In October 1917, Baba spoke to a Bombay lady:-Mother, what do you want? Ask for it.
Lady : Let me be free from the whirl of births and deaths.
Baba: (laughing) : Is this all you want? What! Have you come to die?
Lady : (Shocked), Baba, I do not at all understand you.
Baba : Think who you are. Lady : I do not understand.
Baba : (pointing to her husband): He will tell you. Then the lady went with her husband to her lodgings and asked him what Baba meant.
Husband : Baba’s words are mysterious. I cannot be sure I have made out his meaning. Probably he means something like this. The Jiva goes on reincarnating any number of times till it gets Sakshatkar i.e., sees or realises God. Baba is God. But people seeing him do not get full faith and do not see him, i.e., feel him to be God; and hence they do not get Mukti.
One must learn from the sastras that essentially Jiva and Siva are one. You think yourself to be a Jiva, is it not?
Lady : Yes
Husband : Baba and the Sastras want you to regard yourself as Siva or God.
Lady : No. No. I am a petty sinner—a Jiva, and not the great God Siva.
Husband : No doubt that is your feeling. But Baba means that by constantly regarding yourself as God, your deeply ingrained belief that you are only a finite Jiva will be removed. This process continued, may be through numerous births, and stregthened and helped by contact with Saints, will give you the firm belief that you are Brahman. That must be Baba’s meaning, (The pair again returned to Dwaraka Mai).
Baba: Mother, I have listened (from here) to all that your husband told you. Keep that in mind.
Baba sometimes in the course of his talk on other matters introduced the question, ‘Who am I?’ ‘Who am I is the test question for Atma Vichara.
Yoga Vasishta says: Ramasva atma vicharoyam koham soyam itirupah Avidya jatasamsara dahane dahanasmritah Vasishta says to Rama, “O! Rama, this is Atma Vichara. It takes the form of ‘Who am I’, and it burns up the gross of ignorance and samsara”.
Now, Baba naturally talked about the inner nature of various problems, for instance, property. In the sadhak’s progress, he has to analyse I and all its derivatives like ‘mine’ etc. Now, ‘mine’ means property.
To help Sadhakas Baba had several times to explode their notions of property. Property and egotism are both warping the real vision, which would enable a person to understand what he really is, that is, what the self is.
Self is distinguished from “I” in this way. “I” is the egotistic aspect of the self. Too much of identification with the body, and its particularities is involved in the I. The real self is more inward, and is the true basis of the I. That self is regarded as the one thing that underlies all selves, that is, the Universal Self. It is the same as the Paramatma, the Parabrahman. It is God.
So, on one occasion, when Baba wanted to show people how ridiculous fighting about property was, he said that at Puntamba, which he once visited, he discovered two parties were fighting with each other bitterly, and he wanted to know what the bone of contention was.
He found out a pot full of coins was there, and that was what they were fighting for. While they were fighting, he quietly moved on to the spot, and removed the pot away.
Then he put the questions, ‘Who am I? and ‘Whose is the pot?’ He said, ‘I am the pot and the pot is mine’, thus showing that notions of property were highly artificial and baseless.
As Goldsmith put it, ‘The world is mine’, one can treat everything on earth as one’s property and rejoice over it so long as there is no other person to run counter to one’s thought or activity.
Therefore, Baba wanted to disabuse people of their notions of property and took opportunity to correct the ordinary people’s notions of property.
Source: Life of Sai-Baba, Volume IV by Pujya HH Narsimha Swamiji