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Late Shri Abdul Baba
Abdul Baba came to Shirdi in around 1890 from a poor family and through a fakir who received instructions in a dream to send him. Baba greeted him with the curious words "My crow has come".

He was a dedicated worker and it was he who cleaned the mosque, washed Baba's clothes and collected water. He swept the streets outside the mosque, lit the lamps in Lendi and obeyed Baba's instructions to the letter.

Baba took care of his welfare, and often had him reading aloud passages from the Koran.

Late Shri Bhagoji Shinde
Bhagoji Shinde suffered from leprosy but this never deterred Baba from keeping him close by. He regularly accompanied Baba on his walk to Lendi gardens carrying a parasol to give him shade.

Once when Baba thrust his hand into the dhuni (the sacred fire) and was badly burnt (thus saving the life of a devotees' baby), Bhagoji was allowed to clean and dress the wound with a bandage.

Even though Baba lived for a further eight years after the incident, Bhagoji would daily continue the ritual of bandaging Baba's arm long after it had healed.

Late Shri Tatya Kote Patil
Tatya had a unique relationship with the Baba and was under his wing from the age of about seven.

As a child, Tatya addressed Baba as “Mama” or “Uncle” and 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 priviledges 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.

Late Smt Laxmibai Shinde
Laxmibai Shinde was one of Baba's very close devotees and was the only woman who was allowed into the mosque when the curtain was down. This curtain acted like a door and screened the upper part of the mosque.

She regularly prepared food for Baba and served him with great love and devotion.

Every day Baba used to give her four rupees and just before he passed away he gave nine rupees which are thought to symbolise the nine characteristics of a good devotee.

Late Shri Hari Sitaram Dixit (alias Kakasaheb Dixit)
Kakasaheb Dixit was an influencial lawyer, active in public life who was persuaded to visit Sai Baba in 1909 by his friend Nana Chandorkar. He came originally to get a cure for his leg which had been injured while studying in London, but soon forgot the reason exclaiming that the handicap of his leg was nothing compared to the limitations of his mind!

Dixit was so struck by his first darshan with Baba that he immediately began plans to construct a building which after receiving Baba's blessing he completed in early 1911.

Known as Dixit Wada, this building was to provide a valuable resting place for various visiting devotees and in which he settled in a small room on the first floor.

Late Shri Madhavrao Deshpande (Shyama)
Shyama was among Baba's most intimate devotees, and acted like his personal secretary. Baba once told Shyama that they had been together for 72 generations.

His parents had moved to Shirdi from Nimon (5 kilometres away) when he was only two. He became a school teacher in a room next door to the mosque.

There was a small window in the this room which overlooked the mosque and Shyama used to watch Baba through it soon realising Baba's remarkable powers and so kindling his faith.

Late Shri Mhalsapathi
Mahalsapati was the priest of the Khandoba Temple on the edge of the village of Shirdi at the time that Sri Sai Baba was said to have first arrived there. It was he who hailed the young man, 'Ao Sai!' (welcome saint) thus giving him the beloved name.

When Baba asked him if he might stay in the temple, Mahalsapati refused, fearing that he was a Muslim and directed him to stay in the run down mosque in the village.

He was soon to recognise the greatness of the young sage and thereafter became one of his greatest devotees, serving him with love and devotion for the rest of his life.

Late Shri Nanasaheb Chandorkar
Nana Chandorkar was one of Baba's most prominent devotees. Born of well respected parents in Kalyan, Maharashtra, he rose at a young age to the post of Deputy Collector.

He had the distinction of being one of the very few disciples that Baba directly called to his side. Baba was not normally enthralled with men of high position, but in Chandorkar's case he could see that there was an old connection.

Being an orthodox Hindu slowed his progress under Baba's care, but once convinced of Baba's greatness, he became one of the most ardent devotees who encouraged many others to come to Shirdi.

Late Shri Ganesh Shrikrishna Khaparde
Dadasaheb Khaparde was an influencial advocate of Amraoti in Maharashtra taking an active part in public life as a great orator and member of the Legislative Assembly.

He first came to Shirdi in December 1910 and it was Sri Sai Baba who drew him out of that life and onto the spiritual path. In his diary he wrote,“ Sri Sai Baba’s smile was so charming that one could wait a lifetime in Shirdi for a glimpse of that bewitching smile”.

He is immortalised in the minds of Sai devotees because of the wonderful diary that he left behind in which he habitually recorded the day's happenings and which have been published as the Shirdi Diary.

Das Ganu Maharaj
Dasganu was originally in police service and it was during this time that Nana Chandorkar took him to see Sai Baba. From the very first, Baba tried to get Das Ganu to quit the service, but he always found an excuse. It was only after a series of disasters had befallen him that he vowed to give it up.

Baba rarely allowed him into the mosque but rather sent him to the Vittal Temple where he stayed and wrote about the lives of saints and composed kirtans (devotional songs) which he sang with great feeling.

After he finally gave up his work, Baba advised him to settle in Nanded, which he did, and he became well known for beauty of his kirtans which inspired many to seek Baba's darshan.

Annasaheb Dabholkar (1856- 1929)
Annasaheb Dabholkar is most notably known for being the author of the beloved work The Sri Sai Satcharitra.

He lived in Bombay and, although he was not a greatly educated man, he rose to being a magistrate in the Bombay government.

He was a poet by heart and long before he began his noted work, which he started in 1922 with Baba's blessings and completed it in 1926. It was Baba who called him Hemadpant after a well known 13th century poet.

Bayajabai Kote Patil
Bayajabai was Tatya's mother and the family had a close association with Baba from the very beginning and Baba saw her as a sister always addressing her as such. On first meeting him she vowed she would not take food until Baba had eaten.

In the early days Baba did not stay in one place but roamed around and so Bayajabai would carry the food in a basket on her head and go in search of him. Only when he had been fed would she be satisfied.

In later years as if to save her the bother of finding him, Baba settled down in the mosque and hers was one of the handful of houses that he went to beg.

Source : Sai Sumiran Times