Hemadpant, “Oh! You honoured listeners! I am a particle of dust at your feet. Pay attention-is the favour I ask of you, which I am not ashamed to do.” (Ovi 3)
The above, Anna Saheb’s entreaty to the readers, echoes every writer’s sentiment, their plea to the esteemed readers without whose nod, writing ✍is futile!
The writer of this blog is gaining strength. And conviction. Thank you Baba Sai. Thank you readers. Thank you all.
Interpretation of Chapter 1 was widely welcomed and offset Chapter 2. More encouragement and the outcome was an analysis of Chapter 3. Further motivated, this Thursday brings to you, Chapter 4: Summary and its essence. Like the last few times, waiting eagerly for your interpretation of the stories.
The book: Shree Sai Satcharita Author: Shri Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias Hemadpant alias Annasaheb
Shree Sai Satcharita: Chapter 4, The Consent Given to Write this Book
Summary of Chapter 4: Chapter 4 is a cache of stories, several of them. Unlike other chapters of the Satcharita, these 4-5 stories are more like snippets which tell you some; leave you thirsting for more!
Chapter 4 begins with an ornate description of Baba Sai. A jewel unrecognised, Baba continues to do what he knows and does best: Worship the Almighty, oblivious to any desires for fame or glory. Few recognise Baba’s greatness, but He remains unfazed. For His goal is devotion, not renown.
In every chapter, Hemadpant’s love for Sai, manifests itself in the description of Baba’s profound and infinite magnificence. It is impossible to do justice, even if one were to write volumes, declares Annasaheb. He points out the occasions when and reasons why saints consider it essential to take birth. It is for the uplift of the wavering and vagrant mankind which deviates from spiritual ways into matters that become inane and inconsequential in the larger scheme of things. Annasaheb shares the names of saints like Tukaram, Namdeo, Narsibhai Mehta among several others who arrived at the opportune time to lead menfolk back onto the path of righteousness. Annasaheb seeking forgiveness for his own shortcomings as an amateur writer but absolves himself when he professes that even the best philosophers and writers have not been able to give all details about Sai’s benevolence, reach and prowess.
Hemadpant cites Gaulibuva (a saint, worshipper of Lord Vitthal) words, to throw light on Baba’s greatness: “This is Pandarinath incarnate…” (Ovi 78) Gaulibuva says that Sai Baba is the very incarnation of Lord Vitthal Himself. Lord Vishnu, the Preserver of the world is worshipped in various forms one of them being Vitthal, whose temple in Pandharpur is a greatly visited pilgrimage. Hemadpant points out that though ‘outwardly’ there was ‘durbar-like grandeur’ in Baba’s Dwarkamayi yet ‘inwardly’ Baba was ‘committed to silence.’ (Ovi 52)
Now for the stories shared by Annasaheb: The first two stories pertain to Das Ganu and Hari Sitaram Dixit or Kaka Saheb’s devotion to Vitthal. Baba often asked devotees to engage in Naam jap or chanting the name of their revered family deity. Once he asked Das Ganu Maharaj to chant the name of Vitthal. Das Ganu decided to do seven-day worship, hopeful for the deity’s darshan. Das Ganu’s ceaseless chanting did not bear fruit till the last day and he was on the verge of disillusionment when, on the seventh day, the vision of Vitthal graced him, sending Ganu into raptures.
Kaka Saheb Dixit, on the other hand, longed to own an exact facsimile of Lord Vitthal, in the likeness of the vision he had one morning in Shirdi. Enraptured by this vision, Kaka Saheb reached Dwarkamayi. Baba told him to “hold on” to the “elusive”, “Vitthal” so that the Lord couldn’t again. (Ovi 91). Baba’s words, a sort of affirmation, both of the vision that Dixit had and his desire of Vitthal’s picture that Kaka Saheb nurtured! Now see how this Leela unfolded! The same afternoon a vendor came to Shirdi bearing twenty-five pictures of Vitthal. One of them was a replica of Kaka Saheb’s vision! The joy that Kaka Saheb experienced can only be imagined. He bought the picture placing it in the room where he was staying in Shirdi!
Both bhakts longings fulfilled, in Shirdi itself and so effortlessly at that.
The third occurrence is an astounding miracle and also relates to Das Ganu Maharaj. Ganu, a committed bhakt wanted to visit Prayag, the land of the three holy rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and the mythological, underground Saraswati. Baba desisted from granting Ganu the requisite permission to travel. Instead, this wish was fulfilled in Shirdi itself. See how! One day when Das Ganu was overly perturbed by the desire of pilgrimage to Prayag, Baba asked him to cup his hands near His divine toes. Out trickled streams of water from the toes leaving Ganu mesmerised and awed. Immediately, he collected the Tirth (holy water) and sprinkled it on himself as well as the other bhakts present.
Story 4 is about Baba’s appearance in Shirdi at the age of sixteen, spotted by Nana Chopdar’s elderly mother. She praised the beautiful form and hard penance of the lad. The young ascetic’s sudden appearance created curiosity about his ancestry and roots raising questions. It is said that once, the local deity, Khandoba appears in the dream of a villager informing that the teenager (Baba) had done penance in a cell under a neem tree. The deity gave directions to dig there to learn more about the ascetic. By doing so, an underground chamber surfaced. It has lamps lit at its four corners and a grinding stone base marking its entrance. When questioned, the boy responds that the cell is where his guru meditated while he served him, tirelessly so, for twelve years! This revelation led to heightened intrigue but no answers. This fascinating story develops further when we learn that the very same cell was rediscovered a few years later when Sathe Wada, (living quarters for bhakts visiting Shirdi) was being built at Baba’s behest, by Shri Sathe.
The fifth and final story narrates Dixit’s initial hesitation at visiting Shirdi, his subsequent arrival on 2nd November 1909, not to overcome the ‘lameness’ of his foot incurred during a mishap in UK, but that in his character. Soon after the foundation stone of Dixitwada was laid with Baba’s consent, on 10th December 1909, the day when Baba’s shej (bed-time) aarti began. On the same day, Shri Kharpade, a renowned solicitor was permitted to return home.
Interpretation of Chapter 4: Beginning every chapter with loving praise of Baba indicates Anna Saheb’s reverence as well as Baba’s magnetic magnificence and compelling aura. It is an obeisance to the Guru. Multiple stories one after the other in quick succession show the rapidity of occurrences, their magnitude and Baba’s growing appeal. A lot is happening all the time, in Shirdi, an erstwhile nondescript village, which wasn’t even a blip on the map before Baba’s arrival! The first two stories about Vitthal indicate that Baba fulfils wishes of every believing devotee, effortlessly at that. And more significantly, Baba encourages as well as reminds bhakts to worship their preferred deity, even when with Him.
Baba’s divine powers to make miracles is presented via the third story when the holy rivers trickle from His toes. It is also appeasement of a devotee, Ganu’s wish! Through the fourth story of Baba’s mysterious arrival on the outskirts of Shirdi, Annasaheb creates and builds intrigue which is an inherent part of getting to know Sai more, even today.
Enigmatic and appealing are synonymous! And Sai wishes it that way. He wants his devotees to focus on worship rather than on nitty gritty of parentage and origin which make us deviate from the true purpose of life. Moreover, he did not want to be associated with any religion, any God or any caste. Just one ‘Parvardigar’, one God! ‘Yade Haq’ was his favoured refrain. Further, Baba did not want anyone to quit worshipping their own favoured deity. Never ever! Why? The goal was fixed, though paths and techniques may have been different. Hence Das Ganu and Kaka Dixit served Baba yet worshipped Vitthal!
In the final story, two points are evident. One, none can resist Baba’s pull. Dixit desisted but later was drawn ‘like a sparrow on a string’ to Shirdi! The second point focuses on Dixit’s humility and his being different from the others. How so? Well, for one he did not go to his Guru, Baba Sai, for anything worldly. Much as his foot bothered him both physically and mentally, he opted to let the Guru make changes in his character which would be more fruitful in the long run and the larger scheme of things.
Such sincerity and devotion! So much to learn from the devotees of yore! Sai Om!
❤Enjoyed this journey through Chapter 4, The appearance of Sai Samarth. And you? Did you find the interpretations suitable? Please do share your valuable explanation in the comment section below.
Ya Sai. 🌹Lead us onward! 🙂