Chapter 38 of Sai Satcharitra describes how Sai Baba used to feed His devotees. It is very well known that Baba lived on alms which He got from five houses of Shirdi. But when love overflowed in Baba's heart for His devotees, He used to cook food for them and fed them to their heart's content.
Baba has compared living being's hunger to Agni of Havan. We feel much perturbed when we miss meal of one time. So if anyone satisfies hunger of any other living being, he gets the fruit of doing Havan.
Baba used to cook both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Sometimes out of shere love for His close Bhaktas He used to test them. Here are two such incidents from Sai Satcharitra Chapter 38.
1. On an Ekadashi day He gave some rupees to Dada Kelkar and asked him to go in person to Koralha to get mutton from there. This Dada Kelkar was an orthodox Brahmin and kept all orthodox manners in his life. He knew that offering wealth, grain and clothes etc., to a Sad-guru was not enough but that implicit obedience to and prompt compliance with His order was the real Dakshina that pleased Him most. So Dada Kelkar dressed himself and started for the place. Then Baba called him back and said, "Don't go yourself, but send somebody." Then Dada sent servant Pandu for the purpose. Seeing him starting, Baba asked Dada to call him back and cancelled that programme.
2. On another occation Baba asked Dada just to see how the saltish `Pulava' (mutton dish) was done. The latter said casually and formally that it was alright. Then Baba said to him "Neither you have seen it with your eyes, nor tasted in with your tongue, then how could you say that it was good? Just take out the lid and see." Saying this Baba caught his arm and thrust it into the pot and added, "Draw out your arm and taking a ladle, put some quantity in the dish without caring for your orthodoxy and without blustering." When a wave of real love rises in a mother's mind, she pinches her child with her hand and when it begins to cry and shout, she hugs it close to her bosom. Similarly Baba, in a true motherly way pinched Dada Kelkar in this fashion. Really no saint or guru will ever force his orthodox disciple to eat forbidden food and defile himself thereby.
The following is a story similar to the above two incidents.
One day Baba's darbar assembled in Dwarkamai. Baba decided to prepare mutton biryani (a dish made from rice, spices, curd and mutton). A devotee was chopping tiny mutton pieces in the courtyard of Dwarkamai on Baba's instruction.
A Brahmin from nearby village was also one of Darbaris present that day. After hearing Baba's fame, he had come to Shirdi. Baba calls His devotees on His own accord. We have seen many incidents where devotees came to Shirdi and were welcomed with harsh abuses by Baba. Devotees failed to recognise Baba's blessings in disguise and repented many a times. All are equal in front of Baba, but His unique methods aroused doubts in His devotees' minds. Simple rustic villagers of Shirdi and also those who were lucky enough to meet Him at least once were benefitted immensely. Baba had descended on this earth for this mankind. He left His store of merits for us and became a part of us. So if we receive anything from him it must be accepted readily leaving orthodox rituals and logical thinking. He is Sadguru and He can test us in any way He likes, but why to doubt His blessings in disguise? The Brahmin was very poor and this was can be clearly understood by seeing his condition. He thought "What kind of Saint is this? He is allowing mutton to be chopped in this Holy Dwarkamai? How can a non-vegetatarian dish be prepared by a Saint and be served". He was not aware of Baba's kindness and His unique ways to bless His devotees.
No sooner these thoughts passed Brahmin's mind, Baba knew it. Mercy downed in Baba's heart at the sight of Brahmin's pitable condition. Baba said, "Put two pieces of mutton in this Brahmin's jholi (handbag). Let his children relish them".
Discrimination between caste and creed were prominent in those days (approximately in the year 1912). Such discrimination crossed its limits in villages. Hearing such words of Baba, Brahmin got scared and his legs started trembling. He stood dumb founded and was in dilema. The person who was chopping the mutton also started thinking with surprise, that how could a Brahmin enter his village with mutton pieces.
Seeing the receipent and the giver starring at each other with surprise and worry, Baba got enraged. He shouted, "I told you, give some pieces to this Brahmin and fled him away". No one had the courage to disobey Baba's order. The person stood up and placed few mutton pieces in Brahmin's jholi. Brahmin picked up his jholi and started walking towards his village with heavy heart. He was much unpleased with the reception he got in Shirdi.
If anyone saw him with mutton pieces, what will happen? Such thoughts perturbed him. There was possibility of his abondonment from his caste and village.
After reaching about one and half mile away from Shirdi, he came near nala. A thought to throw all the mutton pieces in that nala came to his mind. He thought Baba had misbehaved with him and insulted his religion. No one was around the Nala and so it was an opportunity to get rid of those mutton pieces. Thinking this he held his jholi upside down above nala. And Lo! Glitterous pieces of gold were falling instead of the mutton pieces. One by one all the mutton (gold pieces) pieces fell into the nala and vanished in water. Still gathering some hope, he put his hand in jholi. There was one piece of gold hanging in the jholi. Now there was no bound of Brahmin's grief and repentence.
He went running to Dwarkamai and narrated the whole incident to all the persons present. Baba again got angry and dashed his Satka and ran after Brahmin. Brahmin who was much scared ran away. Baba returned to Dwarkamai and said, "That Brahmin was much unfortunate, gold was not in his children's fate".
Now a question will arise that, "Why Baba did not give gold directly to Brahmin instead of mutton pieces. Why did He followed such peculiar way?" The answer is clear. If Baba had given gold pieces to Brahmin in front of everyone all devotees would start expecting blessings in the form of money and neglected what Baba wished to give them for their spiritual progess. Baba always wished to remain away from the clutches of maya. Only we have to keep full faith in Baba and trust His strange deeds.
© Shirdi Sai Baba Life Teachings and Stories