Understanding 'Dakshina'

Shirdi Sai Baba demanded two qualities of his devotees including shraddha or faith and saboori or patience.

The aspirant losing either of these two qualities does so at his peril. The disciple should never treat the Guru as an ordinary human being: it is a cardinal sin.

Baba began accepting ‘dakshin’a from devotees in 1908. He wanted to keep away those who were solely interested in securing worldly benefits and convey a spiritual message to those who needed it.

He would demand sums ranging from Rs two to Rs 500. Baba had utter disregard for money. He would feed two hundred beggars daily. Almost everybody paid what was demanded of them. Sometimes his daily earnings exceeded the salary of the Governor. He would distribute what he collected at the end of the day without keeping a penny for himself.

On Baba’s habit of collecting ‘dakshina’, his disciple Shama once told MB Rege: “You do not understand Baba at all. He does not care a rap for your rupees. What he wants is your mind, heart, your time and your soul to be devoted to him.

That is the meaning of dakshina.” A poor clerk once asked Baba why he always insisted on giving Baba Rs two when he was only a poor clerk. Baba replied: It is not these coins I want. I want nishta or faith and saboori or patience. Give me these.”

Valuable lessons were imparted to devotees in the process. When a devotee thought he had given all to Baba, Baba said that he still had two annas left in his pocket and demanded the balance! It was promptly given.

A judicial officer had kept Rs 400 for himself and another Rs 300 with his wife and was on his way to his son’s wedding. Baba emptied both their pockets and made them surrender the entire amount to him! The couple was disturbed.

A fellow devotee to whom he was recounting his woes said to him that if Baba had relieved him of Rs 600, he would surely get an increment of Rs 50 per month. And that is exactly what happened!

What was the lesson? “Whoever gives me one, I give him five, whoever gives me five, I give him ten. I never take anything gratis. I never ask anyone indiscriminately. I only ask and take from him who the fakir (God) points out.

If anyone is indebted formerly to the fakir, money is received from him. The donor sows his seed only to reap a rich harvest in future. Wealth should be the means to work out dharma.

“The best way to receive is to give. Give one and receive tenfold.”

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