|| Aum Sai Ram || Aum Sai Para Brahmanaa Namah ||
Baba’s Handi (contd…)
Now let us see how Baba prepared food and distributed it.
“It has been stated before that, Baba required very little food for Himself, and what ever little He wanted was obtained by begging from a few houses. But when He decided to distribute food to all, He made all preparations, Himself. He depended on nobody and troubled none, in this matter. First He went to the bazaar and bought all the things, corn, flour, spices etc., paying cash. He also did the grinding. In the open courtyard of the Masjid, He arranged a big hearth and after lighting a fire, He kept a Handi over it with a proper measure of water. There were two kinds of Handis, one small and the other big. The former provided food for 50 persons, the later for 100. Sometimes He cooked ‘Mithe Chaval’ (sweet rice), and at other times ‘Biryani’ with meat. At times, in the boiling Varan (soup), He let in small balls of thick or flat breads of wheat flour. He grinded the spices on a stone-slab, and put the thin pulverized spices into the cooking-pot. He took all the pains to make the dishes very palatable. He prepared ‘Ambil’ by boiling jawari-flour in water and mixing to it butter-milk, and then boiled both together. With the food, He distributed this Ambil to all alike. To see whether the food was properly cooked or not, Baba rolled up the sleeve of His Kafni and put His bare arm in the boiling cauldron, without fear, and churned (moved) the whole mass from side to side and up and down. There was no mark of burn on His arm, nor fear on His face. When the cooking was over, Baba got the pots in the Majid, and had them duly consecrated by the Moulvi (Muslim Priest). First He sent part of the food as Prasad to Mhalasapati and Tatya Patil, and then He served the remaining contents with His own hand to all the poor and helpless people, to their hearts’ content. Really blessed and fortunate must be those people, who got food, prepared by Baba and served by Him.
Somebody may raise a point here and ask: “Did Baba distribute vegetarian and non-vegetarian food as Prasad to all His devotees?” The answer is plain and simple. Those who were accustomed to non-vegetarian food, were given non-vegetarian food from the Handi as Prasad and those who were not so accustomed, were given vegetarian meal. He never created in them any wish or desire to indulge in this food. There is a principle that, when a Guru himself gives anything as Prasad, the disciple who thinks and doubts whether it is acceptable or otherwise, goes to perdition (future misery). In order to see, whether any disciple has imbibed this principle, Baba at times put them to tests. For instance, on an Ekadashi day, He gave some rupees to Dada Kelkar and asked him to go in person to Korhala to get meat from there. This Dada Kelkar was an orthodox Brahmin and adhered to all orthodox manners in his life. He knew that offering wealth, grain and clothes etc., to a Sadguru was not enough but that implicit obedience to Him and prompt compliance with His order was the real Dakshina, that pleased Him most. So Dada Kelkar dressed himself and started for the place. Then Baba called him back and said, “Don’t go yourself, but send somebody.” Then, Dada sent his own servant, Pandu, for the purpose. When Baba saw him going, He asked Dada to call him back and cancelled that programme. On another occasion Baba asked Dada, just to see how the saltish ‘Biryani’ (mutton dish) was done. The latter replied casually that, it was alright. Then, Baba said to him, “Neither have you seen it with your eyes, nor tasted it with your tongue, then how could you say that it was good? Just take off the lid and see!” While saying this Baba caught his arm and thrust it into the pot and added, “Take some out of this leaving aside your orthodox ways and taste a little.” When a wave of real love rises in a mother’s mind, she pinches her child and when he begins to cry, she hugs him close to her bosom. Similarly, Baba, in a true motherly way, pinched Dada Kelkar in this way. Really, no saint or Guru will ever force his orthodox disciple, to eat food forbidden in his religion.
The Handi business went on for some time till 1910, and was stopped thereafter. As stated before, Das Ganu spread the fame of Baba by his kirtans, far and wide, in the Mumbai Presidency and people from that part of the country began to flock to Shirdi, which became very soon a place of pilgrimage. The devotees brought with them various articles for presentation and offered various dishes of food as Naivaidya. The quantity of Naivaidya offered by them was so much that, the Fakirs and paupers could feed themselves to their hearts’ content, leaving some surplus behind.”
– SHRI SAI SATCHARITA (Chapter XXXVIII)
|| Aum Sai Sharnam || May Peace Be To All ||