(He was giving Baba’s udhi to the devotees visiting Shirdi and was also putting
the udhi in the mouths of some of the devotees. Though he was doing all these things
on the orders of Baba, none suffered any ailment due to his handling of the udhi.
It was Baba's protection that saved all).
Bhagoji Shinde was a resident of Shirdi from the beginning. Bhagoji Shinde was a
leper and stayed with Baba. Bhagoji was related to Laxmibai Shinde. He was suffering
from leprosy. He was losing the fingers of his hands and toes in the legs. But with
all these problems, Bhagoji served Baba throughout his life and made his life memorable.
After Baba arrived in Shirdi, in the initial period, Baba distributed medicines
to the poor and needy. When Bhagoji’s illness reached serious proportions, all his
relatives gave up the hope about his survival. At that time, Baba went to Bhagoji’s
house and gave him some medicines. Further, he branded Bhagoji with hot iron rod
on his back and on both ears. He took Baba’s teerth which cured his disease, though
he remained partially disfigured by that time. But, Baba did not allow his disease
to become worse. He was a sort of attendant to Baba and was one among the closet
to Baba. He was always engaged in the regular service to Baba.
As regards daily routine of Baba, he would get up before the dawn and meditate while
sitting leaning on the pillar by the side of the dhuni (holy fire) and then used
to sit before the dhuni. No one was allowed to see what he was doing at that time.
While sitting before the dhuni, he would perform some mystic signs with hands and
chant words like, "Yaade Haq," "Allah Vali Hai," and "Allah Maalik Hai". Only Abdul
Baba and Madhav Fasle would then enter the mosque and do the normal housekeeping
work, such as sweeping the floor of the mosque, trimming the wicks of the lamps
and refilling them with oil, and placing the firewood near the dhuni. As the day
broke, Bhagoji was the first to enter the mosque in the early morning, every day.
Bagoji used to fill up the chillum (smoking pipe) and light it. Then Baba would
smoke and pass it on to Bhagoji. He used to smoke and return it to Baba. After few
such exchanges, Bhagoji would go back to his home after massaging Baba’s hands and
feet. Baba used to smoke the chillum given by Bhagoji with great love and affection.
By about 7-30 A.M. or so, this routine would be over and by that time the devotees
were ready to enter the mosque for the darshan of Baba. Baba would describe to them
how he had protected
his devotees who were far away from any harm during the previous night, and how
he had conveyed those who died during the night, safely to heaven. The devotees
would later learn that whatever Baba had stated was true when the devotees from
distant places came to Shirdi to thank Baba for his help and narrate their experiences.
Bhagoji's house, known as Shindewada, is just behind Laxmibai Shinde’s house and
is also near the Chavadi. The compound of Shindewada is adjacent to a pharmacy run
by a relative of Bhagoji. He accompanied Baba to Lendibagh and had the privilege
of carrying an umbrella over Baba’s head to give him shade, on all occasions.
Once Baba saved a child from falling into a burning furnace by putting his own hand
in the dhuni in the masjid and getting it burnt and saved the life of a child. This
happened in 1910 on a Diwali day when Baba was sitting before the dhuni and pushing
faggots into the burning dhuni and suddenly put his hand and got it burnt. Seeing
this, Shama dragged Baba back and enquired why he did like this. Baba immediately
said that the wife of a blacksmith while working on the bellows of a furnace at
a far off place in a hurry slipped her child into the burning furnace and that to
protect the child from falling into the furnace Baba put his hand in the dhuniand
got it burnt and saved the life of the child. Instead of the child being burnt,
he got his hand burnt and Baba thus took over on him the death-risk of the child.
Nanasaheb Chandorkar brought a famous doctor by the name, Dr.Paramanand from Bombay
to Shirdi for Baba’s treatment. But, Baba did not allow the doctor to examine his
hand. Instead, he asked Bhagoji to apply ghee to the burnt portion of his hand,
place the leaf of a tree on it and then bandage it very tightly. Nanasaheb Chandorkar
solicited Baba many a time to unfasten the bandage and get the wound examined and
dressed and treated by Dr. Parmanand, with the object that it might be healed quickly.
Dr. Parmanand himself made similar requests, but Baba declined, saying that Allah
was his Doctor; and did not allow his arm to be examined by Dr. Paramanand. But
the doctor had the good fortune of having a darshan of Baba. With the passage of
time, the hand got cured of the burns. Even then, every day in early morning, Bhagoji
used to remove the old bandage, massage the portion of hand, then once again apply
ghee and tie a fresh bandage and this process continued for eight years, even after
was cured and this continued till Baba’s Mahasamadhi. Baba, being a perfect Siddha,
did not really want this treatment, but out of love to his devotee, he allowed Bhagoji
to continue to do this service uninterruptedly all along. Baba perhaps wanted Bhagoji
to do this work uninterruptedly till his Masamadhi, only to bless him because of
his past karmas (misdeeds in earlier lives). In the early mornings. this was the
work Bhagoji did to Baba every day, besides other items of service.
During 1916 on the Vijayadasami day, Baba all of a sudden in a fit of anger, removed
his head dress, kafni and alsolangota, tore them into pieces and threw all of them
into the dhuni. And then Baba shouted in high pitch and in anger, asking all the
people present there in the masjid to have a close look at his body and find out
whether he was a Muslim or a Hindu. Every one in the masjid was shocked and trembled
in fear. But Bhagoji who was there in the masjid at that time, came to Baba and
tied a langoti to Baba who became cool and calm in that night. Even otherwise, many
devotees knew that Baba was a Hindu and his bodily signs confirmed that position.
Though he was suffering from leprosy, his fingers had shrunk, his body was full
of pus and was emanating stench badly, he was really very lucky and fortunate, for
he was the prominent servant of Baba, and got the benefit of his company continuously.
Bagoji, at the instance of Baba, was also giving Baba’s udhi (holy ash) to the devotees
visiting Shirdi and was also putting the udhi in the mouths of some of the devotees.
Though he was doing all these things on the orders of Baba, none suffered any ailment
due to his handling of theudhi. Bhagoji continued this service till Baba’s Mahasamadhi.
Really, Bhagoji was very fortunate to have the honour of being in the close company
At the time of Baba’s Mahasamadhi, there were seven devotees in the masjid and Bhagoji
Shinde was one among them. Then Baba gave Rs.9/- to Laxmibai Shinde. Then Baba said
that he did not feel well in the masjid and that he should be taken to the Dagadiwada
(stone building) of Booty where he would be alright and with these words, Baba leaned
on Bayaji's body and went into Mahasamadhi. Bhagoji observed that his breathing
had stopped and he immediately told about this to Nanasaheb Nimonkar who was sitting
below. Thus he was one of the few devotees who served Baba till his Mahasamadhi.
His was indeed a blessed soul.