Gopalrao Somnath Deshpande Nimonkar was born on the auspicious day of Makara Sankranti in Nimon village, Sangamner Taluka, Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra on 14th Janunary 1914 to Somnath Deshpande Nimonkar. He was well educated, studied in S.P.College, Pune and did B.A.LLB. He had mastered Sanskrit, English and Astrology. His father Somanth who was a famous astrologer influenced his love for astrology. Besides, he excelled in Yoga, and was highly spiritually evolved.
Nanasaheb Nimonkar - Grand father of Gopalrao Somnath Deshpande
Somnath Deshpande Nimonkar - Father of Gopalrao Somnath Nimonkar
When his parents took him to Baba as a child, Baba held him in His lap. And covering him with a shawl said, “call him Eknath.” Somnath was rather uncomfortable as he had already christened him Gopalrao. Baba then said, “He is my Eknath.” Since then he was named as Sai Baba’s Eknath in his family. He is the little boy standing next to Nanasaheb Nimonkar in the Lendi Baugh photograph. This photograph was taken in the year 1916. This information has been confirmed by Gopalrao’s daughter.
Smt.Kamala Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar and Shri.Gopalrao Somnath Deshpande Nimonkar
He used to sit on Baba’s lap and eat Prasad given to him by Sai Baba! Whenever the family members asked him to describe Sai Baba, he used to say "Saibaba was very handsome. He was tall, healthy and very graceful!! Whenever he used to sit in the Dwarakamai on his seat while talking to the devotees, he looked like God to us! He used to prepare ‘Khichadee in the Copper Handee kept on the burning fire of the fire-place,[ the Choola] ! To my surprise, I have always seen him stirring it directly with his own hand without any big spoon or any long sapine!!’’ Sai Baba’s eyes were very big and attractive with a sharp look that used to penetrate in to the heart of the person very easily. His eyes used to capture the heart of the person immediately. But, they were also full of great love and compassion like the ocean of love for the human beings. His kindness and love used to glow on his face".
Gopalrao prospered well and was famous in Ahmednagar for his oratory and law practice. He was a senior Advocate and was working as the Senior Police Prosecutor at Ahmednagar. Many students learned about fighting law cases from him. He had a flare for the English language. However Sanskrit was his first love. He would recite the Vishnu Sahasranama and Rudra Mantras and various other Suktas in a deep resonant voice, filling his home with sanctified vibrations. For 22 years he and his fellow lawyers did Padayatra, from Eknath’s Paithan to Vrudheshwar (Pathardi) in Ahmednagar District during Mahashivaratri. There he performed Rudrabhishek. Hence, it was not surprising that Baba called him “My Eknath.”
He survived his first heart attack at the age of 73. Then at the age of 84 he had left this world on 19th December 1997. He will always be remembered by all the Sai devotees for being instrumental in continuing the Sacred Tradition of taking the flag from Pune to Shirdi for Ram Navami Festival. Every year, two flags are taken out in procession and then tied to the spire of the Dwarakamai. One of these comes from Nimonkar’s family (Pune) while the other flag comes from Damu Anna Rasane’s family (Ahmednagar).(Reference – Shri Sai Satcharitra, Chapter 6).
History behind the Sacred Flags:
Under the Blessings and Instructions of Shirdi Sai Baba, Late Shri Nanasaheb Nimonkar was hoisting this sacred flag (orange+green colour with embroided letters) from 1911 to 1920 till he attained the lotus feet of Sai Baba. From then onwards his eldest son late Shri Somnath who was Inspector in Police Department ( C.I.D) in British regime had offered his services for this flag till his death in the year 1960. After his sad demise, his eldest son Late Shri Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar (Senior Police Prosecutor, Ahmednagar) was preparing this flag and sending it to Shirdi. After his sad demise in the year 1997, Shri Chandrashekhar Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar along with his wife Sau. Smita Deshpande and his younger brother Shri Anant Gopalrao Desphande Nimonkar with the help of other sisters also namely- Smt.Hemlata Joshi, Mangala Honap, Nirmala Dehadraya, Urmila Shool (Deshpande Nimonkar ) are preparing this sacred flag with full devotion and love.
According to Hindu Family Customs and Tradition, all Spiritual and Religious rites are performed by the eldest son in that generation on behalf of the whole family. Hence, the tradition of preparing the Flag and performing the Pooja-Ceremony of this sacred flag is continued by Shri Chandrashekar Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar. He is performing this ritual with full devotion since the year 1997 till date.
On the auspicious Gudhi Padwa day (Hindu New Year) this Pooja -Ceremony is organised at his Residence in Pune.
On Shri Ramnavmi day at Shirdi, after “Lord Rama’s Janma Keertan” programme this flag is spread on Sai Baba’s Samadhi along with the other sacred flag from late Shri Nanasaheb Rasane’s family. Then the Maha Pooja of the Samadhi is performed by offering flowers and garlands, Prasad etc, by both the descendants of Nanasaheb Nimonkar (Deshpande) and Nana saheb Rasane family.
Afterwards, Maha Aarti takes place by 12.30 pm. The procession of these two sacred flags starts at 4.00 pm in the evening and by sunset ,the flags are hoisted on the Top of DWARKAMAI (place where Sai Baba lived for 60 years in Shirdi) for whole year till the next Sri Rama Navami. Late Somnath Deshpande Nimonkar’s younger brother, Late Naganath Deshpande’s Grandson Shri Nandkumar Revennath Deshpande Nimonkar also participates in this memorable event.
Details of Descendants of Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar:
Late Shri.Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar and Smt.Kamala Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar had a large family consisting of 6 children (4 daughters and 2 Sons). Smt.Hemlata Sudhakar Joshi is the eldest daughter in the family followed by three other daughters viz., Smt. Lalita Shrikant Honap, Smt.Nirmala Jayant Dehadraya and Smt. Urmila Suresh Shool, Shri Chandrashekhar Gopalrao Nimonkar Deshpande and Shri.Anant Gopalrao Nimonkar Deshpande are the two sons. Shri Anil Kulkarni is the cousin who also grew in their family as her brother right from his childhood. Shri.Gopalrao and Smt. Kamalabai treated him as their own son because he had lost his parents when he was small.
From the Left to right: Shri. Anant Gopalrao Nimonkar Deshpande, Shri.Anil Kulkarni (cousin Brother), Smt.Urmila Suresh Shool, Smt.Nirmala Jayant Dehadraya, Smt.Hemlata Sudhakar Joshi, Smt.Lalita Shrikant Honap, Shri.Chandrashekhar Gopalrao Nimonkar Deshpande
1.Prof.Hemlata Joshi Deshpande (Nimonkar) was the daughter of Sai Mahabhakta Late Shri Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar and Great Grand Daughter of Sai Mahabhakta Late Shri Nanasaheb Nimonkar. She was a multifaceted Sai Personality who performed many roles in her life.
Hemlata was born to Late Smt. Kamala Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar and Shri.Gopalrao Somnanth Deshpande Nimonkar on 15th April 1942 at Ahmednagar.
She completed her M.A. in English with Sanskrit as additional subject from Pune University.
She had also completed her M.Phil. in Interdisciplinary Education in English from Pune University. She had also completed her Diploma in Higher Education (DHE) from Adarsha College, Pune University.
She joined the teaching profession and worked for 35 years as Professor of English in renowned colleges like Shahu college,Fergusson college,Sau.Vimalabai Garaware junior college, Pune and Nasik road college, Nasik.
She also taught Spoken English, conversational English to the Indian and the foreign students in the renowned Institutions such as Symbiosis, Pune and Elixir Institute, Pune.
She was a Creative writer in both English and Marathi languages,she has written many articles in the field of spiritualism ,education and working women in magazines such as Diyvachakshu, Bhaktidhara, Dnyandhara, Adimata,Sakal Diwali Issue, Shri Swami Samrath Special Issue, Heritage of Shirdi Sai, Pisara, Uddyojak etc.
She has published following books in English and Marathi—
1.Udyogashi jadale nate(marathi)
She has also conducted many workshop and seminars on Omkar Sadhana,Technique of chanting “AUM” in Pune and U.S.A-Bloomington and Austin.
She was married to Shri Sudhakar Dattraya Joshi. She passed away on 1st October 2016 at her residence in Pune . She had two children. Her daughter is Smt.Manasi Joshi Singh. She is married to Arun Singh,they both are staying in U.S.A for the last 16 years(Austin).
Her son Master Abhijit Sudhakar Joshi who had left this world on 16th June 1998 due to serious health problem.
Prof.Hemlata Joshi Deshpande Nimonkar and Shri.Sudhakar Joshi
Her husband Shri Sudhakar Joshi(M.A) and (DBM),is ardent devotee of Sai Baba since childhood,and has painted portrait of Sai Baba sitting at Gurusthan.
Having earned a post degree in English at Pune University, he served as lecturer in English for 7 years, as Public Relations Manager at two prestigious companies namely Garware Nylons Ltd, and Force Motor Company (erstwhile Bajaj Tempo Ltd.,) both in Pune, over 20 years, and as Sr. Secretary of Marhatha Chamber of Commerce, Pune for over 7 years.
He has written many books on motivational writings for youth and especially women towards entrepreneurship development.Edited a number of magazines on different topics and gave talks and wrote radio-plays on A.I.R. Pune, as also written biographies of eminent personalities like Late Hastimalaji and Navalmalji Firodiya, Abasaheb Garware and also of Shankarrao Kolhe, ex-revenue Minister of Maharashtra State. He has been teaching journalism at the University of Pune, wrote text books for Distance learning Courses at Yashawantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nasik, as also for Symbiosis Institute of Distance Learning, Pune for Creative Writing Course.
He says, “ I am deeply indebted to the blessings of my parents, my father and mother-in-Laws and Saibaba".
Manasi Joshi Singh daughter of Prof.Hemlata Joshi Deshpande Nimonkar is an IT Project Manager at General Motors, in Austin, Texas, USA. She has worked with several international companies through her career. Blessed with the strong spiritual background of Shri Sai Baba in her family upbringing, Manasi also has a deep love for singing Indian classical music, teaching, writing, poetry and art. For all her abilities, she is indebted to the role of the divine Guru in her life.
Arun Singh, husband of Manasi, is an IT Corporate Vice President at New York Life , in Austin, Texas, USA. He has led a very successful IT career, serving several Fortune International organizations. Arun is very deeply spiritually rooted. He is a great mentor, an avid book-collector, doglover and a Vedic sciences enthusiast.
Master Abhijit Sudhakar Joshi was the eldest son of Prof.Hemlata Sudhakar Joshi Nimonkar Deshpande.He was born on 12th March 1969 and left this world on 16th June 1998.
Abhijit was the most precious jewel son and pride of Hemlata Sudhakar Joshi’s life! She feels proud to say that his birth was the most valuable Blessing and Grace of Sadguru Shri Sai Baba in her life. The couple had kept him on the most auspicious Samadhi of Shri Sai Baba and in the lap of his auspicious image in Shirdi after his birth.
He was very brilliant and loved Shri Sai Baba with great devotion as a child. He had an excellent academic career with first class distinction right from his school to college days. He had taken his graduation degree of B.E. (Bachelor in Engineering) with Electronics as his Main Subject and came out in flying colours with distinction in 1991 from V. I. T. Engineering college, Pune. He worked on important and respectable posts as an Electronics Engineer in famous companies like HCL company at Pune,he also worked as the Sales Engineer with Sima Advanced Technology in the Dell company in Saudi Arabia in 1994. Finally he joined on the responsible posts as a Senior Engineer in the Link Computer Systems in Tokyo and Fusion Computer Systems in 1995 and proved his merits . He was also a great lover of music and cricket. He married to Meghana Mulay who is a post graduate in commerce.
Unfortunately he left this world on 16th June due to serious illness. He constantly chanted Sadguru Shri Sai Baba's name till the last moment of his life. Smt. Hemlata Joshi feels that his sad demise is a cruel attack of Destiny in her life.
Prof.Hemlata has also written many articles in English. Prominent among them being: (a) “Sitting At the Lotus Feet of my Sadguru Shri Sainath Maharaj", (b) “Such Devotees and Such Devotion – Sai Bhakta Shri.Gopal Somnath Deshpande Nimonkar”, (c) The Celebration of Ram Navami at Shirdi and the importance of the Sacred Flags (d) Sri Sai – The Great Spiritual Master.
We have given below the contact details of Prof.Hemlata Joshi Deshpande Nimonkar for the benefit of Sai Devotees:
Prof.Hemlata Joshi Deshpande Nimonkar
2.Smt. Dr. Lalita Shrikant Honap (Smt.Mangala Gopal Deshpande – before marriage) was born to as second daughter of Late Smt. Kamala Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar and Shri.Gopalrao Somnanth Deshpande Nimonkar on 12th July 1944 at Ahmednagar.
She completed her M.A. and PHD in Political Science. She started her career as a lecturer of Political Science in Ahmednagar College, Ahmednagar. She was also a Company Commander of NCC Wing of this College. She retired as Professor from Fergusson College, Pune.
She is married to Shri Shrikant Vasudev Honap who was Senior Personel Manager Telco.He is retired as Deputy General Manager at Mahindra Owen,he worked as a visiting faculty at various management institutes.She has two children namely Master Amit Shrikant Honap and Smt.Sayali Nitin Shende and is leading a happy life at Pune.
We have given below the contact details of Smt.Lalita Shrikant Honap for the benefit of Sai Devotees:
Dr.Lalita Shrikant Honap
3.Smt.Nirmala Jayant Dehadraya (Nirmala Gopal Deshpande – before marriage) was born to as the third daughter of Late Smt. Kamala Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar and Shri.Gopalrao Somnanth Deshpande Nimonkar on 4th June 1946 at Ahmednagar.
She has completed her M.A. and L.L.B. education and is a housewife. She is married to Shri Jayant .Y. Dehadraya B.E in Electrical and Mechanical.He worked as the Divisional Manager(materials) in Telco.
Smt.Nirmala Jayant Dehadraya
4.Smt. Urmila Suresh Shool (Rohini Gopal Deshpande – before marriage) was born to as the fourth daughter of Late Smt. Kamala Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar and Shri.Gopalrao Somnanth Deshpande Nimonkar on 22nd July 1949 at Ahmednagar.
She has completed her M.Com education and is a Beauty Therapist. She was married to Late Shri Suresh H.Shool.He was the Secretary to Home Department of Govt. of Maharashtra. She has two sons namely Master Amar Suresh Shool and Master Samar Suresh Shool and is leading a happy life at Pune.
Smt.Urmila Suresh Shool
5.Shri Chandrashekar Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar was born as the elder son to Late Smt.Kamala Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar and Shri.Gopalrao Somnath Deshpande Nimonkar on 2nd May 1951 at Ahmednagar.
Shri Chandrashekar Gopalrao Desphande Nimonkar completed his M.Sc. in Electronics from Ahmednagar College affiliated to Pune University. He worked with ALL INDIA RADIO and DOORDARSHAN in their Engineering Wings holding various positions for over 35 years and retired as the Assistant Director of Engineering in May 2011 . His wife Smt.Smita (Retired Sales Tax Officer) is good poet who has published 5 books of her own poems on various subjects. His daughter Kum.Anuja who has done her M.C.A. and Son Prasad who is pursuing Engineering(Computer) are also devotees of Sai Baba.
He feels very honoured and lucky to be born in the family of Saidas Late Shri Nanasaheb Nimonkar.
We have given below the contact details of Shri Chandrashekar Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar for the benefit of Sai Devotees:
Chandrashekar Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar
6.Shri.Anant Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar was born as the second son to Late Smt.Kamala Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar and Shri.Gopalrao Somnanth Deshpande Nimonkar on 26th October 1956 at Ahmednagar.
He completed his M.Com from Pune University .At present he isworking as Deputy General Manager Finance, with M/s.NTPC Limited at their RGPPL Plant.
After completing his college education, he worked as a Social Service Volunteer for Bharatiya Kustha Nivarak Sangh, Champa, Bilaspur District of Chattisgarh for almost 7 years.He is good at drawing, painting and writing good articles and poems.
He is an ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha and Durga. After personally experiencing many leelas of Sri Sai Baba, he turned out to be staunch devotee of Sai Baba. He says “Year after year I enjoy the Sri Ramanavami Festival at Shirdi along with all my family members. I have greatly benefitted from the Manas Pooja of Lord Ganesh, Durga and Shirdi Sai Baba”. He also strongly feels that Sai Baba is always there with him and guiding him in every aspect of life.
He is married to Smt.Gita who is also a devotee of Sai Baba and is blessed with a Son Mast.Varad who is a devotee Of Swami Samarth and leading a happy and peaceful life at Ratnagiri at present.
We have given below the contact details of Shri.Anant Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar for the benefit of Sai Devotees:
Anant Gopalrao Deshpande Nimonkar
(Courtesy: Shri Sai Satcharitra Chapter 6, Baba’s Rinanubandh by Vinny Chitluri.The article-“ Sitting At the Lotus Feet of my Sadguru Shri Sainath Maharaj “by Prof.Hemlata Joshi Deshpande Nimonkar and personal Interview with Prof.Hemlata Joshi Deshpande Nimonkar on 2nd April 2015. Photo Courtesy: Prof.Hemlata Joshi Deshpande Nimonkar and Chandrashekhar Deshpande Nimonkar, Pune).