ORIGIN AND APPROVAL OF SAI NAMA JAPA
Baba told M B Rege to go and be with Ramakrishni, also known as Ayi who was a real mother to him.
She loved him as if he was her own son. Baba sent her one roti to her as prasad, and he sent two rotis on the days when Rege was at Shirdi. This Ayi had dedicated her love and all to Baba. She lived only for Sai Baba, and her delight was to do everything he wanted or what was needed for his sansthan. So, she had plenty of work to get done for Baba, and people like Rege, Purandhare and others were constantly given this Dasya Seva by her, for Baba. But Seva was not the only item or step for his religious improvement. Being fairly advanced, Ayi had developed certain powers in addition to her bhakti. Her concentration had evidently produced results.
Her concentration was helped very much by her command of music. She had a good voice and could play the sitar. Rege also had a good voice and was versed in music. They would compare notes and they agreed that, for their spiritual progress, secrecy about their efforts was necessary. So, they would compare notes and made resolutions and kept them secret.
In accordance with Kabir's motto, 'Jinne Kamaya Unne Chupaya' what one has gained, he conceals, they both agreed that songs and hymns were very good for increasing bhava. Yet for actual manolaya, they attracted too much attention of the outside public and, therefore did not suit them. So, they determined that the proper step for manaolaya, was Japa. And what Japa should they make? She said that many used the name of Ram, Vittal and that so far as she was concerned Sai was her God. So, Sai was quite sufficient for her. Rege naturally adopted the same. So, they went on making Sai nama japa and, luckily for Rege, Baba asked him soon afterwards what he had been doing in the morning. He answered Japa.
Baba: Japa of what name?
Rege: of my God.
Baba: What is your God?
Rege: You know it.
Baba: That is all right.
So, Sai Nama Japa was approved from the very beginning by Sai Baba also. Japa is a sadhana. What is the sadhya or goal then? For this again, they gained light from Baba. The goal was patent from everything that Baba said and did. The goal was that through laya to reach God, especially in the form of the loving Guru-God; and intense and passionate love was alike the sadhana and sadhya. For love at its perfection is Bliss and Bliss is God. Baba's wonderful love stamped its impress upon both Ayi and him. Their sadhya and sadhana were love.
About sadhana, Baba gave him a hint. Religious books are generally regarded as very important sadhana for the beginner. On Guru Poornima day, the devotees usually go to Baba, and place a book in his hands, so that they might get it back with his Ashirvada and that they might study it with profit and benefit.
On one Guru Poornima day, all had taken books. Rege was there. He had not taken any book. Then Baba looking at him and said, "These people want to find God that is Brahma in these books. There is however Bhramh, that is, worldly confusion or delusion in these books. You are all right. Do not read books. But keep me in your heart and if you unify or harmonize head and heart, that is enough'.
Of course, study of books is not ruled out. On the other hand, religious study is very useful and Baba recommended Eknath's Bhagavata, Bhavarta Ramayana and Jnaneswari. He recommended these to Kaka Dixit, B.V. Dev, Chandorkar and others. He also made Chandorkar read the Bhagavad Gita. But on the whole the usual tendency to over emphasize the need of books was discountenanced by Baba. The Guru is the only sadhana of the pupil in Baba's school, and the Guru's knowledge and power sink into the sishya by the intensity of faith and love of the sishya. For that purpose, to promote faith and love, Baba gave ample and almost perpetual proof of his omniscience, omnipresence and other divine qualities. So, Rege was getting constant proof of these qualities and love from Baba.
Courtesy: HH Pujyasri B. V. Narasimha Swamiji