Few mails are pouring in to know my first encounter with Shirdi Sai Baba. Even more some devotees have requested the same on message board too!!! I can rightly understand curiosity of all readers to know how Baba's loved flowed on me and i was given chance to serve Him. Instead of replying individually to mails, i decided to post it here.
Well, in my case, as per my view point, complications in situations were less, but still the outcome is efficious and you all are witness to it. There is no doubt that it is Baba Who has chosen me, but before referring my case i would like to share how my parents were chosen first.
My father, as i have seen from childhood, was more attracted to Sai Baba. About thirty years from today he was working in Nasik and all of sudden he was invited by his friend to go to Shirdi. My father is devout person and love to read religious and spiritual books. Taking it as a mere pilgrimage he went there and was permanently attracted to Baba. With Baba's grace my father got good job and it was at that time he had been to Shirdi and offered shawl of flowers to Baba with small amount of money he carried with him.
We had few Sai Baba photographs in our house, but it did not attract me. Moreover my father did not teach, both me and my younger brother to worship only Sai Baba. He asked us to worship "God - The Almighty". Being Maharashtrains by caste we both were more or less devoted to Lord Ganeshji. Sai Baba books were none in our house except Sai Sagunupasana which my father bought from Shirdi before he got married. Today also it is with us. When I saw it first time it seemed to be very untidy, pages had turned out to be yellowish, somewhere there were scratches too. My father and even mother used to sing "Ananta Tula Te" everyday while offering their prayers. I also tried to learn it by heart and started singing along with them when i was in third or fourth std, but it was not done out of devotion to Baba. Just i was doing this to follow my parents. I remember my parents told me that they had taken me to Shirdi after my birth and in those days Shirdi was not so crowded like it is now. So poojariji took me and placed me in Baba's lap. Ah! i hope i could feel that moment and understand it importance consciously. Still i feel myself fortunate. The same was repeated with my brother too! We used to go to Shirdi off and on but memories have faded now. I have few memories when i went to Shirdi after my brother was born i.e only large petalled roses and dried grapes are now in my memory today :)
After that almost 14 years passed and we did not go to Shirdi. Though we brother and sister did not care much for that, it did not occur to my parents also that we must go to Shirdi. Rather the conclusion which I draw today is that Baba only did not call us.
I had completed my graduation and my brother was to give his first board exams i.e. 10th std. My mother met Sai Devotee who lives in our neighbourhood. Casual talks included few things about Sai Baba and also Sai Satcharitra. My mother borrowed Sai Satcharitra from her and started parayan. She did her first parayan only to seek help from Baba in my brother's studies. Let me tell you one thing that my brother is very brilliant in studies and thus we are always concerned to help him in his studies. Few more parayans followed this first one and every parayan was for the same purpose. After my brother's exams, we were called to Shirdi. It was a mere holiday for me and nothing was out of devotion. Though i used to go to Sai temple nearby my house on every Thursday when i was in 12th std, it was only for seeking help in studies :( One thing i remember here. We went to Shirdi in end of May month. Maharashtra is very hot during this time. While we were in queue i was much troubled due to hot weather, but when i reached main hall, i felt that weather has suddenly changed. It was very cool there. I felt so relaxed and refreshing. As it was Thursday i had fortune to touch Baba's paduka and satka. Still i was not attracted to Baba to a greater extent. While returning my mother purchased Sai Satcharitra in gujarati for herself. Now see how Baba pulled me towards Him.
My mother asked me to read Sai Satcharitra from Dashera of the year 2005. It was not regular with me and there was very little progress. Time headed and like this seven months passed. I enjoyed stories but it was difficult for me to make my mind, take the book in my hand and start reading. It was one Sunday of May 2005 and my parents were going to my relatives place. They asked me to accompany them. I was in no mood to go, so my mother gave me Sai Satcharitra and said, "Sit in front of Baba and read it. Finish it till Thursday". About 10 chapters were remaining but i was doubtful of completing it till Thursday. Unwillingly, again i sat down to read and said, "Baba if You wish i will read, but it must be a matter between us". It was summer time and my boss was on business tour to abroad. So we were not loaded with much work at that time. I had carried Sai Satcharitra with me to office. I was free for half an hour. After lunch i took Sai Satcharitra and went in a cabin to read it. My collegues, who are Maharashtrains and Sai devotees too, got to know about it.
Casually we started talking about Sai Baba and Sai Satcharitra. I said that it was somewhat difficult to read it in gujarati. If i could find Sai Satcharitra in english, it would be better for me. Suddenly my manager remembered that his brother-in-law was in Shirdi. He called him and my manager's brother-in-law had just came out of Sansthan's book stall!!! At that time mobiles were allowed in Samadhi Mandir premises if it were basic models. My manager passed on my message and also asked him to bring some Sai Satcharitra for himself too. It was about 3 - 3:30 PM when all this happened. Next day at about 11:30 AM, my manager's brother-in-law was in office with Sai Satcharitra in english for me. I was feeling so happy from within, but could not guess why it was so. As soon as i took it in my hands, i felt as if the book is saying "Read Me". I opened it and turned pages and a feeling of getting something which has been lost earlier gathered me. I readily completed Sai Satcharitra in gujarati on Thursday in greed to read the other one in english.
I started reading english Sai Satcharitra. I had not planned to do parayan. But i was finding it so interesting that i was moving with fast pace. Meanwhile a friend of mine had applied for home loan. But there was no ray of hope of getting it. It was third day of my reading. I took a vow (rather say a test) for completing Sai Satcharitra in a week's time and asked Baba to take care of my friend's loan application. On sixth day, i came to know that all possibilities of getting loan have failed. There was an inner confidence that even though one day is left, Baba will show miracle. On seventh day i quickly finished my parayan in morning and started for office. In the way i got call from my friend that loan was sanctioned with not only the applied amount but far more than that!!! It was a miracle for my friend, but for me it increased my faith in Baba and my journey on devotion's path had started.
Now that my faith in parayan of Sai Satcharitra and Sai Baba had increased immensely, i took up nine parayans for success of my brother as he was in 12th std. After completing nine parayans, we were called to Shirdi on Makar Sankranti (January 14, 2007). We had purchased a shawl to be consecrated at Baba's Samadhi. Due to festive season there was heavy rush. My mother gave shawl to poojariji. Before she could take shawl back from poojariji she had to move backwards due to push and pulls. I was behind my mother. She asked to stand in a corner and again she went in front of Samadhi to ask for shawl. Poojariji gave her shawl back with two small idols of Baba!!! My mother's happiness was on highest level, but we were in fix as to what we have to do with two idols of Baba. We felt that Baba had Himself come to us. The idol of Baba rather i prefer to call Baba took place in our shrine and we started worshipping. Till then we did not have Baba's idol in our house except an old framed black and white photograph of Baba.
On the other hand there were problems in my life, but my faith in Baba did not tremble instead all those situations and bad days helped me to get closer to Baba. My worship to Baba was not formal. But Baba had something else in His mind. On one wednesday night i had a dream. I had gone to a shop of pooja articles. It was early morning and the shop had just opened. A person was sweeping open space in front of the shop. The shop owner was fat person. I went inside and asked for mala (small necklace). He showed me and i liked one in red-yellow colour. Then i asked for khes (stoll). He said go outside many are hanging there. There were many long stolls and my Baba's idol was small. I showed by gesture that the idol is of so and so size, please show me stolls to fit that size, but he said he did not have. I purchased mala and went off. When i woke up i was happy and thought that Baba wants me to bring these two things for Him. It was thursday morning and i got ready for office before usual time to purchase these things. The shop which i saw in dream was located on road side from where i used to pass daily. Still it did not attract my attention anyday. But Baba showed me the shop in dream and everything happened as was seen in dream. I got small necklace but could not get stoll. In evening while returning home, i took a way from where i dont go anyday. I saw a shop of pooja articles and stopped there. I went inside and asked for stoll. To my surpise, it got stoll too on the same day i.e. Thursday!!! After that i started regular worship on Thursdays to Baba. Time passed by as sand in hand and unexpectedly i started blogs with help of "Sai Man" who himself came forward to help me. He instructed me in all respects technically and all my blogs are an outcome of his hard work and efforts behind me.
How i was titled "Sai Ki Deewani"
As you all know Baba has made me instrumental in Sai Bhajan album SAI TERE HAZAARON NAAM written and sung by Sai brother Rana Gill. Baba made us meet about one year ago. One day he landed on one of my blogs accidently while checking his mails. He saw much information there and thought in his mind "A person who passionately loves Sai Babaji can only do such a wonderful work". With Baba's grace and will, he called me up. He shared this thought with me also in our first conversation. I was surprised and happy about what he said. Till then nobody has exclaimed such words for me!!! I was known as "Sai Devotee" but this title was unique in itself and carried a deep meaning. Baba had planned a long way relationship between both of us and thus we started working for Him together. "Sai Man" instructed me technically and Sai brother Ranaji who is far away from technical aspects, instructed me in those areas which were essential to move forward in spiritual matters or say to lead a good life. Some time later i was searching for some screen name and also some good quote for Baba for my blogs for footer note. I thought so much on this, but could not reach any conclusion. It was not new for me that i take advices from Sai brother Rana Gill in many matters or sometimes it directly came to me without even asking!!! I shared my confusion with him and his immediate reply was "Use Sai Ki Deewani". I said, "First of all it is in Hindi and it looks proudy". He said, "No you go for this only. To trace out deep meaning from it, let devotees think over it twice". Also he gave me permission to use first line of one of his bhajans "Sai Teri Leela" as footer notes of all my blogs. My hearty thanks to him. Well, dear readers, now i presume that it is clear to you what made me call "Sai Ki Deewani". My belief is that it is Baba who is behind all scenes!!! My only prayer to Baba is to allow me to work for His cause in all my life and always love me as He does now :)
An Update (as on August 5, 2010):
The incident of two idols as narrated above was a mystery to us. Why we were given two idols and what we were supposed to do with them was an unanswered question. But Sai Baba, as He always demands patience more than our faith, solved this mystery today. After marriage and after moving to our new home, i, obviously had a wish to have Baba's throne as i had earlier at my parent's place and could serve Him the way i did there. Out of the two idols, we had placed one idol in our shrine from the time we got it and the other one was kept separately to get Baba's indication about it. My mother after wedding, one day told me that she would give me the other idol of Baba which we got from Samadhi mandir. Thus the mystery why Two Babaji idols came to our house has been solved. My parents, though, were always aware of the fact that their daughter was to go away from their home someday, did not think that such would be our Father's wish for me. Babaji knows past, present and future of all His kids and He plans everything in advance of them all the time. Thanks Babaji for coming to my new home!!! Much much love to You. Be always with me like You have been.
© Shirdi Sai Baba Life Teachings and Stories