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Like I told you, I was really interested in learning more about Dhruv and his star
The father of Dhruv was a king called Uttanpad, who was married to Suruchi and Suneeti. The father preferred Suruchi. Dhruv was Suneeti's son. Uttam was Suruchi's son. Once Dhruv saw Uttam sitting on their father's lap. Little Dhruv asked his father to carry him, and give him a seat on his lap too.
This wish infuriated Suruchi who lashed out at the child, saying that he would have the right to sit on his father's lap, only were he to perform penance and be born from her womb. The humiliated little child ran to Suneeti and fighting back tears of anger, recounted what had transpired. Suneeti consoled and instructed little Dhruv.
She told him:
The little child set out for the forest. He felt confident that no harm would befall him as he had with him, God and his mother's blessings. A person who leaves home with blessings, is bound to meet a godly person who will guide him. Dhruv met Naradji [ A Hindu deity]. Naradji dissuaded Dhruv from undertaking such a difficult task. Naradji told Dhruv: "You are young, you should be spending your time playing…even great sages have not achieved the Almighty..." Dhruv was adamant. Naradji taught Dhruv the technique of prayer and asked him to chant the following mantra: "Om Namo Bhagavate Vaasudevaaya".
For the first month he subsisted on fruit and meditated for 3 days at a stretch. For the second month, he meditated for 6 days at a stretch. For the third month, Dhruv meditated for 9 days at a stretch and subsisted on only leaves. For the fourth month, he meditated for 12 days at a stretch and subsisted on only water from the Yamuna River. For the fifth month Dhruv meditated for 15 days at a stretch, and renounced water. By the 6th month Dhruv decided that he would stay put in the same position until the Lord appeared. Impressed by Dhruv's perseverance, the Lord came to Dhruv, but Dhruv did not open his eyes as he was already seeing the Almighty within his own heart. The Lord caused this inward vision to disappear, and Dhruv opened his eyes and recognized the physical aspect of the Lord but also all his hidden attributes of the Almighty. He exclaimed: "My desire is that I have the good fortune of listening to the 'Katha' (Devotional narrative) rendered by Your true devotees!" The Lord insisted that Dhruv ask for a boon, Dhruv asked for that which the Lord wished to give him. The Lord's wish was that Dhruv should return to the kingdom. God wanted to establish the fact that God also gives material wealth to his devotees. When Dhruv expressed his fear that he might get ensnared by the grip of the power that material wealth bestows, the Lord promised to protect him always. The Lord knew that Dhruv had started his tapasya, or penance, because he had wanted to sit in his father's lap. Dhruv was transported to the highest point of heaven, where he sits on his Divine father's lap as the Pole Star, also known as the North Star.
The moral of the story is that at one point or another of our life we all encounter situations that are unfair. Instead of focusing on our misfortunes, we should turn to our Divine Father who will give us what we deserve, and turn us into a bright star which will guide mis-guided spiritual pilgrims to their final divine destination.
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Details of the time and place of Sai Baba's birth are unknown. Various communities have claimed that he belongs to them, but nothing has been substantiated. It is known that he spent considerable periods with fakirs, and his attire resembled that of a Muslim fakir. Baba reportedly arrived at the village of Shirdi in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, India, when he was about 16 years old. Although there is no agreement among biographers on the date of this event, it is generally accepted that Baba stayed in Shirdi for three years, disappeared for a year and returned permanently around 1858, which posits a possible birth year of 1838.
Some claim Baba was born on 29 September 1835, but there is no apparent reason on how the date was arrived at. In any case, the only agreement amongst historians and his devotees is that there is no conclusive evidence of his birthday and place. He led an ascetic life, sitting motionless under a neem tree and meditating while sitting in an asana. The Sai Satcharita recounts the reaction of the villagers:
The people of the village were wonder-struck to see such a young lad practicing hard penance, not minding heat or cold. By day he associated with no one, by night he was afraid of nobody.
His presence attracted the curiosity of the villagers, and the religiously inclined such as Mhalsapati, Appa Jogle and Kashinatha regularly visited him, while others such as the village children considered him mad and threw stones at him. After some time he left the village, and it is unknown where he stayed at that time or what happened to him. However, there are some indications that he met with many saints and fakirs, and worked as a weaver; he claimed to have fought with the army of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
In 1858 Sai Baba returned to Shirdi with Chand Patil's wedding procession. After alighting near the Khandoba temple he was greeted with the words "Ya Sai" (Marathi:welcome saint) by the temple priest Mhalsapati. The name Sai stuck to him and some time later he started being known as Sai Baba. It's also widely believed that he was either already known as Sai, or looked like one to the priest as it's improbable for a Hindu priest to address a saint perceived by him to be a Hindu by a Muslim title of Sai. It was around this time that Baba adopted his famous style of dress, consisting of a knee-length one-piece robe (kafni) and a cloth cap. Ramgir Bua, a devotee, testified that Baba was dressed like an athlete and sported 'long hair flowing down to his buttocks' when he arrived in Shirdi, and that he never had his head shaved. It was only after Baba forfeited a wrestling match with one Mohdin Tamboli that he took up the kafni and cloth cap, articles of typical Sufi clothing. This attire contributed to Baba's identification as a Muslim fakir, and was a reason for initial indifference and hostility against him in a predominantly Hindu village. According to B.V. Narasimhaswami, a posthumous follower who was widely praised as Sai Baba's "apostle", this attitude was prevalent even among some of his devotees in Shirdi, even up to 1954.
For four to five years Baba lived under a neem tree, and often wandered for long periods in the jungle in and around Shirdi. His manner was said to be withdrawn and uncommunicative as he undertook long periods of meditation. He was eventually persuaded to take up residence in an old and dilapidated mosque and lived a solitary life there, surviving by begging for alms and receiving itinerant Hindu or Muslim visitors. In the mosque he maintained a sacred fire which is referred to as a dhuni, from which he had the custom of giving sacred ash ('Udhi') to his guests before they left and which was believed to have healing powers and protection from dangerous situations. At first he performed the function of a local hakim and treated the sick by application of Udhi. Baba also delivered spiritual teachings to his visitors, recommending the reading of sacred Hindu texts along with the Qur'an, especially insisting on the indispensability of the unbroken remembrance of God's name (dhikr, japa). He often expressed himself in a cryptic manner with the use of parables, symbols and allegories. He participated in religious festivals and was also in the habit of preparing food for his visitors, which he distributed to them as prasad. Sai Baba's entertainment was dancing and singing religious songs (he enjoyed the songs of Kabir most). His behavior was sometimes uncouth and violent.
After 1910 Sai Baba's fame began to spread in Mumbai. Numerous people started visiting him, because they regarded him as a saint (or even an avatar) with the power of performing miracles, they built his first ever temple at Bhivpuri, Karjat as desired by Sai Baba.
In his personal practice, Sai Baba observed worship procedures belonging to Hinduism and Islam; he shunned any kind of regular rituals but allowed the practice of namaz, chanting of Al-Fatiha and Qur'an readings at Muslim festival times. Occasionally reciting the Al-Fatiha himself, Baba also enjoyed listening to moulu and qawwali accompanied with the tabla and sarangi twice daily. He also wore clothing reminiscent of a Sufi fakir. Sai Baba also opposed all sorts of persecutions on religious or caste background.
Sai Baba was also an opponent of religious orthodoxy - both Hindu and Muslim. Although Sai Baba himself led the life of an ascetic, he advised his followers to lead an ordinary family life.
Sai Baba encouraged his devotees to pray, chant God's name and read holy scriptures - he told Muslims to study the Qur'an, and Hindus, texts like the Ramayana, Vishnu Sahasranam, Bhagavad Gita (and commentaries to it)and , Yoga Vasistha. He advised his devotees and followers to lead a moral life, help others, love every living being without any discrimination, treat them with love and develop two important features of character: faith (Shraddha) and patience (Saburi). He also criticized atheism. In his teachings Sai Baba emphasized the importance of performing one's duties without attachment to earthly matters and being ever content regardless of the situation.
Sai Baba also interpreted the religious texts of both faiths. According to what the people who stayed with him said and wrote he had a profound knowledge of them. He explained the meaning of the Hindu scriptures in the spirit of Advaita Vedanta. This was the character of his philosophy. It also had numerous elements of bhakti. The three main Hindu spiritual paths - Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga - were visible in the teachings of Sai Baba. Another example of the way he combined both faiths is the Hindu name he gave to his mosque, Dwarakamai.
Sai Baba said that God penetrates everything and lives in every being, and as well that God is the essence of each of them. He emphasized the complete oneness of God which was very close to the Islamic tawhid and the Hindu doctrine, e.g. of the Upanishads. Sai Baba said that the world and all that the human may give is transient and only God and his gifts are eternal. Sai Baba also emphasized the importance of devotion to God - bhakti - and surrender to his will. He also talked about the need of faith and devotion to one's spiritual preceptor (guru). He said that everyone was the soul and not the body. He advised his disciples and followers to overcome the negative features of character and develop the good ones. He taught them that all fate was determined by karma.
Sai Baba left no written works. His teachings were oral, typically short, pithy sayings rather than elaborate discourses. Sai would ask his followers for money (dakshina), which he would give away to the poor and other devotees the same day and spend the rest on buying wood to maintain Dhuni. According to his followers he did it in order to rid them of greed and material attachment.
Sai encouraged charity and the importance of sharing with others. He said: "Unless there is some relationship or connection, nobody goes anywhere. If any men or creatures come to you, do not discourteously drive them away, but receive them well and treat them with due respect. Shri Hari (God) will be certainly pleased if you give water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked and your verandah to strangers for sitting and resting. If anybody wants any money from you and you are not inclined to give, do not give, but do not bark at him like a dog." Other favorite sayings of his were: "Why do you fear when I am here", "He has no beginning... He has no end." Sai Baba made eleven assurances to his devotees:
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