Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi
RAO BAHADUR M. W. PRADHAN, J. P.
Ex-member of the Legislative Council Mumbai Government
Para Brahma Murti Paramatma Satchit - Anand
SHRI SAI BABA
Dedicated As a token of the Author's absolute surrender
The Hon. Sir John William Fisher
Beaumont, K. T., K.C., M.A., (CANTAB)
Chief Justice of H.M.'s High Court of Judicature at Mumbai
as an humble tribute to His Lordship's sound
legal attainments and unfailing devotion
to his Judicial duties
As Well as
to His Lordship's broad and sympathetic outlook, uniformly affable
deportment, and Cosmopolitan Spirit By kind permission Most respectfully dedicated
1. Introduction to the 1st Edition by the Hon'ble Mr. G. S. Khaparde -
Member of the Council of State, India
2. Introduction to the 2nd Edition by
Rao Bahadur M. W. Pradhan, J. P.
3. Preface by Y. J. Galwankar
4. Foreword by Mr. R. A. Tarkhad, B.Sc.
5. Life and Teachings of Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi
by Rao Bahadur M. W. Pradhan, B.A., LL.B.,
J. P., Ex. Member, Legislative Council, Mumbai, Advocate (O.S.)
Appeal to the Tourists of the West
by Mr. R. A. Tarkhad
My dear Babasaheb Tarkhad,
I am very glad to leam that you wish to publish an English rendering of the Marathi memo left by our late lamented friend Kakasaheb Dixit about our Sadguru Sai Maharaj of Shirdi, who to my mind represented perfection so far as it can possibly be conceived by an imperfect being like myself. No praise that I can bestow is too high for him, nay, I am afraid, I cannot say anything that will really come up to the mark. I count it as the greatest piece of good fortune that circumstances led me to his feet, and the moment I approached them as humbly as I could, all the load of my worldly cares disappeared though only a few minutes before it was felt to be exceedingly oppressive and such as to excite disgust of life.
This is not only my experience but of tens of thousands of others whom I met there during a rather prolonged stay. Among them were many highly educated gentlemen, and ladies, a large number of hard-headed businessmen, many who had renounced the world and led a life of devotion and piety. The whole of the countryside worshipped him and gathered round with the instinct with which ants surround a big lump of sugar. While many came from long distances at great expense and trouble, each went away satisfied and anxious to repeat his or her visit as often as it could be managed. It was a sight to see and enjoy.
The wonder of wonders is, that, of the personage so universally admired and worshipped, not even a single human being knew the real name. He dropped into the village so to say from the blue, helped a person to find his lost horse and took up his residence there for a whole lifetime, helping everybody that came along without any distinction, securing the love and reverence of all without exception. He appeared to know the innermost thoughts of everybody, relieved their wants, and carried comfort to all. He fulfilled my idea of God on earth.
It appears to me that the idea that you have conceived of publishing something about him, comes really from higher regions. India, and for the matter of that, our whole planet of the earth appears to be approaching a characteristically catastrophic period, when changes, of which we can form no idea, are likely to be brought about as in the twinkling of an eye, and to help mankind through it, influences, other than material, appear to be necessary, and Kind Providence is providing them beforehand. At present man trusts too much to what we call reason, and appears to forget, that, as instinct in living animals, so intuition in human beings has a place in his composition. To fulfil the purpose of his existence, he must cultivate both, with humility and not pride, and should aim not at worldly wealth and power, but knowledge and identification with all. God of Nature has hitherto accomplished tremendously great things with small and obscure beginnings, and this may be one of them. Sai Maharaj always impressed me as one who believed all religions to be true and helpful to those born to them, in their further evolution. So he insisted on each following his own ritual, without interfering with that of another. The basic virtues are one and the same everywhere, and due abstention and constantly wakeful discrimination supply the necessary impetus to further progress. Your humble publication may under Providence, in its own way, contribute to the desired result. So I heartily welcome it and wish it all success.
With kindest regards
Amaraoti, Sd/-8th January, 1933 G. S. KHAPARDE
Ever since the beginning of 1933, when the first edition of this book was published, devotees from all over India have been, as before, continuously going to Shirdi, more especially from Southern India. This attraction of South India to Shirdi, has completely exhausted the stock of books of the first edition. Therefore, the Shirdi Sansthan Committee, has perforce, to go in for the second edition, during the present war time, as the demand for the book is very keen. During the last ten years, Sai Baba's omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience, are being unabatingly realised and experienced as before, by thousands of devotees, who concentrate on Sai Baba with love and devotion, whether they be in Shirdi or thousands of miles away in their own abodes. To broadcast all the experiences and the inner joy of such countless people individually is physically impossible. However, the real facts about Sai Baba's divinity contained in the first edition, were spread, far more extensively by the devotional propaganda of Mr. B. V. Narasimhaswami, who by his innumerable publications about Sai Baba's divinity in English, Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit, Canarese, Malayalam, Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati and Bengali, and by his personal tours throughout the length and breadth of India, has been carrying the knowledge of the peculiar Avatar of Sai Baba to all the classes and creeds of India.
Similar propaganda is carried on also by Mr. J. N. Bose, m.a., A.C-W.A- (Lond.) and Master Himadri Bose, his II years old son in Calcutta, and his friend Mr. S. P. R. Naidu at Matunga, Mumbai.
Messrs. B. A. Chowgule and B. V. Manjeshwar (at present sub-judges in Ahmednagar district) have been devotionally spreading the divinity of Sai Baba wherever they go.
Other significant feature in the worship of Sai Baba as a deity is the appearance of several Temples, Maths, and Bhajan Melas, established far and wide throughout the country, not only in South India, the suburbs of Mumbai, and further North e.g. Bhivpuri, but also in Calcutta.
The South India people have donated to the Sansthan, through Mr. Durgia Naidu, a building plot and some funds for the construction of more housing accommodation - an undertaking made very prohibitive by war conditions at present.
The above phenomena have very considerably added to the work of the Shirdi Sansthan Committee, as regards correspondence & etc., but more especially with regard to the housing and catering of devotees, who being inspired by their devotion, rush from thousands of miles away to Shirdi throughout the 24 hours of the day. Most of these devotees come as a rule inadequately provided even with the bare necessaries of life. To meet the wants of-such devotees, the Sansthan Committee has been making strenuous efforts to the best of its ability.
To provide for more accommodation eight more rooms have since been constructed in the Navalkar's Wada and the late Mr. Dikshit's Wada has been renovated, and more building site has been purchased by the Sansthan. Two more water-wells have been dug to provide for adequate water supply. The credit for these improvements, to a certain extent, goes to the ex. Hon. Secretary Mr. S. N. Kharkar.
In order to facilitate the working of the Sansthan, the Sansthan Committee consolidated the Sansthan Rules in a separate pamphlet published on 1.10-1941.
As the preamble in the said rules might be of some interest to the new devotees of Sai Baba the same is appended to this volume.
The present war times, as said before, are unfortunately a very great hindrance to undertake any further improvements e.g. construction of more housing accommodation and to maintain a provision of various kinds of victuals, which a pronounced diversity of devotees may desire.
The Sansthan Committee, therefore, sincerely prays, that Sai Baba should very soon restore the normal times of peace and tranquility and thus enable it to administer to the reasonable wants of the devotees of Sai Baba, especially during their stay in Shirdi.
Sai Pradhan Baug,
9th October, 1943
Moreshwar W. Pradhan
"A bow to those good Souls, who enjoy the deep bliss of self. They shower down the water of self-bliss in order to refresh and cool those troubled souls who are burnt by the heat of this worldly existence. They are ornaments to 'Chaitanya. They adorn the Science of the Knowledge of Brahman and they are the charming mansion where the Eternal God dwells. They do not expect from the people who come to them, the acquisition of the prescribed Sadhanas (sra^) nor do they expect from them any proficiency in the Shastras. If people have only faith, they manifest the Light to them."
(Translated from the original Marathi)
1. It gives me a great pleasure to edit the second edition of 'Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi1 written by Rao Bahadur M.W. Pradhan, which gives a short sketch of the life and teachings of Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi - a great Saint of the Maharashtra during the earlier period of the 20th century. If biography of saints is difficult, that of Shri Sai Baba is attended with difficulties almost insuperable. A cloud of mystery hangs over all the affairs of his life and completely veils of his birth, parentage and early life. None knows definitely anything about that period. In spite of such difficulties Rao Bahadur Pradhan has made a successful attempt in giving a short, but a vivid account of Shri Sai Baba's life, which has become very useful especially to those who had no occasion to see him personally and for this the Shirdi Sansthan Committee is greatly indebted to the Rao Bahadur. In this edition the author has naturally surveyed the main incidents regarding the Shirdi Sansthan during the last 10 years.
2. Other features of this Saint that struck even casual observers were his unaccountable and marvellous knowledge of things and events far removed from him in the sense of time and space, and a remarkable power to foretell coming events or to force events to come to pass in accordance with his supreme will. Visitors noted with devout admiration that he was frequently mentioning either expressly or by allusion their inner most secret thoughts, their remote past, past of which they had lost all memory and incidents that occurred hundreds of miles away from his residence which none could possibly have communicated to him. Such miracles are seen to happen at the desire of great saints. Some Vedantis think that all miracles are brought about by the use of Siddhis and the Siddhis being obstacles on the path of self-knowledge, they express their disapprobation regarding such Siddhis and to some extent are even afraid of them. It is no doubt true that Siddhis are obstacles on the spiritual path, but we must distinguish between different kinds of Siddhis. The Siddhis acquired by the practice of Hatha Yoga by Changdeva are quite different from the Atma-siddhis of Shri Dnyanadeva. The miracles happened at the desire of Shri Sai Baba were the Siddhis of the -latter sort. By such divine powers many persons were first attracted to Shri Sai Baba to secure only temporal gains, but ultimately he made his devotees aspire to secure spiritual happiness and attainment of self-realisation, which is the real mission of saints. Shri Sai Baba has fulfilled this mission to the entire satisfaction of many devotees who came to him.
3. The ultimate goal of human life is to realise God within and become merged in him. We may go further and say that this is the birth-right of every human-being and in'order to achieve this ideal the Sadhak has to go and bow to the feet of a Sadguru, who is so called; because he makes the disciple realise the 'Sat-vastu' i.e., the Everlasting Thing and makes him experience perfect calmness of mind by making him realise his own self. Shri Sai Baba was, as said above, a real Sadguru at whose feet I had the great fortune to pass many days during my young age. Listening to his conversation which was very instructive and delightful and which has become a source of spiritual inspiration for me even now and it has also become a source of consolation and solution when I was thwarted with temporal as well as spiritual difficulties. I have to conclude this preface with a prayer that may this small book be a source of spiritual inspiration to those who read if and may Shri Sai Baba give perfect happiness, both temporal and spiritual to all those who have a strong reliance on him.
Shri Sai Prasad,
Turner Road, Bandra,
Mumbai - 400 020.
9th October, 1943
Santa Dasanu-das, Yeshwant Janardan Galvankar
I feel pleasure in placing before the public this short sketch of the life and teachings of the late Divine Master, Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi, by Rao Bahadur Moreshwar Vishwanath Pradhan of Sai Pradhan Baug, Santacruz.
He has taken his standpoint, by the translations of the various incidents in Sai Baba's life, as they have appeared in Shri Sai Leela - a Marathi monthly Journal written by the able pen of the late Hon'ble Mr. Hari Sitaram Dixit, an eminent solicitor of Mumbai, and an equally eminent and sturdy devotee of Shri Sai Baba.
In a translation, it is always difficult to convey the exact meaning of a theme from one language into another, nevertheless, it will be admitted, that, Rao Bahadur Pradhan has done his very best.
I trust, therefore, readers will kindly forgive me if I take the liberty to mention, from out of the numerous personal experiences, an incident or two, as a foreword.
Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi was undoubtedly a great man -a superman - a man who had attained the realisation of the All Pervading Self, according to the tenets and experiences of the highest Hindu thought.
His attainment was such, that gentlemen of the highest University attainments, men of unimpeachable social position, as well as mental culture, and almost all the then leading men of Maharashtra, in Government service and without, great journalists like the late Mr. B. G. Tilak, deputy collectors, eminent lawyers, advocates, solicitors, engineers, doctors and mathematicians, flocked to his feet for his blessings.
Some of the most orthodox Hindu Shastrees, Christians, Parsees and Mahomedan Moulvies, and even Butchers from Bandra, vied with each other to pay their obeisance to him. The place where he used to sit, looked to all outward appearances as a tumbled down old ramshakle sort of a construction. But in that small oblong room, Sai Baba sat in the North-East corner. Opposite to him in the opposite comer was the sacred fire burning night and day (it is still kept burning by the Sansthan Committee). Next to this sacred Dhuni (fire) were earthenware pots filled with water for Baba to drink, and perform ablutions. The wall had a nitche, in which were placed a number of earthenware chilims (clay pipes).
Next to Shri Sai Baba's place and on his right hand, were a couple of grinding stones, where occasionally he used to grind corn and pulses, and in doing that, he was assisted by the village women, as well as high caste Hindu and Mahomedan lady visitors who happened to be there, eagerly, and without the slightest feelings of caste, creed and untouc liability.
There was also a sack of wheat and a sack of country tobacco. This tobacco was put in the earthen pipes and smoked, and pipe being offered to various devotees, smoked by them and passed on to and fro to Baba.
This went on practically at all the times the visitors came in his presence and even anon.
On the western wall was a sort of a nitche as is observed in Mahomedan masjids.
Opposite to this nilche in central part of this room Shri Sai Baba partook of a little of the food, which he daily begged from certain houses in the village, and of the offerings made by visitors and others. These he mixed up and distributed himself to some of the devotees, amongst whom were high caste Hindus, Brahmins, Mahomedans and Parsees.
It may safely be said, that Shri Sai Baba by practical teaching showed the ordinary house-holder how to perform his domestic duties, grind corn, eat his food, entertain visitors at the time of taking meals, and worship the Lord according to his own tenets, in his own home in the most simple and unostentatious manner.
To the Agnihotri (fire worshipping) Hindu or Parsee, it was a sacred place, owing to the sacred fire kept burning there, and there Shri Sai Baba used to perform some observances, when no one was allowed to come up.
When a Mahomedan visitor come up to pay his respects, with flowers, and lump sugar and coconuts, Fatia was uttered in which Baba joined. The flowers were hung up in the central nitche mentioned above, the lump sugar was partly distributed amongst all those present there as well as the village urchins outside, and partly returned to the party as prasad or present. The coconuts were broken up and similarly distributed.
All the while the Hindu devotees sitting there, witnessed this Fatia, and partook of the lumps of sugar, as well as pieces of coconuts with pleasure and joy.
The Hindus worshipped Shri Sai Baba, with all the rituals as observed in the Hindu temples throughout India.
Sandal paste was applied to Baba's forehead, chest, hands and feet. Kumkum with rice was similarly applied.
The toes of his feet were washed and the water was partaken as sacred tirth (holy water).
The arati was performed at noon with all the din and paraphernalia of worship as in a Hindu temple.
Bells were rung. Sacred lamp with its five light was waived before him, cymbals clashed, the big drum sounded, the huge bell in the compound sent its deep notes for miles and miles around, and hundreds of devotees recited in perfect unison the words of the arati and the sacred Sanskrit hymns. The Mahomedans present there, enjoyed all this and freely partook of the offerings distributed by the Hindu Bhaktas.
This wonderful place was called Dwarka Mai by Shri Sai Baba, who was heard many a time to say that whoever stepped into this Dwarka Mai, had his future assured-It will thus be seen, that this wonderful place owing to the sacred fire was a temple to the most Orthodox Hindu and Parsee, owing to the nitche, it appeared as a masjid to the Mahomedan and to the Christian, owing to the sound of bells etc., a Church. So in this unique place all the principal creeds of me world were united and the common worship of the Universal God, brought home to each and all, in a unique and loving manner. Morever, to the ordinary house-holder, it was an object lesson for carrying on his daily worship alongside with his daily earthly duties, and toleration for the views and rituals of all others, in a most vivid and unmistakable manner. It will be seen that Shri Sai Baba created such an atmosphere of universal tolerance, good will and unity, and proved by his practical example the oneness of the worship of the Divinity to all the various casts and creeds, that, it may be said with pardonable pride that though the foundation of universal tolerance was laid down by all the saints of India and more particularly by the saints of Maharashtra, so ably described by the late Hon'ble Mr. Ranade in his 'Rise of the Maratha Power.' Shri Sai Baba, brought it home to all in an emphatic and practical manner.
The Gujarati, the Bengali, and the Tamilian mind is very devotional. The Maratha mind is more practical and requires positive proof, as to the authority and capacity of the preacher of The Great Truth, Manifestation of the Divinity in Man is what the Maratha mind insists upon and when that is forthcoming and realised, it will at once unbend and worship such a person.
Thus even men of untouchable classes, like Chokharnela (a Mahar), Rohidas (a Chamar), Sajan Kasai (a Butcher) and a host of other untouchable saints are held in the highest esteem, and revered by one and all.
The manifestations of the Divine attainments of Shri Sai Baba, the realisation of the Universal Self, insisted upon as the highest attainment of the Hindu thought was patent to everyone, high or low, the learned and ignorant, men and women, to all the thousands and thousands of devotees, and seekers after the Truth, who flocked to Shirdi for his benediction.
Their experiences have been various and have been published in the Shri Sai Leela, a Marathi monthly Journal. The western minds and thoughts and men and young women imbued with the present day teachings of west, with only a superficial aspect of life, are apt to utter in a hurried and thoughtless manner that Shri Sai Baba was a mere clairvoyant and a hypnotist.
That he was miles and miles above these misleading lowest rungs of the ladder of spirituality viz.: clairvoyance and hypnosis the loitering in whose rungs, the highest Hindu thought strictly enjoins to avoid and not be ensnared or entangled in, such a lapse being absolutely detrimental to the progress towards Self Realisation, culminating in the Realisation of the Universal Self.
The writer would therefore mention a couple of such incidents from his own personal experiences, for the readers to ponder upon.
A friend staying in Bandra, was one day leaving his place in the morning to go to his office. Near the door of his block, his wife remembered that she had certain expenses to make, and asked him for a rupee. He knew the necessity of this request and opening his purse discovered that he had no loose coin in it, but currency notes. He told his wife that he would get these cashed in his office and in the evening on his return home, he would pay her the rupee, to which she gave her assent.
On descending the staircase and coming upon the first landing, when fumbling for his handkerchief, he found a rupee in that pocket. As there was ample time for him to catch his train, his duty was to go up to his flat and hand over that rupee to his wife. Instead of doing that, nonchalant as most husbands are everywhere, he went to his office and after getting the notes cashed, gave a rupee to his wife on his return home in the evening, and forgot all about it thereafter.
Some days passed since, when both of them happened to go to Shirdi. No sooner they made their obeisance than Baba said to his wife, "Mother, now-a-days one had become so untruthful, that though there was a rupee in his pocket he would say there was none!"
Now the lady not knowing anything about the matter remained unperturbed, whereas the man remembering the whole incident, threw himself at Baba's feet, and embracing them, shed tears of repentance and joy.
Repentance for his callousness in not having gone up and paid that rupee to his loving and trusting wife, joy for the feeling of assurance of Shri Sai Baba's watch on the guidance and progress of their worldly affairs.
Now as the man had completely forgotten this incident, could it be said that this was a case of mere clairvoyance?
Now as regards hypnosis:- Owing to the May vacation for schools, the youngest son of the above mentioned friend thought of spending his holidays at Shirdi, mother accompanying him.
They were to have left on a Friday evening but as this day approached and my friend found that they had made no preparations, he asked them the reason of the delay. They kept silent, at which the man felt puzzled. After repeated queries the mother said that the boy had given up the idea of going to Shirdi, as there was no one at home to attend to the worship of the Shrine of Shri Sai Baba in their home at Bandra. Upon which, my friend told them not to be anxious as he himself would perform the worship exactly as the boy was doing. This they would not believe, as my friend having the views of the Prarthana Samajist, had never performed the worship of the Idea (misnamed Idolatory) according to the regular formal outward Hindu technique; and only believed him, when he took an oath about it before the Shri's picture in the Shrine. They accordingly left for Shirdi that Friday night.
My friend was connected with a factory in Mumbai and had to leave early in order to be present at the factory when the gates were swung open for the workmen to enter.
Next day was a Saturday. My friend got up a little earlier, took his bath and before proceeding with the pooja, prostrated himself before the Shrine and said, "Baba! I am going to perform the pooja exactly as my son has been doing, but please let it not be a mere matter of drill."
So saying, he performed the pooja and laid before the Master a few pieces of lump sugar as naivedya (offering). This sugar was distributed when he returned home in the noon for his lunch.
After performing the pooja he felt a great deal of mental and physical exhilaration. He then locked the door, and left for his work. The servant came to the place later, and after opening the door with a duplicate key and sweeping the place, attended to the cooking of the food and waited till his return from the factory; when the food was served and the offering aforesaid of the morning pooja was distributed as the prasad or present.
Having more time to spare, the evening pooja was performed with greater satisfaction.
The next day was a Sunday, a holiday, and passed away with pleasure.
The following day Monday was a working day and by evening my friend who had never performed pooja like this in all his life, felt great confidence within himself, that everything was passing quite satisfactorily according to the promise given to his son.
Next day, Tuesday, he performed the morning pooja as usual and left for his work. Coming home at noon time, the food was served and he was just about to partake of it, when he saw that there was no prasad (present).
He asked the servant, who told him that there was no offering made that morning and that my friend completely forgot to perform that part of the pooja. At this time my friend left his seat prostrating himself before the Shrine, expressed his regret, at the same time chiding Baba for his want of guidance in making the whole affair a matter of mere drill.
Then he wrote a letter to his son stating the facts and requested his son to lay it before Baba's feet and to ask Baba's forgiveness for my friend's remissness.
This happened in Bandra at about noon on this Tuesday.
At about the same time, when the noon arati in Shire was just about to commence, Baba spoke to my friend's wife "Mother! I had been to your place with a view to having something to eat. I found the door locked. But there was , little window pane broken, through which I got in, and found, to my great regret, Bhau (meaning brother - that is my friend) had left nothing for me to eat, so I have returnee, uncomfortable with severe cravings of unappeased hunger."
The lady did not understand it, but the son who was sitting close by, understood, that, there was something wrong with the pooja in Bandra and therefore requested! Baba's leave to be allowed to return.
As Baba would not give him such permission he wrote a letter stating all that took place there and implored his father not to neglect the pooja.
Both these letters crossed each other on their journey and were delivered to the respective parties the next day.
Is this a case of hypnosis?
Sceptics will naturally make light of these experiences Having graduated in science the writer was a sceptic himself and can well understand the working of the minds o people in the same position as he was in, till he had the! great and good fortune of sitting at the feet of this wonderful Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi in 1910.
The writer has had numerous unique experiences which have appeared in Marathi in the Shri Sai Leela monthly. These as well as the experiences of various other people, I dare say, may appear in English print sometime hereafter.
1st January, 1933
R. A. TARKHAD
Life and Teaching
Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi
On the 24th of September 1931, when a leaderette appeared in the Times of India on 'Baba Jan' the then departed lady saint of Poona, a reference had been made in that lucid and learned leaderette to the late well-known Saint Sai Baba of Shirdi. On reading the same, most of Shri Sai Baba's devotees, with a very close contact with the Saint for over a decade, were sorely disappointed to find that most of the significant facts of Sai Baba's life, long career and teachings had remained unknown to, (and inspired and propagandist publications had impressed) some of the responsible leaders of public opinion in India. Such devotees therefore, considered it their sacred duty to suggest, that, the true history of Sai Baba as had been observed by eye-witnesses in continuous touch with Sai Baba, and as jotted down by them, especially by the late Hari Sitaram Dikshit (of revered memory as one of the well-known devotees of Sai Baba), should be translated into English for the benefit of the vast mass of English knowing people in the world.
Messrs. R. A. Tarkhad and B. V. Deo (well-known devotees of Shri Sai Baba), desired me to undertake this job which appeared to me to be very onerous. I had, therefore, to pluck up courage and I have tried to discharge this pleasant duty to the best of my humble abilities.
Of course, instances of spiritual and physical miracles performed by Shri Sai Baba are too numerous to mention. A few of them have been sung by the late Mr. G. R. alias! Annasaheb Dabholkar, First Class Resident Magistrate o Bandra, in his learned 'Sai Sat Charita” which is a fitting supplement to Das Ganu Maharaja's narration of Sai Baba's earlier miracles through some of his famous publications e. g. Bhaktalilamrut and Santakatharnrut, etc.
I have, therefore, tried to confine myself scrupulously to those instances jotted down by the late Hari Sitaram Dikshit, in his short sketch (in Marathi) of Shri Sai Baba (vide Shri Sai Leela, Vol. I).
Just as the taste of the pudding is in the eating of it, so whether Shirdi (containing as it does the very sanctified" and sacred remains of Sai Baba, with its inexhaustible supply of 'Udi' i.e. ashes from the sacred fire of 'Dhuni' which is ever kept burning in the Dwarkamai, and which 'Udi' has unchangingly continued to work the same miracles as it used to do in the life time of Sai Baba) is one of the important: places of pilgrimage can only be realised by a personal visit to the Shrine of Sai Baba in the humble yet sacred village of Shirdi, on the Manmad-Ahmednagar Trunk Road, about eleven miles away from the Kopargaon Railway Station and eight miles from the town of Kopargaon on the bank of the sacred river Godavari.
Shri Sainath (alias Sai Baba) Maharaj, the Saint of world fame, first appeared in Shirdi as a very handsome lad of sixteen about the year 1872 A. D. Shirdi is a small village abutting on the Agra Trunk Road, in the Kopargaon Taluka,
in the Ahmednagar District. Upto now there is no reliable information about the birth place and parentage of Shri Sai Baba. This much is certain that Sai Baba was very familiar with several places in the Nizam's territory. In his talks he several times used to mention Shelu, Jama, Manvad, Pathri, Parbhani, Nowrangabad (Aurangabad), Bid, Bedar, all Moglai places. Once a man from Pathri had come to take Baba's darshan. Baba's enquiries made from this man about the Pathri village and several of its well-known residents, showed that he knew the place very intimately; but this alone does not warrant that Pathri was Baba's birth place.
So also whether Baba was born a Brahmin or a Musalman cannot be authoritatively stated.
Once Baba said to the late Hari Sitaram Dikshit (well-known in Mumbai as Bhausaheb Dikshit and in Shirdi as Kakasaheb Dikshit) that after Baba left his body, Baba would return as a lad of eight years (i.e. exactly as Lord Shri Krishna had done). Many devotees of Baba believed him to be an incarnation, and not as an evolved saint, and all this belief of theirs was based on their own personal observation of what Baba spoke and did. Although Sai Baba at times used to please himself by uttering "Yade Haqq" (i.e. I always remember God) and avoided the expression "Anal Haqq" (i.e. I am God), still innumerable cases have been recorded where Baba's thousands of devotees have realised the omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence of Shri Sai Baba.
Shri Sai Baba came to Shirdi along with a marriage procession of a relation of one Chandbhai, the Patil of the village of Dhoopkhede.
Prior to this, one of the said Chandbhai's horses had strayed into the jungle and could not be traced for a long time. On a lookout for his missing horse, Chandbhai while wandering in the jungle, sighted Sai Baba sitting under a tree. He had never seen Baba before. Sai Baba called him, saying "Go a smoking chilim" Chandbhai said, that he was in search his missing horse and could not afford to thus loiter on hi way. Sai Baba told him not to worry, and that his horse woul be found grazing on the otherside of a hedge further on. this, Chandbhai hastened to that spot, and to his great astonishment found his valuable and beloved missing horse grazing exactly as stated by Sai Baba. Chandbhai was a devout and Go fearing person, and promptly presented himself before Sai Baba with his horse, in a suppliant mood and expressing his desire to partake of the chilim. But there was no fire fo lighting the chilim, nor water for moistening the chilim cloth. Sai Baba by a stroke of a pair of pincers at on place produced the fire and by another stroke nearby, water came out and thus this enviable jungle chilim party, convinced Chandbhai that Sai Baba was certainly a being of a very high order, and therefore, requested him to go with him (Chandbhai in his house. Sai Baba told Chandbhai that he would come the following day, and did accordingly. After a few days' stay at Chandbhai's to the greatest good luck of the people of Shirdi Sai Baba came to Shirdi with the said marriage procession which camped in a field near the Khandoba's temple on the outskirts of the village. One Mhalsapati, a goldsmith by cast of Shirdi was a devotee of Shri Khandoba and visited the temple daily. There, when this Mhalsapati first saw Sai Baba the former spontaneously accosted him thus, "Welcome Sai Baba' and this is the name i.e. 'Sai Baba' by which thereafter this Said of saints became known to the world. Sometime after coming to Shirdi, when Sai Baba happened to be examined on commission in a case, in answering the question as to what his name was, Sai Baba said, "I am called Sai Baba". Mhalsapat brought Sai Baba inside the village and there introduced him (Baba) to his (Mhalsapati's) friends, Kashiram Shimpi and Appa Jagle. These three Shirdi folks (i.e. Mhalsapati, Kashiram and Appa Jagle) were in the habit of welcoming according to their means, whoever came to their village, especially people who had renounced the world or were of an ascetic nature.
After the marriage, the marriage procession went back, but Sai Baba chose to remain in Shirdi to the great joy of the above trio, who eventually become Sai Baba's devout worshippers. Both Kashiram and Appa died after some years on Ekadashi' days, thus giving proof of their devotion to Shri Sai Baba. Kashiram worshipped Sai Baba with his 'Tan' (body), 'Man' (mind) and 'Dhan' (his wealth). Sai Baba used to wear white or orange colour 'Kafani', but Kashiram had prepared a green Kafani and cap for Sai Baba. But later on Sai Baba wore white Kafani and folded a pieces of white cloth on his head. Kashiram used to provide tobacco for chilim and firewood for the 'Dhuni' and also to give him some money. Later on he placed every month all his cash before Sai Baba requesting the latter to take as much as he liked. At that time Sai Baba never took any money from anybody as dakshina; still from Kashiram he used to take a pice or two always... Kashiram had become so much attached to Sai Baba that he always prayed that Sai Baba should take money from him. If on any occasion Sai Baba refused to take anything from Kashiram, he was grieved and shed tears. That this mentality was a kind of egoism and a hindrance to the realisation of one's self, has been taught by Sai Baba to hundreds of his later devotees, by bringing home to them, that, nobody was rich enough to give whatever dakshina Sai Baba would ask for and so it eventually happened to Kashiram, who later on could not pay what Sai Baba asked for, as his financial state became poorer and poorer, and then he fully realised that it was mere vanity on his part to think, that he could pa anything that Sai Baba would demand. After suci conviction, Kashiram's financial condition graduall improved and he became happy, but never again panted before, to pay whatever Sai Baba would demand.
Kashiram was a trader in cloth and so visited seve villages on bazaar days. Once while returning from Naw. bazaar, he was waylaid by dacoits. Kashiram was horse-back and the dacoits did not go for him first; but waylaid the carts that were going along with him and when they saw Kashiram, they ran towards him, and began to ransack him. Kashiram surrendered everything except a small bundle, which the robbers thought contained money. As a matte of fact it contained powdered sugar. A saint Janakidas Baba; had advised Kashiram to put such sugar before ants, and as Kashiram always carried a packet of sugar with him, and considered it a great treasure; and come what may, be would never let this packet go. In the struggle, Kashiram saw a sword nearby; dropped by one of the robbers. Kashiram got hold of this sword and killed two of the robbers outright; but a third robber gave a blow with an axe on the head of Kashiram, who fell do in a pool of blood, almost dead. The remaining robbers too! Kashiram for dead and left him there. After a time, Kashir; regained consciousness and recovered after some days, he had complete faith in Sai Baba as God incarnate, he decline' to be removed to the hospital but urged the people to take him straight to Shirdi. At Shirdi, Sai Baba asked Madhavrao Deshpande to attend on him, and Kashiram recovered with the treatment ordered by Sai Baba. The Government of Bombay rewarded Kashiram with a sword for this valour against th dacoits. While Kashiram had been struggling with the dacoits, Sai Baba in Shirdi, was vociferating and abusing in anger looking towards the direction of Kashiram. The devotees nearby at once felt, that some devotee of Sai Baba must be in grave danger, and all this anger and fighting mood was meant to fight against, and avert the danger, of his devotee, a phenomenon which ultimately appeared to be too true. There were many armed robbers against Kashiram was able to defy them and escape from the jaws of death. But as it is said the killer is always helpless before the Saviour. Kashiram lived after this for some years and died in Shaka 1830 on Chaitra Ekadashi Day.
This incident at the start, which is only one out of hundreds if not thousands that happened later on, is a convincing proof of what Sai Baba really was; and
1stly. It proves that Sai Baba was completely merged in the Atman pervading the entire Universe, and therefore could at once know what was happening everywhere in the entire Universe.
2ndly. He had the power to so arrange the struggle that Kashiram could slay two robbers; that the axe blow on head could not entirely kill Kashiram; that the robbers could be deluded to take him for dead and that within such a long period intervening between Kashiram's bleeding and his arrival at Shirdi, hemorrhage or later tetanus would not put an end to Kashiram's life - miracles, which only the One in Tune with the Infinite, could perform.
One of the above trio in Shirdi, Mhalsapati lived till the year 1922.
Mhalsapati was admirably attached to Sai Baba and therefore was very intimate with him. Sai Baba used to sleep one day in the masjid (called at Sai Baba's own desire Dwarkamai) and the next day in the Chavdi. When Sai Baba slept in this Dwarkamai, Mhalsapati was with Sai
Baba throughout the night and they both had a tete a tete off and on, and what was 'Pendya to Shri Krishna', this Mhalsapati was to Sai Baba. Till the end of his life, Mhalsapati sat up throughout the night in the Dwarkamai even after Sai Baba's Samadhi, on every alternate day. In fact this Mhalsapati was an emblem of poverty, viveka, vairagya and contentment.
Since the time Sai Baba came to Shirdi, he used to stay in the masjid, which, at that time had been in a very dilapidated condition. At day time, he moved about, but always returned to the masjid at night. If anybody invited him for dinner, he went, and treated and gave medicine to the people, but never accepted any money for the same; not only that, but personally nursed the patients, and there are still living, some, who had the good luck of being nursed by Sai Baba. Later on Baba stopped giving medicine and only continued to give his Udi' (ashed out of the fire which was constantly kept burning in the Dwarkamai, and this 'Dhuni has been similarly maintained by the Shirdi Sansthan Committee upto this date).
That Sai Baba gave medicine to the people was told by Sai Baba himself to the late Hari Sitaram Dikshit. He addressed Dikshit by the name Kaka.Sai Baba said, "Kaka, I used to give medicines to people before. Later on I gave up that, and began to remember Hari, Hari, and while remembering Hari, Hari, Hari met me."
When Sai Baba first came to Shirdi, there lived a Sadhu by the name of Devdas. At this Devdas's place several Sadhus came at various times. And as this was the trunk road for going on foot to the southern plates of pilgrimage, like Rameshwar, Pandharpur, Shirdi got sanctified by the footprints of many a holy man, off and on. One such, by name Jankidas, was staying in Shirdi for many days. He, was a Sadhu of a high order, and very often he and Sai Baba gathered for a tete a tete. So also the well-known Gangagir Baba used to come here. After Sai Baba's advent in Shirdi, when this Gangagir Baba first came, he saw Sai Baba carrying two earthen pots full of water from the well. Gangagir at once asked the villagers nearby as to when this entity (meaning Sai Baba) had come to Shirdi. Gangagir said, "This is a precious jewel. His worth is very high. It is the greatest good luck of this village that you should have such a gem here." Saying this, Gangagir Baba went to take Sai Baba's darshan and both had a very loving tete a tete. Similar expressions had been uttered by Anandnath Maharaj, a disciple of the well-known Swami of Akkalkot. When this Anandnath Maharaj had come to Nevargao near Yevala, Madhavrao Balvant Deshpande, Dagadu Bhawoo Gaike, Nandaram Shivram Marwadi and Bhagchand Marwadi, all of Shirdi, went there for his darshan. After darshan, when these four were leaving for Shirdi, this Anandnath Maharaj suddenly came running towards their cart and sat in it saying he would go with them (to Shirdi). People from Nevargao and Yevala, made great efforts to dissuade Anandnath Maharaj from leaving them thus, but without avail. Anandnath Maharaj when he came in the presence of Sai Baba said thus - "He is a diamond. You do not know his real worth. Although he may be on dung-hill, still remember that he is a real diamond." At that time, the real worth of Sai Baba had not been realised by the people, generality of whom took him for a mad Fakir.
The state of Sai Baba at that time as quoted by Mr. H. S. alias Kakasaheb Dikshit, was thus: "Rags to wear, he would sit where he chose, and though appeared to be a madman, had realised the entire Universe within him." At times, Sai Baba sat on the rivulet side, at other time underneath the nim tree on the outskirts of the village, sometimes in the field of someone, his clothes in tatters, at times he appeared to be in great anger; a line of conduct, which to the worldly folks appeared to be that of a madman. But these Shirdi folks happened to be very soon disillusioned, when Sai Baba's superhumanity steadily asserted itself. Sai Baba had taken to lighting many lamps all over the Dwarkamai and none could fathom his intention for doing so. For this lighting, he begged for oil from the oilmen and banias. For some days these people supplied him with it. One day, all of them declined to give it. But did this come in the way of Sai Baba's daily routine? No! There was a drop of oil in the tin pot with which he had gone to ask for oil. After refusing the oil, those Shirdi folks followed Sai Baba, to see how he was going to light his lamps ('panatis') that day. Sai Baba returned to Dwarkamai, drank the drop of oil that was in the pot, filled the pot with aqua pura, and poured it in the 'panatis. When doing this the people naturally jeered at him as at a madcap. But when Sai Baba struck a match and lighted the lamps one by one, and when these lamps remained lighted throughout the night, then these worldly folks came to their senses, and approached Sai Baba in suppliant postures to be forgiven and condoned cendened. Some of them, who had actually persecuted him, became terribly afraid; because they had thoroughly mistaken Sai Baba who was kind and loving to friend and foe alike. He loved everyone of the village equally and whenever any danger or calamity threatened the village or any individual, Sai Baba gave timely warning and those who listened to his advice invariably realised the enormity of the danger and thus had miraculous escapes from them.
Although the entire village had come to put implicit faith in Sai Baba, still very few happened to be intimate with him. Owing to Sai Baba's serene yet austere outlook, nobody dared take any undue liberty with him; and then very few frequented the Dwarkamai. One Madhavrao Balwant Deshpande, who had been a school teacher in a school next to the masjid (Dwarkamai) began to frequent the masjid, there prepare the chilim and smoke the same in Sai Baba's company. This went on for sometime and Madhavrao became attached to Sai Baba, so much so, that gradually he left off everything and his only business in life was to serve the steadily growing stream of devotees that began to pour into Shirdi incessantly. All this service of Madhavrao was purely honorary. This Madhavrao was the living lexicon of Sai Baba of Shirdi, and as such, a reliable guide for many a new comer to the Shrine of Sai Baba in Shirdi. Madhavrao died in the year 1939.
As a rule Sai Baba never went out of Shirdi, but at times he went to one of his devotees by name Babasaheb Dengle in the neighbouring village of Nimgaon on the north, and at times to the village of Rahata, three miles towards the south, to the house of Chandrabhan Shet Marwadi. After the death of Chandrabhan, Khushalchand Shet looked after the business of the shop. Sai Baba off and on invited this Khushalchand. and when anybody from Rahata came to Sai Baba, he would invariably ask him whether he had met Khushalchand!
Nanasaheb Dengale, a brother of Babasaheb Dengale lived in Jali Nimgaon. He had no son. As he did not get a son by his first wife, he married a second, but to no effect. Then Babasaheb Dengale sent him to Sai Baba whose benediction 'hat he would get a son proved true; and thus Nanasaheb who came into frequent contact with Government officials always sang the song of Sai Baba's super-human powers to these officials. This induced Chidambar Keshav alias Annasaheb Gadgil, the Chitnis of the Collector, to take Sai Baba's darshan, and he did so with some others. Annasaheb Gadgil's faith in Sai Baba increased day by day and he became one of Baba's staunch devotees.
The masjid (Dwarkamai) in which Sai Baba sat and slept every alternate night had been in a very dilapidated condition. There was plenty of dust on the ground, which was being added to by the help of dust falling from the dry mud roof. Nanasaheb Dengale brought for Sai Baba a wooden plank for sleeping upon. Sai Baba instead of keeping this plank on the floor and sleeping on it, tied the plank like a swing to the rafter of the masjid with old rags, and commenced to sleep on it. The rags were so worn out, that, it was a question whether they could hold the weight of the plank itself. But here again Sai Baba disclosed his 'Leela' by enabling the withered rags to sustain the weight of the plank with himself sleeping on it. On the four corners of this plank Sai Baba lighted a lamp (panati) at each of the four corners. It was a sight courted by many as observer to see how Sai Baba mounted this plank. But the fact is, that although many kept watching the event, nobody ever noticed, how and when Sai Baba mounted this plank. All that they could observe, was, Sai Baba about to mount the plank and Sai Baba asleep on the plank. This naturally attracted crowds of people, and careful observers were posted by relays, for a number of days without effect. But as crowds began to increase to detect this unbelievable feat. Sai Baba to get rid of the bother, one day broke the plank into pieces.
The desire which drew Nanasaheb Dengale to Sai Baba also inspired Gopalrao Gund, Revenue Circle Inspector of Kopargaon, who, though he had three wives, had no son. He oot a son by Sai Baba's benediction and naturally became attached to Sai Baba. At one time, he thought of rebuilding the dilapidated masjid and stored a sufficient heap of stones for the purpose. But Sai Baba refused him permission to rebuild the masjid, because that service was reserved for some future devotee. The stones collected by Gopalrao were, by the desire of Sai Baba, utilised in renovating the tomple of 'Sham God' and other temples of the village. Sai Baba. was mindful of preserving all the places of worship in the village. He got rebuilt and extended the Maruti's temple and also took care of the Muslim Turbaf of the place. It is mentioned above that Sai Baba at times used to sit under a nim tree on the outskirts of the village. Sai Baba once said that there was a 'Turbaf of a Pir underneath that nim tree. People therefore dug up the earth there, and were surprised to discover that, that was so, On that day, Sai Baba w:as taken out in a procession accompanied by music and singing. As regards this Turbaf Sai Baba once told Kakasaheb Dikshit that that was the place of his ancestor, and that it would be conducive of great good to those that would burn incense thereon every Thursday and Friday.
Once Gopalrao Gund thought that an annual fair (Urns') should be held in Shirdi in honour of Shri Sai Baba. He communicated his idea to Tatya Patil, Dada Kote Patil, Madhavrao Deshpande etc. of the village who readily fell in with the view, and began to raise funds for the same, but the then Kulkarni of the place opposed the idea, with the result that an order from the Collector was issued disallowing the holding of the fair. But Sai Baba had given his clear benediction for the holding of the fair and therefore, the protagonists of the fair again applied to the Collector, who cancelled his first order and gave the permission. At the desire of Sai Baba that fair was fixed for Ramnavami day. It is being held every year on the Ramnavami day since that time upto now.
Devotees from all over India began to pour into Shirdi steadily and three such Utsavas were celebrated in Shirdi during Sai Baba's time; 1st the Ramnavami Utsav, 2nd the Guru Pournima Utsav, 3rd the Gokul Astami Utsav and these were added to by the 4th Utsav (after Sai Baba's Samadhi on the Vijayadashami(Dussera)day in 1918) i.e. the Punyatithi Utsav on the annual Dussera Day. The Shri Shirdi Sansthan Committee of Sai Baba which has been entrusted with carrying out the scheme (for the maintenance of the Shri Sai Baba Shirdi Sansthan) sanctioned by the District Court of Ahmednagar, has, after mutual deliberations inter se, entrusted the management of the Ramnavami Utsav to Hari Bhakta Parayan Das Ganu Maharaj, the well-known modern poet and kirtankar, who has been attending to it with zeal and energy worthy of admiration.
The second utsav fell to the lot of the late Gopal Mukund alias Bapusaheb Buti, the well-known millionaire of Nagpur C. P. and whose magnificent edifice of black stone costing over a lac of rupees is now the Samadhi Shrine of Shri Sai Baba. The sons of the late Bapusaheb Buti attended to this utsav till 1940, and since 1941, the Sansthan has been attending to this utsav, the sons of Buti are now contributing Rs. 100/- as part of the expenses.
The third utsav of Gokul Astami has been entrusted to the villagers of Shirdi headed by Tatyaji Ganpatrao Kote Patil, one of the special favourites of Sai Baba. The Shirdi people upto this day make it a point to make this utsav successful.
The last and the 4th utsav, the Punyatithi utsav came to be entrusted to Sai Baba's devotees outside Shirdi especially to those on the Bombay side; and upto this day this utsav has also been attended to with all possible zeal and devotion all round. Be it said in passing, that the present permanent fund of the Sansthan has been started from the savings of the collections of spontaneous contributions for the first Bhandara on the 13th day after Sai Baba's Samadhi in 1918A.D.
On account of the very scrupulous care bestowed on it from the very start, by the late Kakasaheb Dikshit, the first Hon. Secretary, and the late Annasaheb Dabholkar, the first Hon. Treasurer, and continued by their successors in office the permanent fund is somehow able to meet the annual cost of the maintenance of the Sansthan and it is upto the devotees to see that this fund is adequate to keep the steadily expanding Sansthan satisfactorily cared for.
Shri Sai Leela, originally a monthly Magazine containing, inter alia, Sai Baba's 'Leelas' as manifest from the countless experiences of the mass of devotees, was, at the start, so ably managed by the aforesaid two devotees Messrs. Dikshit and Dabholkar that for sometime, it proved to be a gaining concern, of the Sansthan. Later on, this publication, for manifold reasons, dwindled down to be a losing concern, so much so, that the Sansthan has to remain contented for the time being by making it a quarterly issue. It is at present managed by a sub-committee appointed for the same.
At the time of the Ramnavami fair i.e. on Ramnavami day itself, two huge flags were taken in gorgeous procession to the masjid where these were fastened at the two comer tops. One of them came from the late Shankarrao Raghunath •Deshpande alias Nanasaheb Nimonkar and the other from Damushet Kasar of Nagar. Nimon is a village in Sangamner Taluka. Nanasaheb was an Hon. Magistrate and was considered as one of the leading men in the Taluka. He did Magistrate's work for many years, which he gave up on account of old age. He sometimes visited his uncle at Shirdi, and took Sai Baba's darshan at the desire of his uncle. Gradually Nanasaheb's faith in Sai Baba increased, so much so, that, the last three years he spent in the service of Sai Baba incessantly day and night. He left Sai Baba only for his daily bath, worship and food; during the rest of the time he had dedicated himself to the service of Sai Baba. Although he was past 60 years, he never desired for any rest away from Sai Baba, who called him by the name Kaka. He did not live long after Sai Baba. By Sai Baba's grace he had a calm end. He was so mindful of Baba-that he saw Sai Baba everywhere. Whenever anyone approached him, Nanasaheb said, "Come Sai Baba." To his wife he said the same, "Come Sai Baba." At this, his wife thought that he was delirious or getting unconscious, and therefore, replied to him that she was not Baba, but his wife. To this Nanasaheb replied, "Who is within you? Of course Baba, you are Sai Baba," In this way Nanasaheb remembered Sai Baba right upto his end.
The second bunting flag of Ramnavami came from the late Damodar Savlaram alias Damushet Kasar as said before. Although he had three wives, he had no son, and therefore, he was very sad. Once Govindrao Sapkar, the father-in-law of Madhavrao Deshpande suggested to him, that he should go to Shirdi and get Shri Sai Baba's benediction. He did accordingly and got a son. This confirmed his faith in Sai Baba, and since then, he commenced to bring a flag on he has kept doing this upto this day.
A few years before Ramnavami Utsav was started. Sai Baba had attracted to himself a devotee by name Narayan Govind alias Nanasaheb Chandorkar. He was a resident of Kalyan and at that time a Chitnis of the Collector of Ahmednagar. To him one day Keshav Anant alias Appa Kulkarni of Shirdi said, that Sai Baba had called him. At first Nanasaheb did not believe Appa, and told him, "Why do you take Sai Baba's name? Tell me frankly what you want from me." At this when Appa assured Nanasaheb that the latter was really called by Sai Baba, Nanasaheb came to take Sai Baba's darshan and very soon became a staunch devotee of Sai Baba. He repeatedly visited Sai Baba and benefitted himself by Baba's ambrosial advice during their sittings which at times were for hours together. At such sittings Nanasaheb was convinced about Shri Sai Baba's mastery over the Sanskrit language. Nanasaheb's devotion to Sai Baba was very great indeed. For two things, Nanasaheb will be ever remembered by the other devotees of Sai Baba. The first is, that he got rebuilt and extended the old dilapidated masjid. As Nanasaheb had no time, Nanasaheb Nimonkar at the former's request undertook to supervise the work personally and he carried it out excellently. Permission for starting the work was obtained from Sai Baba, through Mhalsapati. Although permission had been given, when the work was going on, Sai Baba used to pull down the work and large heavy stones and other heavy building implements were hurled away by him from time to time. In this manner the work was pushed through. These acts of Sai Baba may appear strange to outsiders, but those who had been in closer touch with Sai Baba will feel convinced that Sai Baba never did anything without any good reason. At last the work of the masjid was completed and on the day it was so completed, as Sai Baba had gone to Nimgaon, he was brought from there in a procession with music, bands, etc. and ushered in state into the new masjid (Dwarkamai). In the construction of the new masjid, the three carpenter brothers Kondaji, Gabaji and Tukaram proved of the greatest use. And after the construction, the management of the masjid continued with these three brothers for many years. This Kondaji died afterwards and Gabaji and Tukaram are still living. Upto the end of Sai Baba's life, the sweeping of the masjid, the cleaning of Shri's utensils, the heating of water and serving the same for washing Shri's mouth etc., was done by Tukaram. Sai Baba as a rule would not allow these things to be done by anybody else. Upto now, the flag procession of Ramnavami day starts from the house of these carpenters.
The second great thing which the fate Nanasaheb Chandorkar did was the news he spread broadcast about the benevolent and marvellous deeds of Sai Baba and thereby gave the benefit of Sai Baba's benediction to people at large. After being a Chitnis, Nanasaheb was a Mamlatdar and then a District Deputy Collector and as such he had to tour through large areas. During such tours, wherever he went, he never failed to sing the songs, very devotionally, of Sai Baba and thus incited an urgent desire amongst his audience to take the benefit of Sai Baba's darshan. Nanasaheb was the cause of the benefit of the darshan to the late Kakasaheb Dikshit (Hon. Hari Sitaram Dixit, LL.B., J.P., Solicitor, Mumbai) as also to thousands of persons from Mumbai and the District. For attracting the attention of the Mumbai people, besides Nanasaheb, two other persons also were instrumental. One of them is Hari Bhakta Parayan Ganesh Dattatraya Sahasrabuddhe alias Das Ganu Maharaj. He was at first in the Police Department and was very fond of Tamashas.1 Through Nanasaheb he came to take Sai Baba's darshan, and gradually became so much attached to Sai Baba that he left service, and by publishing his devotional books (Pothis) and through his public Kirtans commenced to advertise far and wide, the name, fame and spiritual worth of Sai Baba. This is Das Ganu's career upto the present day, a career which has now elevated him so far, that he is one of the leading Kirtankar Varkaris2 of Pandharpur, well-known for his entertaining histories of ancient saints and other works both in prose and poetry and is an avowed disciple of Sai Baba, who chants not only in Shirdi and Pandharpur, but also amongst the thousands of devotees of Shri Sai Baba. Modern Bhakta Lilamrut, Santa Kathamrut, Bhakti Saramrut, his commentaries in poetry of Ishavasyopanishad and Amrutanubhava of Shri Dnyaneshwar Maharaj, and Shri Shankaracharaya's Charitra in 1942 are among his principal productions. Nanasaheb brought Das Ganu to Mumbai and gave the large public of Mumbai the benefit of Das Ganu's inspiring and attractive Kirtans where the heart of the audience was captured wholesale by listening to the saintly and miraculous fame of Sai Baba. This brought about an incessant stream of visitors to Shirdi from Mumbai and the surrounding country far and wide, since the year 1910 A.D.
The other person was the late (the Hon'ble Mr. Hari Sitaram Dixit) Kakasaheb Dixit, from whose sketch of Sai Baba m Marathi this sketch in English has been attempted. This Kakasaheb about this time i.e. 1910, began incessantly to stay in Shirdi at the feet of his Master Sai Baba. He was thus out of the public life of Mumbai and many of his friends and well-wishers, worldly as they were, published in the papers that Dixit had become a Buwa i.e. an ascetic and therefore many went to Shirdi to see who it was that caused such a change in Mr. Dixit.
When the late Nanasaheb first came to Shirdi, there was no place for the visitors to stay in it. But this want was soon removed. The late Rao Bahadur Hari Vinayak Sathe was a Deputy Collector in this District. Since many years his first wife was dead, and he had no wish, as he was over fifty years, to get re-married. But as he had no male issue his friends were after him to get re;married. At last he decided that he would go to Shirdi and do as Sai Baba would advise. He came to Shirdi and Baba advised him to get married again and said he would "•get a son, The Rao Bahadur selected a girl and informed her father, the late Ganesh Damodar Kelkar, that the girl should be shown to Sai Baba. Accordingly, when Kelkar brought the girl to Sai Baba, the latter put a melon in her 'Oti' (lap) and applied kunku to her head. Shortly after, the marriage took place. At the desire of Sai Baba, Rao Bahadur Sathe built a big Wada by purchasing lands surrounding the aforesaid nim tree. The Wada built by the late Rao Bahadur Sathe, had been purchased on 30.9.1924 by the late R. S, Navalkar, b.a., ll.b., Advocate, O. S., Mumbai. Mr. V. N. Gorakshakar, who is now one of the five life Trustees of the Sansthan, with great efforts, successfully induced the heirs of the late R. S. Navalkar to make a gift of the said Wada to the Shirdi Sansthan in 1939. On the said Wada, the Shirdi Sansthan. in 1941, built a structure containing four double rooms for the use of the devotees of Sai Baba as per rules made therefor. Three years later, Sai Baba got another Wada built by Kakasaheb Dikshit, thus providing for some accommodation for the devotees staying or made to stay in Shirdi, because it was not certain when Baba would allow a devotee to leave Shirdi. A few years later, Shrimant Gopalrao Mukund alias Bapusaheb Buti of Nagpur, built at Baba's instance, a third Wada This is a black stone mansion the line of which may not be found in the whole of the Taluka, costing over a lac of rupees. This contains Shn's Samadhi. This Bapusaheb Buti was a permanent resident of Shirdi ever since 1910 A. D. As it is over quarter of a century since Bull's Wada was constructed it stands in need of large repairs to preserve the same from natural deterioration. It remains to be seen, how Sai Baba is going to solve this problem of the Sansthan.
After the building of the first Wada, Shirdi began to get the appearance of a Sansthan. Sai Maharaj allowed his devotees to perform his 'Arati' and all the paraphernalia of stately worship gradually began to come into evidence. The Chavdi was richly decorated with mirrors, hanging lamps, pictures etc. and the procession to the Chavdi assumed a very stately appearance with din of music, bhajan, a horse and a palanquin, Chopdars etc., accompanying the procession. And nothing could surpass the manifest divinity in Sai Baba's expression, when he made a halt of about 5 minutes in front of the Chavdi looking towards the sky and making signs with his right hand before the procession entered the Chavdi. Indeed, a sight celestial for the worldly mortals to see! The floors of both the masjid and Chavdi were covered with mosaic tiles etc., and the entire credit of all this splendour is wholly due to the late Sundrabai Kshirsagar alias Radhakrishna Bai. She was a devout devotee of Sai Baba, to whom she had dedicated her mind and efforts. As she had no money of her own, she made all efforts to import splendour into the Sansthan through such of the several rich devotees as could be influenced by her sweating services in token of her devotion to Sai Baba. She was great organiser during her eight or nine years' stay in Shirdi, where she died at the age of 35. In the life-time of Sai Baba, she never spared herself to add worldly grandeur to the daily curriculum of a saint who nevertheless would not be distracted or deluded from the enjoyment of his own grandeur within himself by these outward shows. But whatever Radhakrishna did in nine years in transforming the rural aspect of Shirdi into an urban one, others would not be able to achieve in a quarter of a century. She was a woman of resolute will and assertive temperament. It was she who introduced the night Shej Arati and the Kakad Arati in Chavdi. By her death the Sansthan is deprived of a splendid caretaker of the Sansthan property.
But as wonderful are the ways of Sai Baba, He has graced the Sansthan with another lady full of Vairagya and selflessness in the person of Mrs. Jankibai Tambe alias Shrimati Sai Mai (daughter of the late Purushottam Sakhararn alias Balasaheb Bhate - a devout devotee of Sai Baba) who is admiringly filling up the gap created by the demise of Radhakrishna. This Sai Mai has dedicated all her moveable and immoveable property to the Sansthan by a deed of settlement dated 2.1.1943.
Not only this, but her office in the Sansthan as 'Bhojan Sevika', she has been discharging with wonderful zeal, promptitude and care worthy of admiration. She has been often found to be doing her work unmindful of her own health, as she believed that the service of the Sansthan is the service of Sai Baba. So, in spite of all odds, the credit of the satisfactory management of the 'Bhojan Griha', which is exclusively meant for the benefit of the devotees of Sai Baba, goes to her. But for her strenuous efforts, it would not be possible for the Sansthan to maintain any 'Bhojan Griha' at all. The Sansthan Committee, therefore, prays to Sai Baba to see that this lady is duly assisted by all concerned in her aforesaid services of Sai Baba.
At first Sai Baba never allowed anybody to perform even his puja (worship). The first puja was allowed to be done by Mhalsapati. Then after sometime Sitaramji Dengle of Nimgaon came to perform puja, but although Sai Baba got angry, he was allowed to finish it. Later on the younger son, Mahadeo alias Babu, of Nanasaheb Chandorkar was complacently allowed to perform puja and later on all were allowed to do it, but at that time Sai Baba would not allow anybody to perform Arati. After sometime, the privilege of first performing the Arati was reserved for the late Laxman Krishnaji alias Tatyasaheb Nulkar. He was a sub-Judge at Pandharpur and as he was ill, he had taken leave and come to Shirdi; but his inner-most desire was to retire from service and spend the rest of his life at the feet of Shri, and that was what happened, Nulkar being very devoutly attached-to Sai Baba,
The services rendered by Radhakrishna were of various kinds. She twice swept the passages in the village through which Sai Baba walked. Of course, she removed, every kind of rubbish on these roads. Before her advent, this work was done by one Balaji Patil Nevaskar. He had come to Shirdi after renouncing the world and with complete resignation; many of his people had come to persuade him to go back to his place, but he declined. He always swept the roads and cleaned the masjid thoroughly and took Maharaj's darshan from a distance and never went near. He would drink only the tirth of Sai's feet or Sai's bath water or water left in the vessel after Sai Baba had partaken of it from same. All his agricultural income he would place before Shri and would only take back whatever Shri give him; of course.
Shri returned almost the whole of it. After two years' stay, Balaji Patil was ordered by Sai Baba to go home and he went accordingly; still he came to Shirdi off and on and offered his entire income. He died some years later.
The daily routine of Sai Baba was very rigidly maintained by him. He got up very early and sat by the fireplace (Dhuni). After a while he finished answering nature's call and then he sat quietly for a while. In the meanwhile one Bhagoji Shinde came, and undoing the bandages wound round Sai's right hand, massaged the hands and the whole body. Then he prepared the chilim and gave it to Sai Baba who smoked it and gave the same to Bhagoji for smoking. After the chilim had passed hand to hand five or six times, Bhagoji left. This Bhagoji was an outright leper and still Sai Baba not only did not shun him but on the contrary associated himself with Bhagoji in a manner as if the latter was the healthiest person. After Bhagoji had gone Maharaj sat for a while, when a few selected persons came and did seva (i.e. massaged his feet etc.). Then Maharaj got up for washing his mouth and face. This was a sight worth to see. He put plenty of water on hands, feet, mouth, ears and Sai Baba cleaned all these parts of the body in a very delicate manner. The same process Baba followed at the time of his bath. After washing the mouth, Baba went out for Bhiksha to five fixed places and stood in each particular place to receive the chapatties and whatever other food was offered with them, but ate very little of it on returning to the masjid. After this Chhota Hajri, Baba held a darbar at which most of the Bhaktas assembled, when Shri gave advice in the form of (by narrating) stories. At times during this darbar Baba purchased guavas, plantains, mangoes and distributed the fruits among the Bhaktas, or served them with his own hands i.e. he peeled off the plantains, cut guavas into pieces with his hands, softened mangoes by rolling them between both his palms. After this darbar Maharaj went to Lendi. The Lendi garden was purchased by Rao Bahadur Moreshwar W. Pradhan, J. P. etc., one of the first life Trustees of the Sansthan, a few months before Sai Baba's Samadhi, and presented to the Shirdi Sansthan, when the same was formed and sanctioned by the District Court of Ahmednagar.
In this garden in the middle of the western side, touching the Agra Main Road, Sai Baba himself, with the manual help of his devotees, both rich and poor, dug and built a water-well. The water of this well became famous in the vicinity for driving away fevers & c. Rao Saheb Yeshwantrao J. Galvankar, B.A., one of the five life Trustees of the Sansthan, built in this garden, in January 1942. around Baba's Pimpal tree - his place of daily visit - a quadrangular masonary stage or 'Par', over which is now continued the 'Nanda deep'; this place, therefore, has now become an ideal one for making 'Japa', Tapa' and 'Dhyana.' At Lendi, Baba stayed for about an hour. After returning from Lendi, Baba remained in the masjid till 2 p.m. during which interval Baba allowed himself to be worshipped by various Bhaktas through individual pujas, and a general Arati. Then Maharaj had lunch and again went to Lendi, and after about three quarters of an hour sat in the masjid till sunset when he went out a little and was again seated in the masjid. As a rule there were three general or common sittings or darbars during the day. First one in the morning after breakfast, second after Baba's return from Lendi, and the third at about 5 p.m. During all these sittings Baba gave general advice which was universal in character and which improved the characters of several devotees. The sum and substance of his advice was to have strong faith in God and patience for His realisation; to love all creatures alike; not to wound the feelings of others; to be straight- forward and honest in all our actions; not to take the services of others without due payments, etc. At times he gave advice through stories, which stones used to solve the different questions and anxieties of the different Bhaktas, without the Bhaktas having to utter a single word. What a miraculous effect such a process of meeting the wishes of a large number of people, used to have on each individual Bhakta can better be imagined than described. And there was such an unique way of narrating a story that sometimes, one story used to create different impressions on the minds of different Bhaktas, and those for whom it was not meant would invariably not understand it, or follow it, or miss it. But it would go straight home to those for whom it was meant and restore calm and contentment within their ruffled and distracted minds. Just as Ramdas Swami wrote Dasbodha in Marathi for the salvation of ordinary Marathi knowing man, so also Shri Sai Baba never gave any advice in a language which his audience would not understand. Nay, Sai Baba did not stop at giving mere wordy advice. Once a person entered his masjid, whether he was good, bad or indifferent, Sai Baba made it his own concern to get that person gradually to the realisation of himself from within himself. And this Sai Baba did by subjecting that individual to several personal experiences, and off and on showing Sai Baba's hand in those experiences of the individual in marvellous ways, at times through dreams of the individual himself, or of his friends or relations and so forth. And the Bhaktas of Sai Baba frankly admit, that that was so not only in the life-time of Sai Baba, but that it has been equally so even now after his Samadhi. This has been entirely borne out by the innumerable experiences of Bhaktas far and wide which they devoutly wish to be published in the Shri Sai Leela for the edification of the rest of their brethren. Even the 'Udi" of Sai Baba has continued to work wonders upto the present day. That Sai Baba's 'Dhuni' in the Dwarkamai at Shirdi has the same austerity and potentiality as before, has been clearly indicated by Sai Baba to one of his Bhaktas a few months ago. It is no joke that a very serious illness or a hopeless case should be cured by the mere touch of the body of St. Francis Xavier, every ten years. The same are worked day and night incessantly by the sacred 'Udi' of Shri Sai Baba, the Saint of saints known in modern times. A very large proportion amongst the devotees of Sai Baba went to him for the fulfilment of their worldly desires. In working out the fulfilment of such desires Sai Baba invariably led gradually such votaries to the realisation of the Self within. And there can be no doubt that the unmistakable projected Self out of the material body of Sai Baba, was meant for the guidance, protection and salvation of humanity at large. That Sai Baba, was a clear sample of Existence - Knowledge - Bliss in body corporate, has been convincingly proved by his lifelong, acting, teaching and care-taking of the nonsidha, some of the instances of which have been happily sung by the late Annasaheb Dabholkar through his prasadic2 Sai Satcharitra'. Those taking interest in the above brief sketch of Sai Baba's Lilees will do well to visit Shirdi once and see for themselves whether Sai Baba's Samadhi's darshan itself puts them on the right track of Self-realisation or not. "Man! know thyself." Because, many Bhaktas of Sai Baba are aware that he often used to say that his Turbat' (i.e. place of his Samadhi) will speak. An instance of the Turbat speaking has lately appeared in the Shri Sai Leela, the Sansthan's monthly Magazine. Cases of personal experiences day after day are being brought to the notice of the Editor of this Magazine which is ever ready to publish the same; and innumerable as they are, their total publication would be very voluminous indeed! But what matters is the lessons they contain and not their volume.
Once an astrologer who had heard about Sai Baba as a Saint of a very high order, came to Shirdi with the avowed object of placing a complete book on astrology into the hands of and receiving back the same as prasad from, Sai Baba. Because the astrologer sincerely believed that such a 'prasad' from Sai Baba would make him a very proficient astrologer and thus enable him to make a fortune. But knowing as Sai Baba did, the past, the present and the future of everything in this world, when implored to give that book to the astrologer, gave the book instead, to Bapusaheb Buti (the well-known multi-millionare of C. P.) who was sitting close by. Now, this Bapusaheb was devoted to Sai Baba, not for asking for any wealth (which he had in plenty), not for any worldly wish etc. Still Sai Baba thrust that book into Bapusaheb's hand and said, "Bapusaheb. take this." Of course Bapusaheb took it, and the astrologer was disappointed. But what happened? Bapusaheb who never cared to to read anything, skipped over the book now and then only for a short time simply because Sai Baba had given the book to him and as he was taking some interest in astrology as some pastime hobby. But after going through some of the pages of this book, Bapusaheb Buti became such a proficient astrologer that he was carrying in his head the 'Kundalis of several of the Bhaktas of Sai Baba and was able to say with precision, everyday, what Bhakta would do what act during the course of that day. One of the innumerable instances of Bapusaheb Buti's precise foretelling is as under:-
There was some election meeting at a place. The election was to begin at 8 a.m., Bapusaheb told his friend, who was one of the six candidates contesting the election, that if the election was over before 8.30 a.m. there was no chance of success. If it dragged on till 9 a.m. the chances of success would be 50%. But should the election go on till 9.30 a.m., that friend would defeat all and win the election. Bapusaheb also assured his friend that with some efforts the latter would be able to drag on the election on some pretext or other till 9.30 a.m. and that he would come out successful.
The friend attended the election, and found to his great astonishment that everything happened as predicted by Bapusaheb and came out successful in the manner foretold by Bapusaheb.
Now what does the above 'Leela' of Sai Baba teach. It teaches:-
1. That Sai Baba knew that it was not the destiny of the astrologer to be proficient in astrology as he had aimed at.
2. That he wanted to show what any person who was the recipient of such a 'prasad' would be capable of.
3. That Sai Baba wanted to teach his
'Bhaktas' that a person's proficiency in any art or science is utilised best
when given gratis
to humanity than for any love of lucre.
And the above is an instance out of the innumerable which manifesteql Sai Baba's Omniscience and All-pervadingness.
A thoughtful reader going carefully through the above brief sketch of Sai Baba will naturally ask himself: "What have I learnt from the aforesaid sketch?"
Istly. He will find that Sai Baba every now and then gave evidence that sitting as he was within the four corners of the masjid, he did know the past, the present and the future of all the world over.
2ndly. Appearing as he did to be in his human body at Shirdi, he was and is still every now and then making his entity felt by his devotees all the world over by working wonders, either through his 'Udi' or by giving hints through dreams, or by promptly responding to the invocations of his devotees from far distant places. In some instances hopeless cases of physical ailments were speedily and miraculously cured, and in others, dangers to life and property and various other calamities were quickly averted, so also many a distracted mind was restored to perfect equilibrium in no time.
3rdly. Although Sai Baba has cast off his material body, his response to his devotees is just the same as it was when Sai Baba was a living entity.
There are admittedly wonders or miracles which can only be worked or shown by a Divine Entity, that is, an Entity whose Self Realisation had been so perfect that he had completely merged himself in the 'Atman' pervading the entire universe.
Therefore, is there Bhakta of Sal Baba who will not find it a heavenly bliss to sing the songs of this Saint of saints, the Sai Baba of Shirdi?
Moreshwar W. Pradhan
Sai Pradhan Baug,
25th December, 1932
To THE TOURIST OF THE WEST
After persuing this little brochure, you will naturally be asking the following questions:-
1. How is it, that, coming all the way from Europe and America we do not come across such personages in India?
The reply is, that, you do not come with a mind in search after Self-realisation. You merely visit India for sight-seeing with perhaps a vague idea of meeting a fakir performing the ropetrick, a trick, which these Saints would never condescend to manifest.
2. What good have these Saints done to India?
The reply is patent. Just think why the Indian is living, when all the mighty Empires of the world, such as those of Rome, Greece, Egypt. Assyria, Babylon and recently of Spain and Portugal with all their vaunted splendours and civilisations, have collapsed or disappeared altogether.
The Indian is existing, because he is full of that vital spirituality, which was inculcated in him by his immortal Saints, thousands of years ago.
Invasions have come and gone. These have had very little effect on his inherent spirituality which, it has been the constant endeavour, of these Divine Personages, to preserve foster and nurture.
The western tourist will find a diversity of so called religions practised in India, and feel bewildered. But scratch an Inian. and though he may be a touchable or an untouchable Hindu, a Brahino. a Mahomedan, a Parsee, a Christian, or an aboriginal, you will find him imbued with the same essential deep faith, as mentioned above. All his outward forms practices, and rituals are of a secondary and preparatory nature.
1. Vide the following:-
(a) The Bhagwat Gita, Verses 55-61, Chapter 2. Translation in English by Mrs. Annie Besant.
(b) The Master as I saw Him, and aggressive Hinduism, by sister Nivedita.
(c) The life of Shri Ramkrishna Paramahansa.
(d) The life and works of Swami Vivekanand and his brother Swamis.
(e) The works of sister Devamata.
Dear Reader, if you are sincerely inclined to study this question, with a deep spiritual motive, you cannot do better than read carefully, the article on the Saints and Prophets of Maharashtra, pages 142-172, Vol. I, in the Rise of the Maratha Power, by the late Hon. Justice M. G. Ranade, M.A., LL.B., C.I.E.. a luminary of the Bombay High Court. ^
An extract from page 167 will go to show how the whole of this article is worth a careful srudy:-
"We may believe the miracles ascribed to those Saints or disbelieve them but we cannot disbelieve their emphatic statements on this point. All the love, that, in Christian lands circles round the life and death of Christ Jesus, has been in India freely poured upon the intense realisation of the every day presence of the Supreme God in the heart, in a way more convincing; than eyes and ears and sense of touch can realise. This constitutes the glory of the Saints, and is a possession which is treasured up by our people high and low, men and women, as a solace in life, beyond all value. "
Dear Reader! This is why the Indian has lived, is living and will continue to live, in spite of all the cataclysmic vicissitudes of Human Existence.
Distances are rapidly foreclosing. The east and the west have already met in a number of ways. And just as the Indian has to pick up some of the material advances of the west, the west has to grasp the salient point of Indian spirituality for the advancement and preservation of the Human Race.
Ever Yours, R. A. Tarkhad
llth February, 1933
 At present a wooden shrine js there, with an oil painting of Shri Sai Baba by Mr. Shamrao R. V. JayaJcar of Parle, which is worshipped by hundreds of visitors.
 1. A large volume of 53 Chapters in beautiful Marathi Verse, describing the various miraculous occurences, duly verified, seen at the feet of Shri Sai Baba.
 The Indian clay smoking pipe.
 1st day of the lunar month; always considered a sacred day
 Long robe.
 The sacred fire burning before an ascetic.
 '• About 24 years ago.
 First month of Hindu Shaka Calendar.
 Villagers' place of meeting
 Deep thinking.
 Unattachment of mind.
 Earthenware open oil lamps
 Spiritual play.
 Birthday of Shri Ram. The 7th Incarnation of God Vishnu as per Hindu mythology. This takes place in the month of March or April.
 Worship of the Spiritual Teacher. This day falls on the full moon in August
 Celebration on the day following the birth of Lord Krishna.
 The sacred day on which Sai Baba left his body.
 Reciting popular songs of inferior kind
 Devotional musical preaching, highly superior, and learned.
 Person who visit Pandharpur to pay homage to God Vitthal (here, regularly, every year
 Building with one or more central open courtyard-
 The devolional prayers before sleep
 The devotional prayers before leaving bed in the morning Morning invocation
 The Holy (meaning Sai Baba)
 Begging tor alms
 The ashes from the sacred fire of the Dhuni in Dwarkamai.
 He was first class Resident Magistrate of Bandra for a number of years.
 A big volumine. in Marathi Poetry, staling the incidents and miracles of Shri Sai Baba.
 The disposition of the planets at the time of the birth of a person.