WHO IS SAI BABA?
Whatever information we get about Sakharam Maharaj from the above biographies, is summarized and given below:
Sakharam Maharaj (Kawad) 1801-1867 A.D.
His father’s name was Haripant Ketkar. He was Chitpavan Dashagranthi Brahmin and a descendent of Gargya Rishi. (Gargya Gotra). Ketkar family hailed from Karambavane, a village near Dabhol, Taluka Dapoli, and District Ratnagiri. Sakharam was born to mother Gopikabai, in 1801. His thread ceremony was carried out in 1808 and he was sent to Nasik to his spiritual guru (or Moksha guru) Raghunath Bhattaji Moghe. After the guru took in in 1818, Sakharam Maharaj came to Kawad in 1824 and stayed at the house of Gadadhar Bhat Daji Ghangurde Agnihotri. In 1828 he went on a pilgrimage to Kashi (Kashi Yatra). After two years, in 1830, he came back. On the way he took darshan of Brahmanand Maharaj at Narade; then came to Khed to prostrate before Chandiram Maharaj between 1848-50 Sakharam planted a mango grove by the side of Bhiwandi Road. One day in 1851, he told the people around that his Guru-brother Chandiram (from Khed) had just taken Samadhi. He was in Kawad and Chandiram took Samadhi in Khed. Communication was not easily possible in those days. Still the news was gathered by him. It could be only through the internal powers. What other explanation could be given?
In the year 1852 A.D. Sakharam Maharaj said to people around, “My brother is coming to see me. I am going to receive him”. Saying so, he started walking towards the outskirts of Bhiwandi. Some other people also accompanied him. When the group reached the banks of river Kamodi, there came a Muslim Sadhu, an Avalia, running towards Sakharam Maharaj. They embraced each other intimately. Both were very happy to meet and kept laughing with joy. But there was no exchange of words or any talk. For a few hours they were together just laughing in a jovial mood; The Avalia was from Nizampur which was near Bhiwandi. After their meeting he went to Nizampur and Maharaj came back to Kawad. (That the Avalia is approaching was known to Maharaj only by intuition.)
Raghunath Bhattaji Moghe
He was from Kulkumbhi, a town situated at the banks of river MalayaPrabha in Belaon District. His surname was Pitre, a Karhade Brahmin. Raghunath left his house in his tender age and did penance at Tryambakeshwar for twelve years. Then he came to Nasik where Shri. Phadke offered him a job of worshipping the deities at his home-shrine. He accepted it. Thus the problem of shelter was solved.
One day, while he was doing the Puja as usual, Phadke saw him floating in the air, two feet above the ground level in a sitting posture. Phadke was astonished as he knew about the Yogic actions. He guessed that Raghunath was not an ordinary person but a spiritually elevated soul. Once Phadke was going to Tryambakeshwar from Nasik, by a bullock-cart. But he had to break the journey because of the swollen legs of the bullocks. They were relieved for some time and Phadke too was dozing. While sleeping, he had a vision given by Tryambaknath (God Shankar). The God said to him, “I am already there in your house. Then why should you take the trouble to come here for My darshan? Go back to your home”.
Phadke returned home. He then knew that Raghunath was a scintilla of Tryambaknath. Raghunath was eagerly searching for a guru. Once he was wandering in a forest which was at the north of river Godavari and to the west of Panchavati. There he saw a fakir, who called Raghunath near him and gave him a bowl full of some liquid. The fakir said, “Oh, little one, come and drink this sacred juice; and You will get the ultimate knowledge (BrahmaDnyana)”.
Raghunath accepted fakir’s offer with the thought, “Whosoever is giving knowledge, is adorable. Though he seems to be a Muslim or belongs to any other caste, creed or religion he is respectable to me. His body is a creation of the same five elements and it wraps the same eternal soul as mine”. With this pure thought in mind, he took the bowl and drank the contents, prostrated before the fakir reverentially. He did not forget to pray God. He prayed, “God, make my life meaningful”.
Instantly God Dattatraya appeared in front of him and blessed him. Raghunath went into a trance. (Bhava-Samadhi). With total peace and a contented heart, he came to Nagar. No doubt, it was a divine liquid. (Liquid is Rasa. Implied meaning of Rasa is Dnyana Knowledge.) Raghunath had prayed to God before drinking the Rasa, “May the knowledge be bestowed upon me”. God listened to his prayer and appeared immediately. Looking lovingly at him God blessed him with the ultimate knowledge.
After this divine event, when he came back many divine miracles began to happen through him and he became famous among the people. Many disciples gathered around him. He advised Brahma Vidya to those few, who deserved. Prominent among them was AtchyutRayji Modak, Naro Bhikaji (Mouni Maharaj) and two Muslims whose names and places remained unknown. Sakharam Buva (Chidghana Swami) was initiated and blessed through his dream. (All these details can be read in “Mouni Charitamrut” Biography of Mouni Maharaj written by Despande)
Sakharam Maharaj (mentioned above), had heard transcendental fame of Raghunath Bhattaji Moghe, from his elder brother, Pandoba; and was eagerly waiting to meet Moghe with a great fervour. In year 1818, Sakharam Maharaj came to the house of Jagannath Shastri Athlye Puranik at Tarapur. Puranik Buva was resting on a swing (a hammock-like structure). Maharaj was about talk to Puranik. Just before that, Raghunath Bhattaji himself appeared before him and gave him the guidance. He told Sakharam Maharaj to stay at Tarapur and need not come to Nasik.
Then, in 1820, Raghunath Bhattaji took Samadhi. Phadke and one of the devotees built two-storied building for the ‘Ashram’ named after him. The Samadhi-place lies in the Ashram.
For tallying the period, following table will helpful.
|Sakharam Maharaj (Kewad)||Sai Baba (Shirdi)|
|(1) Born in 1801 A.D.||(1) Born in 1838 A.D.*|
|(2) Came to Kawad in 1824||(2) Came to Shirdi in 1848|
|(3) Took Samadhi in 1867||(3) Took Samadhi in 1918|
It is, therefore, clear that Sai Baba took Avatar on this Earth, when Sakharam Maharaj was 37 years old. In these years he (Sakharam Maharaj) had darshan of Raghunath Bhatta; then he had completed KashiYatra (Pilgrimage). Till then Shirdi-Avatar had not appeared. If we assume that Baba was 18 years old when came to Shirdi, then it is possible that He was there in Avalia form at Nizampur masjid near Bhiwandi which is not away from Kawad.
According to the reference available the mango trees which were planted near Powai-well, was about 6/7 Kilometers from Bhiwandi; and was just a few meters away from Kawad Ashram. If we assume that those mango trees were planted by both, Sakharam Maharaj and Sai Baba, it does not suffice to conclude that Bhattaji Moghe was a guru of Sai Baba too. Moghe had taken Samadhi in 1820 and Sai Baba was born 1838 (approximately). So above probability is not possible. Above all, Sai Baba had located a place in Sathe Wada, where He claimed, that there was a Samadhi of His Guru under a Neem tree. He also had asked the people to dig at a particular spot, and showed them the Samadhi which was underground. All this explanation confirms that someone else was the guru of Sai Baba but not Moghe.
It is also true that Sai Baba and Sakharam Maharaj were contemporary for a little period of time. In the biographies of Sakharam Maharaj, one written by Mate and the other by Apte, it is mentioned by both, that Baba was 29, when Sakharam Maharaj took Samadhi. Before Samadhi, he (5) was practising Yoga for at least twelve or more years, near Powai-well.
Baba first came to Shirdi with Chand Patil at the occasion of marriage of his relative. He came to Shirdi from Dhupkhede, a hamlet in NizamShahi, then. He was in his prime youth, between 17 and 20, according to Madhavrao Deshpande and Tatya Kote-Patil. But where was He residing before that, nobody knows. As described earlier, an Avalia from Nizampur masjid had gone to Kawad to see Sakharam Maharaj. But the age of Avalia and the year of their meeting are not mentioned in the biographies. There is a gap of 5/7 years between the two events; namely, meeting of the two and Sai Baba’s arrival at Shirdi. It is possible that the Avalia was no one else but Baba.
It is given in “Sai Sat Charitra” written by Dabholkar, that after one or two years of His arrival in Shirdi, Baba was not seen there for quite a long time. As if He had vanished. But He appeared again. In that blank period, He might have gone and visited Sakharam Maharaj. Possibility of such meetings cannot be denied. Because Sakharam Maharaj called Avalia from Nizampur, as his *Bandhu’ and Baba referred him as, His ‘Guru-Bandhu’ (studying under the same guru), we can come to a conclusion that Baba was the same Avalia of Nizampur who had come to Sakharam Maharaj.
It is possible that they may have been studying together in the mango grove near Powai-well; and there Mogheji may be guiding them in astral form. This is the only possibility of having a common guru that can be accepted. The mango trees near Powai-well are not of grafted type, but they are Rayawal trees. Baba had given grafted-kind mangoes and not Rayawal. What satisfactory explanation could be given for this?
In 1935, I (Dr. Gawankar, the author) and my Moksha Guru, Sri Ganesh Bhakta Trimbak Vitthal Samant (alias Bhau Maharaj from Kurla, Mumbai), had been to Kawad which was four miles away from Bhiwandi. Near the wall of the Kawad-Ashram, there are two mango trees planted by Sakharam Maharaj, One of the trees is grafted type and the other one is ‘Payari’. In our visit, we met with LaxmanShastri Lele, who is the great-grand-son of Gangadhar Bhat Ghangurde. Lele told us as follows:
Lele said, “Sakharam Maharaj came to Kawad in 1824 A.D. He stayed at the house of Ghangurde. No one from that family is alive today. I (Lele) am the son of the grand-daughter of Gadadhar Bhat. I am from Aangaon village one mile away from this place. I will tell you about Sakharam Maharaj, whatever I have heard from Ghangurdes. He used to stay in one of the rooms of their house. The house was at a distant place from the town. Maharaj used to come down to the town only for alms”. (It is customary for a Sadhu to go to any five houses and ask for alms. He has to eat only that much food he receives; and not ask for more. If he does not get anything from all the five houses he has to remain on fast but trying at the sixth house is not advised.)
“He used to spend rest of the time on the banks of river Kamodi or near the lattice made for a creeper plant ‘Karvand’. Everyday he would take a bath in the open space near the two mango trees. You can see those trees even now. As a saint he became famous around 1853. Before that he was not known to many people and very few used to come to him. After 1853, rich people like Bhate from Mumbai, became the frequent visitors. They would bring boxes of quality mangoes like Alphonso, for him. He sowed some seeds, stones of those mango fruits. These two trees grew from them. The trees are giving good yield. One of them gives nearly 75/80 Alphonso fruits per year and the size of a fruits is quite big, nearly as that of a coconut. The other one is a Payari. Its fruit is comparatively small but it gives nearly 100 to 125 fruits per year. Both types are very tasty. I have eaten the fruits many times”.
Thus, from the information gathered from Lele, we confirmed that the grafted-type-mango trees were grown by Sakharam Maharaj himself.
The next part of Appendix E contiues with the facts to answer "Who Is Sai Baba".
© Author – Dr. Keshav Bhagwant Gavankar (Annasahib Gavankar) – Explicit Rights To Publish To Shirdi Sai Baba Books.com (Member of SaiYugNetwork.com)