Guilty as charged! 🙂 Of writing long posts! But then if the onus falls on this writer then the ego rears its head. So she submits both the lengthier version and the newly born short ones at Baba Sai’s feet! And as if Hemadpant ji pre-empted every writer’s distress, he appealed to the better sense of his readers defiantly stating “Well, how can I help it? I am inspired by something else while describing another. But why should I ignore something which I know to be interesting?” (Ovi 191)
And thus begins the dilemma: Should the writing be elaborate, or should it be to the point…..
The book: Shree Sai Satcharita Author: Shri Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias Hemadpant alias Annasaheb
Chapter 22 the Warding off of Untimely Death
SUMMARY: Chapter 22 is a collection of several such stories where Baba not only saved his devotee’s lives from danger but also pre-warned them, albeit indirectly. Stories of snakes and scorpions find a place. The first story is about Bala Saheb Mirikar of Ahmednagar who was honoured with the title of ‘Sardar’ by the then government. After taking Baba’s darshan when the gentleman was set to leave, Baba assured him that Masjidmayee protects everyone. Baba instructed Shama to accompany Mirikar to Chithali, his next destination. And then posed another question to Mirikar: Did he know about ‘Bava’ (serpent) and its powers? Sai even gestured his hand like a swaying snake but Mirikar could not understand the context. The two men left and reached Chithali towards nightfall. It was dark yet Bala Saheb’s servant heard a rustling sound and spotted a snake near his master. Shama called out to Sai for help. While the plan of action was being made, the snake slithered away. Baba’s question was understood as his cautionary advice.
The next story is about Amir Shakkar of Kopargaon who came to Baba to be cured of his rheumatoid. Baba stationed him in the Chavadi, a damp place, infested with snakes and scorpions. For nine months the man continued to live in Chavadi. His faith in Baba grew while the pain in his joints reduced. However, tiring of such living Amir abruptly left Shirdi. Now Kopargaon had another kind of trouble awaiting him. Amir offered water to an ailing, thirsty sadhu, but to his dismay, the man passed away. To avoid being accused of murder, Amir hurriedly walked right back to Shirdi in the night. On another occasion, when Amir was in danger, Baba woke up and screamed for His helper Abdul. Baba asked Abdul to get lamps since a ghost was lingering around in the Chavadi. Abdul walked around the Chavadi and was shocked to see a snake in a striking pose, close to Amir’s pillow. Baba had saved Amir’s life a second time!
Hemadpant too was protected on two different occasions. When a scorpion sat on his uparna during Kaka Saheb Dixit’s recital of Bhavarth Ramayana, Hemadpant using his Guru’s boon of the intellect, gently wrapped it in the cloth. He freed it a short distance away. Once a snake appeared in the first-floor balcony of Dixit Wada. The residents did not know how to tackle it because if it were to fall down, those sleeping on the ground floor which included Hemadpant would it be at grave risk. But the flashing of lamps scared the cobra away and Hemadpant who slept near the ground floor window was saved from harm.
The ones who came to Baba’s refuge could never be harmed because Baba Himself reassured “This Masjidmayee is very kind. She is the mother of all the innocent and faithful devotees. Anyone may face any difficulty; She will readily protect.” (Ovi 49)
INTERPRETATION: Ch 22 appears like a stream of memories, built over time, one leading to another! The collection of stories in which Sai forewarns the concerned individual of the impending threat are lovely illustrations of His infinite love, care and concern for his bhakts.. But then Baba did not issue a direct warning. It was always anecdotal or symbolic. Why was that? A direct statement would certainly scare the bhakt making him wary of every step forward, the uncertainty weighing on his shoulders. It would build such fear that even a shadow or a rope would pose a threat. It would be similar to a sword hanging near one’s neck, making every movement risky.
Baba’s ways were unique, and He had nothing but the welfare of the bhakts in mind. But when a Bhakt resisted, Baba never insisted. When Shri Mirikar objected to Shama accompanying him, Baba did not compel; but then when Shri Mirikar changed his mind and Shama sought Baba’s permission, he at once gave it, saying, “We have nothing to lose.” Baba did not want to intercede too much knowing that He would take care at the opportune moment. This also allowed scope for over-confident ones to learn, albeit the hard way. And then placing trust in the Guru would come easier. So did Sai wish to teach the errant ones a lesson? Would a loving mother do so? All she would want is the safety and well-being of her children. Sai our mother does exactly that.
Amir’s story is about obedience to the Guru and its benefits as well as consequences of disregarding His advice. No Baba wasn’t punishing the man but was aware of his future and wanted to keep him trouble-free and safe in Shirdi. Yet when the man chose to leave, Baba couldn’t have forcibly kept him back, could He? Baba sending Amir to Chavadi was a test of faith. Would this flower on the mango tree transform into a fruit (practising Faith and Patience) or would he like thousands of others, fall off? Would the Guru be able to take on the fruit of his Karmas or would he suffer the consequence himself ? Baba protected him despite his erratic behaviour.
Hemadpant’s presence of mind, his kindness and the futility of killing the scorpion are the lessons inherent in his story. It is a reminder of God’s presence in every living being. The same idea is presented in the incident pertaining to the snake in Dixit Wada. That Muktaram’s defence of the snake offended Hemadpant, leading to an argument, and that Sai confirmed Muktaram’s thoughts is an indication to the readers that even dangerous and wild creatures shouldn’t be harmed unless they offer a threat to life.
Needlessly harming a being amounts to attacking God himself. And that would be sacrilege.
Sai Malik shows us the path! Let’s follow it through this year- 2020 and beyond!
Happy Sai thoughts everyone! 😊 Sai Ram!
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 Chapter 20 Chapter 21