Ten weeks already? Really? Time flies! It has the proverbial wings. Yet, when thinking, remembering and talking about Sai, time fades into insignificance. It kind of stalls and recedes into the background, it’s passage of no consequence. We have arrived! At the tenth door from amongst the infinite that Sai opens for our learning and spiritual progress. And this one opens the vast world of Sai, His immensity, His limitlessness, Greatness! Can’t really be put in mere words, can it? Words fail to describe in entirety who Sai is, what He is about- the phenomenon called Sai and His infinite virtuosity. Chapter 10, of course, showcases a few awe-inspiring virtues, which only the very rare attain!
The book: Shree Sai Satcharita Author: Shri Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias Hemadpant alias Annasaheb
Chapter 10 The Greatness of Sai Samarth
Summary: The Greatness of Sai Samarth (Chapter 10), Satcharita pays tributes to a Guru par excellence, one whom ought to be heard and valued. Hemadpant lovingly describes Baba Sai in this single line: Sai is a lotus in the lake called Shirdi. (Ovi 112) It would be difficult to describe the beauty of this divine flower. Hence, presented below is a compilation of only seven heavenly qualities of Baba, from amongst the many that Anna Saheb Dabholkar has penned in an enthusiastic and fervent manner.
- “Maharaj was as storehouse of punya!” (Ovi 23). Hemadpant informs us that although Baba was a human like any other, with a body, He lived in the heart of each bhakt. He failed none. His very essence constituted by Meritorious deeds. He had Anima Siddhi (the ability to become as small as an atom). Thus, Baba lives as much in a fly as he does in a human being or an elephant.
- Sai is an epitome of affection without attachment. Baba liked to have people around Him but in His heart He remained detached, desireless, had no interest in wealth or fame, says Anna Saheb. He nurtured much love for His bhakts; they felt “blessed and loved by Him” (Ovi 34) Sai beckoned many with whom He had rinanubandh (association from past lives). He nudged them to righteous path, ensuring their uplift. While so doing, Baba didn’t stop short of being stern and harsh as long as the end result was beneficial to the devotee. Anna Saheb informs: “Sometimes he had the look of affection in His eyes…… sometimes He shouted and cursed.” But like a soda water bottle His anger was both short-lived and superficial. Once the effervescence settled, the taste of sweet nectar was all that remained. Therefore, anyone who seeks Sai Sharan should do so in entirety!
- Hemadpant reassures us repeatedly through this Chapter that if we wish to cross the worldly ocean in bliss, Sai it is for us. And why so? Because “Sai is the mine of Self-Realisation. Sai is complete peace.”(Ovi 34) He is eternal and everlasting; always there for us, guiding, supporting and leading. The writer of Satcharita encourages readers to seek Sai Sharan to understand ourselves better and to attain the most elusive yet most sought asset- peace of mind. Hemadpant shares that just like Guru Ramdas in Shivaji’s reign, helped restore religion, two centuries later Baba took avatar to bring the two warring communities together, to restore peace. Sai is “the embodiment of permanent bliss” (Ovi 59)
- Sai is Para Brahma, God Himself. He is one with Brahman, the Supreme Knowledge, which comes to the forefront once we remove the veil of ignorance. This revelation liberates us from attachments; it liberates us from feelings of pleasure and pain each of which are transient. Joy received via the five senses are temporary; they bring happiness for a few moments. However, soon after, sadness sets in. With the gratification of yet another sensory need, this sadness turns to happiness which in turn is equally momentary. This cycle continues, and pure bliss evades. Baba was way above such cycles. His self-control and restraint is unmatched. Wealth held no attraction; fame meant nothing to Him. In Sai’s eyes, all were equal. Anna Saheb declaress that Baba “looks upon friends and foes with equality” ( Ovi 72) and “showers nectar of blessings even on one who have done harm to Him.” (Ovi 73)
- Sai is Aniyata Guru; He emphasises “development of divine qualities and purification of the mind ”(Ovi 66) thereby leading his devotees to salvation. Hemadpant presents his dilemma when he asks, “How can I describe Him? I write as He guides.” Baba had absolute control over all His sense organs which were used only for bodily functions and sustenance. Unaffected by everything, Sai continued with his singular goal of uplifting devotees. And this was possible because “Baba was the abode of complete repose” (Ovi 105)
- Sai Baba was a mine of virtues. He owned six virtues which lead to Brahman (Supreme Knowledge) and help attain eternity and infinity. These are All sovereignty, All goodness, All-powerful, All-completeness, All-knowledge, All-dispassionateness. Each virtue has been described by Hemadpant right through the Chapter and across the Satcharita, establishing Sai’s Greatness, magnanimity and infinite love.
- Though last in this list, this virtue by far impacted Sai bhakts the most. Sai was never forceful! In Ovi 113 Hemadpant informs that Sai Baba did not force people to practice any rituals or asanas or yogic practices or anything else for that matter. Nor did Baba give any mantras or religious advice. Therefore, while Baba conveyed the essence of life through parables and may have come across as an ordinary being, Hemadpant writes that Baba was “different” “within”. “He was extremely competent in practical life and was without peer.” (Ovi 114)
Thus familiarising his readers with Baba’s unparalleled virtues Anna Saheb appeals to seek refuge in Sai, shun bad company and pursue Satsang (companionship of the virtuous). He cautions against attachments which are like chains that hold back progress on the spiritual path.
The single occurrence share in the chapter pertains to Baba’s Greatness and refers to Sai sleeping on a narrow plank some eight feet above the ground with lamps burning on both ends. The plank suspended by rags had no ladder near it!
Ovi 90 sums up Sai’s intent and Chapter 10’s purpose. Baba said, “I am the humblest of your servants. I am your debtor. I have come here to have your darshan.”
Interpretation: Through Chapter 10 Anna Saheb Dabholkar, Baba’s Hemadpant collates as many virtues of Baba that were practically feasible to highlight the magnitude of His humility and loving care. How could then people not be drawn to this simple, unassuming saint who wanted nothing more than pure dedication and that too for the welfare of the individual himself?
The story about the plank is exemplary of Sai’s exalted status, difficult for humans to gauge. It indicates that although Baba is quite an enigma and he was, is and will remain way beyond our understanding, yet He remains close enough for bhakts to reach out and seek shelter in.
Sai’s qualities of loving his devotees yet remaining detached, accepting what the bhakts had to offer yet remaining disinterested in the worldly, is certainly a mixture of opposites. It suggests we can participate in what happens around us, savour it yet remain unaffected by the attachment that these objects, people or circumstances may tempt with. The learning is not so much about giving up as about remaining neutral. That’s what helps in spiritual progress! Another learning from Sai’s unfathomable love for all His devotees in equal measure is that loving someone is not difficult at all despite their faith, religion, caste, colour, status, place of birth and such others. Baba’s immense love for well-placed Nana Saheb Chandorkar and leprosy affected Shinde illustrate this beautiful emotion.
The seventh virtue of not forcing anything on any bhakt shows Baba’s compassionate, all-embracing nature; His effort to bring the fractioned society together by making people realise the futility of hatred, envy and disharmony in the larger scheme of things, especially the spiritual plane. That God looks at each one with an equal eye is the inherent moral. to attain a state of dispassion, the support of an enlightened one is warranted. Who better than an accomplished saint for a guide? And when it comes to that, Sai Baba who is one with saints of His time and those before Him must be the Guru we seek!
Sabka Malik Ek! ☝