Sai Baba's Early Life – Part 4 of 4
Baba coming to Venkusa (Baba's Guru)
Once, a fakir's wife came from the Manawat village for a darshan of the Maharaj. Now listen to that tale with patience. She was old and was dressed in a bedraggled old dress which was darned and repaired many times. She would have been over fifty. She had a cloth bag slung over one shoulder for alms as the fakirs do, and wore green bangles. On her back she was carrying a five year old boy. He was Kabir in his past life. He was eagerly eating a piece of roti. For the poor the roti gives more happiness than sweetmeats. The Maharaj was sitting in his royal court at that time. The soldiers who were the sentries did not allow the old woman to enter the august presence of the Maharaj. It is the nature of the soldiers to be harsh. These were the soldiers of the great Maharaj who was a desmukh. So they used to behave like the monkeys on a tree which harass all passersby to no purpose other than their own amusement. The old lady put the boy down and prostrated to the Maharaj from the door itself. She joined her hands in sincere supplication and said, "Maharaj, it is five weeks since my husband died. I am a widow now. You are my only succour." Before dying my husband said, "Go to Selu. There lives the Maharaj who is the succour to all those who have none to look after them. He will look after you till the end of your days."
The Maharaj heard her with happiness. He said, "Kabir's mother has brought Kabir to me." He stood up from his seat and hurried to her side. He held her with both his hands and consoled her as if she was his own mother. He said, "Mother, I have been looking forward eagerly for your arrival. You and your child can stay happily in my house." On seeing the Maharaj the child started speaking in words, which were at once childish and mature, "Why should my mother bear the responsibility for me now? Since I have come here, she has neither the responsibility nor the authority of a mother over me. I am no longer hers. I am yours in all respects."
The fakir's wife was given a room in the house. The Maharaj started showing great love and affection for the boy. As a result of this, the entire household started becoming hostile to the boy. They developed jealousy and envy that the boy had become such a favourite of the Maharaj in such a short time. By the time the boy was twelve his mother had died.
The jealousy of the others
One day in the evening, the Maharaj took the boy to the nearby forest and stayed on there for four months. This caused great perturbation in the minds of Maharaj's relatives and intimates. They started rumours that the fakir's wife knew black magic and was an expert in the black arts. They said that she had applied some mantra on the Maharaj, which made him develop unwarranted love and affection for the boy. That is why the Maharaj is showing such great infatuation for the boy and not leaving in him alone for even a second. They said, "The Maharaj is a brahmin. He is of the aswalayana gotra and is a holy Vaishnava; this boy is a mere Muslim low caste. One is the holy Godavari; the other a mud hole. The Maharaj is as the famous parijata tree, whose fame has spread its fragrance far and wide; the boy is a thorn bush. The Maharaj has realized his Self and is verily the consort of Rama- Vishnu himself; the boy is a devil. One is the seat of knowledge which shines forth leading the people to illumination while the other is a heap of fetid manure. Why has the Maharaj developed so much love for this undeserving boy? In addition to this is the propaganda that this wastrel was Kabir in his last incarnation! This is intolerable. Let us kill that boy in the forest and be done with him. The Maharaj will have no alternative but to forget him and come back to us. It is because of this worthless wretch that the Maharaj is becoming the subject of malicious gossip." They secretly got together and went into the forest one night. The Maharaj and the boy were sleeping. The Maharaj was sleeping in front while the boy was sleeping behind. They wanted to kill the boy so one of the party took a brick and taking aim at the head of the boy hurled it with great force. The brick however struck the Maharaj. His head was wounded and his face was full of blood. The Maharaj felt great pain. The Maharaj sat up and applying lime to the wound tied a bandage to it.
The person who threw the brick was dead the same instant. Those who seek to harm the mahatmas are harmed themselves. The boy wept in fear on seeing the bloodied head of the Maharaj. He cried, "Maharaj, you are very devoted and pious. You have great merit. Despite all the merit that you have, you have been subjected to this pain because of me. Please send me away at least now. In the past Samarth Ramadas Swami of Sajjan garh has sent away one of his disciples from Kalyan to Domaga as the others developed enmity towards him. Send me away to some far off place in the same way." The Maharaj said, "I will be on this earth only for a few hours now. I will not go to Selu until I give you all that I have. Only then will these fools realize your powers and ability. Do now as I say. In that village located nigh, a lambadi (tribal) man has a cow of tawny colour. Tell him I want some milk from that cow. Milk that cow and bring the milk to me. I will become well again if I drink that milk. Do not tarry any longer. Go soon and bring the milk." The boy immediately went to the lambadi owner of the cow and telling him of Maharaj's order requested him to let him milk the cow.
The lambadi's name was Ahulla. He said, "This cow is barren. It does not yield milk. I am using it as a draught animal in my farm work in the place of oxen." He immediately took that cow to the Maharaj and said, "Swami! Oh able one! This cow does not give milk. There is no purpose in pressing its udders. This cow has been with me for fifteen years and has never given even a drop of milk until now. I have brought her here just to show you the truth in what I say." The Maharaj who was a mountain of merit heard the lambadi patiently. He said, "You are a fool. You do not know about this cow's udders. This cow has kept her udders secret from you for these many years. Give me that vessel. I will myself milk this cow." That mahatma put his hand on the back of the cow. The moment the mahatma's hand touched her back, the milk started spouting thickly from the udders of the cow. The cow, which did not give any milk for 15 years, gave three litres of milk! That milk was rich, thick and sweet. The Maharaj held the hand of the fakir boy and said, "Drink this milk. Do not stay anywhere in these parts. Go west wards along the southern shores of Godavari, far away from this area."
He removed the bandage around his head and wrapped it around the head of the boy. He said, "This piece of cloth which I have given you is your entire fortune. The three litres of milk which I have given you are Karma, Bhakti (devotion) and Jnana (discriminate knowledge). I have written holy mantras in that milk. Drink the three litres of milk. You will get true wisdom."
The fakir boy knelt at the feet of the Maharaj and drank the milk. As he finished drinking the milk, he saw the entire world filled with Brahman. This is the grace of Guru. The Maharaj clasped the boy to his heart. He said, "My boy, you were Kabir in your previous life. Now you have assumed this body in this life. In your past life you had given away your wife wholeheartedly to the bania. That is why you had stayed a continent bachelor and gained merit. Do not see the world and God as different from each other. Keep your mind always on the almighty. You will always be immersed in bliss. I am Ramananda. I was your Guru in our past lives in Kasi. I have not taken sannyas in this life only for your sake. In your past life as Kabir you used to write poetry. Maintain silence in this life or talk very briefly. Stay in oneplace and lead all those who surrender fully to you to salvation. I will now go to Selu and enter samadhi. My work in this life is now finished." He looked at the people who were nearby. He said, "Why are you hiding your faces in shame from me?" they ran to his feet and prostrated. "Maharaj, please forgive us. Please give life back to our companion who had thrown the brick at you. Or it will be a black mark against your fame."
They prayed to him most earnestly. The Maharaj replied, "I have no powers left with me. Beg this boy if you wish your companion to live." They immediately went to the boy and prayed to him, "Baba, you are the full moon of knowledge. Please do not delay any longer. Please make this dead man live again." The orphan heard their request but he did not know what to do. He looked in askance in the direction of his guru, the Maharaj with a feeling of pious devotion. The Maharaj inclined his head in assent and made a sign to give life back to the corpse. He declared, "As far as the people are concerned, from now on you are my child, my representative." The fakir boy took some dust from the feet of his Guru, the Maharaj and applied it to the forehead of the corpse. Immediately life rushed back in to the dead body and he sat up. They were all very happy and took the Guru and disciple in a procession to Selu.
The next day was the Ekadasi day of the Margasira month. The Maharaj ordered all his disciples to near him and said, "Today I am going to Vaikuntha, the abode of Sri Hari. A fig tree will come up in the place of my funeral pyre. If you dig at its foot to a depth of five feet you will find a grey coloured statue of the four shouldered lord Venkateswara. Consecrate the idol there itself and build a temple. Look upon that temple as my samadhi. Do not build another samadhi for me." He told each of his devotees their duties and responsibilities and after his bath did the worship of sandhya. He formally read the Bhagavad-Gita. He asked every one to repeat the holy name of Narayana. He kept looking at the fakir boy. He took off the cloth covering him, threw it to the boy, and made a sign of leave taking. He immediately said loudly,
Jaya Jaya Narayana Sri Hari!
He Venkatesa! Putanari!
Pahimam! Pahimam! Murari.
He said this three times loudly and left his mortal coil. Every thing happened as forecast by the Maharaj. The disciples of Maharaj followed his instructions. They constructed the temple and consecrated the statue of lord Venkateswara with all the due ceremonies. The construction of the temple and the consecration ceremonies were conducted with great pomp. That temple has become very famous as a temple of Great Power. The fakir boy wore the cloth presented to him by the guru as a kafni and left the area. It is my firm belief that the boy is none other than Sri Sai Baba.
Presently, the fifth generation of Gopalrao Desmukh's family is at Selu. His name is Srinivasarao. The people of Selu visit Maharaj's samadhi every Friday with devotion and perform an utsav there. I salute the fakir boy blessed by Gopalrao Maharaj with devotion and faith. I prostrate in front of that excellent saint. Those who cannot go to Tirupati to may go to Selu to have the darshan of that great God, the granter of all boons, lord Venkateswara. May they obtain all well-being and happiness from that munificent lord.
Das Ganu prays to the almighty to grant salvation to all devotees who read this 'Bhakti Saaramrit'. This book is offered to Hari and Hara. May the almighty bless all.
Here ends the 26th chapter of 'Bhakti Saaramrit' written by Das Ganu Maharaj!
(SRI SAIGURUCHARITRA - by devotee Ganpatrao Dattatreya Sahasra-buddhebetter known as Das Ganu Maharaj)