Sai Mahabhakta Late Shri.Ganapatrao Bodas's short experience has been made under Chapter 14 of the holy Shri Sai Satcharitra. Additional information has been provided in Sai Sagar Deepavali Vishesk Ank, September-October 2001. His other personal details can also be found under www.bharatnatyamandir.org.
Shri.Ganapatrao Bodas was born in the year 1880. As a young lad, Ganapatrao's mother could see him lean towards theater. Hence, she advised him to join the best drama Company during those days, i.e. Kirloskar Natak Mandli.
Accordingly Ganpatrao joined Kirloskar Natak Mandali on 30th September 1895. Ganpatrao used to study ins and outs of every actor of the times, from the wings of the stage. He was a keen and observant student. The playwright Deval taught him the role of Shankar from the play ‘Mruchchakatik’, which became a pet role for him. His roles, Promad in ‘ Mookanayak’, Shrungi in ‘Gupta Manjusha’ and Laximdhar in ‘Manapaman’, were his very famous roles. Thus, he was a well known Marathi Actor during those days.
In 1919, Bodas left Kirloskar Natak Mandali and worked in Yashwant Natak Mandali as Manager. He returned to Kirloskar Natak Mandali once again for a year and then from 1923 onwards, Bodas started working on the night-basis. In those days Bodas used to get Rs 250/- per night show. Bodas was back to Kirloskars’s company for 4 more years from 1928 to 1931. Bodas continued acting his typical roles of Phalgunrao, Laxmidhar, Kanchanbhat etc., till 1956. He was a born actor who was interested in the theater till his old age. He wrote his autobiography titled ‘Mazi Bhoomika’ (My Role) in 1940. He has narrated his experience with Sai Baba in his Autobiography the details of which are as below:
Ganapatrao never liked Sadhus or Saints. His dislike towards them was so intense that if any of his friends went to meet them, he used to make fun of them. On one occasion, he had to stay at Ahmednagar for a while. There he got an irresistible urge to visit Shirdi.
His friend Bala Saheb Mirikar was a Mamaltdar at Kopergaon. He contacted him and told him about his desire to visit Shirdi. Accordingly, both of them visited Shirdi on a Sunday.
They went to the Dwaraka Mai Masjid and both of them prostrated at Baba's feet. Bodas offered a Coconut and Tobacco. Baba asked him for Dakshina. Then Baba asked him to fill His chillum with the tobacco which is an honour. Bodas placed a rupee in front of Baba as Dakshina. In His own characteristic way, Baba enquired about his well being. Then Baba said: "If people fight amongst themselves what can we do". At that time Bodas had a fight with his assistant. Then Baba asked him to stay for lunch.
Accordingly, Bodas went to the Bhojanalaya where someone asked him about the amount he would give as Daskhina to Baba. Then the same man said to Bodas : "When Baba asks for dakshina you should empty your purse". Bodas liked the advice and decided to do just that. When it was time for Bodas to leave Shirdi, he went to take Baba's permission. Baba readily gave him permission and asked him for Dakshina. This time Bodas did not miss the opportunity and he happily emptied his purse before Baba. Baba blessed him, applied Udi on his forehead and said: "just as you have given me Daskhina, Lord Narayana will give you an abundance of wealth".
After this visit to Shirdi, Bodas became very famous as an actor and with fame came wealth as well. He states that after his pilgrimage to Shirdi, he 'raked in money'. The dakshina that he gave Baba was returned in a millionfold.
Shri.Ganapatrao Bodas breathed his last in the year 1965.
(Source: Holy Shri Sai Satcharitra Chapter 14, Sai Sagar Deepavali Vishesk Ank, September-October 2001, Baba's Vaani by Vinny Chitluri and www.bharatnatyamandir.org)