SHRI SAI’S GURU, SHRI SAI’S MANIFESTATION IN SHIRDI - Continued
With this object in view, when therefore the leaders of Shirdi village Gopalrao Gunde and others approached Baba with a request to fix a day for holding annual fare at Shirdi, He said, "fix up Ramnavmi, the birth day (date) of Shri Ramchandra;" for He knew that it being a Hindu holy day they would surely run upto Shirdi to attend the fare and as to Mohammedan, they would also come, as this was the only day fixed for annual fare; the object of their common worship being Baba in order to please Him at any rate, they would sink all their differences of non-essentials, methods of worship and meet as friends or brother-sons of a common father-and for ever forget their pristine animosity, hatred, antipathy, In due course this hope was fulfilled, though at first fanaticism of one party took an ugly form and might have burst out in undesirable feuds and fights or riots but for Baba’s holy and powerful presence. The narration of a few of such incidents would not be out of place here.
The difference in the forms of worship of one and the same God between Hindus and Muslims coupled with ignorance of His real nature and want of toleration is the root cause of all their dissensions, disputes, strife’s etc.; Liberal minded educated Muslims understand this and they therefore do not join their orthodox section which cannot look upon Hindu ways of worship with the equanimity and toleration of really educated cultured men. In Shirdi as well, the orthodox Muslims believed that Hindus by their anointing Baba with sandal pastes, ceremonial worship and the noisy waving of lights before Him were compelling "the Mohammedan" Baba to commit what they thought to be a ‘Sin’ according to the tenets of Muslim religion. If therefore these Hindus were stopped from coming to Baba all this irreligion would be checked for ever. They therefore many a times spoke to Baba, tried to persuade Him to prevent Hindus from carrying out such noisy programmes before Him but Baba seemed to turn a deaf ear to all that they said. In the year 1894 therefore the ignorant Shirdi Muslims brought to Shirdi a Kazi (a religious teacher) from Sangamner (of Ahmednagar) and arming themselves with canes and Lathis under the leadership of that Kazi, stood at the Masjid entrance to prevent all Hindus from approaching Baba and worshiping Him with their materials of worship, such as sandal paste, flower, lamps etc. As per his daily routine, Mhalasapati came there to offer his worship to Baba but seeing the mob armed with lethal weapons at the gate of the Masjid he stood at a distances, mentally offered Him his Pooja and was just retracing his steps home when Baba Himself called him and asked him to carry out to finish his daily worship. The Muslims stood aghast; and could do nothing; they then slowly dispersed and since then never though of obstructing Hindus from worshipping Baba in their own way.
Twenty years after, a Pathan fanatic of the same orthodox, ignorant section came to Shirdi. He hated the Hindus for the same reason as above mentioned and so one mid-night when some Hindus were sleeping by his side in Chawdi, he said to Baba, "If you are being spoilt, it is because of these sleeping Hindus. I will make short work of them (kill them) if only you will permit me to do so,’ Baba replied, "the fault, if any, is not theirs but mine; instead of Killing them, therefore kill me so that all the things you hate would end.'’ But the Pathan could not muster courage to do that and so the sleeping Hindus were also saved.
Another Pathan, whom, on account of his bustling shouting prayers and wild manners people called Rohilla, worshipped Baba as his prophet and adored Him as such. But one day in the fit of his fanaticism, he forgot all this and thinking that he should stop Baba once for all from going astray in the way that He did by allowing Hindus to anoint him, worship him in the noisy way, he rushed upon Baba with a big stick to murder Him. Baba simply cast a glance at him and caught his wrist. This slight gesture of resistance of Baba rendered him powerless and he fell to the ground and was able to get up only with the help of two persons. The wonderful strength that Baba showed in resisting him fully convinced the Rohilla that Baba was the real prophet and thereafter let off examining the propriety or impropriety of Baba’s actions.
A much respected Mohammedan Fakir was in Baba’s constant company but was ignorant of the principles of true religion. One day the thought of converting Baba’s Hindu Devotees to Mahomedanism; so when Baba went out to Lendi as per His daily routine. He polluted the water kept ready for Hindu drink by dropping in each tumbler the residue of the water he had drunk. In his ignorance he thought that the conversion of the Hindus would be complete so soon as they drink the residue of the water drunk by him; he never thought that for real conversion of religion the heart has got to be converted. However that may be, by His omniscience Baba knew the trick the Fakir had played to carry out his programmer of conversion of Hindus in a mass; so on his return from Lendi he became mighty angry and his anger reached the highest peak; he broke the earthen drinking pot, threw away all the tumblers filled with polluted water and went on abusing for a long long time say an hour or two. At last the Fakir’s conspiracy of the conversion of Hindus in a mass leaked out and the Fakir got ashamed of the childish ignorance he had shown.
But the above unpleasant incidents of Muslim fanaticism were not thereafter repeated at all; for the annual fair of Ramnavmi gave the Muslims and Hindus an opportunity to meet and to understand one another and as a result thereof each gave up the disgust and hatred he had for the other and looked upon each other’s way of worship with eyes of equanimity and toleration. When therefore the Hindus started celebrating the Ramnavmi Festival by Katha, Kirtan, Arti with Band, Drums, Cymbals etc.; and Mohammedan took out their sandal procession the same day and went to the Dwarkamayee, each party joined the other in their worship of Baba. Thus Hindus joined the sandal procession and Muslims also took part in the celebration of Ramnavmi-festival. Particularly when in the evening two big flags were taken in procession and jointly hailed the putting up of these flags on the Dwarkamayee. The flags that were and are being so put up annually seem to be a standing testimony of the Hindu-Muslim unity at least in Shirdi, and, if we may say so, amongst Baba’s devotees of the whole of India.
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