Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Cultured Lady Devotee's Experiences of Shirdi Sai and Its Similarity to Sathya Sai Devotee Experiences

Shri B.V. Narasimha Swami has provided the experiences of a lady devotee under a penname. In the preface to his book, Devotees' Experiences of Sri (Shirdi) Sai Baba, available (in part) as a pdf here, he writes, "The only other pseudonym in this volume (Part I) is "Mrs. Manager." Indian readers would naturally expect and respect this feeling of delicacy in a lady at appearing before the public with her statement. The pseudonym given correctly indicates her status and that of her husband. These are regarded by all who know them as eminent devotees worthy of credit."

Later on her identity got revealed. states "Mrs. Tarabai Sadasiv Tarkhad was the wife of Sadasiva Tarkhad, brother of Ramachandra Atmaram Tarkhad (R.A.Tarkhad). R.A.Tarkhad was the Secretary of the famous Khatau Mills, Bombay." And later, "When she was interviewed by B.V.Narasimhaswamiji in 1936, she was also called as ‘Mrs.Manager’." So we now know that Mrs. Manager in the above mentioned book is Mrs. Tarabai S. Tarkhad.

Mrs T.S. Tarkhad's account in the above book is dated 21st May 1936 (related section pdf is available here). She writes on page 64, "One's first impression of Sai Baba was derived from his eyes. There was such power and penetration in his glance that none could continue to look at his eyes. One felt that Sai Baba was reading him, or her, through and through. Soon one lowered one's eyes and bowed down. One felt that He was not only in one's heart, but in every atom of one's body. A few words, a gesture would reveal to one that Sai Baba knew all about the past, present and even future and about everything else. There was nothing else to do for one, except to submit trustfully and to surrender oneself to Him. And there He was to look after every minute detail, and guide one safe through every turn and every vicissitude of life. He was the Antaryami, call Him God or Satpurusha in Sahaja Sthithi or what you like. But the overpowering personality was there, and in his presence no doubts, no fears, no questioning had any place and one resigned oneself and found that was (the) only course, the safest and best course. From one's first entry into His pres­ence, one went on getting experience of His power. His all-knowing and all-pervasive personality, His protecting care that shielded one, wherever one went and at any time what­soever.

I shall give some instances of his Antanjamitva that I personally got or learnt of in the early days of my stay at Shirdi."

[Ravi: I think a lot, if not all, of the above applies to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba as well. Many devotees who have experienced Him at physical level (Darshan, interaction, interview etc.) felt Him to be Antaryami. From, "Antaryami means "the controller within" and refers to God residing within the hearts of all beings." I certainly felt, based on some experiences, that Sri Sathya Sai Baba knew everything about me and that I could hide nothing from him. My mind and its current thoughts as well as its memories of past deeds were an open book to Him.

And, in my experience of Sathya Sai Baba at physical level, it was His eyes that were the vital interaction medium. A few months ago (in 2013) a lady devotee of Puttaparthi, in a chat with me, talked about how during Darshan she felt as if Sathya Sai Baba was scanning each person with His eyes in second(s)/fraction of a second while His wheelchair would be moved around (this is during the last years of His Darshan). I think she expressed it quite well - it was like a split-second/second(s) scan with His eyes. And then His eyes along with a facial expression to match would show joyous approval, quiet approval, no expression, disapproval, disgust etc. All over in second(s). But it needed spiritual/emotional sensitivity to appreciate many of His subtle eye-and-facial-expression messages (though some of such messages were not-so-subtle and so easy to understand for anybody).

I had read somewhere that the eyes are the window of the soul. To be a little more precise, I would say that the eyes are the window of the subtle mind-body form/sookshma shareera. To go a little further in this vein, I have heard on TV, the current Indian Lok Sabha (crucial lower house of Parliament) speaker, a lady, Meira Kumar,, announce the positive outcome of voice votes by saying, "The ayes have it". I think in spirituality one could say, "The eyes have it"!

I must also say that in my experience, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was willing, at times, to maintain long eye contact with devotees who wanted to have that experience. But perhaps most of His devotees preferred not to maintain long eye contact with Him.]

In page 66 we have Mrs T.S. Tarkhad saying, "When we had difficulties to get over, we never had to speak. We had merely to go and sit or stand in his presence. He at once knew what the matter was and gave a direction exactly meeting our requirements." She goes on to give details of a few such experiences.

[Ravi: Once again, this has been the experience of some Sathya Sai devotees. I personally have had one clear-cut experience of such mind-reading/clairvoyance followed by directions being given by Sathya Sai Baba, and a couple of other such experiences where I am quite convinced that He was specifically answering queries in my mind in His discourse given after finishing Darshan during which (or shortly before) I was thinking/having these queries. But then there have been many who went up to Sathya Sai Baba and explicitly stated their problems and asked for directions.]

In page 67 Mrs T.S. Tarkhad says, "As was frequently said, he was not confined within the three cubits length of flesh, bone and blood that people called Sri Sai Baba. He was in every dog, cat, pig, man and woman. While we cannot shake off the idea that we are this physical sheath or the attachment we feel to things connected with it, he was ever free from such narrow ideas or attachments. He seemed to be in or to be the Oversoul, the Super-consciousness, Sahaj Samadhi,or Jnanamaya Sharir by whatever name we choose to refer to that higher state of his."

[Ravi: These subtle spiritual matters have been so well articulated by the lady. I think the above would completely apply to Sri Sathya Sai Baba as well. The lady then talks about double consciousness (individual and divine) of Shirdi Sai Baba which I have already captured in a previous blog post here: An Avatar has both Divine Consciousness and Individual Consciousness - Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. It gives me great joy to see how knowledgeable about these subtle spiritual aspects, the Indian lady, Mrs. T.S. Tarkhad, was in the early part of the 20th century. I think this clearly shows that spiritual understanding is gender-neutral. It just may so happen that human society, or maybe I should say human life, being what it is, ladies, especially Indian ladies, usually have a tougher path to get close to enlightened male spiritual masters and then achieve spiritual understanding of the kind Mrs. T.S. Tarkhad achieved. It must also be said that India today has many female spiritual masters/mystics as well, some of whom are quite famous. I do not know enough about them to comment on their accessibility to female spiritual aspirants/devotees.]

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