A slip-up? Wait for the nudge! Baba Sai keeps putting His bhakts back on the right track! Faltered and now being led back! Accomplishing one thing does not mean one can be lax in another.
Thursday posts have been dedicated to the summary and interpretation of chapters from Baba’s Satcharita. But this week the overpowering feelings around the several inspiring miracles changed the direction of the writing. Come Friday and this message popped up. Now what? Getting back onto the Sai designated task for Thursdays: Summary and Interpretation! 😊 So to avoid a gap, the post launches on Saturday!
The book: Shree Sai Satcharita Author: Shri Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias Hemadpant alias Annasaheb
Chapter 23 The Spectacle of the Leela of Guru and Disciple
SUMMARY: Savour thought-provoking, assortment of stories: Literally and figuratively! Baba’s glory, His soothing disposition and infinite love for His bhakts is felt in every word of Ch 23.
Story 1 is about a Yoga Sadhak whom Nana Saheb brought to Shirdi. The sadhak was eager to receive Sai’s grace yet began to have doubts about Baba’s merit, on seeing Him partaking bhakri (Indian bread) with onion (a forbidden fruit for saints and priests.) In His characteristic tongue-in-cheek manner Baba tells Nana (not the Sadhak), “Nana only those who can digest onion should eat it.” (Ovi 17).
The second story is the rather popular one about how Baba cured Shama’s snakebite. When a snake bit Shama’s little finger, he rushed to his sole benefactor, Sai Baba, although villagers insisted on taking him to the Vithoba temple, the place where those afflicted by snake bite sought refuge and remedy. But the benefactor stopped Shama in his tracks, spewing harsh words, “Do not climb up vile priest! Don’t you dare to climb! Get out! Get down!”….(Ovi 43)
The onslaught continued for a bit, yet the bhakt waited and when Sai calmed down, Shama took the stairs of the masjid and patiently sat down. In a sudden turn around, Baba used the balm of loving words, “Do not forsake fortitude. Do not let any despondency enter your heart. You will get well. Do not worry. The kind Fakir will take care of you.” (Ovi 53)
Baba soothed Madhav Rao and sent him home. A short while later, Sai sent Tatya to enquire after Shama and take care of him. Towards night Sai sent another emissary, Kaka Saheb Dixit with instructions of making Shama walk around and preventing him from sleeping!
Lodged between the two stories is a lovely analogy: We mistake the acquisition of materialistic things for liberation. Hemadpant gives the example of a pig that remains happy in waste, and a parrot, not knowing better, bonds with her gilded cage. Both remain oblivious to the joys of true freedom. Our Atma (soul) gains freedom only when we break free from the worldly to attain the grace of the Almighty and the Guru.
Story 3 reveals Baba’s fearlessness. He overrides the villagers’ decision and brings in a cart loaded with the fast depleting fire-wood. The laden cart stopped from entering Shirdi on account of the fear of the spread of cholera, could move ahead only when Sai stood before it. Shirdi had severed connections with surrounding villages after the breakout. Shortages pinched the residents. With Baba’s help, the driver came till the masjid and offloaded the wood in the courtyard. Since everyone needed fuel for cooking, some took it with permission while others took advantage of there being no door in the courtyard! Baba’s dhuni too glowed benevolently!
Nectar sweet stories continue. In Hemadpant’s words: “ This Satcharita is like drinking nectar.” (Ovi 106) But he cautions not to gulp hurriedly, suggesting, “The excellence of each item should be enjoyed fully, as a novelty.” (Ovi 107)
The final incident could be the reason for the title of this chapter: the love shared betwixt a Guru and his disciple. The Guru being Sai Baba and the disciple none other than the demure and obedient, the “pure gold” (Ovi 135) Kaka Saheb Dixit!
A sickly goat, on the throes of death, was left near the masjid by an unknown person. Sai protects all those who have no care-giver! To give it relief from pain, Baba asked Bade Baba to offer the goat as a sacrifice! Bade Baba who commanded a lot of respect, without whom Baba did not partake a meal and to whom Sai gave a big chunk of His donations, refused to do what he thought was an unnecessary action! Next was Shama’s turn. Shama brought the requisite tool, a sharp knife borrowed from Radhakrishna mai. But when mai learnt of the horrendous purpose, she called back her knife. While Shama left in search of another one and did not return for a long time, who should come by? Kaka Saheb Dixit!
Delegated the task of killing the goat in one strike, the staunch Brahmin who ‘wouldn’t hurt even a fly’, got the weapon and prepared to kill. Before striking, he asked Sai for confirmation of the action and the Guru responded, “ Come on, kill now, what are you waiting for?” (Ovi 165) Kaka raised his shaking hand in an arc and was about to assault but Baba stopped him with a perfunctory, “Oh let it be!” (Ovi 167). The knife fell to the ground. More Sai sport followed; the spectacle watched by numerous villagers! Baba reprimanded Kaka asking what kind of a Brahmin he was…. Kaka’s humble response put all queries to rest. He emphatically stated that the only religion he knew and what mattered to him most was his Guru’s command. Introspection and delays a mark of defiance of the Guru! Words of faith and conviction fell on multitude ears. Sai’s purpose of conveying the expectation from a bhakt had been played out live!
Later, Baba prepared to give sadgati to the goat but Bade Baba, using tact, sent the goat to be sacrificed at the takiya. On the way, the half-dead goat died a natural death.
“May there be auspiciousness” for all!
INTERPRETATION: Every story of Ch. 23 speaks of the Guru-shishya bond. Be it the story of the Yog sadhak or Kaka Saheb! Through story 1 Sai shows that it is not the food that we eat but our thoughts and perception of that food that makes it impure! Baba Sai’s all-knowing trait when he read the sadhak’s mind to find unpleasant thoughts about Himself. Yet, forgiving him, Sai takes the sadhak in his fold just like a mother embraces her errant children together with the dutiful ones. Moreover, Baba showed that the adeptness of a Guru does not depend on what he eats but what he speaks! Simple living, pure thoughts! Hence, adherence to the Guru’s words brings much tranquillity and equilibrium in life.
Why did Baba bring in the cart-load of wood? Was it only for the dhuni or to show His supremacy? Let’s think wider! Sai’s intent was to facilitate the warming of every hearth in Shirdi. He had in mind the hunger of the children, He had in mind the stalled business which were beginning to affect earnings and would consequently affect daily living, He had in mind the unnecessary fears and false notions of the villagers which needed to be stemmed and He had in mind the overall welfare of the residents whose sufferings Sai could not bear to see. So, He left the wood out in the open. Surely, Baba must have known who was taking wood without his permission, but like an indulgent mother, Sai must have merely smiled! Perhaps the most important lesson imbibed could be that of faith. Faith in the Guru, in His divine presence, faith in the dhuni mai eternally burning in the Dwarkamayi, taking care of every bhakt. Sai Baba stood up for the right even if He did so alone, simultaneously reassuring that the villagers’ welfare was His topmost priority.
Shama and Baba, Baba’s Shamya! Love unfathomable! Unique too. How Shama treated Sai, none other could even dream of! They shared a different sort of proximity with each other. Yet when Baba shouted loudly to step down, despite the acute pain, Shama did not go inside the masjid. A lesson in endurance? Undeterred, the teacher stood, waiting for the Guru to calm down and then took his chance. Goes to show how well Shama understood Baba and his ways. It may have been out of need, urgency or high regard for Baba’s wishes that Madhav Rao did not take the steps of masjidmayee. He may have even regarded the outburst as Sai Leela, knowing something good was bound to come of it. Sure enough, the poison stopped spreading. A miracle, Baba’s control over forces of Nature were unveiled in a single event. Baba’s immense love and concern for this bhakt is evident when He sends Tatya after Shama- It is not only to ask about Shama’s welfare but to show that Baba Sai is with him and taking care. Moreover, in this difficult time Tatya would be good company and would distract Shama from the pain. And then Baba sent another emissary, a rather obedient one, Kaka Dixit to keep Shama awake all night. Why so? This was a difficult task, staying awake all night and keeping the patient awake too, and Sai knew full well that obedient Kaka would perform this best! Each to his own! Sai assigns as per capability and skills. 😊
And the final exemplar of Guru-shishya prem, a strong bond, the incident of the goat. It is said that there were only a handful of bhakts who kept totally quiet in Sai’s presence. One of them was Kaka Dixit. How then could he refute the Guru’s command of slaying the goat? His dharma, principles caste aside he was ready to go all the way proving his merit as a shishya, passing the litmus test with flying colours! Kaka believed that a Guru can never do anything detrimental. Keeping such strong faith isn’t easy. Baba continues this Leela of his with the sole purpose of showing to all those present the kind of nishtha and faith that are expected and required of a devotee to ensure his spiritual progress. No matter how difficult a path, even if it meant going against long cherished values and principles, the devotee who shows complete surrender and does as the Guru says, unquestioningly, is the one who goes a long way, to receive bounteous grace of both Almighty and Guru. A lesson for all times to come!
Let us come together to build such nishtha in Baba Sai! Let Malik be our guide!
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 Chapter 22