Published on Sunday, 20 May 2012
Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi
An Article by G. J. Chitambar
My great grandfather lived in Shirdi in the times of Baba. His son Hon. A J Chitambar (my grandfather) Hon. G. J. Chitambar (younger brother of my grandfather) were blessed by company of Sai Baba. I guess they might not have realized at that time (being kids) how privileged they were! :) Our family doesn’t like to mention this in public as this Shraddha is personal matter. But I came across the following article and couldn’t resist sharing it with you all. So posting this article at the expense of being scolded by my father and uncles!! :) Hon G. J. Chitambar was true to his birth-date of 22nd August – master number “Change agent / unorthodox” who started all-girls primary school in 40s (I think) in Ahmednagar (was almost outcaste that time and had to cope with dirty politics & anger of the elites). True to his Sun & Moon sign of Leo and intense Magha nakshatra, he was highly disciplined & a fierce progressive (“Sudharnawadi”.) I guess he has Ketu with Moon Sun and in the ascendant of Leo – He was under Ketu mahadasha when he spent time with Baba. Here’s the article I found on internet a few days back. Couldn’t gather courage to post it but read it again today and almost felt an obligation to share!!
It is a matter of great pleasure for me to be asked to put on paper some of my memories about Sai Baba whom I not only saw but also came in direct contact. It was because of the fact that I was born at Shirdi on 22nd August 1914 and that I had been sitting in the Masjid or Masheed as then the building was called, for hours together, day and night, in time and out of time, by or near Sai Baba whom I addressed only as 'Baba' and talked with him and played with him as if he was a relative of mine. I did not know the relationship. I did not care to know it. I did not think in that direction. Simply that I could not-I was just a child of four when Baba left this world, in 1918 on the Dasara day. I remember, to have seen his last procession which went round the village, Shirdi starting from Masheed—Masjid to the then half built temple, now known as Samadhi Mandir, which previously in old days was known as Sai Baba's Temple. It was under construction and I have seen it being built.
I came to love Sai Baba as does any child his mother, father or grandfather. I cannot say how and when the process took place. It was simply a 'Course of Nature.' whenever I was not at home, my mother found me in the Masjid sitting by and chatting with Baba.
One evening when I was sitting by him, my mother came there and took me up and started going home. While on way home, she gave me a slap on my back and scolded me to the effect that I began to cry. Sai Baba heard this and called back my mother and told her something which then I could not understand. I came to realize it when I was about twelve years old. There was a swelling in the upper part of my nose on the right side. A doctor from Bombay had been in Shirdi and was staying there for a few days to improve his health. I don't know why,—but he took fascination for me and used to call on me every evening while going out for a walk. My mother asked me to consult him about the nose trouble. The doctor told me that it had to be operated and in those days, it could only be operated in Bombay. It was a worry to my parents as the size of the pimple was increasing day by day. Being very poor, my father could not arrange to go to Bombay for the operation. My mother remembered the words of Sai Baba on the occasion when she had beaten me. He had said to her, "This boy, your son, is your father reborn. He and I were friends during our previous life. Hence you should never beat him again.- She had reported this talk, the very day to my father as soon as she went home. Days passed by and the incident was forgotten. However, the swelling in my nose reminded my mother of the incident and talk, as she recalled that there was exactly the same defect in the nose of her father. So, my father, on a Thursday evening, when a lamp (Samai) was lighted in our home in front of the photograph of .Sai Baba, took 'Udi' applied it, on my forehead and told Sai Baba looking at his photograph in our house, that both of them, my mother and father, would call me by the name 'Appa' the name of my mother's father. It was as if a sacred ceremony of changing my name as per Sai Baba's advice. Sugar was distributed to the people staying in the Wada or house, near the neem-tree, now known as Guru Sthan. To our great surprise the swelling subsided slowly during the next three days and ultimately vanished and could never be traced. The disease was cured without any medicine or operation-
Many such instances are narrated or described by many devotees as experienced by them. Readers or listeners may believe or not, I for one, would only say that whatever he spoke or expressed came to be true.
Outworldly he looked like a Fakeer with a white gown Kafnee on his body and a piece of cloth round his head, as is seen in his photograph in the Masjeed now called Dwarkamai. He never wore any coloured clothes, not even red Bhagwi or Kesaii. As I always saw him in white dress only, I do not and cannot appreciate or like his photographs in coloured clothes.
It is my faith that deeds or actions carry more weight than words. Hence message conveyed through a good and pious deed has an everlasting impression on the mind of one who is benefited or bestowed. Mere words of advice or preaching do not go a long way. Perhaps abundant words, many times, prove futile but only one soothing, consoling or helping act goes a long way to mould the character and through that media the life of a man, who is a devotee is enriched and becomes meaningful. The pious behaviour of the saints has a salutary effect on their disciples. It is because of this, that unequivocal or uncomparable place is given to the co-existance and co-operative life with the saints. Hence, Indian culture pays unique importance to the informal get together of ordinary men and saints like Shri Sai Baba.
A man's culture is proved by his action. His acts depend on his nature and the human nature depend on the human mind. Mind must be healthy. Mind makes the body work. Mind stimulates the body. Strong mind makes a weak body work hard. An idle mind makes even a strong body lazy. Healthy or pious mind will make the body do pious acts. The mind is well trained in the company of saints like Sai Baba. Thus, if we reverse the process we can see that when a man (human being) comes in contact with saints like Sai Baba, his mind is purified, with the result that he acts accordingly, does good and pious deeds for the society which ultimately creates high standard of humanity and culture which tends to bring satisfaction of heart and peace to the soul of the doer. The saints are the human forms of God reborn on earth to give solace to the distressed who have lost all peace of mind. Sai Baba is one of the Saints or Awa-tars of God.
It is very difficult to describe different facets of Sai Baba. The more one tries to see through, the more one is puzzled. The effort is just like looking at light through a prism, when a prism is held in different angles to see through, we see different colours or shades of light. Thus quite different aspects are seen every time when we try to understand Him. It is Just like diving in the ocean to find out what lies at the bottom of the ocean, Having found fourteen Ratnas we still find gasses or oils or petrol etc. The deeper we dive and at different places and depths, we find new things. It is just like searching 'The Blue' i. e. the sky. One may not be surprised if some new planet is traced one day. It is easy to trace the way to the planet namely Guru (Jupiter), and know everything about the guru in the sky but it is well nigh impossible to know the Sadguru who stands before us, here on earth and to understand 'Him' fully and measure the depth of his thoughts and wisdom. It is beyond human efforts. To work for and devote one's life to the good of the humanity without expecting any return, is their motto-
Though one comes in contact with a Sadguru one cannot interpret his acts. Various and innumerable devotees describe variety of experiences of their own- However the underlying crurent is "The welfare of Humanity or of any being of any species." This is 'The Fundamental, Truth' on which 'Faith' of different religious principles is based.
Sai Baba never differentiated between men of different castes, religion, or country, and between man or a woman, young or old, educated or uneducated and rich or poor- He loved all his devotees alike, regardless of education, religion, country, sex, age or wealth-and health. Devotees of Sai Baba, are found all over the world, in different countries on the globe. They go to Shirdi from far and near. The fact that Sai Baba himself never prohibited any one to go near him, sit by him, touch his feet, bow down to him, so to say have his Darshan has created the right tradition which is rightly continued to this day and everyone has a free access to the Samadhi even now. The intellectuals also are spell-bound to wit-ness this scene.
What is the undercurrent of this social and religious fervor, intensity or assiduity? It is Devotion or Bhakti.
Men having craving for science, intellect and logic my argue that devotion (or Bhakti) makes men blind of reason- Is it true? Let us see-
From the 'Dark Ages' to this day, man has travelled through differ-rent 'Ages' and stages- Any connotation or synonym may be used, say, 'Age of Machines or of Science or of Atom.' The under, lying sense is the same. The scientific experiments and progress might have yielded sufficient food, medicine, clothes, shelter and entertainment also- In many of the countries on the globe, Science might have helped them to stop the increase in population. The 'Atom Bomb' might have given them the deadliest weapon to be used in war and certainty of success in the war. But have all these scientific experiments given them peace which they have been hankering after? The answer is 'No". On the contrary progress in scientific experimentation has created new problems before them to face and these new problems and new situations have added to their miseries, worries and anxieties for which they can't find solutions- In-stead of self-control, the scientific means of birth control have vitiated the sanctity of the society. And even those having more than enough stock of food and atomic energy are themselves afraid of the total destruction of nations and with them, the humanity as well-Knowing this full well these inventors and scientists ultimately pray Him to enable themselves to reach their goal. Is this not an irony?
It is only love towards each other that brings men together. For this selflessness must take place of selfishness. For this men must understand each other- This could be possible only through 'Cultural Understanding'-
If a man learns to get satisfaction or peace of mind in making another man happy, he must be prepared to give away what he has to the other man who is needy. It is easier said than done. Just go to Sai Baba. Look at him. Look into his eyes. Let there be proper understanding. With all the devotion abandon pride and all other vices, and after purification of heart, do only good deeds. One is sure to get peace of mind. Many learned men following various 'faiths' i.e- 'Religions', go to Him. They come from different parts of the globe. In Sai Baba, followers of different religions see the founder of their 'Faith'. They feel that He is an incarnation of purity, selflessness, charity? generocity and wisdsom- He is above all differences, always helping the needy and thus giving peace of mind to his devotees-Only if one listens to the songs composed by saints, like Tukaram, Dyaneshwar, Ramadas or Meerabai, Janabai and Tulusidas and the like, one can endure sorrows of life. But this is true if one has faith in it. Sai Baba never composed any song, Abhang, ovi,' sloka or any sonnet. He never wrote anything. He never gave any lecture. Still he has left behind Him the imprint of his actions or behaviour. Actions do speak louder than words. Thus a minute observation of His acts or deeds in every-day routine has a salient and unique effect on the minds of the persons around him. What were his possessions? A pot of tin to drink water with, an aluminum plate for food, a pipeto smoke and a pair of Kafnees and a piece of cloth. That was all he had. Whatever was offered to him by his devotees, was distributed to the poor and needy. Even food that was offered to him, he did not eat. I very well remember to have seen every day, as a part of his routine that, after the Arati at noon, he distributed the food from every plate or dish of the offerings to the other needy persons who were then around him. And when all the people left Masheed, he went round the village, visited just a few houses and asked for alms when he accepted only a piece of bread. He never accepted rich food. It was only this bread and onion and a little salt and 'Chatni' that he ate. I had fortune to be by him when he ate his food in the noon. All good and rich food offered to him by way of sacrifice or offerings were imparted to the poor. The rich offered him a lot of money which was all given away by him to the poor and needy, keeping not a pie (farthing) for himself. Leading a poor life as a result of poverty is different and refusing to enjoy good food, good and rich clothing and refusing even money offered with devotion is different. This requires a state of mind that has reached a stage of 'Abandonment' which brings peace of mind. He did reach this stage and so I say, he is an incarnation of purity, selflessness, charity, generosity and Wisdom. It is because of this that people go to Shirdi, bow down to Him, put the head on his feet, look at his idol and try to gel peace of mind.
Go to Him with conscience and pure heart, and He will bless you. Let us learn to imbibe the above mentioned virtues in Him so that we can get peace of mind as desired-With these words I bow down to Shri Sai Baba and take adieu.