A GREAT AND BLESSED SAI DEVOTEE - LATE TATYASAHEB NOOLKAR 5 of 6
(SHRI SAILEELA MAY JUNE 1991)
Although Tatyasaheb's condition was getting worse day by day, his family members were hoping that with Baba's grace he will recover from it. Babasaheb Sahasrabuddhe used to sleep next to him for any service required. One night about 2 a.m., Tatyasaheb started calling his servant. Babasaheb immediately woke up and asked him what he wanted. Tatyasaheb replied, "Nilkanthrao! What should I tell you! I want to pass urine and how can I ask you to bring the urine-pot for me!'' On that Babasaheb said, "Now give up this craziness of yours! What is the sense in observing etiquettes between close friends!" So saying Babasaheb placed the urine-pot under Tatyasaheb's body and when urine was passed, removed it and placed it aside.
With tears in his eyes, Tatyasaheb said, "Nilkanthrao! When you arrived at Shirdi, did you or I ever imagined that you will have to serve me in such a manner! On your arrival Sai Baba repeatedly for three days, ordered you to stay back and serve me, does it not mean that Baba has brought a nursing expert like you here especially for me! If you were not here, what would have been the plight of me and my family members here?"
Then at 3 a.m. Tatyasaheb wanted to discharge his bowels (evacuate faeces). Babasaheb and Wamanrao both helped him and when it was over, the carbuncles were dressed again. From that time Tatyasaheb's weakness started increasing and he kept on lying on the bed repeating Sai-Nama continuously. After sometime he asked his younger son Vishwanath to be awakened.
He asked his both sons to sing Bhajans (Hymns). Everybody knew that end was approaching. The sons with 'chiplics' (pair of small chips of wood used for clapping by devotees) in hands, started singing Bhajans loudly. Some of the other voices around also got up and joined. The Bhajan continued for about 1 to2 hours. Tatyasaheb was listening quietly but he seemed to be very tired. Wamanrao, the doctor son, checked the pulse. It was very slow and for giving some stimulant injection, Wamanrao looked for a hypodermic (introduced beneath the skin) syringe, but it was found to be broken. Hence he became helpless. Bhajan was going on. At about 5 O'clock Tatyasaheb, by raising his hand, signalled to stop the Bhajan and said something in a low voice. On going nearer the sons heard him asking them to sing the famous Bhajan, meaning "O Lord! Wait and stand before my eyes and I see you new." The sons sang the Bhajan and that time Tatyasaheb seemed to be in a very happy state, as if his mind was merged with that of Lord Himself. Then Tatyasaheb asked his sons to stop singing and himself remained quiet in his bed. Tatyasaheb's wife, brother-in-law, Kakasaheb Dixit and quite a few other persons were present.
Meantime Tatyasaheb's younger son Vishwanath went running to Radhakrishna Mai and brought Baba's Pada-Tirtha and Udi. When Udi was applied to Tatyasaheb's forehead, he opened his eyes clearly and looked around. Really at that time the depth, brightness and probing nature of his glance was worth observing. When the Pada-Tirtha was given in a spoon, Tatyasaheb opened his mouth. The Pada-Tirth was poured three times and as soon as the third pouring was over Tatyasaheb breathed his last. Just a few minutes before this, Sai Baba in the Masjid said, "Behind our Masjid a big star has collapsed" and stepping out in the open, He shouted loudly, beating the mouth with hands. Whenever a dear devotee passed away, Baba sometimes behaved thus.
Funeral rites and Baba's mourning
Afterwards, persons gathered there one by one paid his or her homage by touching Tatyasaheb's feet and then as per the custom the body was taken to the cremation-ground via the Masjid. In the cremation-ground when the body was kept on the pyre, Baba's great devotee Radhakrishna Mai, who was then sweeping Baba's route to Lendi Baug, came running swiftly with the broom in her hand, went round the pyre once shouting "my mother's darling child has gone away" and after kissing Tatyasaheb's face and bowing down at his feet, went away.
That day Baba's daily routine such as taking the wash and breakfast, going out for begging etc. was quite delayed and Baba Himself in a lamenting mood exclaimed, "My Tatyaba has left. Now what am I to do? I shall also leave. What for this Masjid and what for Shirdi! Tatyaba was a good man. He listened to me and I helped him to accomplish his life's goal. He will be born no more."
Then, on the third day, Baba disappeared and went to Nimgaon - a village near Shirdi. All the villagers and devotees at Shirdi were worried and after a search went to Nimgaon and brought back Baba ceremoniously in a procession singing Bhajans. At that time Tatyasaheb's bones and ashes were being carried in a cart to Kopergaon for immersing into Godavari River. When the can and Baba returning from Nimgaon met on the road, Baba stopped for a while, made some special signs with hands towards the can and then started walking further.