Baba as Dattatreya
One day, the birth anniversary of Dattatreya was to be celebrated (in the month of Margasirsha on Panchami day). Several devotees had assembled in Shirdi. Among them was a wealthy man, a great scholar called Kaijack. He is not to be confused with Hijack! His name was Balwant Kaijack. As he was approaching the Masjid, Baba took His stick and waved it at the devotees, asking them to get away. He even beat some of them, shouting, "Saitan! Saitan!" No one could understand why Baba was behaving like this. "I am suffering from labour pains. Get away, all of you!" He shouted. In those days, Baba not only used to shout at people, but also wield the stick on them on occasions. He used even to throw the stick at fleeing persons. Every one used to be afraid of Him. They all fled from the place.
Some time later, He called all of them to come. "Balwant Kaijack, come!" He said. When Balwant came, Baba went inside the Masjid. Balwant went in and found that Baba was not there. He found a three-headed baby on the floor. Baba had declared that He was suffering from labour pains and there was a baby there. The three-headed child appeared to represent Dattatreya. It was a small ‘baby’ with a number of hands. Balwant recognised the ‘child’ as Dattatreya and called other devotees to come inside. They went in and on seeing the ‘child’ closed their eyes. At that instant Baba reappeared there. From that time onwards, people started looking upon Baba as the incarnation of Dattatreya.
Baba's lesson to Muslims
A controversy arose among the local people as to whether Baba was a Muslim or a Hindu. At one time He used to say: "Allah Malik! Allah Malik!" At other limes, He would say" "Dattatreya Malik!” Whenever He shouted "Allah Malik!" Muslims used to come to HIm in the Masjid. His appearance was very much like that of a Muslim. Hence, many Muslims used to come to Him. Hindus also used to come and offer incense to Him. The Muslims did not approve of what the Hindus were doing. The Hindus did not like the way Muslims revered Baba. Consequently, bitterness developed between the two communities.
One day, Mhalaspathi was sitting near Baba and doing some service to Him. Mhalaspathi was the priest in the Kandoba temple. The Muslims who were opposed to the presence of a Hindu priest near Baba, came with sticks and beat up Mhalaspathi. At every stroke, Mhalaspathi cried out "Baba!" "Baba!" Each time he shouted, the Name of Baba, the blow was borne by Baba. Mhalaspathi fell to the ground. Baba came out. Muslims had great reverence for Baba. Baba roared at the Muslim crowd: "Saitan! On the one side you worship Me and on the other you beat Me. Is this your devotion?" Baba was bleeding all over the body. The Muslims saw it and asked Baba who had beaten Him. "Did you not beat Me? Did you not beat Me?" said Baba pointing to several men in the crowd. They said: "We did not come near You at all. We only beat Mhalaspathi." "Who is in Mhalaspathi? I Am in him," declared Baba. "He has surrendered to Me and hence all his troubles are Mine."
On hearing this, the Muslims fell at Baba's Feet and craved for His forgiveness. Baba then summoned the Hindus and Muslims and told them: "Dear Children: You are all the progeny of one Mother." Thereby Baba demonstrated the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man. He wanted all differences of caste and creed to be eschewed. What mattered for mankind was the heart. One who is only concerned about his creed (matham) will never discover the Divine (Madhava). You must seek the Divine within you. Baba pointed out that all caste and creed distinctions related only to the body. Therefore, you should seek the Supreme in your inner consciousness