Saturday, May 19, 2007
Sai Baba of Shirdi on Sufferings
Since the first experience in Shirdi of the subtle grace or presence of Sai Baba, the writer has been drawn towards these grace. Frequent visits to Shirdi, reading Shri Sai SatCharitra meditating on Sai Baba’s picture, putting on consecrated Shawl from Shirdi are few things that helps feel the grace. However one can see that the intensity of grace is not in our hands and it happens according to its will.
Since the name of Sai Baba is much associated with miracles taking away pains and sorrows of devotees as so many devotees have experienced, felt like writing about one such miracle. The writer’s life has not been an easy ride, even after the feeling of grace. Different sorts of problems, economical problems, emotional, problems of relationship all were part, of the life as it is with everyone. One thing has always been felt that the Grace of Sai Baba is a great supporting factor at such time, and one can feel and see that Sai Baba suffers much and takes much suffering on himself, when his devotees are passing through inevitable passing of the karma every body must pass through in the illusion of life.
Few stories come to mind on this subject. The story of Dr. Pillai explains much. Doctor Pillai was a close and intimate devotee of Sai Baba. He loved Sai Baba much and even Sai Baba would inquire about him very lovingly and lovingly called him Bhau. Morning and evening Bhau’s place was near the hand railing, on which Sai Baba used to rest his left arm while sitting in the Mosque (Dwarkamai). Lots of mutual exchanges of ideas use to occur between Sai Baba and Bhau. While smoking a chillim, Bhau had to be there: while smoking a bidi too, Bhau’s presence was imperative. Bhau was needed while taking decisions in matter. Such pleasant moments were shared with Bhau and Sai Baba.
This Bhau, Doctor Pillai, once suffered from guinea worms and, one after other there appeared seven guinea worms on his leg, which gave him much physical pain and suffering. The pain and suffering from the affliction increased so much that Bhau was weak and bed ridden with agitation and despair. In this time of agitation and despair, ceaseless chant of Sai’s name was on his lips. The agony was such that totally surrendering to Sai Baba he said, ‘Oh, enough of this agony. Even death is preferable to this’ he sent a message to Sai Baba, ‘I am fed up with suffering so much pain. There are so many wounds all over my body! I have not the strength any more! ‘When I have been so pure of conduct, why have I to suffer this painful condition? I have always avoided wicked, sinful deeds. Why then the burden of sins on my head?
“The pain of disease is like that of death. Baba, I cannot really bear it now! It is better that I die. Whatever suffering remains to endure, I shall bear it in the next birth. ‘Unless one endures one’s full share of suffering, there is no escape, to complete which one may have to take more births. But what is ordained my prarabdha can never be avoided. Dull witted that I am, even I know this. ‘I happily take ten more births to suffer my karma. But give me this one gift that my present birth is terminated. ‘Enough, O enough of this life! Release me of this birth. For I can endure this pain no longer. This is my one and only request to you!’
Sai Baba the most merciful was deeply moved to pity by this prayer. Mr. Dixit had brought the message to Sai Baba, to him Sai Baba said, “Go and tell him ‘Let your mind be free from fear’ ”. He also sent the message, “Why spread this suffering ten births? We can spread it over in ten days only by sharing it mutually, and be done with it!
“Oh, that you should ask for calamity of death when I sit here, powerful enough to give Moksha, your material as well as spiritual welfare! Is this all your prowess, your daring? Let him be lifted up and brought here. Let the suffering be undergone and endured. Let him not be so distracted by fear. Carry him here on the back." And so Dr. Pillai was immediately brought to the mosque (Masjid Mai, Dwarka Mai). Sai Baba removed the pillow, on which he was leaning and gave it to Bhau. It was placed on the right hand – the place where Fakir Baba used to sit. “Lean against this and lie down quietly. Do not worry needlessly,” said Sai Baba. “Stretch your leg out, slowly. It will give you some relief. What is preordained will not be over unless it is borne fully. That alone is the remedy. Good or bad, sorrow or joy, nectar or poison – these pair of opposites comes to us to our current to our ‘Sanchit’ (Sowed Karma). Therefore neither feel neither joy nor sorrow for them. Endure whatever comes your way. Allah Malik (God the proprietor) is our protector. Always meditate on him, for he alone bears the burden of all the cares and anxieties. With all your heart, body, wealth and speech, surrender humbly at his feet. When you take his name ceaselessly, you will experience His Leela (play).
Dr. Pillai then said, “Nanasaheb Chandorkar had bandage the wound, but there is no relief.” Sai Baba said, “Nana is crazy! Remove that bandage, or else you will die. A crow will come presently and peck at it and you will be alright.”
Abdul Baba, whom Sai Baba had said, “My crow has come.” On his first visit to Sai Baba, which obviously Dr. Pillai and others were unaware of came to the Mosque (Masjid Mai, Dwarka Mai) for his daily duty of putting the oil in the earthen lamps, in the Masjidmai. The mosque was narrow and crowded, and there was little confusion among the crowded devotees regarding to Dr. Pillai’s condition. In such conditions, Abdul Baba’s mind was totally on his work of filling the earthen lamps with oil. That did not allow his mind to be careful of where he was walking, and accidentally, his foot fell on the wounded and painful leg of Dr. Pillai. This increased the agony of Dr. Pillai more. It brought about a loud painful cry full of agony, from Dr. Pillai’s mouth. The abscesses ruptured and puss began to flow through it. Dr. Pillai on one Hand cried and on other hand began to sing:
‘O Karim (Allah)! Have a pity on my condition,
For your name is Rahiman (Compassionate) and Rahim (Merciful)!
You alone, are the Emperor of both the worlds, and your greatness is manifest in the world.
All the worldly business will become extinct,
But your glory is everlasting!
You are always the Refuge of your devotees.’
The shooting pain appeared every now and again, and it brought about agitation in the mind of Dr. Pillai. Every one was watching Sai Baba’s sport. Sai Baba said, “Look Bhau has started singing!” And Dr. Pillai still awaiting the crow asked to Sai Baba, “Baba, is that crow still to come and peck my wounds?” and Sai Baba said, “You go and lie soen quietly in the wada(Where Dr. Pillai was staying). The crow will not come again to peck. Did he not come just now – he who stepped on your leg? That was the crow who pecked at you and then flew away and subdued your painful abscesses.”
In short while Bhau experienced great relief. Application of the holy Udi and drinking it with water was the only, was the only medicine, the only antidote. As Sai Baba had pointed, the disease was totally rooted out as the tenth day dawned. The particular sanchit karma, that was to bring about great agony, was exhausted in ten days with Sai Baba’s grace and mercy. Dr. Pillai was simply amazed by this miracle, his heart was filled with gratitude towards Sai Baba, and tears rolled down his eyes due to the feeling of gratitude and happiness.
In another incident that happened in Shirdi, Sai Baba pointed out how he takes upon himself the sufferings of his devotees. Dadasaheb Kharpade had a very young son, who was at Shirdi with his mother, enjoying the divine company of Sai Baba. The boy was very young and his body was burning with high fever. Naturally, his mother’s heart was pained due to this and it brought about much disturbance in her. The restlessness of her mind made her to think to return to Amaravati where she used to stay, as she also feared that the dreaded bubonic plague could strike her little child and take him away. So finding an opportunity when Sai Baba came near wada, during the evening walk, she held Sai Baba’s feet and in trembling voice, she kept on harping on what had happened.
Gently Sai Baba said, “The sky is overcast, but it will rain, bringing forth the harvest and the clouds will all melt away. “Why be afraid?” saying so he lifted his kafni up to the waist and showed inflamed buboes to every one present there in Shirdi. People and devotees around could see four inflamed buboes of the size of hen’s egg. “See I have to take upon myself all your sufferings” Said Sai Baba.
Yet another incident that happened that shows how Sai Baba suffers for the devotees. Once Sai Baba was sitting near the Dhuni, the sacred fire, which he use to keep alive and is still seen alive in the sacred, land Shirdi. Sai Baba used to say that it is there to burn the sins and karma of the devotees that step in the Mosque (Masjid, Dwarkamai). Suddenly Sai Baba’s hand thrust in the fire, but Sai Baba seemed quite oblivious and unconcerned about it. The physical hand was scorched quite severely. Madhav, Sai Baba’s attendant, noticed it, also the close devotee Madhavrao Deshpande, who was near by noticed it. He squatted at the back and putting his hands tightly round Sai Baba’s waist pulled him back, exclaiming ‘Alas Baba, what have you done?’ At this, Sai Baba seemed to come to the physical consciousness, as if from some higher consciousness and said, “Oh, Shama you know, a child slipped from it’s mother’s arm suddenly, and fell into smith’s forge! Hearing her husband called out to her, the smith’s wife began to bellows vigorously, out of fear, while holding the child in the armpit all the while. While doing so quite inadvertently, she forgot the child in her armpit for a moment. The restless over-active child slipped from there. But Shama no sooner did she fall than I pick her up. And as I picked her up, this is what happened! Let the hand be scorched, but at least the child’s life is saved!” And later people herd the news, that exactly at same time the narrated incident had occurred in the nearby village, where the child was saved miraculously.
Suffering’s seems to be an integral part on the spiritual journey. Karma has to be washed out. When ever sufferings have come to writer, the writer has felt much intensity towards Meditating on Sai Baba’s Picture and/or Reading Sai SatCharitra, and surrendering the system (Physical, emotional, mental, subtle …. One’s total system to Sai Baba’s grace and love, which gives the miraculous effect on the whole system, and yes it is always felt that Sai Baba takes much suffering on himself leaving so less for us.
Few Quote of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsha on the same from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna:
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing, to Keshab) — You are ill. Well, there is a reason for it. The intense devotional feeling within you has disturbed your body. When one is emotionally surcharged, one doesn’t understand what happens. Much later, you see that it has wreaked havoc on the body. I have noticed that when a big steamer is sailing in the Ganges, one is not aware of it. But lo! After awhile, one sees that waves of water are splashing against the bank, causing great commotion! Sometimes the water may break the bank, washing off portions of it.
“An elephant entering a hut soon makes it totter to its foundations and at last pulls it down. The elephant of bhava has entered the cottage of your body and is creating havoc there.
“Do you know how it happens? When a house catches fire, many things are burned and there is much noise and confusion. The fire of spiritual wisdom first burns up lust, anger and other such enemies. Later it destroys the sense of I-ness. Lastly, it brings about a great turmoil [in the body].
“You may be thinking it is all over. But it isn’t – as long as the least trace of disease remains uncured, He does not release you. If your name has been entered as a patient in the hospital books, you cannot get away. The physician in charge (Doctor Sahib) doesn’t allow you to leave the hospital while the least trace of disease remains. Why did you get your name entered in the hospital books?” (All laugh.)
A story by Ramakrishna Parmhamsha in Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
As Bhishma lay dying on his bed of arrows, the Pandava brothers and Krishna stood around him. They saw tears flowing from the eyes of the great hero. Arjuna said to Krishna: 'Friend, how surprising it is! Even such a man as our grandsire Bhishma--truthful, self-restrained, supremely wise, and one of the eight Vasus--weeps, through maya, at the hour of death.' Sri Krishna asked Bhishma about it. Bhishma replied: 'O Krishna, You know very well that this is not the cause of my grief. I am thinking that there is no end to the Pandavas' sufferings, though God Himself is their charioteer (Krishna, an Incarnation of God, was Arjuna's charioteer.) A thought like this makes me feel that I have understood nothing of the ways of God, and so I weep.'"
A poem of a mystic poet Rumi says much
Sometimes a lover of God may faint
in the presence. Then the beloved bends
and whispers in his ear, "Beggar, spread out
your robe. I'll fill it with gold.
I've come to protect your consciousness.
Where has it gone? Come back into awareness!"
This fainting is because
lovers want so much.
A chicken invites a camel into her henhouse,
and the whole structure is demolished.
A rabbit nestles down
with its eyes closed
in the arms of a lion.
There is an excess
in spiritual searching
that is profound ignorance.
Let the ignorance be our teacher!
The Friend breathes into one
who has no breath.
A deep silence revives the listening
and the speaking of those two
who meet on the riverbank.
Like the ground turning green in a spring wind,
like birdsong beginning inside the egg.
Like this universe coming into existence,
the lover wakes, and whirls
in a dancing joy,
then kneels down
Mathnawi III, 4664-93
Version by Coleman Barks
The Essential Rumi
Castle Books, 1997
To end the long post On the topic of Suffering on Avatar Meher Baba's site