Sai Mahabhakta Shri.Jayadev Chitamber was working as Principal of the primary school in Shirdi between 1912 and 1927. It was in this primary school that Shri.Madhavrao Deshpande (Shama) had worked earlier as a teacher.

Shri.Anant Jayadev Chitamber son of Shri.Jayadev Chitamber had the good fortune of having darshan of Shri Sai Baba when he was very young. Hence, Shri.Anant Chitamber’s childhood was spent in the divine presence of Shri Sai Baba. Shri.Anant Jayadev Chitamber narrates in his own words his experience with Shri Sai Baba as below:

“In 1912 my father was transferred to Shirdi as the Headmaster of the primary school. I was only 15 months old. He worked there until 1927, approximately 14 years. The school was near the Maruti temple. So I spent my childhood in Shirdi. I was eight years old when Shri Sai Baba entered Mahasamadhi in 1918. So I was not so young as to be entirely unaware of Him. I used to go every day to Dwarkamai and salute Him with my head placed on His feet. I would take part in the Aartis and sing along with the others. I directly witnessed Baba going around the village for alms, giving Darshan to His devotees and going to and coming from Lendi garden. I can still see Him in my mind’s eye, sitting at the mosque with His close devotees and puffing on His chillum”.

“I can remember to this day the kirtan done by Sri Tukaram Bua Ajgaonkar in the presence of Shri Sainath Maharaj under the aegis of Sri Das Ganu Maharaj. Sri Bua must have been seven or eight years old at that time. I had seen all the close devotees of Shri Sai Baba in my childhood”.

“I had the great good fortune of seeing the devotees such as Kakasaheb Dixit, Jog,  Madhavarao Deshpande, Tatya Kote Patil, Gopalrao Buty, Abdul Baba, Dhabholkar, Purandhare and Das Ganu Maharaj”.

“I can still recollect those devotees sitting in Dwarkamai with Shri Sai Baba, taking part in the Shej arati at Chavadi etc. How was this possible for me? It is only the accumulated merit of many lifetimes that has enabled me to receive this gift from Shri Sai Baba. I was just eight years old. But as a result of having had the good fortune of Shri Sai Baba's darshan and his blessings these memories are imprinted in my mind. I can never forget these incidents. I feel that Shri Sai Baba had intended that I should remember them always and hence had blessed me with His grace and lit the lamp of these memories in my heart”.

“Shri Sai Baba incarnated in Shirdi. He took up the task of leading the world to salvation from there. He fulfills the desires of his devotees, removes their sorrows and gives them peace and happiness. Even now He is with us in the form of His Samadhi at Shirdi. Sai Baba is in the heart of all living beings. He showers His grace on all and gives divine experiences to all His devotees. Even though many years have elapsed since he entered Mahasamadhi He is still present in Shirdi in the form of his Samadhi. This is an indubitable fact. He is beyond time. Where can He go leaving us all behind? Wherever in this world His devotees may be, the moment they cry for His help, He comes running like a concerned mother to offer them succour. They immediately become aware that Baba is with them. We get immediate recompense for the love and devotion we bear towards Him”.

“My mother used to have the Darshan of Shri Sai Baba every day. She would apply turmeric and vermilion powder to His feet and salute Him reverently. Once she asked Him, ‘Do you like it when I apply turmeric and vermilion powder to your feet?’ Baba replied, ‘Whatever you do with love and devotion is to my liking.’ Baba would ask my mother for dakshina sometimes. She would then take a quarter of a rupee from my father and offer it to Baba as dakshina. As a result of the service she had done to Baba she had a very good death. She was fully conscious and her faculties were stilled in peace at the end of her time and she breathed her last repeating the holy name of Lord Rama. My father also had great devotion and love for Shri Baba. He used to regard Baba as the almighty. One morning, after the Aarati, Baba went from Chavadi to the mosque. My father was standing nearby and Baba while passing him hit him on his head with his satka (hand stick). My father had a small injury to the head, which was cured by applying udi to it. He looked upon the injury as a prasad of Baba. Within fifteen days, my father’s salary increased by 15 rupees per month – a princely sum in those days. The devotees used to feel Baba’s anger as a great prasad or gift to them. His anger was always directed at the defects of his devotees to rid them of those defects. This is the literal truth”.

“Shri Sai Baba is a divine incarnation; He is not born of human parentage. He shines as an eternal flame in the form of His samadhi and gives His divine experiences to all mankind. He is the very form of the perfect almighty. It is the experience of many devotees that the descriptions given in Srimad Bhagavadgeeta of the perfect superman and Para Brahman suit Him to fullest extent. I am enraptured by bliss whenever I recollect His form, which I had seen in my childhood. I pray to Him that I imbibe fully of His teachings and tradition and travel farther along the beautiful path prescribed by Him and thereby gain His grace”.

“It is the constant experience of the devotees that the words of the Arati “Jayamani Jaise Bhava, Taya Taisa Anubhava, (as is our feeling towards him, so is our experience)” are literally true”.

“I have heard of the experiences of innumerable devotees; where even when they had prayed to other gods, Shri Sai Baba had given His Darshan to them in the form of those gods and proved to them that His is the manifest form of all gods. I too have had the direct experience of this truth. This experience gives us wisdom and acts as our guide in spiritual endeavour. Once we surrender to Shri Sai Baba we need no other yoga, as He is the perfect Brahman who is omnipresent”.

“I would need many pages to describe all the experiences my family and I and have had by the divine grace of Shri Sai Baba. I have myself seen devotees of all religions coming for the Darshan of Shri Sai Baba, and they continue to come to Him to this day. This is an example of the divine play of Shri Sai Baba. There is no place for differences based on caste, creed or religion at His holy feet. When anyone had His Darshan prompted by even idle curiosity, their old proclivities would vanish and they would gain an immense devotion towards Him. His form and presence were majestic. I cannot find words to describe the awesome majesty of His carriage and conduct. The devotees, be it Muslim fakirs or Hindu sanyasis, would forget who they were the moment they had His Darshan. They were attracted so much to Him that unknowingly they surrendered to the holy lotus feet of that supreme master who was ever immersed in the bliss of the constant communion with Brahman. The fanaticism and bigotry that they had earlier ran far away from the presence of Shri Sai Baba”.

“If one were to describe Shri Sai as a Muslim, he had the horizontal mark of the Hindu displayed prominently on His forehead. The fire holy to Hindus was burning brightly in front of Him in the mosque. He would bless all devotees, “Allah achha karega” (Allah will bless you). Aaratis would be conducted in His honour in the morning, during the day and at night. They continue to this day. Nobody knows to this day whether He is a Hindu or a Muslim. The Muslims would read the namaz in front of Him while the Hindu pundits read the Vedas. I saw this with my own eyes. This is not hearsay. It is my great good fortune to have the Darshan of that formless Brahman which has incarnated in the form of Shri Sai Baba. Can anyone describe accurately Brahman, the state of liberation while yet in the body and being liberated from the confines of the body? This question is answered by having the Darshan of Shri Sai Baba. One can realise what his true nature is by having the Darshan of that peerless master and by the constant meditation of him. That is His divine play. What then is surprising in Das Ganu Maharaj praising Him ‘Shirdi majhe pandari pura Sai Baba ramavara (Shirdi is my Pandaripur). Shri Sai Baba is mahavishnu (almighty).’ Shri Sai Baba is an avadhuta. The sentence in the Shirdi Arati ‘Datta avadhuta, Sai avadhta’ is literally true. Sri Datta has assumed the form of Shri Sai and lived in Shirdi”.

“Shri Sai Baba had not only granted salvation to mankind but had granted salvation to a tiger, which was brought to Him. I saw that tiger passing away at Dwarkamai with my own eyes. I could have the Darshan of that incident where the individual self merges into the cosmic self only by the gracious mercy and kindness of Shri Sai Baba”. That incident had happened in this way.

“One day before the afternoon Aarti, Baba was sitting at Dwarkamai with his hand on the railing. A tiger was brought on a bullock cart to His presence and the owner of the tiger made it move around and show the tricks it had learnt to Shri Sai Baba. After the show was over, the devotees advised the owner of the tiger to take it up the steps and put its head at Baba’s feet for his benediction. The owner agreed and took the tiger up the steps. The tiger put its head on the first step just like all devotees do and surprisingly died a painless death immediately. Baba had liberated it from its body. The owner of the tiger saw that his means of livelihood had died and started weeping. The devotees consoled him saying, ‘Do not cry, your tiger is fortunate that it has got liberation.’ No one could ask Shri Sai about this incident at that time. That majesty and that kindness cannot be found in these three worlds – no matter how far and wide the search. The feeling one gets on laying one’s eyes on that awesome majesty is indescribable. As I was very young – a mere child at that time, the full significance of the incident escaped me”.

“Now, I feel how fortunate would I be if I too could, like that tiger, leave this body while having the Darshan of that glorious, majestic figure of Shri Sai Baba filling my eyes. Shri Sainath Maharaj is the destination for all of us. He is our final destiny. He is the perfect man. He is the almighty. He is the ark that bears us across safely across this sea of worldliness. I salute that perfect master and greatest of Sadguru and hailing His divine glory”. 

The descendants of Jayadev Chitamber are living in Ahmednagar at present and leading a peaceful life.

(Source: Sai Leela Magazine, March 1978)