Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi descended on the earth to lead mankind to the realm of eternity. As the divine mother He gave his immense love and as the divine father He gave direction to our search for truth. His mission was to make people conscious of their divine nature. The people who follow His teachings and preaching are indeed blessed souls. The cardinal principles of Sai Path are 'Shraddha' and 'Saburi'. Sai Baba explicitly asked for these two qualities in His devotees by giving his self-experiential instance that his 'Murshid' or Master asked from him only two pice - one Shraddha and other the Saburi.
'Shraddha' in a Sanskrit word, which has no equivalent in English, at best it can be understood as, faith with love and reverence. Such faith or trust is generated out of conviction, which may not be the result of any rational belief or intellectual wisdom, but a spiritual inspiration. Baba sowed the seeds of spiritual inspiration in the hearts of people who knew of him. This Divine inspiration was so instant and profound that they automatically took refuge in Him.
Baba reiterated that steadfast love in God as the gateway to eternity. He used the instance of mother tortoise to illustrate this point. The mother - tortoise may be on the other side of the river, whereas her children are on the far side. She does not transfer food and water to her children by way of her loving glances. Yet, her loving looks are enough to protect the children. Similarly, people who lovingly look at God get His reciprocity. God's looks offer peace, protection and prosperity for His children. Baba's teaching, both direct and indirect explicate the significance of 'Shraddha'. Baba reiterates the spiritual guidance of Shri Krishna to Arjun - "Who-so ever offer to Me with love or devotion, a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, that offering of pure love is readily accepted by Me".
'Saburi'; is patience and perseverance. Saburi is a quality needed throughout the path to reach the goal. This quality must be ingrained in a seeker from day one, least he looses his stride and leaves the path half way. As a hunter waits patiently and motionlessly for his target a devotee too has to wait patiently for attaining his goal. There are many trying situations in life. A test may come in the form of frustration, distress, agony, illness, mishaps, prolonged wait or a loss. In such moments we should seek support from the Master and hold on him.
If patience means anything it should last till the end, and faith will see us through every turmoil of life.
Purity : Baba never approved of austerity for the sake of austerity. He emphasized the need for inner purification than outer austerities. No amount of physical and external cleansing would serve any purpose if the man remained impure in mind and heart. Therefore, Baba cautioned His devotees not to make austerity as an end itself, least they should indulge in physical mortification. His spiritual radiance brought about such transformation in the seekers that they inclined away from the impurities in word, deed or thought. Baba never preached in this regard, He radiated such influence that absorbed the impure tendencies and prepared the aspirant to keep himself chaste, pure, simple and upright, so as to be fit to receive His Grace.
Compassion : Baba Himself was the epitome of compassion and love. It was this ‘love aspect’ of Him that He embodied Himself to help the suffering lot. The warmth of His divine compassion touched all the creatures equally. Baba often told His devotees, ‘Never turn away anybody from your door, be it a human being or animal’. At several instances He identified Himself with any form like dog, horse, cow or even a fly, to prove His presence in the consciousness of all the creatures.
How to serve Master?
Sai Baba made the 'Guru' (the Master), a profound base of the path of devotion. The spiritual impulse is certainly latent in every individual heart, but it needs great inspiration and compulsion to bring it to the surface.
Baba offered that inspiration through his own account brimming with love for his Master. He said, "How can I describe his (Guru's) love for me? When he was in spiritual trance, I sat and gazed at him. We were both filled with bliss. I cared not to turn my eyes upon anything else. Night and day I pored upon his face with an ardor of love that banished hunger and thirst. The Guru's absence even for a second made me restless. I meditated on nothing but the 'Guru' and had no goal or object other than the 'Guru'. Wonderful indeed the art of my 'Guru'. I wanted nothing but the Guru and he wanted nothing but this intense love from me." The significant feature stressed by Sai Baba in his own example and words is the great importance of developing this devotion to one's Guru. It is seeing God in the Guru. This was a self-projected ideal of a ‘Guru’ that motivated innumerable seekers who came in contact with Sai Baba.
hri Sai reiterated the essentiality of complete surrender to the ‘Guru’ with his own example when he said pointing to his physical frame, “This body is my house. I am not here. My Guru (Master) has taken me away”.
One who reaches the feet of fully realized spiritual masters, must surrender his body, mind and soul to the Guru. The spiritual benefit accruing to an aspirant of the path is in measure in which the surrender to the Master is done. The more he gives himself the more he receives. Perfect Master say ‘Give us all you have, we will give you all we possess’
Infact, the spiritual mentor works harder to help the aspirant to make a total surrender to himself. At times Baba adopted shock tactics to weaken or eliminate the ego of the seeker.
There was a supreme peerless quality in Baba’s personality which made all those who came in his contact, feel the urge to surrender to him. Sai Baba was in the truest sense a Guru incarnate, who naturally attracted people and they were willing and anxious enough to surrender to him. He said,‘Keep still and I will do the rest’. The tremendous power of the Guru is working, all that the seeker has to do is to refrain from obstructing it ! This is only possible if the surrender is complete.
Teaching through Uddi & Dakshina
Udi the Sacred ash is the end product of the perpetual fire dhuni lit by Sai Baba in Dwarkamai at Shirdi during his life time.Baba taught by this 'Udi' that all the visible phenomena in the world are as transient as the wood turning into ash. Baba wanted to din into the ears of his devotees the sense of discrimination between the unreal and the real. The realization that all phenomena in nature are perishable and unworthy of our craving is signified in 'Udi' which Baba distributed to all. Even today it is customary to partake the sacred ash in the Sai Temples.
Dakshina: Baba would ask for 'Dakshina' from those that come to see him each according to his means. This was one of the Baba's methods for testing out the devotees attachment to worldly things.
Those days a large number of people thronged Shirdi as Sai Baba had the reputation fulfilling the temporal desires and needs of people who went to see him. This was also well known that Baba asked for 'Dakshina'. Those who had great attachment to money and did not want to part with it for anything, they were kept at bay by the method of 'Dakshina'.
The former (Udi) taught us discrimination (Vivek) and the latter (Dakshina) taught us non-attachment (Vairagya). These two qualities are most essential on the path of self-realization.