God's or Guru's grace is perhaps the most important and valuable in the spiritual pursuit. Was reading the sacred book Sai SatCharitra (the grace bestowing book), and in chapter number 21 are the two stories of Mr. Thakur and Anantrao Patankar. In both the stories or incidents the importance of Guru's or God's grace has been given.
The first story of Mr. Thakur is really wonderful. It states that he met Kanarese Saint (Appa) and bowed before him. He had this, Respect to the Saint and bowing them. The saint Shri Appa was reading a spiritual book and explaining the portion to the listeners. Just like Sai Baba used to guide to regularly read (parayans) sacred and spiritual books, Sri Appa too guided him study the book. He further affirmed that doing so will fulfill his desires. What the saint said further is important to ponder on. He knew of the meeting of Mr. Thakur with SadGuru Shri Sai Baba. He said that with his good luck he would be meeting a great Saint who will show him future path and give rest to his mind.
Reading the book will fulfill the desires first and help him to meet the Sadguru, who will show him the path and give rest to mind. Much is indicated in those few words of the saint. Fulfillment of desires does not give rest to mind nor mere book reading without the grace of Guru or God.
Then is the discription of the crossing of Nahne ghat which was very difficult, and how he met the instrument and devotee of Shri Sai Baba, Nanasaheb Chandorkar. And how he reached Shirdi, fell at Sai Baba's feet and was overjoyed. Getting overjoyed in the presence of Baba and signs of tears flowing through his eyes and hair standing on the body, indicated his simple and devoted heart. This still happens to many devotees and even to the writer. And since Sai Baba's presence is everywhere it not only just happens in sacred land in Shirdi but happens while many a times to many of the devotees while listening to His name or chantings, visiting local temples, looking at His picture, listening or reading His stories or Leelas, seeing Shirdi on television or even while seeing the television serial, where an actor plays the part of Sai Baba. There might be few more things to make this happen which i might be missing out here.
Then comes the words that fell from Sai Baba's mouth which are very important.
"The path of this place is not so easy as the teaching of the Kanarese Saint Appa or even as the buffalo-ride in the Nhane Ghat. In this spiritual path, you have to put in your best exertion as it is very difficult".
Spiritual path is not easy and one needs to put the best exertion. Perhaps as it is the matter of life and death. Mr. Thakur was induced with further faith by the omniscience of Sai Baba on the mention of crossing of the ghat, and with devoted heart he joined his hands and put His head on sacred feet of Sai Baba (how lucky :)) and asked for His blessings.
The merciful Sai Baba said - "What Appa told you was all right, but these things have to be practised and lived. Mere reading won't do. You have to think and carry out what you read, otherwise, it is of no use. Mere book-learning, without the grace of the Guru, and self-realization is of no avail".
Again the words from Shri Sai Baba's mouth each word so important. What we read in sacred book has to be lived. If not lived it is not much of use. And mere book learning in spiritual matters without the grace of Guru is also of less importance.
The story that follows is of Anantrao Patankar, a scholar of spiritual books like Vedas, Vedants, Upnishads and Puranas. Yet he had one great quality, which is found missing in many scholars. He was aware of the lack of peace of mind with him. Many scholars after reading a lot likes to think they know much and gets puffed up with pride of knowledge, the knowledge of words.
He had herd about the grace of Sai Baba and the ability of the Sat Chit Anand Sadguru Shri Sai Baba of giving peace to mind by mere divine glance or few playful words. A parable of horse was told by Sai Baba, which he failed to understand. With the inspiration of Sai Baba one devotee told him about the Navavidha bhakti. Nine forms of devotion.
1. Shravana listening to the praise of lord or chantings of lord.
2. Kirtana - singing the glories of God and Saints, devotional songs and bhajans
3. Smarana - remebering the God or Sadguru wherever we are what ever we are doing.
4. Padsevana - resorting to the feet of Sadguru (Thou art the doer i am the machine) surrender with heart soul and mind.
5. Archana (Worship) Worshiping the God or Sad Guru
6. Namaskara - Bowing to Sadguru and giving the self to Him
7. Dasya service serving the guru with bhava of a dasa a divine servant who serves his Sadguru
8. Sakhyatva (Friendship) looking to Sadguru as a friend and always remembering Him as the best friend.
9. Atmanivedana (surrender of the self)
If any one of these is done with totality with Faith and Patience and as Sai Baba had said in the earlier story
"In this spiritual path, you have to put in your best exertion as it is very difficult"
More from Sai Baba's mouth on Bhakti and surrender while explaining verse of Gita
Next day Patankar went and bowed to Sai Baba and asked for real treasure His grace and was graced by Shri Sai Baba with the affirmation that his mind would attain peace and welfare.
Bolo Shree SatChitAnand SadGuru SaiNath Maharaj Ki Jai !!!
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