|| Aum Sai Ram || Aum Sai Para Brahmanaa Namah ||
Chapters XLIII & XLIV – Baba’s Passing Away (Continued)
“Chapters 43 and 44 continue the story of Baba’s Passing away, and therefore they are taken together.
It is the general practice amongst the Hindus that, when a man is about to die, some good religious scripture is read out to him with the object that, his mind should be withdrawn from worldly things and fixed in spiritual matters, so that his future progress should be natural and easy. Everybody knows that, when king Parikshit was cursed by the son of a Brahmin Rishi, and was to die after a week, the great sage Shukadev expounded to him the famous Bhagwat Puran in that week. This practice is followed even now, and the Gita, Bhagwat and other sacred books are read out to dying persons. Baba being an Incarnation of God needed no such help, but just to set an example to the people, He followed this practice. When He knew that, He was to pass away soon, He asked one Mr. Vaze to read Ramvijay to Him. Mr. Vaze read the book once in the week. Then, Baba asked him to read the same again day and night and he finished the second reading in three days. Thus eleven days passed. Then again he read for three days and was exhausted. So Baba let him go and kept Himself quiet. He abided in His Self and was waiting for the last moment.
Two or three days earlier, Baba had stopped His morning peregrinations (going out) and begging rounds, and sat quietly in the Masjid. He was conscious till the last and was advising the devotees not to lose heart. He let nobody know the exact time of His departure. Kakasaheb Dixit and Shriman Buti were dining daily with Him in the Masjid. That day (15th October) after the Aarti, He asked them to go to their residence for dining. Still a few, viz., Laxmibai Shinde, Bhagoji Shinde, Bayaji, Laxman Bala Shimpi and Nanasaheb Nimonkar remained there, Shama was sitting down on the steps. After giving Rs. 9/- to Laxmibai Shinde, Baba said that, He did not feel well there (in the Masjid) and that He should be taken to the Dagadi (stone) Wada of Buti, where He would be alright. While saying these last words, He leaned on Bayaji’s body and breathed His last. Bhagoji noticed that His breathing had stopped, and he immediately told this to Nanasaheb Nimonkar who was sitting near. Nanasaheb brought some water and poured it in Baba’s mouth. It came out. Then, he cried out loudly ‘Oh Deva’. Baba seemed to open His eyes and say ‘Ah’ in a low tone. But it soon become evident that, Baba had left His mortal body for good.
The news of Baba’s passing away spread like a wildfire in the village of Shirdi and all people, men, women and children ran to the Masjid, and began to mourn this loss in various ways. Some cried out loudly, some wallowed on and some fell down senseless in the streets. Tears ran down from the eyes of all and every one was filled with sorrow.
Some people started remembering the words of Sai Baba. Somebody said that Maharaj (Sai Baba) told His devotees that in time to come, He would appear as a lad of eight years. In the Krishna Avatar, Chakrapani (Lord Vishnu) performed this very deed. Krishna appeared before Devaki in the prison as a lad of eight years, Who had bright complexion and Who wielded weapons in His four arms. In that Incarnation He (Lord Krishna) lightened the burden of the earth. This Incarnation (Sai Baba) was for the upliftment of His devotees. Then, where is the reason for doubt? The ways of the Saints are really inscrutable. This contact of Sai Baba with His devotees is not only for one generation, but it there for the last seventy-two generations. Generating such ties of love, it appears that, Maharaj (Sai Baba) has gone for tour and the devotees had a firm belief that, He will return soon.
Then the question arose – How to lay Baba’s body to rest? Some (Mohammedens) said that the body should be interred in an open space and a tomb built over it. Even Khushalchand and Amir Shakkar shared this opinion. But Ramachandra Patil, the village officer said to the villagers with a firm and determined voice, “Your thought is not acceptable to us. Baba’s body should be nowhere placed except in the Wada.” Thus people were divided on this point and discussion regarding this point went on for 36 hours.
On Wednesday morning Baba appeared to Laxman Mama Joshi in his dream and drawing him by His hand said, “Get up soon; Bapusaheb thinks that, I am dead and so he won’t come, you do the worship and the Kakad (morning) Arati!” Laxman Mama was the village astrologer and the maternal uncle of Shama. He was an orthodox Brahmin, and daily worshipped Baba first in the morning and then all the village Deities. He had full faith in Baba. After the vision he came with all the puja materials, and not minding the protests of the Moulvis, did the Puja and the Kakad Arati with all due formalities and went away. Then, at noon Bapusaheb Jog came with all others, and went through the noon-Arati ceremony as usual.
After paying due respect to Baba’s words the people decided to place His body in the Wada and started digging the central portion there. In the evening of Tuesday, the Sub-Inspector came from Rahata and others turned up from other places and they all agreed to the proposal. Next morning Amirbhai came from Mumbai and the Mamlatdar from Kopergaon. The people seemed divided in their opinion. Some insisted on interring His body in the open field. The Mamlatdar, therefore, took a general plebiscite and found that, the proposal to use the Wada secured double the number of votes. He, however, wanted to refer the matter to the Collector and Kakasaheb Dixit got himself ready to go to Ahmednagar. Meanwhile, by Baba’s inspiration there was a change in the opinion of the other people, and all unanimously voted for the proposal. On Wednesday evening, Baba’s body was taken in procession and brought to the Wada and was interred there with due formalities in the Garbha, i.e., the central portion reserved for Murlidhar. In fact, Baba became the Murlidhar, and the Wada became a temple and a holy shrine, where so many devotees, since then, have been going now to find rest and peace. All the obsequies of Baba were duly performed by Balasaheb Bhate and Upasani, a great devotee of Baba.”
– SHRI SAI SATCHARITRA (Chapters XLIII & XLIV)
|| Aum Sai Sharnam || May Peace Be To All ||