Sunday, May 30, 2010

|| chapter one ||

|| chapter one ||

|| the story of grinding wheat grains ||

|| Sri Ganeshaya Namaha || Sri Saraswatye Namaha ||
|| Sri Venkateshaya Namaha || Sri Sai Nathaya Namaha ||
|| Sri Sadgurubhyo Namaha ||


Hemad Pant begins Sri Sai Satcharitra traditionally with salutations to:

GANESHA - to remove any hurdles that may come and to make this work successful. He says that Sri Sai is Ganesha.

SARASWATI - the goddess of learning to inspire him in the writing of this work. He says that Sri Sai is same as goddess Saraswati. He further says that Sri Sai Himself is singing His story.

BRAHMA, VISHNU AND MAHESHWARA - the gods, who create, preserve and destroy. He says that Sri Sai is not different from the Trimurthis. He further says that Sainath is the sadguru who will ferry us across this ocean of samsara.

NARAYAN ADINATH - who manifested in Konkan and to the Adi Purusha of the family.

BHARADWAJA - in whose gotra (clan) he was born.

VARIOUS OTHER SAGES - Yagnyavalka, Bhrigu, Parashara, Narada, Vedavyasa, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara, Shuka, Shounaka, Vishvamitra, Vasishta, Valmiki, Vamadeva, Jaimini, Vaishampayana, Nava Yogindra, etc and to modern saints Nivritti, Jnandev, Sopan, Muktabai, Janardan, Ekanath, Namdev, Tukaram, Kanha and Narahari etc.

HIS RELATIVES - His grandfather Sadashiv, his father Raghunath, his mother who left him in his infancy, his paternal aunt who brought him up, and to his loving elder brother.

READERS - to give their whole and undivided attention

HIS GURU SRI SAINATH - incarnation of Sri Dattatreya. Sai is his sole refuge, who will make him realize that Brahman alone is the reality and everything else is Maya.


The epic begins in the traditional way prevalent in the Maharashtra region, with salutations to Lord Ganapati. Usually, after invoking Lord Ganapati, the goddess of intelligence, Saraswati is invoked and then the causative forces behind this universe, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara are invoked. Hemad Pant deviates from this tradition in that after invoking Lord Ganapati, he says that Sai is Ganapati. After invoking Saraswati, he says that Sai is Saraswati and after invoking the Trimurtis, he says that Sai alone is all of them – in fact, Sai is sakaladevataswaroopa. Hemad Pant says that not just these gods alone, but anything in this universe is a form of Sai. Satcharitra has the beauty of the language. It also has the literary fragrance necessary to make it highly readable. The Ovi metre in which it is written compels the reader to read again and again, with each reading providing a different significant interpretation.

Sri Sai Satcharitra is closest to the heart of every Sai Devotee. It tells the story of the God who walked on earth. Sai Baba’s life did not possess any of the ingredients that would make a worthwhile biography. In the normal sense, He did not have any extraordinary physical life. It was made up of several events which were inimitably linked to His devotees. When Govind Raghunath Dabholkar saw Baba grinding wheat grains, meant to save the village of Shirdi from cholera, he realized that these events should not be lost in the abyss of history. He felt that at least some of the events should be chronicled and preserved for the posterity. By Baba’s grace, Sri Sai Satcharitra was thus born. Over the years, it has not only found a place among the daily parayana granthas, but has also become a classic par excellence.


Hemad Pant says that no other form of worship like japa or tapa is required if we can concentrate only on the pure, saguna form of Sai. Keeping the enchanting form of Sai in our mental vision would make us forget hunger and thirst. Compared to the eternal bliss that one gets by thinking of Sai, all other worldly pleasures are insignificant. Sai devotees get into raptures just by looking at the mesmerizing figure of Sai. The thought of Sai makes the heart swell with love and the joy that ensues engulfs the entire being.

Dadasaheb Khaparde was one such person who was immersed in this ocean of bliss. He says, “I can’t describe how pleasant Baba’s words were today. I can’t find words for the same. I am ready to spend my entire life in Shirdi just for that one bewitching smile of Baba.” These are words from his diary.

Moreshwar Vishwanath Pradhan was another devotee who went into raptures at the sight of Baba. He says, “The way in which Baba washes his face, hands and legs is only seen to be believed. It can’t be described in words. It is a pleasant and memorable sight for the eyes to behold. With water in his palms he sprinkles it on his face, eyes, ears and legs. That action is simply divine. His bath is also one such sight.” Maybe it was because of this that Sri BV Narasimha Swamy describes Sai as “
Suroopa Sundaraya Namaha.” Let us pray that the divinely glowing face of Sai would free us from the worldly bondages.


Every word uttered by Baba has a deep meaning. Every action of Baba is a lesson to the ardent devotee towards spiritual growth. Both the word and the action can only be understood by the maturity a devotee has attained. At various times, Baba himself has explained many of his leelas.

Hemad Pant narrates one such Leela of Baba – grinding of wheat grains - in the first chapter of Sri Sai Satcharitra.


Once, Alagamma visited Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. She knew that Bhagavan liked papads very much in his childhood. This time she came with all the paraphernalia to prepare papads and feed them to Bhagavan. She asked Him to help her in the preparation of papads. He not only refused to help but was very adamant not to do so. She tried to cajole Him. Yielding to her requests, Bhagavan said, “OK, you prepare your papads and I will prepare my papads”. Then He began singing about papads. By the time she completed her papads, Bhagavan also completed His singing. Seeing the papads, He said, “You eat your papads and I will eat my papads.” Bhagavan’s song on papads had the gist of the entire Vedanta. Not only that, it subsequently became part of a daily parayana schedule. That was how a very ordinary event called as preparation of papads gave birth to one of the great philosophical treatises.

For an adibikshu who lived in a dilapidated masjid and spent his entire life begging for food, where is the necessity for Sai to grind wheat grains? Ashtasiddhi and Navanidhis were already under his command.


Swami Vivekananda was very keen to see Pavahari Baba and get deeksha from him. Pavahari Baba lived by inhaling air alone and like Sai Baba, did annadanam. He used to perform keertanas and yaagas. Once Swami Vivekananda asked him, “Baba, you are such a great yogi, where is the necessity for you to perform poojas, yagnas, yaagas? These are for only ordinary persons.” Pavahari Baba shot back, “Is it necessary that all actions should be self centered? Can’t these be done for the welfare of others?”

Sai Baba once told Swami Sai Sharanananda, “There is no necessity to do anything for our sake. What all is being done is for the sake of others”. Jagadguru Sri Krishna also told the same to Arjuna, “Arjuna! I do not have to perform any karma in this universe. I am the desirable one. I do not have to desire anything. Even then, I am always engaged in performing karma.” Sai is embodiment of love. He is kind. Every action of his is directed towards the welfare of all. The extent of his avatar is immense. It transcends the individual, the family, society, country and the universe. In the episode of grinding wheat grains, it went beyond the individual and crossed the boundaries of Shirdi.

Even when Sai was not so well known, Golagamudi Venkaiah, the Andhra Avadhoota used to say, “My brother is there in the North. He also performs agnihotram by maintaining Dhuni”. Avadhoota Venkaiah would go to any extent and worked incessantly for the welfare of all, irrespective of whether he was invited or not, whether the other person was his devotee or not.

In the village of Boyinapalle, near Budwel in Cuddapah district, every new born child was dying even before it had its initial bath. Though no one invited him Venkaiah Swamy went to that place with his servant Chalama Naidu. Venkaiah Swamy stayed near the Shivalayam near one end of the village, and sent his friend Ramanaidu to Ramalayam, at the other end of the village. He asked Chalama Naidu to call all the villagers near his end by shouting, “Shiva is calling you” and those near the Ramalayam were told that Rama is calling them. Venkaiah Swamy did this continuously for seven days. From then on, there was no infant mortality at all in that village.

The actions of great saints like Sai Baba defy human logic. The meanings of their leelas vary depending on the spiritual growth attained by the seeker.


When Sai was grinding wheat grains, four women in the Shirdi village came forward to help Sai. Their intentions were good. Sai was impressed by their love and affection and allowed them to grind the wheat grains. Though the act began with a service motif, the women became ambitious and began thinking about what Sai would do with the wheat flour. As Sai was a beggar seeking alms, they thought that the flour was meant to be given to them. Thinking thus, they divided the flour into four equal parts and began packing it for taking home. The attitude of service did not last till the last. Desire engulfed them. Seeing this, Sai was furious. He began shouting. It is to be understood that Sai was not scolding the women but their desire to take the flour which did not belong to them. Unless the mind is sufficiently controlled, and not allowed to wander in all directions, one should not indulge in any service oriented tasks.

Sai taught the same concept to Nanasaheb Nimonkar. Nimonkar worked as a treasurer for Sai Baba. Whatever money Baba was getting, he gave to Nimonkar. Even close devotees like Shyama thought that Baba gave money to Nimonkar for his personal use. Baba used to caution all, “Anyone who steals the fakir’s money has to payback everything”.

Once, at the Sai Spiritual Centre in Bangalore, Baba’s evening aarati was being performed. Krishnamurthy, one of the devotees, was taking the aarati plate around to all other devotees. Devotees were offering coins as dakshina in the plate. Without anyone noticing it, he pocketed a 50 paise coin. It was not for his personal use, but he wanted to offer a cup of coffee with those 50 paise to Sri Saipadananda, who was tired having rendered service from the morning. Krishnamurthy felt that a cup of coffee would rejuvenate Sri Saipadananda to some extent. He knew that all the labour of Sri Saipadananda was for Sai’s sake only and none for himself. When he was about to put the remaining coins into the hundi box, Sri Saipadananda shouted from his room itself, “There is a shortage of 50 paise, who has taken it?” All the devotees present were nonplussed. They did not know what was happening. Then Krishnamurthy went to Sri Saipadananda and explained what he had done. Sri Saipadananda very seriously rebuked Krishnamurthy. He said,”Sai’s money is very sacred. Nothing should be taken from that money even for my use”. Krishnamurthy then dropped the 50 paise coin into the hundi box. The important point to note here is not how Sri Saipadananda, being at some other place, could know the shortage of 50 paise. The moral is that no one should use Baba’s money for their own personal use. If we contemplate on Sai with undivided attention, Sai will definitely grant us extraordinary powers.


The four women did what they had to do, but they did not stop at that. They desired for the result of the karma – they wanted to take the flour. However, they were not entitled for the result of their karma. Like Jagadguru Sri Krishna, Sai also said, “You have a right to do karma but not on the result of that karma. Hence, you should do karma without thinking of the results.” Mind will not waver if the karma is done without the desire for the result. The result should be offered to Sai.

Those four women, in spite of their desire, did something very admirable and worth emulating. Throughout the process of grinding, they were singing Sai’s leelas. While doing any work, if we train our minds on Sai or any ishta devata, Sai will be immensely pleased. One need not wait for an opportune moment to.


Sri Nagesh Vasudev Gunaji has explained the philosophical import of the grinding of wheat grains. He has cited Kabir’s example also. Sri Gunaji says that what Sai was grinding was not just the wheat grains, but the accumulated sins and the ill-will of his devotees. The upper stone of the hand mill is bhakti, lower one is karma. The handle on the upper stone is the jnanam. With the help of bhakti, karma and jnana, all of the desires, ambitions, egoism, and sins symbolized by the wheat grain could be powdered into atmajnanam represented by the wheat flour.

Another explanation offered is that the axle at the centre of the lower stone is paramatma. All the grains coming together the axle would not be ground into powder. If a devotee stays near the axle called as paramatma, the devotee would be safe. Those going away would be ground to fine powder and destroyed.


Having seen Sai grind the wheat grains, a lady from Nargaon asked Sai for the reason behind this act. Sai said, “I had to do this for the welfare of my devotees. The evil forces behind the cholera epidemic were waiting near the village border and were requesting me to allow them to take a few lives with them. I am asking them to take wheat flour instead of their lives.” It was because of this reason that Sai asked the four women to spread the wheat flour along the border of the village.

Once, a Sai devotee came from Bombay with her son for Baba’s darshan. Baba asked the boy to sit near him on a mat. Sai cautioned the boy not to move without his permission. The boy sat still from morning till 3.00pm and was getting restless. At that time, a wily looking shape jumped the fence and entered Dwarakamai. The boy was seeing it enter. The shape told Sai that it will take away the boy. Ignoring Sai’s refusal, the shape went near the boy to catch him. Immediately, Sai gave it a ferocious kick. Shouting helplessly, the shape ran away. Sai told the mother that the shape was none other than the cholera epidemic and that he had rescued the boy from that disease.

The protecting hand is always mightier than the one which slays!


Karunasagara, Swasamvedya, Sarvateeta, Anaadyananta, Nityaananda, Poornakaama, Swaprakasha, Sarvottama, Mangaladhama, Atmarama, Godavariteera vihaara are the various names by which Hemad Pant sings the glory of Samartha Sadguru Sainath.

At the end of each chapter, he calls this epic as Sri Sai Samartha Satcharitra instead of Sri Sai Satcharitra. Samartha Sai is our only mantram, yantram and everything. Anyone who is capable, worthy, efficient, benevolent, and also who can give instant liberation from the worldly bondages is called as Samartha. Let us bow to such a Samartha – our beloved Sai.


Hemad Pant says that by sravana, smarana, varnana of Sadguru’s stories the mind is ennobled. He also says that all the three types of sufferings will vanish and self realisation is experienced.

Every word in this epic is highly efficacious.

Let us pray that Sai would eradicate diseases like cholera, whenever they strike any place, as he did in Shirdi.

With this the first chapter, called the story of grinding wheat grains, is complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant discusses the objective of writing the Satcharitra, title of Hemad Pant and the necessity of a guru and other matters.

|| Sri Sadguru Sainathaarpanamasthu || Shubham Bhavatu ||
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti