(Baba declared,“My bones will talk to you from my grave and keep immense faith in
me. The eternal truth is I am always alive and this is my promise to you all, which
you should never forget." It was M.W.Pradhan who brought Shyamrao Jayker, the famous
painter, to Shirdi & asked him to make a portrait of Baba & through his efforts
only, the pictures of Baba are now available to all of us.)
Moreshwar W. Pradhan was an ardent devotee of Baba. He was a Judge in Bombay High
Court. He was suffering from acute asthama. He knew Babasaheb Tarkhad (R.A.Tarkhad)
very well and Tarkhad was a staunch devotee of Baba much before Pradhan came to
know about Baba. Pradhan was suffering from asthma since a long time. For the cure
of his asthama Tarkhad advised him to visit Shirdi. In May 1910, Pradhan’s brothers
were chatting with Nanasaheb Chandorkar(another prominent devotee) and his brother
Rama Rao asked, “Akkalkote Maharaj was a great saint and he was dead. Is there anyone
nowadays of this type?” Then Chandorkar revealed to him that there was, and that
was Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi. Till then Shirdi had never been heard of by others and
they learnt that is in the Kopergaon taluk of Ahmednagar district. Chandorkar then
gave such a vivid and glowing account of Baba’s powers and his greatness that every
one hearing it was anxious to start immediately to Shirdi to get darshan of Baba.
So, a group of people reached Shirdi the next day. but M.W. Pradhan was not in that
party. The party had darshan of Baba and returned and brought with them a copy of
Baba’s picture and Das Ganu’s "Bhakta Leelamrita", describing Baba’s life and miracles.
Pradhan took Baba’s photo and the book to his wife and they both read the book and
understood that Baba was a true divine saint. They were eager to go to Shirdi. In
May 1910 Pradhan went to Shirdi accompanied by Chandorkar’s two sons, namely Bapu
and Babu. He wanted to present Baba with gold sovereigns and carried them and also
some currency notes. When he arrived at Shirdi, Baba was standing on the road near
the Lendibagh and Pradhan and others prostrated to Baba there itself. There he met
H.V.Sathe and Noolkar,(both of them devotees of Baba) and then went to the masjid
and garlanded Baba and offered the presents. Then he was convinced that Baba was
really a divine saint. On his very first visit to Shirdi when he met Baba, he was
offered to inhale the Chilim' (a clay pipe which Baba used to smoke) which Baba
gave him. He hesitated initially to
inhale, but could not refuse it and finally inhaled the 'Chilim' and immediately
his asthma got completely cured. It was a great miracle. From that moment onwards
he never got any attack of asthama.. What a strange way of curing a person of his
severe ailment. He thanked in his mind Tarkhad and Nanasaheb Chandorkar for their
advice and from then on became an ardent devotee of Baba.
Once Baba asked for dakshina. Originally Pradhan had decided to offer Rs.20, but
he gave Baba a gold sovereign instead. Baba took it, turned it up and down and said
“What is this?” Noolkar who was there said, “Baba, this is a guinea (a former British
coin)”. Baba said, “What is its worth?” Noolkar replied, “Rs.15”. Baba returned
the coin to Pradhan saying, “I do not want this. Keep it with you, but give me Rs.15”.
Pradhan was glad to have a coin touched by Baba and returned to him. He then gave
Baba Rs.15. Then Baba said, “I find only Rs.10 here. Give me Rs.5 more”. This might
be a test to him but Pradhan without saying any thing gave him Rs.5 more. However
Pradhan remembered that he had originally intended to give Rs.20 to Baba and as
per his desire Baba took finally Rs.20 from him and then Baba did not ask any thing
Baba exhibited, in his normal course, certain aspects of his superhuman powers.
On the first visit, when he was about to start back from Shirdi, there was a severe
storm and rain, pouring for some time and if that continued, the streams between
Shirdi and Kopergaon would swell up and in the absence of any bridge, it would be
impossible for him to get back to Kopergaon and then to Bombay. But Baba looked
at the sky and said, “O God enough. Stop this rain. My children have to go back
home. Let them go back without any difficulty”. As Baba uttered these words, the
rain became gentle and then stopped. Pradhan left Shirdi and went to Kopergoan without
any difficulty and then proceeded to his place.
In his next visit, Pradhan remained in Shirdi for 8 days. And during that time he
arranged for a special dinner to Baba, and asked Baba, what were the dishes that
should be made ready and who were the invitees for the dinner. Baba told him that
Pooran Poli (Obbattu) was one of the items in the dinner and Babu, nephew of Dada
Kelkar, should be invited and said that Baba also would come. So, at the meal time
the next day every one was served and a place was reserved for Baba and the dishes
were also served. Suddenly a
crow came there and lifted a pooran poli from the plate and carried it away. They
all said that Baba visited as the crow and had taken away his favorite dish, pooran
That evening, Baba gave one remarkable hint of his antarjnana and kindness to Pradhan.
Baba touched his limbs on one side and said, “On this side of my body there is excruciating
pain. It will be alright in two or four days”. But Baba appeared to be hale and
healthy but his expression was cryptic and what he meant by his words was not then
clear to him. Baba beckoned to him addressing him as Bhav. Then Baba gave him udhi
and Pradhan returned from the masjid. But he understood the meaning of Baba’s cryptic
expression after he reached Bombay. Before departing from the masjid, Babu Chandorkar
placed a plate under Baba’s feet, and pouring water over his feet, collected the
Pada Tirtha for carrying home. That was not being done earlier and it was started
by Babu for the first time. Only udhi was taken till then and Pada Tirtha was used
only at the Aarti time and there was no practice of taking pada tirtha home at that
time. But on this occasion, as Babu Chandorkar took Pada Tirtha home, Pradhan also
took home some quantity. On his way back, he was lucky enough to get into the first
train, namely, the Punjab mail, though he did not have the ticket for it. That was
lucky, for he reached home four or five hour earlier, and on arrival he learnt that
his mother had an attack of paralysis. She was having excruciating pain on one side
as Baba said. So, Baba was referring her pain and not his own pain at that time
in Shirdi and Pradhan was lucky in going home by the earlier train with Pada Tirtha
and Baba’s udhi. The relations at home were considering whether they should inform
Pradhan of his mother’s sudden illness. But Baba himself knew it and sent him back
in time. The doctor, noting the high temperature of the patient and her constipation
and restlessness, considered her condition very critical, but if, however, the bowels
moved in the course of that night, the doctor thought the situation would slightly
improve. It was 4.30 a.m. when Pradhan reached home. Immediately he gave Baba’s
udhi and Tirtha to his mother. She became somnolent. A little later, her bowels
also moved, and her temperature fell. The doctor came and noted the improvement.
Baba had thus arranged everything for the benefit of Pradhan’s mother. Actually
within two days, she became cured of her illness. So, every member of Pradhan’s
to Baba and got his blessings.
Pradhan was the President of the Shirdi Sai Baba Sansthan for some time and was
also one of the first five lifetime Trustees of the Sansthan.
On one Thursday, Pradhan saw Baba preparing food in a hundi (metal pot) to feed
a large number of people. Baba drove away every one from the masjid at that time
and was alone. Pradhan, Bapu and Babu, (the latter two, sons of Nanasaheb Chandorkar)
went in and Baba received them well and evidently sent away all others to give them
a special audience. Baba appeared to be singing something and Pradhan discovered
that the words of Baba’s song were “Sri Ram, Jaya Ram, Jaya Jaya Ram”. At once Pradhan
was overcome with emotion and he placed his head and hands on Baba’s feet. These
were the same words of the mantra which his family Guru gave to Pradhan in the past.
However he was not chanting the mantra and neglected it. But then Baba reminded
him about the mantra for his spiritual growth. The mantra, "Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya
Jaya Ram" or "Sri Rama Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Rama" is a 13 letter-powerful mantra,
the chanting of which will definitely lead to one's spiritual progress. This deep
love of Baba greatly impressed Pradhan. He also observed that when the contents
of the hundi were boiling, Baba used to put his hand into the hundi to test whether
the food was cooked, without using any ladle and it was surprising to note that
his hand was not scalded or even swollen.
Then suddenly at noon, Baba took Pradhan and the two boys to the Lendibagh. That
was not his usual hour of visit to the Lendibagh. But after taking them, Baba dug
small hollows in the earth and gave some corn seeds into Pradhan’s hands and made
him sow those corn seeds in the hollows which were then covered up with earth. Baba
made Pradhan water the covered seed patches. Then all of them returned to the masjid.
This event had got lot of future significance in that Pradhan after 7 or 8 years
purchased the Lendi garden and donated it to the Sansthan when the Sansthan was
formed after sanction by the district court of Ahmednagar.. Baba foresaw this and
made a beginning like this with the hands of Pradhan. The Lendi garden was very
significant and sacrosanct in that this was a place where Baba walked number of
times every day and was looked after by Baba himself by watering the plants in the
sacred Lendi garden and all the devotees had lot of respect for this garden.
Lendi Bagh is situated on the North East Corner in Shirdi. It is heaven on earth.
During the early days of Baba's sojourn in Shirdi, he used to go early in the morning
to Lendi Bagh. Lendi was the name of a little stream on the outskirts of the village.
Hence the land nearby was called 'Lendi Bagh' by Baba. Baba was rather rigid in
his routine, and everyday he made his rounds in the morning and afternoon to Lendi
Bagh, often accompanied by His Bhaktas, Butti, Bhagoji and Nimonkar. Sometimes he
entered the garden alone and spent more time. The devotees who visit Shirdi can
see the board above the gate that reads “Moreshwar Pradhan Che Lendi Bagh.” Lendi
Bagh is a treasure trove, sanctified by the dust of Baba’s feet, and the solitary
time he spent there each and every day. This garden was full of trees, and flowering
plants like Parijata, Champa, Chameli, Jui and Jai. Upto 1980’s this garden had
a beautiful entrance which was a canopy of flowering bougainvillea. On the left
side entrance of Lendi Bagh, there was another rose garden where deer and rabbits
Das Ganu went to Pradhan’s place in Santa Cruz, and gave a discourse and sang kirtans
from 2 A.M.. to 5 A.M. Listening to the kirtans, Pradhan’s wife got a burning desire
to immediately go to Shirdi to have darshan of Baba. Baba also appeared in her dream
and this resulted in her increased desire to visit Shirdi immediately. Her sister-in-law,
who was in an advanced stage of pregnancy also wanted to visit. And both of them
were prepared to take risk and both of them started to Shirdi. Nanasaheb received
both the ladies and Pradhan at Kopergaon station. Nanasaheb was then getting fever
on alternate days. Because of this intermittent fever, Nanasaheb asked Baba whether
he could go to the station to receive them. Baba permitted and then he went to the
station and on that day he should get the fever. But he did not get fever on that
day and the fever since then disappeared completely. Both the ladies reached Shirdi
and at the time of their visit and darshan of Baba, Baba pointing to Mrs. Pradhan
said, “This is going to be the mother of my Babu”. But Nanasaheb thought that her
sister-in-law being pregnant, the reference must be to her, and then asked Baba,
“Is this the lady you mean?” pointing to the sister-in-law. But Baba said, “No.
It is this” (pointing again to Mrs. Pradhan). It turned out that her sister-in-law
had only a tumour and not a pregnancy. In about an year’s time, Mrs. Pradhan delivered
baby boy. As Baba said it was Babu, the child was named Babu. When the child was
to Shirdi, Baba took up the child and asked, “Babu, where had you been. Were you
vexed with me or weary of me?” Baba was fond of the child Babu and when taken to
Shirdi for his first birthday, Baba bought some burfi (sweet) and distributed it
to all and this had happened in 1912. Then Baba asked, “Has the child no brother
and no sister?” Mrs.Pradhan said that Baba gave only one child, Babu. But Baba’s
words carried lot of indirect significance and as a result of Baba’s statement,
Mrs. Pradhan had another male child and one daughter. To celebrate Babu’s birthday,
Pradhan arranged a grand dinner in the house of Shama, another ardent devotee and
all were invited. That was a Thursday. One Baba Saheb Bhate did not participate
in the dinner and said that on Thursdays, he would not take dinner outside. Baba
asked Bhate what if that was a Thursday and whom he wanted to please by not eating
outside and then ordered him to go and dine which Bhate obeyed.
On some occasion Baba pointed out to the village wall-stone-arch and said, “whoever
rebuilds this, will get blessings”. Mrs.Pradhan asked Baba’s permission which he
gave and for this work, Pradhan paid Rs.600/- to Nanasaheb to rebuild it. At this
time, Baba also said “Babu’s bungalow is beautiful and ready”. This statement also
was cryptic At this, Pradhan guessed that he should buy the bungalow where he was
living at that time. He got a lease of the bungalow within two months and then he
purchased it within six month’s time. Thus Baba’s cryptic words became true and
Babu had a beautiful bungalow in 1913.
Booty’s second marriage took place in Shirdi in 1916 and Pradhan was present at
the marriage function.
Mrs. Pradhan had a dream in their house and Baba appeared in the dream and she did
Pada Puja to Baba in the dream. Nanasaheb interpreted the dream and told them that
Baba wanted her to do regular Pada Puja at home and advised her to go to Shirdi
with a pair of silver padukas. Accordingly she went and placed two silver padukas
on Baba’s feet and took them back for Pada Puja which she did regularly in their
Mrs. Pradhan gives some more instances of Baba’s kindness. When her child Babu had
measles, the doctor was feeling helpless. She prayed to Baba. Baba appeared and
said, “Why weep? The child is all right. Give him a good feed
at 6.30 a.m.” The child began to play in the morning and the doctor was surprised
at the sudden improvement.
One night, Baba appeared to Mrs. Pradhan in her dream and said, “Are you sleeping?
Get up. Your boy will have convulsions”. Then she got up. The boy at that time had
no convulsions, but she kept hot water, fire and other items ready. Three hours
later, the boy woke up and developed convulsions. As everything was kept ready,
the boy became all right within half an hour.
Once when she went to the masjid, she was afraid that Baba would get angry. That
day Baba said, “See, I do not get angry with anyone. Once while she was doing puja
at the masjid, Baba stopped her and asked her to go back immediately to her quarters.
She went back and found her Babu was crying and that there was no one to look after
the child at that time. Then she went and cared for the child and returned. Baba
then said, “Now do your puja”. So, Baba from the masjid was keeping a watchful eye
over all his devotees and their families to protect them always. Baba once said
that he would hear even the ant’s footfall. Once she was taking a convalescent boy
to Shirdi against the doctor’s advice. The child was still unwell but was traveling
in the train. The child could not sit up and had to lie down. She feared that people
would laugh at her conduct. When the child was taken to Baba the child stood up
before Baba and was perfectly healthy, Baba then said, “People would not laugh now”.
Pradhan’s last visit to Baba was in 1918. He had taken with him Rs.3,800. But he
overstayed his intended period at Shirdi and Baba went on asking for dakshina from
him and the result was that he had given Rs.5,000 in all by taking a loan of Rs.
1,200 from his friend. Baba, after receiving Rs.5,000 from Pradhan, made some gestures
which were unintelligible. But perhaps they seemed to mean “Even if the heavens
tumble down over you, do not fear. I am with you”. Thus, Baba looked after their
safety and comfort continuously.
Baba was considered as Datta Avatar by Das Ganu and by those who heard his kirtans
and also by Pradhan. When Babu was ill at Santa Cruz, their family priest, one Madhav
Bhat, was asked to look after the child and the priest went on with his mantra japa
and puja. But he said that illness was due to the fact that the family was now worshipping
Baba, a Mohammedan saint,
but Pradhan told him that Baba was not a Mohammedan saint and that Baba was Datta
Avatar. Bhat was not convinced. Later, one night, he had a dream in which he saw
a figure which was like that of Baba as he could understand from Baba’s photo in
the house of Pradhan. The figure told him in the dream that he was the Lord of Pradhan’s
house. Then the priest took a vow before Baba’s photo in Pradhan’s house that if
Baba was really Datta Avatar, then Baba should cure this child and that the child
should improve immediately. Within a very short time of his vow, the child’s temperature
came down and after some time the child wanted to go down for play. Thus the child
became normal due to Baba’s Grace. The priest was then got convinced that Baba was
Datta Avatar and he also vowed that he would pay Baba a dakshina of Rs.120. So,
the priest accompanied a group of people that went to Shirdi, and there Bhat paid
Rs.120. Shama was then with Baba. A little later, in the afternoon, Baba asked Bhat
“Give me dakshina”;. Shama said that Bhat had already paid Rs.120 in the morning.
Baba said that he paid it to Datta, and added, “Ask him”. Shama could not understand
this. Afterwards Bhat explained to Shama the meaning of Baba’s words that the sum
of Rs. 120 was paid as a result of his vow that if Baba as Datta cured Pradhan’s
child, he would pay Rs.120. Bhat did not have any child then. He vowed that he would
pay Rs.108 if he got a child. He vowed also that he would pay Rs.1,008 if Pradhan’s
ambition should be achieved. With these vows in mind, he went to Baba and paid Rs.108.
Sham said, “He is giving this large sum of Rs.108”. Baba said, “What is that? He
is giving me much more”. Baba showed by this statement his antarjnana of Bhat’s
vow to pay Rs.1,008.
Baba on a rare occasion permitted Shyamrao Jaykar, an eminent Painter to paint a
life like oil painting of Baba. He normally used to paint portraits of royal family
members and British Lords and in 1913 Pradhan, brought him to Shirdi for making
Baba's portrait. Jayker went to Baba during his first visit along with Pradhan who
wanted him to give Pradhan a lifelike oil painting of Baba. So Jayker had to go
and actually see Baba for painting purpose. He went and had a good look at Baba.
Baba also looked at Jayker. Baba was not so famous at that time. Even Jayker was
not aware about the powers and fame of Baba. During his journey to Shirdi, he was
thinking that his visit to Shirdi would be futile. He had also thought that if he
had gone to some royal palace, that would have fetched him a handsome amount. After
reaching Shirdi, they went to the masjid to have darshan of Baba. The first sentence
Baba uttered, on seeing Jayker, was why he came to Shirdi and he should have gone
to some royal palace and painted their portraits. What was the use of taking out
a portrait of a humble fakir like him. Then Baba's permission had to be obtained
before an oil painting could be made of him. So Shama went to Baba and asked for
his permission. Then Baba replied,"Why should I, a poor fakir, have an oil painting
of me? You, Shama, you may get a portrait of yourself”. Ultimately, Shama convinced
Baba and told Jayker that Baba's permission for the painting had been obtained.
However, on Shama’s intercession only, Baba finally decided to sit in front of Jayker
and allowed him to paint. Instead of painting one picture, as permitted, Jeyker
had painted four portraits. These were the main and original paintings of Baba.and
the present photos of Baba are all developed as derivatives from out of this originals.
As Pradhan’s wife was short tempered in nature, Baba advised her, saying, “If anyone
talks ten words at us, let us reply only with one word. Do not quarrel or battle
It was a Vijayadashmi day of the year 1918, and late afternoon suddenly Pradhan
got an attack of asthama. The attack was severe and he had sent his servant to Bandra
and requested Tarkhad to come to his residence. Then Tarkhad and his son, Jyothindra
Tarkhad left their house. Of course they carried with them the udhi, which Baba
had given personally to them in their last visit to Shirdi. They saw Pradhan in
utter distress. Tarkhad consoled him. He put Baba's udhi in a glass of water and
asked Pradhan to drink. Pradhan drank it. Immediately after he drank then the intensity
of the attack came down and in a short while he was feeling much better. Pradhan
asked Tarkhad stating that Baba had said that his asthama had disappeared for ever
in which case how he got this attack. Tarkhad advised him not to worry and in the
event it happened again he should consume Baba's udhi as medicine.. However Pradhan
did not get again as he was completely cured. The consumption of udhi had certainly
reduced the asthama attackbut there was an altogether different kind of message
behind this attack, which they all realised later on.On return from Pradhan’s residence
to their home in Bandra, they went into the puja room and stood in front of their
Sandalwood Mandir containing Baba’s portrait, to offer their thanks to Baba. But
found that Baba's portrait in the Mandir had slipped out from the bracket and it
was hanging in an inclined position. They immediately enquired whether any servant
had performed any cleaning work in their absence. But it was not possible as that
was the Vijayadashmi day and all cleaning work and pooja took place in the morning
itself. They were then trying to understand and dovetail the coincidence of these
two events. On that very day at about 2 p.m. Baba had taken Samadhi in Shirdi and
while doing so he had sent in a typical way, the messages to all his ardent devotees
by way of certain happenings to them. They thought of going to the residence of
Dabholkar who was residing nearby in Bandra. At that time, the servant of Dixit
came to their house and informed them that Baba had passed away in the afternoon
in Shirdi. He also said that Dixit would be leaving for Shirdi and had requested
Babasaheb Tarkhad to join him They had thus understood the two instances together
and realized that Baba had sent them the messages by these incidents, indicating
that Baba was going for his Mahasamadhi. So was the temporary revival of asthama
in Pradhan and sliding of Baba's portrait in the Sandalwood Mandir in Tarkhad’s
house. At the time of Baba’s Mahasamadhi Mrs.Pradhan saw in her dream Baba’s body,
and said, “Baba is dying”. Baba replied, “Saints do not die. They take Mahasamadhi”.
Subsequent news confirmed the fact that Baba passed away on that day.
Once Baba had also declared that, “My bones will talk to you from my grave and keep
immense faith in me. The eternal truth is I am always alive and this is my promise
to you all, which you should never forget."
Even after Baba's Mahasamadhi, Pradhan got the following benefits. He became a second
class magistrate for six years upto 1926. In 1926, he became a Justice of Peace.
Then he was elected to the Bombay Legislative Council and also received the title
of Rao Bahadur in 1927.
Pradhan wrote a book on “Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi”, detailing about the life and
teachings of Baba. He was the President of the Sai Baba Sansthan, Shirdi for some
time and rendered exemplary service to the Sansthan.