Sai Mahabhakta Late Shri.Pundalika Rao's name is mentioned in Chapter 50 of Holy Shri Sai Satcharitra.
Shri.Pundalika Rao, was a pleader from Nanded (Nizam State). He went along with some friends to meet Saint Shri Vasudevananda Saraswati, known as Shri Tembe Swami, who was camping at Rajamahendri (Andhra), on the banks of the Godavari. He was a devout, orthodox Jnani and a Yogi Bhakta of the God Dattatreya. While they were talking to him, the names of Shirdi and Sai Baba were casually mentioned. Hearing Baba’s name, the Swami bowed with his hands and taking a coconut gave it to Pundalika Rao. He then said to Pundalika Rao, “Offer this to my brother Sai, with a bow, and request Him not to forget me and always love me.” He also added that Swamis do not generally bow to other Swamis, but in this case an exception had to be made. Shri.Pundalika Rao consented to take the fruit and the message to Baba. The Swami was right in calling Baba a brother, for the Swami, like Baba, maintained a sacred fire day and night, in an orthodox fashion.
Dattatreya Mandir at Rajamahendri (Andhra Pradesh) - Outer View
Dattatreya Mandir at Rajamahendri (Andhra Pradesh) Inner View
After a month, Pundalika Rao and a few others left for Shirdi with the coconut and reached Manmad. As they felt thirsty, they went to a rivulet to drink water. They then felt that water should not be drunk on an empty stomach and thus they took out some Chivda (flattened rice mixed with spices). The Chivda tasted pungent and in order to soften the taste, someone suggested they break a coconut and mix its scrapings with it. Thus, they made the Chivda more tasty and palatable. Unfortunately, the fruit that was broken was the one that was entrusted to Pundalika Rao. As they neared Shirdi, Pundalika Rao remembered the promise and was very sorry to learn that it was broken and used. Trembling with fear, he came to Shirdi and saw Baba. Baba had already received a divine message regarding the coconut, from Tembe Swami, and He Himself asked Pundalika Rao to give Him the things sent by His brother. Pundalika Rao held Baba’s Feet, confessed his guilt and negligence, repented and asked for Baba’s pardon. He offered to give another fruit as a substitute, but Baba refused to accept it, saying that the value of that coconut was, by far, many times more than an ordinary one and that it could not be replaced by another one. Baba also added, “Now you need not worry yourself any more about the matter. It was on account of my wish that the coconut was entrusted to you and ultimately broken on the way. Why should you take the responsibility for these actions? Do not entertain the sense of doer-ship in doing good or bad deeds. Remain entirely pride-less and ego-less in all things and thus your spiritual progress will be rapid.” What a beautiful spiritual lesson indeed!
(Source: Chapter 50 of Holy Shri Sai Satcharitra. Photo Courtesy: Shri.Pranav, Telangana)