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The universalistic Sai movement should start with Mahlsapathy, an uncultured poor village goldsmith. He has been the pole star amongst the Sai bhaktas. He is considered as the first person to start Sai worship. Earlier a pujari of the Khandoba temple Mahlsapathy’ s faith grew making him the most zealous admirer and ardent worshipper of Baba. He was the first person to be allowed to worship Baba for a long time. His self-dedication and great attachment to Baba were irresistible for a large hearted soul like Baba. His placing of flowers and sandal at the lotus feet of Sai and offering were obviously the mark of respect. Saibaba the fakir could not object them even though these were offered in the mosque. When this grew more and more like worship then Baba realized how incongruous Hindu worship of him was in the mosque. Its growth in the mosque finally turning into a Dwarkamai controlled entirely by a Hindu board reminds us of a small shoot of a banyan tree creeping through a cleft of a rock, which a plant can’t easily go through, yet the banyan grows through it and pushes the pieces of rock aside and grows into huge dimensions. Such was the growth of the Hindu puja of Baba.

Shri Madhrao Wamanrao Aadkar

Smt Bayajabai Kote

Shri Mahadeo Sapatnekar

Shri Madhavrao Deshpande

Shri Dadasaheb Purandare

Dr. Pillay

Shri Abdul Baba

Shri Nanasaheb Chandorkar

Shri Ramkrishna S. Nawalkar

Shri Atmaram Kulkarni

Smt Parvatibai Sapatnekar

Shri Ganesh Khaparde

Shri Laxmanrao Mahajani

Shri Dajisaheb Awasthi

Shri Swami Shamanand

Shri Annasaheb Dabholkar

Shri Radhakrishna Swamy

Shri Hari Sitaram Dixit

Shri Balasaheb Miralkar

Shri Chotubhaiya Paralkar

Shri Shyamrao Jaykar

Shri Bhaguji Shinde

Shri Meghashyam Rege

Shri Gopal Mukund Butty

Shri Bhagat Mhalsapati

Shri Ghanshyam Babre

Shri Nanasaheb Kharkar

Shri Balasaheb Dev

Shri Rajubhaiya Naik

Shri Narshimha Swamy

Shri Moreshwar Pradhan

Shri Das Ganu Maharaj

Shri Y. R. Sukher

Shri Balasaheb Bhate

Shri Sadhubhaiya Naik

Shri Tatya Patil Kote

Shri Sundarrao Navalkar

Shri Damodhar Rasne

Shri Bhaumaharaj Kumbhar

Shri Kashiram Bala Shimpi

Shri Nandlal Sankalecha

Shri Trimbak Damodar

Shri Laxman Govind Mungi

Shri Dattatreya Rasne

Smt Laxmibai Shinde

Shri Bhausaheb Dhumal

Shri Sagun Meru Naik

Shri Nanasaheb Nimonkar

Shri Laxman Nulkar

Shri Yashwant Galwankar

Shri Ramchandra D.Kote

As can be seen from the above list of devotees, they belong to all casts, creeds and religions and flocked in Shirdi Teertha to get Sai’s(God) Darshan.

Baba’s first few devotees and their contribution to Sai-movement











Shri Mahalsapati

Mhalsapati was a poor devotee (gold smith) who worshipped his hereditary deity Khandoba. Baba made His appearance at the gate of the temple of Khandoba. When Mhalsapati saw Him he spontaneously uttered ‘Aao Sai’ as if addressing Him by a name to the nameless. When asked about it he got fumbled and just said, I do not know. It is as if Khandoba made me utter these words through cosmic inspiration. Mhalsapati had the fortune of being in the constant company of Baba day and night. Baba protected him from all calamities in his wordly life. Though Mhalsapati was poor Baba never gave him any money and brought about Mhalsapati’s spiritual upliftment (Uddhar- Liberation)


Mr and Mrs Bayajabai Kote Patil

The couple was an ardent devotee of Baba. Right from the time they ‘found’ Baba as a young lad sitting under the neem tree, the parental feelings were aroused for Baba as if He was their son. Mrs. Bayajabai kote Patil showered love and cared for young Baba who abruptly would rush to the cactus jungle, an unknown old isolated place and actually pursued Baba to give Him bread (Bhakari) and salty smash of chana dal (Jhunka) and onion and chilly simple food items which Baba cherished most. Baba also used to pay a visit to Kote Patil’s house to have lunch (bhojan) of His choice. When Bayaja expired Baba lamented over her demise. So was the unthinkable tie of love between Bayaja and her family and Baba the love incarnate. The present generation of Patil family still observe meticulously and very religiously the ritual of giving offerings of Thali (Naivedya) containing the above mentioned food items to Baba at Dwarkamai.




Shri Waman Tatya

From the time Baba made His abode at Dwarkamai, He used to go to Lendi Baug (Lendi Garden) for watering the plants which He had planted Himself in Lendi Baug – His place for penance. Baba frequently used to go to Waman’s stall of pots and told Waman to give matka’s for watering His garden. Baba used to carry matkas on His shoulders and after watering the plants break them as they were raw (kaccha) matkas. Baba did not pay anything for matka but Waman was dedicated to Baba and worshipped Baba and never hesitated to give matkas free to Baba. In this way Baba taught the principle of sacrifice without talking about it in words or by giving discourses on the importance of sacrifice in spiritual elevation.


Shri Kashiram Shimpi (Taylor)

He was an ardent devotee of Baba and had an earnest desire that Baba should take some money from him, from his income. Baba in turn used to take some money from him, from his income. Baba in turn used to take some small amount of money (paisa or a ginni) from him and Kashiram took a lot of pride as if he was giving money by way of donation to Sai the GOD Himself. Baba could recognize how a kind of ego was slowly creeping in Kashiram’s mind- This Baba did not want to happen. Therefore Baba started demanding money frequently beyond Kashiram’s income limit. This led to Kashiram’s realization – how a man can ‘help’ or donate something to the Almighty? Baba even asked Kashiram to borrow money and give it to Him if his income was exhausted. In turn however Baba saved Kashiram’s life when he was assaulted by a sword by robbers (burglers) because of which Baba got wild and panicky and started cursing the vicious act of robbers. From Masjid itself He ordered millions of ants to assault the burglers and saved Kasiram’s life. Kashiram obliged Baba by stitching a new kafni and a cap for Him.




Shri Nana Chandorkar

He was a high ranking Govt.officer under the British Rule- (PA to the Collector). He was a learned Sanskrit Pandit (expert) and was well read in religious philosophy propounded by monumental master pieces like Bhagvad-geeta (philosophical discourses given by Lord Krishna) and Dnyaneshwari by the Saint Dnyaneshwar and other pieces of philosophical literature (Religious scriptures). Baba sent several messages to Mr Chandorkar- through one of His devotees- Mr Kulkarni who was working as a clerk in Chandorkar’s office. Inspite of several messages Chandorkar did not take seriously Baba’s invitation to visit Shirdi because he did not like to entertain such persons as sadhus or fakirs and believed that these persons do not have divine powers and through their magical tricks they attract innocent and ignorant people for their money – making business and thus encouraged blind belief- which is not based on any scientific, objective or rational thought or judgement. Ultimately however he came to Shirdi. Baba welcomed him and said. ‘Oh’, you have atlast come to me after several messages. Nana, you do not know why from among thousands of Nanas in the world I have specifically invited you. Later in the company of Baba Mr Chandorkar had an intellectual dialogue and then was awe-struck by a very very original and new interpretation of Geeta given by Baba. In Chandorkar’s life when his daughter was pregnant and was passing through crisis Baba made all the arrangements in His mystic ways to send (udi) (ash) at Chandorkar’s place and the moment udi was swollowed by Maina (Chandorkar’s daughter), because of Baba’s grace, the crisis was over and child birth took place without any harm to the life of the mother. Later Chandorkar, along with his assistant Mr Das Ganu took a lead in spreading Baba’s mission to impart knowledge about One God (Allah Malik Ek Hai- The Almighty Master is only one everlasting reality). This is how Baba was very watchful and cared for His devotees by going beyond time and space dimensions.


Shri Das Ganu Maharaj

Mr Sahastrabuddhe was a great poet gifted with the omniscient power to write religious and other poetry aiming at God Realisation and social reform. Initially he was an atheist and he himself said that to regard Baba as a God is an exaggeration. However his approach to Baba totally changed when (as witnessed and told by Das Ganu) – Baba performed a miracle. Das Ganu expressed his desire to go to pilgrimage to Pandharpur (holy place of Lord Vitthal) and to have a bath by the holy waters of Chandrabhaga, the holy river along Pandharpur. However Baba explained to him that when he is at His feet there is no necessity of going to places of pilgrimage because He was a Satguru and waters of holy rivers are at His feet and to his surprise Das Ganu saw two streams of water flowing from Baba’s feet. Das Ganu then took the vow to perform musical recitals (Bhajans and kirtan) at various places as His service to describe and sing Baba’s glory to the people at various places. Consequently Baba as a God Incarnate came to be known to many people.




Shri Nandu Marwari

He was a retail merchant in Shirdi. Baba liked very much to burn lamps in His Dwarkamai and used to collect oil in His tin pot from Nandu Marwari without paying him anything. After entertaining Baba in this way for so many days, on one occasion Nandu Marwari denied to give oil to Baba, after which Baba quietly went to the Masjid, prepared threads to put in the lamps, put water into the pots after drinking whatever oil was collected previously. Later he poured water into the lamps and lighted all the lamps without oil. Thus without speaking anything Baba displayed His divine power over the five elements in nature (earth, fire, water, air, and light) Thus indirectly Nandu Maharaj is responsible and instrumental in bringing about Baba’s miraculous divine play of lighting lamps with water to the notice of the people. Baba’s incarnation was thus for spreading light of knowledge in the darkness of ignorance about the overwhelming universal power of the One Almighty.


Mrs. Laxmibai Shinde

She was a woman of middle age and was an ardent devotee of Baba. Baba always very affectionately ‘demanded’ food prepared by her (Bhakri Bread) by saying,’ Laksmi I am very hungry. Please give me bread prepared by you. Laxmi did this service to Baba (Annadan). Baba was highly  grateful to her and showed His grace and gratitude to Laxmi till the last moment before His Samadhi and before leaving the body gave Rs.5/- and then Rs.4/- in all Rs. 9/- Laxmi’s contribution in Sai movement is significant in the sense that – Baba’s mission was to impart knowledge about the nine dimensional devotional service to God. Baba assured His devotees that out of these nine methods of showing devotion to God, even if a devotee practices one, it will lead to God – Realization…




Shri Gopal Mukund Butty

Shri Bapusaheb Butty was an ardent devotee of Shri Saibaba. He dreamt about building a wada in Shirdi, at the same time late Madhavrao Deshpande had a similar dream. So after the permission and supervision of Baba the construction of the building was started, which was named the ‘Butty Wada’; nowadays called ‘The Samadhi Mandir’. The Samadhi Mandir which is seen nowadays was just built of stones. A famous money lender and an ardent devotee of Baba from Nagpur Shri Gopalrao (Bapusaheb) Butty had constructed this Wada. He wanted to construct the temple of Lord Krishna. After Baba’s permission he started the construction of the temple.



--Upasani Baba Maharaj---a brahmin follower of great attainment who later settled in Sakori, 5 kms from Shirdi
---Hari Sitaram Dixit--- Aa solicitor from Mumbai,he helped to found the Sai Sansthan
---Annasaheb Dabholkar,aka Hemadpant ,who was the instrument to write 'Sai sat Charita'
---Nanasaheb Chandorkar
---Madhavrao Deshpande [Shama]--a school teacher in Shirdi;he was very clsoe to Sai!
---Tatya Patel
---Das Ganu Maharaj [Sahasrabuddhe] ---the constable,given to acting in baudy street plays, who turned into a kirtahnkar/poet
---G S Khaparde---the wealthy advocate from Amraoti
---Mhalasapathi--th eone who welcomed and called Sai "Ao Sai" in Khandoba Temple
--- Gopal Rao Bhuti ---the millionaire textile mill owner from Nagpur who built the wada that became the Samadhi Shrine
Hari Vinayak Sathe---who built sathe wada or lodge near the Gurusthan
---Damodar Rasane
----Radhakrishna Mai--- the young widow who served Baba, cleaningthe streets,decoratingthe chavadi,serving the devotees,died young
---- Bhagoji Rao---a devotee afflicted with leprosy who remained devoted all the time
--- Nanavali--- a maverick, devotee who kept company with Baba,who starved and died 13 days after Baba's Samadhi
--- Abdul Baba---who noted in Urdu Baba's utterances explaining Koran and other texts
---- Chandrabai Borkar
---M W Pradhan
----Imambai Chota Khan
----G K Rege
----- Shivamma Thayee [who lived later years in Bangalore]
You will find the pictures of many of these devotees in the hall in front of Sai's image in Samadhi mandir.

SIVANESAN SWAMI: Sivanesan was a humble devotee of Shri Sainath.He came from Tamil Nadu;with very little formal schooling,he served as porter in Mumbai railway stations.One day,with burning dispassion,he walked towards Shirdi and spent the rest of the life there.He used to clean the Dwarkamai and other places.He occupied a small room nearby.Towards the end of his life a few years ago,many sought his blessings.Apparently he could guide many in the name of Sai.There are many such