Sadhu Bhaiya Naik alias Sadashiv Rao Naik was an ardent devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba. He was dealing in grocery articles and was also attending to his landed property at Harda, Madhya Pradesh. Sadhu Bhaiya Naik had three sons. The eldest was Ananda Rao, Lakshmanrao alias Balasaheb Naik and Shankar Rao.
He had love and devotion for saints and holy men. When he had occasion to visit saint Gondavalekar Maharaj, the latter told him that some evil spirit was ruling over him and that he should go to Ganagapur for getting rid of same. According to those orders of Shri Gondavalekar Maharaj, Shri Sadashivrao Naik went to Ganagapur and got rid of the influence of the evil spirit.
Shri Sadashiv Rao Naik had close contact with Shri Sai Baba from 1914. Before that also he was often visiting Shirdi for the darshan of Shri Sai Baba.
Once Shama alias Shri.Madhavrao Deshpande, happened to come to Harda when the mother of Shri Naik complained to Shri.Shama that Shri Naik was a man with a family, If he went to Shirdi very often, how would he be able to take care of his family? Hearing this complaint from the mother of Shri Naik, Shama said to Shri Naik, "Do not give your mother any cause for complaint. Henceforth do not come to Shirdi unless you are called by Shri Baba".
As Shama was very close to Shri Baba, Shri Naik considered Shama's words as the order of Shri Sai Baba Himself and stopped going to Shirdi. When Shri Sai Baba knew about it He said, "Due to Shama's orders Shri Naik would not come. So ask Shri Parulkar to bring Shri Naik along with him". So a letter from Shri Sai Baba was sent to Shri Naik and he went to Shirdi in 1914 along with his two sons. Shri Balasaheb had the darshan of Shri Baba in this way when he was only about seven years of age. Shri Parulkar and Shri Sadashivrao used to sit with Shri Sai Baba for hours together smoking Chilim. Shri Balasaheb and his brother got at that time prasad and Udi directly from the hands of Shri Sai Baba.
Immediately in the next, year, that is in 1915, Shri Balasaheb got an opportunity to visit Shirdi along with his father. At that time they stayed at Shirdi for about 10 days. This time also they got opportunity to take darshan of Shri Sai Baba from close quarters, when he used to go to Chavdi along with his brother, Radhakrishnamai used to apply sandalwood paste on their forehead. The thread ceremony of Shri Balasaheb was attended at Harda by Shri Dixit, Shri Deshpande and Shri Tatya Kote Patil. At that time Shri Baba had sent to him rupees five and Savitribhajanmala.
At the time of Dasnavami in 1915 Shri Baba sent His big photo to Harda to Shri Naik, along with Shr| Balakram and Muktaram. This was the photograph that was kept in Dixit Wada.; it reached him on 8th February 1915 on a Thursday (Dasnavami). Baba also sent a letter saying "Through this photo I have come to your home. Without My permission don’t come to Shirdi again”.
Baba sent this Portrait to Sadhu Bhaiya on 8th February 1915
Rudrabhishek and Puja were performed and He was placed upon a sinhasan and Anna Daan was done. Then Muktaram climbed on the roof to hoist a flag. He was precariously perched on the roof and the flag was hoisted three fourth of the height when his arm ached terribly. Simultaneously Baba asked a bhakta seated near Him to massage His arm and said, "Allah Mallik Sadhu Bhaiya Garebon ka wali hai. Allah se bada kyon hein (Allah Mallik is the savior of the poor. Who is greater than Allah?)". At that very moment, the pain in Muktaram's arm also disappeared and he was able to comfortably complete the task.
The flag thus was hoisted. Everyone was joyous as Muktaram was safe. Baba looked after him at all times. Once there was an epidemic of plague in Harda. Everyone fled deserting the village. At that time, Sadhu Bhaiya had gone to his ancestral village, Brahmingaon, about 7 miles away, leaving his father with Baba's photograph in Harda. Sadhu Bhaiya wrote to Baba asking him about the photograph and the plague. Baba told him to perform puja to the photograph daily and go back to Harda and send his father to Shirdi. A few days later, two dead rats were found near the photograph. Sadhu immediately wrote to Baba and consulted Him. Baba in his characteristic way said, "Allah Mallik was there and there is nothing to fear." Sadhu Bhaiya stayed on in that house and was safe.
Sadhu Bhaiya took samadhi in 1937. As a close Sai devotee, the photo of Shri Sadashivrao Naik is hung in the Samadhi Mandir at Shirdi along with Shri Baba's other devotees.
Shri Balasaheb Naik was born at Harda, Madhya Pradesh on 14th January 1907. Shri Balasaheb remembers very well that he had visited Shirdi with his father in 1914 and 1915.
Shri Balasaheb had his primary education at Harda. He also attended the middle school there. In 1927, he came to Indore at the house of his sister for higher education and passed his Matriculation examination at Indore. He studied further upto Inter Arts at Indore. Shri Balasaheb served in the High Court at Indore and retired from there. He is now drawing a pension. He is now working in his own firm known as "Malwa Trading Syndicate". He is also having an agency of Camel Ink. His son is helping his father in this business. Shri Balasaheb Naik is also giving free Homeopathic medicines to poor people. He is taking keen interest in all the social and religious activities conducted at Indore.
Shri Balasaheb Naik was married in 1943 and the name of his wife was Malatibai. They led a married life for full thirty five years and Mrs. Malatibai left for heavenly abode in 1978. Shri Balasaheb has two sons and a daughter. The names of his sons are Vishwanath (30) and Dhananjaya (25). The Name of his daughter is Vanitha. She is aged 30. His daughter-in law is named Girija and she is having two children.
The photograph sent by Baba was in Brahmingaon unattended. One day Lakshmanrao alias Balasaheb Naik got a vivid dream in which Baba said "I came to your home through this photograph, and you have discarded Me. If you don't come and free me within two days my leg will be eaten away". Lakshmanrao was shocked at this dream, as he could not understand it. He went to the court as usual but was restless the whole day and could not do a lot of work.
That night he had the same dream. In which Baba said "you have not heeded my warning, if you don't come and set me free, my leg will be eaten away by termites (white ants)'. This dream terrified Lakshmanrao. The very next day he went to court and applied for leave. Hastily he went to the house in Brahmingaon. When he opened the door he was shocked to see that termites had eaten the wooden frame, and had just invaded the photograph below Baba’s big toe.
Lakshmanrao at once took down the photograph and cleaned it. Then he took the photograph to his home in Indore. There he got it re-cleaned and re-framed and kept it in his home. Daily Puja was performed. Now Baba in that photograph is being tended to with tender loving care by Vanitha (Laxman's daughter).
Today this photo has been kept for darshan at the house of Shri Balasaheb Naik at Rajendranagar, Indore and many Sai devotees who know about it take darshan regularly.
(Source: Shri Sai Leela Magazine July 1982 & Ambrosia in Shirdi by Sai Bhakta Vinny Chitluri, Photo Courtesy: Shri.Nagaraj Anvekar, Bangalore)