Lakshmibai Shinde

Lakshmibai hailed from a village near Yeola. She was married to Tukaram Patil at the age of thirteen and came to Shirdi. She had two sons named Tatya and Nana. Lakshmibai’s  husband was a Revenue Officer and the British had conferred the title of ‘Mulki Patil’ (village officer) on him. She was widowed at a very young age, so all the responsibilities fell on her young shoulders.

Lakshmibai looked after her children, her farmland and undertook the job of the Mulki Patil as well. Meticulously, age collected taxes and deposited them at the office at the Ragoba Dada Wada (name of a building). The British were very pleased with her dedication and gave her a stipend. Lakshmibai was a well-to-do woman and she owned her own home.

Lakshmibai used to work in the Masjid day and night. Except Bhagat Mahalsapathy, Tatya and Lakshmibai, no one was allowed to step in the Masjid at night. Once while Baba was sitting in the Masjid with Tatya in the evening, Lakshmibai came and saluted Baba. The latter said to her, “Oh Lakshmibai, I am very hungry.” Off she went saying, “Baba, wait a bit, I will return immediately with bread.”

She did return with bread and vegetables and placed the same before Baba. He took it up and gave it to a dog. Lakshmibai then asked, “What is this, Baba, I ran in haste, prepared bread with my own hands for You and You threw it to a dog without eating a morsel of it; You gave me trouble unnecessarily.” Baba replied, “Why do you grieve for nothing? The appeasement of the dog’s hunger is the same as Mine. The dog has got a soul; the creatures may be different, but the hunger of all is the same, though some speak and others are dumb. Know for certain, that he who feeds the hungry, really serves Me with food. Regard this as an axiomatic truth.”

This is but an ordinary incident, but Baba thereby taught a great spiritual message and showed it in practical application in daily life. From then on, Lakshmibai began to offer Baba bread and milk everyday, with love and devotion. Baba accepted and ate it appreciatively.  He took a part of this and sent the remaining to Radha Krishna Mai as prasad.

Lakshmibai’s house is on the left side of the lane that goes from the Dwarakamai to Tajin Khan’s Darga.

Story of the nine coins

Laxmibai with the 9 coins Sai Baba gave her

On Vijayadashmi day of 1918 before Baba took Mahasamadhi, he put His hand in His pocket and gave her first Rs. 5 and then Rs. 4 totalling Rs. 9 indicative of the nine types of Bhakti (namely: Shravana, Kirtana, Smarana, Charana Sevana, Archana, Vandana, Dasya, Sakhya and Atma Nivedana. (Sai Satcharita Chapters 21 and 42).

Another interpretation of the 9 coins could be as follows: the number 5 could be the ‘Panch Indriyas’. They are the “Karmendriyas” and there are 5 “Jnanendriyas”. These Indriyas are the cause of joy and sorrow. The 4 rupees could also mean the “Ego Complex” that is Manas, Buddhi, Aham and Chitta. If the above mentioned are placed in Baba’s hands or laid at His feet, It is “Total Sharanagati” or “Total Surrender”. Baba through Lakshmibai taught us to totally surrender ourselves to Him.

Lakshmibai’s Samadhi

Lakshmibai Shinde took samadhi on 2nd June 1963. She died peacefully after Shej Aarti. Prior to her demise, she asked her relatives to read aloud Chapter 42 of the holy Sai Satcharitra. Her samadhi is in front of her house and there is a small shrine where Lakshmibai’s statue is installed in front of which are the nine coins enclosed in a glass box.

Lakshmibai Shinde’s descendants are still living in that house.

Dr. Vinny emphasises how this task changed Hemadpant as a person. Vinny Ma also gives us details about the original Satcharita written in poem form in Marathi, and how translated and editions versions have not been able to do justice to Baba’s words that He uttered. She hopes one day, someone will accurately translate Baba’s words from Marathi to other languages and bring out the essence of what He spoke.

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Abdul Baba

Introduction to Abdul Baba and his daily routine:

Abdul was born in about 1871 and was a native of Nanded. When he was very young, and under the care of Fakir Amiruddin of Nanded, Sai Baba appeared in the dream of that Fakir, and gave him two mangoes telling him to give the fruits to Abdul and send Abdul to Shirdi. Accordingly the Fakir told him of that dream, gave the fruits and directed him to go to Sai Baba of Shirdi. So, he came in his 20th year, about 1890, to Baba. Baba welcomed him at Shirdi with these words: ‘Mera Kabla Ala’, that is, ‘My crow has come.’Baba directed him to devote himself entirely to his service. So, his work was to feed the five perpetually burning oil lamps, such as those at the Lendi, the Masjid and the chavadi and to keep them lighted. He was always by Baba’s side rendering service. Abdul Baba’s services were washing clothes in the streamlet at the village boundary, sweeping the Mosque, the chavadi and the surrounding places, lighting the lamps in these buildings, feeding them with oil and sweeping the village streets and removing the night soil from the way of Baba.

He read the Koran sitting near Baba at the Mosque. Baba occasionally opened the Koran and made him read or rather recite passages at which he opened the book. He occasionally quotes passages from the Koran. Abdul kept writing down what Baba said in his notebook in Marathi and Modi script which contains Baba’s utterances. That was Abdul’s Koran. Everything which fell from Baba’s lips is sacred and is enshrined in that book.

The above file is a very precious translation of Abdul Baba’s book where he would write down the words of Sai Baba. Later on in life he would use this to make predictions and they all came true. There are two instances of such prophetic consultation. In the Sai Mandir, a well was dug. The water proved salty. Baba was in Mahasamadhi at that time. So, Abdul Baba consulted Baba’s book of sayings. The reply he got was, “the deeper the well is dug the water will become sweeter”. Accordingly the well was dug deeper by 2 feet, and the water was not salty. Another instance was this: Barrister Gadgil wanted to know if his son would return from England and where he would stay then. After consultation, Abdul Baba said, “He will return”. And so, he did return with his English wife and children. Abdul Baba used this manuscript book as his Koran. He used to go on reading it reverently, got absorbed in it and rolled beads in his hands at the same time.

Life after Baba’s Mahasamadhi:

It is to be noted that Abdul Baba’s  first Guru later on came to Shirdi and wanted him to go back from Shirdi. But Abdul Baba pleaded that nothing could be done without Baba’s permission. Baba, not having given the permission, the former Guru went away from Shirdi. Abdul Baba stuck on to Baba right up to the end, doing all menial and even scavenging services. After Baba passed away, he was the one to decorate the tomb of Baba, arrange the clothes and flowers on it and receive the first Prasad for his sustenance.

Abdul Baba passed away in 1954 and his Samadhi is situated inside Shirdi Sai Baba Temple Complex. This is the first Samadhi to your right opposite to the Museum on the way to Lendi Bagh. Abdul Baba’s  cottage is in front of the Chavadi. Devotees, who visit his cottage have an opportunity to venerate the Chimta (Prongs). It is said that they were given to him by Baba. Abdul treasured it and venerated it daily with Loban (incense). After Baba’s Mahasamadhi, Abdul used this for curing the pains and ailments of devotees. One can have a darshan of the original photographs of Baba that are hung on the left wall.

Life lessons to be learned from Abdul Baba:

  • One should lead their life very simply, eat very little, sleep very little and spend most of your time in Sadhna, be it naam jap of Baba or be it reading the Satcharita

  • Do seva in whichever way you can – if in Shirdi, you can sweep the Dwarakamai, or not litter the streets

Dr. Vinny emphasises how this task changed Hemadpant as a person. Vinny Ma also gives us details about the original Satcharita written in poem form in Marathi, and how translated and editions versions have not been able to do justice to Baba’s words that He uttered. She hopes one day, someone will accurately translate Baba’s words from Marathi to other languages and bring out the essence of what He spoke.

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Shama – Madhavrao Deshpande

In this film, Dr Vinny Chitluri pays tribute to Shama and talks of his special relationship with Baba. Sai Baba had told Shama that their association went back 72 generations, and to no other devotee had Baba said such a thing. Shama had a friendly bond with Baba and took certain liberties with Him, which Baba did not mind, but sadly Shama did not realize that Baba was a Divine Incarnation until after Baba took Mahasamadhi:

Madhavrao Deshpande dearly called Shama by Baba was one of Baba’s most intimate devotees. He can be likened to Arjuna to Lord Krishna or Nandi to Shiva.

Shama was born to a Brahmin family in December 1880 in Nimgaon. Shama was the eldest son in the family and he had two younger brothers – Kashinath Balwant and Bappajee Balwant. His parents relocated to Shirdi when Shama was two and stayed there thenceforth. His mother was the sister of Laxman Mama Kulkarni (another intimate devotee of Baba).

Shama studied in Shirdi and later became an assistant teacher in a junior school which was located in the room near Baba’s masjid (Dwarakamai). Baba called Madhavrao either ‘Shama’ or ‘Shamyaa’ in a tone of love and affection. The word ‘Shyam’ in Sanskrit means black, but in a flawless and pleasing tone. There was a small window in the classroom through which Shama used to watch and observe Baba He soon realised Baba’s remarkable powers and knew Baba was no ordinary Fakir.

Shama used to address Baba as ‘Deva’ and he often took liberties with Him. The other devotees did not have the courage to ask Baba to come and sit for lunch. But, Shama, after the noon aarti would ask Baba to ‘get up and go to his seat’ and make kaala (a mixture) of the prasad. Baba, without uttering a word, would get up at once and sit near the Nimbar.

Stories from the Shri Sai Satcharita:

One of the most important stories in the Sai Satcharita (chapters 18 and 19)  is the acceptance of Hemadpant by Baba and here, Shama had an important role to play. Hemadpant was sent to  Shama’s house for a chitchat when Shama related the beautiful story of Radhabai Deshmukh. Another story in the Sai Satcharita is about Bala Saheb Mirikar and his escaping a snake bite as he took Shama along with him to Chitale on Baba’s suggestion (chapter 22).

Shama was a very intimate devotee of Baba and Baba wanted to favour him in a particular way by giving him a copy of the Vishnu-Sahasra-Nam (a book giving a thousand names in praise of Lord Vishnu and held second in importance to Bhagwad Gita) as Prasad. This was done in the following manner.  Once, a Ramadasi (follower of Saint Ramadas), came to Shirdi and stayed there for a while. His daily routine was: waking up early in the morning, having a bath and after wearing saffron-coloured clothes and besmearing himself with sacred ashes, he would read the Vishnu-Sahasra-Nam and Adhyatma-Ramayana with faith.  The Ramadasi has read these books often and Baba thought of favouring and initiating Shama with the Vishnu-Sahasra-Nam. He therefore, called the Ramadasi to Him and said that He was suffering from intense stomach pain and unless He took Senna-pods (sona-mukhi, a mild purgative drug) the pain would not stop; so he should please go to the bazaar and bring the drug. The Ramadasi closed his reading and went to the bazaar.  Then Baba descended from His seat, came to the Ramadasi’s place of reading, took out the copy of Vishnu-Sahasra-Nam, and coming to His seat said to Shama, “oh Shama, this book is very valuable and efficacious, so I present it to you, you read it. Once I suffered intensely and My heart began to palpitate and My life was in danger. At that critical time, I hugged this book to My heart and then, Shama, what a relief it gave me! I thought that Allah Himself came down and saved Me. So I give this to you, read it slowly, little by little, read daily one name at least and it will do you good.” Shama replied that he did not want it, and that the owner of it, the Ramadasi who was a mad, obstinate and irritable fellow would certainly pick up a quarrel with him, besides, being a rustic himself, he could not read distinctly the Sanskrit (Devanagari) letters of the book.

Shama thought that Baba wanted to set him up against the Ramadasi by this act of His, but he had no idea of what Baba felt for him. Baba must have thought  to tie this necklace of Vishu-Sahasra-Nam round the neck of Shama, as he was an intimate devotee, though a rustic, and thus save him from the miseries of the worldly existence. The efficacy of God’s Name is well-known. It saves us from all sins and bad tendencies, frees us from the cycle of births and deaths.  There is no easier sadhana than this. It is the best purifier of our mind. It requires no paraphernalia and no restrictions. It is so easy and so effective. This sadhana, Baba wanted Shama to practise, though he did not crave for it. So Baba forced this on him. It is also reported that long ago, Eknath Maharaj, similarly, forced this Vishnu-Sahasra-Nam on a poor Brahmin neighbour, and thus saved him. The reading and study of this Vishnu-Sahasra-Nam is a broad open way of purifying the mind, and hence Baba thrust this on His Shama.

Soon, the Ramadasi returned with the senna-pods. Anna Chinchanikar, who was then present and who wanted to play the part of Narada (the Celestial Rishi who was well known for setting up quarrels between Gods and demons and vice versa), informed him of what had happened. The Ramadasi at once flared up. He came down at once on Shama with all fury. He said that it was Shama who set Baba to send him away under the pretext of stomachache for bringing the medicine and thus got the book. He began to scold and abuse Shama and remarked that if the book was not returned, he would dash his head before him. Shama calmly remonstrated with him, but in vain.  Then Baba spoke kindly to him as follows, “oh Ramadasi, what is the matter with you? Why are you so turbulent? Is not Shama our boy? Why do you scold him unnecessarily? How is it that you are so quarrelsome? Can you not speak soft and sweet words? You read daily these sacred books and still your mind is impure and your passions uncontrolled. What sort of a Ramadasi you are! You ought to be indifferent to all things. Is it not strange that you should covet this book so strongly?  A true Ramadasi should have no ‘mamata’ (attachment) but have ‘samata’ (equality) towards all. You are now quarrelling with the boy Shama for a mere book. Go, take your seat, books can be had in plenty for money, but not men; think well and be considerate. What is the worth of your book? Shama had no concern with it. I took it up Myself and gave it to him. You know it by heart. I thought Shama might read it and profit thereby, and so I gave it to him.”

How sweet were these words of Baba, soft, tender and nectar-like! Their effect was wonderful. The Ramadasi calmed down and said to Shama that he would take Panchratni’ Geeta in return. Shama was much pleased and said – “Why one, I shall give ten copies in return!” So the matter was ultimately settled. The question for consideration is “why should the Ramadasi press for Pancharatni Geeta, the God whom he never cared to know, and why should he, who daily read religious books in the Masjid in front of Baba, quarrel with Shama before Him?” We do not know how to apportion the blame and whom to blame. We only say that, had this procedure been not gone through, the importance of the subject, the efficacy of God’s name and the study of Vishnu- Sahasra-Nam would not have been brought home to Shama. So we see that Baba’s method of teaching and initiating was unique. In this case Shama did gradually study the book and mastered its contents to such an extent that he was able to explain it to Professor G.G. Narke, M.A. of the College of Engineering, Poona, the son-in-law of Shriman Booty and a devotee of Baba (paraphrased from the Shri Sai Satcharitra Chapter 27).

Once, a devotee named Mrs. Aurangabadkar, requested Shama to help her open her heart out to Baba for a cure for infertility. Shama waited for the right opportunity and one day when Baba was in a cheerful mood, He pinched Shama’s cheek. Shama pretended to be offended. Baba then said, “in all the seventy-two generations that we have been together, have I ever touched you? Just try and remember,” thus indicating that their Rinanubandh spanned for a period of seventy generations (Shri Sai Satchatira Chapter 36). Baba, eventually did bless Mrs. Aurangabadkar and she was blessed with a son.

Baba cures Shama on several occasions – one such incident:

Once, Shama was suffering from an eye infection. His eyes were red, swollen and watered profusely. He tried various ointments and pills. But the infection went from bad to worse. The swelling increased and the pain became quite unbearable. At last he went to Baba and confronted Him. Baba asked him if all was well. This upset him very much and hence he said angrily, ‘Deva I haven’t seen such a callous and unconcerned God like you. You cure the whole of humanity. For the last four days I am in agony. My eyes are swollen, watering continuously and the pain is unbearable.  Because of the throbbing I am crying, shouting and dying of pain, but you are oblivious to this. Aren’t you ashamed of Yourself? Are you blind? Are you deaf too? What use is such a God? If by tomorrow my eyes are not cured, I will drive you out of the Dwarakamai or my name is not Shama’. To this Baba said in Marathi language ‘Ugach, vat vat karu nakos Shamyaa, saath meeryanch daane ugaal aani de doolyath ghalun mange bhag thuje doole vingaavani hothil’ (meaning Shyama, don’t grumble for nothing. Take seven black pepper seeds and boil them in some water and put this in your eyes. And your eyes will become crystal clear. Here take this Udi and go).  These words of Baba further infuriated Shama. Hence he told Baba, ‘Deva do you think you are very smart? Where on earth did you learn this Vaidgiri? I will put the pepper in my eyes and my eyes will burst. How great is your prescription? It’s a prescription only to burst people’s eyes’. To which Baba calmly said, ‘Don’t act smart Shamyaa. Go and do what I said, and if your eyes don’t become clear then you can get angry’. Although Shama shouted at Baba he had utmost faith in Baba and His words. Shama did as directed by Baba and at that very moment Shama’s eyes became crystal clear.

Shama visits Trilok:

Once Shama asked Baba whether there really was a ‘Trilok’. He asked Baba if there was a Brahma Lok, Vishnu Lok and Shiv Lok. To this Baba replied in the affirmative. Shama immediately said, “Arre Deva why don’t you show it to me?”. Shama insisted on seeing  Trilok. Then Baba asked him to close his eyes and then open them. And lo! Shama could see Brahma Lok. He saw the most beautiful, ornate diamond studded throne on which Lord Brahma was sitting. He was holding court with his minstrels. They too were sitting on beautiful, golden chairs studded with gems. There was so much gold and gems that it was indescribable. Baba said, “Shama this is Satya Lok, and this is Brahma Dev”.  Baba then asked him to open and close his eyes again and He showed him Vaikunth Lok. Lastly He showed him Shiv Lok. Each time Shama saw one of the Loks, Baba explained to him what he was seeing and who the presiding deity was. Shama was overwhelmed by what he saw. He was slightly frightened and at the same time joyful to see the abundance of wealth and opulence. Again Baba emphasised, “Shama all this is not for us, our goal is quite unusual”. Shama could see all this because Baba gave him Divya Drishti (Cosmic Vision).

Shama’s spiritual journey and other lessons:

Baba distributed vast amounts of money on a daily basis to many devotees. But, He did not give any money to Shama. Instead, Baba gave him spiritual gifts that were invaluable. Baba often gave him religious books, Pothis and Shama read and reread them with great zeal. The other spiritual gift that Baba gave Shama was to send him on pilgrimages. Shama travelled across the length and breadth of India and visited many Holy places like Kashi, Char Dham and Jagannath Puri.

Everyday Baba received many letters and Shama would read them aloud to Baba. And, according to Baba’s orders, would reply to them. If any devotee sent money Shama used to go to the post office, collect the money and hand it over to Baba. Once a devotee had sent a money order of two rupees. Shama went and collected the money from post office. But while returning from the post office, he changed his mind and came and hid the money atop the Rath room inside Dwarakamai. The omnipresent Baba knew this but did not utter a word to Shama. But after few days, disaster struck.  One night there was a theft in Shama’s house and the thief robbed him of two hundred fifty rupees. Shama searched for the money everywhere and later reported the matter to the police, but to no avail. Then in desperation he went to Baba and said, “Baba there was a theft in my house and the thief stole two hundred and fifty rupees. Do you feel good about this? That a poor man like me lost so much money.  Arre Deva who can I tell my tale of woe to, but you?”. To this Baba calmly said, “Arre Shamyaa what is the matter? Because there was a theft, and you lost money, you came to Me with your complaint. But when My two rupees were stolen to whom should I complain?”. Shama immediately understood the meaning of Baba’s words. Baba further said to Shama “the value of two hundred and fifty rupees for a poor man like you, has the same value of two rupees to a Fakir like Me.”

Shama did not perform any ritualistics pooja to Baba like many other devotees. But, he had intense faith in Baba. This faith is impossible to describe. Shama had utter, one pointed, concentrated and selfless devotion towards Baba. Shama used to perform Sai Nama Japa with every breath that he took. This has been mentioned very clearly in Khaparde’s diary. The entry for 8th December 1911 states as follows: “Madhavarao Deshpande was here and fell asleep. I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears what I only read about but never experienced. With every outgoing and indrawing breath, comes the clear sound of ‘Sainath Maharaj, Sainath Baba’. This sound is still clearer when Madhavrao snores as the words can be heard at a distance. This is really wonderful”.

Shama’s passing away and his house:

Shama was quite a healthy villager and lived upto 80 years. On 15th April 1944, Wednesday at about twelve noon Shama lost consciousness. And on the next day i.e. Thursday, 16th April 1944 at night Shama breathed his last and became one with his Sadguru.

Shama’s house is situated towards the right bylane while going from Dwarakamai to the Bazaar. After Shama, this house was looked after by his son Udhav Rao Deshpande who breathed his last on 27th June 1998. Udhav Rao stated that he was a young lad before Baba’s Mahasamadhi and often he would play with Baba. Baba loved children a lot, and he spent many evenings playing with Baba. Once Shama asked Baba, “what would happen to this child?”. It is stated that Baba said, he will grow up in the Masjid and that there will be no dearth of funds for his livelihood”. Now the widow of Udhav Rao Smt.Kusuma looks after this ancestral house.

This house is very sacred as Baba gave him various books to keep and read. There is a statue of Ganapati towards the right hand corner in the main room and it is said that this Ganapati was given by Baba. There are some original photographs of Baba (going to Lendi Bagh and Baba sitting with Shama to his left and Mahalsapati to his right).

Life lessons to be learned from Shama:

  • Baba’s words are THE truth. There is nothing beyond that. Just trust Him.

Dr. Vinny emphasises how this task changed Hemadpant as a person. Vinny Ma also gives us details about the original Satcharita written in poem form in Marathi, and how translated and editions versions have not been able to do justice to Baba’s words that He uttered. She hopes one day, someone will accurately translate Baba’s words from Marathi to other languages and bring out the essence of what He spoke.

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Kakasaheb Dixit

Hari Sitaram Dixit, known as Kaka Dixit in Shirdi was lovingly addressed as ‘Langda Kaka’ by Baba. He was a well known, actively practicing solicitor in Mumbai when he was persuaded to visit Sai Baba in Shirdi  in 1909 by his school friend and classmate, Nanasaheb Chandorkar.


H. S. Dixit was born in 1864 of high caste Nagari Brahmin parents enjoying a high position and affluence at Khandwa. His scholastic career was bright as he secured a first class in Matric and good results in F.A., B.A, and LL.B. He very soon settled himself as a leading solicitor in Mumbai, and his name frequently appeared in the law reports and in the press. He attained great fame and wide popularity and commanded high esteem both with the people and the Government.

He was involved in several political, municipal and social activities through which he rendered valuable service to the society. He was also briefly a part of the Indian National Congress and an  elected member of the Bombay Legislative Council from 1901 until he gave it up to devote himself to spiritual progress under Sai Baba. He rapidly rose by his influence and ability to greater and greater positions of honour and, had he continued in that line, he would surely have been conferred the Knighthood. But, his destiny and rinanubandha had something else in store.

In about 1906 he went to England. There, he had an accident due to which his leg was injured. In spite of repeated surgeries and efforts, the injury was not cured. He had a limp which impeded free movement and also made him look awkward. It also made him less fit for numerous activities as his leg would pain if he walked for even a few meters. This gave him an inferiority complex and a disgust for material aspects in life, thus preparing him for a nobler and holier life.

In 1909, Nanasaheb Chandorkar advised him to go and visit Sai Baba, his own Sadguru, who is the only person who could cure Kakasaheb’s lameness. As divine providence would have it, it was in 1909 itself that he visited Ahmednagar for official work and stayed with Sardar Kaka Saheb Mirikar, an advent Sai bhakta. Sardar Mirikar had a huge picture of Sai Baba in his house, the property of a devotee in Shirdi and when Kakasaheb saw this picture, his reverence was heightened.

Introduction to Baba and their first meeting:

Learning of his desire to visit Shirdi, Sardar Mirikar sent for Shama (Madhavrao Deshpande), an intimate devotee of Baba was in Ahmednagar at that point in time. Accordingly, Shama took him to Baba in 1909 and when he met Baba, the latter said that He was waiting for him. This very first experience had a lasting impression on Kaka and deepened his admiration and attachment to Baba. Thenceforth, he repeated his visits to Shirdi frequently and in 1910, he resolved to have a building of his own there. After receiving Baba’s blessings, the foundation stone was laid for a wada there on 10th December 1910, popularly known afterwards as Kakawada or Dixit wada. The work was completed in five months (i.e.) in April 1911. From the very beginning Kaka wanted only a small room for himself upstairs (1st floor) for Ekanta Dhyana (solitude and meditation). The rest of the building was used by pilgrims i.e., the public.

Baba’s kindness towards him was manifested from the very beginning, and Baba expressed this to others also. He told Anna Saheb Dabolkar, ‘Kaka Saheb is a good man. Be guided by what he says’. He told R.B. Purandhare to be with Kaka Saheb and assist him. Kaka’s greatest interest in Baba was spiritual upliftment and though originally he went to Baba for a cure for his lameness, eventually he gave up that idea. He always said, “lameness of the body does not matter much” and wanted Sai to rather cure the “lameness of his soul”. Sai Baba also equally reciprocated and made distinct promises to Kaka and one of the most notable of His early statements was, “I will take my Kaka in a vimana”, meaning that Baba would give Kaka a happy end –  Anaayaasa Marana and Sadgati. Baba did give him both as one can see from what happened in the end.

Kaka’s spiritual journey:

In 1909, Kaka was a leading and renowned solicitor with a highly lucrative practice. He was 45 years old then and had a great prospect of amassing much wealth and honors in social and political matters. From his childhood, he was inclined towards saints and after meeting the wonderful Baba, his spiritual inclination was given a powerful impetus. On account of rinanubandha Baba drew him. Almost from the beginning of his contact with Baba he resolved to have Satsanga with Baba, and to embark on a spiritual career under Sai’s guidance, whatever may be its consequence on his worldly affairs.  Though his income was ample, his generosity and liberality left very little liquid resources remaining with him and, barring his three bungalows at Bombay, Ville Parle, and Lonavla, which did not yield any income, he had no other property. Yet Sai’s attraction being strong, his visits to Shirdi were more and more frequent and his attention to practice was greatly diminished.

A consequence of this diminution was that his partners in the solicitor business; Rao Bahadur S. Narayandas and Dhanji Shah, called off their partnership with him, and he had to form a new firm with a newly enrolled advocate Purushotham Rai Markhad for his partner. That gentleman also, on account of Kaka’s frequent absence and lack of interest, withdrew from his partnership.  Other partners also, Maneklal, etc., very soon left him alone or rather he left them very soon, and his income from law became very little. From 1911 onwards, his practice may be said to have been nil, though Baba asked him to go to Bombay to practice. He obeyed Baba and went to Bombay, but returned soon as his heart was at Shirdi and not Bombay. All his friends, acquaintances and admirers were astonished when he closed his lucrative practice in 1912, and several people were of the opinion that a ‘fakir called Sai Baba had cast a charm on him and that pushed him to Shirdi and made him crazy.’

Kaka tula kalji kazli, mala sara kalji aahe – ‘Kaka, all your anxieties are mine’:

Sai Baba distinctly undertook full care of Kaka and his family to enable him to carry out his spiritual endeavour. Baba’s words to Kaka were, “Kaka tula kalji kazli, mala sara kalji aahe,” (meaning – Kaka, why should you have any anxiety or care? All care and responsibilities are mine). Baba also proved these precious utterances very soon. When at Shirdi Baba gave this undertaking, Kaka’s daughter, aged about eight, was in his bungalow at Ville Parle, and was playing close to a huge almirah with a large number of big dolls in it. She climbed up the almirah, and the same (with all the dolls) fell upon her, but strangely enough, no dolls fell upon her; and no damage was done to her by the fall except the breaking of her bangles and a consequent scratch. Kaka learnt of this incident only later, and understood what divine power and kindness were in Sai (his Gurudeva) when he gave the undertaking, which he fulfilled thus at once at Ville Parle.

Dixit could never forget that Sai’s powers and nature were divine, and that all responsibility for him and his family rested on Baba’s divine shoulders, and that there was no need to apprehend any harm. His heart was free from anxiety, fear or worry though he lost his lucrative practice and high social prospects. Ordinarily the change from affluence and grandeur to the lack of funds would be painful. But in the case of Kaka Saheb, his habits were very simple. He reduced his needs to the minimum, and avoided every sort of luxury or unnecessary expenditure.  The loss of income or wealth would be considered a great evil by others; but he, as the”Ankita” or earmarked child of Baba (who undertook all responsibilities), and as a student of the spiritual life and a special student of Bhagavata, remembered what Lord Krishna says in Skanda 10, Adhyaya 27. Tarn Bhramscayaami sampatbhyo yasya cha ichchaami anugraham i.e. ‘I deprive him of all wealth, whom I wish to bless’. His keeping away from courts, society, and public work might make life dull and insipid for him but he realised that he was being trained by the Sadguru for something higher, i.e, Sadgati, by shedding the popular confusion of wealth with welfare and of enjoyments with happiness.

For a person steeped in worldliness and worldly company, chances of spiritual progress depend upon sequestration and solitude and absorption in holy company amidst holy surroundings. It is due to this that our scriptures prescribe that after Grihasthasrama (worldly life) has been enjoyed to a certain extent, man should retire and live in a forest (Vanaprastha Asrama). Kaka had 25 years of practice and had enjoyed Grihasthasrama and was ripe for Vanaprastha Asrama.  However, in his case, he did not have to retire to a forest, instead from 1912 onwards he made Shirdi his more or less permanent home. Further, Baba had asked Kaka to remain in his room in the wada upstairs for nine months. He was not even allowed to visit Baba or attend the aartis, which he found very painful. Kaka being Kaka, attended the injunction strictly and lived in solitude for nine months. Kaka’s wife was also not permitted to visit him upstairs as ladies were not permitted to the first floor of Dixit wada. Thus Kaka’s Brahmacharya and rigorous tapas were maintained, and his wife Smt.Saraswati Bai returned quickly to Ville Parle.  On the occasion of her departure, Sai Baba repeated his assurance that he was entirely responsible for Kaka Dixit. He told her, ‘have no fears at all about Kaka, I will look after him myself.’  Baba ordered him to go on with concentrated study of only two works, Bhagavata and Bhavartha Ramayana. He had not merely told Kaka to study but also do Mananam (meditation) and to observe Acharanam (to have his conduct based on the scriptures). After the nine months were over, Baba stopped his severe practice of seclusion, and Kaka was permitted to go and visit Bombay also.

Especially after Baba had assumed all his responsibilities, Kaka noted how needless it was for him to spend attention and time or energy as before to acquire or preserve wealth. Two instances may be cited as typical of this teaching of Baba. In the early years of Kaka Saheb’s contact with Baba, he earned large fees. On one occasion when he came to Shirdi, he came along with a trunkful of rupees which he earned from winning a case.. He came to Baba, placed the trunk before him, showed him the rupees, and said, ‘Baba, all this is yours’. Baba at once said, ‘is that so?’ and plunged both his hands in the box full of rupees and gave away heaps of rupees to the people that crowded round him like bees for honey. In a few moments, the trunk became empty.  This incident is narrated by Appa Saheb Garde, a Sub Judge friend of H. S. Dixit, who was watching all the time the face of Kaka to study the reaction on his face to the rapid scattering of his hard earned money by Baba. Though any other person in his position would have felt the loss of money very bitter, Kaka Saheb was unmoved. That showed how he had hardened in his vairagya at the feet of Baba. He learned again that the silver so highly valued by the world was but mud to the Sadguru.

Kaka’s reliance on Baba and his habit of casting chits:

Kaka had such perfect reliance on Baba that before taking any step in any important matter, he would go to Baba and get his orders and follow the same to the very letter, even though the course was running counter to his own judgment and feelings or those of his friends and relations. Baba once tested and proved his implicit obedience while enjoying the fun of the test. Shri Sai Satcharitra gives the account which shows that Bade Baba, Shama and Ayi all skirted from assisting Baba or carrying out his order to slaughter a thoroughly weak goat that was about to die.  Kaka Dixit alone stood the test and was bringing down a knife over the neck of the creature in implicit obedience to an apparently horrid command. The details are as follows: Once a goat entered the mosque, old, famished and just about to die. Baba told Bade Baba:—”cut that goat with one stroke”. Bade Baba—(looking at it with pity) said,  “how are we to kill this?”. So saying, he went away from the mosque. Then Baba told Shama:”Shama, you cut it. Fetch a knife, from Radhakrishna” (Ayi sent a knife; but learning the purpose, recalled it.)  Then Shama told Baba:”I will go home to fetch a knife”. Shama went home and stayed there. Then Baba told H.S.Dixit: ‘You fetch a knife and kill it.’ Dixit went and brought a knife and asked Baba: “Baba, shall I kill it?” Baba told him: “Yes”. Dixit lifted up the knife and held it up in hesitation. Then Baba said : “What are you thinking of? Strike”. Dixit obeyed and was bringing the knife down. The immediately Baba said: “Stop. Let the creature remain. I will kill it myself but not at the mosque”. Then Baba carried the creature a few yards, after which it fell dead.

Some might suppose that such intimate relationship and dependence of the disciple might snap if the Guru left the body. But that was not so. After Baba left His body, Kaka, like several other staunch devotees, intently concentrated on Sai Baba, and after prayer cast chits before Baba, and asked some child to pick up a chit at random, and the directions of the chit were Baba’s orders and were safe to follow always.

Kaka’s role in Baba’s final rites:

When Baba took his Mahasamadhi in October 1918, it was a great blow to all his bhaktas But, there was further danger of conflict and confusion about the disposal of His body. Baba had clearly stated, “even from my tomb, I will be active,” where was this tomb to be? Who would build it and maintain it? There was dispute between the Hindus and Muslims and finally a plebiscite had to be conducted as to where His holy body would lay.  Baba, during his lifetime had made no mention of it, but during His illness in His final days, said, “carry me to the Wada (booty Wada)” Since there were several complications and legal advice from Ahmednagar was to be sought, Kaka himself (being a solicitor of great repute) was ready to go to Ahmednagar – however, finally the village officer himself passed an order that Baba’s body would lay in the Booty wada, where is still remains. Kaka was also instrumental in the creation of the Shirdi Sai Sansthan in 1922 that governs Baba’s tomb and other affairs. Kaka was its first Honorary Secretary and ably managed affairs until his passing away in 1926.

“I will take my Kaka in a vimana”

On 5th July 1926, on Ekadasi, Kaka was traveling from Ville Parle to visit his ailing son Ramakrishna. Anna Saheb Dabolkar was also with him. They were slightly late in reaching the platform, but found that the train arrived after they reached. They got in and the words uttered by Kaka were, “How merciful Baba is! He has given us this train this very minute and did not make us wait.” He then looked at his pocket watch and said, “Baba made the train come late so we could catch it or we would have been stranded at Colaba.  “This is Sai’s grace.” Thus, sitting facing Anna Saheb, Kaka remembered Baba’s loving grace and appeared to fall asleep. Dabolkar first thought he was sleeping. When he went near him to hold his head and asked him, ‘are you sleeping?’ there was no reply. Then Dabolkar feared that Kaka Saheb had fainted. Making Kaka lie down, Dabolkar noted the apparently hopeless condition of Kaka Saheb. The train was speeding from station to station. Anna Saheb told his friend Tendulkar in the carriage that he should tell the Guard so that they may carry down Kaka’s body from the carriage.  But as there was a big crowd and heavy rain, he could not do this at Bandra, and so only at Mahim he got down and told the Guard. The Guard arranged a phone call to Parel for a stretcher and doctor, and at Parel, the body was taken out. The doctor examined the body and said that life was extinct. On account of the suddenness of death, there would have been difficulties of inquest. But luckily they got the doctor’s certificate, and the body was committed to the care of Anna Saheb. The main point for us to see is how Baba carried out his undertaking to carry Kaka in a vimana, thus keeping up his very first promise to Kaka.

Kaka was responsible for drawing large numbers to Shirdi and filling them with admiration and enthusiasm for Sai Baba. He also took care of “Sai Leela Masik” the Marathi Monthly Magazine of Shri Sai Baba Sansthan till July 1926.

Life lessons to be learned from Kaka Saheb Dixit:

  • Kaka never bothered about losing his wealth (non-attachment to wealth) or adulation of the crowd. He brought down his needs of living to the bare minimum and lived a simple life and was content with it

  • He spent his time (even after Baba’s samadhi), in following his Sadguru’s orders and read the scriptures that were prescribed to him

  • He was able to change his demeanour and character and become most humble and kind hearted

  • Implicit faith in his Sadguru’s words

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Hemadpant – Govind R. Dabholkar

Govind R. Dhabolkar, known as Annasaheb Dhabolkar or Hemadpant is most notably known for being the author of the beloved work, the Sai Satcharita. He lived in Bandra, Mumbai. He was a self-made man who studied only upto the fifth grade and passed the public service examination and went onto hold senior posts with the Government.

He was a Government servant until 1936 where he was a resident magistrate. Before retiring in 1916, he was lucky to have contact with Baba. He was a poet at heart and he began the most notable work in 1922 and completed it in 1926. It was Baba who called him Hemadpant, after a well known 13th century poet.

Meeting with Sai Baba:

Hemadpant was working in a place called, ‘Anand’ in Gujarat in 1910, when Kakasaheb Dixit wrote to him describing the leelas of Sai Baba. Hemadpant was very impressed and wanted to go for a darshan at the earliest. He applied for a 30 day leave, which was rejected by the commissioner. Hemadpant thought that getting transferred to Maharashtra might make it easier for him to visit Shirdi.

He did apply for the transfer, but it was refused on the grounds that he had already worked in Bandra, Mumbai. As per Government rules, he could not be posted there again. However, something unexpected happened. Suddenly, the Deputy Collector of Bandra passed away due to a heart attack. There was an urgent need to station a trustworthy and responsible person in Bandra. The same Commissioner who had earlier declined Hemadpant’s transfer, sent a telegram to summon him to Bandra.

When he was to go to meet Sai Baba in 1910, he boarded the wrong train. A Muslim acquaintance met him and asked him where he was headed and the gentleman corrected him saying the Manmad Mail did not stop at Dadar. He suggested, Hemadpant first go to Victoria Terminus and from there, board the Manmad Mail and there is sufficient time to get a ticket. It was that path he finally adopted. Had that incident not taken place, Hemadpant would have been disappointed and probably returned home in doubt.

He confesses himself, ‘Baba’s hand has been visible in moulding my fate from the beginning.’ During his first visit to Shirdi, he had a 30 minute discussion with Balasaheb Bhate, an old friend of his, on the question of whether a Guru is necessary or not. Dhabolkar was of the opinion that a Guru was unnecessary and that free will is required for everyone to adopt their own path.

But, Bhate contested him. Bhate said there is no free will at all and the only thing is destiny. On the question of a Guru, he said, “A Guru is absolutely essential.” After a heated 30 minutes, there was no result/ conclusion reached upon. Dhabolkar’s mind was restless. They then went to the Masjid and when they prostrated before Baba, Baba pointed to Dhabolkar and said, “What talk was going on there at the wada? And what did this Hemadpant say (pointing his chin to Dhabolkar)?’

Dhabolkar’s name was not Hemadpant. Hemadpant was a great genius, who in the medieval age wrote grand works and while in one way this was a compliment; in the other it was a reference to a mere literary skill. Anyhow Dhabolkar was impressed by the fact that Baba without being told of anything, knew that there was a discussion, and that he (Dhabolkar) had engaged in it with all his literary ability and dialectical skill. However, Baba’s influence did not stop with that.

Permission to write the Sai Satcharita:

Dhabolkar was not very proficient about saints. However, his destiny was to compel him to become a Sai bhakta. By constant association with devotees, he got wider and more correct ideas as to the functions of Gurus. He gradually resigned himself more and more to be dealt with by Baba. Baba dealt with him in a very remarkable way, and from the very beginning, made up his mind as to what should become of this Dhabolkar.

Dhabolkar had been gathering information and the leelas of Baba and being an able writer, with great command over Marathi verse and prose, wished to write out Baba’s leelas. This would be on the lines of Saraswati Gangadhar’s Guru Charitra and would give peace and happiness to those afflicted with sorrows. It would also impart knowledge and wisdom on temporal and spiritual matters. The leelas would be both interesting and instructive (like the Vedas) and if meditated on, they would bring about laya or union with Brahma.

So, he made up his mind that he should collect these stories and treat the publication as his upasana of his Guru. It would be especially valuable to those who could not see Baba. Baba’s teachings and expressions were the outcome of his boundless and natural self-realisation and Baba himself (so Dhabolkar thought), put this idea into his mind to collect and render them as Baba’s life or chronicles. Then, he wanted permission for the work.

Baba was moved and blessed Annasaheb by giving him udhi and placed his blessing hand upon Dabolkar’s head. He said, “Let him make a collection of stories and experiences, keeping notes and memos. I will help him. He is only an outward instrument. I should write myself my life, and satisfy the wishes of my devotees. He should get rid of his ego. Place (or surrender) it at my feet. He who acts like this in life, him I will help most. What of my life’s stories? I serve him in his house in all possible ways. When his ego is completely annihilated, and there is no trace left of it, I myself shall enter into him and shall myself write my life. Hearing my stories and teachings will create faith in devotees’ hearts, and they will easily get self-realization and bliss. But let there be no insistence on establishing one’s own view, and no attempt to refute others’ opinions of any sort”.

So said Baba. Then, Dhabolkar made the promise that he would surrender his ego. His intimacy with Dixit, Chandorkar and others enabled him to collect plenty of stories. This permission was given in 1916 and when Baba passed away, he had hardly written two or three chapters. Most of the work was written after 1918. He wrote 51 or 52 chapters and passed away in 1929.

Meanwhile, his chapters were published in Sai Leela Masik which was started under Dixit and his supervision. Gradually people began to read his work and were highly influenced thereby. The effect of writing was even more on the author himself. One such effect was the complete change of his outlook.

Hemadpant’s transition and acceptance:

When he was introduced to Baba, Chinchinikar told Baba that Dhabolkar had a large family and that Baba should bless him to get a new job after retirement. Baba said, “This cursed Government service he will get. But let him look to my service. That is most important’. And as Baba stated, Dhabolkar got employed again, though only for a short time, but the employment in Baba’s service was permanent and grew in intensity from month on month and year on year. His thoughts were upon Baba and his leelas, and the effect was that he was always Sai-minded.

His life and outlook were greatly altered. He felt he was under the protection of Baba and said, ‘The moment I touched Sai Baba’s feet, I began a new lease of life. I felt much obliged to those who took me to Baba, and I consider them my real relatives. I cannot repay their debt. I make mental namaskar to them. A peculiarity of Sai Baba’s darshan, as I find it, is that by his darshan, our thoughts are changed, the force of previous action (karma) is abated, and gradually non-attachment or dispassion towards worldly objects grows. It is by the merit of actions in many past births that such a darshan is obtained. And if only you see Sai Baba, really all the world assumes the form of Sai Baba’.

First, when he went to Baba, he just had superficial devotion. His nature was egoistic, combative and largely ambitious. From 1910-16, his progress was hardly noticeable. However, in 1917, a change occurred and that story is related in chapters 18 and 19 of the Sai Satcharita.

One day, as he was shampooing Baba’s legs, one Mr. Sathe had a problem and that was mentioned to Baba. Sathe was directed by Baba to read the Guru Charitra. and he did so for seven days. At the close of it, Baba appeared in a vision (dream) to him with Guru Charitra in his hand. Kaka Dixit came and asked Baba whether he would explain to Sathe what the appearance meant. He asked, ‘Is he to go on with a second saptaha of study of the Guru Charitra?” Baba said, ‘Yes’. Baba also said, ‘If the work be studied carefully, the devotee will become pure and will be benefited. The Lord will be pleased and will rescue him from samsara.’.

Hearing these words, Hemadpant thought, “For the last seven years (1910-17), I have been serving Baba and have never got a vision and this man (Sathe), after a week’s stay gets a vision. Like a chataka bird, I am waiting for Baba to pour His nectar on to me and bless me with His instructions’. This was just a thought. Baba read his thought at once and told him, ‘Go to Shama. Get from him Rs. 15 dakshina, stay and chat with him for a while, and then come back’. Accordingly, he went to Shama and asked for Rs. 15 dakshina: Shama was a very poor man and said, ‘I send my 15 namaskars’.

Then Hemadpant said, “I have been asked to chat with you and listen to you”, Shama then began to tell him stories of Baba’s leelas, and the foremost amongst them that he mentioned was that of Mrs. Radhabai Deshmukh. Shama said, “There was a lady, an old woman who came to Baba and was resolved to receive mantropadesh from Baba. She wanted to try satyagraha and began fasting. She said she will fast unto death at Shirdi unless Baba gave her upadesha. After three days, I interceded with Baba on her behalf and requested Baba to take pity on her.”

So, Baba sent for her and told her, “Mother, why are you subjecting yourself to unnecessary torture and impending death? You are my mother and I am your child. Pity me. I will tell you my story. If you listen to it, it will do you good. I had a Guru. He was a very great saint and most merciful. I served him very long indeed. Still he did not whisper any mantra into my ear. I was anxious never to leave him but to stay with him and serve him and receive some instruction from him. But he had his own method. He just got my head shaved and asked me for two pice as dakshina. I gave the same at once. “

“If you ask ‘how a perfect Guru could ask for dakshina and yet be called desireless,’ I explain to you that what he asked for was not coins. The first pice that he asked for was Nishta or firm faith and the second pice he wanted was Saburi or patience or perseverance. These two I gave him, and he was pleased. I served my Guru for 12 years. He brought me up. There was no lack of food or clothing. He was full of love. He was love incarnate. His love was indescribable. He loved me keenly. Rare is such a Guru. When I looked at him, I was filled with bliss, and he was in bliss.”

“Night and day I gazed at him without thinking of hunger and thirst. Without him, I felt restless. I had no other subject to meditate on. I had nothing but the Guru to attend to; He was my sole refuge. My mind was always fixed on him. That ‘fixture’ is the first pice – nishta. The second pice, saburi, is my waiting patiently and very long on my Guru and serving him. This saburi will take you across samsara. Saburi is manliness in man. It removes all sins and afflictions, gets rid of calamities in various ways, removes all fear and ultimately gives you success. Saburi is a mine of virtues and is the consort of good thought.”

“Nishta and Saburi go together. My Guru never expected anything else from me. But he never neglected me. He always protected me. I lived with him and sometimes away from him. Still I never felt the want or absence of his love. He always protected me by his glance as a tortoise feeds its young ones. Oh, mother, my Guru never taught me any mantra. How can I give you any? Do not try to get mantra or upadesha from anybody. Make me the sole object of your thought and actions, and you will undoubtedly attain Paramartha, the spiritual goal of life.”

“Look at me wholeheartedly, and I shall also do the same, that is, look at you wholeheartedly. Sitting in this Masjid, I speak the truth and nothing but the truth. No sadhanas and no proficiency in sastras is necessary. Have faith and confidence in your Guru. Believe fully that the Guru is the sole Actor or Doer. Blessed is he who knows the greatness of his Guru and thinks him to be Hari, Hara, and Brahma, ‘ Trimurti Incarnate’. Shama said, ‘The lady then accepted the advice’.

After hearing Shama, Annasaheb went to the Masjid and there he sat next to Baba. When the aarti was going on, Baba asked him whether he went to Shama and asked for dakshina and had a chat? Annasaheb said, “Shama sent his 15 namaskars. In the chat, he gave an account of Mrs. Radhabai Deshmukh’s incident’. Baba asked, ‘What is it?’ Dhabolkar narrated the whole story. Then Baba said, ‘Wonderful is the story. Did the story strike you, and did you catch its significance?’ Annasaheb said, ‘Yes. The restlessness of my mind has vanished. I have got true peace and come to know the true path’.

Then Baba said, “My method is quite unique. Remember well this one story, and it will be very useful. To get knowledge (realisation) of the self, dhyana (meditation) is necessary. If you practise it continuously, the vrittis (thoughts) will be pacified. Being quite desireless, you should meditate on the Lord who is in all the creatures, and when the mind is concentrated, the goal will be achieved. Meditate always on my formless nature, which is Knowledge Incarnate, Consciousness and Bliss. If you cannot do this, meditate on my form from top to toe as you see here night and day. As you go on doing this, your vrittis will be one-pointed and the distinction between the dhyata (meditator), dhyana (act of meditation) dhyeya (thing meditated upon) will be lost, and the meditator will be one with the consciousness and be merged in Brahman.

The mother tortoise is on one bank of the river and her young ones are on the other side. She gives neither milk nor warmth to them. The mere glance gives them nutrition. The young ones do nothing but remember (meditate upon) their mother. The tortoise glance is, to the young ones, a downpour of nectar, the only source of sustenance and happiness. Similar is the relation between the Guru and disciples.” Baba gave him sugarcandy and said, “If you take this story to heart, remember it well, your state will be equally sweet. Your desires will be fulfilled and you will be happy. Meditate on the story; assimilate its spirit; then you will always remember and meditate on the Lord who will manifest himself to you.”

Temporal benefits and service to Baba:

Hemadpant was lucky enough to get a Government job for a short while and thereafter, following Baba’s advice only served Him. So, he helped greatly in the management of Sai Baba’s Sansthan, after 1918 or 1920-21. He looked after the accounts and helped greatly in the publication of Sai Leela Masik also. But his most important service was the writing of the first 51 or 52 chapters of the Sai Satcharitra. After his death in 1929, the 53rd chapter was added on and the complete book was published.

So, the effect of the study of Baba’s leelas is the great service Hemadpant renders. Baba himself said that a study of his leelas would put an end to ignorance and ferry people across samsara. It would make them get laya (absorption) in Sai by constantly remembering his leelas, words, and nature, especially his nature as sarvantaryami. Baba, as he himself declared, is the soul of all souls. Everything is his form. By constant meditation on Baba’s leelas, one can get an experience of Baba in all forms.

Baba agreed to look after the temporal welfare as well as the spiritual welfare of Dhabolkar. The reality of this protection and guarding influence was not only in his case but also in that of his relatives.Having found Baba a precious gem or mine, he took with him to Baba his two sons-in-law, one after another (R. R. Samant and Galwankar) as also the rest of his family. Baba looked after their interests as well as can be seen in Devotees’ Experiences of Sai Baba.

Galwankar’s statement is especially interesting. He stated in 1938 when he was still employed, Baba fixed him birth after birth on a high moral and spiritual level and integrity. Once Baba appeared to Galwankar and asked him, “What do you want?” Galwankar wanted nothing but Baba’s grace and he got it. He used to get sudden spells of bliss of Baba. In the midst of his official work he would suddenly stop and for some moments he would enjoy the bliss of Baba, He was appointed as trustee of Sai Sansthan, an office which he held up to his death in 1945.

The Pothi:

Hemadpant actually started writing ‘The Pothi’ in 1922 and it was published in 1929 after Hemadpant passed away. This is a composition of 9308 verses in Marathi in Ovi Meter, on the life and teachings of Saibaba on the lines of Eknath’s Bhagwat. It is usually sung rather than read. This Pothi should be in every house, and should be lovingly and respectfully read.

Baba will be pleased by removing ignorance and poverty, and will give knowledge, wealth and prosperity. With a concentrated mind if one reads at least a chapter daily, it will give unbounded happiness. This work should be read at home specifically on “Gurupurnima” and on other holy days. If you study this one book all your desires will be satisfied and Sai will easily make you cross this “Bhava Sagara”. The sick will get health, the poor will get wealth and the mind will get steadiness (Refer Sai Satcharitra Phala Stuti, Epilogue).

On 26th November 1930, the first edition of “Shri Sai Satcharitra” was published in Marathi by Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (Shirdi) and had approximately 900 pages in size 8’x5.5′ and was priced at Rs.3/- only. Later this holy pothi got translated into English, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Sindhi, Bengali, Kannada, Oria, Nepali, Punjabi and Konkani.

Shimga Dinner Photo:

Early in the morning of a full moon day of the Holi festival in 1917, Hemadpant had a vision. Sai Baba appeared to him in his dream in the form of a Saint and told him that he would come to his house for meals that day. When he woke up he did not see Sai Baba or any Saint. Though Hemadpant was in contact with Baba for the past 7 years and though he always meditated on Baba, he never experienced that Baba would come to his house for meals. However, he went to his wife Mrs. Rukumabai and informed her that being the festival of Holi, a saint guest was coming for a meal and that some more rice should be prepared.

She doubtingly asked whether it was possible that Baba should come to Bandra from Shirdi, leaving the delicious food served to Him in Shirdi for accepting their ordinary meals. Hemadpant then assured her that Baba might not come in person but He might attend in the form of a guest and that they would lose nothing by cooking some extra rice. After this, preparation for the lunch went on and it was ready by the afternoon.

The worship was done and the dishes were arranged with “Rangoli” marks around them. Two rows were put up with a central seat reserved for the guest. The entire family assembled and occupied their seats and the serving of various dishes commenced. While this was being done, everybody was watching for the guest, but none turned up though it was past noon. The door was then closed and ghee was served. Formal offering of the Naivedyam to Lord Krishna was also done. But, as they were about to begin, foot-steps in the staircase were distinctly heard.

Hemadpant went immediately and opened the door and saw two men Ali Mohammed and Moulana Isnu Mujavar. These two people, seeing that meals were ready and all the members were about to begin eating, apologized to Hemadpant and requested him to excuse their interference. They said, “You left your seat and came running to us, others are waiting for you. Hence, please take this thing and we shall relate all the wonderful tales about it later on at your convenience.” So saying they took out a packet wrapped in an old newspaper cover and placed it on the table. Hemadpant uncovered the packet and saw, to his great wonder and surprise, a big nice picture of Sai Baba.

Seeing it, Hemadpant was much moved, tears rolled down from his eyes, he bent and placed his head on the feet of Baba in the picture. He felt blessed by Baba. Out of curiosity he asked Ali Mohammed where he got this picture. He said that he bought it from a shop and that he would give all the details about it later on and wished that as all the members were waiting for him, he should go and join them for food. Hemadpant thanked him, bade them good-bye and returned to the dining hall. The picture was placed on the central seat reserved for the guest. After offering Naivedyam to the photograph of Sai Baba, the whole family commenced eating food.

The story of how this photograph of Baba reached Hemadpant’s Sai Niwas is very interesting: Long time back, a Saint by name Abdul Rehman gave a lifesize framed photo of Sai Baba to Ali Mohammed. After sometime, Ali’s brother-in-law fell sick. Someone suggested that if the photos of Saints were put in the sea, the illness would subside. Hence, Ali asked his manager to collect all such photographs from his/relative’s house and immerse them in the sea. After some days Ali Mohammed came home and was surprised to find that Baba’s photograph was still on the wall. He began to think to whom it should be given and then as per Baba’s order given to him through his thoughts, the photo was handed over to Hemadpant.

This beautiful photograph that was brought by Ali Mohammed and Moulana Isnu Mujawar was set in the place that was reserved for Baba at the “Simga Dinner” (Refer Sai Satcharitra Chapter 40). Baba kept his promise to attend the Dinner in the dream of Dhabolkar and arrived in this form. At Shirdi, the same day and at the same time Sai Baba told Shama that he had a sumptuous meal at Bandra in Hemadpant’s house. Shama could understand Baba’s words only after sometime when Hemadpant came to Shirdi to meet Baba.

Life lessons to be learned from Hemadpant:

  • Surrender your ego to your Guru. Once you do that, you will merge in your Guru.

Dr Vinny Chitluri pays tribute to one of Baba’s Mahabhaktas, Govind R Dabholkar, whom Baba named Hemadpant. Vinnyji talks about how Dabholkar came from a poor family, how he got a job in the government, how he came to Shirdi to meet Sai Baba, and there he witnessed the Leela of Baba grinding wheat.

He was inspired to chronicle whatever he witnessed and Baba, at this point, named him Hemadpant and thus with Baba’s blessings and permission, he started writing the sacred book Sai Satcharita, greatly treasured and revered by all Baba’s devotees.

Dr. Vinny emphasises how this task changed Hemadpant as a person. Vinny Ma also gives us details about the original Satcharita written in poem form in Marathi, and how translated and editions versions have not been able to do justice to Baba’s words that He uttered. She hopes one day, someone will accurately translate Baba’s words from Marathi to other languages and bring out the essence of what He spoke.

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Mahalsaptis’ full name was Mahalsapati Chimnaji Nagare. He was a poor goldsmith known as the sonar community of Shirdi. His family were residents of Shirdi for several generations. The sonar community styled themselves as Brahmins and sometimes wore the sacred thread. Mahalsapati worshipped his heredity deity Khandoba (also known as Mahalsapati) and the Khandoba Purana was his Ramayana or Bible; he conducted a daily study of these scriptures.

Every year he went on a pilgrimage of about 150 miles to the distant Jejoori carrying a Kavadi or palki along with a band (orchestra) to worship at the great temple of that deity. The full fruition of Malasa Bhakti resulted in his getting into a trance and in that state he made oracular utterances. He was Khandoba; perfectly pure, straightforward, righteous and truthful, for only such a guileless person can be favoured by God coming on in his body (Avesa). He was fairly detached from worldly desires.

The family had a scanty income from the voluntary offerings at their temple which went towards the temple maintenance; and all that he owned was a mud house in the village for residence, yielding no income, and 7-1/2 acres of land (evidently barren) without water supply, which also yielded practically nothing. The very old building outside the village, the Mahalsapati (Khandoba) temple, a poor mud structure, was dedicated to the public or to God. To eke out his living therefore he had the hereditary profession of a goldsmith. But in a poor village with very few houses and very few visitors, even this brought very little income. Mahalsapati was not much perturbed about it, being absorbed in his religious ideas and practices.

Though conservative he was not fanatical; he had no hatred of Muslims or men of other faiths. On the other hand, he and other friends of his own temperament – Kasiram Simpi and Appa Bhil, used to receive and help not only Hindu Saints such as Devidas, Janakidas, etc., but also fakirs when they visited the village or stayed there. Kasiram and Appa had some means, but poor Mahalsapati offered his services and zeal, and these three worked together.

‘Aao Sai’

It was Mahalsapati’s good fortune, due to Rinanubandha, that he had very close contact with Sai Baba for a very long period of time (nearly 50 years). It was in about 1872 that Sai Baba entered Shirdi village along with a ‘baraat’ (a bridegroom’s party of Muslims headed by Chand Bhai, Patel of the Dhupkeda (in the Nizam State). Then, Sai Baba separated from the marriage party close to the Khandoba Temple at the outskirts of Shirdi and reached the threshold of the Temple. Mahalsapati, who was inside worshipping Khandoba, noticed Baba’s presence and, with usual civility and regard, invited him to sit. Mahalsapati saw Him and he spontaneously uttered ‘Aao Sai’ as if addressing Him by a name to the nameless.

When asked about it he fumbled and just said, ‘I do not know. It is as if Khandoba made me utter these words through cosmic inspiration.’ After a few minutes, the fakir Baba remarked, “how secluded and quiet a place is the Khandoba temple, best fitted for a Fakir to be in”. It was then that Mahalsapati hesitated and protested against the proposal of a Muslim fakir residing inside the Khandoba Temple, which to him was unthinkable. Finding Mahalsapati’s objection to be natural, Baba said, ‘God is one for Hindus, Muslime and everyone else, but, as you object to my entry, I shall go’. So saying Baba went away and in due course started living in a dilapidated old Mosque.

The early days:

Baba, in His early days was far from understood by the villages and even Mahalsapati considered that, at times, he behaved like a mad mad. But, while others lost respect for Baba due to that, Mahalsapati always had a high regard for Baba. Anyhow, the occasionally crazy conduct was not very frequent and not great enough to prevent the esteem which the general conduct of Baba evoked in serious and thoughtful minds. Baba was an astute, ‘Vairagya Purusha’ (dispassionate incarnate) and never cared for wealth or women.

Mahalsapati, was himself highly detached and he could easily appreciate Baba’s virtues of purity and nonattachment and was drawn to Baba from His early days itself. Other people began to worship Baba only when they saw His psychic powers, for example, when he turned water into oil to light His lamps. But, Mahalsapati esteemed Baba for His virtues and compared Him to Devidas and Janakidas and other Saints of Shirdi whose company Baba kept. Among them, Baba shone brilliantly and even those Saints regarded Baba highly.

So, Mahalsapati and his friends considered Baba to be a Guru for themselves and Mahalsapati was the first in the group to worship Baba. He went to Baba’s mosque and placed flowers and Sandal on Baba’s feet or neck and then worshipped Baba and offered Him milk. Baba would not allow others to do even this; only Mahalsapati was allowed to do it. This developed later into a regular puja by the use of sandal paste and flowers on Baba’s feet, neck, and finally on his forehead also.

Even after that, local magnates like Nana Saheb Dengle, who wanted to do Baba’s puja, were not allowed to do so. Baba would tell them, ‘’there is the pillar in this Dwarakamayi (Mosque). Do puja to the pillar”. That of course, they did not care to do. Nana Saheb Dengle later requested the intercession of Dagdubhai, a constant companion of Baba and, encouraged by his words, did puja and became Baba’s second worshipper, Baba gradually allowed others to do his puja, and then Baba’s puja became a regular practice. Few realised the part played by Mahalsapati as the pioneer of Sai puja and the Sai movement.

Mahalsapati’s family life and his spiritual path:

Mahalsapati’s contact with Baba was on very close terms. He lost his only son in the 1880’s and had four daughters – Janakibai, Seetabai, Rakhumabai and Vithabai. Their grooms were from Asangaon, Dochale, Dorhale and Sei and he was disgusted with life. His land and his profession (that of a goldsmith), yielded nothing. So, he was ready for the orders of his own Ishta Devata, Khandoba and at times would get possessed and Khandoba would give him visions.

In the first vision, he was told that he was to take Khandoba (i.e. movable images) from the Khandoba temple to his own house, and worship him there with concentration. In another vision, Khandoba appeared as an old Brahmin and said to him, “What? Can you not get your bread without your profession (goldsmith)?!” Then Mahalsapati answered the vision. ‘Yes. I shall give up’. Then the vision said, ‘touch my feet, and hold my feet. This meant evidently, ‘hereafter, regard your subsistence as being dependent purely upon your holding to my feet and not upon your doing goldsmith’s work.

From then onwards, he gave up his goldsmith’s profession in perfect trust (Nishtha and Shradha) and lived by begging, that is, he became a Sanyasi (monk) or Bhikshaikari, though living with a family of a wife and four daughters. Being disgusted with life, he did not care to sleep at home. He enjoyed Baba’s company day and night and was greatly benefitted by it. Baba would sleep in the Mosque and Chavadi every alternate night and Mahalsapati also accompanied Him. Mahalsapati was always with Baba and he never failed at it. But, on one occasion, early in his life (in about 1896), Baba said, “Arre, Bhagat, listen to this Fakir, you are coming and sleeping here and not at home. But, you only have daughters and daughters are like a tamarind fruit, whereas a son is like the mango fruit. You go and sleep at home and then you will beget a son.”

In spite of Baba’s pressure, Mahalsapati refused to go home. His friend, Kasiram Simpi compelled him to do so and took him home. Therefore he began sleeping at home and in 1897 a son was born to him. Baba’s words were true and never false. Having begotten a son, he resumed his old vow of staying with Baba. Mahalsapati would spread his own cloth and both he and Baba would lie on that (when Baba was not on the plank).

Baba also gave his Bhagat (as Mahalsapati was lovingly called), hard duties which others could not undertake. Baba would tell him, “you had better sit up, do not sleep. Place your hand on my heart. I will go on with the remembrance of Allah (naam smaran – a half conscious trance) and during that you can hear my heartbeat taking the name of the Lord. If that suddenly goes away and sleep overtakes Me, wake me up.” The heart beat during natural sleep would be evidently different from the heart beat of a contemplative trance.

Thus , neither Baba nor Mahalsapati, would sleep at night. Both would keep awake, Baba for directly communing with God, and by that means doing service to numerous devotees in various places, and Mahalsapati for sharing the merit (punya) by keeping vigil with Baba and benefiting himself morally and spiritually by his pious service. His tapa was practically the same as Baba, that is vigil for holy purposes. He also had a great control over his senses (Indriyas) and not merely the sex urge but also hunger and other cravings, though at times he was unable to overcome sleep.

Sometimes, he went without food for a fortnight and so would his family. Mahapsapathy would refuse offers of food and money and this is a very important point about him. His store of merit was heightened by lasting vigils, and reading sacred literature and if he accepted gifts (dana), he believed that his merit would be lost. Therefore, he strongly opposed accepting any gifts even though he and his family would be starving.

Baba himself would get a large income (from 1880-1918) and he would daily shower Rs 30 on some, Rs 15 on other and Rs 10 on some…and so on. Baba himself told Mahalsapati several times, “take this Rs 3 and keep taking it,” but he refused. Baba even added, ‘go on receiving Rs. 3. I will make you well-to-do, and other people will come to you and depend on you and look to your favour; make your life comfortable.”

Mahalsapati invariably replied: ‘I do not want all that. I want only to worship your feet.’ He counted his avoidance of gifts and was conten with his lot. He would not sleep on cots. He would not care to have comforts of any other sort, even though these were available or offered to him. Baba had to offer inducements of” Abhaya” and support, etc. to various people to raise them to high spiritual effort. But in the case of Mahalsapati, no inducements and assurances were required, as Mahalsapati had already achieved the high water mark of purity, virtue, austerity (tapas) and wisdom (Jnana), so far as that was possible in his circumstances.

His service to Baba:

A very important event connected to Mahalsapati’s life and that of Baba was the latter trying to leave His body in 1886. Baba made Mahalsapati the guardian of His body and told him, “Arre Bhagat, look after this body for three days. I am going to Allah. If I do not return, then get it buried in due course at that place, (that is, near the sacred gode neem tree)”.

Mahalsapati supported Baba’s body on his own knee and when officers, including the village headman held an inquest and declared it dead, he strongly opposed it. Thus, he rendered a valuable service in 1886, after which Baba did return to His body in three days and lived for 32 years to create a huge Sai movement. If Mahalsapati had failed in this duty and baba had been buried, the course of history would have been different, perhaps.

Another incident worth mentioning is how he served Baba and carried out His pious orders. As usual, he had spread his cloth and Baba was lying on one half of that cloth, and he was lying on the other. Then Baba told him, ‘I say, come on. Today we shall be on the watch. The rude Rohilla (death from plague) is wanting to take away the wife of the Nigoj Patil. I am praying to Allah to prevent that by nama smaran. You had better see that no one comes and disturbs me in my nama smaran.’ Accordingly, Mahalsapati kept awake to try and see that no disturbance took place.

But, unfortunately, in the middle of the night the Nivas Mamlatdar came with his entourage. They took a fancy to Baba’s darshan and at midnight stated that they wanted to take darshan and udhi. Mahalsapati tried to prevent it but who could prevent official hauteur? Mahalsapati was trying to oblige the peon by getting down the steps to give him some udhi, but the noise made disturbed Baba’s trance (contemplation), and Baba sat up, and hurled foul curses and told Mahalsapati, ‘Arre Bhagat, you are a man with a family! And don’t you know what is taking place at Nigoj? This disturbance has caused a failure in my efforts. That Patil’s wife is dead. Let that go. What has happened is for the best’. In his anger, Baba threw away Mahalsapati’s cloth on him, telling him that he should not allow disturbance like that to Baba’s holy work of contemplation and prayer.

Baba’s watchful eye on Mahalsapati and his family:

For about 40 years, Mahalsapati benefitted in innumerable ways from Baba’s physical presence. He was an example of great devotion, surrender and detachment. Baba kept a watch over him whether he was near or far and gave him warnings and afforded relief where necessary. Baba’s eye of vigilant supervision is ever on those who love Him. Baba’s watch over Mahalsapati saved him and his family from starvation. Then Baba suddenly made the devotee relax his vow.

On one such occasion, H. S. Dixit was somehow made aware of the danger. He wished to send a ten rupee note to Mahalsapati. To make sure that it was not rejected, he enclosed it in an envelope and took it to Baba and without any other words asked Baba, “shall I send this”? Baba said, “yes”. He sent it, and it was accepted. Baba had his Antargyan of the gift and had told Mahalsa’s wife sometime earlier,  “tell your husband, Baba is coming to the house, and he should not reject Baba.” So when the envelope with the 10 rupee note came, Mahalsapati was sure that Baba’s message referred to the envelope and he accepted it.

The snake infested Shirdi was full of danger to its inhabitants. One evening as Mahalsapati was leaving Baba’s Mosque, Baba told him that he was likely to meet two thieves (snakes) on the way, and accordingly Mahalsapati found one at his doorsteps and the other at the neighbouring house. Once Baba told him, ‘when you return, come with a lamp, for you will find a thief at the gate’. Accordingly, Mahalsapati came with a lamp in his hand, and found a snake at the gate, and cried out ‘snake, snake’. The neighbours gathered and killed it.

Baba once warned him, “don’t put your back against the earth’. Not remembering this advice, Mahalsapati, having consumed too much of Burfi got giddy, sat on the floor, and lost his consciousness and glided down. He then was with his bare back on the ground. He was dreaming or delirious and talking in his dream, keeping his legs stretched on the bare earth all the time. When he returned to consciousness and sat awake, he found he could not bend his leg. His daughters had to massage his knees and legs, and thereafter he was able to walk upto Baba. When he arrived there, Baba told him, ‘did I not tell you not to put your back against the earth?’

On another occasion, Baba warned him again that something wrong would happen at Khandoba’s and that he need not be afraid as Baba would do the needful. Then very soon, his wife and daughter fell ill and soon after, the other members of his family also fell ill. This was after 1908, when the number of visitors to Shirdi had increased and included many doctors. Meanwhile Baba told Mahalsapati, ‘let the sick people keep to bed,’ and walking round his Mosque with a short stick in hand Baba was waving his short stick and muttering threatening words, ‘’come, whatever may be your power, let us see! I shall show you what I can do with my chota stick, if you come out and face me’.

This was Baba’s treatment for the disease. However, amongst the numerous visitors, there were doctors who gave medicines to Mahalsapati to be given to his sick family. Mahalsapati consulted Baba regarding the medicines, but Baba dissuaded him from administering the medicines to the sick at home. In due time,  all got well without medicine. Baba’s way of fighting disease is not the modern way of medicine, but it was unmistakably effective.

On another occasion, Mahalsapati’s wife had gone to her mother’s house in a distant village. When she was there, she developed a painful tumor near her neck, but she did not inform her husband. But, Baba’s watchful supervision which rests on those who rely on HIm with loving trust, noted this fact. He told Mahalsapati at Shirdi, “’your wife has a tumour in the throat. None can cure it except Myself, and I shall cure it’. Mahalsapati knew nothing about his wife’s health simply said,  ‘yes, Baba’. Later he received a letter mentioning the painful tumour, and adding that it had been cured.

Baba used His knowledge to view upcoming events and revealed them to Bhagat when necessary. He was a poor man, whose daughters were married to people at various villages. His Sambandis (i.e. daughters’ in-laws) had no regard for him. On one occasion, one of the Sambandis at a distant village invited him to dine with them, and Mahalsapati went to take Baba’s leave.

While granting leave, Baba said, “you are going to be insulted there’. Mahalsapati went along with his friend, but when he went to his Sambandi’s house, he found the Sambandi’s relations had already finished their meals and were washing their hands without caring to wait for the arrival of their poor relation Mahalsapati. This was an obvious insult and he returned refusing to take his meal. He returned to Baba and related all the facts.

On another occasion, a sai Baba bhakta, Ram Bhav Harde, invited Mahalsapati to his village, Astinagram (about 10 miles away from Shirdi). Mahalsapati was to read the Khandoba Purana followed by dinner. Mahalsapati went to take leave of Baba. Baba said, ‘do not go. There will be a fight there’. Yet having been invited, he could not avoid going, and he went to that village.

He sat and read Mahalsapati puraram there, and while that was going on the host’s graceless, sturdy and rowdy boys sat for their meals and began to exchange hot words with some other boys. From words they quickly came to blows with sticks, and on account of the free use of the cudgels, the audience that was present for the Purana reading fled in fright and Mahalsapati also had to pack up his purana and follow their wise example. He returned to Shirdi and told Baba, ‘Your words have proved true to the letter’.

Baba knew the future of this devotee, but only gave him hints. When Mahalsapati got a son in 1897, he took him to Baba for namakarana (naming ceremony). Baba, evidently to prevent his being too attached to the son, told him “look after the child for 25 years and that would be sufficient”. The father’s business is only to look after this new arrival in a detached spirit, knowing that the connection is only for a fixed time. Mahalsa did not understand all this, or that the 25 year period indicated the length of his life which was to end in 1922; but with true humility and submission he told Baba that “looking after” the child was not in his power but only in Baba’s power.

Baba’s reply was still more significant. “Be thou, the Nimitta” i.e. the apparent instrument, said Baba, reminding us of Sri Krishna’s direction to Arjuna to fight the Mahabharata battles as a mere instrument in His hands “Nimittamatram Bhava Savyasachin”. Mahalsapati, though, a surrendered soul could not have banished his ego and risen then to the full height indicated above i.e. to treat all acts done by his body as the acts of the Supreme. Baba was leading him on to that path through this event.

Baba used to keep a watch over him night and day. When Mahalsapati often took leave of Baba to go for his night meal, Baba used to say, ‘Go. I am with you.” No harm then befell Mahalsapati. Though Baba did not physically accompany Mahalsapati, his invisible guardianship was evident.

Baba’s watch over Mahalsapati was also for his moral benefit. Though Mahalsapati was generally of a pious disposition, sometimes he committed mistakes. Every night he used to feed a crippled bitch, and one day, having fed it, he said, ‘Go’, but the creature did not stir. He took a stick and gave it a beating, and then it howled with pain and ran away. That right when Mahalsapati went to the Mosque and shampooed Baba’s legs, Bapu Saheb, Dada Kelkar and others were with him. Baba said, ‘Arre, there is a bitch, sickly like me, in the village. Everybody is beating it’. Then at once Mahalsapati, remembering his behaviour repented his mistake. This is not trivial, as we shall see further on.

Baba’s watch over the pilgrimages of Mahalsapati and his other movements shows Baba’s great and mysterious power and His wonderful love and guardianship of His bhaktas. These are well illustrated in many instances of which a few more may be mentioned. On one occasion when Mahalsapati and party reached Jejuri, 150 miles from Shirdi, plague was raging there, and Mahalsapati sat down dejected leaning against his palki (Kavadi), not knowing what to do. Suddenly he saw Baba behind him; and Baba vanished. Then he got emboldened and told his companions, ‘Baba is with us and we need not worry’. Accordingly the pilgrimage was satisfactorily over, and there was no loss of life. When he returned to Shirdi, Baba told him, ‘I found you leaning against the Palki at JeJuri’. Mahalsapati was convinced that his eyes did not deceive him at Jejuri and that Baba was everywhere guarding his bhaktas.

On another occasion when Mahalsapati and his group had gone for an annual Jejuri pilgrimage, they were returning followed by another group, Malam Bhagat Palki. Then they met thieves who were armed with axes and who wore masks or were covering their faces with thick blankets. As they approached the Palki to rob it, Mahalsapthy courageously took out a handful of Bhandar, i.e. coloured rice and sandal and threw it at them as prasad. Then they quietly retreated to an adjoining forest.

Then Mahalsapati and his friends went on followed by Malam Bhagat palki, and they noted that there was no image in their own palki. All the party looked into it (i.e., Mahalsapati’s palki) to see whether all their images were there. They found none. Then someone said, ‘are we to carry an empty palki to Shirdi? That day was a Sunday, which is Khandoba’s day. At the very outset. Mahalsapati said, ‘No pilgrimage on Sunday. But the others had disagreed, and now Mahalsapati told the others, ‘This is the evil of doing pilgrimage on Sunday.

Suddenly Mahlspathy got into a trance, and Khandoba talking through him said, ‘Arre, what day is this? Is it not my day? Why are you carrying palki? Today I am busy hunting out on a hill. After hunting is over, I will come to Shirdi. You had better go now. Then he woke up from trance, and the palki went on and came to Kandoba’s temple at Shirdi. People at Shirdi, for instance, Shakaram Kandukar and others came to the palki to take Darshan. Shakaram looked into the palki and found all the images there. ‘What is the talk of all the images missing?’ he asked the people. He showed them, and said ‘here are all the images’.

Baba’s prediction about the future of Shirdi and Baba’s passing away:

Long before Narayan Govind Chandorkar (Nanasaheb Chandorkar) and others arrived, Baba spoke of the future of Shirdi (towards the end of the 1800’s). Baba told Bhagat and others, “’In this place (Shirdi) there will be huge storeyed buildings rising, big fairs will be held, and big men, Subedars, and others will come. My Brahmins will gather and elephants, horses and Shankar Nana will also come.’Guns will be fired (Dhadanga Dishe Udenga)’.

People hearing this began to smile. They thought, ‘what, all this for this worthless nook of an insignificant hamlet’. But some decades later, every one of Baba’s statements came true, and that nook of an insignificant village has already become a small town with big storeyed buildings, sugar factories with machinery, annual fairs, festivals, etc., and the daily puja of Baba attracts thousands including ladies and gentlemen of the highest positions from all parts of India.

Baba’s company kept Mahalsapati very high up the spiritual ladder. He bore great love for Baba. When Baba passed away in 1918, he, on account of his attachment, declined all food and fasted for 13 days. Probably to prevent a shock, Baba had given him hints of His (Baba’s) impending final departure. It was Mahalsapati’s custom to spend all his time with Baba except when he went for his meals. Later, Baba would send someone or the other to fetch him from his house. Then he would light up chilim (i.e. smoking pipe), do odd jobs for Baba, and prepare Baba’s bed, which was a very peculiar arrangement.

Baba always kept his head on an old brick (which is believed to be the brick given to him by Venkusa with a torn cloth). Madhav Fasle, a servant of Baba used to hand over that brick to Mahalsapati every night and along with it, a tattered cloth (believed to be Venkusa’s gift) to be placed over it and 10-12 pieces of cloth to be spread on the ground as a bed for Baba. Mahalsapati would first place the brick and then the tattered cloth, and then spread the other clothes. Ten or twelve days before Dassara in 1918, Madhav False, while handing over the brick, let it slip to the ground and it broke into two. Then the broken pieces were placed as pillows for Baba. Baba asked, ‘who broke the brick?

Mahalsapati mentioned that Madhav False broke the brick. Baba got very angry with Madhav and placed his hands on his own head and felt extremely sad. Baba said ‘Sopat tutali’ i.e , the companion is broken. Next day, Kaka (Hari Sitaram Dixit) came and said there was no need to deplore the breaking, as he would join the pieces with silver joints. Baba said, “even if you join them with gold, what is the use? This brick is my Sobatya (companion) (evidently from his Selu days) and its breakage betokens evil.”

From then onwards Baba was dispirited. At least Mahalsapati thought so. Baba, even before this, had given Mahalsapati a hint. He told him once when he (Mahalsapati) was preparing to light a lamp and fill up Baba’s pipe, (Arre Bhagat, in a few days from this, I will be going somewhere. After that, you come at night for 2 or 4 years; this was not understood by Mahalsapati. But Baba’s spirit passed beyond our ken into Avyukta on 15th October 1918, and Mahalsapati was able to do his nightly usual puja to Baba only for 2 or 4 years, for he passed away on 12th September 1922.

Mahalsapati’s life after Baba and his passing away:

Mahalsapati’s case is an excellent instance of Baba’s method of unifying religions and creeds successfully. Mahalsapati was only an ordinary, conservative, orthodox worshipper of Khandoba. Sai Baba, he considered a Muslim and even objected to his entry into Khandoba’s temple when Sai Baba came to Shirdi with Chand Bhai Patel’s party. This same man became Baba’s ardent devotee and worshipped him.

In fact, not only was he the first amongst the worshippers, but he was also the foremost in excellence. Mahalsapati felt that Baba was God. Whatever may be the difference in name and form, Shanker, Shani, Ganapati and Khandoba are all one, and Baba with divine power was the same. Mahalsapati also went to Pandharpur to worship Vittal (a form of Maha Vishnu and had no sectarian i.e. (Siva Vishnu) prejudices. He and his group honoured all saints, Hindu and Muslim, and they applied Tukaram’s famous saying ‘Jo Sant, Toch Dev! o Dev, Toch Sant’, meaning ‘God is the same as the Saint and the Saint is the same as God’ to fakirs as well as Hindu saints.

He was the first to do puja to Baba and even apply sandal to him. Baba’s objection to his being worshipped in that fashion melted away under the keen sense of Mahalsapati’s love and devotion. As Mahalsapati made no difference between Khandoba and Baba, and as all thoughts of men were known to Baba, Baba could not object to any of the ways adopted for worship at the Khandoba temple being applied to him.

Baba’s divine heart of love responded to the outpourings of Mahalsapati’s love; and so, Mahalsapthy became Baba’s Mahabhakta. Baba said (if not expressly at least by unmistakable utterance and conduct), ‘He is mine’. The Aarti song says “Jo Sanduchya ankita Jiva Jhala, Tyacha Ase Bhara niranjanala” – This means, the devotee who is stamped as mine by a Sadhu, has no more burden or responsibility to bear, as all his burdens and responsibilities rest on the Saint (or the Guru God).

When the bhakta had no son, and yet refused to go and live with his family, it was Baba’s repeated assurance that he would beget a male child that induced him to go and sleep at home and thus get a son. This son is named Martand who also followed his fathers’ footsteps and worshipped at his father’s tomb. This is considered important, as dying without a son will take a man to hell (Put Naraka).

Mahalsapati’s response to Baba’s love was evidenced by Mahalsapati’s dedication of himself to Baba’s service. Mahalsapati not only shared his cloth bed with Baba every night at the Mosque and chavadi, but also shared his night vigil. Mahalsapati’s help to rouse Baba when the vigil stopped and gave way to natural sleep was a special help to Baba, and through Baba to everybody.

Mahalsapati’s effort to keep Baba’s body for three days in 1886 against the mischance of being buried on the compulsion of the officers was a signal service not only to Baba but to the entire Sai bhaktas and the public at large. Baba’s recognition of this attachment closely resembling Hanuman’s attachment to Rama was expressed by Baba’s calling him Bhagat i.e. Bhakta. B.V.Dev called Mahalsapati as “Mahalasapathy is a Bhakta Manikya and a Mahatma” in his preface to Mahalsapati’s reminiscences. Both epithets are apt and just.

The end of such a soul when life passes away must necessarily be a good end, (Sadgati). Baba made this assurance doubly sure and granted him the merit of dying on an Ekadasi day (with God in his mind and on his lips) just as He did this for several other bhaktas of His. Dying on an Ekadasi day is conducive to departure in a holy mood from this life (through the bright and smokeless path). The Bhagavad Gita Chapter 8, Shloka 6 says: “Yam yam vapi Smaran Bhavam, Tyajati ante kalebaram. Tam tam eva eti kounteya Sada tad bhava bhavitah” meaning: ‘Whatever a person thinks of (being in constant touch with it) at the time of death he reaches’.

When Mahalsapati’s death was approaching, he retained full consciousness and control of his mind. That was on 11th September 1922, Monday (in the month of Badrapada, Bahula Shashti, Somavara, sacred to Shiva and Khandoba). Having finished all his puja, he said to his family, ‘today is my father’s Shraddha day. Finish cooking soon. Today I close my earthly life and go to Heaven’. So, Laxman, the Brahmin, came and finished the Shraddha at once and finished the gift of balis to crows, cows, etc, and guests were fed. Then the family meals were finished. Mahalsapati took betel and nuts after his meal.

After chewing a bit, he put on a kufni. Having near him, Bala Gurav, Ramachandra Kote Patil, etc., he told them “all do the Ramachandra japa”. Japa went on. His son was there, and he gave him his stick. Mahalsapati said to his son, ‘spend time piously in Uttama Bhakti Marga i.e. in holy devotion. All that I told you will happen.” Then Mahalsapati uttered the word ‘Ram’ and breathed his last. Thus he passed away in calm faith and cheerfulness on the 12th September 1922. This death was a fitting termination to a pure, lofty and dedicated life—a life of love, faith and total surrender— a death that may be envied by many who may not be prepared to adopt the rigorous course that led up to it and ensured it. His remains are interred in a tomb at his ancestral house in Shirdi which is still worshipped by many.

Mahalsapati’s house:

Mahalsapati’s house is situated in a narrow lane leading from the Chavadi to Tajim Khan’s Darga. At the Darga, it one turns left and walks a few yards, the house is to the right in a narrow lane. Baba gave him Sadgati on 12th September 1922, i.e., Monday of Bhadrapada Bahula Shashti and his Samadhi was made in his house itself. The following sacred articles were given by Baba to Mahalsapati.

. Baba’s kafni

. Baba’s danda

. Baba’s udi

. Three silver rupee coins

. Baba’s padukas

This house is a place of pilgrimage because of the sacred articles given by Baba and also because of the presence of  Mahalsapati’s Samadhi. Mahalsapati was really a true devotee of Baba and although he was really very poor he did not deviate from his spiritual path. He adhered to Baba’s advice of not accepting money or gifts from anyone. Sai Devotees should be very grateful to Mahalsapati for guarding Baba’s body when he took “72 Hours Samadhi”  during the Margashirsha Masa (refer Sai Satcharitra Chapters 43 and 44). His descendants have preserved and displayed these articles very nicely and the devotees visiting Shirdi can have darshan of the same.

Life lessons to be learned from Mahalsapati:

Absolute contentment, nothing about life deters him.

No matter what, do seva for your Guru. Do not forget your Isht Dev.

Stay by your Guru, he is your only solace.

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

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Nanavali – Narayan Shankar Vaidya

Nanavalli was a unique and intriguing devotee of Sai Baba, who called himself the ‘General of Sai Baba’s army.’ His background and history are shrouded in as much mystery as Sai Baba’s and he was notorious for his erratic and eccentric behavior.

Some people were afraid of this man-not only would he carry snakes in his pockets, and scorpions in his mouth, but he would violently abuse and attack certain people for no apparent reason. Others felt him to be a Mahatma, with an outstanding love for Sai Baba. His appearance was wild and disheveled- sometimes he went nude and at others he dressed in old sacking.

If we investigate the life of Nanavalli, we uncover a tale of touching and inspiring devotion, and an outstanding model of vairagya (dispassion). As with Sai Baba, little is known about Nanavalli’s background. One account says that he was a Brahmin by birth and another that he was born into Muslim family. Sometimes he wore the clothes of a Muslim fakir, and at other those of a Hindu sadhu. Then again like Baba, his religious roots were ambiguous. However, both versions agree that as a small boy Nanavalli served in a Muslim darga and came to attend to Baba upon divine inspiration. Nobody knows when he came to Shirdi, but some say he was already there when Baba arrived with the wedding party. Upon seeing Baba, Nanavalli greeted him affectionately, “Oh, Uncle, you have come!” Thereafter, he always addressed Baba as “Mama” or “Uncle.”

Nanavalli’s love for Baba

Nanavalli was content to see Baba occasionally and from a distance, but his emotion for Baba was such that he felt all glory and greatness should be Baba’s and that none should accrue to himself. He used to say, “My duty is only to protect my uncle”. Nanavalli could not bear immorality or hypocrisy. He seemed to know devotees’ inner thoughts and target them accordingly. He was known to occasionally wait outside Dwarakamai and beat up certain individuals. Though people would rush to Baba and complain, Baba would never reprimand Nanavalli, but simply warn them to be careful of him. H.V.Sathe was a prominent devotee with a prestigious job in the colonial government. For some reason, he was particularly harassed by Nanavalli. During the Chavadi processions, Sathe had the privilege of carrying a sort of regal scepter and walking in front of Baba. 0n one such occasion Nanavalli attacked Sathe on the back with a piece of broken glass. Another time, when Sathe was about to go to the mosque to worship Baba, his father–in-law rushed in and begged him not to, as Nanavalli was waiting there with an axe threatening to kill him. Sathe was so afraid that he fled Shirdi without seeing Baba or getting his permission to leave. That was in 1916 and he never came back to Shirdi again while Baba was alive.

As Sai Baba’s fame grew, he was worshipped with increasing pomp and splendor. 0ne day Nanavalli strolled into the mosque, which was crowded with visitors, and to the horror of those present, demanded from Baba, “Please get up. I want to sit there” Baba immediately rose from his gaddi saying, “Please sit”. Nanavalli took his place. The devotees were appalled at his audacity and wanted to drag him away, but when they saw Baba’s expression- calm and happy they desisted. After a few moments Nanavalli exclaimed “Shabhash” (“good, well done”) prostrated to Baba and danced ecstatically before leaving. Some say that Nanavalli wished to test the object of his adoration to see if any egoism had crept in, but others believe that he harbored no such doubts and simply wanted to demonstrate Baba’s purity and detachment. Baba did not comment on the incident and none dared to ask him about it. Nanavalli’s attachment to Baba was so great that he used to say, “If Baba goes, I’ll not be around for long”. Sure enough, when Baba passed away, Nanavalli rushed to Dwarakamai crying. “Uncle, without you how can I live “? I am coming with you” with that he went to the Hanuman Mandir. There he wept grievously and took no food. 0n the thirteenth day Nanavalli passed away.

Life lessons to be learned from Nanavalli

Have an intense and unshakeable love for your Guru; nothing else matters

Nanavali is perhaps one of the most Misunderstood devotees of Sai Baba. Dr Vinny Chitluri pays tribute to Narayan Shankar Vaidya who Baba affectionately called Nanavali. He had some peculiar characteristics; many of Baba’s devotees and the villagers found him eccentric, while some thought him to be an Avadhoota.

His love and faith for Sai Baba was so intense that 13 days after Baba’s Mahasamadhi, Nanavali took Jeevant Samadhi. He said “My Mama (Baba) has gone, what is the use of living?” and on the 13th day he just lay down and said, “It’s no use living in this world anymore,” and took Samadhi. Nanavali is one of Baba’s greatest devotees.

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

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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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சாதே வாடா

சீரடியில் முதல் முதலில் கட்டிய ” சாதே வாடா “….. வாடா என்றால் தங்கும் அறை என்று பெயர்…… இந்த வாடா குருஸ்தானுக்குப் பின்னால் இருந்தது மற்றும் சமாதி மந்திரின் வெளியேறும் வாயில்களில் ஒன்றை ஒட்டியது.


சாயி பக்தர் திரு. ஹரி விநாயக் சாத்தே இந்த வாடாவை கட்டினார்..இந்த வாடா மிகவும் பயனுள்ளதாக இருந்தது, ஏனெனில் இது சீரடிக்கு தொலைதூர இடங்களிலிருந்து வரும் பக்தர்களுக்கு ஒரே ஓய்வு இடமாகும் (சாயி சத்சரித்திரம் அத்தியாயம் 4 ஐ பார்க்கவும்).
சாதே வாடா ஆரம்ப நாட்களில் அனைவருக்கும் மிகவும் பயனுள்ளதாக இருந்தது. 1908 ஆம் ஆண்டில் வாடாவை சாதே கட்டினார். சாதே வாடாவின் கட்டுமானம் ஆரம்பித்த நாள் ஒரு பெளர்ணமி தினம். கட்டுமானப் பணிகள் நடந்து கொண்டிருந்தபோது, ​​சுவர்களை உயர்த்த வேண்டியிருந்தது, குரூஸ்தானில் உள்ள வேப்பமரத்தின் சில கிளைகளை வெட்ட வேண்டியிருந்தது. யாரும் அதைத் தொடத் துணிவு இல்லை… ஆனால் சாயிபாபா தானே வந்து தடைபட்ட கிளைகளை வெட்டினார்.
இந்த வாடா வரலாற்றில் நிரம்பியுள்ளது, ஏனெனில் இது பல தீவிர பக்தர்களை வைத்திருந்தது தத்யா சாஹிப் நுல்கர் ,மேகா மற்றும்.தாதா சாஹிப் கபார்டே நீண்ட காலம் தங்கினார்.

கபர்தே இந்த வாடாவில் தங்கி மறக்கமுடியாத “ஷிர்டி டைரி” எழுதினார். கே.ஜே.பீஷ்மா “ஸ்ரீ சாய்நாத் சகுனோபாசனா” (ஆரத்தி புத்தகம்) எழுதினார். ஷிர்டியைப் பார்க்கும்போதெல்லாம் ஜோதிந்திரா தர்கட் குடும்பத்தினரும் இங்கேயே தங்கினார்கள்.

ராமாயணம், ஏக்நாத்தின் பகவத், மற்றும் யோகா வசிஷ்டா ஆகிய புனித நூல்கள் மாலை நேரங்களில் பக்தர்கள் வாசித்தனர் ,, வழக்கமாக இரவில் பீஷ்மரால் பாடிய பஜனைகளும் நடைபெற்றது.

இந்த வாடாவை ஆர்.எஸ். நவல்கர் ” 30 செப்டம்பர் 1924 அன்று சாதேவிடமிருந்து விலைக்கு வாங்கினார். பின்னர் வி.என். கோரக்ஷ்கர் மிகுந்த தூண்டுதலுடன் நவல்கரின் வாரிசுகளுடன் பேச்சு வார்த்தை நடத்தி வாடாவை சன்ஸ்தானுக்கு பரிசளிக்குமாறு அறிவுறுத்தினார். இந்த வாடா 1939 இல் சான்ஸ்தானுக்கு பரிசாக வழங்கப்பட்டது. 1941 ஆம் ஆண்டில், சன்ஸ்தான் பக்தர்கள் தங்குவதற்கு நான்கு இரட்டை அறைகளைச் கட்டினர். பக்தர்கள் இந்த வாடாவில் 1980 வரை தங்கியிருந்தனர். பின்னர் அது மக்கள் தொடர்பு அலுவலகமாகப் (PRO Office ) பயன்படுத்தப்பட்டது. 1998-1999 காலத்தில் சாயிபாபா சன்ஸ்தான் சமாதி மந்தீரை விரிவாக்கம் செய்யும் நோக்கில் சாதே வாடாவை இடித்தனர்……

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Sri B.V Narasimha Swamiji

(He propagated about Baba across  the  country   with   emphasis  in  South  India  &  wrote books on devotees’ experiences  besides  other  books,  resulting in large  number  of  people visiting Shirdi as against less than a dozen visitors earlier.   Unveiling  of  his  portrait  in the Samadhimandir by Justice Rege was a  tribute  to his unprecedented efforts  in  propagating about Baba  and  he was acclaimed as Sai Baba’s Great Apostle).

Sri Narasimha Swamiji is appropriately known as the Great Apostle of Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi. It was he who discovered Sri Sai Baba and presented him to the world. Sri Narasimha Swamiji refused to write his autobiography and did not leave a full record of the course of the events leading to his own spiritual pursuit and hence based on the available records, the following has been gathered and presented.
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