Sathya Sai Baba & Pujya Rang Avadhoot Maharaj (Bapji) Of Nareshwar, Gujarat
By Dr D.J. Gadhia
Sai Smaran (Chapter 26, pages 191 – 196)
Swami Rang Avadhoot (also known as Pujya Rang Avadhoot Maharaj) was considered an avatar (incarnation) of Lord Guru Dattatreya. While on a visit to Kampala (Uganda, East Africa), he stayed with Mr. Revashanker Sompura, in whose residence the first Sathya Sai Study Circle in Uganda was established. Mrs. Revashanker asked Bapji’s permission for a photograph to be taken of him. He said, “I do not allow anyone to take my photo”, which upset her and tears welled up in her eyes.
Bapji saw this and with compassion said, “I do not want to hurt your feelings: ask your son to take only one photo.” When the film was developed, the photo showed three heads of Bapji – proving that he is Guru Dattatreya (i.e. Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh).
Once while travelling by train to Jamnagar, first from Bangalore to Bombay via Poona and then from Bombay to Jamnagar. On the way to Poona, somebody informed me that Shirdi was very near Poona. I therefore got off the train at Poona as I wanted to visit Shirdi Sai Baba’s temple in Shirdi. But Beloved Swami decided that I should have the Divine darshan and blessings of Bapji first. As Swami says: “All saints and sages are my prana (life force)!” Therefore I did not manage to go to Shirdi on this occasion.
I stayed at Poona in the Ritz Hotel. While talking about Beloved Swami with the manager of the hotel, he informed me that his wife was a great devotee of Bapji. Suddenly, this information sent a current through my body. It so happened that I had given a promise to Dr. Ramesh Vani, who was studying with me for the M.B.B.S. degree in Kasturba Medical College (in Manipal and Mangalore), that I would visit His Guru, Bapji, and that he should visit my Guru, Beloved Swami. I had forgotten this promise for three years!
Dr. Vani had been to Beloved Swami and got an interview. He was very impressed and said, “Swami is a really wonderful incarnation, bearing all the powers in His Divine Hands.”
I met the hotel manager’s wife, who described one miracle that happened with Bapji. She said that he did not allow His Lotus and Divine Feet to be touched and never accepted gifts from anyone.
Once when she went to Bapji and bowed from a distance, her ring came off her finger and fell on the floor. She said, “Bapji, this ring has come out for you only, because it is a belief that under circumstances, I have to give this ring, without any hesitation, to you with love and faith in you.” He replied, “Mother, I will have to fast for 24 hours if I accept this gift.” Seeing her crying, Bapji said with compassion, “All right! I do not wish to see you unhappy and upset. I will accept this ring. Kindly place the ring in that corner and take this coconut and distribute prasadam to everyone at home.” When she cracked the coconut – to her great surprise – her ring was inside the coconut! This was the miracle she experienced.
I prayed to Bapji in this way, “Without your Will, nobody can come to you. You made me forget my promise to my friend that I would visit you, his Guru. Now that I have remembered my promise, I wish to have your Divine darshan.” By the grace of Lord Sathya Sai Baba, the meeting with Bapji took place in the following manner.
While in train from Bombay to Jamnagar via Rajkot, and approaching Baroda, I overheard a passenger saying, “Bapji is in Baroda.” On further inquiry, he said, “He is residing in Maganbhai’s wadi (farm).”
I thought to myself that this was a great opportunity to have Bapji’s darshan and blessings. Without the Will of Beloved Swami and Bapji, this was clearly not possible. So I got down at Baroda with my luggage, booked into a hotel and asked at the reception desk the whereabouts of the wadi of Maganbhai. To my surprise, the person at the desk said, “I know why you asked me this question. I am a devotee of Bapji. The wadi is only a few miles from here. I will take you in rickshaw tomorrow at 6:00am. Perhaps there will not be many people at that time.”
Meeting with Bapji:
Starting early in the morning, we reached the wadi after 45 minutes, but to our great surprise over 500 people were already there waiting for Bapji’s darshan and blessings!
One cannot imagine what happened next. Bapji’s secretary came out and announced, “Bapji has asked me to inquire if there is any doctor in the crowd?” I said, “Yes, I am a doctor but I do not know whether there is another doctor present here.”
The next announcement really gave me a shock, “Is there a doctor from Africa?” I immediately replied, “Yes, I am here.” He said, “Please come with me.”
The secretary asked me to wait in a room, which was next to a bathroom where Bapji was getting ready and said I was very fortunate to have his Divine darshan immediately after his bath.
I should mention here that I used to carry one of Swami’s books with me to present as a gift to any saint or sage I visited. When I asked Bapji’s secretary what to do with the book, he said, “Give me the book and I will hand it to him later. If you keep it in front of Bapji, then he will have to fast for 24 hours – you are aware of this matter, aren’t you?”
Another surprise awaited me when Bapji came out of the bathroom and said, “You are very fortunate because you are under the direct Hands of the current Avatari Purush (incarnation of God).”
I replied, “Thank you. I am also very fortunate to have your Divine darshan.”
He replied, “Your sankalpa (destiny) was to come to Nareshwar, not here!”
I asked, “Is it essential to visit Nareshwar, now that I have met you here?” He answered, “Yes, it is absolutely necessary!”
I then asked, “When should I go to Nareshwar?” He emphatically said, “Tomorrow only.” I assured him that I would go there the next day.
In my heart I wanted to touch His Divine Feet, but he never allowed anyone to touch him.
He proved to me that he was a trikala-gyani (ominscient) for he could read my mind. When I sat in front of him, but at a distance, he said, “Show me the Vishvaswarup, given to you by Bhagavan which is in your purse or pocket.”
I was happy to hear him say “Bhagavan” and while giving him the Vishvaswarup I could touch his palm! He took it in his hands, touched both his upper eyelids and handed it back to me with great pleasure. I was very happy to have his cosmic rays.
When I asked for his permission to leave the room so that somebody else could come in, he said, “You sing well, don’t you?” He said, “Wait for the harmonium and tabla.” He then made a sign to his secretary and the musicians came in.
As Bapji is omniscient, he might have instructed his secretary to keep everything ready. He then gave me a sign to sing. I sang the bhajan:
Sathyam Sivam Sundaram, ye he Sai ka nam
Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, ye he Babake nam
The names of many gods and goddesses are include in this bhajan. At the end I also added Bapji’s name. I then got up and prayed for permission to leave. He blessed me with abhaya hasta and reminded me, “Do not forget to go to Nareshwar!”
The next day I went to Nareshwar, which was not far away. There I found Bapji’s old mother who blessed me. She poured a little holy water of Narmada River over my head and said, “You will get every success in your life!”
When I returned to Jamnagar, I heard that she passed away only a few days after blessing this poor soul! How blessed I was! Later, Bapji too – by an act of his Will – left his mortal coil at Haridwar, near the river Ganges.
I consider this experience most important for the following reasons:
- I had totally forgotten my promise to Dr. Ramesh Vani. As willed by Beloved Swami and Bapji, I was reminded of this at the hotel in Poona.
- Bapji considered Beloved Swami as the current Avatar Purush, and he had no doubts about Swami’s greatness. Thousands of Bapji’s devotees, those with unconditional faith in Bapji, visited Prashanti Nilayam many times and had Swami’s Divine darshan and blessings.
- Bapji wanted me to visit Nareshwar to get the blessings of his Divine Mother!
I was reminded of two things. When I used to go to Puttaparthi, Beloved Swami’s father, Peda Venkama Raju, used to hold my hand and take me and the group who accompanied me to see Baba’s birthplace, the kalpa vriksha (wish-fulfilling tree), Sathyabhama stone, the old temple, etc.
Secondly, we were blessed by Beloved Swami’s Divine Father and Mother because of His sankalpa and grace. Devotees from Mangalore who used to visit Prashanti Nilayam with me were also very fortunate.
Let us now see what Swami has to say about holy and divine persons:
The Universe is the body of God. In that body the Unity Consciousness, the Eka-Bhava, is Bharat (India). Aeons ago, the Vedas declared Ekam-Sath (Truth is One). That is the heartbeat of Bharat today. This is the reason why sages, saints, divine personages and incarnations of God appear here and proclaim their message to mankind from this land. The precious message is now being exported, but very little is used in Bharat. This is the tragedy. In order to exercise influence from positions of authority, and to acquire and accumulate power, individuals talk ill of others and breed hate. This state of affairs is an insult in the face of our ancient culture. It springs from the craving for cheap popularity and temporary fame.
You know the reverence that Indian culture insists that you should offer to all names and forms of the One Godhead. If you attach yourself to Sai and detach yourself from Krishna, you get a plus there and a minus here; the resultant gain is zero. In this matter, do not develop fanaticism or sectarianism. Others may have these, but that is no reason why you should meet them with the same failings. Try your best to avoid such infection. When other organisations require help, go and help them. This will make them realise the loving, universal nature of your attitude.
Although Swami Rang Avadhoot (Bapji) was an incarnation of Guru Dattatreya, He greeted me in a way that acknowledged Beloved Baba as an Avatari Purush. Thus, he and many other saints regard Sathya Sai Baba as Sarva Devata Swarupa Avatara (the Incarnation of all divine incarnations), and we offer our most humble, sincere and heartfelt salutations to all of them.
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