Devotees of Shri Shirdi Sai often ask a question
to me - "How to be in closer relationship with Baba?".
I have seen them striving in their own way to be close to Shri
Sai, even if they are not aware as to what it would mean to be
close to Shri Sai. Basically, it is an emotional rapport they
would like to develop. The various methods they adopt, according
to their stages of consciousness, strength of will, inborn and
acquired qualities and faith in Baba, immensely vary.
It is true that the relationship of each disciple
with Baba i.e. God will be unique and there cannot be exact second
relationship. However, in all such relationships it is seen that
the existence of certain common denominators and qualities are
a prerequisite. If the devotees understand these qualitative prerequisites
which would entail them to be closely drawn by Baba, then the
treading of the path would be simpler.
The first such quality as I feel is faith in
Him. Mere intellectual faith acquired over a period of time by
reading books, discussions etc., may develop certain amount of
conviction in him, but this level of faith is not enough. Even
though at the earlier stages it may be necessary. People are often
seen saying, even publicly, that "I can sacrifice my life for
Baba" or that "In this world I can depend on nobody except Him
fully". However, if we closely observe their lifestyle, the way
they interact with people, their reaction to adversities of others,
their reaction to individuals and groups around them in the society,
one would find that their proclaimed convictions are mere exercise
in substance less assertiveness.
If the faith in Baba is genuine, they would not
be indulging in the manipulations they do in relation to other
people being fully aware that Baba many times forbade people/reprimanded
devotees for committing such acts to satisfy their smallest of
interest. We have to watch whether we are acting truthfully, howsoever
difficult, according to the advise of Baba. Faith reflects in
everyday reality. It is not a mental luxury or a philosophical
dream. Therefore, let us seriously think about this strength of
our faith in Baba.
B - How do we see Baba
How do we see Baba? Some people go to the temples
and see Him in the form carved-out in a statue. Some feel Him
in the Aarti or devotional songs. Some try to
find him in the Sai Satcharita, as a character that affected the
lives of millions. There are some who always seek for His miracles
like un-expected favourable happenings, un-usual connections in
mundane life or even in dreams. There are only a few who find
Baba in all their actions i.e. Karma. The luckiest are
the ones who identify their own actions as the outcome of inner
motivations generated by Baba. The best devotees are those who
in every motivation and action find the play of His Divine play
C - Devotion - Love of God
Experiences show that intellectual endeavours,
howsoever potent and mighty they may seem, have not catapulated
or thrown or raised any human being to spiritual heights. History
shows that the highest spiritual masters are those who were uneducated
in formal sense. For example, Ramkrishna Paramhans, Shri Shirdi
Sai, Namdev, Tukaram, Paltu Maharaj etc. It obviously means that
there is something self-limited in the intellectualism in the
path of spiritual progress. All that the spiritual masters learnt
in their life and spread among others is 'Bhakti' or devotion.
"Bhakti" means love of God. Since God is not sitting in
a throne like an individual, therefore, how to love Him. The answer
is that God is in everyone and if one has the capacity to love
others, he is doing real devotion. Even doing all the worship,
yoga, pranaayaam (breath control) etc., for one's own improvement
is not 'Bhakti'. It is one activity for fulfilling spiritual/occult
ambition like any other ambition.
People in the path of devotion develop certain
qualities that manifest in their daily life activities. They become
humble, sacrificing, more universal and sensitive to the pain
of others. They love Baba and flow in that stream unknowingly
carrying along with them all that come in their contact. They
don't try to pray to Baba for the fulfillment of any material
requirements. Baba has a role to play to lead them ultimately
to the correct path and correct goal. They have nothing to prove
and, therefore, do not allow 'ego' to assert itself. This
is the correct path towards Baba.
D - Transcendence of the ego
Through various acts, advice and examples, Baba
advised his children to follow the path of "dharma" which
means transgressing the limitations of our small "ego". Keeping
in mind Baba's advice we may all strive to transcend limitations
of our mind and body. In the path of spiritualism transcendence
is necessary. Transcendence of what? Transcendence of the fetters
of body and mind. This can only be achieved by controlling the
compulsions of body like hunger, lust and the mental compulsions
of mind like greed, jealousy, anger, hatred etc. When one by one
the mental fetters fall off, two elements of mind like "desire"
and "feeling" pertaining to those compulsions also vanish. The
soul slowly but imperceptibly then enters into a state of pure
consciousness. At this stage he goes beyond all bodily fetters
including birth and death. He also crosses the barriers of time
and space. The progress in the path of spirituality is the march
of the divine consciousness from its primordial state to the original
All species controlled by time, in terms of birth
and death, including human beings are a part of that creative
process. Life after life they evolve ultimately to reach that
state of God where from they emanated. Except God, no one and
nothing in this world is perfect. All the imperfect beings and
things in the world, which includes all species, get birth, because
they are imperfect. Life after life they go on perfecting themselves,
little by little. The meaning of life, is to endeavour to become
perfect. Self-analysis, self-study, self-oriented actions towards
that goal and prayer to Sadguru to lead in that path is
the only way to progress meaningfully in life.
Saints and the people truly following this spiritual
path always think, not only of their own evolution but also about
the evolution of all human beings or other species around them.
Any action (in thought, speech, activity), which helps in the
evolution of the self or others is a good act called virtue (punya)
and any action detrimental to such growth is an evil act called
sin (paap). It is very difficult to follow such a path
in a world as ours and therefore, the process of evolution of
human beings is so slow, spread over a number of lives.
We must use our imperfections of yesterday and
try to evolve towards a little more perfection. Knowing that no
ordinary mortal is totally perfect, we try to find a model of
perfection which is epitomized in Sadguru or Perfect Master.
Shri Shirdi Sai Baba was in such supreme state of perfection.
He possessed such powers or siddhis, which no one can imagine,
however he maintained a humble life. Humility, simplicity are
not weakness, they are the biggest strength one can possess in
the path of spiritual development. Let us remember this.
E - Surrender to the Supreme Perfect
Master - Shri Sai Baba
No man on earth has evolved beyond a certain
point without any help. For that complete support, assistance
from a guide and faith in him is essential. Only one who has treaded
the path and crossed the obstacles can correctly guide others.
And who is the guide who has treaded the path and knows the secrets
of nature? It is the Perfect Master or the Sadguru. Shri
Sai had once said that there are many paths of spiritual evolution
– “There is one path through Shirdi.'' He also said, " One can
cross the jungle path with the proper guide”. The path obviously
means the path of evolution Godwards through the thick forest
of Maya. When the path ends one merges with God and to
such a person there is no meaning of time as he has gone beyond
it. To conquer time, therefore, we have to hold on steadfastly
to our 'Param Sadguru' the Supreme Master Shri Sai
Baba who has gone beyond the concept of time.
F - We the Children of Sai