It is well known that Sai Baba lived in Dwarkamai – a Mosque and dressed like a Fakir. But He believed in the Hindu theory of rebirth. While in course of conversations, He used to refer to time and age supporting this theory and also gave some practical examples.
In chapter 36 of Shri Sai Satcharitra, after lunch, when Shama was drying the wet hands of Sai Deva with a towel, the Latter pinched the former on his cheek. Shama feigning anger said, “Deva, is it proper for you to pinch me like this? We don’t want such a mischievous God who pinches us thus. Are we Your dependents, is this the fruit of our intimacy?” Sai Baba replied, “Oh Shama, during the 72 generations that you were with me, I never pinched you till now and now you resent my touching you”.
It was the experience of the Durandhar brothers on their visit to Shirdi that Baba commented thus: “We are acquainted with each other for the last sixty generations”.
Another instance can be taken here. Nanasaheb Chandorkar, an intimate devotee of Sai Baba, was serving as a personal assistant of the collector in the year 1887. Baba sent a message to Nanasaheb Chandorkar through Kulkarni of Shirdi when he went to the collector’s office for government work to fetch Nanasaheb with him. Nanasaheb did not believe the words of Kulkarni. So Baba again sent the message, but Nanasaheb did not turn up this time too. Baba not minding Nanasaheb’s negative attitude again called him. This time Nanasaheb came with some of his colleagues and sat before Baba and asked, “Baba why did you call me?” Baba answered, “There are few men in this world. From those people I call you only, hence there must be some specific reason behind it. We are related for the past four births. You do not know this, but I know, so I called you. Do come at your convenience now onwards.”
Some dervishes brought before Baba a tiger suffering some agony. The tiger breathed last and the dervishes were much dejected and full of sorrow, but on mature thought, they came to their senses. They considered that as the animal was diseased and nearing its end, it was very meritorious on its part that it should meet its death at the feet and in the presence of Sai Baba. It was their debtor, and when the debt was paid off it was free and met its end at Sai’s Feet.
One noon Mrs. Khaparde brought a dish containing Sanza (wheat pudding), purees, rice, soup, kheer (sweet rice), and other sundry articles to the Masjid. Sai Baba, who usually waited for hours, got up at once, went up to His dining seat, and removing the outer covering from the dish began to partake of the things zealously. Shama then asked Him – “Why this partiality? You throw away dishes of others and do not care to look at them, but this You draw to You earnestly and do justice to it. Why is the dish of this woman so sweet?
Sai Baba then explained – “This food is really extraordinary. In former birth, this lady was a merchant’s fat cow yielding much milk. Then she disappeared and took birth into a gardener’s family, then into a Kshatriya family, and married a merchant. Then she was born into a Brahmin family. I saw her after a very long time, let Me take some sweet morsels of love from her dish.” Thus, by narrating the lady’s tale of many previous births, Baba probably explained to His devotees how a soul can progressively rise from an animal form to a human form and then to a Brahmin birth on account of virtuous deeds. One more example regarding Baba’s Omnipresence: The nephew of Dadasaheb Kelkar (Rao Bahadur Sathe’s father-in-law) got a vision and he came to Shirdi for Baba’s darshan. He was appointed in Kopargaon. But instead of concentrating on his job, he often used to come to Shirdi and served Baba wholeheartedly. So Rao Bahadur Sathe, many times, complained to Kelkar and requested him to consult Baba regarding this matter. Baba said, “Let him be dismissed from his job and let him serve here.” So no one could say anything. Baba received sweets, fruits, etc from many devotees. He made Babu eat them lovingly. In the year 1910, Baba said to Dada Kelkar, “Take care of Babu”. After a few days, he was down with a fever and breathed his last at the young age of 22 years. Baba used to remember him often. Baba had prophesied his next birth by saying that “Chhotubai would be his mother”. When Chhotubai came to Shirdi with her four months old baby boy, Baba said, “Babu where had you been? Were you fed up with me?”
The above examples convinces us regarding the theory of rebirth and also make us realize how Sai Baba cared to look after His devotees from birth to birth. While talking about rebirths, Sai Baba always said that these births, whether happy or full of miseries, one gets according to one’s previous deeds only.
For example, see how, Chapters 46 and 47, after narrating the past and present lives of two goats and frog and snake, Sai Baba concludes, “The moral of the story is that one has to reap what one sow and there is no escape unless one suffers and squares up one’s old debts and dealings with others.” That is why Sai Baba advised His devotees to always act honestly and with integrity, keeping one’s conscience awake to what is right and what is wrong.
In Chapter 14, Hemadpant quoted the precepts recommended by the Upanishads. The Brihadaranyak Upanishad says that the Lord Prajapati advised the Gods, men, and demons by one letter “Da”. The Gods understood by this letter that they should practice (1) “Dama” i.e. self-control; the men thought or understood that they should practice (2) “Dana” i.e. charity; the demons understood that they should practice (3) “Daya” i.e. compassion. To men Charity or giving was recommended. Thus to men charity or giving was recommended. In order to teach devotees a lesson of charity and to remove their attachments to money and thus purify their minds, Baba extracted Dakshina from them.
Moreover giving importance to human birth, Baba has said, “We get the human body as a result of merits in past births and it is worthwhile that with its aid, we should attain devotion and liberation in this life. So we should never be lazy, but always be on the alert to gain our end and aim of life.”
The last wish or thought that a man has at the hour of death determines his future course. Shri Krishna has said in Gita (VIII-5-6) that “he who remembers Me in his last moments, comes verily to Me, and he that meditates otherwise at that time goes to what he looks for.” We cannot be certain that we can entertain a particular good thought at our last moment, for, more often than not, we are more likely to be frightened and terrified by many causes. Hence constant practice is necessary for enabling us to fix our mind on any desired good thought at any or the last moment. All Saints, therefore, recommended we always remember God and chant His name always, so that we may not be puzzled when the time for departure comes. The devotees on their part surrender themselves completely to the Saints, fully believing that the all-knowing Saints would do needful in their last moments. Such examples in Sai Satcharitra are Vijayanand Sanyasi, Balaram Mankar, Tatyasaheb Noolkar, Megha, and a tiger. All of them were fortunate as they breathed their last in presence of Baba. Thus Baba ensured a good rebirth or complete escape from birth through such dealings.
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