(Baba followed different ways of teaching to place the devotees on the right & religious
path. Sometimes he was using the medium of Shama to teach the devotees. All the
visitors used to approach Shama through whom only they would go to Baba for placing
their problems. When Shama was bitten by a snake, Baba's command only cured Shama.)
(If Baba was considered as an incarnation of Lord Krishna, then Shama must be regarded
as Arjun. And if Baba was regarded as Lord Shiva and then Shama as his Nandi.)
Madhavrao Deshpande alias Shama - a person with great religious bent of mind was
born in the year 1860 (may not be correct as per his son's view) in village Nimon,
Sangamner taluk, about 20 miles to the west of Shirdi. Shama might have been born
in 1835 as per his son's view. Madhavrao was the eldest and had two younger brothers.
When Madhavrao was about 2-3 years old, his father came to stay at Shirdi with his
entire family. Madhavrao studied upto about 6th standard in Shirdi itself. As his
entire life was spent in the rural atmosphere, his spoken language contained many
impurities and many usages from the rural area.
Madhavrao got married twice. His first wife was Savitribai. He had one son from
her. His name was Eknathpant. The name of Madhavrao’s second wife was Dwarkabai.
They had two sons, Jagannathpant and Uddhavrao and a daughter, Babitai from this
Madhavrao was an Assistant teacher in a school which was located in the place where
Baba's horse is now stabled. A window of that school always looked towards the adjoining
masjid. Through that he occasionally watched Sai Baba who was taken by people to
be a mad fakir, he had no regard for him then. He remained a teacher for five or
six years and gave up that post on transfer. After that also, he had continued to
stay in Shirdi. After resigning his post, he used to visit Sai Baba off and on.
After observing Baba for few months, he was convinced that Baba was really a God.He
gave reasons as to how his faith grew even when he was a teacher. At that time,
he used to sleep in the school and a window of that school always was open towards
the adjoining masjid and through that Shama was occasionally observing Baba who
was the sole occupant at that time in the masjid. Yet he could hear English, Hindi,
many languages being spoken in the masjid during nights by Baba only. He therefore
inferred that Baba had remarkable powers and developed faith in him. Baba used to
call Madhavrao as Maza
Shama (My Shama).
Madhavrao was tall, robustly built and very healthy. His complexion was wheatish.
He used to have a square diet and had a healthy appetite. Up to the age of 72, he
did n't suffer from any ailments. He did not suffer even from simple maladies like
fever or head-ache. He entirely adhered to ancient religious traditions. His conduct
was sacred and strict in observance of religious rites. Barring a few known households,
he never used to have meals at others. He was an expert in cooking. Therefore, generally
he prepared meals with his own hands.
When Shama was working in the school, one by name Chidambar Keshav Gadgil came to
Shirdi and asked Shama where was the great saint stated to be living in Shirdi and
to this Shama replied saying that there was no such saint in Shirdi except a mad
fakir staying in the adjoining masjid. When Gadgil went inside the masjid, Baba
showered abuses on him and told him that he was a Muslim and asked him to go and
fall at the feet of the sadhu at Bhimashanker temple. Gadgil was worshipping a sadhu
living at Bhimashanker temple at Poona and on the advice from that sadhu, Gadgil
came to Shirdi to see Baba. Gadgil got surprised as to how Baba knew all these things
and immediately understood the super natural powers of Baba.
Once Anandaswami, a devotee of Akkalkote Maharaj came to Shirdi to see Baba and
while meeting Baba, there was no exchange of words between them in the masjid. Then
he expressed his observation that Baba was a diamond on a dunghill.
Once it so happened that when Nanasaheb Nimonkar who was staying in Shirdi and his
son and daughter-in-law who were at Poona were attacked by plague. As Nimonkar and
his wife were devoted to Baba, they were worried, came and requested Baba’s permission
to go to Poona which Baba did not give. On the other hand, Baba assured them that
they would be cured and also informed them that their son would come to Shirdi within
15 days. Accordingly they got cured and their son visited Shirdi within the time
specified by Baba.
Shama was once bitten by a snake and the poison soon spread into the entire body
causing severe pain to Shama and he ran to the masjid and while climbing the steps
of the masjid, Baba shouted “Rascal, do not climb up
Beware, if you climb, go away-get down, you fool”. Shama was naturally shocked at
that type of shouting and abuses from Baba. But after sometime, Baba cooled down
and called Shama to his side and assured him not to worry at all as the merciful
fakir would come to his rescue and then advised Shama to go to his house and not
to sleep at all during that night. The thunderous shouting expressed by Baba was
not at Shama but was addressed to the poison which stopped from spreading in his
body. Shama followed accordingly and after a wakeful night, Shama was completely
cured and was saved by Baba. No treatment was given to Shama, but it was only a
command of word from Baba which cured Shama.
Baba followed different ways teaching to place the devotees on the right and religious
path. One instance was that of Hemadpant who once observed that Baba blessed a devotee
within a week of his arrival in Shirdi after he read Gurucharita twice in a week,
Hemadpant felt that even though he had served Baba for 7 years and read Gurucharita
for nearly 40 years, he was not so quickly blessed by Baba. When Hemadpant was thinking
like this in his mind, Baba read his mind and immediately sent him to Shama’s house
and advised him to spend some time talking to him and bring from him Rs.15 from
him as dakshina to Baba. Hemadpant went to Shama’s house and asked for Rs.15 for
giving to Baba as dakshina. Instead of giving the amount, Shama gave 15 salutations
to Baba which Hemadpant was asked to carry to Baba and also Shama started narrating
the story of an old lady, Radhabai Deshmukh who came from Sangamner village to Shirdi
with a strong conviction and firm determination, requesting Baba to give Upadesh
or Mantra and she resolved to go on fast until her death. Seeing her continued strong
conviction on fast, Baba finally spoke to her and told her about Baba’s Guru who
liked Baba very much and provided everything to Baba but did not give to Baba any
Upadesh or Mantra; Baba also continued saying that by always gazing at His Guru,
Baba became what He was then and that Baba also said that how could He give any
Upadesh or Mantra when His Guru did not give one to Him and that then she got convinced
and broke her fast. Hemadpant thus understood from Shama’s narration that by serving
Baba with devotion and continuously gazing at Baba, one could get blessed by Baba’s
Shama was a blessed devotee who was involved in so many matters
concerning Baba and whenever any body wanted to have darshan of Baba even though
Baba was reluctant, he would arrange Baba’s darshan through his intercession. That
was the intimacy he was having with Baba.
Kakasaheb, Bapusaheb Buty, Narke and others always treated Shama with great reverence.
Majority of the devotees used to approach Baba for any matter by going through Shama.
Even elders like Bapusaheb Buty and Kakasaheb Dixit approached Baba through Shama.
After the demise of Bapusaheb Buty, his son Shrimant Keshavrao Buty also accorded
the same respect to Shama. On pilgrimage tours, he used to take Shama with him.
Similarly, he used to welcome Shama at his Nagpur house with lot of hospitality.
He used to pay some amount as a monthly pension to Shama till the end.Shama passed
away in April, 1940 at the age of 80 years. But as per the view of his son, Sri
Udhava Rao, Shama lived for 105 years in which case the year of birth of Shama as
1835 (as stated above) may be correct.
Whenever Shama was not present in the masjid, a few devotees would communicate directly
with Baba and place before Him their problems. However, the answers given by Baba
at such times used to be somewhat different.
Shama's son, Uddhavrao Deshpande used to be present on several occasions with Baba
in the masjid right from his childhood. Baba used to play marbles with Uddhavrao
when he was of eight years age. As a child, Uddhavrao used to accompany Baba during
Baba's chavadi royal procession and he could be identified as a small boy wearing
a cap and holding a sceptre in his hand and was moving with the chavadi procession
standing towards the right side of Baba. This is the usual famous chavadi procession
photo where the boy could be easily identified.In about 1989 or so, the compiler
along with his relatives visited their (Shama's) house and had the opportunity of
meeting him when he had told us exhaustively about Baba. He also expressed that
Baba was a multi-linguist.
B.V.Dev did lot of research into Baba's teachings and his philosophy and released
several articles. In one article, he wrote saying, that if Baba was considered as
an incarnation of Lord Krishna, then Shama must be regarded as Arjun. In Shri Sai
Sat Charita, Hemadpant had considered Baba as Lord Shiva and Shama as his Nandi.
That was the relationship that was exisitng
between Baba and Shama.
To exemplify each instance in support of these statements, Baba appeared several
times as Lord Krishna to Bapusaheb Booty who constructed Baba's Samadhi Mandir.
As per Baba’s desire, Baba’s holy body was placed and preserved in the central shrine
meant for Murlidhar and Baba himself became Murlidhar/Lord Krishna and the Bootywada
became the Samadhi Mandir of Sai Baba. Baba Himself named his Hindu Masjit as Dwarakamai
and Dwarakamai proved to be perfectly the abode of Lord Krishna, who is none other
than Baba Himself in his present Manifestation. Once Megha who was the first priest
to Sai Baba considered Baba really as Lord Siva. Megha, being a hardy man, would
go to Godavari daily, which is locally called Ganga (5 miles away from Shirdi),
bring Ganga water and pour it on the head of Siva, Siva being Baba. But the impetuosity
of Megha’s bhakti made him take up the whole pot and turn it upside down over the
head of Baba. Strangely, not even a drop of water fell on the body of Baba. The
whole water had fallen on the head only without touching Baba’s body. So, just as
Siva had tied up Ganga in his own tuft, Baba also used his head for retaining and
throwing away the water so as not to touch his body or clothes.
Shama was with Booty when Booty was about to pass away. Booty called Shama and told
him that he knew Shama very well and that whenever he was near Shama he felt that
as if he was near Baba’s Feet. He had then overcome with emotions and placed his
head on Shama’s feet treating them as Baba’s feet. That was the respect he had from
As per the diary notings of Khaparde during Dec, 1911, Khaparde had only heard about
the novel phenomenon about Shama. During a particular day in that month, Khaparde
had seen it with his eyes and heard it with his ears. Shama was fast asleep and
during his sleep in his every breath-in and breath-out, Khaparde was able to hear
clearly from his breath, the words "Sainath Maharaj Sainath Baba". Even while Shama
was snoring, the same words could be heard from a little distance also. This is
really a miracle. That was Shama's affinity towards Baba.
Once, Tatyasaheb Noolkar became seriously ill while in Shirdi. His last hour came
near and he disclosed a desire to get holy water from Baba’s Feet. It was almost
past 1-00 o'clock in the night. Who could dare to go to Baba at
that midnight? But Shama went to the masjid with a vessel. Baba got up from his
place and roared and enquired as to why Shama came at that midnight. Shama requested
Baba and asked him to give the holy water from his feet as Noolkar was in the death
bed and that he desired holy water from Baba's feed as his thirtha at his last moment.
With these words, Shama came forward and then Baba put forward his toe and Shama
immediately dipped the toe in the water in the vessel and carried the vessel and
fulfilled the last desire of Noolkar. That was the intimacy Shama had with Baba.
Shama was a very helpful person in Shirdi and very close to Baba. Though he was
a simple person from a small village, his face used to radiate like that of a learned
person. Baba used to talk in riddles. But, as Madhavrao had spent considerable time
with Baba, so he was able to catch the meaning very quickly and used to explain
clearly the import of Baba’s expression to the concerned devotees.