Reincarnating with companions

It is said that when an avatar decides to reincarnate on the worldly plane, such a personality descends with his or her companions. When we look at Shirdi Sai Baba’s close companions, there appears to be much truth in this assertion.

When we consider personalities like Upasini Baba, Mahlsapathy, Narayan Govind Chandorkar, Das Ganu Maharaj, H S Dixit, G S Kharpade, Anna Saheb Dabholkar, G G Narke, M B Rege and R B Purandhare, we cannot but marvel at the way Baba customised his message superbly to the individual needs of his devotees.

It is said that while the spiritual message is universal, spiritual instruction is not. The latter is designed to meet the specific needs of individuals who are in varying stages of spiritual practice. Baba invested much effort in instilling the qualities of faith, devotion, patience and surrender in Upasini Baba, but the latter was not always aware of Baba’s subtle methods. Mahlsapathy, a poor goldsmith, began by objecting to Baba entering the Khandoba temple, but he went on to become one of his most revered disciples.

Even though he was desperately poor, he refused to accept charity or any kind of financial assistance from anybody. He told Baba: “I do not want all this. I only want your feet.” He received full care and loving protection from Baba. He died four years after Baba, in 1922.

Narayan Govind Chandorkar rendered yeoman service to Baba by spreading Sai worship vigorously. A senior government servant Baba pulled him and instilled faith and devotion in him. Baba fondly called him ‘Nana’ and saved him from many mishaps, and on one occasion, even his life. Baba taught him to avoid the evil of sexual lust when he developed a strong attraction for a lady devotee. Baba slapped him on the thigh and asked him: “When we go to temples, do we admire the outer façade or the God within?” “Similarly,” Baba explained to Nana, “God is found in every living creature and when we see a beautiful face, we must remember that it is a temple with the image of God residing within.”

When another disciple H V Sathe was bent on visiting a sex worker, he intervened as if to say when you are already in divine company (Guru), how can you think of entering hell?
He shocked Nana by teaching him the essence of the Gita. He said: “Service is no ordinary message. You must surrender body, mind and possessions. You must not feel that you are rendering service to the master. The body you have surrendered is the property of the master and you must feel no merit is in me. I am merely making the body which is yours to serve you.”

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