CONTINUED CHAPTER 18
WHAT WAS BABA’S DENOMINATION?
Later on, the Ram Navami festival became a grand function. Fairs and melas were held as an entertainment for the people. There was a history behind it. It was as follows.
Circle Inspector of Kopargaon, Gopalrao Gund came for Baba’s darshan. He did not have any children but by Baba’s blessings he got a son; and he became a true devotee of Baba. He thought of renovating the old masjid, Dwarkamai, which was in a dilapidated state. For that he got the stones piled up at the site. But Baba did not give him the permission for the repairs. Instead, He suggested to build a Shani (Saturn) temple. It was carried out. Other temples in the town, including Maruti temple, were renovated. Baba was always watchful regarding the state of these temples. Not only temples, but the tombs also did not miss His keen attention. Baba used to sit under a particular margosa (Neem) tree. Baba said, there was a tomb under that tree. When the place was dug, a tomb was really found. That day the people of Shirdi went round the town in a big procession and paid homage to the shrine. Baba had told Kaka Dixit that the place belonged to His Guru. If Dhup (incense) was burnt there every Thursday and Friday, it would be good for everybody’s well-being.
It was Gopalrao Gund’s idea to start an annual festival in gratitude to Baba. He talked to Tatya and Dada (both Kote-Patil), Madhavrao and many other devotees. All agreed to it and started making arrangements in that direction. But the person on the ‘Kulkarni’ post turned down the proposal of any such festival, Jatra (Fair), or ‘Urus’ and so the Collector (British), also disapproved the whole idea. Again the above devotees went and convinced the Collector who then gave the sanction orders. Baba had granted and blessed the idea of this festival. It influenced and made the Collector to change his mind. Ram Navami day was fixed for the festival.
Since then ‘Ram Navami Utsav’ is celebrated every year till today. In the morning, there is a ‘Kavadi-Sohala’ which is worth seeing item of the festival. From the beginning, Tatya Ganapati Kote-Patil was given the charge of the management of this festival. He was very near and dear to Baba. Tatya’s mother, Bayajabai also used to serve Baba when Baba had just come to Shirdi. It was the time when all people were treating Him contemptuously, assuming Him to be insane. But Bayajabai had a steadfast faith in Him. Baba would go four or five times for alms in a day. Some houses would refuse sometimes; but Bayajabai never let Him go back empty handed. This ‘seva’ (service) was well recognized by Baba. Everyday He used to give fifty rupees to Tatya. Every evening Tatya would go to Dwarkamai and sit in His proximity. Their conversation would be full of love for each other. Tatya used to wake Him up in the morning. He only would prepare the Chillum for Baba.
On Ram Navami there used to be a procession of two very important flags. One flag would come from Shankar Raghunath Deshpande and the other from Damushet Kasar from Nagar. When procession would reach Dwarkamai, the two flags of honour would be hoisted on the two sides of the masjid.
S. R. Deshpande was from Nimon, a town in Sangamner district. He was an Honourary Magistrate. He was known as a political leader in the Taluka. His uncle was residing at Shirdi, so he happened to visit Shirdi. Gradually he got immersed in Baba’s devotion, so much so that the last three years of his life he spent in Baba’s service. Last three days he saw Baba in everybody. Whosoever came to him, he used to call him ‘Baba’. When same thing happened in case of his wife, she said, “I am not Baba. I am your wife, so what?” He said, “Who is there inside you? None other than Baba“. In this way his last breaths also were spent in chanting Baba’s nane.
The other flag of honour used to come from Damodar Sawalaram Kasar that is already mentioned. He had three wives, but no children. That was why he used to be disconsolate. Madhavrao Deshpande’s father-in-law, Govindrao Sapkar suggested to him to seek Baba’s blessings. Later, Kasar’s wish was fulfilled by His kind blessings and he placed full faith in Baba. He took a vow of making a new flag every year and feeding all the fakirs present for the festival. This promise is still kept by his descendents.
Baba had special affection Eknath Maharaj. Nath Maharaj used to go to Padharprur every year though he was a follower of God Dattatreya. It was Nath-Shashthi, (Death anniversary of Maharaj), 2nd March 1918. Baba sent most of the people to listen to the Purana (Remembering Eknath through stories.) Baba also told some stories to the people who were in Dwarkamai. While talking, He referred to Namdeo and Kabir also. In the evening, Baba suddenly flew into a rag. He looked ferocious like NaraSimhva. He threw away the dish brought for His dinner. Dr. Pillay, Fakirbaba and others who were in the Wada rushed to see Baba. No one could calm Him down. He asked others to drive Tatya out of the masjid. It was strange; was His dear devotee. He was not only sulky but angry also. After some time Baba sent Dada to bring Tatya to Him. But Tatya did not listen. He was adamant. It was 9:30 and then 10:30 p.m.. The pandal was full with the people. It was the time for procession. A palanquin was ready and Shamsunder horse was waiting at the gate. But Baba was sitting quiet. He did not give a signal to the procession to move. So everything was at standstill.
All the people started singing Bhajans. But Baba asked them to stop. It was 11:00 p.m. Many of the people returned to their homes. Tatya left his obstinacy. After midnight, said, “Let us go”. All of them went to Chawadi in a procession. And then everything went on smoothly. People were saying, Baba must have passed time because the palanquin of Eknath in Paithan must have been delayed. To synchronize the timing Baba behaved in that way. It was the Leela of Nathshashthi. Did that mean, Baba was a Nathpanthi? But Baba told many to read “Guru Charitra”. Then could He also be called “Datta-Sampradayi”?
September 1910, Tarkhad, his family, friend and his wife, who was expecting her first child, together had gone to Shirdi. When they went for darshan, Baba asked the lady (friend’s life) to give him six rupees. On the second day also Baba demanded six rupees from her. She got nervous and started crying. Her husband tried to console her saying, “Do you have full faith in Baba? Then pray to Him that you are offering the six internal enemies to Him. (Desire, anger, greed, infatuation, pride and jealousy are those enemies.)”
According to husband’s instructions she mentally prayed to Baba. Next day, when they went for darshan, Baba asked, “Mother, have you brought my six rupees?” She answered, “Baba, I have already given”. Baba asked, “Are you sure, you have given?” She said, “Quite sure”.
Baba said, “Do not reverse, in future”. This sentence confirmed, what He meant by ‘six rupees’. Later the same lady was massaging Baba’s Feet. Baba put His blessing hand on her head and said, “Mother, you always get a severe headache; is it not?” She was really suffering for six previous years. She said, “Baba I was suffering till this moment; but now the pain is completely gone”.
After Baba’s blessings, her headache finally vanished not to return again during her entire life. Baba said her, “Mother, you used to feed Me with full devotion and to My satisfaction. But now you have forgotten Me”. She was surprised. “Baba, this is the first time I am seeing You. How could I have been feeding You?” Baba said, “I am observing you since you were first a kid“. She was confused. Baba added, “Which deity was being worshipped in your mother’s house?”
“Ganapati” She answered enthusiastically from her childhood memories, “And Baba, I used to offer the flowers and fruits like, Dates, Almonds, Coconut and many fruits to Him, to Ganapati”. Baba said, “Yes, I used to receive all those things. I know you since then”. continued, “Your Ganesh idol is very beautiful”. She worriedly said, “Baba, it is a right trunked idol; and its one hand is broken. People say that is is not good to keep such an idol in the sanctum. It should be immersed in flowing waters”.
Baba convinced her, “Bai, (Lady), if your child loses its hand or foot, do you immerse it like that?” He further added, “That Ganapati is very lucky. Worship Him everyday. I come to your house thrice a day”. The lady was astonished on hearing this. Baba then described every detail of her house. He described the location of the bedroom, the direction in which the sanctum sanctorum was situated, and the location of front and rear verandah etc. The lady was fully convinced that Baba was God and she had no doubts about it. This way Baba gave her an experience of bliss. As she had credited ‘six enemies’ to Him, and had worshipped Ganapati in her early life, He immediately repaid the balance of her merit. True faith always pays and gives divine fruits.
From this story, could Baba be catagorised as ‘Ganapatya’? One person from Thane District came for Baba’s darshan. Baba told him to worship God Maruti. When he went to Wada, the people were surprised to hear about what Baba had told him. They asked him, “Do you already worship Maruti?”
He said, “Yes, I do. There is a Maruti temple near my house. It is a Panchmukhi Maruti. (God having five heads). Unless I worship that God I never even touch my food. It is my everyday practice. It is my vow” Thus Baba had advised him to continue his worship. Baba never tried to restrain anybody from his faith or his chosen deity. Baba did not belong to any denomination, sect or creed or school. He did not start any, as well. People of all castes, creed or religions used to come to Him. He never dissuaded them from their own beliefs. On the contrary, He reinforced their faith; and put them on the right path if they had deviated from it. Many Dnyanayogi, Karmayogi and Bhaktiyogi those who had chosen path of knowledge, path of action and path of devotion, respectively, used to come to Baba for guidance. And all used to return satisfied and happy.
It was a Christmas festival of 1909. A medical doctor and his friend came to Shirdi. The doctor was a ritualistic Brahmin and a devotee of God Rama. So he was actually reluctant to come to Shirdi. But he had agreed to join his friend only on one condition, that he would not pay obeisance to Baba. He said that he would not like to prostrate before a Muslim. He was assured by his friend that nobody would insist on it or even Baba also would not ask him to do so. Both of them reached Shirdi and then Dwarkamai. When the doctor glanced at Baba, he saw as if God Rama was standing in front of him. There was neither Baba nor any Muslim. He was amazed and stunned at the sight. He fell at the feet of Baba. The friend was confused as he did not see what the doctor had seen. When they came out of Dwarkamai, the doctor told him how he had a darshan of Rama. Both of them were astonished and also happy by Baba’s miracle (Leela).
The doctor became a staunch devotee of Baba. He decided that he would not eat anything unless Baba blessed him. He would stay in Shirdi but would not go to Dwarkamai until his condition is fulfilled. But unexpectedly another friend of his came to Shirdi. They had met after quite a long time. In the mood of that happiness the doctor went to Dwarkamai with that person, totally forgetting his resolve. Immediately Baba asked him, “Why have you come? Who called you here?”
Doctor’s vow melted like a cube of ice. During the same night the doctor experienced the state of absolute bliss and he was chosen by Baba to shower His grace upon. That experience continued even after he returned to his town.
What is a ‘creed’ a ‘sect’? It is not any special caste nor it is any kind of institution that is confined in the frame of oppressive rules. Then what is “creed” or ‘denomination”? It is the determination of leading a life of goodness. Our Saints and Sages have shown the road that leads to happiness. One should have unalloyed love for God, he should have unwavering faith, and patience. There should be only one caste, caste of ‘devotee’; caste of a good human and only one religion, religion of love. Then it is a denomination. Sai Baba meant that sort of denomination (Sampradaya).
In case of different Avatars, (God incarnations), we see that was ‘Love’ was the principal value in Rama-Avatar. Before Rama-Avatar, ‘Love’ was not predominant. In Parashuram-Avatar, destruction overpowered Love principle. Parashuram cool headedly killed his mother, whatever might be the reason. He was responsible for the massacre of Kshatriyas which he did, not only once, but twentyone times. He did not show any mercy even to the Kshatriya embryo in the womb. What a cruelty. Until the next Avatar (Rama-Avatar) we find no trace of love. But we see, even after such carnage, grief of the world never ended.
All the Avatars from Matsyavatar (form of fish) appeared to destroy the demons. They were destroyed but were reborn as demons only. This underlines the necessity of destruction of demonic attitude. And it can be attained through knowledge, through precept and through LOVE. Progress and upliftment can be achieved using love as an instrument. When Saints or Avtars give precept of love, a person no more remains a demon. Pralhad and Bibhishana are the noted examples of such diabolic change.
Stream of love originated from Rama-Avatar. That must be the reason why Baba started Rama Navami festival in Shirdi. He wanted to establish and emphasize the value of love in human community. It will be just showing our ignorance if we try to label Babawith any particular caste, creed, religion or denomination. Let us not do it and always remember, “Love conquers all”.
END OF CHAPTER 18
© Author – Dr. Keshav Bhagwant Gavankar (Annasahib Gavankar) – Explicit Rights To Publish To Shirdi Sai Baba Books.com (Member of SaiYugNetwork.com)