Damodar Savalram Rasane (Damu Anna) was a Kasar and one of the earliest of Ahmednagar citizen to learn about Sai Baba. He received the benefit of issue in a most remarkable and unexpected manner and was thereby to be the means of broadcasting Sai’s fame in all directions through Das Ganu’s chapters. He was a very humble man and began as a poor bangle seller but all his transactions yielded good profit and he soon grew rich. He had everything to make life happy, but had issue. Seeing that his first wife could not bear a child, he married a second time. But even the second wife could not bear him a child. Astrological curiosity made him explore into his horoscope and he found that in the Putra sthanam, a papi was situated, namely, Kethu, and there was no Guru influence to overcome that evil. Therefore, the local astrologers, who were consulted, declared that issue for him was impossible in this life.
The family diety is Devi Renuka- Jagadamba Maata of Rashin village and hence the Surname Rasane has been associated with all the family members and the descendants.
Family Descendant's Pooja Room
Damodar Rasane was more fortunate. He had heard of Sai Baba and went up to meet him for the first time around the year 1895. Sai Baba had kept apart 8 mangoes to be given to him from a basket of mangoes that were sent to Baba. The children were the recipients of the rest of the mangoes and some children wanted more. When Baba said, “There is nothing,” the children pointed to the eight mangoes. Baba said, “They are for Damia.” But the children said, “Damia is not here.” “I know that. He is on the way. He is coming,” said Baba. Then, when Baba went out, some of these petted children of Baba stole away four mangoes, and when Rasane came, there were only four mangoes remaining. As soon as he came, Baba gave him those four mangoes.“Eat and die. People are clamouring for mangoes.” Eat and die – Damodar was perturbed by hearing the inauspicious word die, and Mahlsapathy noting his perplexity told him that it was a blessing to die at the feet of Baba. Baba was enjoying the humour all the time, as the word die, which he had used, did not refer to the physical death but only to the spiritual death, which is the same as Bhramh or Pramada coming upon one who gets deeper and deeper in samsaric life with the birth of a child after child and the death of several of them.
Baba came to the rescue and said, “Damia do not eat these fruits yourself. Give them to your wife”. Damia wanted to know to which wife were the fruits to be given. Baba said, “The second wife.” Baba also said, “She will have eight children. The first and second would be boys. Name the first Daulat Shah and the second Thana Shah.” Taking up his note book immediately, Damia wrote down the names. Then the fruits were taken and given to his second wife, and, unlike the heroine of the Bhagavata Mahatmya, she did eat the four fruits. She begot, as stated by Baba, exactly eight children, one after another, their sexes being in the order given by Baba. It took fifteen years for all the children to be born. Therefore, it was clear that the planetary influence in Damia’s case was not quite as deadly as that in the Bhagavata case. Perhaps there is an astrological explanation also. There, in the written horoscope, at Damia’s birth there was no Guru balam to overcome the papi’s influence. But the All-knowing and All-powerful Guru of Damia was Baba, and his balam was there in 1897, and his Baba’s veekshanyam could overcome all the adverse influence of all the planets put together.
Damu Anna's Sons-L to R: Nanasaheb Rasane,Triambak Rasane,Govind Rasane and Vasant Rasane
It may be noted that the eight mangoes representing eight children that Baba set apart for Damia, four were stolen away. Corresponding to that loss, of the eight children that were born to Damia, four were filched away by Yama. The remaining four who lived were healthy, strong and flourishing. The first named Daulat Shah is also known as Nana Saheb Rasane. He was born in the year 1928. Daulat means prosperity and fame. With the wealth already acquired by Damia, the children started or carried on a successful business, and they lived upto the the name of Damia who was known for wealth and generosity. In addition to the above, Nana Saheb, the eldest son was helped by Baba in his spiritual development. He carried on Sai propaganda relentlessly spreading the Sai faith by lectures, etc., and lived upto his name which is Daulat Shah. When Daulat Shah was five years old, and when he first began writing the letters Hari on the slate, Baba held his hand and helped him to write. After that he was, taken to a school at Shirdi. At his marriage also, Baba helped him. When there were several girls offered for this rich man’s son, Baba was requested by Damia to select the one, which he considered proper out of four horoscopes. Then Baba selected a poor girl’s horoscope; and that was the girl that Rasane married, and that was a happy marriage. It took place at Pandharpur and Damia went to Baba to invite him to Pandharpur. Baba replied “I am with you. Do not fear. Wherever you think of me, there I am with you.” Still Damia pressed him to attend. Then Baba said, “Without God’s permission, nothing can be done by me. I will send Shama to attend the marriage as my deputy.” And Shama attended the marriage.
Damia’s having derived a blessing of this very rare sort was the means by which Baba’s fame for the grant of issue and other similar blessings even in the face of adverse planetary influences got widely published in the town of Ahmednagar and in the neighbourhood. This happened around the year 1897. Damia wishing to show his gratitude undertook to pay the expenses of a grand ceremony of‘The standards procession on every Ramanavami Day. Two very tall standards were nicely decorated and carried from the Mosque through the streets of Shirdi on that day every year and finally brought back to be planted at Baba’s Masjid to remain there as a mark of the residence of the weird saint. Ramanavami Utsav celebration began around 1897 and from that time onwards Damu Anna family is instrumental in providing one ornamental standard for that occasion every year till date. Damia, not content with this service, was always ready to undertake further trouble and expense for Baba in other matters. At the time of the reconstruction of the Masjid, he made his contribution as also on other similar occasions. But the best contribution that Damia made was his becoming an Ankita or child of Baba, whom Baba looked after wherever he was and wherever he thought of Baba. Baba told him, “I am with you wherever you are and whenever you think of me.” This was said when Damia was afraid that Baba would leave his body and would no longer be helping him personally with his presence. About Baba’s assurance, what Damia said in his statement in 1936 has been, perfectly true. Baba was with him and frequently appeared before him. When he is not personally present, Damia casts chits before Baba, and the chits always give the answers of Baba. He used to say that in the innumerable cases that he consulted Baba on chits, not even on one occasion was Baba’s direction found to be wrong. But we may first mention the sort of assurance that Baba gave him before Mahasamadhi.
Baba was relied upon by Damia as his great asset, the one shield against all sorrow and trouble, the one supreme protector who would guard him against every evil. So, whenever he was in trouble, he thought of Baba. On one occasion, his wife’s nath, nose ornament, usually considered to represent the Mangalya, was stolen by an oldtime servant.Rasane wept before Baba's photo. Later the matter was reported to the police. They came made a through search and after enquiry, arrested him. Damia felt hurt in every way, firstly by the loss of the Mangalya ornament and next the fact that the thief was a man whom he had trusted for thirty years. That such a servant should turn a traitor was a shock to him. So, he at once went to Shirdi and Baba, noting how upset he was, told Shama to give him a good fine feast. Then he was given a coating of sandal paste and Baba assured him he was with him, and restored his courage, self-possession and equanimity. On other occasions also, he always appealed to Baba and Baba came to his aid. Damia had implicit reverence for and faith in Baba and obeyed his directions. Although he was very orthodox in his ways, he invited Baba for a meal on an important occasion at Shirdi. Baba declined to go and then Damia asked him, “Send at least Bala Patel”, who was Baba’s constant attendant, though a Harijan. Baba said, “I will send him. But do not cry Dhut, Dhut at him and keep him far away from your own place of eating.” Damia agreed and, inspite of his orthodoxy, spread a plate for Bala next to himself. This was a great achievement in those days at the beginning of 20th century.
Damia used to say that his mind was always dwelling on Baba, and he saw him at his own house at Ahmednagar. sometimes, he used to say that Baba abused him and even beat him fiercely. But he said that he knew that, as with Akkalkote Maharaj, blows and abuses have an auspicious ending. So, he always found that blows and abuse were not matters for regret.
On religious matters, he had very little occasion to seek Baba’s assistance. It was chiefly temporal blessings that he got. For instance, when his son Nana had only one son, Damia prayed to Baba at his Samadhi for a second grandson and a second grandson was born in the year 1931. Being almost wholly occupied with worldly affairs, his consultations with Baba were only on business and domestic matters. On one occasion, a Bombay cotton broker told him that he had a good lot of Rs. 50,000 or Rs. 60,000 with him, and he could safely speculate in cotton and earn lakhs of rupees and that too very quickly. At once Damia wrote to Shama to ask Baba for permission to launch on this speculation. When letter came to Baba, Baba said, “Damia wants to catch at the sky. His head is wrong. He is trying to think of lakhs . Write to him that his present position is not bad, and ask him not to think of lakhs”. after the letter came, Damia with great regret dropped the idea of cotton speculation, but not finally. He thought he would go directly to meet Baba, and then induce Baba to give the permission by offering a share in the profits to Baba. so he went to Shirdi and when massaging Baba’s legs, was thinking of his plan. Baba at once said,“Damia, I am not in anything.” That is, Baba was not going to be a partner in any speculation or similar affair. Baba did not want money at all and, if he wanted, speculation was not necessary for him. Baba said, “I am God”. He also said, “I have vast powers.” Baba could command large amounts at will. But he had no necessity for wealth.
Again on another occasion, Damia found people trading in grain. So, he wanted Baba’s permission for himself to trade in grain. Baba said,“No.” He was wondering why. He had friends who advised him that grain prices were rising, and if the grains were stored up the yield of profit would be cent per cent or more. But Baba said, “Arre, you will be buying at five seers per rupee and selling seven seers per rupee. For a month or two, the prices were rising still, Baba’s prophecy seemed to be false. But when Asvina month came, the monsoon rains were abundant and everywhere the crops were excellent, and so prices fell and the grain hoarders suffered a loss. Damia discovered that Baba had saved him from this calamity.
Once, Nanasaheb Dengle brought a big silver plate full of various dainties and begged Sai Baba to eat. Baba shouted out. A black dog ran up and licked up some of the food. Nanasaheb Dengle who was standing near looked at it with disgust. "Is it for this pariah dog that I prepared all this?" he thought within himself. Baba at once flung away the plate with its contents towards him and said, “Take it away". Rasane was present when the incident happened.
This was about 1910 - 1911 when Rasane’s brothers had separated from him and his sister died and there was a theft and Police enquiry, all of which incidents upset him very much. When Rasane’s sister died, his mind was much upset. He did not care for life and enjoyments. When he went to Baba, he pacified Rasane with Upadesa and made him eat a feast of Pooran Poli at Appakulkarni’s and get pasted with sandal.
Damia had occasional curiosity which prompted him put questions. First he wanted to know if when so many were crowding around Baba whether they all got any benefit from him. This was a mental question. Baba at once replied, “Look at the mango tree in blossom. if all flowers turn fruit, what a splendid crop it would be? But do they? Most fall of by the wind. Very few remain.” The second question was, that, if Baba should pass away, how helpless Damia would be. This also a mental question. To this Baba answered, “I will be with you whenever you think of Me and wherever you think of Me.” This was mentioned before 1918 and is fulfilled even after 1918. Damia used to say that Even after his Mahasamadhi, Baba was still with him. guided him. Damia shared this info with Narasimha Swamiji in the year 1936. Thus, Damu Anna was one of the Ankita children of Baba, whom Baba guided, corrected and helped.
Colony formed by Damu Anna in Shivajinagar, Pune
Before his demise, Damusheth called his sons near him and earnestly told them, “From time to time my Baba has given me money – totaling now to Rs 31. Take care of them even more than your life. These are not simple Rupee coins – they are Saakshaat Kamdhenu. Make sure that nothing is left wanting in your service to Shri Sai Baba.” The descendants of Nana Saheb Rasane perform special pooja to the coins every year on Dhana Trayodashi day which comes during Deepavali Festival.
In the above picture, the first one is a Gold Sai Baba locket given by Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi to Nana Saheb Rasane and the last one in gold is a coin given by Nana Saheb's Mother...and the Remaining coins were given by Sai Baba to Seth Damu Anna Rasane.
Damusheth breathed his last at the ripe old age of 89 on 20th January 1941. His successive generations hold only Baba in esteem as their Param Aaradhya Daivat. The young and old from their household, even today follow Sai Baba’s teachings. As directed by Damuanna, the senior son – Nanasaheb – gave more importance to serving Sai Baba than looking after his own family. Baba also helped him in his Parmarthik progress. He spent major portion of his life in propagating the teachings of Shri Sai Baba. He was a trustee of Shirdi Sai Sansthan.
(Source: Life of Sai Baba - Volume III by Poojya B.V.Narasimha Swamiji, Shri Sai Leela Magazine September-October 2007, Personal Interview Smt.Shreya Nagaraj had with Shri.Shrikant Rasane Grandson of Nana Saheb Rasane and Dr.Parag Rasane Photo Courtesy: Shri.Nagaraj Sham, Pune and Shri.Jignesh C.Rajput,Surat)