Sai Baba’s teachings on speach

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“I shall consider you blessed when you will renounce all attachments, conquer lust and palate: and getting rid of all impediments, serve God wholeheartedly and resort to the begging bowl (accept Sanyas).”

The above is the reply given by Sai Baba to Bapusaheb Jog who asked him why even after serving Baba for so many years, his mind was not calm and composed and why he failed in his efforts for self-realization. Sai Baba always laid stress on controlling pleasures of the senses, especially those of the sexual organ and the tongue. The tongue however has two functions- to taste the food and to speak. About tasting the food we have already discussed it previously and in the following let us see what Baba’s teaching was about speech.

In our scriptures, great stress is laid on ‘non-violence’ which means not to hurt anybody physically, mentally or by speech. Sai Baba had realized that of all above, harsh and scornful words hurt a person much more than physical or mental violence. Such cunning words are not easily forgotten and cannot be withdrawn also. Consequently they cause everlasting ill-feeling. Sai Baba, therefore, not only advised his devotees, “Not to speak cunningly to anyone so as to hurt him to the quick”, but also, said: “Let anybody speak hundreds of things against you, do not resent by giving any bitter reply. If you always tolerate such things, you will certainly be happy”, and to make sure that they did follow his advice, he said, “He who carps and cavils at others, pierces Me in the heart and injures Me but that suffers and endures, pleases Me most.”

Sai Baba’s advice on arguments, disputes, scandal-mongering and disccussion

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Regarding control of the tongue, another advice by Sai Baba was to avoid arguments or hot discussions on any subject with others. Arguments spring from egoism. Arguments lead to quarrels and spread enmity.

Sai Baba advised his devotees not to indulge in scandal-mongering or slandering of others. For this, he had his own methods of correcting the defaulters. Being omniscient, he knew when and where the devotees had committed the fault and so he could correct them effectively by taunting them. Sai Baba pointed out a pig to such a defaulter and said to him, “Behold how with what relish it is gorging dung. Your conduct is similar. You go on reviling your own brother to your heart’s contents”. Needless to say that the devotee was ashamed and took the lesson to his heart forever.

Similarly a pleader from Pandharpur had unnecessarily taken part in a discussion in the bar-room regarding the sub-judge Noolkar’s coming and staying at Shirdi for cure of his ill-health. When the pleader himself arrived at Shirdi, Sai Baba said, “How cunning people are! They fall at the feet, offer dakshina, but inwardly give abuses behind the back. Is not this wonderful?” The pleader understood that the remark was aimed at himself, and being convinced, later said to Kakasaheb Dixit, “This is not a rebuke to me a favour and advice that I should not indulge in any scandal or slander of others and not interfere unnecessarily in other’s affairs.”

Sai Baba answers online via Sai Prashnavali

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The much awaited online version of Sai Prashnavali is now liv. We thank all for the patience they have shown during the time we were creating this website for you. The Prashnavali website will always be free to use for all.

Direct Link: http://www.prashnavali.org/

It is best for followers of Sai Baba to get their questions answered on Thursdays every week.

Aum Sai Ram!

Charity of food

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Last but an important advice about food given by Baba is about charity: 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 kinds of 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, “Food is Brahma, from food all the creatures are born and having been born, by food they live and having departed, into food they again enter”. Other kinds of charities, viz, giving away wealth, property, 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 food and if, crippled, blind and diseased come, they should be fed first and the able-bodies persons and our relatives afterwards.

In this regard also, Baba himself had set an example. In early days, he very often used to feed the poor and helpless by himself cooking in big pots (handi). He used to buy the grains and spices from the bazaar and do the needful grinding also by himself. Later, devotees started thronging to Shirdi in large numbers, and cooked food in the form of naivedya in large quantities, so there was no need for Baba to cook. However, he never stopped distributing this naivedya food to all and sundry. He himself hardly tasted it.

Sai Baba was always practical and realistic in his advice. While eulogizing on charity, he also warned about overdoing it and becoming a debtor. The crux of his advice regarding food was to learn to be satisfied with whatever food was served. This would not only ensure good health but would also help one in one’s efforts for attaining emancipation.

Baba’s thoughts on importance of fasting

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Another important advice of Sai Baba concerning food was that of fasting. Sai Baba never kept a fast himself, nor did he allow others to do so. Baba used to say “The mind of the people fasting is never at ease, then how could it attain the Paramartha (goal of life)? God is not attained on an empty stomach; first the soul has to be appeased.” In short, when all organs get their proper nutrition and are sound, we can practice devotion and other sadhanas to attain God. Therefore, neither fasting nor over-eating is good. Moderation in diet is really wholesome both for the body and mind.

He explained the simplest method of achieving oneness with God “You look at ME and I look at you”. Since fasting is done for religious purposes, it means seating near God. In other words, on that day one has to think and act with a pure mind and meditate on God’s from but we hardly do this. On the contrary, since we continue to attend to our normal secular business and other duties on that day, we also continue to indulge in immoral activities such as telling lies, cheating others, etc.

Sharing and not disregarding offers of food

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Sai Baba advised that during meal time; do not go out on an empty stomach disregarding any offer of food. On the contrary, it should be regarded as an auspicious sign of success. To do any job perfectly, one requires energy which can only be acquired by eating food. Secondly, refusing something offered by somebody lovingly, means hurting his feelings which is certainly not a done thing. Sai Baba narrates his own experience as to how he and his companions lost their way in the woods because they disregarded the banjarin’s offer of food and guidance. However, later, when Sai Baba accepted the banjarin’s food and guidance, he was able to carry out the quest successfully.

Baba himself never ate anything without sharing it with others. Everyday he used to go out begging and whatever food was collected, he used to place it in the earthen bowl in the masjid. 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 and richly cooked food, he hardly tasted it and distributed it amongst the devotees present. Every afternoon in the Dwarkamai, when the meal was served and ready to eat, Baba would call out for Bade Baba (a fakir from Malegaon) and make him sit next to him on his left respectfully as an honored guest. Then after the meal, Baba used to pay him Rs.50 as dakshina and walk with him 100 paces to see him off.

(The virtuous who partake of what is left after sacrifice, are absolved of all sins. The sinful ones who only cook and eat for themselves eat only sins.) Thus Sai Baba very effectively taught this principle of not precept and example. In today’s state of towering prices and food rationing, therefore, this meaning would have to be borne in mind to ensure that an unwanted and persisting person does not take advantage of our generous nature.

Sai Baba and non-vegetarian food

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In Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions especially, there is a belief that unless one gives up eating non-vegetarian food, one cannot attain emancipation or knowledge of the Supreme Spirit. Sai Baba himself was an emancipated soul and had full knowledge of the Supreme Spirit and was capable of giving such experiences to others. However, he not only had no objection to non-vegetarian food, but never insisted that his devotees should give it up. In his early days he used to cook non-vegetarian food himself in a big pot and after consecrating it through a moulvi by reciting the fatiha, used to send as Prasad to Mhalsapati and Tatya Kote Patil before distributing it to others.

There might be two reasons for this. One could be that Sai Baba, with his mission of achieving unity amongst Hindus and Muslims wore a Muslim fakir type of dress and lived like a fakir. Hence, accepting non-vegetarian food was quite appropriate. Secondly if we carefully consider the teachings of our scriptures, it will be clear that denial of non-vegetarian food is only one of the means to attain emancipation or knowledge of the Supreme Spirit and not a goal in itself. To give this up, to avoid killing of innocent animals for the sake of one’s enjoyment of tasty food or because non-vegetarian food becomes a hindrance in achieving concentration of mind during meditation by increasing attributes of passion (Rajo guna) and ignorance (Tamo-guna), is of course commendable. But to say that without avoiding non-vegetarian food one cannot achieve emancipation or knowledge of the Supreme Spirit is not correct. Otherwise great peers like Mohammed (Paigamber) and Jesus Christ, would not have been born at all. Moreover, in India, those who do not take non-vegetarian food do so because they believe in the principle of non-injury, or because they fear that the attributes of passions and ignorance would increase.

Sai Baba’s own example on self-realization

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Sai Baba gave different but proper advice regarding money to those seeking self-realization and to those leading a secular life. However his advice was not just a show of words but preaching after practice. For instance, his renunciation of all sensuous delight and gratification is well known.He used to live in the open under a neem tree or in the dilapidated masjid or chavadi. His dress was a patched, long robe and a piece of cloth tied on the head. His seat was a torn piece of sack cloth only. For food he used to beg around in the village. What better renunciation could there be than this?

Later on, as Sai Baba’s fame spread far and wide, devotees started pouring in great numbers. Some ardent devotees prepared a seat with soft cushions, decorated him with ornaments of diamonds and pearls and cast around his body embroidered silk shawls but Baba had no fascination for these. On the contrary, many a time he used to pull them out and throw them away in anger. For the chavadi procession, devotees brought a palanquin but Baba never sat in it. During meal-time, varieties of food were brought as offerings but Baba hardly tasted them and distributed them amongst all the devotees present. Similarly, every day hundreds of rupees worth cash would be collected as a gift to Baba, but he never keep a single rupee for himself. Instead he would distribute all the money thus received so that by the evening nothing was left with him.

However, this generosity was for charity only and that too for the needy only. For other everyday transactions like purchasing grains and condiments for cooking food for the needy, Baba used to haggle a lot with the shopkeeper over the price in order to avoid being cheated. But at the same time, he never used to accept free service from anybody. Whether a potter providing earthen pots for watering flowerbeds or hawker women selling fruits or a boy just bringing a ladder for Baba to climb on the roof of a house, Baba’s payment was prompt and on the spot.

Finally, if we summarize the teachings of Baba in matters of money, his following words are quite noteworthy: “Poverty is the real kingship – much superior to nobility. Allah is the friend of the poor”.

For those seeking self-realization

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Sai Baba’s advice is that self-realization is impossible unless one gives up greed for wealth. If while listening to the knowledge of the Supreme Spirit, one is thinking of sense-objects and worrying of worldly business, then self-realization will also be not that full.

To those poor and penniless amongst seekers of self-realization, Baba has permanently assured “There will be no shortage of food and clothes at the residence of my devotees”. Baba used to say often “Those who worship me exclusively and serve me always with a mind full of reverence, I consider it my promise to look after their livelihood and protection”.

Sai Baba impressed upon those leading a mundane life the necessity of money for the maintenance of the family and therefore to use it carefully and frugally. “Constant over-generousness is also not good. Once whatever money one possesses is finished, nobody cares for you afterward. Remember, one should indulge in charities (alms-giving, building temples, etc.) according to one’s income only and never overspend by borrowing money for the same”.