Volume 12 - Issue 10
October 2014
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QUIZ ON SHIRDI SAI SATCHARITRA

Part 01

Right answer on your 1st attempt
3 Points
Right answer on your 2nd attempt
2 Points
Right answer on your 3rd attempt
1 Point

Go to Part 02

In His twenty second year Swami was in Guindy, Chennai, at the invitation of a devotee to sanctify a temple he had built. When this devotee wanted an impression of His feet in sandal paste on a piece of silk cloth, Baba said, “I shall give you the feet of 'Sai Baba', My previous body” and lo, the impression that the silk cloth received from those lovely tender feet of His was that of a pair of feet nearly double the size of Baba's, and definitely that of a person above sixty years of age! Even today, this silk cloth with this mysterious sandal paste impression is present for all to see and to prove unequivocally that He is the same Baba come again.

The way Swami made this known to Thammiraju, his childhood companion in Uravakonda, is amazing. The little Sathya gave him a picture of Shirdi Baba in an astoundingly new way - a bumble bee entered his room through an open window, with something rolled held fast by its legs. It dropped it and flew off; the paper was unrolled; it was a picture of Shirdi Lord! A few days later, a monkey perching on the window, outside his room, threw a small bundle of cloth into it; when the bundle was opened, Thammiraju writes, it was found to contain a ball of sweets! And also a letter from Sathya who was away at Puttaparthi. And what did the letter say? "The other day, I sent you with the bumblebee My picture; today, I am sending herewith Prasadam for you."

Well, that is the unmistakable Shirdi Sai-Sathya Sai link. And one of the most glorious sights in yesteryear Prasanthi Nilayam especially during the last day of Dasara celebrations used to be the torrential and unceasing flow of Vibhuti from the upturned empty pot into which Baba slid His hand and then came down a soft and white cascade onto a silver statue of Shirdi Sai... Sathya Sai doing abhishekam of Shirdi Sai! On the VijayadasamiDay in 1918, Shirdi Sai chose to leave His mortal coil. Dasara therefore is an opportune time to ruminate and relish the glories of this magnificent and munificent previous incarnation of the Sai Essence. Hence this quiz based on the Shirdi Sai Satcharitra, the life story of Shirdi Sai Baba.

01. “In Chapter 10 of the Sri Sai Satcharitra, the author Sri Hemadpant reveals Shirdi Baba’s Divinity thus: “Lord or Bhagawan is said to have six qualities, viz. (1) Fame (2) Wealth (3) Non-attachment (4) Knowledge (5) Grandeur and (6) Generosity. Baba had all these in Him. He incarnated in flesh for the sake of the devotees. Wonderful was His grace and kindness! He drew the devotees to Him, or how else one could have known Him!

“Though Sai Baba acted outwardly like an ordinary man, His actions showed extraordinary intelligence and skill. Whatever He did, was done for the good of His devotees. He never prescribed any exercises, regulation of breathing or any rites to His devotees, nor did He blow any mantra into their ears. He told them to leave off all cleverness and always remember 'Sai'. 'If you did that,' He said, 'all your shackles would be removed and you would be free'. The function of the mind is to think, it cannot remain for a minute without thinking. If you give it a sense-object, it will think about it. If you give it to a Guru, it will think about Guru... Hearing the stories of the saints is not so difficult...they (stories) remove all fear of this samsar (worldly existence), and take you on to the spiritual path. So listen to these stories, meditate on them, and assimilate them...You may attend to your worldly duties, but give your mind to Sai and His stories, and then, He is sure to bless you.”

He then writes: “The importance of the company of saints is very great. It removes our body-consciousness and .........................”

  B. Gives clarity to our mind


02. In Chapter 3, we find that Shirdi Baba gave Hemadpant the permission to write the Sai Satcharitra: "I fully agree with you regarding the writing of Satcharita. You do your duty, don’t be afraid in the least, steady your mind and have faith in My words.”

Baba then said: "If a man utters My name with love, I shall fulfil all his wishes, increase his devotion. And if he sings earnestly My life and My deeds, him I shall beset in front and back and on all sides. Those devotees, who are attached to Me, heart and soul, will naturally feel happiness, when they hear these stories. Believe Me that if anybody sings My leelas, I will give him infinite joy and everlasting contentment. It is My special characteristic to free any person, who surrenders completely to Me and who does worship Me faithfully and who remembers Me and meditates on Me constantly. How can they be conscious of worldly objects and sensations who utter My name, who worship Me, who think of My stories and My life, and who thus always remember Me? I shall draw out My devotees from the jaws of death. If My stories are listened to, all the diseases will be got rid of. So, hear My stories with respect and think and meditate on them, assimilate them. This is the way of happiness and contentment. The pride and egoism of My devotees will vanish, the mind of the hearers will be set at rest; and if one has wholehearted and complete faith, he/she will be one with Supreme Consciousness. The simple remembrance of My name as ‘Sai, Sai’ will do away with sins of speech and hearing".

Sri Hemadpant then humbly shares how the writing of the Sai Satcharitra came into fruition: “The Lord entrusts different works to different devotees. Some are given the work of building temples and maths, or ghats (flight of steps) on rivers; some are made to sing the glories of God; some are sent on pilgrimages; but to me was allotted the work of writing the Satcharitra. Being a jack of all trades but master of none, I was quite unqualified for this job. Then why should I undertake such a difficult job? Who can describe the true life of Sai Baba? Sai Baba’s grace alone can enable one to accomplish this difficult work. So, when I took up the pen in my hand, Sai Baba took away my egoism and wrote Himself His stories. The credit of relating these stories, therefore, goes to Him and not to me... Neither the flute, nor the harmonium knows how the sounds are produced. This is the concern of the player. The oozing of Chandrakant jewel and the surging of the sea are not due to the jewel and the sea but to the rise of the moon.” Sri Hemadpant continues: “Sai Baba’s stories serve a similar purpose in the ocean of worldly existence. They surpass ..................... and make our worldly path smooth and easy to traverse.”

 

03. In Chapter 6, Shri Hemadpant expresses his devotion thus: “The seeing of Sai Baba’s handsome form, chokes our throat with joy, makes the eyes overflowing with tears, and overwhelms the heart with emotions. It awakens in us ‘I am He (Brahman)’ consciousness, manifests the joy of self-realization, and dissolving the distinction of I and Thou, then and there, makes us one with the Supreme (One Reality).”

He also shares Shirdi Baba’s words guaranteeing the welfare of the devotees:"There will never be any dearth or scarcity, regarding food and clothes, in any devotees’ homes. It is My special characteristic, that I always look to, and provide, for the welfare of those devotees, who worship Me whole-heartedly with their minds ever fixed on Me. Therefore, strive not much for food and clothes. If you want anything, beg of the Lord, leave worldly honours, try to get Lord’s grace and blessings, and be honored in His Court. Do not be deluded by worldly honour. The form of the Deity should be firmly fixed in the mind. Let all the senses and mind be ever devoted to the worship of the Lord, let there be no attraction for any other thing; fix the mind in remembering Me always, so that it will not wander elsewhere, towards body, wealth and home. Then it will be calm, peaceful and care-free. This is the sign of the mind, being well engaged in good company. If the mind is vagrant, it cannot be called well-merged."

In Chapter 3, Sri Hemadpant shares the sacred advice given by Baba: “Be wherever you like, do whatever you choose, remember this well that all what you do is known to Me. I am the Inner Ruler of all and seated in their hearts. I envelope all the creatures, the movable and immovable world. I am the Controller, the wire-puller of the show of this Universe. I am the Mother - origin of all beings - the harmony of three gunas, the propeller of all senses, the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer. Nothing will harm him, who turns his attention towards Me but maya (illusion) will lash or whip him who forgets Me. All the insects, ants, the visible, movable and immovable world is My Body or Form". Baba also elaborates: "He who loves Me most, always sees Me... He ceaselessly meditates upon Me and always chants My name. I feel .......................... who surrenders himself completely to Me and ever remembers Me.”

 

04. Elaborating on the greatness of Shirdi, in Chapter 4, Sri Hemadpant writes thus: “It is on account of Sai Baba that Shirdi grew into importance. Let us see what sort of a personage Sai Baba was. He conquered this Samsar (worldly existence), which is very difficult and hard to cross. Peace or mental calm was His ornament, and He was the repository of wisdom. He had no love for perishable things, and was always engrossed in self-realization, which was His sole concern. He felt no pleasure in the things of this world or of the world beyond. His Antarang (heart) was as clear as a mirror, and His speech always rained nectar.

“The rich or poor people were the same to Him. He did not know or care for honour or dishonour. He was the Lord of all beings. He spoke freely and mixed with all people, saw the acting and dances of nautchgirls and heard gajjal songs. Still, He swerved not an inch from Samadhi (mental equilibrium). The name of Allah was always on His lips. While the world awoke, He slept; and while the world slept, He was vigilant. His abdomen (Inside) was as calm as the deep sea. His Ashram could not be determined, nor His actions could be definitely determined, and though He sat (lived) in one place, He knew all the transactions of the world. His darbar was imposing. He told daily hundreds of stories, still He swerved not an inch from His vow of silence. He always leaned against the wall in the Masjid or walked morning, noon and evening towards Lendi (Nala) and Chavadi; still He at all times abided in the Self. Though a Siddha, He acted like a Sadhaka. He was meek, humble and egoless, and pleased all. Such was Sai Baba, and as the soil of Shirdi was trodden by Sai Baba’s Feet, it attained extraordinary importance... Blessed are the grass-leaves and stones of Shirdi, for they could easily kiss the Holy Feet of Sai Baba, and take their dust on their head.” Sri Hemadpant then shares: “Contact of Sai Baba in Shirdi was like our Veda and Tantra; it quieted our ......................... and rendered self-realization easy.”


 

05. In Chapter 18-19, Sri Hemadpant shares: “Baba asked many to remember His name and to surrender to Him, but to those, who wanted to know who they were ('Who am I' enquiry), He advised Shravanam (Listening) and Mananam (meditation). To some, He advised remembering God's name, to others hearing His Leelas, to some worship of His Feet, to others reading and studying Adhyatma Ramayan, Jnaneshwari and other sacred scriptures. Some He made sit near His Feet, some He sent to Khandoba's temple, and some He advised the repetition of the thousands names of Vishnu and some the study of Chhandogya Upanishad and Geeta.

“There were no limit, nor restriction to His instructions. To some, He gave them in person. To others by visions in dreams. To one addicted to drink, He appeared in his dream, sat on his chest, pressed it and left him, after he gave a promise not to touch liquor anymore. To some, He explained some Mantras like `Gurur Brahma' in dreams. To some devotee, who was practicing Hatha-Yoga, He sent word that he should leave off Hatha-Yoga practices, sit quiet and wait (Saburi). It is impossible to describe all His ways and methods.”

Sri Hemadpant shared that Shirdi Baba was very humble. He never liked discussion or arguments and he also disliked ...........................


06. In Chapter 18-19, Shri Hemadpant guides us on how one should share spiritual instructions given by their Gurus with others:

“It is a well-known fact, that the Sadguru looks first to the qualifications of his disciples; and then gives them suitable instructions, without unsettling their minds in the least, and leads them on towards the goal of self-realization. In this respect, some say that what the Sadguru teaches or instructs, should not be divulged to others. They think that their instructions, become useless, if they are published. This view is not correct. The Sadguru is like a monsoon cloud. He pours down profusely, i.e., scatters widely his nectar-like teachings. These, we should enjoy and assimilate to our heart's content; and then serve others with them, without any reserve.”

On His own method of teaching, Shirdi Baba said: “To get the knowledge (realization) of the Self, Dhyana (meditation) is necessary. If you practice it continuously, the Vrittis (thoughts) will be pacified. Being quite desireless, you should meditate on the Lord, Who is in all the creatures, and when the mind is concentrated, the goal will be achieved. Meditate always on My formless nature, which is knowledge incarnate, consciousness and bliss. If you cannot do this, meditate on My Form from top to toe as you see here night and day. As you go on doing this, your Vrittis will concentrate on one point and the distinction between the Dhyata (meditator), Dhyana (act of meditation), Dhyeya (this meditated upon) will be lost and the meditator will be one with the Consciousness and be merged in the Brahman. The (mother) tortoise is on one bank of the river, and her young ones are on the other side. She gives neither milk, nor warmth to them. Her mere glance gives them nutrition. The young ones do nothing, but remember (meditate upon) their mother. The tortoise glance is, to the young ones, a down-pour of nectar, the only source of sustenance and happiness."

Sri Hemadpant then shares Baba’s advice: “Demolish ................................ that separates you from Me; and then the road for our meeting will be clear and open.”


07. In Chapter 5, Sri Hemadpant describes Shirdi Baba’s nature and personality and living habits thus:

“Sai Baba did not mix and speak with the people. He only gave answers when He was questioned. By day He always sat under the Neem tree, sometimes under the shade of a branch of a Babul tree near the stream at the outskirts of the village...”

In Chapter 10, we get to learn about how Baba slept: “Baba slept on a wooden plank, amount 4 cubits in length and only a span in breath, for sleeping upon. Instead of keeping the plank on the floor and then sleeping on it, Baba tied it like a swing to the rafters of the Masjid with old shreds or rags and commenced to sleep upon it. The rags were so thin and worn out that it was a problem how they could bear or support even weight of the plank itself, let alone the weight of Baba. But somehow or other, it was Baba's sheer Leela that the worn out rags did sustain the plank, with the weight of Baba on it. On the four corners of this plank, Baba lighted panatis (earthen lamps), one at each corner, and kept them burning the whole night. It was a sight for the Gods to see Baba sitting or sleeping on this plank! It was a wonder to all, how Baba got up and down the plank. Out of curiosity, many careful observers kept watching the process of mounting and dismounting, but none succeeded. As crowds began to swell to detect this wonderful feat, Baba one day broke the plank into pieces and threw it away. Baba had all the eight Siddhis (powers) at His command. He never practiced nor craved for them. They came to Him naturally, as a result of His perfection.” Sri Hemadpant shares: “Inwardly, He was unattached and indifferent, but outwardly, He longed for .................... Inwardly most disinterested, He looked outwardly full of desires, for the sake of His devotees.”



08. In Chapter 7, we get to learn how Baba saw no difference between different castes:

“If you think that He was a Hindu, He looked like a Muslim. If you think Him to be a Muslim, He looked like a pious Hindu. No one definitely knew whether He was a Hindu or a Muslim. He celebrated the Hindu festival of Rama-Navami with all due formalities, and at the same time permitted the ‘Sandal’ procession of the Muslims. He encouraged wrestling bouts in this festival, and gave good prizes to winners. When Janmastami came, He got the ‘Gopal-Kala’ ceremony duly performed and on Id festivals, He allowed Muslims to say their prayers in His Masjid. Once in the Moharum festival, some Muslims proposed to construct a Tajiya or Tabut in the Masjid, keep it there for some days and afterwards take it in procession through the village. Sai Baba allowed the keeping of the Tabut for four days, and on the fifth day removed it out of the Masjid without the least compunction. If we say that He was a Muslim, His ears were pierced (i.e. had holes according to Hindu fashion).

“If you call Him Hindu, He always lived in the Masjid; if Muslim, He had always the Dhuni - sacred fire there, and the following things which are contrary to Muslim religion, i.e., grinding on the handmill, blowing of the conch and bells, oblation in the fire, Bhajan, giving of food, and worship of Baba’s Feet by means of Arghya (water) were always allowed there. If you think that He was a Muslim, the best of Brahmins and Agnihotris, leaving aside their orthodox ways, fell prostrate at His Feet. Those who went to make enquiries about His nationality, were dumb-founded and were captured by His darshan. So none could definitely decide whether Sai Baba was a Hindu or a Muslim. This is no wonder, for He who completely surrenders himself to the Lord, by getting rid of His egoism and body-consciousness thus becomes one with Him, and has nothing to do with any questions of caste or nationality. Such a one as Sai Baba was, saw no difference between caste and caste, and even beings and beings. He took meat and fish with fakirs, but did not grumble when dogs touched the dishes with their mouths.”

In Chapter 10, Sri Hemadpant shares how Shirdi Baba was successful in bridging the gulf between the Hindus and Muslims: “Baba's constant advice to all was to this effect. 'Rama (the God of the Hindus) and Rahim (the God of the Muslims) were one and the same; _________________________________”.


09. In Chapter 32, Sri Hemadpant describes how Baba met His Guru in the woods, and through him God and says:

“Baba's experience in this matter, the story which He gave out Himself, is really wonderful, which, when attended to, will give you faith, devotion and salvation: 'Once four of us were studying religious scriptures and other books and, being thus enlightened, we began to discuss the nature of the Brahman. One of us said that we should raise the self by the Self and not depend on others. To this the second replied that he who controls his mind is blessed; we should be free from thoughts and ideas and there is nothing in the world without us. The third said that the world (phenomenon) is always changing, the formless is eternal; so we should discriminate between the Unreal and the Real. And the fourth (Baba Himself) urged that bookish knowledge is worthless and added, "Let us do our prescribed duty and surrender our body, mind and five pranas (life) to the Guru's feet. Guru is God, all pervading. To get this conviction, strong unbounded faith is necessary.”

'Discussing in this wise, we four learned men began to ramble through the woods in the quest of God. The three wanted to make the quest with their free and unaided intellect. On the way a Vanjari (a man who trades in certain things, such as grain, etc. by carrying them on bullock) met us and asked us, "It is hot now, where and how far are you going?" "To search the woods," we replied. He enquired, "On what quest are you bound?" We gave him an ambiguous and evasive reply. Seeing us rambling aimlessly, he was moved and said, "Without knowing the woods fully, you should not wander at random. If you want to walk through forests and jungles, you should take a guide with you. Why do you exert yourselves unnecessarily at this sultry noon-time? You may not give out to me your secret quest; still you can sit down, eat bread, drink water, take rest and then go. Be always patient at heart." Though he spoke so tenderly, we discarded his request and marched on. We thought that we were self-contained men and needed nobody's help. '...We lost our way and wandered here and there for a long time. Ultimately through sheer good luck, we came back to the place from where we started. The Vanjari met us again and said, "Relying on your own cleverness you missed your way; a guide is always necessary to show us the right way in small or great matters; and no quest can be successfully carried out on an empty stomach. Unless God wills it, no one meets us on the way. Do not discard offers of food; served dish should not be brushed away. Offers of bread and food should be regarded as auspicious signs of success." Saying this he again offered us food and asked us to be calm and patient. Again we did not like this good hospitality and discarded his offer and went away. Without doing any quest and without taking any food, the three began to move out. So obstinate were they. I was hungry and thirsty and I was moved with the Vanjari's extraordinary love; we thought ourselves very learned but were quite strangers to pity and kindness. The Vanjari was a quite illiterate and unqualified fellow and belonged to a low caste. Still he had love in his heart and asked us to eat the bread. In this way he who loves others disinterestedly is really enlightened and I thought acceptance of his hospitality was the best beginning of getting knowledge. So very respectfully I accepted the loaf of bread offered, ate it and drank water.

'Then lo! The Guru at once came and stood before us, "What was the dispute about?" He asked and I told him everything that had happened. Then he said, “Would you like to come with me? I will show you what you want; but he alone, who believes in what I say, will be successful." The others did not agree to what he said and left him; but I bowed to him reverently and accepted his dictum. Then he took me to a well, tied my feet with a rope and hung me - head downwards and feet up - from a tree near the well. I was suspended three feet above the water, which I could not reach with My hands, nor which could go into my mouth. Suspending me in this manner he went away, no one knew where. After 4 or 5 hours he returned and taking me out quickly asked me how I fared. What did Baba feel?


10. In Chapter 8, Sri Hemadpant gives us a glimpse of how Shirdi Baba lived on alms by begging:

“Blessed are the people of Shirdi, in front of whose houses, Baba stood as a beggar and called out, 'Oh Lassie, give Me a piece of bread' and spread out His hand to receive the same. In one hand He carried a Tumrel (tinpot) and in the other a zoli or choupadari, i.e., a rectangular piece of cloth. He daily visited certain houses and went from door to door. Liquid or semi-liquid things such as soup, vegetables, milk or butter-milk were received in the tinpot, while cooked rice, bread, and such solid things were taken in the zoli. Baba's tongue knew no taste, as He had acquired control over it. So how could He care for the taste of the different things collected together? Whatever things He got in His zoli and in the tinpot were mixed together and partaken by Baba to His heart's content. Whether particular things were tasty or otherwise was never noticed by Baba as if His tongue was devoid of the sense of taste altogether.

“Baba begged till noon, but His begging was very irregular. Some days He went a few rounds, on other days up to twelve noon. The food thus collected was thrown in a handi, i.e. earthen pot. Dog, cats and crows freely ate from it and Baba never drove them away. The woman who swept the floor of the Masjid took some 10 or 12 pieces of bread to her house, and nobody prevented her from doing so. How could, He, who even in dreams never warded off cats and dogs by harsh words and signs, refuse food to poor helpless people? Blessed indeed is the life of such a noble person! People in Shirdi took Him in the beginning for a mad Fakir. He was known in the village by this name. How could one, who lived on alms by begging a few crumbs of bread, be revered and respected? But this Fakir was very liberal of heart and hand, disinterested and charitable. Though He looked fickle and restless from outside, He was firm and steady inside. His way was inscrutable. Still even in that small village, there were a few kind and blessed people who recognized and regarded Him as a Great Soul.

In Chapter 38, Sri Hemadpant shares how when Baba took it into His mind to distribute food to all, He made all preparations from beginning to end Himself. How would Baba stir the food that He used to cook?



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