Beggars of Truth --- Sadgurus- Shirdi Sai Baba ,Upasani Maharaj & Meher Baba N K Srinivasan

This is a short article on the great Sadgurus who are linked to each other and who have been blessing millions of devotees. While several books have been written about Shirdi Sai Baba and His abode in Shirdi is a veritable pilgrimage center in India, the other two saints -Sadgurus-- have been much less known among the people at large. There had been many negative reports on Upasani Baba Maharaj and Meher Baba in the literature too. Such reports are not only superficial in content, but also were designed to discredit them in some ways. My attempt here is to place them in a perspective showing the unbroken chain of advanced masters or Perfect Masters these three sad-gurus were.I am not giving much of biographical details which are available in other websites.

Shirdi Baba & Upasani Baba
Shirdi Sai Baba ,who attained Samadhi in 1918 trained Upasani Maharaj with great care. Upasani left Shirdi after nearly 4 years of intense sadhana under the care of Shirdi Baba in a Khandoba temple and then traveled to Nagpur and later to Kharagpur. Shirdi Sainath was above caste and religion.He treated all with the same love and grace. Upasani wanted to prove to the world at large that caste barriers should be broken at the altar of divine dispensation. Though he was a high caste brahmin with strong sanskrit knowledge and profound understanding of scriptures, he moved

to a house of an untouchable in Kharagpur and used to dine with him. This induced many of his followers to shed the caste prejudices and taboos.It also created many enemies for him. Upasani Baba returned to Shirdi sometime in 1914 and established His ashram at Sakori,at a distance of about 5 kms from Shirdi, on a creamtion ground. He must have known that

Sai Baba would soon leave his mortal coil. The Ashram at Sakori developed into a great spiritual centre and drew hundreds of devotees after Sai Baba's samadhi in 1918.One preeminent disciple of Upasani Baba is ,of course, Meher Baba or Mehrawan Irani [ of Iran or Zorastrian descent] who came from Pune. Upasani lived a life of utter simplicity ,wrapping himself with

sack cloth and even lived in a bamboo cage for mortification. In 1917, Upasani came to meet Shirdi Sai Baba many times and did the last funeral rites for Shirdi Baba after Baba attained Samadhi in 1918. Some of the hymns composed by Upasani in Sanskrit are Mandir. It may be mentioned here that Shri B V Narasimhaswamiji, [BVN sung even today at Shirdi Samadhi

for short ],the founder of All India Sai Samaj[AISS] in Chennai and who had propagated Sai lore with missionary zeal, had earlier spent some years with Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi at

Thiruvannamalai [Tamil Nadu} and moved to north in search of other gurus. He met Narayan Maharaj and also spent a few years

with Upasani Maharaj. He wrote a small book " Sage of Sakori" in praise of Upasani in 1930 which was published from

Chennai.BVN also wrote the first biography of Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi, titled " self realization". [This book ,which was out of print, is again reprinted by Sri Ramanasramam, Thiruvannamalai.] [Thus BVN has the unique distinction of having written the biographies of three great masters: Bhagawan Ramana, Upasani and Shirdi Baba.] Later BVN wrote three small volumes entitled "Life of Sai Baba", published by AISS, Mylapore, Chennai, which is

available as a single volume now. He included life sketches of major devotees of Sai Baba in those volumes--- much information he had gathered while he toured Maharashtra in the late 1920's after Baba's samadhi.. In that valuable work, BVN wrote disparagingly about Upasani, stating that Upasani Baba maintained a harem of women as a sexual pervert and his ashram

dwindled in numbers of visitors. [This account was repeated verbatim by several writers from Tamil Nadu and also mentioned in the book by Kamath and V G Kher in the appendix.] Upasani built an ashram or gurukulam or school for kanya (virgin) girls to train them in Vedic shastras or scriptures. This was not only not easily accepted ,but women doing Vedic rituals was forbidden in Hindu society. Upasani held the view that women, particularly virgin girls, would be able to attain spiritual heights easily compared to men. Upasani in many ways broke the caste barriers such as allowing the outcastes or untouchable in his fold. Local orthodox persons could not accept these things. A law-suit was also filed against Upasani's ashram on sexualy oriented charges.It appears that several attempts were made to close the ashram entirely. BVN

who had stayed there did write the book " sage of Sakori" at that time and but told that Upasani developed bad ways in his later years. I have read in another book how the well known devotee of Shirdi Baba, G S Khaparde himself, a lawyer by profession and

an associate of Bal Gangadhar Tilak,exonerated Upasani and his work after visiting this ashram. It may be recalled that Mahatma Gandhi also visited Upasani's Ashram at Sakori and the Kanya [virgin] gurukulam there. It may be remarked that his successor was Godavari Mata who joined the ashram at a young age and was trained by Upasani with strict discipline. This Gurukulam and Upasani's ashram are very much active today.Yet, many unsavory things have been written about Upasani and is

being circulated even today.

Meher Baba The life and works of Meher Baba are well known to repeat here. It may be noted , in brief, that Meher Baba was first blessed by Hazrat Baba Jan , a sufi woman-saint in Pune who remained under a neem tree all her life. Baba Jan's kiss led to spiritual realization for Meher Baba. He lived in a trance-like state for nearly nine months. Then Meher came under the influence of Upasani who brought him into normal consciousness of the mundane world so that he could serve humanity. Upasani directed Meher to Shirdi Baba in 1917. Shirdi Baba blessed him ,calling him "Parvadigar" and soon Meher experienced Bliss and attained divine powers. After Shirdi Baba's samadhi, Meher took further instructions and training under Upasani for a total of nearly seven years. Meher came to Ahmednagar and established his humble ashram in Aarongoan near Ahmednagar [where his tomb exists now.] Here he gathered many disciples who would be trained by him.He also started many schools and hospitals ,including one for lepers whom he would serve with devotion. This indeed was a rare type of service rendered by any Hindu saint in India. Meher became well

known .He kept in touch with Upasani and the last meeting between them took place in 1941, a few months before Upasani attained Samadhi.What transpired between them or what specific instructions Upasani gave to his chela--no one will ever know.The two sad-gurus ,Upasani and Meher met inside a small cottage close to Sakori in private and probably Upasani transferred his

spiritual mantle to Meher Baba .After the samadhi of Upasani, Meher sent a group of his devotees to attend the funeral rites of his master. It was Meher who was a Perfect master to spread the path of self-realization with emphasis on worldly life with suffering and sacrifice. Meher Baba met with two accidents--once in USA and another in Pune--after which he physically suffered greatly but continued his ministry to devoted followers. It may also be noted that unlike many gurus, Meher observed silence for nearly 40 years since 1925, till his last breath. He used an alphabet board and later a sign language to communicate. While Shirdi Baba did not move out of Shirdi except for trips to Rahata , a nearby village, Upasani traveled throughout India and Meher made global tours to Europe, USA and Australia. Next we trun to Paul Brunton. Paul Brunton, who like BVN, had stayed with Ramana maharshi and wrote a popular book " A Search In Secret India" met Upasani Maharaj and Meher Baba. He spent a few days there at Meherabad and had long interviews. [It looks as if Paul Brunton and BVN follwed similar paths, but from different perspectives.] Paul Brunton's "Secret" book contains much scathing remarks on Meher Baba as his role as a self-proclaimed Messiah and a megalo-maniac who misguided people. At first it may appear that Paul Brunton's views are acceptable. A closer study of Meher Baba's life and work would

indicate that he was not only blessed by Shirdi Baba and Upasani, that he was a personification of humility and service to the poor and down-trodden without any bias of caste and religion.His words, not spoken but dictated, are of high value. No one had cast aspersions on his moral behavior. How could Paul Brunton fail to perceive this? This is indeed a mystery. When Meher Baba declared his avatarhood, it was a statement of his inner conviction and not a vain boast. Did not Jesus Christ say that " I and My father are one"? Al Hallaj declared " Allah Ul haq"--of course he was martyred. Considering the background of Meher Baba as I have briefly recalled here, no one would doubt about the supreme state he had attained whatever may be the literal words used by him . Conclusion In concluding this article, let me add that the negative reports of BVN on Upasani Maharaj and Paul Brunton

on Meher Baba had done more damage to the Indian spiritual heritage than good .While these authors had freedom of writing their views , it is important that writers and authors who came after them make a careful analysis and proper account of these sad-gurus , namely Upasani Maharaj and Meher Baba

,both of them blessed and nurtured by Shirdi Sai Baba.No great devotee of Sai Baba can cast aspersions on these Sad-gurus blessed by Baba. Most probabaly other mundane motives are behind the negative remarks . It may be added that the works of Sad gurus are to be reckoned over several centuries

at least and cannot be evaluated in terms of one's life time. -------------Om Sai Ram-----------------------------------------------

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