"If you seek my help and guidance I will immediately give it to you. If you cast your burdens on me I will bear them; there will be no want in the house of my devotee."
How true! Anyone who has put his faith and trust into the hands of this great and divine being, who asked nothing of his devotees but patience, faith and love, will know just how true these words are. I am not a scholar; I have never studied the Vedic scriptures, Islamic norms or Zoroastrian teachings – but I most certainly am a Sai Baba devotee. I have been touched by his incredible power. He has answered my prayers, relieved my burdens and taken trouble to show concern even for small trifles. I wish to share my experiences so that people all over the world will know how much love, time and patience Sai has for those who seek him.
Amazing how and why he came to a small innocuous, sleepy little village called Shirdi, where simple folk lived. Today, that insignificant speck on the map holds great prominence. From this little hamlet, people all over the world, even in remote parts of Africa, sing the praises of Sai Baba. I have met people from all walks of life, from all religions, castes and creeds, that know of his glorious name. Most devotees I have met, in India and abroad, have had similar experiences. It is like a link chain, a déjà vu, and the connection is always Sai Baba.
In the spring of 1997 I participated in an aarti (prayer gathering) in Bombay. It was a Thursday and Baba sat in all his glory with a mugut (crown) on his head. The girls who did seva (devoted service) had put a large red rose in his crown. I secretly wished that if Baba was pleased that I planned to go to Shirdi the following week he should drop me a rose petal from that rose. Believe it or not, as the aarti continued, a solitary rose petal floated down to the floor at my feet. I carefully picked it up, thanking Sai for his blessing.
The following week I was in Shirdi experiencing the sheer delight of the 'dhoop aarti' (evening prayer gathering). These aartis are so special. Crowds mingle from everywhere…the able and disabled…and later, as the aarti ends, everyone rushes to touch the holy marble slab beneath which his mortal remains lie. In that swarming multitude, being helplessly pushed and jostled, a pujari (priest) approached me, opened my palm and filled it with rose petals, telling me that Sai had asked him to give them to me. I was speechless! I had forgotten that episode in Bombay, but Sai remembered. He sent me a handful of rose petals as a sign of how pleased he was to see me at Shirdi.
Sai's teachings and sayings were simple and few. His face, full of compassion, is his most striking feature. Everyone is welcome to follow his preachings – the poor, the rich, saints and sinners. They all come to seek his blessings and he shows mercy to them all. He expects his devotees to treat each other with respect regardless of race or religion. "He who carps and cavils at others pierces me in the heart and injures me – but he that suffers and endures pleases me most."
Devotees all over the world agree that when you look at a photograph or poster of Baba, it comes alive. His eyes seem to follow you and you feel his presence. A devotee once came to Shirdi for Baba's darshan. As he bowed before his statue, Sai said "You and I first met five years ago." The devotee was confused as this was his first meeting with Sai. Baba then reminded him that it was five years ago to that very day that this man had bowed and paid obeisance to a portrait of Sai. The man was astonished and remembered that he had indeed done so.
People from all over the world come to Shirdi to see where this incredible Sai Baba lived. They take the sacred udi (ash) from the dhuni (fire) which still burns today. This ash has miraculous healing powers. As you apply it, you must believe that you are on the road to recovery. Many diseases have simply vanished by applying udi – each disappearance a miracle in itself.
Time and again Sai Baba manifested himself in different forms – Vishnu, Shiva, Ram, Krishna, Christ and many more –to show that there is only one God. The Hindus call him Ram and the Muslims call him Rahim. Nobody knows who Sai Baba was. Malspati, a pujari, bestowed his name upon him. Sai means 'holy one' and Baba means 'endearment'. The picture we see of a compassionate old man's face appears in the most surprising places. To my mind, there is no need to wonder who or what he is. I have accepted the fact that this old man, who embodies true mercy, compassion, gentleness and love, is the Lord himself. Sai Baba was never conditioned by human parentage. Grand Masters and Messengers preceded him to preach religions and faiths. But not Sai…he taught no religion, but talked only of the one true God in whose eyes all men are equal. I firmly believe that God finally did come to this world, and took Sai's form to show us that no matter what colour of skin we have, no matter what status we hold, we are all equal in the eyes of God. He came to make us understand non-attachment, to become egoless, and to have mercy towards others.
I speak from within what I have felt and experienced over the years…power, patience and faith…but above all else, my love for the Incredible Sai Baba.
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