Sai Mahabhakta Shankara Rao's brief mention has been made in Chapter 28 of Holy Shri Sai Satcharitra and Shri Sai Leela Magazine, Ank 12, Year 3, 1926 published by Shri Sai Baba Sansthan. The details are as follows:

Shankara Rao alias Shankara Rao Gavankar developed an irresistible desire to have darshan of various saints in the year 1907. Hence, he started reading about their lives, listened to Bhajans and Discourses. He met saint Narayan Maharaj of Khedgaon, Pune who was on a visit to Mulund in Thane District. After few days he happened to listen to the Kirtans of Das Ganu Maharaj in the home of Govind Raghunath Dabholkar alias Hemadpant. He found similiarity between the Saints of those days with that of ancient Saints. He also got wonderful experiences. Following the above two incidents, his desire to meet Saints increased manifold and he met them without any effort from his side. Many a time, some friend would ask him to join him on a pilgrimage and there he would meet a Saint.

At that time, Shankara Rao was residing in Vasai Village and worked in the Court there. One day he received a letter from his friend Lala Madan Gopal who was residing at Shimla and worked for the Government Railway Board. He asked Shankara Rao to accompany him to Khedgaon for darshan of Saint Narayan Maharaj. Lala had made arrangements for his stay at Kalyan where they would meet when he arrived from Shimla. Hence, Shankara Rao took leave for a week, packed his bags and set out. But first he alighteted at Vile Parle and went to his brother's home. There he learned that Lala had sent a telegram, stating that due to unavoidable circumstances, he was unable to come and had asked his brother to tell Shankara Rao about this development. Thus, Shankara Rao was in Vile Parle with a week's leave, and hence he was wondering whether he should spend it there or shorten his leave and get back to work. The same evening, his friend Lala Lakshmichand visited him and asked him to accompany him to Shirdi.

Lala Lakshmichand was looking for a companion who was compatible and shared his views and beliefs and they both decided to go. Shankara Rao thought that since he had week's leave and instead of spending it there, he thought of going to Shirdi. Since it was first visit to Shirdi for both of them, they tried to gather as much information as possible about Shirdi and Sai Baba. They had heard rumours that Baba beat first time visitors. Finally Bahu Saheb gave them correct and useful information.

Bahu Saheb gave them a basket full of fruits and flowers and asked them to offer them to Baba. Another friend Raghunath Wagh gave a garland and Khanaya Lal gave them four annas and asked them to buy Guavas as Baba was very much fond of them. They alighted at Dadar and caught the connecting train to Manmad. Much to their surprise, Nana Saheb Chandorkar got into the same compartment on his way home. He saw their entire luggage and advised them to leave some behind which he would take to Kalyan with him and they could retrieve it on thier return journey. He also asked them to convey his namaskars to Baba.

Both of them loved bhajans very much and hence they did bhajans till they reached Nasik. At midnight, a Muslim got into their compartment. He too was on his way to Shirdi. So they asked him about Baba. He told them that Baba was a great Awalia. At early morning 6 a.m. they got down at Kopergaon. At that time, there was not a single tonga at the Railway Station. But, surprisingly at that very moment, a tonga drew up and the driver said that Bahu Saheb had sent him. The luggage was loaded on the tonga, and the two of them rested for about two hours. After a bath and breakfast, they proceed to Shirdi. For the next ten to fifteen minutes the horses did not run or even walk swiftly. They were well built, and even the master's whip did not induce them to run. Just then a women carrying a basket of Guavas ran up to them and said: "Dada, you wanted to buy Guavas. Here you buy whatever you want and give the rest to Baba from my side". This reminded Shankara Rao of his promise to Khanaya Lal.

Shankara Rao had thought earlier that he would buy Guavas at Shirdi. The moment Shankara Rao purchased Guavas, the horses started running well and did not stop till they reached Shirdi.

Both Shankara Rao and Lala Lakshmichand alighted at Sathewada. At that time there were about 150 pilgrims staying there. They met Nulkar and his friend Neelkant who welcomed them with a cup of tea. Then Shankara Rao enquired as to how they should go for Baba's darshan. Later they went to Dwarakamai and found Baba shouting abuses at the people seated there. Baba was alone except a Deshast Brahmin who was there and he was pressing Baba's back. The rest of the devotees had fled to the Sabha Mantap. Seeing Shankara Rao and Lala Lakshmichand about to enter the Sanctum Sanctorum, the devotees advised them not to enter as Baba was in a rage and asked them to sit in the Sabha Mantap. But, Shankara Rao did not pay attention to what they said and he climbed the steps. There he stood for a minute or so. Although Baba was shouting, he did not hear what He said. Then he heard Baba say: "Jao Idher Se" (Go away from here). Hence, Shankara Rao turned back and sat against the wall of the Dwarakamai Masjid. His mind was quite confused and perturbed and he said to himself "Until Baba summons me I will not go". However, the first impression that he got upon seeing Baba was that He looked like Swami Samarth of Akkalkot. Nevertheless, he felt that Baba, the Sadguru had motherly love for him. Within a minute or two of Shankar Rao thinking like this, Baba sent a person to call them. Both of them went into the Sanctum Sanctorum and sat at Baba's feet. In the meantime, rest of the devotees seized the moment and went into the Sanctum Sanctorum. They offered the Guavas, the garland, the fruits and prostrated. Then they did the ritualistic pooja. Baba asked someone to distribute the Guavas as prasad. Then Baba took one Guava and breaking it into two halves gave them to Shankara Rao and Lala Lakshmichand. Applying Udi, He said, "Khana Khao aur Wada mein aaram karo" (have your meals and rest in the Wada).

For the next two to three days they stayed in the wada and did not spend much time in the Dwarakamai Masjid. However, they used to have darshan of Baba in the morning and again when He passed by the wada on the way to Lendi Baugh. After two days, the devotees who had come from Mumbai left. Thus, only four of them i.e., Shankara Rao, Lala Lakshmi Chand, Noolkar and Neelkant were present. Neelkant said to Shankara Rao "after coming to Shirdi, there is a profound change in me". Strange and unusual thoughts kept arising in Shankara Rao's mind. "If Baba is really a Satpurush, then why does He shout abuses at people? Why does He have so much of anger and fly into a rage? How will such behaviour help the people? Will this behaviour benefit the world, or the country? If He does not give any Upadesh, I have come here needlessly. So why should I stay here?. All He ever says is: "Khana Khao Aur Aaram Karo" (Eat and rest). Other than this He says nothing". These thoughts stayed with Shankara Rao for the next two days or so.

The next day, at about 8 a.m. when Shankara Rao was having breakfast and was talking to Nulkar, he got the overpowering aroma of incense. He knew that Nulkar had not burnt incense. Then from where it was coming? Shankara Rao wanted to investigate and followed the aroma, only to find that it was coming from the Dwarakamai Masjid. But no one had burnt incense stick there. Then he realized that it was Baba's way of bringing him to the Dwarakamai Masjid. Shankara Rao and Lala Lakshmichand entered the Sanctum Sanctorum and according to Baba's wish sat on either side of Baba's outstretched legs. Shankara Rao sat to the right and Lala Lakshmichand to the left and started massaging aba's legs. Then Baba asked a devotee bring His Chillum. Baba took a puff and gave it to Shankara Rao and then He took another puff and handed it to Lala Lakshmichand. This He did thrice, Lakshmichand took a puff or two, but when it was handed over to Shankara Rao, he did not smoke it but just held it in his hand. At that time, his mind was crowded with thoughts and they were as follows: "May be Baa handed the chillum to me to hold it as He wanted some rest? I am not of the same spiritual status, so he won't do that, it will be an insult If I smoke the same Chillum?" At that very moment, Baba said: "Smoke" and handed the chillum to him. Then he took a puff, then again and again he smoked it. While this was taking place, Baba was saying something. Soon he realized that Baba was relating incidents of their past.

Baba related with dates his family history right form his grandfather's time. Some of the incidents Shankara Rao knew, the rest he confirmed when he returned home. Baba told him how his grandfather's Guru stayed with them for twelve years.

Baba said: "My Father and Mother were there. For twelve years I stayed with them. They looked after me very well. Many people, relatives and friends said unpleasant things and gave them a lot of trouble. But they did not lose anything. There was no dearth for anything. Allah looks at those who troubled them! Look! if you live properly and do good Allah wil do good! But, if you do bad, Allah will do bad. I am at Ganagapur, at Pandharpur. In fact, I am everywhere. I am in the whole world and the whole world is in Me! What you are holding at present do not leave. In two or four days, you will find Allah". Baba narrated like this and took a handful of Udi and applied it to his whole face and said: "Have your meals and take rest!" Taking some dry coconut, He gave it as prasad and asked them to go and have lunch. That was the day of their departure. After lunch, they went and got permission to leave. Since, Shankara Rao had run out of money, he borrowed five rupees from Nulkar. But after paying their dues he was left with only one and a half rupee. He felt embarrased to ask Nulkar for more money. There was no way, he could reach Vasai the next day with that small amount. He had to join duty the next day at 11 a.m. By then it was 2 p.m. and there was no tonga, and no money and Baba had granted permission to leave Shirdi. Shankara Rao decided to go and see Baba once more as a parting salutation. He took a coconut and went to the Dwarakamai Masjid. Baba had just finished his lunch. Looking at Shankara Rao, Baba said: "You have to join duty tomorrow. If you leave right now, you will be able to catch the train".

Just at that time a friend of his from Indore arrived there. Baba asked him to accompany them. The Indore friend had stopped on his way to Mumbai for Baba's darshan! He had hired a tonga to and from Shirdi! Thus, Shankara Rao and Lala Lakshmichand were able to go with him. On reaching Kopergaon station, they found that they had missed the train. The Indore friend purchased the tickets for the next train which was at 8 p.m. Later, they reached Manmad only to find that the connecting train was delayed by three hours due to a derailment. The next day they were still travelling. But at 11 a.m. he was supposed to join duty. After all these setbacks, they finally reached Mumbai at 3 p.m. Lala Lakshmichand joined duty on the same day. However, Shankara Rao did not. He accepted the hospitality of his friend and went to his home in Sion. The result was that he still had one and a half ruppes left as his friend took care of all the expenses enroute. This friend belonged to the famouls Dalvi family and had a good job in the Customs department. Shankara Rao had met his friend after many years. Both had studied at Elphenston High School.

The same evening Shankara Rao met a colleague from work who told him that a person at work was maligning him, by telling his supervisor that he was irresponsible and had overstayed his leave. But, this did not make him anxious. He went to work the next day, only to find that his mother-in-law was in the chamber. He met his senior officer who asked the reason for his overstaying the leave. Shankara Rao truthfully told all that had happened. Satisfied with his explanation, the officer, who knew him very well signed his application for extension of leave for a day. Seeing how easily Shankara Rao was granted leave, his mother-in-law was embarrased.

Shankara Rao says that "Saints perform Chamatkars (miracles or leelas) for various reasons. Sometimes, to inculcate faith. At other times to put the person on the right spiritual path and sometimes for the spiritual upliftment of the devotee. But each devotee going to the saint must know in his heart the reason for the visit".

(Source: Holy Shri Sai Satcharitra Chapter 28, Shri Sai Leela Magazine, Ank 12, Year 3, 1926 and Baba's Rinanubandh by Vinny Chitluri)