Life History of Shirdi Sai Baba
In the previous chapter we learnt how Baba suffered on account of the selfishness of some devotees, without his close devotees also not knowing about this. Disciples should not go against the wishes of their Guru, even in small matters. Sometimes they may do something out of love for their Guru, even though the Guru tells them not do it. By doing such things, they should know that they are making the Guru suffer. Unfaithfulness to one’s Guru is the same as unfaithfulness to God, since Guru is God.
Tatya’s health deteriorated from the end of July. Ramachander Patil was very much worried about this and was always looking after him. Knowing that Tatya’s death was coming closer, Patil satisfied the tastes of Tatya. Poor Tatya did not know about his impending death! Though he was suffering form ill health, he was cheerful. But Patil was suffering mentally. The month of August was gone and September came. By the end of September Tatya was bedridden. He could not even walk up to Dwarakamai. The tuberculosis from which Tatya was suffering advanced and everyone thought that he would not survive. But Tatya never bothered about his health. He was a single person, a bachelor. With his association with Baba, he lost his attachment to his body and thus he had no fear of death. He was always thinking about changing Baba’s dress and arranging his bed in the nights in his absence.
Reading of Sacred Books
On the first of October, a Brahmin devotee, Vaje , came to Baba and saluted him with folded hands. Baba, while blessing him with udi prasad noticed a book in his hands and asked him what book it was. Vaje said it was Rama Vijayam written by the poet Sreedhar . Baba took it and turned the inner pages several times. After that he asked Vaje to read the book aloud, seated near him. Vaje took Baba’s orders as a great boon and commenced reading immeditely. Now and then in the middle Baba would explain clearly certain matters contained in the book, for the benefit of the devotees who were there. This went on daily in the mornings and evenings. It was the practice to read sacred books before a person who would die soon. Baba kept this also a secret. The book was completely read by Vaje three times in a period of 14 days. Tatya’s ailment was becoming serious day by day. He was vomitting blood. Everyone thought that his days are counted.
On 8 October 1918, Baba became very weak. He sat leaning on the wall of the mosque. Arathis and worship were done as usual. As he was very weak, the devotees were not allowed to go near him and this was ensured by Shama and Nana Chandorkar. Some people with a tiger in the cart were going round places and earning money. They came to Shirdi and brought the tiger near to Dwarakamai. The tiger was suffering from some disease and was weak. On seeing Baba, it stretched its two front legs and lay down. It appeared as if the tiger was saluting Baba. Baba looked into the eyes of the tiger for a long time. The tiger also looked at Baba and shed tears. Seeing Baba thus it breathed its last. There must have been a tie-up in one of its previous births with Baba. Thus Baba helped the tiger to merge with God.
Even though Baba became very weak, he gave necessary directions to the devotees.He had taken a human form only to help the devotees. He never did anything for himself. His life’s aim was to provide peace and happiness to all mankind. He worked towards this end, day and night. Even in the middle of the night, he was in solitary meditation and saved many devotees at far and near places. The devotees who noticed Baba’s ill-health and the shrinking of his body due to poor intake of food, thought this to be a strange act but they never thought that his life was ebbing. Bhagoji Shinde, Mhalsapathi, Abdul , Nana Chandorkar, Shama, Lakshmi Bai, Bhate, Dixit and others were looking after Baba day and night. We a view not to cause anxiety to his devotees, he would go up to Lendi Bagh and Butty Wada now and then. The Chavadi procession also was held as usual. Shama’s uncle Laxman Mama cooperated with Jog in giving arathis. Butty and Dixit sat along with Baba and took food. In the absence of Baba, they were not able to relish their food. Baba as usual went out for alms to five houses and after collecting the food, put some in the Dhuni and fed the animals and birds with the remaining food.
Baba’s body looked very weak. The eyes which were shining like fire, were sunken. Even then there was no change in his concentrated looks. He gave proper advice and udi prasad to the devotees who came to him. Das Ganu, with the permission of Baba, had gone to Pandaripur to fulfil certain engagements. From 13 October, Baba stopped going to Lendi Bagh and also for alms. He sat in Dwarakamai and gave courage to the devotees. He had been unwell once in 1916 and recovered. The devotees thought that Baba would recover this time also. But the close associates of Baba were very much worried over his not taking any food. Hence, they stayed in the mosque throughout the night looking after him. On the night of 14 October, even though he was seriously ill, he got up and made loud noise and hit the floor with his sataka. Everyone woke up at the sound. Then Baba explained his action by saying that thieves had come to Khaparde’s house at Amaravathi and he drove them away. In his last hours also, Baba was thinking about his devotees only and not about himself.
The day was Tuesday, the 15th of October, 1918. It was the last day for Baba’s physical body. The sun had risen as usual. That day was Vijayadashami (Dushera) . Baba became bodily very weak. For ordinary persons, it would have been difficult even to get up and sit. But, Baba got up as usual and sat in his place. Devotees came for his darshan as usual. Shama stopped some devotees from coming inside the mosque, as Baba was unwell and advised them to have darshan from outside. But Baba did not agree to this and asked all the devotees to come inside and have his Pada darshan from outside. But Baba did not agree to this and asked all the devotees to come inside and have his Pada darshan. The devotees did so. Baba put his Abhaya Hastha on their heads, blessed them and gave them udi prasad. For unknown reasons, even the close devotees of Baba who were always with him, fell at his feet one after another. Baba gave them necessary advice as per their need. They took them as usual advice which Baba used to give, but failed to think that they were Baba’s last ones to them while in physical body. Baba asked Laxman Mama, who was an astrologer and devotee , to do God’s Namasmaran for some time.
The time was eleven in the morning. Tatya vomitted blood frequently and went into unconscious state. His pulse also became weak. Ramachander Patil and Bala Shimpe feared that Tatya will die that day as per Baba’s prediction. They brought Shama and showed him the condition of Tatya. Thinking that Tatya would die in a few moments, Shama came running to Baba. He explained the condition of Tatya to Baba and prayed him to come to Tatya’s house immediately and save him. Baba consoling Shama told him not to worry and assured him that Tatya would escape death as soon as Ekadasi set in that day. But Shama again requested Baba to come once and see Tatya. Then Baba told Shama, "All of you have the tie of friendship only with Tatya. But for me there is also the responsibility for his welfare. I gave word to his mother Baija Bai at the time of her death, that I would look after Tatya equal to my life. The service rendered by that mother and the word given by me to her cannot be forgotten. So you do not worry at all. To save Tatya, I need not go there, and I can do it sitting here," After hearing this Shama calmed down.
The time was noon. Preparations were being made for noon arathi. It appeared as if some divine light entered Baba. Arathi was started. Throughout the arathi Baba’s facial features were changing every moment. Those who looked at him had peace of mind and felt like looking at him continuously. During that period Baba appeared in different forms to the devotees present there. He appeared in the forms of Maruthi, Vittal, Dattatreya, Rama and to Muslim devotees as Mecca and Medina. For one Christian devotee, he appeared as Jesus. For Butty he appeared as Sri Krishna playing the flute in the Wada built by him. One devotee brought his little son for initiating him to education by Baba, that being Vijayadashami day. To him Baba appeared as Vigneshwara and writing the sanskrit alphabet ‘OM’ showed it to the boy and blessed him. In this manner Baba, during arathi time that day, had shown his divine form to the devotees as per their thoughts.
Arathi was over. The time was one hour past noon. Baba ordered all the devotees to go away quickly. With joy at Baba’s divine darshan, all of them went away to their houses and wadas. Suddenly Baba had a severe cough and he vomitted blood. There, Tatya recovered and his pulse came to normal. Some new strength entered his body. He stood up and could walk also. He cried out of joy. He could not understand from where he got this new energy all of a sudden. The onlookers were also surprised. Before he recovered from his surprise, he remembered Baba. Thinking that Baba had given him another lease of life, he went running to the mosque.
By that time Baba leaned on Baija Appaji Patil and was telling him something secretly. Saying this, he warned him not to reveal this to others, otherwise, he would die. Tatya heard these last words. Baba was getting severe cough and was heaving. Whenever he coughed, blood poured out through his mouth and fell all over Dwarakamai. Beforehand Baba had asked his devotees to be without fear and sent them for their meals. But a few devotees refused to leave Baba. Lakshmi Bai, Bhagoji, Appaji, Laxman, Bala Shimpe were sitting near Baba. When Tatya saluted Baba, he asked Shama to take Tatya and leave him in his house. Shama returned after leaving Tatya in his house. The time was two o’ clock in the afternoon. Baba sent away the others also for meals.
Charity of Nine Rupees
Lakshmi Bai Shinde and Bayyaji were the only ones remaining. She was near Baba’s feet. Baba put his right hand in his shirt pocket twice, took out Rs.5 and Rs.4 and gave them as charity to Lakshmi Bai. Baba explained the significance of these nine rupees as the nine qualities a devotee should have (1)Absence of egoism (2) Absence of jealousy (3) Untiring service (4) Absence of worldly desires (5) Complete faith in Guru (6) Peaceful nature (7) Desire to know the truth (8) Absence of envy, and (9) Absence of self-boasting and finding faults in others. Unless a devotee improved these nine qualities, he could not have true devotion to reach God. Thus Baba taught to Lakshmi Bai even in his last moments.
Dashami ended and Ekadashi came. The time was 2.30 in the afternoon. Baba told Bayyaji that he was leaving this world and his body was to be kept in Butty Wada, assuring him that from there, he would be protecting his devotees at all times. So saying, Baba leaned on the body of Bayyaji. He did not fall on the floor, or his bed. He breathed his last giving charity and teaching Jnana to his children. This is the way the king of yogis - Yogiraja - attained Samadhi. Lord Shiva who is capable of commanding death, and who was born as human, invited death. The divine light which came out of the body of Baba, joined Gurudhan, Dwarakamai and Venkusa, who were already in the form of divine lights (jyotis) and all the four jyotis combined into one as Sai’s divine power. It again divided into four parts. One part went to Gurusthan. The second part when to Chavadi and settled there. The third part merged in Dwarakamai, and the fourth part went into Butty Wada. These four powers represent the four Vedas. These are the proofs of Sai Power which can command and control the whole world. The Shivashakti from Kailash came and stayed in Shirdi. In this way Shirdi became a holy place. The body of Sai who exhibited supernatural powers and saved several devotees, was lying in Dwarakamai.
The physical body of Sai Baba, lying in Dwarakamai, cannot be seen again. So let us imagine ourselves to be in Dwarakamai and touch the holy feet of Sai Baba and make our life meaningful.
"Om Shanti! Shanti! Shantihi"