This temple in Shivaji Nagar, Pune is the oldest and many people are devoted to it. Its history also is strange, curious and thrilling. This temple stands on the bank of the Mutha river in the Shivaji Nagar area in the vicinity of Rasane Chawl.
Recently one road has been constructed in the rear side of this temple and because of a big retaining wall constructed by the side of the river, the flood water of the river does not come near the temple, otherwise in olden days the flood water of the river, used to come as far as the temple every year during the monsoon. If we turn left from the new road, we first come to the Rasane Chawl. If we move a little ahead and turn our face to the right then we at once get the Darshan of Shri Sai Baba. This darshan gives us the satisfaction of having taken the trouble of coming to the temple.
Shri Damodarpant Rasane was a Sai devotee, who had the good fortune to have lived with Shri Sai Baba during the latter’s life time. The Rasane Chawl belongs to Shri Damodarpant. Round about 1945 Shri Nanasaheb Rasane, the son of Shri Damodar Pant converted two of the rooms in the Rasane Chawl into a temple and started there the worship of Shri Sai Baba. Since that time the worship of Shri Baba is going on at this place regularly. The morning and evening Aarati became a regular feature and hence devotees started flocking at the site.
Sessions Judge of Pune, Shri Patil, Shri Chougule, a Judge from Belgaum, Shri V. Shankar Mudaliar, Shri P. S Rao, Shri Ranganathan, Shri Bendre, Shri Gaikwad, Shri Takawane Guruji can be mentioned as the illustrious devotees, attending the temple. Shri Nikam, from Khed was a Jamadar in the Police Deptartment. He was known to be a sincere Sai devotee and hence he was called by Shri Nanasaheb Rasane to join the activities of the temple. Shri Nikam accordingly responded to the call of Shri Nanasaheb Rasane and resigning his job in the Police department, dedicated his entire life to this temple. He has presented to this temple one Talisman obtained from Shri Sai Baba due to Shri Nikam’s good fortune. The story of how Shri Nikam came to get this Talisman is also very interesting and noteworthy for all Sai devotees and hence it would not be out of place to narrate it here.
One girl from Shirdi named Kashibai, was married to a gentleman staying in Niphad. Due to her ill luck Kashibai’s husband died within a few years after her marriage. She was pregnant at the time of her husband’s death. She confined at the proper time and gave birth to a son, who was named as Madhav. When her son completed one year, Kashibai returned to Shirdi from Niphad and started staying with her father. As Kashibai had no means of livelihood, she used to work on some body’s field for the whole day and used to earn some money. Kashibai’s son was more or less a problem for her. There was nobody at her house, who could look after him. Hence she found out a solution for that. She used to leave her son, in the morning in the Masjid and go away to the field for work. In the evening when she would return from the work, she used to pick up her son from the Masjid and then she used to go home. In the evening, she used to bow down to Shri Sai Baba before going home. As Kashibai used to leave Madhav in the Masjid for the whole day, she never had any worry about him. She used to work in the field whole day and return in the evening. This became a sort of a routine for Kashibai for four or five years. After Madhav attained the age of five, Shri Baba started giving him a rupee every day. In his turn, Madhav also used to attend to Shri Baba’s petty jobs.
Smt. Kashibai knew that Baba used to give some money to many people. Once she came to the Masjid and said to Shri Baba, “Baba, you are daily giving Rupees fifty to some people, to some others you are daily giving Rs. 30. Some people are in daily receipt of Rs. 25 and Rupees fifteen respectively. My son Madhav is doing so many of your sundry jobs; but you are giving only one rupee to him everyday. Why is it so?”Baba replied, “Kashibai, I know I am giving more money to some people than what I am giving to your son, but remember that I am going to stop giving this prasad to others; but your son’s donation will not be stopped. It will continue for ever, I am the master of widows like you, who have no protector”.Kashibai did not understand the words of Shri Baba properly and said, “My Master (ifa) died some five years before and I am a widow since that time”.
On listening to these words, Shri Baba got enraged and started speaking to her in loud tone. Looking at the wrath of Shri Sai Baba, Kashibai quietly slipped out of the Masjid and went home. She then stopped going to the Masjid for some time. After two or three days, however, Shri Baba remembered about her and He sent for her. Kashibai came to the Masjid along with Madhav. She was quite afraid to speak to Shri Baba; but Baba spoke to her in mild tone. One tooth of Shri Baba had become loose. Hence he pulled it out and after tying it in a small rag along with some Udi, he gave it to Kashibai informing her to keep that Talisman with her. Baba told Kashibai further that it would do her good.
In course of time, Madhav grew up to be a man. He was now known as Madhavrao. After the death of his mother Kashibai, he left Shirdi and settled at Niphad. Once he fell seriously ill. During that sickness, he saw a dream, in which Shri Sai Baba ordered him, “Very soon a person will come to you and you should give him the Talisman tied round your arm”. Shri Nikam came on the same day to Shri Madhavrao’s house at Niphad. Shri Madhavrao and Shri Nikam had met each other many times at Shirdi; but just as Madhavrao got a dream, similar dream was seen by Shri Nikam and hence for fulfillment of the dream he met Madhavrao. As both the devotees confirmed their dreams, the Talisman was handed over by Shri Madhavrao to Shri Nikam. This Talisman was with Shri Nikam for many years and now he has handed it over to this Mandir, for safe custody. It is now kept below the Padukas of Shri Sai Baba in this Mandir. The Padukas were installed by Pujyashri Narasimha Swamiji in 1950. It is said that the tooth of Shri Buddha is kept at some places of worship of the Buddhas, especially the stupas. It appears that this temple will have corresponding importance to the Sai devotees because of this Talisman as the Buddhist have for their temples, containing the tooth of Shri Gautam Buddha.
In 1950, Saidas Mandal was established to take care of this Mandir and it was also registered. Shri Ranganathan was the Secretary of the Mandal for many years. After his death, Shri S. Ramakrishnaji, who was a petty contractor, took over the secretaryship and he still continues to hold that post. Shri Ramakrishnan has taken a lot of pains for the construction of this Mandir and today even at the age of seventy-five; he is not backward in his duties to the Mandir. His enthusiasm is really wonderful and some young people even cannot show as much energy as this old man has. Dasara, Ram Navami, Guru Pournima, these three festivals are celebrated at this Temple every year with great devotion and discipline. Shri Ramakrishnan is paying personal attention to every small or big job concerning the Temple and because of this keen interest shown by him in the affairs of the Temple; it has been possible to show good progress. Because of this able guidance of Shri Ramakrishnan, the young generation is always volunteering their services to the Temple and are willingly yoking themselves to work.
Shri Nanasaheb Awasthi, a veteran Sai devotee of Pune, who was more than eighty years old, was also another source of inspiration of the Mandal. He being one of the lucky persons, who had the good fortune to see Shri Saibaba while he was alive, his blessings were considered to be very valuable for the project and it was hoped that with his guidance, the work of the Mandir would progress swiftly. Shri Awasthi Kaka used to visit the Mandir on every Thursday, in the evening for Aarti. Due to his death, this Mandal has lost a very strong supporter and guide, but the enthusiasm of the members of the Mandal has not become less in any way.
One miracle about the old Temple is worth narrating here. On 12th July 1961, the Panshet Dam gave way and the whole of Pune city was under flood water. A large part of the city was devastated and many houses crumbled down like a pack of playing cards. This Sai Mandir at Shivaji Nagar was at that time actually on the banks of the river. It was therefore, no wonder if this Temple was caught in the flood water. Because of the breaking of the Panshet Dam, the level of water rose to about 20 to 25 feet above the dome of this Temple.
The small structures of mud in the compound of Rasane Chawl were drowned in the flood-water and therefore the members of the Mandal were much worried about the Temple. No sooner had the flood water subsided, the members of the Mandal ran to the site for salvaging the Temple. It was really a job to clear the thick deposit of mud on the Temple and its vicinity. The work went on continuously for 2 to 3 days and then to the wonder of everybody, the old Temple was found to be quite intact. The Audumbar tree by the side of the Temple stood as before and was not even bent down a little. The colored photograph of Shri Saibaba in the Temple was also intact. Even after remaining buried in the thick mud for so long a time it did not get soiled at all. It is really a wonder how this has happened. Now one marble statue of Shri Saibaba, which was ordered from Jaipur is installed in the Temple; but the aforesaid photograph is worshipped daily. Every Sai devotee who visits the Temple comes to know of the spiritual power of Shri Shirdi Saibaba, because of this miracle and at once bows down his head before Shri Shirdi Saibaba for getting His blessings. The Sai devotees in Shivaji Nagar area have great regard for the Temple and it is hoped that other Sai devotees also will make it a point to visit this Temple at the time of their visit to Pune.
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