Baba converted a sceptic into a believer


Bhivpuri is a station on the Mumbai-Pune railway line, about 5 miles from Karjat towards Mumbai. This station is mainly built to facilitate the industrial concern of the Tatas, situated on a hill nearby; but it has assumed importance on quite a different count.
More than fifty years ago, Shri Keshav Rao Pradhan had a house on a small piece of cultivated land at Ukrool village on the eastern side of Bhivpuri railway station. Shri Pradhan had a touring job and Nasik, Manmad, Daund and other such places were on his itinerary. Naturally he used to hear much about Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi. But he was a non-believer.

On one occasion, however, one of his friends nearby compelled him with love to accompany him to Shirdi. Both of them went there and stayed for a couple of days. When Shri Pradhan saw Shri Sai Baba and witnessed His greatness, it made such an import on his mind that his sceptism was replaced by complete devotion and faith.

Thence forward Shri Pradhan made it a point to go to Shirdi often, for the darshan of Shri Sai Baba. Everytime he got an interview with Baba. He entreated Him to come to Ukrool. After listening to his often repeated request, Shri Sai Baba one day picked up one of His replicas given to Him by a devotee and handed it over to Shri Pradhan saying, “Go to your own place, erect a temple of this and don’t return here again. Be gone.” This happened in the year 1916. Even then Shri Pradhan revisited Shirdi once; but venerable Shri Sai Baba remembered him and asked him to quit forthwith. “When I have come to your house, why are you here ? Your own place is Shirdi for you now !” were His words of advice.

Though the replica was with him, Shri Pradhan was not satisfied with the promise “I have come to your house”. He was somewhat sad.
A few days later he ceremoniously erected a temple near his house in Ukrool and established the replica with due consecration. The observing of daily worship and offerings began. Occasionally some functions were performed at the new temple. The temple was located amidst beautiful surroundings with big trees all around. It was a very quiet place, suitable for the saintly Sai Baba. Nobody disturbed the peace and silence by night.

It so happened that after the temple was built, even though nobody was around, the sound of the temple door being opened could be heard after mid-night and Sai Baba could be seen going about the precincts of the temple, sometimes resting under a tree. At about 3 a.m. Sai Baba would return to the temple and close the door behind Him. The sound of the door closing would also be audible. This was seen and heard not only by Shri Pradhan and his family members but also by the guests at his house. This was sufficient proof for Shri Pradhan to make him a devotee of Shri Sai Baba and thence forward he spent his time, energy and money in Baba’s service.
Verily, this was Brahman embodied visiting Pradhan’s house and there was no other desire left in his mind except to be united with his beloved Baba. Shri Pradhan spent thousands of rupees and built the shrine room, the spacious meeting hall, a wide verandah and the guest house.

Shri Sai Baba went into Mahasamadhi at Shirdi in 1918; but this did not mean a break in the happiness of enjoying His company for Shri Pradhan, as Baba’s immortal spirit was always present with him.

In 1924, Shri Pradhan’s daughter was given in marriage to Shri V. A. Gupta of Dadar, Mumbai. Shri Gupta was a pious gentleman. The new relationship deepened with faith and he developed a keen interest in the maintenance of the temple at Bhivpuri (Ukrool). He took part zealously in the various religious functions. Shri Gupta’s influence infused devotion towards Shri Sai Baba amongst the minds of many of his friends and the number of devotees visiting Bhivpuri Sai temple increased steadily.

Shri Gupta had the opportunity to visit Shirdi in 1936. The grandeur of the Samadhi Mandir, the magnificence of the daily worship and the great congregation of devotees from all parts of the country coming daily and on special occasions sent a thrill through the heart of Shri Gupta. With folded hands and in all humility, he prayed to Shri Sai Baba. “Oh Baba ! When can such a grand temple come up at Your Bhivpuri ? After all, it all depends on Your will.” The call of the devotee was heard by Shri Sai Baba, and the Bhivpuri Sai temple got more and more famous from that day.

In 1939, Shri Pradhan expired, leaving the responsibility of the temple to his sons and son-in-law. In the same year, with the help of friends they formed an institution by the name of Shri Sadguru Sainath Seva Sansthan, with seven trustees. Besides Shri G. K. Deshmukh and Shri A. K. Wani, officers of the Hindusthan Construction Co. also take great interest in its activities. As more and more people experience Baba’s benevolent existence, the pilgrims increased in number and the facilities at the temple became inadequate to accommodate them. Renovation was therefore undertaken. But though the brick work was completed, the construction work was not possible due to lack of funds and material.

Late Shri Narayan Purohit started a parayan (continuous reading) of Baba’s Satcharita as a prayer to Shri Sai Baba to complete the work. After 3-4 days, he saw Shri Sai Baba in a dream wandering about and asking persistently “Where is my dhuni ? If there is no dhuni, how can this be Shirdi ? How will the temple be complete ?” Sai Baba was angry and throwing stones everywhere. He thus appeared for two consecutive nights and Shri Purohit was taken aghast. He went to Dadar and narrated the entire dream to Shri Gupta. Shri Gupta came to Bhivpuri with other committee members and by the system of lots, ascertained the wish of Shri Sai Baba, who gave a positive indication to start the dhuni. A place was fixed for the dhuni and it was duly constructed in the size 8’ x 4’.

Shri A. R. Walawalkar, grandson of late Shri Dabholkar, the author of Baba’s original Satcharita in Marathi lit the dhuni for the first time on 7-4-1949, Ramnavami, at about 10 a.m. Shri Walawalkar also stayed at Bhivpuri under the directions of Shri Sai Baba received by him at Shirdi in a dream. Shri Kunaresan, who met the committee members on one occasion kindly bore all the expenses for the roof and other structures around the dhuni. This dhuni is continuously burning. The expenses were first borne by Shri Chavan from Dombivli but are now taken care of by the donations received.

Various important functions are held and there are special functions on Ramnavami and Samadhi day. Prof. D. D. Parchure offers his services in the form of kirtans on these two occasions. Many great personalities have visited this temple and helped it financially. They have made good suggestions for its improvements. The interest and enthusiasm of all these people deserve the sincere appreciation of the trustees.

Such is the wonderful story of the Bhivpuri Sai temple, the story of how Shri Sai Baba kept His promise and came to stay at Bhivpuri also. This place is now a living centre of the spiritual influence of Shri Sai Baba and it is no wonder that people who visit it once, come here to have darshan of Shri Sai Baba again and again with renewed devotion.


Source: Saileela Magazine

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