|Introduction||NA||Introduction & Preface|
|Chapter 1||Part 1||Sai Baba – The Saint of Shirdi|
|Chapter 1||Part 2||Sai Baba – The Saint of Shirdi|
|Chapter 2||NA||Understanding Shirdi Sai In Baba’s Own Words|
|Chapter 3||Part 1||Building Up Of Lodi Road Temple, New Delhi|
|Chapter 3||Part 2||Urge to Know Baba|
|Chapter 3||Part 3||First Visit to Shirdi|
|Chapter 3||Part 4||Meeting with Sri Satya Sai Baba|
Paramhamsa Omkara Swamy
During the description of my first visit to Shirdi, I have already stated that when I visited the Samadhi Mandir at 5.30 pm on 2nd December I960, a saint was seen standing near Baba’s Samadhi in contemplation. He was a slightly built person with a small beard. Suddenly the vibrant sound of ‘Om’ oozed out of his being and engulfed the whole atmosphere. I felt drawn to this simple looking Fakir with only one cloth wrapped around his body. To me he appeared different from the large number of Fakirs asking for alms on the streets of Shirdi. The Pujaris asked him to climb up on the Samadhi to pay his respects to Baba. In the evening, I expressed a desire to my newly acquired friend – Shri Rao, that I would love to meet this Saint.
The next morning, after giving a bath to Baba and as we were roaming in the fields of Shirdi to have a feel as to how Baba would have looked when He roamed about that place in flesh and blood, a South Indian gentleman met us and told us that he was accompanying the Saint referred to above. He offered to take us to him, to which we gladly agreed. He took us to the room just opposite the Gurusthan, where we found this saint sitting on a bed spread on the ground. On talking to him, we found that he had come from Madras and was on that day holding a ‘Conference of World Religions’ to which he invited us also to attend. He stayed in Shirdi for two days more and during this period, I went to see him several times. He made me occupy a chair on the dais in the Conference. After the Conference, I took him round to show other places in Shirdi connected with Baba. In this process, as we reached the Dwarkamayee, the Saint sat down in meditation on the floor, eyes closed, and also asked us to do the same- After a few seconds the chant of ‘Om’ again came out from his being and left us in an ecstatic state. Thereafter, he chanted the prayers he had composed in Sanskrit/Telugu languages in an extremely melodious voice. Some of these were later adopted by me for Baba’s puja in Delhi deluded in our Puja books and are even today being sung by thousands of devotees all over not only the Northern part of India but also in foreign lands. It may be of interest to devotees of today to know as to how these compositions came to be included in our Puja book. I reproduce below these renderings for the benefit of readers:
Certain other renderings of this Saint which could not find place in our Arti Book have remained unsung till today. These are also heart touching renderings and I am reproducing these below for the benefit of devotees.
Shri Omkara Swamy was only of about 50 years of age, with an emaciated body but a glowing face. Seeing the glow on his face, I asked him one day, “Swamiji do you apply oil on your face?” Guptaji this Sthula Sharir has not touched oil for the last 30 years” was his reply.
The Swamy never used the word I for his own self. He would refer to it as Sthula Sharir. He would not touch food or money. An old lady by the name of ‘Annapoornima Ma’ always accompanied him and fed him like a child. He could sit for hours and hours on Siddhasan. When not in company of others, he would be lost in meditation. One night at about 2 a.m., when I woke up to meet the call of nature, I found him lying down on his back in Siddhasan.
In Oct. 1962, on the occasion of Vijai Dashmi, he came to stay with me at Delhi with eight of his followers including an American lady journalist, who had funded his visit to Delhi and had accepted him as her Guru. They stayed in my small Government flat and ate with me whatever my wife could cook. I took him round to various places in Delhi where Baba’s pujas would be held and he would be required to share his compositions with the public. Because of his simple and unassuming nature, he became very popular with the devotees. He was easily accessible to each and every devotee and shared their happiness and misery in an equal measure. The American lady also became very popular as she would serve her Guru as best as she could and had completely taken to Indian food and Indian way of living. I arranged for the Swamy to go on a sightseeing tour of Delhi in a taxi. A devotee who had promised to send his car for the purpose did not do so. The party left after eight days stay and left an indelible mark on my bhakti towards Baba.
The Swamy would write to me letters, mostly postcards, always starting with “Blessings for a healthy life”. A couple of his letters are reproduced as exhibit V of this book.
Paramhamsa Omkara Swamy paid another visit to Delhi 1966, again on the occasion of Vijai Dashmi. This time he was accompanied by only six persons. I had by then shifted to my own house – F-5, Green Park, New Delhi. This time he attended many functions of Baba but was not shown the same respect by some particular devotees of Baba. One evening, I begged his pardon for this. His reply was, “Guptaji respect or no respect what does it matter to this Sthula Sharir. Baba will forgive them for they know not, what they do”. I shall never forget these words. While leaving Delhi, I took him to the station. This time he was travelling 3rd class.
He was sitting on the platform on a box waiting for the arrival of the train and I was standing beside him. He asked me to sit down. I sat down on my legs. He then told me, “Guptaji, you have served this Sthula Sharir very well. It cannot give you anything but remember, Baba will give you everything.”
These were his last words to me. The train arrived. The compartment was already full. I virtually lifted him bodily and made him to enter through the window. I then realized that his body was emitting heat.
On about 15/16th January 1967, I received a letter from the secretary of his ashram that the Swamy had given up his physical body on January 11th night and had appointed me to the Managing Committee of his organisation, an appointment which I never assumed.
In Baba’s name, I have come across a large number of sages and saints. In fact from 1961 to 1965, whenever any known saint came to Delhi, I was taken to meet him. But the deep impress of saindiness left on me by Paramhamsa Omkara Swamy has been unique. After my retirement from service in 1982, when I visited my daughter in Madras, I had been to his Ashram twice but even here the same simplicity of the Swamy as was discernable in his life time, reigns the place.
Kindly permit me to recount one more incident in my relationship with the Swamy. In his second visit to Delhi, one night he told me to keep a puja thali ready for the next morning with full puja ingredients therein. I told him, “Swami Ji, to me my Baba is my God and my Guru, I don’t intend to adopt another Guru.” He replied that it was not his intention make me his disciple. Sitting on my back, he would merely pray for my spiritual emancipation. This he did and even today after 35 years of his leaving the mortal coil, I feel indebted for his blessings.
Other Sages and Saints – Contact with Sri Sivanesan Swamy of Shirdi
While recalling Baba’s kripa on me, through Shri Parmahamsa Omkara Swamy, I would also like to mention a few more names of sages and saints. I was told by a young saint Krishnaji, who had stayed in Meher Baba’s Ashram for seven years and to whom Mehr Baba had given his Kafni, that I must visit Swami Sivananda at Rishikesh and Swami Ram Das at Kanhangad in Kerala before it was too late to do so. Unfortunately, for me I couldn’t visit any of these saints due to some reason or other. Both took Samadhi round about that period. It so happened that by Baba’s kripa, I would be taken to meet all sages and saints who visited Delhi at that point of time. In this process, I met Swami Chidanand of Rishikesh; the Swami sitting on the Gaddi of Manik Prabhu; Ma Nirmala Devi, proponent of Sahaj Yog; Narayan Baba of Panvel, Swami Muktanand, Neel Kantha Baba and many others. When I first came into contact with Narayan Baba, he was still in service and the ‘Bhiksha’ pose of Baba’ that he gave to me during our first meeting, is still with me. I also exchanged several letters with him. There was another saint devotee of Baba, known as Doctor Baba who visited my house in 1964 and later started sending to me a large number of postcards with Baba’s name and message artistically written on them. Later, I don’t know what happened to Doctor Baba, as I lost all contact with him. Two letters received from this saint are reproduced as exhibit VI of this book.
During my second visit to Shirdi, I was made to stay in Samadhi Mandir itself, in the room on the first floor on the left side of Baba’s idol. I spent two memorable nights in this room. I would sit in the verandah outside the room overlooking Baba’s mosquito-net and spend quite some time, remembering Him and shedding tears of love. After two days stay in this room, we were shifted, on our request, to Room No. 1 behind the Gurusthan. Swami Sai Sharnanandji and his wife were occupying Room No.2, wherein the PRO’s office was located till recently. It was my ill-luck that I did not utilise this opportunity to know more about the Swami and through him about Baba. We would merely offer our Namaskars to him.
This visit was also significant for another reason. I met Sri Sivanesan Swamy for the first time. He was then doing seva in the Dwarkamayee. Somehow he took a liking for me and vice versa in our first meeting. We would sit together in the Dwarkamayee and talk about Baba, share coffee in a restaurant and roam about in the nearby fields. He would make me do Dhuni puja and would often purchase all ingredients for the purpose including ghee from out of his own pocket. When I visited Shirdi with my children in 1970, he would take us round the village of Shirdi and make us do Baba’s puja in the way he thought fit. In this process he introduced me to some people in Shirdi who had lived with Baba. He would send to me at Delhi rare pictures of Baba and books on him through Delhi devotees visiting Shirdi. On one occasion, he sent to me a ‘flag’ of Baba, which is still with me.
I always looked forward to my visits to Shirdi where I would spend quite some time in the company of Swamiji. I would seek from him answers to all my questions on the path of Sai Bhakti. I never knew till the last years of his life that he had been taken as a Guru by quite a sizeable number of devotees. During my last meeting with the Swami about a year before his leaving the mortal coil, I asked him answers to six questions agitating my mind. A whole crowd of people waiting outside his room in a queue to meet him but he wouldn’t allow anybody to enter. One South Indian young man made several attempts to meet him. Every time, he would tell him that he was busy talking to his friend and that he should not be disturbed. When again and again, he tried to force his entry into the room, Swamiji lost his temper on him and asked him to leave the room.
As earlier mentioned, I had asked Swamiji a question: “Swamiji, you say that ‘Om Sai, Shri Sai, Jai Jai Sai’ is the ‘Tarak Mantra’ of Baba. This mantra has come up during the last 10 years or so only. Earlier nobody knew this Mantra. I had been reciting a particular Mantra of Baba since 1960. Should I give up this Mantra and take to the new Mantra.” Swamiji looked at me and said, “The Mantra you chant has been given to you by Baba Himself. You should never even think in terms of leaving it.”What a sound advice he gave me! In fact, this particular event has already been mentioned in this write-up earlier. I had undergone open heart surgery on November 16th, 1995. A friend of mine from Delhi went to see Swamiji just when he was leaving his room to go to the hospital never to return. Swamiji looked up at him and asked him as to how I was after my surgery on 16th November 1995. He remembered the exact date of my operation. How much concerned would he have remained, when I was being operated? Is it not Baba’s kirpa on me? Baba was Love and Compassion Incarnate and so are His devotees like Swamiji, who have surrendered to Baba heart and soul. My friend told him that I was all right. Swamiji told him to convey to me his blessings. Saying so, he left the room, never to return.
During my last 42 years of life connected with Baba’s I have done a lot of thinking about Baba’s work. In this process, I have often jotted down some thoughts relating Baba’s work. In 1991, I had thought of a plan to hold a Seminar on Sai Baba of Shirdi in Delhi for three days and reduced in writing complete details as to how it should be conducted; what subjects should be discussed in it, whole should read the paper on a particular subject, where it will be held and who all should participate in it. As I was financially not in a position to handle such a big project sent all my papers to Sri Sivanesan Swamy asking for help and guidance in the matter. He immensely liked this idea and passed on the papers to Smt. Zarine Taraporevala of Bombay to extend her help and cooperation to me in holding the Seminar. Mrs. Taraporevala wrote to me in the matter but it was only in 1997 that this idea could be translated into action in the form of an ‘International Convention of Shirdi Sai Devotees’, held in the premises of the newly built temple of Baba by Shri Motilal Gupta at Sai Dham, Faridabad (Near Delhi). The Convention was held from 19 October to 21 October 97 and was a unique event of its own kind, the like of which had not been held so far. This Convention was inaugurated by Shri Justice S.P. Kurdukar, then a presiding Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Sri Sivanesan Swami took Samadhi on 12, February 1996. In him, the Sai devotees visiting Shirdi have lost a friend, philosopher and guide, who led innumerable devotees on to, the path of Sai Bhakti and inspired them to come nearer Baba. Through his inspiration, many devotees took to various activities concerning Baba such as writing books on Baba, compose bhajans, carry out group chantings, and construct Baba’s temples in their own towns. Once he entered the precincts of Shirdi, never left it till his passing away. In fact, the Swami has become immortal as a devotee of Baba and shall be remembered for all times to come.
The Samadhi Sthal along with a memorial of Sri Sivanesan Sawami has come up as a monument in Shirdi under the dedicated guidance of Smt. Zarine Taraporevala.
Continued… Part 6 of Chapter 3
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