of Shri Sai Baba
Tatya Kote Patil
Tatya Kote Patil had a unique relationship with Baba and was under his protection from the age of seven. As a child, Tatya addressed Baba as ‘Mama’ (Uncle or Mother’s brother). They would play and romp together,
with Tatya climbing on Baba’s back and sitting in his lap. Being so close to Baba afforded him privileges that few had. Only he and Mahalsapati were allowed to sleep with Baba in the mosque and this he did for 14 years until his father died and family responsibilities compelled him to go home.
Mahalsapati was the priest of the Khandoba Temple on the edge of the village of Shirdi.
Mahalsapati was the one who owes the name of Saibaba as we know it today. He uttered 'Ya Sai,' when Baba made His first appearance at the Khandoba temple along with the marriage party of Chandbhai. Saibaba used to call Mahalsapati 'Sonarda,' and later on 'Bhagat' i.e. close disciple.
Shama was among Baba’s most intimate devotees. He was regarded as the ‘Nandi’ of Baba and acted like his personal secretary. Baba once told Shama that they had been together for 72 generations. His parents had moved to Shirdi from Nimon (five kilometres away) when he was only two. He became a school teacher in a room next door to the mosque.
Most popularly known for being the author of the work The Sri Sai Satcharitra, Annasaheb Dabholkar was called Hemadpant by Saibaba after a well known poet of 13th Century. His work is a great insight into the life and philosophy of Saibaba.
Laxmibai Shinde was well-to-do woman, who worked in the masjid day and night. Except Bhagat Mhalasapati, Tatya and Laxmibai, none was allowed to step in the Masjid at night.Later she prepared food for Baba and served him with great love and devotion. Baba was highly grateful to her and showed his gratitude by giving her a gift of Rs. Nine before taking Samadhi, which is thought to symbolize the nine characteristics of a good devotee.
Nana Chandorkar was among the most prominent devotees of Baba. He was well educated and a Brahman.A Deputy Collector by profession, he had the distinction of being one of the very few disciples that Baba directly called to his side.
Sriman Gopalrao Booty was a millionaire of Nagpur. Booty became eminent devotee of Baba right from his first visit. Booty’s outstanding service to the Sai Sansthan and Baba’s devotees was that, he constructed the huge building and devoted it entirely for the Mahasamadhi shrine of Baba.This stone building was known as Booty Wada.
The moment Baba saw Bayaja Bai, he said, “She has been my sister for the last seven births”. Right from the time she met Baba as a young lad sitting under the neem tree, the parental feelings were aroused for Baba as if He was her son. Bayaja Bai, used to go to the woods every noon with a basket on her head containing bread and vegetables to fed him forcibly.
Abdul Baba came to Shirdi in around 1890. He came here after a fakir who was inspired in his dream by Saibaba to bring Abdul Baba to Shirdi. On his coming to Shirdi, Saibaba greeted him by saying "My crow has come". A dedicated worker Abdul Baba took care of Baba's mosque and lit the lamps in Lendi. Baba took care of his welfare, and often had him reading aloud passages from the Koran.
Bhagoji Shinde suffered from leprosy and yet he was among the closest to Saibaba. He accompanied Saibaba to Lendi garden carrying a parasol to give him shade. Once Saibaba got hurt while thrusting his hands into dhuni, Bhagoji was the one who bandaged the wound and dressed him long after it had healed.
Shri Ganpat Rao Dattatreya Sahasrabuddhe alias Das Ganu Maharaj, a high class Brahman was fondly called as Ganu by Baba. Dasganu was originally in police service and it was during this time that Nana Chandorkar took him to see Sai Baba. Das Ganu wrote about the lives of saints and composed kirtans (devotional songs) which he sang with great fervor. He spread the life stories of Sai in the form of hymns. The rapid spread of Baba’s name in Maharashtra was very largely due to his efforts. He sang Baba’s glory in the form of Kirtans. He had written lots of literature & poems on Baba.
Hari Sitaram alias Kakasaheb Dixit was a prominent solicitor another of Saibaba's ardent devotees. Saibaba used to call him affectionately Langda Kaka and removed fear complex from his mind. Kaka Dixit was known for his obedience to Baba's orders.