This set consists of the following 4 Books:
Baba's Rinanubandh (Leelas during His Sojourn in Shirdi)
Baba's Gurukul (Shirdi)
Baba's Anurag (Love for His Devotees)
Baba's Vaani (His Sayings and Teachings)
The word 'Rinanubandh' literally means 'Karmic debt'. It is an impossible task to write the exact meaning of this word, as a lot of the nuances are lost while doing so. When you read about the lives of Baba's devotees you realise that it has a deeper meaning. A bond that has existed for many generations.
His devotees came from varied backgrounds. Some highly educated, others were rustic villagers. Some were young, while others were middle-aged and set in their ways. They went to Shirdi not knowing what to expect. Others went there by chance. But once they met Baba their lives were changed forever. And the 'Karmic bond" started unfolding. Thus they returned time and again to be with the living God who blessed them and gave them a handful of udi. In the years that followed, no matter what befell them they knew that Baba was always with them.
This book is a kaleidoscope of leelas, photographs and the lives of Baba's devotees. It will make the reading of Shri Sai Satcharita easier and fruitful.
Vinny Chitluri was born in Arvankadu (Nilgiris), but was educated in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh). She did her postgraduation in Pediatrics from Kalawati Saren Hospital, Delhi. Then she went to the U.S., passed the board examination and was conferred the 'Diplomat of the American Academy of Pediatrics'.
While in the U.S. she started thinking seriously about her Karmic bonds with her family. As her father worshipped Baba she was also able to do the same from a very young age. She has been worshipping Baba for sixty years. Her relationship with Baba is that of a 'best friend' as He loves her no matter what she does.
She retired from the medical profession at the age of fifty and came to Shirdi in 1994 and settled there. Then she set about trying to know more about Baba. She soon realised that 'the more she learned about Him the more ignorant she was'. Alas, it would take her many lives to know a little about this inscrutable God. But her quest is on-going.
My father in 1950, on one of his visits to Shirdi brought N.V. Gunaji's Shri Sai Satcharita. We took turns to read it. At that time I read it more like a storybook. I learned about Baba's leelas and His divinity. Through the years I read and reread it. But I could not understand many things. For instance, Mrs Tarkhad's son was sitting in the Dwarkamai right in front of Baba, yet he wanted to return home to offer naivedya to the photograph? Who was this child? Why couldn't he just offer naivedya to the Shaktar Ishwar sitting in front of him? Was there another story in this story? (Shri Sai Satcharita, Chapter 9].
It bothered me a lot that Baba who had control of the elements [Shri Sai Satcharita, Chapter 11] who was "Deva di Dev" [God of God's] lost a wrestling bout with Mohiddin? [Chapter 5]. The Parabhrama, who made this shrishti [cosmos], and guided it! He who was omnipresent and omnipotent, after losing this match wore a torn kafni. Why a Kafni? What did it symbolise? Baba, though God Almighty on a personal level was close to the common man, the rustic villager; the well educated, and famous devotee. The rich and the poor, the famous and not so famous flocked to His feet. Was it because of His 'chamatkars'? Or was it His equality of vision? Was there something deeper, a rinanubandh [karmic ties or debt] that brought them to Shirdi? They came not knowing what to expect! And they stayed devoted to Baba for the rest of their lives. His divinity, His love, and compassion, His equality of vision endeared Him to every devotee.
Almost in each and every chapter of the Shri Sai Satcharita there are portions, words and parables that I could not understand. So I set out trying to find some answers. Along the way I met the descendants of these "Ankita Bhaktas". I pestered them with questions about their grandparents. I read various books, old Sai Leela magazines, and other books and found some answers there. At other times I drove my friend Manjula nuts. I coerced her to read the Upanishads and Nirukti and find answers for me. "Do anything, read anything but give me answers with references," I said. And she did. That's what Gurus are supposed to do! Not all the material is in this book. I for one found many answers. As I am sure many of you did. Some I have included, and you may have found other answers. But at least it is a start.
This book is a kaleidoscope, of leelas, photographs, and lives of some devotees which illustrate the karmic and rinanubandhic ties with Baba. I strongly believe that the visuals stay with us for a long time. I hope, that this book will make reading of Sbri Sai Satcharita easier and fruitful.
This book begins from the small village Shiladhi, where a young fakir clad in white arrived with a marriage party. He stayed on and his divine powers were slowly recognized by the laity around him. Slowly the dilapidated Mashid mayee gets transformed into Dwarka Mai lit up by the warm Dhuni Mai and the ever burning lamps. Vehement skeptics and devotees flock alike to Shirdi, as the Kul-adhipathi Sai Baba gathers them in his Gurukul. The book describes in detail the various well known miracles of Baba and illustrates their meaning in a lucid manner. The author brings a rare insight and an almost personal touch to this book as she describes the various articles used by Him and the places He visited regularly.
This book came about by this irresistible urge to share Shirdi, so readers can profit from it. The articles used and handled by Baba are with the Sansthan so the readers can see them and gain insight in their significance.
Vinny Chitluri was born is Arvankadu (Nilgiris), but was educated in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh). She did her post graduation in pediatrics from Kalawati Saren Hospital, Delhi. Then she went to the US, passed the board examination and was conferred the 'Diplomat of the American Academy of Pediatrics'.
While in the US, she started thinking serious about her Karmic bonds with her family. As her father worshipped Baba, she was also able to do the same from a very young age. She has been worshipping Baba for sixty years. Her relationship with Baba is that of a 'best friend' as He loves her no matter what she does.
She retired from the medical profession at the age of fifty and came to Shirdi in 1994 and settled there. Then she set about trying to know more about Baba. She soon realized that 'the more she learned about Him, the more ignorant she was'. Alas! It would take her many lives to know a little about this inscrutable God. But her quest is ongoing.
Baba spoke of the future of Shirdi to Mhalsapati and other devotees. He said, "There will be huge palatial buildings, big fairs will be held, high ranking officials will come here. My Brahmins will gather here". And so it came to pass. The small remote village called Shiladhi turned into what it is now. I have tried to show what Shridi and the sacred sites were like in the 20's, the 80',s and at present.
Each site has a spiritual significance and each devotee gets what he wants from it. A devotee goes to a sacred place with a purpose and that gets fulfilled and he returns with an answer. Those who come to learn from Baba's life and at each place they get an answer. What it is we do not know, but they are closer to the most important person in their lives?
Without a formal induction into a learning program each devotee finds an answer to his quest. He goes back a happier and contented person. Each devotee has a preference for a special site and gets and individual personal experience.
Devotees have many questions to ask about these sites and I have tried to explain their significance.
At the time that Baba manifested in Shiladhi it was a small, remote village, in Kopergaon Taluka, in the district of Ahmednagar. This was a district of the composite Bombay Province up to 1960 (now called Maharashtra). Shiladhi was small about 3.3 sq miles, calculated on the basis of the census, of a medium-sized family. Now, it is spread far and wide.
In the 1884 Bombay Gazetteer (Vol. XVII) of Ahmednagar district, it is mentioned in a chart of 'Kopergaon villages of 1883'. It is grouped under 'Taraf Korhale thirty villages', where it is spelt as Shirdi. The Gazetteer says there is only one road in the Kopergaon Taluka to Malegaon. "This road enters the Kopergaon sub-division at the 45th mile from Ahmednagar near the village of Ashtagaon, and Shirdi is at its 53rd mile. The Godavari River is crossed by a wire-rope ferry".
In the 50's, as the bridge over the Godavari was low, it was often under water. Later the huge bridge was built. The Godavari flowed swiftly, and a boat used to ferry devotees to the other shore. Then the journey was by tonga; it was exciting to see the flag over the Samadhi Mandir far off from Neemgaon. Now there are so many buildings that it is not visible. Recently, a railway station has been built near Neemgaon.
Mamledar B V Dev first visited Shirdi in 1910. He recorded his impressions in the Sai Leela Magazine, in 1932. He states that Shirdi was originally known as 'Shiladhi' or 'Shailadhi'. At that time the village was tiny and had about 400 houses. A few were large while others were small mud huts. The village had two wells and two schools. One school was up to the 7th standard in the Marathi medium and the other was a Marathi mission school.
The village had two panmalas (betel leaf vineyards), two orchards, one flower garden, one sugar mill, one flour mill and a water mill. There was one dharamshala for pilgrims to stay in. besides this, there were nine temples and two masjids.
The total population was about 2,586. The Muslims were the minority (about 10%) and the rest were Hindus. The Hindus were divided into the following castes- Brahmins, Marwadis, Marathas, Dhangars (Shepherds), Malis (growers of fruits and vegetables), Sonars (goldsmiths), Sutras (carpenters), Lohar (Blacksmiths), Kumbhars (potters), Parits (washermen), Mahars, Mangs Chamars (tanners and leather workers), Kolis, Bhils (scheduled tribes), Guravs and Vadars. There was a wide cross section of castes. Shirdi though small and remote was quite prosperous. The population was of a working class and Shirdi seemed to be quite self-sufficient.
In the 20's and up to the 70's there were many 'Gow Shalas' in and around Shirdi. Many of the neighbouring villages and villages as far away as Sinner and Nasik used to do 'Gow dann' to Shirdi Kshetra. They would bring cow and release it in Shirdi; hence there were numerous Gow Shalas. It is interesting to note that Baba is given butter sweetened with sugar as Prasad after kakad arati.
There is an interesting legend in the puranas. The sage Gautama brought the river (originally the Ganga) from the matted locks of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva once vigorously shook his locks and dashed them on the ground. At that site the Godavari or Goda Mai originated, atop the Bramhagiri mountain near Tryambakeshwar.
The word 'Godavari' is broken down as, Go which means bhumi (earth or land), da means (bestower) and vari means shresth (the best or excellent). So Godavari means the land that bestowed the best. The banks of the Godavari have nurtured many a saint. But at Shirdi, it nurtured the 'Parabramha' who walked in the alleys and gullies and sanctified the soil. Shirdi is situated about eight miles south of the blanks of the Godavari.
Baba's love encompassed the whole universe with an equality of vision. However he had deep emotional and spiritual ties with some of his devotees. Although Baba rarely left Shirdi in his physical form but he did visit the homes of the Dengle family in Neemgaon and the Saand family in Rahata. He went to some of his devotees place in the form of bas-relief images. The descendents of these devotees have preserved these images and venerated them till today. They were blessed not only in this life, but also for many past lives, that they had the good fortune of welcoming Baba into their homes.
This book describes the homes of many of his devotees in and around Shirdi. Their homes and lives are described vividly so that we too can have a virtual tour of them and can partake a little of the ambrosia and fragrance of Baba's love. Baba also had deep ties with devotees who resided in Shirdi. They eagerly waited for him to pass by their homes as he wandered through the villages so that the dust from his feet would sanctify their homes and their mundane lives. This book transports one to the bygone days and describes the various leelas of Baba from which valuable lessons can be derived.
Vinny Chitluri was born in Arvankadu (Nilgiris), but was educated in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh). She did her post graduation in Pediatrics from Kalawati Saren Hospital, Delhi. Then she went to the US, passed the board examination and was conferred the ‘Diplomat of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
While in the US, she started thinking seriously about her Karmic bonds with her family. As her father worshipped Baba, she was also able to do the same from a very young age. She has been worshipping Baba for sixty years. Her relationship with Baba is that of a ‘best friend' as He loves her no matter what she does.
She retired from the medical profession at the age of fifty and came to Shirdi in 1994 and settled there. Then she set about trying to know more about Baba. She soon realised that ‘the more she learned about Him, the more ignorant she was Alas! it would take her many lives to know a little about this inscrutable God. But her quest is ongoing.
Baba rarely left Shirdi in his physical body but he did go to Rahata and Neemgaon. He went to the homes of some devotees in the form of a photograph. The houses of these devotees residing in Rahata and Neemgaon and also in Shirdi and their lives have been described in this book.
The need for this book arose from many reasons. The main reason is that the village is changing fast. It is turning into a ‘Modern Township'. These are private properties, many of them are being demolished, and hotels are standing in its place. Many devotees ask me to show them places described in the Sri Sai Satcharita then I take them on a small tour around the village and show them these homes, and the various routes that Baba took. Some of these devotees have been coming to Shirdi for many years and have yet not seen these houses.
Every devotee needs to be loved by the most important person in his or her life-Baba. His leelas are full of compassion, love and care, for he is ever present to save us from calamity. Finally even if a few devotees visit these sites, so that reading the Shri Sai Satcharita becomes easy, and then start thinking of its profound meaning, the object of writing this book will be accomplished.
Baba's love encompassed the whole universe, with an equality of vision. However, he had deep ties from numerous previous births, with some of his devotees. His infinite love went back numerous generations. With Shama, it spanned over 72 generations, and with Chandorkar 4 generations as mentioned by Baba himself. These special devotees shared a special grace. By virtue of these incidents, they themselves were blessed. We do not know the length of his relationship with the others.
This book describes the homes of many of his devotees in and around Shirdi. Baba rarely left Shirdi in the physical body but he did visit the home of Kushalchand Saand of Rahata, and Nana Sahib Dengle of Neemgaon. He went to Dabolkar's home in the form of a ‘bas-relief' image. His descendants have preserved it, and venerate it even today.
Baba loved everything on this earth be it a lizard, a bird or a mongrel. He had a special bond and fondness for them. An apt example, is his giving salvation to an ailing tiger. With human beings, his love extended to the rich and poor, the young and the old. He loved the robust and sick, as he had compassion, and a deep understanding of their pain and mental tension. An apt example is Bhagoji Shinde who had black leprosy, his body was constantly oozing fowl smelling pus yet he was Baba's constant companion. Bhagoji daily massaged Baba's burnt hand. Although his disease would repulse us, Baba was quite oblivious of it.
He averted calamities, removed sorrows, and gave progeny to some of them. The leelas of some of them are also given in this book. By knowing about their lives and leelas every devotee can aspire to reach that state. Nor did these devotees forget him, in fact, they thought of him in every waking moment of their lives. We turn to a religious book when we are in trouble, so by reading these lee/as we can learn and derive valuable lessons from them. Today it inspires us and gives us sustenance and solace, as he is aware of our every step. Their homes and their lives are described so that we too can visit them and partake a little of the ambrosia and the fragrance of Baba's love. They were blessed not only in this life, but also for many past lives, that they had the good fortune of welcoming Baba into their homes. They eagerly awaited his visits, and looked forward to doing some dedicated service to their guru.
Baba also had deep ties with the devotees that resided in Shirdi. They eagerly waited for him to pass by their homes as he wandered through the village so that the dust from his feet would sanctify their homes and their mundane lives. It is important for us devotees to know these homes as we can walk in the footsteps of our Sadguru. (A realised teacher, an incarnation). Although things have changed and become modern, yet we can be transported to the bygone days. In addition, this is a blessing as we become closer to our Sadguru by participating in the routine that he followed on a regular basis.
This book is a collection of the saying and teachings of Baba that are highlighted in the experiences of the devotees as they interacted with Him. Thought direct intervention in their lives, and the use of parables, He led them to spiritual growth. Like the caring aren't that He is, He used love and humors to help His devotees understand profound philosophical and spiritual ideas.
These id3eas were expressed in simple language, and often seen in practice in their ordinary day-to-day experiences, so that devotees were unaware that they were acquiring Buddha pathetic. Buddha is instruction, or perception, and pathetic is protocol or steps of a ritual.
Vinny Chitluri was born in Aruvankadu (Nigeria), but was educated in ablaut (Madhya Pradesh). She did her postproduction in Pediatrics from Kawaka saran Hospital, Delhi. Then she went to the U. S, passed the board examination and was conferred the ‘Diplomat of the American Academy of Pediatrics'.
While in the U. S., she started thinking seriously about her karmic bonds with her family. As her father worshipped Baba, she was also able to do the same from a very young age. She has been worshipping Baba for sixty years. Her relationship with Baba is that of a ‘best friends' as He loves her no matter what she does.
She retired from the medical profession at the age of fifty and came to Shirdi in 1994 and settled there. Then she set about trying to know more about Baba. She soon realized that ‘the more she learned about Him, the more ignorant she was'. Alas, it would take her many lives to know a little about this inscrutable God. But her quest is ongoing.
Hari Sitaram Dixit or Kaka Sahib as Baba called him had a wonderful habit of keeping a diary. Many of the other devotees also did the same. Meticulously he wrote Baba's lee/as as they unfolded before him. Every letter, every note that he received from the devotees he preserved. Most importantly, he wrote Baba's words and sayings. For they give a great deal of insights into Baba's moods, like sham rage which in actuality was a blessing in disguise, and Baba's teachings.
Unfortunately, unlike Ganesh Shriknishna Khaparde he has not mentioned the dates. Nonetheless, the diary is a gem and is priceless. The leelas from his diary were published in the Sal Leela Magaine in the early I 920s. Most of the leelas given below are from his diary.
I for one thank Kaka Sahib, for enriching the lives of many devotees of Baba by his contribution of ‘The Dixit Diary'.
Especially in the parables, Baba flits from one topic to another. The English translation is nearly impossible. Since this book is about Baba's Vaani, it has been translated verbatim. Therefore, it is impossible for the English translation to do justice to the ‘sayings'. No translation can bring out the nuances of the original, and therefore the reader may find that the language does not flow naturally.
Baba when he spoke Marathi or Hindi it was colloquial, so it's even harder to write it in English. He used words like are, re and kyako, just to mention a few.
This book is a kaleidoscope of Baba's lee/as, some parables, his sayings and his bodhapaddhati. Baba had an unique way of teaching, by way of dakshina, parables and even directly.
This book is Baba's, but the imperfections are definitely mine.
Baba gave me many gifts in my life, and some of them were in the form of guardian angels. These angels helped me in many ways. Most importantly they helped me when I was writing this book. I take this opportunity to thank them from the bottom of my heart.
To Sada S Ghode, I owe a debt of gratitude for doing everything that was required to be done in this book, from searching for the descendants of Baba's bhaktas to learning the intricate computer.
Sandeep E Gondkar of Shirdi, an advocate by profession but a computer wizard, and god sent for me.
Neeta Shebde of Pune, for sending me photographs of the devotees residing in Pune so I did not have to make the trips to Pune. Sri Krishna Kapur, New Delhi whose rinanubandhic ties with me made this book possible. He helped me in innumerable ways, they are far too many to mention.
S K .Ghai of Sterling Publishers, New Delhi who treated me like a family member, and most importantly for publishing my book. I owe a debt of gratitude to Manjula S of Bangaluru, my spiritual guru. Thank you Manjula for interpreting all these difficult Sanskrit words, and parables for me.
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