Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
What do I write about Baba Sai of Shirdi? Hasn’t everything about Him been written, expressed and experienced by millions of His children? How do I begin to describe my love for Him? When I hear others talk about their love for Sainatha, I feel humbled by their love, devotion and knowledge about Him and wish my love for Him too would make Him happy and make Him less tired and may be put a smile on His regale face and a twinkle of joy in His eyes.
I truly don’t know where to start from and how to write this article. There is so much written about Him and even now countless books published nearly a century after He took Samadhi on October 15th, 1918, at two twenty seven in the afternoon. Yes, books mention Baba took Samadhi at two thirty or two thirty five, but one of the first things He had revealed through channeling was this time of Him leaving His body and I couldn’t have known, as I wasn’t aware of the day or time He decided to leave us all orphans.
So on my phone, every day, the alarm rings at two twenty seven and wherever I am, whatever I am doing, for those few seconds, I remember my Baba living in the body, taking Samadhi and continuing to love, bless, help and even serve us, each moment of our existence.
Thus, every day, for me, I am reminded of His life and all that He did, does and will do for His countless children.
Don’t we serve all those we love? Be it our parents or children or loved ones. Our love is like seva. Baba Sai was one such Master; God incarnate, who would time and again say that, ‘I am the slave of my devotee’. Most Masters say that ‘a true devotee becomes happily a slave to his or her Master’, but here we have our Old Man, this sweet temperamental Fakir, who says, He is our slave and that He was and is and will always be in the loving clutches and heart of each and every child of His who loved Him and looked up to Him.
What do I write about Him? When you love somebody so much, words become meaningless.
I have always seen Him at home. He along with Prophet Zarathushtra and other Gods and Goddesses were always present in frames and statues at my maternal grand-mother’s home. Every room had Him looking at me, keeping an eye and His gaze of protection on me and my cousins. I remember there was an old calendar, with His enlarged face, hung on the wall, and nobody once thought of replacing it, as He looked so majestic. The calendar must have remained in the same place for years. Cleaned by a muslin cloth, faded, jaded, but The King remained. I would have difficulty in sleeping and everybody would be snoring away and there was a soft glow coming from a Mother Mary statue and the reflection would set Baba Sai’s face aglow and I would look at both of Them, and feel comforted knowing They looked at me, wide awake.
I clearly remember, the first time when we went to Shirdi, my cousins along with my maternal grandmother and me. Although I don’t remember much about my childhood, I don’t know why, but this trip is etched in the recesses of my soul. It was in winter. We reached Shirdi in the early hours. It must have been nine o’clock or so, I truly don’t remember the exact time. But I remember, we got out of the bus, teeth clattering, went and had a bath, and then we entered the Temple and there He was, The Rockstar, already awake, with that cleft in His chin, those days He wasn’t much into fancy stuff and gold and all that; simple, but royal as always.
I looked at Him and I gave Him a broad smile, sort of telling Him, yes You and me, as usual awake at this odd hour. There weren’t many people. I noticed tears trickling down my granny’s cheeks. She was a tough woman, born in Iran, but since the age of one, lived in India. Had seen deaths, poverty, struggle, but always smiled, always loved, always filled with life. I went close to her and held her. I used to hold her and sleep and then watch Baba and Mother Mary for a long time, while awake and here I held her and watched Baba Sai and wondered what had The Old Man done to have made my sweet grandmother, who was all of four feet two inches, tough as nails and as tender as a dew drop, cry.
Three years back, one of my last conversations with her, before she passed over, was about Baba Sai. She was ninety and above, still the same jovial and tough woman, but riddled with illness. But she would still do the house work and her eyes lit up and her laugh was contagious. That day when she spoke to me she was tired and she told me, ‘Tell your Sai Baba I am now tired and He has stopped listening to me….tell Him now it’s enough….it is time He called me to Him….tell Him it is enough now…tell Him, as He listens to you my son…’ and then I heard this message deep in my heart and told her, ‘It is a matter of a few weeks, before your birthday you will be with Him, ma’ and I could hear her sigh and she said, ‘And tell Him that I will not go to the hospital and not die in the hospital. I am going to fight with Him when I meet Him…I have only loved Him since a child and now He doesn’t listen to me but promise me before my birthday’ and I promised her.
Two days before her birthday, my grandmother woke up, washed up, did some house work, had a cup of tea, spoke to my childhood friend who came to visit her after years (and I know seeing my friend my grandmother for sure remembered me and spoke of me….it feels at least a little good that she must have remembered me minutes before she passed over, as I was not in Mumbai then, but in Pune) and then she said she was tired. She slept and never woke up. She went peacefully in her sleep.
So that day, I clearly remember, I stood with my granny in front of Sai. I remember Dwarka Mai, where Baba Sai spent nearly sixty years or more of His life, converting a dilapidated Mosque into a Mecca and a Vrindavan, burning the eternal Fire, making it a haven of spirituality and burning down the rigidness and pettiness that the false interpretation of religions has brought about. How cool was He. He didn’t care about what was said and who said what. He went about in His own silent way bringing all religions together, saying aloud either Allah Malik or Raja Ram. That day when I saw the Fire, It was blazing. There were some bamboos preventing the overzealous getting too close to the Fire, but it was blazing. The Fire that He had started around hundred and fifty years ago still blazed, (Baba Sai first came to Shirdi as a sixteen year old in 1851 and then returned to Shirdi in 1858 to remain in Shirdi till His Samadhi, and it is supposed that the Holy Fire in Dwarka Mai, was started latest in 1860).
Of course now one can’t even go near the Fire. The Fakir who didn’t care about His clothing, food, His physical comfort, for whom money only meant to be given to those who needed it, He who slept on the floor, and begged for His food, now is adorned in gold and is made to live in a grandiose prison. The Fire that blazed and warmed each of His children, cannot be approached, no offering can be personally made to the Holy Fire, small packets of Udhi, the Sacred Ash, are dished out to one and all, more to those who have personal contacts or the very important people. Shirdi, the small home of our Baba has become the third or the fourth largest pilgrimage revenue earner in the world and thus The Fakir who cared two hoots about money, gold, comfort, discrimination between the rich and the poor and false pomp and show and opulence, now is sadly confided and imprisoned into all that which Baba all His physical life, in this Avatar, opposed.
Reminds me of my Prophet Zarathustra, who all His life opposed idol worship but now go to any Fire Temple and He is worshipped with huge portraits of Him adorning a place of prominence.
Anyway, enough of my irrelevant ramblings, we get back to Baba Sai.
While returning from Shirdi, I remember I began to weave stories in my mind. Thus, to the unfortunate unsuspecting world, the genesis of me penning thoughts on to paper or now on the screen of my battered lap top and writing books began from that day when I was called by our Baba to Shirdi.
Through my years of channeling His Energy, I have learnt a few things about Baba Sai. This is my reality. Need not be yours.
First and foremost, He truly believes that wealth is for sharing and helping. He is big into feeding the poor. Keep a part of one’s earnings to help those in need of help. He has a soft corner for those who go through their lives and their Karmic Cleansing with calmness, grace and humour. He is keen that one recognizes his or her true essence and that is ‘I am the spirit in the body….I am not the body’. He truly would like each of us to make The Creator or one’s Master, one’s sole and soul priority. He advocates taking the Master’s name or a mantra or a prayer, through the day, and thus, it would throb within one’s soul, through the night too.
He believes that one must first follow one’s religion; pray the mandatory prayers advocated by one’s religion and then take His Name. (This is what He had told me clearly….if you do not say your prayers then do not take my Name.) He is big on prayers and chanting and charity and compassion and calm acceptance of one’s lot. He believes each one of us must give each moment our very best and then leave the rest to one’s karmic blue print and the grace and wisdom of one’s Master.
He believes that each situation has three alternatives. The first is, if a situation is unpleasant, give it your best to change it to the overall wellbeing of all present. If after giving your best the situation still hasn’t changed, then you have the option of walking out. But often, a situation may not change and the option to walk out may not be possible or practical. Then one should make peace with the situation, and calmly try to make best out of all that which is possible. The third alternative is not really an alternative. Which is, one cannot bring about positive change to the situation, one cannot walk out, but one refuses to make peace with one’s lot; instead, one stews and rots and burns. This is the worst of the three alternatives and Baba Sai, on and on has advised those who come for channeling, to avoid this third path, as that leads to further worsening of the karmic blue print, brings forth pain, negativity and eventually takes one further away from the Path.
He doesn’t like slandering. It really saddens Him. To Him, those who back bite or indulge in slander are similar to pigs who relish on eating dung and excreta. He is known to have said that, ‘Your conduct is similar (to the pig which eats dung and excreta). You go on reviling your own brethren to your heart’s content.’
He doesn’t like His children to get into arguments. He believes one can state one’s point of view calmly but firmly. Arguments and fighting is like cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face. He advocates one and all not to come from a state of reaction. Do not react, as then you are influenced by external factors and one has no control over external factors, and thus, one would spend one’s entire life reacting. He advocates to come from centeredness and not react but to act from a state of calmness, thus, one is in control of one’s action and words.
Time and again He has told one and all in channeling that, the most effective Mantra, the King of all Mantras, is the Mantra called ‘shut up’. He believes most of our problems take place with what goes inside the mouth and what comes out of the mouth. If one were silent and spoke from the state of calmness, rather than a state of reaction and action, most of our problems would either be solved or would be far less exacting and tiresome.
Silence is the most effective springboard to connect with the Master and eventually to realize one’s own self and then one’s own Godhood.
He wants each of us to give and give and give. Help those in need. If one cannot give materially, one can give via a kind word, a tender smile, compassion, love, blessings and prayers.
He wants each one of us to know our strengths, weaknesses and limitations, and then, to act from our strengths and keep a distance from our weaknesses. As much of a distance that is possible. He doesn’t want us to flog ourselves when we fail or succumb to our weaknesses and limitations, but to first bring about a distance from two failings, slowly and steadily, till the distance is so far and distant, that one has nearly conquered it, rather than suppressed it.
He loves Mother Earth and wants us to give as much as possible back to Her, rather than keep taking and receiving from Her. He has a very soft corner for animals and all living beings.
He loves a good laugh and is not shy of abusing. (I think He also misses His chillum….that’s my opinion….statutory warning: children smoking is not good for health….it causes innumerable problems and is getting bloody expensive…there are various other ways of spoiling your health….anger, jealously, greed, ego, lust for power, money, the opposite sex….the same sex….or just normal good old breathing in our cities.)
Baba Sai wants us to be centered, whether in a place of worship, work place, home or café or wherever. He believes that if one is with one’s Master in thought and breath, it doesn’t matter where you are, wherever you may be, you have made it your place of worship, as you are with your Master, and wherever your Master is, that place automatically becomes a place of worship.
He advocates the best way to connect with your God, Goddess and Master is via the breath and combining the breath with The Name. He advocates approaching our God, Goddess and Master as a child and not as an adult. A child can get away with a lot. Adults by and large are a lost cause.
He advocates prayers for one’s ancestors, family and friends who have passed over. He is most happy when one prays for all those who have passed over and a special prayer for all those who are earthbound.
He gets happy when one remembers Him or one’s Master before eating or drinking even water and not only to thank Him or one’s Master for the food or drink but also a small prayer that nobody goes hungry or thirsty, for food, water, clothing, shelter or any necessities. He says time and again, that simple prayers, from the heart, make a major difference to the Cosmos and the Energy and Vibration in the Cosmos. In fact time and again He has asked a number of those who have come for channeling to pray for all of Creation. The Mantra He has asked them to pray is, “Ya Sai Sarve Bhramand Sukh Shanti Krupa” (Oh Sai, let there be grace of peace and joy in all of Creation). He believes that if each of His children were to chant this prayer, the vibration created would bring about peace and joy to the lives of innumerable people and also to all of Creation. Each individual can make a difference. May be a small difference, but drop by drop, the ocean too is filled.
The other mantra He has given is Aum Sai Rakshak or Ya Sai Rakshak, (Sai Protect Me). This prayer is very powerful as not only are we asking Sai to protect us from the external world, but also, to protect us from the wrong use of Free Will, which then creates Karma that comes later on to haunt us, for that particular life, or sometimes for all of eternity.
So through years of channeling, these are the few things that I have realised that matter to Baba Sai.
I know one thing, He truly is with us. I know that. But the question is how much are we with Him? Like He so often says in channeling, ‘The night doesn’t descend because the Sun has shown His back to the Earth, but because the Earth has shown Her back to the Sun’.
He truly is with us. Believe this.
One very important thing, He wants each one of us to go beyond His physical body. He has often told those who come for channeling and who plead that they want to see Him, “I have come many times, taken my incarnations….those who focus on this body of mine, this body that lived in Shirdi, would then never recognize Me if I were to come to them in any other body I had occupied in my other incarnations….but if you were to focus on My spirit…My energy….My true essence…you will recognize Me in any body I wish to show Myself to you, be it in a human Avatar or even that of an animal, bird, fish, or a butterfly.”
All His life, Baba Sai, lived for the poor. He helped the rich to become more giving, generous and compassionate to the plight of the needy; and the poor to live a life of dignity even in their state of poverty and hardship. He loved us so much that though once He had left His body for three days and was declared dead, He came back to serve and love and be amongst us in the flesh.
In 1886, Baba told Mhalsapati to protect His body for three days and if He did not return to bury His body at a particular spot and put two flags for all those who wanted to come and pay respect to their Sai. Saying this He left His body and medically He was declared dead. Mhalsapati did not get up for three days. Baba’s head on his lap, he dared any of the authorities to come close to Baba. Baba’s other disciples guarded Baba’s body. Baba had been suffering from severe asthma and His body had taken a toll from serving His children, day and night, those physically present and those not in Shirdi, but who were under the protection of Baba.
Around the same time Sri Ramskrishna Paramhans, the sublime child of Maa Kali, too had been very ill during that same period. Baba Sai came back to His body and said, “I went to Allah, to be there forever, but My Friend Gadhadhar (Ramakrishna Paramhans) wanted to reach Allah too, so I came back.” It is said that as soon as Baba Sai woke up from the three day period of Samadhi, Ramakrishna Paramhans took Samadhi.
Ramakrishna Paramhans used to sing a song about Sai Baba of Shirdi that which translated went as follows, “Such a noble Fakir has come that the Hindus worship as God and the Muslims worship as a Pir.”
So Baba Sai came back to serve once again and lived in His physical body for the next thirty six years, and is still selflessly serving even after leaving His physical form.
Serving one and all, bringing about peace amongst followers of various religions, serving the poor and the destitute, Baba Sai took Samadhi on October 15, 1918, at two twenty seven in the afternoon.
He had predicted His passing over two years prior. A few weeks before He took Samadhi, Baba Sai sent a message to a Muslim Saint, in Aurangabad that, “Allah is taking away the lamp He placed here”. The Saint began to weep hearing this Swan song.
The day Baba took Samadhi was Moharram, Buddha Jayanti and Dusshera.
He was tired by then. He was exhausted. He had taken on the suffering of His children for more than eighty years. Nobody knows when and where Baba Sai was born, though now there are conjectures, but Baba Sai never told anybody.
Though Baba Sai had virtually stopped eating food nearly a month before He left His body, He till nearly the last few days, continued to beg for food from five families. He would then offer some food to the Holy Fire, then put the remaining food in a pot, where animals and birds would feast on it and then He would have a morsel and the remaining would be distributed as Prasad.
On the last day He lived in His physical body, though all knew He was truly unwell, He yet allowed devotees and visitors to take His blessings. Yes, there were times Baba Sai would be in some rage or the other, abusing one and all, all for the benefit of all of Creation, and He would often go into a few hours of seclusion and not see anybody, but that day, the day of Samadhi, He allowed all to come and take His blessings. Then He called His inner circle and individually told them a few things. Nobody was aware that these were the last few hours of them spending time with their Sai, their ‘be all end all’.
The last arti performed to Baba Sai while He was in the physical body, those who attended it, all were humbled due to the fact that Baba’s expressions changed and appeared in different Forms and Avatars. It is said that He appeared as Lord Hanuman, Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Vithal, Dattatreya Guru, the Muslims thought they were looking at their Mecca and Madina and Christians said Baba Sai looked just like Jesus The Christ.
He then asked all to go have Prasad outside Dwarka Mai. He then gave Laxmi Bai nine coins, explained the significance of the nine rupees. Imagine, He was minutes away from Samadhi and Baba explained to His dear devotee the significance of the nine rupees, each rupee signifying the quality of a devotee. To be free of ego, jealously, worldly desires, envy, self-boasting and finding flaws of others, and to serve the needy, be of a peaceful temperament, have the desire to know the Real Truth and complete, total, absolute faith in one’s Guru and Master.
He then told Bayaji, that His body should be kept in Butty Wada, the same place where for years Baba single handedly made a swamp into a beautiful garden of jasmine and other flowers. Then our King, our Father, our ‘be all and end all’ of our existence, rested His head on Bayaji’s body and took Samadhi.
Baba came to various of His inner circle, in dreams or made them hear His loud voice, giving them instructions of what to do after His Samadhi. Baba left His body on a Tuesday. On Wednesday at four o clock, His inner circle bathed His body. Baba’s limbs were still nimble and numerous hours after His Samadhi, a little blood trickled down His nose, which is medically impossible.
After a bath, and applying rose water and other aromatic water, Baba was placed in His Physical body’s final resting spot, along with His faithful broken brick, a satka, spices to preserve His body, an old cloth bag which had a green kafni and a cap which Baba did not allow anybody to touch, His chillum and His needle and cotton, which our Baba would keep stitching and mending His clothes till resembled as one patch work of repair. The King’s body was laid to rest.
Where an idol of Krishna was to be consecrated, Baba Sai’s Samadhi came about.
Most people insist that Baba is either a Shiv Avatar, or a Ram Avatar, or a Krishna Avatar. Muslims believe Him to be a Persian Sufi Saint. For me He is my Sai Baba. How does it matter whose Avatar Baba Sai is? I mean does Baba Sai have to be an Avatar for one to feel and recognize His greatness? Can’t Baba Sai just be our Sai? Our Old Man. Our Fakir. Our Father. Our Temperamental Loving Guru. The One who performed and keeps performing miracles at a drop of a hat. The One who as promised us, He will always be with us and if we called Him, then He would come running. The One who says, ‘take one step towards me and I will take hundred steps towards you’.
Why does He have to be somebody’s Avatar. Sai is Sai. He sometimes said, ‘The Universe is Me and I am the Universe’ and most of the times called Himself as the servant and slave of The Fakir. He could control the elements of nature but lived in the most humble way and laughed, sang, danced, cursed, loved, served, lived amongst His children.
Do we really need Him to be some Avatar? I want my Sai. All of Creation on one side including God and my Sai on one side and I want Him.
What do we do with heaven and paradise if Sai Himself is someplace else serving the needy? I want to be with Him. I am sure so do you.
He called the Masjid Dwarka Mai, telling one and all the importance of the Goddess. That He lived in the shelter of the Goddess. He was so loving, only a Mother can be this loving. If you have Baba Sai, then you have The Mother with you too.
What do we do with all this Avatar business? Just love Baba Sai for being Baba Sai.
The one expression that I believe completely in, is what Avatar Meher Baba said of Baba Sai of Shirdi. He said ‘Baba Sai is Qutub-e-Irshad….Master Of The Universe’.
As long as Sai of Shirdi, The Old Man, This Darling of a Fakir remains for eternity as our Master, sab theek hain, fikar not.
Allah Malik. Raja Ram. Sai Rakshak.
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha