BABA'S FIRST DARSHAN
In Maharashtra, there is a district named Aurangabad, in which there is a village named Dhoopkhede. Chandbhai was the patel of that village. Once he lost his horse. Chandbhai searched and searched, but to no avail. A week after, while he was on the search, he noticed by the roadside a young lad of sixteen, having sedate looks and wearing the garb of a fakir. This beautiful boy with lustrous eyes at once captured Chandbhai's heart. Reading, as if the onlooker's mind, the fakir beckoned Chandbhai and asked, "What are you looking for, patel?
"I have lost my horse. For this whole week, I am searching him," said Chand, approaching the fakir, with folded hands. "Then why go further? Your animal is grazing beyond that hedge, there, look!" told the fakir, with. a gentle smile, pointing to a thick hedge beyond which nothing could really be seen. Chandbhai went and saw, and Io! The horse was found quietly grazing there.
Chandbhai was awe-struck. How did this fakir recognise him as the patel, how did the boy know that there, was a horse beyond the hedge and that it belonged to him all this struck him with wonder. He was convinced that the boy had a spark of Divinity in him. As Chandbhai related this incident among his friends and neighbours, the boy's fame spread like a drop of oil on the surface of water.
A few months later, a marriage procession went from Dhoopkhede to Shirdi. The boy fakir also accompanied it. When the procession reached the outskirts of Shirdi,it stopped to pay homage to God Khandoba. Mhalsapati, the priest of Khandoba temple, eyed the fakir, and out of spontaneous admiration, exclaimed, "Welcome, ye Sai Baba". It was as if the Divine Will that had given the boy this name, for that very naw stuck to him all his life. From that day (1854), the boy stayed in Shirdi. But what was his real name and his native place none ever came to know.
People at Shirdi soon discovered the perfect Saintliness of the fakir and by and by, many of them became his devotees (bhaktas). A few, however, who were themselves of a saintly nature, saw the real worth of this Godly person. Sadhu Gangagir said, "This is a gem. By your great good luck, you have got him." Anandnath said, "This is a jewel you will know its worth in the immediate future."
From places like Bombay and Poona, you can now go to Shirdi directly by State Transport buses. You can also travel upto Manmad or Kopargaon by Central Rly and then take a bus to Shirdi.
When Sai Baba first came to Shirdi, it was a little known, underdeveloped village. But as Baba came and his fame spread in all quarters, Shirdi also grew and improved. Like Pandharpur, it is now a great place of pilgrimage. Thousands and thousands go there everv year to have a darshan of Baba's, Samadhi (Tomb). Devotees still get the same experiences of Baba as they did when Baba lived in flesh. Baba entered Samadhi in 1918.
Now let us see Wherein lay Baba's greatness and read the Bhaktas' actual experiences about Baba.