How wonderful it feels when a journey we have begun proceeds in the expected direction. 😀 What a blessing 😇when Sai Himself leads on this journey as a companion and a guide. With Baba’s merciful glance, chapter wise Summary and Interpretation of the Satcharita have progressed from the first to the seventh chapter. Thank you Baba. 🙏Grateful to you, always. 🙏🙏Eternally!
The book: Shree Sai Satcharita Author: Shri Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias Hemadpant alias Annasaheb
Presented below, some thoughts on Chapter 7 The Narration of Various Stories
Summary: Hemadpant picks up the threads of previous chapters and presents before us a beautiful array of Baba’s unfathomable leela and His infinite kindness. The words of praise for the Guru flow effortlessly and unrestricted. Hemadpant presents some kind of evidence to show Baba’s support for both castes – Hindus and Muslim. The writer says, “If you call Him a Hindu, He looked like a Muslim! If a Muslim, He had the auspicious signs of a Hindu!” (Ovi 4)
Anna Saheb continues on a note of much jollity how both Hindu and Muslim rituals, as well as festivals, were celebrated with much fervour and fanfare, unhindered. While Ramanavami saw the cradle tying ceremony and bhajans; the same night Baba permitted the Muslims for a Sandal Procession (A part of Urs, the Annual fete). Be it Gokul Ashtami or Id Diwali or Muharram or even taking out of the Tazia, each had Sai’s approval and blessings. He himself ensured the initiation and an appropriate, incident-free culmination. Thus, Hemadpant establishes Baba’s affinity to and for both religions.
Anna Saheb concludes: One who does not have body consciousness, whether he is a Hindu or a Muslim, for Him all castes and creeds are equal. The discrimination born of caste is not applicable to him. (Ovi 20)
Baba practised austerities of an ascetic and like a family man or Grihastha kept a gunny bag of wheat as well as the grinding stone close by. Tulsi Vrindavan adorned the pandal whilst an ornate chariot stood near it. A mix of everything yet no attachment to anything!
Hemadpant observed Baba closely over the years and realised that “He would talk, walk and laugh a lot”, had “Allah Malik” on His lips all the time. Did not engage in verbal duels and always carried His satka or wooden staff.
Ovi 1 to 50 recreates Baba’s immense wisdom, kindness and ability to heal the sick, some of which Anna Saheb brought forth in Chapters 1 through 6. Baba’s Khand Yog and dhoti pauti are also referred to. Some devotees had witnessed Baba removing His intestines, washing them, drying them on the tree and putting them right back in the dhoti pauti kriya. One was so scared after witnessing Khand Yog that thinking somebody had cut Baba’s limbs and the blame would fall on him, slunk away from the Dwarkamayi. The next morning, the gentleman was dumbfounded to see Baba, (a complete body) seated by the dhuni.
A few very fascinating events constitute the seventh chapter. The first one happened on Dhanteras (the first day of Diwali festival) of 1910! Seated in front of the dhuni, abruptly Baba thrust his hand in. Devotees around were so stunned that they could not react. But Baba’s Shama ran towards Him and holding him tightly at the waist, pulled Him backward, exclaiming in deep anguish “O deva, what have you done?” Coming to Himself Baba shared that a child had fallen into the furnace from her mother’s lap and he was only pulling it out into safety. Baba’s own hand was scalded and was nursed by his servitor Bhagoji Shinde. Bhagoji applied ghee, covered the hand with a leaf and wrapped bandage. But the truly perturbed Shama wrote to Nana Saheb Chandorkar about the mishap. Nana rushed to Shirdi with Dr Parmanand, a top Mumbai physician. But Baba did not let him even take a look at the hand, let alone take to take any medicine. It was Bhagoji’s prerogative to tend to Baba’s burns.
The second miracle pertains to Dadasaheb Kharpade of Amravati. Once in Shirdi, his son contracted very high fever. Dadasaheb’s wife was worried sick and decided to seek Baba’s permission to return home. But Baba being the loving Guru assured her: “The clouds will clear up.” (Ovi 106) Lifting his kafni he showed four large egg-sized buboes on his own body “See I have to bear this because of your difficulties” (Ovi 108) How could a fever stay when Baba had willed otherwise? The fever came down and the boy became hale and hearty while Baba took the calamity upon Himself.
The occurrence that warms the very cockles of the heart is linked to Nana Saheb’s transfer from Nandurbar to Pandharpur. On receiving, the transfer orders the ardent devotee proceeded to Shirdi to seek Baba’s permission for the same. But Baba was already giving his assent in His loving unique way! He began singing a bhajan about going to Pandharpur and staying there, even before Nana could reach Him! On Shirdi’s outskirts, he heard Baba and other devotees sing in gay abundance about living in Pandharpur! Blessings received! Consent given! Baba had pre-empted Nana’s purpose!
Short, crisp, this chapter oozes love and devotion in its style and content. With many Ovis dedicated to the greatness of Sai, Hemadpant reiterates His magnanimity and benevolence as a Sadguru. Referring to some Hindu and Muslim festivals as exemplars, Anna Saheb wishes to show what Baba truly wanted- the concept of Unity- One God, one religion that of humanity! He wants us to see that the ultimate aim of every religion is to attain God no matter the means, caste or religion. God is a singular force, a single entity. Another interpretation might be that Baba longed to see the unity of these two religions which have been at daggers drawn since long. He wanted to end the hatred and animosity, to show both sides that love is supreme, and nothing can change that. Love for fellow being amounts to love for the Almighty. Minus one, the other cannot be. That is with hate-filled hearts how can one hope to come closer to God? What a drastic change in Anna Saheb who at one time questioned the very need for a Guru!
Referring to occurrences of the previous chapters helps the reader establish a reconnect, the revisit strengthens faith and the two-side format when elaborating on the Hindu and Muslim celebrations Anan Saheb presents contentions without being confrontational. In fact, every example flows smoothly and only helps rise on the ladder of love with little scope for envy, enmity or rancour.
Grihastha and Sanyas: both aspects were evident in Baba’s way of living. What could be the intent behind the wheat sack? We all know the priority Baba placed on having a meal. The sack might be symbolic of that. It could also command: Fulfil responsibilities before taking up asceticism. The presence of wheat and Tulsi and chariot might as well be reminders that both worship and shouldering of day to day responsibilities can be practised simultaneously, albeit with a single quality: DEDICATION!
That Baba cares over and above everything for His bhakts is made evident from the incidents of Baba extricating an infant from the fire and in turn burning His hand severely, taking Shri Kharpade’s sons illness upon Himself and singing the song “I am going to Pandharpur, going, going. There I will stay….” while Nana Saheb was nearing Shirdi with his family. Baba’s way of giving approval and reassuring that all would be well despite the change of place! All three incidents show Baba’s foresightedness, His ability to know what’s going to happen in the future, despite not practising astrology or making any profit out of it. He used this only as a means to forewarn or to reassure! The response to these became a devotee’s own prerogative.
But one aspect arrests, Baba permitting only Bhagoji to tend to his scalded hand. Why did he do so? Could it be because Bhagoji was a selfless servitor who took care of Baba, filling his chillum, walking with an umbrella as Sai walked to the Lendi Baug and back? And such dedication despite “his fingers” becoming “stumps because of leprosy” and his body “emanated a nauseating smell” (Ovi 99) How could Baba let such a man whose body was riddled with sores remain close to Him, to serve Him? Once again this wasn’t about Baba. It was about a bhakt whose time had come to attain salvation at Sai’s feet, to rid himself of all sins past and present, those of the past lives and the current one. How else could this happen if not via devotion to Sai? Who else would provide this opportunity to one who had sinned to free himself from the clutches of his own karmas and their fruit? None other than Sai.
And the use of ghee! Does it have medicinal properties? Maybe. Or was it the ingredient of love that helped heal the scalded. Interestingly, this service continued till Sai attained Samadhi! Further couldn’t Baba a Siddha who performed so many miracles cure Himself? Sure, He could. But that would take away from two purposes: Sai appearing in the human form and in doing so would go against the natural course of things! Second, the opportunity to serve would be taken away from Bhagoji.
Bhagoji served Baba diligently to be relieved of his miseries. Such are the heights of a Guru’s love for his devotee. Such is a Guru’s benevolence and caring that he foregoes his own comfort, well-being, likes and dislikes (if he has any) to ensure the uplift of the ones who surrender to Him, place their hand trustingly in His! And when a Guru is so exalted, the devotees can’t help but place complete Shraddha in Him and wait with Saburi for the mysteries of life to unravel on their own.
Sabka Malik Ek! Sai Om! 🌹