Sai Mahabhakta Late Shri Balasaheb Bhate alias Purushottam Sakharam and Late Shri Nanasaheb Chandorkar were college friends. Shri Balasaheb Bhate was a skeptic. He first came to Shirdi in 1894. 

Bala Saheb Bhate was a free thinker, a free smoker, a veritable charvaka, whose creed may be thus summed up, “Eat, drink and be merry to day, for tomorrow we die.” His friend Shri.Kashinath Kanderao Gadre used to remark jocularly: “yatra yatra Bhate  tatra tatra Dhumaha” at his chronic smoking habit as Gadre himself was a non-smoker. Bhate became Mamlatdar and was a very efficient officer much liked by his collector. He was Mamlatdar of Kopergoan for about 5 years  (1904-1909). All that time he was scoffing at his educated friends (who met him on their way to Shirdi) having any respect for Sai, whom Bhate described as ‘a mad man’. The friends asked him just to see Sai Baba once and then form his judgement. In 1909, Bhate camped at Shirdi and saw Sai Baba day after day. On the fifth day Sai Baba covered him with a gerua garment (Saffron Cloth). From that day, Bhate was a changed man. He did not care for earnings or work. From that day up to his death, he only wished to be at Shirdi, to do seva to Sai Baba, to live and die in his presence. Sai Baba made his friend Dixit draw up an application for leave for one year and with Sai Baba’s help, Bhate’s signature was got to it. The Collector gave him one year’s time to see if he would return to his old self. But, at the end of the year, he still continued to be ‘mad after his guru’ and was thus granted compassionate pension of about Rs. 30 as one afflicted with ‘religious melancholia.’

Asked for the reason of his change, Bhate told Gadre that the putting of the (Bhagawa) gerua garment on him by Sai Baba marked the crisis. ‘By that’ he said, “my original frame of mind was removed and in its place quite a new frame of mind was put in.” After that attending to worldly duties, especially official duties became unthinkable. He then lived at Shirdi, attending to his Nitya Karma, Upanishad reading etc., before Sai (Sai would offer remarks on that reading occasionally). His wife and family came to Shirdi and lived with him.

After Sai Baba took Samadhi on 15th October 1918, on the 13th day i.e, 27th October 1918, Baba’s devotees from all over gathered and funeral rites were performed by Balasaheb Bhate with a feast (Bhandara) to Brahmins and poor. Later Upasani accompanied by Bapusaheb Jog went to Prayag (Allahabad) and performed all the remaining obsequies on the banks of River Ganges.

Smt.Jankibai Tambe alias Shrimati Sai Mai was the daughter of Late Shri.Balasaheb Bhate. She was a lady full of Vairagya and Selflessness Service. She wrote all her moveable and immoveable property to the Sansthan by a deed of settlement dated 2nd January 1943. Not only that, She worked in the Sansthan as 'Bhojan Sevika' and discharged her duty with wonderful zeal, promptitude and care worthy of admiration. She was found to be doing her work unmindful of her own health, as she believed that the service of the Sansthan is the service of Sai Baba. So, in spite of all odds, the credit of the satisfactory management of the 'Bhojan Griha', which is exclusively meant for the benefit of the devotees of Sai Baba, goes to her. But for her strenuous efforts, it would not have been possible for the Sansthan to maintain any 'Bhojan Griha' at all (Ref:Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi by Late Shri.Moreshwar W. Pradhan)

Janakibai Tembe

Babu Dixit was Kaka Saheb Dixit’s elder son, his name was Ram Krishna. When Kaka Saheb made Shirdi his home he brought his family along with him. Bala Saheb Bhate also came to stay in Shirdi; his elder son was also called Babu. Both the children went to the Marathi school in Shirdi. The children were of the same age, and were in the same class at school. They did their home work together, and became good friends. On the days that Baba slept in the Chavadi, these youngsters would don “zaritoopies” (gold or silver trimmed hats) and pretend they were Baba’s Chopdars. They would hold a stick, and stand at the entrance of the Chavadi, and give ‘lalkari’ (salutations) saying “Aalbeli Sarkar aaram kaari” (Take rest now, Unique Majesty). 

Balasaheb Bhate and his family lived in poverty. Bala Bhate spent his time reading and studying religious books. Consequently his face had a luster on it. Dixit liked Bhate very much and they read the Bhagwat and other books together. Both were utterly devoted to Baba.

Dixit not only educated and looked after Bala Saheb Bhate’s children, but took care of the whole family after Bala’s death.

When both the children completed their education at Shirdi, they had to go to the city for higher studies. Kaka after consulting with Bala Saheb Bhate sent both the children along with his wife to Mumbai. They did their schooling there, and they latter went to Banaras Central Hindu college. Bhate chose to do B.A while Dixit joined B.Sc. stream. Both were bright and hard working and passed with good grades. Bhate wished to do M.A. and Law, but his father died, and the responsibility of taking care of his mother and younger brother fell on his shoulders. So he gave up the idea of studying further, and took a job in a bank. Bhate was ever so grateful to Kaka Dixit for educating him, and did not want to be a burden on him any further. The bank gave him a salary of Rs.100/- and with that meager amount, he took care of his Mother, and educated his younger brother.

Kaka Dixit’s kindness and compassion extended far beyond his family. He and his wife, who every one lovingly called Bhabi Saibha treated Babu Bhate like their own son. Whatever was given to their Babu, was also given to Bhate, be it food, or clothing. Their home at Vile Parle was infested, with scorpions, and often snakes would appear on the floor. So iron cots were bought, and given to both of them.

Babu Bhate was hard working, honest and a responsible man. When his younger brother completed his schooling he wished to pursue higher education. So his younger brother joined a college for post graduation. During that time Bapu Bhate went to Nasik on official duty, there he contracted Cholera and died (Ref:Sai Leela, Margashrish. Shake 1857. Ank 6-9, year 12 & published by Baba's Vani by Vinny Chitluri)

(Source: Devotees’ Experiences of Sri Sai Baba by Late Shri.B.V.Narasimha Swamiji,Shri Sai Satcharitra by Late Shri.Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias Hemadpant and Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi by Late Shri.Moreshwar W. Pradhan)