Radhakrishna Mai coming to Sai Baba in Shirdi
Original name of Radhakrishna Mai was Sunder Bai. In 1899 A.D. Sunderbai turned 17 years of age and she was married. Due to fate, the husband of Sunderbai passed away on the eight day of the marriage. This brought about great misery in Sunderbai. She was broken and shaken from the very roots of the being. As the time passed it did not heal the mental and emotional conditions she was going through. She was sent to her maternal uncle’s house so that the change in outer environment might bring about a healing change in her conditions. Even that did not help. One early morning in the year 1902 A.D. she woke up and started running from her maternal uncle’s home, never to return. The feeling of Vairagya, dispassion towards worldly life had taken over her strongly. For five years she roamed about all over India, under tough conditions.
At last after many pilgrimages and meeting many holy people she came to Shirdi and Sai Baba asked her to stay in Shala (School) situated between Dwarkamai and Chavadi
Every morning in the land of Shirdi blessed by Sai Baba, when the sun was about to rise, the light was slowly dispersing the darkness of the night. A melodious and bold voice would pierce the silence of that dawn. The sweet and painful voice would call for God. The voice and the song would make the people of Shirdi feel the necessity of calling to the God. The voice was of Radhakrishna Mai.
Radhakrishna Mai had come and settled in vibrant land of Shirdi, the blessed land on which Sai Baba moved and talked in his physical form, much before other notable devotees like Kakasaheb Dixit Annasaheb Dabolkar, Bapu Saheb Buti, Sagun Meru Naik, Ramchandra Atmaram Tarkhad, Dr. Chidambar Pilley, Saint Upasni Maharaj and Sri Sai Sharan Anand Maharaj.
One evening, in 1907 Sai Baba was sitting in Dwarkamai, with his hand leaning on the wooden rest. The sun was moving slowly towards the setting point. The cattle were moving towards their shade after grazing in the nearby fields. At that time, at near distant was a building called Chavadi. The building was in a dilapidated condition. Other than that all the sides were open. One could see the horizon from the Masjid Mai or Dwaraka Mai. Around the Dwarka Mai there was no fencing of any kind. At that time Sai Baba’s eyes saw at a distance, a figure, clad in white clothes, moving towards Dwarkamai.
Sai Baba kept on gazing in that direction, as if waiting for someone. As the figure came closer and closer one could see that it was a female, in white clothes. A cloth bag was hanging on the back of her shoulder. In one hand was an ektara, a musical instrument similar to guitar, with just one string. And in other hand was kartaal yet another musical instrument. On her forehead was a tilak according to Madhva Sampradaya, a long line with black colored abil, on both the hands were bangles made of Tulsi beads. Also the neck was decorated with Tulsi garland. The dark hair was hanging from her head, reaching below her knees. As she came nearer to Dwarkamai, all the eyes fell on her. Though the clothes she wore were not very tidy, one could see the charm in her face, which would demand respect at once.
Reaching near Dwarkamai the lady unburdened her shoulder by putting the cloth bag on the land of Shirdi. She also put off the musical instruments from her hands. Without climbing up the stairs of Dwarka Mai, the lady bowed down, touched her head on the sacred land of Shirdi and then joining both her hands, she did Namaskar to Sri Sai Baba, who was sitting in Masjidmai. From her cloth bag she took out a beautiful idol of RadhaKrishna. ( Krishna symbolizes God and Radha the lover of God, the name of Radha (lover of God) is taken before the name of God in Hindu tradition, signifying the importance of God lover, such lovers of God are rare, who craves for Only God’s Love). The beautiful metallic idol was of brass, of about 9 inches in size, she gathered two bricks from around, placed them together, covered them with a vastra (piece of neat cloth), placed the idol over it and sat with the Kartaal in her hand.
Along with the music she began to sing with a pain in her heart. The high pitch voice was singing and calling for God. Saying that the name of Ram is in my mind, how do I please Ram (God) O Sai, I am weak with the karmas, how do I sing the glory of God O Sai. She sung a Bhajan by Mira Bai, the notes she sang seemed to become one with Krishna (Mira Bai’s love for God was God in form of Krishna). All the notes seemed to be merging and melting in Krishna, such was the love and pain flowing through her heart for God, while she was singing. People of Shirdi, attracted by the music and pitiful and melodious songs, sung in a high pitch, began to gather near Dwarka Mai. As the bhajans were sung, the people were wrapped by the magic of it. They forgot time; they forgot their daily hassles of life. The hearts of the listeners were experiencing something which they could not understand nor could they explain. The earthen lamps lit with oil, began to get dim, yet nobody’s mind and heart was getting ready to mend them, such was the environment created. The bhajans continued till midnight. Sai Baba did not leave his Asan (seat), people forgot sleep. Even the beloved devotees of Sai Baba, Tatya Patil and Mahalsapati were wrapped in the environment.
At last the throat of lady (RadhaKrishnamai) took rest; the hands stopped playing on the instruments. The lady went into Samadhi. Still the listeners were in the effect of music.
After some time, the lady came back from Samadhi. Sai Baba while giving blessings said, “Go! The school (situated between MasjidMai and Chavadi) is vacant, and stay there.”
After the arrival of Sunderbai in Shirdi, because of her devotion towards the RadhaKrishna, people of started calling her as Radhakrishnamai. Shirdi Sai Baba used to call her RadhaKrishni, sometimes Sai Baba would even call her as Avdasa. Gradually the original name Sunderbai was erased from people’s mind and RadhaKrishnamai was how she was popularly known as and called by the people of Shirdi and the visitors of Shirdi. RadhaKrishnamai always used to wear thick clothes, the clothes used to be stark clean. The hair on the head used to be free and untied, sometimes were tied in knots. In her kutir (small thatched home) would be bed covered with a clean bedsheet and a mosquito net over it. On the small platform for devotion and prayers was a clean gadi (small mattress), on which was placed the nine inch beautiful idol of RadhaKrishna, made of brass. On both sides of the idol were beautiful pictures of Sai Baba, on which the garland of flowers were adorned, and on both the sides were placed pillows with hand stitched design.
One of the picture was of Sai Baba sitting on the stone, the other photo was of Sai Baba sitting on the floor. There was one small additional picture in which Sai Baba was standing leaning on a wall, his hand pulling up a little of his kafni (dress). Visitors of Shirdi used to visit the Kutir of RadhaKrishnamai to have the darshan of these pictures. Also Sai Baba used to send most of the visitors to the Kutir, asking them, did you visit the Shala? (School), which meant the kutir of RadhaKrishnamai.
Two books were always seen in the Kutir, one was printed in Nirnay Sagar press in Mumbai which contained Marathi Abhangs, composed by Saint Tukaram. The other was a book by poet Jaydev called Geet Govind, also in Marathi.
RadhaKrishnamai used to prepare morning breakfast for Sai Baba, other than that she did not have to worry about cooking. In the afternoon she would eat whatever Sai Baba used to send her as prasad to eat. In the evening prominent devotees of Sai Baba like Bapusaheb Buti would bring their food and everybody used to partake the food brought by everyone. Thus RadhaKrishnamai could pass most of her time in devotion, singing devotional songs with ektara (a single string musical instrument). The melody could be heard in the Dwarkamai.