Sri Anant Jayadev Chitamber of Ahmednagar had the immense good fortune of the darshan of Sri Sai Baba when he was young. His father, Sri Jayadev Chitamber, was the Principal of the primary school in Shirdi between 1912 and 1927. It was in this school that Sri Madhavarao Deshpande (Shama) had worked earlier as a teacher. Hence, Sri Anant Chitamber’s childhood was spent in the presence of Sri Sai Baba. We can see how much the divine influence of Sri Sai Baba’s presence has had on even small children from the reminiscences of Sri Anant Chitamber. Here is the translation of his reminiscences written in a Marathi article published in Sai Leela Masik in 1975.

In 1912 my father was transferred to Shirdi as the Headmaster of the primary school. I was only 15 months old. He worked there until 1927, approximately 14 years. The school was near the Maruti temple. So I spent my childhood in Shirdi. I was eight years old when Sri Sai Baba entered Mahasamadhi in 1918. So I was not so young as to be entirely unaware of him. Even now I can remember those sweet moments spent with Sri Sainath Maharaj, I used to go every day to Dwarkamai and salute him with my head placed on his feet. I would take part in the Aartis and sing along with the others. I directly witnessed Baba going around the village for alms, giving Darshan to his devotees and going to and coming from Lendi garden. I can still see him in my mind’s eye, sitting at the mosque with his close devotees and puffing on his chillum

I can remember to this day the kirtan done by Sri Tukaram Bua Ajgaonkar in the presence of Sri Sainath Maharaj under the aegis of Sri Das Ganu Maharaj. Sri Bua must have been seven or eight years old at that time. (Sri Dharmadhikari, the grandson of Sri Tukaram Bua is presently working as a priest in Sai Baba Sansthan –Ed.) I had seen all the close devotees of Sri Sai Baba in my childhood.

I had the great good fortune of seeing the devotees such as Kakasaheb Dixit, Jog, Madhavarao Deshpande, Tatya Kote Patil, Gopalrao Buty, Abdul Baba, Dhabholkar, Purandhare and Das Ganu Maharaj.

I can still recollect those devotees sitting in Dwarkamai with Sri Sai Baba, taking part in the Sej arati at Chavadi etc. How was this possible for me? It is only the accumulated merit of many lifetimes that has enabled me to receive this gift from Sri Sai Baba. I was just eight years old. But as a result of having had the good fortune of Sri Sai Baba’s darshan and his blessings these memories are imprinted in my mind. I can never forget these incidents. I feel that Sri Sai Baba had intended that I should remember them always and hence had blessed me with his grace and lit the lamp of these memories in my heart.

Sri Sai Baba incarnated in Shirdi. He took up the task of leading the world to salvation from there. He fulfils the desires of his devotees, removes their sorrows and gives them peace and happiness. Even now he is with us in the form of his samadhi at Shirdi. Sai Baba is in the heart of all living beings. He showers his grace on all and gives divine experiences to all His devotees. Even though it is fifty-seven years since he entered Mahasamadhi he is still present in Shirdi in the form of his Samadhi. This is an indubitable fact. He is beyond time. Where can he go leaving us all behind? Wherever in this world his devotees may be, the moment they cry for his help, he comes running like a concerned mother to offer them succour. They immediately become aware that Baba is with them. We get immediate recompense for the love and devotion we bear towards him.

My mother used to have the Darshan of Sri Sai Baba every day. She would apply turmeric and vermilion powder to his feet and salute him reverently. Once she asked him, “Do you like it when I apply turmeric and vermilion powder to your feet? Baba replied, “Whatever you do with love and devotion is to my liking.” Baba would ask my mother for dakshina sometimes. She would then take a quarter of a rupee from my father and offer it to Baba as dakshina. As a result of the service she had done to Baba she had a very good death. She was fully conscious and her faculties were stilled in peace at the end of her time and she breathed her last repeating the holy name of Lord Rama. My father also had great devotion and love for Sri Baba. He used to regard Baba as the almighty. One morning, after the Aarati, Baba went from Chavadi to the mosque. My father was standing nearby and Baba while passing him hit him on his head with his satka (hand stick). My father had a small injury to the head, which was cured by applying udi to it. He looked upon the injury as a prasad of Baba. Within fifteen days, my father’s salary increased by 15 rupees per month – a princely sum in those days. The devotees used to feel Baba’s anger as a great prasad or gift to them. His anger was always directed at the defects of his devotees to rid them of those defects. This is the literal truth.

Source: March 1978 Sai Leela Masik.Translated by Parna Kishore



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