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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Upasni Maharaj and Shirdi Sai Baba-Part 1.

Share Author: Manisha.Rautela.Bisht on 8:43 PM

Dear all,
An explanation about the role and greatness of Shri Sai of Shirdi would remain incomplete without the understanding of the life of Kashinath Govind Upasani Sastri, who later came to be known as ‘Shri Upasani Maharaj’. Shri Sai’s deeds and life was full of miracles, but the greatest miracle was His creation of this once inconsequential person to the status of a Sadguru within a period of four years!

The methods used by Shri Sai to completely transform Kashinath Sastri, the pain taken by him to protect the neophyte and the assurance with which he grew this unsure and confused disciple to the state of a Perfect Master, would indicate where in the spiritual hierarchy of this world Shri Sai remains.

Born in a Hindu Brahmin family at Satana near Nasik on 15th May 1870, Kashinath became Sadguru Upasni Maharaj with the divine grace of Shri Sadguru Narayan Maharaj of Kedgaon and Shri Sadguru Sai Baba of Shirdi. His father was Govind Shastri and mother Rukhminibai. His grandfather Gopal Shastri was a learned Pundit or a Hindu scholar, with a spiritual temperament. Kashinath was the second of the five brothers.

Kashinath did not exhibit traits of a normal child from the beginning, although his deviations did not indicate existence of any super-intelligence or excellence in him. He held extremely strong views about two vital aspects of life when in his teens. First, he declared that the formalised educational learning was only for bread winning and, therefore, after doing three years in a vernacular elementary school left it; merciless canning by his teacher becoming the immediate cause of such realisation. Secondly, he hated and condemned the body (i.e. his own body) as the creator of limitations and pain in life. He spent all his time doing in Asans (exercises as per Yoga), Pranayama (Breath control exercises), repetition of mantras etc. With such an attitude he could earn nothing and for his family members he was a problem child.

He often kept aloof, visiting nearby forests and spending time in meditation and "Dhyana". His parents observed this reluctance for the world in his nature and married him to a Hindu girl Durga, when Kashinath was 14 years old, and Durga only 8 years.

Not only did Kashinath not change, but also a few months after marriage he ran away from home (at the Dhulia district in Maharashtra) leaving a departing note and reached Nasik. However, two months later anxiety about the plight of his parents compelled him to return home. Shortly thereafter his wife expired, but before the cup of sorrow could be emptied, Kashinath was now again in search of his inner quest; when in 1885 he was married again.

To earn livelihood he went to places like Pune and could not find a job because of the absence of any formal education. At times he did menial work for others and at other times, he took to begging. He was in a miserable state of life. Sometimes, he even had to sleep on footpaths (sideways) and live only on Margosa (Neem) leaves.

During this period of trials and tribulations, he met a saint who impressed upon him the virtues of Brahmacharya (celibacy). Leaving Pune he went to a place called Kalyan where he restored to begging as a means of livelihood, often quenching his hunger only by drinking water.He came to a mountain called Bhorgad near Nasik, and remained inside a cave for nearly nine months.
After spending so much time in a cave in this debilitated condition Kashinath was nursed by the villagers of Gavalwadi, and returned back to his home moving through Nasik. He reached home at Satana in July 1890.

Soon after within one year of his return this time his father, grandfather and second wife all died. And his relatives arranged his third marriage.

In 1892, to earn bread and butter for the family he came to Sangli and studied "Ayurveda" the Ancient Indian system of medicine. In 1895 he started working as a physician at Satana and later at Amravati. He also edited a Marathi monthly magazine "Bheshaj Ratnavali " for three years. By this time he had become very successful as a "Vaidhya", and had acquired wealth and fame. He also acquired hundreds of acres of land near Gwalior and started farming. But within two years numerous law suits were instituted against him.Followed by a job of a Malgujari (tax collector for the king or ruler).
However, he failed in all the material ventures he undertook. His health also deteriorated substantially due to neglect and lack of comforts. While practicing Pranayama (Breath control exercises), his breath-cycle also got disturbed. Even his sleep, digestion and evacuation systems got difficult. After having lost everything he came back to Amravati in 1908. Kashinath now completely lost all interest in and attachment to the material world and his search for inner truth became stronger and stronger.

Qne day when Kashinath heard of Shri Sadguru Narayan Maharaj of Kedgaon, happening to visit Nagpur, he was drawn to His darshan. He joined the line queue for darshan, but when darshan began, Maharaj spotted him and called Kashinath near Him. Kashinath fell at the feet of the Master, and Maharaj removed a Garland from His neck and put it around Kashinath, before the mammoth gathering.

This was the gift of the Sadguru, which rarely one gets and rarely those who witness, understand.

After meeting Shri Sadguru Narayan Maharaj Kashinath journeyed to Dhulia, Paithan and Ahmednagar, for treatment of his breathing trouble that had started in the last few years.All efforts of medical and religious having failed, he tried to get occult help of a Yogi.

At Rahuri he met a yogi named Kulkarni Maharaj, who asked Kashinath to go to Shirdi and meet Sai Baba. He hesitated to go to a Muslim Master for guidance and help, and did not pay much attention to the advice of Maharaj. He however felt the desire to meet Sadguru Narayan Maharaj and in June 1911 traveled to Bombay to meet Him. Sadguru Narayan Maharaj received Kashinath with great love and warmth. He gave him a paan leaf to chew and colored him spiritually from the inside. After this meeting with Sadguru Narayan Maharaj, Kashinath returned to Kulkarni Maharaj at Rahuri. This yogi of Rahuri again urged him to meet Sai Baba of Shirdi,saying that Sai was no ordinary person and was above caste,creed and religion.

One day when Kashinath was walking in the streets of Rahuri, an old man approached him to take hot water as a curative measure and to avoid taking cold water. Kashinath did not take this unsolicited advice given by a unknown person but continued his search for a Hindu Yogi. While on such a move, at a certain place called Jajuri, he went into a Samadhi state while sitting in a lonely place surrounded by prickly-pear bush. When he awoke, he felt very thirsty and went to the stream nearby to drink water.
At that time the same old man re-appeared from nowhere. He repeated his advice in an angry tone and disappeared suddenly. Kashinath took his advice (this time) seriously and found sudden relief. In a short time his health became all right by this hot-water therapy. Then he went to meet Narayan Maharaj of Kedgaon a famous Saint. On his way back he again met Yogi Kulkarni at Rahuri who again insisted upon him to meet Sai Baba, as Shirdi was on the way.

Ultimately Kashinath came to Shirdi and met Shri Sai on 27th June 1911 and attended the Arti ceremony. Little did he realize at that time that he had met his Sadguru (Master) and that the course of his life would undergo complete thereafter.

When he went to Sai Baba to take leave, Baba insisted that Kashinath should now stay at Shirdi, but Kashinath managed to leave the place. After nearly a week somehow Kashinath returned again to Shirdi. Sai Baba asked Kashinath to give Him "dakshina", and Kashinath selected an old black coin to be given to the Fakir. Sai Baba first pushed him to little embarrassment for giving an old coin, but indicated that He would give Kashinath the real coin of experience. Every day Kashinath would attend the discourses given by Sai Baba. He felt uncomfortable at Sai Baba's continuous references to the events in Kashinath's past life but through these He developed faith that Sai Baba was a true Fakir.

After staying at Shirdi for about two or three days, Kashinath wanted to leave for home. Obviously he had been wishing for a happy union with his family members and to live with them happily ever after. However, Sai would not agree. Everyone in Shirdi knew that if Shri Sai did not permit one to leave Shirdi, there must be something more to it. Those who disobeyed faced problems, which could have been avoided, had they heeded to the words of Shri Sai. When Kashinath pleaded vehemently, Shri Sai ultimately permitted him on the condition that he (Kashinath) should return to Shirdi in eight days.

Kashinath, at that time, not having full faith in Sai, started worrying and fretting as eight days was too short a time. Sai knowing his mental state told him
“well, go if you like, I will see what can I do.”
Very happy at the prospect of going home he made a quick departure. However, strangely enough, moving from place to place, he reached Kopergaon (a village 8 miles away from Shirdi) on the eighth day. He was utterly confused and did not know that as to how in eight days of continuous walking he could only cover eight miles. Willy-nilly from Kopergaon, he came to Shirdi with a group of pilgrims and met Shri Sai again.

When he bowed before Shri Sai, the latter asked him:-
Saibaba : “So You have come, when did you leave this place?”
Kashinath : “Thursday”
Saibaba : “ At what time?”
Kashinath : “At Three”
Saibaba : “What day of the week is this?”
Kashinath : “Thursday.”
Saibaba : “How long since you left?”
Kashinath : “A week. To-day is the eighth day”.
Saibaba : “That’s it. When you left, you protested that you could not return within eight days!”
Kashinath : “I do not know how this has happened. It is all your doing”.
Saibaba : “Man, I was behind you all these eight days. Now go and stay in that wada” (i.e. Kaka Saheb’s, where visitors of Shri Sai usually stayed. ‘Wada’ means a building within a compound)


From that day onwards Kashinath was put on probation by Shri Sai who asked him to stay in the wada (a place where the other pilgrims were put up). Kashinath attempted to understand Sai by starting to enquire from other devotees and observation of His daily activities. On one day, Sai as usual narrated a peculiar story in the form of a self-experience to the assembled devotees.
He said that once he met an emaciated and pregnant woman whom he advised to take only hot water and avoid cold-water, so that the child could be delivered early. She did not heed His advice but went on to drink cold water.

He again came and advised the lady not to take cold water but to take hot water only. When she started to take hot water, she delivered the child. While narrating the story Shri Sai pointed frequently at Kashinath, who was convinced that it was Shri Sai who had appeared at two places to save him. Love and gratitude engulfed him so much that he started crying. Sai told him clearly that he and Kashinath had Rinanubandha (Karmic obligations of the past, including the previous births) for many centuries.

To protect Kashinath from all external factors that effect spiritual growth, Sai asked him to go and sit in Khandoba Temple and do nothing so that Sai would be able to do whatever he wills to do i.e. to work within Kashinath and evolve him. Sai told Kashinath that Khandoba’s (Lord Shiva) full grace will come on him after a period of four years.

He began to live in Khandoba temple nearly three miles from Shirdi, and came to be known as Upasni Maharaj. His fasting made Him just a skeleton, and this "Upas" or the fasting perhaps brought Him the name Upasni. He spent nearly four years in this temple which was full of snakes and scorpions. In February 1912, news reached that Kashinath's third wife had also passed away, but now Kashinath was Upasni and was free from worldly ties and bondage. Alone in this temple He merged His limited Self with the infinite Knowledge and Consciousness.

Like a mother protecting its child from the on-slaughts of nature and people around even at the cost of her own life, Shri Sai protected Kashinath whole-heartedly and openly. Before the assemblage of jealous devotees who asked about the reason of His extreme grace He said,
“yes, yes, everything has been given, whatever he is, good or bad, he is mine. There is no distinction between him and me. Now, the whole responsibility for him rests with me.”
Kashinath still could not understand the import of the words of Shri Sai. To further indicate his future, Sai said
“wherever you are, you are God – You will realise everything.”

The grace of the Sadguru is immeasurable. It is said that whereas a touch stone can change a stone to gold by mere touch, the Sadguru (Perfect Master) is such a touch-stone who can convert a stone (disciple) to a touch-stone i.e. to His own state (Perfect Master). The Sadguru, at this stage is responsible for everything, good or evil, done by the pupil. At this stage, the Sadguru virtually remains at the mercy of the disciple. By this total sacrifice of Himself, the Sadguru evolves the disciple to a state of perfection i.e. His own state.
Shri Sai, once told one of His close-associates that the endeavor should be to create these perfect men so that they can, in turn, spiritually uplift thousands and millions of other souls from the state of Jivatma (bonded souls) to the state of Shivatma (Perfect souls). To evolve Kashinath was no easy task for Shri Sai. It is said that the difference in the state of consciousness between a stone and an ordinary man is what is the difference between an ordinary man and a Sadguru.

Like a man turning a piece of stone by the use of hammer, chisel to a beautiful piece of sculpture, the Sadguru can change a gross individual to that of a perfect soul. This is what Shri Sai was trying to do on Kashinath. The methods he used were, sometimes, harsh from the point of view of Kashinath, but, none the less were meant for his evolution to that perfect state only.

To begin his work Sai told Kashinath
“Sit quiet, somehow. Have nothing to do with anyone.”
Sai wanted Kashinath not to create further ‘Samskaras’ or impressions for himself in attachment with other people but to draw his mind inwards. As he followed the master, a series of mystic reactions happened in Kashinath and around him.
To be continued.....

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~श्री सच्चिदानंद सदगुरू श्री साईनाथ महाराज की जय~ श्री साई बाबा के ग्यारह वचन : १.जो शिरडी आएगा ,आपद दूर भगाएगा,२.चढ़े समाधी की सीढी पर ,पैर तले दुःख की पीढ़ी पर,३.त्याग शरीर चला जाऊंगा ,भक्त हेतु दौडा आऊंगा,४.मन में रखना द्रढ विश्वास, करे समाधी पुरी आस५.मुझे सदा ही जीवत जानो ,अनुभव करो सत्य पहचानो,,६.मेरी शरण आ खाली जाए, हो कोई तो मुझे बताये ७.जैसा भाव रहे जिस मनका, वैसा रूप हुआ मेरे मनका,,८.भार तुम्हारा मुझ पर होगा ,वचन न मेरा झूठा होगा ९ आ सहायता लो भरपूर, जो माँगा वो नही है दूर ,१०.मुझ में लीन वचन मन काया ,उसका ऋण न कभी चुकाया,११ .धन्य -धन्य व भक्त अनन्य ,मेरी शरण तज जिसे न अन्य~श्री सच्चिदानंद सदगुरू श्री साईनाथ महाराज की जय~
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I feel I am like a river, having my own course, stream and flow but the final destiny is to be one with the boundless ocean of my Sathguru Shirdi Sai Baba.

Amidst all the worldly rituals I am performing,I do not dare to loose sight of my Sainath. He is the sole driving force, the guide and the Supreme master.

The strings of my life are in his hand,I am just a puppet at His Holy Feet.
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