Arrival of Embodiment of Wisdom in Shirdi
Oh listeners! On the second day, Sri Sai Baba went to Chandubhai's house in Dhupkheda village. All the people of Dhupkheda went and had the darshan of Sai Baba. They wondered, "Is he a Hindu? Is he a Moslem?" Each who saw him formed his own opinion as to his religion. The Muslims thought he was an aulia. The Hindus considered him a siddha. Both the groups had a common feeling towards Baba devotion. They all prostrated at his feet and paid him their respects.
Chandubhai's brother-in-law's marriage was arranged with a girl from Shirdi village. Baba too joined the marriage party, which went to Shirdi from Dhupkheda village. As he stepped on to the soil of Shirdi, that village was blessed. Shirdi is the surely equal to Gokula. Krishna was born in Mathura but lived in Gokula. In the same way, Selu or Manawat is Mathura. Shirdi is Gokula. Sri Sai Baba stayed on in Shirdi purifying it and it has now become a great pilgrimage centre. As he entered Shirdi, he met the pious devotee Mahalsapati. As he reached the Khandoba temple, Mahalsapati said, "Oh Sai! It is not seemly that you come here. This is a temple for the Hindus. You look like a Moslem to me. You better go to the Masjid or the Thakiya."
The able Sai was surprised by the words of Mahalsapati. He said, "It is one God who has created both these people. Hindu, Moslem are mere words - know this to be the truth. The sadhaka should never feel that religion has any importance. He should not differentiate between people based on their religion. Never show intolerance towards people of other religions. Reform yourself. Try to see the God who is one for all of us. He is Allah-I-llahi. He is the Maha Vishnu reclining on the serpent Adisesha! There is nothing which is other than your Khandoba, my son. Know clearly as to who the real Khandoba is! Those who know the truth care not a whit for these differences based on religion. There are temples in this world and there are masjids too. God has not constructed any of them. Oh pious one! Do not think that these temples or the masjids are the only ones to lead you to God. I will not trouble you. I will respect your feelings and have the darshan of Khandoba from afar. I hope you have no objection to that? Your Puranas tell a tale. There was a low caste man called Chokha Mela who was very dear to Panduranga. He was a hundred times better person than those high caste Brahmin priests who did the daily ceremonial worship of Panduranga. Know you, that all those who sincerely try to reach the lotus feet of the almighty keeping their minds and hearts pure are the high castes. All others are low caste irrespective of the caste they were born in. Whose interior is pure is pure everywhere."
Mahalsapati was ecstatic with happiness on hearing these words of wisdom from Sri Sai Baba. He prostrated at his feet and saluted him with devotion. He said, "You are truly the embodiment of wisdom. It is the accumulated merit of my past lives which has led me to you." He prayed, "Please stay on in our Shirdi village." Baba agreed to do so. They both entered the village. Sri Sai Baba settled in the Masjid. He stayed for many days in the shade of the Neem tree, which was close by. Sri Sai Baba liked to be alone. He would light the Dhuni and resting his elbow on the right knee and placing his palm on his ear would gaze at the fire for hours together with half closed eyes. He used to smoke the chillim. He was never in a hurry. He was always looking inwards and his mind was steadfast. He was always immersed in the bliss of constant communion with God. He would go to five houses for alms every day. He would ask for alms and stand at the door for a very short time. He would go to Vaman, Sakharam, Ganapati, Kumar Tatyaba, Nandu and Sawairams houses for alms. How fortunate are they, who had the merit of giving alms to that embodiment of wisdom?
(SRI SAIGURUCHARITRA - by devotee Ganpatrao Dattatreya Sahasra-buddhebetter known as Das Ganu Maharaj)