(First person to understand Baba & first person to propagate about Baba with intense
fervour) Narayan Govind Chandorkar or Nanasaheb Chandorkar (Baba used to call him
as Nana) was a resident of Kalyan, Bombay He was born on 14th Jan, 1860 on Makara
At 20 years of age he became a graduate, having passed B.A. in philosophy and developed
proficiency in Bhagwat Gita. After graduation, he entered Govt. service in 1880
and became a Deputy Collector within seven years. He was Chitnis and then Mamlatdar
and then became a Deputy Collector. His father’s name was Govindpanth Nana Chandorkar.
Nanasaheb worked as Deputy Collector in the same office where his father had also
worked as Deputy Collector. He was well educated and knew Sanskrit very well and
also widely traveled. In 1878, he married Bayaja Bai, daughter of a zamindar, Nanasaheb
Ojha. He had two daughters, Mainatai and Dwarakamai and two sons Vasudev alias Baburao
and Mahadev alias Bapurao. He had a lot of Muslim friends. Once his father had a
disagreement with a Muslim and hence he told all the family members not to have
any sort of relationship with any Muslim. This became a problem for Nanasaheb. Nanasaheb’s
father’s Guru was Shri Samarth Shakaram Maharaj, a Brahmin. Nanasaheb spoke to his
father, informing that Shri Sai Baba was his Guru, a self realized Muslim saint,
residing in Shirdi and also said that he was going often to meet him. His father
coolly replied that he could continue going to him as Sai Baba was his Guru. Baba
changed his father’s mind miraculously.
Nanasaheb always carried with him a round box full of Udi given by Baba and a small
photograph of Baba wherever he went. This box and the photograph were later with
his grandson, Prabhakar who was residing in Poona.
Baba sent a message to Nanasaheb Chandorkar through kulkarni of Shirdi, asking Nanasaheb
to visit Shirdi, perhaps in 1887. However, Nanasaheb first visited Shirdi in 1892
and was very much impressed by Baba and his powers to do miracles. He also knew
that Baba was doing miracles in a routine way and there was no body to record them.
Hence he gave diaries to all the devotees and important local people to record all
leelas of Baba and any other important events connected with Baba. And it was from
that day, devotees/local important people started recording Baba's leelas and earlier
leelas were, by and large, not recorded except a very important miracles
which could not be forgotten.
Whenever Nanasaheb went to Shirdi, he used to spend money liberally and sometimes
he used to repay the the amounts which Baba borrowed for donating to people and
also for having purchased certain things which people wanted from Baba.
Nanasaheb was Mamlatdar of Jamner in 1904-05 and at that time his daughter, eldest
child by name Meenatai Kuvelekar was pregnant and was having severe pains and Nanasaheb
was not having at that time Baba’s Udi.
In Shirdi, Baba called Ramgiri Buv in that evening and asked him to go to Jamner
and hand over a packet of udi and a copy of Baba’s Arati prayer to Nanasaheb Chandorkar
in Jamner. Ramgiri told Baba that he had only rupees two with him and expressed
how could he go with that money to Jamner which is more than 100 miles from Shirdi.
Baba said that he need not worry and that every thing would be arranged. That was
Friday. Ramgiri started and reached Jalgaon at 2-45 AM next day and had only two
annas left with him. Further he had to go to Jamner which is about 30 miles from
Jalgaon. Suddenly at about 3-00 AM, a peon in boots, turban and with good dress,
came to him with a tonga and told him that Nanasaheb had sent him to bring Ramgiri
to Jamner and took Ramgiri in the tonga.On the way at Baghoor, he took refreshments
brought by the peon and then reached Jamner. In the morning Ramgiri went for nature
call and returned to find to his utter surprise that the peon, driver and Tonga
and the horses—all disappeared at once. However, he went and met Nanasaheb and handed
over udi and arati copy and in the conversation he came to know that Nanasaheb did
not send the peon as he was not aware of Ramgiri’s arrival. While Nanasaheb got
surprised at the marvelous and timely help by Baba, they considered it as Baba’s
Lila. After Udi was given to his daughter, she had peaceful and painless delivery
and delivered a male child.
Once, Nanasaheb, while massaging the legs of Baba, was muttering some Sanskrit sloka
and Baba enquired about it; then Nana said that it was a Sanskrit verse 34 in Chapter
4 of Bhagwat Gita. Then Baba asked him about its meaning which Nana explained. But
Baba not being satisfied with his interpretation, explained the correct meaning
and interpretation of the verse in Chapter 4 of Bhagwat Gita. While Nana was a blessed
person to hear this
from the mouth of Baba, he was equally surprised by the wonderful erudition of Baba
in Sanskrit and his knowledge about Bhagwat Gita. This event took place sometime
during 1900-1902. This incidentally put down Nana’s pride who till then was thinking
that he was a Sanskrit scholar of high order and that he knew Bhagwat Gita very
well and by this incident Baba also made him egofree and paved the way for his spiritual
upliftment. Baba used to talk to Nanasaheb in Sanskrit.
Noolkar visited Shirdi at the instance of Nanasaheb and based on a research conducted
by M.B. Nimbolkar, it was construed that it was Noolkar who did first Gurupoornima
day celebrations in Shirdi on Saturday, 3rd July, 1909. Noolkar wrote to Nanasaheb
about the celebrations in detail as Nanasaheb was not present to witness the celebrations.
Nanasaheb wrote a reply to him on 16th Nov, 1910, pointing out that Baba was a simple
fakir and did not like display of pomp at the celebrations. Nanasaheb was pained
at all the attempts of the devotees from 1910 onwards, to convert Shirdi into a
Sansthan (Princely State). As per Nanasaheb's views that any pompous show would
interfere with one's efforts to attain spiritual growth and Baba's life history
tells us that Baba did not like any pompous show and that Baba did not use the costly
items that were provided for Baba's use. Baba wanted simple puja with unswerving
Nanasaheb opened an eatery in Shirdi for the benefit of the visiting devotees and
entrusted the responsibility of managing the eatery to Balabhav Chandorkar, his
nephew. Perhaps this was the first eatery opened in Shirdi for the benefit of the
visiting devotees during 1911.
Once Nanasaheb was sitting with Baba in the masjid, some Muslim ladies came to see
Baba and at that moment Nanasaheb wanted to get up and go away, but Baba prevented
him from going away and the ladies came and had darshan of Baba and at that time
one lady removed her veil and saluted Baba in reverence. On seeing the charming
beauty of that lady, Nanasaheb was wonder-struck and his mind had become restless.
Baba immediately knew his position and told him that he should not get agitated
and on the other hand that we should appreciate the wonderful craftsmanship of the
God in creating this beautiful world and such persons and that we should enjoy by
seeing the marvellous creations that God had made without evil thoughts.
Nanasaheb wanted to worship a lady saint, Bannu Mayi. who was a remarkable lady
saint. It would be very difficult to have darshan of that lady saint without Baba's
Grace. She was a Muslim lady and aged about twenty years but was in a highly advanced
spiritual stage. Her mother was staying in their home in Bhodegaon. She had left
her home and started roaming stark-naked everywhere, but mostly in jungles and often
concealed herself in prickly pear bushes. Over her body there were plenty of thorns
embedded and she never cared to remove them. She did not care for meals or sleep.
Her mother and others believed her as a mad girl, but a few others including Nanasaheb
believed her to be a saint in an advanced stage. He went to Baba and wanted his
permission and blessings for the darshan of the lady saint. Though initially, Baba
was reluctant to permit him, he then blessed Nanasaheb for her darshan. He went
to the saint’s village and made numerous enquiries in vain about her whereabouts,
but the villagers also resented his enquiries about that naked lady. He then prayed
to Baba for some time and opened his eyes and then suddenly saw Bannu Mayi standing
on the road in front of him. He fell at her feet and she then disappeared in the
nearby prickly pear bushes. But, he was bent upon seeing her again and wanted to
perform puja to her. And for this purpose, he arranged a tent with all the facilities
for her bath with warm water, a new saree, a bodice and other things for her use.
He again prayed to Baba. Immediately the lady saint appeared and on her own entered
the tent, had a bath and wore the clothes. He fell at her feet and worshipped her.
Then immediately she got up and removed her dress and threw away all the dress and
disappeared. He still stayed there in the village and stayed in a sanctuary room
and bolted the door from inside. Early morning he prayed once again to Baba with
the desire that before he left the village he might be granted one more opportunity
to worship the lady saint. He then saw Bannu Mayi sitting in the room. How she entered
the bolted room was something that nobody could explain. He then worshipped her
and she disappeared immediately thereafter. All this had happened with the Grace
of Baba. Baba had permitted him to have her darshan and allowed him to worship her
as Baba knew that his heart was pristine pure and he had also attained advanced
Baba wanted Nana only to rebuild and carry out the necessary repairs to Baba’s masjid
and Baba gave permission to Nana to do this noble work.
Nana being a busy Govt Officer, had entrusted this work to Nanasaheb Nimonkar to
carry out this task. After renovation work was completed, Baba who was at that time
in Neemgaon village, was brought from Neemgaon in a royal procession with band,
music and songs into the renovated masjid. Masjid renovation work was completed
in 1912. Then Kaka Dixit got the pavement work of the floor in the masjid done which
was finished in a single night. After this, Baba stopped using his gunny bag sack
and instead started using cushion or gadi for his seat.
During 1906-08, Nana was in Pandharpur and prior to that period he was in Nandurbur.
When he was in Pandharpur, his second daughter, Dwarakamai gave birth safely to
a child in 1906. In one of Nana’s visits to Shirdi, around this time, Nana’s second
son, Mahadeo alias Bapurao Chandorkar at the age of 4 years took the liberty of
performing puja to Baba by decorating Baba’s head with flowers and this happened
in 1900. At the age of 4, he also started applying chandan to Baba’s forehead and
this became the practice subsequently. Only Bapu Rao was permitted at that time
to perform puja to Baba.
Once, Nanasaheb suffered a boil on his back and it was very painful and moreover,
the place of the boil was inconvenient and embarrassing for him. He consulted various
doctors and was taking treatment but it was of no use. Ultimately, he was advised
to get it removed through surgery at Mumbai. He also decided that he should not
inform Baba as it was a trivial matter and that he should not bother Baba for each
and every small matter. Accordingly Nanasaheb preferred to suffer and did not want
to pray to Baba to come to his rescue. The date for the operation was fixed and
on the appointed day he went to the hospital in Mumbai and was lying down on a cot.
His pain increased very much and he felt that it would be difficult for him to survive
the ordeal. However he kept Baba’s photo near his pillow and was waiting for the
doctor’s arrival and the surgeon was expected to come within a short while. Meantime
an unexpected event took place. As he was lying down with face down, a small piece
of tile from the roof fell down exactly on the boil and it burst open. Slowly the
puss came out of the boil and the pain started subsiding. When the surgeon arrived
a little later, he was surprised at the happening of the wonderful event which cured
the ailment without surgery and then confirmed that the operation was no longer
is an example to show that Baba would come to the rescue of the ankita bhakta even
without any prayer and even though it was a trivial matter. After a few days, Nanasaheb
went to Shirdi. Baba then said, “Even if one decides not to give me the trouble,
ultimately I have to burst the boil with my own hands.”
In 1913-14, Nanasaheb Chandorkar was unwell and was on long leave and stayed in
Shirdi with his wife, doing service to Baba.
Nanasaheb spread the messages of Baba and the usefulness of devotion towards Baba
and spread this propaganda about Baba mainly in cities like Pune and Mumbai with
the result that people belonging to different religions, castes and creeds came
from all over the country to Shirdi for the darshan of Baba. The devotees also experienced
the divine powers of Baba. All such devotees thanked and blessed Nanasaheb for having
introduced them to Baba for their improvement, temporal and spiritual.
About spreading information about Baba and his powers, Nanasaheb comes first and
then in the order, come the other four devotees viz., Das Ganu, Dixit, B.V.Dev and
B.V.Narasimha Swamiji. B.V.Dev who went to Shirdi at the instance of Nanasaheb and
who did lot of research into the philosophy of Baba and His life, was having lot
of respect for Nanasaheb. Nana was instrumental in bringing to Shirdi several great
devotees like Dixit, Dabholkar, Das Ganu, Radhakrishna Mai, Moreshwar Pradhan, Tatyasaheb
Noolkar, Balasaheb Deo, Madhavrao Adkar, Vinayakrao Thakur, Kashibai Kanitkar, Chintamanrao
Vaidya and others. Due to his efforts, nearly 2000 pilgrims from Bombay visited
Shirdi to have Baba’s darshan and he was the first devotee who propagated and popularized
about Baba in the State of Maharashtra. His relative by name Balabhav Chandorkar
was running a small restaurant from 1911, catering to the requirements of the visiting
devotees to Shirdi. His eldest son’s, Babusaheb Chandorkar’s marriage took place
in Gwalior in early 1912. His second son’s Bapurao Chandorkar’s marriage took place
in 1922 after Nana passed away in 1921. Nanasaheb passed away peacefully at the
age of 61 years in Kalyan on Ekadashi day on 21st Aug, 1921. Blessed was the great
bhakta, Nanasaheb Chandorkar.