Seeing God in a Dog: The unity of the two Babas - Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai
The question of the two Babas being the same...
Mrs. Serene Yazidi Shroff ( birth name Sudha) is a long-standing devotee of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. In fact, she was completely devoted to Shirdi Sai Baba before she came to realize the oneness between the two Sais. Today, she leads her life in a divine romance with the Lord of her Heart, her Swami, and stays with her husband in the Indian state of Goa. It was during the Prasanthi Seva (service in the Prasanthi Nilayam ashram of Swami) that she became a friend to my mother who was also volunteering. The two worked together and enjoyed several experiences with Swami. Keenly interested in the connection between Shirdi Baba and Sathya Sai, I questioned her,
“Aunty, do you have any experiences which show you beyond doubt, the link between our Swami and Shirdi Baba?”
Her eyes lit up with nostalgia and love. It was clear that she was lost in a magical trance recollecting and reliving several experiences, all at once. Having come to Swami in the 1960s, she surely had a large number of experiences to share.
“There are so many. I am convinced beyond doubt that Sathya Sai and Shirdi Sai are one and the same. Actually, I am convinced that God is one though we give different names. So, for me, my Bhagawan is not only Shirdi Sai, but also Rama, Krishna, Yazidi, Jesus and Allah! Anyway, what kind of incident do you want me to narrate?”
“Aunty, tell me the ones that are the most dramatic.”
I was clear in what I was looking for! There is something about ‘dramatic’ incidents that seems to strike a chord instantly in thousands of devoted hearts. In just a few minutes, such incidents are able to strengthen the devotion and protect the tender saplings of faith in the hearts of people.
She smiled at me and said that there were two incidents that came to her mind instantly. One was something that happened in 1971. It was definitely dramatic but it was also funny. The second took place in 1978. Along with being dramatic, it was also a comprehensive proof of the unity of the two Sais.
(As shown in the first image, it was Swami who installed the first-ever Shirdi Baba idol in the world. On the day of the temple inauguration, when Baba's feet were applied with sandalwood paste and turmeric to take the impression of His tiny feet on a silk cloth, the impressions that appeared were not tiny in keeping with Baba's tender feet. Instead, they were gigantic and rough, keeping with the large feet of Shirdi Baba.)
Sweets for the Lord
In 1971, Sudha had arrived to Prasanthi Nilayam along with her brother. They were accommodated in one of the many small cottages that stood beside the Mandir where Swami used to stay. (This is the area where today the South-1 block stands.) The brother and sister had arrived to the holy hamlet to bask in the divine love and proximity to their Baba. As always, their mother had prepared a box full of assorted sweets to be offered to Baba. The box of sweets was packed safely in the bag.
As they settled in the spartan comforts that the cottage offered, they realized that they were hungry. They opened a packet of biscuits and began to munch on them. A few biscuits later, they saw that there was some commotion outside. Apparently, Baba was moving about in the Mandir and if they rushed, they could be fortunate to have a darshan (sighting of a holy/divine person). Quickly rising from their relaxed state, they got dressed and rushed out of the room. Sudha, being a woman, took more time to get ready and her brother was the first to leave the cottage. Soon, she followed suit after closing the bags and latching the room from outside. They were indeed in time to catch a glimpse of their beloved Swami!
After that rejuvenating darshan, as Sudha was walking back to her room in serene bliss, she heard another commotion. This time it was a dog barking. Soon, the barking dog emerged out of her very cottage whose door was now ajar! She was surprised seeing this. Following the dog closely at its heels was her brother brandishing a stick. He was beating the dog and chasing it out of the room. She wondered what was going on. She entered the room and saw it as neat as she had left it. The opened biscuit packet was still there, in the center of the little room.
When her brother returned, she asked him what had happened. With great anger, he asked back,
“Why didn’t you close the door properly before leaving?”
“Oh I did! I myself latched the door before rushing for darshan...”
“Then how did that idiotic dog get into the room??”
“I don’t know. But why do you make such a fuss? And why on earth did you beat the dog? It did not do anything in the room...”
“That is what you think,” fumed the brother, “but it had the cheek to pull out the box of sweets from your bag. It devoured every single sweet and now, there is nothing left there. That box was meant for Swami and that dog ate it all away. Why couldn't it just eat the biscuits that were lying in the room? I got very angry and beat it out of the room.”
Now, Sudha flt sad. She would not be able to offer to Swami the special sweets that her mother had made. With no other choice but to accept what had happened as His will, she moved on with the day. There was no use crying over spilt milk - nor over eaten sweets! Hours flew by and it was darshan time again.
When viewed from another angle, even DOG becomes GOD
Swami came straight to Sudha and said,
“You have successfully cleared the exams but you did not get any sweets for Swami?”
At that point in time, Sudha had no idea that she had cleared her exams. In fact, it was only a day later that the results were announced after which her mother informed her the good news! But she still got up on her knees and thought of telling Swami that she had indeed brought sweets but a dog had eaten them all.
“Swami, Mithai Khaaya...” (Swami, the sweets were eaten...) she began when Swami interrupted her with a smile.
“Swami Mithai Khaaya, Pitai Bhi Khaaya “ (Swami had the sweets... Swami had the beatings too)!
In an instant, the happenings of the morning flashed before her mind’s eye. She apologised to Swami on her brother’ behalf. Swami patted her lovingly and said that the sweets were very tasty and therefore He had eaten all of them! Then, He walked on.
How many times we miss God because He does not come in a form that we were expecting! How many times we miss what we want because of how we want it!
The Shirdi Connection
There have been multiple recorded instances of Shirdi Baba having partaken food while appearing to devotees in the form of a dog. In fact, all devotees of Shirdi Sai believe that if a dog partakes food kept for the Lord, it is indeed Baba in that form. The 9th Chapter of the Shirdi Sai Satcharitra records the episode of Mrs. Tarkhad wherein the lady offers bread to a hungry dog in her courtyard. Later on, when she is with Shirdi Baba, Baba tells her,
“Mother, you have fed Me sumptuously up to my throat, My afflicted pranas (life-forces) have been satisfied. always act like this, and this will stand you in good stead. Sitting in this Masjid I shall never, never speak untruth. Take pity on Me like this. First give bread to the hungry, and then eat yourself. Note this well."
In several discourses, Swami has exhorted to everyone that one must see the Lord in all. He says that D-O-G (dog) becomes G-O-D (God) when viewed in the correct perspective.
Sudha aunty now tells me,
“This kind of teaching - of seeing God in a dog - is unique to the two Babas. Though all the messengers of God and different forms of God have exhorted us to see God in all, using the dog as an example is definitely unique. So, for me, this was one episode that shows the unity of the two Babas. But this incident, though dramatic, pales into insignificance compared to the other one which firmly entrenched in my heart the conviction that the two Baba’s are one and the same.”
“Wow! Pray what is that incident aunty...” I asked.
to be concluded in the next part entitled.
Sathya Sai fulfills a promise He gave as Shirdi Sai - go on; click it to read. :)
The Two Sais
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© 2013 Aravind Balasubramanya
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