Gajanan Govind Dhabolkar was born on the 23rd September 1903 in Bandra, Mumbai. His father was Govindrao, alias Anna Saheb, and his mother was Rukhmini Dhabolkar. From very humble beginnings Gajanan's father rose to the level of a Magistrate. He became famous for writing the Shri Sai Satcharita, which he wrote with Baba's consent. Baba lovingly called him "Hemadpant" Hemadpant had one son, Gajanan, and five daughters.
Gajanan passed his Matriculation examination from the Aryan Education Society, Girgaon. In 1918 he joined Topiwala Medical College in Mumbai and in 1921 he successfully completed his course as a "Licensed Medical Practitioner". That same year, Gajanan was married to Lakshmibai, and over the years, they had three daughters and two sons. All his children were happily married and settled. Gajanan had a thriving medical practice till 1971, when he got a paralytic stroke. Although he recovered from the stroke, he was left with some residual muscular weakness, and so he retired from his profession.
How fortunate Gajanan was, to live his entire life in "Sai Nivas" , the blessed house where Hemadpant spent hours writing the Shri Sai Satcharita on a low desk which is kept in a corner. Above the desk is a large casing that contains numerous rare photographs of Baba that were printed in the 1st edition of the Shri Sai Satcharita. On a small table the coins that Baba had given to Anna Saheb Dhabolkar are kept, along with other memorabilia.
In chapter 40 and 41 of the Shri Sai Satcharita the story of the "Holi" dinner is beautifully described. It narrates how baba appeared in a vision to Hemadpant, and subsequently came to have a meal at his house as promised, in the form of a bas-relief on the festival of Holi (festival of colours). Most importantly this well preserved bas-relief still hangs on the wall in their prayer room. This home is more like a place pilgrimage, as it is filled with spiritual energy.
Gajanan recalls, "Once my father was getting ready to leave for Shirdi, when I was about fourteen years old. I was eager to accompany him, and I stubbornly insisted that he take me along; moreover I started weeping. My father finally agreed and I went with him to Shirdi; that was in the year 1914 that I first visited Shirdi. At that young age I was quite oblivious as to why we were going to Shirdi. Neither did I know anything about Baba's divinity. I was excited that we were travelling to a far off place by train, that we would be visiting another village, so I would enjoy myself enormously. Upon reaching Shirdi, we alighted at Sathe Wada, as that was the only place for pilgrims to stay. It was a huge Wada as compared to the small mud huts in the village. After bathing we went to the Dwarka Mai, which was an old dilapidated mosque. There I saw an old fakir, seated near the railing. He was wearing a torn white kafni, whích was rather dirty. His head was covered with a dirty white cloth that was knotted behind his left ear. I thought this must be Sai Baba. My father sat near his feet, and so did I. There were about 15-20 people seated in front of him, some were villagers, and both Hindus and Muslims were seated there. Some of them were rendering seva to him like massaging his feet, or lighting his chillum (clay pipe).
In the dilapidated courtyard below, some children were shouting 'Baba, Baba, Sai Baba' and were jumping about and playing. Baba picked up some 'pedas' (milk confectionary) and threw them in their direction and they pushed and shoved each other to gather the goodies. The rest of the prasad He distributed to the devotees who were seated in front of him.
A short time later Baba held me by my hand and seated me close to him. Then with a great deal of love He called me 'Bapu' and hugged me. I was overwhelmed with emotion and I couldn't hold back my tears. I can never forget this in my life. After the arati that was perlormed by Megha, in a caring, gentle voice Baba bade everyone go home and have lunch. Baba said. 'Kaka, Nana, now go home. You must be hungry? Have your meal, then rest awhile, You may return after two or three hours, then all of us can sit together and talk about Allah. The devotees assembled there were reluctant to go home even though their stomachs were rumbling with hunger. Who would want to leave the company of this kind, compassionate fakir?
Before the devotees returned home, Baba stood in front of His Dhuni Mai and gave every devotee a handful of warm Udi (sacred ash ) from His Dhuni. Then with His five fingers covered with Udi He placed them on their forehead with a certain amount of force so that the forehead was covered with Udi. At that moment I felt I was in heaven and tears of joy rolled down my cheeks. I can hardly describe what I felt. I can only thank my father for gifting me this precious experience".
Dr.Gajanan was fortunate to work in Baba's Sansthan as Chitnis (Secretary) many years later. Thus he was able to render seva to his Sadguru.
(Source : Sai Leela Magazine year 57, ank 2, May of 1978)