Book Review : SHRI SAI SAROVAR FROM SHRI SAI LEELA FEBRUARY 1988
This unique life history of Shri Sai Baba consisting of 1500 pages in demy size and in two volumes has been recently (i.e. on 12 July 1987) published in Gujarati language. So far such a big book on Shri Sai Baba has not been published in any language. All the information about Sai Baba and His devotees collected by Shri Dabholkar, H.H.Narsimha Swamiji, Shri Dadasaheb Khaparde, Swami Sai Sharananand and found in their books/diaries in Marathi, Gujarati and English, has been included in this book. In addition, information found in books of Shri Amidas Mehta, Shri Balkrishna Dev Mamalatdar, Prof. Narke, Shri Wamanrao Gokhale – all these not much known – has also been presented in this book. There are detailed life-sketches of Shri Upasani Maharaj, Shri Mota, Shri Rang Avadhoot, Sant Shantavanji Maharaj, Swami Shri Rambaha and host of other saints who were connected with Shri Sai Baba or Shri Dattatreya. There are not only extracts from Marathi and Sanskrit “araties”, bhajans and stotras recited in Shirdi which have been quoted at appropriate places with translation in Gujarti, but Shri Sai Ashtottarshat Sankiratan of Shri Dattatreya composed by Shri Rang Avdhoot Maharaj has also been fully included with explanations in Gujarati. The author has interviewed a number of devotees who had personally seen Shri Baba in His life-time and collected some quite interesting details not known or published hitherto. In short this book is so comprehensive in its presentation of information regarding Shri Baba and His devotees that it could very well considered and worshipped as “Shri Sai Mahabharat” or “Shri Sai Encyclopaedia” – although the caption “Shrii Sai Sarovar” also means a big lake of information and knowledge about Shri Sai.
A special feature of this book is that according to the author, Shri Sai Baba was ‘ayonija (not born of a woman) but appeared on His own at Shirdi out of the cave underneath the Sacred Neem Tree at mid-night on 10th August 1848 ‘Shalivahan Shake 1771, Shravan Vadya 8 – the date and time similar to those of Lord Krishna’s birth, and was seen by the villagers the next morning. The author has with great efforts managed to get an horoscope (kundali) prepared, based on the time on the time and date of Baba’s appearance, pragatya from a well-known astrologer in Gujarat and printed it in his book, tallying almost over 90 p.c. with that of Lord Krishna. Of course this being a very debatable question, everyone may not be convinced.
The book is voluminous as a result of the author’s great study and research, but it does not make a dry reading. On the contrary it is lucid devotion work written by a great Sai devotee and the language is very simple and interesting to read. Although it is not composed in verse like Hemadpant’s Marathi Shri Sai-Sat-Charitra, its Gujarati prose is full of poetic picturesque figures of speech such as simile, alliteration, etc. there are simple black and white pictures also at appropriate places. The author has written this book for the daily reading (parayan) by the Sai devotees and hence at the beginning of every chapter there are obeisances to Shri Ganesha and other Gods and Goddesses;saints and elders; and in between, the fruits of reading, are also narrated, as in other religious books.
The greatest wonder is that the author is said to have studied only upto 3rd standard in vernacular (Guj.) and does not at all understand English, Marathi or Sanskrit. It is therefore a great mystery as to how he managed to get the English rendition of H.H.Narasimha Swami and Shri Dadasaheb Khaparde, Marathi and Sanskrit poetic composition of Das Ganu Maharaj, Upasani Maharaj and Shri K.J.Bhishma translated and understood them in Gujarati from somebody else and then himself rendered them in beautiful Gujarati language like an eminent literary writer. Looking at this unbelievably difficult achievement of Shree Jarmanwala and great attachment of Shri Sai Baba, one is inclined to believe without hesitation the author’s statement that he commenced writing this book under direct instruction from Baba Himself. Otherwise how was it ever possible for such an ordinary and not very literate person to gift such a beautiful and scholarly work to the reading public?
To sum up, I feel that such of the readers of “Shri Sai Leela” who can understand Gujarati even little, should purchase and read this book to benefit themselves. They will not only come to know quite a hit more about Shri Sai Baba and his devotee to not much known but will also benefit in their spiritual progress as a result thereof.
That the author Shri Maganlal T. Jarmanwala deserves loving respects and hearty felicitation from all of us Sai Devotees, is my humble opinion.
LT. COL. MUKUND RAO B. NIMBALKAR
VILE PARLE (E), Bombay – 400 057
Source : Translated from Gujarati Book ‘Sai Sarovar’