For his devotees Baba has set two cardinal principles in the path of devotion.
The first one is “Shraddha”, which means devotional faith and the other one is
“Saburi”, which means tolerance with patience. In almost all the literature on Sai
these two words find pre-eminent mention.
People understand the meaning of these two words according to their mental
ability and inner perception emanating out of their experience with Baba. Some
people believe that their “Shraddha” (faith) in Baba is complete; others, even when
they have some amount of faith in Baba, are not sure of themselves; some have faith
in Baba and also many other deities in the Hindu pantheon. Thus, the word
“Shraddha” is the most confused and difficult concept to understand, and still more
difficult to explain to others. Nevertheless, I am trying to explain the way I feel it to be.
Shraddha or devotional faith is the most difficult state of mind to achieve. If
one has absolute faith in his Guru then sooner or later he will even look like the
Guru with all His attributes. However, the seed of faith takes a lot of time to
generate and to grow. It may take years or even a few lives. Full faith in Baba does
not come, as quickly as one desires it to be like Shravan, Kirtan, Poojan, Dhyana, etc.
The Navadha Bhakti i.e. the multifold type of bhakti is not bhakti per se. They are either
methods of bhakti or reflections of bhakti or both. Further, externality of devotion
may not necessarily indicate the internality of devotion.
Some people, at times say that only if Baba desires then bhakti will grow in
their hearts. By saying so they make Baba responsible for generating bhakti in them.
In the ultimate analysis it is true that Baba generates bhakti in a devotee’s heart. But,
if the person so desiring conducts himself in a manner that Baba desires, then the
type of bhakti he seeks will certainly be generated by Him. If one starts praying to
Baba for bhakti and yet continues to conduct himself in an unethical manner
forbidden by Baba, then how do we expect Baba to generate bhakti in his mind? To
this some people say that even bad conducts are created by God and unless He
desires they can’t be controlled. This time also the burden is squarely on Baba or
God and the devotee does not want to take any responsibility even for his own
conduct. Even under these circumstances Baba can control his conduct and generate bhakti in him, provided he leaves all other aspects of his life on Him and awaits
patiently for Him to guide his destiny. Faith or surrender means leaving everything
on Baba – body, mind and soul. But partial surrender will lead to partial bhakti, and
its partial results only. If one is sincere enough and is fully surrendered to Baba then
He will control his desires and conduct. Under these circumstances neither he
should work nor seek anything himself but leave everything to Baba in totality.
Then, if he is prepared to bear the consequence of this state of utter inaction then
Baba will certainly control his conduct and give him the type of Shraddha he seeks.
There are many examples of many devotees in Shirdi, at the time of Baba, who had
left everything on Sai including all their material and spiritual needs, and Baba did
provide these to them. If one cannot come to this state of utter inaction then, he
should go by the normal path of Navadha Bhakti and should be responsible for his
own conduct to start with. God has given enough intelligence to human beings in
comparison to animals, to discriminate between good and evil. Such practice will
slowly but definitely grow devotion in him imperceptibly.
However, this slow growth means waiting patiently under all circumstances
on the mercy of Baba which is nothing but Saburi. Saburi is, therefore, an essential
factor for the generation, sustenance and growth of devotion. Both faith and
patience are complementary to each other. Faith without patience will bring loss of
faith at frequent intervals of time and will not allow its growth. Similarly, only
patience without actual faith is an exercise in futility. A balance in both will bring
about even growth of both in a person.
Faith again means trying to do what has been asked us to do by Baba and
resist from doing what has been forbidden by Him. Even if we fail a number of
times it does not matter, the main point is whether one is using our God given
faculties to their maximum limits. When we want to use our faculties, time and
energy for getting close to Baba we have to cut down on many other activities.
Therefore, the person who wants closeness with Baba should always try to reduce
the non-productive, capricious and non-essential activities like late night parties,
addiction of any type, uncontrolled thought, speech or action, etc. Such
improvements will not only gradually control the mind but will also save time and
energy for more purposive and creative activities, like study on Sri Sainath,
meditation on Baba and His worship in any form. The devotees should always try to
improve their inner qualities of patience, faith, tolerance, egolessness, and
gradually, his closeness with Baba will increase. But, the most
important two qualities which are fundamental, as often said by
Baba, are 'Shraddha and Saburi'.