|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|
|Chapter 3||Part 5||Paramhamsa Omkara Swamy|
|Chapter 3||Part 6||Functioning of Delhi Sri Sai Samaj|
Building of Lodi Road Temple in New Delhi
Soon after the Bhoomi Puja, the construction work on the site started. Shri Chitnis had already been raising funds for the same and was carrying on the preliminary work pertaining to the construction of the temple with immense dedication and in a systematic manner. At that time, there was no proper road in front of the temple and beyond the temple site there was nothing but a jungle, in which a small establishment of the Army was located. Baba had chosen to sit in a secluded place then, knowing full well that it would soon become the nerve centre of Delhi and Sai devotees from far and near would flock to it for His ‘darshan’ and to find solace at His feet.
It was in October/ November 1973, while returning from Allahabad I told my brother-in-law, who was accompanying me in the train that I did not know why it was so but Baba had chosen to keep me away from the construction of the temple for which I had been yearning for a long time and the dream of which was about to materialise. My brother-in law also had been a devotee of Baba for years and knew well how much I had been yearning for a temple of Baba in Delhi and how I had been duped at times in the matter. Later this gentleman also became a member of the managing committee of the temple and was instrumental in bringing out the first collection of Sai Bhajans, having himself compiled, typed and brought out the booklet.
Baba heard my words uttered while in the train. When I reached my house at night, my wife told me that Shri Chitnis had come to our house that evening to meet me and since I was not available, he would again come on the following day. Shri Chitnis came the next day again with a lot of presents in Baba’s name. He told me that the ground and mezzanine floors of the temple had already come up and the second floor was yet to be completed as also the flooring was still to be done. All their resources to collect funds had exhausted and that he wanted my help to complete the project. I told him that I was a petty person to whom nobody would give money enough to complete the project. Shri Chitnis told me the same thing as he had said earlier that he was sure that with my help the project would soon be completed. He left a receipt book with me. Next morning, I started my efforts in right earnest to collect funds. I still recollect that the first receipt issued by me was for Rs. 151/- in the name of my above mentioned, brother-in-law. The second receipt was in the name of Shri S.D. Midha, owner of-Lex Drycleaners in Defence Colony Market. Shri Midha told me to fill in any amount in the receipt that I thought was his capacity to pay in the name of Baba and that he would pay the same. Hesitatingly and not knowing as to what would be the correct thing to do, I filled in Rs 251/- in the receipt which was a huge amount those days. He paid the money immediately. Let me state here that this gentleman died in Rishikesh many years later, while feeding the poor with his own hands.
In one week, by Baba’s kripa, I had collected a sum of approximately Rs. 5000/-. This gave me the confidence that it was Baba who was helping me in my efforts. Every third day or so, Shri Chitnis would come to my house after covering more than some 20 kms distance from his house and collect the amount. He would issue monthly statements of collections made and my name a few months later came up to the second position in the list, the first being of Shri Chitnis himself.
This was the first time, I have had some experience of collecting funds for a cause. Money flowed in, Baba alone knows where from. I have both good and bad experiences of this work. One morning, at about 7 a.m. a car stopped outside my house. A young man came in and handed over to me eight cheques amounting to Rs. 20,000/-. Could one imagine the happiness this provided to me and the support to the construction activities. Such a huge amount in one lot. I wouldn’t name the person who came, suffice to say that he is a Member of Parliament presently and the son of an Ex-Chief Minister. At that point of time, he was serving in a Government organisation.
Another incident of a similar nature also comes to my mind. The temple was just ready. I received a telephone call from a friend who was an industrialist and a devotee of Baba, that a certain gentleman who had been the Chief Minister of a big State wanted to meet me. He asked me whether they should come to my house or would I agree to go to his house, where he was staying. I was baffled; an Ex-Chief Minister wanting to meet me? I agreed to go to his house to meet him after knowing the purpose of our meeting. I had made a request to this gentleman about two years back for his help in raising funds for the temple since we were finding it extremely difficult to complete the project. He had asked me to write to him I did so, but didn’t receive a reply. I sent to him another letter but even then I did not receive a reply. I then gave the effort, thinking it was Baba’s will that it be so.
Later, I came to know that some time earlier this gentleman had visited Shirdi and in the lanes of Shird whenever a particular fakir came in front of him, he would abuse him at his face, and say ‘Rascals make promises but do not fulfil the same’. This happened several times. He was then reminded of the promise made to me years back and had now come to the same.
I reached the house of my friend one morning along with Shri Chitnis. The particular gentleman referred to above came out with five bundles of Rs. 100/- notes, took off his shoes, lighted two agarbattis before the idol of Baba in the drawing room, and came to hand over the money to me. I told him that since I had ceased to be the secretary of the temple, I wouldn’t touch this money and that it should handed over to the President of the temple – Shri Chitnis who was accompanying me. The gentleman replied that the promise was made to me and that I should accept the money to absolve him of the promise. I took the money from him and passed it on to Shri Chitnis.
The top floor of the temple, Shri Chitnis told me later had come up from the funds collected by me. Even this exercise of fund raising had been a very sacred errand for me. I would never mix Baba’s money with my own. I would not even change the notes received in donation. Even today; I carry this trait of character but the devotees of today do no agree with my view. To me even five paisa collected in Baba’s name has been a very precious and a sacred trust and I have maintained the view that this collection should be spent very judiciously.
In my collection campaign, there had been occasion when to get a donation of rupees eleven, I had to traverse a distance of 11 k.m. I shall narrate an interesting incident in this regard. One day, a devotee of Baba, a serving Major General, fixed up with me the time to take him to the temple under construction at 3.30 pm. The distance to his residence from my house was about 7 km and it would have taken me only 15/20 minutes to reach. At about 3.10 p.m., it started raining heavily. I thought Baba was putting me to test. I picked up my scooter, put on my old rain coat, and reached the residence of the General exactly at 3.30 p.m., completely drenched. Looking at me he exclaimed, “Why have you come in this heavy rain”? I told him that I was performing Baba’s duty which knew of no limitations. I took him to the temple to see what all we were doing. On return, the General gave me Rs. 11/- as his donation, which I very gladly accepted as the prasad of Baba. I would like to pen down my another experience in the collection of funds. One gentleman serving as an officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs, who was also a devotee of Baba, asked me to give him a Receipt book to enable him to collect funds from his office people. He collected some 250/- rupees and returned to me the used receipt book. He kept on making false promises with regard to the payment of the money received. Some six or seven months passed and the money was not forthcoming. Shri Chitnis was pressing me for the payment. I agreed to make the payment from my pocket and gave to him one instalment of it. Two days later the gentleman came running to me with the payment. I asked him as to how was it that he now had decided to make the payment. He said that Baba had the previous night, in his dream, climbed up on his chest and giving him a lot of thrashing, told him not to cheat me and to make the payment immediately. Look at our Baba! how much concerned is He for His devotees. Can any one doubt His omnipresence and omnipotence?
Continued to Part 8 of Chapter 3
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