Baba’s Knowledge of Sanskrit & Importance of Human Birth
Upasini Shastri went to Nagpur, from there to Scinde and to Kharagpur in the year 1914, without informing Baba and without completing the four years novitiate (diksha) prescribed by Sai Baba. Afterwards he stayed with Panchamuni for some time. By Baba’s grace he acquired siddhis (supernatural powers) while he was at Shirdi. After wandering about for 15 months, he returned to Shirdi in the year 1915, and Baba advised him to set up an ashram at Sakori, a village near Shirdi and live there. He followed Baba’s advice. Those who were sufferers, patients,etc. came up to Upasini Baba in thousands and obtained relief. He was a Guru to a number of devotees and attained Samadhi in the year 1942 at the age of 72. Those who go to Shirdi can also visit the ashram established by Upasini Baba at Sakori, which is about 5 kms from Shirdi.
Importance of Actions
Baba went for alms everyday. With the increase of Baba’s greatness, the faith in those who gave alms also increased and they kept the food ready and waited for Baba.
One day, a housewife named Savitri Bai was hurriedly cooking as the time of Baba’s visit for alms was nearing. Her old father-in-law was also hungry. She finished cooking quickly. As she was putting rotis (leavened bread) and curry in a plate to give to Baba, he arrived and she asked him to just wait for two minutes and she would be bringing food for him. In the meantime, her father-in-law called out loudly as he was hungry. She told him that she would serve him as soon as she had given food to Baba. She came out of the house with the food in a plate to give it to Baba. Baba told her, "mother, you should give food to your father-in-law first. You may ask me why. To give food to your father-in-law is your duty. To give me alms is only a pious action. You should give precedence to duty over noble action! To give timely food to your father-in-law is righteousness (dharma) you should attend to that first. After that only alms for me." Hearing Baba, she told him that he was really God in human form and her desire was to serve him first. Baba further told her, "Our actions are very powerful and are like arms (aayudhas). God has kept your father-in-law under your care and made you responsible to serve him. Even if such a God stood before your house, you should give priority to your duties only. This is the Theory of Karma. What duties God has given us, we should discharge them properly. If you do not do them properly, it amounts to wrong. It is not proper for me to make you, who reposed complete faith in me, do wrong. In my presence, give food to your father-in-law. Till then I will sit and wait here. Afterwards, I will accept the food you proposed to give me with love." Thereupon she acted as per Baba’s advice. From that day onwards, Savithri Bai always gave food to her father-in-law before Baba came for alms.
Baba’s Knowledge of Sanskrit
Sai Baba was a strange God. Shirdi is a punya bhoomi for having had such a God there. The villagers of Shirdi are blessed. Even the grass on which Baba walked is also blessed. Shirdi came into prominence because of Baba. All siddhis (supernatural powers) were at the feet of Baba. Those who visited Shirdi worshipped Baba’s feet. One day, Nana Chandorkar, while pressing Baba’s feet, recited withim himself some shloka. Baba asked him what he was reciting to himself. Chandorkar replied that it was a Sanskrit shloka which Baba would not understand. Baba said that he would try to understand and asked Chandorkar to read it aloud. He read the thirty-fourth shloka in Chapter-4 of the Bhagawad Gita as follows:
Tatviddhi Pranipatena Pariprashnena
Sevaya - Upadekshyanti Te
Jnanam Jnanina Stattwadarshinah
The questions of Baba and the replies of Nana Chandorkar were as follows:
Baba: Nana, what is the meaning?
Nana: By making sashtanga namaskar (prostration), questioning the Guru, serving him, we learn what this jnana is. Then these jnanis who have attained the real knowledge of Brahman, will give us upadesha of jnana.
Baba: I do not want the collective purport of the whole stanza. Give me word by word meaning of it. What is meant by pariprashna?
Nana: Asking questions.
Baba: What is the meaning of prashna
Nana: The same (asking questions).
Baba: For both you are giving the same meaning. Is there any special meaning for the Sanskrit word pari?
Nana: I do not know of any other meaning.
Baba: What is the meaning of seva?
Nana: The same service that we are doing to you daily.
Baba: Is it enough to render such service?
Baba: In the shloka, suppose we substitute the word Jnana with Ajnana, then what meaning does it give?
Nana: I do not understand how to construe it by substituting with Ajnana.
Baba: Lord Krishna was a Tatwadarshi. But why did he advise Arjuna to prostrate, serve, and question other Jnanis?
Nana: This also I do not understand
Nana Chandorkar thought Baba did not know Sanskrit and that he (Nana) having read the Bhagawad Gita several times along with commentaries, knew everything. But when Nana could not give answers to Baba’s questions for even one shloka, he felt ashamed. Then he concluded that however much one might have read, one cannot be equal to a Jnani. His pride had gone. Then Baba in his own style, gave answers to the questions he had put to Nana, as follows:
1) Questioning the Guru should not be for testing the Guru or trying to trap him, but to actually learn and to keep in mind what was learnt, and to put that in practice in life. One should question the Guru with the aim of spiritual progress. That is what is meant by Pariprashna. Vyasa did not use it for nothing.
2) Seva or service which is rendered whenever you feel like doing, is not seva. A person should feel that his body is not his and God had given it to serve the Guru. Persons with such Jnana only can understand the teaching of it by a guru, and others cannot understand. To teach Jnana to such persons would be like teaching Ajnana.
3) However great a person may be, his close associates cannot gauge his greatness, taking him to be as ordinary human being like them.
This is the effect of Maya. That was the reason why Lord Krishna advised Arjuna to serve other Tatwadarshis. After hearing the above explanations given by Baba, Nana could not imagine the greatness of Baba who had such deep knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita which Lord Krishna taught to Arjuna. Her learnt that the sky was the limit for Baba’s knowledge, and none could measure it. He thought how much small he was before Baba . Noticing the changes taking place in Nana, Baba slowly walked out of Dwarakamai. Nana also came out of Dwarakamai, following Baba in the same manner as an iron piece is attracted by a magnet. Nana saw Baba’s form growing big with changes in his face, with divine light rays emitting from the body in different colours. He had to lift his head to see the growing stature of Baba. He had to close his eyes, unable to withstand the divine light coming from Baba.
He heard Baba’s bold and loud words as if they came from the sky above. "Nana, your eyes contained the human body and caught in the darkness of Ajnana, cannot see any divine form. I am giving you divine sight. Open your eyes and see my real form. I am the divine power and the bearer of all the planets, Sun and moon are my eyes, I am the Virat and send the people either to heaven or hell based on their actions in life. The burning planets, oceans, all kinds of diseases, medicines required for their cure are all in me. All the animate and inanimate things of this creation are in me. There is nothing which is not in me. I am a complete being and all powerful person."
Hearing Baba’s words and seeing his Vishwarupa, Nana became unconscious for a moment. When he came back to his original state, he saw Baba in his usual form. Baba cautioned Nana not to reveal to others what he had seen. Nana was in a confused state not knowing whether what he had seen was a dream or real or whether it was Maya. When he found himself in control of his senses, he concluded that he was not dreaming. He fell at the feet of Baba and washed them with the tears that fell with joy.
Nana’s Disrespect for the Temple
Once Nana Chandorkar, along with his relative Binivalle, came to Shirdi . Baba asked him, "Being with me for such a long time, why did you do this? How did you come to Shirdi from Kopargaon?" Nana recollected the mistake commited by him. Whenever he came to Shirdi from Kopargaon, he used to bathe in the Godavari river, visited Datta temple and then come to Shirdi. During his previous visit he had promised the temple priest that he would give Rs.300 as donation. Thinking that the priest would ask him the money if he visited the temple, he avoided it and also discouraged his relative from visiting the temple. Baba, knowing the matter beforehand, said to Nana, "If you had no money to fulfil your promise, you could have told the temple priest. For money’s sake you could not visit Datta Dev. See how money has distanced you from God." Realising his mistake, Nana bowed his head in shame.
Arathi and Naivedya (Offerings to God)
Everyday after the noon arathi, all devotees went back to their houses or to the lodgings. Baba personally distributed udi prasad and made enquiries about each devotee, giving them advices. From some devotees he would enquire when they came and to some devotees he would ask when they would be leaving Shirdi. He ordered a few devotees to leave Shirdi only the next day. He enquired with some devotees about some who were in their houses and give some advices. He talked to the devotees to the extent necessary and according to their needs. Only he and the particular devotee could understand the matter. After the devotees left, the devotees close to Baba would sit in rows on each side of him. Baba would come walking slowly and sit in his seat.
Those who brought offerings to Baba(naivedya) waited outside Dwarakamai, for getting his blessings. They would bring a variety of food items like rotis, sweet rice, sanja, etc. All the offerings were kept before Baba and he offered all of them to God. After that he distributed a portion of them to the devotees waiting outside the mosque and the balance served to all the close devotees who were sitting on either side of Baba. The food items touched by Baba became very tasty and energy-giving ones.
One day, Hemadpant ate such food to his satisfaction. Baba immediately gave him a glassful of buttermilk and asked him to drink it. But Hemadpant drank only a little of it saying that his stomach was full. Its taste was peculiar . Baba asked him to drink the balance also, as such an opportunity would never come again. He drank the remaining buttermilk with great difficulty. His word became true. Hemadpant did not get such a chance again before Baba’s Samadhi.
Atmaram’s wife desired to offer three items to Baba as naivedya
(1)Brinjal and curd Chutney,
(2) Brinjal fried curry, and
(3) peda(a milk sweet).
Raghuveer Purander’s wife was known to her. When Mrs Purander was going to Shirdi, Atmaram’s wife gave her some brinjals with a request to prepare the chutney and curry and serve Baba. After reaching Shirdi, Mrs Purander prepared the brinjal and curd chutney and sent it to Dwarakamai at Baba’s meal time. As the preparation was tasty, Baba distributed it to all. He desired to have brinjal fried curry also then and there. As that was not the season for brinjals,Radhakrishnamai made enquiries as to who had brought the brinjal curd chutney and found out that it was Mrs Purander. Word was sent to her about Baba’s desire and immediately Mrs Purander prepared brinjal fried curry and sent it to Baba. The devotees who came to know the details of the matter were surprised at the desire of Baba to have brinjal fried curry. This is one more instance of Baba’s omniscence.
In December 1915, Balaram Mankad, a resident of Bandra, was going to Shirdi to perform the obsequies of his late father. Atmaram;s wife wanted to send something to Baba and searched in the house but could not find anything. A few pieces of peda were there. Even these few were already offered to Baba as naivedya. She sent them with Mankad. After reaching Shirdi, Mankad forgot about them when he went to see Baba in the afternoon. Again when he went to the mosque in the evening, Baba asked Mankad what was given by Atmaram’s wife at the time of his journey to Shirdi. Mankad felt ashamed and went to his room and brought the pedas given by Atmaram’s wife and gave them to Baba. Baba took one and ate it and the remainder were distributed to others.
Importance of Human Birth
For all living things food, sleep, fear and reproduction are common. But a human being, apart from these, has one more important quality called intelligence (jnana). With this the human is able to know about God. Some think that the human body comprises flesh, blood, and filthy waste products. The body finally dies and gets destroyed. Even then, through this body only we are able to get Jnana. Hence, good care should be taken to maintain a healthy body. If one indulges in pleasures and yields to physical desires, life will ultimately become lower than that of an animal. So one should take necessary care. If excess care is taken, this will lead to several desires and if less care is taken, it will result in poor health and will lead to some diseases. One should understand this truth carefully. Finally the body should be utilised for obtaining moksha.
Khushal Chand of Rahata
Baba loved Khushal Chand of Rahata very much. When sometiems he went to Rahata with devotees, Khushal Chand welcomed Baba from the entrance to Rahata with drums, Cymbals and other musical instrumnets and took them in a procession. He arranged food for all others also.After taking food, Baba and Khushal Chand would discuss several matters. Similarly, Baba used to go up to Neemgaon and Kopargaon occasionally. He never went beyond these places. But he did know of the happenings at other far off places.
While Khaparde and his wife were at Shirdi, his wife used to take food for offering to Baba daily at noon time. She took food only after Baba accepted her offering. Baba was pleased at her steady and deep devotion and faith in him.
One day, she brought food as usual. Baba took the plate and began eating. Then Shama, who was present there, asked Baba why he was showing discrimination among the devotees, "So many devotees bring you offerings of food. You don’t touch them. But you are eagerly taking the food brought by Khaparde’s wife and eating it quickly. What is the speciality in her offering?"
Baba replied, "The food brought by her is really tasty. In her previous birth she was the cow of a merchant. She gave good milk to the satisfaction of the merchant’s family. In her subsequent birth,she was born as daughter to a gardener and served others well. Because of her nobility, in the next birth, she was born to a kshatriya (a caste) and married a merchant. In this birth also she is serving others sincerely and because of this, in her next birth, she will be born to a Brahmin family.I have seen her after a long period. Let me take some more food filled with love from the naivedya brought by the lady." So saying Baba finished all the food that was in the plate and went and sat on his seat. Khaparde’s wife began massaging his feet and he in turn started massaging her hands. The way the Guru and pupil were serving each other caused much surprise and also happiness to the devotees present there. Baba fixed his eyes on her and looked at her seriously; some divine power entered her. She shed tears out of joy. Baba advised her to repeat the mantra ‘Raja Ram’ always, and that it would bring peace and happiness to her and she would achieve her life’s desire.