Baba’s deaest devotee – DATTATRAY DAMODAR alias NANASAHEB RASANE, CHIDAMBAR KESHAV GADGIL – Part 3
After the passing away of Damuanna, when Nanasaheb went to Shirdi, he became inconsolable and began crying. At the Samadhi Sthan he heard Baba’s words, “Are Nana, the rites of fourteenth day have been performed and the mourning period has ended. Isn’t it ? You have eaten sweets now. Now don’t shed tears any more”.
Nanasaheb was a Punyatma. He was a good orator and a social worker. He had relinquished his entire life at the feet of Baba. He had no attraction towards his family life. His every act and deed was connected to Baba. He was drenched in the shower of Baba’s Krupa.
Since childhood his mind was getting prepared in devotion to Baba. Gradually, his Virakti grew. Simultaneously, his desires towards materialistic things and pleasures got destroyed automatically. In his heart, he believed that “It is the Sadguru who is the Karta and it is He who runs our lives.” He was a divine soul. He had excellent Vachasiddhi.
He was known for his very stern nature. However, at heart, he was equally kind. He hated devotees who gossiped and behaved carelessly. He despised cheating and deceit.
He always referred Baba as “My Baba.” He used to say, “People pester and harass my Baba. Everyone is scheming to loot my Baba. Don’t try to fool or annoy my Baba. HE IS A FIRE INCARNATE.”
He said, “It was never in the nature of my Baba to sit in a Devhara (small temple in a house). My Baba behaved like a common man. He used a lot of Urdu words in his conversation.”
There was a reason for Nanasaheb referred Baba with such close familiarity. It was Baba who had asked Damuanna to give his first son to Him.
Once, on the occasion of Guru Poornima, a coin of one Naya Paisa dropped from Baba’s garland into Nanasaheb’s hands. He preserved it with great devotion throughout all his life. He carried it in the Button Patti of his shirt. He said, “My annual income is about Rs 5,000. Even then no coin in the world can match this Naya Paisa. And no value can be attached to it – it is valueless.”
Nanasaheb had expressed a desire that the coin should be cremated along with his body. And so was done.
He had another fervent wish. Most of the Jyeshtha and Shreshtha devotees of Baba had coincidentally passed away on the auspicious day of Ekadashi. Nanasaheb wished that the day – on which he would breath his last – should be also Ekadashi.
In his last days, he moved his residence to Shirdi. On the day of Ashadhi Ekadashi, there was a small reason for his suffering an injury. He fell down on his shoulder. His collar bone was damaged. He was admitted to the Sai Hospital and passed away on the same day.
ANNASAHEB ALIAS CHIDAMBAR KESHAV GADGIL
‘‘I am a Muslim !’’
He was prominent amongst those fortunate persons who were brought to Baba by Nanasaheb Dengle. At that time, Annasaheb was the secretary to the collector of Ahmednagar, while Nanasaheb was a well-known Inamdar of the city. Nanasaheb carried lot of influence in the Govt. offices. He was a close friend of Annasaheb as both were pious by nature.
Nanasaheb was dazzled by the divine experiences given by Shri Sai Baba. Even he had got a son by Baba’s grace Annasaheb had heard several such experiences narrated by Nanasaheb. Impressed by the same, Annasaheb took his Munsaf Vamanrao and senior officer from the Education Dept. Sitaram Patwardhan along with him and went in a for tonga to avail Darshan of Baba.
At that time, Madhavrao Despande was a school teacher. Annasaheb asked Madhavrao, ‘‘I have heard a lot about the Sadhu who resides here. Where is he ?’’ Like many other people, at that time, Madhavrao was considering Baba to be a mad Fakir. He was yet to realize the divinity of Baba. Moreover, he was forthright in his speech. Pointing to the Masjid, he said, ‘‘No. There is no Mahan Sadhu. But, a mad Fakir stays in that Masjid.”
The moment Gadgil appeared before Baba, choicest abuses got showered on him. However, as the abuses went on increasing, Annasaheb go more and more pleased… And an old incident was responsible for this.
Prior to his this visit to Shirdi, Annasaheb had gone to avail Darshan of a Sadhu in a temple at Bhimashankar near Pune. The Sadhu had ordered him to go for Baba’sDarshan. While showering him with abuses, Baba made a mention of the Sadhu. Annasaheb was taken aback with this. He developed full faith in Baba. Annasaheb started climbing the steps of the Masjid along with Patwardhan, Vamanrao and the Tongawalla (who brought them to Shirdi). However, from where he was sitting, Baba shouted, ‘‘Don’t climb ! I am a Muslim. Go and prostrate before the Bhimashankar Sadhu. !’’ Hearing this, Gadgil bowed down before Baba.
From the description of Baba given by various people, Annasaheb had started believing that Baba was a Muslim. However, at the time of the Darshan, Baba eradicated the misconception.
Darshan in the form of Ganpati
Baba ensured with a keen eye that each follower followed the path of devotion chosen by the devotee, Baba made sure of this by fulfilling the wishes of the devotees and allowing them to do as they wished. Annasaheb was an ardent follower of Shri Ganpati. Now, he started seeing Ganpati in Baba. He even started performing Baba’s Pooja in the manner in which one worships Ganpati.
Once, when he was performing Pooja in this manner, Baba remarked to one of the gentlemen sitting nearby, ‘‘This old man is very cunning. He says, I am sitting on top of mice.’’ (It is well-known that Shri Ganpati’s vehicle is a mice and he sits on top of that.) Gadgil was delighted that Baba had guessed, what was in his mind.
‘‘I am always with you !’’
Later on, Annasaheb was promoted and he became Mamledar of Sinnar. The place being close to Shirdi, he used to frequently avail Baba’s Darshan. However, after some period, he was transferred to a distant place. He had to immediately report at the new place. He did not have enough time to go for Baba’s Darshan before his departure. He was in turmoil because of this and his eyes brimmed with tears. With a heavy heart he boarded the train. His mind was full of Baba’s thoughts. Suddenly, a packet of the Udi dropped on him from the compartment’s window. Curiously he opened the packet and found that it contained Udi. He preserved the packet carefully. He placed the packet in aTait (locket) and it remained with him till end.
Later on Annasaheb got the opportunity to take Baba’s Darshan. He rushed to theMasjid and fell down at Baba’s feet. Before he could apologize, Baba said to him, ‘‘Are, you could not come. Hence, I sent you Udi. Did you get it ?’’
The moment Gadgil heard these words, tears streamed from his eyes.
An old Sai devotee – Shri Laxman Govind Munge – narrates a beautiful story related to this incident. He says…
‘‘Shri Chidambar Keshav Gadgil was a senior Mamledar and I assisted him as a clerk. When the Mamledar and Nanasaheb Nimonkar went to avail Baba’s Darshan, I also accompanied them. We prostrated before Baba. A thought entered my mind ‘Why these Hindus perform Pooja of a Muslim like Baba ?’ Just then, Baba said to Gadgil, ‘Give me my Kharka (dried dates), packet of Incense and my Dakshina of Re. 1 !’ I was surprised to hear this. Because, the previous night, Gadgil had set aside these three articles saying ‘I am going to place these as offering before my Sadguru – Baba.’ And, Baba now was demanding exactly the same three things. I was, therefore, convinced about Baba’s power of Antardnyan. Baba accepted the offering with pleasure.’’
Annasaheb had deep knowledge about Paramarthik matters. He had realized that the ultimate destination of this mortal body was ‘Paramatmaprapti’. He lived accordingly. He introduced several people to the divinity of Sai Baba with the intention of spreading the joy of being in Sadguru’s company and turning them to the path of Satkarya. One such person was the manager of Satyanaratyan Co. Shri W. S. Joshi.
In the course of his life, Annasaheb retired and settled down at Ghodnadi. He followed the practice of Annachhatra (distribution of food) at Shri Kshetra Gangapur. Due to this, he came frequently in contact with the Bazar at Solapur. Thus, he met Shri Wasudeo Sadashiv Joshi who had turned to the path of Virakti from the young age of 16 years. Annasaheb was similarly enfolded in Sai devotion. Therefore, this contact through a mere commercial transaction developed into a thick friendship.
Annasaheb had similar close relations with Raobahadur Sathe alias Tatyasaheb. This is an incident of 1913…
Annasaheb wrote a letter to Shri Joshi from Shirdi informing him that ‘‘I am at Shirdi and a Namsaptah is going on here. Please do come and avail Baba’s Darshan ! You will need Rs. 10 for expenses. Don’t worry. Shri Narayan will give it at any place. But, don’t allow this opportunity to pass.’’
Joshi read the letter with great joy. He took permission of his wife, arranged for the money and arrived at the Sathe Wada where Gadgil used to stay. He carried Pooja Sahitya and went with Annasaheb to avail Baba’s Darshan. Seeing the radiant figure of Baba, he was amazed. Tears filled his eyes.
At the time of evening Aarati, he continued to stare at the Mukhakamal of Baba. He was unable to regain his normal senses. Noticing this, Annasaheb said, ‘‘Joshibua, theAarati is over; Come !’’ Only then, he came out of the trance.
Joshi asked the meaning of his trance. Annasaheb replied, ‘‘Joshibua, Baba does lot of such Gamati-Jamati (tricks). Only watch them !’’
After spending a few days in the Namsaptah, he broached upon the subject (with Tatyasaheb Sathe) of returning home. Tatyasaheb informed him, ‘‘It is not possible to go without obtaining Baba’s permission.’’ Thereafter, a Sevekari pleaded the case of this guest of Annasaheb Gadgil. Baba replied, ‘‘Has the Lord not given him enough Chatni – Bhakri (food) during your stay here ? Why are you forcing him against his own wishes ?’’
The day on which Joshi left Shirdi was Thursday. Gadgil told him, ‘‘Joshibua, take thePrasad from here with you.’’ Joshi went to Bapusaheb Jog to ask for Prasad. Bapusaheb placed one piece of Barfi on everyone’s hand. Annasaheb said to Joshi, ‘‘Bua, this much Prasad will not be sufficient for everyone at your home. Go and buy some more Barfi from these 8 Annas !’’ Thinking that any sweet from Shirdi is Baba’s Prasad, Joshi was proceeding to the Bazaar. However, he met a person on the way who was hurrying towards him. He was carrying a Thali full of Barfi. He said, ‘‘Baba has asked me to give this to the guest of Gadgil !’’
In the meantime, Gadgil had sent a person to fetch groundnuts. He wanted to give them to Joshi. However, just then Raobahadur Sathe said, ‘‘Baba has received gunny bags of groundnuts from some devotee. He has issued orders to give two baskets full to Gadgil and his guest and distribute the rest amongst the devotees who have gathered here. Therefore, it is not necessary to buy groundnuts.’’
From these two instances, the people who had gathered there realized, how Baba performs miracles sitting at one place and how He is omnipresent.
On his return to Solapur, Joshi gave some amount to Shri Govind Dhondo Pansare and sent him to Shirdi for availing Baba’s Darshan and also to take Baba’s photos. The duo of Gadgil and Sathe welcomed Pansare and took good care of him. He stayed there for four days and with Baba’s permission took His two photographs – one while He was sitting on the Shila and the other while he was reclining against the pillar. Pansare returned home a happy man.
Baba appreciated the devotion of Annasaheb and hence, He showered Gadgil’s guests – Joshi and Pansare – with love and affection. He also granted permission to take His photographs and guided them in the direction of Atmaunnati.