Perpetually Burning Sacred Fire Dhuni
Location: It is situated on upper level of Complete Shirdi Guide – The Mosque Named Dwarkamai covered by iron cage.
History: The dhuni is the most significant part of Dwarkamai and Lord Baba was intimately associated with this sacred fire and so are we. He, though not bound by any stead fast rules always had dhuni burning in Dwarkamai in accordance with Hindu and Sufism culture. But never had He bound Himself or others with any set rules, in fact few villagers took live embers from the dhuni to light their household fires.
The dhuni did not burn only with firewood but live embers were fed with Lord Baba’s old and torn out kafni. One can refer “Offerings to Dhuni – Shirdi Sai Baba’s Old Clothes” article if wish to know more. Once it so happened that the dhuni got fierce and wild with its flames reaching roof. Every present devotee in Dwarkamai feared this face of Dhuni Maa. But none dared to say anything. Lord Baba, loving fakir as He was, soon came to know about fear in His devotees’ heart and responded instantly. He dashed His Satka and ordered flames to come down and be calm for His kids were frightened. At each stroke, force of flames abated and the fire soon came back to the normal state.
The food collected by Lord Baba by begging in five fortunate houses of Shirdi was first offered to Dhuni. The relation which Lord Baba hold with Dhuni maa was certainly mysterious but it was an important part of routine. As one goes on reading Shri Sai Satcharitra it becomes evident that Lord Baba would intercede on behalf of His devotees to take care of their domestic and social needs in order to carry them on the path of spiritual advancement. In fact today also when suffering souls see this dhuni through iron cage, it is their experience that all bad deeds, worries and hardships are buried away in dhuni by its mere glance. More often Lord Baba was found sitting near Dhuni in contemplation. This was more intense in morning after Lord Baba started his day-time routine after night’s rest and again at sunset.
|Lord Sai Baba In Contemplation Near Dhuni Maa|
|Dhuni Maa In Times Of Lord Sai Baba|
|Chimney At The Top Of Dwarkamai|
Present: Today the spot where lord Baba seated is marked by silver padukas. The dhuni is well maintained by Shirdi Sansthan in the very same place where it was originally lit by Lord Baba closely covered with iron cages. A chimney is kept on the top of Dwarkamai to discharge sooth. In 1998 the dhuni pit was rebuilt and chimney was replaced by present one by Sansthan.
After having read in detail about dhuni now comes some talk about Udi – the resultant ash from sacred fire. From the days counted back to the start of Lord Baba’s permanent stay in Dwarkamai, it was His practice to give Holy ash to visitors. The healing power possessed by this sacred ash has recorded many cases of people getting rid of pain and sickness. This continues today also. Handful of Udi was given by Lord Baba apart from the fact that it was applied and given to visitors on their arrival and departure to protect them from any untoward happening in journey. When a current of joy passed through Lord Baba, He used to sing a song of describing greatness of udi whose words are “Ramte Ram Aogi Aogi Udiyan Ki Guniya Laogi Laogi” meaning “O Playful Ram, come, come and bring with You sacks of Udi…” Such was Lord Baba’s love for udi and thus He enacted such actions to make others understand how dear uUi was to Him and it was His blessings in tangible nature.
With passing time Udi has shown many miracles of curing diseases in this era of medical advancement. Also it necessarily becomes a dear tangible blessing for devotee who has not been that fortunate to see Him with mere eyes as Udi is resultant of the very same sacred fire which was lit and kindled by Lord Baba Himself.
Present: Devotees of Lord Baba even today take this blessed gift from Shirdi. It is available in small pockets from a booth near Lendibaug. It can be used in any desirable way for curing diseases. There is no fixed proportion, prescription or dosage for the same. Some prefer to apply it on forehead after daily worship, some intake a pinch of it dry or in water, some apply at spot of pain, some always carry it with them for emergency situations and some collect lots of such small packets for distributing it to needy ones, thus with unlimited healing powers this Udi acts as Sanjiwani Butti and the powers contained in it are not limited to any particular pain, sickness or disease.
The Puja Pillar
Location: This pillar is situated just near to Dhuni iron cage. As one proceeds in upper level of Dwarkamai, he can find it on left hand side. Silver padukas are placed at bottom of the pillar.
History: The pillar played a significant role in worship of Lord Baba on Gurupoornima. A point worth remarking her comes to surface – H.V.Sathe said that there was no worship to Lord Baba on Gurupoornima. On one such occasion Lord Baba sent Dada Kelkar and said, “Do you remember that today is Gurupoornima? Go and bring pooja materials and worship that post” pointing towards pillar. From then onwards the practice of celebrating Gurupoornima by worshipping Lord Baba started and it continues till today. Even to those devotees, who wished to worship Lord Baba in person, He told them to worship Lord Baba the pillar and not Him. Thus this pillar certainly deserves a touch full of warmth, love and devotion from a devotee climbing steps of Dwarkamai alongwith full reverence.
Kolamba and Water-Pot
Lord Baba was God incarnate Who descended on earth in this Kaliyug. Thus He, with His own actions, deeds and life-style, set example of “Simple Living and High Thinking” on the devotees who were rather simple rustic villagers of Shirdi and all the other upcoming generations of this modern era. As we have read in some or the other book based on Lord Baba or many sculptures depict that Lord Baba sustained Himself on begged alms even though He with all His powers and ambience could gather immense amount of Dakshina from visitors. Such begged food was collected and kept in an earthen pot known as “Kolamba”.
Location: The Kolamba is kept in southwest corner of Masjid with a waterpot on stand above it.
History: Lord Baba generally went on begging rounds twice a day. Only five houses were blessed with this gesture of Lord Baba – Vaman Gondkar, Vaman Sakharam Shelke, Bayaji Appa Kote Patil and Nandram Marwari. Solid food was collected in His “Jholi” (Cloth – bag) and liquid food was stored in small tumbler made up of tin.
After returning from begging round, the food was first offered to Dhuni Maa and then made available for every creature and person. Today devotees and localities of Shirdi offer Naivedya to Lord Baba and leave it in Kolamba as if they are giving Bhiksha to Lord Baba.
Present: Lord Baba used to keep water in an earthen pot. At the same place, this water pot is placed and devotees coming to Dwarkamai take the water as Holy Tirth directly from Lord Baba.
Location: On the western wall of the mosque, there is a nimbar or niche with a set of lamps in front of it. The spot where Lord Baba used to sit is decorated by a garland. Nimbar is common in all mosques, but Lord Baba placed lamps near it.
History: It is the same place where Lord Baba used to sit for lunch with rows of devotees on His either side, with His back to Nimbar. Also He used to sleep with His Head pointing towards Nimbar. It is said that it is the most powerful spot of Dwarkamai, but we are unfortunate that we can’t even have a touch of it due to ever increasing crowd in Shirdi.
The Grinding Stone
Location: A Grinding Stone is a common kitchen item of rural areas of India. Lord Baba had also included this in His Dwarkamai mosque. It has been placed in a corner of the north direction of the mosque. Two-three more such grinding stones are kept in display in museum which is situated in Samadhi Mandir Premises.
History: An incident depicting the apt use of grinding stone by Lord Baba is given in the very first chapter of Shri Sai Satcharitra as below:
“It was sometime after 1910 A.D. that I went, one fine morning, to the Masjid (Dwarkamai) in Shirdi for getting a darshan of Sai Baba. I was wonder-struck to see the following phenomenon. After washing His mouth and face, Sai Baba began to make preparations for grinding wheat. He spread a sack on the floor; and thereon set a hand-mill. He took some quantity of wheat in a winnowing fan, and then drawing up the sleeves of His Kafni (robe); and taking hold of the peg of the hand-mill, started grinding the wheat by putting a few handfuls of wheat in the upper opening of the mill and rotoated it. I thought ‘What business Sai Baba had with the grinding of wheat, when He possessed nothing and stored nothing, and as He lived on alms!’ Some people who had come there thought likewise, but none had the courage to ask Sai Baba what He was doing. Immediately, this news of Sai Baba’s grinding wheat spread into the village, and at once men and women ran to the Masjid (Dwarkamai) and flocked there to see Sai Baba’s act. Four bold women, fro m the crowd, forced their way up and pushing Sai Baba aside, took forcibly the peg or handle into their hands, and, singing Sai Baba’s Leelas, started grinding. At first Sai Baba was enraged, but on seeing the women’s love and devotion, He was much pleased and began to smile. While they were grinding, they began to think that Sai Baba had no house, no property, no children, none to look after, and He lived on alms, He did not require any wheat-flour for making bread or roti, what will He do with this big quantity of flour? Perhaps as Sai Baba is very kind, He will distribute the flour amongst us. Thinking in this way while singing, they finished the grinding and after putting the hand-mill aside, they divided the flour into four portions and began to remove them one per head. Sai Baba, Who was calm and quiet up till now, got wild and started abusing them saying, “Ladies, are you gone mad? Whose father’s property are you looting away? Have I borrowed any wheat from you, so that you can safely take the flour? Now please do this. Take the flour and throw it on the village border limits.” On hearing this, the women felt abashed and whispering amongst themselves, went away to the outskirts of the village and spread the flour as directed by Sai Baba.
I asked the Shirdi people, “What was this that Sai Baba did?” They replied that as the Cholera Epidemic was spreading in the village and this was Sai Baba’s remedy against the same; it was not wheat that was ground but the Cholera itself was ground to pieces and pushed out of the village. From this time onward, the Cholera Epidemic subsided and the people of the village were happy. I was much pleased to know all this; but at the same time my curiosity was also aroused. I began to ask myself – What earthly connection was there between wheat flour and Cholera? What was the casual relation between the two? and how to reconcile them? The incident seems to be inexplicable. I should write something on this and sing to my heart’s content Sai Baba’s sweet Leelas. Thinking in this way about this Leela, my heart was filled with joy and I was thus inspired to write Sai Baba’s Life – The Satcharita.
And as we know, with Sai Baba’s grace and blessing this work was successfully accomplished.
Philosophical Significance of Grinding
Apart from the meaning which the people of Shirdi put on this incident of grinding wheat, there is, we think, a philosophical significance too. Sai Baba lived in Shirdi for about sixty years and during this long period, He did the business of grinding almost every day – not, however, the wheat alone; but the sins, the mental and physical afflictions and the miseries of His innumerable devotees. The two stones of His mill consisted of Karma and Bhakti, the former being the lower and the latter the upper one. The handle with which Baba worked the mill consisted of Jnana. It was the firm conviction of Baba that Knowledge or Self-realization is not possible, unless there is the prior act of grinding of all our impulses, desires, sins; and of the three gunas, viz. Sattva, Raja and Tama; and the Ahamkara, which is so subtle and therefore so difficult to be got rid of.
This reminds us of a similar story of Kabir who seeing a woman grinding corn said to his Guru, Nipathiranjana, “I am weeping because I feel the agony of being crushed in this wheel of worldly existence like the corn in the hand-mill.” Nipathiranjana replied, “Do not be afraid; hold fast to the handle of knowledge of this mill, as I do, and do not wander far away from the same but turn inward to the Centre, and you are sure to be saved.”
Present: To the present day this grinding stone is kept in the upper level of mother mosque with a sack of wheat in the same manner as it was in Lord Baba’s time.
Bag of Wheat
Location: the sack of wheat is now kept in a cupboard with glass covers and it is replaced annually on Ramnavami festival.
History: The tradition of keeping sack of wheat counts back its being again in Lord Baba’s time. A dedicated devotee, Balaji Patil from Newase, used to sweep and clean the mosque and the streets on which Lord Baba tread in Shirdi, as a part of his service and devotion to Lord Baba. (Later on this service was undertaken by Radhakrishnamai). As a farmer by profession, he once had a dispute for a piece of land with its owner. Balaji claimed the land of his own. So they both decided to go to Lord Baba and abide by His decision as final. When they entered Dwarkamai, Lord Baba instantly ordered Balaji to return the land. Henceforth Balaji started to bring fresh crop to Lord Baba to offer Him on every harvest and when it was accepted by Him, he would take the reminder crop home and maintained himself and his family on it for the whole year. This practice was followed by him throughout his life and thereby it was continued by his son.
The Chillum (Clay Pipe)
Fakir Lord Baba’s so called property consisted of very few ordinary things and one of them were His Chillums. He was very font of smoking tobacco using these pipes and this was passed on to devotees present in Dwarkamai. While enjoying tobacco in this manner, He used to share many stories and humour was spread in the air. Lord Baba used simple and ordinary things, named them as His property and ultimately stored His grace in these things for His devotees. As for example, we have seen in Shri Sai Satcharitra that Shri Hari Bhaau suffered from Asthma. He never smoked, but once Lord Baba passed on the pipe to him, so he accepted it as blessings and Prasad and since then the asthma left him and never bothered again. Lord Baba used to keep Chillums in a cupboard near grinding stone.
Present: Few Chillums are kept in display in museum in Samadhi Mandir premises.
Lively Portrait of Lord Baba In Front Of Dhuni Maa
Lord Baba spent most of His time sitting in front of Dhuni with left arm resting on a wooden bolster. A large portrait in the same posture is now kept here. The picture is placed on a throne like platform and it is focused place of worship of many suffering souls who came to Shirdi to find peace and solace.
Shri M.W.Pradhan was in acquaintance with Shri. Shyamrao Jaikar (Bombay) and brought him to Shirdi. Shyamrao was then inspired to make an oil painting of Lord Baba. On seeking His permission, Lord Baba claimed that He was a poor Fakir and there was no point of making His portrait. It would be better for Shama to paint his own portrait, came the suggestion. Luckily, Lord Baba agreed to it and it was a truly needed gesture from Him for future generations. After the work was finished, Lord Baba is reported to have said, “This picture will live after Me”.
Present: The picture was installed in Dwarkamai after Lord Baba’s Mahasamadhi. The recent painting is copy of the original, which was moved to Sansthan’s office to preserve it from drying effects of Dhuni and it is now kept lying in museum in Samadhi Mandir premises. A pair of silver Padukas were installed in front of this portrait later as per Datta Cult in Maharashtra.
Dakshina/Hundi (Donation) Box
History: In Shri Sai Satcharitra, a detailed account has been given regarding Dakshina tradition started by Lord Baba sometime after 1919. Until then He never asked for Dakshina from anyone. At time when few coins were kept before Him, he used to pocket it for buying fuel for Dhuni Maa or purchased tobacco. Then with some reason, He started asking for Dakshina, but it was not always necessarily in monetary terms. All the money received by Him was distributed among local devotees of Shirdi as per His free will and again would become a poor Fakir at the end of the day, thus remaining true to His principles of non-attachment and poverty. Devotees like Bade Baba and Tatya Kote Patil were given fixed amount daily.
The purpose behind asking Dakshina was not at all for any personal or monetary benefit. It wholely benefited the donor. As for example Lord Baba would ask for Dakshina from an individual for balancing a forgotten vow or debt or to confer special blessing. Sometimes He would ask for moral from any particular sacred literature which a devotee was reading as Dakshina. Thus the amount and its figure would often contain some hidden or symbolic meaning. In the respect of Dakshina, He has said, “I do not ask from everyone, but only from those whom the Fakir points out. In exchange I have to give ten times the amount I have taken. Consequently some devotees were eager to give Lord Baba everything, but He would not accept any unsolicited amount and return them at once if pressed to do so. He would not at all accept any costly article as Dakshina and often scolded who brought them.
Location: The Dakshina box which is now placed near Lively Portrait reminds uf of special role which Dakshina played in Lord Baba’s extra-ordinary deeds and His very peculiar way to bless His devotees. Not only money, but we can put all our vices in this Dakshina box to be benefited immensely.
The Bathing Stone
Location: This stone is kept in the corner to the right of the portrait.
History: It was presented to Lord Baba by Rambaji from Nashik. He was mentally ill when he first came to Shirdi. As a medical cure, he used to drink and bathe Lord Baba’s Tirth and recovered. So he gave the stone for bathing in commemoration of this cure.
Lord Baba used to wash His hands, face and feet in Dwarkamai, but He did not take bath daily. So it is known that He did not actually use this bathing stone any day.
Next Post in this Series: Complete Shirdi Guide – Dwarkamai and Its Constituents (Part 2)
Added Feature: Now you can get a guide in Shirdi, refer this article: A Guide To Show You Heaven On Earth