Wednesday, August 4, 2010

|| chapter nine ||

|| shirdi pilgrimage and other stories ||

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

In this chapter, Hemad Pant tells us the effect of compliance and non compliance of Baba’s instructions, pilgrimage to Shirdi, mendicancy and its necessity, Tarkhad’s family and other matters.


“Mahabharata is an ocean of knowledge. Hence, if we have to collect the jewels of knowledge, unless we take our mind deep into the Mahabharata ocean, we cannot acquire the educative gems.” says Sri Nanduru Subrahmanya Sharma. Like Mahabharata, Sri Sai Satcharita is also an ocean. While consenting fully to the writing of Sai Satcharita by Hemad Pant, Baba said, “In the ocean called Sai Satcharita Shravanam, nectar like waves of bhakti and prema are rising and falling. By diving deep, one can easily get plenty of upadesha ratnas.” Sri M Seshu Babu says,

“సాయి సచ్చరిత మననం
అంతులెని సాగర గర్భం
మణిమాణిక్యాలకు తరగని నిలయం
రక్తికి ముక్తికి సింహద్వారం”

A rough translation means that meditation of Sai Satcharita, an endless ocean of everlasting treasury of gems and ratnas, is the gateway to divine love and salvation. Let us now delve deep into the ninth chapter to extract the navaratnas.


“If Body, mind and speech are not coordinated properly, any worship is ineffective. How can there be light if the wick, the oil and the lamp are all in different places?” asks Malayala Yatindra.

Something similar happened to Ramachandra Atmaram Tarkhad. He was an officer of high rank in a big mill. Everyday, he had to go early in the morning. Only when he promised his son that he would not touch food unless he performed Sai Pooja, did the son go with his mother to Shirdi. He performed the Pooja very sincerely for some days. On one day, his body was in front of Sai’s photo, his mouth was reciting Sai namams, but his mind was somewhere else. At that time he did not notice this discrepancy. Pooja was over, but he forgot to offer naivedyam. It meant that the Pooja on that day was perfunctory. Tarkhad never liked doing Pooja in this way. He had prayed Baba that whatever Pooja he does, it should be like his son’s. Maybe because his mind was not under his control, or because of some maya, a minor discrepancy set in during the worship. Baba could have warned him appropriately, but he did not do so, as this worship is a reminder to the devotees that whatever may be the reason, it should not be done perfunctorily.


In this chapter, Hemad Pant narrates Govind Balram Mankar’s story. When he was on his way to Shirdi, Mrs Tarkhad gives a pedha to be offered to Sai. Govind had Sai’s darshan but forgot to offer the pedha. It appeared to be natural as he was mourning his father’s death. He went again in the evening for Sai’s darshan, and once again, he forgot to offer the pedha. Then Sai asked, “Did anyone give me anything?” “No” said Govind, implying that he was still in the state of forgetfulness. Then Sai asked him frankly about the pedha. Govind remembered the pedha, went to his room and penitently offered the pedha to Sai. One should accept responsibility only if it could be discharged properly. Promises should be made if only they are kept . Breaking a promise leads to further karma.

Let us pray that the above two stories will always keep the devotees from forgetfulness and make them alert.

Tarkhad’s perfunctory worship also reminds us of another aspect.


Being a senior officer in a big mill, it was normal that Tarkhad was thinking about the affairs of the mill. It also could have distracted him from the worship. He could have consoled his mind in that way. He could have also comforted from the fact that no one was observing him at that moment. Such things keep happening in life. Had he done any of these things, it would have been a totally different story. The letter he wrote to his son regarding the naivedyam points to his sincerity. By apologizing for the mistake made, rather than covering it up conveniently, Tarkhad behaved as a true devotee should.

Hasn’t this story set an example for all the Sai devotees to follow? Sai needs such devotees and not those who survive moment to moment by giving lame excuses for even trivia.


Occasionally new trends are observed in devotion to Sai. If they are worth applicable, they become traditions. The flags offered on Sri Ramanavami day, the wheat bag which is replaced annually etc are now established traditions.

Whenever someone is served a meal, the tradition is that the first item to be eaten is ghee. Sai also followed this method of taking ghee, offering some ghee to dhuni and then begin his meal. Sri Sai Satcharita says that Ramachandra Tarkhad used to do this in a different way. Everyday, he used to perform Sai Pooja in the Brahmi Muhurtham (an hour and a half before sunrise), offer naivedyam and then go to work. He came in the afternoon and had his meals at that time. The cook would serve the naivedyam in his plate. His first item was the naivedyam offered that morning to Sai. He would then begin his lunch. Though this is not the traditional method, Sai devotees may like to follow this also.


The Pandavas successfully finished the Aswamedha Yagam. Honouring the guests, annadanams and other programmes were on. Yudhishtira donated land as dakshina. There was a shower of flowers. At that time a mongoose came to the yagnashala and began to laugh. Half the body of the mongoose was golden, and the other half was normal. In a human language it began to say, “Is this also a yagam?! It does not come anywhere near the charity of one seer of wheat floor given by Saktuprastha in Kurukshetra". All those assembled there were dumbfounded. They asked the mongoose the reason for its outburst. The mongoose said, “There is nothing wrong in what I said. There was a Brahmin by name Saktuprastha in Kurukshetra. Due to extreme poverty, he and his family could not get anything to eat for several days. After many such days, he got some grains of wheat as alms. One seer of flour was made out of it. After doing Panchayagna, the family got ready to eat the flour.

At that time, an unknown guest arrived. Saktuprastha welcomed the guest and worshiping him duly, offered his share of the flour to the guest as a naivedyam. The guest ate it. Saktuprastha’s wife could understand that the guest’s hunger was not satiated. She offered her share of the flour also. As that was also not enough, the brahmin’s son offered his share. Even then, the guest was hungry. Then, the son’s wife, who was pregnant, also offered her share to the guest. As a pregnant woman, it was not necessary for her to fore go food, but feeling that her father-in-law’s prestige was also her own, she gave her share of the food. The guest’s hunger was fully satiated. The Dharmadevata, who had come in the form of the guest, was fully pleased, and ordering a divine chariot, sent the entire family to the heavens. As I was there at that time, I rolled over in what little flour was left. That part of my body has turned into gold. To turn the other half also to gold, I have gone to all the yagas and rolled over. Now, I tried here also, but without any success. The Aswamedha Yagam, which you are praising so much, can in no way equal the begging brahmin’s one seer of wheat flour.” So saying, the mongoose ran away.

In the above story, there are a few points worth noting.


The Aswamedha Yagam was performed on a lavish scale but without the dedication and love. Charities were given perfunctorily.

In this chapter, Mrs Tarkhad sent brinjals (egg plant) through Mrs Purandare to Baba. Baba asked for it and ate the brinjal curry. Though Sai did not get any information that Mrs Tarkhad had sent the brinjals, he responded to her love and affection.

One more point.

When she was in Shirdi, Tarkhad’s wife fed a roti to a hungry dog. She fed it without any preconceived notion that she is feeding another being. It means that she did not feel that she was feeding it nor that the dog accepted the roti from her, and consequently she did not have any egoism in this act. It was this selfless offering which pleased Sai.


Is it possible to describe the items prepared for the annadanam in the Aswamedha Yagam? Had it been one or two items, one could easily narrate in detail. The items would have been countless. Still, all that put together could not equal the worth of one seer of wheat flour. Tarkhad’s wife gave only one roti to the dog. That single roti alone satisfied Sai, the Vishwatma. .

Kakasaheb Dixit once traveled from Nagpur to Shirdi. As he was in a hurry, he could not bring anything to offer to Sai and he was feeling shy of it. Still, he went ahead and had Sai’s darshan. Just then, a devotee offered grapes to Baba. Baba gave some to Kakasaheb also. Kakasaheb immediately offered some to Sai. In other words, what was once offered to Sai was once again offered to him. Sai did not refuse, he accepted them and ate also. This made Kakasaheb very happy.

Even though the same item is offered a second time, Sai accepted as long as the offering was made with devotion. Mrs Tarkhad sent a pedha which had already been offered, through Govind, and Baba without any hesitation accepted it. In fact, he asked for it and ate it with relish. There is nothing which cannot be offered to Sai, as long as we do it with love and affection.


In the eighth chapter there was a description of Bayajabai. Even before he was well known, she used to take food to Sai deep in the jungles and fed him with love and affection. She was a dedicated devotee. It was explained in that chapter that such unexplainable attachment could be the result of the good deeds done in previous births. In another chapter, Sitabai Tendulkar’s devotion was described. She came to Shirdi for Sai’s darshan. While taking food in a hotel, she threw a roti, without even moving, to a dog which strayed there. The dog ate the roti. Sai was pleased. Bayajabai’s love was unexplainable. Sitabai’s was selfless love. Sai approved both these types. Further, he said that he is in all those beings which come to us with hunger. Sai advised us to feed him through those hungry beings. This was not to proclaim his omnipresence. It was meant only to impress on us that we can satisfy him just by feeding the hungry beings which come to us, without our going far and wide. The only condition was that it should be done without ever thinking that it is I who is giving the food and thus doing a favour to the other being. We have to help every being but, without the thought of expecting any returns now or later. Hence it would be ideal to embark on service to those beings which are in no position to return our services. Sai, thus, has helped us to serve him without any effort on our part.

Sai is always ready to accept our devotion and love. Is there any place where he is not there? Saidas says

సాయినాథుడు షిరిడీలోనే
ఉన్నాడనుకొని తలచకురా
ఎక్కడ తలచిన అగుపింతుననే
సాయిమాట మరవకురా

“Don’t think that Sainath is in Shirdi only. Don’t forget Sai’s saying that he is there wherever you think of him”. Chapter nine is an example of the above couplet.

Ramachandra Atmaram Tarkhad’s wife, with her son went to Shirdi for Sai darshan. The boy was still very young. In the beginning he refused to accompany his mother. Not because he did not like to see Sai, but he was not sure that the daily Pooja and naivedyam to Sai’s photo that he was doing, would be done by his father. He preferred to do Pooja to Sai in photo rather than see Sai in person. It is not difficult to find the reason. Even at that young age, he had understood that there is no difference between Sai in the photo at Bandra and the Sai in Shirdi. Sai also said on various occasions that there is no difference between him and his photo. If the boy had heard these sayings, he would have been a model devotee who had implemented Sai’s sayings. Even though he did not know this, it is really amazing that he could acquire such proficiency in spirituality.


Having chosen Shirdi as his Karmabhoomi, Sai rarely went to any other place. However, there are several instances of his being physically in Shirdi and, at the same time, at other places also. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it was the devotees love and affection which pulled him to those places.

Sai told Tarkhad’s wife and son, “Mother! Like everyday, today also I went to Bhau’s place in Bandra”. In May 1914, he told the same thing on a different occasion. The conversation is as follows:

Sai: Mother! I have to go to your house three times every day.
Tarkhad’s wife: Yes! Baba!

A lady from Shirdi, who was seeing Baba everyday at the masjid, was surprised to hear Baba’s saying and asked, “Baba! Why are you talking so strangely today?”

Sai: I never tell lies. I am Mahalakshmi. Mother! I am coming to your house. You are giving something for me to eat. Is it not true?”
Tarkhad’s wife: Yes! Baba!
Sai told the Shirdi lady: Yes, mother! I go very easily to her house in Bandra. There is a wall in between. There is a railway line after the wall. Then, there is her house. (Sai was describing the route as the crow flies from Shirdi to Bandra) I have to fly over the walls and the excavations”

This was Sai’s trip to Bandra, that too three times a day. Tarkhad family’s love and the devotees rinanubandham is the reason for those trips. Let us pray that we also develop such a relationship with Baba.


Who can dispute the fact that Sai knew the past, present and the future! Still, for various reasons, there were several occasions when Sai’s words were ignored. If someone takes a decision without trusting Sai’s words, then a price has to be paid for that.

Once, Mhalsapathi had to go to a village called as Arthangon and do paraayana of Malhari Mahatyam. Sai had told him not to go there. Still, he had to go as the programme was already arranged. While the parayana was going on, some boys had some problems and fighting began. Soon it flared up and the elders also joined the fight. Mhalsapathi had no option but to return. If we get Sai’s instructions, in any form, it is better to follow them.


Sai’s love towards his devotees is like the love of a father towards the children. It is true that a father uses harsh words, but they are meant only to inculcate discipline in the children. And in addition to being a father, Sai is also our mother. The mother’s love reduces the severity of the blow – instead of using a cane, a mild slap on the back is administered. That is what happened to Mhalsapathi. Sai, no doubt, pulled him out of the fierce fighting and saved him from getting any blows, but had Mhalsapathi heeded to Baba’s advice, the discomfiture could have been avoided.

The same thing happened to the European also. Had he heeded Baba’s words and stayed for a day more at Shirdi, not only his desire of kissing Baba’s hand would have materialized, but the needless suffering and subsequent hospitalization could have been avoided.


Imambhai came to Shirdi. After staying for some time, he wanted to go back. Then Sai said, “No one need go. If anyone goes, then storms, fireballs and difficulties will follow”. Imambhai ignored Sai’s warning and left Shirdi. By sunset, he reached a village. The villagers told him that he should stay for the night and in the sunlight he could continue his journey. They specifically asked him not to travel in the night as it was dangerous. Imambhai ignored their advice also and continued. After some distance, it began to drizzle and then rained heavily with lightening and thunder. A few feet away from him, a tree split into two because of lightening. Imambhai was frightened. He dared to turn back and see. Sai Baba was standing there with two black dogs. Imambhai prostrated to Baba. Sai disappeared. Rain stopped. Without knowing the depth of the river flowing near the town, he jumped into it and swam across to the other shore. When he turned around to see, the scene terrified him. The bunds of the river were breached and the river was overflowing. He could not understand how he swam across a river whose depths could easily have been at least twenty feet. Sai protects even those who ignore his advice.

Though the words and actions are harsh, the motherly affection of Sai will always be with the devotees and will be protecting them. We need not assume that as Sai did not fulfill our wishes, he is cruel. The real reason would be known later.


Hemad Pant says, “Begging is most appropriate for Baba”. He elaborates this by saying, “Those who have the firm belief that they are Vasudeva, Vishwambhara and the imperishable parabrahma and that the entire universe is their dwelling place, are only eligible to beg”. Sri Sai Satcharitra is the essence of all the Upanishads. Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad says,

paramatmani yo rakto virakto'paramatmani
sarvaishanavinirmuktah sa bhaiksham bhoktumarhati
He who is attached to the supreme Self (Paramatman), is detached from things other than that (Paramatman); freed from all desires it behoves on his part to eat food given as alms.

pujito vanditashcaiva suprasanno yatha bhavet
tatha cettadyamanastu tada bhavati bhaikshabhuk
When a person, who becomes very pleased when he is honoured and respectfully saluted, becomes similarly (very pleased) when he is being beaten, then he is a (true) mendicant monk (subsisting on alms).

ahamevaksharam brahma vasudevakhyamadvayam
iti bhavo dhruvo yasya tada bhavati bhaikshabhuk
‘I am the indestructible non-dual Brahman alone, called Vasudeva (Lord Vishnu)’ – he whose firm attitude is thus (established) becomes a (true) mendicant monk.

Sri Sai Satcharitra is the gem among Upanishads. It is the practical guide to the Upanishad Sutras.


It was the transitional period between Treta Yugam and Dwapara Yugam. During that period, the entire world was undergoing never before heard of drought. There were no rains for 12 years. People had degenerated to such an extent that they did not mind eating the flesh of other human beings.

It had become difficult even for sage Vishwamitra to maintain his family. The family was living in a forest. In a nearby cremation ground, at midnight, the flesh of a dog was left hanging in front of a house. Unable to bear the pangs of hunger, Vishwamitra decided to steal the dog flesh. Just then, a dog barked and the owner came out, saw Vishwamitra and asked who he was. Being new to theft, Vishwamitra revealed everything about himself. The owner then asked him, “Is there no way, other than stealing?” Viswamitra explained the finer points of dharma and convinced the owner that there was no alternative.

Viswamitra took the dog meat home and offered some part of it to the devatas, and pitrudevatas, through the Pancha Mahayagna. Devendra was pleased with the offering and immediately rained the land to such an extent that all the drought was wiped out. Bhishma narrated this story to Yudhistira on the bed of arrows, to show the importance of the Pancha Mahayagna.

Hemad Pant says that, “The gruhasthas are prohibited from partaking their food before performing the Pancha Mahayagana. Sai used to perform this Yagna everyday in Shirdi and only then allow others to take their food. The individual components of Pancha Mahayagna are Deva, Rushi, Pitru, Bhoota, and Manushya Yagnas. Baba always encouraged the devotees to perform these Yagnas.


Study of Vedas, or Vedadhyayana, is called as the Brahma Yagna. The scriptures say that study of sacred religious texts is also Brahma Yagna. Vedas, Upanishads, and Gayatri were always studied at Dwarakamai by eminent Veda Pandits and devoted Vaishnavites. The most effective Eknath Bhagavat, Vishnu Sahasranamam, Jnaneshwari, Panchadasi, were some of the books that were used for daily parayanam. Baba used to listen to the devotees do the parayanam and then clarify any doubts they had.


Pitru Yagna is performed to satisfy pitru devatas. The scriptures say that if an atmajnani is born in a family, then all the preceding generations in the family are liberated. Sai gave sadgati to so many who had surrendered to him. Bhagavanta Rao Ksheerasagar had discontinued performing shraaddhas to his ancestors. Baba reminded that fact to him, scolded him for ignoring it and then made him resume the performance of shraaddhas.

Those who are involved in social activities do not believe in performing shraaddha karmas to the dead. Gopal Bhaskar Datar was one among them. He came to know that Baba helped his devotee Nachne, being with him, in performing the shraaddha karmas of Nachne’s wife. Datar says, “I also felt that it is beneficial to do such karmas. From the time I came to know about Nachne’s case, I am also doing these karmas”.


Deva Yagna is performed to please the Devas. Sai would get the food prepared with ghee, and offer it first to dhuni. Every day at 11.30 am, Vaishwadeva Pooja is performed by offering cooked rice and ghee to dhuni. On behalf of all the devotees, Shirdi Sansthan is conducting this pooja even now.

Sai attached great importance to the worship of gods. He scolded Nanasaheb Chandorkar for not visiting the Datta Mandir, on the way to Shirdi, while coming for his darshan.

Sai compelled Shama to go to Vani in the Nasik District and thus fulfill his mother’s promise to the goddess there.

Sai sent back Meghashyam to do archana at Khandoba temple, as he had come without doing the same.


Satisfying all the beings by feeding them is Bhoota Yagna. Bhoota here is used to mean the being. Sai fed birds and animals during his mendicancy. When he returned to Dwarakamai, he would dump all the eatables obtained from begging into a kolamba. The animals would then eat from the kolamba. Sai’s generosity did not end there. He gave even the rotis he got made from Lakshmibai Shinde to a hungry dog. Sai told her that that was the way to follow.


This is also called as Atithi Yagna. Sai always treated Bade Baba as an Atithi (guest) and took meals with him. If Bade Baba did not eat, Sai also did not eat. Sai explained Nanasaheb Chandorkar that Atithis need not be human beings. Any hungry being is an Atithi. Sai told Tendulkar that at least a piece of jaggery should be given to the hungry instead of rudely turning them out.

If we are able to follow at least some of the Pancha Yagnas that Sai practiced daily, we can feel happy that we are in the right path.


For those who want to understand the omnipresence of Sai, continuous parayana of this chapter will help greatly.

Let us pray that Sai will grant us the necessary resources to perform the Pancha Yagnas, by doing parayana of this chapter.

Let us pray that Sai will enhance our love for all the beings by doing parayana of this chapter.

With this the ninth chapter, called the importance of Shirdi pilgrimage and other stories, is complete. In the next chapter, Hemad Pant tells us about Sai Baba’s mode of life, His teachings, His miracles and other matters.

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