Last updated on 19th January 2014
I found some of the statements of a lawyer (pleader) devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba said in the year 1936 to be very appropriate for many devotees of Sathya Sai Baba today!
From Devotees' Experiences of Sri (Shirdi) Sai Baba by Narasimha Swami pdf file here - pages 28 and 29:
16th October, 1936, Nasik
& 28th October, 1936, Shirdi
RAO BAHADUR S.B.DHUMAL, B.A., LL.B, Pleader, Brahmin, aged 63, Nasik, says:
I have one great difficulty in answering the question "What are your experiences of Sai Baba?" All hours of day and night, I am having experiences of Baba. There is no incident or event in my life which I do not connect with him - however trivial it may appear to be. I firmly believe that everything in my life is swayed by Baba. What then is to be mentioned as my experience? Of course, the outside world will not be ready to accept my belief as correct or well-founded. But that matters nothing to me. In fact, that very disbelief of people seems to be a reason for refusing to disclose one's experience. Every devotee feels that his experiences are his own, and are given to him for his own spiritual and temporal benefit and not for ventilation or publication to the general public which, of course, includes masses of ignorant, irrelevant carping critics and scoffers. Yet ardent biographers are anxious to ferret out one's innermost secret and sacred experiences to embellish their work. But the devotee whom they delve into feels that in the very act of dragging the secret experience into light, its reality and life are destroyed. The anatomist anxious to examine the living organism inch by inch cuts out what he wants and places it under his microscope, but in that very act, life is destroyed and what he examines with his instrument is dead tissue and not the living organism. The best way of understanding Baba is to experience him oneself. Where is Baba gone? He is still alive and active - more active, if that were possible, than he was before his Mahasamadhi. In downright earnest can get into touch with him, today and at once. But if one will not do that, but wants experiences, second hand, third hand or even fifth hand, he will get but poor stuff. I feel also very strongly the regrettable facts that experiences which get their significance and full force when expressed in our vernacular are to be now expressed to you and by you in English and that the loss in transition will be serious.
--- end extract ---
After the above words, Shri Dhumal does share his Shirdi Sai Baba experiences which, I am quite sure, give Ananda (joy) to as well as strengthen Bhakti (devotion) of most of its readers. It certainly had that effect on me. I must also mention that the articulate and exquisite English used to describe his experiences show that Shri Dhumal (I presume he authored that part) was a very knowledgeable and well educated man of those times (pre-Independence India) and so lends more credibility to his account. In those days, it seems to me that, many of the educated Indian elite became lawyers. Many of the well educated devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba who went on to write about their experiences with Him were from the legal profession.
I would like to share some more details about Shri Dhumal from page 29 of the same book link given above.
Dhumal writes, "I was first (in 1903) devoted to Gajanan Maharaj whom I took to Srimant Gopal Rao Buti. About 1907 I went to Sai Baba. From my very first visit, I was greatly impressed with his extraordinary personality. At his unspoken command, I took Buti to him and at once Buti also became his devoted follower. Among the services of the latter to Baba, perhaps the most momentous and memorable is his allowing his huge stone-pile (Dagdiwada) to be used as the temple for the reception of the mortal remains and the worship of Baba."
[Ravi: So the Nagpur millionaire Buti, who constructed today's Shirdi Sai Mandir building, https://www.shrisaibabasansthan.org/new_eng%20template_shirdi/shirdi/samadhi_mandir.html, was brought to Baba by Dhumal (at worldly level, of course; at spiritual level Dhumal would have just been the instrument - the wire-puller would have been Shirdi Sai Baba in a subtle form).]
Dhumal lost his wife when he was 36 years old and without any issue. His father-in-law and others were after him to get re-married. But Dhumal surrendered to Shirdi Sai Baba on this matter. So his father-in-law approached Baba on the matter. Dhumal writes (page 32), "When I told him that I could never act without a direction from Baba, he took me to Shirdi and then went to Baba without me. He came back in five minutes and intimated to me that he could read Baba's negative reply from his eyes and told me not to marry without Baba's express consent or order. Of course, I never acted without Baba's consent. Up-to-date, Baba has not made me marry and I have continued my life of "single blessedness". Alike from the temporal and spiritual view point Baba has settled this course for me and after a fairly happy and successful temporal life, Baba is developing in me a slow but sure detachment from the temporal comforts and I am surrendering my self to his guidance without the faintest fear for my future here or hereafter inspite of the fact that his ways are mysterious, highly puzzling and really inscrutable in many matters. As for temporal success, it is not vain glory but a desire to set down the actual truth that makes me inform you that almost invariably my professional efforts were crowned with success and from their financial or personal aspect also, I had nothing to complain of, as my income tax would clearly indicate. It was all due to Baba's help and grace. Yet despite all this temporal success, he keeps me free - more and more free, from worldly shackles and ready for retirement when he gives the signal."
[Ravi: Dhumal was 63 when he wrote this account in 1936. How much parallel do we find in our direct & indirect experiences of Sathya Sai Baba and Dhumal's experience of Shirdi Sai Baba! Uncanny, isn't it?]
How Baba dissuaded Dhumal from going to England for further studies (pages 36 and 37): "Amidst the innumerable instances of Baba's help to me at every turn or crisis of my life I may select a few. In 1910, my intimate friend, Srimant Gopal Rao Buti, was anxious to help me. He agreed to lend me the necessary sums to maintain me in England for my study at the Bar and my family in India during my absence. We had settled in full detail all parts of this scheme and went to Baba for his approval. When Madhav Rao Deshpande put him the question "Should not Bhav (i.e. myself) be sent to Vilayat (i.e., England)?"
Baba asked "What for?"
M.Deshpande: To study for the Bar.
Baba: No. His Illayat (natural aptitude) and Vilayat (will of heaven) are not in Bilayat, but in this country. Why should he go to England?
I realised then that,
'The best laid schemes of mice and men
Do often go astray'."
[Ravi: Bilayat and Vilayat in Hindi means foreign land. But Vilayat may also have the archaic other meaning given above - will of heaven. ]
[Ravi: Once again we see the parallel between the two Sai Babas in their general reluctance (with certain exceptions) to approve of devotees under their physical-level care going abroad (Western countries typically) for long periods of time!]