Sages and Seers Of Datta Guru Parampara Bharat and Bharatiyas have a great common heritage. The heritage of perfection is called Guru Parampara. The Siddha heritage has Lord Dattatreya as its pinnacle, being the Guru of Gurus. Understandably, we never call Brahma, Vishnu, Shankara, Ganesha as Gurudevas. But we call Dattatreya as "Sri Guru Deva Datta". Lord Dattatreya is a "Smartugami". you "just remember Him. He is there'. He is an ever living incarnation. In such an illustrious Guru Parampara there have been great sages and seers who were all guided by this heritage. Records of most of them are not available. But by the grace of Lord Dattatreya, the life-stories of a few Siddhas/Mahatmas, are available. Shri Shripada Shri Vallabha is the one, who is an incarnation of Datta Himself.
1 . Sri Sripada Shri VallabhaWe have already seen how the worship of Dattatreya developed with the progress of time. Right from the Puranic age, kings like KartaveeryaArjuna , Ayu Alarka, Yadu and Puranic personalities like Parasurama, Pingala, Prahlada, and later even the historical personalities like Goraknath and others, the name of Dattatreya hovered over the pages of spiritual history with splendour of rare effulgence. Round about 1300 A.D. - A brahmin, learned and well versed in sastras, in philosophy, by name Appala Raja, lived in Pithapuram, a town on the east coast, in Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. His wife Sumati was a great Sati devoted and chaste, really a Sumati i.e. of good and refined disposition.
She used to adore her husband with great reverence and follow the dictates of her husband meticulously and scrupulously. Sri Kshetra Pithapuram is a town (a Railway Station) on the east coast in Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. The holy place, Pithapuram, abounds in temples of Shiva (Kukkuteswara) and Vishnu (Kuntl Madhava) and also famous for Padagaya tank, where Shraddhas are performed with Pinda Pradana drawing people from all over India. According to the Puranic legend, the demon Gayasura was slained by Lord Vishnu and his mortal remains were strewned all over in a number of places. Afterwards these places came to be reckoned very holy. They are now famous Shiro-Gaya, Nabhi Gaya and Padagaya. This Kshetra Pithapurarn is considered to be as holy as Kashi (Benaras).
Skanda Purana mentions that whosoever performs Shraddha wiih Pinda- dana at this holy kund of Pada - Gaya where the feet of Gayasura are supposed to be embedded the Jeevatmas of his forefathers in Pitru-loka get salvation. This holy place is the birth place of Shree Pada Vallaba. Appalaraja and Sumathi were an ideal couple of highest piety and purity. As misfortune would have it, they had two children both of them handicapped one blind and the other without legs. So the couple spent most of their time in looking after them. Their piety, Sumati's sublime minded service bore fruit one day.
It was a Shraddha day of the father of Appala Raja. Sumati woke up very early before sunrise as usual and that morning got herself immersed in preparing the food necessities, required for the Shraddha Day. At mid-day when the sun was at the apex, Appalaraja left home to fetch Shraddha-bhoktas. Raja implies King not only in name but also in disposition and behaviour. Though he had no worldly wealth, he was rich in piety and righreousness. Sumati just finished the preparation of food requirements, when she heard the words at the door-step "O please give me cooked food".
She found a hermit at the door-step with rare splendour of divine effulgence, face, joyful beaming brighter than that of the sun-glow, Sumati reverentially bowed down and felt that Lord Dattatreya came in that guise of a hermit. He asked for alms and Sumati without hesitation or a second thought brought the food she prepared for the Shraddha and offered in great reverence and saluted him again and again. The hermit was extremely pleased and said Oh! mother, ask me for whatever you wish".
Sumati in great ecstasy, prayerfully said "Oh! Lord of Lords, you, all ‚Äď merciful have called me mother, let those words come true. I wish to have a son like you, universally revered and compassionate to all. The hermit, who is no other than Lord Dattatreya said Be it so and in a twinkle disappeared. Sumati stood at the doorstep alone bewildered and overwhelmed with indescribable joy shedding tears of joy. After inviting, the Bhoktas to attend the Shraddha ceremony, Appala Raja returned home. He was surprised to see Sumati standing at the door - steps in a stupefied condition. After a while recognising her-Raja's return, she told him all that happened and apologtically said "Oh ! my Lord, I have committed a great mistake in giving away the Shraddha food to the hermit, who was just a few minutes before, asking for alms. Please wait for a while I shall re-cook for the Shraddha".
Looking at Sumati, Appala Raja was intensely moved and said "Oh ! you have been most lucky, you have done no wrong. To give food to the hungry is the best and greatest of all donations, My forefathers must have been amply and really satisfied with this dana of yours. I feel that you have seen Shri Vishnu Himself in the form of Shri Datta, the incarnate of the Trinity. Days passed on the Lord himself had entered into the body of Sumati and her physical demeanour, day by day grew in divine lustre, She was spending all her time in deep meditation of Sri Datta Prabhu. She couldsee all pervading Digambara Datta in her heart and outside as well. She delivered in the tenth month a divine son.
A kind of heavenly delight filled the home. The whole universe appeared to enjoy the sacred event. His Jataka was foretold. He was to be a very great (Tapasvi) ascetic. The child was called Sripada as the emblems of Chakra and Shanka were found in his feet. The splendour of his body so beautiful, so charming with divine lustre his parents named him Shree Vallabha.
As it is customary, in his seventh year he was invested with the sacred thread (Upanayanam). Whatever words Shripada spoke had profound significance and he was (Eka Santagrahi) able to memorise anything just by a single reading or on hearing. In very shot time he completed learning Veda Sastras. His learning, maturity of knowledge, erudition in all Vedas and scriptures was stupendous. Thus he grew upto his sixteenth year, when his parents thought of marrying him. Learning the intention of the parents, Sreepada Sree Vallabha, endearingly told them, "1 am already married to renunciation".
"1 am an ascentic, I have to be in Nivrithi Marg and so I am not to marry. " Hearing these words of her son, Sumati remembered the words of the hermit who blessed her and thought to herself Yes, the hermit told me of this and it is coming true now". The parents had an affectionate and kindly look at their son and said "Oh ! hermit son . We are extremely fortunate to have you with us and it was to be only for a short time of sixteen years. Whatever is Lord's design it should be carried out. Shripada Yati embraced his mother who in tears of joy and pure love bathed her godly son.
The mother in anguish pointed towards her two sons, maimed and blind, and looked appealingly to her son. Lo ! Sripada Sreevallabha by a mere look at the blind brother blessed him with sight and the legless brother endowed with legs. The joy of the parents knew no bounds to find their hitherto, handicapped children, now physically fit and bright. Later they became very learned too. Sreepada, bade good-bye to his joyful parents and started on a pilgrimage. He went to Kashi, Badrinath, and Kedarnath in Himalayas, guiding and imparting Jnana to the Saints. Then coming down visited all the pilgrim centres on the west coast, reached Gokarna and finally retired to Kuruvapur, an island in river Krishna. He was enlightening and giving solace to people wherever he went.
His desire was to dispense happiness to one and all, by freeing them from the shackles of worldly attachment and disappointments. By his blessings he made a delinquent, mentally retarded child quite normal and learned like the child's father (who was a great scholar of Vedas) at the request of the widow-mother Ambika and benevolently promised to born as her son in her next Janma. In another case, one day a Muslim Nawab came to river Krishna in a ferry boat with his wives for a joyful float.A washerman who was then washing clothes in the river water seeing the grandeur of the Nawab, felt utter contempt for his own poverty and miserable life. At the same moment Sripada Sri Vallabha Yati happened to come to the river for taking his daily bath as usual.
The Yati who could easily read and understand the mind of the washerman and his mental anguish said "Oh! washerman, your mind is yearning for a life of luxury. You will get the same state as that Nawab in your next life." True, the washerman later was born to the Muslim Nawab of Bidar, enjoyed all the royal luxuries and also the grace of Sri Nrisimha Saraswati, who was a reincarnate of Sreepada Sree Vallabha Yati.
Sripada Yati fixed a day for his Samadhi. It was on the twelth day of the dark half of month Ashwin, of Margasira Constellation on Thursday, saluted mother Ganga and sat for Samadhi on river-water and disappeared and got merged into Brahman, wherefrom He came in human form on the earth as Sreepada Sree Vallabha. Desires always come in the way of liberation and saints like Sri Sripada Sri Vallabha, have pointed out the ways and process to be free completely from them. Guru Charitha suggests the probable date of Sripada Vallabha as 1300 A.D. but it cannot be taken with any definiteness. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the condition of the country was in a great flux.
It will be interesting to have a glimpse of the contemporary conditions of the country in general and Maharashtra then, in particular, the rule of the Mohammedans was not generally very popular. The Mohammedan rulers tried to attract people towards them by offers of power and pelf. At this time in the interest of humanity there was a pressing need of a powerful personality who would not only wean them away from the prevailing powerful enticements, but to put them on the right track. Sri Nrisimha Saraswati was such a personality.
2 . Shri Nrisimha Saraswati Swami
Nrisimha Saraswati was born in a brahmin family at Karanjananagar in the Varad district of Maharastra. His father's name was Madhav who belonged to the Vajasaneyi branch of the Vedas, and his mother's name was Amba almost of the same name Ambika, who got a boon from Sri Srivallabha to be born as her son in next life. In that way Nrisimha Saraswati, whose original name was Saligrama, is supposed to be the reincarnation of Sri Sreepada Sree Vallabha. The boy Nrisimha Saraswati, strangely till the time of his sacred thread ceremony (Upanayana) was uttering only "OM" and nothing else.
At the time of the thread-ceremony he further surprised the people reciting the sacred hymns from Vedas. Promising his parents to return after twenty years, he went away only to fulfil his lifemission. He came to Benaras and was immersed in practice of Yoga and penance. It was Sri Krishna Saraswathi an old Sanyasin of high spiritual attainments, belonging to a venerable order of Sanyasins, gave diksha. He scrupulously observed the tenets of Sanyasin, observing, never to stay for more than a couple of days in a particular place, and kept on moving. Wherever he went, gave boons to many explained the real meaning behind the external practices prescribed in the scriptures in relation to mundane and spiritual life. He encouraged the performance of Yagnas(sacrifices).
The Bhasma and Rudraksha wearing were highly recommended. The grace of God is always there for the good and it does not discriminate between the rich and the poor. Nrisimha Saraswati placed Sanyasamarga on a high pedestal and on solid foundation. Gurucharitra narrates the story. Chandala with Bhasma obtained from His Guru, who defeated two arrogant and learned Brahmins in discourses and of a Sati whose deceased husband was brought to life by the grace of Guru Nrisimha Saraswathi.
We see during his life time, he not only stopped many a person changing his religion for the sake of worldly benefits. He was a poineer in advocating the line of thought put forward by Dattatreya in this Kali Age, like that of Rama worship by Tulsidasa, flourished with great force, inspiring many personalities. The worship of Dattatreya developed considerably with the advent of Nrisimha Saraswai and inspired many saints , in Maharastra.
Later on and even at the time of Nrisimha Saraswati, the worship of a Guru, gained prominece. Guru Charitra speaks very highly -about the glorification of Guru and Guru-Gita as a part of the same. Gradually, thus the prefix Shri Guru Deva gained popularity before the thought of Sri Datta Prabhu. From vedic times, it can be gleaned that faith itself formed a part of reasoning from "Acharya Devo Bhava" mentioned in Taittiriya Upanishad, we find that Svetaketu, very highly well-versed in all the scriptures lacked spiritual knowledge, and had to approach a Guru to obtain it. It is rightly said that Guru, Vedanta and Iswara the trinity of spiritual Sadhana is of utmost importance.
God's incarnation in Datta and Shri Guru is one and the same, "God is Trinity is Guru". Nrisimha Saraswati elevated this principle highly, reminding the sloka "Guru is Brahma, Vishnu Maheswar and Guru is nothing but really Parabrahman" Dattatreya is Guru Avatara and later times, invocationJai Guru Dev Datta became an essential, in the Datta worship. A guru is Brahma though he has only one face, instead of four of Brahma; he is Vishnu with two hands instead of four hands and he is Siva with only two eyes, instead of three eyes of Siva.
The grace of Sadguru is the primary necessity of life. The yati marga initiated by Sree Pada Sree Vallabha gradually underwent a change into Guru-marga, considering it synonymous with yati marga, in contrast to Vaidika marga which had a firm hold, previously.
Nrisimha Saraswathi, with his yogic powers and penance, represented himself as one who had come, for mankind, to save it from clutches of narrow mindedness, ignorance, who wrongly considered "body" as god and "eating" as prayer. Before the advent of Nrisimha Saraswathi, Karma kanda had its predominance in every religious aspect of a Hindu.
There was high stress on Vratas, Prayaschitta, etc., even though tall talks on higest highest philosophical doctrines were conspicuous without any Chitta Suddhi. Behind each and every miracle associated with the name of Sri Nrisimha Saraswati, one thing was emphasized that the pleasures and pains of life are inevitable and are of no value but only the real value lies in attaining the ultimate goal of life, self-realisation, the final emancipation.
The self alone is real and all actions are meant for purifying mind. Gradually due to his influence, people's minds got broadened and difference between different sections of the people were bridged over.3 . Manika Prabhu (1817 -1865 A.D.)
Manohara Nayaka Harakude, a Srivatsa gotra, Desastha Brahmin and Baya Devi of Ladavanti were the parents of Manik Prabhu, their illustrious son. Harakude and Baya Devi were very pious and they did
Parayana of Guru Charitra for over sixteen years continously with rigid observance of the rules of worship indicated in Guru Charitra. Afterwards Lord Dattatreya appeared in a dream gave darshan to Harakude and Baya Devi and asked them to choose a boon. Both like Atri and Anasuya, desired to have a son like the Lord and nothing else. Thus the birth of Manika Prabhu came into existence in the world in the year 1817A.D.
From the very childhood Manika Prabhu was known for his worth in yoga, enrapturing his mother Baya Devi like Yasoda Devi, the mother of Lord Krishna by his divine nature. When on Thursdays people flocking together and approaching the child for something or other and their wishes being fulfilled was an exciting scene. Child Manika Prabhu, though he never attended a school, learnt many languages like Kanarese, Urdu, Marathee, Persian, Sanskrit by himself and even acquired proficiency in them.
Baya Devi was widowed just when Manika Prabhu was ten years old and so his maternal uncle was his guardian. Manika Prabhu was found wandering here and there doing things quite contrary to the sacred traditions of Hindu religion. For instance, once Manika Prabhu was found putting all his clothes and his chappals on the head of Maruti idol in a temple.
His settlement at Manikanagar is quite interesting. Once a certain Brahmin family started for Darshana of Manika Prabhu. On their way at Humnabad there was a temple and there they were resting for the night without knowing that it was the meeting place of thieves. That night a batch of dacoits visited the temple as usual and finding the family resting therein, wanted to loot them. The Brahmin family startled by their presence began crying out "Hei ! Manika Prabhu, Manika Prabhu" for helping them out of the great danger they could sense. Soon a miracle happened and the thieves saw a. great yogi, bedecked with gorgeous jewellery in front, standing at the threshold of the temple.
The thieves preferred to loot the person with plenty of jewellery over his body than the humble brahmin family. When the thieves ran after him he disappeared and they found 'themselves benumbed completely, and slowly they sneaked out away, lest something more harm should happen to them. In fact, Manika Prabhu appeared in person there soon after and made the place his permanent abode. The forest surounding the temple was cleared and soon a township sprang up.
The place became in a little time, a centre where people saw both renunciation and enjoyment harmoniously blended. Manika Prabhu never ate the rich food prepared for the devotees thronged, but always lived on Madhukari food brought by his disciples, begging from house to house. Some times he went for alms in that way. The paradox was people could see a rich beggar with all his royal pomp was full of simplicity and humility. In him one could see, the effulgence of a saint with the halo of worldly luxury, completely detached.
An unbroken celibacy even amidst women and wealth was conspicuous in him strictly avoiding association with ladies in loneliness. He showed tothe world that even ladies with proper direction could attain the highest knowledge of Atman the Absolute, if the director is careful about his ownself. He could freely mix with non Hindus, specially Mohammedans, for he evinced equal care and interest in the welfare of one and all. Thus like Nrisimha Saraswati he influenced both the Hindus and Mohammedans alike.
The founder of Sikhism has considered Manika Prabhu as "an incarnation of Dattatreya", while Col.Alkot. of Theosophical Society, Basaveswara the founder of Lingayat sect, gave glorious accounts of Manika Prabhu, as an incarnation born in the world for the good of the people. His wisdom, catholicity and foresight in handling different kinds of people under one banner, is strikingly, significant. In fact his whole life passed in such activity of longing in a fusion of so called opposites in faiths and cults.
It is (Sakalamata sthapana) universally of religions, his seeing no conflict between activity (Pravitti) and inaction (nivritti) was his greatest contribution to the society and mankind.
Manika Prabhu had many contemporaries. Of course the followers and disciples of each saint consider them as different Avataras of Dattatreya. For instance, Sri Baka Prabhu among Lingayats, Sri Alam Prabhu among Yavanas, Sri Swami of Akkalkot were all illustrious in their own way.
These saints who were contemporary always considered the worth of one another and never talked of their own greatness. They never cared for fame. Though, inspite of their dislike for it, it came to them and clung to their names even after their departure from the world.
They were born for a particular mission and they accomplished it in their own way by giving things to the needy and enlightenment to those who sought for it. For instance, Manika Prabhu in the task of enhancing the power of Sidhas, helped Hamsaraja Swami in his pursuit of self realisation.
Manik Prabhu's connection with Sidhas, like Alam Prabhu, Revana Siddha, Suraja Sadananda was mysteriously startling. Manika Prabhu wrote a book called kalpataru which contains the knowledge he desired to impart. Moreover many padas, Artis were composed by him. The subject of Gopi Krishna's equisitively inter-woven in many of his padas in great depth.
Manika Prabhu took Samadhi at Manikanagar in 1865, at the age of 48, the news of which was kept a secret at the behest of Manika Prabhu at the time of his taking Samadhi, to allow the people gathered for Datta- Jayanthi to celebrate without marring their joy which would have been upset if the news of his passing away was made public. Manikanagar has become place of pilagrimage, where people throng from all parts of country for the fulfilment of their cherished desires.
4 . Swami of Akkalkot
Lord Dattatreya is an incarnation of the Trinity, the three highest Gods. Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. Their Shakti, Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati, being highly chaste women follow their husbands and shower their grace (Anugraha) on the devotees of their Lords. Thus the grace of goddess Saraswati as regards knowledge is fully showered upon as soon as a call is heard from the Guru Dattatreya. Thus we find that devotees of Lord Dattatreya were blessed by Saraswati and they produced monumental works.
For instance, Gangadhara Saraswati's Guru Charitra, Dasopanta's Gitarnava, Niranjana's commentaries, Vasudevananda Saraswati's Dattatreya- Mahatmya, inspiring works have been the result of Saraswati's blessings and they contributed considerably to the literature dealing with the process of liberation (Mumukshutva). In the same way Goddess Lakshmi always remained at hand to bestow inexhaustible mines of wealth for advancement of Bhaktas towards their spiritual goal. The life of Manika Prabhu is an instance.
The same is the case with Goddess Annapurna (Parvathi) in the role of mother of Universe (Uma) provides food unlimited by her divine grace without knowing wherefrom it comes and how it is managed. The prominence of the three Goddesses varies according to the needs of time and place. Yet all the three are one and the same. Just like the grace of the Goddess of the three principal deities, we often come across the characteristic features of one or theother of three Gods in the lives of these saints.
In Sree Pada Sree Vallabha the Avadhuta aspect, in Nrisimha Saraswati the paramahamsa aspect, in the Swami of Akkalkot the child-like (Bala) aspect and mad life (Unmatta), and in Shirdi Sai a peculiar synthesis of all these aspects of Dattatreya are discernible. Various different accounts evolved out of the biographical versions about the birth of the Swami Samartha as pronounced by him at several times. Firstly he told a Pujari of Ganagapur that his name was Nrisimha-bana and that he was born 450 years ago. Secondly, he told a Parsi gentleman that he was from Kadalivana moved to various places, Haridwar. Kedareswara, Pandharpur and finally settled at Akkalkot.
Thirdly, he told a devotee Shri Darve that his caste was a Brahmin of Yajurveda branch Kasyapa Gotra. Fourthly, he told a wine merchant that himself an originator having his bed on a leaf of a banyan tree at Dattanagar, and another time told that he was an outcast (Chamar) and his parents belong to the caste of Mahar. Just as his statements regarding his name and caste are varied, his behaviour and daily-life actions happened to be strange and even at times transcending bounds of decency.
But nobody ever reported that he behaved against the common rules of the society. Every body in fact respected him as a great saint of unfathomable behaviour and absolutely unconcerned and unattached attitude to the objects, men or environment around him. The life of Swami Samartha was full of miracles and thousands of people gathered around him solely for fulfilment of their worldly desires, while none went to him for spiritual progress.
Each utterance of the Swami was regarded to contain some deep secret meaning or reference to a certain incident of the future. According to Swami Shivananda Saraswati, "These sages are absolutely free from selfish desires, They simply witted at times to do good to humanity and every thing came to pass instantaneously". In this aspect, a saint differs from a juggler who performs magic with a selfish motive of earning for his livelihood, and moreover, the action created is an illusion created by him while in the case of a saint it is distinctly different.
Swami Samartha discriminated between a righteous desire and an unrighteous one. His refusal of his grace to bless, the revolutionary design of V.D.Phadke, to the Gaeckwad of Baroda who tried to tempt him with wealth and position and so many others who approached him
with mundane motives illustrates the sublime consideration with which he bestowed his anugraham. His life inspired and led many disciples on the path of liberation. Nrisimha Bharati of Alandi, Baba Sabnis are some of them. The highly spiritual life of Samartha was conspicuous in his daily routine. He did each and every work only when he had a mind to do it.
Numerous people were miraculously cured by the grace of Swami. The medicines he prescribed varied with the faith of the patient from the juice of a lemon to a remedy prescribed of putting a hand bitten by a scorpion inside a shoe for relief. Many a devotee connected with places sacred to Dattatreya such as Ganagapur, Narsoba Wadi got mysterious calls from their deity to go to the Swami at Akkalkot for his blessings. By his grace he brought about a fundamental change in the lives of many (Hridaya Parivartan) by influencing their minds and hearts to get over their weaknesses and blemishes. In short Swami emphasised the essentiality of purity of mind. He had love and compassion for all cretures without any distinction.
Such a personality remarkable both from physical and spiritual aspects, passed away in April 30, 1878 A.D. The Swami wrote nothing yet his whole life inspired many works in this school. While residing both at Akkala (Buddhi) and at kot (Avarna) as a mere witness of both mind and environment around, he dispelled ignorance and showed a clear way of envisioning the reality behind and beyond all things.
5 . Samartha Sadguru Sai Baba
In the unbroken line of sages and saints of Bharat Varsha, who held aloft the torch of spirituality in all climes and ages, the sage of Shirdi, occupies a very significant position. He is a very mysterious personality whom everybody interprets in his own way but no interpetation could give a complete picture of the saint. This is perhaps the reason why he is Rama, Krishna, Hanuman, Sankara, Ganpathi, Dattatreyaall rolled in one according to the Samskar and desire of different devotees. To comprehend the divine nature of Sainath in its entirety is a stupendous exercise in the subtle realm of intuition, experience and realisation. His birth is shrowded in great mystery for no one knew his parentage nor the place of his birth. Possibly, the view held by some that he is a "Ayoni Sambhav" (not born from human womb) be the case, like Lord Dattatreya. Rightly SaiBaba, a Sampurna Avatar of Lord Dattatreya, has his centre every where without a limiting circumference anywhere. When he was asked about his parent-hood, he said "The world is my village, Brahma the father and Maya the Mother".
His effulgent complexion was said to be strikingly captivating and endearingly charmful. It is said that particularly, the lustrous golden-hued-body and brilliantly beaming face were remarkably arresting one's attention and they were considered to be the significatnt features of a Tapasvi observing the Mahavrat comprising of Ahimsa, Satya, Astheya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha, Another distinctive feature was Sai's most brilliant and enchanting eyes beaming out cascades of love compassion and solace.
Lo! just a glance of his was enough to dispel all baffling doubts and distressing problems. Significantly, Sai was easily accessible equally to the pauper and the prince, the illiterate and the learned, the young and the old, the atheist and the theist. Sai the arch-alchemist could in the crucible of his irresistible and incissive look and words of divine wisom, transmute the faulty and the fallen, the base metals into precious ones, using the chemical of his grace endowed with compassion and love.
The sublime concept of 'Vasudhaika Kutumbam" one world one humanity has been the cardinal principle of the glorious heritage of spirtual and social culture of Bharat Varsha all through the millenniums of the past. In this aspect "Tat-Twam Asi" "Thou Art that" represents the fundamental identity of macrocosm and microcosm and having the same natural characterstics, which are in constant dynamic contact with each other.
Sai laid stress on constant faith (Nista) and patience (Saburi) as he demanded always these "two coins" from his devotees. Performance of one's own duty and worship of one's own family deity with pure heart had his appreciation, though at times Sai gave rude shocks to narrow-minded orthodoxy. Yet he never encouraged nor approved anybody changing his religion or his traditional mode of worship.
This way of handling the two divine influence over them. His catholicity of outlook, harmonious synthesis of univarsal religion which is as much, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Zorasterian, even the monism derived from the 19th and early 20th century scientific and technological development, storming the intellectual world, is akin to his tenets. Many great Mahatmas from time to time effected changes in the mode of thinking, worship and ways of life. As a result of their teachings new traditions, new concepts and perceptions have sprung up. Unfortunately, certain aberrations too have crept in. But the life -teachings of Sai are singularly free from these defects.Sai's grace is like the sea-wind, always blowing from the sea, fresh and envigouration.
The Ahimsa aspect of Jainism, the renunciation aspect of Buddhism, the Dharmic aspect of Lord Rama the Nishkama-Karma aspect of Lord Krishna, the universal-love aspect of Jesus, the universalbrotherhood aspect of Islam-all are found harmoniously blended in Sai Nath's way of life, Strikingly in him, the qualities of an Avadhuta and Sanyasin the salient features of sufism, of a hazrat, a parvardigar, a bhikku are easily discernible, Sai is like an oasis in a desert, which provides cool shelter and a refreshing drink to parched souls treading the scorching sands of sansaric life. Truely, there can be no better healing balm than Sai's grace for bleeding hearts badly mauled and wounded in the battles of life. Sai incessantly emphasised the fundamental oneness of all religions.
Sai never prescribed a particular mode or method of worship nor initiated with mantra to any one, nor asked to perform any creedal religious rituals. He wrote nothing though his thoughts and flashy sayings are divine in nature and prophetic in result. He is rightly considered to have incarnated in Kali Age as an Avatar of redemption. Even the refuse and the reprobate looked down by the society readily received his Anugraha equally with the righteous and the high. There was no exclusive-ness in His benign concern for the suffering. His grace, was magnanimously pervasive and captivatingly persuasive. "If any child gets covered with mud and dust, is it not my duty like a mother to cleanse him and take him on my lap" typically illustrates the trait of Shri Sai Baba's mercy and concern for the penitent and defaulter, In all the known Avatars of the yore.
"Sistha Rakshana and Dustha Sikshana" prevailed as the specific mission of the Avatar. But, singularly Sri Sai, a unique Avatar of Redemption of Kaliyug, redeemed in his own uninimitable way, the faulty the perfidy and even the felon by curtailing their innate tendencies and propensities and effected a complete transformation in the course of their lives. He considered every one without distinction as his child and as mother to her children, to correct, protect and enliven, was his mission.
He finished his work left his corporeal body, (which he assumed of his own volition) on Vijaya Dasami, and entered into Mahasamadhi in 1918 a day which significantly happenened to be Bhagawan Buddha's Nirvana, Muharam and Dassarah important and significant to Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists alike.
His samadhi at Shirdi acquired importance next to Tirupathi, the abode of Lord Venkateswara in the aspect of huge concourse of devotees ever increasing in number day after day, flocking to Shirdi for solace and fulfilment of their desires, temporal and spiritual as well. In the words of Swami Abhedananda, "Sai Baba is the one great ever bright luminary, still having unparalleled existence, ever shedding his resplendent rays to illuminate every nook and corner of the world".
The significant nature of Shirdi Sai's manifestation, at once draws our attention to the distinctive feature of the emergence of numerous temples with Vigraha of Sai installed and worshipped with usual agamic rites and rituals observed in the temples of all Hindu pantheon, Vishnu, Siva, Rama, Krishna, etc.. From all over India and abroad devotees are found flocking at Shirdi in thousands and thousands visiting His Samadhi in the Mandir and Dwarakamayi where he stayed mostly.
Sri Sai is a beacon light, a prophet not to proselytise but to help, not to concert but to transform, not to subdue but to elevate, not merely to preach but to live accordingly. His cosmic message of universal brotherhood and endearing humanism and love for all beings, is eternal.