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Om Sri Sai Nathaya Namah.

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Leela of how K. J. Bhishma Composed the “Shri Sadguru Sainath Sagunopasana”

Aum Sai Ram.

 The Leela of how K. J. Bhishma Composed the “Shri Sadguru Sainath Sagunopasana”

Krishnashastri Jageshwar Bhishma (K.J.Bhishma) was a resident of a village called Bori or Butibori in the district of Nagpur. He lived on the income derived from his farms. He got married but his married life was short lived. He married once again. He had four children. He became restless after the death of his second wife. He was Revenue Inspector at that time and left the job.

His relatives, friends and well wishers advised him to remarry again but he declined. In 1908, one night, he had a dream in which he saw a person of dark complexion in traditional dress with Tripundra mark (3 horizontal lines of vibhuti (holy ash) on the brow, often with a dot (bindu) as the third eye) on his forehead, sandalwood paste mixed with saffron was applied to his body and puja was performed at the feet of that person who appeared as a vaishnava holy man. In the dream, that holy man gave Bhishma a newspaper and Bhishma desired to know who he was and enquired; but the holy man did not reply but pointed to the newspaper on which “Sat-Chit-Ananda” (Being-Consciousness-Bliss) was printed in bold letters.

When Bhishma wanted to know what it was, the holy man again simply pointed to the newspaper wherein appeared another set of words, “Mantra va shikava” which means “chant mantra and learn”. It was not clear to Bhishma and Bhishma wanted to know further about him. But both the holy person and the newspaper had disappeared.. Bhishma could not make out anything and before he posed another question the Vaishnava saint vanished with his mystic scroll. Bhishma was puzzled and totally confused, but in the meantime he heard a knock at the door and his dream ended.

He immediately recorded the dream and was thinking about the import of the dream for some time, but was unable to unravel the mystery and significance of the dream. After some time a sadhu, a devotee of ‪Ganesha‬, visited Bori. Bhishma narrated his dream to the sadhu who told him that “Sat-Chit-Ananda Swami” was his guru, and gave him the mantra “va shikava”. He had 90 acres of land and was affluent. He renounced all his property and became an ascetic and started wearing ochre robes. He was a prolific writer and wrote many religious books. He started spending his life in performing kirtans and bhajans (eulogies to God). He was interested in social work and removing untouchability.

After sometime Bhishma happened to visit Amraoti where Dadasaheb Khaparde, his friend, was preparing to visit ‪Shirdi‬. He asked Bhishma whether he would like to accompany him to Shirdi. Bhishma agreed and accompanied Khaparde to Shirdi. When Bhishma went into ‪Dwarkamai‬ ‪masjid‬ for Baba’s darshan, Baba uttered with folded hands, “Jai Sat-Chit-Ananda”. Bhishma, though perplexed initially, was wonder-struck as to whether the holy man of his dream was Baba himself. But he thought that the holy man of his dream was a Vaishnavite while Baba appeared to be a Muslim. In spite of this, why Baba uttered those words was not clear to him. A thought appeared in his mind that ‪Saibaba‬ might be the holy man who appeared in his dream. But, he thought that the holy man who appeared in his dream was a Vaishnava saint while Baba in Shirdi was a Muslim Guru. He further reconciled thinking that due to his orthodox proclivity, he was unable to identify the holy man of his dream with Baba whom he considered as a Muslim.

While at Shirdi though he saw many Brahmins devoutly receiving Baba's pada teerth without any orthodox scruple, he gently avoided taking Baba’s pada teerth. Baba was in the habit of smoking tobacco from a chillim and as he smoked he used to offer a puff to the devotees present. Bhishma was apprehensive at heart at the possibility of smoking a chillim polluted by the lips of a Muslim. As per his internal thought, for the first few days, Baba never offered a puff to Bhishma even though he was sitting very close by. One day while Baba was narrating a parable to a group of devotees including Bhishma, a devotee got the chillim ready and gave it to Baba. Baba held it out to Bhishma and directed him to smoke after merely touching the chillim to his mouth. Bhishma followed Baba’s order without any demur and had a puff and then returned it to Baba. Baba accepted it and remarked, “I roam everywhere, my friend – Bombay, Pune, Satara, Nagpur; all those towns are filled with the presence of Rama”. Then he suddenly said to Bhishma in a complaining tone, "Well, Why do you eat the laddus all yourself without offering a single piece to me? At least now give me five laddus!"

Sai Baba’s remark had a strange effect on Bhishma. The distinction between the Vaishnav sadhu of his dream and Sai Baba disappeared. He knowingly asked the sevak for Sai Baba’s tirtha and placed his head on Sai Baba’s feet. Sai Baba put his palm on Bhishma’s head for two full minutes. Bhishma went into ecstasy. How could he describe the state of his mind except by saying like Devnath in his famous composition “Gurukrupayka uhnjuna paya mera main janu”. “The ‪Guru‬’s Grace I have received I know it for myself”.

Bhishma returned to his lodging, brooding on how he could prepare five laddus in a place where he himself was a guest. Even otherwise he would have had to take the assistance of another person for the purpose and Sai Baba would have surely known about it. Moreover, why did Sai Baba ask him for only five laddus and not laddus generally?

He spent a day thinking about the deeper meaning thereof and fell asleep with this thought uppermost in his mind. Suddenly he woke up and was inspired to compose a stanza. In the morning while he busied himself with the second stanza, Hari Sitaram Dikshit, on his way to the Masjid, saw the stanza. After his bath, Bhishma went to the Masjid. Sai Baba reminded him about the laddus. Bhishma kept quiet but Dikshit replied that laddus were being prepared. On hearing this Sai Baba fell into a silence. Next day, Bhishma completed five stanzas, and however hard he tried, he could not compose any more.

So he placed the composition of five stanzas into Sai Baba’s hands.Sai Baba asked him to recite them. While he was reciting, Sai Baba again blessed him by putting his palm on his head and Bhishma felt exalted. Thereafter Bhishma would compose a verse and show it to Sai Baba who would order him to render it. Thus the booklet “Shri Sainath Sagunopasna” wrote itself and was offered at Sai Baba’s feet. Dadasaheb Khaparde has the booklet published at his expense till 1922. Later on in 1923, after Shri Sai Baba Sansthan was founded, with Bhishma’s consent a revised edition was planned and published by the Sansthan with incorporation of more compositions therein.

Bhishma prepared a booklet entitled ‪Shri Sainath Sagunopasana‬ which contained,besides the Aarti, psalms sung in Aarti to Shri Sai Baba, some traditional hymns from the Hindu liturgy like, Purusha Suktam, Sree Suktam, Mantra Pushpam, Sri Lakshmi Ashtotharam, intended for use in the daily worship of the devotees. Shri G.S. Khaparde had borne all the expenses of its publication till 1922, After Baba's Mahasamadhi, the book has been adapted as the official 'Book of Daily Worship' at the Samadhi Mandir.Shri Sai Baba Sansthan, Shirdi, on making some additions to it, has taken up the publication of the revised edition since 1923.

In all, there are thirty psalms in the Book of Shirdi Aartis. Of the thirty, only sixteen are especially composed on Shri Sai Baba. The rest (fourteen, i.e. about half), are traditional Aarti psalms composed by the medieval poet-saints of Maharashtra (excepting a Vedic chant). Of the fourteen traditional psalms, five are composed by Sant ‪Tukaram‬ Maharaj, two each by Sant Namadev‬ and Sant ‪Janabai‬, one each by Shri. Ramjanardhan Swami and Shri. Rameshwar Bhat; of the remaining three, one is a ‪Vedic‬ hymn and the other two are traditional prayers.

Of the sixteen, psalms especially written on Shri Sai Baba, the major bulk, i.e. nine, are composed by Shri. K.J. Bhishma, three by Shri. ‪Dasganu‬ Maharaj, one each by Shri.‪Upasani‬ Maharaj, Shri. Madhav Adkar, Shri. Mohini Raj and Shri. B.V. Dev.

Linguistically, of the thirty Aarti psalms, twenty five are in Marathi, two in Hindi, two in Sanskrit and one a bilingual anthology of short Marathi and Sanskrit prayers.(Source: Shri Sai Leela, September 1985 Issue)

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