The very mention of Sadguru Sai Baba's name evokes an image of the very embodiment of love, compassion and mercy in my mind. Suppressing this vivid image to reflect on Baba's philosophies is somewhat more arduous, because Baba was never known preach his philosophies in the literal sense of the word. The majority of Baba's philosophies and teachings, although deep and profound can only be inferred by us as a corollary to the multifarious incidents from his life, as documented in the world famous Sri SaiSatCharitra.

Baba upheld the fundamental principles and tenets, viz., faith, patience, compassion, love, sacrifice, equality, etc of every major religion of the world. Baba never tried to establish a new religion or sect. Neither did he try to coerce devotees into accepting a narrow focus of their outlook towards religion based on his own views. If anything, Baba tried to reinforce the faith of the devotees in their respective religions, albeit at times with admonitions to steer clear of superstitions.

In addition, even a cursory overview of the Sri SaiSatCharitra will reveal many incidents that allows us to easily discern Baba's firm stance on the need for

    1. Ubiquitous religious tolerance, knowing fully well that there is room for only one God both here and beyond the firmament and
    2. Unconditional love and acceptance, as exemplified by almost every incident where Baba alleviates the aches and pains of his devotees by dispensing Udi (sacred ash) and where necessary invoking the omnipotent to manifest as a miracle with blessings of progeny and wealth.

Having said so, I would like to dwell for the rest of this essay on a few incidents selected from the Sri SaiSatCharitra, which might be construed as being formidable if we were to be somehow forced to assimilate their message and act accordingly in a similar situation. However, before I continue, I humbly wish to seek the blessings of Baba and your kind indulgence.

It is well known that Baba begged for food everyday in-spite of an outpouring of donations. Some of the donations were actively solicited and some turned down. Most of these donations were in turn redistributed by Baba on the same day to people he chose. Baba retained only the small amount that was necessary to buy fuel to keep aflame the perpetual holy fire at the Dwarkamayi (Baba's residence) and supplies for his chilim (an earthen pipe).

Understanding why Baba maintained this routine of asking for alms, even after the steady flow of donations offered to him was much more than sufficient to provide for his sustenance was difficult for me to grasp in the beginning. In the Sri SaiSatCharitra, Hemadpant the author has offered quite a lengthy analysis to this dilemma in chapter 14. However, even after reading the same for quite a few times, I had the lingering feeling that something was still missing from my comprehension of the analysis. It took a fair amount of contemplation on my part to finally comprehend the succinct lesson. It had to be Baba's uncompromising message of the need to ANNIHILATE THE EGO.

In another incident, Baba declined the services of a doctor of contemporary medicine to treat a burnt hand. He instead preferred to be treated by a leper named Bhagoji Shinde, without any regard of infection (see chapter 7).

Indeed, perplexing are the actions of the great to the naïve and uninitiated. Any attempt to fathom Baba's depth of emotions towards his sincere devotee would be mind-boggling. Here is a classic case where Baba could have easily told Bhagoji Shinde that allopathic treatment would essentially be more beneficial for this burnt hand in the short run. However, after having seen the gratification in Bhagoji Shinde's eyes on getting the opportunity to serve Baba, Baba did not act in a manner that would have necessitated appeasement. What a shining example set by Baba to teach us the importance of NOT HURTING FEELINGS.

And finally the story of the ultimate sacrifice by Baba as documented in chapter 42. Baba had foreseen the impending death of Tatya Patil in the year 1918. Tatya Patil fell sick in 1918 and displayed all the signs of his imminent passing. However, Baba averted Tatya Patil's death and instead entered his own mahasamadhi (the departure from the mortal coil of a realized soul).

Inscrutable is the legacy of Sadguru Sai Baba. There is not much I can express using words that can convey the possible rise of emotions after having narrated the previous incident. The philosophical significance is self-evident. However, I know our hearts unite and feelings converge when we collectively want to prostrate in humble submission at Baba's lotus feet and hope some of his greatness rubs off on us. Then we can truly claim that there is no need for us to reflect on his philosophy anymore because we have now absorbed Baba's philosophies into our subconscious.


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