Baba did not always cure a man’s ailment simply by his word. He often advocated a course of treatment which actually contradicted all known medical opinion and which, in common experience, was sure to aggravate the ailment.
Once Shriman Booty had an attack of cholera. Dr. Pillai efforts to cure it had failed and he had recourse to the master-physician, Sai Baba. Baba then prescribed for him an infusion of almonds, walnuts and pista (a dry fruit) boiled in sugared milk as his diet! This would, in common parlance, be considered fatal to such a patient. But the disease was cured by it. So too, Kaka Mahajani once suffered from violent diarrhoea. But he had to attend on Baba. So he kept a pot of water by his side and was often hurrying out to answer nature’s call. He did not ask Baba for the cure because he had implicit faith that Baba knew all his needs. At that time the construction of the pavement of the musjid was going on. Suddenly, Baba, in his characteristic unaccountable manner, burst into a wild fury. Everyone ran away and Kaka Mahajani was about to do the same. But Baba held him back by the hand, forced him to sit there, picked up a handful of groundnuts (or peanuts as some would call them) from a bag (left behind by one of those who ran away from there), blew off the chaff and gave the clean nuts to Kaka. He told Kaka to eat them and he continued his furious outburst of abuse. Baba too ate some of the nuts, drank a little water from a pitcher and gave the rest to Kaka and told him to drink it. When he did, fearing the worst aggravation of the ailment, Baba said to him, “Now your diarrhoea has stopped!” Indeed, it did. Something that should have aggravated the disease has actually cured it.
Once Nana had a painful boil on his buttock. Though he had immense faith in the power of Sai Baba to cure it, he knew too well that very often Baba took the suffering on himself. So he preferred to suffer. The doctors finally decided that it must be surgically opened. This prospect frightened Nana very much. For, “It is a difficult one to operate”, said the surgeon, “and is even dangerous; however, don’t get panicky. I’ll come tomorrow”. That night Nana slept with Baba’s picture under his pillow! The next day, fifteen minutes before the operation was to commence, Nana was lying on his face on the bed. Suddenly a tile fell from the roof and, of all places, it hit the boil on Nana’s buttock. It made Nana groan, but it burst the boil and expelled all the bad blood. The doctor examined it and told Nana that there was no need to operate it. Nana could have jumped in joy. After a few days Nana visited Sai Baba, and the first words that Baba spoke were, “I removed Nana’s boil with my finger”!
Sometimes Baba’s methods of effecting cures were less direct. Perhaps he sometimes felt it necessary for his kiddies to toughen through a process of suffering which he could well gauge to be neither too serious nor too painful. Especially, he seems to have taken care to see that the suffering raised the mental grit or courage of the patient. To this end he often ordered the patient to go away from him so that psychologically, he might get used to depend on Baba’s grace and not on Baba’s proximity.
Kakasaheb was laid up at Shirdi with high fever and sent a word to Baba through Shama. Baba curtly replied, “I am not a doctor: let him go to his house in Vile Parle”. Shama was annoyed at his unexpected response. So he said, He stayed here with great trust in you; how can he go now when he is laid up with fever?” Baba is not the one to yield. He just reiterated his order and did not even give udi for him. “What a mad fakir he is!” he thought ,Yet he had the sense to start on his homeward journey and went to the mosque to take leave of Baba. On seeing him Baba said, in a voice not too soft, “Go home! The fever will go even as it came, in four day’s time. Don’t lie down on the bed but move about, eat badam (almonds), pista and sira”, Then he gave udi and sent Shama to accompany him on his journey. Kaka’s mind regained composure at the assurance of Baba. It was 11 o’clock at night when they walked home in Vile Parle. Every one at Kaka’s home was surprised at Kaka’s quick return this time, for he usually stayed on at Shirdi for several days. His wife was anxious about his health.
As per Baba’s order Kaka took sira for his diet. Next day the fever increased. His wife, in her anxiety, called in a doctor who emphatically told Kaka not to move about but to rest himself, and gave him medicine. But Kaka adhered to Baba’s order, kept moving about and refused to take the medicine. Everyone feared that Kaka would die and started reviling him for pawning away his sense to the absurdities of mad fakir. The doctor grew impatient with Kaka’s obstinacy and roared. “What am I here for?” But Kaka kept his course. And on the ninth day the temparature fell and it showed ‘normal’. Later when Kaka visited Shirdi again, the first question Baba asked was, “What did your people in Bombay say?” He knows it all.
Booty was once laid up with typhoid. He stayed in Dixit’s wada at Shirdi. He was too weak even to go to Dwarakamai for Baba’s darshan. Every day Shama used to carry him to Sri Baba and back, Baba just gave him udi and made him eat sira.In course of time Booty recovered without any need of medicines.
A wealthy merchant came to Shirdi in 1911, along with his palsied daughter. She could neither stand nor walk. She was carried into Baba’s presence. Baba blessed her and asked them to stay at Shirdi.On the third day she began to use her legs a little. On the eighth day she was able to walk, to the wonder of all the devotees. So too the wife of one Ghiasis, an employee of the Railway Department, was cured of her paralysis by Sai Baba.
Nandaram Marvadi visited Shirdi at the time of the second great plague in 1911. Many were leaving the village in haste. One day when he passed by the Maruthi Temple some people seated there told him that his eyes were red with fever and that he might be struck down by plague. In great fear he rode on horseback to the temple where, on the advise of someone he offered a coconut and oil to the deity. Then he wanted to quit that place and sought Baba’s leave. Baba, however, dissuaded him. “As long as I am alive I will not let you die”, he said and gave him udi. He stayed on and his fever vanished.