Salutations -- The Story of Grinding Wheat and Its Philosophical Significance.
According to the ancient and revered custom, Hemadpant begins the work, Sai Satcharitra, with various salutations.
First, he makes obeisance to the God Ganesha to remove all obstacles and make the work a success and says that Shri Sai is the God Ganesha.
Then, to the Goddess Saraswati to inspire him to write out the work and says that Shri Sai is one with this Goddess and that He is Himself singing His own life.
Then, to the Gods; Brahma, Vishnu and Shankar - the Creating, Preserving and Destroying Deities respectively; and says that Sainath is one with them and He as the great Teacher, will carry us across the River of Wordly Existence.
Then, to his tutelary Deity Narayan Adinath who manifested himself in Konkan - the land reclaimed by Parashurama, (Rama in the Hindi version) from the sea; and to the Adi (Original) Purusha of the family.
Then, to the Bharadwaja Muni, into whose gotra (clan) he was born and also to various Rishis, Yagyavalakya, Bhrigu, Parashara, Narad, Vedavyasa, Sanak, Sanandan, Sanatkumar, Shuka. Shounak, Vishwamitra, Vasistha, Valmiki, Vamadeva, Jaimini, Vaishampayan, Nava Yogindra etc, and also modern Saints such as Nivritti, Jnanadev, Sopan, Muktabai, Janardan, Ekanath, Namdev, Tukaram, Kanha, and Narahari etc.
Then, to his grandfather Sadashiv, father Raghunath, his mother, who left him in his infancy, to his paternal aunt, who brought him up, and to his loving elder brother.
Then, to the readers and prays them to give their whole and undivided attention to his work.
And lastly, to his Guru Shri Sainath - an Incarnation of Shri Dattatreya, Who is his sole Refuge and Who will make him realize that Brahman is the Reality and the world an illusion; and incidentally, to all the Beings in whom the Lord God dwells.
After describing in brief the various modes of devotion according to Parashara, Vyasa and Shandilya etc., the author goes on to relate the following story:
"It was sometime after 1910 A.D. that I went,
one fine morning, to the Masjid in Shirdi for getting
a darshan of Sai Baba. I was wonder-struck to see
the following phenomenon. After washing His mouth
and face, Sai Baba began to make preparations for
grinding wheat. He spread a sack on the floor; and
thereon set a hand-mill. He took some quantity of
wheat in a winnowing fan, and then drawing up the
sleeves of His Kafni (robe); and taking hold of
the peg of the hand-mill, started grinding the wheat
by putting a few handfuls of wheat in the upper
opening of the mill and rotoated it.
I asked the Shirdi people - "What was this
that Baba did?" They replied that as the Cholera
Epidemic was spreading in the village and this was
Baba's remedy against the same; it was not wheat
that was ground but the Cholera itself was ground
to pieces and pushed out of the village. From this
time onward, the Cholera Epidemic subsided and the
people of the village were happy. I was much pleased
to know all this; but at the same time my curiosity
was also aroused. I began to ask myself - What earthly
connection was there between wheat flour and Cholera?
What was the casual relation between the two? and
how to reconcile them?
And as we know, with Baba's grace and blessing this work was successfully accomplished.
Philosophical Significance of Grinding
Apart from the meaning which the people of Shirdi put on this incident of grinding wheat, there is, we think, a philosophical significance too. Sai Baba lived in Shirdi for about sixty years and during this long period, He did the business of grinding almost every day - not, however, the wheat alone; but the sins, the mental and physical afflications and the miseries of His innumerable devotees. The two stones of His mill consisted of Karma and Bhakti, the former being the lower and the latter the upper one. The handle with which Baba worked the mill consisted of Jnana. It was the firm conviction of Baba that Knowledge or Self-realization is not possible, unless there is the prior act of grinding of all our impulses, desires, sins; and of the three gunas, viz. Sattva, Raja and Tama; and the Ahamkara, which is so subtle and therefore so difficult to be got rid of.
This reminds us of a similar story of Kabir who seeing a woman grinding corn said to his Guru, Nipathiranjana, "I am weeping because I feel the agony of being crushed in this wheel of wordly existence like the corn in the hand-mill." Nipathiranjana replied, "Do not be afraid; hold fast to the handle of knowledge of this mill, as I do, and do not wander far away from the same but turn inward to the Centre, and you are sure to be saved."
Bow to Shri Sai -- Peace be to all