By: Smt. Sunanda Ananth
People the world over crave for change to deviate from their
monotonous day-to-day existence. There is a need for a flutter now
and then, as a reassurance that life is flowing along the right line.
The concept of an insular Tahiti that Herman Melville describes in
his classic work ‘Moby-Dick’ is suffused with significance about life
that beckons beyond the mundane and stultifying. “For as this
appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man,
there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all of the horrors of the half-lived life.”
Sai Baba desired that Hindus celebrate Rama Navami and Muslims ‘Urus’ on the same day! A committee was formed and a Mumbai devotee Amir Shukkur was entrusted with the supervision of ‘Urus’, as he was well versed with the famous Urus festival of Magdam Baba held at Mahim in Mumbai.
Amir Shukkur belonged to Korhale village in Kopergaon taluk. He was a butcher by profession and went to Mumbai. He earned a lot of money as a broker at Bandra Slaughterhouse in Mumbai. He developed a disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis characterized by pain in all joints. After every treatment option had failed, he went to Sai Baba. The moment he climbed the steps of the mosque, Baba started muttering to himself – “Here comes my man! Go anywhere to earn money but do not forget your mother! You say why meet Sai Baba? I am going to Magdam Baba! I am Magdam, I am Iswar, I am Rahim!” Amir Shukkur realized the clairvoyance of Baba and surrendered to him. Baba assured him – “Dwarakamayi will make you hale and healthy! Go and stay in Chavadi for nine months! Do not come to this mosque.”
Amir Shukkur who rolled in wealth stepped into the Chavadi to stay but was shocked by what he
saw! It was a dilapidated structure! The four walls were partially fallen! The roof had several
leakages! The floor was rough and damp! The verandah was occupied by lepers, beggars, and
fakirs! It had free access to scorpions and snakes! This was the place prescribed by Baba to Amir
Shukkur for curing his Rheumatoid Arthritis! In this Chavadi he would have the company of Abdulla and Mhalsapathy along with Baba on alternate nights!
Though Amir Shukkur was nervous at first, he soon forgot about his comforts given his daily
adoration to Sai Baba and the hope that this Loving God would cure his malady in nine months!
On the very first day of his stay, in the night when everyone was fast asleep in the Chavadi in the
company of Baba, Amir Shukkur suddenly heard his shouts and the hitting of his wooden club! Baba was shouting – “Abdulla, how could you sleep? A ghost is near my bed! Find out!” A lantern was lit and Abdulla searched all over. Nothing was found but Baba was still hitting with his club. It so happened that a cobra was lying coiled near the bed of Amir Shukkur. He was terribly frightened. Then it was killed. Baba was once again calm and everyone went to sleep. This doubly convinced Amir Shukkur that Baba was taking care of him.
Amir Shukkur decided to obey Baba at any cost! But it was not that easy! To pass nine months
within the four walls of a dilapidated structure except for attending nature’s call was indeed a
punishment for Amir Shukkur! Very soon he was fed up with it. His mind revolted against his
decision and then one night, when Baba was not in the Chavadi, he slipped out of Shirdi! He walked all the way to Kopergaon intending to go back to Mumbai. In the night, he decided to stay at a Public Rest House where travelers, mendicants, and beggars stayed for the night!
At the entrance of the rest house, he saw an old man lying down in pain, gasping for breath. Out of pity, Amir Shukkur offered his help. He sought water in a groaning voice. Amir Shukkur saw an earthen pot with water and a tumbler in the verandah. He took a tumbler of water, lovingly took the head of the old man on his lap, and made him drink it! In the next moment, he yelled in pain and died on the lap of Amir Shukkur!
Amir Shukkur was frightened! He feared that as the old man died on his lap he would be prosecuted for the murder of this innocent old man! Instantly he threw the corpse down and getting up started running back towards Shirdi with Baba’s name on his lips! A few moments back he had fearlessly walked to Kopergaon. Now he was frozen with fear and ran back to Shirdi by dawn! In this tension, his joint pain too did not bother him! Villagers were in deep slumber and did not know when he left and returned!
Sai Baba who had taken upon himself the responsibility of Amir Shukkur’s welfare was wide awake enjoying the fun of pulling him back to where he had fixed him! Next evening, Baba on seeing Amir Shukkur remarked – “Rascal, you slaughtered animals at Mumbai and now kill innocent fakir too!”Amir Shukkur was stunned at Baba’s omniscience! He stayed for a full nine months at the Chavadi and came out hale and healthy. On Baba’s advice, he gave up his business in the slaughterhouse and took up another assignment.
The villagers entrusted Amir Shukkur with the important responsibility of conducting the urus every year. Under Amir Shukkur’s guidance Flags, buntings, banners all over the village, sweet-meat shops, toy shops, flower decorations, tents for a stay of outstation devotees, letters to devotees, invitations to wrestlers – all such things were done meticulously year after tear! Hindus and Muslims worked in total harmony for the success of this festival. Along with Urus Rama Navami was also celebrated. Thousands used to participate.
In the same manner, Sri Narasimha Swamiji has suggested to Sai devotees to develop passions like painting, writing, and reading. Sai literature. Bhajams, teaching kids, helping the sick, the sad, or the lost, once in a way out of an urge. Going beyond Amir Shukkur from Sai Maharaj’s life Sri Narasimha Swamiji wants us to follow it in our daily activities a brief fulfilling non-material vacation. Such a vacation would, undoubtedly, provide an idyllic opportunity to discover one’s own ‘insular Tahiti’.