Shirdhi Sai, incarnation of Shiva

Capt Purshotam Sharma

Centuries of incessant study of Vedas could not satisfy sage Bharadwaja’s yearning for Supreme Knowledge. To help the saddened sage, Indra advised him to propitiate Ma Parvati. The sage decided to hold a ‘yajna’ and reached Kailasha to extend invitation to the Mother of the Universe. As the Lord Shiva and His consort were dancing in ecstasy, he stood witnessing it continuously for eight days in the snow-clad place which caused him paralytic stroke. The Divine Couple rushed to his help. Lord Shiva sprinkled sacred water on the sage and cured him. Lord granted the sage a boon that He will incarnate in Bharadwaja Gothra thrice. First Incarnation was Shirdhi Sai, the Shiva Avtar, a third child born on September 27,1838, (Thursday), to Smt. Devagiriamma and Shri Ganga Bhavadia in a forest near Village Pathri of Aurangabad District of Maharashtra. Second Incarnation was Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Shiv-Shakti Avtar, born on November, 1926, who had chosen a devout couple Smt. Easwaramma and Shri Pedda Venkama Raju as His parents of Ratnakar family of Bharadwaja Gothra inhabiting a tiny Village Puttaparthy falling in Anantpur District of Andhra Pradesh. The Third Incarnation will be Prema Sai, Shakti Avtar, in Mandya District of Karnataka.
It was an elderly woman of Village Shirdhi falling in District Ahmed Nagar who had first seen a pretty young boy of around 16 years sitting in deep concentration of thought on God under a ‘Neem’ Tree. He observed severe austerities in heroic spirit. He was unaffected by vagaries of weather. He called Himself “Hum to Sai Hai, Gosai Hai, Lambe Lambe Se Aye Hai.” His shelter was a dilapidated mosque known as ‘Dwarka Mai’ in village Shirdhi where He lived for 60 years. Chand Bhai Patel, headman of Village Dhoop Gaon of Aurangabad District of Maharashtra had a mare called Bijli which disappeared one day from the grazing field. Patel’s intensive search for several days proved futile. Fatigued and frustrated, he undertook homeward journey carrying the saddle on his shoulders. On the way, he came across a ‘faqir’ (renunciant) relaxing under a shady tree. Faqir questioned Patel for carrying such a heavy load on his person. Patel told that his mare has been missing for the last two months and his diligent search had been in vain. Faqir directed Patel to look for the mare in the nearby Nullah. To his utter astonishment, Patel found the mare grazing there. Patel could make out the divinity of the Holy man. In the mean time, Faqir lighted the ‘chillum’ by materializing the ember and water from the ground by striking his prong (Chimta) and short stick (satka) respectively. Thereafter, Faqir offered the ‘chillum’ to Patel. Live ember is used in lighting the pipe and water to moisten the ‘chhapi’ (a piece of cloth used in drawing up the smoke from the pipe). Chand Patel invited the Faqir to stay with him in Dhoop Gaon to which he consented.
After some days’ stay, Faqir accompanied a marriage party of Patel’s relative to Shirdhi. Marriage party dismounted from the bullock-carts in the field of Bhagat Mhalsapathi near Khandoba Mandir. Attracted by Faqir’s spiritual splendor, Mhalsapathi welcomed Him addressing “Ya Sai” (Welcome Sai). From then onwards the Faqir has been known as ‘Shirdhi Sai Baba’.
Although Baba had no formal education yet he had command over many languages and quoted verses from Holy scriptures of different faiths befitting to the subject and occasion. He always emphasized on practicing ‘shradha’ and ‘saburi’ (faith and patience) to attain higher plane of consciousness, that is, realization of the Truth and preached Divine words ‘Allah Malik’.
Sitting in Dwarka Mai, His Holy Abode, and rubbing coins was Baba’s routine. While doing so, He chanted ‘Tatyacha Shamyacha’ thus removed the sufferings of His devotees. Grinding grains was His another miracle. Once cholera spread in the area. Baba marked the village boundary line with the grinded flour and prevented the villagers from the deadly disease.
On another occasion, a severe thunderstorm overtook the village. The dark clouds and torrential rains frightened the inhabitants. Baba just gave a serious look at the dark-clouded sky and commanded it to be merciful and the command was explicitly obeyed.
One day Shama, Baba’s ardent devotee, was bitten by a deadly cobra. Victim rushed to Baba who angrily addressed “O Darpok Pujari, Uper Mat Chad, Savdhan Agar Aisa Kiya To” He than shouted “Hatto, Dur Hatt, Neeche Uter” (0, timid priest, ascend not, I warn you not to do so, get lost, get lost away, come down). Shama was dumbfound to hear these cautions and stood still. In fact Baba meant to stop the venom to spread further. Amazingly, Shama was fully cured of snake-bite. Once Baba was denied oil by the local shop-keepers to light the earthen lamps of which he was very fond of. He filled the sanctified water through His mouth and lamps burnt longer than usual. The glow was far more glittering than before. Baba begged food and stored in a ‘Kolamba’ (an earthen pot) and shared with stray animals and birds. His wearing was long ‘kafni’ to cover His body, ‘kaupin’ (lion cloth) around waist and a piece of cloth around His head. He used a wooden plank as hard bed for sleeping and made brick as pillow. The plank of very narrow width was hung with frail old cloth-pieces which could hardly bear the weight of the plank. It was a big mystery to find Baba reaching the sleeper and lying on it with lamps burning on all the four corners of the plank.
Shirdhi permeated with higher spiritual pursuits, cultural activities and service for welfare and uplift of humanity in Baba’s time. He possessed immense sense of humor. He was fond of wrestling, dance, music and folk songs. Shirdhi hummed with such events. His own voice was melodious. All festivals were celebrated in Baba’s presence with fervor and gaiety to create amity and harmony among the people of all faiths and creeds. Devotees always surrounded Baba at the “Akhand Dhooni’. In fact, this was a question-answer session between the devotees and their Master. “Akhand Dhooni’ is still burning. Its sacred ash is known ‘UDI’ which is Baba’s ‘prasad’ that removes the sufferings and sorrows of the devotees, cures diseases, answers their prayers and fulfils their wishes. He emphasized on mutual love, purity of thoughts, selfless service, non-violence and good conduct. He preached generosity, universal brotherhood saying that there is no difference between Ram and Raheem and advised the people to always sing the glories of the Lord of the Universe.
He declared that (1) Pilgrimage to Shirdhi will remove all pains and grief of the pilgrims. (2) By climbing the steps leading to My Eternal Abode, all sorrows of devotees will be vanished. (3) I may have shed my mortal coils but I will rush to the call of my devotees. (4) Have unwavering faith in Me and all your wishes will be fulfilled. (5) Perceive the concept of My existence and experience the ultimate Truth. (6) One who has taken refuge in Me will never go unrewarded. (7) I manifest commensurate with the imagination of the devotees. (8) Burden of welfare of My devotees lies on Me, be assured, My words will never be ineffectual. (9) Come and receive My grace to your fill, whatever you seek will be granted. (10) I am ever indebted to My devotees who are earnestly engrossed in Me in speech, thought and action. (11) Hail, Hail! My devotees, knowing none else, they never swerve from my Splendid Vision.
After a brief illness, Baba peacefully embraced ‘Mahanirvan’ at 2:30 p.m. on October 15, 1918, on the auspicious occasion of Vijaydashmi.