(He said that Baba’s methods of teaching and spiritual upliftment varied from person
to person. Baba would bring about the desired change in people not only by way of
physical touch but also through his invisible operations. Thoser did not mention
about his experiences either to Dixit or to Dabholkar nor did they ask him, and
his experiences came to light, in a limited way, during the interview by Narasimha
Swamiji in 1936. Baba never spoke to him or to any body about embracing Sanyasa.)
Thoser heard for the first time the name of Sai Baba and his greatness in 1910 from
Das Ganu Maharaj’s kirtan. Das Ganu would first display the photo of Sai Baba and
start kirtan. In the course of his kirtan, Das Ganu would dwell at length about
Sai Baba’s mission and miracles. Thoser was very much impressed and he considered
that Sai Baba was a divine saint and asked Das Ganu whether Sai Baba was living
at that time. Das Ganu said affirmatively and also said that Sai Baba was living
in Shirdi at that time. Thoser went to Shirdi for the first time in 1910 and had
darshan of Sai Baba. In the next six months, he visited Baba nine times. He subsequently
went to Shirdi several times in later years also.
Before Thoser went to Baba, he met in 1900 one Vinayak Bhat Shandale, a sadhu who
acted as a medium in his spiritual efforts. On advice from this sadhu, he had read
Yoga Vasishta with devotion. Thus Thoser had a number of stepping stones before
finally going to approach Baba. He was then in service, in the Customs Department
and continued in it till 1926 when he retired on pension after 31 years of service.
Thoser came under a Guru's influence in 1895 for the first time and he saw the Guru
in a dream. When he went to Shirdi in 1910 and had darshan of Baba, he found that
Baba was the same Guru who appeared in his dream in 1895. Thoser had visited Shirdi
several times and was entirely under the influence of Baba upto 1918. After Baba’s
Mahasamadhi he came under the guidance of Vasudevanand Saraswati of Garudeshwar
on the banks of the Narmada River. But Thoser felt that Vasudevanand Guru was in
spiritual contact with Baba and also believed that Baba wanted him to go under the
guidance and influence of Vasudevananad Guru from 1918 onwards even though Vasudevanand
Guru had left his mortal coil and attained Mahasamadhi in 1915 itself.
In his first visit to Shirdi in 1910 there were no crowds in the masjid. After 1910,
huge crowds from Bombay starting pouring into Shirdi. As observed by him, several
devotees pressed into new systems and ways on Baba to suit their own tastes and
made several types of pooja rituals about Baba and made Baba shine with these arrangements
in a glorified and royal way. He felt that Baba’s real greatness was not properly
understood by these arrangements and pomp.
Baba spoke to him only a few words in direct and plain expression without the use
of any parables. He used to talk in parables while teaching the numerous people
that used to assemble in the masjid. He observed that there were several common
similarities between Baba and Akkalkote Maharaj and that one could understand this
by reading the life of Akkalkote Maharaj. It appeared that Baba was trying to push
the visiting devotees initially just a few steps upward in the progress in their
Baba’s methods of teaching and spiritual upliftment varied from person to person.
Thoser observed several situations as to how Baba used to impart spiritual progress
to different people in different ways. He would simply touch with his palm the head
of a devotee and that would bring about one type of influence. On other occasions,
Baba pressed his hand heavily on the head of a devotee as though he was removing
out some of the lower impulses. In some other cases, he would pass his palm over
his head. For others, he would pat on the devotee’s back. Baba through each of these
acts would bring about the desired change in them. Not only by way of these types
of physical touch, but also through his invisible operations, Baba would bring about
the desired change in them. The main purpose of all these acts and invisible operations
was only to make the devotees happy and enable them to achieve spiritual progress.
But in respect of Thoser, he had a different experience. Without expressing any
words and even without touching his body, Baba conveyed to him graciously the feeling
that the differences between various souls were all unreal and that the only one
real thing was the Divinity which was there in all persons and that it was immanent
in one and all. This experience had happened in 1913 or 1914. Baba did not express
any words before him. He came to know that once Baba expressed about this to some
other devotee in the masjid when Purandhare, another devotee of Baba was present.
Thoser did not mention about his experiences either to Dixit or to Dabholkar, though
Dixit was maintaining a diary about experiences of devotees of Baba and Dabholkar
was collecting such experiences with Baba and incorporating all such experiences
into his Sri Sai Satcharitra. On the other hand, none of them had asked him for
his experiences. Like this many miracles and many such instances that took place
in the life of Baba remained unrecorded. Thus Baba did several other miracles the
information about which was not recorded and is not known to the posterity.
Baba once made it clear that there was nothing wrong in moving from one Guru to
another Guru, especially if the first Guru had attained Mahasamadhi. Thoser observed
that Baba used to treat all other saints as his brothers and perhaps all of them
belonged to the same saintly group. Das Ganu once told him that Baba referred to
one Daji Maharaj, a saintly Grihasta Brahmin, who lived at the village Dangar Takidi,
near Nanded and was treated by Baba as his brother. In 1914, which Maharaj once
said at Dangar Takidi, “Yesterday Sai Baba came here in the form of Maruti and there
was a great rumbling noise at his arrival”. Thoser and his father being Maruti worshippers
had got a temple built for Maruti in 1918 at Ville Parle, in Hanuman street in Bombay
and named the God, as ‘Sai Hanuman’ stressing the fact that Sai was Hanuman. The
very day that temple was consecrated at Ville Parle, it came to light that Baba
gave Rs.25 to a Brahmin named Vaze and asked him to perform Satyanarayana puja on
the same day in Shirdi perhaps Baba knew about this Hanuman temple and its timing
of consecration. That Maharaj later had passed away in 1934.
Thoser was of the view that Baba never spoke to him or to any body about embracing
Sanyasa. But he developed that feeling and became a sanyasi in 1931. He was of the
view that the Guru was a medium to realize one’s own self and Guru would facilitate
the bhakta (disciple) by giving the necessary impetus in the path of spiritual progress.
In his case, he felt that Baba facilitated him to attain spiritual advancement.
But the most interesting fact about Thoser was that Baba gave him the impression
that he recognized no differences between saints. He expressed that whenever he
was with Baba in the masjid, he used to have prolonged ecstasy and that he got spiritual
development by stages. He also felt that even when he went to the wada also he was
under Baba’s direct influence. He
therefore observed that to get influence from Baba, proximity was not necessary
and that Baba would exert his influence irrespective of distance by way of his invisible
operation. Such was the greatness of Baba in influencing the people and taking them
forward in the path of spiritual progress. The grant of internal bliss and that
too for long durations and also for a number of days was Baba’s unique method of
blessing the devotees with ecstasy by his mystic powers, based on Thoser’s experience.
Thus Thoser felt that Baba was really Satchitananda and Almighty God.
After his retirement, later in 1931 he went to Vedasrama Swamy of Kasi and obtained
Sanyasa Diksha from him and then onwards he changed his name from Thoser to Sri
Sri Narayan Asram was also interviewed by B.V.Narasimhaswamiji in about 1936. He
expressed in an interview that internal experiences and consequent changes were
hardly matters for publication but offered a few hints so that readers could know
more about Baba for their welfare and also said that Baba had different ways of
dealing with different people and that Baba was the centre darting a separate radiant
light to all the people for different desirable purposes. He was also of the view
that most people who approached Baba prayed for temporal benefits only and hardly
any body came to him for the highest spiritual progress.
From 1931 onwards, Thoser became Sri Narayan Asram after becoming as ascetic. Though
he was living with his wife and family members in the same house, he was observing
the rules of an ascetic. He was totally devoted to spreading the messages of Baba
and his miracles. Whenever Sai Bhajan groups were gathering, he used to participate
in such gatherings and used to sing Sai Kirtans with his melodious voice. He also
participated in the All India Sai Devotees' Convention held at Poona during 1952
where he sang Sai Kirtans melodiously. Such was his devotion to Baba and was devoted
fully for propagating about Baba’s mission and miracles during the remaining period
of his life.