Sai Experiences of MADHAVRAO ADKAR – author of Aarati Sai Baba song
Thus, Dasganu and Madhavrao met in the true sense of the word and became Gurubandhu.
Shri Dasganu had begun composing lavanees (erotic songs mainly sung in the Maharashtrian folk theatre called ‘tamasha’) and powadas (songs describing heroic deeds of courageous persons from history) from a very young age, while Madhavrao was an expert singer, as well as an accomplished actor. Madhavrao was blessed with a sweet voice and good looks. Therefore, he became an excellent medium for popularizing the poetic contributions of Dasganu amongst common folk.
Besides complementing the talent of each other, they had certain other common interests. Both of them were religious minded and were equally immersed in the thoughts and worship of the Almighty. They were also not interested in worldly desires. Dasganu had gauged the true liking of Madhavrao’s mind. He, therefore, in 1897 (or there about) took him to Sai Baba. There, Madhavrao got what he was searching for all along and succeeded in getting peace of mind.
Madhavrao considered and honoured Dasganu as his elder brother. He showered love and affection on him. Dasganu reciprocated these feelings. He used to go to the extent of making Madhavrao sit for pooja and then garland him, wash his feet and drink the water considering it to be ‘holy water’, even touched his feet. Madhavrao used to get very much embarrassed by such gestures, but could not express his these feelings to Dasganu who used to affectionately call him ‘Baban’.
Aarati Sai Baba
Whenever Madhavrao visited Shirdi, he stayed there for long periods of time. He sustained his living by taking private tuitions. He set his foot on the path towards Shirdi as soon as the thought struck him.
In 1903-04, he was in Shirdi, totally immersed in Baba’s thought and suddenly a poem got composed in his mind. It was a poem devoted to Shri Sai Baba in the form of an Aarati. Dasganu was amazed and very happy with the song. But, Madhavrao thought nothing much of his creation and put the piece of paper in his pocket.
When both of them went to Baba, Baba realized that Madhavrao was trying to hide it and said, ‘‘Are, Madhava, why are you trying to hide the paper. Read it aloud !’’ On hearing it, Baba said, ‘‘Your Aarati will look after welfare of the devotees.’’ Even today, we experience, how true are Baba’s words…
Hemadpant has liberally showered praises on this Aarati in his ‘Shri Sai Sat Charit’.
Madhavrao’s basic nature tended towards Vairagya. Therefore, he was very happy to spend his time in Shirdi and be near his Sadguru and was never keen on returning back to his wife and other family members.
His relatives searched for him everywhere, but to no avail. Ultimately, the search ended, when one Raghopant, who had spotted Madhavrao in Shirdi, conveyed the information to them. Madhavrao’s father went to Shirdi and brought him back.
Baba had guessed this in advance and told Madhavrao in Hindi that ‘‘Two persons riding horses are coming to take you back. You will have to go with them. Go ! I will be always with you in the form of the Aarati.’’ When the riders arrived, Baba said, ‘‘Go with them immediately! You will give birth to a son. Name him as ‘Ram’! Don’t stay here anymore. Go with them!’’
Against his own wishes, Madhavrao obeyed Baba’s diktat and returned to his home and family life. In due course, a son was born and named as ‘Ramchandra’. Madhavrao also had a daughter. She was married to Shri Ropalekar of Pandharpur. But, like her mother, she also did not live long.
When Ramchandra’s thread ceremony was performed, his father was the only close member of his immediate family who was present.
Whenever Madhavrao was not in Shirdi, he would be restless. His heart yearned to be there. On one such occasion, as the holy festival of Ram Navami was fast approaching, Madhavrao wanted to be in Shirdi as soon as possible. In reality, his health was not good. He was worried as to how he will manage the trip. Just then, two of his friends arrived and they took him with great care to Shirdi. This is how Baba used to know the utmost desires of His devotees and fulfil the same.
While Madhavrao was in Shirdi, he would experience that every moment Baba is looking after his welfare and wellbeing. Once, as per his routine, he wanted to go inside the Masjid. But, there was a huge crowd of devotees already waiting to enter and therefore, the guards were not allowing Madhavrao to enter first. Just then, Baba sent a message ‘‘Let Madhavrao come in!’’
Try to imagine the feelings and joy of Madhavrao on hearing Baba’s message !
Madhavrao’s in depth study
Because of the good deeds that he must have done in his earlier births, Madhavrao was fortunate to have a Sadguru like Shri Sai Baba. But, besides Shirdi, he used to repeatedly visit various places of pilgrimage such as Kashi, Rameshwar, Balaji, Gangapur, Narasobawadi, Mahur, Tuljapur, Pandharpur and a host of others. Therefore, during these visits, he could be near great men like Gajanan Maharaj, Akkalkot Swami, Balbheem Maharaj, Sakhaya Swami Dehukar, Vasakar, Vyankat Swami, Vinayakbua, Dada Maharaj and other saints and holy men. He received their blessings. Madhavrao had a sweet voice and due to his in-depth study of various religious, historical and mythological topics, people loved his singing and rendering of kirtans, bhajans and pravachans.
Madhavrao could compose poems very quickly. However, he always bowed his head before the mastery of a great poet like Dasganu. He would make it a point to attend and listen to Dasganu’s kirtans. He knew many of Dasganu’s kirtans and poems by heart. We find a reference that while he was in Shirdi, Madhavrao once rendered Dasganu’s kirtan on Shri Eknath Maharaj.
It was Dasganu’s practice to recite ‘Vishnu-sahasra-naam’ 12 times every day. Seeing this, Madhavrao also began to follow the practice. He continued this till his demise. And even now, the practice is being followed by some members of his family. Madhavrao made it a point to accompany Dasganu and attend the festival of Ram Navami every year till 1952.
Madhavrao was also adept in astrology. In his spare time, he used to draw horoscopes for various people who approached him.
Abundant letter writing
He loved to write letters. They had very little to say about family matters, but were filled mostly with spiritual advice and treatise. Very often, he reverentially referred to Dasganu in them. At the top of his letter, he wrote ‘Shri Shankar’ – as was the practice followed by Dasganu. It was also his practice to send a copy of his letters to his son – Shri Ramchandrapant, who would preserve them with great love and care.
A sizable amount of correspondence had been exchanged between him and particularly Dasganu. He also corresponded with other Sai devotees, such as Shri Saisharananand, Nanasaheb Chandorkar, G. T. Karnik, Raobahadur Sathe, Tripathi and others. Most of these letters were initially in Marathi or Sanskrit, but later on in English and Urdu also.
Beautiful handwriting and Mastery over various languages
Madhavrao was well versed in several languages, such as Sanskrit, Modi, English, Urdu, Parsi, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati and Hindi. The letters written by him in these languages are available with his progenies. His mastery on some of these languages could be gauged by the fact that there are glimpses of his poems in his writings.
In 1948, Madhavrao wrote a pothi in Sanskrit on the contemporary saint of Gujarat Shri Rangacharya Swami Maharaj. It is also a piece of art because of its design and arrangement and Madhavrao’s beautiful handwriting. It gives an impression that it is printed and not handwritten.
Similarly, he wrote in his own handwriting the entire ‘Vishnu-sahasra-naam’. Dasganu was so happy with it that he sent Rs. 3 by money order to village Loni (where Madhavrao was located). When the two met, tears overflowed from eyes of both. Once, Madhavrao was posted in a small village and a British officer came there to inspect the school. While talking to Madhavrao, he was impressed by his mastery over the English language. He immediately wrote a stern letter for ‘posting such a learned man at such an obscure village’. The department replied that ‘What you say is true, but our difficulty is that the gentleman does not stay at any one place for long!’
Translated from original Marathi into English by Sudhir