Life History of Shirdi Sai Baba
Sometimes Baba narrated his experiences in the form of a story. One day, after watering the plants in Lendi Bagh, Baba was sitting with Tatya under a nearby tree. Then Bhate and other devotees came there and sat with them. Baba shared his reminiscences with them.
Veerabhadrappa - Chenna Basappa
One morning, I went for a stroll, and going some distance, I rested under a tree by the side of a rivulet. A traveller came there and sat near me. A frog was croaking. He enquired me about it. I told him that the frog was tasting the bitter fruits of its karma (past actions). We have to reap the consequences of our actions whether right or wrong, of the previous birth, in this birth. He went to the spot from where the croaking sound was coming and found a black snake holding a frog in its mouth. I told him that both had been wicked in their previous birth and were reaping the consequences in this birth. He told me that the snake would devour the frog in a few minutes. I told him that I was like a father to the frog and would not allow it to die. Then we both went to the place where the snake was. I went near the snake and addressed it, "What Veerabhadrappa! Your foe Chenna Basappa had taken the form of a frog in this birth and is leading a lowly life. Though you are born as a snake, the enmity between you two has not subsided! Why are you having this enmity? You leave your hatred for each other and cool down."
On hearing my words, the snake released the frog and went into the water. The frog went away hopping. The traveller who was with me was surprised and asked me to tell him about Veerabhadrappa and Chenna Basappa. Then I narrated to him the details of the previous birth of the snake and the frog, as follows.
There was a dilapidated Shiva temple near a village named Mayuri. The villagers collected donations on a large scale, for getting the temple renovated. They appointed a wealthy man of the village as treasurer and handed over the collected amount to him. The person was a miser. He spent only a small amount for the temple but showed huge expenditure in the accounts. There was no improvement of the temple. If anyone questioned him, he put them off by his sweet words.
After some days, the deity in the temple, Mahadev appeared in the dreams of the miser’s wife and told her, "Construct the dome of the temple. I will pay back 100 times of the money you spend for this." When she told her husband about the dream, he laughed it off saying that was only a dream and could not be relied upon. When he was there, why did Mahadev tell her, ignoring him? The main aim of the dream appears to be to create ill-feelings between wife and husband. She became helpless and kept quiet.
Again after some days, Mahadev appeared in her dream and told her not to ask from her husband any money but to construct the dome of the temple with her money. She told her husband about this dream and decided to donate her jewels given to her by her parents, for the construction of the dome . Her miserly husband did not like this idea. He underestimated the value of the jewels as rupees one thousand and in exchange, without giving her the amount, gave her some dry land unfit for cultivation. Even this land did not belong to him. A poor old woman named Dubaki had pledged this piece of land with the miser for two hundred rupees and as she could not redeem it, the miser had annexed it. This cunning miser not only deceived his wife and Dubaki but also God. As this land is of no use, it was handed over to the temple priest.
After a period, a big cyclone hit the land and it rained heavily. During this time lightning struck the house of the miser and he and his wife died. In course of time Dubaki also died . In his next birth, the miser was born to a poor brahmin couple in Mathura and named Veerabhadrappa who live by alms. His wife of the previous birth was born to the temple priest and named Gouri. Dubaki was born as a male child to the temple owner and named Chenna Basappa. Veerabhadrappa hankered for money in this birth also.
All of a sudden, the cost of the lands went up. The land of Dubaki, which the priest presented to his daughter Gouri was sold for rupees one lakh. The value of her jewels also increased hundredfold . As long as their cost was negligible,nobody bothered about them. But when the values shot up, they started quarelling among themselves. They came to me for advice. I told them that all the property belonged to Lord Mahadev. Therefore, it should go to the priest. Since the priest had no sons, all rights accrued to Gouri and no amount should be spent without her permission and her husband had no right to this property. Veerabhadrappa got angry over this and accused me of trying to appropriate the property through Gouri . Hearing this accusation, I prayed to God and kept silent. Veerabhadrappa and Chenna Basappa became enemies over money matters. Veerabhadrappa became wild and threatened Chenna Basappa that he would cut him into pieces. Chenna Basappa sought my protection . I assured him that I would save him from his enemy. After sometime Veerabhadrappa died and took rebirth as a snake. Because of their enmity in their previous birth, the snake tried to eat the frog. To enable me to fulfil my promsie, God sent me here and the frog is saved.
Just as in the case of the story of the two goats, we have to learn some important matters from the above story also. If enmity and unfriendly attitudes were to be our life’s aims, then were are bound to come down from the human level to the animal level in our next birth. Therefore, atleast for our sake, we should discard these qualities and spend our lives in the path shown by Sai Baba. This is Prema Marga.
If anyone misappropriates God’s money and uses it for himself or for his family, he will suffer due to acute poverty and will have to beg for his living as in the case of Veerabhadrappa. If the readers hold the posts of Trustees, Secretaries and Treasurers in charge of God’s wealth, they should be careful and should not use even a rupee for their personal benefit. In case some have previously used God’s money unintentionally, they should reimburse the amount into God’s treasury. It is hoped that the readers will take this advice in its correct perspective and become pure in mind and action.
Deo was the tahsildar of Dahanu in Thane district. He was a Sai devotee as were the members of his family. His mother started a ceremony. She would do puja daily for a month and the lst day Udyapan ceremony would be held. On that day, according to one’s capacity, a number of relatives, friends and devotees would be fed. Deo wanted to celebrate the concluding ceremony on a grand scale by feeding four to five hundred people. While they were discussing the arrangements, his wife suggested that if Shirdi Baba graced the occasion, the reward for the Udyapan ceremony would increase a hundred fold and wanted Sai to be invited. Deo immediately wrote to Bapu Saheb Jog who was at Shirdi, to invite Baba on his behalf for the Udyapan ceremony. Sitting in Dwarakamai Baba received Deo’s invitation through Jog, and said, "I will come running to my devotees who call me with devotion. I will never forget those who remember me always. Whenever anyone thinks of me with love, I will be by their side. I and two others will attend the ceremony. You write to Deo." After receiving the above message from Jog, all the family members of Deo were very happy. There was still a month’s time for the Udyapan ceremony.
A sanyasi came to the Station Master of Dahan railway station and consulted him on matters regarding collection of donations for the protection of cows. He was dressed like a Bengali gentleman. The Station Master told the sanyasi to consult Deo, the tahsildar, as he could help him in this matter. Just then Deo also went there and learnt about the sanyasi’s mission. He told the sanyasi that donations were being collected for some other good cause and it was better to come after a month. So he went away.
One month was over. It was the day of Udyapan ceremony. The house was full of relatives and friends. In the morning the Bengali sanyasi alighted from the tonga before Deo’s house . Deo recognised and invited him into the house. But the sanyasi told him that he had come for meals and not for donations. Deo assured him it was all right and since they are having Udyapan ceremony, meals would be served by noon. If the sanyasi could tell where he would be, then Deo said that he would sent someone to fetch him. The sanyasi told him that it was not necessary to send anyone. Moreover, Deo would be busy with the work relating to the ceremony. The sanyasi finally told Deo that he would come for meals along with two others, and went away.
It was noon. The sanyasi came with two youngsters when the meals were in progress and had their meals and went away. The Udyapan ceremony went off well. But Deo was not fully satisfied as Baba did not attend the function, in spite of his message that he would attend. He wrote about this to Jog who was at Shirdi. Jog took the letter to Baba. Without seeing or hearing the contents of the letter Baba told Jog that "Sai will never deceive anyone. Having invited me, Deo failed to recognise me, inspite of my telling him that the Bengali sanyasi has not come for donations but for meals, there were two more with me and that he need not send anyone to fetch us, we went to his house for meals at the correct time and after taking meals came back. "Baba asked Jog to write to Deo about this and to recollect at least now. Then he added, "By doing my nama smaran, if you do any good things, there will not be any obstacles. I will always be there for my devotees. It is my duty to look after their welfare. I would rather end my life than break my word."
Baba’s ‘Padukas’ under the Neem Tree in Gurusthan
Dr. Rama Rao Kotari was resident of Bombay. He came to Shridi in 1912, got attracted to Baba and was in Shirdi for a mumber of days . He made friends with Dixit, Chandorkar, Shama and others who were with Baba. While discussing matters, they thought that it would be befitting if Baba’s padukas got carved in stone and put under the neem tree in comemmoration of his first visit to Shirdi when he sat under the neem tree. Dr Kotari sent padukas carved out of stone from Bombay. During that period Upasini Baba was staying at Khandoba temple. As per his advise, the padukas were brought in a procession on the full-moon day in the month of shravana. That morning at 11 o’ clock Dixit brought the padukas, carrying them on his head.
From Khandoba temple the procession with musical instruments playing came up to Dwarakamai and after taking the blessings of Baba they were brought to the neem tree and installed under it. The Sai Mahima Shloka Sada Nimba Vrukshasya Muladhi Vaasaath written by Upasini Baba was also carved there. From that day onwards puja was being regularly done in Gurusthan. If devotees clean the place and burn incense and dhoop on Thursdays, they will get the blessings of God. This was personally told by Baba.
A Parsee businessman named Ratanji Shapurji Wadia was a resident of Nanded. He had no children. On the advise of Das Ganu, he went to Shirdi and had darshan of Sai Baba. He thought of giving five rupees as dakshina to Baba. This ‘thought’ of Ratanji was known to Baba and he asked him to give him five rupees. But immediately, he told Ratanji that he had already received Rs.3 and annas 14 out of five rupees and therefore he may now give the balance Re.1.2 annas ( 16 annas equal one rupee ). Ratanji could not recollect when he had given Rs.3 and annas 14 to Baba. Anyhow, he gave the balance now to Baba as dakshina. After thinking for some moments, he understood Baba’s statement. When Ratanji wanted to visit Shirdi, a muslim fakir named Moula Saheb had come to his house of Nanded. That day Ratanji had spent exactly Rs.3 and annas 14 in welcoming the fakir. As soon as he remembered this, Ratanji thought how great Baba was and there is nothing he did not know. He immediately went and sat near Baba’s feet and begged him to give him a child. He developed undeterred devotion to Baba . After sometime he was blessed with a male child.
Baba took dakshina only from a few devotees out of several who came for his darshan. Sometimes he accepted when devotees gave him unasked for. But he declined to take from such devotees at other times. He took dakshina from all, whether they were rich or poor. He used to ask dakshina from women and also children. If any devotee who Baba had asked for dakshina had no money, Baba advised him to take a loan, and give. If a devotee declined to give dakshina Baba never got angry. If anyone gave him more than what he asked for, he returned the excess amount. Sometimes he used to give back a portion of the dakshina to the devotees with an advice to keep it in the puja and worship. At times he took dakshina four or five times in a day from the same devotee. There were instances when the devotees gave away the entire amount they had with them. The devotees from whom Baba asked dakshina in return received the blessings of Baba. Such devotees never suffered for want of money in their lives. They always thought that Baba asked them dakshina for their own good.
Out of the money received through dakshina, Baba spent only a little of it for his chillum and towards firewood for the Dhuni. The balance amount he gave away to the poor and to those who were with him. Daily he gave away thus up to sixty rupees. The then British Government had received reports through its intelligence agencies, that Baba sometimes distributed more than we he received.
For spiritual progress, generally there are two obstacles: wealth and sex. Baba used to put the devotees to test regarding these two. He asked for money by way of dakshina. After that he sent them to the house of Radhakrishna Mai, who was a young and beautiful widow. She used to make arrangements in her house for food for those devotees who came from far-off places. She completely devoted her energies in the services of Baba. Pleased with her devotion, Baba gave her some powers without her knowledge. She could read the thoughts of those who visited her. She used to caution those whose thoughts became perverted after seeing her beauty. Baba sent the devotees to her house at one time or other, just to test them. The devotees exercised utmost caution while in her house.
All the valuable articles that were with Shirdi Samsthan were those brought by devotees on the advise of Radhakrishna Mai. But Baba never showed any interest in them. He told that all that his property consisted of were an undercloth, a separate cloth and a tumbler. His mind never went after materialistic objects. In the same way those who read this Life History should develop a detachment from worldly things. With a prayer to Sai Baba to bless these readers with peace and happiness, we will end this chapter.
"Om Shanti! Shanti! Shantihi"