Baba never fasted. Neither did he permit his devotees to fast. Mind will not be steady if one fasts. We cannot see God with a hungry stomach. It is, therefore,essential to keep the Atma satisfied. We get strength for the eyes to see God, for the mouth to praise God and for the ear to hear things about God, only from the energy that food provides. Hence Baba did not approve of fasting.
Fasting by Gokhale’s Wife
Gokhale’s wife came to Shirdi with some devotees known to Dada Kelkar. She stayed in his house. She desired to undertake fasting for three days and be with Baba. But Baba told her, "Mother, there is no need to undertake fasting. Go to Dada Bhat’s house, prepare puranpolis (sweet stuffed chapatis) and feed his children and you also eat." On that day Bhat’s wife was indisposed. Hence, Baba’s advice appeared to be timely. Accordingly to his advice she prepared puranpolis, served the others and ate some. Fasting is only a method of regulating the digestive system and nothing more. To think that one gets some divine benefit from that is only a misconception. Apart from not getting any benefit, fasting makes a person weak with the result that one cannot attend to one’s normal duties. Those who worship Baba can take food and then worship him.
Shama’s Vow - Sapta Shringi
The famous Sapta Shringi temple was in a place called Vani at Nashik district. Kakaji Vaidya was the priest of that temple. He suffered one difficulty after another in his life and there was no peace of mind.
One day he stood in front of the idol and prayed to the Goddess, "I have been worshipping you with utmost devotion and sincerity all these days. Please give me peace of mind." That night the Goddess appeared in his dream and told him, "Go to Baba, you will have peace of mind." The priest thought Baba meant Lord Shiva of Thriambakeshwar. So went there and stayed for ten days worshipping with devotion. But he did not get peace of mind and returned to his place. Again he prayed to the Goddess and she told him in his dream that she meant Shirdi Sai Baba when she said Baba. The priest was wondering how to go to Shirdi. As he was pious Baba made arrangements for his visit to Shirdi in some other manner.
When Baba’s devotee Shama was a small boy he fell sick. His mother took a vow to take the boy to Sapta Shringi temple and worship at the feet of the Goddess. After sometime, the mother suffered with ringworm on her breasts and she took another vow to offer the Goddess two silver breasts if the ringworm subsided. Without fulfilling the above two vows she died. This had happened 32 years earlier. Shama had forgotten about this.
Once an astrologer came to Shirdi and told Shama that the vows taken by his mother remained unfulfilled. After thinking over, Shama recollected the two vows. Immediately he got two silver breasts prepared and placing them at Baba’s feet , pleaded with Baba to accept them since Baba was also the Goddess Sapta Shringi. Baba did not accept them, but asked Shama to go personally to the Sapta Shringi temple and offer them to the Goddess. Shama went to the house of Kakaji Vaidya, the priest of Sapta Shringi and told him the details.
Kakaji Vaidya thought it a great honour to receive a close follower of Baba from Shirdi. Shama also was pleased meeting the priest through whom the vows are to be fulfilled. Baba might have sent Shama to Sapta Shringi to bring him and Kakaji together. After fulfilling the vows both of them went together to Shirdi. As soon as Kakaji Vaidya touched Baba’s feet, his disturbed mind became placid and he felt happy. Baba did not speak anything. He did not even bless him. Even then, by the mere touch of his feet, Kakaji secured peace of mind. Thus Kakaji Vaidya found the greatness of Baba. He stayed for 12 days at Shirdi, experienced Baba’s love and left Shirdi taking Baba’s udi with him.
Shyam Karna - Baba’s Horse
A devotee of Baba, who earned huge profits in his business, presented a nice horse to Baba. Baba named it Shyam Sunder (or Shayama Karna) and entrusted its maintenance to a devotee named Tukaram. Many times Baba told the devotees not to merely consider Shyam Sunder as an animal but to treat it as Baba’s child.
One day the horse did not eat grass for reasons unknown. Tukaram tried his best but the horse did not touch the grass. He lost his patience and hit it with a stick. This happened a little away from the mosque. Baba sent for Tukaram and asked him angrily why he hit him (Baba) with such a big stick. Tukaram shivered at Baba’s words. Then Baba lifted his long shirt (kafni) and showed a read weal in the shape of a stick on his body. Those who saw it were surprised and feared. They looked at Tukaram suspiciously, but Tukaram told him that he had not come near Dwarakamai on that day and did not hit Baba. Then Baba said, "Is it not hitting me, if you hit my child Shyam Sunder?" He thus made Tukaram remember what he had done. Immediately the devotees ran to the place where the horse was tied. They found a similar swelling and the mark of the stick on the back of the horse. Everyone was surprised. They considered this as Baba’s leela to prove to the devotees that he was present in all living things. From that day onwards everyone looked after Shyam Karna with love and respect. Some brought fodder for the horse and some brought zari shawls.
A devotee named Aurangabadkar had no children. With Baba’s blessings, he got a male child. Out of gratitude constructed a shed for the Shyam Karna at a cost of Rs.500. Every Thursday they decorated Shyam Karna nicely and put it in front of the procession. The horse danced to the tunes of the musical instruments.
It was the year 1915. One Thursday morning, the mosque was full of devotees, Baba was sitting with crossed legs on the big stone in front of the mosque. Nana Chandorkar, Shama, Mhalsapathi, Dixit, Tatya, Sathe and others were standing. A rich middle-aged lady, Janaki Bai, wearing a silk saree with zari border, brought several costly items of jewellery on a gold plate to give them to Baba. She was standing in the ladies queue. Every devotee had something or the other in his hand to hand it over to Baba. Some washed the feet of Baba by placing them in a silver plate. Some applied sandalpaste on his neck and sprinkled perfumes. Some offered flowers, fruits and pedas (a milk sweet). Some offered money according to their capacity.
Nanavali, who was standing behind the devotees, observed all this and felt happy. But in a few moment his face changed and his happiness disappeared. His face flushed with anger. His eyes became red and his appearance was fearful. He called out in a very loud voice, "You fakir". All looked towards him, stunned. Nanavali slowly advanced towards Baba and was stared into his eyes. He was a rough type of person and everyone feared what was to happen. He said to Baba, "So many have got up and stood fearing me. But you are calmly sitting cross-legged." Baba did not reply. Nanavali ordered Baba to get up. Baba went and stood near the devotees. Nanavali sat cross-legged on the stone just like Baba. He ordered the devotees to bring the offerings to him. He ate some and threw away some. He stared for some time at the lady who had brought jewels in a gold plate. He stared alternately at the lady and the gold plate for some time. Finally he looked at her insultingly and spat.
Then he looked at Baba and said, "What Nawab! How are you?" Baba replied that he was a fakir only and not a nawab. Nanavali questioned Baba about how the world was. Baba replied, "It is as usual." Nanavali asked what Baba meant by his reply. Then Baba said, "With the five elements and eight directions, this world appears normal only to me." With this reply Nanavali’s face changed, his anger disappeared and he became normal again. Again he stared into Baba’s eyes. Their eyes exchanged something silently. Nanavali fell at Baba’s feet and asking pardon went away quickly to the relief of the devotees.
Then Nana Chandorkar said to Baba, "Baba, the crazy actions of Nanavali are increasing day by day. He dared to sit on your seat and spoiled the offerings brought by the devotees, and also insulted your devotees. We will not tolerate this further. If you permit us we will take appropriate action." To this Baba replied, "Nanavali is not a crazy person as all of you are thinking. He is a sage (avadhuta) who crossed the worldly limits. He had come to test me. "Then Nana Chandorkar asked Baba how a crazy person could test him. Baba explained as follows, "When I came to Shirdi for the first time, the villagers threw stones at me taking me to be a crazy person (pagal fakir). After sometime, they called me a doctor. Now you are all treating me as God and worshipping me and offering me several things. Nanavali only tested me to find out whether desires have sprouted in me on seeing all this. From the reply I gave him he understood that I am in the original state only and nothing has changed in me. Craziness is the climax of Vedanta." In the light of Baba’s explanation, the devotees recalled the questions and answers between Nanavali and Baba and felt happy. From that day they wiped out their opinion that Nanavali was a crazy person.
Shri M.G.Rege visited Baba during his student days. In those days, he was the youngest of all devotees who were close to Baba. One day a devotee presented Baba with plantains whose outer skin was red in colour. Rege was attracted by the red-coloured peel of the plantains. He desired to eat them. Baba gave the plantains to the devotees who were there. He removed the outer skin of a plantain and while he gave the inner fruit to a devotee, he gave the outer skin to Rege and asked him to eat it. Obeying Baba’s orders, he ate the skin. After distributing to all, Baba came to Rege and took out another plantain, peeled the skin and threw it away. He shared the inner fruit along with Rege. Since Rege had been attracted by the red colour of the plantain skin, Baba had made him eat it and know the taste. He again gave him the inner fruit to bring home the truth that there is nothing in the outer colour but the actual taste is in the inner fruit. So, one should not be carried away by the external appearance but should see the divine power in every matter.