Sai Satcharitra Chapter 5

Baba’s Return with Chand Patil’s Marriage Party - Welcomed and Addressed as "Sai" - Contact with Other Saints - His Dress and Daily Routine - The Story of the Padukas - Wrestling Bout with Mohdin and Change in Life - Turning Water into Oil - The Pseudo-Guru Javhar Ali.

Return with Chand Patil’s Marriage-Party

As hinted in the last Chapter, I shall now describe first how Sai Baba returned to Shirdi after His disappearance.

There lived in the village of Dhoop, in Aurangabad District (Nizam State), a well-to-do Mahomedan gentleman named Chand Patil. While he was making a trip to Aurangabad, he lost his mare. For two long months he made a diligent search but could get no trace of the lost mare. After being disappointed he returned from Aurangabad with the saddle on his back. After traveling four koss and a half, he came to a mango tree under the foot of which sat a Ratna (queer fellow). He had a cap on His head, wore Kafni (long robe), and had a "Satka" (short stick) under His arm-pit. He was preparing to smoke a chilim (pipe). On seeing Chand Patil, He called out to Chand Patil, asked him to have a smoke, and to rest a little. The fakir asked him about the saddle. Chand Patil replied that it was of his mare which was lost. The queer fellow or fakir asked him to make a search in the nala close by. Chand Patil went there, and the wonder of wonders, he found the mare. He thought that this fakir was not an ordinary man, but an avalia (a great saint). He returned to the fakir with the mare. The chilim was ready for being smoked, but two things were missing: the fire to light the pipe, and the water to wet the chhapi (piece of cloth through which smoke is drawn up). The fakir took His prong and thrust it forcibly into the ground, and out came a live burning coal, which He put on the pipe. Then He dashed the satka on the ground, and water began to ooze from there. The chhapi was wetted with that water, it was then wrung out and wrapped round the pipe. Thus everything being complete, the fakir smoked the chilim, and then gave it to Chand Patil. On seeing all this, Chand Patil was wonder struck. He requested the fakir to come to his home, and accept his hospitality. Next day the fakir went to Patil’s house, and stayed there for some time. Chand Patil was a village-officer of Dhoop. His wife’s brother’s son was to be married, and the bride was from Shirdi. So Patil made preparations to start for Shirdi for the marriage. The fakir also accompanied the marriage-party. The marriage went off without any hitch, the party returned to Dhoop, except the fakir; He stayed in Shirdi, and remained there forever.

How the Fakir Got the Name Sai

When the marriage-party arrived at Shirdi, it alighted at the foot of a Banyan tree in Bhagata Mhalsapati’s field near Khandoba’s temple. The carts were loosened in the open courtyard of Khandoba’s temple. The members of the party descended one by one, and the fakir also got down. Bhagat Mhalsapati saw the young fakir getting down, and accosted Him, "Ya Sai" (Welcome Sai). Others also started addressing Him as Sai, and thenceforth he became known as Sai Baba.

Contact with Other Saints

Sai Baba began to stay in a deserted Masjid. One saint named Devidas was living in Shirdi many years before Baba came there. Baba liked his company. He stayed with him in the Maruti temple, in the Chavadi, and some time lived alone. Then came another saint named Jankidas. Baba spent most of His time in talking with him, or Jankidas went to Baba’s residence . A vaishya house-holder saint from Puntambe named Gangagir also frequented Shirdi. When he first saw Sai Baba carrying pitchers of water in both hands, for watering the garden, he was amazed and said openly, "Blessed is Shirdi, that it got this precious jewel. This man is carrying water today but He is not an ordinary fellow. As this land (Shirdi) is lucky and meritorious, it has secured this jewel." Another famous saint named Anandnath of Yewala Math, a disciple of Akkalkot Maharaj, came to Shirdi with some Shirdi residents. When he saw Sai Baba, he said openly, "This is a precious diamond in reality. Though he looks like an ordinary man, he is not a gar (ordinary stone) but a diamond. You will realize this in the near future." Saying this he returned to Yewala. This was said when Sai Baba was a youngster.

Baba’s Dress and Daily Routine

In his young days Sai Baba grew his hair long; He never had His head shaved. He dressed like an athlete. When He went to Rahata (3 miles from Shirdi), He brought with Him small plants of marigold, Jai and Jui. After cleaning up, he planted and watered them. A devotee by name Vaman Tatya supplied Him with two earthen pitchers daily. Baba Himself used to water the plants with these pots. He drew water from the well, and carried the pitchers on His shoulders. In the evening the pitchers were kept at the foot of the neem tree. As soon as they were placed there, they would break because they were made of raw earth and were not baked. Next day Tatya would supply two fresh pitchers. This course went on for 3 years. With Sai Baba’s toil and labour, there grew a flower garden. On this site, at present, stands the big mansion, Samadhi Mandir of Baba, which is now frequented by so many devotees.

The Story of Padukas (footprints) under the Neem Tree

A devotee of Akkalkot Maharaj named Bhai Krishnaji Alibagkar worshiped the photo of Akkalkot Maharaj. He once thought of going to Akkalkot (Sholapur District) for taking the darshana of Maharaj's padukas (footprints), and offering his sincere worship but before he could go there he got a vision in his dream. Akkalkot Maharaj appeared in the vision and told him, "Now Shirdi is my resting place. Go there and offer your worship." So Bhai changed his plan. He went to Shirdi, worshiped Baba, stayed there for six months, and was happy. As a reminiscence of this vision, he prepared the padukas and installed them, on an auspicious day of Shravan Shaka 1834 (1912 A.D.), under the neem tree with due ceremonies and formalities conducted by Dada Kelkar and Upasani. Dixit Brahmin was appointed for worship, and the management was entrusted to devotee Sagun.

Complete Version of this Story

Mr. B.V. Deo, retired Mamalatdar of Thana and a great devotee of Sai Baba, made enquiries about this matter with Sagun Meru Naik and Govind Kamlakar Dixit, and has published a full version of the padukas in Sai Leela Vol. 11, No. 1, page 25. It runs as follows:

In 1834 Shaka (1912 A.D.) Doctor Ramarao Kothare of Bombay came to Shirdi for Baba’s darshana. His compounder and a friend, Bhai Krishnaji Alibagkar, accompanied him. The compounder and Bhai became intimate with Sagun Meru Naik and G.K. Dixit. While discussing things, they thought that there must be some memorial of the fact of Sai Baba’s first coming to Shirdi and sitting under the holy neem tree. They thought of installing Baba’s Padukas there, and were going to make them of some rough stones. Then Bhai’s friend, the compounder, suggested that if this matter be made known to his master, Dr. Ramarao Kothare, he would prepare nice Padukas for this purpose. All liked the proposal and Dr. Kothare was informed of it. He came to Shirdi and drew a plan of the Padukas. He went to Upasani Maharaj in Khandoba’s temple, and showed him his plan. The latter made many improvements, drew lotuses, flowers, conch, disc, man etc. He suggested that a shloka (verse) regarding neem tree’s greatness and Baba’s yogic powers be inscribed. The verse was as follows:

"Sada Nimbarvrikshasya mooladhiwasat,
Sudhasravinam tiktamapi-apriyam tam,
Tarum Kalpavrikshadhikam sadhayantam
Namameeshwaram Sadgurum Sai Natham"

Upasani’s suggestions were accepted and carried out. The Padukas were made in Bombay and sent to Shirdi with the compounder. Baba said that they should be installed on the Pournima (full moon) of Shravan. On that day at 11 a.m. G.K. Dixit brought them on his head from Khandoba’s temple to the Dwarkamai (Masjid) in procession. Baba touched the Padukas saying that these are the feet of the Lord, and asked the people to install them under foot of the neem tree.

The day before, a Parsi devotee of Bombay named Pastha Shet had sent Rs.25/- by money order. Baba gave this sum for the installation of the Padhukas. The total expense of installation came up to Rs.100/- out of which Rs.75/- were collected by subscriptions. For the first 5 years, G.K. Dixit worshiped the Padukas daily; and later it was done by Laxman Kacheshwar Jakhadi. During the first five years, Dr. Kothare sent Rs. 2 per month for lighting, and he also sent the railing around the Padukas. The expense of bringing the railing from the station to Shirdi (Rs. 7-8-0, presently Rs.7.50p) and roofing was paid by Sagun Meru Naik. Nowadays Jakhadi (Nana Pujari) does the worship, and Sagun Meru Naik offers the naivaidya and lights the evening lamps.

Bhai Krishnaji was originally a devotee of Akkalkot Maharaj. On his way to Akkalkot he stopped at Shirdi at the installation of the Padukas in shaka 1834 . He wanted to go to Akkalkot after taking the darshana of Baba. He asked Baba’s permission for this. Baba said, "Oh, what is there in Akkalkot? Why do you go there? The incumbent Maharaj of that place is here, Myself." Hearing this Bhai did not go to Akkalkot. He went to Shirdi often after the installation of the Padukas.

Mr. B.V. Deo concluded that Hemadpant did not know these details. Had be known them, he would not have failed to depict them in his Satcharita.

Wresting Bout with Mohdin Tamboli and Change in Life

To return to other stories of Baba. There was a wrestler in Shirdi named Mohdin Tamboli. Baba and he did not agree on some items, and both had a fight. In this Baba was defeated. Thenceforth Baba changed His dress and mode of living. He donned Kafni, wore a Langot (waist band), and covered His head with a piece of cloth. He took a piece of sackcloth for His seat, sackcloth for His bed, and was content with wearing torn and wornout rags. He always said, "Poverty is better than Kingship, far better than Lordship. The Lord is always brother (friend) of the poor." Gangagir was also very fond of wrestling. Once, while he was wrestling a similar feeling of dispassion came over him, and at the proper time he heard the voice of an adept saying that he should wear out his body playing with God. So he too gave up samsara and turned towards God-realization. He established a math on the banks of the river near Puntambe, and lived there with disciples.

Sai Baba did not mix and speak with people. He only gave answers when he was questioned. By day he always sat under the neem tree, sometimes under the shade of a branch of a babul tree near the stream at the outskirts of the village. In the afternoon, He used to walk at random and go at times to Nimgaon. There He frequented the house of Balasaheb Dengale. Baba loved Mr. Balasaheb. Balasaheb's younger brother named Nanasaheb did not have any sons even though he got married a second time. Balasaheb sent Nanasaheb for taking darshana of Sai Baba; after some time, with His grace, Nanasaheb got a son. From that time onwards, people began to come in numbers to see Sai Baba. His fame began to spread. It reached Ahmednagar; from thence Nanasaheb Chandorkar, Keshav Chidamber, and many others began to come to Shirdi. Baba was surrounded by His devotees during day; and slept at night in an old and dilapidated Masjid. Baba’s paraphernalia at this time consisted of a chilim, tobacco, a tumrel (tin pot), long flowing Kafni, a piece of cloth round His head, and a satka (short stick) that He always kept with Him. The piece of white cloth on the head was twisted like matted hair, and flowed down from the left ear on the back. This was not washed for weeks. He wore no shoes, no sandals. A piece of sackcloth was His seat for most of the day. He wore a coupin (waist-cloth-band) and for warding off cold he always sat in front of a Dhuni (sacred fire) facing south with His left hand resting on the wooden railing. In that Dhuni He offered, as oblation, egoism, desires and all thoughts. He always uttered, "Allah Malik (God is the sole owner)". The Masjid in which He sat and where all devotees came and saw Him was only of two room dimensions. After 1912 A.D. there was a change. The old Masjid was repaired and a pavement was constructed. Before Baba came to live in this Masjid, He lived for a long time in a place known as Takia, where with ghunguru (small bells) on His legs Baba danced beautifully and sang with tender love.

Turning Water into Oil

Sai Baba was very fond of lights. He used to borrow oil from shopkeepers, and keep lamps burning the whole night in the Masjid and temple. This went on for sometime. The banias, who supplied oil gratis, once met together and decided not to give Him oil. When, as usual, Baba went to ask for oil, they all refused. Unperturbed, Baba returned to the Masjid and kept the dry wicks in the lamps. The banias were watching Him with curiosity. Baba took the tumrel (tin pot), which contained very little (a few drops) of oil, put water into it, drank it, and forced it fall in the container. After consecrating the tin-pot in this way, He again took water in the tin-pot and filled all the lamps with it and lighted them. To the surprise and dismay of the watching banias, the lamps began to burn and kept on burning the whole night. The banias repented and apologized. Baba forgave them and asked them to be more truthful in future.

The Pseudo-Guru Javhar Ali

Five years after the wrestling bout mentioned above, a Fakir from Ahmednager by name Javhar Ali came to Rahata with his disciples, and stayed in Bakhal (spacious room) near Virabhadra temple. The Fakir was learned, could repeat the whole Koran, and had a sweet tongue. Many religious and devout people of the village came to him and began to respect him. With the help of the people, he started to build an Idgah (a wall before which Mahomedans pray on Idgah day) near the Virabhadra temple. There was some quarrel about this affair, on account of which Javhar Ali had to leave Rahata. Then he came to Shirdi and lived in the Masjid with Baba. People were captured by his sweet talk. He began to call Baba his disciple. Baba did not object, and consented to be his chela. Then both Guru and Chela decided to return to Rahata and live there. The Guru (Teacher) never knew his disciple’s worth, but the disciple knew the defects of the Guru; still he never disrespected him, observing carefully his duties. He even served the Master in various ways. They used to come to Shirdi off and on but their main stay was in Rahata. The loving devotees of Baba in Shirdi did not like that Baba should stay away from them in Rahata. So they went in a deputation to bring Baba back to Shirdi. When they met Baba near the Idgah and told the purpose for which they had come, Baba told them that the Fakir was an ill-tempered fellow, he would not leave him and that they should better return to Shirdi without him before the Fakir returned. While they were thus talking, the Fakir turned up and was very angry with them for trying to take away his disciple. There was some discussion and altercation and it was finally decided that both the Guru and Chela should return to Shirdi. And so they returned and lived in shirdi. But after a few days the Guru was tested by Devidas and he was found wanting. Twelve years before Baba arrived in Shirdi with the marriage-party, this Devidas aged about 10 or 11 came to Shirdi and lived in the Maruti temple. Devidas had fine features and brilliant eyes, and he was dispassion incarnate and a Jnani. Many people, namely Tatya Kote, Kashinath and others regarded, him as their Guru. They brought Javhar Ali in his presence, and in the discussion that followed, Javhar was worsted and fled from Shirdi. He went and stayed in Bijapur and returned after many years to Shirdi, and prostrated himself before Sai Baba. The delusion that he was Guru and Sai Baba his Chela, was cleared away, and as he repented, Sai Baba treated him with respect. In this case Sai Baba showed by actual conduct how one should get rid of egoism and do the duties of a disciple to attain the highest end, viz., self-realization. This story is told here according to the version given by Mhalsapati (a great devotee of Baba).

The next Chapter will describe Rama-Navami Festival, the Masjid, its former condition, and later improvement etc.

Bow to Shri Sai - Peace be to all

The spiritual guru and redeemer of mankind, Sai Baba of Shirdi has been one of the greatest influencing gurus of the Modern times. As among the most popular Indian saints with an ever growing following of devotees, Sai Baba inspires an unflinching faith on his devotees with his clear cut mission to provide not only a spiritual awakening, but also saving the mankind from suffering and ignorance.

Forsaking the worldly pleasure in his tender years Sai Baba came to Shirdi with a mission that sprang from the source of His free and redeemed spirit. His mission was self-allotted and that was to awaken the mankind to his true self and divine nature. He wanted to lead them to salvation by saving them from delusion and ignorance. Such is His benevolence that Sai Baba stands there eternally extending His helping hand to give solace to His children who are suffering and leading a wretched life devoid of any hope.  

With the whole world under benevolence Sai Baba inspires an undying hope among the mankind. Thus, it is His sacred mission to awaken, elevate, transform and comfort His children. These may be the tangible missions of Sai Baba that ensure harmony all around. However, He had several bigger missions as well that encompassed the whole of universe and its administration including creation, sustenance and destruction. Ultimately, the mission of Sai Baba was to evolve human beings to the state of godliness, i.e., realizing the spiritual body in the mankind leading to their complete redemption and salvation. His powerful assurance 'Why fear when I am hear' has been the great source of strength among the ever growing number of Sai Baba's devotees.

Bow to Shri Sai - Peace be to all