Nanasaheb Chandorkar


Narayan Govind Chandorkar (Nanasaheb Chandorkar), was an ardent and staunch devotee of Sai Baba.He was born of highly respected parents, who were good and pious Hindus, held in high esteem in their social circles and followed the shastras to the best of their ability. They performed daily Vaishwadeva and fed innumerable number of guests on a daily basis. His father was a retired Government officer, and had built a decent storeyed building at Kalyan known as “Chandorkar Wada” which still continues to be the family mansion for so many generations.

Nanasaheb Chandorkar completed his graduation in Arts at the age of twenty. He was serving as a high ranking Govt.officer under the British Rule (PA to the Collector) in the year 1887. In a very short span of 7 years he rose to the position of a Gazetted officer, a deputy collector which was considered a marvelous achievement. He was a learned Sanskrit Pundit (expert) and was well read in religious philosophy propounded by monumental master pieces like Bhagavad-Gita (philosophical discourses given by Lord Krishna) and Dhyaneshwari by Saint Dhyaneshwar and other pieces of Philosophical literature (Religious scriptures).

Baba calls for His Nana

Baba sent several messages to Mr. Chandorkar, through one of His devotees – Mr. Appa Kulkarni who was working as a clerk in Chandorkar’s office. In spite of several messages, Chandorkar did not take seriously Baba’s invitation to visit Shirdi because he did not like to entertain such persons as sadhus or fakirs and believed that these persons do not have divine powers and through their magical tricks they attract innocent and ignorant people for their money making business and thus encouraged blind belief which is not based on any scientific, objective or rational thought or judgment.

Ultimately, however, he came to Shirdi. Baba welcomed him and said, “Oh!, you have come at last to me after several messages. Nana, you do not know why from among thousands of Nanas in the world I have specifically invited you.” Nanasaheb was forthright in speaking.

He said, “Then, tell me the reason!” Baba replied,”Arre, we have relations spanning over four births. You do not know this; but I am aware of it. Therefore, I have been repeatedly calling you! Whenever you have time, do make it a point to come.” Ok. I will come.” Nanasaheb bowed before Baba and departed.Later in the company of Baba Mr. Chandorkar had an intellectual dialogue and then was awe-struck by a very original and new interpretation of Geeta given by Baba.

The Jamner Miracle

When Chandorkar’s daughter, Mainatai was pregnant and was in deep pain, Baba made all arrangements in mystic ways to send udi and his arti to Chandorkar’s place and the moment she consumed udi, due to Baba’s grace, she had a safe delivery. This incident occurred in 1904 when Nana Chandorkar was Deputy Collector at Jamner. He was at Jamner along with his pregnant daughter Mainatai whose pregnancy was in a very advanced state.

The first delivery proved to be troublesome and risky. But Nana knew that Baba was aware of everything and that there was no need to send a telegram or letter to Him. He performed Kashtanivaarana Homa with the help of his Shastri.

All the while, Sai Baba was fully aware of what was going on at Jamner. In the evening, he called Ramgir Bua, a Gosavi, whom he used to call “Babugir”. Baba asked him to go to Jamner first in order to deliver a packet of Udi and a writing of Bhishma’s Aarti to Nanasaheb Chandorkar. One person who was present in the Masjid handed over Rs.2/- to Gosavi to enable him to perform this journey.

Then Gosavi complained that from Kopargaon to Jalgaon the journey would cost Rs.1.14 leaving only a balance of 2 annas to cover the ordinary road journey of 30 miles. Baba simply told Babugir to start and that everything will be provided for. Accordingly, Gosavi started. He got down at Jalgaon and was in a fix about the onward road journey for which he had only 2 annas.

Suddenly he found a liveried peon bawling out, “Who is Babugir from Shirdi?”. Then this Bua said that he was indeed Babugir from Shirdi. Then that peon said that he had been sent by his master with a tonga and a horse to fetch him to Jamner. He gave him a meal also. After the meal they started the 30 mile journey to Jamner. When the tonga reached Nana’s house, the peon told Bua, “There is the master’s house. You can go”.

Babugir got down from the tonga and when he turned back he was astonished to see that there was no horse, tonga or the peon there. Babugir went inside Nana’s house and Nana and his wife were waiting anxiously for the Udi from Shirdi. At once the Udi was applied to Mainatai, and thereafter it was no longer Mainatai that was crying but the newborn child, for she had a very easy delivery.

When Bua thanked Nana for his timely help with the cart and food, Nana was taken aback. He said he was not aware of anybody coming from Shirdi and so had not sent anything. Then both Bua and Nana understood that it was Sai Baba’s leela.

Nanasaheb Chandorkar’s bungalow where the famous incident took place at Jamner is very easy to locate and is just opposite Jamner Police Station. Jamner is a town situated in Jalgaon District, Khandesh Division of Maharashtra State. Police Inspector Shri.Nazir Shaikh who is also a Sai devotee stays in this place now. There is a Sai Baba Temple inside this famous bungalow.

Stories of Nana and Baba

A few days after the above incident, there was an onset of the plague epidemic in Ahmednagar. The Government had introduced a vaccine to counter the illness. But, in those days, people did not administer vaccines as easily. No one was willing to volunteer. Therefore, the collector asked Nanasaheb to set an example and inoculate himself. However, he too was reluctant.

Ultimately, he decided to seek Baba’s advice. He requested the collector to grant him a week’s leave to take a decision about the injection and set himself on the path to Shirdi. He posed his dilemma before Baba. Baba replied very casually, “There is nothing to it. Don’t be scared. Take the injection. It will not harm you.”

After this incident, Nana realised that Baba had a different kind of aura about Him. Therefore, Nanasaheb’s faith in Baba became more steadfast. He started feeling that he should go more frequently to take Baba’s Darshan. He intensely desired that he should incessantly have thoughts about Baba. But, his office and family matters allowed him little time for anything else. And he was sad. Once, he was sitting near Baba and Baba gave him an excellent way of overcoming the problem.

Baba said, “You want to keep thinking about Me through the day – isn’t it? Then try to see me in the smallest of things.” Nanasaheb failed to get the point. Then Baba clarified, “Arre, when you see a vegetable, think that it is my creation. This way see me in each and everything that comes before you.” How simple was the remedy suggested by Baba!

Once, Baba posed a question to Nana, “Which one of the Shadripu (six vices of human nature) is easiest to conquer?” Nanasaheb replied, “Very difficult to answer that question.” Baba said, “It is jealousy! It means not being able to digest the progress of others. It is very easy to win over jealousy. Because, by being jealous, we neither gain nor lose. A person earns wealth and well-being because of his good deeds. Therefore, if someone prospers, it is due to his good deeds and what do we lose? And so, one must win over the bad quality of being jealous.” Nanasaheb prostrated before Baba and agreed, “From today, I will try not to be jealous.”

Nanasaheb Chandorkar used to spend his holidays at his house in Kalyan. Whenever Nanasaheb and his family went there to spend holidays, the ladies in the house would prepare various types of snacks during their free time in the afternoon. Once during his holidays, Nanasaheb was taking rest after having lunch on one afternoon. His daughter-in-law was making Bhajniya (a snack prepared from either wheat flour or rice flour, spices and are made in circular form commonly called “Chakri” in Marathi and “Chakli” in Gujarati).

Just then a beggar wearing torn dirty clothes came and stood at the door. There was a threshold in front of the house. The beggar crossed the threshold and stood in front of the door and asked for food. Nanasaheb’s kind daughter-in-law took a handful of the Bhajniya and gave it to the beggar. But the beggar was not satisfied and so she demanded more. Nanasaheb’s daughter-in-law took some more Bhajniya and gave it to the beggar.

This time too the beggar was not satisfied. Nanasaheb’s daughter-in-law said, “I have given half of Bhajniya prepared for us to you.Then also you are not satisfied?” The beggar again seemed to be unsatisfied and said, “I will go only after you give all them”. Nanasaheb’s daughter-in-law said angrily, “You have to eat by getting the food from others and you are troubling us in this way.

If you want food take whatever quantity is given to you and just go away. Now I will not give more than what I have offered.” The beggar still insisted. Neither did she take the Bhajniya nor did she budge. The daughter-in-law being fed up now called up Nanasaheb. Nanasaheb ordered his watchman, “If the beggar accepts the quantity which we are giving, then it’s ok, otherwise push her outside of the house”.

The beggar said, “Sir, if you don’t intend to give, don’t give but don’t push me out of the house. I will go on my own”. Thus the beggar went away without taking a single Bhajniya. Nanasaheb’s holidays were over. He had to join his office again. On the way he went to Shirdi to take darshan of Sai Baba. Sai Baba was very angry with Nanasaheb. The moment Sai Baba saw him; He turned His face on the other side. He did not speak a word either. Nanasaheb went near Sai Baba and fell at His feet. Nanasaheb said, “O God, please tell me if I have made any mistake”.

Sai Baba said, “What should I say to the one who does not follow the path directed by Me? You threw that beggar out of your house through the watchman. Did she do any harm to you, that you were ready to push her? If she wanted whatever you gave her, she would have taken, and if not she would have sat on the threshold of your house for sometime and would have gone away.

What harm was that to you, was she looting away your wealth or position? Instead of listening to her sweet words, you called your watchman to throw her out of your house. Is this that I have taught you? Nanasaheb was then reminded of his mistake… He repented for it and promised that he would never commit such a mistake ever again. Though Sai Baba is sitting in Shirdi, but He went to His devotees in any form to save them.

It is very well known that Nanasaheb was of a spiritual intellect and thus any place of worship attracted his attention and an earnest desire to go for darshan of any deity was always present in him. He had immense faith in Baba and Baba too reciprocated his faith.

As a part of his complete surrender, Nanasaheb never doubted Baba’s words. In fact, his immediate actions were to abide by Baba’s words bearing full confidence that whatever Baba does, would be the best for him. Lord Ganesha temple was situated in the forests of Padmalaya and to reach there one had to cross the forest. The temple was about 10 miles from the nearest railway station.

Nanasaheb, serving as a Deputy Collector, (a very respectable position in those days), had made all arrangements for reaching there. But when he reached the point of starting, he did not get any conveyance to reach the temple because the train was late. Due to the unavailability of any other means of conveyance, he decided to cover the distance of 10 miles by walking.

By the time they all reached the mid-way point, it was already nine at night. As per practice, authorities of the temple leave for their homes at about nine or ten at night. So a wave of worry passed in Nanasaheb’s mind whether they will be allowed to enter the temple or not, let alone having darshan. After walking for another two hours i.e. covering a total of 6-7 miles of their journey, Nanasaheb felt hungry. He said to Baba mentally, “Baba, I will not ask a lot from you, but please take care to provide at least a cup of tea on completion of this journey, so that my hunger is appeased”. Saying these words to Baba, Nanasaheb started walking towards his destination even faster.

At about eleven, they reached near the temple and saw the doors of the temple open from a distance and the priest when seeing few men nearing the temple, shouted right from his place, “Is Nana coming”? It was considered to be an insult as a person of such a high profile position was being called by his short name. But Nanasaheb was not angry at this; instead he was very happy and replied, “Oh, how did you come to know that Nana is coming?” The priest answered, “I received an aerial message from Sai Baba saying – ‘My Nana who is thirsty, hungry and tired is coming to you. Please serve him a cup of tea.’ Come on, tea is ready for you all”. Thus Baba took care of His dear devotee Nana even in dense forest at such an odd time.

Nanasaheb lived in the Ahmednagar district. He decided to go to Harishchandra Hills, to take a darshan of the Goddess. The temple was about 40 miles above Shirdi; it is called Mataji Mandir (temple of Goddess). The hill was not very high, but the path was uneven. So it was better to climb it in the morning only.

Nanasaheb thought since we don’t have to climb high Himalayas, it will be better to start in the afternoon instead of morning, in order to reach on time. In no time he had climbed half of the hill. It was summer and due to the heat, he felt thirsty. He looked here and there, but could not find even a drop of water. He thought if we move a bit ahead we can find water. So he climbed further, but now his throat was completely dry and he was almost senseless.

At last he sat down and started thinking that, “If my Sai Baba was present here, He would have stricken the ground like He did in Dhoop village for me also and my thirst would have disappeared. Dasganu wanted to have a bath in Prayag, but water oozed from my Sai Baba’s Feet and Dasganu could have a bath while sitting in Shirdi only. Where is Prayag and where is Shirdi? But my Sai Baba is not present here, so now I would have to die without water.” Nanasaheb’s friends told him, “Sir, sai Baba is not here. So have courage and proceed further.

If God’s blessings are with us, we would surely get some water ahead. But Nanasaheb was so restless without water that he did not have courage to move even a step ahead. At the same time in Shirdi, while washing hands after having lunch, Sai Baba said to Shama (Madhavrao Despande), “Nana is caught in a big difficulty”. Nanasaheb’s friends also lost courage by seeing his condition. At that time a wood cutter was seen climbing the hill. They asked him, “Brother from where can we get water here?” the wood cutter said, “God has stored some sweet water under the stone on which you are sitting. Just lift it up.” Nanasaheb thought how the wood cutter could come to know the exact stone under which water was present. After going to some distance the wood cutter disappeared. As per the wood cutter’s instructions they lifted the stone and to their surprise found sweetwater beneath it and drank water to their heart’s content.

Then they commenced their walk and had a darshan of Mataji. After 15 days of this incident, Nanasaheb went to Shirdi in a horse cart. When he was alighting in front of Dwarkamai, he saw Shama coming towards him. Shama then asked him, “15 days back, in the afternoon, Sai Baba had said to me that Nana is caught in big difficulty, is that true?” Nanasaheb took out his diary to check where he was fifteen days ago. To his surprise he was reminded of the incident of Harishchandra Hill.

He narrated the whole incident to Shama. Now Nanasaheb was both shocked and surprised. He thought, “How sinful am I? Because of me, Sai Baba had to lift the heavy wood and He had to take the form of a wood cutter. For me Sai Baba had to leave Shirdi in that hot afternoon.” Really Nanasaheb Chandorkar was a blessed devotee of Sai Baba.

Nanasaheb and Haridas, a Kirtankar, were both at Shirdi, and both had to be at Ahmednagar the next day. They had to catch a train which required them to leave Shirdi immediately. So they went to take leave of Baba. Baba quietly told both of them to have meals and then go to catch their train. Nana, having implicit faith in Baba, did so and took his meal. Haridas did not wish to risk the loss of money which he would get at the next day’s engagement.

So, remembering the scheduled time and not Baba’s words, he started off immediately without food and reached Kopargaon station and waited there, for the train was late by some hours. Baba through His antarjnana gave the benefit of His knowledge to Nana who went leisurely after having his meal and found Haridas waiting at the station with a hungry stomach for the late train. Nana was in time to catch the train and Haridas learnt a lesson because of this incident that one must have implicit faith in Great Souls like Sadguru Sai Baba and not throw aside their words and rely upon one’s own wisdom.

Once, Nana who was staying with Baba at Shirdi had to go in the morning to Kopargaon where he had an appointment to meet the collector. When he went to take leave of Baba, He simply said, “Go tomorrow”. Nana had full faith in Baba and consequently took advantage of staying another day with Baba. He took leave from Baba the next day and went to Kopargaon to me the Collector. When he enquired from the staff about the previous day, they said that the Collector had sent a telegram that he was not coming that day but only on the following day. Baba by his antarjnana knew of the postponement of the appointment and gave Nana the benefit of it with the benefit of an extra day’s stay with his Guru.

Once Nana and Lele Shastri were starting from Poona in a tonga. They had gone a few miles when suddenly the horse reared, and the carriage capsized. That was a perilous moment. Both the occupants of the carriage were elderly people who would in such an accident suffer serious damage to life and limb. Sai Baba, however, who was watching over Nana wherever he went, at that very moment blew what is called “Bum-Bum” the sound of a Conch, keeping his hands in front of his mouth as though the hands were a conch.

This is a signal of danger and distress. Sai Baba said “Nana is about to die!. But will I let him die?”. At the same moment, both Nana and Lele Shastri picked themselves up and found that they had not suffered any injury. When they reached Shirdi, they found that Baba had made the above declaration and had saved their lives.

In conclusion

Nanasaheb was instrumental in bringing most of the devotees to Shirdi for Baba’s darshan. Some of the prominent devotees were: Das Ganu, Radhakrishna Mai, Moreshwar W.Pradhan, Kaka Saheb Dixit, Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias Hemadpant, Tatya Saheb Noolkar, B.V.Deo, Harischandra Pitale, Thakur (the Surveyor), Ram Baba, Chintaman Vaidya (Vice Chancellor), Chidambar Keshav Gadgil (Chitnis), Kangaonkar, Bapu Nagarkar, Haridas Bua and many others…..

Life lessons to be learned from Nana

We should not be overly involved with our near and dear ones; do your duty, but with a sense of detachment

We must overcome pride and arrogance; a very subtle emotion

Be humble always

Sai Baba had called for Nana three times before Nana came to Shirdi to meet Him. Baba told him that He had a connection with him that went back 4 generations, and wanted that connection to continue in this lifetime. Vinnyji talks about Nana’s steadfast faith and devotion towards his Sadguru, the transformation Nana went through because of his association with Baba, and the lessons we can learn from Nana’s life and apply to our own lives.

By Dr. Vinny Chitluri is an author who has researched and documented Baba’s life history.

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