Smt.Anubai Vahinisaheb Ghorpade from the erstwhile Ichalkaranji state is a veteran Sai Mahabhakte from her childhood days and was blessed directly by Shri Baba, when He existed in flesh and blood. She met Sai Baba several times. She was of religious bent of mind and read several books on Spirituality and Philosophy.
She was the Chairperson of the 6th Annual General Gathering of Devotees contributing their articles to Shri Sai Leela magazine held in Shirdi from 8th February 1980 to 10th February 1980.
Smt. Anubai was residing at Kolhapur during the year 1980. But her father hailed from Pune. Shri.Govindrao Wasudeo Kanitkar, the father of Anubai, was educated at Pune and started his career as a judge. When he was working as a judge in the district Court at Alibaug, Smt.Anubai was born at Alibaug on 19th October 1900 and she was named as Vimalatai. After Alibaug, Shri.Govindrao worked at Dhule, Malegaon, Yeola etc. and was known for his impartial judgments. Smt. Kashitai, the mother of Smt. Anubai, was once upon a time a well-known Marathi writer and an eminent elocutionist. Because of her literary pursuits, Late Shri.Hari Bhau Apte, the famous Marathi novelist, considered Smt.Kashitai as his sister. Even the grand-father of Smt.Anubai, Rao Bahadur Wasudeorao Bapuji Kanitkar, was working as an Engineer in the service of the Government of the then Bombay Presidency.
Smt.Anubai was lucky to get the darshan of Shri Sai Baba at a very early age. When she was aged about 7 to 9, She came to Shirdi several times along with the elder people in my family for Shri Baba's darshan. She had heard about him that he was a great saint, who performs many miracles. In her later life, when she had to face several calamities and when her life became almost unbearable, family elders advised her to study philosophical books for getting mental peace. It was at this juncture that she again ran towards the feet of Shri Sai Baba.
Smt.Anubai had her primary education at Yeola. When Anubai was nine, her father retired from service and came to stay permanently at Pune. Smt.Anubai then persued her further education in the famous Girl's High School at Hujoorpaga, Pune. There she studied upto 5th standard and was later married to Shri.Laxman Vishnu Joshi, M. A. in the month of May 1914. From 1915 to 1917, Shri.Joshi worked as a professor of history in the Kayastha Pathshala College, at Allahabad. During that period Smt.Anubai attended the Theosophical School at Banaras and passed the Matriculation Examination. The uncle of Shri.Joshi was adopted by the Chief of the Ichalkaranji State, as his son and in virtue of that adoption he became the Chief of that State. This uncle called his nephew, Shri.Joshi to Ichalkaranji State and appointed him as his Private Secretary. Shri.Narayanrao Baba Saheb Ghorpade, the adopted Chief and his wife Smt.Gangabai Saheb had no issue. So they in their turn adopted in 1919 Shri.Laxmanrao Joshi as their son and renamed him as Shri.Venkatrao and Sou.Joshi, the wife of Laxmanrao, was renamed as Sou.Anubai Vahini Saheb (Earlier Vimalatai). Shri.Laxmanrao thus became the Yuwaraj and the heir apparent of the Ichalkaranji State. Leaving the administration of the State to Shri.Venkatrao, (Shri.Laxmanrao Joshi) Shri.Narayanrao the Chief of the Ichalkaranji State went on tour to England. From the time of adoption in 1919 to 1924, the Yuwaraj was looking after the administration of the State. However at the end of that year, he died a premature death and in her very youth, Smt.Anubai got engulfed in great sorrow. The object of the adoption of Shri.Babasaheb was thus foiled and he had to again take in his hands, quite against his will, the reins of the administration of the Ichalkaranji State. He continued this work upto his death on 21st October 1943.
When Shri Venkat Rao expired in 1924, his two daughters and one son were minors. With the hope that this minor son will, in course of time, take over the administration in his hands, Shri.Babasaheb took great care to give proper education to this son. As Smt.Anubai Saheb was an educated lady, the administration of some departments of the State was also given to her.
In 1925, She became a member of the Theosophical Society and held the position of Shree Krishna Theosophical Lodge at Kolhapur. She read not only several looks on Theosophy but other books of Maharashtrian saints like Dnyaneshwar, Ramdas, Tukaram etc. and it was only because of that knowledge that she could withstand all the miseries that befell her in her hard life. It is her firm belief that Shri Sai Baba always extended his helping hand during the calamities that she faced. Bad luck persistently followed the family and this only son of Smt.Anubai Saheb expired at the end of 1928. The family had thus another big blow. But the reading of the books of saints and sincere prayer offered to them, helped her to surmount all her difficulties.
From 1930, She was worshipping Shri Sai Baba along with her family deity Lord Venkateshwara. Every time she faced some difficulty, she took recourse to their feet for getting rid of the calamity. Similarly she prayed to them for helping others out of their difficulties and give them the Udi of Shri Sai Baba. Whenever some difficulties came, she prayed to Shri Sai Baba from the bottom of her heart and at the same time she took the Udi in water and only by these remedies she surmounted all difficulties. Others who came to Anubai with their grievances and difficulties were also suggested by her to take recourse to the same remedies and when they also came out of their difficulties, they became sincere devotees of Shri Sai Baba. It is her experience of the last few years that when she got some apparently unsurmountable difficulties, she always got a solution for them whenever she really prayed to Shri Sai Baba sincerely. Even if she invoked Shri Sai Baba for warding off the calamities of others, still he responded to her call.
In 1942, she experienced one woncerful miracle. One of her domestic servants, who was working in her house for a long time, had no children even after many years of married life. This servant was quite sincere and faithful. He used to take care of ray children sincerely . Once he had gone to Ahmcdnagar along with Anubai's mother and he brought from there the photo of Shri Sai Baba which Anubai had asked him to bring. At that time Anubai prayed to Shri Sai Baba in her mind as follows: "Oh! Sai Baba, let this my servant get a son. He will hang a cradle before your Samadhi." Some years went by even after this prayer. Due to want of a child, this servant decided twice or thrice to go in for a second marriage; but every time Anubai used to send him out of station for some work and thus she was successful in postponing his second marriage. Finally, in the year 1942, his wife conceived and it appeared that Shri Baba's favours were going to shower on him. The age of his wife was 37 years at that time and the first confinement for a lady at that age is supposed to be rather difficult. Hence Anubai had instructed that servant to keep his wife under constant observation of the state nurse and she had further told him to call the state nurse at the time of the delivery of his wife. She had given all the above instructions to the servant because she had to go out of station, but when she was packing up her luggage in order to leave Ichalkaranji, this servant was requested to come home. After he left, other servants told Anubai that his wife was a bit uneasy and hence he was called home by his wife. Late in the night, however, the servant came and told Anubai that the State Doctor and nurse are of opinion that his wife will have to be removed to the hospital at Miraj for safe delivery. Anubai invoked Shri Sai Baba and told the servant with confidence, "Do not at all get, upset. Take Shri Baba's udi, apply it to the forehead of your wife and give it to her orally with a little water. Also tell the State Doctor that I have told him to accompany your wife". After midnight the State Doctor left for Miraj alongwith the servant and his wife who was having labour pains. Anubai however spent that whole night by chanting the name of Shri Sai Baba and repeating Sai Baba's favourite Aarti. At about 2 a. m. Anubai saw a stout boy crawling and coming inside through an arch, which was quite bright due to bright light. On seeing this sight, Anubai conjectured that the wife of her servant will have a safe delivery and that she will have a son. When she got this assurance from Shri Sai Baba, her mind became calm and she went to bed altogether free from care. On getting up on the next morning, Aubai first inquired about the servant and his wife; but Anubai was told that they had not returned from Miraj. At about 8:30 a. m. when Anubai went for a stroll in their garden, she got a message from the State Doctor that the lady had a safe natural delivery at 6 a. m. in the morning and that the child was nine pounds in weight! On witnessing this miracle of Shri Sai Baba, Anubai was overwhelmed with joy and she bowed to him a thousand times in her mind. Shri Sai Baba did not favour Anubai by giving darshan or she had no occasion of listening to his message in his voice. But on several occasions he had proved his existence in some way or the other.
She faced lot of problems throughout her life. Under such predicament, life had really become a burden to Anubai Saheb. However due to the affectionate nature of her father-in-law, Smt. Anubai Saheb brought up her two daughters and did whatever social work that was possible. Both these daughters studied upto Metric and they were married in due course. Both are having children and are leading a happy life. On the expiry of Shri.Baba Saheb in 1943, Smt.Anubai Saheb left Ichalkaranji and settled in Kolhapur and is still living there.
Smt.Anubaisaheb has traveled far and wide in India. She has keen interest in philosophy, music, drawing, embroidery etc. Her elder daughter, Smt.Shailaja Bai, is the wife of Shri.Trimbakrao Appasaheb Pratinidhi, the Chief of Vishalgad State, while the younger one, Smt.Nirmaladevi, is the wife of Shri.Shridhar Vasudeo Sohoni, M. A., I. C. S. who is the Ex-Lokayukta of Bihar State. Smt. Anubai is in the eightieth year of her age. She had the good fortune be seeing Shri Baba in flesh and blood and to have His blessings. It is because of these blessings that she has been able to bear all these ups and downs in her life. She is keenly devoted to Shri Sai Baba and she devotes a good part of her daily life in worship and prayer of Shri Baba.
She narrates in her own words her experience with Sai Baba as follows:
"The advice of Shri Sai Baba used to be simple and very easy to follow. My elderly people used to tell the following as Baba's advice. 'All living beings are the incarnations of God. We should behave with love with all.We should always speak the truth and perform our duty in the best possible manner. God is all pervading and He is very kind. We should lead a righteous life and remain satisfied with whatever we get. We should never refuse food and we should always take the 'Satwik' food which has been described in the Bhagawadgeeta. We should chant the name of God all the time and should always try to acquire knowledge'.
Addressing the gathering Anubai said: "According to the system of all saints, Shri Sai Baba used to give the devotees lessons of good behaviour in very simple words when he used to talk. He also used to impress upon your mind the principles of philosophy in this same way. Shri Baba used to say, "Do not think that Sai Baba means only this body, which is three and a half cubits in length. I am all pervading. Even if this body perishes, Baba will not go away. You may be anywhere and you may do anything, still I know everything you do, only by sitting over here in Shirdi." We hardly realize how pregnant these words are with meaning! We are attracted towards saints due the miracles performed by them; but from their point of view, a miracle is a mere play (Leela) for them. Their main work is to help the people to 'proceed on the path of spiritual well-being. Therefore what appears to us a miracle, is a help given by them to the devotee in order to attract him towards them. When our calamities are averted with the blessings of the saints, we must proceed on the path pointed out by them and achieve salvation. Under their blissful eye, We must become as advised in Bhagwadgeeta which is as follows:- "One who does not hate anyone, one who behaves in a friendly way, and is kind, one who has no addiction to any thing and who has no ego, who welcomes pleasure and pain in the same manner and who has the capacity to pardon others. In this way we must do all the duties of our life in the best possible manner and sacrifice our life at their feet. Really speaking I am not sufficiently qualified to address this gathering but in spite of that, you gave me the opportunity and for that I am very much thankful to you. I got the blessings of Shri Baba in my childhood and, hence I could travel on that bard path of my life and come to this stage of my life I lis due to his blessings that I got this opportunity to offer my little service at his feet. I pray to Shri Sai Baba that he should continue to shower his favours on all in this matter and thanking you once again I leave".
Log on to http://members.iinet.net.au/~royalty/ips/i/ichalkaranji.html for complete family tree details of Smt.Vahini Saheb Ghorpade.
(Source: Shri Sai Leela Magazine February 1980 and May 1980)