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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Shri Bhakta Leelamrut by Dasganu Maharaj - Chapter 31

© Online Shirdi Sai Baba Book Reading
Om Shree Ganeshayanamah.! I pray to Lord Ganesh 'I pray to Lord Umapati.!!! 0 Lord! I am praying to you in the evening ("pradosh kal"). I am your child and do not ignore me. You have chosen the most pleasant Kailas mountain as your abode. You appeared in the past as angry Veerbhadra when Daksha Prajapati insulted you. O Pashupati, you are always alert to protect your devotees. Why then are you ignoring me 0 Merciful Parvatiraman! May be you think this sinful ignoramus is not worthy of your grace and therefore do not appear before me. O Shoolapani, O Umanath, remember the hunter and forgive me as you have forgiven him. I am your child and pray, do not ignore me.

The devotees of the Lord, no matter what caste they were born in, become one with Narayan. They all belong to one caste only, just as there is only one life force in every heart and only one person, the Lord himself. How then can there be any duality? The devotees do not hold different opinions, nor do they take pride in any particular faith. In the past, great saints like Kamal and Kabir appeared on this earth. Did the Lord think of their caste? The Lord hungers for devotion, which he finds but rarely. He sells himself to the devotee who makes a bid for his grace with pure devotion. All devotees are dear to Lord Hari, no matter what caste or circumstances they are born in.

About twelve miles to the south of the Godavari near Kopergaon, is the village Shirdi. There appeared in that village a very pious Maharaj called Sai Baba by his devotees. Nobody knew where he came from. If anybody asked him where he came from or what his name was, the Maharaj would answer, the answer coming pat like rain after, thunder: "I belong to no place, I am Nirguna. But bound as I am by karma I got this form- this body of mine. The universe is my abode. Brahma is my father and Maya my mother, and they gave me this body." His heart, however, was always full of bliss. He knew the world is mortal. This Maharaj brought off a number of miracles. I cannot describe all of them here.

Shirdi was a very small place in those days with just a few small shops dealing in groceries of everyday .

The Maharaj used to go round and get oil from the grocers, with which he lighted every evening a number of oil lamps in the mosque and in the temples -his daily ‘Deepotsava'. One day, the grocers, tired of giving oil gratis, decided to refuse as a body. They lied to him saying they had no oil. Baba was surprised that the grocers found it so easy to tell him a lie.

People tell lies, degrade themselves and move away from the Lord, falling eventually under the weight of their own karma. A liar is among the worst of sinners. One who always tells the truth attains the Lord. Truth is the path to salvation. Even penance and japa cannot match it. Truth is the river of bliss. One should stick to truth.

The Maharaj said nothing to the grocers. He went back to the mosque and performed a miracle. He set the earthen lamps all round the mosque and put wicks in them. The grocers, who had followed him, stood watching. "How can the lamps burn without oil?" they said to one another. "The man must be down-right mad; he is thinking of lighting the lamps without oil. Can any sane man think of maternity for a sterile woman? Sure he is a mad man, a leader of the ignorant."

Nanasaheb Dengale, a Sai devotee, did not agree with them. He said to them, "You are all blind. Do not despise him like that. Shree Hari knows what powers this man has. If a diamond lies in a heap of stones, would you call it a stone? Keep quiet for a while and see what the Fakir does now. Don't make hasty statements."

There was a little oil in Baba's tin can just enough to light one small lamp. Baba put some water in it and drank the mixture.

He then filled the oil lamps with water and lighted them and lo and behold, the lamps burned, as with oil. Awed, Dengale fell at Baba's feet. The people of Shirdi seeing this miracle, began to wonder about Baba's powers. They said that God himself had incarnated in Shirdi. They came all together, fell at Baba's feet and said: We have sinned against you. Forgive us our sin. You are our dear mother and we your children. 0 merciful one, please do not be angry with us. You are Mercy, Knowledge, Virtue and Peace embodied in human form" Baba then said to them, "Listen to me carefully. Act in such a way that the Lord will be pleased with you. Never tell lies. Be truthful always. Never deceive anybody. Spend your wealth on good causes according to your capacity. You will be benefited and meet Narayan in the end. Remember my words and act accordingly." Chastened, the people of Shirdi bowed down to Baba and went back happily to their homes.

Sai Maharaj was a great yogi. One cannot narrate all his leelas, which are beyond human comprehension.

Here is a leela described to Chitambar by Dengale (the Sai devotee referred to earlier). Baba's bed was a wooden plank measuring 15 cms by 150 cms. The plank was suspended from the ceiling of the mosque (where Baba lived) by means of old rags. The mosque itself was in ruins so that even the lizards had deserted it. The plank hung so close to the ceiling that no one could sit upright on it - one could sit on it only by bending one's body like an arch. The plank was so fragile that it would give way if one just stepped on it. On such a bed Baba used to sleep keeping oil lamps burning on either side. Those who did not believe this went to the mosque to see for themselves and found to their amazement that the report was true.

Word of the miracle went round and people began crowding near the mosque at night to see it but of idle curiosity or just for fun. This annoyed Baba and one day he broke the plank to pieces and got rid of the nuisance. Soon Baba's fame spread far and wide and people came in hundreds to the mosque so that he might bless them and fulfill their wordly desires. Shirdi became a place of pilgrimage like Varanasi because of Baba and became known all over. As the soil derives its importance from the flower in bloom, the socket from the diamond studded in it, a piece of cloth from the golden thread woven in it, so Shirdi became an important holy place because of Sai Maharaj.

Once Narayan Govind Chandorkar, known as Nanasaheb went to Shirdi for Baba's darshan, accompanied by Ramdas Haridas from Wai, Bapu Nagarkar and Kangaonkar.

Ramdas Haridas was to perform a kirtan in Nagar the following day so he was impatient to leave Shirdi and told the others that they should leave with him immediately "Enough of this darshan " he said. "Let's hurry up and catch the train to Nagar", Baba told Nanasaheb to stay a while, have his meal at Shirdi and then go to Nagar. Hearing this Nanasaheb became relaxed and set about making arrangements for food with Kangaonkar. Ramdas on the other hand, restless as ever said to Bapu Nagarkar, "I have to perform the kirtan in Nagar tomorrow. Enough of this mad fellow. It is all right for Nanasaheb; he has plenty of money . I'll have to beg in the streets if I follow Baba. I cannot earn a paisa here. Let's go to the station and catch the next train to Nagar".

They left accordingly leaving Nanasaheb and Kangaonkar in Shirdi. Sai Maharaj then said to Nanasaheb; "Look at these people. In their selfishness they desert even their companions. Remember Nana, to take with you only such companions as will stick with you till the end of the world. A man's companion must be like fragrance to the flower." After the two had their food. Baba said to Nanasaheb," You may leave now but remember what I told you. There is still time for the train to arrive." Nana bowed down at Sai's feet and left for the railway station. There they found Bapu Nagarkar and Ramdas waiting for the train. They had no food and were feeling hungry. Seeing Nanasaheb, they hung their heads in shame. In reply to Nanasaheb's query, Nagarkar said ruefully, "Today the train is late by three hours. We hurried to the station disobeying Sai and here we are dying of hunger, enjoying the fruit of our disobedience. You did the right thing, while we made fools of ourselves."

Appa Kulkarni of Shirdi was a great devotee of Sai Baba. He was once charged with embezzling government money, may be because of his past karma. God alone knew whether the charges were true or false but people started whispering that Appa was a cheat. Appa was scared that he might be taken to court and tried. Soon, sure enough, he received summons from the Deputy Collector asking him to face a court of enquiry. Appa feared that he would never return to Shirdi once he left the place, so before leaving, he went up to Baba with folded hands and pleaded for help. "You are a Sadhu, a Satpurusha. You know whether the charge is true or not. I do not wish to say anything about it but please save me." He caught hold of Baba's feet and started weeping. He then went on to say; "People say I am your Kalyan.(Kalyan was Saint Ramdas' closest disciple). If I were sentenced, your name would be tarnished, You are my father and mother, my sole refuge."

Moved by the Bhakta's earnest pleas. Baba said to Appa, "The Deputy Collector is at present at Nevasa on the banks of the river Pravara. There, in Nevasa, is present the Lord himself, to whom Dyaneswara prayed while writing the Dynaneswari (Bhawartha Deepika). Pray to him before you present yourself at the court of enquiry." Appa did accordingly, and what a wonder! He was acquitted of the charge of embezzlement and his honour vindicated. The next day Appa returned to Shirdi and told Baba everything. Baba said to him, "The Lord controls everything. He turns the impossible into the possible."

Narayan Krishna Penshe did not believe in Sai Baba but his wife -Mai did. She had a keen desire to go to Shirdi and have Baba's darshan. She pleaded with her husband to take her to the holy man of Shirdi but in vain. "My dear" said Penshe, "there is no holy man in Shirdi. There is only a mad Muslim fellow cheating the foolish people who consider him a saint. Don't insist on having the darshan of such a person. He is simply a beggar who lives off the alms obtained by begging from door to door. The lady was very much disappointed. However, once Penshe happened to go to Shirdi with his wife in the ordinary course of his official work, and while he was busy attending to his duties, his wife went and had Baba's darshan. She was filled with bliss on bowing to Baba. On her return home she told, her husband of her experience and urged him to go and pray to Baba instead of slandering him. Thereupon Penshe went to have Baba's darshan. Seeing him approach the mosque, Baba picked up a stone and shouted at him, "I'll hit you if you come forward. I am a mad low caste Muslim while you are a high-caste Brahmin. Beware of coming near. You'll lose your piety."

Hearing the echo of his own words, Penshe realized that Baba is omnipresent. He said to himself "We talked about him at home and yet he knew what had passed between us. He knows everything. He is present everywhere like air," Later Penshe sought the help of Appa Kulkarni and secured Baba's darshan.

A few days after this incident, Sai Maharaj casually said to Appa, "Thieves have come to our village. They are not the ordinary run of thieves. They do not steal anything tangible from the house. Their eyes are set on the most valuable part of one's wealth. What is more, nobody can catch them in the act of stealing. They will be attacking you first. Go and make proper arrangements ." Appa did not understand the meaning of these words. However, he hired some Bhils to guard his house and patrol the lanes.

At night Appa fell ill with cholera. He suffered from loose motions and vomiting. His body grew cold, his eyes sank deeper and deeper and his pulse became weaker. Seeing his condition Appa’s wife got frightened, rushed to the mosque, fell at Baba's feet and started crying. She said to Baba that her husband was dying and asked for udhi to save him. Baba said in reply "Do not grieve".

Death awaits all those that are born. Birth and death are deeds of the Almighty. No one lives or dies here. If you see with the eye of knowledge, you will realize you are no different. When the clothes become old and frayed, you throw them away. In the same way, the soul, which is immortal casts off the worn out body. Do not therefore, ask for "udhi to patch up the old rags. Do not stop him from going. Let him leave. He has reached his life's goal. He will go to heaven. He is right now-changing the clothes before me ". Thus saying, Baba sent her home and Appa died soon after. The next day a couple of more people went down with cholera. The people of Shirdi were frightened and begged Baba to stop the scourge from spreading. Baba said to them. "Only seven people will die of cholera and after that Shirdi will be rid of the disease." Exactly seven people died of cholera in Shirdi. Baba's prediction came true to the last word.

Kondya Sutar was a devotee of Baba who loved Baba in his own special way. One day Baba asked Kondya to go to the Khalwadi (the place where the harvest is threshed) and put out the fire there. He said that the central stack of the harvest.had caught fire. Frightened, Kondya rushed to the Khalwadi and made anxious enquiries but found no signs of fire. Returning, he complained to Baba saying that he had been put to unnecessary trouble and that his feet were scorched through walking in the hot sun. Baba replied," Listen. My words are never untrue. Look behind you and see the smoke for yourself. The harvest stacks lie close together in a heap but the central stack is on fire." It was a summer afternoon and a sprightly wind was blowing. Trees were breaking and roofs were flying. "Fire! Fire!" shouted the people of Shirdi as they rushed to Baba and begged him to save the harvest and thus save the people and the cattle of the village from hunger and death. Moved by their appeal. Baba got up at once and went to the 'Khalwadi." He poured water around the central stack which was on fire. He then said to the villagers. "Only this stack will burn. This one is the share of Agni. Do not try to extinguish the fire. No harm will come to the other stacks." Baba's words came true. By saving the rest of the stacks, Baba demonstrated his power over Agni. All the five elements are in fact under the control of holy men like Baba. In the evening people came for Baba's darshan, Nanasaheb among them, Baba said to Nana, "O Nana, look at these greedy people. Today the harvest of the Bhagchand (the owner of the central stack) burned down to ashes, and here he is moaning his loss. Gain and loss, birth and death are all under the control of God. These foolish people do not realize this. They dance with joy when they gain and start crying when they lose. The joy as well as the sorrow comes of a feeling of ownership but it is meaningless to claim ownership. The burnt-down stack did not belong to the Marwadi. It consisted of hay which came into existence from seeds borne by the earth. The cloud watered them and the sun kneaded them into shape with his own hands. Thus, the earth, the cloud and the sun are the real owners of the stack. All things in this world are produced in this manner. We certainly are not their owners. Nana, ask the Marwadi why he is weeping over the loss of something which was never his and worrying me in the bargain. What the Lord gives with one hand, he takes away with the other. In our ignorance we think we are the owners of things and this sense of ownership is the root cause of our joy and sorrow. Shethji, go home now in peace. You will make good your loss in some other business."

Everybody was pleased to listen to this discourse. Nanasaheb his face radiant with joy and peace, bowed down and said to Baba: "O Lord! You are like the moon while we devotees are like the chakor birds. You are the ocean of knowledge. Kindly remove our ignorance. Tell me who is God. Where does he live? What should one do to meet him? If this world is unreal why should one get involved in it? Please explain these things to me." Baba said, "I shall explain everything to you some other time."

Ganesh Vishnu Berey, a district inspector in the department of agriculture, was another Sai devotee like Chandorkar. He went to Shirdi for Baba's darshan. As he bowed down, Baba told him to leave Shirdi immediately. "Don't waste even a single minute. Drive your tonga fast and reach Kopergaon as early as you can." Obeying Baba, Berey left Shirdi at once. Another tonga was following Berey's. The owner of the tonga suggested to Berey that he should ride slowly so that the two tongas could go together. Berey paid no attention to this request and drove very fast. He soon crossed the Godavari and reached Kopergaon station, where he learned that the other tonga had been stopped by highwaymen and its passengers robbed and beaten up. A grateful Berey prayed to Baba thanking him for saving him from this calamity.

Haripant was a devout Brahmin from Pune. He was kind-hearted and believed in good deeds. He was rich but childless. He wished to become an "agnihotri' but he could not do so as he was a widower. People advised him to remarry but Haripant would not listen as he was already in his fifties. "I would become a laughing-stock," he said, "If I were to marry at my age, I am just not worthy enough to be a father. That is all. If, however, any saint tells me to remarry, I may."
Sometime later, Haripant went to Shirdi. No sooner did he bow down to Baba than he said, "Haribau, get married soon. Lord Shankar will give you a child and fulfill your heart's desire." Having secured a saint's permission to many, Haripant now wanted to consult an astrologer. He came to know of a famous astrologer in Nagar. Haripant consulted him and after getting the go-ahead from him. He got remarried with the blessings of Baba. Needless to say, he became a staunch devotee of Sai Baba.

I now bow down to Sai Baba. He is Grace and Knowledge personified and He fulfills the desires of his devotees. All our difficulties will be overcome if we but remember Sai's feet. He is ever ready to shower his grace on us. Those who listen to this Sai Charitra will be saved by the Lord. In the next chapter I shall recount the advice given by Sai Baba to three persons. By listening to that one will gain all the four purusharthas. O dear devotee, listen to these childlike words of Das Ganu. Offer your forehead at the feet of Sai Baba and he will fulfill all your desires. If anyone recites Sai Charitra, his sins will be burnt down and he will receive the protection of Narayan. This is Baba's holy 'charitra" from Shree Bakta Leelamrit. AH you devotees,drink from it to your heart's content.


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