A coconut for Baba
While this was so; Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati (Tembye Swami) the great mahatma was staying at Rajamahendravaram on the banks of the holy Godavari at that time. He was going from place to place in the country and teaching the right path of the karma to the people. He was a great scholar.
The Rigveda would stand in respect when he entered. His knowledge was the fruit of long experience and not mere book learning. He was a self-realized man. He needed none to illumine him or teach him. Pundaleekarao of Nanded and others went to Rajamahendravaram for his darshan. Rajamahendravaram (Rajahmundry) is a beautiful town situated on the banks of the holy Godavari River. At a place nearby called Dhawaleswaram, Godavari splits into seven streams and is called Saptamukhi.
With the musical sound of the water flowing brimful along the banks; the various calls of the birds residing in the huge trees which had grown thickly on its banks; with the rhythmic utterance of mantras such as "Imam me ganga" chanted by the Brahmins who come there for their ritual bath; with the colourful display of males and females who come to bathe in that holy river; that place is beautiful beyond description at dawn.
At such a dawn, Pundaleekarao of Nanded and his friends, had visited Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati and prostrated in front of him with devotion. The Swami received them with kindness and asked about their welfare. It was natural for the name of Shirdi to crop up in the conversation that followed. As he heard the word Shirdi, Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati exclaimed happily, "Sri Sai Baba may be a Mohammedan. But he is my elder brother." He continued, "Although we are Brahmins by birth, the Moslems are our own - says the ancient saying. In the olden days, our mahatmas used to reach thus. If we follow their teachings, we will not face any difficulty until the end of the world. In truth, where is the difference between Hindu and Moslem? All these differences have been invented and setup by us. These are mere differences in perception and only outward differences but they are not the truth. He who sees merely these outward differences, and thinks that they are true is ignorant. Do the Hindus have three ears and the Moslems three and a half ears? It is by the peculiarity of attire and such outward differences that one recognizes the religion. Do not be surprised that I call Sri Sai Baba, a Muslim my brother. Well even if you go once to Shirdi and have the darshan of that great incomparable Maharaj, it will do you a world of good. If however you do not feel like having his darshan (with the feeling that he is a Moslem) please do not speak to me too. What Pundaleekarao, do you agree?"
Pundaleekarao joined his hands in supplication. He replied softly, "We will definitely visit Sri Sai Baba in this month." As he heard this, the swami was pleased. He said, "Very good. Do not show any negligence in this matter. Go and have the darshan of that mahatma as soon as you can." He gave a coconut to Pundaleekarao and said, "As soon as you visit Baba, please put this coconut in his hand and tell him that it was offered by me to him.
Please convey my prostrations to him. I may be a sanyasi and it is not a tradition for sanyasis to prostate before each other; but Sri Sai Baba is an exception to that rule. He may seem a common fakir to the outward eye but he is verily the sun of knowledge. There is no place for discussion of any nature about seemliness or unseemliness or tradition in his respect.
Pundaleekarao obeyed the swami and took the coconut. They all started within a month for Shirdi. They travelled by train and got down at Manmad railway station. There was some delay before the next train to Kopargaon was due, so they decided to eat a light meal. They all went to a well nearby and ate the chivda they had brought with them. The chivda was very hot as it had an excess of chilli powder in it. So they broke some coconuts, which they had with them and scraping the sweet meat of the nut, mixed it with the chivda to make it less hot. By mistake one of those coconuts was the one given by Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati to be offered to Baba. They started from Manmad and reached Shirdi by the afternoon.
When they had the darshan of Sri Sai Baba, he told Pundaleekarao "Is this seemly? Does one give one's word and fail to keep it? My brother sent me a coconut through you. You have used it for yourself. Bring me my coconut." Baba assumed anger, "By your carelessness you have lost my property. It is the bad company you keep which is responsible for this."
Pundaleekarao turned pale with embarrassment and fright. His throat refused to co-operate in talking. He bent his head in shame and said softly, "Maharaj, it is true that we have eaten your coconut at Manmad along with the chivda. A great sin has been committed by me. Please show me kindness and excuse my impertinence. If you agree I will bring another coconut in place of that one and will offer it to you." He tried to stand to go out and get another coconut.
Baba caught his hand, preventing him from rising and with a pleasant countenance said, "I do not want another coconut. Will it equal the coconut which my brother Vasudeva has sent me? Does the water of the common well equal the holy water of the swift flowing Godavari? Alright, what has happened has happened. You are all my children. Why will I be angry with you?"
These days we talk proudly of telegraph and wireless. But, in the past, the mahatmas knew everything without needing them. They did not have any use for wireless or telegraph. The one who has eaten the food of his house including sweetmeats- does such a one need to beg for alms?
Listeners, by what I have told you now you must have realized that the mahatmas were embodiments of total and complete love and that they had feelings of affection for each other. He who has neither love nor knowledge in his heart and tries to show off, he is the one who harbours envy, hatred, argumentativeness and dishonesty.
The almighty cannot be seen, he has no form. The almighty we can see and who has form is Sri Sai Baba. He is a walking, talking God. He is the embodiment of pure satchidananda. He is the almighty who has incarnated to save his devotees and make them walk the right path. He is the embodiment of love, the repository of kindness and grace who is ever vigilant in the protection of his devotee. He always has his kindly eye on the devotees to protect them from harm.
Oh able one! Oh, perfect guru! Oh Sai Maharaj! This Das Ganu always remembers you in his heart. Please let your glance of kind grace fall on him always.
Oh listeners! This 'Bhakti Saraamrit' is pure nectar. Drink your fill of this history of mahatmas, which teaches you the right way of life.
This book is offered to Hari and Hara. Weal be to all.
This is the end of the 52nd chapter of 'Bhakti Saraamrit' written by Das Ganu Maharaj
(SRI SAIGURUCHARITRA - by devotee Ganpatrao Dattatreya Sahasra-buddhe better known as Das Ganu Maharaj)