By: C. S. Dinesh
Sai Satcharita is full of episodes in which Sai Maharaj gave ‘darshan’ to his devotees as Rama, Krishna, Datta, Hanuman, and many other deities. Is Lord Sainath a polytheistic Parabrahman? No, his followers mostly believe he is One God, who can take many forms.
They choose one of the forms as their main, Ishta deity, and direct their devotional practices towards him. The idea of One God is professed in the Bhagwad Gita, too. Krishna says in the Gita, verse 4:11, “Ye yatha mam prapadyante, tan tathaiva bhajami aham” – by whatsoever way men seek me, I accept them the same way. Thus, there is One God, who appears to us in the form that we seek him in. In the Gita, he appears as both, as nirakaar, formless, and sakaara, with form. The logic is that Ishwara who creates the universe, can also assume any form – in any way, anywhere, and simultaneously at many places. Sai Baba appears in different forms at different places and Krishna’s Rasa Leelas are such examples, when dancing with gopis, he appears to each of them to be with her alone.
In the Gita, verse 9:29, he says that to him, all beings are equal. They can be from anywhere. “Samo’ham sarvabhooteshu, na me dveshyo’sti na priyah. Ye bhajanti tu mam bhaktya, mayi te teshu chapyaham” – I am the same to all beings. There is none whom I hate, nor is anyone dear to me. However, those who worship me, in devotion, abide in me and I also remain in them.
In Chapter 7 of the Gita, Krishna says that whatever form sadhakas, seekers, and spiritual practitioners, choose to worship him in, with faith, he fixes their faith in that very form. When a sadhaka worships a particular deity with faith, he gets the desired fruits, these too are granted by Krishna alone. All deities are forms of that One God. Krishna emphasizes his supremacy in the Gita, verse 7:7, “Mattah parataram nanyat kinchid-asti dhananjaya; mayi sarvamidam protam, sootre manigana iva” – there is nothing, no one, higher than me, O Arjuna. All are woven in me; just as precious stones are strung in a single thread. Here, too, One God, the string, holds together numerous divine manifestations, that is, precious stones. Both Sai Maharaj and Krishna convey the same message.
In verse 7:19, Krishna further adds, “A man, endowed with the highest knowledge, reaches me after a long journey of many lives and knows that I, Vasudev, am everything. Such holy men are rare. ”
At several other places in the Gita, for example, verses 13:17, 15:15, and 18:61, Krishna declares that God resides in the hearts of all. That is yet another pointer to One God pervading the entire universe. God, in the highest sense, is the very life, the essential conscious principle that empowers anyone in any manner.
The vishwaroop – the cosmic form of Krishna, described in the Gita, Chapter 11, is another splendid display of all divine expressions being present in the One God. The One appears as many; the One God that Krishna professes is the source of many forms, including Rama, Krishna, and Shiva.
And lastly, the chapter on Vibhuti Yoga talks of God being the basis of everything in the entire universe that shines with extraordinary charm and power. “Please understand,” says Krishna in Gita 10:41, “that anything or anybody in this vast universe, endowed with the most impressive qualities or glory, has arisen from a part of my effulgence. ”
Thus, reveals the Gita and Sai Satcharita, the overarching truth that God is One and his expressions are many.