goal, Mhalsapathi, besides having a satvic temperament, had the great help of satsang – contact with holy men, sadhus, and saints. Though conservative, he was not fanatical – he had no hatred of Muslims or men of other faiths. On the other hand, he and other friends of his own temperament, Kasiram Simpi and Appa Jagale, used to receive and help not only Hindu saints such as Devidas, Janakidas, and others, but also fakirs when they visited the village or stayed there. Kasiram and Appa had some means, but poor Mhalsapathi offered his services and zeal, and these three worked together.

While other people began worshipping Baba only when they saw Baba's powers – when he turned water into oil to feed his lamps - and then regarded him as God, Mhalsapathi esteemed Baba for his good qualities of purity and non-attachment. He found that compared with Devidas, Janakidas, and other saints with whom Baba was often keeping company, Baba shone brilliantly, and that even those saints regarded Baba highly. So, Mhalsapathi and his friends considered Baba as ideally suited to be a Guru for them. Mhalsapathi in that group was the first to honour and then to worship Baba. He went to Baba's Mosque and placed flowers and sandal on Baba's feet or neck and offered him milk. Only Mhalsapathi was allowed to do this. Baba would not allow others to do even this. This token worship developed later into regular pooja by the use of sandal paste and flowers on Baba's feet, neck, and finally on his forehead also. Mhalsapathi was thus the pioneer of Sai pooja and the Sai movement.

This practice was resented by the Muslims. They complained about it to Baba. But, Baba did not heed to their request. The community then brought the Kazi (Muslim priest) from Sangamner. After seeing this, Mhalsapathi got scared. That day, as usual, he completed the Pooja of Shani, Khandoba, Maruti and Ganapati and proceeded without doing the Pooja of Baba. As he passed the Masjid, Baba called him and asked, ‘Are Bhagat, why are you going away from outside, without doing Sagandha?’ Mhalsapathi said, ‘I was avoiding it, because it would make Kazi Saheb angry.’ Pointing to His hands, throat, forehead, and head, Baba said, ‘Apply the sandalwood paste, here and here.’ Baba’s words gave courage to Mhalsapathi and with pleasure, he performed the usual Pooja. After seeing all this, Kazi Saheb went away. From then onwards, Baba’s Sagandha Pooja was performed every-day.

Mhalsapathi had four daughters.. Their names were Janakibai, Seetabai, Rakhumabai and Vithabai. Their grooms were respectively from Asnagaon. Dochale, Dorhale and Sei. Mhalsapathi’s first son died at an early age. Later on, due to the blessings of Baba, a second son was born to Mhalsapathi, though against his own wishes.

Baba slept on alternate nights at the Mosque and at the Chavadi, and to both places Mhalsapathi went and had his bed along with Baba’s. On one occasion, early in life, about 1896, Baba said, “Arre Bhagat, listen to my fakiri words, which are always true. You have got only daughters. Daughters are like tamarind fruit but a son is like a mango fruit. You go and sleep in your house, and you will then get a son," In spite of Baba's pressure, he declined to go home as he did not want his family to increase. But his friend, Kasiram Simpi compelled him and took him home and left him there. This was on the Janmashtami of 1896, and on the next Janmashtami (1897) a son was born to him. As suggested by Baba, he was named ‘Martand’. Martand raised his own family of sons and daughters and died recently in 1986.

When Mhalsapathi got a male child in 1897 and took him to Baba and talked of Namakarana - the name to be given to the child - Baba, evidently to prevent his being too much attached to the son, told him "Look after the child for 25 years and that would be sufficient". The father's business is only to look after this new arrival in a detached spirit, knowing that the connection is only for a fixed time. Mhalsapathi did not understand all this, or that 25 years period indicated the length of his life which was to end in 1922. With true humility and submission he told Baba that ‘looking after’ the child was not in his power - but only in Baba's power. Baba's reply was still more significant. "Be the Nimitta" said Baba. Mhalsapathi, though a surrendered soul, could not have banished his ego and risen then to the full height indicated by treating all acts done by his body as the acts of the Supreme. Baba was leading him on to that height on the above and other occasions.

He enjoyed Baba's company day and night and was greatly benefited thereby. Mhalsapathi’s main work was to be with Baba. His land yielded nothing, and the goldsmith's profession also yielded practically nothing. So, he was ready for the orders of his own Ishta Devata, Khandoba. Khandoba gave him a series of visions. In the first one, Mhalsapathi was told to take the movable idol of Khandoba from the temple to his own house, and worship there with concentration. In another vision, Khandoba appeared as an old Brahmin and told him, “What? Can you not get your bread without your profession of goldsmith?” Then Mhalsapathi answered the vision, 'Yes. I shall give up'. Then the vision said, 'Touch my feet, and hold my feet’. This evidently meant, 'Hereafter, regard your subsistence as being dependent purely upon your holding to my feet and not upon your doing goldsmith's work’. From that time onwards, he gave up goldsmith's work in perfect trust and lived by begging, that is, he became really a sanyasi, though living with his wife and three daughters.

Having got a son, he resumed his old vow of not developing samsara and slept only with Baba, in the masjid, and at the Chavadi. Mhalsapathi would spread his own cloth and on that Baba (when not lying on the plank) would lie on one half, and he would lie on the other. Baba also gave him very hard duties which others could not possibly undertake. Baba would tell Mhalsapathi, "You had better sit up. Do not go to sleep. Place your hand on my heart. I will be going on with remembrance of Allah, Nama Smaran, that is, a half conscious trance, and during that Nama
Smaran, the heart beat would clearly show you that I am still having Nama Smaran. If that suddenly goes away and natural sleep supervenes, wake me up." The heart beat during natural sleep would be evidently different from the heart beat of the contemplative trance. Thus neither Baba nor Mhalsapathi would sleep at night. His tapas was the same practically as the tapas of Baba, that is, vigil for holy purposes. He also had great control over all his senses - not merely over the sex urge, but also over hunger and other urges and cravings - though he was not able to overcome sleep always. At times, he would go without food for a fortnight purely by the power of his will, and sometimes his family also would suffer as shortage of food was the consequence of Mhalsapathi’s having no profession and no earning and his rejection of offers of money and goods. This is a very important point to note about Mhalsapathi.

Hansraj was a well-known businessman from Dadar. In 1917, he was suffering from asthma and stayed in Shirdi with his wife for two to three months. Knowing the poor financial condition of Mhalsapathi, he offered him Rs. 10. Mhalsapathi declined to accept it. Hansraj, thereafter, handed over the sum to Kaka Saheb Dixit and suggested that Dixit should hand it over to Mhalsapathi in the presence of Baba. Accordingly, while Mhalsapathi was carrying on the Pooja of Baba, Dixit started offering the amount to him. But, Mhalsapathi did not accept it. Then, Dixit told Baba, ‘Baba, please ask Mhalsapathi to accept the amount or You take and hand it over to him.’ To this Baba said, ‘For the time being, let it remain with you only.’ After some time, Mhalsapathi completed the Pooja and went away. Then, Baba asked Kaka Saheb, ‘How many rupees are there?’ He answered, ‘Ten’. Baba asked him to keep them on His mattress and asked Nana Saheb Nimonkar to distribute the amount amongst other people. Thus, out of that amount, nothing went to Mhalsapathi.

Baba told Mhalsapathi several times, 'Take this Rs. 3. Go on taking it'. Mhalsapathi invariably refused. Baba even added, “Go on receiving Rs. 3. I will make you well-to-do, and other people will come to you and depend on you and look to your favour. Make your life comfortable." Mhalsapathi invariably replied, 'I do not want all that. I want only to worship your feet.' He counted his avoidance of gifts and contentment with his lot as far above his attaining or retaining material wealth. Baba had to offer inducements of "Abhaya" and support to various people to raise them to high spiritual effort. But in the case of Mhalsapathi, no inducements and assurances were required, as Mhalsapathi had already achieved the high water mark of purity, virtue, austerity (tapas), and wisdom (Jnana), as far as that was possible in his circumstances.
Baba's watch over Mhalsapathi saved him from shipwreck in his food problems. At times, for long periods the starvation of the devotee and his family came perilously near the danger point. Then Baba suddenly made the devotee relax his vow. On one such occasion, Kakasaheb Dixit was somehow made aware of the danger. He wished to send up a ten rupee note to Mhalsapathi. To make sure that it would not be rejected, he enclosed it in an envelope and took it to Baba and without any other words asked Baba "Shall I send this"? Baba Said "Yes" He sent it, and it was accepted. Baba had his Antarjnan of the gift and had told Mhalsapathi’s wife some hours earlier: "Tell your husband, Baba is coming to the house, and he should not reject Baba". So when the envelope with the 10 rupee note came, Mhalsapathi was sure that Baba's message referred to the envelope and he accepted it.

An incident may be mentioned as to how Mhalsapathi served Baba and carried out his pious efforts. As usual, he had spread his cloth and Baba was lying on one half of that cloth, and he was lying on the other. Then Baba told him. 'I say, come on. To-day we shall be on the watch. The rude Rohilla (death from plague) wants to take away the wife of Nigoj Patil. I am praying to Allah to prevent that by Nama Smaran. You had better see that no one comes and disturbs me in my Nama Smaran.'

Accordingly Mhalsapathi kept awake to try and see that no disturbance took place. But, unfortunately, in the middle of the night the Nivas Mamlatdar had come. He and his peons took a fancy to take Baba's darshan, which could be had for nothing. So, at midnight, the peon of the Mamlatdar came and made a noise that darshan and udhi was wanted. Mhalsapathi tried to calm him down, but who could prevent official hauteur or jabardast? Mhalsapathi was trying to oblige the peon by getting down the steps to give him some udhi, but the noise disturbed Baba's trance. Baba sat up, and hurled foul curses and told Mhalsapathi. 'Arre Bhagat, you are a man with family! And don't you know what is taking place at Nigoj? This disturbance has caused a failure in my efforts. That Patil's wife is dead. Let that go. What has happened is for the best'. In his anger, Baba threw away Mhalsapathi’s cloth on him, telling him that he should not allow disturbance like that to Baba's holy work of contemplation and prayer.

The masjid, where Baba was staying, had become very old and dilapidated. Nana Saheb Chandorkar decided to reconstruct it. One day, after Mhalsapathi arrived at the masjid, Baba called him and asked him, ‘O Bhagat, who is that person standing outside?’ Mhalsapathi replied, ‘He is Nana Saheb’. Baba said, ‘Are Bhagat, I wanted to ask you one thing. This Nana, who is standing outside, says that he will construct a new Masjid. What do you think? Should we get a new Masjid constructed? Or is our old building good enough? Why construct a new one?’ Mhalsapathi very affectionately and humorously said to Baba, ‘Let him construct a new one! It will be convenient to both of us, to sit, as well as sleep’. This conversation took place between the two while smoking chillum. Baba gave permission to repair the masjid only after first asking Mhalsapathi. As directed by Baba, Mhalsapathi called Nana Saheb and performed the muhurat
by breaking a coconut and the work began.


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