What God gives is never exhausted and what man gives never lasts !
“Baba has the perfect timing – never early, never late. It takes a little patience and faith, but it is worth the wait.”
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Balaji was born in 1888 in Hyderabad. After primary education Balaji joined the J.J School of Art to learn sculpture. He won the "Dolly Khurshatjee" scholarship thus enabling him to complete his education. Balaji was a brilliant sculptor and painter, portraits being his speciality. In 1918 'Thalim's Art Studio' was established. He won many prestigious awards, gold medals, and accolades. The committee for 'Beautification of Mumbai' choose him to sculpt the statues. Mumbai is dotted by his sculpture from Flora Fountain to the High Court and everywhere else. The Britishers appreciated his work and gave him assignments. Balaji was a highly spiritual, religious, philosophical and a man of principles.
His father Vasanth Rao was a building contractor for the Nizam of Hyderabad. His father died early, leaving behind his wife Saraswathi, and three small children who migrated to Mumbai.
The Shirdi Sai Baba Sansthan gave him the humungous task of sculpting Baba's idol. Meticulously he got his tools 'made to order' from iron-smiths and carpenters. Zealously and full of religious fervour he carved Baba's Murthy. He hoped and prayed saying "If Sri Sai Baba gives me darshan while making His Murthy the Murthy will be worthy and the devotees also will have feelings of devotion". And sure enough he got Baba's darshan in the studio while sculpting. The beautiful Murthy is world famous. It is worshipped by devotees who flock lo the Samadhi Mandir from all over the world. Caste, creed and a social status is no bar. The gates of the Samadhi Mandir are opened to everyone , the rich and the poor, sophisticated and the village folk all stand in the line from the wee hours of the morning to behold it. If the lines arc too big devotees crain their neck and jostle for space to peep at it through the door in the rear or through the open windows of the Samadhi Mandir.
Just a glimpse, a passing glance is enough to fill them with joy. Baba on His part looks, hears and blesses everyone. It is the most photographed idol in the whole world. The height of the idol is 5' 5". The work is commissioned in 1952 and prathista took place in 1954. At the age of 82 on December 25,1970 he breathed his last. But Baba's Murthy in Samadhi Mandir lives on.
Archana, i.e., worship of God is another type of devotion. This is real or mental worship of the various images of God and offering Him the best things of life, with deep yearning after God realization.
Namaskara is the same as archana, i.e., bowing down or prostrating ourselves before God or God-like person. This entails such noble qualities as humility, dedication, total surrender and patients waiting with hope and faith for the grace of God.
Dasya, i.e., service of God is possible in two ways, either through doing service which will turn the people towards God or rendering service to bhaktas is really service to God.
Sakhyata, i.e., friendship of God is a type of devotion which is most difficult to practice. Human friendship rests on a compromise of give and take policy, whereas friendship with God is uncompromising determination to give all and lose all, if need be. Our human friends may desert us in times of need, but God, though he appears indifferent to our sacrifices, really watches over us with kindness. To an impatient devotee it would appear that God does not reciprocate our love. He leaves us uncared for and disappointed. Such a devotee will become angry with God and even hate Him because our little desires are not fulfilled. God's friendship is undying, enduring and everlasting.
His grace is perennial. If there are disappointments and difficulties, we must suffer them calmly and courageously. Suffering and disappointments form an integral part of spiritual life. Without them spiritual life is not tested. The key to achieve the friendship of God is with the devotee alone. God, being the innermost reality, is enshrined in our heart and is the breath of our life. We must have firm faith and love towards God. All our thoughts, feelings and actions have their reflection in God. The more sincere and truthful we are, the more are we drawn near and bound to God. Then God becomes more than Mother, Father or Friend to us.
Atma nivedana, i.e., the annihilation of the self or ego and achieving unity with God. This is the crowning glory of devotional life. Though there are several ways to gain this unity with God, the best means is through constant meditation on pure ideas about God. Impure ideas are got rid of. Then dualism yields to the dawn of advaitic experience. Through this intuitive perception the Sadhaka is drawn towards God with magnetic fascination. Every moment of his life he will feel the compelling and dominating influence of God and will ultimately merge in him. Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi was one such saint who lived in holy communion with God every moment of his life. May he inspire us to tread this righteous path of devotion with concentrated vigour, fearless integrity and dauntlessness !
This is a photograph of Baba along with His Bhaktas going to Lendi Bagh. A devotee wished to take a photo of Baba and sought permission. Baba refused but said "Take the photo of my feet only". The Bhakta nonetheless took the Photo of the whole procession. The Umbrella and Bhagoji Shinde and other Bhaktas are visible but Baba appeared invisible as the photo was taken without his permission so in place of Baba is the luminous light only however His feet are visible.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
(Photos courtesy : Sai Bhakta Dr.Vinni, Shirdi- Author of Ambrosia in Shirdi )
LENDI PROCESSION (L TO R: NANA SAHEB NIMONKAR WITH HIS GRANDSON, BABA, BHAGOJI SHINDE (HOLIDING UMBRELLA), GOPAL RAO BUTTI AND CHOPDAR
A BRIEF ABOUT LENDI
Lendi was the name of a little stream on the outskirts of the village. Hence the land nearby was called 'Lendi Bagh' by Baba. Baba was rather rigid in this routine, and everyday He made His rounds in the morning and afternoon to Lendi Bagh, often accompanied by His Bhaktas, Butti, Bhagoji and Nimonkar but He entered the garden alone and spent sometime. This Lendi garden was purchased by Moreshwar Pradhan. A few years before the land was purchased, Baba took Pradhan and the two sons of Chandorkar to Lendi Bagh. There Baba dug small holes in the earth and gave some corn to Pradhan to put in the holes which He covered with earth and asked Pradhan to water them. Pradhan gave wonderful relevance to this incident as being the first seeds of thought in his mind to buy this land for Baba's use.
1.NEEM TREE 2. NANADADEEP 3.PEEPUL TREE
To the left of the Nanda Deep are two Neem trees. These were planted by Baba
2. NANDA DEEP
When Baba went to Lendi Bagh daily He lit the 'Nanda Deep'. At that time it was placed in a pit and Abdul Baba looked after it. Abdul states that Baba sat with His back to the 'Jyoth1 and from there the lamp was not visible to Baba. Abdul brought pots of water and placed them near the Nanda Deep and Baba poured *ater in various directions (Ref. DE, p. 144). In 1942 Galwankar built a par over which was placed the Nanda Deep and now it is contained in a marble pillar and shielded with glass and protected from the elements.
To the right of the Nanda Deep is this holy Peepul tree. Baba went daily to Lendi Bagh and spent two to three hours below these trees (Neem and Peepul). This Peepul tree began to dry and Baba gave life to it and made Navgriha installation in this tree, as a mark of which the stem of this tree has nine large branches and nine roots. There is also a Ganesh formation on this tree.
It is situated straight ahead of the floral canopied entrance, by the side of the western compound wall. Baba Himself with the manual help of His devotees both rich and poor dug and built this well (Ref. SSB, Pradhan, p.48). The water of this well became famous in the vicinity, for driving away fevers and other ailments. Previously devotees used to take water from this well, and then it gradually dried up. In 1983 A.D. Shinde deepened this well and water was found in abundance. There were two wells in Shirdi in those days, one in Lendi Bagh and the other behind Baba's Samadhi. Devotees throng to this well and take Darshan of it as it was dug by Baba Himself.
In front of the Nanda Deep, a little distance away is this Dattatreya Mandir. This temple was built by two local devotees of Baba. The statue was installed with due formalities by the Sansthan in 1976 August. There is a small Audumbar tree behind this temple.
SAMADHI OF SHYAM KARAN
A horse merchant, Kasam, had a mare that was issueless for a long time. He made a vow to Baba that if his mare had issues he would give the first issue to Baba. By the grace of Baba she did have the issues and he gratefully brought the first issue and presented it to Baba. Baba named it 'Shyam Karan'. This horse loved Baba and would daily lovingly take darshan of Baba. On Chavadi procession days would be dressed royally and dance all the way to the Chavadi. Baba reciprocated this love by applying Udi on his forehead after the Noon Arati. Because of this reciprocal love upon the demise of this horse the Sansthan honoured it with a Samadhi in Baba's Lendi Bagh.
SAMADHI OF AMIDAS MEHTA
A devotee named Amidas Bhavani Mehta wrote and published many stories on Sai Baba in Gujarati thus spreading the glory of Baba in Gujarat and other States from a very early time i.e. before 1910 (Ref. ESS, Ch.II). (No further details are available of this devotee).
SAMADHI OF MUKTHARAM (KHANDESH)
One Muktharam of Khandesh was at Shirdi before Baba's Mahasamadhi. Two days after Baba's Mahasamadhi, he stated that Baba had asked him to occupy His seat as "I am His heir" but everyone dissuaded him. After sometime he felt that he was being pierced with huge needles in his seat. The pain was followed by bleeding for the next seven to eight days. His suffering was unbearable and he died with Baba's name on his lips begging for forgiveness (Ref. MSS, p.38).