Sai Satchritra - Chapter
Baba's Handi - Disrespect of Shrine - Kala or Hodge-Podge - Cup
In the last chapter we described Baba's Chavadi procession. In this
we take up Baba's Handi (cooking pot) and some other subjects.
Oh, blessed Sad-guru Sai, we bow to You, Who have given happiness
to the whole world, accomplished the welfare of the devotees and
have removed the affliction of those who have resorted to Your Feet.
Being very liberal and being the protector and saviour of the Bhaktas
who surrender themselves to You, You incarnate yourself in this
world to oblige the people and do them good. The liquid essence
of Pure Self was poured into the mould of Brahma and out of this
has come out the crest-jewel of the saints-Sai. This Sai is Atmarama
Himself. He is the abode of perfect divine bliss. Having Himself
attained all objects of life, He made His devotees desirelss and
Different sadhanas (means of accomplishments) are prescribed in
our scriptures for different ages. Tapa (Penance) is recommended
for Krita age, Jnana (Knowledge) for Treta age, Yajna (Sacrifice)
for Dwapara age and Dana (Charity) for Kali (present) age. Of all
the charities, giving food is the best one. We are much perturbed
when we get no food at noon.
Other beings feel similarly under similar circumstances. Knowing
this, he who gives food to the poor and hungry, is the best donor
or charitable person. The Taittiriya Upanishad says that "Food
is Brahma; from food all the creatures are born and having been
born, by food they live, and having departed, into food again they
enter." When an Atithi (uninvited guest) comes to our door
at noon, it is our bounden duty to welcome him by giving him food.
Other kinds of charities, viz., giving away wealth, property and
clothes etc., require some discrimination, but in the matter of
food, no such consideration is necessary. Let anybody come to our
door at noon, he should be served forthwith; and if lame, crippled,
blind and diseased paupers come, they should be fed first and the
able-bodied persons and our relations afterwards.
The merit of feeding the former is much greater than that of feeding
the latter. Other kinds of charities are imperfect without this
Anna-dana (giving of food) as stars are without the moon, a necklace
without its central medal, a crown without pinnacle, a tank without
a lotus, bhajan without love, a married lady without the kumkum-mark,
singing without a sweet voice or butter-milk without salt. Just
as varan (Pulse-soup) excels all other dishes, Anna-dana is the
best of all merits. Now let us see how Baba prepared food and distributed
It has been stated before that Baba required very little food for
Himself and what little He wanted, was obtained by begging from
a few houses. But when He took it into His mind to distribute food
to all, He made all preparations from beginning to end, Himself.
He depended on nobody and troubled none in this matter. First He
went to the bazar and bought all the things, corn, flour, spices
etc., for cash. He did also the grinding. In the open courtyard
of the Masjid, He arranged a big hearth and after lighting a fire
underneath kept a Handi over it with a proper measure of water.
There were two kinds of Handi, one small and the other big. The
former provided food for 50 persons, the later for 100. Sometimes
He cooked 'Mitthe Chaval' (sweet rice), and at other times 'pulava'
with meat. At times in the boiling varan (soup), He let in small
balls of thick or flat breads of wheat flour. He pounded the spices
on a stone-slab, and put the thin pulverized spices into the cooking-pot.
He took all the pains to make the dishes very palatable. He prepared
'Ambil' by boiling jawari-flour in water and mixing it with butter-milk.
With the food He distributed this Ambil to all alike.
To see whether the food was properly cooked or not, Baba rolled
up the sleeve of His Kafni and put His bare arm in the boiling cauldron
without the least fear, and churned (moved) the whole mass from
side to side and up and down. There was no mark of burn on His arm,
nor fear on His face. When the cooking was over, Baba got the pots
in the Majid, and had them duly consecrated by the moulvi. First
He sent part of the food as prasad to Mhalasapati and Tatya Patil
and then He served the remaining contents with His own hand to all
the poor and helpless people to their hearts' content. Really blessed
and fortunate must be those people who got food prepared by Baba
and served by Him.
Somebody may raise a doubt here and ask - "Did Baba distribute
vegetable and animal food as prasad alike to all His devotees?"
The answer is plain and simple. Those who were accustomed to (take)
animal food were given food from the Handi as prasad and those who
were not so accustomed, were not allowed to touch it. He never created
in them any wish or desire to indulge in this food. There is a principle
well established that when a Guru himself gives anything as prasad,
the disciple who thinks and doubts whether it is acceptable or otherwise,
goes to peridition. In order to see how any disciple has imbibed
this principle, Baba at times proposed tests.
For instance, on an Ekadashi day He gave some rupees to Dada Kelkar
and asked him to go in person to Koralha to get mutton from there.
This Dada Kelkar was an orthodox Brahmin and kept all orthodox manners
in his life. He knew that offering wealth, grain and clothes etc.,
to a Sad-guru was not enough but that implicit obedience to and
prompt compliance with His order was the real Dakshina that pleased
Him most. So Dada Kelkar dressed himself and started for the place.
Then Baba called him back and said, "Don't go yourself, but
send somebody." Then Dada sent servant Pandu for the purpose.
Seeing him starting, Baba asked Dada to call him back and cancelled
that programme. On another occation Baba asked Dada just to see
how the saltish `Pulava' (mutton dish) was done.
The latter said casually and formally that it was alright. Then
Baba said to him - "Neither you have seen it with your eyes,
nor tasted in with your tongue, then how could you say that it was
good? Just take out the lid and see." Saying this Baba caught
his arm and thrust it into the pot and added, "Draw out your
arm and taking a ladle, put some quantity in the dish without caring
for your orthodoxy and without blustering." When a wave of
real love rises in a mother's mind, she pinches her child with her
hand and when it begins to cry and shout, she hugs it close to her
bosom. Similarly Baba, in a true motherly way pinched Dada Kelkar
in this fashion. Really no saint or guru will ever force his orthodox
disciple to eat forbidden food and defile himself thereby.
The Handi business went on for some time till 1910 and was stopped
thereafter. As stated before, Das Ganu spread the fame of Baba by
his kirtans far and wide in the Bombay Presidency and people from
that part of the country began to flock to Shirdi, which became
in a few days a place of pilgrimage. The devotees brought with them
various articles for presentation and offered various dishes of
food as naivedya. The quantity of naivedya offered by them was so
much that the fakirs and paupers could feed themselves to their
hearts' content, leaving some surplus behind. Before stating how
naivedya was distributed, we shall refer to Nanasaheb Chandorkar's
story showing Baba's regard and respect for local Shrines and deities.
Nanasaheb's Disrespect of a Shrine
By drawing inferences or guessing in their own way some people said
that Sai was a Brahmin, and some that He was a Moslem. Really He
belonged to no caste. No one knew definitely when He was born and
in what community and who were His parents. Then how could He be
a Moslem or Brahmin? If He were a Moslem, how could He keep Dhuni
fire ever burning in the Masjid, how could there be a Tulsi Vrindavan
there, how could He allow the blowing of conches and ringing of
bells and the playing of the musical instruments, how could He allow
all the different forms of Hindu worship, there? Had He been a Moslem,
could He have pierced ears and could He have been spent money from
His pocket for repairing Hindu temples? On the contrary He never
tolerated the slightest disrespect to Hindu Shrines and deities.
Once Nanasaheb Chandorkar came to Shirdi with his 'Sadu' - husband
of his sister-in-law, Mr.Biniwalle. When they went to the Masjid
and sat before Baba talking, the latter suddenly got angry with
Nanasaheb and said - "You are so long in My company and how
do you behave like this?" Nanasaheb then at first did not understand
anything and humbly requested Baba to explain. Baba asked him when
he came to Kopergaon and how he came to Shirdi from thence. Nanasaheb
then at once realized his mistake.
He usually worshipped the Shrine of Datta, on the banks of the
Godavari at Kopergaon on his way to Shirdi, but this time he dissuaded
his relation who was a Datta Bhakta from going to that Shrine, to
avoid delay and drove straight. He confessed all this to Baba and
told Him that while bathing in the Godavari, a big thorn went into
his foot and gave him much trouble. Baba said that, that was the
slight punishment be met and warned him to be more careful in future.
To revert to the distribution of the naivedya. - After the arati
was over and after Baba sent away all the people with Udi and blessings,
He went inside and sat with his back to the Nimbar for meals, with
two rows of the Bhaktas, one on each side. The Bhaktas who brought
naivedya thrust inside their dishes containing a variety of food
such as Puris, Mande, Polis, Basundi, Sanza, fine rice etc., and
kept waiting outside for prasad consecrated by Baba. All the foods
were mixed in a hotch-potch and placed before Baba. He offered it
all to God and consecrated it. Then portions of the same were given
to the persons waiting outside and the rest was served to the inner
party with Baba at the centre.
The Bhaktas sitting in two rows then dined to their hearts' content.
Baba asked Shama and Nanasaheb Nimonkar daily to serve the consecrated
food to all the persons sitting inside and look to their individual
needs and comforts. This they did very carefully and willingly.
Every morsel of the food thus partaken gave them nutrition and satisfaction.
Such sweet, lovely and consecrated food it was! Ever auspicious
and every holy!
Cup of Butter-Milk
Once Hemadpant had eaten his full in this company, when Baba offered
him a cup of butter-milk. Its white appearance pleased him, but
he was afraid that there was no space inside for it. He, however,
took a sip which proved very tasty. Seeing his faltering attitude,
Baba said - "Drink it all, you won't get any such opportunity
hereafter." He drank it off then, but found that Baba's words
were prophetic, for He passed away soon.
Now, readers, we have certainly to thank Hemadpant. He drank the
cup of butter-milk, but has supplied us with sufficient quantity
of nectar in the form of Baba's Leelas. Let us drink cups and cups
of this nectar and be satisfied and happy.
Bow to Shri Sai - Peace be to all