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Sunday, 2 January 2011

Das Ganu Maharaj - Brief Biography

Now let us look into the life history of Das Ganu Maharaj. Das Ganu’s name was Ganapat Dattatreya Sahasra Budde.

Das Ganu's ancestors - Sahastrabuddhes were the village chiefs of Kotawade in Ratnagiri district in Konkan. The great grandfather of Das Ganu Maharaj - Shri Appaji Narayan Sahastrabuddhe moved to Ahmednagar from Karkamb. He served as a Tahasildar and after retirement, became a Sanyasin and went to Kashi to leave his body at the feet of Lord Vishweshwar. His son - Shri Eknathpant, worked very hard and made a very good name for the family. His fourth son Shri Dattatreya was the father of Das Ganu Maharaj. Dattopant was not a keen student. He neither bothered to take good education nor did he try lo get a government job. He stayed back in his family house and looked after the family farms and property. He was very much interested in music. He was always surrounded by a number of music lovers. He did not pay much attention to his business. He was married to Smt. Savilribai. The bride was from a royal family of Akolner. She was a very well cultured, intelligent, disciplined and pious lady. Since her husband was a happy go lucky type of a person, she spent most of her time in devotion.

In the year 1867, she gave birth to our Maharaj. After the nativity, the child would not suckle the mother and started weeping continuously. Doctors and Vaidyas were invited but in vein. The child's grandmother prayed to Lord Khandoba with tears in her eyes. These fervent prayers were answered and the child stopped crying and suckled the mother. The child was named Narayan in Akolner but when it was taken to Nagar, his grandfather saw his big belly, big ears and a Siva Lingam type projection on his temple. Grandfather spontaneously named the child Ganesh.Baba later started calling him Ganu.

He met Sai Baba in 1892 AD. Das Ganu Maharaj before turning to kirtankar was a Havaldar in police. There was a notorious bandit named Kana Bhil who was robbing British and native states. For three years, police were on his track but failed to catch him. Kana Bhil one day came to shoot Das Ganu for he already shot the other three Havildars put up on duty to keep track of Kana Bhil. Das Ganu went and bowed before Sri Ram and prayed for life the bandit let him off with a warning that he will be watched. When Das Ganu got information regarding this bandit he informed police who surrounded the hillock where Kana Bhil was hiding but, he escaped after a severe battle in which a number of police where shot. Das Ganu got a medical certificate that he has heart disease and escaped further detective duty.

Absenting himself from his duty, he visited holy places, returned to river Godavari, and vowed to Baba holding Godavari water in his hand that if he would save him he would give up his service in police. Ambitious to become Fouzdar, dominating his mind he appeared for the exam and passed it to qualify himself for the Fauzdar post. Baba told him that he would not get the Fauzdar post. He was posted to a place for which he had to cross Shirdi to reach the place of his posting. On way, he did not wish to see Baba so he avoided turning into the village and marched on main road. As fate would have it, Baba was there on the main road and Das Ganu had to get down from his horse and fell on Baba’s feet.

Baba took him to the mosque and there asked him as to who took the Vow taking Godavari water in hand? Still Das Ganu did not realise how Baba knows about his Vow and he was preventing him from further harm. Baba let him proceed with words ‘Wait you will not listen to me while things are smooth running’. Then he got into another trouble with no fault of his, a convict’s fine of Rs.32 realized and sent to him, to be credited into the Government account was received by his assistant and was quietly pocketed. Later the man for whom the fine has been sent, not being released made a complaint, and Das Ganu was suspended. Punishment was eminent. Again, Das Ganu vowed he would leave service if he was let off and in 1903, he left his service to serve Baba. He prostrated before Baba with tears in his eyes, “Baba I am without any property and I have no income. Unless there is some provision, myself and my wife have to starve. (No children were born to Him). Then Baba said “Do not fear. I will provide for you, Ganu”

Baba always used to say he was fond of tamashas. After Das Ganu gave up his service as Havildar, he performed kirtans. He never took money for performing kirtans. He had lands, sold to him by his friend at a nominal price. This gave him yield enough to live upon. He was a man of few needs as he was alone.

Dasganu Maharaju was very orthodox. However, Baba did not like orthodoxy in some matters. Baba liked to eat onions daily, but Dasganu’s orthodoxy prevented him from it. To test him Baba once asked him to prepare sauce of onions and to have his meals of it first and then to bring it to Sai Baba. Dasganu touched the finished dish with his fingertips, touched his lips with it as token of tasting it, and took it to Baba. Baba knew what he did. He showed other devotees what Dasganu did by his action. Then he told Dasganu “you should eat onions”. However, the orthodoxy rejects it over its odor and aphrodisiac properties. Baba for this explained to Das Ganu, “If one digests it and overcomes it detrimental qualities it does no harm but good”. As long as Baba was alive, Dasganu ate onions except on Ekadasi days.

It is considered sacred to have bath in the holy tirth of prayag (Allahabad U P). Once Das Ganu thought of going to tirth and came to Baba to take permission and Baba replied to him, ‘it’s not necessary to go so long our Prayag is here believe me’. At Baba’s, behest Das Ganu placed his head at Baba’s feet and out flowed streams of Ganga Jamuna water from both toes of Baba, seeing this miracle Das Ganu was overwhelmed with the feeling of love and adulation. This inspired him to burst out into a song in praise of Baba and his leelas. From 1914AD, Sai Baba entrusted the role of being Haridas in the Ramanavami festival to Das Ganu Maharaj. Since then he conducted it successfully.

Sai Baba was very fond of remembering and singing God’s name. He always uttered Allah malik and in Baba’s presence, devotees sang praises of God continuously for seven days. This is called “Namah Saptah”. Once he asked Dasganu Maharaj to do Namah Saptah. Dasganu asked Baba he would do it provided Vittal appeared at the end of seventh day. Baba keeping his hand on his breast assured him certainly Vittal would appear but he should be honest and devote. What we understand by these experiences is that only when the devotee is replete with love and devotion, Vittal will manifest himself in him. After the saptah was over Vittal did manifest himself in Shirdi this way.

Kaka Dixit was in meditation he saw a vision of Vittoba, when he went for darshan of Baba he told Baba of the vision he had. Baba asked Kakasaheb to be on guard, as Vittoba will come to him in the afternoon. Like wise that after noon Kakasaheb saw a hawker selling pictures of Vittoba similar to that of what he saw in his vision. Kakasheb bought one picture and placed it in his shrine for worship.

Persons who do keerthans during Ram Navami and other festivals are called “Haridas”. Generally, while doing Keerthans, Haridas wear a Gala and full dress. They put on headdress either a pheta or a turban and a long flowing coat with a shirt inside, short dhotar (uparani) on the shoulders and the usual long dhotar from waist below. After dressing himself in this fashion for some keerthan in Shirdi village, Dasganu went for Baba’s darshan. Baba upon seeing Dasganu asked him why he is dressed like bridegroom. When Dasganu said for making keerthans Baba asked him to take all his clothing except the long dhotar worn from wasit below. Bare from wasit upward a pair of chiplies in hand Dasganu conducted keerthans this way as per Baba’s wishes. This was like the purest form followed by sage Narada to sing the praises of lord Vishnu.

Initially Baba was known only in Ahmednagar district. Nana Saheb Chandorkar by personnel talks and Das Ganu Maharaj by his keerthans spread the fame of Baba in the Konkan. In fact, Das Ganu by his beautiful and inimitable keerthans made Baba available to so many people. The audience who come to hear the keerthans have different tastes, some like the erudition of the Haridas some his gestures, some his singing, some his wit and humour, some his preliminary dissertation on Vedanta and some others his main stories and so on. However, among them few get faith and devotion or love for God or saints. The effect of hearing Dasganu’ keerthans on the minds of audience was however electric as it were.

Once in the audience, a Mr. Cholkar temporary employee in civil court after hearing keertans bowed to Baba mentally and prayed that if he passed his department exams he will come to Shirdi, fall on his feet, and distribute sugar candy in Baba’s name. Mr. Cholkar passed the exam but he was a poor man and had a large family to support, he could not afford the expenses of Shirdi trip. To fulfill his vow he cut down his expenses by taking his tea without sugar this way he was able to make a trip to Shirdi and have darshan of Baba.

He fell at Baba’s feet offered a coconut distributed it with clean conscious with sugar candy as for the vow. Mr. Cholkar was in the masjid with his host Bapu Saheb Jog. When both of them got up to leave Baba said to.Mr Jog as follows. “Give him cups of tea fully saturated with sugar”. Hearing this significant words Mr.Cholkar was stirred with emotion and wonder struck, tears bedewed his eyes, and he fell at Baba’s feet once again. Baba meant to say, ‘Though I am here bodily, still I know what you do beyond the seven seas’

Dasaganu maharaj wrote "Stavana Manjari" book just before 36 days of Baba's maha samadhi. He was also Author of many books in praise of Sai Baba. ‘Bhakti Saramrita’ (1925), ‘Bhakta Leelamruta’ (1906), and later ‘Santakalamrita’. In these some facts, autobiographical reminiscences came from Baba’s own mouth. However, they were very few.

In 1700 shaka year, Dasganu Maharaj wrote ‘Bhakta Leelamrut’ and ‘Santakatamrutha’ in which lives of modern saints were described. In chapter 31, 32, 33 of Bhakta Leelamruth and in chapter 57 of Santhakatamrutha the life and teachings of Sai were predicted.

His name was a household word throughout Maharastra. Ganu was a great devotee of lord Panduranga and he used to make a “Vari” trip to Pandarpur every year. He died at the age of about 95 at Pandarpur 1963 on Karthika Ekadasi at the age of 95. His Samadhi is at Gortha Nanded and hundred of his devotees and disciples even now flock there every year to participate in the Samadhi ustav.Thus Baba made him to cast his mortal coil and fulfilled his wish to attain “Sadgati” at the abode of Lord Panduranga. In fact Baba and Panduranga are one and the same.

Though Das Ganu Maharaj never considered Sai Baba as a Guru and God in the initial days later on He trusted Baba the most, and It was because of Das Ganu Maharaj that Name of Sai Baba spread through out Maharastra and later on by Narasimha Swamy through out India. It is cuz of these two people that we are today devotees of Sai Baba.

“If one meditates on me, repeats my name, and sings about my deeds- he is transformed and his karma is destroyed. I stay by his side always”.

For more literature visit www.saileelas.org

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