Once Shri Prangondji and his wife Mani Gowri had visited Shirdi and had darshan of Baba and Baba blessed them. Afterwards Vamanrao Patel was born to them on 5th April 1889 in Mota Village in Surat District. His full name is Vamanrao Prana Govind Patel. He later became with Baba’s blessings Shri Swami Sai Sharan Anand.
When he was three years old, he fell sick seriously. and his parents had full faith in Baba and at that time Baba went to their house as fakir and gave udi and asked his mother to give it to him mixing it with water and also told her as there was a scar in his right side back, he would become a "Satpurusha". The udi was given to him and the boy recovered miraculously by Baba’s Grace.
Swami Sharananand Parents
He had his primary education at Surat and Ahmedabad. When he was13 years old, he went to Somanath Mandir where Baba gave him darshan as a fakir. Later he had passed B.A. in 1910 in Bombay and also passed LL.B. in 1912. While he was studying, he used to question his college professors whether the God was Phenomina or Neomina.. The Professors could not answer him.
He then went to Bombay along with his father to take darshan of Sri Balakrishna Maharaj a follower of Shri Akkalkot Maharaj. Vaman Rao put the same question to the Maharaj also. This had happened in 1904 when Vaman Rao was of 15 years of age. At this, the Maharaj initially was angry with him but later gave him two books, one about Shri Akkalkot Maharaj and the other Ekanath Bhagawat in Marathi language and asked him to read them. Vamanrao said to Balkrishna Maharaj, “I will accept only a saint as my Guru, who will make me see God face to face”. After reading life instances of Akkalkot Maharaj, Vamanrao was deeply touched and was assured that saints who could help him to meet God were still present on this earth. Akkalkot Maharaj was known as the fourth incarnation of Lord Dattatreya and took Samadhi in 1878. And after him Balkrishna Maharaj stepped in his position and Vamanrao’s father used to go to him frequently.
Shri.Balakrishna Yogi Maharaj - First Guru of Swami Sharananand
Meanwhile a relative of Vamanrao’s father, by name Sakarlal Keshavlal Bhatt met with a major accident. He was badly injured in his leg, resulting in the damage of the vein in his left leg’s knee and he tried all treatments and they were of no use. Because of this accident he was unable to walk properly. At this stage, Vamanrao thought that Sakarlal’s injury could only be cured by a true saint’s blessing. And he started his search for a true saint.
Once Shri Hari Vinayak Sathe, Deputy Collector, Kheda District, who was a staunch devotee of Baba, came in contact with Prangovinddas. He told many stories and described many miracles of Baba to Prangovinddas who was highly impressed and he and Sakarlal both left for Shirdi with an introductory letter from Hari Vinayak Sathe. in May, 1911. H.V.Sathe wrote an introductory letter to Shri Balabhau Chandorkar, a relative of Nanasaheb Chandorkar, who was running a small hotel in Shirdi. At that time Vamanrao’s father’s teeth were removed surgically. The gums were weak and he was not in a position to eat chapatti or any other hard substances. He ate only shira at home, but in Shirdi who would help him and that was his problem. However, Vamanrao Patel's father and his relative Sakarlal went to Shirdi for Baba’s blessings so that Sakarlal’s problems could get solved. Prangovinddas had difficulty in eating solid substances. At the time of taking meals in Shirdi, Prangovinddas was served with chapattis. He was in a fix and thought, “How will I eat these chapattis. When I was at home I ate shira, but now there is no other alternative in Shirdi.” He was thinking like this and a man came running from Dwarkamai and said, “Baba has asked for a potful of shira. Tell all the devotees not to commence eating their meals, and nobody should leave without eating shira. So please wait till shira is served”. Prangovinddas was surprised and came to know that Baba is a unique saint and his difficulty was solved by Baba by sending shira for him at the time of meals. But the actual reason for their visit to Shirdi was to get rid of Sakarlal's lamness of his leg. Two days thus passed and they decided to leave Shirdi by taking permission from Baba. They went near Bala Gandhi's shop to hire a tonga to go to Kopergaon and at this stage, Sakarlal was about to board the tonga and immediately he developed a severe pain in his leg. He then thought that his leg was totally useless. Still he tried for some time by moving his leg forward and backward and then he was totally surprised as he was able to walk without any problem and the pain disappeared. The wound got completely cured with the blessings of Baba. Sakarlal and Prangovinddas shared their divine experiences with Vamanrao after returning to Bombay.. They both advised Vamanrao to visit Shirdi only once and said that Sai Baba was a real saint and also added that all his doubts would get cleared in Shirdi.
Nanasaheb Chandorkar was in Bombay at that time. So he wrote an introductory note to Shri Balabhau who had a small hotel in Shirdi. Vamanrao’s father Prangovinddas was very much aware of his son’s nature. He knew that because his son studied law he always had doubts in his mind. He would not trust anything without seeing it by his own eyes. Moreover Vamanrao always said that, “I will not accept this truth there is God in this world, unless I see God face to face”. Prangovinddas said to Vamanrao, “O Son! look at the stars in the sky, sun and moon arise and sets at correct times, they give light and due to this light, human beings and other lives get life. All this is done by supreme and nothing is in our hands”. This did not convince Vamanrao. and instead he argued saying, “All this works as scheduled, then where is God in all this?” Vamanrao had got such firm thoughts. His father advised him before going to Shirdi about Baba’s nature and mode of showering blessings on his devotees. He said, “Look Vamanya, Saibaba is very queer person. Do not argue in front of him, instead try to search the deep meaning from the words which fall into your ears. Accept with gratitude anything whether good or bad, whether given with love or with anger, given by Baba. Any gift received from such saints is for our welfare only.” Carefully listening father’s advice, Vamanrao took the introductory letter in the name of Balabhau and proceeded to Shirdi on December 10, 1911. As soon as they reached Shirdi, a small crowd was seen with cries “Victory Be Unto Sai”. Marwadi Tongawala stopped tonga and said, “The Person Who is walking in between the crowd is Sai Baba! He is going to Lendibhag by walk.” Saying this the tongawala alighted from tonga and prostrated to Sai Baba. Vamanrao also followed this. On seeing Vamanrao Baba said, “Ishwar Aahe Kaay Mhnun, Naahi Mhanto, Nigh”… meaning—“being a human being you doubt the existence of Almighty, Go away from here?” Vamanrao immediately thought, “He is the God I am searching”. He was reminded of his father’s experience how Baba arranged for shira at the last moment of his meals and took care of his father’s comfort. As Vamanrao had introductory letter from Nanasaheb Chandorkar, Balabhau arranged for Vamanrao’s lodging in Dixitwada and took him for Baba’s darshan. The thirst of Baba’s darshan did not decrease a jot in Vamanrao’s heart and so he again went to Dwarkamai with Marwadi pilgrim. But Baba adopted angry posture and did not allow them to step into Dwarkamai. As they both were scared they did not dare to go for Noon Arti. They sat in Radhakrishnamai’s cottage and took darshan of Baba from there only during Arti. After lunch Vamanrao went to Dwarkamai with Shri Shingane, Judge of High Court. Baba gave prasad of grapes sent by Radhakrishnamai to Vamanrao. Baba sat on his seat and rested his hand on the bolster and Vamanrao sat on a stone adjacent to the bolster. After a few minutes a crowd started going towards Dwarkamai. All the people requested Baba to take care of them and safeguard them from ravaging plague.
Vaman Rao later joined a solicitors firm in 1913 and came to Shirdi in May, 1913 when there were court holidays. On the expiry of holidays, he requested Baba for permission to go to Bombay, but Baba did not permit him to go and he was thus retained in Shirdi for about eleven months till March 1914 on one plea or the other. As his whereabouts were not known to his parents, his parents got worried about his safety and consulted the astrologers, who told them that he was safe and was in a holy place and that they should not have any fear about him. Afterwards Baba gave him permission to return.
He came to Shirdi again in 1916 all of a sudden when he came to the railway station to send off his friend for Shirdi. Baba told Vaman Rao at that time that he was expecting him at Shirdi and retained him in Shirdi for twenty one days and then allowed him to go to Bombay. During this period one day a big stone had fallen on his head causing an injury at the time of the construction of Butywada. With medicines given by Baba, he was cured with Baba's Grace and no scar was visible on his head. Vaman Rao told that at that time of head injury he had felt the supreme and blissful joy. Only after this incident he became a staunch devotee of Baba. The clothes of Baba had immense powers in them. Once Baba gifted his Kafni to Mhalasapati. The result was that till his death Mhalasapati lived like a sanyasi while also taking care of his family and social responsibilities. In another instance, Baba gave his Kafni to a devotee named Muktaram. As the Kafni was dirty, Muktaram washed it and placed it in Dixitwada for drying. After this, Muktaram went for Baba's darshan. Vamanrao was present in Dixitwada where the Kafni was kept for drying. Vamanrao heard a voice coming from the Kafni, saying that "See, Muktaram has brought Me here and kept hung upside down." Vamanrao immediately took the Kafni and wore it himself. After wearing Kafni, Vamanrao went to the masjid. Baba got angry when he saw the Kafni worn by Vamanrao. But Vamanrao was however destined to become an ascetic at the appropriate time so Baba did not say any thing. Thereafter Vamanrao had achieved advancement in spiritual matters.
In March, 1917, he was made Head Master., Model High School, Ahmedabad and was working in that position till Jan, 1921. Afterwards he came to Bombay in the same year and became Managing Clerk in Messrs Ganga and Sayani Co. Bombay.
Once a devotee had given to him Baba's padukas telling him that Baba wanted to hand over them to him. Initially he refused but finally accepted and installed them in Ahmedabad wherein a Sai Baba Mandir was later constructed with name of temple as "Vishnu Dharamalaya'' which was attracting several devotees for Baba's darshan.
A Devotee handed over Baba's Padukas telling that Baba had wanted them to hand over to him. Swami Sai Sharanandji first refused it but later accepted it and installed them in a place in Ahmedabad wherein a Saibaba Mandir was erected and titled as "Vishnu Dharmalaya" which is now being flocked by many Sai Devotees from far off places.
After many years of service to Baba and to the devotees, Swami Sai Sharananandji merged with Baba on 25th August 1982 at the age of about 93 years.
The Samadhi Temple of Swami Sai Sharanandji is located at the below mentioned address in Ahmedabad Town of Gujarat.
(Photo & Video Courtesy: Shri.Jignesh C Rajaput, Surat)