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Shri Sai Baba always said, “Allah Malik”, or ‘Allah achcha karega” (Good will happen with God’s will). He never took any credit for the miraculous doings, but attributed it to God.
Shri Sai Baba had a Divinity, which was evident right from the moment He stepped in Shridi. There were many, who the moment they cast their eyes on Him could immediately recognize His divinity.
Gangagir, of Vaishnava sect visited Shirdi very frequently. When he first saw Baba carrying pitchers of water in both hands, he said, “Blessed is this Shirdi to have got this jewel. This Man carrying water today is no ordinary soul. As Shirdi has accumulated merits, it has secured this jewel.”
A well-known saint, Anandnath of Yeola Math, a disciple of Akkalkot Maharaj, when he saw Baba, exclaimed, “He is a precious diamond; you will realize this in the near future.” The prophecies were made when Baba was young. And in due course of time they were proved right.
Gaulibuva, 95-year old Warkari (pilgrim on foot), who regularly visited Padharpur, also was devoted to Sai Baba and visited Shirdi every year. He would say, “This is the merciful Pandharinath Incarnate.”
There are unparalleled events that were noted by devotees, which is not possible for a mere human being to perform. A few examples cited below will elaborate this point- it is believed that a bath in the holy waters of Prayag, the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna is sacred. Once, Das Ganu wished to go to Prayag for a bath, and sought Baba's permission for doing so. Baba replied, “It is not necessary to travel so far. Shirdi itself is Prayag. Let there be firm faith in your mind”. Then wonder of wonders happened! When Das Ganu placed his head on Baba's feet, out came a stream of Ganga and Yamuna from both His toes. At the sight of this miracle, Das Ganu was choked with emotion.
On one Makar Sankranti day, Megha wanted to apply sandalwood paste and bathe Baba with water from the Godavari River. He considered Baba as Lord Shiva, and knew abhishek (sacred bath) on that auspicious day, would please Shiva. Baba tried dissuading Megha, but gave in when He was persistent. So, before sunrise Megha set out to traverse 16 miles (both ways), without an umbrella or any other protection.
He brought the holy water and made preparations for the bath at noon. Baba then again asked Megha to spare Him from this bath saying what a fakir like Him has to do with Ganga water. But Megha was persistent, so Baba came and sat on the wooden board and said, “The head is the important part, so pour a little water on it, which is as good as a whole bath. At least do this much.” Megha acquiesced.
Then he lifted the pot and in a burst of overwhelming love cried 'Har Har Gange' and poured the entire pot of water on Baba's head. But when he kept the pot down and looked at Baba's head, he was astonished to see only Baba's head was wet, but not a drop stayed on His clothes or body. This was Baba'sleela of indulging a devotee's wish and reaffirming his faith.
Baba had perfect control over the nature. He could at mere glance enhance or lighten the fire, or clear the overcast skies.
One evening, a terrible storm started blowing in Shirdi. Wild winds, heavy rain and lightning struck out with ferocity. Bird, beasts and man took shelter and grew frightened with every passing moment. There are many Gods and Goddesses in Shirdi, but the people made a supplication to their living God- Sai Baba. And hearing their prayers, His heart melted. He came to the edge of the Mosque and shouted loudly. Immediately the rain and wind abated and after a while stopped. Everyone thanked Baba and went their way.
Once in the afternoon, the flames from the Dhuni, started flaring up. In no time it started reaching the wooden planks of the ceiling in the Mosque. Everyone present was watching the growing fire with dismay, as it could burn down the Mosque. But none dared to do anything to quell it or rouse Baba from His trance. Then Baba Himself realised the situation and started striking His baton against the column and looking at the Dhuni said 'Calm Down' and with every stroke, the flames started subsiding. Baba had perfect control over the elements.
On Dhanteras Day in 1910, Baba was sitting near the Dhuni putting logs in the fire. But all of a sudden instead of a log, He thrust His hand in the fire and scorched it.
Shama who was standing nearby noticed this and ran immediately. Holding Baba tightly round the waist he pulled Baba away from the Dhuni. Baba, with a start, came out of a trance. Shama enquired why He had thrust His hand in the fire. Baba explained, “When the blacksmith called out to his wife, she began to blow the bellows vigorously, unmindful of the child she was holding in the armpit. The vigorous activity resulted in the child slipping and falling into the fire. I picked up the child and scorched my hand, but at least the child's life is saved.”
On seeing Baba's severely scorched hand, Shama wrote a letter to Nanasaheb Chandorkar, and the latter came to Shirdi with Dr. Paramanand. From the day the hand was burnt, Bhagoji Shinde was massaging it with ghee, then covered it with a leaf and bandaged it tightly every day.
Baba kept on postponing, showing His hand to the doctor, by saying, “Allah is our vaidya (healer).” In due course of time, the hand healed and everyone was relieved.
But till Baba's Mahasamdhi (1918), every morning Bhagoji, regularly tended to His hand, massaging it and then bandaging it. Bhagoji, had his body festered with bleeding sores, due to leprosy. His fingers and toes had fallen and his entire body was repulsive, due to the stinking sores. Baba, being a siddha, did He really need treatment? It was for the welfare of the devotees that He allowed the service.
One day Baba was sitting in His usual place in the Mosque; suddenly He shouted “Oh!” The next moment His headdress and kafni were drenched and water started dripping from it for more than half an hour. Soon a pool of water gathered near Baba. The devotees were amazed, but none dared ask Baba how He got drenched all of a sudden. They silently swept the floor and dried Baba's clothes.
After three days Baba received a telegram from a devotee, Jehangirji Framji Daruwala, who thanked Baba for saving his life. The full story connected with the incident was revealed later. Jehangirji was a naval captain during the Russo- Japanese war and he found all his ships, except three, were sunk by the enemy. When he feared that the three including his own would soon be sunk, he took out Baba's photograph from his pocket and with tears in his eyes prayed to Baba to save him and his three ships. Baba at once appeared and towed the ships to safety.
Baba had the eight siddhis (extraordinary powers) like anima, mahima, laghima, etc. serving Him with folded hands. These siddhis allow a being to change size, shape, etc at will. And illustrating this point is the following leela- a devotee gave Baba a four feet long and three-quarter foot wide wooden plank. Baba suspended the plank from the ceiling with worn out clothes. The plank was seven feet above the ground and Baba would keep four earthen lamps, one on each corner and lie on the plank. The devotees wondered how Baba climbed such a height without upsetting the earthen lamps, etc. Evidently, the siddhis had to do something with this incredible leela.
There were scores of events, which highlighted the prowess of Baba. He time and again went to the aid of devotees, saving their lives, warning them off danger; and for ever working for their worldly and spiritual progress.
As Baba’s mahima (fame) kept spreading, more and more people started thronging to Shirdi. The devotees, who came to Baba, placed flowers at His feet and prostrated in reverence. Baba tried dissuading them and suggested they pray to the God in their temples. But the devotees said that they had accepted Him as their living God. Over a period of time, Baba relented.
In 1900, Bapurao N Chandorkar, aged four, innocently applied sandal paste on Baba's forehead, as they apply to God’s image; Baba did not object. After this, the others were allowed to apply it too. Prior to this, only Mhalsapati was allowed to apply the paste to Baba's throat; the others applied it to His feet.
The first man to offer arati pooja to Baba was Tatyasaheb Nulkar. One day he lit two lamps and waved it before Baba; thence, he did it regularly. After his demise, it was conducted by Megha; and after Megha’s death Bapusaheb Jog performed the pooja.
From 1908 the individual worship turned into a congregational worship. There were no fixed rituals for the pooja or songs for the arati, till Krishnarao Bhishma wrote the songs for the arati. Later, some songs of Das Ganu and Upasani Baba were also added. From 1904, Dada Kelkar started performing Guru pooja on Guru Poornima day, which continues till today.
Though the faith of Baba’s bhaktas (devotees) kept on getting firmer and firmer that He was none other than God, Baba Himself never accepted this. He always said, “Yade Haq”, which means ‘I remember God’ and never said, “Anhal Haq”, which means ‘I am God’.
Another instance highlights this- once a number of devotees came to Baba and asked Him whether the Puranas were true. Baba replied in the affirmative. Then the devotees asked Him, who were Rama and Krishna; Baba replied that they were Avatars (incarnations) of God. The devotees informed Baba that Prof. G G Narke did not accept Him as God. Baba said, “What he says is true. God exists for those who believe. Follow your faith and as you are devotees, you should not listen to such talk. I am your father and you should not speak like that.”
Baba was a Siddha (possessing extraordinary powers) but behaved like aSadhaka (spiritual aspirant). 'Allah Malik' was constantly on His lips. He knew no attachment to things of this world or beyond. He was totally absorbed in the Self. His speech was nectar sweet. He was ever vigilant for the welfare of all. For Him, the rich and poor were alike, even the animals were one with Him.
He was wise but never made a pompous show of it. He did not leave His place, yet knew everything that took place in the world. Though outwardly He held a royal durbar (court) regularly and related a thousand stories, yet, inwardly He was committed to silence. His inner self was like the tranquil sea. He was beyond dualities (joy and sorrow, love and hate, etc.) He did not aspire to be recognized or honoured.
Baba was a God or Guru a devotee will realize this with Baba’s Grace.
O Sadguru Shri Swami Samartha
Prof.Hemlata Joshi Deshpande Nimonkar
Absorbed in deep meditation of Swami Samarth at dawn
Prof.Hemlata Joshi Deshpande Nimonkar
The Divine sound of AUM reverberated in the air
Prof.Hemlata Joshi Deshpande Nimonkar
Jodoniya kar charani thevila matha|
[ I bow to you by keeping my head on your feet ,with my folded hands O My Spiritual Master Sainath Maharaj !! Please listen to my humble request. Whether I have feelings or no feelings! And yet , I have come to you for your shelter. I surrender myself to your feet. Please look at me with your favorable and kind glance. I constantly feel like sitting close to your feet! Please give me a little space close at your feet. Sant Tukaram says,’’ We are your very simple and crooked children. But we will cross this worldly ocean at your hands with your auspicious name!!]
The most auspicious dawn of the Rama-Navami Festival in Shirdi…..The atmosphere was very pleasant and full of fresh delightful and spiritual vibrations!!! The sky was so clear and divine! The sweet and musical chirping sound of birds was heard from the trees! The sweet and divine musical tunes of the Raag Bhoop filled the whole atmosphere in Shirdi! The early morning prayer, ‘Kakad Aarti’ had started in the beautiful and magnificent temple of Sadguru Shri Sai Baba!! The profound and deep sweet musical notes had resounded again and again in the air and drowning the hearts of thousands of devotees with love and devotion for their dearest Sadguru Shri Sai Baba!! That divine atmosphere was so sacred, so blissful, so profound and auspicious that it started touching to the souls of all individuals with love and only love and devotion to Shri Sai Baba!!
‘’My Sai! My dearest Sadguru Sai Baba!! Tears started running from my eyes and heart was filled with the vibrant feelings of happiness, love and respect for my Spiritual Master Shri Sai!!
Walking on with the rhythm of those sweet musical tunes, myself, my brothers Chandrashekhar, Anant, my sisters Nima, Uma and Mangal , Great- Grandsons and Great -Grand daughters of Late Shri Nansaheb Nimonkar- Deshpande , the most intimate and loving devotee of Sadguru Shri Sai Baba!! We had taken the early bath and entered in Dwarakamai hurriedly!! My mind was full of joyful thoughts.’’ Today is Rama Navami Celebration in Shirdi,! We have to perform the Mahapooja of the sacred flags on the auspicious Samadhi of our dearest Sadguru Shri Baba. There will be divine bhajans and keertans in the temple! We have to smear the Samadhi with the sandalwood paste, spread the flags on it, apply the saint, offer the garlands of rose flowers and sweets and carry the flags on the shoulders in the huge procession!! ! All activities were full of happiness and joy and full of real love and devotion to Sai Baba!!
When we entered in Dwarakamai, the huge photo of Sai Baba that was kept on the red coloured velvet bed, attracted our immediate attention!Baba was seated comfortably in his typical sitting posture with the Tripund- Tilak [Three white lines of pure vibhutee] on his forehead,adorned in the white Kafni and the head covered with white cloth!! He was looking at us quietly with his big, bright and lustrous eyes!! As if his eyes were showering his great love, compassion and grace on us and saying,’’ Come my children, I am waiting for you! Waiting for a long time!’’
Feelings of tremendous love and respect rose in my heart for our Divine Sadguru mother Sai Baba!! Hurriedly I rushed forward and kept my head on those sacred feet with great respect!! Tears started running from my eyes, sobs of intense emotion started coming out of my throat, my body was thrilled with the vibrations of his divine love!! The coronation of my tears had started on his sacred feet!! I was unable to understand what was happening!!’’ My Sai, My Sadguru Sai!! Baba, were you really waiting for us so intensely? You are not our Sadguru only but the Father, Mother and everything that is precious in this world!! You are our entire being!! You are our Guru Maulee, the divine mother!! Baba, please accept our worship with love and affection…….!!’’
We always read the Divine Sai Satcharitra of Sai Baba sitting before his loving image at the early morning on the Ram Navami day in Dwarkamai. The devotional worship of reading this treatise is going on continuously for years together since the past! It is still continuous till today in the present times during the whole year! Whenever I look at his divine face, all feelings of love and devotion awake very strongly and shower my love through tears on his feet like this all the time! This is really a great experience of the divine love of Sai Baba in my life! I feel that he is my Divine mother and I am his ignorant loving daughter!! This was the proof of the eternal relationship of the Sadguru and the disciple that existed in our family for life after life in the continuous manner!! This experience is received by many Sai devotees in their lives right from the past till today! Shri Sai Baba is really like the Family God to them!! If you pray him with all your heart, your prayer certainly reaches to him! No mediator is required for this noble act of your true devotional relationship with Shri Sai Baba!!
‘’Jaya Mani Jaisa Bhav ,Taisa taisa anubhav| Davisi Dayaghana |Aisee tuzee hee Mav||
[The individual will experience the true grace of Shri Baba according to his own feelings of love and devotion to Sai Baba!]
It is impossible to meet the Sadguru unless you are graced by God! But the master key of Sai Baba is totally different. , he will love you!! If you have faith and patience, he will shower all his grace on you!! Baba loves and protects his devotee with his motherly gaze like the female tortoise. Shri Sai Baba had always gave an experience of the Divine Joy [ The Brahmananda] to his devotees just by looking at them without giving any particular Guru mantra directly!!
My Great- Grand Father Late Shri Nanasaheb alias Shankarrao Raghunath Deshpande- Nimonkar was one of Shri Baba’s most intimate disciples. Other disciples like Madhavrao Deshpande[ Shyama]. Gopalrao Buti, Late Shri Tarkhad, Shri Dabholkar Kote Patil were also blessed by Sai Baba with great love and affection in their life time like Nansaheb Nimonkar. Each one had worshipped Shri Baba as per his abilities with tremendous love and devotion and received his true grace and Guru –Disciple relationship with him that continued in their next generations also! This is the real greatness of Sadguru shri Sai Baba! The celebration Of Ram Navami started in the life time of Sai Baba. He had commanded Shri Nanasaheb Nimonkar to hoist the big sacred flag on Dwarkamai [The Masjid- Mosque] and Damusheth Kasar also to hoist another flag.
These sacred flags are spread on the Samadhi on the background of the holy chanting of Sanskrit Mantras. Beautiful garlands of Roses and Subja leaves are also spread on the top of them. When the Mahapooja of the sacred Image of Shri Sai Baba and his Samadhi is performed, these flags are carried on the shoulders of hundreds people with great respect before the royal chariot of Shri Sai Baba in the grand procession that moves in Shirdi very gracefully. The musical band plays the music; the trumpets are blown .Thousands of people dance with great joy and make loud proclamations of Sai’s sacred name with great cheer! The whole atmosphere is very colourful and cheerful.Then the flags are hoisted on Dwarakamai at 7 pm in the evening. They flutter gracefully on the top of Dwarkamai during the whole year till the next Rama Navami day comes!! This tradition is going for the last one hundred and fifteen years in Shirdi as per the command of Shri Sai Baba till today!!
Late Nanasaheb Deshpande was the Land Lord of Nimon town and the Honorary Magistrate of Sangamner in the Ahmednagar District during the British time. He was respected as the Leader of the town in the society. When he came in Shirdi and met Shri Sai Baba, Sai Baba embraced him and said,’’ Our Guru –Disciple relationship is quite old! It existed and continued since the last 72 generations !!’’ Nanasaheb Nimonkar received the opportunity to remain in the holy company of Sai Baba as the most intimate disciple during the whole span of his life later on till he had departed from this world. His devotion and love for Sai Baba was so deep and strong that he had sacrificed all his honourable titles including his house and land and came to Shirdi along with his wife and devoted his whole life in the service of his Sadguru Shri Sai Baba. He had never spent his time in other activities except the service of his great spiritual master. He used to go home only for the bath, morning worship of the family God and come back to Sai Baba again to serve him all the time. He was always very active and engrossed in the work. Sai Baba used to call him’’ Mhatare Kaka [ Old uncle] with great love! Nansaheb used to take Sai Baba to Lendi Baug quite regularly. Sai Baba inspired Nansaheb to read Sanskrit Classic books and Vishnu Sahasranam also. When Sai Baba entered in the Samadhi, Nanansaheb Nimonkar also did not live long. During the last three days of his life he was constantly chanting Shri Baba’s name only! He used to call his wife also as Sai Baba !! He used to call every one as ‘Sai Baba’ because he used to see his spiritual master only in every individual!!
Dwarkamai was an old masjid[ mosque] in the broken condition. So Late Nanasaheb Chandorkar accepted the responsibility to reconstruct it properly. But he could not be able to find time for this great mission due to his work in the office. As a result, he handed over this responsibility to Shri Nimonkar who had accepted it with great love. He started the work with all his sincerity and devotion. But, Sai Baba used to break the half constructed walls or throw stones and create many obstructions in the construction work!! That was the test of Shri Nanasahrb Nimonkar’s patience and devotion. Nimonkar never uttered a single word of anger or disappointment for Sai Baba’s angry reaction. He used to start the work again silently once again even at late night also. As ‘ ‘’Punashch Harihi Om!!’’ This whole process used to get repeated again and again but Nimonkar never failed in the test Of sadguru Shri Sai Baba. Finally, the construction work of Dwarkamai was completed with great success by Shri Nimonkar!
Shri Nimonkar used to offer his service with all his heart in the temple such as serving the food to the devotees who used visit Shri Sai Baba. He used to do cleaning and sweeping work also in Dwarakamai. Devotees like Chandorkar, Nimonkar, Mhalaspati, and Madhavrao Deshpande used to sit close to Sai Baba at night in Dwarkamai and share interesting conversations with Sai Baba, and get his wise and spiritual guidance in the most intimate manner! All these devotees came close to Baba because they had given the proper answers to the challenges and tests of Sai Baba with their extreme faith, devotion and love to him!!
My Grandfather, Late shri Somnath Shankar Deshpande – Nimonkar[ Son of Nanasaheb] was the CID Inspector during the British time. His job was transferrable. He had to move all over India. Sai Baba gave him a strange order once! He said to Somnath,’’ Somu, when you will come to Shirdi to meet me, fire your gun in the sky! That will be an intimation of your arrival!’ My grandfather Somnath also used to obey Shri Baba’s command very sincerely!! When Somanth used to fire his gun, follow Sai Baba’s command, Baba used to utter with joy ‘’My Somu has come!!’
No sooner did Somnath arrive and bow at the feet of Baba, than Sai Baba used to demand the Dakshina [alms] from him. Somnath used to give the silver Rupee coins in Baba’s hands. Baba used to rub those silver coins with his finger and say,’’This is my Somu’s Rupayya!” Later on he used to distribute all that Dakshina to the people one by one who were sitting near him. So, my Grandfather asked him one day, ‘’Baba, you take Dakshina from me , rub each coin and give it to other persons as your ‘Prasad’. But you have never given me a single rupee as your Prasad at all! Why so? What is the reason?’’ Shri Sai Baba’s answer was remarkable! He stared at my Grand Father with a hard look and said, ‘’ Dekh Somu, Are too to Vatandar hai! Tu Fakir ka Paisa kabhi mat lena! Tu Fakirko Paiasa dega! Janate ho iska matalab? Jo tuze milata hai , usise khoosh rahana! Samaze?’’
But, one doubt constantly remained in Somnath’s mind!’’ “Why does Baba rub these silver coins with his finger?’’ One day Baba himself explained to him on his own,’’ Dekh, Somu, Tum sab log mere bhakta jaroor ho. Magar aap apane pet bharaneke liye aur bachbahonko dekhaneke liye paisa kamate ho! Apane dilse Dandharm nahi karate hai. Isi karan mai tumase Dakshina mangata hoo ,Aur yah rupayya ghasitata hoo!! Janate ho ‘Kyon? Tera ‘Durbhagya mitata hoo! Poora mitata hoo!!’’
[I demand Dakshina from you people because, you earn money for your livelihood and the family. But you forget to to help poor people ! As a result, your Karmic defects do not become less. So, I help you by demanding Dakshina by force].
Baba used to destroy the bad effects of his devotee’s Karmic sins such as,‘’Kriyaman ,Prarabdh and Sanchit Karma ‘in this manner!
Tears started running from the eyes of my Grand Father!! Sai Baba’s care and love for his devotees was so genuine and real” He was not only our Spiritual Master but the Protector like the Father and the Mother of our family! My Grand Father was a very good astrologer also. He had observed the signs of a Yogi on hands and lower feet of Sai Baba. One day he had seen the image of Hanuman at the place of Baba! He used to narrate his experiences of Shri Sai Baba to all family members and his grand-children like us!
Sai Baba used to speak very little. His words were always symbolic and mysterious. But the message that he used to give through these word was always very clear, strong and benedictory to the devotee!
My father Shri Gopal Somanth Deshpande was a senior advocate and was working as the Senior Police Prosecutor in Ahmednagar at that time. He had also seen Sai Baba as a child. He used to accompany his grandfather Shri Nimonkar to Shirdi and receive Shri Baba’s Darshan. Sai Baba used to place my father on his lap and cover him with his shawl One day he said to Somanath,’’ Call this boy ‘Eknath!!’’ Since then my father is named as Sai Baba’s Eknath in our family! My father’s childhood memories of Sai Baba are really very beautiful, very interesting and very lively too! He used to sit on Baba’s lap and eat Prasad given to him by Sai Baba! When we asked him, “ You remember Shri Baba so clearly well! Tell us ,’’How did Baba look? My father’s face used to glow with joy and happiness while giving answers of our questions. ‘’ Sai Baba was very handsome. He was tall, healthy and very graceful!! Whenever he used to sit in the Dwarkamai on his seat while talking to the devotees, he looked like God to us! He used to prepare ‘Khichadee in the Copper Handee kept on the burning fire of the fire-place,[ the Choola] ! To my surprise, I have always seen him stirring it directly with his own hand without any big spoon or any long sapine!!’’ Sai Baba’s eyes very big and attractive with a sharp that penetrate in to the heart of the person very easily. His eyes used to capture the heart of the person immediately. But, they were also full of great love and compassion like the ocean of love for the human beings. His kindness and love used to glow on his face. ‘’
We have heard a lot about many such beautiful sweet memories of Sai Baba quite often from my Grandfather Somnath and my Father Gopalarao in our childhood! We used to talk and discuss a lot with great respect and joy again and again in the later years of our young age!! Now I feel ,’ How fortunate were my Great- Grand Father Nansaheb Nimonkar, his son Shri Somanath and my Father Shri Gopalrao who had received the great opportunity to enjoy the divine company of Sai Baba’s presence and his blessings so directly in their life!! Well! Although we have not seen Shri Sai Baba, we are enriched with his divine presence through such living memories in our hearts right from our childhood!! His divine personality is imprinted on our hearts very strongly. This relationship is eternal !! It is continued in our generation and will continue in the future generations also!! Therefore we always feel his divine presence around us all the time very strongly!
As a result, whenever we go to Shirdi and enter in Dwarkamai, we feel that he is waiting for us! His large and expressive eyes start talking to us !! That is why when I keep my head on his sacred feet and Samadhi, feelings of profound love and affection rise in my heart. Tears start running from the eyes and the natural coronation of my tears starts on his sacred feet!
Here, I cannot avoid the temptation to narrate my own experience of Shri Sai Baba! It was really a very thrilling and adventurous experience of my life! Myself and my husband Shri Sudhakar Joshi had gone to receive the auspicious Darshan of Mahavtar Babaji, the Supreme Mulguru of Kriya Yoga Tradition in his ancient cave at Dwarahat, near the Trishool Mountain in The Himalayas on 25th November 20004 in the severe cold Winter season. Mahavtar Babaji is the Adya-, Mool Sadguru[ Spiritual Master] of kriya Yoga Tradition. It is said that he is still existing in the invisible manner in the Chaitanya form and uplifting the human world for the betterment and trying to establish the true peace in the universe.His age is more than 3000 years. But, he looks very handsome like the 25 years old young youth! Very few fortunate and great spiritual Gurus of Karina Yoga Tradition had received Babbage’s auspicious Darshan such as Sheri Lahore Mahashaya, Shri Swami Yukteshvar Giri , his intimate disciple Paramhans Sri Sri Yogananda, the writer of the famous excellent book, ‘’The Autobiography of a Yogee’, the famous journalist Neelkantan and A Ramayya!! Mahavatar Babaji had fulfilled his great mission of Kriya Yoga from them and is still inspiring and motivating many worthy devotees to continue the work in the present and the future times also. . He is still inspiring the world! He talks in many languages in the world and continues his work in the secret manner.
The path that leads to Babaji’s cave is extremely dangerous. On one side, there are high peaked mountains of Himalayas and huge trees that are reaching to the sky! On the other side, there are dangerous unfathomable valleys covered with thick and dark forests and huge rivers flowing with tremendous speedily with deep water streams! The moment you make a mistake of slipping your foot, you will go down in the deep water or in the valley never to rise or remain alive again!! Death is the end of your life!! There were no facilities like horses, palanquins to carry us up on the top of the mountain. The Chief Swami of Dwarahat gave us a guide to show us the way. His name was Ravi. He was a twelve year old small boy who stayed in that region of Himalaya right from his birth. But he guided us excellently well! We were quietly following the path behind him reciting the name of Sadguru Shri Sai Baba and Mahavatar Babaji!! My knees used to pain a lot . I was suffering a lot from my knee- problem since the last twenty two years of my life. But, the excitement was so great and strong, that I did not feel any pain although we were climbing the most toughest and dangerous hard climb!!
We reached in the cave at 4 Pm. It was a historical moment of my life.!! We were thrilled and extremely happy too! We meditated, recited religious stotras and chanted bhajans and said prayers. They were the moments of great satisfaction and joy! Yes! Joy, Joy and Nothing else but Joy……
When we started to go down, the real danger started!! There was a great change in the atmosphere!! Dark clouds gathered in the sky! Winds started blowing very hard with speed and making the howling sounds! In addition to that, the snow fall had also started! The stony and muddy path became more slippery and dangerous too! The great beautiful grandeur of the Himalaya had disappeared in the total darkness within a short time!! The thundering sounds of the flash of the lightening were also heard in the middle! The entire atmosphere became terrible and fearful in that tremendous cold! We were unable to find the ground to put our foot also!! I was really scared. But we started chanting loudly the names of Sheri Sai Baba, Mahavatar Babaji and Shri Swami Samarth Maharaj with all our heart! Our own voices were resounding again and again in the air! Our little guide Ravi became terribly afraid! And then!! We saw the flame of the dim light moving near to us from the long distance ! Someone was coming towards us with a burning torch in his hands! He came close to us and said, ‘’ Mai Kesharsing hoo! I am Keshar Sing ! Aap koun hai jee? Itane der kyo hui! Ye rasta bada khatarnak hajee. Maine tumhara Sai- Jap suna aur yaha tak aya hoo! Chalo Mere Sath!!
[My name is Keshar Sing. Who are you! How is it that you are coming down all alone in such dangerous place? I heard your Sai Nam Japa and came forward to help you! Come with me!!. ]
We kept on following him slowly and came close to his hut after an hour . We practically crawled on our hands and legs like Eskimo people inside the hut! No sooner did us enter in that small hut and lifted our heads up than……. My God!! What a great surprise! What a miracle we had seen!! I became speechless, Dumbfounded!! I thought that my heart beats will stop now!! To my surprise I just kept on uttering loudly,’’ My Sai Baba!! My Great Master Sai Baba!! ‘ Jethe Jato Tethe, Too Maza Sangatee ------ Where ever I go you are my companion !!
When I raised my head up , there I saw him standing with the same kind look and a gentle smile on his face , with his right hand up and the palm spread in assurance!! My Sai Baba, My Sai Baba….. I shouted with great joy!! In that small hut Shri Sai Baba’s full sized calendar was hanging on the wall reaching to the ground!! That pose was simply great and outstanding! The same kind and compassionate look in his eyes, the affectionate gaze and one hand lifted to make us feel safe and sound that we always see in Dwarkamai at Shirdi!! !! As if he was saying,’’ Come my children , come close to me! I am waiting for you only!!’’ I started sobbing ! My Sadguru ! My Sai Baba, My Protector !! What should I say to you? I touched his sacred feet with great respect and uttered ,’’ Jethe Jato Tethe Too Maza Sangatee!!’’[ Where ever I go , you are always there with me as my protector, Saviour, my Father and Mother !! That whole night we slept near the sacred feet of Sai Baba in the small hut of the Himalayas!!
I am absolutely sure that our Saguru Sai Baba had protected us on that dangerous night in the Himalayas and brought us close to him safe and sound!!
Sai Baba is so deep in my heart! His divine Darshan in the Himalayas is really an everlasting valuable treasure of my life! It is an unforgettable experience because I realized that our Moksha Guru like Sai Baba is The Nearest Of The Near and the Dearest of the Dear Sadguru of our life. His unconditional love and affection is our real spiritual wealth in this world. I surrender myself completely to his sacred feet and say,
‘’ Jya Jya Shtalee He Man Jay Maze|
[Whenever my mind goes to any place where I feel attracted, I receive your auspicious Darshan only!! When I keep my head on that place, I feel the touch of your sacred lotus feet as Sadguru only there………!!]
There is a well known proverb in English “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and greatness is thrust on some!”. Some people are great because they are born in a great family. Some achieve that state through sheer efforts and good qualities. They cultivate good qualities and nurture them. They value good ideals and create happiness in the lives of others. While inspiring others, they themselves become ideal role models!
My father was lucky to be born in a great family and additionally acquired greatness due to his good qualities and values. He is a source of inspiration, guidance and encouragement in my life and he is my spiritual master, guide and philosopher!
My father Shri.Gopal Somnath Deshpande (Nimonkar) was a well-known advocate in Ahmednagar. With his blessings I achieved success. Today, he is not physically present in this world. There are tears in my eyes while writing this article about him. My mind is full of mixed emotions. I have preserved his memory in my heart like a vial of scent with sweet fragrance. These memories are unfolding like a silken thread in front of my eyes. I see my father in a new light and a new perspective. He was blessed by the grace of Shri Sai Baba right from his birth. He had the wonderful opportunity of sitting on the lap of Shri Sai Baba. Shri Sai Baba named him as “Eknath”. Due to his good karma in a previous life he must have received such a great opportunity in his life.
Smt.Kamala Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar and Shri.Gopalrao Somnath Deshpande Nimonkar
My father’s personality was quite pleasant and impressive. He had an extremely positive attitude and his entire life was a wonderful picture of good thoughts, utter faith in God and tremendous liking and longing for spiritualism. I made sincere efforts to observe these wonderful qualities of my father right from my childhood. We are fortunate to have received so much from him in our life. The more I think about it, the more the happiness and gratitude I feel!
My father completed his career as the senior most pleader in Ahmednagar court. He handled many famous legal cases successfully. His legal arguments were outstanding and were presented in excellent English. Once he started his presentation, his mastery over English, fluency and capacity to point out the remarkable facts had tremendous effect on the judge, other pleaders and his opponents. They all used to sit in the court like statues while listening to his powerful speech. The depth of his knowledge, deep study of the legal case and command over English had a hypnotic effect. Young lawyers were always inspired by his presentation. He was the role model for them. He had remarkable skills in cross-examination. While taking the cross-examination of the witnesses, he used to make hilarious comments about the pleader of the opposite side. His mischievous comments, sense of humour and dramatics were a source of great attraction to many learned lawyers who would attend court in large numbers to listen to his arguments and cross-examination. We also used to go to the court to listen to his legal arguments. I was influenced by his remarkable style of presentation and command over the language. He had a towering personality and I have cherished these unforgettable and everlasting memories in my heart. He inspired me to study English and complete my college and university degrees.
Birth at Nimon
My father was born on Makar Sankranti day, i.e., 14th January 1914 in the family of Landlord (Vatandar) Deshpande-Nimonkar at Nimongaon in Sangamner, Ahmednagar District. Since members of the Deshpande-Nimonkar family were traditionally honoured as Landlords, they were respected as the leaders or the chief person in the social and political life in the city. My father’s Grandfather was an intimate devotee of Sai Baba. Shri Nanasaheb Nimonkar was the District Magistrate during the British Government. His father Shri Somnath Shankar Deshpande was the CID Inspector at Pune. The family atmosphere was quite religious, spiritual and disciplined. They both were attracted to spiritualism and followed the spiritual path with great devotion.
Late Nanasaheb Nimonkar and his wife spent the last days of their life in the noble company and service of Shri Sai Baba as His intimate and close devotees. He was in the close circle of Shri Sai Baba’s other devotees such as Shri.Dixit, Chandorkar, Madhavrao Deshpande (Shyama), Shrimant Bapu Saheb Booti, Mhalasapati etc.
Shri Sai Baba commanded Shri Nanasaheb to hoist a sacred flag on Dwarakamai on the day of Ram Navami more than one hundred years ago. Shri Nanasaheb, his son Somanath and my father Shri Gopalrao (son of Somanath) followed the great command of their Sadguru Shri Sai Baba with devotion, love and faith till the end of their lives. This flag-celebration and the procession is a beautiful ritual, a wonderful experience, full of joy and happiness. It is going on continuously with spirit and joy even today!
This auspicious flag is spread on Shri Sai Baba’s Samadhi first. The Nimonkar family performs the Mahapooja. After that the Ramanavami celebration starts in Shirdi at 12:30 p.m. after the “Maha Aarti”. At 4 p.m. the grand procession of the sacred flags is followed by the chariot of Sai Baba, with full grandeur and decorum, Bhajans, dancing, crackers, musical bands and singing of school children and lights are included in this beautiful procession. The sacred flag is hoisted on Dwarakamai at 7 p.m. Then it flutters with Sai’s divine blessings during the whole year.
My father used to attend the ceremony and perform the Mahapooja with great devotion every year. He had received this opportunity by birth and used to go with his father and grandfather quite often!
We used to ask him many questions about Shri Sai Baba. “How did He look? How did He talk to you? Do you remember the dialogue?” He also narrated details about Shri Sai with genuine love and enthusiasm. “Shri Sai Baba’s personality was bright and full of luster. He was very handsome and dignified. He used to wear a white robe and cover His head with a white cloth. His face was smiling and pleasant. He used to stand at the door of Dwarakamai and distribute Prasad to children. I have enjoyed that Prasad while sitting on his lap”. My father’s face used to glow with great excitement whenever he described this beautiful event. These memories were a source of happiness and permanent joy for him. My mother Soubhagyawati Kamala also supported him in every respect in this grand celebration.
My father graduated from Sir Parashuram Bhau College, Pune. English was his special subject. He completed his L.L.B from ILS Law College, Pune and started legal practices as a lawyer at Ahmednagar and Sangamner. He also worked as the Government Pleader (Public and Police Prosecutor). His performance was excellent and reflected deep study and scholarly insight in the subject of law. I used to go to the court just to listen his arguments. He became an ideal, a role-model for lawyers in Ahmednagar court.
He was a source of inspiration for his children in every respect. He was our first Guru or spiritual master and helped us to inculcate great love for English and Sanskrit literature. He had acquired a wonderful mastery over Sanskrit. Astrology was another area of his great interest and he was a religious and spiritual person by nature. He used to recite Shri Brahmanspati Sukta, Purush Sukta, Shree Sukta, Rudra, Amarkosh literally every day when he used to worship our family Gods. His pronunciation was clear, impressive and full of rhythm. The entire atmosphere in the house was surcharged with his sonorous voice. It was an especially great experience to listen to him when he used to worship Lord Shiva and recite the Rudra. He used to get lost in the chanting. The beautiful Rudra chanting of my father has influenced our mind very deeply. As a result, we have developed real love and interest for the Sanskrit language. We also recite these ‘suktas’ every day.
It was a fascinating experience to read Shakespearean dramas, Charles Dickens novels and the poetry of William Wordsworth and Coleridge in his company. His lectures were very powerful and profound. With his social nature and pleasant personality, he was very popular among his friends, lawyers and judges in the Bar-Association at Ahmednagar. Our house was the centre of culture, education, religion and spiritualism. It was always filled with joyful and intellectual discussion. His democratic spirit offered equal opportunity to all of us to excel in any field of our liking. He was our Father, Guide and Philosopher too. Many guests and people used to visit our house. My parents treated them with genuine hospitality and respect.
Pilgrimages to Vruddheshvar by walking
The other side of my father’s personality was equally important. He was deeply interested in the Spiritualism. Shirdi Sai and Lord Shiva were the favourite Gods of my father. His visits to Shirdi were frequent like his grandfather Nanasaheb Nimonkar. But in addition to that he was a great devotee of Bhagavan Shiv Shankar. Under his leadership, a spiritual minded group of five to six pleaders used to go on a pilgrimage to Lord Shiv at Vruddeshvar every year and would walk there. My father had attended this pilgrimage for 25 years in his life continuously without a break from Paithan to Vruddeshvar.
Vruddheshvar is an ancient Shiv temple in Pathardi Taluka in Ahmednagar. The distance is about 45 kilometers from Nagar. It is the ancient Nath Peetha. The Nath sampradaya starts from Adi Shankar-Adinath. It is a self-existent temple. The old traditional Navnath Treatise is recited with great devotion in Maharashtra. We come across with the description of this temple and the story of Shiv connected to the chief Nine-Navanarayanas. Machchindranath and his disciple Gorakshnath were going through the forest in this area along with Machchindranath’s son Meen-Nath. Gorakshnath brought his Guru from the kingdom of women. He was confused and upset to see that his Guru was still under the hypnotic charm of Mainavati, the queen of that Kingdom. In addition to that, he also found a golden brick in his Guru’s ascetic cloth. He protested angrily and threw the brick on the mountain. When his Guru started weeping for this act (a dramatic act to test the disciple) Gorakshanath scolded his master for keeping such attachment for worldly and materialistic things. With his own spiritual power, he transformed the whole mountain into the dazzling golden mountain! At this moment, Lord Shiv manifested in front of them. Machchindranath was convinced about Gorakshanath’s devotion and spiritual power. They performed a big sacrifice on that spot by inviting all the Gods and Goddessess. Lord Shiv was the Chief of the sacrifice. The fire was enkindled by Machchindranath. They say that it is still burning near the temple. Adinath Shiv Shankar disappeared but existed in the form of Shivlinga. This temple has a glorious past and tradition.
My father and the small group of his pleader friends used to start their pilgrimage from Paithan with the holy water of the Godavari river and start marching on feet for five days. They used to reach Vruddheshvar on the Mahashivaratri day. My father used to take a holy cold bath at night in the Dnyanwapi well and perform Rudra Abhishek (with Namak and Chamak) at 12:30 p.m. eleven times. His voice reciting the Sanskrit Rudra used to fill the inner core of everybody’s heart in the temple. My father’s spiritual attachment grew more and more to Lord Shiv and he became a staunch devotee of Lord Shiv. “Om Namah Shivay” was his favourite mantra. He used to recite it all the time. All of us have experienced these beautiful moments in his company.
He believed in maintaining good health for the attainment of spiritual achievement. He used to do exercises and practice ‘yogasanas’ quite regularly. This positive attitude to life, frank and open mindedness created a very positive and lively atmosphere in his personal as well as social life. His personality was really magnetic! With his excellent knowledge of astrology, he guided many people in the study of astrology as well as in facing the problems that confronted them in life.
He proved his mental courage and strength when he had his first heart attack and second massive heart attack. He faced this calamity like a brave captain, a brave warrior. But ultimately, he had to leave the world on 19th December 1997 at the age of 84. He constantly recited the japa. Om Shri Sainathay Namaha and Om Namah Shivaya in the hospital too. I firmly believe that he still exists in our heart with his beautiful thoughts and devotion and guides us in our life. “Men may come and man may go, but my father will live in our hearts forever!!”
The Guru Disciple relationship is eternal. The Guru is omnipresent. His guidance, His blessings, His teachings uplift the devotee not only for the brief period he dwells on earth, but forever! The consciousness of the true Guru is eternal, always wakeful, and attuned. It is not interrupted by the opening and closing doors of life and death. Shri Sai Baba was such a great Guru who had blessed Shri Nanasaheb Nimonkar, Chandorkar, Dabholkar, Rasane. He instructed Shri Nanasaheb Nimonkar (Deshpande) to hoist a flag on Dwarakamai on the auspicious day of Ramanavami. The devoted disciple Nanasaheb and his family followed Shri Sai Baba’s command with great love and devotion during the last hundred years. The tradition is going on till today. He commanded Shri Rasane also to hoist the flag on Dwarakamai.
A grand ceremony is performed on that day. The flag is spread on Shri Sai Baba’s Samadhi and worshipped with auspicious Purusha Sukta mantras. Flowers are offered, sweets are distributed and then the grand procession starts from Samadhi Mandir to Dwarakamai. The occasion is celebrated with colourful dances and singing rendered by groups who sing bhajans. Lots of devotees participate in the procession. My grandfather Shri Somnath Shankar Deshpande, my father Shri Gopal Somnath Deshpande, my brothers Chandrashekhar Deshpande and Anant Deshpande are obeying the command and this noble work for years together with genuine enthusiasm, respect and love for Shri Sai Baba. Shri Sai Baba has blessed our family in this manner.
Shri Sai means, “All pervading, omnipresent God!”. Shri Sai established the true equality of religions. He spent His whole life in uniting the Hindus and Muslims. “Sab Ka Malik Ek” was His principle. He devoted His whole life to bring them together. It is the duty of every true devotee of Shri Sai Baba to follow this ideal message in life.
Shri Sai is the ocean of love, sympathy and compassion. His glittering eyes shower His blessings and love on His devotees. Sai Baba fulfilled desires of all devotees as per their belief and faith. “Faith and Patience are the two rupees”. They are valuable golden coins for every true worshipper of Sai Baba. This is the most auspicious Maha Mantra of Sai Baba.
Today we read the news and are attracted to titles such as “A Huge flood of devotees in Shirdi” or “Lakhs of devotees gathered in Shirdi on Guru-Poornima day”. What is the significance of such news? Why do thousands of people rush to Shirdi every year? What do they want? Wealth? Fame? Name? Fulfillment of material desires? The modern man is under the tremendous tension of problems in spite of all the prosperity and riches of life. He gets everything except true love and satisfaction. He is running to Shri Sai only to get this valuable peace and love. Sai Baba’s unconditional love is the true source of genuine happiness and everlasting peace. The true devotee will get true happiness of life only through the genuine worship of Shri Sai. Shri Sai will bless him with real spiritual wealth if he surrenders to Sai with all his heart.
Shri Sai Baba knew the thoughts of His devotees very well. His divine existence filled each and every cell of the true devotee. His eyes used to speak and conveyed His message. He knew the devotee’s past, present and future very well. He never gave a Guru-mantra in the traditional sense to anyone. Baba spoke only a few words as required. He used direct and plain words only when the occasion required. His language was cryptic, symbolical, full of parables, allegories and metaphors. His speech had to be decoded with the assistance of those who were close to Him and familiar with His words.
My grandfather, Late Shri Somnath Shankar Deshpande, used to tell us lots of stories of his experiences with Sai Baba of Shirdi. Baba used to demand dakshina from him whenever he visited Sai Baba. Once Somnath said to Him “Baba you take Dakshina from me and give to other people, Your devotees”. But you never game me a single rupee as Your blessings so far. You also rub my coins. What does it all mean?
Baba replied, “Hey Somnya, listen very well! You are a Landlord. You will give money to the fakir like me. Dekh, fakir ka paisa kabhi nahi lena. Vaha paisa tumhara bhala nahi karega. Tum fakir ko paisa dega, jo mila usme khush rahana" (You are a Landlord. So you will give money to the fakir, like me. If you expect money from me, it will not be beneficial to you. It will not bring good results. Try to be happy with what you get and donate money to the poor fakir like me). Baba’s words were significant. When my grandfather used to return to Pune, there was an increase in his salary. Sai pointed out the importance of devotion and love to my grandfather – more than money. Sai’s blessings proved to be more valuable in his future.
As a good astrologer, my grandfather studied the marks and signs on the hands and feet of Sai Baba and was convinced that Baba was a genuine Yogi. My father, Shri Gopalrao, had seen Baba in his childhood. He used to sit on Sai’s lap and enjoy sweets given by Shri Sai as “The Prasad!”.
My great grandfather Nanasaheb Nimonkar and Chandorkar used to receive spiritual guidance from Sai Baba quite often. Shri Dasganu Maharaj has described a wonderful event in his book on Sai Baba known as, “Arvachin Bhakta and Sai Leelamrut”. Once these two devotees went to Baba, bowed at His feet and expressed their feelings of agony, depression and troubles arising out of the mundane life. They requested Baba to liberate them from such worldly, futile responsibilities forever! Baba laughed and said, “So long as you exist in this world physically, you have limitations of it. It is true that you are bounded by certain duties, feelings, and emotions. But you cannot achieve true liberation and reach God unless you fulfil these responsibilities. No one can go to God by avoiding them. Not even me. I am also caught in this web. I am also engulfed in this Sansar (the worldly life). Do you want to know it’s real nature? Your feelings, your emotions, attachment to the family, sufferings, sacrifices and your duties cannot be thrown away so easily, because they are your creation. They are the result of your own “Kriyaman, Prarabdha and Sanchit,” that you have acquired from your many past lives. Unless you repay that debt, you cannot reach God. You have to live with it and make an end of it by experiencing it. Guru will help you and guide you with His blessings to get moral courage and strength of the mind”.
What a wonderful message Sai gave to them in these words. “The wheel of life and death leads to sorrow but it also gives you an opportunity to learn to purify, to become perfect and to improve yourself. Do not run after illusions. Try to be realistic. Be patient and have faith in God. This Shraddha and Saburi (Devotion and Patience) will give you the true liberation”.
As a noble Sadguru, Shri Sai Baba’s guidance will guide and save the lives of thousands of devotees in future. I bow and surrender to His feet with all my heart and offer my respect and love to my great Master Sai.
We are quite familiar with many favourite devotees of Shri Sai Baba. They were blessed with Sai’s grace and deep love. They are like pearls in the big ocean of Shri Sai Baba’s love and affection. Among them are Mhalasapati, Nanasaheb Chandorkar, Nanasaheb Nimonkar-Deshpande, Shyama, Damusheth Kasar, Rasane, Dabholkar, Tatyasaheb Noolkar and so many others. These devotees worshipped and adored Shri Sai. As a result, their future generations are also getting benefits of the true devotional service of their ancestors.
Shri Sai Baba commanded these devotees to perform a grand festival on Ram Navami day. His full support was behind this noble work. It was a very good opportunity for people of different classes, religions and castes to participate in the festival and offer their service to Shri Sai. Shri Tatya Kote Patil used to take care of all arrangements for the function. His mother Shrimati Bayjabai served Shri Sai Baba with great affection by offering ‘Bhiksha’. She never sent Him back without food.
As per the instructions of Shri Sai Baba given to Shri Nanasaheb Nimonkar and Damusheth Rasane, the grand procession of two flags used to start from the temple (at present “Samadhi Sthan” of Shri Sai) with all pomp and glorious activities such as dancing with flags, bhajans and playing musical instruments. Finally these flags are hoisted on Dwarakamai Masjid where they flutter continuously during the whole year. When the New Year starts, new flags are worshipped and hoisted on the Masjid. More than hundred years are over now since Baba expressed His desire. This tradition is also going on continuously for more than hundred years in Shirdi on Ram Navami day.
One flag comes from Shri Shankarrao Raghunath Deshpande alias Nanasaheb Nimonkar and the other comes from Damusheth Kasar (Rasane) from Nagar. Their present generations are also obeying and following this instructions of Shri Sai Baba and performing the noble duty with the same zest and devotion.
Shri Nanasaheb Nimonkar belonged to ‘Nimon’ gaon in Sangamner City. He was offered the Deshpande-Vatan, an honourable title as the Chief of the City. The British Government appointed him as the Honorary Magistrate. He performed his Government Duty in excellent manner for many years. He was one of the chief leaders and dignitaries in the city. People used to respect him and follow his words with sincere devotion. Nanasaheb was the uncle of Shri Sai’s loving devotee Shyama alias Madhavrao Deshpande who was a high school teacher in Shirdi. Shri Sai loved him very much. Shri Nanasaheb used to accompany Shyama while paying his visit to Shri Sai. Gradually he also started respecting Sai Baba with great devotion. His belief increased. His visits to Shirdi also increased. Finally, he gave up his mundane life and position as a magistrate and he and his wife started staying with his Sadguru in Shirdi. The husband and wife both paid their service to Sai with genuine devotioin. Nanasaheb continued this service in his old age also. Shri Sai Baba used to call him “Kaka”. Nanasaheb always stayed with Sai Baba. He used to go home only for his bath and religious duties. He managed and supervised the work when Dwarakamai was constructed. When Shri Sai Baba was asleep at night, Nanasaheb used to do the work. Many a times Sai Baba used to break the half constructed walls. But Nanasaheb performed his job from the beginning again without becoming angry or nervous. He was honest, sincere and alert in his work. He had become one with Sai. That intimacy and devotion was so strong that soon after Sai Baba’s departure from this earthly world, he too left for his heavenly abode.
Nanasaheb devotion to Sai was so intense that he used to see only Shri Sai Baba everywhere during the last few days of his life. He used to address every visitor that came to him as “Sai Baba”. He started calling his wife also as Sai Baba. “Come Sai Baba”, he used to say to her. She made him aware of the reality. But he said, “I see Sai Baba in every person that comes to meet me. In your personality also, I see the presence of my beloved Sadguru!”.
Shri Nanasaheb’s elder son Somnath Shankar Deshpande was a CID inspector at Pune. He also used go with his father to take the Darshan of Shri Sai Baba right from his childhood. Shri Sai used to call him, “Somnya” with great love. When Shri Somnath used to meet Sai Baba, He used to demand Daskhina (donation) from him. Shri Sai used to rub those silver coins. It was a suggestive action, as if He was wiping out the Bad Karma of His devotees with this action. Shri Somnath used to feel surprised when he came to Pune because there was an increase in his salary whenever Sai Baba demanded money from him. Shri Somnath Shankar Deshpande continued the noble work of the worship of Sai Baba and flag procession on the Ram Navami day after the death of his father.
When Shri Somnath left this world, his son Shri Gopal Somnath Deshpande and his wife Sou.Kamala Deshpande took the responsibility of the flags and continued the service. My father Shri Gopal Somnath Deshpande was a senior Advocate and Senior Police Prosecutor at Ahmednagar and Sangamner. He had a great command over English and Sanskrit language. His arguments became famous in the civil court of Ahmednagar. He was well known for his excellent command over English. People and the junior pleaders used to attend his arguments to get good guidance in the profession.
My father enjoyed the gracious company and blessings of Shri Sai Baba in his childhood days. Shri sai used to make him sit on His lap. Shri Sai kept my father’s name as “Eknath”. He used to give him sweets. My father used to go with his grandfather, Nanasaheb, to meet Shri Sai Baba. Shri Nanasaheb and Madhavrao had their house at Shirdi.
During the present time, my brothers, the sons of Shri Gopal Somnath Deshpande, Chandrashekhar Gopal Deshpande and Anant Gopal Deshpande have taken the responsibility of sending the flag to Shirdi for the Ram Navami festival. Shri Chandrashekhar Deshpande is the Senior Station Engineer for television at Mumbai. Shri Anant Gopal Deshpande is working as a senior Cost Accountant in N.T.P.C. at Bharuch, Gujarat state. We are four sisters and are daughters of Shri Gopal Somanth and Kamala Deshpande. I am Mrs.Hemlata Sudhar Joshi (M.A., M.Phil, DHE) and worked as a lecturer in English in renowned colleges like Fergusson, Sou.Vimalabai Jr.College and Symbiosis, Pune for 30 years. My sister Mrs.Lalita Shrikant Honap (M.A. Ph.d) worked as the head of the Politics Department in Fergusson College, Pune. My third sister Mrs.Nirmala Jayant Dehadraya is M.A., L.L.B. My fourth sister is Mrs.Urmila Suresh Shool (M.Com) and also worked as a Lecturer of Commerce in Sou.Vimalabai Garware Jr. College.
Shri Sai Baba is our Sadguru, our guide, protector and source of inspiration. He is our God. We worship Him with great love and devotion by performing His japa, (reading) parayanas of Shri Sai Satcharitra and we carry His flag every year to Shirdi. We are sincere devotees of Shri Sai Baba.
The flag is kept on the Samadhi of Shri Sai. Nimonkar family worships it with garlands, scents, offerings of sweets. Then, Shri Rasane family worships their flag. After this grand worship, the main festival of Ram Navami starts in Shirdi. Lakhs of devotees watch this beautiful grand ceremony inside and outside the temple. Television sets are arranged everywhere so that people can see the religious function. Heena scent is applied on the Samadhi and then the grand Samadhi is smeared with Sandal paste. The flag is spread on the Samadhi with loud chanting of Shri Sai’s name, “Sadguru Shri Sainath Maharaj ki Jai!!”.
We perform our pooja at the residence of Shri.G.C.Deshpande on Gudi Padwa day before taking it to Shirdi. The grand procession of flags starts at 4 p.m. The Sutar family decorates it. Thousands of people carry the flag on their shoulders. They dance with it with love. Then the flag procession is followed by the huge chariot of Sai Baba. The musicians play various musical instruments such as flutes, cymbals, clarinet and drums. Children dance in groups. There is a grand show with bursting of crackers and a beautiful display of crackers that shine with colours and trees etc. People sing bhajans and devotional songs. This beautiful procession is going on for one hundred and fifteen years in Shirdi. When we carry the flag on our shoulders, we recite our beloved Sai Baba’s name. It is impossible to describe this happiness in words at that time.
Writer Prof.Hemlata Joshi during the flag pooja at Shri.Chandrashekar Deshpande's residence
Sutar family members performing Flag Pooja
When the procession is over the flags are kept on the Samadhi once again and then hoisted on Dwarakamai with the loud cheering sounds of Shri Sai’s name. The flags start fluttering with pride during the whole year. Lakhs of people and devotees attend this beautiful ceremony every year. They come from different places in India as well as from the foreign countries too!
We honestly feel that Sadguru Sai has blessed our family in this manner by giving us this great opportunity to serve Him generation after generation. We have watched this grand function right from our childhood. We love Shri Sai as our father, mother and our Sadguru in our mind. Late Shri Nanasaheb, his son Somnath and his son Gopal Somnath were really very fortunate to get the direct opportunity to see Sai Baba in person and remain in His service when He was physically present in this world. We read these descriptions in Shri Sai Satcharitra written by Shri Dabholkar as follows in the 12th Canto –
Once, Nanasaheb’s son Somnath became sick. His wife became anxious. She wanted to go to Belapur to meet her son. Shri Sai and Nanasaheb told her to return the next day. The next day was Amavasya day. It was not proper to travel on that day. She wanted to stay with her sick son. She was in two minds. But Shri Sai understood her feelings and commanded her to return after four days. She felt very happy. The great saints know everything. They understand even the small problems of their devotees and guide them very well.
My grandfather Somnath Deshpande used to tell us lots of stories, about his experiences of Shri Sai. We heard a lot about Shri Sai’s ‘leelas’ and the description of Shri Sai’s personality from him right from our childhood. Baba used to demand ‘Dakshina’ from him when he used to go to meet Him. Once Somnath said to Him, “Baba, you give Rupees to your other devotees. But you never gave me even one single rupee so far! On the contrary, you take ‘Dakshina’ from me. Why is it so?”
Baba replied, “See Somanya, listen very well! You are a land lord! So, Phakirka paisa mat lena! Phakirko paisa dena! Jo mila hei usise khush rehena!” (Do not take the money given by the fakir. Give money to the fakir, because you are a landlord. Be happy with what you have got by fortune!).
What a significant message was given by Sai to my grandfather! Sai blessed the whole family by commanding all of us to hoist the flag on Dwarakamai! This itself was His Divine Gift! It is more than silver rupees or coins! Sai was trying to hold Nanasaheb’s son to His heart. He would have never allowed him to run after material comforts in life. Somnath was supposed to follow the spiritual path of life and not the material comfort of the earthly world! Money is insignificant in front of Shri Sai’s Grace!
Somnath Deshpande was a CID inspector. He had to travel all over India. Once, his wife had lost her eyes in the plague epidemic that occurred in Pune! Exactly at that time, Sai Baba said to Nanasaheb in Shirdi, “Arre Nana, maze dole gele re! (Hey Nana, I had lost my eyes!). There were tears in eyes of Shri Sai Baba! Baba used to understand everything, all events that occurred in the life of His devotees sitting at Shirdi. Not only that, but He used to have personal feelings of sorrow and joy for them! He was very compassionate.
My father Gopal Somnath Deshpande Nimonkar had seen Sai Baba with his own eyes in person! He used to go to Sai with his grandfather. He used to sit on Sai’s lap and eat sweets given by Sai. He stayed in Shirdi in Sai’s service later on for many days. We used to ask him, “Father, tell us about Sai Baba! How did He look? How did He talk to you all?” My father used to reply, “Well, Sai Baba was very handsome. He was very tall and had a stout personality. His skin was quite lustrous. He was very lively. His every action, speech was full of Great Spirit, the real life – the Chaitanya! What was remarkable about His appearance was His beautiful sparkling eyes! His eyes were big and sparkling. His eyes were highly expressive. The feelings of nobility, joy and peace were reflected in those eyes. I had never seen such beautiful eyes in my life!”
My father used to describe how Sai Baba used to cook the ‘Prasad’ on the fire enkindled on the fireplace of bricks in a huge cooking bowl (Handi). He never used a big spoon or any instrument to prepare rice. He used to put His hand directly in the ‘Handi’ (big pot) and give us ‘the hot cooked rice’ as ‘prasad’ to eat! I have eaten that ‘Prasad’ quite often sitting on His lap. I remember all incidents very clearly. How I used to accompany my grandfather when he used to take Sai to Lendi Baug, press Sai’s legs at night, I have seen my grandfather and father’s sincere devotion to Sai with my own eyes. Although I was small at that time, my impressions, my observations of Shri Sai Baba were direct and genuine! Shri Somnath Deshpande was a very good astrologer too! He had reported to us that he had seen the signs, the marks of a Great Yogi on the hands and feet of Shri Sai Baba! My father honestly felt that he became successful in his life with the blessings of Shri Sai Baba only!
In the true service of Shri Sai Baba, one must have great patience and faith! These qualities have tremendous importance. The Nimonkar family has expressed and exhibited these qualities in a natural manner in worshipping and loving Shri Sai. “The Guru Disciple relationship” exists and continues life after life. If you surrender yourself totally, forgetting your personal ego at the feet of your spiritual master, your entire life is enriched, rekindled and protected. Not only your life but Sadguru’s blessings are showered on your future family members too! If you get the spiritual guidance of Shri Sai Baba, it is your good fortune. It should be the only goal and the great achievement of your life.
Shri Nanasaheb Nimonkar and Chandorkar received such wonderful spiritual guidance of Shri Sai Baba. Shri Dasganu Maharaj had described a remarkable event in his book, “Arvachin Bhakta Va Sant Leelamrut in four chapters”, about this beautiful relationship of Sai Baba, Nanasaheb and Chandorkar. Once, they both went to Shri Sai, bowed with respect at His feet and said to Him,
“He sai Maharaja Samartha |
Avaghee Shastre Sansarashee |
Ya prapanchroop Shrunkhaleshee |
Jojo Sukhache hav dharavee |
Asha Satavi Nachavee |
Shodhoo jata Sansarat |
Amhi Kantalalo tayaprat |
Meaning: “Shri Sai Maharaja, we are tired of this worldly mundane life. We want to leave this bondage of life. All shastras have described this life as futile, empty, fruitless and insignificant. It does not give any real pleasure, essence and happiness. You help us to break this iron chain of our mundane life as quickly as You can. If one expects more happiness in this life, one gets more sorrow and pain in return! And yet, we are carried away, tempted by false hope and desire. When you try to seek pleasure, you are disappointed to see displeasure, disappointment. It is a play of false and negative experiences. We are fed up of it. We want to discard it, throw it away! Guide us and help us!!”.
What was the reaction of Shri Sai Baba to this? He listened to the complaints of His favourite disciples and started laughing heartily and gave them wonderful advise and guidance. Dasganu described this dialogue very beautifully.
Shri Sai said to Nanasaheb Nimonkar and Chandorkar, “well, how is it that you have started meditating on this subject today! Why did you feel the need of it? What you say is true. But, it is not the complete truth. Remember very well, so long as you exist in this world in the physical form, in the physical body, you have certain limitations. You are bounded by certain duties, certain feelings, and emotions. You are compelled to observe certain ways of life. Unless you complete the natural responsibilities, how can you reach God? You cannot discard this life so long as you exist physically. No one can avoid it. Not even me!
Well, I am also caught in this web. I am also enfulfed by this ‘Sansar!’ Do you want to know the real truth, the real nature of this Sansar, this worldly life? Listen carefully, “This entire body is the victim of this worldly life. The internal relationship of passions, attractions, laziness, anger and jealousy is also an expression of this worldly life. Your eyes ‘see’, ears listen and absorb the sound. Your tongue enjoys the taste and talks too! This is also ‘Sansar’. Your thoughts, your feelings, everything that is related to your mind is called “Sansar”. The obligations of your duty, your wife, children, family members, the sufferings, sacrifices that you have to do for them! Everything is included in this Mundane-life, this Sansar! This is the real nature of this ‘Sansar’. How can you leave it? It cannot be broken; it cannot be discarded. Why? What is the reason?
Then Sai clearly explained further, “What is the reason? Why are you unable to throw it away? Because, it is your ‘Creation’. You have created it. It is the result of your own “Sanchita, Prarabdha and Kriyamana”. (Prarabdha – Sanchita and Kriyamana – Fate – Destiny etc. Merit and demerit during some former stage of existence considered as constituting the occasion of present birth, regulating the allotment to it of physical good and evil. Thus answering both to fortune as the appointer and its portion appointed).
This physical body is the result of all those acts that you have done in your previous lives and are performing in this life. It is the effect of your desires, passions that yuo have cherished and preserved in life after life. It is connected to you by birth, unless you go through it, get experiences in the form of good and bad results, you will not be able to reach ‘Moksha the eternal liberation!’. You will not be able to jump to the highest point of the ladder so quickly!”.
The wheel of life and death leads to sorrow. But, that also gives you an opportunity to improve, to serve God. It is a corrective measure to improve yourself, to purify yourself. So, be happy with what you have in the present state of your life. Be cheerful. Do not run after illusions and false sorrow. Be patient and believe in God and face the good and bad in life!!!
How can you live in your mundane life? What should be your attitude? Sai says further,
“Pari aliya sampatti, apan vave namra ati |
Meaning: When you get health, riches, don’t exhibit pride. Be very humble and modest. Respect the great saints and sages with all your heart. Be very humane, utterly humble more than a watery creeper in front of them always! Give donations, ‘Dan’ as per your ‘Income’. Do not squander money by increasing debts or borrowing money. Be practical. Do your duty honestly. But give credit to God. Offer the fruits, the results of your actions to God only. You remain detached from the expectation of fruits.........!!
Well, with these valuable words Shri Sai Baba gave His most practical, wise and yet affectionate advice and guidance to His two disciples – Nimonkar and Chandorkar. They were pacified and consoled by the great spiritual master! Their ignorance was dispelled, illusion vanished and they realized the true meaning of life! With tears running down their eyes, they both fell on the sacred feet of Shri Sai Baba and offered their ‘oblations’ to the Sadguru!! While bowing at the gracious feet of Sai, I also bow with all my heart and feel, ‘Brahmanandam param sukhadam | Kevalam, Dnyanamoortim | Dwandvateetam gagana Sadrusham tatva masyadi lakshyam | Ekam nityam vimalamachalam | Sarvadhi Sakshibhootam | Bhavateetam trigunarahitam sadgurum tam namamee... sadgurum tam namamee......||
Breaking the stillness of the world of death
Today my life is illumined with the brilliant light of divine splendor
Muze Vahee janata hai
“He only knows me, who knows his ownself !”
said Sadguru Shri Shankar Maharaj !
There is a famous saying in Marathi,
Sant Bhoolokeeche Mohan Eshvar |
Great Saints are the greatest Gods and the Supreme Creative
This description is excellently applicable to Sadguru Shri Shankar Maharaj who was the well known Avaliya Saint of the NavNath Tradition in Maharashtra. There is no doubt that it requires the intense yearing, attraction for the company of great saints and the virtuous deeds of your previous birth to get the grace and valuable guidance of great Saints like Sadguru Shri Shankar Maharaj ! We are thrilled to get the outstanding and beautiful ‘Darshan’ of the Greatness of Shri Maharaj while reading his biography.
There is an intense feeling of love faith respect in the hearts of thousand of devotees of their Loving Sadguru like Shankar Maharaj.
The life of Sadguru Shankar Maharaj was full of great miracles. But he himself never favoured or gave importance to miracles. He was a great lover of the great treatise of Shri Dnyaneshvar Maharaj’s Dnyaneshvaree, Amrutanubhav and the religious ‘Bhajans of God ! The philosophy and thoughts of Shankar Maharaj are more valuable than his wonderful miracles !
He used to say, “God does not hide himself or manifest !” When you start feeling and seeing God slowly everywhere then you realize that this world is nothing different but ‘God only !! He is selfillumined and the constant New Joy. God is Bliss ! When the six enemies in your own self person die, the divine qualities start manifesting in your own character. Shankar Maharaj used to express all good and ouspicious thoughts in all religions treatises of different religions in different languages like Hindi, English, Marathi, Arabic as well. He used to unfold all secrets of the spiritualism before his ardent devotees. The important thoughts and contents from Kuran, Bible, Dnyanewshwaree, Amrutanubhav, Eknathi Bhagvat used to get expressed from his mouth quite naturally and easily. He was the most favoured and intimate disciple of Shri Swami Samarth Maharaj of Akkalkot. He had tremendous respect for Shri Swami Samarth Maharaj.
There is a close relationship between Shri Shankar Maharaj and the Original Seat of the Navnath Sampraday known as‘Vruddheshvar’ in the Nagar district. That was his favourite place. According to Shri Maharaj the Shiv Temple of Vruddheshvar was an ideal place for meditation and spiritual Sadhana. Shri Shankar Maharaj gave the initiation of the Nath Sampradya to late Shri Baba Pradhan, the writer of the famous book, “Towards the silver crest of Page 4 of 16 Himalayas !” Shankar Maharaj used to visit this holy place quite often in his visit to Nagar.
Shankar Maharaj was the living form of the in incarnation of God Datta ! An interesting event had confirmed this genuine truth once Shri Maharaj went to the important holy place at ‘Gangapur in Karnataka’. But, he was asked to go outside since the religious priests failed to recongnise his Divine qualities. They misunderstood him as his external appearance was quite shabby and unclean ! But a miracle took place by the Grace of God. The religious rites that were being performed by the priests in the temple got disappeared and started falling on Shri Shankar Maharaj who was sitting in the desert at the river-shore ! All native people, devotees and the religious priests were surprised to see this strange sight! They prostrated themselves before Shankar Maharaj ! They were convinced that“Nrusinhah Saraswatee of Gangapur and Shankar Maharaj are one only !’’
Shankar Maharaj forced his intimate disciple Dr. Nagesh Dhaneshwar when he had just passed out with his M.B.B.S. Degree to get from the train at Daund ! Dr. Dhaneshwar was appointed as a medical officer at that time. He used to enjoy all the dignified honours of his status. Maharaj was telling the coolies to force the doctor to get down from the train. But the doctor was not ready to do so. Ultimately his uncle Mirikar accidently came there and told his nephew to get down. Doctor went to his uncle’s house. He was surprised to see Shankar Maharaj who had already reached there before them ! Maharaj took all his medical tests asked him a question, “How does the internal function of this part functions in the human body?” By holding the doctor’s hand? The question was subtle and challenging. Doctor could not give the proper answer. Then Maharaj said, “I will tell you now! He made him sit before him and said, “Keep your eyes open and see what you see ! To Dr. Dhaneshwar’s surprise, he started looking the concrete structure of the internal organs, their function and the effect of the liquid on them in the body of Shankar Maharaj ! In this manner, Shankar Maharaj gave him the knowledge of many sciences with his extra-sensory power in the future also !!
Dr. G. K. Pradhan who was the secretary of the managing director of the Sasvad Sugar Factory wrote a famous book. ‘Towards the Silver Crest of Himalayas !’ He had narrated about the great transformation of his personality and life due to the powerful influence of Shankar Maharaj. Maharaj saved him from the accident of the airoplane when he was traveling from Norwe to Germany Maharaj took him to the Girnar mountain and gave him the wonderful experience to see and meet Shri Macchindranath, Gorakshnath and God Dattatreya !
Maharaj was fearless. He always wandered in the thick forest at any time during the day and night. Wild animals used to become calm and quiet when they used to come before Maharaj. He used to say,“Do not be afraid of anything that which is going to die. Everything in this universe is perishable. Only the Soul and God is eternal.
It is quite interesting to know the biography of Shri Shankar Maharaj.
The Samadhi Mandir of Shri Shankar Maharaj is situated on the Pune Satara highway in the Dhankwadee area at Pune. It is a very powerful centre of the divine existence of Shri Shankar Maharaj. Many devotees and believers always get wonderful spiritual experiences. It is always full of pure vibrations. Owe bows with all his heart in front of the Samadhee of Shri Maharaj. The number of his devotees is growing day by day. Shankar Maharaj is a friend, guide and philosopher of the devotees.
Shankar Maharaj was not only famous in Maharashtra, India but in many countries in the world Europe, Arabstan, Africa and Japan with different names. There are proofs for this information. He was famous with the names such as Gurudev in Madras, Supadya Baba in the Satpuda area, Gourishankar in Madhyapradesh,‘Deviyababa in Gujarath’.
In Europe he was well known as John Saheb or Saint Jonson, in Afaganistan as Rahim Baba, in Khandesh as ‘Kuvar Swamee’, in Arabstan as, ‘Noormahmad Khan and in Africa as ‘Tombo’. Shankar Maharaj manifested in all these parts of the world but finally resided in Pune, Maharashtra. After entering into his deep devout Samadhee he was manitested in Japan. It is said that Shankar Maharaj is still alive in the astral form and is still doing the noble mission of his life as the Sadguru!
It is very difficult to mention any concrete information about the time and place of his birth. There are different arguments about his age. His age must have been hundred years onehundred and fifty three hundred three hundred and fifty to one thousand years also. One devotee questioned him about his age. Maharaj laughingly replied, I have taken the alms, from Bajirao Peshwa at the Shanivar Vada in Pune !!
But, the popular tale about his birth is as follows. He manifested in the Antapur Gaon in the Satara district at Nasik. One good person named Chimanaji Hire used to stay in Antapur. He was a rich person but quite virtuous and religious in nature. He and his wife used worship Lord Shiv Shankar. But this couple had no children. So they were quite sad! One day, Chimanaji had dream! God Shankar arrived in the dream and said to him, “I am pleased with your devotional worship. Forget-your sorrow now. I will manifest on Kartik Shuddha Ashtame day near the Davalmalik Shrine (Peer). You come there. You will see me playing among tigers. Do not be afraid of those tigers you just lift me up and bring me to your house. I will reside in your house as your son !” Chimanajee narrated this dream to his wife she was very happy. They narrated this dream vision to all in Antapur. But the villagers ridiculed them.
However Chimanajee went near the Peer Davalmalik Shrine. He was surprised and felt delighted to see one small child sitting in the company of tigers. He followed Lord Shiva’s Conmand and brought the child at home without fearing the tigers. He named the child as, “Shankar”. The child uttered ‘Om’! Chimanaji’s wife showered all her motherly love on the child by holding him hear her and fed him with her milk. Shankar started growing in their house as their son.
When grew up as a boy he was surrounded by other boys. But he was not interested in their games. He used to smear his body with the ash (vibhutee) and sit under the Bel tree or at a deserted place in the meditation for hours together. He was not scared of the wild animals. He used to take delight in the Bhajan, Spiritual discourse or religious stories in the temple! People used to feel that his behaviour was quite different than the children of his age.
He took permission of his parents to go to Himalyas by blessing them to get the twin children. He was not seen by anyone after that. It is said that he was performing an asetic vow for twelve year in Kedareshvar. He stayed at Prayag for one and half years. Then he wandered all over the India and other foreign countries in Europe, Africa and Arabstan. After returning to India, he came to the city known as Pradnyapur Akkalkot in Maharashtra. He took the auspicious Darshan of Shri Swami Samarth and came to Solapur. Mahant Janardan Buva’s Keertan was going on in the Shubharay Monestery, Shankar Maharaj Stood at the door and shouted ‘Alak Niranjan’. When Janardanbuva looked at him he was surprised to get the anspicious Darshan of Guru Dattatreya. As he was staying with Janardan Swamee, his reputation spread everywhere as an Avaliya Sant. People started crowding to take his Darshan. One day a miracle took place, all people in the crowd started looking ‘Like Shankar Maharaj’. He used to respect Shri Swami Samarth as his Guru. He used to say “The one that respects and recites the name Swami Maharaj, is dear to me! Once, Shankar Maharaj was affected by the Plague four lumps of flesh grew on his hands and legs. Shri Swamee Samarth manifested and cut those tumours with the Sudarshan Chakra! He was cured from the plague but his body became crooked at eight places. He started looking crooked like Ashtavakra.
After that he went to Vruddheshwar with his devotees. That was his favorite place. When he went to Madhee at Kanifnath’s place, he shouted Alak Niranjan! As a result, the sacred fire in the fire pit kindled immediately!
The appearance and behaviour of Shankar Maharaj was not normal. This hair were grown quite disorderly on his head. The face was covered with the beard and moustache. He used to wear any one’s clothes, which were not fit on his body. There was a torn shirt and torn dhotee or trousers. Sometimes he was adorned with a silk dress and rigns in all his fingers. He was always in the strange state of mind like an innocent child. He used to talk and laugh like a child. His talk was also stammering and not easy to understand. His walk was also not normal as he was crooked at eight places in his body. He was a chain-smoker.
He used to smoke cigarettes in the profused manner! The yellow elephant and 555 were his favorite brands. He used to drink the alcohol also quite abundantly. In short, his external appearance was quite, dirty and inauspicious!
He loved tea-drinking also very much. He used to eat‘Khichadee mixed with green peas”. He used to prepare himself and give to his devotees. But, according to the scholars, “His absurd behaviour was an external and superficial show.” In wordly he was a great spiritual master. He was the ocean of the knowledge inwardly. There was a blazing and rising manifestation of this great knowledge when he decided and felt it as suitable to show to the people. He had sparking eyes! They were very powerful, full of spiritual power and divine. The entire power of his spiritual strength was concentrated in his eyes!
Shankar Maharaj performed thousands of miracles in his life. But he himself never gave importance to the miracles. He used to say,“Do not run after miracles and get yourself caught in that attraction. Your life is a like a sea-journey. The storms and tides are bound to raise in the seal! There will be problems, difficulties and calamities in your life. When you travel in the boat, boat is bound to tremble, rock and roll! You have to face and bear. It is a test of your endurance and patience simultaneously. So long as you have the physical body, sickness and disease are bound to be there! You must face it. Our Ego Constantly comes between our spiritual process. You will get this real self realization by introspection and exanimation of your mind. Self Realization means God! The happiness and joy that one gets by pardoning others is always pure. Live your life guided by Reason! The one that knows his one self, knows well. He had taken the Samadhee on 24th April 1947 as per his plan in Pune on Monday.
There were many devotees and disciples of Shankar Maharaj. His Darbar of Nine Great disciples was quite well known. Their names were as follows Sarvarshree Dada Karkhanis, Haribhau Parakhi, Abasaheb shrotriya, Sardar Thorat, Bhausaheb Dhaneshwar, Mirikar, Bagoba Kukade and Dr. Nagesh Dhaneshwar, Dr. Nagesh Dhaneshwar was his most intimate and chief disciple who was fortunate to get the spiritual company of his great spiritual master for forty years in his life. Dr. Dhaneshwar was highly educated as the M.B.B.S. doctor in those days. But the total transformation of his personality took place by the blessings of Sadguru Shri Shankar Maharaj.
Maharaj used to say that the Guru disciple relationship is internal. His relationship with the doctor as the Guru was of eight hundred years. Shankar Maharaj gave the experience of listening the divine music of Bhagvan Shri Shankar at Vruddheshwar! Once, they all went to Vruddheshwar with Shankar Maharaj. They slept in the surrounding area of the temple. Suddenly they awoke at the early dawn with the grave divine sound of Omkar coming out from the sactrum of the Shiv temple. When this sound was dissolved in the air, the mellodious sweet sound of the Shananai filled the air. The divine tunes of the Lalit Rag spread every where and some invisible singer started singing the Bhatiyar Raag! All were enchanted by this melodius classical singing and listening with great joy and surprise! The sun started rising and this melodious singing was dissolved in the atmosphere. When one disciple Nanasaheb Mirikar asked Maharaj, “We have never heard such sweet divine music in our life,“Who is the singer!” Shankar Maharaj just smiled and said, “Devadhi dev Nataraj, the originator of song and dance was singing himself!!
When his intimate disciple Doctor Dhaneshwar asked his doubt, Maharaja, it is said that all God realized Saints and Siddhas move in this universe in the living vibrant invisible form. But how can the common man be convinced about their divine existence? Because, they have no bodies! So they cannot appear physically before the common people.
Maharaj said, “It makes no difference. They can easily materialize and dematerialize their body. Do you want see?” Doctor Dhaneshwar expressed his desire to see Meen Nath, the son of Machchidrnath! To, his surprise, he received the auspicious darshan of Meenanath with the blessing and grace of his spiritual master Sadguru Shri Shankar Maharaj!
Maharaj used to give vivid instructions to many devotees sometimes in few words or more. When he was asked, “What should be done to acquire happiness and peace?”
Maharaj replied, “All human beings aspire for happiness and peace in this world. But no one tries to understand the exact meaning of these two words. We must understand about things that obstruct our happiness first. They are known as, “Unfulfilled desires, passions, greed, jealousy etc. They create sorrow and misery in our life. If we can destroy these enemies, we will get happiness and peace of mind. It is a wrong concept to expect an external solution without realizing the necessity to remove our own defects and drawbacks first!” We have to get that peace with our own efforts and independent capacity to think. Our ego will increase more by reading different types of ideologies and philosophies!
As regard the reading of the Religious treatises and books he used to say, that “Mere reading will not fulfill our desires. The prescribed behaviour in those treatises is more important!”
Shri Shankar Maharaj never accepted himself as the Guru! He was of the firm belief that, “God is the real Guru of this entire universa! Shankar Maharaj was always surrounded by the rich people. But, Maharaj never expected or thought also to get special honor, respect or riches from them. When the topic of spiritualism was over in the discussion, he used to behave like a common person! The innocence of the child used to reflect on his face!
He used to say, “Do not wander to get ‘Guru’. Think about the necessity of the Guru first. Remove the very thought from your mind such as, “Guru will solve problems of my life. You are going to solve your own difficulties in your mundane worldly life!”
If you want to know the real truth, become yourself as your own Guru! If your purity develops, Guru will come to you on his own!
Like Hindus, Muslim people also used to come to him to clarify their doubts. Maharaj used to explain in their language to clarify those doubts Maharaj recited the passages from the Kuran one after the other! Those people were surprised to hear them! Some one asked him “What is the moral teaching of Mohomand Paigambar? Maharaj used to say, “The meaning of the word, “Islam means Peace!” Muhamand Paigmbar always prayed God!, “Show me the path of life peace”. He had tremendous compassion for the poor people. Islam nourished the qualities such as faith, courage and toleration. The true ‘Masjid’ is in the pure and sacred heart!” Love is God! (Khuda).
Shankar Maharaj was a great lover of the famous Marathi Treatise ‘Dnyaneshwaree!’ He had inspired and blessed the wife of Barriester Raosaheb Mehandale to give discourse on Dnyaneshwaree! When he stayed in Pune, he told Rao saheb, “Your place will vibrate with the seven sweet tunes of Dnyaneshware!” His words came true! Sou. Taisaheb Mehendale became successful when she used to give discourse on Dnyaneshwaree in her melodious voice!
A devotee asked him once, “What is the meaning of the quotation such as, “One verse of the sacred treatise of Dnyaneshwaree should be experienced”. Maharaj replied, “It means, to experience the principle of oneness in this universe!” This extract universe is filled with one vibrancy, one spirit of life. There is nothing else or other than that one must remember and realize the true existence of ‘God only in this entire universe. You must be able to see God in all animate and in the animate world!”
Shankar Maharaj was a real Nath Cult Yogee. He was the incarnation of God Dattatreya! He had an Avadhoot tendency of mind. An Avadhoot is the one who has discarded all material tendencies of life and became one, absorbed in the supreme power, God! Maharaj was omni-potent, omni-sient. He knew everything about the eternal knowledge. But he never exhibited the sense of pride about his knowledge.
It appears that, highly God Realised Spiritual Saints were gifted with great spiritual powers known as ‘Siddhis’ such as Shri Dnyaneshvar Maharaj Ramkrishna Paramhans, Shri Swami Samarth Maharaj of Akkalkot Lahiri Maheshay. But, the truth is that they never used to make use of such Siddhies. That spiritual power used to get manifested according to the particular situation. Automatically some one asked Shankar Maharaj, “Is there any secret or any spiritual power behind the experiences that people get in your case because your words also become true? “Shri Maharaj said, “I never use any‘Siddhee’ with specific intention. If I utter some word, these ‘Siddhees’ catch these words and make them true. Such ‘Siddhees’ always encircled Shankar Maharaj. But Maharaj always nelglected them. He was more interested and absorbed in the attainment of God by singing the glory of God.
Maharaj used to enjoy the religious devotional singing of God and make his devotees also sing the Bhajans. A devotee should offer the unconditional love of his heart to God and not the gifts.
Dr. Nagesh R. Dhaneshvar the Siddhayagee of Nagar was the Chief-Disciple of Shankar Maharaj. His heart used to lift up with great joy and vibrations just by listening the name of Shankar Maharaj. He had experienced the most auspicious company and miracles of Shri Maharaj.
Dr. Dhaneshvar was well versed in Dnyaneshwaree. He used to tell people that Shankar Maharaj had made me study and think quite deeply on each and every line of Dnyaneshwaree. One full day used to be spent on the interpretation of one verse of Dnyaneshwaree by Shri Shankar Maharaj.
“He made me live ‘Dnyaneshwaree’”. This nature of Maharaj was totally different from his popular and absurd appearance. His knowledgeable form was reflected in his teachings quite often. It is said that Maharaj is still alive in his ‘Chaitanya Form’. Those who are inquisitive and intensely feel unconditional love for Maharaj, do get his Darshan and Guidance!!
The personality of Shankar Maharaj is rearly strange, mysterious and incomprehensible to understand. He was beyond the convention and tradition. His real introduction and character can be understood more explicity by reading his self-introduction.
Mai Kailas ka rahanevala |
I bow to the sacred lotus feet of Sadguru Shri Shankar Maharaj with all my heart.
The behaviour and life of Maharaj was like a river!
Maharaj always said, “Flow like water in the river. The river flows by making all areas fertile. She does not look back. She does not feel proud about her achievement. She just flows ahead with joy and enthusiasm. Just as the river runs to the sea, a man should also perform his work in his life and finally become one with God! On the path of spiritual life, the devotee should give joy and happiness and absorb in God. To love God and to get united with God is more important!”
I bow to the sacred feet of such Divine Sadguru Shri Shankar Maharaj with all my heart full of devotion and love! Men may come and men may go, but Sadguru Shri Shankar Maharaj will live forever…
O God Shri Sai ,My great Spiritual Master
1. My friend was blessed with a child:
One of my colleague’s wife suffered from two abortions. He was very much depressed and was afraid to take risk of third child. As he opened up with me, I advised him to pray to Shri. Shirdi Saibaba and promise Baba to visit Shirdi after safe delivery .He followed my advise sincerely and prayed accordingly. Baba favoured him with a safe delivery of a male child. His joys had no boundaries.
2. Shri Sai Baba gave positive thoughts to a prejudiced colleague who wanted to take legal action with false allegations of Caste Atrocity:
During my official duties as a finance man, I had to regulate Employee claims as per Rules of the Company/Employer. Father of one of the Employees of my Organisation who was in our Vigilance Deptt had under gone open heart surgery.Employee had taken a Medical Advance of Rs 2 lacs for the surgery.
After he submitted his medical bill, I recorded my observations and sent it to our Medical officer for his opinion for commenting on some out of rule expenses incurred for this surgery. Adjustment of his Medical Advance claim was pending for want of Medical Officer’s opinion. In case he would have rejected the employee’s expenses I would have been compelled to recover the amount from the him. In view of pressure of our accounts closing exercise as per my Boss’s advise, I enquired in the Hospital about approximate expenditure incurred.The Hospital was where the treatment was taken by the patient. (I came to know lateron that his sister was an employee in this Hospital) Employee was upset with my action and wanted to take action against me in the Court of law under the complaint of atrocity against caste.As he belonged to SC/ST category. And accordingly asked for the permission of the Management in writing with a list of many other complaints which were not at all true.
I was totally surprised because neither my father nor myself believe in any casteism. We do have a lot of other than Brahmin families as close family contacts. I have grown up with my almost all friends as non Brahmins. How can I have a negative approach to this particular employee? The allegations were totally false as far as I was concerned.
When I came to know about it I tried to dissuade him but he warned me and threatened me to arrest with the help of Police on Saturday, so that next day being Sunday he will send me to Police lock up for two days. Being a Vigilance Deptt employee he had a good rapport with the local Police of Gujarat.He further advised me to keep a sum of Rs.50,000/-ready for expenses. As per our Employer Rule in case you are in a Police lock up for two days, your services are suspended.
I tried to coax my boss to intervene, but he was afraid of his own arrest. My General Manager advised me to give the aggrieved Employee a request letter to forgive me .I opposed it because I was not at all at any fault. But as my immediate Boss pressurized me, I gave one such letter. But the aggrieved man was not happy and wanted to continue with his course of action.
In the meantime I gathered legal information and was advised by the legal experts that though such Court of Law provides for an arrest with a non bailable warrant, it must be proved in advance that such atrocity has actually taken place. But as the Employee was from Vigilance Deptt with a good rapport to Police Deptt, I was totally shaken from inside. Further being a Maharashtrian I had no idea about Gujrat Police Deptt.
I realized that nobody is going to help me now. My wife who is also a Sai Bhakt assured me that in case I am arrested, she will sell her ornaments and keep Rs.50,000/-ready and give a bond in the Police station to release me if need arises. But she was also very upset. Ultimately I realized that now only Sai Baba can help me .
With all my devotion I prayed Him and started to read “Sai Sat Charit” by Shri Dabholkar, daily one Chapter. My wife decided fasting on Thursdays. I started reading the “Prasadik Pothi” from Monday.
On Wensday one of my friends who had undergone heart bypass surgery , wanted my company to go for his health check up at a hospital which was far off and can be reached after a journey of two hours, with an idea that I will drive the car. I immediately responded positively. But my wife took objection to the idea. She insisted to be with her on Thursday as she will be fasting for me. I conveyed my inability to my friend and made alternative arrangement of a driver which he totally rejected.
He had a good rapport with the big bosses of Vigilance Deptt at Delhi, our Head Office, because of his skills in Astrology. He conveyed his problem to the Vigilance Head at Delhi office, informally. The official advised him to take the company of his subordinate i.e. our aggrieved employee who readily accepted the offer and they pushed off on Thursday. My friend knew my case and requested the Employee not to take any such legal action against me which he instantly refused. Then they visited the aggrieved employee’s father who was residing in the same city. While returning back, my friend again opened the topic and asked the Employee that he should not trouble my family members who are on the brink of selling ornaments in house to raise Rs.50,000/-.
The aggrieved employee is also a great devotee of Baba and fasts on Thursdays and knows our family history. After reaching his house while performing Puja he realized that he is going to take action against Baba’s devotee whose forefathers are in the photograph.(He is having that photograph of Baba with Nanasaheb Nimomkar at his side and my father as a child near Nana Saheb) After Puja he gave a call to my friend (the one who took him for Hospital check up)and told him his decision not to take any action against me and asked him to bring me along with him to meet at his office the next day.
When we reached his office the next day, he told me his decision of not taking any action against me. But I was not satisfied by his contention and insisted to tell the exact reason for his behavior in such a manner as I was not at fault at all . The reason he told shocked me. According to him I made a loose comment with some of my colleagues that his father was not operated at all and the bill submitted by him is a spurious one. I swore and told him that I just can’t comment like that because my father was also a heart patient, and his father is also like my father.
He immediately turned back and typed an apology letter, signed it and handed over to me with folded hands, asking me to forgive him and that he was going to make a grave mistake.
This was on Friday i.e.5 days after I started reading Sai Sachharit and prayed Baba and my wife had started fasting on Thursdays.
Thus Saibaba gave positive thoughts to this employee and my stress was relieved. I realized that Baba is always there to help me out of any situation. Thus His any bhakt need not worry and always take the path of His bhakti which I follow regularly.
3. Always take His opinion whenever you are in fix i.e.unable to take a certain decision:
Many a time whenever I am in a fix, I put two chits with a marking ”Yes” and “No” after properly folding them.
Before that I put an agarbatti and light oil lamp before His photo, put some naivaidyam like milk with sugar, pray Him to guide in the situation and promise Him that His decision will be my decision and follow it sincerely.
Then after closing my eyes and closed eyes only lift one chit, open it and follow His decision as per the chit.
So far His decision was always right one and I was always benefited out of it. He always showed me proper path.
4. Food intake should be offered to Him first before you eat anything:
I have made it a practice to offer Him in my mind (and my other Gods also) first the food which I am going to eat and then start eating the food.
5. Try to forgive the persons or anybody which are troubling you:
Yes I follow His this principle as well. Being a Scorpio by English calendar, it is in my nature to take revenge. But after reading Sai Sat Charit , after insistence of my mother, my nature changed. All positive thoughts came to my mind. Forgiving any one troubling you is very difficult but you remain very peaceful after that.
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''Anant koti Brahmand Nayak Rajadhiraj Yogiraj Parabrahma Shri Sachchidanand Sadguru Sainath Maharaj ki Jai”
When the 1000 headed Shesh Naga falls short of attributes to describe the magnificence of Sai Nath, we can merely rely on the information shared by great saints, seers and devotees of Baba. Our beloved Sai Nath is a Yogiraj i.e. King of Yoga.
In Sai Sahasranama of BVNarasimha Swamiji, there are references of the prowess of Baba’s yogic powers from Slokas 777 to 780. They are as follows:
777. Om Yogasakthi jithasvapnaya Namaha
Sai Sahasranaamavali elucidates on the yogic attributes of Sai Nath as follows:
Shri Sainathatha Stavana Manjari of Das Ganu Maharaj 100th Shloka states:
Sava Haatha Laakadachi |
The wooden plank of absurdly small measures
If were to take a look at yoga, where the Ashtanga yoga or eight fold yoga is followed.
Yama - moral codes
Baba practiced yoga meticulously because it would be only a great yogi, who could leave His body for three days and return back again (1886). In Chapter 7 of Shri Sai Satcharita there is also a mention of Khanda yoga, where Baba could sever body parts at will and regain them again at will.
Even the dhoop aarti of Sai Baba - "Shri Guru Prasada Yaachana Dashaka" composed by Late Shri BV Deo states:
The poets, the seers, the sages and those free of sin and the inspired yogi may be annoyed with me. The family deity and the village deity may be annoyed with me. The base person, the devil, the foul witch may be annoyed with me, but never my Dattaguru, my mother Sai, be annoyed with me.
This clearly indicates that Sai Baba is Yogi's Yogi, Dattaguru "Yogiraja" who will protect His disciple even when all the Seers, Sages, Kul Devatas (family deity), Village Deities and even the Devil are annoyed with him.
Guru Poornima has great significance for a seeker of wisdom. Guru Poornima is celebrated on the Aashadha Poornima Day as per the Hindu almanac.
The word Guru is derived from two Sanskrit roots ‘Gu’ which means darkness and ‘Ru’ which means the one who dispels or removes darkness. Thus, it is the Guru who removes the darkness from within his disciples and leads them towards light of wisdom and ultimately liberates them.
Adnyan Timirandhasya Dnyananjana Shalakaya |
Salutation to the noble Guru, who has opened my eyes blinded by darkness of ignorance with the collyrium stick of knowledge.
Dhyan Moolam Guru Murti |
The basis of all meditation is the Guru’s idol. The basis of all worship is of the Guru’s feet. The basis of all mantras is the words of the Guru. The bestowal of liberation is only possible by the Guru’s grace.
Tvameva Mata Cha Pita Tvameva |
Oh Guru! You are my mother and father; you are my brother and companion; you alone are knowledge and wealth. O Lord, you are everything to me.
In Chapter 3 of Guru Charitra, a brief life story of ‘Shri Nrusimha Saraswati Swami Maharaj’, by Shri Vasudevanand Saraswati (also known as Tembe Swamy) a beautiful story has been narrated which clarifi es, why Guru is Greater than even God. The story goes like this :-
In former times there lived a king by name Ambarish. He observed Ekadashi fast (11th day of every fortnight). He induced Shri Vishnu to come to the earth. ‘In order to test Ambarish’s Ekadashi Vrat, Durvas Rishi came to him as a guest. That day Sadhan Dwadashi was only for 24 minutes after sunrise. Ambarish received the Rishi warmly; worshipped him and requested him to return soon for dinner fi nishing his morning bath and rituals. Durvas went to the river, took bath and started rituals. Seeing that the time for Dwadashi (12th day of fortnight) was fi nishing and fearing the break of his Vrat, Ambarish took holy water and dines. In the meanwhile Durvas returned and seeing that Ambarish had dined before him, he was enraged and so he cursed Ambarish. Ambarish prayed to Shri Vishnu and He came from Vaikuntha. Ambarish told Shri Vishnu that Durvas had for no reason cursed him to take birth in different species. Shri Vishnu told Durvas that he had cursed Ambarish in vain and that he should curse Him (Vishnu) instead of Ambarish. Durvas thought that people on the earth cannot see Shri Vishnu, so it would be better to ask Shri Vishnu to descend on the earth with Shri Lakshmi for the salvation of the people. So, he said to Shri Vishnu, ‘You should descend on the earth ten times’.
This is the reason, why Lord Vishnu had to take 10 Avatars (Dashavatar).
The above shlokas and the incident of Guru Charitra, Chapter 3, very clearly signifies the importance of Guru ahead of even God.
According to our scriptures, the order of importance has been given as Mata, Pita,Guru and Deva. Parents give birth to an individual and take care of the materialistic needs. Guru on the other hand, bestows spiritual knowledge and protects him from both inside and outside.
Guru Poornima festival celebration in Shirdi assumes greatest signifi cance as this was the only festival that was started by Shri Sai Baba Himself. The story goes like this :-
In the year 1908, Tatya Saheb Nulkar, who was a subjudge in Pandharpur, came to stay in Shirdi. Baba asked him to stay in the Chavadi. One day, in the morning Baba told Shama, “Ask that Mhatara (old man) to perform Pooja to the Pillar”. Shama went and told Nulkar (Mhatara) exactly what Baba had said. Both of them discussed the reason for this; but could not come up with an answer. At last they consulted the almanac, and found that it was Vyas Poornima or Guru Poornima day. But, Baba had asked him to perform Pooja to the Pillar, and not to Him. Nonetheless they were very happy that at least He had allowed Pooja to be performed in the Dwarkamai. Nulkar was performing Pooja to the Pillar when Shama turned up. Baba said, “Why is he performing Pooja all by himself? Why can’t you too perform the Pooja? Shama replied, “I will not perform Pooja to this pillar. But, if You will allow me to perform Pooja to You, I will gladly do so. I will only worship You and not this or any other pillar”. After a lot of debate and discussion, Baba finally agreed.
Dada Kelkar was aware that it was Guru Poornima; so he sent for Tatya who had gone to his farm. Both of them went with Pooja materials, and performed Guru Pooja. The rest of the devotees followed suite. They offered fruits, dakshina and vastra (dhotis) to their Guru. The dhoti was of no use to Baba; but they got the opportunity to do Guru Pooja that day and they hoped it would continue in the future.
Thus, the festival of Guru Poornima was fi rst started on 13th July 1908 (Monday). Now it is a three day function. On the fi rst day there is Akhand Parayan of Shri Sai Sat Charita, the second day is the main festival day and it concludes on the third day with Gopal Kala. (Ref. ‘Shiladhi’ written by Dr. Keshav B.Gavankar).
Wealth is really a means to work out Dharma. If one uses it merely for personal enjoyment, it is vainly spent.
Dharma this word needs closer examination. Each person has a defined journey on earth. So Dharma is specific to each individual.
For e.g. the Dharma of a homemaker is defined. The Dharma of a homemaker who is a teacher is defined. The Dharma of a homemaker, who is a teacher and a healer, is defined.
Now do not conclude that Dharma is vocation. It is connected with Karma, the action.
Karma done selflessly (without any ego) leads to Dharma.
Now we will look at what is wealth.
Wealth is generally perceived as money. Generally, one gives wealth as charity to work out ones Dharma.
Wealth is given with one, some or all of these following reasons –
* I am giving because I know Baba will give me 10 times what I give.
The list of reasons to give continues. But, it is always a reason for giving, only when giving happens without any reason that is the ‘true’ giving.
Now look at wealth. Is it money only? Or can we stretch the scope of wealth a little and include anything valuable including time, talent, action, intention, etc.
A singer sings, a painter paints, and a home maker does their defined Karma with the ‘wealth’ they have to work out their Dharma.
First of all find out what is the wealth you have, and then use that without ego to work out your Dharma.
Significance of ‘Sadhana’ in Spiritual Life – An Introduction - by Shri.Chakor Ajgaonkar , Poet, Lyricist, Spiritual Writer and Former Editor of Shri Sai Leela Magazine (Extracted from the Book “The Realm of Sadhana)
Sadhana is of vital significance in spiritual life. The purpose of this article is to present a true picture of Sadhaka’s divine life on the mental screen of the readers and invoke their attention and interest in actual Sadhana. Sadhana was not something very occult or mysterious riddle but a simple, pure, sacred way of leading Godward life.
Spiritualism is the essence of our Indian Culture. The flower of human existence has the honey of devotion, love, knowledge and yoga embedded in its heart. This is virtually the culture of life and its inner core. The final goal of life is not to achieve power, money, sensual pleasure or fame. It is the divine Ananda emanating from the realization of Self or God. If we fail to have equal vision, peace and devotion through the doors of Sadhana, the life will be worthless, futile and without purpose. The precious life on this planet should not be squandered away aimlessly. The pleasures derived from worldly pursuits are fleeting and momentary and made up of the material of lust, greed and desire. They are elusive and temporary. If we taste a drop of the Amrit of immortal life, we will never be attracted by the tasteless sense pleasures. We shall not hanker after sugar, if once we taste Amrita. It is necessary to resolve today finally to endeavor hard to acquaint ourselves with the way, purport and techniques of reaching the divine in our life. This is our natural birthright as human beings.
Sai devotees who visit Shirdi to fulfill their vows, usually have a wrong notion that Sai Baba is a saint who surely fulfills the demands of all needy persons by His divine powers and the only duty of the so-called devotees is to beg for relief in day-to-day hardships and then just to offer coconuts, flowers, sweets etc., to the Samadhi Mandir. It is not proper to interpret the divine life and message of the great saint of Shirdi in such a cursory way. Baba is definitely a wish fulfilling tree but His liberality has a purpose. He is giver of Yoga, Bhakti, Jnana and Ananda. We must understand this higher mission of His life. He caters to the demands of the devotees only to win over their hearts and to launch them on a sober and nobler path of purposeful life. It is in our ultimate benefit to realize the real meaning and significance of the divine life of the Saint of Shirdi. Baba in turn desires us to do what He really intends us to do. We have to earn favours and fulfill the expectations of Baba as well. Our true gratitude for the help and grace received from Baba can be expressed in terms of service and Sadhana. The divine life springs from the Master’s Feet where grace flows in abundance.
The famous saint Gondawalkar Maharaj had a similar experience of devotees. He was pained to note that the devotes visiting him for favours were asking for relief in worldly problems only; nobody was genuinely interested in Sadhana or liberation of the Soul from the bondage of Samsara. Almost all Saints have had more or less the same experience. Man is so much bound by the needs and demands of Samsara, he is so deeply entrenched in the meshes of his mundane existence, that he cannot even think of getting out of it. Baba was a powerful Saint who could cater to the demands of His devotees, whether they were practical wants or higher urges. People who heard of His great powers came to His shelter seeking boons like promotion, cure, progeny, and fulfillment of their other desires. In the concluding portion of Chapter 32 of Shri Sai Satcharitra, its author recorded these pertinent words of Baba in his context:
“Whatever is given by others is not adequate. It does not It does not suffice for life. Whatever be the measure in which it has been donated, it is still insufficient. What My Sarkar (The Lord Dattatreya) gives is a fund inexhaustible. The knowledge and Anand is the wealth showered by Guru and is unending”.
One’s needs do not end even when they are met or fulfilled. They multiply during the passage of time and after fulfillment. All material gifts are temporary, fleeting and mortal. The gift of grace showered by Guru or God alone is a constant source of joy and happiness throughout the life and life beyond. It does not end on this earthly planet. It accompanies the soul as a bright heritage and puts him in a higher ecstatic state without interruption.
Baba was extremely pained in His heart to see His dear devotees hankering after money, well-being, jobs, promotions, land, children or progeny and demanding for revenge of enemity, fulfillment of desire, lust and greed. When the Master, who was the source of divine grace and Ananda, was before them as the Kalpataru. The devotees did not at all desire to work hard and practice penance to receive His abundance grace. They had the sole purpose to reap the harvest of His powers and siddhis for meeting their day to day wants, desires and physical needs. It was not at all wrong to invoke divine help or assistance or interception in one’s day to day life needs, wants and worries. But the God or Guru must not be limited only to that sphere of physical needs. He is something beyond the mundane life or the Samsaric humdrum. He is not to be used to fulfill our selfish purposes.
Shri Sai Baba, the Master of Compassion and Liberation, sits on His usual black stone in Dwarakamai Masjid with the sole intention of transmitting the grace of His Guru and of His Sarkar (Dattatreya) to the men on the earth stricken, smitten and tarnished by the heat and dust of the selfish life leading away from the Divine Light. He does not want Pedas (sweets), flowers, garlands in return of this shower of grace on the devotees. He expects from us that we leave aside our mundane selfish pursuits and take up the divine life of love, Sadhana, Namasmarana and meditation on the form of Guru. What a paradox, what a contrasting experience to a Divine Saint who has appeared on earth for showering higher Kripa that breaks the shackles of Samsara! Baba words quoted in Shri Sai Satcharitra are:
“The gifts of the grace of my Sarkar (Guru Datta) cannot be weighed with other things in the world. How limitless can be weighed and balanced with the limited. The wealth of grace of my Sarkar is real wealth. Ask for this wealth from Me. The wealth is abundantly available here. It is actually overflowing here. The blind cannot see it. Nobody is desirous of taking physical pains to dig out this precious treasure and earn the wealth. I say openly to you to come here and dig this ground (of mind, intellect, ego, Karmas etc.,) and cultivate the crop under the shower and sunshine of grace and reap rich harvest to carry it to your home forever”.
This means that Baba wants us to practice the Sadhana of Dhayan, Bhakti, Yoga and Karma. He wants us to recite the name of Guru or God and to meditate on His form. We will be Baba’s sons, disciples or devotees as and when we do what He wants us to do. This is infact a sincere appeal for turning to Sadhana or divine way of life. Baba further says:
“This opportunity will never reappear (“Yeyeena Mukhi Maaguli Ho Vela”). The God is before you sitting on a stone in human form ready to grace you (“Moortimaanam Mee Moksha Samose, Meecha Pantra Adesha”) The body will melt in dust, the prana will merge in aerial sky. God will not be again available on earth.”
Teachings of great Saints, Sages and Seers of India, have let the light of Divine knowledge all over this planet.
Baba was eager to see His devotee who had genuine interest in God and who sought guidance for spiritual betterment. Baba has desired from all of us the following:
In fact, Naam and Roopa are essential in initial Sadhana as an objective or means to concentrate our attention on God and wiping of one’s smugness of the impressions of selfish motives in Samsara from the subtle body by and the grace of God’s thereon.
Sadhana breaks Selfish interest and network entangling the mind in the maze of external world. It increases the potency of the subtle body to make it more powerful to emancipate itself from the shackles of lust and desires. It helps the inner consciousness to rise higher than the subtle level and merge in casual and supra-conscious stage. Deeper impression of Yoga and Bhakti activated by the force of Divine grace is of great assistance in uplifting this consciousness to higher and higher level.
This process is exactly opposite to the binding effects of lust and longings as also restless pursuits of money, power, fame and sensual pleasures. When we waste our power in futile vows, prayers and worldly benefits of mundane value, we use the power of saints for achieving trifle gains or profits, which could otherwise be used for higher planes of purity, ananda, spiritual progress, grace and inner culture of intrinsic value. Some people are crooked and cunning. They call occult sciences such as astrology, mantra, tantra, hypnotism as spiritualism and misguide simple-minded devotees. We must know for certain the difference between hypocrisy, superstition and Godward life of self-realisation which leads to supreme bliss.
Every human being originally inherits a pure and simple mind and a clean soul. But we are tainted by touch of Samsara and fail to keep up this ideal state which is an essential prerequisite of Godward journey, a passport or visa for traversing higher lands. Our system of education and breeding limit our perception and virtues. The present scientific advancement makes us denounce everything that is beyond logic or sensory observation. It is therefore extremely difficult to turn a present day educated man towards Godward journey and do research of the principle which is beyond mind, intellect and body senses.
To be brief, we reiterate a few facts of the life of Sadhana which should be borne in mind perpetually:
This article even though has a limited scope strive hard to depict the psychological, emotional, sentimental as well as intellectual processes to an aspirant.
Godward journey or spiritual sadhana is the essence of our Indian culture and the core of Bharatiya life. Indian Culture aims at transforming entire existence into Satyam Shivam and Sundaram. Divine life envisaged by the Indian Seers entails life style leading to Truth-Existence-Bliss. Such a life culminates in God realization.
Divine life is virtuous, pious and unselfish life which is vibrant with Divine energy and fragrant with spiritual sadhana. This is the basis of Sanatana Dharma. However, a common man moves with wrong notion about Religion and Spiritualism. He identifies piety with reading religious texts or philosophical treatises or blind idol worship.
Bhakti in its core is absolute surrender, dedication and unflinching faith. Practices like recitation of Name etc., are secondary. Yoga is merging self-limited awareness into cosmic awareness. This is verily the essence of Sadhana (Karma, Bhakti, Jnana and Yoga).
O Sai ! The people all around me are celebrating the festival of Dussehra. This fiesta, also known as Vijayadashmi, is one of the fascinating carnivals of India and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm. Dussehra means the Tenth Day, being the 10th day of the bright half of Ashwin. This day is also known as Vijayadashmi, or Victory Tenth, because of the Victory of Rama over Ravana.
To me, Thou art Rama, O Sai ! For me, the Dussehra day, therefore, has a special significance. O Sai Rama! I have learnt to count the real import of Dussehra only since the 15th of October 1918, because of Your Victory over Death on the Dussehra day. O Sai ! O Rama! O Sai! O Rama! You took Mahasamadhi exactly on Dussehra day on 15th October, 1918… O Sai ! While I, on this sublime occasion of Your Punyatithi, hold on to Your blessed feet and concentrate on Your Samadhi, I hear a ‘soundless sound’ which connects my thoughts to those moments when You were breathing Your last, and one of Your ardent devotees Nanasaheb Nimonkar was helplessly crying out loudly, “Oh Deva…” Although it had become quite evident that You had left Your mortal body, it still seemed to Nimonkar as though You opened Your eyes to respond to his weeping by saying, “...Ah !”
O Baba! Now I am feeling an irresistible desire to reveal the true character of this “soundless sound’ and the truth of it through my own experiences to my fellows who are Your devotees. But, before I start, I make an adolescent and stubborn appeal at Your lotus feet…O Sai ! Would You please once again seem to me, too, to open Your eyes and say “...Ah !”
again and again, if You find me honest in my utterances…
The epiphany of this ‘soundless sound’ helps me to revive the picture of Swami Rama Tirtha to my mind. Swami Rama Tirtha, a direct descendant of Goswami Tulsidas, the immortal author of the widely read Ramcharitmanas, is one of the brightest jewels of India’s genius. Born in 1873, at Muraliwala, in the district of Gujranwala, Punjab (now in Pakistan), he belongs to that prophetic group of inspired seers who rang up the curtain of Indian Renaissance and ushered in the era of a strongly positive, aggressive and all-conquering spirituality. He was a great ascetic and an enlightened mystic. He practised Yoga on the banks of the river Ravi. Later he lived in the forests of Brahmapuri, on the banks of the river Ganga, five miles away from Rishikesh (in Uttarakhand) and attained Self-realization.
From him India has inherited the dual gems of Vedantic boldness and spiritual patriotism. His spiritual patriotism is something unique and grand. He is ever alive as a dynamic soul-force, ever shedding the spiritual effulgence in the heart of every seeker after Truth. His teachings are inspiring, elevating and illuminating - a fountain of his intuitive experiences.
O Baba ! Two of Swami Rama Tirtha’s closest disciples Narayan Swami and Puran Singh were privileged to write biographies of their Guru. Puran Singh’s ‘The Story of Swami Rama: The Poet Monk of the Punjab’ appeared in 1924, wherein he writes:
One night after dinner when Swami Rama went to sleep, around 12.30 at night, he (Puran Singh) heard a feeble sound as though someone is saying ‘Rama …. Rama …. Rama.’ Puran Singh got up and opened the door – but no one was there in the corridor. After an interval of about half an hour he again heard the same sound. This time he entered the room of Swami Rama. To his utter surprise he discovered that though Swami Rama Tirtha was fast asleep, the room was reverberating with Rama Naam which was coming from his body rather than from his mouth.
O Sai! Here, it is a perfect example of ‘soundless sound’! And the picture of my mind revives again; I, too, hear that ‘soundless sound’ which emanates from Your Samadhi rather than from Your mouth:-
1. Whoever puts his feet on Shirdi soil, his sufferings would come to an end.
These are the eleven assurances that You disseminated to the world, O Baba !
O Baba! After 35 years of my birth my parents went on a pilgrimage to Shirdi in 1985; and on return, my father wished me to go there to have Your Darshan. His wish was naturally a command for me. O Sai! I came to Shirdi the same year. O Baba! Lo! You are so powerful that the sun and the moon rise and set in Your eyes, all the movement on the ocean means the throbbing of Your heart, and the entire earth becomes an altar to receive Your footprints…
Immediately after I put my feet on Shirdi soil, my sufferings started coming to an end, O Sai! “...Ah !”
And after my first experience in Shirdi, there was a great pull towards You and Your Abode. Then, there were frequent visits to this Heaven on earth. Just being on its holy soil and sacred places like Samadhi Mandir, Dwarkamai Masjid, Gurusthan, and Chavadi was in itself a great experience with the divine vibrations felt.
O Sai ! In my pursuit to meditate on You my mind and intellect, I make many a reading of Shri Sai Satcharita, and am consequently surprised to find that the stories narrated therein have an astonishing verisimilitude with the frequent happenings in my own life.“...Ah !”
O my Sadguru Sai ! On this Dussehra day, I recapitulate the hair-raising event that happened at the Dwarkamai Masjid on the Diwali day in the year 1910 A.D. You were sitting near the wall of the Masjid facing south and warming Yourself against the brightly burning Dhuni. Suddenly You pushed Your arm into the Dhuni; the arm was scorched and burnt badly. None of Your devotees, including Shama, present there could understand the reason of Your doing so; and nobody had the cheek to ask You to unfold this mystery. Ultimately, Shama who was quite free with You because of his ‘72 generations’ old association, mustered courage and asked, “Deva, for what have You done this ?” Then, You revealed the vital truth: “The wife of a blacksmith at some distant place was working the bellows of a furnace; her husband called her. Forgetting that her child was on her waist, she ran hastily and the child slipped into the furnace. I immediately thrust my hand into the furnace and saved the child. I do not mind my arm being burnt; but I am glad that the life of the child is saved.” (Shri Sai Satcharita, Chapter VII).
O Sai ! The blacksmith and his wife had cast their burden on You, and You surely bore the brunt. “...Ah !”
O Omniscient Baba ! Like the good blacksmith and his better half, I, too, have my own best story to tell. I live in Dehra Dun in the state of Uttarakhand. The residents of this city are blessed with a magnificent temple, located at about 10 kilometers away from my house, called the Shri Shirdi Sai Baba Devasthanam. It attracts thousands of devotees of all religions, castes and creed everyday, and creates the Sai awareness among people in Uttarakhand, which is often called as the Land of the Gods. O King of Kings! Before I resume my narration, I experience a flashback of the days, as narrated in Shri Sai Satcharita, when You used to beg food from door to door in Shirdi, albeit You can turn a beggar into a king just by putting single glance upon him. And truly, to a beggar like me, You enabled, against all hopes, to buy a brand new Esteem Maruti car.
There shall, undoubtedly, be no want in the house of Your devotees, O Sai ! “...Ah !”
O Sai ! Now resuming my tale, I remember the day when You saved me and my family from the clutches of death. It happened on Thursday, 19th February 1998. The afternoon sky was cloudy, and there was also a drizzle. I, accompanied by my family, drove to the Shri Shirdi Sai Baba Devasthanam to have Your Darshan; and after paying obeisance at Your lotus feet, turned toward Mussoorie by-pass road.From there it is a ten minutes drive to the famous Lord Shiva temple (known as Shri Prakasheshwar Mahadev Mandir), near Kuthal gate along the way to Mussoorie, Since You are the incarnation of Lord Dattatreya, we desired to visit that temple, and seek Your blessings. O Baba ! Now I, after the Darshan, was driving downhill; and wasn’t going that fast at the time when the brakes failed to work properly. I immediately broke into a cold sweat, and frantically tried to control driving by pumping the brakes. But, all in vain, and the car took a turn toward a 40-metre-deep Khud. Anticipating our imminent death, we started crying & calling, “O Sai ! Save us… O Sai ! Save us… O Sai ! Save us.” And soon the car started rolling down the deep Khud. The new car was totaled in the accident; but, lo ! we were resting on the large and invisible hands even without any scratch and bruise.. And when I raised my tiny hands to thank those Hands, a sound greeted my ears : “I always think of him who remembers me. I require no conveyance, carriage, tonga, nor train nor aeroplane. I run and manifest myself to him who lovingly calls me.”
O Baba! You are, true to Your words, active and vigorous even from Your tomb.“...Ah !”
O Sai ! Thou art, in all truth, the Gracious, the Glorified, the Mighty, the Omnipotent. O God, my God ! Stay not from me the gentle gales of Thy pardon and grace, and deprive me not of the wellsprings of Thine aid and favour. Neath the shade of Thy protecting Hands let me nestle, and cast upon me the glance of Thine all-protecting eye!
O Baba ! Your tomb blesses and speaks to the needs of Your devotees.
O Baba ! Now I, prostrating myself at Your lotus feet, narrate the story of that gentleman who had come all the way from Goa to Shirdi to have Your Darshan. (Shri Sai Satcharitra, Chapter XXXVI) This devotee had employed a chef who unerringly kept managing his master’s kitchen for nearly 30 years; but afterwards he was held in the grip of bad habits, which made him rob his master of a sum of Rs. 30,000. O Sai ! The master was greatly distressed and sat for a fortnight on the verandah of his house, bemoaning his loss. He lost his appetite too as the cook himself deprived his employer of bread.
O Sai! You are ever active and vigorous even after leaving Your earthly body.
O Baba! After a fortnight, You visited his house in the guise of a Fakir, and prescribed: “If you act according to my bidding, you’ll recover your money; I furnish you with the whereabouts of a Fakir. You please go there, and surrender yourself to him, after you get your money back. Till the culprit returns the cash, you must give up your preferred food.” He followed Your advice and got his wealth back.
O Sai ! If one seeks help and listens to Your advice, it is given at once.“...Ah !”
O Sai ! Once again, I return to my story... I hear people saying that both man and God are helpless to make any change in the design of destiny. But, O Baba ! A few days after the awful accident, I went to the Shri Shirdi Sai Baba Devasthanam to thank You for changing the coding system of my destiny. There I sat quietly in front of Your statue; and though gratitude was rendering me mute in Your presence, that sobbing voice of thankfulness still wept in my heart. However, I didn’t mourn the loss of my car with You, which was given to a kabari at almost no price, as it was purchased without insurance backup due to lack of required money.“...Ah !”
O Sai ! You are ever living to help and guide all who come to You, who surrender to You and who seek refuge in You.
O Baba ! Cause me, then, to turn wholly unto Thee, to put my whole trust in Thee, to seek Thee as my Refuge, and to flee unto Thy face. Thou art, verily, He who, through the power of His might, doeth whatsoever He desireth, and commandeth, through the potency of His will, whatsoever He chooseth. None can withstand the operation of Thy decree; none can divert the course of Thine appointment. Thou art, in truth, the Almighty, the All-glorious, the Most bountiful.
O Sai ! Once again, the range of my memory takes me back to that startling event of my life. I think of that terrible car-accident now, and realize You spared me a terrible fate ! I really do not know, how I should write my innermost feelings, my state of mind. You know everything, O Baba; nothing is hidden from You. I have to say though, something inside of me was very sad, O Sai !; and something inside of me magically changed; and I, sitting on the verandah step of my cottage, started mindfulness meditation on Sai Naam with faithful faith. The strength of Sai Naam made me forget my surroundings, and the exigencies of my worldly life. One day, while I was thus sitting unaware of my setting and unable even to hear anyone speaking to me, I heard a ‘soundless sound’. I turned my attention towards the direction the sound was coming from. I found a Fakir standing at my cottage door with the words - “May I come in…” O Baba ! Since I knew that You used to wander from door to door in Shirdi with a Jhola (bag) hung on Your shoulder, the ‘exterior semblance’ of this Fakir mesmerized me. At that moment, I thought he was You… I bowed to him my welcome. I offered my guest a cup of tea. Now the beggar seemed to be in a great hurry to leave, and begged my leave. I walked with him to my cottage door…; and, on return, found that he forgot to take his Jhola with him. I, in my frantic haste and eagerness to chase after him, overstepped a step near the top of the verandah’s staircase. His Jhola plucked from my hands, and unfolded itself. And lo ! Large-denomination currency notes scattered all around in the courtyard of my cottage.
The next day a brand new Esteem Maruti car adorned our cottage, O Baba !
O Sai ! No doubt, if Your devotee looks to You, You too look to him [remaining unmindful of the fact whether he be from Goa or Dehra Dun.] “...Ah !”
O Sai ! The wretched and miserable would naturally rise into plenty of joy and happiness, as soon as he climbs steps of Your Samadhi, before or after rolling down into a deep Khud or tumbling down from the top of one’s own verandah !
O Sai ! You once came down from Your throne and stood at my cottage door...“...Ah !”
You came down from Your throne and stood at my cottage door. I was singing Sai Naam all alone, and the melody caught Your ear. You came down from Your throne and stood at my cottage door.
O Baba ! I lay my head, with my entire mind, body, soul and each breath in me, at Those lotus feet that purified my cottage door.
To perpetuate and commemorate the memory of Your visit, the cottage was christened the SHIRDI SAI DHAM; and soon after, a beautiful hanging temple was installed on the trunk of the tree that stood in the courtyard. “...Ah !”
O Baba ! Once I walked with You to my cottage door…“...Ah !”
O Sai !
It will be glory when I walk with You on Shirdi’s golden soil,
Never from You side again to stray !
It is glory when the shadows fall,
To know that You are near.
O what joy to simply trust and pray !
It is glory to abide in You when skies above are clear.
Yes, with You, it’s glory all the way !
O my Sai ! O my Lord ! Let Your everlasting presence be felt at ‘SHIRDI SAI DHAM’ from beyond Your tomb in Shirdi !“...Ah !”
O Baba ! Once again, I lay my head, with my entire mind, body, soul and each breath in me, at Those lotus feet that purified my cottage door.
Anant Koti Brahmand Nayak Raja Dhi Raj Yogi Raj Para Brahma Shri Sachchidanand Sadguru Sai Nath Maharaj Ki Jai !!!
Dr. Subodh Agarwal
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