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Chapter 47 - Parbati had Bumper Crops even in Scarcity

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There lived pious farmer, named Parbati, in Ganagapur. He used to bow to Shri Guru when he went to Sangam in the morning an again at midday when Shri Guru returned. His field was on the way to the Sangam. Once Shri Guru asked him, 'Why do you take this trouble daily? What is your desire?'

Parbati said, 'I wish that my field yields a good crop'. Shri Guru, 'what have you sown?'

Parbati said that jawar (sorghum) was sown in his field. He further added, 'It is due to your favor that this year the corp is good. I wish that you should kindly come to my field and have a look at the crop by your sight which showers nectar.'

Shri Guru went to the field, looked at the crop and said, 'If you have faith in me, do as I bid you.' Parbati said, 'I shall obey you from the bottom of my heart'.

Shri Guru - 'Till I return at midday, cut off this crop'. Saying so, Shri Guru went to the Sangam.

Parbati approached the Revenue Officer and asked him to permit him to reap the crop on the rent as per the previous year.

The Officer said, `This year the crop is good, hence the old rent will not suffice'.

Parbati said, `I shall pay double the rent. So please give me permission'. The Officer agreed and granted the permission.

Parbati took some men with him, went to the field and reaped the crop. His wife and children tried to prohibit him; but he did not listen to them. The wife complained to the Officer: 'The crop is good this year; but before the harvest, my husband is reaping the field on the advice of a Sanyasi and is depriving us of food. Kindly prohibit him to cut the crop'.

The Officer sent his men to ask Parbati why he was reaping the field before the harvest. Parbati said, `If the Officer has doubt of getting the rent; I shall pay the corn from reserve and keep my cattle at his door'. Parbati reaped all the crop. Seeing that Shri Guru was returning from the Sangam, he bowed to Him and reported that he had cut the crop as instructed.

Shri Guru `You have reaped in vain!'

Parbati `I have read the crop as advised by you. I have full faith in you.'

Shri Guru `You will have the fruit of your devotion'. The wife and children of Parbati said that they had lost their food. Parbati consoled them by saving: 'Shri Guru is Shri Shiva incarnate. With his blessing we shall have no loss. He told us to do this due to some unforeseen reason.'

In about a week, there was a severe code and all the crops in the country were lost. Then on Mul Nakshatra, there was heavy rain, which was also harmful to the crops; but Parbati's field yielded hundred times more crop of good quality. All wondered to see this.

The wife and children of Parbati also rejoiced. They begged apology of Parbati and repented for underestimating Shri Guru. The mention of all the above facts is made here in order to show the affinity of Shri Sai Baba to Shri Vitthal of Pandharpur. One Sai Mandir at Phanaswadi, in the Girgaum area of the Bombay city, was formerly a temple of Vitthal and it was known as 'Shri Premal Vitthal Mandir'. In this temple the idols of Vitthal and Rakhumai were installed by Shri Gajanan Vinayak Pradhan, as the temple itself was constructed my him as his own private property. However, Shri Vasantshastri alias Aba Panshikar completely changed the Mandir and gave it the present form. One Shri Prabhakar Panshikar, is a famous actor on the Marathi stage and Shri Aba Panshikar is his brother. Shri Aba Panshikar was performing Keertans in the Vitthal mandir regularly. Shri Bhole Guruji, who is a Sai devotee, used to attend Shri Panshikar's keertans as he was staying very near the above mandir, in the Mugbhat area Girgaum. Shri Bhole Gurugi requested Shri Panshikar to start praying to Shri Sai Baba. Shri Panshikar was not aware of greatness of the saint of Shirdi up to that time and on being initiated by Shri Bhole Guruji, he gladly became a devotee of Shri Sai Baba. He very soon became a staunch and sincere devotee of Sri Baba and very soon thought of changing the vitthal mandir into a Sai temple. It is because of the zeal and efforts of Shri Aba Panshikar that the Premal Vitthal mandir is now converted into a Sai mandir and is now known by that name.

In this temple, we see the idol of Shri Sai Baba in plaster, which is about four and a half feet high. This idol is seated on an altar. It will be seen from the photograph of the temple published along with this article that the original idols of Shri Vitthal and Rakhumai installed in the temple have still be retained in the temple as Shri Sai Baba had reverence for that god as stated at the beginning of this article. The beautiful idol of Shri Sai baba in plaster was made by one sculptor Shri G.V.Patkar. Though the temple was originally constructed as a private temple, still it was later on thrown open to everyone for worship and at present anybody can go and offer flowers or garlands to Shri Sai Baba or Shri Vitthal - Rukhumai. In the rear side of this temple, there is a banyan tree about hundred years old. Around this tree we can also find the idols of Shri Datta, Hanuman and Pindi of Shri Shakar. In addition to that, there are the Padukas of Shri Sai Baba in silver in this area. These Padukas were installed at the October 1952.

The practice of getting prepared the silver Padukas of Shri Sai Baba and give them to different people or institutions dedicated to Sai worship, was started by this temple. So far, the Sai Padukas got prepared by this mandir have been installed at five different places. It may be noted here that the Padukas installed at the Sai temple of Smt. Ajibai Wanarse at London, were got prepared by this mandir.

'Service to humanity and Service to the dump mutes is the service to God' this was the motto of Shri Sai Baba and the management of this temple has borne in mind this fact. They have therefore coupled a social duty with this religious institutions. On the first floor of this temple, arrangements have been made for the free accommodation of poor and deserving students, Who have no arrangements to stay in Bombay. A great number of students have taken advantage of this facility and because of the religious atmosphere of the temple, these students are grooved in Sai devotion from the young age of their life.

Aarti, worship etc. are carried out at this temple every day as per those performed at Shirdi. Ramnavami, Gurupournima and Vijayadashmi are the great festivals observed at this temple on the same lines as is done at Shirdi. This temple has started one more practice. On every Shivaratri day, the offering of fruits is made to Shri Baba and they are later on distributed to the devotees by way of prasad. Shri Pandurang Mahadev Warang is a staunch Sai devotee, who manages the daily affairs of the temple with great care. He is only thirty-one years of age at present, but for the last twenty-two years he is staying in the temple premises and is attending to the work of this temple. The management wants to expand the activities of the temple and arrange some further programs on a large scale; but due tot shortage of space they feel sorry that it is not possible for them. Shri Warang always says that all his difficulties are readily solved by Shri Sai Baba. This shows his great faith in Shri Sai Baba and his devotion to Him.

Girgaum is a very crowded locality of Bombay city. They area round about Lalbaug and Parel which is known as the 'Mill area' is perhaps another equally crowded area in Bombay. The people in the 'Mill area' are so very busy in their struggle for existence, that they have hardly any time to think about god or existence. The people in the Girgaum area are mostly white collar people. They have regular hours of their office work. Similarly religious practices are imbibed in them from their childhood. Hence they find the need of a place for worship where they can get mental peace. The people who were formerly they devotees of Vitthal have started visiting this temple for the worship of that god; but after seeing the idol of Shri Sai Baba in the temple and having come to know. His greatness, they automatically become His devotees. Thus this temple has a good place of worship for the devotees staying in Girgaum area of the Bombay city and is therefore frequented by a number of devotees every day.

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