Baba As A Disciple
Shirdi Sai Baba met one fakir Javhar Ali about five years after his wrestling match with Mohiddin Tamboli. This fakir was a scholar of Koran and had a sweet tongue. He started living in Rahata along with his disciples and bewitched the religious and devout people of Rahata. He came in some conflict with villagers when he started to build an Idgah [a wall before which Muslims pray on Idgah day] near a Hindu temple. As a result, Javhar Ali had to leave Rahata and he went to Shirdi. He started living with Baba. Here also, people were captured by his sweet talks. He gradually started calling Baba as his disciple.
Baba did not object and consented to be his disciple. Then both Guru and Shishya decided to return to Rahata and live there. Javhar Ali did not know the worth of Baba but Baba knew the shortcomings of his so-called ‘guru’. Nevertheless, he served Javhar Ali as his Guru with respect and sincerity.
The loving devotees of Baba did not want him to stay away from Shirdi. So, they went to Rahata to request him to return to Shirdi. They faced the wrath of the ill-tempered ‘Guru’ of Baba for trying to take Baba back to Shirdi. However, after some discussions, both Guru and Shishya returned to Shirdi. A few days later, person called Devidas tested the Guru. Devidas was a dispassion incarnate and a jnani. He lived in Maruti temple in Shirdi and many villagers of Shirdi regarded him as their Guru. They brought Javhar Ali in Devidas’ presence and in the discussion that followed, Javhar Ali was defeated and he fled from Shirdi. Several years later, when he returned to Shirdi, he prostrated before Baba. His delusion that he was Guru and Baba his shishya was cleared. Seeing his repentance, Baba treated him with respect. This is the basic story.
There are a few interesting aspects in this story. The question arises as to why Baba accepted the discipleship of an unknown fakir. Was it because of his Muslim background? In ‘Life of Sai Baba’, Narasimhaswamiji tells us that when Javhar Ali came to Shirdi, he saw that Baba [who looked Muslim in his appearance] had a Hindu following, worshipping him at the Masjid. He called upon Baba and asked him whether he knew the Koran and the Sharia’t. Baba said he had learned neither. Thus, the fakir ordered him to accompany him to Rahata, evidently for some religious training. Baba went along with this command in spite of his knowledge of Javhar Ali’s shortcomings. He observed his duties to his Guru respectfully and carefully.
Sai Baba’s acceptance of Javhar Ali as his Guru, particularly when Baba had already established himself in the hearts of his Hindu devotees, emphasizes his equanimity and humility. Baba’s decision to stay with the fakir must have made the Muslim minority of Shirdi happy, as they perhaps needed some assurance that Baba was of Muslim background. On the other hand, Hindu people of Shirdi going to Rahata to bring Baba back to Shirdi shows Baba’s popularity amongst Hindus.
Sai Baba treated Javhar Ali with respect when Javhar Ali repented and asked for Baba’s forgiveness. As in many cases, here also Baba showed through his own conduct how one should get rid of egoism, how not to harbor any grudges and how to do the duties of a disciple in order to receive knowledge.
Rose, Azalea, “Baba’s message through Javhar Ali’s episode”, Saibaba.Org, Dec 17, 2009, http://saibaba_org/newsletter12-32.html, Retreived on 1/1/2018