The time-wheel was moving fast. Sai Baba’s name had spread to all places in Maharashtra. Devotees from different places visited Sai Baba and got solutions to their problems.
In the nights, Mhalsapathi and Tatya slept with Baba in the mosque. They slept in such a way that all their heads were in the centre and their legs stretched in different directions. They discussed several matters. Mostly Baba answered their questions. Sometimes, Baba used to teach them about matters connected with Atma. Now and then Shama also joined them. Sometimes, Baba used to keep Mhalsapathi’s hand on his chest and ask him to put his ear close to the hand and hear the sounds that came from Baba’s heart. Mhalsapathi used to hear God’s "Nama japa" from Baba’s heart. When he slept keeping his hand on Baba’s chest, he woke him up by calling him "Arre Bhagath" and asked him to sleep properly. At any time of the night, if anyone woke up, Baba used to call him by his name. From this it is clear that Baba never slept. Though his eyes were found closed he was having only "Yoga Sleep" as told by Mhalsapathi.
In the year 1886 (full-moon night) in the month of Margashira, at about 10 in the night, Baba and Mhalsapathi were discussing something. Baba was suffering from asthma and he told Mhalsapathi. "Now I will be leaving my physical body and going up. After three days I will re-enter this body. You should take good care of my body for these three days. In case I do not come back after three days, bury my body opposite the mosque and put two flags on top." So saying Baba put his head on the thigh of Mhalsapathi and left his physical body. Tatya who came just then saw the happening and was surprised. News spread through Shirdi village that Baba died. Many gathered near the mosque. Only Tatya and Shama believed the words of Mhalsapathi who narrated what Baba had told him. Others disbelieved and thought that Baba had really died. Taking this as a good opportunity, the village munsif Bhate began criticising that for a person with so many divine powers, where was the need to die?
By daybreak all the villagers of Shirdi gathered before the mosque. Bhate with his followers tried to move the physical body of Baba from its place. Mhalsapathi opposed the move. Since Baba had promised to come back to his body after three days, the body should not be moved till then. Some villagers agreed with Mhalsapathi and therefore Bhate could not do anything. But he still insisted that a dead person can never come back alive, and that Mhalsapathi, out of his blind faith in Baba, was believing this and it was better to get a doctor and get the body examined. He sent for a doctor from Ahmednagar. The doctor came to Shirdi on the morning of the third day. He examined the body carefully and declared that the dead body was three days old. But there were no such symptoms of a dead body. He cautioned that as there was a plague prevalent in nearby places, it was not advisable to keep the dead body thus. The villagers came to a decision that if life did not return to the body after completion of three days, then the last rites would be performed. But in the early hours of the fourth day, the body started breathing. There was movement of the limbs. In a few minutes Baba sat up. Mhalsapathi, overjoyed, said loudly, "Sri Sainath Maharaj ki Jai"! Tatya and Shama also repeated this. Hearing all this, the villagers came to Dwarakamai and prostrated before Sai Baba.
Seeing Baba moving about, Bhate, who thought Baba to be dead, duly certified by the doctor, was so wonderstruck that he now started fully believing in Baba as the incarnation of God. From that day, he became the greatest devotee of Baba and brought several people to Baba with a request to get salvation.
After this incident in 1886, Baba showed several miracles and drew several persons from far and near to Shirdi. He brought about several changes in his devotees. We shall know more about such leelas as we proceed further. In fact, the miracles and leelas shown by Sai Baba were more from this time onwards. The life history of Sai Baba from the year 1890 to 1918, for a period of 28 years, is very important for us. All of Baba’s teachings, miracles and leelas occurred only during this period. We pray to Sai to make us continue the Parayana of the remaining life history with great devotion and understanding, in correct perspective.