Continuing with the philosophies of Sai Baba we had seen a few sub-topics related to food in part 1 of this post. This post now covers the remaining sub-topics.
Always Eating By Sharing With Others
This message was conveyed by Sai Baba in a very tricky way in Chapter 24 of Sacred Text – Shri Sai Satcharitra. Author of the original Sai Satcharitra – Shri Annasaheb Dhabholkar’s fun was made by questioning about grains of a gram on the folds of his coat sleeve. Further, it was explained that when no one is nearby, any person or animal, then He must be remembered before eating. The reason which He gave was as follows
He has advised us that before the senses, mind and intellect enjoy their objects, he should first be remembered, and if this be done, it is in a way an offering to Him. The senses etc. can never remain without their objects, but if those objects are first offered to the Guru, the attachment for them will naturally vanish. In this way, all the Vrittis (thoughts) regarding Desire, Anger, Avarice etc. should first be offered and directed to the Guru and if this practice be followed, the Lord will help you in eradicating all the Vrittis. When before enjoyment of the objects, you think that Sai Baba is close by, the question whether the object is fit to be enjoyed or not will at once arise. Then the object that is not fit to be enjoyed will be shunned and in this way our vicious habits or vices will disappear and our character will improve. Then love for the Guru will grow and pure knowledge will sprout up. When this knowledge grows, the bondage of body – consciousness (we are the body) will snap and our intellect will be merged in spirit-consciousness (we are the spirit). Then we shall get Bliss and contentment. There is no difference between Guru and God. He who sees any difference in them, sees God nowhere. So leaving aside all ideas of difference, we should regard Guru and God as one, and if we serve our Guru as stated above, Lord (God) will be certainly pleased and purifying our minds He will give us self-realisation. To put the matter in a nut-shell, we should not enjoy any object with our senses etc. without first remembering our Guru. When the mind is trained in this way, we will be always reminded of Sai Baba, and our meditation on Sai Baba will grow apace. The Sagun Form of Sai Baba will ever be before our eyes and then devotion, non-attachment and salvation will all be ours. When Sai Baba’s Form is thus fixed before our mental vision, we forget hunger, thirst, and this samsar; the consciousness of worldly pleasures will disappear and our mind shall attain peace and happiness.
Also, Hemadpant has given an example of Lord Krishna and Sudama :
Shri Krishna and His elder brother, Balarama, were living with a co-student, named Sudama, in the ashram of their Guru, Sandipani. Once Krishna and Balarama were sent to the forest for bringing fuel. Then the wife of Sandipani sent also Sudama for the same purpose with some quantity of grams for the three. When Krishna met Sudama in the forest, he said to him – “Dada, I want water as I am thirsty”. Sudama replied – “No water should be drunk on an empty stomach, so it is better to rest a while”. He did not say that he had got grams with him and that He should take some. As Krishna was tired, He lay down for rest on the lap of Sudama and snoring. Seeing this, Sudama took out the grams and began to eat. Then Krishna suddenly asked him – “Dada, what are you eating, whence is the sound?”. He replied – “What is there to eat? I am shivering with cold and my teeth are chattering. I can’t even repeat distinctly Vishnu-Sahastra-Nama”. Hearing this, the Omniscient Krishna said – “I just dreamt a dream, in which I saw a man, eating things of another, and when asked about this, he said – “What earth (dust) should he eat?”, meaning thereby that he had nothing to eat? The other man said – “Let it be so”. Dada, this is only a dream. I know that you won’t eat anything without Me; under the influence of the dream I asked you what you were eating?” If Sudama had known a bit of the Omniscient, Shri Krishna, and His Leelas, he would not have acted, as he did. Therefore, he had to suffer for what he did. Though he was a chum of Shri Krishna he had to pass his later life in utter poverty. But when he later offered Krishna a handful of parched rice, earned by his wife with her own labor, Krishna was pleased and gave him a golden city to enjoy. This story should be remembered by those who have the habit of eating things alone without partaking with others.
More than these, Baba Himself did not eat anything without offering it to others. He used to ask for food from 4-5 houses of Shirdi. The food thus collected was kept in an earthen bowl. Some beggars used to pinch 3-4 bread slices and dogs and birds used to eat out of it, but Baba never drove them away. Whenever any devotee offered Him fruits or richly cooked food, He hardly tasted it and distributed it amongst the devotees present. Every afternoon in Dwarkamai, when the meal was served and ready to eat, Baba used to call Bade Baba and made him sit next to Him on His left respectfully as an honored guest. To make us understand this philosophy, Baba used His own deeds and dealings.
Food – The Best Charity One Can Give
Different sadhanas (means of accomplishments) are prescribed in our scriptures for different ages. Tapa (Penance) is recommended for Krita age, Jnana (Knowledge) for Treta age, Yajna (Sacrifice) for Dwapara age, and Dana (Charity) for Kali (present) age. Of all the charities, giving food is the best one. We are much perturbed when we get no food at noon. Other beings feel similarly under similar circumstances. Knowing this, he who gives food to the poor and hungry is the best donor or charitable person. The Taittiriya Upanishad says that “Food is Brahma; from food, all the creatures are born and having been born, by the food they live, and having departed, into food again they enter.” When an Atithi (uninvited guest) comes to our door at noon, it is our bounden duty to welcome him by giving him food. Other kinds of charities, viz., giving away wealth, property and clothes, etc., require some discrimination, but in the matter of food, no such consideration is necessary. Let anybody come to our door at noon, he should be served forthwith; and if lame, crippled, blind, and diseased paupers come, they should be fed first and the able-bodied persons and our relations afterward.
In Mrs. Tarkhad’s case, Baba was much pleased with her when she gave a piece of bread to a hungry dog who stood in front of her before meals. Another incident I remembered. Baba said to Laxmibai Shinde that He was hungry. She hastily went home and cooked chapati for Baba and returned. Baba gave all the food to a dog nearby realizing its hunger. This annoyed Laxmibai but Baba explained to her that appeasement of the dog’s hunger was the same as His. Though some speak and others are dumb, the hunger of all creatures is the same. Know for certain that he who feeds the hungry really serves Me with food”.
Now that Baba is not sporting in flesh and blood, our wish to feed Him can be satified by feeding hungry creatures irrespective of whether it is human being or an animal.
Baba, Himself performed this act of charity by cooking food for the poor and needy. On the day of mass feeding, Baba used to get all the required raw materials and did necessary grinding and chopping without allowing anybody to interfere in His service. Devotees who received such charity had a heavenly experience. Later on, when devotees flocked in large numbers to Shirdi, food came in large quantities. Still the practice of distributing it to others and retaining a small quantity for Himself 🙂 Such was our Lord who always gave us practical teachings with His own deeds.