As is natural with every saint, the people that flocked to Baba were of various kinds. Some came for alleviation of misery. Some wanted better standard of living. Others wanted to know about him through first hand experience and not from what others said of him. Lastly, there were the ardent seekers after spiritual illumination. Naturally the first two categories were the largest in number and the fourth were the fewest. We shall see how all these people were received and blessed by Baba.
Gopal Rao Gund was a Circle Inspector at Kopergaon. He married thrice but had no issues. He heard of Sri Sai
Baba, sought his blessings and later had a son. It was in gratitude for this blessing that Gopal Rao Gund thought of
celebrating the annual urs in honor of Sai Baba and had actually started the custom in 1897. The District Collector’s permission was obtained for the celebration but the devotees were confronted with the problem of providing drinking water for the large number of people that flocked there. One of the wells at Shirdi had very brackish water. The water was miraculously turned into sweet drinking water when Sri Sai Baba threw flowers into it. Then there was Damu Anna Kasar of Ahmednagar who too had no issue even though he married twice. It was only with Sri Sai Baba’s blessing that he had sons. He used to share the expenses of the urs with Gopal Rao Gund.
Baba often helped his devotee out of tight corners in his own mysterious ways. Uddhavesh of Dehnu left for
Dwaraka along with a group of pilgrims from Bombay. He had all the tickets of his party in his purse when they
boarded the ship. As the steamer was over-crowded, Uddhavesh had to stand on the gallery. When he put his
hand in his pocket, his purse with all the money and tickets slipped and fell in the sea. He was embarrassed. So he at once wrote to Baba of his plight.Even before his letter reached Shirdi, Baba appeared in the dream of his son, Girdhar Gopal of Dehnu, as a well-dressed priest, and told him. “Your father is at Dwaraka and he has no money with him; so send it to him.” Girdhar awoke and finding it a mere dream slept again. Again the priest appeared and commanded him to send the money at once. Next day, money was sent by telegraphic money order and Uddhavesh was surprised to receive it. Long after, when
Uddhavesh went to Shirdi, Baba told him, “I got the money sent for you.”
Mrs. Malanbai, daughter of D.R. Joshi Devgaonkar suffered from tuberculosis. All medicines having failed, she was taken to Baba at Shirdi. Baba asked her to lie down on a blanket and take nothing but water. She carefully followed these instructions but after a week or so she died one early morning. Baba was then in the chavadi. For the first time in Shirdi history Baba did not leave the chavadi though it was past 8 a.m. The girl’s parents were making ready for the funeral when Malanbai appeared to breathe, opened her eyes and looked around as if frightened. Later she narrated her experience: “A dark person was carrying me away; very much frightened, I cried for Baba’s help. Baba
took his staff and beet him, snatched me from his hands and carried me to chavadi.” Even though she did not see the chavadi she gave an accurate description of the place. Just at the moment of her revival Baba left his chavadi, crying loudly in wild abuse, striking his staff against the ground and he proceed straight to Dixit’s wada where the girl was staying.
Rajaballi Mohammad says, “I wanted only increase of faith. I wanted that at my death, I may die possessed of full iman or faith so that I may have a good end. I prayed to him (mentally) for that and asked for his blessings. He placed his hand on my head and blessed me. From that moment his blessings have borne fruit. My faith had steadily increased. Besides that, I have a great benefit from my faith in him and in his udi.”
“Saints exist to give devotees temporal and spiritual benefits”, Baba said, “I have come to give such good things to the devotee.” Once, one of his devotees objected to people going to Baba for temporal benefit. Baba said to him. “Do not do that. My men first come to me for that only. They get their desires fulfilled; and comfortably placed in life, they follow me and progress further. I bring my men to me from long distances under many pleas. I seek them and bring them to me. They do not come (of their own accord). I draw them to me”. These words are law even to-day.
One Bhimaji Patil of Narayanagaon developed a severe form of Tuberculosis, and was often spitting blood. Doctors failed to cure him and finally he was directed to see Sri Sai Baba by Nanasaheb Chandorkar. When Bhimaji arrived at Shirdi, Baba said that the disease was caused by the evil karma of a past life and he was unwilling to interfere with it. But the patient wept piteously and implored Baba for his blessing. Baba was moved and he said, “Do not fear, your sufferings have come to an end. Whoever steps into this musjid will be relieved of his sufferings, however bad they might be. The Fakir here is very kind”. Soon the spitting of blood stopped and his condition took a turn for the better. Baba kept the patient in the house of one Bhimabai which look quiet unhygienic. Shortly after, the patient had two dreams. In the first dream he saw himself as a boy, being flogged by the teacher at school for not reciting his poetry lessons. In the second dream he saw a heavy road-roller moving up and down on his chest causing him infinite pain and agony. By the time he woke up, his disease was completely cured and with Baba’s blessing and leave, he soon left Shirdi! In gratitude for Baba’s grace Bhimaji started a new form of Baba– worship called Sri Sai Satya Vrata Puja, (modelled on Sri Satya Narayana Vrata Puja) at his home. Similarly, one Dattopant was relieved of his fourteen year old stomach-ache simply by Baba’s touch.
Baba did not always cure a man’s ailment simply by his word. He often advocated a course of treatment which
actually contradicted all known medical opinion and which in common experience, was sure to aggravate the ailment.
Once Shriman Booty had an attack of cholera. Dr. Pillai’s efforts to cure it had failed and he had recourse to the master-physician, Sai Baba. Baba then prescribed him an infusion of almonds, walnuts and pista (a dry fruit) boiled in sugar and milk as his diet! This would, in common parlance, be considered fatal to such a patient. But the disease was cured by it. So too, Kaka Mahajani once suffered from violent diarrhoea. But he had to attend on Baba. So he kept a pot of water by his side and was often hurrying out to answer nature’s call. He did not ask Baba for the cure because he had implicit faith that Baba knew all his needs. At that time the construction of the pavement of the musjid was going on. Suddenly, Baba, in his characteristic unaccountable manner, burst into a wild fury. Every one ran away and Kaka Mahajani was about to do the same. But Baba held him back by the hand, forced him to sit there, picked up a handful of groundnuts (or peanuts as some would call them) from a bag (left behind by one of those who ran away from there), blew off the chaff and gave the clean nuts to Kaka. He told Kaka to eat them and then continued his furious outburst of abuse. Baba too ate some of the nuts, drank a little water from a pitcher and gave the rest to Kaka and told him to drink it. When he did, fearing the worst aggravation of the ailment, Baba said to him, “Now your diarrhoea has stopped!” Indeed, it did. Something that should have aggravated the disease has actually cured it.
Once Nana had a painful boil on his buttock. Though he had immense faith in the power of Sai Baba to cure it, he knew too well that very often Baba took the suffering on himself. So he preferred to suffer. The doctors finally
decided that it must be surgically opened. This prospect frightened Nana very much. For, “It is a difficult one to operate”, said the surgeon, “and is even dangerous; however, don’t get panicky. I’ll come tomorrow”. That night Nana slept with Baba’s picture under his pillow! The next day, fifteen minutes before the operation was to commence, Nana was lying on his face on the bed. Suddenly a tile fell from the roof and, of all places, it hit the boil on Nana’s buttock. It made Nana groan, but it burst the boil and expelled all the bad blood. The doctor examined it and told Nana that there was no need to operate it. Nana could have jumped with joy. After a few days Nana visited Sai Baba, and the first words that Baba spoke were, “I removed Nana’s boil with my finger”!
Sometimes Baba’s methods of effecting cures were less direct. Perhaps he sometimes felt it necessary for his
kiddies to toughen through a process of suffering which he could well gauge to be neither too serious nor too
painful. Especially, he seems to have taken care to see that the suffering raised the mental grit or courage of the patient. To this end he often ordered the patient to go away from him so that psychologically, he might get used to depend on Baba’s grace and not on Baba’s proximity.
Kakasaheb was laid up at Shirdi with high fever and sent a word to Baba through Shama. Baba curtly replied, “I am
not a doctor; let him go to his house in Vile Parle”.
Shama was annoyed at his unexpected response. So he said, “He stayed here with great trust in you; how can he go now when he is laid up with fever?” Baba is not the one to yield. He just reiterated his order and did not even give udi for him. “What a mad fakir he is!” he thought, yet he had the sense to start on his homeward journey and went to the mosque to take leave of Baba. On seeing him Baba said, in a voice not too soft, “Go home! The fever will go even as it came, in four day’s time. Don’t lie down on the bed but move about, eat badam (almonds), pista and sira.” Then he gave udi and sent Shama to accompany him on his journey. Kaka’s mind gained composure at the assurance of Baba. It was 11 o’ clock at a night when they walked home in Vile Parle. Everyone at Kaka’s home was surprised at Kaka’s quick return this time, for he usually stayed on at Shirdi for several days. His wife was anxious about his health.
As for Baba’s order Kaka took sira for his diet. Next day the fever increased. His wife, in her anxiety, called in a doctor who emphatically told Kaka not to move about but to rest himself, and gave him medicine. But Kaka adhered to Baba’s order, kept moving about and refused to take the medicine. Everyone feared that Kaka would die and started reviling him for pawning away his sense to the absurdities of a mad fakir. The doctor grew impatient with Kaka’s obstinacy and roared “What am I here for?” But Kaka kept his course. And on the ninth day the temperature fell and it showed ‘normal’. Later when Kaka visited Shirdi again, the first question Baba asked was, “What did your people in Bombay say?” He knows it all.
Booty was once laid up with typhoid. He stayed in Dixit’s wada at Shirdi. He was too weak even to go to Dwarakamai for Baba’s darshan. Every day Shama used to carry him to Sri Baba and back. Baba just gave him udi and made him eat sira. In course of time Booty recovered without any need of medicines.
A wealthy merchant came to Shirdi in 1911, along with his palsied daughter. She could neither stand nor walk.
She was carried into Baba’s presence. Baba blessed her and asked them to stay at Shirdi. On the third day she
began to use her legs a little. On the eighth day she was able to walk, to the wonder of all the devotees. So too the
wife of one Ghiasis, an employee of the Railway Department, was cured of her paralysis by Sai Baba.
Nandaram Marvadi visited Shirdi at the time of the second great plague in 1911. Many were leaving the village in
haste. One day when he passed by the Maruthi Temple some people seated there told him that his eyes were red
with fever and that he might be struck down by plague. In great fear he rode on horeseback to the temple where, on the advice of someone he offered a coconut and oil to the deity. Then he wanted to quit that place and sought Baba’s leave. Baba , however, dissuaded him. “As long as I am alive I will not let you die”, he said and gave him udi. He stayed on and his fever vanished.
One day Shama was wiping Baba’s wet hands with a towel. Baba gazed at him playfully and pinched his cheek.
Shama pretended anger and said, “Sai, why do you pinch me? We don’t want a mischievous god who pinches us thus.”
Baba replied, “Oh Shama, during the seventy two births that you were with me, I never pinched you till now and you resent my touching you?” Shama said, “We want a god that will ever give us kisses and sweets to eat; we do not want any dignity, wealth or heaven from you. Let our faith in you be ever awake and alive.” Baba lovingly replied, “Yes, I have indeed come for that. I have been feeding and nursing you all these lives and I have love and affection for you”. Such was the intimacy between the Master and devotee.
Once this Shama was bitten by a venomous serpent on his little finger. The poison began to spread in his body and
caused unbearable suffering and pain. Shama thought that his end was drawing near. His friends wanted to take
him to the shrine of God Vithoba where many were cured of snake bites. But such was Shama’s faith in Baba that he
ran to the mosque, to his beloved savior. Strangely enough, no sooner he stepped into the mosque than Baba flared up and shouted, “Oh vile priest, do not climb up. Beware if you do! Go get out! Go down” Poor Shama was mortified and stood there dumb-founded. Then Baba’s expression and voice changed suddenly and, with his
characteristic love and tenderness, he said “Don’t fear. The Fakir is merciful and he will save you. Go and sit at home. Don’t stair out. Have faith in me and be fearless”. To his great surprise Shama found that the pain had already vanished and he felt that the poison was withdrawing to the finger. He returned home. Later Baba sent word to him through Tatya Patil and Kakasaheb Dixit that he could eat whatever he likes and should move about in the house but should not lie down and sleep. Shama did accordingly and was free from all trouble. It is interesting to reflect on this incident. Baba was shouting and fretting at the poison in Shama’s blood and not at Shama himself. Often Baba appeared to do the same at the unuttered evil propensities of many other devotees and his words did have such power as to drive them out.
When Kakasaheb Dixit was at Shirdi he was once suffering from severe pain in the leg. He found it hard even to
walk a furlong. That evening Baba started for Nimgaon. Dixit accompanied him. Though they walked together for
three miles Dixit suffered no pain!
A lady of Pune was childless. She believed that if she receives a coconut from Baba her wish would be fulfilled. But whenever she started for Shirdi some obstacle or the other cropped up and she had to give up. One night Baba
appeared in her dream and gave her a coconut. Next Morning when she woke up, she actually found one in her bed! She was amazed at Baba’s leela and vowed that if she were blessed with a child, she would offer it at Shirdi. Next year she was blessed with a son and she fulfilled her vow.
One Gadge Patil was transferred to a far off place. He could not visit Baba and was sorry for not taking his
blessing before going there. Atlast, he started by train. When the train stopped at Kopergaon, the thought that he could not receive Baba’s udi and blessing was too painful to him. The next moment he was surprised to find a small packet of udi in the window of the compartment. Long after, when he visited Shirdi, Baba told the other devotees that though Gadge Patil could not visit him earlier, he had sent him udi. Patil put the udi in a talisman and wore it.