As days passed devotees started streaming to Shirdi in evergrowing numbers. The village was fast blossoming into a famous center of pilgrimage. As gifts and presentations flowed in, the pomp and ceremony of Sai worship were fast growing. But Sai Baba’s life of a fakir remained calm and undisturbed. He never allowed his personal life to be in any way altered. And therein is the saint’s spiritual glory. We might glimpse at his daily life.
In the morning Sai Baba used to get up quite early and he first attended to his prayers. At such times Baba generally used to be near the dhuni or the sacred fire, facing south, leaning on a post, doing something which was difficult for others to perceive clearly. For, at such moments people were not allowed to go near him, not even within a range of fifty yards. The servants and attendants could carry on their usual service of cleaning things or replenishing the fuel in the dhuni or sacred fire. He used to mutter words like “Yade Haq” but they were seldom clear or loud enough to be overheard at such a distance. Then he would arrange the fuel in the sacred fire and, sitting before it, he would go on telling his devotees to what distant places he went overnight in subtle yogic body and what he had done to his devotees there. His statements were found to be literally true on verification.
At times he would talk of the after-death experiences of a departing soul whom he had helped on the previous night.
As befitting the rules of conduct ordained to a celibate fakir, Baba did not wash himself except on every third day. And when he did, people noticed what extraordinary control he had over his physical frame. He went to a well near a banyan tree and washed his mouth and body. Some lepers and other patients often approached him and besprinkled themselves with the water that he spat out. And their faith was amply rewarded.
On some occasions Baba’s method of washing himself was frighteningly marvelous. He was seen to vomit his intestines, clean them thoroughly with water and place them on a small shrub to dry and he would then swallow all again! How this was possible for him we shall note when we refer to the manner of his sleeping.
Then Baba went out on his first round of begging food. He never ate in anyone’s house nor did he cook for himself. He never kept any food in store for the next meal. He remained a true mendicant to the last day of his life, begging his food from a few houses a day, though towards the peak years of his fame the gifts of money that the devotees gave him amounted to three to four hundred rupees a day and many a millionaire was literally choking him with the daintiest of sweets and savouries as their offerings. Baba never cared to touch them but distributed them freely to all and sustained himself by his begging.
While starting out on his begging rounds Baba would fold a garment over his shoulder in the form of a bag that dangled below his left arm and holding a can or a tin mug in his other hand, he approached a few houses, about five a day, and called out, "Mother, please give me a roti!" He used to receive all liquid and semi-liquid foods like soup, vegetables, milk or buttermilk in the tin pot. Solid food like cooked rice or roti were received in the folds of the garment. Then he returned to the musjid, put a small roti and rice in the sacred-fire as a sacred offering and placed the rest of it in a mud pot. Exposed or uncovered, cats and dogs, beggars and servants took freely from it and Baba never drove them away nor did he ever feel any revulsion for them. He never cared for the taste of the food while eating it. He freely mixed all the food of diverse tastes, into one mass and ate a few handfuls of it. His devotees were thrilled to note his perfect conquest of the palate and perfect sense of equality to all creatures, the very perfection of what the world’s scriptures had enjoined for the true seeker of god. Those who lacked this perception, however, felt the whole thing repulsive and confirmed that here was a mad fakir. Sai Baba viewed the whole creation as nothing but the manifestation of god’s spirit; what, then, is unholy for such a one?
One of the houses to which Sai Baba went very often to beg was that of Tatya Baba Kote. He used to go there precisely when Tatya took his meal. Tatya Baba Kote was then a pupil in the village school and Madhavrao Deshpande (‘Shama’) was his teacher. The school was conducted in the Maruthi temple. Often Tatya and other lads assembled near the entrance of the mosque after or before the school hours to annoy Sai Baba by throwing stones at him. When Sai Baba abused them, the boys used to laugh. When Baba pretended to chase them, they would run away.
Tatya’s mother, Bayajibai, had great regard for Sai Baba. So she invariably offered him a seat. Tatya, then a boy, would run to him and climb up his back playfully. His mother used to scold the boy and ask him not to be so rude and unruly to the holy visitor; but Baba himself kept quiet. Bayajibai always requested Baba to eat the rotis she gave him there itself. Occasionally he acceded to her request. She then used to give him milk or buttermilk, onions, pappad and pickles which he accepted. The year after his arrival at Shirdi, there was a severe famine in that area. At that time Baba did not beg anywhere except at the rich Nandaram’s house and at Tatya’s and he received only half a roti from each house.
Sometimes Baba begged food as often as fifteen times in a day at Tatya’s, as though to put the lady’s faith to test. But Bayajibai never sent him away without giving him something or the other.
In those days devotees started flocking to Shirdi from big cities like Bombay and they brought with them sweetmeat and other delicacies. Baba often gave these to Tatya, sometimes even waiting for him for hours. Strangely enough, he never gave any such dainties to Mahalsapathy (who was one of the poorest and dearest of his devotees) as though he wanted him to learn to keep his palate under control.
After the morning ‘breakfast’ Baba used to go for his forenoon stroll to the garden Lendibaugh. Devotees followed him wherever he went but no one was allowed to enter the garden when he did. What he used to do there remained a mystery to many for a long time. The only one who was allowed to attend on him there was his moslem devotee Abdul Baba. He seems to have been one of the chosen devotees of Baba. For, his coming to Baba was characterized by a special gesture from the Godman. Let us listen to Abdul’s own account of it:
“I came to Shirdi forty-five years ago from Nanded, on the banks of the river Tapti. I was under the care of the fakir Amiruddin of Nanded. Sai Baba appeared in the dream of that fakir and, delivering two mangoes to him, directed him to give those fruits to me and to send me to Shirdi. Accordingly, the fakir gave me the fruits and bade me to go to Sai Baba of Shirdi. I came here in my twentieth year.Baba welcomed me saying, ‘My crow has come’. Baba directed me to devote myself entirely to his service. From the beginning, I lighted and fed with oil the five perpetual lamps, i.e., those at Lendi, musjid, chavadi and other places.
I used to look after the Lendi and the ever-burning light maintained by Baba there. It was, in those days, placed in a hollow in the earth, scooped to the depth of about two feet and protected with a cover from being blown out. There was a pandal. A zinc sheet was the top of the pandal. Some twenty curtains were tied all round, to form something like a tent. I remained in it and looked after the lamp in the centre of it. That light is shifted from its place now, very slightly, and is put in a raised pillar of bricks and mortar containing an enclosed chamber for it. At Lendibaugh, Baba would sit close to the light. He sat behind the lamp-post and not in front of it. The lamp was not visible to him. I never saw him gazing at it. I filled two buckets with water and placed them near him. This water, he would scatter all around that lamp. He would get up from the light and walk a few yards in each direction and go on gazing in that (cardinal) direction. I do not know why he did like that or whether he uttered any mantra while doing so.”
By about 10 a.m. Baba returned from Lendibaugh and then for an hour and a half he sat with visitors. A detailed picture of these items of Sai Baba’s daily life are given as recorded by Khaparde in his “Shirdi Diary” in a latter section. Sometimes, during this period, he would again go out for another round of begging. At about noon, arti was performed by the devotees, at the end of which Baba distributed ‘udi’ to all of them and they left for lunch. Devotees used to get the first portions of their lunch or some other special delicacy prepared for the occasion as offering to Baba. Baba sometimes took the whole offering and distributed it to all and left a little for the devotee. Along with some devotees like Bade Baba and Shama, Sai Baba sat inside the musjid for lunch and usually curtains were drawn for privacy for his devotees. None was expected to enter the musjid once the curtain was lowered.
The mosque was an old mud structure in such a bad shape that now and then some of the earth and stones used to fall off from the ceiling. One day Baba, along with some of his devotees, was having his lunch. Suddenly a crackling sound was heard overhead by all. At once Baba lifted his hand up in a gesture and said, “Sabar Sabar” (i.e., “wait, wait”). The noise stopped. When everyone had finished his meal, along with the devotees Baba also came out. At once a huge part of the ceiling - earth, stones and parts of the rafters fell down with a loud noise exactly in the spot where Baba was seated earlier. Only then did every one understand that Baba said, “Wait” to the crashing roof and it did wait.
Once Sai Baba appeared to a lady at Burhampore in her dream, standing at her door and begging for kichadi (i.e., rice cooked with dal or pulses and salt). Later, when her husband was transferred to Akola, they went to Shirdi and stayed there for two months. The lady longed very much to serve kichadi to Baba as he asked her for it in her dream-vision but for some reason or the other she could not do so for sixteen days. On the seventeenth day she could at last prepare kichadi. By the time she arrived there, Baba already sat for lunch and the curtain was lowered. At first she was a little disappointed. But soon she threw up the curtain and entered with the offering. Precisely Sai Baba was saying that he wanted kichadi first and the devotees were in a fix as there was no kichadi. Exactly at the moment, the lady of Burhampore was there with it! Baba took it eagerly and ate it. Baba wanted to demonstrate to her that the experience she had at her home town was not just a dream, but a vision which he graciously vouched her.
Immediately after lunch, Baba sent his devotees away to their lodgings and often spent sometime alone. No one went to him at that time as he was thought to be in his mystic meditation. However, very few devotees happened to enter the musjid at that hour, i.e., between 12 noon and 2 p.m. and noticed that Baba was engaged in a very strange mystic rite. Das Ganu Maharaj describes it thus: “Baba was occasionally doing something strange between 1 and 2 p.m. at the mosque with a cloth screen in front of him and when he was alone. He would take out of a pouch ten or fifteen old coins. They were of various values and descriptions, i.e., three paise, one anna, two, four and eight anna pieces and one rupee coins. He would rub his finger tips constantly yet gently against their surfaces (whether with or without mantra, I cannot say). Their surfaces had all become worn out and smooth. He would say, as he rubbed his finger against the coins, ‘This is Nana’s, this is Bapu’s, this is Kaka’s’, etc. If anyone approached him, he put them back in the pouch and hid them.”
At about 2.30 p.m. or so, devotees and visitors again assembled in the mosque and put all their petitions before him. Towards evening Baba just walked in the front-yard of the mosque, and stood for sometime near the outer wall, leaning against it and talking to the passers-by along the road. The place is marked now with his padukas there. At about five, he again went to the Lendi and returned at sunset when devotees performed arti.
Then Baba spent some time with devotees narrating some parables. Then he gave the daily gifts of money to beggars and some devotees there by emptying his pockets of the day’s collections of dakshina. Then he sent all home, for the evening meal. Some people used to stay on with him a little longer. And at night, they would all return to their lodgings leaving Baba to rest. There is a strange incident connected with Baba’s method of sleeping. At first Baba kept a sack-cloth as his seat during the day and as a bed at night. Several sheets of cloth later came to be added to it as gifts from devotees.
Once, a devotee by name Dengle presented a wooden plank, about 4 ½ feet long and about 3/4th of a foot wide, to Baba so that he might use it as a sleeping board. Baba accepted the gift and used it but in a strange manner.
When he was alone, Baba somehow managed to suspend the plank from the ceiling of the mosque, about seven feet above the ground and nearly a foot and a half below the roof, by means of thin strips of cloth. They were indeed so worn-out that people wondered how they bore the weight of the wooden plank. On the four corners of the plank he kept four earthenware oil lamps burning all through the night. And Baba slept on the plank!
People wondered how the strips of cloth bore the weight of the plank and of Baba’s body? Then, how could Baba accommodate himself on such a small plank without disturbing the oil lamps or snapping the strips of cloth? And how did he climb up to such a height without the help of any ladder or support? People flocked there to watch Baba getting upon it. But no one ever saw him doing that. When the crowds became too big and it started being a virtual stampede, one day Baba broke the wooden plank and threw it in the dhuni. Then a devotee, H.S. Dixit offered to give Baba a cot to sleep on. Baba said, “I do not want it. Am I to lie on a cot, leaving Mahalsapathy on the floor? Far better would it be if he should sleep higher”. Dixit then offered two planks, one for Baba, one for Mahalsapathy. Baba replied, “Sleeping on the plank is no joke. Who will sleep keeping his eyes open, all awake, like me? Only such a person can lie on the plank. Even when I lie on the ground I ask Mahalsapathy to sit by me and keep his palm on my chest. I lie down making mental namasmarana (remembrance of Lord’s names) and I say to Mahalsapathy, ‘Feel it by placing your hand on my heart. If you catch me dozing, wake me up’. Such was and is my order to him. So you see that a plank will be of no use to him!” One is reminded of the verse in The Bhagavadgita, Chapter II, verse 69 which says: “What is night to all beings, therein a restrained man (or a sage) is awake and where all beings are awake, that is night for a muni (seer)”. How literally the verse could be true in the case of such a great seer as Baba!
Baba never allowed anyone else to stay with him at the mosque at night except his closest devotees, Tatya Kote Patil and Mahalsapathy. The three were quite intimate. They slept in the musjid with their heads towards the east, west and north and with their feet touching one another at the centre of the mosque. The three stretched themselves on their beds and went on chitchatting till midnight. Baba slept very little and perhaps intended to inculcate the same habit in these devotees too. Annasaheb Dabholkar, describes the scene vividly in his hook “Sai Satcharitra” – “If Tatya began to snore, Baba at once got up and shook him from side to side and pressed his head, or with Mahalsapathy, hugged him close, stroked his legs and kneaded his back. In this way for full fourteen years, Tatya, leaving his parents at home, slept in the musjid on account of his love for Baba. How
happy and never-to-be-forgotten were those days! How to measure that love and value the grace of Baba? After the passing away of his father, Tatya took charge of his household affairs and began to sleep at home.”
In this section we shall look more closely at what Baba said and did. I shall quote extensively from Khaparde’s “Shirdi Diary”. This enhances the feeling of Sai Baba’s presence and when read on a visit to Shirdi, this section lends a new dimension altogether to our stay there.
After his night’s sojourn in the chavadi the devotees offered the first arti (worshipful offering of light) early in the morning. It was called the kakad arti. In the mean a while, the mosque was kept clean by the devotee Madhav Fasle. After the arti, Fasle would request Sai Baba to come to the mosque. Sai Baba never stirred from his seat without Fasle coming to invite him to do so. Then he returned to the mosque.
Mr.Khaparde describes his attendance at the kakad arti in his “Shirdi Diary” :-
26-12-1911 : “I got up early and attended kakad arti. Sai Maharaj was rather in (an) unusual mood, took his stick (satka) and with it tapped the ground round about. By the time he descended the steps of the chavadi, he walked twice backwards and forward and used violent language.”
7-1-1912 : "In the morning I got up early and attended the kakad arti. Sayin Maharaj looked exceedingly pleased and gave (me) yogic glances. I passed the whole day in a sort of ecstasy.”…
17-1-1912 : “We went to the chavadi for kakad arti. Megha was too ill to attend. So Bapu Saheb Jog did the arti. Sayin Baba showed his face and smiled most benignly. It is worthwhile spending years here to see it even once. I was overjoyed and stood gazing like a mad man.”
14-2-1912 : “I got up early, attended the kakad arti and was very much struck by the fact that Sayin Baba, on leaving the chavadi, made passes with his short stick towards the east, north and south. Then he proceeded with hard words as usual .. later on we went to the musjid. He narrated two stories.
(1) A traveller was accosted in the morning by a demon (rakshasa) and looked upon it as a bad omen, but on proceeding further he saw two wells, the sweet water of which slaked his thirst. When he felt hungry, he met a
husband man who, on the suggestion of his wife, supplied him with food. He saw a field ripe with corn and wished
to have harda. The owner of the field gave it to him. So the traveler felt happy and proceeded, merrily smoking. In the forest through which he was passing he met a tiger, lost courage, and hid himself in a cave. The tiger was very big and wandered about him. Sayin Baba who happened to be passing that way, instilled courage in him, got him out and put him on his way, saying, ‘The tiger would not hurt you unless you hurt him some way’.
Meaning of the parable : Individual self, ego or jiva is the traveller. Agnana (nescience) is the demon. Thirst for perfection is his hunger. Spiritual teaching is the food he got. The two wells stand for ‘viveka’ or right discrimination and vairagya or dispassion. Harda stands for grace. The mysterious depths of consciousness of a sadhaka or a seeker is the forest. The tiger stands for the dangers that confront a seeker, the mystical powers which drive him off the true path to perfection. Only a sadguru can restore him to the true path.
The other story was that Sayin Baba had four brothers, one of whom used to go out, beg, and bring cooked food, bread and corn. His wife used to give out just enough for their father and mother but starved all the brothers. Sayin Baba then got a contract, brought the money home and everyone was supplied with food including the well-to-do brother. Later on the brother got leprosy. Everyone shunned him. The father turned him out. Then Sayin Baba used to feed him and see to his comforts; ultimately the brother died.”
Meaning : Irrespective of the attitude of others to him, a seeker should remember that his relations with others are a result of karmic links of the past lives and he should be loving and considerate to them.
“Sayin Baba (later) immersed in care, gazed steadily at the east and west and dismissed us all with the usual words ‘Go to the wada’….”
“I was aroused for kakad arti by Bapusaheb Jog. Dikshit told me that Megha died about 4.00 a.m. The kakad arti was done, but Sayin Maharaj did not show his face clear and did not appear to open his eyes. He never threw glances spreading grace. After we returned, arrangements were made for the cremation of Megha’s body. Sayin Baba came just as the body was being brought out and loudly lamented his death. His voice was so touching that it brought tears to every eye. He followed the body up to the bend in the main road near the village and then went his usual way. Megha’s body was taken under the bata (banyan) tree and consigned to flames there. Sayin Baba could be distinctly heard lamenting his death even at that distance and he was seen waving his hand and swaying, as if in arti, to say goodbye (to the departed soul). There was a good supply of dry fuel and the flames (of the pyre) soon rose very high. Dixit, Kaka, myself, Bapu Saheb Jog, Upasani, Dadakelkar and all others were there and praised the lot of Megha that his body was seen and touched by Sayin Baba on the head, heart, shoulders, and feet. After finishing the ceremonies we ought to have sat praying, but Bapusaheb Jog came and I sat talking with him. When later on I went to see Sayin Baba he asked me how I spent the afternoon. I was very sorry to confess that I had wasted it in talking. This was a lesson to me. I remember how Sayin Baba foretold his (i.e., Megha’s) death three days ago saying ‘This is the last arti of Megha’, and how Megha too felt that he completed his service and was passing away, how he shed tears to think that he could not see Sathe whom he regarded as his guru, and how he directed that the cows of Sayin Baba should be let loose. He never expressed any other wish”.
3-2-1912 : “I was late in getting up and it appeared that there was a wave of laziness. Bapusaheb Jog was late, so was Mr. Dixit and nearly everybody else. After finishing my prayer I went to the musjid but Sayin Baba told me to take udi without entering it”.
7-3-1912 : “I attended the kakad arti. Sayin Maharaj was in a pleased mood and danced as he left the chavadi and went towards the musjid.”
Coming back to our review of Baba’s daily routine: On their arrival at the mosque Fasle fetched a bucketful of water and helped Baba to wash his mouth and face. Then Baba sat quiet for a long time, gazing at the sacred fire. Then the leper Bhaghoji removed the bandage on Sai’s hand, applied ghee (or clarified butter) to it and massaged it. Finally he bandaged the hand again with a new cloth. This part of the routine was started ever since Baba suddenly thrust his hand into the fire one day, to save a devotee’s child in a far away village (when it slipped into the furnace from its mother’s lap). Even long after the burn was healed, Baba waited everyday for Bhaghoji to continue the service, but he never explained the reason for it to anyone.
We can have a chance guess at it. Devotees like Bhaghoji who constantly lived at Shirdi while Baba was in flesh and blood were everyday reminded and reassured of Baba’s supreme spiritual state by the countless miraculous experiences of devotees which they had witnessed. The presence of the Godman switches the devotee’s mind to a higher pitch of concentration on Him, warding off all other distractions, or mental sloth. But as he moves out of the Godman’s presence, all his human frailties return and, for however short a while, makes him forget the Godman’s greatness. How often did Christ chide his followers as of "little faith"! So the period of the most intense sadhana for a devotee is that of personal service to the Perfect One – if at all he gets a chance. Thus Baba encouraged Bhaghoji to undertake that service so that punctually, at that hour, and for the fixed while, unfailingly Bhaghoji keenly felt Baba’s presence in his mind. Baba graced him with intense sadhana. It was not Sai’s hand that Bhaghoji massaged and dressed but it is his own spirit, his own devotion to Baba so that his own crippled self might become perfect “even as the Father in heaven is perfect”.
At 7.30 a.m. Baba went out on his first round of bhiksha or begging. On returning to the mosque, Baba offered the first morsel to the sacred fire "dhuni" and then ate the rest.
At 9 a.m. Baba left for Lendi. It is to be noted here that it was only when he went to the Lendibaugh (or the garden) that he wore his shoes. (These shoes are now preserved by the Samsthan as sacred relics). On all his other ramblings he went about bare-footed. When Baba started for Lendi all the devotees followed him. A ceremonial umbrella (chatra) was held over his head all along the way. It was at one of these processions that Baba was once photographed with his devotees. The devotee on his left is Gopalrao Booty the millionaire of Nagpur; Nana Saheb Nimonkar is on the right side and Bhaghoji Sindhe is the one who is seen holding the chatra (umbrella) in that photograph. When the party approached Lendibaugh, Baba entered the garden alone and never allowed anyone to go inside. He stayed there for more than an hour and a half. What he did inside for such a long time remained a mystery. We now know it from Abdul’s account cited earlier.
Baba returned from the garden to the mosque about half past ten. There he was awaited by professional dancers, musicians, and others who approached him for blessings and for money. When Baba assumed his seat, they presented their skills before him till noon. Devotees gathered there. Baba spoke to them till the noon arti. G.S. Khaparde gives us an intimate picture of these gatherings in his “Shirdi Diary” :
11-12-1910 : “We went to Sayin Saheb as usual and today, conversation was both important and marked by two incidents. Sayin Maharaj said that he used to sit in a corner and desired to exchange the lower part of his body with that of a parrot. The exchange came and he did not realize for a year that he had lost one lakh of rupees. Then he began to sit near a post and then a great serpent woke up and was very angry. It used to jump up and fall from above.”
Meaning : Parrot is, proverbial for lust. Baba exchanging the nether half of his body with its body indicates that he had succumbed to the demands of the flesh. The lakhs of rupees he had lost indicates that he had lost all the spiritual power he had accumulated by earlier sadhana. The pillar stands for the spine and sitting at its foot symbolizes meditating on the base of the spine or muladhara. The jumping snake is the awakened kundalini or the “serpent power”.
“Then Baba changed the subject apparently and said that he visited a place and the Patil there would not let him go unless he made a plantation and a hard foot-path through it. He said he completed both.”
Meaning : God is the land-lord or Patil. Raising the plantation signifies the foundation of a spiritual centre. The foot-path stands for the spiritual path which Baba had to lay for his devotees. The parable indicates that God has ordered Baba to play the role of a guru. It is interesting to note that Baba did raise a garden at the spot where now stands the samadhi mandir which is the beacon light to innumerable spiritual seekers.
“Some people came in at this time. To the man he said, ‘You have nobody but me to look after you’. Looking round, he added (regarding a woman) that she was a relation of his and had married the Rohillas who looted the man. Then he said that the world is bad. People were not as they were before. Formerly they used to be pious and trustful. Now they are unbelieving and disposed to contemplate evil; then he added something which I could not catch. It was something about his father, grandfather and his becoming the one and the other alternately. Now as to the incidents: Mr.Dixit brought fruits. Sayin Saheb ate some and was distributing the rest. Balasaheb, mamlatdar of this taluka was there and said that Sayin Maharaj was giving away only fruits of one kind. My son told his friend Mr.Patwardhan that Sayin Maharaj accepted or refused fruits in proportion to the devotion with which they were offered. This made a little noise and Sayin Maharaj looked at me with an eye that blazed wonderfully and sparkled at me with anger. He
demanded what I said. I replied that I was saying nothing and that children were talking with each other. He looked at my son and Patwardhan and changed the mood immediately. Towards the close Balasaheb Mirikar remarked that Sayin Maharaj was talking all through to Haribhau Dixit”.
12-12-1910 : “Mr.Dixit appears to have turned a new leaf altogether and (he) spends a good deal of his time in prayer, and his temper which was always mild appears to have acquired the peculiar sweetness which is entirely due to inner peace…
“We all went to see Sayin Saheb later on. I was a bit late and missed a very interesting story told by him. He teaches in parables. It was about a man having a very beautiful horse which, do what he could, would not go in pair. It was taken all round and given all the usual training, to no purpose. At last a vidwan (learned man) suggested its being taken to the place from which it was originally brought. This was done and then the horse went alright in the harness and became very useful.”
Meaning : The horse stands for mind which is difficult to harness and unite with a chosen object of meditation. Taking it to its original place signifies investigating the source of mind when it naturally gets stilled.
“I heard a fragment of the parable. Then he enquired when I was going (home). I replied that I would go when he gave me permission of his own accord. He replied, “You go today after taking your meal” and later on sent curds by the hands of Mahdava Rao Deshpande as prasad to me. I had it at meal, and soon after it, went to Sayin Saheb. He confirmed his permission to go as soon as I want. My son did not feel sure of the permission and so asked expressly and the permission was given in clear words. Sayin Maharaj today asked dakshina of others, but nothing of me or my son. I was very low in funds and he appeared to know it”. (Khaparde left Shirdi that day. He again returned for a long stay there on 6-12-1911.)
6-12-1911: “I went with Madhava Rao to pay respects to Sayin Maharaj and saluted him from a distance. He was washing his hands and feet at the time. Later on we went to him in company and sat near him in the musjid. He told us a story of his having been with a fakir who was fond of good food. This fakir was invited to dinner and he went with Sayin Maharaj. At the time of their starting fakir’s wife asked Sayin Maharaj to bring some food from the feast (for her) and gave a pot for the purpose. The fakir ate so well that he decided to sleep at the place. Sayin Maharaj returned with the food, tying up the cakes to his back and carrying the liquid in the pot on his head. He found the way very long, lost his way, sat near a mangwada (the colony of ‘low’ caste people) to rest for a while. The dogs began to bark and he got up and returned to his village and made over the cakes and liquid to the fakir’s wife. By that time the fakir also returned and they had a very good feed together. He added, “It is very difficult to find a good fakir.”
9-12-1911 : “I went to the musjid and sat long, listening to the things said there. Sayin Maharaj was in a pleasant mood. I took my hukka (smoking kit) there and Sayin Maharaj had a smoke out of it. He looked wonderfully beautiful at arti time, but dismissed every one very soon after it. He said he would come to dine with us. He calls my wife ‘Ajibai’. On returning to our lodging we learnt that Mr.Dixit’s daughter who was ill passed away. The deceased dreamt a few days ago that Sayin Maharaj kept her under the neem tree here. Sai Maharaj also said yesterday that the girl was dead. We sat talking about the sad event. The child was only seven years old. I went and saw her mortal remains. They were very beautiful and the expression on her face after death was peculiarly charming. It reminded me of the picture of Madonna that I saw in England”.
11-12-1911 : “We visited Sayin Maharaj both as he went out and after he returned. He gave me chilim (smoking pipe) very often and grapes that Radhakrishnabai had sent. He gave the grapes twice to my son Balwant. In the afternoon I heard that he was cleaning the musjid. So I did not go there. All the people brought a deputation to Sayin Maharaj to get rid of the plague. He advised them to clean the roads, sweep the tombs, cremation and burial places and to feed the poor.”
12-12-1911 : “After breakfast I lay down for a few minutes and then went with my people to the musjid. Sayin Maharaj was in a good mood and told (us) a story. Taking up a fruit lying there he asked me how many fruits it was capable of producing. I replied, ‘As many times thousands as there
were seeds in it’. He smiled very pleasantly and added that it obeyed laws of its own. He told how there was a girl, very good and pious, how she served him, and prospered”.
19-12-1911 : “He said there was a rich man who had five sons and a daughter. These children effected a division of the family property. Four of the sons took their shares of movables and immovables. The fifth son and the daughter could not take possession of their share. They wandered about hungry, came to Sayin Baba. They had six carts laden with jewels. Robbers took away two of them. The remaining four were kept under the banyan tree.”
Meaning : The father is ego or jiva. The five sons are the five senses. Mind is the daughter. Fifth son is the sense of smell i.e., breath. The rest of the four senses are attached to their objects. Mind and breath which are perturbed had both sought Baba’s succour. Yet the jewel-laden carts were stolen by the weakness of the other senses. The passions associated with the other senses are the robbers. The jewel-laden carts symbolize the six aspects of sadhana or sadhana shatka. Banyan tree symbolizes samsara, the perennial tree of phenomenal manifestation. The parable shows that it is not enough if only a few senses of the seeker and a few of his passions are under control.
21-12-1911 : “I got up as usual, prayed, and sat talking with Darvesh Saheb. He said he had a vision (dream) in which he saw three girls and a blind woman knocking at his door; they told him that they had come to amuse themselves; he ordered them out on pain of being kicked and began a prayer; he then blessed all in the room and in the house and the whole village. He told me to ask Sayin Saheb (for the significance of the dream). When I went to see the latter (i.e. Baba) on his return to the musjid, before I was fairly seated, Sayin Saheb commenced a story. He said that he was beaten last night by something on his private parts and hands, that he applied oil, wandered about, had a stool, and then felt better near the fire. I shampooed his legs and on my return told the story to Darvesh Saheb. The answer was clear.”
24-12-1911 :“A lady by name Anusuyabai appeared to be spiritually advanced; Sayin Maharaj treated her with great consideration and gave her four fruits. Later on he told the story of a man having five sons. Four of them demanded and obtained partition. Two of these four decided to unite with the father. The latter ordered the mother to poison one of these two and she obeyed. The other fell from a tall tree, got injured and was on the point of death, but was allowed by the father to survive for about twelve years, until a son and daughter were born to him and then he died. Sayin Baba said nothing about the fifth son and to me the story looks incomplete”.
Meaning : God is the father, prakriti or maya is the mother. The five sons are the ego, buddhi, manas, chitta and body. The son ego or ahamkara had perished. The discriminating the illusionary mind that veils the Spirit got subdued; and hence it could beget the two children, devotion and wisdom. So nothing remains to be said of the body which is then realized to be unreal from the absolute point of view.
25-12-1911 : “My son Balwant had a dream last night in which he thought he saw Sayin Maharaj and Mr.Bapusaheb Jog in our Elichpur house. He offered food to Sayin Baba. He told me about the dream and I thought it was a mere fancy, but today he (Baba) called Balwant and said, ‘I went to your house yesterday and you fed me but gave no dakshina. You should give twenty-five rupees now. So Balwant returned to the lodgings and went with Madhava Rao Deshpande and paid the dakshina (offering of money). At midday arti, Sayin Maharaj gave me prasad of peda, fruits, and made a distinct sign to me to make a bow. I at once prostrated myself."
1-1-1912 : “He (Upasani’s brother) went to see Sayin Maharaj and was told (by Baba) about people bringing ties with them from a former birth and meeting now in consequence of them. He (Baba) told the story of a former birth in which he (Baba), Bapusaheb Jog, Dada Kelkar, Madhav Rao Deshpande, myself and Dixit were associated and lived in a blind alley. There was his murshid (guru) there. He (Sai) has now brought us together again…. I sat reading again and then went to the musjid. Baba first dismissed me along with the rest, but called me again, saying that I was anxious to run away.”
7-1-1912 : “The midday arti was late. Sayin Baba commenced a very good tale. He said he had a good well. The water in it was sky blue, and its supply was inexhaustible. Four motas (i.e., bailing buckets) could not empty it and the fruit grown with the water was very pure and tasty. He did not continue the story beyond this point.”
Meaning : Well is the spiritual heart, the pure water is the chidakash, the spiritual expanse within, the inexhaustible source of bliss. Four buckets are the four purusharthas or objects of man’s endeavours: righteousness, wealth, fulfillment of needs and salvation.
8-1-1912 : “During the midday service after the arti Sayin Maharaj exhibited suddenly great anger and abused violently. It appears as if plague is likely to appear here and Sayin Maharaj is endeavouring to prevent its reappearance.”
12-1-1912 : “We saw Sayin Maharaj go out and again after he returned to the musjid. He was very gracious and repeatedly made me smoke out of his pipe. It solved many of my doubts and I felt delighted. He was very kind to Balwant, sent for him and let him spend the whole of the afternoon with him.”
14-1-1912 : “I went to the musjid after he returned and found that he was arranging for a bath ….. In the afternoon when I went Sayin Baba did not admit anybody… When Sayin Maharaj went out he asked me how I spent the morning, which was a mild rebuke for (my) not having read and contemplated. I went to see him again when he returned and he was very kind. He commenced a long story and kept on as if speaking to me but I felt sleepy all the time and did not understand anything of the story. I was told afterwards that the story was a very thinly veiled recital of the events that actually happened in the life of one Gupte.”
16-1-1912 : “I was able to see Sayin Maharaj go out but was late in going to see him after he returned to the musjid. He not only showed no displeasure, but treated me with positive kindness and I sat serving.” (That is because Mr.Khaparde spent his time in prayer and in listening to “Paramamrit”, a celebrated Marathi work on vedanta.)
17-1-1912 : “We saw Sayin Maharaj go out again after he returned to the musjid. He gave me silent instructions but like a fool I did not understand them.”
18-1-1912 : “We saw Sayin Baba….. He treated me very kindly and while I was serving, he told me two or three tales. He said, many people came to take his money. He never resisted but let them take it away. He only noted their names and followed them. When they got down for their meals he killed them and brought his money back."
Meaning : This parable describes the attentive watching of the mental processes which leads to quieting the mind and regaining of calm meditation. One-pointedness of mind, dispassion, control of senses, etc., are the wealth. Desires born of various modes like rajas and thamas, are the thieves.
“The other story was that there was a blind man. He used to live near the takia here. A man enticed away his wife and eventually murdered the blind man. Four hundred men assembled at the chavadi and condemned him. They ordered him to be decapitated. This order was carried out by the village hangman who did the work out of some motive and not merely as a piece of his duty. So the murdered man was re-born as the son of the hang man. Sai then commenced another tale. In the meantime a stranger, a fakir, came and touched Sayin Baba’s feet. Sayin Baba felt very angry, or rather showed that he was so and shook off the fakir who showed great tenacity and
persistence without losing his own equanimity. At last he went out and stood near the compound wall outside. Sayin Baba was angry and threw away the arti utensils and dishes full of food brought by his worshippers. He lifted up one Ram Maruthi Bua who (later) declared that he felt very happy, as if sent to higher regions. One Bhagya and a village boy were also roughly handled by Sayin Maharaj. During the torrent of hard words he said that he had saved my son Balwant and then often repeated the phrase ‘Fakir wishes to kill Dada Saheb (meaning me) but I would not permit it.’ He mentioned one more name but I cannot recall it now …. When arti was begun Baba even moved out of his place resumed it before it was finished. He was not really angry, of course, and did the whole thing as a leela (divine play).”
20-1-1912 : “We saw Sayin Maharaj go out and again after he returned. He sat chatting pleasantly. Presently, a jagirdar of a nearby village came and Sayin Baba would not let him
approach, much less worship him. Many people interceded for him in vain. Appa Kote came and did his utmost to secure at least the usual kind of puja for the jagirdar and Sayin Baba relented so far as to let him enter the musjid and worship the pillar near the fire – place but he would not give udi.”
22-1-1912 : “During the course of worship he (Sayin Baba) put two flowers in his two nostrils and put two others between his ears and on the head … I thought, this was an instruction. Sayin Baba repeated the same thing second time and when interpreted it a second time in my mind, he offered the chillim (smoking pipe) to me and this confirmed me. He said something which I particularly wished to remember but it went clear out of my mind and no efforts made all through the day could bring it back. I am most surprised at this as this is the first experience of the kind. Sayin Baba also said that his order was supreme (bala), which I understood to mean that I need not be anxious about the health of my son.”
24-1-1912 : “Lakshmibai Kaujalgi attended our ‘Paramamrit’ class and went to the musjid after I reached there. Sayin Baba called her his mother-in-law and made a joke about her saluting him. This gave me the idea that she has been accepted by him as his disciple.”
Meaning : Her mind is the daughter of her soul which she surrendered to Baba and hence she is his mother-in-law.
29-1-1912 : “I did not get up till 12.30 or 1 p.m. Madhavarao Deshpande and others tried to awaken me for the arti but I did not respond. They went to the arti and somehow the matter reached the ears of Sayin Saheb and he said that he would awaken me. Somehow I got up as the arti was being finished and attended the closing portion of it.”
7-2-1912 : “I found Sayin Maharaj sitting and, in the yard, a man was exhibiting tricks taught by him to a monkey. There was also a professional singer and dancer. She had a good voice and she rendered religious songs.
9-2-1912 : “Sayin Baba was in a very good mood. The young boy whom we call ‘Pishya’ came there. Sayin Saheb said that Pishya was a Rohilla in his previous birth, a very good man that he prayed long and once came as a guest to Sayin Saheb’s grand-father. The latter had a sister who used to live separately. Sayin Saheb was a young boy himself then and he playfully suggested that the Rohilla should marry her. Later he did so. The Rohilla lived there with his wife for a long time and ultimately went away with her, nobody knew where. He died and Sayin Saheb put him in the womb of the present mother. Pishya, he said, would be very fortunate and (be) the protector of thousands. …”
“During midday arti, Sayin Saheb said something to one Shivanand Sastry and made signs. The Sastry unfortunately did not catch their import. Sayin Saheb made signs to Bapusaheb Jog also.”
4-3-1912 : “My wife was late in going to worship Sayin Saheb but he very kindly desisted from his meal and let her worship him.”
Thus at 12, noon-arti was performed. During the arti though a silver throne was kept for him in the mosque. Baba ever sat on his sack cloth on the floor, leaving the silver chair vacant. The devotee Radhakrishna Mai hung a garland of bangles as a decoration to the entrance of the mosque. Nivedana or offering of food was brought before arti was commenced. After arti Bapusaheb Jog distributed burfi near the neem tree to all the devotees.
After arti, Baba sat for meal. Everyday a large number of devotees gathered before the mosque with dishes of lunch to be offered to him as naivedya, before they took it. Usually Baba touched the dishes with his hand and gave them back. But occasionally he took a morsel out of one of them. Baba never had his lunch alone. Quite a number of his intimate devotees dined with him there in the musjid. For instance, Baba never lunched without Bade Baba sitting by his side. Others were also there. Tatya Patil, Ramachandra Patil and Bhayyaji Patil sat on the left side of Baba. On the right side sat Bade Baba, Madhavrao Deshpande (alias Shama), Booty and Kakasaheb Dixit. In the mango season Baba daily took one fruit at lunch, just tasted it and gave the rest away to the others. Just before everyone started eating, Baba mixed one seer of milk, one seer of sugar and one seer of rotis together in a bowl and distributed it to all as prasad (consecrated food).
Late Sri M.V.Pradhan describes this part of Baba’s daily routine thus :
“Ever since my first visit, I was having my dinner at the mosque with Baba. Baba with his own hand stuffed the food into our plates and cups in large quantity. Instead of throwing away such a valuable prasad I asked my niece to come up and take away about three-fourths of what was served to me, and that sufficed to feed my family. Yet what I ate warded off all hunger or appetite for a night meal. Baba almost invariably gave dessert (i.e. fruit etc.) at the end of the meal. But when I went up with Babu, Baba noticed that Babu did not care for cooked food and served mangoes and fruits first, so that Babu might have a full meal. When other children were born, I would take three children with me including Babu, to the mosque to dine with Baba.”
By the time everyone in the mosque finished his meal, many more that waited outside for the prasad, were given the same. Then Sagun Meru Naik cleaned the mosque by removing the remnants of lunch and scrubbing the floor. Baba again sat in his usual place when Sagun Meru Naik gave him betel to chew. At the end of it he gave a tumbler of water, which Baba drank. Then the latter used to receive the daily dakshina of Rs.2/- from Sagun Meru Naik.
After an interval of two hours all the visitors assembled in the mosque after their siesta. Parties of visiting artists too presented their skill before Baba. These included Haridasas, Puraniks, circus people and bahurupis (a type of fancy dress) and Baba gave away Rs.2/- per individual at the end of their performances. Among the devotees were some, like Lakshman Shimpe, who took illegal commissions from Baba’s gifts while distributing the same. Baba never reprimanded them but kept quiet.
After sometime Baba walked all over the frontyard of the mosque. At the end of the walking he invariably stood at one spot near the wall of the mosque and sometimes chatted with those that passed along the road. Very often his words were cryptic. For instance, once he said, “Ten serpents have gone. Many more will come”; “People will flock here like ants” “Wani (the merchant) and teli (the oil vendor) have troubled me much; I won’t stay in Dwaraka Mai for long; I will go away from here.” Sometimes such was the emotional fervour that he would start to leave immediately. On such occasions Tatya would rush to him, leaving all the work, and pacify him saying that he (Tatya) would punish all those who troubled him (Baba), and that he would not allow Baba to go away from Shirdi. “Let us not go today, Baba”, Tatya would often say “We’ll go some time after. Please be pacified for the present.” It cannot be explained why Baba behaved like that but it is strange that none except Tatya dared to approach Baba when he seemed upset. Then Baba would quietly resume his seat and chat with devotees as if nothing had happened, or sometimes he would go out for his evening stroll. Either before his walk in the frontyard of the mosque or after that, the kind of talk that went on in the mosque can be seen from “Shirdi Diary”.
7-12-1910 : “We, Balasaheb, Sahasrabudhe, my son Babu, Bapusaheb Jog and children went together and sat there in the musjid. Then Sayin Maharaj turned to me an said, ‘This world is funny. All are my subjects. I look upon all equally, but some become thieves and what can I do for them? People who are themselves very near to death desire and contrive the death of others. They offend me a great deal but I say nothing. I keep quiet God is very great and has his officers everywhere. They are all-powerful … One must be content with the state in which God keeps him. I am (also) very powerful … I was here eight or ten thousand years ago.’ My son asked him to tell him the story as he had promised earlier, about three brothers who went to a musjid. One of them wished to go out and beg. The others did not want him to do so, on the ground that the food obtained by begging would be impure and would pollute their chowka. The third brother replied that if the food spoil the chowka, his leg should be cut off etc., etc. Sayin Maharaj said it was a very good story. (He said) He could tell another when he was in the humour. My son said he did not know when the thing would happen, and if the humour recurred after he left Shirdi, there would not be much use. There upon Sayin Baba told him that he should rest assured that the story would be told before he left. I asked him why he was angry yesterday, and he replied that it was because the teli said something. Then I asked why he cried out, “Do not beat, do not beat”, today at the time of the distribution of food. He replied that he cried out because the Patil’s family was quarrelling and were divided among themselves. Sayin Saheb spoke with such a wonderful sweetness and smiled so often and with such extraordinary grace that the conversation will always remain engraved in my memory. Unfortunately other people came and the conversation was interrupted. We were so sorry for it but it could not be helped.”
8-12-1910: “Later on we went to see him in the afternoon but had to turn back as he was washing his feet…” Later we went again, but Sayin Saheb dismissed us very soon. So we returned. He appeared very much engaged in thinking out something … a police officer, I believe, a Head Constable … was charged with extracting money and (was) tried by the court of sessions. He vowed to visit Sayin Maharaj if he was acquitted and so he came to fulfill his vow. On seeing him Sayin Maharaj appeared affected and said, “Why did you not stay there for a few more days? The poor people must have felt disappointed.” He repeated this twice. We learnt afterwards that the gentleman’s friends pressed him to stay and that he did not comply with their request. He had never seen Sayin Saheb before and of course the latter could not have seen him before. The wonder is how Sayin Maharaj knew him and said what he did.”
8-12-1911: “I saw Sayin Maharaj once more in the afternoon. Looking at me, he said ‘Ka Sarkar?’ (‘How now, landlord!’) then he gave me general advice that I should live as God keeps me and added that a man fond of his family has to endure many things .. etc., and told the story of a rich man who starved till evening, cooked for himself and ate a very rough bread, all on account of a temporary difficulty.”
10-12-1911 : “I made two attempts to see Sayin Maharaj in the afternoon, but he was not in the mood to see anybody … there is one Gokhale from Narsoba’s wadi. He says he was (mystically) directed to see Narayan Maharaj of Khedgaon and Sayin Maharaj … Sayin Maharaj this afternoon prepared some medicine which he took.”
13-12-1911 : “About 4 p.m., I went with Balwant, Bhishma and Bandu who brought my hukka and Sayin Maharaj had a smoke of it. Madhavarao asked for permission for me to return to Amraoti but Sayin Maharaj said that he would decide about it tomorrow morning. He got all the people there out of the musjid and advised me very kindly in a truly fatherly way.”
14-12-1911 : “Sayin Maharaj said that I could go tomorrow or so and added that I should serve God alone and no one else. He said, “What God gives is never exhausted and what man gives never lasts!”
16-12-1911 : “Madhavarao Deshpande asked for (Baba’s) permission for me (to return home), and Sayin Maharaj said I might go the day after, or a month hence.”
17-12-1911 : “Towards evening I went to musjid but Sayin Maharaj asked me and my companions to bow from a distance. He however called my son Balwant near and told him to bring dakshina. We all saluted him opposite the chavadi.”
18-12-1911 : “He (Sayin Maharaj) said I had filled my bucket, was enjoying the cool breeze of the neem tree and was enjoying myself while he was enduring all manner of trouble and had no sleep. He was in a very pleasant mood…..”
19-12-1911 : “Sayin Baba this afternoon went out towards Nimgaon, visited Dengle, cut a tree and came back; many went after him with musical instruments and escorted him home.”
20-12-1911 : “Darvesh Saheb told me that Sayin Baba saw him at night and granted his wish. I mentioned this to Sayin Maharaj and he said nothing. I today shampooed the legs of Sayin Maharaj. The softness of his limbs is wonderful.”
22-12-1911 : “Sayin Maharaj was particularly pleasant-looking and went quietly to Musjid. Darvesh Saheb made an attempt to go (home) today but Sayin Maharaj did not give the necessary permission. (Later) Darvesh Saheb got ill and had fever. One Tipnis is staying here with his wife. She is ill and Dr. Hathe has been doing all he can for her. She had a fit in the evening but it turned out to be an obsession by a spirit. Dixit, Madhavarao Deshpande and others went to see her. She is possessed by the former owner of the house in which she lives and by two mahars (‘low’ castes). The owner declared that he would have killed her but Sayin Baba ordered him not to. The mahars are also kept away by Sayin Baba. When Tipnis threatened to move his wife to this wada the spirits prayed earnestly and asked him not to do so as Baba would beat them. Later Tipnis changed his lodging and his wife is better.”
23-12-1911 : “Darvesh Saheb had obtained permission to return. He is obviously very much advanced spiritually as Sayin Maharaj came as far as the breach in the wall to see him off … Mr.Mahajani came today and brought very good fruits and globes of glass for Sayin Baba’s lamps. Mr.Govardhandas of Bhayandar is also here. He brought very good fruits, silk curtains for Sayin Maharaj’s improved room in the chavadi and new dress for the volunteers who carry the (ceremonial) umbrella, chamars and fans. There was a little meaningless disagreement between Madhav rao Deshpande and my wife about living in the Dixit’s wada. Sayin Baba said that the wada belonged to himself, and neither to Dixit nor to Madhavarao.”
26-12-1911 : “We saw Sayin Maharaj in the afternoon. He was very gracious. Today he spoke with my son Balwant and got him to sit (there) even after he told everybody to clear out. He told him not to admit any guest in the evening and to take care of him (Sayin), and that in return he would take care of him.”
21-1-1912 : “After the arti Sayin Baba followed the usual custom of using harsh words against the internal enemies by naming them as Appa Kote, Teli, Waman Tatya, etc.”
5-2-1912 : “We saw Sayin Sahib … He was very kind to me, said a few words, and in dismissing the company after arti, called me by name, told me to shake off my sloth, and look after all the ladies and children. Mrs. Laxmibai Kaujalgi was given a piece of bread and told to go and eat it with Radha Krishnabai. This is a great good fortune. She will be happy hereafter.”
6-2-1912 : “Fakir Baba appears to have asked (Baba) about my going away and Sayin Baba answered that I told him that I would go tomorrow. When my wife spoke about going, Sayin Baba said that I did not ask him for permission personally. So he would not say (anything). I happened to go there soon after and Sayin Baba said that I could not go away without taking from Dada Bhat Rs.500/- and Rs.200/- from someone else and making them all over to him”.
10-2-1912 : “Sayin Baba was in a very pleasant mood and said that his body has been severed from his legs (downwards), that he could raise up the former, but not the latter. He said he had a fight with the teli (oil vendor), that when he was young he raised money for family purposes and agreed to serve the creditor to repay him, but he found he could not work; so he applied marking nut (anacardium) to his eyes and another irritant (shar) to his body and became ill. He was laid up for a year, but as soon as he recovered, he worked night and day and paid off the debt.”
13-2-1912 : “Sayin Maharaj gave me udi as soon as I stepped in. So I exclaimed that it was telling me to go away. There upon he said, ‘Who tells you to go? Sit down.’ Then he sat talking pleasantly and said, The cow now possessed by Mr.Dixit belonged originally to Mahalsapathy; then it went to Aurangabad; then to Jalna and has now come back as the property of Dixit. God knows whose property it is.”
15-2-1912 : “Baba was in a pleased mood and said that he had laboured very hard, had gone without food for months, fed on leaves of kala takal, nimb and other trees. He said God was very good to him, for life never became extinct, though all flesh got wasted and bones appeared to be in danger of crumbling away… My wife and others wished to go to Kopergaon tomorrow for (holy) Sivaratri festival. Sayin Saheb thought it was unnecessary, but they persisted and ultimately got his permission in a way.”
29-2-1912 : “He said that Balasahib Bhate was a khatri (the warrior caste or kshatriya), that his wife was a salin i.e., a weaver, and that his son Babu was also a salin. (i.e., in their earlier births). Sayin Saheb further said that Vasudeva Kaka was a Rajput in his former birth and bore the name of Jaisingh and that he was fond of meat and that Sayin Saheb and others used to provoke him by asking him if he wanted the head of a goat, that this Jaisingh had three sons who served in the army and a daughter who turned out bad, became the keep of a barber, bore three children by him and died there.”
3-3-1912 : “Abdullah, in trying to remove a hanging lamp, accidentally dropped it to the ground and it got shattered. I thought that this might anger Sayin Baba but it did not. He took no notice of it. He said that in a former birth I was with him for two or three years and went into royal service though there was enough at home to live in comfort. I wished to learn further particulars but Sayin Saheb would not communicate them.”
6-3-1912 : “I sat serving him. He said he felt as if tied fast at the waist, chest and near the neck, that he thought nagavely leaves were put on his eyes and on opening them to find out what the matter was, he was surprised to see something which he could not understand. He caught a leg of it and then lay it down. He tried to light his fire but the fuel being not quite dry would not ignite. He thought he saw four dead bodies being removed and could not understand whose they were. Sayin Saheb kept on speaking in the same strain saying that his upper and lower jaws were very painful and that he could not even drink water.”
In the evening, Pilaji Gurave, the owner of a marvari shop, used to stand in front of the mosque and play on his shehnai. Baba rushed at him in a rage saying, ‘He is abusing me!’ Pilaji would dodge him and, standing at a little distance, he would play on. Baba would cool down in a little while and walk to and fro between the chavadi and the mosque on the road. Pilaji never stopped playing on his shehnai each day at this hour. In the evening there was arti again at 6 p.m. The daily activity of Baba about this time can be seen from Khaparde’s notes in his ‘Dairy’ :-
30-12-1911 : We went to Sayin Maharaj a little before dusk. He treated me very kindly, called me by name and narrated a small tale calculated to impress the virtue of patience. He said he went to Aurangabad in one of his wanderings and saw a fakir sitting in a musjid near which there was a very tall tamarind tree. The fakir did not allow him to enter the musjid at first but ultimately consented to his putting up in it. The fakir depended entirely on a piece of cake which an old woman used to supply him with at midday. Sayin Maharaj volunteered to beg for him and kept him supplied amply with food for twelve years and then thought of leaving the place. The old fakir shed tears at parting and had to be consoled with soft words. Sayin Maharaj visited him four years later and found him there doing well. The fakir then came here a few years ago and lodged at the chavadi. Mother Baba, looked after him well. From what he said I gathered that Sayin Baba stayed twelve years to instruct the Aurangabad fakir and set him up fully in the spiritual world.”
4-1-1912 : “After 5 p.m., I went to Sayin Maharaj in the musjid and found him walking about in the compound. My wife also came here. After a time he took his usual seat and we sat near him.”
6-1-1912 : “In the evening there was the usual wada arti and later on we attended the shej arti at the chavadi. Sayin Maharaj was in an exceptionally pleased mood, made mystic signs to Megha, and did what are known as drishtipata (showering spiritual force by look) in yoga.
16-1-1912 : “Then we went to see Sayin Saheb at the musjid (at 4 p.m.). He did not permit us to sit long and came out himself and finished his usual stroll in a hurry and ordered us to return to the wada. We could not understand it, but on returning to the wada we learnt that Hari, a servant of Dixit who felt indisposed the other day died. We did the usual arti in the wada and attended the shej arti. Sayin Maharaj was particularly gracious at the latter and sent out wonderful currents of joy and instruction. He favoured Ram Maruthi similarly.”
25-1-1912 : “In the evening stroll time Sayin Baba told me nearly the whole of the previous history of Laxmibai Kaujalgi. I knew it to be correct as I know the facts.”
27-1-1912 : “Sayin Saheb’s clothes were also washed by Radha Krishna Bai and he was angry with her for having done so.”
30-1-1912 : “Sayin Baba asked me how I spent the afternoon. When I mentioned my writing letters, he smiled and said, ‘It is better moving your hands than sitting idle!’ ”
31-1-1912 : “Sayin Saheb was in a pleased mood, talked pleasantly, danced and sang, and reminded me and others very strongly of what Lord Krishna did in Gokul.”
1-2-1912 : “Before Sayin Baba started on his stroll, he told Mr.Dixit to give Rs.200/- to my wife who was then shampooing the legs of Sayin Saheb. The order was unaccountable. Has it come to this that I have to be maintained by charity? I prefer death to this. Sayin Saheb, I think, wished to curb and finally destroy my pride, so he is getting me used to poverty and the charity of others. Being omniscient, he knew everything including all my innermost thoughts and never insisted on the order being carried out. Now that my attention has been drawn to the matter, it appears to me that my wife then did not like the life of labour and poverty. Kakasaheb Dixit had accepted the life and was happy. So Sayin Maharaj asked him to give two hundred rupees, i.e., poverty and patience to my wife.”
20-2-1912 : “Sayin Saheb told (us) two stories of which, do what I like, I cannot recall the first. I asked my wife and all those present and they also forgot, which is wonderful. The other story was that there was an old woman living with her son. He used to assist her in the disposal of the dead bodies in the village and get remuneration for it. There prevailed a sort of plague and many died. So his emoluments were very great. Allah met her one day and told her not to profit by the trade of her son. She spoke about it to her son but the latter paid no attention and he eventually died. The old woman then maintained herself by spinning cotton. Allah told her to go to the house of the relations of her husband, but she declined to do so. One day some brahmins came to purchase cotton from her, spied out all the details of her house and broke in at night. One of the burglars stood naked before her. She told him to run away as the town people would murder him for his crime. So the man ran away. Eventually the old woman died and was born as the daughter of the burglar. I am not quite sure that I understand the story right."
23-2-1912 : “He told me a story : when he was young, he went out one morning and suddenly became a girl and continued to be so for a time. He did not give many details…. Madhavarao asked Sayin Baba today about my return and got a reply to the effect that times being very unfavourable to me I would have to remain here a few more months.”
26-2-1912 : “He told me a story of his brother having misbehaved once, and being outcasted in consequence. Sayin Baba looked after him and eventually had him re-admitted to the caste”.
28-2-1912 : “He (Sayin Baba) asked me if Jivamuni would pay. I could not make out what Jivamuni meant but replied that he would (pay) if ordered. He said Jivamuni would not. He gave me a lot of fruits and sweets”.
29-2-1912 : “After the wada arti I went to the musjid to attend the procession to chavadi and the shej arti there. Sayin Saheb exhibited anger, abused those that had got on the roof of the musjid for lighting lamps and at the time when the procession started he threw his stick at Mrs. Tai Jog, the wife of Bapusaheb. At the chavadi I thought he would beat Bapusaheb Jog for he approached the latter, held his hands and demanded why arti was done, but after a while he beat Bala Shimpe with his stick and later on (he beat) Triambak Rao whom he calls Maruti. Bala Shimpe ran away but Triambak Rao received the blow standing and prostrating before Sayin Maharaj. I think he received a full measure of favour and got at least a stage ahead (spiritually)”.
At about 8 p.m., Baba commenced distribution of gifts of money. A large retinue of people regularly received alms at his hands and all these gathered in the frontyard of the mosque. Baba would thrust his hand into his pockets very quickly and strangely, precisely the amount he regularly paid to the particular recipient would come into his hands without the need for any counting. If it was a new recipient the money he really needed would come to Baba’s hand. Baba gave the money gratis and never expected any work in return. Why he gave them no one knew.
One day Baba had nothing to give and he did not distribute money. One man insisted that he wanted money then and there. At last Baba thrust his hand into his empty pocket and picked out a few pieces of change and gave the man. The man left the place immediately.
To scrutinize the sources of Baba’s income and to levy a tax, the British Government appointed an intelligencer. A Christian officer was specially chosen for the purpose for fear that a Hindu or a Moslem might very soon turn into a devotee of Baba and favour him. But this officer too failed to understand whence Baba got his amount. For even when the day’s collections of dakshina from his devotees was not more than Rs.25/- he never gave away anything less than Rs.300/-. Instances of the regular distribution of Baba’s money were as follows:
Bade Baba Rs.55/-; Tatya Rs.35/-; Jamle Musalmanin Rs.7/-; Bhayyaji Patil Kote Rs.4/-; Bhagoji – Rs.4/-; Ramachandra Patil – Rs.4/- and so on.
Besides, there were other sundry payments to others. Of the regular recipients of money, Ramachandra Patil used to give Baba four pieces of sugar candy in return for his payment. Whenever newly wedded couples of Shirdi visited him for his blessing, Baba invariably gave them Rs.1/- each. This distribution of money went on every day till his mahasamadhi. During the Ramnavami celebrations he used to give two bundles of one-rupee notes to Dada Kelkar and Bade Baba, to be distributed to the poor after the celebration.
Similarly, the naivedya offered to him everyday by his devotees at the Dwarakamai was also given away to those who lived by it, fakirs and bairagis who lived in nearby hutments. To each of them Baba gave a quarter rupee per day. Later Baba left Dwarakamai for the chavadi in this usual pomp and eclat displayed by the procession of his devotees. He slept there for the night in the right wing of the chavadi which is now enclosed by railings and separated from the left wing where some of the devotees slept. On the days on which Baba slept in the mosque, Mahalsapathy invariably slept there with him.
When it was time for Baba to leave for chavadi the usual routine was as follows: Abdul and Radhakrishnamai removed, with their own hand, even the pig dung, swept the road and sprinkled it with water and drew ornamental designs (rangoli) on them in white. Then they spread a cloth all the way from the mosque to the chavadi for Baba to walk on. Then Tatya Patil came to the mosque and invited Baba to the chavadi. When Baba got ready to step down from the mosque Pilaji Gurave would begin to play on his shehnai. There were also a whole band of devotees that started bhajan (chorus chanting of devotional songs.) Then Shamsuddin (or Shyamakarna) the horse, went before Baba; behind the horse, the palanquin was carried by the devotees. Though the horse and the palanquin were offered to Baba for use he never mounted them but always walked behind them. Baba’s shoes were placed in the palanquin. The ceremonial umbrella was held over his head as he walked towards the chavadi.
When he arrived at the corner of the musjid, Baba would stop there in front of the Hanuman temple and make mystic signs. Then he would proceed to chavadi.
On such days the night arti took place in the chavadi. Artis of saint Tukaram and saint Jnaneswar were sung first and finally the arti was sung to Sai Baba. When arti was sung to the glory of Tukaram and Jnaneswar, Baba sat in attention and did obeisance (namaskar) to them. After that Baba rested there for the night. As there were too many mosquitoes, the devotees tried to fix up a mosquito-curtain for him. But Baba would not permit them. He got wild and threw it out more than once, when they forcibly fixed it up but finally he acquiesced. As his bedstead he used a gunny at first. Later on he used the clothes offered to him by devotees, a number of them, as his bed in the chavadi. If, in placing them the devotee overlooked a very slight fold in any one of them, Baba insisted on all the clothes being removed and the fold being set right. At about 9 p.m., Tatya Kote Patil used to get naivedya of rotis to Baba. Baba took a little of it. It was at this time that he gave Tatya his daily payment of Rs.35/-.
Early next morning, the same group of disciples brought him to the Dwarakamai in a procession with music and bhajan and left him there.
Everything is God’s creation, and God’s own. Yet He possesses nothing and covets nothing. On the other hand He lavishes all that is His on his creatures, though only a few can receive what He gives. Others have eyes but do not see; they have ears but do not hear; they have understanding yet do not consider. The greatness of a saint or prophet depends on how near he is to this aspect of God. And such God-men arise amidst us only to tell us to be perfect “even as the Father in heaven is perfect”.
We have seen how Baba distributed huge amounts of money everyday to several people. How rich was he to do that ? What estate had he ? The dilapidated mosque was his palace; beggars were his courtiers; the ash of his dhuni was all his wealth; a tattered, long-sleeved shirt was his robe of honour. A brick which he always had with him was his pillow. The rough-hewn baton was his sceptre. The small piece of cloth around his head was his crown. The food he begged at five houses a day and his clay tobacco pipe were his only possessions. A few more of such articles he had. How and when he got all these is interesting to see so that those who dare might find the direction therein.
Baba had only one long-sleeved loose shirt, kufni at a time and it was very old and torn in many places. He personally used to patch it again and again at noon and wear the same. Once in a way he washed it in water, wearing a bright yellow dhoti at the time. He dried it by holding it over the dhuni and wore the same again. All the persuasion of devotees to put on a new kufni fell on deaf ears. Tatya who took great liberties with him used to tear the already tattered kufni further so as to compel Baba into accepting a new one. Finally he did succeed sometimes in making Baba accept one. Occasionally, say once in three or four months, he changed it and consecrated the old one to the holy fire. Very rarely he gave away his old shirt to a devotee as a token of grace, to be preserved as a memento.
Baba did not take his bath daily. But on some occasions he even bathed twice a day. A devotee kept a stone seat for Baba to sit on while bathing, but Baba never used it. He used to sit on the floor while bathing. This stone can be seen even today in the mosque.
At first, Sai Baba used a brick as a pillow and gunny was his bed. He slept with his hand on the brick under his cheek. Mahalsapathy pressed his feet daily at night. Whenever Mahalsapathy stopped pressing his legs by dozing, Baba woke him up saying, “Are you sleeping?” For years continuously Mahalsapathy never slept but kept awake, serving Baba like that. The latter did not allow Mahalsapathy to get down the steps of the Dwarakamai even to make water. Whenever he was about to go out, Baba used to stop him saying, “You’ll die, don’t get down!”
The most commonly seen photograph of Baba shows him sitting on a stone with his leg poised across the left knee. This stone is even today found in the frontyard of the mosque, just opposite to the nimbar or the niche in the main wall. Originally that stone was used by Madhav Fasle, Abdul Baba and other devotees to wash their clothes. Once Baba sat upon it. Henceforth the devotees stopped using it for that purpose. And the stone became an object of worship.
There is a neem-peepul (Ficus-religiosa) pair of trees grown together in Lendibaugh. When Baba visited Lendi, in the early days, one of the twin plants was very weak. Every day Baba twisted it vigorously in all directions and almost wrestled with it. Soon it grew strong. Today the tree is seen bent in nine ways and it is a thrill to remember that it was all his work.
Once when people complained of scarcity of water in Shirdi, Baba pointed out a plot of ground and asked them to sink a well there and assured them that water would be struck. Saguna Meru Naik, Kaka Dixit, Booty and others helped in the work of digging it. Water was struck.
It is also interesting and enlightening to study Baba’s actions when his devotees tried to increase the number of amenities for him. He was setting an example of a perfect fakir thereby. Summer is very hot in Shirdi. So to give comfort to Baba in that season, devotees watered the frontyard of the mosque through pipes to make it cool. But Baba added fuel to fire and sat close to it. Similarly in winter, a thick cloth was put over the frontyard to protect him from cold and mist. When the workers who erected it bowed to him at night before taking leave of him Baba said in a humourous tone, “All of you should protect me well”, and added, “how can you protect me? I’ll protect all of you!”
Though not a regular point of Baba’s daily life, there were quite a number of interesting occasions on which he left Shirdi on foot to neighbouring villages. At Nimgaon he used to visit one Mr.Dengle. Baba usually left Shirdi pretending that he was going to the stream. When people noticed him, they told Tatya that Baba was going away somewhere. Tatya used to run after him and say, “You won’t come back if you go; we will not leave you; let us go to Nimgaon tomorrow”. Baba would assure him that he would surely return to Shirdi and then proceeded on his way. At Nimgaon, Dengle used to receive him in all pomp and reverence, worship him, and offer him milk. Baba used to receive it in his can and drink it. After a little talk he used to return to Shirdi.
Similarly, when Baba visited the village of Rahata, people used to flock around him. His devotee of that village, Daulat Shah, used to receive Baba with music and procession. Baba stayed there for a while, smoked chilim with Daulat Shah and returned with the same pomp, followed by the procession of devotees upto the outskirts of that village. On such occasions Daulat Shah used to sprinkle small coins of money all along the way and sometimes he even accompanied Baba to Shirdi on foot. To whichever of these two villages he might go, Baba never stayed out of Shirdi even for a single night.