Monday, November 2, 2009


||Om Sri Sainaathaayanamaha||

Sai raham nazar karanaa,
bachchonka paalan karana
Jaanaa tumane jagat pasaara
sabahi jhuta zamaana

||Sai raham najar karna||

My andhaa hoon bandaa aapaka,
mujhako prabhu dikhalaana

||Sai raham najar karna||

Daasa ganu kahe aba kyaa bolum,
thaka gayee meri rasana

||Sai raham najar karna||

O Sai show your mercy, protect this little baby. The expansive Universe, you know is a mass of deception. I, your slave, am blind. Reveal the Lord to me. Says Ganu, What can I say more? Exhausted is my tongue.

Raham najar karo
ab more Sai,
tum bina Nahi mujhe
maa baap bhaayi
Mai andhaa hoon
bandaa tumhaara
Mai naajanoo
Khalii zamaanaa
myne gamaaya
Saathi aakharakaa,
kiya na koyi

||Rahama najara karo||

Apne masid kaa
jhaadoo Ganoo hai
malik hamaare,
tum Baaba Saayi

||Rahama najara karo||

Show me, Now Your mercy, for, except You I have nobody. No father, mother, brother. Sightless is my eye, Your slave am I. I do not know, Aught of the Deity. I have lost the entire society. For my last moment, no friend I made. Ganu is but the broomstick of your mosque.
You are our Lord and Master O Sai Baba.

These are the two brilliant, immortal, prayers in Hindi embodied in the Shirdi Arti and sung daily, in the Sai baba Mandir, at Shirdi. The Shirdi Arti includes several other bits, which have sunk deep into the hearts of devotees and which will continue as long as the Shirdi Shrine and Arti last. For instance:

Shirdi Maajhe Pandharpura Sai Baba Ramaa Vara,
Suddha Bhakti Chandra Bhaaga Bhaava Pundalika jaga,
Yaho yaho avaghe Jana Kara Babasi Vandana,
Ganu Mhane Baba Sayee Dhamva Pava Majhe Ayi

Shirdi is my Pandharpur, and God worshipped there is Sai Baba. The holy river called Chandrabhaga found at Pandharpur is represented at Shirdi by pure devotion, and in that river the holiest spot, Pundalika Temple is represented at Shirdi, by intense concentration. All you people, come up, come up and do reverence to Sai Baba. Ganu says. Oh Sai Baba, Mother mine, run up and catching me in your arms, caress me."

These timeless gems were composed by Ganapat Rao Dattatreya Sahasrabuddhe, affectionately called as Ganu by Sai Baba, and more popularly known as Dasganu Maharaj.

He was not only a composer and writer of saintly lives, but also a performer of Kirtans (Harikathas) with great ability. His literary skill made him produce fine verses on Shivaji, the national hero, for use at the Ganapati Utsava in Maharashtra. As verses on Shivaji rouse up patriotism and the National spirit, which the foreign rulers, then in power dreaded, he was called on by his Inspector to explain how he, a Government servant, took this prominent part in helping on a national movement. His answer was that he was an "Asukavi”, that verses in Lavani metre flowed out of him at the barest request of anybody and that the request of some one made him sing impromptu the song or verses on Shivaji. As a proof, he offered to compose impromptu verses on the officer himself. The officer wished to test the truth of the statement and asked him for verses on himself. Ganu's Asukavitva or poetic genius was equal to the occasion. At once, he sang the high qualities, real or fancied, of the officer, in Lavani metre. In a few minutes, there were numerous verses on the excellences of the officer who was greatly pleased and dropped the charge against Ganu, then known merely by his police No. 808. By steady practice, he acquired considerable mastery of his mother tongue Marathi. Some of his works were prescribed as text books by the Bombay University. All his works are on noble topics. Mostly, he wrote biography of the saints. His command of Ovi, Dindi and other metres was excellent. An abundant use of alliteration and other figures of speech adorned his sonorous writings. Kirtankars who wished and wish to deliver kathas on famous saints could easily pick up one of his innumerable stories and please their audiences with parrot-like repetition of it. Even now, any one anxious to spend his time over saintly biography cannot do better than going through Das Ganu’s following works,

(1) Sant Kathamrita
(2) Arvachina Bhakta Leelamrit and
(3) Bhakta Saramrita

which have earned for him the title of modern Mahipati. Mahipati was the famous composer of the works dealing with ancient or medieval saints, in his works Sant Lilamrita etc.

Dasganu began these works almost from 1903 when he quit service. And in these he incorporated the seven chapters (or kathas) which embodied Sai Baba's Leelas or life and teachings. He is responsible for the discovery and publication of Sai Baba's early life and tutelage at Selu under Venkusa. He found out that Venkusa was another name for Gopal Rao Deshmukh, ruler of Selu in Jintur Pargana. Baba had said that he had been delivered by his fakir foster mother to the Selu ruler, who became his master, Guru and all-in-all. Freed from service shackles, Ganu started his research, ran up to Selu and discovered from Srinivas Rao, the Subedar of Selu in 1903, the ballads and family papers referring to the Subedar’s grandfather's grandfather, namely, Gopal Rao Desmukh. These papers revealed the wonders performed by Gopal Rao’s Bhakti, the conquests achieved by his military prowess and the Muslim woman's child that became his devoted attendant and disciple. It was to this child that Gopal Rao gave initiation. These papers and the ballads also revealed the fact that at Gopal Rao's passing away or Ascension, the remains had to be interred and that they were indeed interred in the garba gruha of Venkatesa temple which was erected thereon, as Gopal Rao was identified with Venkatesa or "Venkusa". It still stands and attracts the devotees of the surrounding places.

As this early history is very highly prized by Sai devotees and is essential for a proper understanding of Baba, their obligation to Das Ganu Maharaj is very deep. The earliest books on Sai Baba were the three chapters that Ganu produced and published in 1906 with financial help from Sri H. V. Sathe.

Das Ganu’s importance for the Sai movement lies in the fact that the rapid spread of Baba's name in Maharashtra was due very largely to his efforts. Baba fully well foresaw or ordained it. In 1890, Das Ganu was a Constable and a small time actor of village plays enacting female characters. Baba drew him to Himself for the double purpose of improving Ganu’s own spiritual condition and thereafter rendering signal service to the public for the spread of Sai faith. When he first came to Shirdi, he came as the "orderly" (a constable attending on) of Nana Saheb Chandorkar, and whenever Chandorkar visited Shirdi, Das Ganu followed him as his constable. It was definitely not out of faith in, or love for, Sai, but because his master compelled him to go with him.

For a very long time, Das Ganu could not appreciate Baba. Up to the end, he could not realise Baba as God or as his Guru, though he had high regard for him and his powers and wrote or sang of him with poetic skill describing Baba as Ramaavara. That was why he went to one Islampurkar, a Brahmin Guru, to get his initiation long after he met and dealt with Baba. Baba naturally did not object to this step when Das Ganu reported the fact to Baba. Baba made a remarkable change in the personality of Das Ganu, and Das Ganu also realised how powerful Baba's influence on him was.

It was mostly an unwilling submission on the part of Das Ganu to Sai Baba. From his very earliest advent to Shirdi, the nature of Ganpat Rao was noted by Baba. Das Ganu’s nature then was just that of a Police Constable who had hardly any education, but who was very clever in composing impromptu Lavani metre songs in Marathi and in taking a female's part in village dramas. He would put on female dress and dance about in the village and take great pleasure in that achievement. His great ambition was to become a “Foujdaar (Sub Inspector)” in his profession. The Police Department by itself was not a particularly moral department, and for one who was ambitious to advance in it, one's regard for truth, righteousness, fair dealing, etc. would practically be nil, and scruples, conscience, and character were unwanted hindrances to efficiency. Knowing all their dangers and the real dormant capacity of the man, Baba, from the very beginning, told Das Ganu to give up both his attachments, namely, (1) attachment to the village dance and drama and (2) attachment to the police profession. Nanasaheb Chandorkar also pressed this upon Ganpat Rao. With great difficulty Ganpat Rao was weaned away from drama. But as for the profession, he was not willing to give up at any cost. The charm of holding the position of Sub Inspector (Foujdar) and bossing over people was too powerful for him to resist. When Baba said, 'Ganu, give up your police service', Das Ganu replied, 'Baba, let me become a Sub Inspector for which position I have passed the departmental examination. I will hold the appointment for only one year, and thereafter, I will give it up'. Baba replied that he was not going to get the Sub Inspector’s post, and that He would see to it that he did not get it. So, Baba's work was to bring in difficulty after difficulty, pressure after pressure to bear upon Ganpat Rao. Even otherwise Ganpat Rao had innumerable difficulties without Baba adding to them.

He was fond of touring distant places of pilgrimage outside his official limits. Many times he would go without taking the permission of his superiors, as permission for such unofficial trips was not easily granted. On one such occasion, he had gone to a shrine in the erstwhile Nizam's State and was returning. His fellow constables were highly jealous of him, and wanted to see that he was humiliated. So, when he was returning to his place, and when he was still on the Nizam's side of the river Godavari, the envious constables were ready on the other side to catch him. He noted their presence and felt that he would surely be dismissed. So, he took up the Godavari water in his palms and swore by that "Ganga" water, as it is called, "Baba, let me escape this time. I shall certainly give up my police service". Baba immediately responded and there was proof of Baba's Grace! As soon as he went a short distance back into the Nizam's State, a village Munsif came to him and told him that certain dacoits were sharing their booty secretly and all that the Village Munsif wanted was a police gentleman with authority to arrest them. So Ganpat Rao went, seized the dacoits and the booty, and proudly returned to his own station on the other side of the Godavari. When questioned how he went out without permission, his reply was that he had gone there for the seizure of dacoits and property—no doubt a falsehood. Thus, he not only escaped punishment, but thought that he had a very good chance of rising in his profession. With that thought uppermost in his mind, he was riding past Shirdi to go somewhere. Just as his horse came to Shirdi, and when he did not want to alight there but to pass on without seeing Baba, Baba came on the road and made him alight. Then Baba asked, 'Are, who swore with a palm full of water in his hand, man?' Then Das Ganu's unabashed reply was, “So what? Baba, I am going to resign after all, after I get the Fouzdarship”. Baba said that he would see to it that he resigned, and added 'Until a peg is driven into you, (i.e. pressure becomes painful), you will not obey'.

And pressure did come. Das Ganu along with three other Constables was sent on duty to capture a notorious dacoit, Khana Bhil by name. This dacoit was a terror to the whole countryside, and his organisation was so vast and wonderful that even the Police Department was in his pay. With prior information from those of the Police Department who were in his pay, he could checkmate their movements. Das Ganu went to Lonivarni, a place which Khana Bhil was visiting. But, Khana Bhil was a man of extraordinary abilities. He shot the other three persons nominated along with Ganpat Rao to catch him, and was determined to deal with Ganpat Rao in the same way. Disguising himself as a Ramdasi, Ganpat Rao made use of the village children to learn from them details about the visits of these robbers, and communicated the information of their movements to the police headquarters. Suddenly one day, Khana Bhil turned up, seized Ganpat Rao by his neck, and said, 'You fellow, you are going to catch me! Do you know that it is Khana Bhil who has now caught you? I am going to shoot you now, as I have already shot your three companions.' Ganpat Rao was in mortal fear of death. He was standing close to Sri Rama's image. He suddenly fell at its feet and, thinking of Sai, said 'Save me. Save me. I will give up all my police efforts'. Khana Bhil was softened. Instead of shooting Ganpat Rao he said, 'I will let you off this time. But if you interfere again in my affairs, you will be a dead man. Remember this.' The ambition of becoming a Sub Inspector was so great that Ganpat Rao was not to be deterred so easily. Once again, he obtained information about Khana Bhil's movements and communicated it to the authorities. As a result, a police force armed with carbines, etc., was sent to surround the hillock on which Khana Bhil and his men had pitched their camp. A fierce battle was fought between the dacoit gang and the police, and Khana Bhil managed to escape. Ganpat Rao knew that his life was doomed. So he went up to Nanasaheb Chandorkar, and with his good offices secured a medical certificate and got relieved of his detective duties. Thus for a second time his prayer to Baba to save his life was effective. Once again, he refused to resign. He thought that having successfully duped Baba so far, he was safe and could pursue his ambition of becoming a Sub Inspector, without any further hindrance. But, he hardly knew how many strings Baba had to his bow.

The third occasion came and then Das Ganu was in a tight fix. When he was the second in command at the Station, the station Officer left him in charge. And Das Ganu in a lordly way wanted to enjoy his time, and went home leaving a constable in charge of the station. Just at that time, a village munsif sent a servant with a fine collected from some other person against whom a warrant had been sent for collection. The servant gave that amount, Rs. 32/-, to the constable there in charge. There was no one to witness this transfer of money. The constable told the servant that the Station Officer was on leave, that no receipt would be issued then, and that the receipt would be sent to the village in due course. So, the poor servant went away, and the constable pocketed the money. Ganpat Rao knew nothing of it. However the authorities, finding that Rs. 32 had not been collected, sent a second warrant for the collection of the fine. The party showed the receipt from the Village Munsif. The Village Munsif, when asked, said that he had sent the money to Ganpat Rao's Station. The enquiring officer came to the Station and asked the Station Officer who pointed out that at the particular time and date when the money came, he was on leave. As Ganpat Rao was in charge, the enquiring officer came to the conclusion that Ganpat Rao was the one who swallowed the fine amount of Rs. 32. Ganpat Rao was asked for an explanation. He said he knew nothing. But there was no escaping the fact that money had been sent that day, and was paid at the station as the servant testified. Then Ganpat Rao, finding that there was not only no chance of his becoming the Sub Inspector, but a good chance of his getting into the jail, solemnly swore to Baba that this time he would positively quit service. He went further and mentioned his willingness to resign to the enquiry officer. The officer made him pay Rs. 32, and then discharged him after taking his resignation letter. Thus, Baba succeeded in making Ganpat Rao quit that service, a service, which would prevent Ganpat Rao from becoming the high spiritual personage that he was subsequently to develop into.


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