How wonderful! So exquisite! Love for the Divine elevates one to a sublime domain!
The new path has proved rather fruitful for this learner-writer. In the current, truly challenging and trying times, Baba’s support and His guidance via the interpretation and summary of a single Chapter per week has helped us as a family unit to hold out- strongly, firmly and steadily. Thanks Baba Sai! Adhbhut are your ways of ensuring spiritual progress.
The book: Shree Sai Satcharita Author: Shri Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias Hemadpant alias Annasaheb
Chapter 9 Untitled by Dabholkar
In Chapter 9, Hemadpant arrives at the occurrences from the word go. He focuses primarily on two staunch devotees and their Sai Anubhav: Tatya Kote Patil in Shirdi who was blessed with Baba’s divine constant company even when he slept, almost a decade, in the masjid, Sai’s Dwarkamayi. The second devotee, Shri Ramchandra Tarkhad, from Bandra, Mumbai. Both mother and son were staunch devotees of Baba though his father Shri Atmaram was a Prarthana Samajist (a member of a prayer society for religious and social reforms)
Let us explore Tatya Kote Patil’s experience. Baba called Tatya (Bayjama’s son) his nephew. Most experiences of Chapter 9 refer to the outcome of heeding or disregarding Baba’s invaluable advice. On two occasions, Tatya, who was very close to Sai overlooked Sai’s cautionary words to face great trouble. One day, all set to visit the market in the next village, Tatya came to Baba and bowed, pretending to seek consent (almost every bhakt sought permission in those days). In His pleasant manner, Baba asked him to go later when the market was fully operational. But Tatya ignored this appeal and that of taking Shama along. Ignoring Baba’s advice is equivalent to inviting trouble! The sturdy horse pulled a muscle and began limping so much that going to the bazaar, a short distance away, was ruled out.
Not having become the wiser, in yet another instance, Tatya disregarded Sai’s word, making an excuse, “I’ll just go and return.” (Ovi 18) On the way, the Tonga drawing horse became uncontrollable, crashed into a tree resulting in the carriage going to pieces! Sai grace that Tatya escaped unhurt.
If Baba doesn’t wish it none can take the steps of Dwarkamayi. A European man wanted to “kneel” before Baba and nurtured hopes of “kissing His hands” (Ovi 25) but couldn’t! The mandap it was for him, no further! Dejected, he decided to return home thought Sai suggested leaving the next day. Obstinacy got in the way. He hired and boarded a Tonga. A short distance into the journey, the carriage developed a snag and since the horses were galloping, it overturned, dragging the gentleman! Somehow, he was disengaged. Sadly, the injured man had to be hospitalised in Kopergaon.
Hemadpant tells us: Nothing can prevent was is fated! (Ovi 30). Whilst those who sidestepped Baba’s advice suffered much. However, those “who respected His wishes” went on to have a “pleasant journey and remembered it throughout their life.” (Ovi 38)
A beautiful must read story of Shri Jyotindra Tarkhad and his mother bejewels the pages. A Sai bhakt, his mother longed to go to Shirdi and stay there to serve Baba. Shri Ramchandra, her husband, who was in charge of a mill in Mumbai couldn’t go so he asked the son to accompany his mother. The son was very reluctant! No, not disobedient but anxious! His worry: Who would offer the daily Naivedya to Baba’s portrait in his absence? The father repeatedly assured and guaranteed that he would do the needful; and he agreed to travel. In Shirdi and Mrs Tarkhad felt bliss in serving Sai.
One day, the inevitable happened. In a hurry to reach work, Ramchandra Atmaram forgot to offer Naivedya! On returning home, the grave folly struck him hard! He rushed to Baba’s portrait and sought forgiveness. He asked Baba why that error had happened. Now read this amazing Sai leela. Simultaneously, in Shirdi Baba told Ramchandra and his mother that he had gone to the Bandra house and on finding it locked returned hungry. In Bandra, the son begged forgiveness and in Shirdi, it was the son and mother. Another occurrence coincided. While he was writing to his father about the omission, so was the father to his son! Their letters crossed! On receiving his father’s apology filled letter filled, tears sprang from Ramchandra’s eyes. Oh, Baba! What is this adbhut Khel (sport) of yours?
Hemadpant tells us two more stories about Mrs Tarkhad which would bring damp our eyes. In the first, the loving lady fed a dog and a filthy pig the bhakri from her own plate. When she reached the masjid thereafter, Baba expressed His joy and gratitude for having fed a ravished Him. The puzzled look on mother’s face eased when Sai mentioned the two animals she had fed. Mrs. Tarkhad and other devotees realised Baba’s unity with and presence in every living being.
(Ovi 129) “Sometimes I am a dog, sometimes a pig, sometimes I am a cow, sometimes a cat, sometimes an ant, a fly or fish. I move about in different forms.”
The devotion Mrs Tarkhad had for Baba is worth emulating. Once she sent a single pedha to Baba with Balaram Mankar’s son who was going to Shirdi from Mumbai. Balarama forgot about the sweet-meat although he went for Sai darshan three times. Finally, Baba pointedly asked him, “Oh, when you left home, did mother not give you a sweet lovingly?” (Ovi 154) Embarrassed, he rushed back to the Wada, brought the sweet and reverentially offered it to Baba who quickly put in His mouth. On another occasion she sent brinjals with her friend, Mrs Purandhare. She requested that with one brinjal bharit (mashed brinjal dish) be made for Sai, and with the other kachariya (fried brinjal chips). Mrs Purandhare offered the bharit to Baba but held back the kachariya for the next meal. But Baba knew what his beloved bhakt’s wish was. He savoured the bharit but refused to eat further till he got the kachariya. Since it was not the season for brinjals in Shirdi, devotees sought Mrs Purandhare of Mumbai who then quickly made the dish for Sai. Baba ate his meal with much relish!
Baba didn’t want much! Says Hemadpant: There should be only love in your heart. If anyone sent anything (for him) with someone, and if that person forgot, Baba would not forget to ask. (Ovi 66)
Why did Baba beg for alms? Anna Saheb answers this question in Chapter 9 It was for the benefit of five householders, to relieve them of panch soonas (five sins) as well as their ill karmas! Sai, who regarded the “whole universe” as his “home” and pervades every creature gave an opportunity to the members of the five houses to liberate themselves by coming to them as a mendicant. Hemadpant informs us what these five sins are: Kandani (pestle) which happens when lives are destroyed while striking the pestle on the grains; chulli (lighting the hearth) happens when burning wood in the stove; udkumbhi (water pots) i.e. occurs while filling water from wells, lakes etc. or even washing clothes or utensils; peshani (grinding) or destruction of innumerable lives while grinding grains in a grinding mill; lastly, marjani (sweeping) or unwittingly ending numerous lives while bathing with lukewarm water or sprinkling cow dung on the floor. Begging for food at their door, Sai helped relieve men and women of these houses of all sins. Punya (sanctity) earned! With little effort, yagnas or prayers!
Time to understand the context of the contents! First the title or rather lack of it! 😊. Why “Untitled”. Could Anna Saheb, a brilliant writer-composer not think of a suitable title? Unlikely, isn’t it? Did he forget then? Perhaps. Consider this. The chapter overflows with pure love- that of bhakts for their Sai and the infinite love Baba reciprocated. Which title could have matched such intensity? The unfathomable depths!
Story about Tatya and the European gentleman! Was Baba punishing these two for disobedience? Baba and penalty? Have we then truly understood our loveable Baba? Why did these accidents related to the horses or trains occur? Because they were destined to. Baba didn’t cause them! Not the vindictive kind, our Baba! No, not at all! He can never bring his bhakts to harm. His advice was to save them from such inordinate occurrences. Sai wanted the inauspicious time to elapse so that done the devotee would remain safe and attain his goal or destination. He could foresee the future. Like a protective mother, He warned albeit never imposed His wishes, allowing devotees to discover for themselves or learn via experiences. Those who had come to understand Him knew that their own welfare rested in whatever Baba said.
The stories pertaining to Tarkhad’s are exemplars of true, sincere devotion of the bhakt for the Guru and the Guru for his bhakts! Ramchandra ji forgetting to offer food to Baba, Baba sharing this with Mrs Tarkhad and son, played out by Baba to show His presence everywhere, simultaneously! His awareness of whatever happens no matter where or when or with whom is evident from this episode. Baba’s leela, perhaps to draw the father towards Himself, to test the love he nurtured, to show that He is omnipresent and to apprise the son that he was aware of the daily offering. Much love! Or could there be a deeper lesson? Sai is the doer of every action. The onus of offering naivedya was not on Atmaram. It was on Sai! Was Baba willing to accept food from him? The receiver more prominently positioned than the giver! Sai’s grace; His Mahima! Again Jyotindra’s reluctance to go to Shirdi dropping his ritual shows his deep commitment to Baba and the fact that he considered Baba was present in the portrait as much as He was in Shirdi.
The stories of feeding the dog and pig teach us empathy towards all living beings in each of whom God Himself is present. “give food to the hungry…” (Ovi 122) That of the pedha and brinjals is about beautiful reciprocation of love, of Sai’s all-pervasiveness and His unique manner of preventing a bhakt from committing an inadvertent sin (Balarama’s son forgetfulness and Mrs Purandhare’s changing of Mrs Tarkhad’s instructions). Baba popped the sweet in His mouth to express His love in reciprocation.
Baba’s intense love and greatness are also apparent when he gives a chance to the five householders to absolve themselves of five grave sins by donating food to Sai, a mendicant God.
Oh, Baba! Your leelas are too deep to fully comprehend. On this page, only the surface may have been scratched.
The journey itself- beautiful, rich and inspiring! Hope the same for you all!
Till we meet next Thursday, Sai Om!