One of the general trends in Hindu culture has been the increased tendency to avoid gurus and saints and concentrate on temple worship.
In fact this is one of the nature of people of Kali yuga.
As people’s wants and greeds increase, as their egoism increase, there is an increased tendency to pray to God in temples directly; their mindset hoodwinks them to believe that gurus are only ‘agents’ and they should approach God directly rather than going through agents.
People want God for materialistic comforts and not for spiritual progress. Hinduism however is very firm that for spiritual progress, a guru’s guidance is a must. So, most people don’t want Gurus any way!
However, historically, people have also been made aware of the reality that when a Mahatma/ a great saint/ an Avatara Purusha comes, he is able to fulfil the materialistic wishes of the people too, as well as spiritual yearning of ardent seekers. So, those who are not totally bound to ‘temple worship’ but are also keen on ‘quick results in materialistic gains’ tend to rush to Godmen for rapid wish fulfilment.
Frauds and cheaters are part of the world. When a true Mahatma comes and does great things, people throng to him; his institutions grow rapidly in wealth and they get name and fame. Fake Sadhus get attracted by the success of real Mahatmas and tend to imitate them; they cheat gullible people.
There are indeed Gurus of today that the media may project as billionaires rolling in luxury, materialism and worldliness, but they may be totally untouched by any of them even today.
Kali yuga is such that even Ashrams cannot totally escape some pomp, show, commercialization and materialism. Swami Sivananda once said, “If I can serve 100 people unobtrusively or serve thousands of people through advertisement, I would choose the latter”.
If the head of the ashram is a pure realized soul, everything can remain in balance. The institutions may have to be run by ordinary people with ordinary morals (who are yet to be evolved) and some of them may bring bad name to the Mahatma who heads the institutions too! But true Mahatmas accept all sorts of people out of compassion to elevate them spiritually.
It requires divine grace — the grace to know the difference between the right Guru and a fake Guru, to differentiate the wheat from the chaff.
Pseudo-secular Media houses tend to blow up any matter — real or cooked up, against Mutts and Mutt heads. They try to do mudslinging at genuine Mahatmas too and get away with it. Skeptics think that everyone running a Mutt is a fraud and a cheater.
That’s the typical Indian scenario.
https://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Guru-sishya.jpg350422C.V.Rajanhttps://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Logo6-Hinduism-Sanatana-dharma-Way-of-life-340-×-140-px-300x124.pngC.V.Rajan2020-01-02 16:35:062021-10-13 11:10:28Is the belief in God in Hinduism slowly coming down due to the wrong activities of some self-styled Gurus, Sadhus and so called “God men”?
Shirdi Sai Baba (~1838/42-1918) was a very unique Avatar of God; he was a realized saint who knew his oneness with God. His Avatar perhaps was ordained to foster Hindu Muslim unity, though a vast majority of his devotees were essentially Hindus even during his times, as it is now; he lived in Shirdi (which was not his birthplace) for almost 60 years. Shirdi is in Marathwada region where Islamic population too is considerable.
He emphasised ‘Sabka Malik Ek‘ (God of all people is one). Saibaba was, in all probability, had no formal education, but he had extensive knowledge on Bhagavad Gita. His life and utterances reflected the highest truth of Vedanta. He was also very knowledgeable in Koran.
It is widely believed that his Guru was a Muslim fakir (a Sufi saint), who too was a knower of God. Sai Baba dressed up like a Fakir and lived in a dilapidated mosque. That lead some people to think that he was a Muslim Fakir.
Sai Baba did not put any of his teachings in writing; he never gave any discourses; however, his sayings have been recorded by his followers.
Sai Baba often hinted that he did not come to teach, but to awaken. He brought this awakening through his unconditional love towards his followers. Surrender to him unconditionally and he will never let you down –that was the level of confidence he imbibed into his devotees. Baba’s response to his devotee’s call for help is as eager, as ardent and as urgent as the devotee’s call itself. His sayings too stand testimony to this. It is true even today.
The way devotees throng at Shirdi in thousands on a daily basis and in lakhs on festive occasions despite the passage of more than a century after his departure from the world stand testimony to this assurance and faith.
Crowd of devotees waiting for Darshan at Shirdi Sai Samadhi. (Inset: Image of Sri Sai at his Samadhi mandir)
Birth and Early years
Little information was available from Sai Baba about his origins. Connecting historical happenings during his period, it is believed that he was born somewhere between 1838 to 1842.
There was no solid proof available about Sai Baba’s place of birth, religion or caste during his lifetime. Sai Baba never revealed anything about his origins to his devotees.
Two evidences from people who lived close with Sai Baba at Shirdi lead researchers to believe Sai Baba was a Hindu — one, he had his ears pierced and two, he was not found circumcised. In later period, researcher (Shri V.B,Kher, a Sai devotee and a biographer of Sai) based on several hints collected from Sai Baba’s conversations with devotees in his authentic biographies, by visiting places mentioned there, meeting people etc, was able to reasonably deduce where his birth place is.
It is believed to be villege Pathri, situated in Parbhani district of Maharashtra, some 150 km south east of Daulatabad. Connecting events of the distant past with family histories learned from aged residents of the village, the researchers also felt that a boy born in a Brahmin family of Bhausaris (Shukla Yajurvedi Brahmins of Koushika Gotra) who had reportedly left his home at an age of about five with a Muslim Fakir was Sai Baba in all probability. They also located the ruined house of the Bhausaris at Pathri. The name of the Sufi Fakir who became the custodian and spiritual master of the young Brahmin boy was (deduced to be) Roshan Sha Mia.
The family deity of Bhausari family was Hanuman. After picking up bits and pieces from Sai Baba’s utterances, Baba’s deep knowledge of Hinduism, his practice of celebrating Ram Navami regularly at Shirdi during his final years and the liking he had on Hanuman and a couple of other coincidences, Shri V.B. Kher satisfied himself on his findings. Shri Kher bought the piece of land in 1978 from a descendent of Bhusari Brahmin family at Pathri. Construction of a Sai temple there began in 1994 and On 19th October 1999, the Sai Janmasthan Temple was inaugurated.
Sai Janmasthan temple at Pathri, Maharashtra.
So, it is now more or less an agreed belief that Sai Baba was a Brahmin by birth. Even if he were to be a Muslim, Islam does not have any scope or provision to worship any person as God.
Saibaba reportedly traveled across several places of Marathwada along with his Fakir Guru. He (according to his own statements) was under the care of his guru for 12 long years and served him with love and humility and received love and blessings from his guru in abundance. It is also believed that Sai Baba was indeed ‘born perfect’ and his innate divinity got just rekindled by association with such a formal Guru. Several statements of Saibaba reveals that he remained in a state of Advaita (a state of non-duality — being one with God) and uttered them with utmost authority and assurance.
It is learnt that Baba, after remaining a wandering monk upto his age of 25 to 30 and before coming and settling Shirdi, was staying in Aurangabad and he was the spiritual master of a fakir by name Bade Baba or Fakir Baba for 12 years. Incidentally, many years later, Bade Baba returned to stay with his erstwhile master at Shirdi in the year 1902.
Arrival at Shirdi
Sai Baba arrived for the first time at Shirdi some time the year 1868-1872, when he was around 25 to 30 years old. He was a serene looking young man, tempered by a disciplined life of tapas and austerity. He came to Shirdi along with a marriage party of Chand Patil of Dupkhed; Chand Patil (a muslim) had brought Sai Baba along with him, to attend the marriage of his sister with one one Hamid of Shirdi.
How did Chand Patil get acquainted with Sai Baba?
The story goes that Chand Patil met Sai Baba on his way from his village towards to Aurangabad while going by walk after he unfortunately lost his mare. He met this young man (Baba) looking like a fakir under a tree, who told him that his lost mare was just in the nearby vicinity, close to a stream there. Patil went in search and was surprised to find his mare there. As he returned to the young Fakir to thank him, he found him preparing his hookah by getting a piece of burning charcoal and also some water by simply digging into earth! The fakir shared the smoke with the traveller too. Impressed by these miracles, Chand Patil took the Fakir reverentially with him to his home to be his guest. Subsequently, he also took him to the marriage ceremony at Shirdi to bless the couples.
No one knew the name of this Fakir. The story goes that when he arrived at Shirdi and got down from the cart, the local Khandoba temple owner and priest Bhagat Mhalsapati saw him first and welcomed him “Ya Sai!” (Welcome Sai) and this name Sai stuck. (The word Sai or Sain/ Sayi denotes Lord,God, saint, husband (beloved) or Fakir. Baba means father). Incidentally, after a couple of years of arrival of Sai Baba, Mhalsapati accepted Sai Baba as his Sadguru and became a lifelong devotee to serve Him.
After the marriage, the party with Chand Patil left Shirdi, but Sai Baba stayed back. Initially, Saibaba stayed at the outskirts of Shirdi in Babul forest for nearly 2.5 years, then under a neem tree for four to five years. During this period, he was deeply immersed in Self, ignoring rain and shine and living day and night in the open.
Living under Neem tree and Guru Sthan
According to another version of the story , it is said that he came to Shirdi much earlier, when he was about 16 or 17 years old and lived with his Guru near the neem tree without much of public gaze across 12 years.
Sai Baba had mentioned about the existence of the tomb of his guru underground adjacent to the neem tree. When dug, four earthen lamps and a japa mala were found there. Baba prevented further digging as the tomb of the guru existed further below. Sai Baba mentioned the existence of a tunnel there where he did his tapas without getting disturbed from the outer world. His utterances on this matter were not so clear whether he was mentioning about his Guru and his life in the present Avatar or in his previous birth. This tunnel reportedly extended upto the Masjid to which Saibaba shifted to live later.
Later he shifted to the dilapidated Masjid where he lived permanently thereafter.
During these early years, Sai Baba had no proper food. He would go for alms and be content to eat whatever people gave him. However, a kind-hearted lady by name Bayajabai somehow seemed to understand the high spiritual status of Sai Baba and she took a vow to feed Baba before she ate her food. She would take the meals for Baba. go in search of him near the neem tree oand surrounding places in the jungle, locate him and feed him.
People by and large thought he was a mad Fakir, till a well known Vaishnava Saint by name Gangagir Bua, who often visited Shirdi, met Baba; he could grasp Baba’s true stature of divinity and he spread word. Two other sadhus who lived in Shirdi at that time by name Devidas and Janakidas too started liking the company of the saintly Sai Baba. Soon, one by one people started going to him and were amply rewarded by his blessings.
Living at Dwaraka Mai (Masjid)
An old photo of entrance of Masjid (Dwarakamai). Sai Baba seen at the right extreme.
Mhalsapati, Kashiram Shimpi and Appa Jagle of Shirdi were the earliest disciples of Sai Baba, who surrendered to him and served him with devotion. It is by their efforts that Sai Baba shifted from the neem tree to the dilapidated Masjid in Shirdi; This masjid became his permanent abode till the end of his life, spanning about 60 years. He named the place Dwaraka Mai. Mhalsapati became the closest of all and he served his Master till Baba left his mortal body.
An artist view of Sai Baba sitting inside the Masjid (Dwarakamai).
In fact, it was Sai Baba who attracted devotees and ardent seekers living in distant places by creating circumstances in their lives or by sending word to them to come and meet Him. He said that his relation as Guru with some of his disciples started a couple of births ago and he was duty-bound to take care of them and lead them to enlightenment across births.
After his permanent occupation at Dwaraka mai, more spiritually inclined seekers like Appa Kulkarni, Nana Saheb Dengle, Chidambar Keshav, Madhav Rao Deshpande, Nanasaheb Nimonkar, Nanasaheb Chandorkar, Das Ganu and others frequently visited Sai Baba and accepted Him as their Sadguru and surrendered to him.
By the grace and blessings of Sai Baba, Das Ganu (real name Shri Ganapat Dattatreya Saharabuddhe) a former policeman left his job, surrendered to Sai and later blossomed into a great poet, singing the glory of his guru through his kirtans. He was hailed as a santkavi.
It was through Nanasaheb Chandorkar (a well educated person in Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures) that the outer world came to know of Sai Baba’s extensive knowledge on Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures of Hinduism.
Abdul, the Muslim disciple of Sai Baba too came to Sai Baba through his calling. Abdul was earlier a servitor of Amiruddin fakir of Nanded. It was through Abdul that the world came to know of the extensive knowledge Sai Baba had on Islam, the Koran, Sira— the life of Mohammad, Sunna (code of conduct) , hadith (traditions), sharia (laws) and so on.
Common people started coming to Sai Baba in large numbers for curing them of their ailments and seeking solutions to their worldly worries. During his early days, Sai Baba prepared some indigenous medicines and gave to them. People got cured miraculously and they spread words; more and more people came to him for the purpose.
The Dhuni and Udi as prasad
At Dwaraka mai, Sai Baba started a Dhuni — a fire place where he arranged to keep a sacred fire burning perpetually. Baba stopped preparing and giving medicines; instead, he started giving the ash (Udi) from the Dhuni as his prasad. Sai Baba’s udi prasad soon became a ‘cure all’ medicine for many people, including people having mental problems. Through the udi, what they really received was the unconditional love and divine blessings from Sai Baba.
As Baba’s popularity grew, people started bringing food for him to the Masjid and gradually, the need for him to go around the village for seeking alms came down.
Sai Baba as a Saint and Sadguru
Baba radiated divine love; his compassion flowed unconditionally towards all those who came to him with faith and trust hoping their problems to get solved. Spiritually inclined seekers who came to him, grasped his divine nature and surrendered to his feet considering him to be their Sadguru.
Baba remained a unique blend of all religious faiths and he did not discriminate people based on religion, sect, caste, race, sex or language. He strengthened the faiths of devotees to their respective religions and guided them individually on spiritual practices suited to each one’s capacity, calibre and taste.
He taught his devotees self-restraint, detachment, faith in God and faith in guru.Without being preachy, he taught philosophy, devotion, spiritual discipline, morality, right conduct for daily life and fellow-feeling towards all living beings.
He encouraged sadaks whose worldly duties were over, to live with him and concentrate on sadhana for spiritual enlightenment. He discouraged youngsters from relinquishing worldly life out of over-enthusiasm without the necessary mental strength for renunciation.
Many devotees of Lord Dattatreya who came to him considered him to be an avatar of Dattatreya. Akkalkot Swami (Shri Swami Samarth) was a highly revered and a contemporary saint of Sai Baba who was considered an Avatar of Dattatreya. Many of his devotees held Sai Baba in very high regard. It is said that Akkalkot Swami directed some of his disciples to go to Sai Baba for guidance after his departure.
Likewise devotees of other God forms (Lord Ganesha, Hanuman and so on) too considered Saibaba as the divine Avatar of their personal Gods. Some such devotees, who had taken vows to make certain money offerings to their deities in times hardships faced in their lives, conveniently forgot to make the offerings to their deities once they came out of the difficulties. When they came to Saibaba, there were several instances where Baba asked for and collected such money from them!
Sai Baba strongly condemned religious conversions. Once a person who had converted to Islam from being a Hindu came to Sai Baba for his darshan, Sai Baba slapped him on his face saying, “Are you not ashamed of changing your father?”
Baba’s daily Life – Simplicity personified
Saibaba always donned a Kafni (long full sleeved kurta), wore a langot (waist band) and covered His head with a piece of cloth. He sat on a piece of sackcloth, and his bed too was a sackcloth. He wore his dress till they were torn and turn to become rags. He always said “Poverty is better than Kingship, far better than Lordship. The Lord is always brother of the poor.”
During his early years, Saibaba went out for begging his food; whatever solid and liquid food items he was given, he collected them separately, brought them to the Masjid, kept them in open pots and ate from them. Those who came to him and those who did service to him (like cleaning the masjid premises) could also partake the food from the pots. Dogs too came to him and had their share from the collection.
In later periods, as the number of close devotees increased, devotees brought food for him from their homes to the masjid and the need for going out for daily alms stopped. Using the provisions that people brought, Saibaba sometimes cooked the food and offered it as prasad to the devotees. The prasad he made at times contained meat too that non-vegetarians devotees partook from him.
Baba’s close devotees always worshiped him and revered him as God. As part of the daily routine in Dwarakamai, an aarati (formal worship with lighted lamp) in the noon and one aarati at night was performed to Sai Baba by close devotees (like Mhalsapati) amidst chanting of hymns. Of course, this practice was not to the liking of some people of the Muslim community in and around Shirdi.
Baba had no personal wants or needs. For so many years, Baba never had any need for money. During his later years in life, Sai Baba accepted dakshina (offering of money) from his devotees. Whatever Sababa received — be food, provisions or cash, he distributed amidst the visiting needy devotees and also to his close associates who served him and had families to take care of. Many devotees observed that the money Sai Baba distributed daily to others appeared to be more than what he used to receive as dakshina!
When Sai Baba attained Samadhi, a Policeman present on duty at Dwarakamai at that time officially took charge of Sai Baba’s possessions and according to the report, Sai Baba had just 16 rupees with him in his possession!
Baba and miracles
Baba in numerous miraculous ways played the role of God, a mentor, a Guru, a guide and a savior in the lives of devotees who surrendered to him with unflinching faith. Practically all devotees of Baba had some miraculous experience or other in their lives to come out of worldly worries and calamities. Such experiences redoubled their faith on His divinity and helped them to tread the path of dharma and spirituality.
Baba’s devotees experienced that He knew every detail of their lives without the need of telling him; Baba read their good and bad thoughts and constantly warned them from going astray. When caught up in deep troubles, Baba heard their prayers and came to their rescue in some way or other, in some human form or other wherever they were. Sai Baba willingly took up the bad prarabdhas (effects of bad karmas of the past) of some of his devotees on himself in order to reduce their suffering and burden.
There were many instances when Sai Baba blessed progeny to childless couples, saved devotees from accidents and life threatening diseases, protected them from financial disasters, helped them in getting the right match in marriages and so on. Reviving the dead to life was also performed by Sai on one or two rare occasions.
Very occasionally, Baba also openly displayed a few miracles. Here are a few of them:
Baba in deep Samadhi bordering on death for 3 days. This happened in the year 1885. Sai Baba had a severe bout of asthma; he called Mhalsapati and said, “I am going into samadhi; please take care of my body for 3 days”. Mhalsapati stayed day and night with the motionless body of Sai that looked almost dead. Some people in Shirdi believed that Sai Baba was dead and wanted to cremate his body. But Mhalsapati stood very firm. Baba regained outer consciousness after three days.
Stirring boiling food with bare hands. Devotees had witnessed Sai Baba sometimes cooking Prasad for feeding the gathering in a large pot. He would simply use his hands instead of a ladle to stir the boiling contents in the pot.
Arresting spread of Cholera. During 1910, Shirdi was affected by Cholera. A few people died. One day Sai Baba was seen single handedly grinding a sack of wheat in a hand grinding stone. Local ladies came to assist him and when the work was over, they attempted to take the flour with them to their houses. Sai Baba scolded them severely and asked them to collect the flour and spread it along the borders of the village. Wondering why, they obeyed his words. Sai Baba clarified later that by this weird gesture, he had prevented spreading of Cholera in Shirdi. After this incidence, no death occurred on account of Cholera in Shirdi.
Preventing Plague deaths. In 1911, plague epidemic broke out and it started affecting Shirdi too. At that time, seven or eight buboes appeared in Baba’s body and he got fever. His devotees got scared. Baba used his own medicine (ghee) for applying over buboes which he recommended to others too. Baba assured them that neither He nor anyone in Shirdi would die on account of plague and he had taken up the calamity on himself to ward off the epidemic. It was proved true.
Bringing holy waters. Once, Das Ganu thought that he should go to Prayag for a bath, and came to Baba to get His permission for doing so. Baba replied to him – “It is not necessary to go so long. Our Prayag is here, believe me.” When Das Ganu placed his head on Baba’s Feet, out came or flowed streams of water — of Ganga and Yamuna, from both the toes of Baba.
Baba’s two Biographers who were direct devotees
Shri Govind R Dabholkar was a Brahmin by birth and he was a 1st class Resident Magistrate in Borsad before he retired. Nana Saheb Chandorkar was his friend and due to the later’s insistence, he came and met Sai Baba initially with some reluctance in the year 1910. He was bowled by Sai Baba’s radiating divinity and his thirst to have a guru came to an end. He started visiting Baba regularly. in 1916, a year before Sai Baba’s departure, Shama, a friend of Dabholkar and an ardent devotee of Baba convinced Baba for the need of having an authentic biography of Him written and Baba gave his blessings to Dabholkar for writing it.
With the help of all close Sai devotees, Dabholkar collected information about Sai Baba’s sayings, leelas and miracles from the real life experiences of many devotees for 13 years from 1917 to 1929. He wrote Shri Sai Satcharitra in Marathi in the form of verses and they first got serialized in Sri Sai Leela magazine from 1923 (6 years after Sai Baba’s Maha Samadhi). Shri Sai Satcharitra complete in book form came out 1929. Sri Dabholkar passed away in the same year.
After his retirement, Dabholkar served Sai Baba very sincerely till Baba’s Mahasamadhi and afterwards managed very skillfully and efficiently Sai Baba’s Shirdi Sansthan till his death in 1929.
Shri Sai Satcharitra was the first authentic source book on the Avatar and leela of Shirdi Sai, and it was written not as a biography in chronological order, but in the form of a Pothi, a religious book. It contained 53 chapters and 9308 verses. This book, in later years, got translated into English and other Indian languages.
Sri Vaman Prangovind Patel (Later Swami Sai Sharan Anand) was one of the most faithful and true disciples of Sai Baba. He was a Gujarati Brahmin by birth, studied B.A., L.L.B and worked as a solicitor at Mumbai. When Vaman was five, Sai Baba (identified by his mother as an unknown person who appeared before her as a Fakir) saved his live from acute diarrhoea by giving sacred udi. Vaman as a youth longed for getting a Guru who can assure him of getting direct perception of God; he first met Sai Baba at Shirdi when he was 22 years old, in the year 1911.
He visited Sai Baba again in 1913 and was was retained by Baba to be with him for 11 months. Baba engaged Vaman in reading scriptures like Jnaneshwari under his guidance, made him do Gayathri Purascharan and seek alms from the local households.
Again in 1916, Vaman stayed with Baba for 3 weeks when he was blessed with valuable spiritual experiences. In 1946 (some 28 years after Sai Baba’s maha samadhi) Vaman wrote two books in Gujarati on the life of Baba — Sai Leelakhyan and Shri Sai Baba. After his wife and daughter passed away, Vaman took up Sanyas (with the monaistic name Swami Sai Sharan Anand) at the age of 64. He lived to ripe old age (93 years) and passed away in 1982. 3 more books of him Sainathne Sharane, Brahma Parimal and Siddhamrit got published posthumously.
His books exemplify his great devotion to Sai Baba and they remain one of the best sources of information on Shirdi Sai.
Sathe Wada – The first dormitory for visiting devotees
Over years, as Sai Baba’s residence in the Dwaraka Mai Masjid became permanent and devotees from outstation started coming in large numbers, Baba’s devotee Hari Vinayak Sathe bought the land covering the sacred neem tree, Gurusthan and adjacent areas. In 1908, he constructed a wada (traditional mansion) there which was called Sathe Wada. The wada served as the sole resting place for visiting devotees, till the time Dixit Wada too came up.
Dixit Wada – the second dormitory for visiting devotees
Kaka Saheb Dixit, a rich solicitor from Mumbai first met Sai Baba in the year 1909. He became an ardent devotee of Sai Baba and decided to settle in Shirdi to live the rest of his life in the holy company of Baba. He bought land adjacent to Gurusthan and constructed Dixit Wada, to be his residence as well as a resting place for people visiting Sai Baba from distant places. The Wada was constructed and inaugurated on the day of Ram Navami in the year 1911.
Sai Baba and Muslims
As we saw already, Sai Baba had two earnest devotees who stayed with him were Muslims – Abdul and Bade Baba (Fakir Baba).
Sai Baba had many other Muslim devotees who considered him as a Pir (A Sufi Saint) or Awliya (An Islamic guardian/ protector).
From 1911, when Ram Navami celebrations (with a procession ending at Dwaraka mai masjid) became an annual festival celebrated with fanfare at Shirdi as per suggestion of Sai Baba, some Muslim devotees headed by one Amir Shakkar too pitched in with a Sandal Procession (Urus festival) on the same day; Hindus and Muslims participated in both processions, thereby building a good interfaith comradery.
In 1894, some intolerant Muslims with the support of Kazi of Sangamner assembled with lathis in order to attack the devotees who worshiped Sai Baba as God inside the masjid. Mhalsapati, who used to do the daily aarati was in a fix and he did not know what to do. However, Sai Baba summoned him inside and asked him to proceed with his daily worship. The militant assembly of armed Muslims stood there transfixed, unable to move their limbs! They got scared of Sai Baba’s divine power and retreated never to attempt any such move there after.
Some 20 years after this incidence, a fundamentalist Pathan was dead against Hindus worshiping Sai Baba and he sought Sai’s permission to massacre all the Hindus sleeping at the Chavdi. Sai Baba told him to cut His throat first before attempting to do any harm to Hindus. A few days later, with hatred brimming on Baba, the Pathan came to attack Sai Baba with a large stick. Sai Baba simply caught him by his wrist and the pathan fell to ground losing all his power.
Muslims also created trouble when Sai Baba attained Maha Samadhi. (This is covered later in the article).
Construction of Buti Wada – and the end of Sai Baba’s avatar
Gopalrao (Bapusaheb) Buti, The man who built Buti Wada where Sai Baba’s samadhi exists.
Gopalrao Buti was an extremely rich devotee of Sai Baba who hailed from Nagpur met Baba in 1907. From 1910, he shifted to Shirdi permanently to live with Sai Baba and was contemplating to build a house for him there. One night, Baba appeared in Buti’s dream and asked him to construct a Wada (Mansion) with a temple in it. Very surprisingly, in the same night, Baba appeared in Madhavrao Deshpande’s dream and said “Let there be a wada with temple so that I can satisfy the desires of all”. Both were sleeping in Dixit Wada when this happened.
When they shared the experience with each other, Buti decided to build a grand mansion with black stones. With Sai Baba’s blessing and also approval of the building plan, the construction started in 1915. Buti wanted to install, in the sanctum sanctorum, Lord Muralidhar (Krishna playing flute) there.
Madhavrao supervised the construction of the ground floor. Sai Baba visited the site while construction was in progress and offered some suggestions too. Sai Baba once said “When the temple is built, we shall inhabit it and ever live in joy there!”
While the construction was nearing the end, Sai Baba fell sick and his condition started deteriorating. Gopalrao Buti became restless. He wondered whether Baba would live to see the temple, let alone come and stay there as promised by him. “If Baba is not going to live there, what is the point in constructing this wada and temple?” he thought.
Baba’s close devotees nursed him with all love and care, but there was so sign of recovery. Baba’s last words were: “Take me to the wada. I would feel better there”. But before his devotees could shift him, He breathed his last at 2:35PM on 15th October 1918 at the Masjid. News spread quickly and all close devotees of Sai Baba thronged at the Masjid.
Unfortunately, there were discordant opinions in conducting the last rites for Baba’ body between Sai’s Hindu devotees (who were in majority) and the Muslims. The Muslim devotees headed by Bade Baba did not want Hindus to touch Sai Baba’s body and they wanted to take the body to kabari-sthan as per Islamic rites. Against Muslims’ stiff resistance, Sai’s devotee Laxman Bhat performed puja to Sai’s body as per Hindu traditions and applied tilak at Sai’s forehead. Hindus planned to shift Sai’s body to Buti Wada and place it in a samadhi and started necessary digging work work there.
Mamledar (Revenue administrative officer) of Kopargaon mediated between Hindus and Muslims and a compromise was arrived. Muslims finally yielded and allowed the Hindu devotees to proceed with their Samadhi plan at Buti Wada on the condition that Muslims would be given continued access to Masjid and also to Sai Baba’s samadhi, to which Hindus gladly agreed.
On 16th October evening, Sai Baba’s body was taken ceremoniously in procession to Buti Wada and placed in the sanctum sanctorum where originally an idol of Lord Muralidhar had been planned to be installed. Saibaba’s body was laid and a samadhi was built there.
Sai Baba had said earlier:
“I never forsake anyone who relies on me. If you cast your burden on me, I will bear it. My eye is ever on those who love me.”
“Remember my words even when I am no more. My bones will assure you from my samadhi. It will communicate with you, it will respond to him who surrenders to it.”
“Here, in Shirdi, my men will come like ants“.
It is indeed true — even after passage of a century!
https://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Shirdi-Saibaba2-BW.jpg327530C.V.Rajanhttps://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Logo6-Hinduism-Sanatana-dharma-Way-of-life-340-×-140-px-300x124.pngC.V.Rajan2018-07-20 17:11:352021-10-25 08:55:56Brief Life History of Shirdi Sai Baba
For some people, Guru comes on his own in their life. They are blessed. They have done their homework in their previous births!
Others tend to search for a Guru. They may finally find a Guru of their liking, but only time can tell whether they have ended at the right place, or it is only a temporary shelter till they find the permanent one. The reality is that when the search is earnest, the right Guru actually finds them, sooner or later, in first attempt or later attempts!
A serious seeker, intentionally and consciously searching for a Guru should sincerely answer many queries.
Each of us have different tastes, temperaments, capacity of intake w.r.t. religion and spirituality.
How much of spirituality do you want?
How much of worldly life do you still want to enjoy?
Is your search of a guru or a saint simply for finding solutions to your current worldly problems and to get His blessings to escape from them?
Or is it higher and more purposeful to understand the goal of life and just not materialistic?
If you want both, how much of balance between the two is acceptable to you?
How much of sacrifice are you prepared to do to acquire real spiritual knowledge?
What is your mental inclination towards Bhakti? What is our taste towards Jnyana? Are you attracted by yoga?
If you have bhakti, are you confined to a specific God form or sect only (like emotional bonding to Shiva/ Vishu/ Shakti and tend to think other Gods as lesser Gods?).
Would you be more comfortable and content to follow rituals, do formal worships, chant slokas and so on as a devotee rather than read scriptures and break your head with matters like soul, Atman, Brahman, Nirvikalpa Samadhi and so on?
Do you have a family Guru by tradition? Do you have liking and respect for him? Would you be contented to follow him or you want something better?
What is your exposure to spiritual books? How much of exposure do you have towards our scriptures in general? Have you read Ramayana and Mahabharata reasonably well?
Have you read Bhagavad Gita? Do you find its teachings making an impression in you or having an influence on you?
Have you got any idea about the Hindus ideologies like Advaita, Vishistadvaita and Dvaita?
Have you got exposed to any of the life and teachings of Avatara Purushas, Mahatmas and saints like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda, Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi, Kanchi Maha Periyaval, Shirdi Saibaba, Satya Saibaba, Ma Anandamayi, Swami Shivananda, Papa Ramadas, Swami Chinmayananda, Shringeri Shankaracharyas, Nisarga Datta Maharaj, Mata Amritanandamayi or any such saints of recent history?
Do you feel highly attracted or influenced by any of their lives and teachings? Do you feel like surrendering and seeking their guidance (even if they are no longer alive)?
Would you be happy to follow the living disciples of any of the above Gurus who are not alive now? Or do you wish for a living Sadguru’s guidance only?
Do you know the difference between a Guru, Acharya and a Sadguru?
If you earnestly get the answers to these queries from your heart, you will at least know where you stand and what you expect.
If you seek help and suggestions from people who already have gurus, you will invariably end up listening to a sales-promotion talk recommending their Guru for you too! It is exactly like people offering free medical advice when you tell them about some ailment you are having!
In olden days, people were less informed, had better humility, faith and sense of surrender. Spiritual knowledge or ideas were not freely available. Like arranged marriages, people easily accepted their traditional Gurus and got better. Only earnest Mumukshus (ardent seekers of Moksha – liberation) went around searching for Gurus. But times have changed now.
It is better to acquire some spiritual basis by reading books or listening to their talks/ videos unless you are blessed with a Guru who comes on his own in your life. Personally, I got my spiritual fundamentals firmed up by reading books. I was immensely influenced by reading Deivaththin Kural (Tamil, from Kanchi Paramacharya), The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Life and teachings of Ramana Maharshi, Swami Shivananda, Exposition of vedanta from Swami Chinmayananda and so on.
The more and more I read them, the more I got a clearer picture of my own mental leanings, tastes, strengths and weaknesses, idiosyncrasies and limitations. And I would say divine grace started working on me to guide me to seek my Guru. I found my life being lead from one step to another to lead me to my Sadguru.
I am just sharing what happened to me. Divine grace is the real thing and it acts differently in different people. I know that there are umpteen ways and inscrutable happenings through which so many others have come and landed at the feet of my Sadguru.
The same is true for those who have found their own living Gurus in the present and in the past.
Bhagwan Ramana with his western disciple Sadhu Arunachala
If you get a feeling that such-and-such person could be potentially your Guru, visit him and offer yourself there with humility. He may or may not be your final Guru. Sri Ramamaharshi gives one indication – If your mind finds total peace when you are at the sannadhi of the Guru, he is most likely to be your Guru.
If disturbances and doubts are there, perhaps he is not your Guru. May be his grace will guide you further to end up at your right Guru’s feet. May be he could still be your Guru, too but your time has not arrived!
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
You don’t have to break your head too much on the correctness of your judgment. The earnestness and humility are the vital needs. Sri Ramakrishna used to say “Suppose a person goes on a pilgrimage to Puri by walk from his village; he is not familiar with the directions and roads; somewhere he might have turned a wrong direction and missed his path. But as he inquires, somebody will always correct his mistake and redirect him to the right path. Quickly or belatedly he is sure to end up in Puri. Don’t worry”.
Search – earnestness – humility – surrender –grace . This is the working reality of getting the right guru.
https://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Upanishads.jpg249410C.V.Rajanhttps://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Logo6-Hinduism-Sanatana-dharma-Way-of-life-340-×-140-px-300x124.pngC.V.Rajan2018-07-13 13:46:352018-07-13 14:17:44How does a seeker get his right guru? How to seek him? How to approach him? How will you know that he is the right guru?
In this part 1, some solid and important facts about the relevance of Hinduism are discussed.
In the part 2, some frequently asked questions from religion/ spiritual point of view have been answered.
In the Part 3 , some FAQs from sociological point of view (issues related to inter-religious love affairs and marriages) are being answered.
At the outset, Hinduism is just not a religion; it is known as Sanatana Dharma — the eternal righteous way of living. The base of Sanatana Dharma (or Hinduism) is so widespread that it has place for accommodating innumerable ways of establishing a relationship with God and attaining oneness with Him as the ultimate goal of life. It is like a cone with a large circular base and as one rises up higher and higher in quest of spirituality, it ultimately leads one to a single point at the top.
Fact 1: Hinduism is so unique and so wide-based – there is really no need to look elsewhere for anything missing
With a clear acceptance of the universal fact that people have different tastes and temperaments as regards to any relationship, Hinduism offers so much of ‘variety of choice’ in the practice of religion, which is nothing but establishing are relationship with God. Be it with regard to choosing a specific God form for love and worship, method of worship, practice of austerities, school of philosophy to learn and follow, type of rituals to practice and so on, Hinduism offers so much variety. The idea is: you start with what is traditional to you, what is comfortable to you, what is digestible to you and what is tasteful to you. Then go deeper; understand better; widen your outlook; don’t get trapped into sheer compartmentalization; grow up; turn inwards rather than outwards; out-grow from your earlier presumptions and self-made boundaries. Know the ultimate truth; know that you are no different from the very ultimate truth that you have been in quest of all along!
In other words, a variety of religious and spiritual avenues are available within Hinduism itself for one to seek God for spiritual progress or worldly prosperity or for removal of hurdles, pains and sorrows in life by praying to God and seeking His divine grace. There is really no need to go in search of any other religion for that matter. If someone finds anything higher or better in any other religion, it is only because he has not really bothered to look deeper into his own religion with earnestness.
Vested interests from other religions , who believe God to be nameless and formless, may mock at Hindus for worshiping idols; for worshiping umpteen God forms — Gods in male, female and animal forms, Gods having thousands of names and so on. If misguided Hindus with very little inclination to know deeper about the significance of all these in Hinduism join the vested interests and start ridiculing our own religion, we can only feel sorry for them.
Fact 2: Hinduism does not woo people from other religions with an agenda to convert them to Hinduism
By virtue of being the Sanatana Dharma, Hinduism is not something meant for ‘sales promotion’ , ‘mass distribution’ or ‘mass consumption’. That’s why there are no religious movements in Hinduism to woo and convert people from other religions to Hinduism. No Hindu organization gets any funding to send missionaries to other countries for the sole purpose of converting people from other religions to Hinduism. Hindus don’t build schools and hospitals to show how loving and caring their religion is, with a hidden agenda of converting people to Hinduism.
Whatever mode of conversion to Hinduism offered nowadays through Arya Samaj is also NOT meant for wooing other religious people to convert to Hinduism, but only to offer an avenue (which was not available in the past in Hinduism) for the benefit of misguided people of Hindu origin, who had converted to other religions (for whatever reason) and want to return to Hinduism.
Fact 3: It is Hinduism that keeps producing so many Mahatmas and great spiritual masters from time to time to guide people in religion and spirituality
Unlike any other religion, only Hinduism has the unique advantage and proven track record of gifting to the world innumerable spiritual masters, great Mahatmas, great devotees, God realized (and self-realized) Gurus and great Avatars as if in a never ending stream, in this great land of India.
Why is it happening only in Hinduism and not significantly in other religions?
It is because of the following reasons:
1) As per Hinduism everything in creation is nothing but God — every one of us is potentially divine. Because of maya, this is not available for easy grasp for everyone. But it is the fact that those who earnestly seek to know this truth by experience get divine and guru’s guidance and they realize the truth and become one with God. In other words, Hindu religious experience of practical divinity is not restricted to a ‘Father in heaven and his One and Only Son’! It is not restricted to one single Messiah who is the only ordained one to know and reveal the truth and no one else. It is not restricted to a single holy book, a single or rigid school of philosophy or a single divine form or a God who cannot have name and form.
2) Because of the fact that Hinduism has such a wide base, there are umpteen streams available within the religion to travel through and reach the ocean. Whether one worships a God in the form a male, a female, an animal or in a mix of human and animal, Hinduism asserts that spiritual progress is possible by all means. If a Hindu believes in God without form, or he/she feels no emotional need for devotional worship too, there are streams available for such an earnest seeker to follow in Hinduism. Each of the paths has its own strong connection to the core of Hinduism and hence there are realized souls available from different streams of Hinduism. Thus such masters could declare to others by virtue of their personal experience that every path in Hinduism is valid.
Fact 4: Great Hindu Masters cut across religious barriers too and inspire people from all religions
Why do we hail these spiritual masters of Hinduism as ‘great’? Is it out of our mad infatuation to our religion or a sense of natural pride (rightly or wrongly) towards our own religious greatness?
No. We hail them as great because such saints who realized truth by following a particular segment of Hinduism, have indeed attained the peak and they could clearly see from that elevated state that every path in Hinduism does lead one to the single final goal only. Such a master then is able to impress, enthuse, inspire and guide earnest religious aspirants from several other schools of Hinduism as well! It does not stop there. Such great masters attract people and aspirants from other religions too!
Such a spiritual saints cease to be the ‘sole property’ of Hinduism. Their appeal and attraction becomes universal.
That’s how great spiritual masters like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, his consort Sarada Devi, his disciple Swami Vivekananda, Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi, Papa Ramadas, Swami Sivananda (Divine Life Society), Shirdi Saibaba, Satya Saibaba, Shri Chandrasekara Saraswathi (‘Maha Swamigal’ of Kanchi Math), Anandamayi Ma, Mata Amritanandamayi and such other Mahatmas could attract innumerable Christian and other religious followers from nook and corners of the world and give the seekers guidance on spiritual progress.
Do these masters try to woo the eager beavers from other religions to get converted to Hinduism? Never. Do they ever preach that only through following Hinduism one can attain liberation? Never. On the contrary, they encourage people to go deeper into their own religions, grasp the truth behind their own religious teachings and try to live true to them.
Very learned pundits and erudite scholars of Philosophies come and prostrate before these Mahatmas (some of these mahatmas may not even have passed primary school level!) and seek clarification on scriptures that they have been learning for decades but could not grasp the true purport and they get convinced and enlightened by a simple explanation from these great souls! It is because what these mahatmas explain comes from the root of their own personal experience and not just from bookish knowledge.
Many Christians used to seek clarification on teachings and quotes off Bible from Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi. He used to explain them from the point of view of the essence of Hinduism based on his own personal experience.
If any of the followers from other religion who get greatly attracted to Hinduism, its teachings, its Gods and religious practices opt to change their names to typical Hindu names, start dressing like Hindus, start worshiping Hindu Gods, chant sthotras on Hindu Gods and sing bhajans, these masters don’t discourage them either. They know for sure that what matters for an individual is the peculiar taste that he finds appealing and attractive for following in his/her spiritual pursuit and that freedom is available, as it is available for any Hindu, to people from other religion too.
The point to note is that the great spiritual masters of Hinduism never say “Your religion is okay, but you will get liberation or salvation only if you get converted to Hinduism and worship Hindu Gods”. They would rather say, “The kingdom of God is within you, and it is up to look within yourself and attain it”.
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The word “guru” in general means a teacher in Sanskrit. In the generic sense any teacher, whether the one who teaches worldly knowledge or the one who teaches spiritual wisdom, is a guru. But normally, from the point of Hindu religion, a guru is one who teaches you spiritual knowledge, who initiates you into a spiritual path or who guides you along the path of a spiritual quest. A highly learned Guru with deep knowledge of the scriptures is also called an Acharya.
Great spiritual masters of Hinduism are of the firm opinion that the human birth is rare and the purpose of the human birth is to attain God or realize one’s atman, which are one and the same, viewed from two different perspectives.
This is the ultimate goal to be attained and it is varyingly termed as God realization, self-realization, attaining the knowledge of Brahman, attaining birthlessness/deathlessness (“Moksha” “Mukthi” “samadhi” “nirvana” “sakshatkar,” etc. in Sanskrit).
Hinduism emphatically states that a guru is a must for learning and experiencing spirituals truths.
The following points will help you to understand the role of a guru in Hinduism.
“Satguru” – The guru of the highest order
Purely from the spiritual point of view, worldly knowledge is considered a lower level of knowledge and even such a “lower” knowledge requires teachers to make students comprehend the subjects clearly. Obviously, the ultimate spiritual knowledge, which is the very goal of life to be attained, requires qualified spiritual masters to teach and guide the earnest spiritual seekers.
Ideally, only a God-realized (or self-realized) soul, who is truly a knower by personal experience, could be the perfect guru. Such a guru is called a “Satguru.” A Satguru is none other than God himself descended in human form or a human who has attained the highest level of spiritual knowledge – who has “obtained” the divine authority to transmit his knowledge to the earnest seekers who surrender to him. According to Sri Ramakrishna, a great religious master, a Satguru is like a huge steamer that can safely carry a lot of people across a turbulent river.
Hinduism advocates the concept of “Avatar” – God descending to earth in human form from time to time to establish righteousness in the world, to satisfy the longing of earnest worshipers and to provide appropriate spiritual guidance to people in a way most suited to the period and circumstances of the descent.
The Avatar and his immediate and handpicked lieutenants who fully imbibe his teachings, who are empowered to carry forward his teachings function as Satgurus. However, it need not be interpreted to mean that Satgurus are always associated with the arrival of avatars.
Multiple gurus may also guide at different levels
But practically, not all spiritual seekers are really keen enough to reach the ultimate goal or fit enough to reach it. But spiritual attainment being the goal of human life, people at different levels of spiritual inclination have to be guided to the path at varying degrees of “capacity of intake” and “capacity of assimilation.”
Reincarnation (rebirth after death) is one of the fundamental concepts of faith in Hinduism. Accordingly, Hinduism recognizes that it may take several births for a seeker to attain the ultimate goal. Bhagavat Gita, one of the greatest books of essential Hindu spiritual knowledge recognizes this fact by stating that hardly one in a thousand strives to attain the highest and even among such earnest seekers, hardly a few are capable of reaching the goal.
It also leads to the fact that availability of Satgurus at all points of time and at all approachable geographic locations may not be practical. Naturally, people need to be guided by “less than perfect” masters who are quite good enough to guide the majority.
Hinduism is a very vast religion with scope for worshiping innumerable God-forms (who represent the ONE ultimate truth). There exist several major schools of philosophies, several sects and sub-sects that are suited to various tastes, traditions and preferences of religious followers. This naturally leads to a multifaceted system of availability of gurus.
The best starting point for seeking the guidance of a guru is to follow the culture and tradition of the family and in Hinduism, the traditional “family guru” serves this purpose. Generally, a “family guru” is a guru, most normally (but not too strictly) a “Sanyasi” (a monk who has relinquished worldly life) who comes in the Master-disciple lineage of a Satguru or a great spiritual master of yesteryears. These gurus are adept in the particular God they worship and the particular school of philosophy they profess. They initiate the seeker in the worship of the specific “personal God” of their sect and guide him in the fundamentals of religious disciplines to follow.
To avoid distraction and to ensure a better focus for an orderly religious progress, it is normally recommended that the seeker remains steadfast in his trust towards his guru, to the chosen personal God and to the school of philosophy he is instructed about.
But for a more curious and capable seeker, such guidelines are not too binding. Hinduism allows the freedom for one to choose his guru based on his temperament, taste and inclination. Hinduism also permits an earnest seeker to seek “higher guidance” from more than one guru based on his true progress. All the same, it is also emphasized that one should not be running behind one guru after another just because of one’s egotism that refuses to surrender to any form of discipline.
While it is important that one remains ever-devoted to his main guru, one can approach other gurus (called ‘upa gurus’ – i.e. supportive gurus) with due reverence and get specific guidance in some specific techniques of spiritual practice, to learn about alternative schools of philosophies or religious scriptures, to get doubts clarified and get advice on any hurdles faced in the path of progress.
At an exalted level, for the most avid seeker, even animals, birds and inanimate objects can teach a lesson or two in his spiritual quest (which he grasps by keen observation) and all of them are virtually his upa-gurus.
Faith and surrender to the guru are essential
Surrendering unquestioningly to one guru and attaining progress based on this very surrender and trust – this is on one side. Questioning and evaluating a guru and then surrendering to him and, at the same time, providing room for the guru to evaluate him so as to accept or reject him – this is on another side. Both are acceptable in Hinduism.
However, where the disciple is lucky enough (or destined) to end up or surrender at the feet of a Satguru, the Satguru, who transcends names, forms and schools of philosophies, will guide the disciple to the most appropriate “personal god” and school of philosophy best suited to him. What the disciple needs to do afterwards is to surrender his ego at the feet of his guru and remain steadfast in his faith, goal and commitment. It is also said that, in reality, it is the guru who seeks and gets the disciple. An earnest seeker may ultimately end up with a Satguru, though he may have had his initiation earlier from another guru.
Understanding initiation (“Diksha”) by a guru
Getting initiation (“Diksha”) from the guru is an essential element of the guru-disciple relationship. In general, “Diksha” is done by the guru by giving a mantra (a sacred phrase containing the name of a specific God beginning with “seed sounds” like “Om” and ending with “namah”). Gurus of a specific sect give a mantra suited to the specific sect.
For example, worshipers of Lord Shiva generally give a mantra associated with Lord Shiva. A worshiper of Vishnu will normally get initiated with Narayana mantra (or Krishna / Rama mantras).
Even though we are familiar with several mantras like Om Namah Shivaya or Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya etc, Mantras are normally communicated in secrecy by the Guru to the disciple. A disciple is expected to keep his mantra a secret and not to reveal it to any other person.
According to Satguru Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), a sadguru while initiating a disciple with a mantra, transmits a little of his Prana shakti (vital force). It is like adding a little butter milk to milk to create curd. Chanting of mantra subsequently by the disciple is like churning the curd to obtain butter (realizing God).
A mantra is like a seed sown by the guru into the disciple. It is up to the disciple to nurture the seed to get the sapling, water it and protect it as it grows to a tree till it bears fruits. Likewise, it is the sacred duty of the disciple to repeat the mantra with devotion as many times as possible, follow the disciplines and practices specified by the guru, meditate on the God of the mantra and reap the spiritual benefits.
As for Satgurus, their way of initiation (by giving ‘diksha’ to someone) may take place in several forms. A Satguru is capable of gauging the spiritual capacity, taste and capability of a person and make an initiation best suited to the person. The initiation could be done by a Satguru by a mere touch of hand (“Hasta Diksha”); he may give the mantra in the disciple’s dreams (“Swapna Diksha”); he may initiate the disciple by a mere eye-to-eye contact (“Nayana Diksha”); he may initiate by an embrace (“Alingana Diksha”).
A Satguru is capable of judging which God form is best suited or best liked by the disciple and initiate him with the mantra of that God. He may initiate the disciple in worship of God with form or without form; he may simply initiate a capable follower in the path of self-inquiry.
A Satguru bears the burden of a disciple
Unlike a guru whose responsibility ends with initiating the disciple in the religious path, a Satguru bears the responsibility of the disciple who surrenders to him wholeheartedly. It is said that at the time of giving Diksha, a Satguru transmits a small portion of his vital energy (“Prana”) into the disciple. It is also said that the Satguru absorbs the accumulated karmas (good and bad effects of the disciples’ actions in the past) and makes him a “clean slate” to start his religious quest with full vigor. While the need for “self-effort” to be done by the disciple to attain the ultimate goal can’t be wished away, the Satguru makes the path much easier for the disciple to tread, by removing the obstacles coming out of his past deeds.
It is also said that a Satguru never forsakes his disciple, even if he tends to slacken his spiritual efforts or gets distracted away from his ideal; Satguru’s watchful eyes are always on him to goad him back to his track at the appropriate time.
The guidance from the “inner Guru”
Any religious discipline done by an earnest seeker is to realize God or Atman or Brahman who essentially dwells in the heart of every being. In the point of view of “Gyana marga” (path of Knowledge in Hinduism), everyone is essentially God and what the guru does is to remove the false coverings and sheaths that make one wrongly identify oneself with the body, mind intellect, etc. and ultimately to make one understand “you are that” (“Tatwamasi”).
It may not be practical for everyone to be physically with the guru always, take regular instructions from him and keep getting doubts cleared. It is said that an earnest disciple who lives away from a guru/Satguru, depending on his steadfastness and sincerity in his spiritual efforts, gets his guidance and course-correction right from his inner heart/sub-conscience. This inner voice or guidance is called the Inner Guru (“Anthra Guru”).
Sri Ramana Maharishi, the great sage of Tiruvennamalai used to say that the external guru pushes the disciple’s mental leanings (which tend to wander outwards) towards inside and the Indwelling Guru drags them inwards. It is ultimately the one and the same “Sachidananda” (Existence-knowledge-bliss i.e. Godliness) that works through both as the external guru and the internal guru.
What Swami Sivananda says about the need of a Guru
(Source: Autobiography of Swami Sivananda)
“The spiritual path is beset with many obstacles. The Guru will guide the aspirants safely and remove all sorts of difficulties they have to face. He will inspire the students and give them spiritual powers through his blessings. Guru, Isvara, Truth and Mantra are one. There is no other way of overcoming the vicious worldly Samskaras of the passionate nature of raw, worldly-minded persons than personal contact with and service to the Guru.
A personal Guru is necessary in the beginning. He alone can show you the path to attain God, who is the Guru of Gurus, and obviate the snares and pitfalls on your path. Guru’s Grace is needed by the disciple. This does not mean that the disciple should sit idle and expect a miracle from the Guru to push him directly into Samadhi. The Guru cannot do Sadhana for the student. It is foolish to expect spiritual attainments from a drop of Kamandalu water from the Guru. The Guru can guide the student, clear his doubts, pave the way, remove the snares, pitfalls and obstacles and throw light on the path. But it is the disciple himself who has to walk every step in the spiritual path.”
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