USA:by Sai Eshwari
Man is made up of a Sensory System – therefore, he indulges in Sensory Pleasures, that is his destiny, say some. However true this might be, man must attempt to rise above them if he is to discover the Divine hidden within. To overcome the difficulties in restraining the senses, our Shastras prescribed the practical methods of Daan – Charity or Almsgiving, Vrat or Fast, Tapas or Austerities and Dhyan or Meditation. “Daanam” means the will to share one’s wealth with others. But why should we give away anything? Because, it helps to purify the Self. Sharing wealth requires Purification of mind and Control of Senses. “Give to a worthy person, says Lord Krishna, at the right time and place”.
It is well known that Shirdi Sainath extracted Dakshina from the devotees who visited Him. This was only in order to teach them the lesson of Charity and to remove their attachment to worldly things and thus to purify their minds. Baba’s main object in taking Dakshina was only to teach them of Renunciation and Purification. Out of the amount thus collected, Baba spent a lot on charity and purchased fuel with the balance left with Him. This fuel He threw in the Dhuni – the Sacred Perpetual fire, which He kept ever burning. The Sacred ash from this fire was called Udi / Vibhuti and it was freely distributed to the devotees at the time of their departure from Shirdi.
What did Baba teach by this Udi? Explaining the meaning of life He would refer to Udi and taught that all the visible phenomena in the universe are as transient as the ash. Our bodies composed of wood or matter of the five elements, will fall down, after all their enjoyments are over, and be reduced to ashes. In order to remind the devotees of the fact that their bodies will be reduced to ashes, Baba distributed Udi to them. Baba also taught by the Udi that the Brahman is the only Reality and the universe is ephemeral and that no one in this world, be he a son, father or wife, is really ours. We come into this world alone and we have to go out alone. Baba wanted to make His devotees understand the sense of discrimination between the Unreal and the Real, non-attachment for the Unreal, by His Udi and Dakshina. The former (Udi) taught the devotees Discrimination or Vivek and the latter (Dakshina) taught us Non-attachment or Vairagya. Unless we have these two things, it is not possible for us to cross over the sea of the mundane existence. So Baba asked for and took Dakshina, and while the devotees took leave, He gave Udi as Prasad, besmeared some of it on the Bhakta’s foreheads and placed His Boon-conferring hand on their heads.
When Baba was in a cheerful mood, He used to sing merrily. One such song was about Udi. The burden of the Udi song was this, “Oh, playful Rama, come, come, and bring with you sacks of Udi.” Baba used to sing in very clear and sweet tones. So much about the Spiritual implication of Udi. It has also its material significance. It conferred health, prosperity, freedom from anxiety, and many other worldly gains. So the Udi has helped us to gain both our ends – Material as well as Spiritual. It was also found out and is even now found out, that the Udi cured many physical and mental maladies.
A person who smears Vibhuti purifies himself from sins and also removes the sins of persons who look at him besmeared with Vibhuti. In Sanskrit, Vibhuti means “Aishwaryam” and may also refer to the glorious attributes of the divine, and (in this context) is translated as ‘all pervading’, ‘Superhuman power’, ‘wealth’ ‘treasure’, ‘precious’ and so on. Hence, “Those who are fortune enough to get Baba’s Udi should, after bath, apply it on the forehead and take some little of it mixed with water in the mouth as Holy Tirth.” (Shri Sai Satcharitra ) Om Sai Sri Sai Jaya Jaya Sai !