(She served Baba for about 45 years. At the time of his Mahasamadhi, Baba gave her
9 silver coins of British Era, representing 9 types of devotion to God.)
Lakshmibai Shinde was a well to do woman. Her full name is Lakshmibai Tukaram Shinde.
Bhagoji Shinde was her husband’s uncle. She used to prepare food for Baba every
day. She had, during her entire life time, served Baba during day and night with
utmost devotion and unswerving faith. Baba used to address her as “Laxmi Ma”. She
was allowed access into the masjid at all times including nights, similar to the
privilege granted to Mhalasapati and Tatya Patil. She was the only woman who was
allowed to go into the masjid when the curtain was down (in those days the curtain
acted as a door and covered the upper portion of the masjid) and at that time no
body was allowed inside the masjid.
Once, in the evening, as usual Baba was reclining against the wall and chatting
with Tatya Patil. Laxmibai came there and bowed down before him. Baba said, “Laxmibai
! I am very hungry.” Laxmibai rushed to her home and gladly prepared rotis etc.
immediately and brought that hot food to Baba. Baba picked up the plate of the hot
food and placed it before a hungry dog. Laxmibai was surprised to see this. She
immediately said, “Baba, I hurriedly cooked the food for you; but you gave it to
the dog. You did not even taste a morsel.” Baba replied, “Laxmibai, there is God
in every being. If your food enters any mouth that is hungry, be assured that it
has fallen into my own mouth.” Thus, Baba indicated to Laxmibai that feeding any
hungry animal was feeding him. From that day onwards, Laxmibai started bringing
rotis etc. for Baba. She mixed it with milk and with great love brought it to Baba.
Baba on his part also waited for her rotis to come and did not touch any other food
before her food arrived. On some occasions, the food from her would come late even
though everyone in the masjid would be feeling very hungry. But, still Baba would
not start his meals till Laxmibai’s food arrived. After some period, Baba started
demanding kheer (sweet) made from Shevaya from her. After Laxmibai brought such
type of kheer, Baba would ask her to sit by his side. He then used to taste a little
and was sending the remaining food to Radhakrishnamai . She served Baba for about
45 years. Baba used to give her daily four rupees.
Laxmibai brought meal for Baba, which was his last supper on 15th October,
1918. Lakshmibai Shinde was one of the seven devotees who were present with Baba
in the masjid when Baba passed away into Mahasamadhi. Baba gave her first five silver
coins and then four silver coins, total 9 (nine) silver coins of British Era. All
were very much surprised to know as to how Baba got those silver coins of British
Era and how he preserved them. They knew that Baba did not keep any thing with him.
Thus as to how and from where Baba had got these 9 silver coins, had become a mystery.
Some people felt that those nine coins would symbolize the nine forms of devotion
and others viewed them as the nine characteristics of a good disciple.
When Baba’s Marble Statue, sculpted by B.V.Talim, the celebrated sculptor of Bombay,
was brought to Shirdi before installation, Laxmibai Shinde was one of the few living
devotees who saw the Statue of Baba and expressed happily that the Statue looked
like Baba exactly and felt that Baba came back to Shirdi in the form of Life-Like
Statue. She was also lucky to observe the installation ceremony of Baba’s Statue
at the hands of Sri Sai Sharananandji in the Samadhi Mandir on 7th Oct, 1954, the
Vijayadasami day, exactly 36 years after Baba’s Mahasamadhi.
She lived for 115 years upto 1963 and passed away on 2nd June, 1963 which was an
Ekadasi day. The nine coins were kept with the statue of Laxmibai in the small house
which is open to the public for darshan.
The house with her Samadhi in front, is located a few metres near the Chavadi. In
1963, Laxmibai handed over these divine coins to her daughter-in-law, Sonubai who
performed puja for these coins from the year 1963 to 1984 in the house. Later these
coins were handed over to her son. Afterwards the coins were handed over to her
fifth generation of descendants. Thus the coins are moving from one generation to
another and her descendants are keeping them as a treasure. All the family members
from generation to generation, were happy and did not have any financial problems
and on the other hand they were financially well off through Baba’s Grace.
Even now Laxmibai Shinde’s descendants have preserved these 9 coins very carefully
and they shine now in the same way as they were when Baba had given them to Laxmibai.
It was a fact that when Baba had come to Shirdi for the first time, it was Laxmibai
only who had offered food to Baba. Baba had given the coins to Laxmibai perhaps
in recognition of her sincere service and
unswerving devotion and faith. Now many devotees visit their house for the darshan
of these 9 blessed coins and it is believed that just by the mere darshan of these
9 coins, one’s problems get solved.
Baba perhaps preserved these coins and gave to ankita devotee, Lakshmibai Shinde
before he went to Mahasamadhi.Such was her devotion towards Baba.