Mhlasapati, a simple rustic goldsmith of small village like Shirdi, is counted among closest and foremost devotees of Sai Baba and it is very much correct to be considered so.
Mhlasapati, the name each and every devotee of Baba is familiar, named, with divine instinct, the guest Fakir as ‘Sai’.
Mhlasapati was the only one who adhering to Baba’s words as a true devotee, sat for three consecutive days with Baba’s body in his lap when He took short Mahasamadhi in the year 1886.
If Baba had not made this blessed soul a medium, the history of His life would have been incomplete and thus importance of Sai Baba’s name would not have fallen in our ears.
Formal Worship of Sai Baba Started…
Another fact depicting importance of Mhlasapati is that he was the first person, a staunch Hindu, who started worshiping Sai Baba at the time when all villagers of Shirdi considered Baba as a Muslim saint and took him up as his Guru. He applied Chandan (Sandalwood) Paste to Baba’s neck and offered Him flowers. Nobody else except Mhlasapati had the permission to do so which became a routine and gradually Mhlasapti started applying tilak of sandalwood paste on Baba’s forehead. Also Mhlasapati was the one from whom Baba accepted milk as a part of his worship. Nana Saheb Dengle also wanted to perform pooja to Baba in the same manner, but could not succeed inspite of several requests. Baba used to say, “Worship this pole of Dwarkamai’s Masjid, not Me”. But nobody could satisfy their thirst of worshiping Baba in their own way through an inanimate thing like a pole. On intervention of another close devotee of Baba, Dagdu Dengle succeeded to seek Baba’s permission to worship Him as he pleased. Thus, this weak poojari of Khandoba temple who fed himself and his family by begging alms, can be considered as the key person in starting proper method of worship to Baba.
Mhlasapati’s spiritual journey and deeds
Mhlasapati considered ‘Mhlasapti (Khandoba) Puran’ as his Ramayan and he read it daily without fail and also he used to read it among 150 audience of goldsmith community. Every year, he used to go to Jejuri (about 150 miles away from Shirdi) taking Palki and other devotees in procession.
While being in meditation sometimes, Mhlasapati could see near future and could describe it. He was completely pure, simple, trust-worthy, pious and religious human. Such a person is liable for God’s blessings and God, with the help of such a body highlight deep-penetrated secrets to ignorant persons.
Mhlasapti was detached with worldly desires. The amount received from donations in temple was used up for its expenses. In the name of property, he had a mud-house in Shirdi and a land of seven acres which could not be harvested due to shortage of water. Also Khandoba temple was made up of mud and was situated on Shirdi’s border. He worked as a goldsmith to run his family expenses, but Shirdi being a small village, people did not earn that much money which would suffice to buy gold. Mhlasapati being engaged in God’s bhajans would always be carefree from financial worries. Often in the state of meditation, he saw dreams!!! His main goal of life was to get rid from cycle of life and death. He prayed to Lord Khandoba to give him this blessing only. Khandoba is considered as an incarnation of Lord Shiva Who is said to give liberation. He was ever conscious about the goal of liberation and thus he acted in pure, devoted way and used to be in company of good personalities.
Though existing in 19th century, Mhlasapti with people belonging to any caste were equal. He did not possessed hatred for anyone. So, it was his practice to welcome any saint visiting Shirdi like Jankidas, Devidas and many alike and arranging for their food and lodging. Two others, Kashiram Shimpi and Appa Bhil were also of similar nature and thus the trio used to get together and served guest Saints in Shirdi. Kashiram Shimpi and Appa Bhil used to serve in the limits which their pockets allow, but Mhlasapati, though poor readily served saints with his heart and body (Tan and Man). Thus every saint (Fakir) visiting Shirdi got warm welcome and respect.
It was good fortune and relation of past births that Mhlasapti could spend about 50 years of his life with Sai Baba. In the year 1872, when Baba first came to Shirdi in marriage procession of Chand Patil said, “This place (Khandoba temple) is appropriate for a Fakir like Me”. As per Muslim custom, idol worship is prohibited and Baba was fully aware of such customs. Also He knew fully about Mhlasapti’s disagreement of keeping a muslim Fakir in Khandoba temple, so Baba said, “God of Hindu, Muslim, Christians and Sikh is the same, but if you object My staying here. I go away”.
To be continued…