SAKSHATKARA, WHAT IT IS

Sakshatkara means literally seeing with ones eyes,—direct perception through the senses. Sakshatkara of God is thus " seeing God." To persons having no actual experience of such states and unfamiliar with or having poor belief in the literature on the subject, the question occurs immediately, "Is it possible?" But to many others, the question will be "Can -any one doubt it?" Doubt arises in this matter mainly by reason of the defini­tion given of "God." This widely used term is used in a number of senses. To abstract philosophy, the term Brahman found in the Indian Scriptures and: often translated by the English word God is an abstract impersonal principle called sometimes the Impersonal Absolute. Of course, Sakshatkar of the above sort is Impossible of an abstract or Impersonal Absolute. But the same term Brahman found in the Vedas and other holy works is treated by Dwaities, Visihtadwaitis, etc., as referring to a personal being, viz., God. And they all claim that Sakshatkara is obtained of such Brahman or God. Many maintain that Brahman or God reconciles within itself apparently conflicting characteristics and declare that God (Brahman) is both personal and impersonal, either at different times or at the same time. To these also, Sakshatkara of God is possible.

The distinction between God and Gods is closely connected with the distinctions drawn in the above paragraphs. Gods are numerous entities with characteristics or qualities based upon a preponderance of Satva over Rajas, and Tamas; and they have distinct forms, features, a fixed number of limbs and faces weapons and ornaments, and have particular Divine realms for their usual residence and some particular creatures to ride on. Their forms are not visible to ordinary men on earth, but are always rendered visible and serviceable if particular invocations, Mantras, ceremonies etc., are adopted, i.e., they become subjects of Sakshatkara. In the case of God, the matter of Sakshatkara is not quite so simple. Yet even among Monotheists relying upon Personal God, Sakshatkara becomes   possible by   reason of the Personality of God.     Personality generally  implies   form, colour, size, and other peculiarities of human persons. Hence even those stressing the     Nirakara   (Formless)   character  of   God  in  their theory or doctrines  concede in their   practice  all the  above features of personality in the accounts given of   God's  dealings with men. God walks and  talks with  some  patriarchs, dictates  his commandments, leads his chosen people by appearing in the form of a moving column of fire in a bush, and   thunders fort the words "This is  my son in whom I   am well pleased. Heal

ye him." |

The widespread  belief amongst all religionists  in Sakshatkara is based largely upon accounts given  in their   scriptures and the history of their saints.    There are  also  notable instances of present day saints who enjoy or exhibit Sakshatkaric phenomenal Those who are aware of these find in them a great corroboration of the accounts given in the  scriptures and saintly   biographic. To those  who disbelieve   all   these,  it  is  possible   to furnish—— arguments and evidence to counteract their disbelief.    But it is outside the scope of this  article to  furnish  such arguments and evidence. If any disbeliever is anxious  sincerely   to get some proof, the same  may be   furnished later   on, especially in that portion dealing with directions  given hereunder in later issues for obtaining Sakshatkara.

We shall now consider what it is that is  called Sakshatkara and shall use materials from scriptures, saintly   biographies, and present day  experiences, for  this   purpose.   Even  among those who do not   accept the   former   two, many   may find adequate! reason for accepting the last class. Sakshatkara i.-e: "seeing God admits of the following classification :—. Seeing God e.g. Mah Vishnu in Vaikunta or on the Milky Ocean,—securing that favour by prayers. Thus, Brahma in Srimat  Bhagavata proceeds to the shore of the milky ocean and obtains by prayer a   sight of Sriman Narayana.    Similarly,  seeing Gods in   their    various   lokas by prayer,  etc. 2.   Obtaining  the sudden   appearance   of  God or Ishtamurthy on Earth after Yaga or Yegna,  Dhyana and Tapas. Thus the king   Nabhi   conducts a Putrakameshti Yaga through his ritviks; and God Narayana appears on the   sacrificial ground and grants him his prayer,  adding that he (Narayana) would be born as his son. Dhruva's  Tapas and   Dhyana resulted   in Maha Vishnu's sudden   appearance before him,  and granting  him the Dhruva Pada, far  above  the object with  which  he started his Tapas.  Ravivarma's   pictures of   Dhruva's    penance   and  other Sakshatkaras   granted to  Gajendra  etc.,  will   be easily remem­bered and   in fact  form   very  useful   and   excellent   help  to the   -ardent aspirant for Sakshatkara.   These   are all good illustrations of Sakshatkara of this class.

Thirdly the inference and appearance of   God in certain forms and objects admits of a differentiation  between  times and states when Sakshatkara is present  and when it is  not. Incarations like Rama and   Krishna are  believed to be  the appearance of God on earth.    Yet all   persons     who   saw   Rama   and Krishna are not said to   have Sakshatkara.   These were born of  human mothers,   led   the   life  of   human   beings    and ordinarily are seen as mere   human  beings.   So  when   the    playmates of Krishna saw him, it was not Sakshatkara. But when Arjuna asked him to show   himself as all   creation   and    Krishna   showed his Virat Rupam  (Chapter X of Bhagavat  Gita)   that was  Sakshat­kara.   When Vamana i.e. (Hari in the form of  Vamana) went to Bali's Yagasala and   begged for   three   feet of earth,   it   was not Sakshatkara  even   though     Sukracharya   informed       Bali   that Vamana   was but   God. When   however, Vamana assumed   the Trivikrama form and  measured   the   whole   of Universe in two foot steps, he then showed Sakshatkara.

The sacred stone or other image into which God is invoked by appropriate Mantras and ceremonies, in temples or at home, is undoubtedly believed to be God with all sincerity by the worshippers, but the worshipper's daily seeing the idol so be­lieved in is not Sakshatkara. If however, under special cir­cumstances, the--worshipper sees not the dead and inanimate stone or other image, but a living figure moving and talking in divine fashion, that is Sakshatkara. When Namadev worshipped Vittal image and placed before it Nivedya and prayed the God to eat, it was not Sakshatkara that he enjoyed. But when he cried and cried at the God's contempt for him and unkind refusal to partake of the Nivedya, the stone image turned into a living figure and ate up the entire plate of the Nivedya; then it was that he enjoyed Sakshatkara. Such Sakshatkara Namadev fre­quently enjoyed in his life for e.g., when Vittal assured him that he was only a Kaccha and not a pucca devotee and that he should go to a Guru (Vishobha Kesar) and when he appeared before him as a dog snatching away the chapatti from Namadev's plate and later assumed the usual Vitobha form, there was Sakshatkara.

When Thyagaraja worshipped daily his Rama Panchaya-thanam images which he fully believed to be God, he was not having Sakshatkara. But when on occasions the metallic figures or the Panchayathana exhibited life and the intelligence e.g., when Rama ordered Bharata to hand over his whisk (Chamara) in his hand to Thyagaraja and the same was done and Rama spoke to Thyagaraja other words alluded to in   his (Thyagaraja) songs there was  Sakshatkara.    A holy saint like   Rama Krishna Paramahamsa is   believed by   some of   his    devotees  to be But even these persons when they saw   him daily were not having Sakshatkara.    When    however, one    day   Mathurbabu  saw him moving up and down in his presence     and in  the  course of the walk  was  transformed  into   the   Shiva    form,   that was Sak shatkara.

God is believed to be within all objects, and in fact is. objects—Sarvam Vishnumayam Jagat. Yet a man with firm belief in this statement sees objects and to his eye the object appear merely as material objects; and seeing them thus is Sakshatkara. In Dasganu's chapter on Venkusa's conform his grace on Sai Baba at the close of the latter's novitiate, they Sai Baba looked at all objects and saw them as God and as material objects. That was Sakshatkara.

A Narada hears  about the   glorious   Mahavishnu  with  four arms, with his peetambara dress, Chanku, Chakra, Gatha, Padi Kaustubhaand Srivatsa etc.; he loves the  Mahavishnu   that is described and forms a  picture of   that  Vishnu   in   his  heart and intensely   concentrates  on the   same; that  does   not   constitute Sakshatkara.    But at one stage  when  the  concentration   was its greatest intensity and tears of joy flowed  from his   eyes  hair of his body   stood on end, and all   the other  Ashta  Bhavas were manifested, he had  besides   the image  in  his  heart,  the  living figure of the same God in front  of him and for a   time he great enjoyed that   appearance and   thereafter   that   figure   vanish. This was a case of   Sakshatkara, Again   when  another devotee of Mahavishnu   concentrated on the  figure  of   that   Ishtamurthi standing before   Dhruva that  Murthi appeared  as a living figure, and pointed to another figure saying   "This Sai   Baba of Shirdi your man" "you must resort to him"   (see   devotees  Experience Part 1 Page).    This was Sakshatkara.    The above incidents suffice to show the reader what is and   what is   not, Saksh In short it may be said that seeing or hearing any Avathar saint image or other holy   objects will  be  considered    as  Sakshatkara only if there are miraculous    features  about  it.    We mav proceed to   consider the. value, utility,     immediate   and remoter, effects of such Sakshatkara   and   also  notice   the  sadhana   prescribed for obtaining such    Sakshalkara.    These   will appear in subsequent issues.

EASWARA SAKSHATKARA

(Its effects, value and utility)

Before starting part 2 it may be better to mention some items of Sakshatkara as they occurred to Sai Bhaktas and were reported to Baba. H. S. Dikshit known as Kaka Dikshit was living frequently for long periods at Shirdi with Baba in order to obtain the fullest benefit, mainly spiritual and partly temporal of his contact. Baba asked him to concentrate on Shrimat Bhagavata and Adyatmaramayana and to go on with the usual worship of his images. A result of faithful adherence to Baba's advice was Dikshit's gaining a Sakshatkara. One day after intense pooja when Dikshit was still in the waking state he found a divine figure appearing before him, but the phenomenon being totally new to him he could not say what the Murthy was, whether it was Vittal that he ardently longed to see or anything else. The same day a vendor of images came to him and showed him a Vittal image that resembled the figure that appeared before him. When he (H. S. Dikshit) went up to Baba, even before he opened his mouth to communicate his experience or state his doubt as to the identity of the Murthy, Baba Himself broached the subject. Baba had a peculiar manner of talking to a person about mat­ters pertaining to him so as to be understood only by the addres­see and not by others present (B.C.S. 130).

Baba——Did not Vittal Patel come ? Have you not seen Him. That Vittal is very elusive, bind him fast. If by inadvertence you lose sight of him, he will vanish in a second. Baba thus confirmed Dikshit in 1.the reality of the Sakshatkara that he had experienced that day and 2. the identity of the Murthy that appeared before him with Vittal. Baba gave him the further information that Sakshatkaras of that sort are very transient and very elusive and cannot possibly be held to be a satisfactory end and aim of life. Life's aim should be permanent contact with God. The elusive appearance must be made permanent by binding God's figure to the heart permanently.

Such Sakshatkaras have filled others who did not enjoy the with envy or the spirit of emulation. Das Ganu was a Vark hari of Pandhurpur Vittal, making a prolonged pilgrim tour in Ashada Ashvini and Karthika along with crowds of other devotees from Alandi to Pandhurpur the abode of Vittal. He was longing to have a Darsan of Vittal but never had it. Once he went to Baba for Sakshatkara of Vittal. Das Ganu to Baba-want Sakshatkar, Baba, you ask me to make Sapthaha of Bhagavatha; but will you grant me Sakshatkara as a result of it  Baba:—Vittal will appear. But there must be intense devotion (Bhava) Das Ganu read his Sapthaha of Bhagavatha but failed get Sakshatkara.

Das Ganu to Baba :— You promised me  Sakshatkara,  but have not got it.

Baba :—Wait you will have it. (Baba was evidently waiting for development of the requisite faith and earnestness in Das Ganu.) (B.C.S. 128.) In 1916, Bhadrapat, D.G. was keen going to Pandhurpur, but N.G.C. took him to Shirdi and made him perform Keertanas and was for detaining him there, eve for Asvin, evidently with Baba's assent, D.G. then though within himself without saying it "How is he (Baba) a guru who blocks my way to God (at Pandhurpur)".

Baba to Nana :—" Nana, do not stop him from  going to Pandhurpur. .                     

Baba to Ganu :—"Go to Pandhurpur.

So D.G. gladly went to Pandhurpur for Asvin, as Vittal or Pandari alone was God to him and not Baba. Later he returned to Shirdi. B.C.S. 129. Das Ganu to Baba:—"Baba, you have be long putting off my request. When will you give me Sakshakara ? Baba to D.G:—"You see me. That is Sakshatkara.I am God.

Das Ganu :—"I expected you would   say so.   But I am not satisfied with that.

Das Ganu considered that it was not in his destiny (Prarabdha) to have Sakshatkara of God Vittal, as that was what he evi­dently wanted.

It is better at this stage to introduce other very common and  often misused religious expressions which are used more or less as synonymous with sakshatkara:—namely the expressions mystic and mysticism. A mystic is best described as one who has contacted the divine, that is something beyond the world or ordinary experience and derived thereby exhilaration, inspiration, and ineffable joy ; and mysticism is that experience. Seeing Vittal as a living and moving form is both Sakshatkara and having mystic experience. All sakshatkaris are mystics and perhaps all mystics might be termed sakshatkaris whether of Eswara Sakshatkara or impersonal sakshatkaras.

PART II

Now for the question as to the effects, value and utility of Eswara Sakehatkara, this question is hardly ever raised by one who has actually seen the divine form- But it is sometimes raised by one who has seen a vague form as in the following stanzas of the mystic, Coventry Patmore which however furnish the answer.

What's that which, ere I spake, was gone 1

So joyful and intense a spark That, whilst, o'erhead the wonder shone,

The day, before but dull, grew dark ?

I do not know, but this I know,

That, had the splendour lived a year, The truth that 1 some heavenly show

Did see, could not be now more clear.

This know I too: might mortal breath

Express the passion then inspired, Evil would die a natural death.

And nothing transient be desired.

And error from the soul would pass,

And leave the senses pure and strong

As sunbeams.    But the best, alas, Has neither memory nor tongue !

Coventry Patmore: Life of Life.

Some ardent devotees who enjoyed or enjoy sakshatkara may Consider the above questions as meaningless and materialistic. What is the goal of Life ? Most readers answer in the words of Sri Sai Baba "Allah Milnar"—i.e., to reach and attain God or in the language of religious books (God realisation). When a persoti yearning with a desire to reach his Ishta Murthy concentrates oti his form vigorously, sooner or later he sees that form. And if he is asked what is the effect of such sakshatkara he might well answer the effect is supreme satisfaction. It is the attainment of the Goal or at least the first rung of the ladder in the attainmen . Seeing God is according to the popular conception the first ste t or requisite for knowing God. And knowing God (Metaphysic t declares and proves) is identical with being God or sayujyan . No doubt walking the first mile towards Kasi is not the same i s being at Kasi. But many will feel after the accomplishment ( [ the first mile stone, an exhilaration much like the experienc s of the permanent God Realisation:- In any case an extraordinar < exhilaration replete with promise of supreme attainment. In the Bhagavatha, Sriman Narayana after appearing (Sakshatkara) be­fore Brahma and Dhruva says "All efforts and anxieties cease with my appearance" and He is prepared to grant every boon that may be desired.

This possibility of getting every temporal or spiritual boon desired may seem to be the final goal. But so long as there is any desire for objects temporal or spiritual, that proves that attain­ment is not achieved; and in a number of cases after achieving Sakshatkara the devotee prays to the Godhead that appears, for a number of earthly objects. Vasudeva, Chitrakethu and Nabhi wanted only a son. The Gods want that the Asura Vitra should be killed. It requires a considerable degree of Vairagya and real wisdom to refuse to pray for any object or to pray for perpetual Sakshatkara.

As for effects of Sakshatkara Ritwiks of Nabhi say wisely that the very appearance of God before a devotee is very great grace—evidently it being understood that the Sakshatkart would become permanent and unending. The effects ofi

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obtained. Next there is at least the spiritual evolution result-

ooi«* * i     i       •*•   *            r

fi from the momentary contact with the divine,    tven persons, 'P   appearance of God only in dreams feel such  an effect.   They crcome irrational or irreligious impulses and  sentiments.    A other of a Vaishnavite vakil noticed that her son was beginning worship   God Subramania and reproved  him for   such hetero-t    „ Imagine her surprise when   next she found that Sai   Baba's ortrait   adorned his table.    She then taunted   him   with  having descended to the worship of a Muhamadan. The vakil kept quiet. But the same night the pious lady had a dream and therein she saw Mahavishnu with   peethamber  surrounded  by golden halo-She felt greatly elevated by  the  appearance ; but looking at the face of Mahavishnu she saw  it   was  Sai   Baba's face. To   add to her surprise, Mahavishnu then  spoke to   her and said "Look here, am I Muhamadan ?"  She felt sorry for   rebuking her  son. Then the figure gradually descended and finally disappeared in a big tomb which she had never seen.    In the   morning  her son showed her Sai  Baba's tomb at Shirdi from a book and  then she recognised the identity of that with   what she   has seen at night. Sri mat Bhagavata and so  many other puranas are brimful of Sakshatkara and mention  numerous  and various effects  of these.    Srimat   Bhagavata    especially   deals    frequently    with the correct attitude towards Sakshatkara.    When  one  has   seen his Istamurthy he must recognise that the goal has not  yet   been achieved. Namadev who saw and talked to Vittai frequently was told by the latter that the goal of life had not yet  been  reached* and that the goal namely   God   realisation   required   not   mere identification of one form (be it Vittai or anything else) with   the supreme but the identification of all forms seen with that Supreme. The Bhagavat Gita stresses the same truth   frequently in  words like these "Yomam Pasyathi Sarvatra  Sarvamcha mayi pasyati. Tasyaham   napranasyami  sa ch me napranasyati (2) Sarvabhoo tatma Bhootatma   (3)   Sarva Bhootasthitam Bhajat Yekatvam asthitah Sarvatha Vartamanopi Sayogimayi Vartate

The goal of God realisation even to a sagunopasana Bhaktha oi tswara must necessarily be the eternal and endless enjoyment of contact or identity with the Eternal, the Infinite, the Perfect and such a supreme enjoyment or experience tends to transcend

Sakshatkara even though transient, and though inferior are by no!      the limits of personality   of  the worshipped.     In  some  special means negligible.   In the first place the worldly ends prayed for •     Sakshatkara for e.g. in the Srimat  Bhagavatha such  truths  art

 

stressed sometimes by showing that several vicissitudes including

even janmas befall the devotee alter obtaining bis first Sakshatl kara before mukthi or sayujya is reached. Nareda after thi iigure of Narayana informed him that in the fleshy body that hi then inhabited he could only have the transient Sakshatkan given to him as an appetiser and for the ultimate permanent Sakshatkara he would have to wait for the next janma. Accord­ingly Narada waited and in the subsequent janma he enjoye* perpetual Sakshatkara.

As the Goal of life is  the merger   in or    permanent contacl with  the supreme   its   achievement   involves    the    higher   ancfl higher development   of   the   Jeeva.    A  Sakshatkara comes  ncl doubt to holy and   not unholy people.     As   Narayana says Narada   "Avipakva   Kashayanem  Durdharsoham     Kuyoginamj i.e. when a sadhaka or yogabhyasi has  not  fully   burnt  out   hit evil vasanas nor attained  perfect   equanimity   of samatwa,  thai__ Sadhaka's jeeva cannot see God (i.e. obtain Sakshatkara) Even^P though a sadhaka like Narada in his previous birth may not havcl serious criminal   or  sinful stains he has not obtained  supremeB serenity or samatva at the time  of  his first Sakshatkara.     ThJ sudden disappearance of  Narayana's form   upsets   his serenit« and he is distressed.      When Narayana  appears in S.B. 6-9 thefl gods heave  with emotion.    "Dristvatham  avanow sarve Eksha-nahladaViklavah, i.e.   they were   highly  excited  by the joy  ol_ seeing God.     The  goal  however requires them  to go throughH co-sphering with God (Salokam).  Sarupyam in attaining the samel qualities (form) of God. Sarupyam immediate proximity or b'etnf on the threshold of   Divinity   and  Sayujyam   merger   in   Him.1 Excitment  cannot last even in the   first stage namely-Salokam J The end is thus described in S.B. 5th Skanda 1 st chapter para 27™

This shows that tadhatmya of atman without differentiatioi is the goal of Jeeva that starts its course with Bhakthi. ^H

NARASIMHASWAMY.      ^1

1

THE ULTIMATE SAKSHATKARA 1 DARSANAM

-BRAHMATMA

or

During most stages of the spiritual quest, ideas of God, Iswara Brahman, Paramatma and of oneself vary, change, and usually °et further and further refined; and there is considerable variation fn the Sakshatkaras obtained therein by the Dvaithis Visishtadvaithis ancj others on the saguna (or worship with form) lines. All however enjoy a unique ineffable experience and all are decidedly the better for it. Several may fancy that the course is over but the course is not over. Alike from authority and from experience of great souls, there is no end to one's spiritual course till he reaches the Divine permanently, that is, till he is finally absorbed in the Divine—that is, till he attains Sayujyam Kaivalyam or Moksham from which there is no return. Taking authorities first, especially the Puranas stressing sakshathkaras attained by Saguna worship, for example, Srimath Bhagavata Purana, we find it laid down that obtaining a glimpse of a divine form and the temporary bliss resulting therefrom is not the end or goal of life. Narada who obtained such a transitory sakshat-kara and felt distressed at its loss was definitely informed that the temporary sakshatkara was but an appetiser and he would have to wait for another janma in which he would have perpetual Sakshathkara. There are several passages in the Bhagavata stating that seeing the Divine in particular forms and adoring them with Archanam, Vandanam, Dasyam and Sakyam will not be the end of the devotees' career. The devotee may pray and insist that Bhagavan should always give him the bliss of worship and the being protected by Bhagavan as a baby is protected by its kind joy of mother and yet Bhagavan will not allow the devotee to remain separated from Him for ever. Bhagavan raises the worship, per through Salokyam.Sameepyamand Saroopyaminto Sayujyam. The Jiva's soul by divine grace gets further and further refined till it regains the divine form. The dew drop which came from the ocean but was resting as a separate entity for a while on a lotus leaf resting on that ocean slips silently into the shining ocean and gets absorbed in it. This is the ultimate sakshatkara experience. It is not the seeing by one entity of another, either in the waking °u-m trance state but the essence of such an experience. The object of seeing is knowing; and in all literatures the verbs denot­ing seeing" are used to denote knowing also even when the knowing has proceeded beyond the triputi stage (involving the Knower, knowing and known as separate items). "Attnava Are Urashtavyo Shrothavyo, Manthavyo Nidihyasi Thavyah" which means the Atman has to be seen, heard (of), meditated

 

upon, and dwelt upon with concentration in the heart, appli equally whether the Atman is the individual Jivatman or t Paramatman. In fact the object of meditation and concentrati is the blissful perception of the unity or the identity of the two which is the highest Sakshathkara ever known. Every one neo sarily begins his contact with the divine, adopting the Sagu form and then intensity of effort (tapas and dhyan&m) ensui Sakshathkara or seeing of the divine form with, a glow of j overpowering the heart and producing ashtabava, that is, tears joy, horripilation, etc. And the experience of almost everyo seems to show that the course is not ended with that but with t further and final experience where the soul (Jiva) is lost in Bli Divine and returns no longer therefrom. That is Shanti—Peat That is the End.

SAI SAKSHATHKARA

As Sakshathkara  has  been  defined as    chamatkaric,  i. super human or "super natural" appearance of a divine form, th« must be innumerable instances of Sri Sai Baba's Sakshatkara, only during the forty or fifty years of   his close  touch   with p( pie at Shirdi (upto 1918) but also in the three decades thereaft Hundreds of devotees have experienced it.    Hundreds   or th( ands more wish to have some of their own on the same line.

It may be observed at the outset that the sudden appearai of Baba in some place and at   sometime in some unaccounta! way (which is termed SakshathkarJ is only one of the  num?rc siddhies mentioned in the sastras and manifested by Sri Sai Bal Krishna  and    other  great  souls.    These  acts   just   like     ptl chamatkaric and non-chamatkaric acts of Sri Sai Baba, in respi of motive, purpose and even utility.    Only perhaps, the Chamj karic nature of the appearance would serve to impress  the obi vers more forcibly and vividly and eradicate doubt and   want faith.    On the whole, we have to remember in studying Sai  S shathkaras that they are only part of the innumerable manifes tions of the Sai Spirit.    A study of Baba's life especially throi Baba's Charters and Sayings will   teach and   impress us  with that is necessary for our  temporal and  spiritual welfare ; an< study or analysis of these sakshathkaras as a part of the previoi mentioned study must be made with the same object.

The entire life of Sri Sai Baba was one whole mission for m uplift of humanity and especially for the benefit of those vrl had previous rinanubandha relations with him. Baba's appet ences were generally to infuse faith, courage and hope or other active help,—help in matters temporal and spiritual. Al

al help naturally tended to and culminated in the highest al benefits the recipient was capable of. Any appearance SP!Thelp from Baba would naturally promote these ends. And f. eerns to have selected chamatkaric appearance and chamat-t ic help as specially fitted to achieve these objects in special Let us proceed to consider a lew of these sakshatkaras

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_

in this article.

Baba's devotees regarded him as their guardian angel or Mother dear watching them both night and day and in all places especially in times of risk and danger to secure their welfare. Sri Sai Baba openly declared this to be his mission and position in ever memorable words. Said He " Be wherever you may, speak and do whatever you may ; be assured that I am aware of all that at once." The instances we are narrating below amply prove that he carried out his promise to the very letter.

People think of or feel the need for Baba's help in times of trouble and distress, it is in time of special agony of mind of the Bhakta that Baba appears in sakshatkara before him, just as it was in Droupadhi's great despair and agony in Duryodhana's court hall that Sri Krishna afforded her chamatkaric relief by covering her with new dresses whenever the old ones were pulled off in order to disgrace her. Rao Bahadur, S. B. Dumal was in the operation theatre just about to undergo a very risky operation and his thought naturally turned to Baba. In that crucial moment he saw Baba appearing inside the theatre and next to his bed ; and he got greatly emboldened and felt sure that he was safe in Baba's presence. Accordingly the operation was safe and successful,

A devotee at Dhulia, Bahalkar by name, was anxiously seated by the sick bed of his son at a time when doctors did not give much encouragement or hope of recovery. He looked before him and found Baba had suddenly appeared in the room in some mysterious manner. Baba applied Udhi to the forehead of the patient and told the agonised father that the fever would soon vanish and that the boy must be brought to him at Shirdi after recovery. (It must be remembered that Baba never left Shirdi during the last thirty years or so of his life and that his appear. ances at a distant place like Dhulia eighty miles from Shirdi, and Jejuri I 50 miles from Shirdi were only chamatkaric appearan­ces which could not have been brought about by ordinary methods of locomotion).

Sri R. B. Furandare was once seriously ill and the situation was indeed so critical that he saw fierce Yama Dutas close to him and starting their tortures. It looked as though his life had piactically ended. But just at that juncture Sai Baba appeared in the room, close to him. And taking his leg and hand in His

 

own palms Baba began to tend him and at once the Yama Dut vanished; and fairly quickly Sri  R.  B. Purandare   recovered health.

The best known instance of Krishna's chamatkaric appei ance is the Visvarupa darsanam of the eleventh chapter of tj Bhagavath Gita. When Bhagawan had assured Arjuna that he all the gods and all creatures also, Arjuna replied that he doubt believed the statement to be true. But in order that should realise it with full force he prayed for ocular demonJ ration to be given to him of Bhagawan being in all the forms al all the forms being in him, Krishna seated as he was on tj chariot suddenly transformed himself into all that is and Arjui saw in that cousin's form the entire universe including all tj gods and all other beings. Thus Arjuna derived an indelit impression of everything being Bhagawan (Vasudevas Sarvaroj

Sat Baba with his sakshathkaric powers dealt with numerol devotees and gave his sakshathkaras as being all the gods—not] one time nor to one person nor in one all inclusive form,

A deputy collector devotee was practising meditation at Bombay Lakshmi Narayana temple making the image therein object of contemplation. For a long time he held that image in mind's eye and was satisfied with the intensity of his concent^ tion. Suddenly the vision of Lakshmi Narayana vanished and place was taken by the figure of Sri Sai Baba. The devotee was'. wildered and dejected as he considered that his concentration hj proved a failure. Subsequently he went to Shirdi and Baba as! him there, what harm there was in Baba's figure appearing fore him instead of Lakshmi Narayana. "Am I different fr< Lakshminarayana?" asked Baba. The devotee then discover! that Baba's appearance at the sadhana in the Lakshminarayaj temple was a part of Baba's plan to make the devotee feel Ba| is God quite as much as Lakshminarayana.

Yasya Deve Para Bhaktih Yatha Deve Tatha Gurow Tasyeithe Kathiia Hyarthah Prakasante Mahatmanah,

says the Upanishad and indicates that one cannot realise the innermost secret of the Vedas namely the real nature of the Atman until and unless one has very high and intense bhakti towards one's Ishta murthi God and the same intense devotion towards one's Guru; in fact identifying God with guru. Acharyadevo Bhavt is the vedic maxim, that is, we must treat our guru as God. The devotee in this case must have thus discovered that Baba brought in his chamatkaric appearance in the midst of his yogasamadhi at the Bombay temple for the very purpose of improving and effectu-

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ting the yoga samadhi.   Thereafter Baba led the same  devotee some fcfpandharpur he was   afraid  that he would no longer be able to

me further steps onward in the same direction. The devotee got 9°tomed to value Baba's darsan and when   he was transferred

see Baba as Shirdi is in the Ahmednagar district and far away from Pandharpur. Baba reading his thought told him that he might boldly go to Pandharpur and that Baba had already gone to Pandharpur and would be there at the Deputy Collector's visit. When the latter went to Vittal temple at pandharpur and entered it, he did not see the Vittal image there i.e. the figure standing with arms akimbo, but saw in its place Sai Baba's seated figure. Ao<Mie was happy to note the fulfilment of Baba's promise. " After a short time the standing figure of Vittal appeared.

A South African Doctor of an orthodox Brahmin type was brought to Dwarakamayee at Shirdi by his friend a Mamlatdar and he declined to enter the premises which he considered to be detrimental to his sacerdotal purity. Baba in his mercy wished to drive the bee from the bonnet of this doctor. When puja was going on, this orthodox Brahmin rushed through the crowd and fell prostrate at the feet of Baba repeating Ram Ram Ram. The explanation he gave out for the change in his conduct was that while he was gazing at Baba, the Baba form (of a golden hue) dis­appeared and in its place he saw the dark figure of Sri Rama. He had for thirty years been anxious to get Sakshatkara of Sri Rama and he had got it in the Dwarkamayee in this extraordinary fashion. He was convinced that Sai was Rama and Rama was Sai. Whereas this conviction had to be brought about by this chamatkaric appearance in this doctor's case, myriads have now the same faith without such chamatkars as a basis for their conclusion.

Baba did not stop with proving that Rama and he are one but he proceeded further to deal with various other divine forms current in Maharashtra such as Datta, Maruti, Vittal, Ganapati etc., and showed that each of these is himself.

Baba convinced numerous devotees, of his being their Ishta Devata Murthi by transforming himself into those Murthis. Nana Saheb Nimonkar was at Shirdi on a Datta Jayanthi day and at the time when Datta is said to have been born of Anasuya. Sud­denly Baba had the Anasuya Chaitanya and identifying himself with her at her labour pains complained of severe pain in the belly and drove every one out of the mosque. Very soon {that is at the hour of Datta's birth) he called out to all to re-enter the mosque, Nana Nimonkar was one of the first to enter it. And ( he see there on the gadi on the mattress of Baba ? Not

1» figure but the rosy figure of a hesh born baby   with three

 

heads. That figure vanished very quickly and Baba was agaii seen in his usual form on the gadi. Nana Saheb Chandorkar'j sammandhi was taken to see Sai Baba* But he did not care foS Baba at all and thought if he was to go to any sacred place ij must be to see Datta. When he looked at Baba, he was ast< nished to see that Baba had three Heads. By this chamatkari* appearance, Baba impressed on this visitor the truth that Babj is not different from Datta. Nana Saheb Nimonkar's son, police ofiicer was left at Shirdi by his father to wait upon Baba for a few days. His son did not esteem Baba highly but reverec Maruthi. As he went on looking at Baba, the letter's humar body oi golden hue was transformed into the gray monkey bod] and monkey face of Maruthi and he exclaimed "Here is Marutj Take darsan oi Maruti" Sri R. B. Purandhare's mother anc wife accompanied him on a visit to Shirdi, but the ladies weri anxious to go to Pandharpur to take darsan of Vittoba RukmaJ there. Baba who knew their thoughts showed himself (only tc them) as Vittoba and Rukmai. The ladies were happy to gei Vittal darsan at Shirdi itself without the trouble of travelling u{ to Pandharpur. Baba however asked the mother "When are yoi going to Pandharpur?'' She answered that Shirdi itself was hei Pandharpur. In the words of Das Ganu, her answer may be renj dered thus

" Shirdi Majhe Pandharpwa

Sai Baba Rama Vara " which means Shirdi is mj Pandharpur and Sai Baba is my Vittal or Vishnu.

Avuthai, a Sai devotee whose Ganapati image got brokei was doubting if she should repair it or replace it or choose onl; one of her three objects of worship thereafter for worship and i so whether it should be Sai Baba or Ganapati or Siva. Bab then gave her Sakshatkara in her dream. She found that Bab, appeared before her with an elephant's trunk attached to his fac (just like Ganapati). She was satisfied thereby that Sai Bar-was really the same as Ganapati.

When Sri Sai Baba made use of his Sakshatkura to show hi divine nature and forms to the devotees and especially thenatun and form of their Ishta Murties, it was to enable them to feel anJ realise their Acharya is God. What was the benefit of thai realisation ? Not merely earthly benefits but also the highest spiritual benefits.

Baba's maternal love to the devotees melts at the agony oj distress of his devotees and makes him to render help to them t Sakshatkaric appearance as already stated. 1 wo more instance of these may be given. Mahalsapathy went out on a long pilgrj mage to jejuri for the annual celebration of Khandoba worsh? there. He and his party carried Kavadis or Palkis all throuf*

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the way. (that is 150 miles.) to Jejuri from Shirdi. But when they reached Jejuri, plague was raging there. Alarmed and deject-d Mahalsapathy like his fellows placed his Kavadi down and sat listlessly leaning on the Kavadi, not knowing what to do. Sud­denly he fancied that some one was behind him and he turned and saw, it was Sai Baba. Though that figure vanished at once, he felt that Baba was with him and his group. Greatly encour­aged by this Sakshatkara he finished his pilgrimage, observing the usual forms of worship. When he returned to Shirdi, Baba informed him that he had indeed come to Jejuri at that time to encourage them.

But the time at which devotees require Baba's help (especi­ally his appearance) very greatly is the death crisis.    Just as Sri Krishna  appeared   before   Bheeshma  and   was with him till the actual moment of death,   so also Baba rendered similar help to a number of devotees.    Three instances m^ry be selected, one from Maharashtra and two from Madras. Kohojkar's father  was on his sick bed.    As death was approaching Baba appeared in the sick room but was viaible only to the patient and this appearance must» have led not merely to an Anayasana Maranam, that is painless \\ death, but also to Sadgati.

Similar grace and help were accorded at Madras in recent years to two lady devotees, namely, Mrs, T. V. Chellappa Sastry and Mrs. B. Papiah Chettiar. The former appeared to be in sound health and of strong build. There was nothing to suggest hatt death was near. But Baba appeared m her dream for two days and evidently invited her to go to Him, She suddenly lost con­sciousness in a day or two after that Sakshatkaric appearance and her sons who were greatly distressed at the suddenness of her death had the consolation that Baba had in a way prepared her for the end and that Baba after giving her Anayasana Mara­nam would grant Sadgati, also, to her soul. Mrs. B. P. Chettiar was ailing for 40 days or more during her last illness. Sri Sai Baba then appeared to her in her own heart repeatedly. She some times asked Baba for recovery of health. Baba merely smiled, gave his Asirvadha and disappeared. Thus he prepared her to face the inevitable dissolution of her body. As for her soul, he had taken charge of it. Subsequent to her passing away, she gave, that is, her spirit gave a message to the disconsolate hus-•11 i* in*orming nim ^at Baba had taken her to Swarga and was still looking after her.

Great as the above aid on the spiritual side may appear still greater is the final help that Baba renders. Baba as Samartha gadguru declared his identity with Sri Krishna and said (see - * V s- 59.) to Uddhava that his teachings are those embodied IJ> the 23 chapters of Bhagavatha XI Skanda and that these could

 

be realised by intensely concentrating on the same, sitting at h! feet (or close to his portrait). We see in Chapter VII, that Si Krishna has declared all these Sakshatkaras. all that is seen, thi is, all phenomena to be Maya manomaya. They are the working of Parakriti through the mind and Indriyas. They are transiej and do not endure for ever. It is only that which endures It ever that is real. The real is God. Sakshatkaras or Mayai manifestaions of God are designed to promote certain laudabl objects, but still are only the lower rungs in the ladder. He wl wishes to rise to the full height of his spiritual stature must Sakshatkaras aside and realise the highest teachings of Bal (B. C. S. 58-73,111-2} namely, I am Brflhman. Maim Alh Hum. and "You and I are one". Differences are unreal, Khatopanished.) If one with all his might and main works hiras< to perfect surrender at Baba's feet and makes Atmanivedana thi is, allows his sense of Ego to be lost in the contemplation of Bli (which constitutes Baba.) then he is a Siddha, a Kritartha. has attained the end. He returns no more into Samsara.