The Sai Satcharita is the Bible for Sai Baba's devotees, in the truest sense of the word, as it chronicles the life and teachings of Baba. This sacred work has been documented by Baba's intimate devotee, Govind R. Dabholkar, whom Baba lovingly named Hemadpant.
The book is titled Sai Satcharita, and not 'Sai Satcharitra' – as it is commonly misspelt. A 'Satcharita' is a record of leelas, teachings and incidents, whereas a 'Satcharitra' is a biography, which the work is not.
The original work of Hemadpant was written as a series of poetic verses called ovis, composed in vernacular Marathi. It was, therefore, not very accessible to everyone because of the language barrier. Over the years, it has been translated into various languages.
The more commonly known works were abridged editions that edited Baba's words and leelas, thus changing the context, intensity, and essence of the work, to some extent.
The translations did, however, fulfil a very big and important purpose by making the work accessible to many devotees all over the world.
The author, Indira Kher, has painstakingly translated the wonderful, original manuscript very accurately in her English edition, where it is a literal translation – verse by verse, ovi by ovi. It is highly recommended that a devotee get a copy of this edition as it is the closest an English-speaking reader will get to the original work of Hemadpant.
For devotees who are new to Sai Baba, I would recommend that one read a short book written by author Arthur Osborne – The Incredible Sai Baba – before proceeding any further. This should give the reader an overview of Baba's life, which would be very helpful before commencing the reading of the Sai Satcharita.
Reason For The New Edition
What we have compiled here is – The Essential Sai Satcharita – which has been put together with the intent of taking the essence of the original work and making it more accessible to readers today.
The original composition by Hemadpant includes philosophical commentary which is precious and relevant; making it, however, difficult for the contemporary reader to quickly access the important leelas and sayings of Baba, as Hemadpant, in the original work, has intertwined the two throughout his work.
A lot of time needs to be invested in sifting through a large part of the commentary in order to find these precious jewels. A typical devotee of today's younger generation leads a life very different from that of the era when the book was originally composed. Today's reader might have a busier work routine, time constraints, and a shorter attention span, thereby making the need for this new edition even more urgent.
For the modern reader, the new edition serves an additional purpose – that of remaining true to the original manuscript – through its compilation of all the leelas and sayings of Baba. The words of Baba are impregnated with deep meaning. They can penetrate the heart, mind, and soul of an earnest and receptive devotee and can bring about a transformation.
In this digital format, the the new edition also makes references and provides links to various important and relevant resources such as videos, articles, and photographs that correlate to the given section that is being read. To augment the reading experience and support the reader further, an audiobook version of the Sai Satcharita is also in the process of being recorded. This should enable devotees to hear Baba's leelas, smaran, and teachings while on the go.
The digital edition and the audiobook are designed to complement each other; one not being a replacement for the other. The audiobook carries two additional short commentaries at the end of every chapter.
The first commentary is by Dr Vinny Chitluri who is an authority on Sai Baba's life. Her chapter-wise commentary gives precious insights and perspectives into the details of Baba's life, which a new devotee would find only after years of painstaking research and exploration.
The second commentary is by Advaita teacher and author, Gautam Sachdeva. His spiritual insights give devotees pointers on the deeper meaning of Baba's teachings and leelas. Gautam guides devotees on how they can apply the teachings to their daily life and thus live the path as shown by Baba. To sum up, this truly essential edition has been compiled with the purpose of providing a tool to help devotees remain in constant remembrance of Baba, deepen their understanding of Baba's teachings, and become living examples of the path Baba has shown us.
Taking advantage of the convenience of modern technology, we endeavour to make this portal an important platform to help sincere devotees of Baba. In addition to e-books and audiobooks, we shall be adding an important 'Resources' section – an entire library that will have categories on Baba's Mahabhaktas, the leelas, the experiences of devotees, interviews with luminaries, and a host of other tools – shared with the intent of helping and inspiring earnest devotees of Baba.
If there are any errors or mistakes in this work, I respectfully ask the reader to forgive me, for this is a humble attempt to make this sacred work within reach for all.
Ways To Read This Work
The regular reading of the Sai Satcharita is a very important sadhana or spiritual practice for Baba's devotees. It is highly recommended, and as Baba Himself has said: "If My stories are listened to, all the diseases will be got rid of. So, hear My stories with respect; and think and meditate on them, assimilate them." A common mistake made by devotees is the mechanical reading of the Satcharita, trying to finish it within a stipulated period of time. While this will certainly be of benefit, it will be better if one reads just one chapter at a time, re-reads it daily for a week, and contemplates over it. This should enable one to draw parallels to one's own life and apply the teaching to one's daily living. One might even consider reading the entire original Satcharita once, followed by the reading of this edition a few times, and then revert to the original text every once in a while. The two would work well in conjunction and benefit the devotee even more.
For the reader on the move, this edition makes it easier to read the Sai Satcharita every single day, leaving no excuse for not having a continuous parayan of Baba's sacred life and teachings.
This divine effort is ordained, graced, and willed by Sai Baba. Without His blessings, the very thought of undertaking a work of this magnitude would be inconceivable. It is He who is truly doing, I am a mere instrument (a pillowcase). As Baba says, "It is Me who pulls My devotee to Me, like a bird tied on a string." Baba's compassion and love have no bounds. I have no words to express the profound love, gratitude, and reverence I feel in my heart and soul for Him and His intimate devotees. Baba is eternally present with us. One is highly mistaken if one feels He is away from us even for a moment. His Mahasamadhi has nothing to do with His presence. Baba is the all-pervasive Eternal Self of the Universe. He guides us, and to the minutest of details, oversees everything in our lives. There has been a deep feeling in my heart to serve Baba and He has fulfilled that wish. By Baba's grace, my life, work, and purpose until the very last breath is only to serve Him and His devotees. My sole prayer to Baba is that I may always be there to serve Him eternally.
My humble prostrations to my revered Guru, Pujya Dharamdasji Bapa, whose grace and unconditional love know no bounds. He is a living embodiment of the divine, and it is by His blessings and explicit permission that the initial work on this project took shape, for no spiritual work can be undertaken without the command and will of the Guru and God. My Deepest gratitude to Dr Vinny Chitluri who has devoted her entire life to Baba's seva by documenting His life history. It is one of the greatest services that she has rendered to all of Baba's devotees. I am forever indebted to her for her kindness and generosity, which I have received every time I have reached out to her. Vinny Ma has very graciously helped to review this body of work and to share her invaluable insights and commentary, for which I am eternally grateful. Without my family's love, support, and encouragement, none of this would have been possible. Their sacrifice, acceptance of the uncertainty of the path I have chosen, and their unconditional support have been God's greatest blessing and grace, and I will forever be indebted to them.
Aai, one of Baba's most intimate devotees, had kindled Baba's devotion in me at a time when I was a wandering youth, and I am grateful for her unequivocal love and shining example of devotion that have inspired the start of this work.
My dear friend and spiritual guide, Gautam Sachdeva, had suggested the creation of Sai Baba's Devotee Speaks. It has now become an enriching platform, inspiring devotion amongst sincere devotees across the globe. His invaluable spiritual insights and guidance come from direct experience and have helped me tremendously in the ten years and more that I have known him. I sincerely thank him for the gift of his time, for all his wisdom that he continues to selflessly share with us, simplifying the teaching for us, and helping us stay on Baba's path. Some precious ones prefer not to be identified; intimate devotees of Baba who selflessly exist only to fulfil and continue Baba's eternal, celestial work. Their love for Baba is beyond measure. It is only Baba who resides in their hearts, for they are not separate from Him. I bow to them in devotion.
The community of Baba's sincere devotees and patrons who have wholeheartedly supported and encouraged the work at every step – my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to all of you! A whole community of devotees has come together for Baba where we all play our assigned roles. This work is possible only because all these foundational pillars have come together. The volunteers and the small team of Sai Baba's Devotee Speaks, the commitment and drive to live for Baba, the enthusiasm and zeal – no words can describe the feeling of indebtedness and gratitude I feel for you. Most importantly, it is you – the reader, the devotee, the child of Baba, in whose heart He resides – whom I bow to in reverence. Baba is the Eternal Supreme Self, the ever-radiating Eternal Light within all that shines bright. Never did He come, never did He go, for He is always there with us, within us. Let us now, through the sacred verses of this Satcharita, embark upon the journey where Baba wishes to take us, to merge into Him, to be blessed by what He wishes to give us, Wishing you the very best on your spiritual journey.
Your friend in spirit,