Of the Muslim devotees who came to Baba, the one about whom the greatest amount of information is available and who is revered by large numbers of Sai devotees is Abdul. Abdul is the one Muslim, who permanently attached himself to Baba for nearly thirty years during Baba’s life in the flesh and for thirty six years after Mahasamadhi, sticking on to Baba, and living upon the doles he got from the public.
Abdul was born in about 1871 and died in April 1954. He was a native of Nanded on the banks of Tapti. His father was conferred with the title of 'Sultan' and called 'Chotu Sultan of Nanded' village. Abdul was married to Umran Rao Bi and had a son. When he was very young, and under the care of Fakir Amiruddin of Nanded, Sai Baba appeared in the dream of that Fakir, and gave him two mangoes telling him to give the fruits to Abdul and send Abdul to Shirdi. Accordingly the Fakir told him of that dream, gave the fruits and directed him to go to Sai Baba of Shirdi. So, he came in his 20th year, about 1890, to Baba. At that time even Nana Saheb Chandorkar had not come to Baba. Baba welcomed him at Shirdi with these words: ‘Mera Kabla Ala’, that is, ‘My crow has come.’ Baba directed him to devote himself entirely to His service. So, his work was to feed the five perpetually burning oil lamps, such as those at the Lendi, the Masjid and the chavadi and to keep them lighted.
As for the food, at first Baba did not give him any food. Baba himself was going out begging and Abdul for himself. He lived at the stable near the Masjid. He was always by Baba’s side rendering service. He read the Koran sitting near Baba at the Mosque. Baba occasionally opened the Koran and made him read or rather recite passages at which he opened the book. He occasionally quoted passages from the Koran. Abdul went on writing down what Baba was saying, and Abdul had a note book in Marathi and Modi script which contain Baba’s utterances. That was Abdul’s Koran. Everything which fell from Baba’s lips is sacred and is enshrined in that book.
Abdul Baba's rare photograph
Abdul Baba with devotees
Abdul stuck on to Baba right up to the end, doing all menial and even scavenging services. After Baba passed away, he was the one Muslim in the establishment, and his work was to decorate the tomb of Baba, arrange the clothes and the flowers on it, and to receive first Prasad for his sustenance. As for his record note book he had got full faith that what Baba said was sufficient to guide him and every one. When anybody wanted to know about the future or about any problem and came to him, he consulted this book and the answer came out of the page opened. This proved to be effective. This is the gift of prophecy, which he got by Baba’s grace.
There are two instances of such prophetic consultation. In the Sai Mandir, a well was dug. The water proved salty. Baba was in Mahasamadhi at that time. So, Abdul consulted Baba’s book of sayings. The reply he got was, “If deeper the well is dug the water will become sweeter”. Accordingly the well was dug deeper by 2 feet, and the water was not salty.
Another instance was this: Barrister Gadgil wanted to know if his son would come back from England and where he would stay then. After consultation, Abdul Baba said, “He will return”. And so, he did return with his English wife and children. Abdul Baba used this manuscript book as his Koran. He used to go on reading reverently, got absorbed in it and rolled beads in his hands at the same time.
Nanda deepam or the perpetual lamp at the Lendi is now covered by a Pillar. When Abdul Baba was maintaining it, it was only a pit. There was nothing above to protect it, and on its four sides 20 pieces of cloth were tied and the hole was covered with zinc sheet. Baba used to sit behind that lamp and ordered him to fill up two pots with water and place them near him. Baba would pour out water in various directions from those pots. Why that was done, Abdul could not say, nor whether any mantra accompanied the action. Except Abdul no one else would be present when Baba scattered the water. Except Abdul Baba no other Mohammedan was reading the Koran or any other Holy book sitting by Baba’s side. Baba would occasionally utter sacred words. And all of them were noted in that book. By Baba’s order or permission, Abdul took them all down. This script is neither Devanagari nor Modi. Abdul used this book not merely for daily reading but also for prophecy. Abdul died in April 1954 and till then, he was in the establishment of Sai Sansthan. Abdul had great faith in Baba, and would give udhi with Baba’s grace to many and help them achieving their objects such as cure of diseases. As he was for 66 years, worked either as the bodyguard of Baba or the attendant on his tomb, he is esteemed as the Hanuman of Baba; constantly attending on the Guru, never expecting any payment or reward, but simply out of faith sticking on to his master. His was noble example of complete and perfect devotion and active service with fullest faith that is Nishta in the Guru. He had both Shraddha and Saburi and Baba on occasions, told him that Abdul would live in storeyed houses and terraced houses and would have glorious time. Abdul lived for some time in Butiwada upstairs and he commanded the respect of a very wide circle of Hindus and Muslims.
Baba used to give Abdul excellent advice fitting him for a yogi’s life. Baba used to advice him to eat very little and not to go for a variety of eatables. Baba also advised him not to sleep much. Abdul followed this advice. He kept awake all night, and in a kneeling posture kept repeating his Koran, that is, Baba’s words. He was meditating on them.
One night, Abdul was tired and he tried to sleep, and held his palms in front of him to rest his drowsy head. Baba then said, ‘Are you trying to see the moon?’ That night when he fell asleep, he fell upon Baba and his gaddi. Baba gently stroked his feet, and then he woke up. The next day when he took water in his palms and looked at it, there was a big moon in that water. It was 2 p.m. This was what Baba had spoken of.
A zinc sheet was placed on the top of the pandal which protected the Lendi lamp. Twenty pieces of curtain cloth were tied all round the lamp to form something like a tent round it, and Abdul looked after the lamp, which was in the centre. That light has been shifted from its place now and is put inside a raised pillar of brick and mortar, containing a chamber for the lamp. Baba would get up from near the lamp and walk a few yards in each direction gazing intently into the distance evidently supervising with a parental eye the devotees in each of those directions.
Abdul’s services were washing clothes in the streamlet at the village boundary, sweeping the Mosque, the chavadi and the surrounding places, lighting the lamps in these buildings, feeding them with oil and sweeping the village streets and removing the night soil from the way of Baba. That was why Baba called him, Halalkoor and ‘My Mirambi’. He fetched water and also engaged himself in sundry services. He also washed Baba's Kafni. Baba protected Abdul by providing him with food and ensured his safety and progress.
Abdul’s first Guru later on came to Shirdi and wanted him to go back from Shirdi. But Abdul pleaded that nothing could be done without Baba’s permission. Baba not having given the permission, the former Guru went away from Shirdi.
Baba sometimes used to give blessings concealing them under abuse and violence. Baba beat Abdul and Jog many times. Abdul had various blessings and prophecies, and Baba sat with Abdul at the chavadi in the morning before he started for the Mosque. Abdul’s statement about Avatars, his book shows, has reference to all the Dasha Avatars, and there is a hint that Baba treated himself as one of the avatars. Baba also prophesied that the British Empire in India would have only nine rulers in India. In 1947, evidently at the time of the ninth king, India passed out of British jurisdiction.
One night it so happened that Baba cried at midnight- "Oh Abdul, some devilish creature is dashing against the side of My bed". Abdul came with a latern, examined Baba's bed but found nothing, Baba asked him to examine carefully all the place and began to strike ground with His satka. Seeing this Leela of Baba, Amir thought that Baba might have suspected some serpent had come there. Amir could know by close and long contact the meaning of Baba's words and actions. Baba then saw near Amir's cushion something moving. He asked Abdul to bring in the light, and when he brought it, he saw the coil of a serpent there, moving its head up and down. Thereupon the serpent was immediately beaten to death. Thus Baba gave timely warning and saved Amir Shakkar (Chapter 22, Shri Sai Satcharitra).
Dr. Pillay was an intimate Bhakta of Baba. He was much liked by Baba, Who always called him Bhau (brother). Baba talked with him off and on and consulted him in all matters and wanted him always at His side. This Pillay suffered once very badly from guinea-worms. He said to Kakasaheb Dixit, "The pain is most excruciating and unbearable. I prefer death to it. This pain, I know, is for repaying past Karma, but go to Baba and tell Him to stop the pain and transfer the working of my past Karma to ten future births of mine." Mr. Dixit went to Baba and told Him his request. Then Baba, being moved by his request, said to Dixit,"Tell him to be fearless. Why should he suffer for ten births? In ten days he can work out the sufferings and consequences of his past Karma. While I am here to give him temporal and spiritual welfare, why should he pray for death? Bring him here on somebody's back and let us work and finish his sufferings once for all".
The doctor was brought in that condition and was seated on Baba's right side,where Fakir Baba always sat. Baba gave him His bolster and said,"Lie calmly here and be at ease. The true remedy is, that the result of past actions has to be suffered and got over. Our Karma is the cause of our happiness and sorrow; therefore put up with whatever comes to you. Allah (God) is the sole Dispenser and Protector, always think of Him. He will take care of you. Surrender to His feet with body, mind, wealth and speech, i.e. completely and then see what He does." Dr. Pillay said in return that Nanasaheb had put a bandage over the leg, but he found no relief. "Nana is a fool" replied Baba. "Take off that bandage or else you will die. Now a crow will come and peck you, and then you will recover."
While this conversation was going on, one Abdul, who always cleaned the Masjid and trimmed the lamps, turned up. While he was attending to his work of training, his foot accidentally fell upon the stretched leg of Dr. Pillay. The leg was already swollen and when Abdul's foot fell upon it and pressed it, all the seven guinea-worms were squeezed out at once. The pain was unbearable and Dr. Pillay bawled out loudly. After some time, he calmed down and began to sing and cry alternately. Then Pillay enquired when the crow was coming and peeking. Baba said, "Did you not see the crow? He won't come again. Abdul was the crow. Now go and rest yourself in the Wada and you will be soon allright."
By application of the Udi and by taking it in the stomach with water, and without taking any other treatment or medicine, the disease was completely cured in ten days as predicted by Baba (Chapter 34, Shri Sai Satcharitra).
Even after Baba’s Mahasamadhi, Baba was protecting Abdul Baba. In about 1927 Abdul Baba was staying in the thatched mud house where Radhakridhna Mai was staying earlier. That was a very old cottage. Once it so happened that Abdul Baba was reading the Koran in that mud house and suddenly the cottage collapsed and he was almost buried in the debris. However, he was not injured due to Baba’s Grace. After the Mahasamadhi of Baba, Abdul was taking care of and looking after the shrine of Baba till 1922. He was cleaning, decorating the shrine with flowers and performing other ritual services. After the offering of food to Baba as prasadam, he was getting a portion of prasadam for his sustenance and he was receiving and living on the dakshina offered by the devotees. He was also living in a room in the shrine. This system continued till 1922. Dixit, staunch devotee of Baba approached in 1922 the Ahmednagar District Court for permission to set up a Public Trust to administer the shrine and got permission from the Court. At this stage, Abdul Baba, induced by some of his well wishers, approached the Court, claiming that he was the legal heir to Sai Baba and that he had every right to manage the shrine and thus challenged the formation of the Trust. The court with Baba’s Grace held that there was no Math or Ashram and that there was no heir or successor to Sai Baba and that no body was entitled as heir or successor to Sai Baba. Thus he lost the case and consequently was prevented from having any connection with the maintenance of the shrine. He was refused free food and asked to vacate the room occupied by him in the shrine. After some time, the Sansthan relaxed these severe restrictions and Abdul Baba was allowed again to participate in the maintenance of the shrine till his death in April 1954. Abdul Baba lived for 36 years after Mahasamadhi of Baba and served Baba for the longest period till 1954. After his death in 1954, he was buried in the complex of Samadhi Mandir near Lendibhag. This is the first Samadhi to your right opposite to the Museum on the way to Lendi Bagh. He was an ankitha baktha who devoted his entire life in the service to Baba (ref: http://bonjanrao.blogspot.com/)
His original small dwelling house known as "Abdul Baba's Cottage" is located just opposite to the Chavadi. The main room in that house is converted as a memorial to the memory of Abdul Baba and visitors can visit and pay homage to Abdul Baba. He strictly followed Baba’s instructions of “Eat very little and sleep very little”. He slept wherever he could. Then he built a small mud house where his cottage now stands. When the Sansthan was formed they leased this land and cottage to him. He kept busy looking after Baba’s Samadhi.
The devotees, who visit his cottage have an opportunity to venerate the Chimta (Prongs). It is said that it was given to him by Baba. Abdul treasured it and venerated it daily with Loban (incense). After Baba’s Mahasamadhi, Abdul used this for curing the pains and ailments of devotees. One can have darshan of the original photographs of Baba that are hung on the left wall.
Baba is also said to have given him a Satka and a Tin Mug. But we devotees should be most grateful to Abdul Baba for writing down the sayings, teachings and parables of Baba in a notebook. He read them daily like a Koran.
His descendant Ghani Bhai is given the honour of doing the Alankar Baba’s Samadhi every day at 10 A.M. The Samadhi is cleaned and a floral arrangement is done.
Abdul Baba's Grandson Hamid Baba is continuing the legacy of Abdul Baba even to this day.
For More Information about Abdul Baba and for downloading e-book on Abdul Baba log on to http://www.saiparchai.com
(Source: Life of Sai Baba by Late Shri.B.V.Narasimha Swamiji, Shri Sai Satcharitra Chapter 22, Chapter 34, www.saiparichai.com, http://bonjanrao.blogspot.com/, Photo Courtesy: Shri.Jignesh C.Rajput, Surat)