Saturday, April 1, 2017

How Shirdi Sai Baba got his food and how he showered his grace and love on those who fed him regularly!

My readings of lives of many saints and some materially poor spiritual masters in India have shown that food was necessary for them, like in the case of normal human beings. I mean, it was not as if they had, or at least demonstrated, a superhuman ability of being able to BODILY survive without eating food.

Rural India, which is where most of the above mentioned type of Indian saints & masters typically are based in, has an environment where a person dressed as a spiritual person (sannyasi/fakir), will find some place to stay (e.g some abandoned temple/mosque type of place or some jungle kind of area next to the village/town), and somebody will give him some suitable dress (ochre robe/fakir robe) for him/her to wear.

Regular food (and water) though is a more challenging thing. It is required every day (or almost every day)! That is why those who feed the saint/spiritual master on a regular basis (typically after having recognized some divine power in him/her, and being attracted to that), perform a vital service to the saint/master. In turn, the saint/master showers his/her love & grace on those that have regularly fed him/her.

The following two paragraphs from Shirdi Sai Satcharita, Chapter VIII, [Net link: http://www.saibaba.org/satcharitra/sai8.html], describe how Shirdi Sai Baba got his food:

Blessed are the people of Shirdi, in front of whose houses, Baba stood as a beggar and called out, "Oh Mai [Ravi:mother], give Me a piece of bread" and spread out His hand to receive the same. In one hand He carried a Tumrel (tinpot) and in the other a zoli or choupadari, i.e., a rectangular piece of cloth. He daily visited certain houses and went from door to door. Liquid or semi-liquid things such as soup, vegetables, milk or butter-milk were received in the tinpot, while cooked rice, bread, and such solid things were taken in the zoli. Baba's tongue knew no taste, as He had acquired control over it. So how could He care for the taste of the different things collected together? whatever things He got in His zole and in the tinpot were mixed together and partaken by Baba to His heart's content. Whether particular things were tasty or otherwise was never noticed by Baba as if His tongue was devoid of the sense of taste altogether. Baba begged till noon, but His begging was very irregular. Some days He went a few rounds, on other days up to twelve noon. The food thus collected was thrown in a kundi, i.e. earthen pot. Dog, cats and crows freely ate from it and Baba never drove them away. The woman who swept the floor of the Masjid took some 10 or 12 pieces of bread to her house, and nobody prevented her from doing so. How could, He, who even in dreams never warded off cats and dogs by harsh words and signs, refuse food to poor helpless people? Blessed indeed is the life of such a noble person! People in Shirdi took Him in the beginning for a mad Fakir. He was known in the village by this name. How could one, who lived on alms by begging a few crumbs of bread, be revered and respected? But this Fakir was very liberal of heart and hand, disinterested and charitable. Tough He looked fickle and restless from outside. He was firm and steady inside. His way was inscrutable. Still even in that small village, there were a few kind and blessed people who recognized and regarded Him as a Great Soul. One such instance is given below.

Tatya Kote's mother, Bayajabai, used to go to the woods every noon with a basket on her head containing bread and vegetables. She roamed in the jungles koss (about 3 miles) after koss, trampling over bushes and shrubs in search of the mad Fakir, and after hunting Him out, fell at His feet. The Fakir sat calm and motionless in meditation, while she placed a leaf before Him, spread the eatables, bread, vegetables etc. thereon and fed Him forcibly. Wonderful was her faith and service. Every day she roamed at noon in the jungles and forced Baba to the partake of lunch. Her service, Upasana or Penance, by whatever name we call it, was never forgotten by Baba till his Maha Samadhi. Remembering fully what service she rendered, Baba benefited her son magnificently. Both the son and the mother had great faith in the Fakir, Who was their God. Baba often said to them that "Fakir (Mendicacy) was the real Lordship as it was everlasting, and the so called Lordship (riches) was transient". After some years, Baba left off going into the woods, began to live in the village and take His food in the Masjid. From that time Bayajabai's troubles of roaming in the jungles ended.

--- end extracts from Shirdi Sai Satcharita ---

http://shirdisaiparivaar.org/babas-devotee/ gives some details about Tatya Kote Patil and his mother Bayaja Bai Ma (including portraits but don't know how accurate the portraits are). Some extracts from it are given below:

Tatya was the first amongst the devotees who was fully soaked in the gentle rain of Baba’s love. Tatya Kote patil was a little boy of six or seven years old when Baba first came to Shirdi. Tatya used to call Baba ‘Mama’. Baba used to treat him like His own nephew. Baba used to watch his childish behavior with motherly love. Sometimes Bayajabai scolded Tatya for his unseemly behavior, but Baba would remonstrate with her to leave Tatya alone. Baba used to call Tatya “Tatya or Kotya or Kote chaa Ghod Mukhya (Horse-faced-one)” Tatya received Rs. 35 everyday from Baba. The Income-tax authorities levied tax upon the regular recipients of Baba’s daily doles such as Tatya Patil, Bayyaji Patil and Bade Baba.

Tatya Kote Patil belonged to a middle class farming family. Initially as a result of his hard work, and later on with the money given to him daily by Baba, Tatya became a big farmer in the village. He had six pairs of oxen working in his fields, which in those days meant a big land holding.Tatya had a helping nature and was very co-operative with other villagers. Tatya’s was one of the houses from where Baba used to accept the alms.

Tatya’s mother never sent Baba away with empty handed, no matter how many times He went for alms. When there was a famine in 1876 in the state, Baba went for alms only to Tatya’s and Nanduram Marwadi’s houses.
...

The moment Baba saw Bayaja Bai, he said, “She has been my sister for the last seven births”. Right from the time she met Baba as a young lad sitting under the neem tree, the parental feelings were aroused for Baba as if He was her son. Mrs. Bayaja Patil showered love and cared for young Baba who abruptly would rush to the cactus jungle, an unknown old isolated place. Bayaja Bai, used to go to the woods every noon with a basket on her head containing bread and vegetables. She roamed in the jungles koss (about 3 miles) after koss, trampling over bushes and shrubs in search of the mad Fakir, and after hunting Him out, fell at His feet. The Fakir sat calm and motionless in meditation, while she placed a leaf before Him, spread the eatables, bread, vegetables etc. thereon and fed Him forcibly. She give Him bread (Bhakari) and salty smash of chana dal (Jhunka) and onion and chilly, simple food items which Baba cherished most. Baba also used to pay a visit to Patil’s house to have lunch (bhojan) of His choice.

Later Saibaba used to go for bhiksha (begging food) to selected houses. One such place was Bayaja Bai’s place. Baba used to stand outside the gate and say loudly “Abade Ajaad Bayaja mami, Roti lao” (God bless you Mother Bayaja, please give bread). Then Bayaja Bai used to invite him into the house but Baba sat in the veranda only. Tatya used to play with Baba against the wish of his mother. Baba never felt for the child like behaviour of Tatya. Bayaja Bai is remembered for her service to Sai with or without knowing his divinity.

When Bayaja Bai, became physically weak due to old age and was not in a condition even to get up from bed, Baba ordered Tatya to remain at the bedside of his mother and do service to her. Now and then He would send Tatya’s close associates like Shama also to be with Tatya. Bayaja Bai was nearing her end. She wanted to see Baba once. Immediately, Baba appeared near her head. His appearance at this last moment gave her divine bliss. Some unexplained joy came to her. She felt that her Atman was happily going towards heaven. Perhaps, this feeling was due to the complete divine darshan Baba gave her. She wanted to say something but words did not come out of her. She took her son Tatya’s hand and put it on Baba’s hand. Having understood her thoughts, Baba assured her that he would look after Tatya from that moment more than his life. She knew that his words were God’s words. After hearing those words from Baba, her Atman left her body and merged in the universe.

When Bayaja expired Baba lamented over her demise. So was the unthinkable tie of love between Bayaja Bai and her family, and Baba the love incarnate.

Wonderful was her faith and service. Her service, Upasana or Penance, by whatever name we call it, was never forgotten by Baba till his Maha Samadhi. Remembering fully what service she rendered, Baba benefited her son magnificently. Both the son and the mother had great faith in the Fakir, Who was their God. Baba often said to them that “Fakiri (Mendicancy) was the real Lordship as it was everlasting, and the so called Lordship (riches) was transient”.

The present generation of Patil family, still observe meticulously and very religiously the ritual of giving offerings of Thali (Naivedya) containing the above mentioned food items to Baba at Dwarakamayi.
--- end extracts from shirdisaiparivaar.org ---

The two links: http://holyshirdi.saibaba.com/houses/five-houses-1.html and http://holyshirdi.saibaba.com/houses/five-houses-2.html also have an account of Baba begging for food and gives some additional details.

The famous pic below of Shirdi Baba on his begging round is courtesy http://www.shirdisaibabaexperiences.org/2013/05/unbelievable-miracles-of-sai-baba-and.html.



I have also given below a similar but smaller pic courtesy: http://holyshirdi.saibaba.com/houses/five-houses-1.html


Ravi: What a simple and poor fakir life Shirdi Sai Baba lived! He begged for his food, collecting all liquid in one container and all solid in one cloth bag. Then he ate of what he had begged and shared it with others including some animals! What an example he has set for renunciant spiritual aspirants (Hindu sannyasis or Muslim fakirs or similar from other religious traditions) to follow! In late 20th and early 21st century relative prosperity that many of us have been fortunate to experience and which perhaps has made us soft at least as compared to the rustic rough-and-tough life of Shirdi Sai Baba, I think reading and re-reading this example Shirdi Sai Baba has set by living a very simple and poor fakir life, will help us to stay centered on God even when we face some comparatively trifling material problems.

[I thank saibaba.org, shirdisaiparivaar.org, holyshirdi.saibaba.com and shirdisaibabaexperiences.org, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

1 comment:

  1. Sairam Sir, I have a special place in my heart for Shirdi Baba and in recent times I have been doing a lot of parayanam of Shirdi Sai Satcharita. Whenever I read something that you post on your blog about Shirdi Baba, my faith gets reaffirmed.

    One thing that has always touched and moved me to tears is the fact that Shirdi Baba went begging for food. He was an Avatar, just like Sathya Sai Baba. So I used to feel very bad and say in my heart "Swami, what all You have done for us human beings! You are God. Why did You have to go begging for food in Your Shirdi Avatar?"

    But then, as always, Baba gives His message in the book itself. Nothing that the Avatar does is without a deep significance. Baba was just washing away the sins of all those from whom He collected food. So it is for the benefit of those people that He went begging for food. Whatever the Avatar does is never for His own personal benefit but only for the good of others. How blessed we are to know such a Lord in this birth of ours!

    I really feel blessed to know Shirdi Baba and Sathya Sai Baba in this birth of mine. I know that there is absolutely no difference between the two except for their forms. The divinity within is the same.

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