Sri Shirdi Sai Baba – as the greatest spiritual teacher of modern times, has given several uplifting messages on work and on right livelihood. Right livelihood is one of the eight-fold paths given to humanity by Lord Buddha on His enlightenment.
After Lord Buddha, it is perhaps Sai Baba alone who lived and breathed with the poorest of the poor (as well as the rich) who was able to advise us best on this issue of work that has become the mantra of the fast-track age today. A few of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba’s messages on work and advise on achieving the true goals of life in-between our regular, stressed work-lives are outlined below.
Sai said “Wealth should be the means to work out Dharma. If it is used only for personal enjoyment it is wasted.” Sai meant that if we hoard money now, we forfeit it later and it may leave us – the more we grasp to it selfishly. He asks us to never take anyone’s service or labour for free, especially if we are in a better position than him. Sai settled all his debts in Shirdi with exactness. Even though he was like a god there, he never used his influence to borrow money, or to ask favors etc.
He urges us to be active, industrious and to be engaged or planning to do some work or the other. He stressed that workers should be given their wages as soon as the work is finished by them. He said that wages given as generous as possible will ensure that good quality of work will result and that the workers will be happy as well.
To the freedom fighters who asked him when political freedom would be obtained, He quoted the Bhagawad Geeta (Chapter 12) advising all to dedicate ourselves fully to their ordained cause – Swaraajya in this case, working silently and steadily towards the goals of freedom – which was obtained later by spiritual methods, as he foretold. He assures us that hard work, sacrifices will reap good fruits eventually.
Sai Baba’s latter years revolved around equitable and just redistribution of wealth from the rich to the deserving poor, talented artists, singers, aged and the suffering etc., and all those who had the good fortune to serve Him or to be His devotee. He thus redistributed all the wealth that came to Him to various such causes. The disbursed amounts for these were usually per His divine Karmic debt (“Praarabdha Karma”) calculations that he alone knew. Charity is his message to humanity from these we can infer. Charity – within our limitations and means – but given with true love is what Sai loved and expects from us forever.
Sai Baba tested people coming to him for two main items – attachment to physical desires and to money. Those who passed his tests were blessed and their spiritual progress was well ensured for life. Those who had more improvements to do got suitable advice and devotional practices to reduce excess attachments properly under his watchful eyes and care.
Sai Baba constantly told devotees not to become greedy and to be contented with whatever God has given them in life. He enlightened Sri Dasganu Maharaj on contentment and to the acceptance of everything that happens to us as coming from God. Dasganu who was seeking an explanation for the Isha Upanishad was asked peculiarly by Sai Baba to consult a friend’s maid-servant! Sri Dasganu consulted the-said servant and indeed got the confusion cleared!
He also took merchant Damu Anna to task for letting greed overcome him towards tempting and risky business schemes which flopped later as Sai foretold.
Sai Baba believed in the role of physical hard work to remove bad qualities and diseases that has gotten in us. Sai Baba thus continued with his simple daily life and begging routine even after a royal Sansthan was developed around him treating him as their King (Maharaj). To be simple, humble and focused on the real goals of life – even in the midst of fame and wealth, is perhaps Sai’s message to us all.
He also advised all to “Do whatever you like – Go wherever you want but remember I know all that you are doing.” suggesting to us that the choice of profession and place to settle down in, etc., are secondary compared to the real vital goals of life – such as self-realization, inculcating god-awakening within ourselves and all others; thereby resulting in the spiritual elevation of humankind – which was his true mission and wish, as he often remarked. Aum Sai Sri Sai Jai Sai.
Bharathkumar K. (Email: [email protected])