Sai Experiences of Bade Baba
Shri Sai Baba gave refuge to many devotees in Dwarkamai. Bade Baba was one very important personality amongst such devotees in Shri Sai Baba's Darbar.
Baba has said, ''If you give me one I will give you in hundreds!'' However, the gifts of God are unique. To consume the blessings, the devotee must be equally deserving and virtuous. It would be seen from the life sketch of Bade Baba that Baba showered a lot on him; but Bade Baba did not have the spiritual strength to deserve them.
Bade Baba was 'Fakir Peer Mohammed' from Malegaon. By profession he was a Fakir. Therefore, he was also known by the name Fakir Baba.
Bade Baba first arrived in Shirdi around 1909 and thereafter, took permanent residence there. In the beginning, he used to reside in the new Chavdi. Sai Baba had not granted him permission to come to Dwarkamai. Devotees like Mhalsapati, who were close to Baba, requested Him to permit Bade Baba to enter Dwarkamai. However, Baba continued to deny the permission saying ''Let him sit in the Chavdi and read the Book (Quran)''. Baba adopted such queer looking ways for the spiritual progress of some of His devotees.
After some months passed, Baba gave the permission to Bade Baba who became a prominent personality in Shirdi. The reason for this was also unique.
''Atithi Devo Bhava''
Sai Baba pampered Bade Baba a lot. He affectionately called him' Bademiyan' and honoured him as a guest. In the Masjid, he sat on the right hand side of Baba. In Baba's Darbar, a guest was given a lot of prestige. Bade Baba was in the Masjid from morning breakfast to afternoon dinner. Sai Baba made him sit near Himself and served food with His own hands. He cajoled Bade Baba to eat more.
Devotees placed offerings of eatables before Baba. He first took some part from the offerings, gave to Bade Baba and then distributed the rest to other devotees.
At the time of meals also, unless Bade Baba partook some of the food first, Baba would not commence His own lunch. However, unfortunately, Bade Baba's ego got bloated because of the importance accorded to him by Baba. Therefore, the other devotees disliked Bade Baba's behaviour.
It was the daily routine that, before the meals were served, Bade Baba would come and sit in the Sabha Mandap down below. Baba would call out his name - 'Bade Miyan' and only then he would climb the steps of the Masjid and sit at the dish placed on Baba's right-hand side.
However once, on the festive day of Diwali, Bade Baba's mood was upset due to some reason and he did not follow his usual practice. He did not arrive at the Sabha Mandap. On that day, several devotees had brought an assortment of sweetmeats. After the food was served, Baba called out Bade Baba's name. But, he was nowhere to be seen. In Bade Baba's absence, Baba refused to start His meal. Everyone kept waiting.
Ultimately, someone located Baba Baba and managed to bring him to his place on the right side of Baba. Finally, the meals commenced. It may appear odd that too much importance was being given to a person who insulted food. But, Baba had unique ways of gathering His devotees and He followed such ways Himself.
In the later years, everyday, as many as 100-125 dishes filled with Naivedya were brought by devotees from Shirdi and other places. Some days, Baba instructed Bade Baba to make pieces of Chapattis and Bhakaris and mix them. Accepting these as Baba's Prasad, the devotees ate it with relish. On some occasions, Baba chided them by asking, ''How do you eat this food which has been touched and viled by Bade Baba - a Muslim?'' Devotees replied, ''Baba, this place and this food belongs to the Almighty God.'' To this, Baba said, ''yes. Not only this place, but the entire world belongs to HIm. Therefore, you should never differentiate between various religions and castes.''
God is everywhere
In the eyes of the saints, there is no differentiation between various elements which make up this world. They see this earth as one. Their every action imparts some message. Only, we must be able to read, understand and follow it.
Once, Baba was having His meal. An earthen pot contained some buttermilk. Suddenly a dog entered the Masjid and tasted it. Bade Baba - who was sitting nearby - asked a boy to throw away the buttermilk. Baba enquired what was wrong. After Bade Baba explained, Baba said, ''that buttermilk is good. Take it home and make Kadi. We both will have it.'' Bade Baba prepared the Kadi, brought it; but did not touch it. Baba drank it whole-heartedly. Sant Sadguru tried to eradicate the thoughts of Sankalp - Vikalp from the minds of their devotees. The above incident was Baba's attempt to stamp out such thoughts from Bade Baba's mind. The man had spent countless days with and around Baba. In spite of this, did he fail to get the message?
Baba always took with love and affection at least some portion from the Prasad brought by His devotees. He even tasted the non-vegetarian dishes. He did not differentiate between various religions and castes. He also did not believe Sovale - Ovale (achieving purity by not touching others). At the same time, He believed that His devotees must adhere to their respective religions and its dictates. Once, Bade Baba brought a Hindu who had converted himself into a Muslim. Baba slapped that person and asked, ''were you not ashamed to change your father?''
Baba could not agree with certain extreme customs of Islam and refused to follow them. Once, He told His staunch and hard-liner Muslim devotees to go outside the border of Shirdi town and then do their Khutba prayer. He Himself did not participate in the prayer. On the second occasion. He allowed them to do Namazin the Masjid; but did not participate Himself.
The honour of highest Daxina
Everyday, devotees offered Daxina totaling Rs. 400 to Rs. 500 to Baba. By evening, Baba distributed the amount and HIs pockets became once again empty. Baba gave a certain sum of money every day to Dada Kelkar, Bade Baba, Sunderabai, Laxmibai, Tatya Patil etc. But, the honour of getting maximum amount - varying between Rs. 30 to Rs. 55-went to Bade Baba. During the last 9 years (prior to Baba's leaving His mortal body), Bade Baba and Tatya Patil got more than Rs. 100 everyday.
''What use a Fakir like Bade Baba can make of receiving such large sum of money everybody'' was the question which cropped in the minds of the residents of Shirdi. They, therefore, requested Bade Baba to finance the construction of the main entrance to the village. However, Bade Baba did not agree to the request. Hence, the villagers forbid him from stepping into the village. He, therefore, went and stayed at Nimgaon. To circumvent the problem, Baba used to meet Bade Baba everyday on the banks of the Nullah and handed over the amount to Bade Baba there. The villagers realized that they had put Baba to a lot of inconvenience and hence, called back Bade Baba to Shirdi.
Bade Baba's behavior
After the above event, the villagers bowing down went to Bade Baba's head. He realized that the folks were now coming to him with folded hands and this made Bade Baba more arrogant. Baba always treated Bade Baba with respect. But, Bade Baba started behaving with a sense of superiority and as per his whims and fancies. He even started acting against the wishes of Baba. The devotees felt that Bade Baba must use his language carefully and politely while at least speaking to or about Baba. But, his choice of words bordered on sheer arrogance.
Once, Baba's devotee Shri Raghuvir Bhaskar Purandare was suffering from severe headache. Whole night, he was restless. In the same condition, he went to Baba. Bade Baba, who was sitting nearby, told harshly to Baba, ''Purandare has suffered during the entire night. He has got a severe headache. Look after him. Don't make him feel sick.
–Translated from original Marathi into English by Sudhir
SHRI SAI LEELA– (FEB-2006)