CONTINUED TO CHAPTER 22
When Mitra went to Baba for the second time he was under the influence of his old philosophy which taught against idol-worship, i.e. worship of any form, visible or invisible. He did not immediately experience the eternal peace in Baba’s vicinity; but he had experienced happiness sitting at Baba’s feet. He knew that he had forgotten all his mundane worries and anxieties in His Divine presence.
On December 6, 1910, when he reached Shirdi, he had an unpleasant experience. He went to Sathe-Wada as all devotees did, when a so called learned devotee asked why did he (Mitra) come to Shirdi? How frequently did he come? And was he really benefited? All such absurd questions, were irrelevant from his point of view. Some other person came to ask Mitra, ‘Who is a Stoic person? And how to recognize him?’ He asked this and that. Mitra got fed up with that sort of botheration for two continuous hours.
He thought, he had come to Baba in search of peace instead he had to tolerate a flurry of stupid questions. He felt, he was better in Mumbai. With these thoughts in mind he came to Dwarkamai for Baba’s darshan. Baba instantly said to Madhavrao (Shama), “Shamya, you tell something to Mitra”. Both of them moved to a secluded place.
Madhavrao asked him what the matter was. Mitra explained to him whatever had happened. Madhavrao said, “This is nothing but Sai-Leela. Deva (as he used to call Baba) has advised you to ignore such incidents. You will have to face many such distractions while staying in the world. But do not get disturbed by these trivial matters. Keep your mind focused on the feet of Deva. Do not allow your mind to be fickle. Then only you will get real satisfaction”
When they finished the conversation, both came back to Baba who gave them a pleasant look and said to Mitra, “Now Shama has given you the instructions. Behave accordingly” Mitra had to pass through many irritating situations in his life. He had to go through many wrangles, face calamities, and struggle against adversities, but he remained calm and emerged happy through all these circumstances.
Leaving his old principle aside, Mitra had indulged in Sagunopasana (worship of form). He started doing intense Japa. The mantra he took was “Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram”. When he went for darshan him with folded hands and said, “Namaskar”. Mitra could not understand why Baba was saluting him. He felt embarrassed. Baba sensed his and said, “This salutation is to Rama-Nama”. Mitra was very happy. Baba had recognized and approved his Japa though he had not told it. In his mind he confirmed, “Baba is present everywhere and everything. He monitors every action of mine and I have His full backing”.
Mitra wanted to return to Mumbai so he went to take permission of Baba. He prostrated before Him while tears trickled down from his eyes. Baba consoled him with the words, “Are you mad? Am I not there with you in Mumbai? He, who thinks, Baba is only in Shirdi, has not understood Baba at all”. Mitra could gather the meaning. He understood, ‘To know Baba was to realized’.
At the beginning Mitra was not able to comprehend Baba’s Leelas properly. So he read the biographies of Sri Ramkrishna Paramhans, Bhaskaranand Saraswati and Trailangya Swami. Then he got some idea of the Divine nature of such personalities. He drove out all doubts and ambiguities about Baba from his mind. From his age of 15 to his late forties he was influenced by the unilateral and stubborn precept of Brahmo-Samaj. ‘God never descends and incarnates on the earth’ was their principle. But Mitra threw it out of his mind. He then believed, “God is omnipotent; and He does incarnate for the welfare of His devotees. He is omnipresent and all pervasive. It means He is present in all beings. Therefore one can reach the state of Realization if one tries with sincere efforts”.
Mitra was not a learned person. Being a petty labourer in a factory, he was lagging behind in reading spiritual books. But after coming in Baba’s fold, he read Upanishads, Bhavarth Ramayan, Bhagwat by saint Eknath and Marathi version of Mahabharat written by Chiplunkar. He then started understanding a little, about who Baba was.
In 1917, Mitra returned from Shirdi to Mumbai after having darshan of Baba. On the same day, son of the owner of the factory, where Mitra was working, called him. He said to Mitra, “My father is seriously ill. He is presently at Nasik. You go to Shirdi and ask Baba, whether we should take him to Shirdi or bring him to Mumbai or let him stay at Nasik. Please go and find out”. Mitra told him that he had just come in the morning from Shirdi. The owner’s son said that his father wanted to know from Baba as to what should be done. Mitra replied with compassion, “Do not worry. I will do according to your father’s wish. I will go tonight only”.
In those days communication was not so easy as it is today. Mitra hurriedly left for Shirdi. When Mitra reached Shirdi, he immediately went to Dwarkamai, where Dixit and some other devotees were engaged in Baba’s service, Baba said to Mitra, “You have come again; I knew you would.” Turning to Kaka Dixit He said, “We were talking about him last evening. Were we not?”
Mitra’s throat choked up. Does Baba talk about me even if I am out of His sight? So much grace He is bestowing upon me. Mitra was very happy. Mitra then asked Baba about his boss’s illness. Baba told him to convey the message, “Do not take him to Mumbai. Let him stay at Nasik. That is a good place for him. He will be peaceful there. Do not trouble him. On his feet he will come here”. (To payee chalat yeel)
The factory owner, who was seriously ill, was well educated and a foreign returned person. (In those days going to a foreign country was a rare case.) He was wise enough to comprehend Baba’s message. Therefore, he steadied his mind and got ready for his final voyage.
Seeing that he is counting his last, his kith and kin started shedding tears. It did not disturb his firm mind. He said to them, “I have toiled and done whatever I could,for you. At this moment, let me be at peace. Those who want to cry, please go to the next room”. He turned his eyes towards Baba’s photo, folded his hands in salutation, and whispered, “Lord, I am coming to You”.
Everybody then understood the meaning of Baba’s words. Baba had said, “he will come to Me”. Noteworthy fact was, that person had never gone to Shirdi for Baba’s darshan, though he was fully devoted to Baba. He was engaged in his business; he was not worshipping God in a conventional way. But he was loyal to Baba. At the last moment of his life also, he was vigilant and met the death keeping Baba in mind and sight. Baba knew his devotees wherever they were and would always be merciful to them.
One day Mitra was sitting in Dwarkamai. He was doing seva (service). Politely he said to Baba, “Baba, You have always been kind to me. I request you to release me from this body”. Baba said, “Are you mad Why do you want to die? There are many things you still have to do”.
He humbly accepted and said, “As You wish, Baba.” Two years later, in 1918, Baba left His body. Mitra still remained devoted to Baba. He never went after any Sadhu or Sanyasi (Ascetic). Once he happened to meet Sadguru of the owner of the factory, where he was working. He asked Sadguru, Malsar Maharaj, “Maharaj, Kindly do me a favour. I want to leave this body now. Please help me to be free”. Maharaj replied, “Are you mad? Have you forgotten what your Sadguru Baba had said? You have to do so many things before that”.
Mitra was astonished to hear the same words of Baba from Maharaj. He came to understand the Divinity of Baba. He had talked to Mitra through Maharaj even though He was not in His physical form.
The same Malsar Maharaj took Samadhi in 1921. Only two days before Samadhi he told some of his devotees, “Baba will appear again as a young lad of twenty years”. This indicates that Baba was self manifested and was not born like an ordinary human being. (this is called “Ayonisambhav”)
In this way Mitra got satisfaction and bliss in Sagunopasana of Sai Baba. He left his Brahmo-Samajist thoughts far behind and was completely transformed after coming in Baba’s proximity. He experienced that Baba was protecting him even after His Samadhi. All his life he remained absorbed in devotion and love of Baba.
END OF CHAPTER 22
In the next chapter we shall how the second meeting of Mitra with Sai Baba helped him to be on the right of Spiritual Progress.
© Author – Dr. Keshav Bhagwant Gavankar (Annasahib Gavankar) – Explicit Rights To Publish To Shirdi Sai Baba Books.com (Member of SaiYugNetwork.com)