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Shirdi Sai Bhakti

Facts and Fallacies about Sai Baba Contributed by Administrator Last Updated Friday, 05 October 2007

Is Ramanavami a birthday of Sri Saibaba? SRI RAMANAVAMI IS NOT BABA’S BIRTHDAYSome devotees believe Sri Ramanavami day is Baba’s birthday. Some recent hagiographies of Sri Saibaba have published this ‘fact’, along with the time of birth, the star under which Baba was born, and the year. There is no basis for this and it is purely imaginary. Baba never said that the day of Sri Ramanavami was his birthday. Even the close intimate devotees of Baba never stated in their writings or reminiscences any facts about Baba’s origins, parentage, or the day of his birth. Famous historians who have thoroughly researched Baba’s life have also confirmed that Baba’s life prior to coming to Shirdi was a total secret. Baba too kept his antecedents a divine secret. The attempt to fix Baba - who is beyond all limitations of religion - into the mould of a particular religion, seems to be the underlying motive behind this propaganda. The attempt to show a love for Baba by making him a member of one’s own religion is repugnant to Baba, as his life and history show. As the devotees started the celebration of Sri Ramanavami themselves, and as it is a tradition in Shirdi, the Saibaba Sansthan continues to celebrate Sri Ramanavami. It is not celebrated as the birthday of Saibaba nor has the Sansthan ever considered Ramanavami day as Baba’s birthday.(Source: Saipatham Magazine April 2001). Dispute after Sri Saibaba's Mahasamadhi is religion differences or opinion differences?On the day when Baba entered mahasamadhi, Panduranga Balaji Kavade and Vaman Ranganath Gokhale interviewed several prominent devotees. Kavade is the author of the Marathi history of Saibaba, Sri Sant Sai Maharaj Yanche Charitra, which was first published 1956. Gokhale wrote Nirvanicha Sakha – Shirdi che Sainath Maharaj Yanche Jeevan Charitra, first published in Marathi in 1965. They had met many of the elders of Shirdi, including Ramachandra Kote Patil, Ratnaparkhi and other devotees, and later published these interviews. An examination of the events of that day shows that, contrary to widely held opinion, the dissension of that day was not between Hindus on the one side and Muslims on the other. Rather it was the result of the differences of opinion about where Baba's body should be interred. Not all those who voted to keep Baba's body in Booty Wada were Hindus, nor were all those who preferred to place it in the burial ground Muslims. Both parties had Muslims and Hindus amongst them. In fact Ramachandra Kote Patil, in the interview, is especially appreciative of the help given to him by a Muslim police functionary during the dispute.(Source: Saipatham Magazine October2002)Did Sri Saibaba sacrifice his life to save Tatya's life? The people believed that Baba had sacrificed his own life to save Tatya’s. Hemadpant brings this out in the 42nd chapter of Sri Sai Satcharitra. “It seemed that they both (Baba and Tatya) exchanged a life for a life and a death for a death. The people believed that Baba had sacrificed his life for the sake of Tatya. Baba alone knows whether this is true or not. In this manner Baba had stated Tatya’s name but indicated his own mahasamadhi.” It was not surprising that the people believed thus seeing that Baba had loved Tatya more than his own life itself. But this is just a blind belief on their part and in fact has no foundation. This is because Baba has clearly stated that he had first arranged for two swings (carriages), one for himself and the other for Tatya. But he had changed his mind and sent one swing back and that only he will be going away. He did not say that he had got only one swing ready for Tatya and that he would be going in that instead of Tatya. Tatya also only requested Baba to send him first but not to send him instead of Baba. Further; Sri Saibaba is an incarnation of god whose birth, growth and death is tied with the karma and salvation of many devotees. Baba had saved many devotees from death and indeed had even brought back alive many who were dead too. To save Tatya from death was an easy task for him, it was not necessary for him to sacrifice his own life to save Tatya’s. As Hemadpant stated, he may have, in his natural cryptic style, indicated his death in advance and said Tatya’s name instead of his own. The feeling of the people that he had sacrificed his life to save Tatya mirrors their belief that he had indeed loved Tatya more than his own life. Please go through the article from Saipatham July – August 2001 for more details: Sri Ramachandra Kote Patil fell seriously ill in 1916. All types of medication were tried but were found to be futile. Everyone thought that his early death was inevitable. He too was resigned to his death and waited with dread for the day. One night Baba presented him with his divine vision and said, “Do not fear. I have stopped your death. You will get well soon. I am only worried about Tatya. He will die in 1918 on Vijayadasami day, but do not reveal this to anyone, especially Tatya. If you tell him this, it will only serve to terrorise him before his death.” Amazingly Ramachandra Patil started to recover his health from the very next day and attained his former good health in a few days. He was an intimate friend of Tatya and knew that Baba’s words were unalterable and had to come true. He realised that Tatya had only two more years left in this world and was engulfed in sorrow. He could not keep this burning anguish within himself for long and shared the secret divulged by Baba with his friend Bala Shimpi alone. As Ramachandra Patil and Bala Shimpi feared, Tatya fell seriously ill as the Vijayadasami of 1918 approached. Baba too fell ill around the same time. Tatya’s condition worsened day-by-day and turned critical one or two days before Vijayadasami. He could not even come to the mosque for the darshan of Sri Saibaba. One day Baba sent word to him to come to the mosque and have his meal there, but as Tatya could not summon enough strength to even rise from his bed, some devotees helped him to go to the mosque where Baba fed him with semolina pudding with his own hands despite his ill health. Tatya could only swallow a couple of mouthfuls with great difficulty. Baba told him, “Tatya, I have arranged for two swings (carriages) for us initially. But I have changed my mind. I alone will go on now presently. Now you may go home.” Tatya understood the import of Baba’s words and started sobbing. He said, “Baba, why do you not send me first?” Baba replied, “I am a fakir, there is no one to cry for me when I go away. But all your people will grieve if you go.” Tatya heard the tone of finality in Baba’s words and his sorrow intensified and he started weeping piteously. He said, “Baba, if I go, it is only my relatives who will grieve. But if you go, you will make many people of this world orphans. If you live on many people will attain salvation by your http://www.shirdisaibhakti.com

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mere darshan. What of me? My life is a burden to me and to my relatives too.” Baba would not brook any further talk in this vein from Tatya. He scolded him lovingly, “Alright, no more talk from you. Go home.” He put udi on Tatya’s forehead and sent him home, watching him with a heavy heart until he was out of sight. The day of Vijayadasami dawned and Baba entered mahasamadhi. Tatya’s health astonishingly started improving a few hours after Baba’s mahasamadhi and fully recovered in a couple of days. The people believed that Baba had sacrificed his own life to save Tatya’s. Hemadpant brings this out in the 42nd chapter of Sri Sai Satcharitra. “It seemed that they both (Baba and Tatya) exchanged a life for a life and a death for a death. The people believed that Baba had sacrificed his life for the sake of Tatya. Baba alone knows whether this is true or not. In this manner Baba had stated Tatya’s name but indicated his own mahasamadhi.” It was not surprising that the people believed thus seeing that Baba had loved Tatya more than his own life itself. But this is just a blind belief on their part and in fact has no foundation. This is because Baba has clearly stated that he had first arranged for two swings (carriages), one for himself and the other for Tatya. But he had changed his mind and sent one swing back and that only he will be going away. He did not say that he had got only one swing ready for Tatya and that he would be going in that instead of Tatya. Tatya also only requested Baba to send him first but not to send him instead of Baba. Further; Sri Saibaba is an incarnation of god whose birth, growth and death is tied with the karma and salvation of many devotees. Baba had saved many devotees from death and indeed had even brought back alive many who were dead too. To save Tatya from death was an easy task for him, it was not necessary for him to sacrifice his own life to save Tatya’s. As Hemadpant stated, he may have, in his natural cryptic style, indicated his death in advance and said Tatya’s name instead of his own. The feeling of the people that he had sacrificed his life to save Tatya mirrors their belief that he had indeed loved Tatya more than his own life. (Source: Saipatham Magazine July-August 2001) When and where the First Ever Saibaba Mandir was constructed? He first Saibaba temple was constructed at Bhivpuri in 1916 when Sri Saibaba was still in his physical body. Bhivpuri Road is a small railway station which comes before Karjat on the train route from Mumbai to Pune. If one gets out at this station and looks right towards the fields, a temple spire is clearly visible. This is the Sai temple at Bhivpuri. It is a short walk across the fields to the temple. This temple was constructed by late Sri Keshav Ramachandra Pradhan. Please go through the article published in Saipatham magazine January 2001 to find out the story behind the temple construction. Sri Saibaba has become a part of the mainstream of Indian spiritual and temporal life within a short period of attaining mahasamadhi. We can now see Sai temples not only in the big cities but also in small towns and villages of India, and more and more temples are being built. In this and subsequent issues we will investigate the details and stories behind these temples, built not only in this country but also abroad. The Sai temple built at Bhivpuri 1916, when Sri Saibaba was still in his physical body.

Bhivpuri Road is a small railway station which comes before Karjat on the train route from Mumbai to Pune. If one gets out at this station and looks right towards the fields, a temple spire is clearly visible. This is the Sai temple at Bhivpuri. It is a short walk across the fields to the temple. This temple has a very interesting history. The story behind its construction reveals the astonishing manner in which Baba pulls his devotees to him. It is unbelievable but nevertheless true that the founder of the temple, the late Sri Keshav Ramachandra Pradhan, was initially an atheist. Sri Pradhan was working for a Parsee gentleman of Mumbai as a pedhi (a collector of debts owed to his employer). He lived in Bhivpuri and would commute to Mumbai to work. In the course of his job he would frequently go to Manmad, Nasik and Kopergaon. Pradhan had a close friend who was a devotee of Saibaba. He would often go to Shirdi and return after having darshan of (seeing) Sri Saibaba. Once, Pradhan visited his friend when he was about to leave for Shirdi. He asked Pradhan to accompany him and to have Baba’s darshan. Pradhan, who had no belief in God or Godmen, initially refused to go with him. Finally, however, he gave in to his friend’s persuasion and agreed to go, but not to set foot inside the mosque where Baba lived. His friend accepted the compromise and they set out for Shirdi together. The friends reached Shirdi and stayed in the wada. As it was time for the noon arati, Pradhan’s friend went to the mosque but Pradhan stayed in the wada. The bell rang from the mosque for the arati and Pradhan could hear it from his room. The deep gongs of the bell stirred him as never before. He was enchanted by the sound and unknowingly started walking to the mosque from where this heavenly sound was issuing forth. He reached the mosque and sat in a corner. Looking at Baba, he was immersed in a state of bliss. After the arati was over the other devotees took udi (the ashes from the ever-burning fire, called a dhuni, kept by Baba) from Baba and left the mosque. Pradhan was still in a state of bliss and was unaware of everything but Baba. Sri Sai then called Pradhan to draw near and asked him for dakshina (in India, it is the custom when visiting a saint to present him or her with a gift). Pradhan had Rs 2500 in his pocket. This was the amount he had collected for his employer from the various debtors. He took out the entire cash from his pocket and, placing it all in Baba’s hands, returned to his room still in the same state of bliss. A little later, Pradhan came to realize that he had given the entire amount to Baba and was surprised that he could do such a thing with his employer’s money. His friend told him not to worry as Baba would take care to see that Pradhan would not get into any trouble because of this. Pradhan started back via Kopergaon from Shirdi in a horse-cart. It was only after he reached Kopergaon that he realised that he had no money, even for the hire of the cart. He requested the cart man to take his ring, sell it and return the remaining cash after taking his fare. While this was going on a well-dressed gentleman, unknown to Pradhan, arrived. After inquiring about the matter he not only paid the cart man but also bought a ticket to Mumbai for Pradhan and left as mysteriously as he came. Pradhan reached Bhivpuri. He did not know how he could face http://www.shirdisaibhakti.com

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his employer and tell him that he had used all the money which he had collected. To gain time, he sent word to his employer that he was sick and would come to work once he had recovered. The employer sent word back granting leave till Pradhan was well enough to return to work. He also wanted to know why Pradhan had sent double the money he had collected and what he was to do with the excess? Pradhan saw Baba’s hand in this and was thrilled to the core of his being by the kindness shown to him by Baba. He was electrified that Baba had showered his grace on him to such an extent in the very first darshan. He became a staunch devotee of Baba and would often go to Shirdi to visit Baba and take his blessings. Pradhan would plead with Baba to come to Bhivpuri whenever he went to Shirdi. Once, in 1916, Baba gave his photo to Pradhan and said, “Go to Bhivpuri. Build a temple for me there. Keep this statue in the temple and worship it. You need not come to Shirdi any more.” Pradhan returned to Bhivpuri but did not follow Baba’s instructions. When he next came to Shirdi Baba said, “When I have come to your house, why have you come here? Bhivpuri is your Shirdi. Go there and do as I told you.” In a few days Pradhan built a small temple near his house at Bhivpuri and ceremoniously installed the statue of Baba; regular worship was started. This temple is located in a place which is green with trees and beautiful to the eye. In the silence of the night the sound of the temple doors opening would sometimes be heard. Baba’s form would be seen coming out of the temple and resting under a tree in the front yard. The sound of the temple doors closing would be heard again at three in the morning. All these leelas were experienced not only by Pradhan and his family but also by their guests who stayed overnight. Pradhan had no doubt that Bhivpuri was indeed his Shirdi and he became an even more ardent devotee of Baba. The temple was developed to include an inner chamber, a big hall in the forecourt, a verandah and guestrooms for the use of visiting devotees. Sri V. V. Gupte, Pradhan’s son-in-law, took an active part in conducting the various affairs of the temple and helped further develop it. Sri Gupte had first visited Shirdi in 1936 and experienced bliss at the sight of Baba’s samadhi. He prayed fervently to Baba to make the temple at Bhivpuri as glorious and awesome as the Samadhi Mandir at Shirdi. Baba answered his prayers and the Bhivpuri temple became famous with more and more devotees visiting it.

Pradhan passed away in 1939 and responsibility for the temple fell on Gupte’s shoulders. He started an organization for running the temple called the “Sri Sadguru Sainathuni Seva Sanstha”. The rush of visitors increased and the existing facilities became insufficient. Funds were inadequate to do all that was necessary to meet the huge influx of devotees. Finally, Baba’s help was sought. A devotee called Narayan Purohit started the formal reading of Saibaba’s life. On the fourth day Baba came to him in a dream and said, “Where is my dhuni? How can this be Shirdi without a dhuni? How can my temple be complete without a dhuni?” As he had the dream twice, Purohit informed Gupte and it was decided forthwith to build a dhuni as instructed by Baba. Sri Valvalkar, the grandson of Sri Hemadpant (author of Sri Sai Satcharitra – Baba's life story and leelas), first lit the dhuni on the Ramanavami day of 1949. Ramanavami and Baba’s samadhi festivals are celebrated here with great fervor and glory. --Saileela Masik September 1976(Source: Saipatham Magazine January 2001) Did Sri Saibaba wrestling? Saipatham team conducted interview with Sri Sakhdev Tatyabawag on December 15th 1991 who had seen Sri Saibaba. He was then around 105-110 years old. He was a wrestler. He visited Shirdi so many times to participate in wrestling. According to him Sri Saibaba never participated in wrestling. Below is an extract from interview: Sri Saibaba used to watch wrestling but, never participated in it. There is a person by name Mohdin Tamboli in Shirdi. He is from Khandesh district. He never participated in wrestling. Mostly he acted in ‘Tamashas’. (Source: Saipatham magazine January 1992) In which temple Sri Saibaba's sacred tooth was kept? A sacred Tooth of Sri Saibaba is kept in a Sai temple at Shivaji Nagar, Pune, Maharashtra, India. Sri Saibaba gave his tooth to Kasibai. Please go through the article published in Saipatham February 2001 magazine to learn how tooth came to Shivaji Nagar temple from Kasibai. One of the Sai temples of Pune, the Sai temple at Shivaji Nagar, has a great history behind it. This temple is located along the banks of the picturesque Mutha River in the Rasne Chawl (Rasne tenement) on the outskirts of Shivaji Nagar in Pune. As the river was going into spate every rainy season and the water was overflowing the banks and approaching the temple, a wall was constructed and a road was laid along the wall to prevent the water from surging in. Devotees who visit the temple are transported with joy by the darshan of Sri Saibaba. Sri Damodar Pant Rasne is a fortunate soul who visited Sri Saibaba when he was alive and was blessed by him. His son, Nanasaheb Rasne, set aside two rooms in his tenement (Rasne Chawl) in 1945 and started worshipping Sri Saibaba with ceremonial offerings. As the aratis were being performed regularly during the course of the day, many devotees started coming to the temple. Sri Nikham of Khed village was a sergeant in the police. He was a spiritually inclined person and dedicated his whole life to the service of the Sri Saibaba temple at Shivaji Nagar after being called by Sri Nanasaheb Rasne. He not only took part with devotion in all activities of the temple, but also presented the temple with a tooth of Sri Saibaba which was in his possession. This changed the fortunes of the temple and people started coming in greater numbers from all over the country to visit it and to have darshan of Sri Saibaba’s tooth. The circumstances leading to Sri Nikham acquiring the Saibaba’s tooth are most interesting. Kasibai of Shirdi was married to a man from Nifad village, but unfortunately her husband died within a few months of the marriage. She was already pregnant by this time and gave birth to a male child who was named Madhav. Kasibai came back to Shirdi from Nifad when Madhav was one year old and started living with her father. She used to eke out her living as an agricultural laborer but as she had to work in the fields from morning to evening, looking after Madhav became a problem. At last she found a solution. She would take http://www.shirdisaibhakti.com

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Madhav with her to the mosque in the morning, leave him with Sri Saibaba, and then go off to the fields. In the evening she would come back, salute Baba, and take Madhav home. Four years passed in this way. From the time he turned five, Baba gave a rupee to Madhav every day and Madhav in turn did small chores for him. Kasibai came one day to the mosque and asked Sri Saibaba, “Why are you only giving one rupee to my son each day - even though he is doing so many chores for you - while you are giving fifteen, thirty and fifty rupees to others?” Sri Saibaba replied, “Kasibai! I know that I am giving less to your son but you should know that while I may stop giving money to the others after a while, I will continue to look after Madhav. I am the sole refuge and the head of the family for all such as you who are orphans.” Kasibai did not understand the full import of Baba’s utterance and said, “The head of my family was my husband and he is dead.” Baba was annoyed and started shouting at her. Kasibai got scared and ran from the mosque and after that stopped coming for a time. Baba relented a couple of days later and called for her. She came along with her son Madhav. She was still afraid of Baba and stood silently on the threshold of the mosque. Saibaba talked to her with kindness and calmed her down. One of his teeth had been loose for some time and he pulled it out and wrapped it in a piece of cloth with some udi and told Kasibai, “Keep this talisman with you. You will have good fortune always.” Kasibai went away happily with the talisman. Ever since the mother and son received the tooth from Baba they never lacked for anything and everyone started calling the lad Madhav Rao in a respectful manner. He would tie the talisman to his biceps and was careful to treat it reverentially. After Kasibai passed away, he went to Nifad and settled there. Once, when Madhav was seriously ill, Baba appeared to him in a dream and ordered him, “Give the talisman to a man called Nikham who will come to your house today.” Baba also appeared to Nikham in a dream and ordered him “to go to Nifad and take the talisman from Madhav”. Nikham obeyed him. He kept the talisman for many years and then presented it to the Sri Saibaba temple at Shivaji Nagar. In this way the sacred tooth of Sri Saibaba came from him to Kasibai and from her to Madhav Rao and from Madhav Rao to Nikham and back again to Baba from Nikham. So Baba’s tooth came back to him after many travels. The authorities of the temple kept the tooth under Baba’s padukas (footprints), which were kept under the photo of Saibaba. Devotees feel that they are in the divine and immediate presence of Sri Saibaba because the sacred relic of Baba is kept in the temple. Among those who visited the temple was Sri Nanasaheb Awasthe, who had had the darshan and blessings of Sri Saibaba while he was alive. An organization for the development of the temple, called “Sri Sai Dasa Mandali,” was started in 1950. The members repaired the temple and also built an 800 square-foot hall in the front part of it. Guru Purnima, Sri Ramanavami and Baba’s mahasamadhi (Vijayadasami) festivals are celebrated there with great fervor. We will now come to a great leela of Saibaba relating to this temple. On 12 July 1961, the Pansher dam flooded and its water overflowed the dam crests. Large parts of Pune were submerged, many houses were destroyed and many people lost all that they had. As Shivaji Nagar, where the Sri Saibaba’s temple is located, is a low-lying area, water was flowing twenty to twenty-five feet above the temple tower. The water subsided after a few days and the rehabilatory work was started. The temple was totally engulfed in mud and to remove it and to restore the temple to its former glory was a daunting and costly task. However, the devotees finished it cheerfully in a few days. They were rewarded for their labor with a glorious sight. Sri Saibaba’s photo, which had been worshipped daily before the flood, was undamaged and was looking as new as ever! There was no trace of damage from the water or mud. No-one could believe that the photo had been under water for several days. The audumber tree beside the temple was also fine and did not even sag as a result of the flood. Everyone believed by this wonderful leela of Sri Saibaba that his effulgent grace was on the temple. Later the devotees got a beautiful marble statue of Saibaba installed in the temple in the same place where the Baba’s photograph had been. Baba’s tooth now lies under the padukas at the feet of the marble statue. The photo of Baba, which withstood the flood, is also kept in the temple, and devotees pay homage to it daily. _Courtesy of Sri Sai Leela Magazine April 1977(Source: Saipatham Magazine February2001).When was the firs Gurupoornima celebrated in Shirdi?The great good fortune of being the first to formally worship fell to Sri Noolkar upon a Guru Poornima day. Sri Noolkar first visited Shirdi in 1909(Sai Satcharitra Chapter 31 & Saipatham Magazine August 2002) and he passed away in March, 1911. But Sri M. B. Nimbalkar mentioned in his writings that as per Dr.Gavankar‘s opinion Noolkar first visited Shirdi in 1908 and therefore first Gurupoornima held in 1908. With the above mentioned reasons Gurupoornima might have started in Shirdi in 1908 or 1909 or 1910. Noolkar wrote a letter to his friend Nanasaheb Chandorkar describing first Gurupoornima celebrations in Shirdi. In that letter he mentioned “As I awoke on Saturday, I remembered that it was the day of Guru Poornima. We immediately started preparations for the pooja...”. From this letter it reveals that first Gurupoornima was held on Saturday.As per Lunar Calendar, Gurupoornima day had fallen as follows. Year MonthDateWeek1908July13Monday1909July3Saturday1910July22FridayAs per Noolkar’s letter Saturday’s Gurupoornima will come only on 1909. So, we might say in Shirdi first Gurupoornima Celebrations held on Saturday, 3rd July, 1909.(Source: Saipatham Magazines August 2002 and July 2003.)Noolkar first visited Shirdi in 1909. He was one of the most intimate devotees of Baba. Baba would never allow anyone to worship him. He would not allow any devotee to even garland him. The great good fortune of being the first to formally worship fell to Sri Noolkar upon a Guru Poornima day. One day Sri Tatya Saheb Noolkar went to the masjid and saluted Baba. As he did so, Baba pointed to the pillar besides the dhuni and said "You worship that pillar tomorrow."Noolkar could not understand why Baba had said so. When he returned to the Wada he conveyed Baba's instructions to Shama and asked him as to what Baba's intentions were in ordering him thus. Even Shama could not understand why Baba had asked them to worship the pillar next day. He went to the masjid to inquire of Baba but Baba merely reiterated his earlier instructions. Later Baba repeated the same instructions to Tatya Kote Patil and Dada Kelkar too. The next day happened to be a Saturday. As Noolkar awoke from sleep he suddenly remembered that it was Guru Poornima. He conveyed this to Shama and the other devotees. They got the almanac to check and it was confirmed that it was indeed so. That day was Guru Poornima. http://www.shirdisaibhakti.com

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They now understood the meaning of Baba's words when he told them to worship the pillar. They were all very happy that Baba had finally permitted them to worship him. They all went to the masjid and begged Baba to allow them to perform the worship of their guru. Baba merely told them again to worship the pillar. "Oh our God! Why should we worship the pillar when we have you, a God, in front of us? We will worship only you." Baba did not agree to be worshipped by the devotees. The devotees stuck firmly to their resolve. At last Baba had to acquiesce to the wishes of his devotees and allow them to worship him. Baba always surrenders to the feelings of love and faith of his devotee. He said, "All right" at last, and the happiness of his devotees knew no bounds. They immediately started preparing for the worship of the Guru. They decided to worship Baba after he returned from his round of alms and informed him thus. Baba, with utmost kindness, not only agreed but also permitted them to worship him using the sixteen articles of formal worship. Baba sent word to Radhakrishna Ayi and Dada Kelkar. She sent the various ingredients used in worship to the masjid and Dada Kelkar also reached the masjid with the various articles used in worship. All the devotees present did congregational worship of Baba. Baba returned all the dakshina offered to him back to the devotees. Arati was offered after the worship. Thus the first Guru Poornima worship was performed at Shirdi.Sri Tatya Saheb Noolkar wrote a brief note to his friend Chandorkar about the first celebrations of Guru Pooja during Guru Poornima, as Chandorkar was not present at Shirdi at that time. This letter was published in Sai Leela magazine but unfortunately the date was not mentioned. This is a free translation of that letter. "As I awoke on Saturday, I remembered that it was the day of Guru Poornima. We immediately started preparations for the pooja. Baba had permitted us to worship him after he returned from his round of alms. He did not object and kept silent when we worshipped him with the sixteen ways of worship. He returned all the dakshina given to him back to the devotees after the worship was over. We sent word to Radhakrishna Ayi and Dada Kelkar that worship of Baba and arati were being done in the masjid. Ayi sent various articles of pooja. Dade Kelkar too came with his pooja articles and participated in the pooja."Sri Noolkar first visited Shirdi in 1909(Sai Satcharitra Chapter 31 & Saipatham Magazine August 2002) and he passed away in March, 1911. But Nimbalkar mentioned in his writings that as per Dr.Gavankar‘s opinion Noolkar first visited Shirdi in 1908 and therefore first Gurupoornima celebrated in 1908. With above mentioned reasons Gurupoornima might have started in Shirdi in 1908 or 1909 or 1910. As per Lunar Calendar the Gurupoornima day had fallen as follows. Year MonthDateWeek1908July13Monday1909July3Saturday1910July22FridayAs per Tatyasaheb Noolkar’s Letter Saturday’s Gurupoornima had fallen in the year 1909. Therefore the First Gurupoornima Celebrations could have been started on Saturday, 3rd July, 1909.(Source: Saipatham Magazines August 2002 and July 2003.)When was the regular custom of performing Sej arati commenced? The exact date/month in which the regular custom of performing aratis commenced is not clear. Sri Sai Satcharitra Chapter 4 states that the Night (Sej) arati commenced on December 10th 1910. In the same book in Chapter 37 it is stated that from December 10th 1909 devotees began to offer regular worship to Baba in the Chavadi! In the said context in Chapter 4 it is also recorded that two more incidents took place on that day, i.e. on December 10th 1910. One is Sri G.S. Khaparde permission from Baba to leave Shirdi and the other was the laying of the foundation stone of Dixit Wada. But according to the Diary of Sri G.S. Khaparde, the actual permission to leave Shirdi was granted to him on December 12th 1910. On his first visit to Shirdi, Sri Khaparde stayed for about eight days, i.e. from December 5th 1910 to December 12th 1910. There is no mention of any arati ~ in any of the entries made on those days in his Diary ~ whether Morning, Midday, or Night ~ or anything about the foundation laying ceremony of the Dixit Wada! Sri Khaparde who did not elide to note down even seemingly insignificant happenings, would not have passed over recording such an important event as the commencement of Sej Arati ~ if it took place on December 10th 1910(Sri Khaparde who keenly referred to the Chavadi procession held on 6th and 8th, did not even mention anything about it on 10th, as if nothing worthy of mention occurred on that day!). On the authority of Sri Sai Satcharitra, (but with a slight modification of the date by a margin of two days) if the commencement of Sej Arati was to coincide with the leave-taking or departure of Sri G.S. Khaparde, then it should be on December 12th 1910(Sri Khaparde left Shirdi on that day by evening, he could not have recorded the event). (Source: Arati Saibaba) What did Sri Saibaba say about fasting? Sri Saibaba has given us the middle path to follow on the path of emancipation. did not advocate the over indulgence in either the senses or in asceticism. Let us see what Sri Saibaba had said about fasting on Thursdays or any other holy days. M.W. Pradhan, a devotee of Sri Saibaba had organized the birthday party of his son in Shama’s house at Shirdi and invited all devotees of Sri Saibaba to lunch. That day happened to be a Thursday. Bala Bhate apologized to Pradhan that he was unable to eat on that day as he had a wow to fast on Thursdays and went to the Masjid. As Baba saw Bhate he asked, “Have you gone to Pradhan’s party and had your food?” Bhate: “Baba, today is a Thursday”. Baba: “So what?” Bhate: “I do not eat on Thursdays. It is my wow”. Baba: “To please whom have you made this wow”? Bhate: “I have made this wow in your name for your grace”. Baba: “I am telling you this myself. Leave off this fasting and go have your food with Pradhan”.From the above it is clear that Baba didn’t agree to do fasting to please him on Thursdays. Now, let us see what Sri Saibaba said about fasting on holy days such as Ekadasi, Maha Sivaratri and such days.Tatya Kote Patil was one of the closest and most intimate devotees of Sri Saibaba. He had the great good fortune of sleeping along with Baba in the Masjid for fourteen years. Those who had seen the love and intimacy between Baba and Tatya Kote Patil felt that Baba loved Tatya more than his life even. Tatya in his reminiscences says thus, “I used to fast regularly on Ekadasi, Maha Sivaratri and other such hold days. Baba’s opinion was that fasting had no usefulness in either the http://www.shirdisaibhakti.com

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mundane worldly life or the spiritual life. I would try my best to fast on these holy days but Baba would some how or the other break my fast and made me eat something. On one Sivaratri I said, ‘Baba, please let me fast at least on this day. Please don’t make me eat anything.’ Baba said, “Eat man, eat, what Sivaratri are you talking about?” Dada Kelkar who by standing by also told me to do as Baba says and not to disobey him. I did not raise any further objection to Baba and have never fasted on any day since then.” Thus Sri Saibaba showed us in many incidents that there is no meaning in doing fasting. Please go through the article “Saibaba’s path of Moderation” in Sai Bhakti Sadhana Rahasyam.What should we do when we get link letters or chain e-mails? Divine incarnations such as Sri Saibaba do not need to resort to blackmail to spread his name by promises of wealth and warnings of punishment. As Sri Upasani Baba said the nature of Sri Saibaba is, “Ahambhava heenam prasannaatma bhavam (one without ego and one who is ever kind)” Baba himself has stated that, the purpose of his incarnation is to bless the devotees with his grace, “My mission is to give blessings”. He also said that he would never be angry with any one. The grace of Baba is ever falling on us as a waterfall, but it is our ignorance which acting as an umbrella obstructs us from receiving it in the full measure. If we surrender to Baba with the felling of exclusive love for him only and single-minded devotion, the obstruction is removed and we receive his grace in full measure. To think that one will get Baba’s grace by passing on the letter to 10 or 20 people, and to do that with a feeling of fear is foolish. It is an insult to the divine Baba that he would be angry if we do not do that and will, like devil harm us. It is those who do not even know the basics of spiritual sadhana or the teachings of Sri Saibaba who initiate these letters. Some seek to justify this by saying,” What they are asking us to do is to write the holy name of Sri Saibaba. What harm is in that? What do we lose by doing so?” It is sheer delusion to believe that to pass along such anonymous letters, like a coward, would constitute service to Baba. It seeks to degrade us to the level of the ignorant persons so lacking in self respect that we would stoop to the level of sending anonymous letters like cowards. Any encouragement given by us to this foolish practice would be a transgression against the tradition of devotion to Sri Saibaba. Our only advice to those who receive these letters is- tear them up and consign them to the waste paper basket or delete them.(Source: Sai Bhakti Sadhana Rahasyam, Chapter – Link Letters) Do Sai devotees have to worry about Astrology? Sri Saibaba said “Do Not Consult the Astrological Almanacs. Do Not Believe in astrology”. The sastras and the saints say that the planetary positions and horoscopes can have an effect on us only till we surrender to a competent Sadguru, once we have surrendered to a competent Sadguru such as Baba, the planets or horoscopes can do no harm to the devotee. Let us go through some of the incidents in Sai history. Baba himself, pointing this out, once said to a devotee, “Where in your destiny was a child for you? I have split my body to present you with a son.” Another time he said to a devotee, “What can the planets do to the children of Dwarakamayi?” Once a famous astrologer had come, to examine Baba’s physiognomy and palms and thereby verify; Baba’s divinity. As he reached the Masjid and was about to sit in a corner, Baba started shouting, “Woh hamara jhompdi ka bamboo ginene ko aya. He has come to count the bamboos of my hut (the features of His body); there is nothing for him to see here. Get him out of here.” (Source: Sai Bhakti Sadhana Rahasyam Chapter - The belief in astrological almanacs how they prevent our complete surrender to Baba) There lived in Bandra (a suburb of Bombay) a Tendulkar family, all the members of which were devoted to Baba. . The son, Babu Tendulkar was studying hard day and night and wanted to appear for the medical examination. He consulted some astrologers. Examining his horoscope they told him that the stars were not favorable that year and that he should appear for the examination next year, when he would be certainly successful. This cast a gloom over him and made him restless. A few days afterwards his mother went to Shirdi and saw Baba. Amongst other things she mentioned the gloomy and morose condition of her son, who was to appear for the examination in a few days. Hearing this Baba said to her, "Tell your son to believe in Me, to throw aside horoscopes and predictions of astrologers and palmists and go on with his studies. Let him appear for the examination with a calm mind, he is sure to pass this year. Ask him to trust in Me and not to get disappointed". The mother returned home and communicated Baba's message to her son. Then he studied hard and in due course appeared for the examination. In the written papers he did well, but being overwhelmed by doubts he thought that he would not secure sufficient marks for passing. So he did not care to appear for the oral examination. But the examiner was after him. He sent word through a fellow- student, stating that he had passed in the written examination and that he should appear for the oral. The son being thus encouraged appeared for the oral examination and was successful in both. Thus he got through the examination that year successfully by Baba's grace, though the stars were against him. It is to be noted here that doubts and difficulties surround us just to move us and confirm our faith. We are tested as it were. If we only hold on steadily to Baba with full faith and continue our endeavors, our efforts will be ultimately crowned with success. (Source: Sri Sai Satcharitra Chapter – 29) Please go through an article “The belief in astrological almanacs how they prevent our complete surrender to Baba” from Sai Bhakti Sadhana Rahasyam for more details

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Facts and Fallacies reShirdi Sai