More Shirdi Sai Baba Stories from Sri Sai Satcharita...
Final Acceptance of Mr. Sapatnekar
Mr. Sapatnekar of Akkalkot was studying for law. A co-student Mr.Shevade met him. Other fellow students also gathered together and compared notes of their study. It was found by the questions and answers amongst themselves, that Mr.Shevade was the least prepared of all for the examination, and therefore all the students derided him. But he said that though he was not prepared, he was sure to pass the examination, as his Sai Baba was there to get him through it successfully. Mr.Sapatnekar was surprised at this remark. He took Mr.Shevade aside and asked him who this Sai Baba was, whom he extolled so high. He replied, "There lives in a Masjid in Shirdi a fakir. He is a great Sat-purusha (realized being). There may be other saints, but this one is unique. Unless there is a great store of merit on one's account, one can't see Him. I fully believe in Him, and what He says will be never untrue. He has assured me that I will pass definitely next year and I am confident that I will get through the final examination also with His grace." Mr.Sapatnekar laughed at his friend's confidence and jeered at him and Baba.
Mr.Sapatnekar passed his examination, settled at Akkalkot and practised as a pleader there. Ten years after this, i.e., in 1913 he lost his only son on account of a throat disease. That broke his heart. He sought relief by making a pilgrimage to Pandharpur, Ganagapur and other holy places. He got no peace of mind. Then he read Vedanta, which also did not help him. In the meanwhile he remembered Mr.Shevade's remarks and his faith in Baba, and he thought that he too should go to Shirdi and see Baba. He went to Shirdi with his younger brother Panditrao and was much pleased to see Baba from a distance. When he went near and prostrated himself and placed a coconut before Baba with pure feeling (devotion), the latter at once cried out " Get away." Sapatnekar hung down his head, moved back and sat aside. He wanted to consult somebody who would advise him how to proceed. Somebody mentioned Bala Shimpi's name. Sapatnekar saw him and sought his help. They bought Baba's photos and came with them to the Masjid. Bala Shimpi took a photo in his hand, gave it to Baba and asked him whose photo it was. Baba said that this photo was the 'Yara' (Lover) of him, pointing to Sapatnekar. Saying this Baba laughed and all others joined. Bala asked Baba the significance of the laugh and beckoned Sapatnekar to come forward and take darshan. When Saptnakar began to prostrate himself, Baba again cried " Get out." Sapatnekar did not know what to do. Then they both joined their hands and sat before Baba, praying. Baba finally ordered Sapatnekar to clear out immediately. Both were sad and dejected. As Baba's order had to be obeyed, Sapatnekar left Shirdi with a heavy heart praying that he should be allowed to take darshan next time.
One year elapsed. Still his mind was not at peace. He went to Ganagapur, where he felt more restless. Then he went to Madhegaon for rest and finally decided to go to Kashi. Two days before starting, his wife got a vision. In her dream she was going with a pitcher to Lakadsha's well. There a fakir with a piece of cloth round his head, who was sitting at the foot of the Neem tree, came close to her and said, " My dear lassie, why get exhausted for nothing? I will get your pitcher filled with pure water." She was afraid of the fakir and hastened back with the empty pitcher. The fakir followed her. At that time she awoke and opened her eyes. She told that vision to her husband. They thought that it was an auspicious sign and they both left for Shirdi. When they reached the Masjid, Baba was absent. He had gone to Lendi. They waited till His return. When He returned she was surprised to see that the fakir she saw in her vision, resembled exactly Baba. She reverently prostrated herself before Baba and sat looking at him. Seeing her humility Baba was much pleased and began to tell a story in his peculiar characteristic fashion to a third party. He said, " My arms, abdomen and waist are paining for a long time. I took many medicines, the pains did not abate. I got sick of the medicines as they gave me no relief, but I am surprised to see now that all the pains have disappeared at once." Though no name was mentioned it was the story of Mrs. Sapatnekar herself. Her pains, as described by Baba, left her soon and she was happy.
Then Mr.Sapatnekar went ahead to take darshan. He was again welcomed with the former "Get out." This time he was more penitent and persevering. He said that Baba's displeasure was due to his past deeds and resolved to make amends for the same. He determined to see Baba alone and ask his pardon for his past action. This he did. He placed his head on Baba's feet and Baba placed His hand on it and Sapatnekar sat stroking Baba's leg. Then a shepherdess came and sat massaging Baba's waist. Baba in his characteristic way began to tell the story of a bania. He related the various vicissitudes of all his life, including the death of his only son. Sapatnekar was surprised to see that the story which Baba related was his own, and he wondered how Baba knew every detail of it. He came to know that He was omniscient and knew the hearts of all. When that thought crossed his mind, Baba still addressing the shepherdess and pointing to Sapatnekar said, "This fellow blames Me and charges Me with killing his son. Do I kill people's children? Why does this fellow come to the Masjid and cry? Now I will do this I will again bring that very child back in his wife's womb." With these words He placed His blessing hand on his head and comforted him saying, "These feet are old and holy, you are care-free now; place entire faith in Me and you will soon get your object." Sapatnekar was much moved with emotion, he bathed Baba's feet with his tears and then returned to his residence.
Then he made preparations of worship and naivedya (food offering) and came with his wife to the Masjid. He offered all that to Baba daily and accepted prasad from Him. There was a crowd in the Masjid and Sapatnekar went there and saluted Baba again and again. Seeing heads clashing against heads Baba said to Sapatnekar, "Oh, why do you prostrate yourself now and then? The one Namaskar offered with love and humility is enough." Then Sapatnekar witnessed that night the Chavadi procession described before. In that procession Baba looked like a veritable Pandurang (Vithal).
At parting next day, Sapatnekar thought that he should first pay one rupee as dakshina and if Baba asked again, instead of saying no, he should pay one more, reserving with him sufficient amount as expenses for the journey. When he went to the Masjid and offered one rupee, Baba asked for another as per his intention and when it was paid, Baba blessed him saying, "Take the coconut, put it in your wife's oti (upper fold of her sari) and go away at ease without the least anxiety." He did so, and within a year a son was born to him and with an infant of 8 months the pair came to Shirdi, placed it at Baba's feet and prayed thus, "Oh, Sainath, we do not know how to redeem Your obligations, therefore we prostrate ourselves before You. Bless us poor helpless fellows. Henceforth let Your holy feet be our sole refuge. Many thoughts and ideas trouble us in waking and in dreams, so turn away our minds from them to Your bhajan and bless us."
The son was named Murlidhar. Two others (Bhaskar and Dinkar) were born afterwards. The Sapatnekar pair thus realized that Baba's words were never untrue and unfulfilled, but turned out literally true.