“You know everything, so why are you making small talk as a formality?”(Ovi 39)🤔 demanded bhakt Das Ganu of Sai!
But then the Guru is the guide and saviour too! So “I bow to the Guru”(Ovi 1), the holy one who is “our eternal support.” He is the “most benevolent” because He “feed(s) us the prasad of pearls of salvation.” (Ovi 2) O kindness personified Baba Sai “You give us refuge and tranquillity. You make us escape the cycle of births and deaths.” (Ovi 2)
Such is the greatness of a Guru! Thus begins the twentieth chapter of Hemadpant’s Satcharita, in which he narrates a story with a learning: Every being is God’s creation and hence, God resides in each one.
Let us course through the chapter summary.
The book: Shree Sai Satcharita Author: Shri Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias Hemadpant alias Annasaheb
Chapter 20. The Lesson of the Essence of the Ishavasya.
SUMMARY: A beautiful opening blesses readers with images of Baba’s grace! Anna Saheb Dabholkar recreates the glorious scenes of Dwarkamayi , right after noon aarti! Baba Sai lovingly distributed fistfuls of the holy udi (vibhuti or holy ash) from the dhuni mai amongst all His bhakts. He applied a udi-tilak with His thumb on the forehead and lavishly gave udi on their open palms! Then the loving mother personally urged each devotee to go back home and have their meal with the family. “Go, everyone, go to your own homes” (Ovi 9) Baba called out fondly. Love flowed ceaselessly, in torrents and the overwhelmed devotees prostrated at Baba’s holy feet and reverentially hugged them. 🙇♀
The readers can actually visualise those divine moments and are likely to pine for the hallowed aura of love, peace and bliss! We can recreate the past glory by meditating on the happenings.
Ahead in the chapter, Anna Saheb, unveils the story in which Das Ganu’s problem pertaining to the Ishavasya Upanishad is resolved by Baba in a manner which is unique only to Him, the most knowledgeable Sadguru!
Writer Hemadpant says, one can only imagine how an individual (Das Ganu) who had little knowledge of Sanskrit translated this treatise into Marathi for the benefit of his fellowmen. Acharya Vidyaranya (author of Panchadasi, a book in Sanskrit) guided Ganu. Baba’s blessings and grace triggered a wholesome understanding of the spiritual text.
But it wasn’t all smooth sail. Some verses in the Upanishad presented a challenge and Ganu’s writing became mired in doubts and queries. Ganu went to Shirdi to seek Baba’s help.
When the learner (Ganu) reached his Guru, Baba asked him why he had come and if everything was fine. The disgruntled man whose writing had stalled asked Baba why despite knowing the reason for the visit, He was making small talk about health and happiness! Ganu pleaded that Baba remove all the “doubts and misconceptions”(Ovi 42) that had arisen regarding the Ishavsaya Bhavarth Bodhini.
In His characteristic ‘Baba style’, Sai blessed Ganu telling him that the doubt was a small matter and would be resolved at Kaka’s house by his maidservant. Whilst some devotees in Dwarkamayi thought Baba was joking, Das Ganu wasted not a moment. Seeking Baba’s permission, he immediately left for Kaka’s house!
Who was Kaka? Kaka is none other than Kaka Saheb Dixit whom Baba affectionately addressed as Kaka or Langde Kaka or even Bambaiya Kaka! Kaka lived in Ville Parle, Mumbai. The morning after his arrival, Ganu was woken by melodious notes of a song about an orange saree. Mesmerised by the melody and the intensity of the feelings, Ganu wanted to find out more about the singer. He was told that Namya, Kaka’s domestic helper’s, younger sister was singing the song.
An eight year old girl in a worn out saree was singing about a beautiful orange saree, she did not have and could not afford! Yet she was joyous! Hemadpant shares that Ganu had received his answer. But he requested Shri Moreshwar Pradhan a kindly man to gift the girl the saree of her dreams! On receiving the unexpected gift, the little girl wore the saree immediately. However, the next morning she returned in the same worn out saree, placing the orange one in a box at home. Yet her joyous singing continued, unaffected! No signs of regret or sense of loss! Das Ganu was made to realise by a little girl that God resides everywhere and He resides in each one of us irrespective of our status or social standing. There’s immense joy in remembering him, in singing about his glory and gifts to us. Hemadpant categorically states that we receive what is meant for us, be it poverty or riches, knowledge or devotion, dhyaan or gyaan or Baba’s darshan in His true form or in a dream! What is meant happens; what is ours is given. We need to accept graciously and joyfully. It is when we place full faith in God that pure happiness becomes our constant companion.
Towards the end, Anna Saheb presents alternatives which help take the ladder of spirituality. He says, we should not be drawn to the materialistic world which is deceptive and temporary. However, if we are the types who cannot resist this glitter there is an alternative! Do not engage in the pursuit of accumulating wealth and gold. But if even this poses a challenge, we should immerse ourselves in performing our duties diligently and sincerely, for as long as we live, so that good deeds (karmas) override our fascination for the materialistic. With several available options, the spiritual path becomes slightly easier to take!
Short in content but deep in essence, Chapter 20 has many layers of inherent wisdom and learning.
Hemadpant ji has himself analysed the story summing it up largely in three points:
- God has a Universal presence. He is as much in Shirdi as He is in London or Australia. In Baba’s own words: “I fill the space. There is not a place where I am not….” (Ovi 80)
- God resides in each heart. He has a seat in every mind. We need to awaken Him with our love and devotion. Says Baba Sai, “Sit wherever you are and ask me. Why do you wander from place to place? I will satisfy your curiosity. Have this much faith.” (Ovi 79)
- Every being has a different experience as per his requirement and ability but the ultimate goal is the same- Salvation. Hence though we may have different bodies we have a single soul which awakens to the path of liberation through righteous living.
This writer’s thoughts: Perhaps the only chapter of its kind in the Satcharita, Ch 20 narrates a single story that of resolving Ganu’s doubt about Ishavasya Upanishad! Why only one? To help the readers absorb the immense learning from the story. With utmost simplicity, Hemadpant reveals to his readers the secret of true living, the kind that leads to God, helps attain liberation, ensures spiritual upliftment and progress.
An eight year old girl, who is financially weak owns the elusive wealth of joy. Why? Lack of attachment! She teaches us to enjoy the moments, revel in their glory, but not whine in their absence or pine for their return! True happiness rests not in the objects or materialistic things themselves but in the feeling that comes off them. But then while the feeling of joy remains constant the objects change, showing their temporary nature. It teaches us that we can stay happy, if we choose, irrespective of what we have. Sensory is momentary! Pure joy is independent of the materialistic. “Fakiri is the true badshahi”, said Sai. The little girl had nothing to lose since she owned next to nothing! Innocence (absence of cleverness) and joy go hand in hand! A straightforward learning is that joy rests in the little things of life not in the grand or the materialistic. Happiness is a state of the mind and hence directly connects with the Atman or soul.
And what of Ganu? Ganu’s obedience and faith in His Guru, Sai Baba is worth emulating! Undying faith in one’s Guru ensures learning and progress. There was no procrastination on his part and he did exactly as Baba guided to reap the benefits of Shraddha. Furthermore, Ganu did not harbour any thoughts of superiority. He didn’t look down on the idea of learning from a maidservant. A major hurdle overcome with her help, one which had put a stop to the pen.
Coming to our benevolent Baba! He as a great teacher and Guru did not impart knowledge. Instead he let his devotee learn by discovering. Sai indicated the path, Ganu walked it and benefitted! The Ishavasya Bhavarth Bodhini was completed.
What of the folks who thought Baba was joking with Ganu? Well, Baba let them learn in their own way. No subterfuge, no compulsions. Believe if you may or else you may take the path you choose. The Guru still remains the same- loving and giving!
Hemadpant’s Sai Satcharita connects us, separate beings, as a single Atman, kindred Soul!
Baba Malik! 🙏😇
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 Chapter 19