SHIRDI – AN ABODE OF RAM & RAHIM
The taste of pudding could best be realized after eating. Mere theories make little difference. Practical experiences make a huge difference. I was really fortunate to have called by Sri Sai Babaji to visit Shirdi this week. I saw Babaji’s memorial (smritichins) at every nook and corner of Shirdi and beyond. Starting from Railway Station, Manmar, from where we experienced a positive change in our mindset.
On the way to Shridi, there flows sacred river Godavri – flowing majestically at its finest splendor covering a total length from its origin to outfall into the Bay of Bengal – a distance of 1465 Kms. In Puranas this river finds a very prominent place. It is mentioned that a dip in sacred Ganga river should be done after a sacred dip in holy Godavari river. Well-known places of pilgrimage being Trimbkeshwar – an ancient temple of Lord Shiva, Nanded – Takhat Sri Hazur Sahib; one of the most sacred place for Sikhs and Bhadrachalam – a temple of Lord Sri Rama are a few holy places which ought to be visited by the devotees.
CHRONOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE OF BABAJI’S BIRTH & PARENTAGE
It is a fact that neither Sri Sai Baba’s birthday/birthplace nor his parentage are known. He came to Shirdi when he was approximately sixteen years old and then he suddenly disappeared for some years and appeared again when he was 20 years old. Subsequently, he stayed at Shirdi for sixty long years. He took His Maha Samadhi on 15 October 1918. It can be deduced that his approximate birth is 1838 but no exact date of place of birth or parentage is known.
SAI BABA’S VISION AND MISSION
The chief mission of Babaji was having unity and cooperation between all the religions. He was of the view that Ram and Rahim were one and same, therefore, people should not fight on the basis of caste and religion. He sought bhakti marg as the chief aim of humans to attain connectivity with God.
CHIEF PRINCIPLES OF BABAJI
• All communities should come together and live in peace and harmony.
• Through Yoga, (bhakti) prayer and gyan knowledge (gyan) Almighty could be attained and ignorance (agyanta) removed and our God will then protect us from all evils.
• If somebody tries harming us, we should not seek retribution but forgive that person. God will always then provide us succor.
• We should always do good to others despite hurdles. Try helping the needy. We should always be compassionate towards humans including all living beings (Stray dogs are even now being fed milk and eateries by the people).
• We should always remain religious and pious in our deeds.
• We should always love our fellow beings as we love ourself – Sai Baba loved his disciples immensely.
• We ought to purify our hearts and get ultimate salvation through prayers. It is through total surrender that we can get salvation. The total surrender is of body, mindand soul.
• He did not differentiate between rich and poor. Whenever anybody came to have his dharshan, he used to tell the person concerned about his/her present, past and also what will happen in future too! Rich and poor had equal place for Him.
• He was of the opinion that too much of attachment with anything is bad – body or any possessions.
• He lead a very simple life – His attire that is kept in the Museum is the testimony of this fact.
• He used to do His daily work Himself – cooking meals for His disciples and others who visited Him on daily basis.
• He was always free from pain and pleasure for Himself. He suffered pains for others without a demur and applied Udi to ailments to alleviate their sufferings. Even He partook their ailments! That is the beauty of this God sent saint.
• Babaji was having immense reserve of grace and compassion. With these qualities He had a magnetic pull for His Bhaktas to Himself.
• He was having huge reserve of humility towards all without discrimination. He possessed equanimity in good and bad times and told His disciples to imbibe these qualities in day to days lives.
• He was humble to the core despite His undoubted proximity to the Lord. He also saw God in all human beings. He never said that He was GOD but said that He was a humble servant and He always remembered All Mighty God and always uttered – “Allah Malik” (God is the sole Owner of all).
• Babaji had the characteristics of non-attachment to any worldly possessions, Jnana (knowledge), magnificence and compassion among other qualities which differentiated Him from others. He was for His Bhaktas and Bhaktas love Him immensely and got His blessings.
• He spread the message of love, charity, lead a contented life, had inner peace and advised His disciples to have inner peace through simple prayers.
• Babaji believed that life of simplicity was real and life of riches was temporary/transitory.
• His teachings were admixture of Hindu and Muslim and was bereft of any caste or creed – universal in nature. In His eyes, all were equal. He showered His bounties to all without discrimination.
• According to Babaji, Sadguru is Nirgun, Sat-Chit-Anand. He takes human form to elevate mankind and also to alleviate their sufferings.
• Nine fold Principles of Bhakti Marg as enshrined by Sai Babaji are:
1. Listening the discourses by the learned personages.
2. Through chanting of songs in God’s praise.
3. To remember God sincerely.
4. To serve by touching the lotus feet.
5. Through sincere prayers.
6. Through sincere salutation.
7. Through service to the humanity.
8. Through companionship/ kinsmanship.
9. Complete surrender to His will.
PLACES IN AND AROUND SHRIDI
• Dwarka Mai. It is the place where Sai Baba lived for sixty long years continuously and showered His graceful blessings to the general masses/whosoever visited Him. A Shila (stone) is also kept here on which Babaji used to sit and bless His disciples. Sacred fire used to be lit at the time of Sai Babaji living there. He used to give Udi (ash) to the people coming for his Darshan and this had a mesmerizing effect on the devotees’ disabilities. Even today, it is lit and people take Udi (ash) from here and get cure from their disabilities. Such is the belief of the populace. The things used for this Dhuni is cow dung and firewood. Even I took Udi from this sacred place and distributed to my friends for their use.
• Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman (In black colour). Here a sincere prayer makes a huge difference. People of all hues visit this temple and get mental peace and solace. I too visited and got inner peace.
• Sai Baba’s Chawadi.
• Babaji’s Gurusthan.
• Maan Shri Lakshmi Temple. Devotional songs are sung in this temple. A dharshan of Maan really makes difference.
PROMINENT PEOPLE IN THE LIFE OF BABAJI
• Shri Sai Baba and Bhakta Haji Abdul Baba.
He was one of the closest devotees of Sai Baba. He is termed as the shadow (Shaya) of Babaji. He remained with Sai Baba for 29 years and before leaving for his heavenly abode he served people for 36 long years selflessly in the company of Sai Babaji – with or without Babaji before He came to Shridi. This service is still going on after even the demise of Sai Baba’s Bhakta Haji Abdul Baba. His grandson Haji Hamid Baba Pathan from Shridi is serving the common masses selflessly at Abdul Baba’s zopri. In this zopri. A closer look inside this sacred place made a person think about the entire place – its spiritualimportance and secular in outlook. A must visit holy place indeed.
I and my wife were witness to such a service to the common masses by Haji Hamid Baba Pathan – with a huge smile on his fac! The populace came to him and he provided them succor and blessed people in the sacred name of Sai Babaji. In private, many people told us that they had mesmerizing affect on their state of affairs after they came to the Abdul Babaji’s Zumpri. It proves that purity and compassion can make difference if practiced with sincerity and honestly.
• Nanavali. He used to look after the day to day affairs of Babaji. He had an immense love and respect for Babaji. So intense was Nanavali’s love and affection for Babaji that he breathed his last after 13 days of Babaji’s Mahasmathi.
• Khushalchand Kote. Babaji loved him immensely. Babaji used to go to his village and villagers received Him with great reverence. He gave His blessings to all villagers.
• Mhalsapati. He used to shower his respect and regard for Babaji. Babaji also loved his company because of his simple but pure heartedness.
• Baijabai. She used to visit Babaji with eatables and for His blessings.
• Tatya Kote Patil. He used to run his tonga on two horses and had immense regard for Babaji.
• Mrs. Tarkhad. She was the ardent devotee of Babaji.
SAI BABAJI’S BELIEF
Sai Babaji advised His devotees/disciples to lead and simple but pure life. He did not provide any difficult mantras or asnas for prayer but told them to chant SAI SAI simply but sincerely. By so doing a Bhakta will gain spiritually – it removes body consciousness, reins in our mind and our consciousness becomes pure. With pure consciousness, we can limit or completely remove our attachment for the worldly possessions.
All this goes to prove that the saints like Babaji came to this earth for our emancipation and made us remind that God could be realized with simple Sai naam Bhakti bereft of complex and long winded mantras and asnas which confuse us still further. Complete surrender to Him with pure mind could help us in self-realization. These saints come to this earth for our manifestation – their coming and going from this earth are known only to our Omnipotent and Omniscient God.
Sai Baba was/is respected by His devotees as a saint/fakit/incarnation of God. He did not belong to any religion but believed in the theory of SAB KA MALIK EK (God is the master of all). He loved all equally and alleviated the sufferings of His devotees not based on religion. Such is their magnificence that people come to their abodes for seeking peace and succor.
• Begging Bowl. He used to go to different houses for alm for food, cooked food or semi-cooked food etc. He partook his food – all things mixed together. There is one sac full of wheat kept in Dwarka Mai.
• His Attire. The long robe which Babaji put on is kept there as a testimony of His simplicity.
• Idols of Lord Ram, Sita Mata, Lakshman and Lord Krishna. Babaji wanted to keep these idols in a temple constructed for this purpose but could not do so because He breathed His last. Then Smadhi of Babaji was installed there from where He blesses us all now.
• His Chapals. Even his chapals, so simple, which He used to wear are on display.
• Big Umbrella. A big umbrella which people used to display as a protection from sun and rain.
May Babaji’s blessings remain on us all and keep us on right track in good and bad times. May he bestows us equanimity and peacefulness throughout our lives. AMEN