Why did Baba demand dakshina?
The most significant meaning for dakshina was to rid the devotee of ego, and instill non-attachment to the transient things. Baba had a unique method of taking dakshina. Usually, He asked only for that amount that the devotee had wished to offer. At other times, He would keep on asking the devotee till his pockets were empty. There was a lesson behind this. He then asked the devotee to borrow it (instilling humility). Sometimes it was to instill faith, for another devotee would give that same amount unknowingly. Time and again the devotee left Shirdi penniless and Baba appeared on the way in some disguise and took care of everything.
The most striking feature was the significance of the number.
1) Re. I/-. The number one stood for jeeva or even Brahma.
2) Rs.2/- for nishta, faith and saburi (Sathe and Radhabai Deshmukh. Sai Satcharitra Ch.18 & 19)
3) Rs.4/- often indicated the ego complex, i.e., Manas, Buddhi, Chitta and Ahankar and the need to surrender it at the feet of the Guru.
4) Rs.5/- symbolized the senses, i.e. the Indriyas (The Marwari and quick Brahma Cyan. Sai Satcharitra 16 & 17).
5) Rs.6/- refers to the six internal enemies (Mrs. Tarkhad. Ref: Devotees' experience)
6) Rs.9/- refers to Nav Vidya Bhakti of the Bhakti Marga (Laxmibai and Anantrao Pathankar and the parable of the mare, Sai Satcharitra Ch. 42 and 21 respectively.)
7) Rs.15/-. Giving Dakshina here means deriving lessons from the scriptures and lodging them in the heart where Baba resides. (Prof. Narke. Ref: Devotees' experience)
8) Rs.16.50/-. Sharanagati (total and complete surrender to Baba).
Some times the amount was large; implying a pay raise or bonus and the exact amount was demanded by Baba.
Leela- 30 in Ambrosia in Shirdi - Part-I