(When Baba first entered Shirdi, it was Mhalasapati who addressed Baba as "SAI"
which became his name.Baba lay down lifeless on his lap in 1886. Next day when people
saw the lifeless body of Baba, they thought that he was dead and must be buried
and other inquest formalities also were done against the wish of Mhalsapati. But
Mhalsapati would not budge an inch and also told them that there would not be any
harm in waiting for three days stated by Baba and also expressed his confidence
that Baba’s words would come true.)
When Sai Baba entered Shirdi village Mhalasapati welcomed him as"Ya Sai"or “Aao
Sai” (meaning "Welcome Sai") and with that name he became known as Sai Baba. Mhalasapati
introduced to Baba his friends, Kashiram Shimpi and Appa Jagle who were both very
generous and devout people and all the three were interested in welcoming to Shirdi
village any holy and pious person.
His full name was Mhalsapati Chimnaji Nagare. Though particulars about his birth
are not known, it is estimated that at the time of his death he was about 85 years
old. He was a goldsmith by caste and right from his forefathers, all his families
had resided at Shirdi.
His family Deity was Khanderai. Because of this, he was a dedicated follower of
Khanderai of village Jejuri in Pune district. At least once every year, he went
on a pilgrimage to visit Jejuri temple. By nature, he was disinterested in worldly
things. He managed his household expenses by carrying on the business of a goldsmith.
However, later on when his business was not doing well, he started supporting his
family by collecting alms as advised in a dream vision by the God. After he placed
his entire faith in Sai Baba, he totally gave up all the worldly pleasures.
B.V Narasimha Swamiji declared that Mhalsapati was the pioneer of Sai pooja and
the Sai movement.Mhalsapati had four daughters. Their names were – Janakibai, Seetabai,
Rakhumabai and Vithabai. They were married to grooms from Asnagaon. Dochale, Dorhale
and Sei respectively. Mhalsapati also had one son and his son died at an early age
in 1880s. Because of this, Mhalsapati further lost his interest in worldly things.
Baba had piety on Mhalsapati and advised him several times to go and sleep in his
house so that he would have a second son. As he lost interest in the
worldly matters, he did not follow Baba’s words. In fact he had no desire to have
a son. But on one occasion, Kashiram Shimpi on Baba's orders forcibly took Mhalasapati
to his house and locked him up inside the house on one Krishna Jayanti day. Like
this Mhalasapati slept at home exactly for one full year and got a son due to the
blessings of Baba in 1897. As suggested by Baba, he was named‘Martand’. Martand
was very close to Baba and in the side picture, one can see Mhalasapati, Shama and
child Martand in the lap of Baba. Martand was deeply involved in the propagation
about Baba and later on became Martand Maharaj. Martand attended the First All India
Sai Devotees' Convention which was held for four days in May, 1946 in Mylapore,
Madras under the aegis of B.V.Narasimhaswamiji who became the apostle of Baba. More
than two hundred delegates and devotees attended the convention. This was a unique
convention. Martand raised his own family of sons and daughters and died in 1986.
Baba used to call Mahalsapati as “Sonarda” and later on as “Bhagat” meaning a close
disciple. Since the time Baba went to stay in Masjid, Mhalsapati and Tatya Patil
started sleeping with him. Later on when Chavadi was ready, Baba used to sleep on
alternate days in masjid and Chavadi. Only these two persons had the good fortune
to sleep with Baba in the masjid. After experiencing Baba’s supernatural powers
and his love, Mhalsapati was fully drawn to Baba and became fully detached from
worldly attachments. Mhalsapati left his traditional work and became an ascetic,
living only on alms. Gradually, he developed a total detachment from family. He
went home only for taking food. At all other times, he was serving Baba. He slept
in the masjid with Baba during nights.
In Dec, 1886 on the full moon day about four hours after sunset, Baba who was then
suffering from severe asthma and who wanted to get rid of it by entering into temporary
Samadhi, told Mhalsapati that his life would leave his body then and that he would
rest in peace for three full days and that thereafter his life would come back to
his physical body and advised him to protect his body during the three-day period
without being moved. Baba also said that in case he failed to return to life by
then, he should be buried in a place which he pointed out and mark the tomb with
a couple of flags. After telling Mhalsapati like that, Baba lay down on his lap.
Next day when people saw the lifeless body of Baba, they thought that he was dead
and must be
buried and other inquest formalities also were done against the wish of Mhalsapati.
But Mhalsapati would not budge an inch and also told them that there would not be
any harm in waiting for the expiry of the period stated by Baba and also stressed
and was confident that Baba’s words would come true. And Mhalsapati with full determination
held Baba’s head on his lap and did not leave the place and did not take even food
and water during that period. After seventy two hours having passed, three hours
before the sun rise at 3-00 AM, life came back to Baba’s physical body and Baba
started moving and then got up. Mhalsapati felt extremely happy and wept in blissful
First formal puja to Baba was performed by Mhalasapati. On several occasions in
the secluded atmosphere in the masjid, Mhalsapati spent several nights in sitting
with Baba and spent time in conversation till it was daybreak time. The relation
between Baba and Mhalasapati was really strange and interesting. It seems that,
because of this, their extraordinary conversations took place in isolated surroundings.
The discussions used to become more and more interesting while enjoying the chillum.
Daily in the evenings, once the lights were lit up, no devotee was allowed to enter
the masjid and the only exceptions being Dada Kelkar, Mhalsapati, Tatya, Mahadu,
Abdulbaba and Laxmibai.
After the Mahasamadhi of Baba, Mhalsapati continued his routine habit of sitting
in the masjid, performing puja for Baba and sleeping there on alternate days. He
gave his staff to his son and asked him to spend time in doing pious things with
bhakti marga (in the path of devotion). This continued till he breathed his last.
Mhalsapati after having done his ususal night arati and pooja in the masjid to his
Master, passed away four years after Baba’s Mahasamadhi on the holy day of Ekadashi
while uttering the word 'Ram' on 11th Sep, 1922, as hinted by Baba when he was in
mortal coil. Blessed was the soul of Mhalsapati who called Baba by name 'Sai' and
who protected Baba’s body for 72 hours during 1886 with extraordinary confidence
in Baba’s words and all this resulted in Baba blessing so many devotees with several
miracles for the next 32 years till Baba’s Mahasamadhi.