(He propagated about Baba across the country with emphasis in South India & wrote
books on devotees' experiences besides other books, resulting in large number of
people visiting Shirdi as against less than a dozen visitors earlier. Unveiling
of his portrait in the Samadhimandir by Justice Rege was a tribute to his unprecedented
efforts in propagating about Baba and he was acclaimed as Sai Baba's Apostle).
Sri Narasimha (later on popularly ' known as Sri Narasimha Swamiji) was bom on 21st
August, 1874 in an orthodox Brahmin family at Bhavani in Coimbatore district, Tamil
Nadu. His parents were Sri B. Venkatagiri lyer and Smt. Angachi Ammal. He had a
brilliant educational career. After he had finished matriculation in Salem, he went
to Madras and passed B.A. and B.L. On return to Salem in 1895 he joined the bar
and started practicing law at Salem. He was by nature against the unnecessary and
ruinous expenditure that litigation had caused among the poor. He was therefore
instrumental in settling several cases by arbitration without any fee. He was always
ready to render free service to the poor and the deserving. His unassuming simplicity,
integrity and helpful nature won for him great appreciation and regard from the
public. He became the Chairman of the Salem Municipality. The rare legal acumen
and eloquence that he showed in dealing legal cases, brought him fame and success,
resulting in getting a large number of clients, abundant income coupled with high
influence in the society. His wife was Seethalakshmi and had a happy family with
sons and daughters and was leading a comfortable life and also religiously inclined
with pious approach and helping nature to the poor..
Even though he acquired huge wealth, he was also interested in rendering public
service. He was also associated with politics and was a great admirer and follower
of Sri Bal Gangadhar TiJak. In 1912, he was elected as a member of the Madras Legislative
Council, in recognition of his flair for public service. He continued to be the
member till 1920. He was the first Indian member to address the Legislative Council
in the regional language. He was an active member of and participated in the Home
Rule League, started by Mrs. Annie Besant. He was one of the three persons sent
to Britain in 1917 to place India's case for Home Rule before the British people.
Among the prominent national leaders and contemporaries of Sri B. V. Narasimha Iyer
were Sri C. Rajagopalachari, popularly known as Rajaji and
Sri C. Vijaya Raghavachari. Both were from Salem. Sri B. V. Narasimha Iyer became
a prominent figure in the public life of Madras Presidency. His lectures in all
places always drew large audience.
Two of his children Jayaram and Savitri, who were playing in the garden, accidentally
fell into the well and were drowned. This was a great calamity in his family which
gave a serious shock to him in 1921. After this incident, he give up his lucrative
legal practice and also withdrew from political and social activities. Meanwhile
he had educated the other sons and made them stand on their own legs financially.
His surviving daughters Rajalakshmi and Sharadamai had already been married and
settled in life decently. He developed detachment from his domestic and worldly
affairs. He took up the work connected with the Lakshmi Narayana temple and got
He then left home in 1925 and went in search of a Sadguru for spiritual pursuit.
In his efforts in this direction, he met Jagatguru H. H. Narasimha Bharati who advised
him to visit and seek the blessings of Ramana Maharishi in Tiruvannamalai. He accordingly
went to Tiruvannamalai and stayed there in one of the caves observing silence for
3 years and concentrated on the study of Vedanta. During his stay in Tiruvannamalai
he wrote the biography of Ramana Maharishi under the title “Self Realisation” in
English. Through this book, Ramana Maharishi became known to several people across
the country and also in Europe and America. This book resulted in many seekers from
Europe and America to flock to Tiruvannamalai.
He then went to Pandharpur and worshipped Lord Vitthal and then went to Khedgaon
near Poona and saw Sadguru Narayan Maharaj who advised him to visit Meherbad, a
place near Ahmednagar. He went and stayed there with Meher Baba for sometime. Meher
Baba was a desciple of Sri Upasani Baba of Sakori and he then proceeded to Sakori
to meet Upasani Baba in 1933 and stayed there for some days. He then left Sakori
and unexpectedly he came back again to Sakori after some time and stayed for some
more days. Like this without any aim and direction, we was wandering. He had heard
from Upasani Baba about Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi. He came to know that Sai Baba helped
Sri Upasani Baba in his spiritual pursuit and also came to know fully about Sai
Baba.And suddenly a thought flashed in his mind that when Sri
Upasani Baba himself was so great in spiritual matters then Sai Baba, his Guru must
be much greater in theses matters. He also wrote the book “Sage of Sakori” on Upasani
Baba which pays tributes to the efforts of Upasani Baba in spreading Baba’s messages.
He considered Sai Baba as the embodiment of The Trinity. With the permission and
blessings of Sri Upasani Baba, he then moved to Shirdi.
In 1936, he visited the Samadhi of Sai Baba and stood silently watching the Samadhi.
It was the happiest period in his life as Baba spoke to him in eloquent silence
and bestowed spiritual bliss on him. He expressed utmost joy at that time and also
expressed that he got from Baba more than what he could take in spiritual matters.
He had thus finally discovered his Sadguru in Saibaba. He also felt that he was
living in constant communion with Sai Baba.
Till 1936, the number of persons visiting Shirdi was very small, not more than a
dozen in number. He decided to carry Baba's message to all the places in the country
by touring every town and village and spreading about Baba's mission, miracles and
messages. He took efforts to acquire some knowledge about Marathi which he used
to seek and collect information from all the devotees who were still living at that
time and who were lucky enough to meet Baba when he was in mortal coil and got Baba’s
blessings. In this direction, he met and interviewed more than sixty such devotees
and made enquiries, collected information and recorded their experiences with Saibaba
which clearly revealed as to how Baba had helped them in their temporal and spiritual
efforts. He was also invited by Justice M.B.Rege, an ardent devotee of Saibaba and
through him, he was able to meet Justice P.R.Avaste at Gwalior. Sri Avaste helped
Swami to read Sri Sai Satcharita, Sai Leea Masik magazines, both in Marathi and
also other Marathi publications. With the help from Avaste, he learnt and started
reading books in Marathi and thus became well informed about Baba. Then with Justice
M.B.Rege and Justice Avaste, he toured several places in Maharashtra and addressed
mass meetings in English and Marathi. Meanwhile, he wrote a series of articles on
Sai Baba in the 'Sunday Times' of Madras till 1938-39. His inspiring articles were
published in Sunday Times, in about 30 to 40 issues ( in all 20,000 copies) of the
journal. This sparked off and became the foundation stone for several thousands
of devotees across India to know about Baba, his mission
and his miracles. He had collected exhaustive information about Baba from R.B.Purandare
and B.V. Dev and also about their experiences with Baba; and these two ardent devotees
had also informed Narasimha Swamiji about Nanasaheb Chandorkar's experiences with
As a result of all these efforts, large streams of people started visiting Shirdi
from 1936. Till then, only about a dozen local villagers from Shirdi used to attend
the Samadhimandir at the arati timings. Immediately after Baba's Mahasamadhi, the
restaurant run by Sagun Meru Naik just opposite to the Masjid was also closed temporarily
due to lack of visitors to Shirdi. That was the situation which was later transformed
into a busy area after the publicity efforts of Swamiji.
He then started an All India Sai Samaj in Madras in 1940 with the object of spreading
Saibaba’s mission, miracles and messages among the people. During his visits to
the Sai bhaktas, he collected from them lot of information and their statements
and published books under the name “Devotees Experiences of Sri Sai Baba” in English
and Tamil in 1940-41. This was a monumental publication which carried the mission,
miracles and messages of Baba across the country
Books written by Dasganu Maharaja, 'Glimpses of Spirituality' by Rao Bahadur M.W.
Pradhan and also 'Sai Satcharita' in verse in Marathi, written by Annasaheb Dabholkar
are instrumental in propagating the messages of Baba.. Swami wrote books on Sai
Baba. ‘Introduction to Sai Baba’ was the first book written by him He then wrote
'Who is Sai Baba' which was released in 1939. He also wrote 'Wondrous Saint' and
then 'Charters and Sayings” and 'Gospel of Sri Sai Baba'. He composed hymns in Sanskrit,
entitled 'Sri Sainath Smaranam', which was translated into Tamil and .English. In
1944, Swamiji wrote a play in Tamil, entitled 'Sri Sai Charita Natakam'. He also
wrote Sri Sai Harikatha to popularise Sai-movement through a musical discourse.
He then wrote and published in 1945 'Glimpses of Sai Baba'. Besides these books,
he also published many other books on Sai Baba, which were translated into many
Indian languages. He then thought that It was necessary to formulate a systematic
way of conducting Saibaba worship. So, he wrote 'Sri Sainath Pooja Vidhi' and 'Sai
Sahasranamam' in addition to the Ashtotaram, already in use. This was published
in Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.
To give further impetus to Saibaba movement, he felt the need of holding All India
Sai Devotees' Conventions annually. The First All India Sai Devotees' Convention
was held for four days in May, 1946 in Mylapore, Madras. More than two hundred delegates
and devotees attended the convention. Sri Martand, son of late Sri Mhalsapati also
attended the convention besides many others, like Sri Kesavaiahji of Shenoy Nagar,
large local. People. Several participants of the convention narrated their experiences
as Sai devotees. After the first All India Sai Devotees' Convention, other conventions
followed in subsequent years. .
Swamiji had miraculous powers by the Grace of Baba. There are several instances.
An instance from the life history of Madam Vinny Chitluri is narrated here. One
day, her father, who was a hardcore atheist, read in 'The Hindu' that Swamiji was
coming to the Naga Sai temple in Coimbatore. The news paper also gave a glowing
ac¬count of Swamiji's divine nature and how he healed so many people. Her father
decided to take her ailing mother to him and she also accompanied. This took place
in 1949, The day before the meeting, her mother had a dream in which she saw this
'gentle bearded man' with plenty of devotees around him, while he was seated in
a palanquin. He was wearing a short grey kafni. Her mother told her father about
her vivid dream without knowing that she was destined to meet him the next day.
Her father met him and pointing to her mother said, "She is terribly sick. Please
heal her. I can always find another wife, but not a mother for my kids." Then Swamiji
placed his palm on her head and her mother shivered and afterwards was filled with
joy. Swamiji then gave her mother Baba's Udi and a hymn, " Achuta, Ananta, Govinda."
and asked her to chant it 21 times for 21 days. He had also told her to apply Baba's
Udi and take it internally with water. She was thus cured of her illness fully.
Her father then became a Baba's devotee and she also became a staunch devotee of
Baba and devoted her later life for the propagation of Baba's mission and messages.
She was working in America and during her peak period in her service, she left America
and came to Shirdi to do service in the name of Baba. She also wrote several books
on Baba and finally settled in Shiridi in the service of Baba.
Swamiji’s health started deteriorating and due to his declining health, he had authorized
other ardent devotees, such as Sri Saipadananda Radhakrishna
Swamiji, (President of Sai Spiritual Centre, Bangalore) and Sri Kesavaiahji(Later
on the founder President of Sri Sai Baba Bhakta Samajam, Shenoy Nagar, Madras) to
preside over the later conventions.
In 1940, Swamiji started the 'Sai Sudha' monthly with English, Tamil, Sanskrit and
Telugu sections. He also started in Madras the three annual festivals, namely, Sri
Ramanavami, Gurupoornima and Baba's Mahasamadhi day on the pattern of Shirdi festivals
and these programmes were celebrated for ten days with devotional music and songs
and religious discourses with poor feeding. Free distribution of Baba’s photo on
post card size was also done by Swamiji along with Baba's Udi-Prasad. In 1954, he
started Sai Free Dispensary for the benefit of the poor and slum dwellers along
with a library and Sai Vidyalaya.
One Papaiya Chetty of Bangalore, a devotee of Baba who read Swamiji's books, met
him at Shirdi in 1940 and handed over a bundle of cash containing Rs.11,458 to Swamiji
for his work and left without saying anything and Swamiji utilized this amount for
Sai-pracharak work as per Baba’s direction.
In 1949, the Samaj was shifted from Broodies Road to Alarmelu Mangapuram, Mylapore.
By donations from generous public and sale of Sai literature, funds were raised
for constructing the front hall where Baba's picture was installed andSwamiji started
worshipping Baba from Gurupoornima day on 7lh July, 1952. The construction of the
Mandir with a tower on the pattern of Shirdi was completed in 1953.
In 1953 Swamiji slipped in the bathroom. Thus he became seriously ill upto the middle
of 1954. Notwithstanding his illness, he decided to spend his remaining time in
the propaganda service about Baba and concentrated on completing his work 'Life
of Sai Baba'. With Baba’s Grace, he was provided with a stenographer. Without the
help of a stenographer, it would not have been possible for him to complete the
task either for the book or for 'Sai Sudha' or for the release of the numerous pamphlets.
Later the help rendered by His Highness, the Maharaja of Mysore who donated Rs.5,000/-,
enabled the Samaj to purchase a press, printing machines and blocks which resulted
in the publication of four volumes on the life of Sri Sai Baba. It is to be noted,
that no copyright is reserved in any of the
books or publications brought out by Swamiji.
On 12th September, 1956, Swamiji's 83rd birthday, was celebrated in Chennai head
quarters. With Baba’s Grace, he acquired some powers which he used for the benefit
of the general public. From October, 1956, Swamiji could not move out of his bed
on account of his severe illness. Despite this, he continued his pracharak work
from his bed and attended to other works and spent the remaining time in meditating
on Baba. On 19lh October, 1956, Swamiji left his mortal coil and merged in Baba.
Swamiji's relentless efforts in popularizing Baba, started bringing innumerable
crowds to Shirdi to have darshan of Samadhi Mandir. Swamiji was a blessed and saintly
soul, who was thus mysteriously drawn to Samartha Sadguru Sai Baba. He dedicated
his entire later life and energies to the task of ceaseless and vigorous propagation
of the mission, miracles and messages of Sri Sai Baba across the people throughout
His Holiness Sri Narasimha Swamiji's portrait was unveiled in the Samadhi Mandir
in Shirdi along with those of other ardent devotees on 26th January, 1966 by Justice
M. B. Rege, an ardent devotee of Baba, who got blessed by Baba when Baba was in
mortal coil in Shirdi. Unveiling of his portrait in the Samadhimandir was a tribute
to his efforts in effectively carrying the message of Baba across India and also
the world. He was acclaimed as Sai Baba'sApostle.
Sri Sai Padananda Radhakrishna Swamiji, later President, All India Sai Samaj was
instrumental for the construction of Sri H.H. Narasimha Swamiji's cottage in the
All India Sai Samaj premises, as a tribute and homage to Swamiji during his birth