Baba’s Knowledge of Sanskrit – His Interpretation of a Verse from Gita – Construction of the Samadhi Mandir
This chapter (39) deals with Baba’s interpretation of a verse from the Bhagawad-Gita. As some people believed that Baba knew not Sanskrit, and the interpretation was Nanasaheb Chandorkar’s, Hemadpant wrote another chapter (50) refuting that objection. As the chapter No.50 deals with the same subject-matter, it is incorporated in this chapter.
Blessed is Shirdi and blessed is Dwarkamayi where Shri Sai lived and moved until He took Mahasamadhi. Blessed are the people of Shirdi whom He obliged and for whom He came such long distance. Shirdi was a small village first, but it attained great importance, on account of His contact and became a Tirtha, holy place of pilgrimage. Equally blessed are the womenfolk of Shirdi, blessed is their whole and undivided faith in Him. They sang the glories of Baba while bathing, grinding, pounding corn and doing other house-hold work. Blessed is their love, for they sang sweet songs which calm and pacify the minds of the singers and listeners.
Nobody believed that Baba knew Sanskrit. One day He surprised all by giving a good interpretation of a verse from the Gita to Nanasaheb Chandorkar. A brief account about this matter was written by Mr.B.V.Deo, Retired Mamlatdar and published in Marathi in ‘Shri Sai Leela’ magazine, Vol IV. Sphuta Vishaya, page 563. Short accounts of the same are also published in ‘Sai Baba’s Charters and Sayings’ page 61 and in ‘The Wondrous Saint Sai Baba’, page 36 – both by Brother B.V.Narsimhaswami. Mr.B.V.Deo has also given an English version of this in his statement dated 27-9-1936 and published on page 66 of “Devotees’ Experiences, Part III” published by the said Swami. As Mr.Deo has got first hand information about this Subject from Nanasaheb himself we give below his version.
Nanasaheb Chandorkar was a good student of Vedanta. He had read Gita with commentaries and prided himself on his knowledge of all that. He fancied that Baba knew nothing of all this or of Sanskrit. So, Baba one day pricked the bubble. These were the days before crowds flocked to Baba, when Baba had solitary talks at the Mosque with such devotees. Nana was sitting near Baba and massaging His Legs and muttering something.
Baba – Nana, what are you mumbling yourself?
Nana – Iam reciting a shloka (verse) from Sanskrit.
Baba – What shloka?
Nana – From Bhagawad-Gita
Baba – Utter it loudly.
Nana then recited B.G.IV-34 which is as follows :-
‘Tadviddhi Pranipatena Pariprashnena Sevaya,
Upadekshyanti Te Jnanam Jnaninastattwadarshinah’
Baba – Nana, do you understand it?
Nana – Yes.
Baba – If you do, then tell me.
Nana – It means this – “Making Sashtanga Namaskar, i.e., prostration, questioning the guru, serving him, learn what this Jnana is. Then, those Jnanis that have attained the real knowledge of the Sad-Vastu (Brahma) will give you upadesha (instruction) of Jnana.”
Baba – Nana, I do not want this sort of collected purport of the whole stanza. Give me each word, its grammatical force and meaning.
Then Nana explained it word by word.
Baba – Nana, is it enough to make prostration merely ?
Nana – I do not know any other meaning for the word ‘pranipata’ than ‘making prostration’.
Baba – What is ‘pariprashna’?
Nana – Asking questions.
baba – What does ‘Prashna’ mean?
Nana – The same (questioning).
Baba – If ‘pariprashna’ means the same as prashna (question), why did Vyasa add the prefix ‘pari’? Was Vyasa off his head?
Nana – I do not know of any other meaning for the word ‘pariprashna’.
Baba – ‘Seva’, what sort of ‘seva’ is meant?
Nana – Just what we are doing always
Baba – Is it enough to render such service?
Nana – I do not know what more is signified by the word ‘seva’.
Baba – In the next line “upadekshyanti te jnanam”, can you so read it as to read any other word in lieu of Jnanam?
Nana – Yes.
Baba – What word?
Nana – Ajnanam.
Baba – Taking that word (instead of Jnana) is any meaning made out of the verse?
Nana – No, Shankara Bhashya gives no such construction.
Baba – Never mind if it does not. Is there any objection to using the word “Ajnana” if it gives a better sense?
Nana – I do not understand how to construe by placing “Ajnana” in it.
Baba – Why does Krishna refer Arjuna to Jnanis or Tattwadarshis to do his prostration, interrogation and service? Was not Krishna a Tattwadarshi, in fact Jnana himself.
Nana – Yes He was. But I do not make out why he referred Arjuna to Jnanis?
Baba – Have you not understood this?
Nana was humiliated. His pride was knocked on the head. Then Baba began to explain –
(1) It is not enough merely to prostrate before the Jnanis. We must make Sarvaswa Sharangati (complete surrender) to the Sad-guru.
(2) Mere questioning is not enough. The question must not be made with any improper motive or attitude or to trap the Guru and catch at mistakes in the answer, or out of idle curiosity. It must be serious and with a view to achieve moksha or spiritual progress.
(3) Seva is not rendering service, retaining still the feeling that one is free to offer or refuse service. One must feel that he is not the master of the body, that the body is Guru’s and exists merely to render service to him.
If this is done, the Sad-guru will show you what the Janna referred to in the previous stanza is.
Nana did not understand what is meant by saying that a guru teaches ajnana.
Baba – How is Jnana Upadesh, i.e., imparting of realization to be effected? Destroying ignorance is Jnana. (cf. Verse-Ovi-1396 of Jnaneshwari commenting on Gita 18-66 says – “removal of ignorance is like this, Oh Arjuna, If dream and sleep disappear, you are yourself. It is like that.” Also Ovi 83 on Gita V-16 says – “Is there anything different or independent in Jnana besides the destruction of ignornace?”)* Expelling darkness means light. Destroying duality (dwaita) means non-duality (adwaita). Whenever we speak of destroying Dwaita, we speak of Adwaita. Whenever we talk of destroying darkness, we talk of light. If we have to realise the Adwaita state, the feeling of Dwaita in ourselves has to be removed. That is the realization of the Adwaita state. Who can speak of Adwaita while remaining in Dwaita? If one did, unless one gets into that state, how can one know it and realise it?
Again, the Shishya (disciple) like the Sad-guru is really embodiment of Jnana. The difference between the two lies in the attitude, high realization, marvellous super-human Sattva (beingness) and unrivalled capacity and Aishwarya Yoga (divine powers). The Sad-guru is Nirguna, Sat-Chit-Ananda. He has indeed taken human form to elevate mankind and raise the world. But his real Nirguna nature is not destroyed thereby, even a bit. His beingness (or reality), divine power and widsom remain undiminished. The disciple also is in fact of the same swarupa. But, it is overlaid by the effect of the samaskaras of innumerable births in the shape of ignorance, which hides from his view that he is Shuddha Chaitanya (see B.G. Ch. V-15). As stated therein, he gets the impressions – “Iam Jiva, a creature, humble and poor.” The Guru has to root out these offshoots of ignorance and has to give upadesh or instruction. To the disciple, held spell-bound for endless generations by the ideas of his being a creature, humble and poor, the Guru imparts in hundreds of births the teaching – “You are God, you are mighty and opulent.” Then, he realizes a bit that he is God really. The perpetual delusion under which the disciple is labouring, that he is the body, that he is a creature (jiva) or ego, that God (Paramatma) and the world are different from him, is an error inherited from innumerable past births. From actions based on it, he has derived his joy, sorrows and mixtures of both. To remove this delusion, this error, this root ignorance, he must start the inquiry. How did the ignorance arise? Where is it? And to show him this is called the Guru’s upadesh. The following are the instances of Ajnana :-
1 – I am a Jiva (creature)
2 – Body is the soul (I am the body).
3 – God, world and Jiva are different.
4 – I am not God.
5 – Not knowing, that body is not the soul.
6 – Not knowing that God, world and Jiva are one.
Unless these errors are exposed to his view, the disciple cannot learn what is God, jiva, world, body; how they are inter-related and whether they are different from each other, or are one and the same. To teach him these and destroy his ignorance is this instruction in Jnana or Ajnana. Why should Jnana be imparted to the jiva, (who is) a Jnanamurti? Upadesh is merely to show him his error and destroy his ignorance.
Baba added :- (1) Pranipata implies surrender. (2) Surrender must be of body, mind and wealth; Re: (3) Why should Krishna refer Arjuna to other Jnanis? “Sadbhakta takes every thing to be Vasudev (B.G.VII-19 i.e., any Guru will be Krishna to the devotee) and Guru takes disciple to be Vasudev and Krishna treats both as his Prana and Atma (B.G.7-18, commentary of Jnanadev on this). As Shri Krishna knows that there are such Bhaktas and Gurus, He refers Arjuna to them so that their greatness may increase and be known.
Construction of the Samadhi-Mandir
Baba never talked, nor ever made any fuss about the things which He wanted to accomplish, but He so skillfully arranged the circumstances and surroundings that the people were surprised at the slow but sure results attained. The construction of the Samadhi-mandir is an instance in point. Shriman Bapusaheb Booty, the famous multi-millionaire of Nagpur lived in Shirdi whith his family. Once an idea arose in his mind that he should have a building of his own there. Sometimes after this, while he was sleeping in Dixit’s Wada, he got a vision. Bava appeared in his dream and ordered him to build a Wada of his own with temple. Shama who was sleeping there, got also a similar vision. When Bapusaheb was awakened, he saw Shama crying and asked him why. The latter replied that in his vision Baba came close to him and ordered distinctly – “Build the Wada with the temple. I shall fulfill the desires of all. Hearing the sweet and loving words of Baba, I was overpowered with emotion, my throat was choked, my eyes were overflowing with tears, and I began to cry.” Bapusaheb was surprised to see that both their visions tallied. Being a rich and capable man, he decided to build a Wada there and drew up a plan with Madhavarao (Shama). Kakasaheb Dixit also approved of it. And when it was placed before Baba, He also sanctioned it immediately. Then the construction-work was duly started and under the supervision of Shama, the ground floor, the cellar and the well were completed. Baba also on his way to and from Lendi suggested certain improvements. Further work was entrusted to Bapusaheb Jog and when it was going on, an idea struck Bapusaheb Booty’s mind that there should be an open room or platform and in the centre the image of Murlidhar (Lord Krishna with the flute) be installed. He asked Shama to refer this matter to Baba and get His consent. The latter asked Baba about this when He was just passing by the Wada. Hearing Shama, Baba gave His consent saying, “after the temple is complete I will come there to stay” and staring at the Wada He added – “after the Wada is complete, we shall use it ourselves, we shall live, move and play there, embrace each other, and be very happy.” Then Shama asked Baba whether this was the auspicious time to begin the foundation-work of the central room of the Shrine. The latter answered in the affirmative. Shama got a coconut broke it and started the work. In due time the work was completed and an order was also given for making a good image of Murlidhar. But before it was ready, a new thing turned up. Baba became seriously ill and was about to pass away. Bapusaheb became very sad and dejected, thinking that if Baba passed away, his Wada would not be consecrated by the holy touch of Baba’s Feet, and all his money (about a lakh of rupees) would be wasted away. But the words “Place or keep Me in the Wada” which came out of Baba’s mouth just before His passing away, consoled not only Bapusaheb, but one and all. In due time Baba’s holy body was placed and preserved in the central shrine meant or designed for Murlidhar and Baba Himself became Murlidhar and the Wada thus became the Samadhi-mandir of Sai Baba. His wonderful life is unfathomable.
Blessed and fortunate is Bapusaheb Booty in whose Wada lies the holy and the pure body of Baba.
Bow To Shri Sai Peace Be To All
(1) Attending Mrs.Deo’s Udyapan Ceremony as a Sannyasi with two Others (Trio) and – (2) Hemadpant’s House in the Form of His Picture.
In this chapter we give two stories; (1) How Baba attended the Udyapan ceremony of Mr.B.V.Deo’s mother at his house at Dahanu and (2) How Baba attended the Shimga dinner-party in Hemadpant’s house at Bandra.
Blessed is Shri Sai Samartha who gives instructions in both temporal and spiritual matters to His devotees and makes them happy by enabling them to achieve the goal of their life, – Sai He who when places His hand on their heads transfers His powers to them and thus destroying the sense of differentiation, makes them attain the Unattainable Thing. – He who embraces the Bhaktas who prostrate themselves before Him with no sense of duality or difference. He becomes one with the Bhaktas as the sea with the rivers when they meet it in the rainy season and gives them His power and position. It follows from this that he who sings the Leelas of God’s Bhaktas is equally or more dear to Him than one who sangs the Leelas of God only. Now to revert to the stories of this chapter.
Mrs. Deo’s Udyapan Ceremony
Mr.B.V.Deo was a Mamlatdar at Dahanu (Thana District). His mother had observed 25 or 30 different vows and a Udyapan (concluding) ceremony in connection therewith was to be performed. This ceremony included the feeding of 100 or 200 Brahmins. Mr.Deo fixed a date for the ceremony and wrote a letter to Bapusaheb Jog asking him to request Sai Baba on his behalf to attend the dinner of the ceremony, as without His attendance the ceremony would not be duly completed. Bapusaheb Jog read out the letter to Baba. Baba noted carefully the pure-hearted invitation and said – “I always think of him who remembers Me. I require no conveyance, carriage, tanga, nor train nor aeroplane. I run and manifest myself to him who lovingly calls me. Write to him a pleasing reply that three of us (the trio), Myself, yourself and a third will go and attend it.” Mr.Jog informed Mr.Deo of what Baba said. The latter was much pleased, but he knew that Baba never went to any place except Rahata, Rui and Nimgaon in person. He also thought that nothing was impossible to Baba as He was all-pervading and that He might suddenly come, in any form He likes and fulfill His words.
A few days before this, a Sannyasi with Bengali dress and professing to work for the cause of the protection of the cows, came to the station-master at Dahanu to collect subscriptions. The latter told him to go into the town and see the Mamlatdar (Mr.Deo) and with his help collect funds. Just then the Mamlatdar happened to come there. The station-master then introduced the Sannyasi to him. Both sat talking on the platform. Mr.Deo told him that a subscription-list for some other charitable cause had already been opened by the leading citizen Rao Saheb Narottam Shetti and so it was not good to start another subscription-list and that it would be better if he would visit the place after 2 or 4 months. Hearing this, the Sannyasi left the place.
About a month afterwards, the Sannyasi came in a tanga and stopped in front of Mr.Deo’s house at about 10 a.m. Deo thought that he came for subscriptions. Seeing him busy with the preparations of the ceremony, the Sannyasi said that he had come not for money but for meals. Deo said – “Alright, very glad, you are welcome, the house is yours.” The Sannyasi – “Two lads are with me.” Deo – “Well, come with them.” As there was time (2 hours) for dinner, Deo enquired where he should send for them. He said that it was not necessary as he would come himself at the appointed time. Deo asked him to come at noon. Exactly at twelve noon, the Trio came and joined the dinner party and after feeding themselves went away.
After the ceremony was finished, Deo wrote a letter to Bapusaheb Jog complaining of Baba’s breach of promise. Jog went to Baba with the letter, but before it was opened Baba spoke – “Ah, he says that I promised him to come but deceived him. Inform him that I did attend his dinner with two others, but he failed to recognize Me. Then why did he call me at all? Tell him that he thought that the Sannyasi came to ask for subscription money; did I not remove his doubt in that respect and did I not say that I would come with two others, and did not the Trio come in time and take their meals? See, to keep My words I would sacrifice my life, I would never be untrue to My words.” This reply gladdened Jog’s heart and he communicated the whole of the reply to Deo. As soon as he read it, he burst into tears of joy, but he took himself to task mentally for vainly blaming Baba. He wondered how he was deceived by the Sannyasi’s prior visit and his coming to him for subscriptions, how he also failed to catch the significance of the Sannyasi’s words that he would come with two others for meals.
This story clearly shows that when the devotees surrender themselves completely to their Sad-guru, He sees that the religious functions in their houses are duly executed and complied with all the necessary formalities.
Hemadpant’s Shimga Dinner
Now let us take another story which shows how Baba appeared in the form of His picture and fulfilled the desire of His devotee.
In 1917 on the full-moon morning, Hemadpant had a vision. Baba appeared to him in his dream in the form of a well-dressed Sannyasi, woke him up, and said that He would come to him for meals that day. This awakening constituted a part of the dream. When he fully awoke, he saw no Sai nor any Sannyasi. But when he began to recollect the dream, he remembered each and every word the Sannyasi uttered in his dream. Though he was in contact with Baba for seven years and though he always meditated on Baba, he never expected that Baba would come to his house for meals. However, being much pleased with Baba’s words, he went to his wife and informed her that being the Holi day, a Sannyasi guest was coming for meals and that some more rice should be prepared. She enquired about the guest, who he was and whence he was coming. Then not to lead her astray and not to cause any misunderstanding he gave her the truth, i.e., told her about the dream. She doubtingly asked whether it was possible that Baba should come there (Bandra) from Shirdi, leaving the dainty dishes there for accepting their coarse food. Hemadpant then assured her that Baba might not come in person but He might attend in the form of a guest and that they would lose nothing if they cooked some more rice.
After this, preparations for the dinner went on and it was quite ready at noon. The Holika-worship was gone through and the leaves (dishes) were spread and arranged with ‘Rangoli’ marks around them. Two rows were put up with a central seat between them for the guest. All the members of the family – sons, grandsons, daughters and sons-in-law etc., came and occupied their proper seats and the serving of the various articles commenced. While this was being done, everybody was watching for the guest, but none turned up though it was past noon. Then the door was closed and chained; the anna-shuddhi (ghee) was served. This was a signal to start eating. Formal offering to the Vaishwadeva (Fire), and Naivedya to Shri Krishna were also over and the members were about to begin, when foot-steps in the staircase were distinctly heard. Hemadpant went immediately and opened the door and saw two men there: (1) Ali Mahomed and (2) Moulana Ismu Mujavar. These two persons, seeing that meals were ready and all the members were about to begin eating, apologized to Hemadpant and requested him to excuse their interference. They said – “You left your seat and came running to us, others are waiting for you, so please take this your Thing and I shall relate all the wonderful tale about it later on at your convenience.” So saying he took out from his arm-pit a packet wrapped in an old newspaper cover and placed it on the table. Hemadpant uncovered the packet and saw, to his great wonder and surprise, a big nice picture of Sai Baba. Seeing it, he was much moved, tears ran from his eyes and hair stood on end all over his body, and he bent and placed his head on the feet of Baba in the picture. He thought that Baba had blessed him by this miracle or Leela. Out of curiosity he asked Ali Mahomed whence he got this picture. He said that he bought it from a shop and that he would give all the details about it some time afterwards and wished that as all the members were waiting for him, he should go and join them. Hemadpant thanked him, bade them good-bye and returned to the dinning-hall. The picture was placed on the central seat reserved for the guest and after the due offering of the Naivedya, the whole party commenced eating and finished it in proper time. Seeing the beautiful form in the picture everybody was extremely pleased and wondered how all this happened.
The is how Sai Baba kept up and fulfilled His words uttered by Him in the dream of Hemadpant. The story of the picture with all its details, viz., how Ali Mahomed got it, why he bought it and gave it to Hemadpant, is reserved for the next chapter.
Bow To Shri Sai Peace Be To All