“The lamp of Sri Sai Satcharita has been lit to indicate the inner thought of Sai. May its brilliance guide the path of the devotees.” (Ovi 37)
Om Sai Ram! Here begins the journey into Chapter 19, a continuation of chapter 18, with blessings from Baba: “You should take pains but give up worrying about the results completely. I am present and standing behind you with a pot of milk (to give you the fruits). Thus I am always backing you.” (Ovi 158)
Comprising 256 Ovis, Ch 19 is amongst the longest ones!
The book: Shree Sai Satcharita Author: Shri Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias Hemadpant alias Annasaheb
Chapter 19, Grace that was Bestowed on me
SUMMARY: Analogies hold the readers in sway as do engaging stories. But the most Superior learning comes from Baba’s holy words to the writer Shri Dabholkar. Through His extremely significant teachings, Baba indicates to all His devotees, then, now and forever, not only His eternal presence but also how each one of us can lead a life in proximity to Him, doing what is dear to Him-the righteous.
Hemadpant informs that his heartfelt wish of seeing a God in a form and shape was fulfilled when Baba pulled him to Shirdi! He proceeds to show the readers that despite being as different as chalk and cheese, the body and Atma (soul) are mutually interdependent and cannot be separated. However, he cautions us not to consider the perishable body as the true identity or even take pride in it. Why so? Because such thoughts restrict the soul, it’s growth taking us further away from the path of salvation. In another analogy, Anna Saheb compares Knowledge to a ripened Ramphal (bullock’s heart fruit) and Devotion to Sitaphal (custard apple) Gaining true knowledge involves a lot of hardships making its taste like an unripe Ramphal that should be left to sweeten on the tree; devotion, on the other hand, is easier for bhakts, soft as a custard apple and sweet too. Devotion does not entail the rigours of knowledge since the bhakt remembers and worships God with the guidance of the Guru. Better still, he worships the God-like Guru! Baba Himself advocated the path of devotion quite strongly.
Hereafter continues the story of the previous chapter which was being narrated by Shama to Hemadpant. Addressing the elderly lady on a fast till such time as Baba whispered a Guru mantra, Baba tells her lovingly to end her fast since he does not have a mantra. Wisdom flows ceaselessly from Sai’s lips and everyone benefits, while Baba speaks with ‘mai’, Radhabai. Baba tells her that His Guru has not given him any mantra and hence he cannot do so either. Rather he asks for two paise that is Shraddha (faith) and Saburi (patience). Baba gave these to His Guru and experienced bliss. Baba puts ‘mai’ at ease saying the Guru’s grace was on Him all the time, whether he was near Baba or not. When such was the dedication to the Guru and eagerness to learn from Him, says Sai “I could never look anywhere else” (Ovi 63). In the absence of the Guru: “My mind would get restless without the Guru” (Ovi 64).
Sai’s kind words soothed the elderly lady who surrendered to Him and gave up her fast. Just as the story ended at Shama’s house, the bell announcing the noon aarti rang, summoning bhakts to Dwarkamayi. Both Shama and Anna Saheb went to the masjid. Even while the aarti was in progress, Baba asked Anna Saheb to narrate what happened at Shama’s and what he had learnt from it. Anna’s restless mind was at ease and he realised that Baba has something special and unique for each devotee. Hence experiences were bound to be different! Baba reiterates Himself, “My ways are different” (Ovi 104) and then lets the nectarine flow river-like form His divine lips. Baba shares the analogy of the mother tortoise whose glance from the opposite bank of the pond alone is sufficient to send the baby tortoise’ into raptures. The distant glance too nourishes them.
The Aarti finishes with as Baba ends speaking and Bapu Saheb Jog places lump sugar on Baba’s hand Baba gives the sugar to Anna Saheb assuring that the sweetness would fill his thoughts and linger, fulfilling all wishes. Baba asks Anna Saheb to remain steadfast in faith: “Dhyana is more important than Gyan” (Ovi 126). He asks to remain constant in faith, pursue the path of devotion and surrender to the Guru but before that detachment is essential. “Even if the world goes topsy turvy, you should remain still.” (Ovi 145)
The next story too, is about Anna Saheb’s enrapturing experience. In Shirdi, once the thought of worshipping Ram came to him. He slept and woke up the next morning to the very same thought! But he sought a go- ahead signal from Baba! Baba’s approval came in an amazing fashion: A little later while walking towards the masjid, Anna Saheb heard another bhakt Aurangbadkar singing a beautiful bhajan of Shri Ram right in front of Baba Sai! Anna Saheb had his answer! Baba had heard and fulfilled his wish!
Right after this most fascinating experience, Hemadpant tells his readers an incident, not so pleasant yet loaded with learning! Once a visitor to Shirdi spoke vile of another person and with time the fervour increased. A few others became a part of this ranting. Could Baba have remained unaware? Later in the day, when walking from Lendi Bagh, Baba came across the foul-mouthing man. In full view and hearing of the others Baba said, “If you are born as a human being after doing a lot of good deeds in the previous birth, and if you just waste the life, what good can Shirdi do for him, who is set to ruin himself.”
The remaining part of the Chapter is a river of Gyan, a waterfall of Sai words drench the devotees who gratefully soak in this shower. The final story tells us of Baba taking a ladder Waman Gondkar’s roof, walking across it and over adjoining Radhakrishni’s (Baba lovingly called her so) roof to then descend the same ladder shifted to the other side by a labourer. 2 points are noteworthy here. One, Radhakrishna mai was suffering from acute malaria at that time. Second, Baba paid 2 rupees to the man who brought and moved the ladder despite strong protests from bystander bhakts who felt it was too much for too little labour.
Here ends chapter 19!
INTERPRETATION: Hemadpant has dedicated this chapter to His Guru, His benevolence and divine wisdom. Stories that intersperse Baba’s loving words give time to the reader to absorb, assimilate and understand the true import of Baba’s words.
The use of analogies makes for truly interesting reading along with helping the reader to visualise concepts and thus understand them better. It is as if a teacher is ensuring that her young learners, gain knowledge in an exciting manner so that they retain it for times to come. For instance the analogy of Ramphal and custard apple uses tastes to understand how devotion is a ‘sweeter’ and hence easier path for most of us. Images thrive in the analogy of the tortoise throwing loving looks at her young ones on the opposite shore, reaffirming that the Guru may not be right next to us all the time but is nonetheless, guiding us, nurturing our urge to know and understand, even as he tends to His millions of other devotees! The Guru’s kindness is far-reaching and nourishing for the soul.
Radhabai’s experience has a lesson for all bhakts: There is no magic mantra that can help salvage one’s karmas! None. The only true and feasible way to liberation is whole- hearted dedication to, belief and trust in the Guru. Furthermore, one should not carry the weight of expectation while worshipping the Guru. Instead should have a lot of patience. Why? The Guru is salvaging our nearly lost situation, ensuring path correction and giving us an opportunity of redemption in this very life, thereby ensuring the cleaning of karmas, past and present. Hence the only key to the door to God is FAITH and utmost PATIENCE! It could be that through the story of His own Guru, Baba informs all His devotees the significance of placing absolute Faith in the Guru and the Guru he refers to is none other than Himself.
Through this chapter, Anna Saheb makes it easier on us and prevents us from wasting any time experimenting for he has learnt from his experience and so can the other devotees! He shares Baba’s wisdom, His sagacity and the way to attain His grace.
The Guru may not speak directly, but he sends signals and only when one is quiet, calm and observant that these signals become obvious and apparent. Anna Saheb receives His Guru’s indication in Aurangbadkar’s Ram bhajan, only because his mind is receptive, eager, waiting and keen to accept. Any disturbance of the mind creates turbulence and one cannot see the Guru or His indications in this turbid water of doubt. The lesson inherent in this story is: Pause, listen!
Nothing misses Baba’s attention. Be it good or bad. And specially the bad because it disconcerts the Guru who is eager and enthusiastic about setting his bhakts on the right path. In doing evil we cause Him pain; we tend to disregard his teachings and take the wrong path. Furthermore, misdeeds and evil ways set us back by miles on the path to spirituality.
By crossing the roof, Baba uses His unique way, perhaps to take away the illness of Radhakrishna mai and also helped the other devotee, Gondkar. Baba’s stealth, despite his weak frame of health, shows he can go to any lengths for the well-being of His devotees. By paying more than the labourers expectation for the ladder shows Baba teaches us that work must be honoured, well compensated so that the amount given proves to be useful for the receiver. Could two rupees have been the reward for short-termed yet certain faith and patience? The man obediently brought the ladder for Baba, waited patiently even if for a few minutes and did as was bid! When we follow the path indicated by the Guru our needs are bound to be fulfilled and we needn’t worry about anything! Our focus should be worship and devotion!
Undoubtedly, Chap 19 is a treasure chest of wisdom, love and dedication which both the Guru and the bhakt have for each other. No sooner than this chest is opened, each spurts in abundance, soaking everyone in the vicinity and willing to accept with powerful, meaningful learning, experiences and life lessons!
Ya Malik! Come Baba!
For Summary and Interpretation of: Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18