Sai Mahabhakta Uddavesh Bua alias Shyamdas Baba was born on 9th June 1865. His ancestors hailed from Devgad Gaon village, Ratnagiri District, Konkan Region of Maharashtra. Later on the family moved to Thane, Maharashtra where Uddavesh Bua grew up.

Since childhood he was ascetic by nature and loved to go on pilgrimages and used to visit Saints and Sadhus. He visited Shirdi for the first time in 1904. This visit itself was very predictive of Baba's grace on him. He had embarked on a elaborage pilgrimage from Wardha to Rameshwar by foot. When he took Gajanan Maharaj's darshan, the saint told him to go south of Shegaon and also informed him that there he would meet his Guru. Later, another saint Harihar Baba of Shivalee who did not speak any other word except Harihar indicated to Uddavesh that he would meet his Moksha Guru at a placed rhymed with Shivalee (i.e., Shiladhi) in the westward direction.

Kafni of Uddavesh Bua

At Shivalee, a party gave Uddavesh a wild horse for this journey. The horse was very bad natured. It used to bite if anyone stood before him and kicked if anyone stood behind him. Nevertheless, Uddavesh took the horse along with him and came to Ahmednagar District also known as "Land of Saints". At Belapur, he had darshan of Keshav Govind's Samadhi and reached Kopergaon. After taking a holy dip in the river Godavari, he did Naam Jap there and then finally came to Shirdi.

During those day, Shirdi was totally a desolate place with abundant Babul Trees. Uddavesh tied his horse to one of the Babul Tree. He took care to muzzle his mouth and tying his hind legs to another tree, as otherwise the horse would attack wayfarers. It was then that Uddavesh noticed a fakir in a torn-kafni with a tin tumrel in His hand, walking about aimlessly. Uddavesh went upto Him and politely asked Him, where the Sadhu of Shirdi stayed. The fakir blessed him with a shower of abuses. This episode hurt him to the core and he made his way to the village. For a while Uddavesh thought: "He is an old ill tempered man and instead of answering a simple question in a civilized manner, he abused me and my mother". Finally, Uddavesh somehow reached the village and came to the Dwarakamai Masjid. There was a hut next to Dwarakamai Masjid and an old lady was making Bhakar and Pitla. Uddavesh enquired about the Saint of Shirdi. The old lady told him that Sai Baba had gone out, but there was no saying as to whn He would return. Hence, she was making Bhakar ready for Him to eat whenever He would return to the Masjid. Then Uddavesh enquired about His appearance. She described in great detail about Baba's torn tattered Kafni and headgear.

The Masjid was littered with Garbage in front of it. But it was clean and neat inside Dwarakamai Masjid. In a corner, there were four lighted lamps, next to it a hand-mill and some old and faded marigold garlands and some fresh garlands. A dhuni was burning in front of the pillar. He wondered about the lighted lamps and the entire set-up as he made his way back. The old lady was a Hindu, the Sadhu being described was a Muslim Fakir. And hence, Uddavesh's mind was in a turmoil. "Agni in the Masjid! Why?" this and many kind of questions arose in his mind on his way back. There he saw Baba patting his horse. Baba had one hand in the horse's mouth and with the other hand, He was patting its head. Seeing this immediately, Uddavesh said: "Be Careful Maharaj! This is a wild horse and he bites viciously". He then went ahead and laid his head on Baba's feet. Immediately he was filled with peace and he stood up and asked the burning question in his mind: "Maharaj, where and when will I find my Guru?" Still patting the horse, Baba answered "Kallel Pudhe, tu Kothun aalas? Mee Tar Vedaa Fakir aahe" (means: You will realise in the future where you came from. I am but a mad Fakir). Baba then added: "After fiver years, everything will be clear. Okay. Go. Leave today and do upavas (Upavas here is indicative of Sadhana)". Later, Baba and Uddavesh returnd to the Dwarakamai Masjid. Some devotee had left a coconut offering. Baba broke it and gave half to Uddavesh. Then He said: "Arre, how can a whole bhakar go down the stomach all at once. YOu will realise in five years. At that time, we will see". Then Uddavesh bowed to Baba and left for Kopergaon and joined the rest of the group of Pilgrims and continued his Pilgrimage.

Later, between 1906 and 1911, Uddavesh was fortunate enough to meet Sai Mahabhaktas like Nana Saheb Chandorkar, Janardhan Gonddev Kandikar and Bala Saheb Dev, who told him many leelas of Sai Baba.

In the year 1906 when he visited Shirdi baba said: "Come Shyamdas, it is good that you have come. Ghoda Baeel Chaavka. Aamasee bhet to Paavka (means: Horses and bulls bite. But when they meet Me, they become meek and gentle). These words reminded him of Baba's divine presence which was perceived even by the vile horse. Harihar Baba had told Uddavesh Bua that he would find his Moksha Guru at Shirdi. From then onwards, every time he visited Shirdi, Uddavesh used to stay for longer periods of time.

Once, he had gone to Dwarakamai Masjid and found Baba grinding wheat. At that time, Baba had ground a little wheat and was about to grind some more. Uddavesh went to the Sanctum Sanctorum and sat down and noticed Baba, while grinding wheat was singing for a while, uttering Vedanta for a while and then showing abuses as well. Uddavesh was so fascinated by the grinding that he asked Baba: "Baba, why have you kept the hand mill? Why do you do this chore of grinding?". Baba then said: "Ithe je yetaat, tyaanche malaa dalaava laagta bara (meaning: Whoever comes to me I have to gind for them). Thus, he realised that Baba grounds the suffering and karmas of His devotees. This sentence struck the core of his heart and he realised how much trouble and hardship Baba undergoes for His devotees.

When Uddavesh Bua went to take permission to leave, he said to Baba: "Baba, why don't you call me more frequently to Shirdi?" Then Baba, turning towards Bala Ganapat Shimpi said: "He says, I don't call him often. Yet we every fifteen days. Don't we?". Uddavesh Bua had a practice of writing letter every fifteen days to Baba on Ekadashi Day and Baba used to reply to his letters. Sai Baba was reffering to this letter. Then, Baba as usual gave him a handful of Udi and blessed him. In an affectionate manner Baba said: "So you are leaving? Arre Shyamdas, I am with you all the time Allah Ram Malik will bless you and do good. Okay".

Once Chidambar Keshav Gadgil read out one such letter written by Uddavesh to Baba. After hearing that, Baba said: "Call him here. Ask him to come quickly".

Uddavesh accordingly went to Shirdi within four days of receiving the reply. Baba asked him for eleven rupees that he readily gave, daily for ten days. Everyday, he would go to Dwarakamai Masjid at about 3:30 pm and only at that time Baba used to ask him for Dakshina. On the eleventh day, as usual, Baba asked for Dakshina. Uddavesh had no money left with him. He said : "Baba, I have no money left to give You as dakshina. You tell me where I am to get the money from? In lieu, I offer my ten Indriyas and mind". To which Baba replied: "They are mine already. Who are you to give them? Go to Bapu Saheb Butti and borrow Rs.11 and give them to Me". On hearing Baba's words, Uddavesh got up to go and get the money. He had hardly reached the gate of the Sabha Mantap, when Baba called out to him: "Arre Shyam come here and bring the eleven rupees later. But bring them from Bapu Saheb Jog. Now be seated". After taking Udi and prasad he went to the wada and totally forgot about the eleven rupees. At 3:30 pm he went for darshan, but Baba did not ask for the eleven rupees. In the evening, he said: "Go to Bapu Saheb Jog and ask for eleven rupees and bring them along with you".

Accordingly Uddavesh went to the wada and found Bapu Saheb Jog reading the Ekanath Bhagawath to a few devotees. Uddavesh told Jog what Baba had said. Later both of them went to the Masjid. At that time, Baba was getting ready to go out. On seeing them, Baba blessed them, but did not ask for dakshina. Later they returned to the wada. The other devotees asked Uddavesh about this episode of Eleven rupees daskhina and what it meant. Uddavesh had not pondered over it. Everyday, thereafter, both of them went to Baba, but Baba did not ask for dakshina.

On the fourth day evening Baba asked Jog, "So, how many rupees did you distribute today". Jog replied: "Sixty one rupees. Butti received fifty rupees and Shyamdas eleven". Uddavesh was silent all this time when Baba said: "Did you get the eleven rupees?". Without understanding its significance, Uddavesh said "yes". Then Baba said: "No, you didn't. Let us see tomorrow. In the meantime, have a look at the Pothi, okey?". Then they returned to the wada and started discussing what Baba could have meant by asking for eleven rupees. Bala Saheb Bhate was intelligent enough to connect the dakshina with the reading of Ekanath Bhagawath. Suddenly, Uddavesh remembered how he had taken a decision not to read any pothi, unless directed by Baba to do so. Later, he went to the Masjid, and Baba told them a long story of two brothers. The summary of that long story is as follows:

The two brothers on the long journey symbolize "the real I" or the atma or soul and the other brother is "the apparent I" which is identified with the body, mind, senses, intellect that is the 'psycho physical matter'. Having been identified with these, the 'apparent I' suffers from pain and pleasure. To release the 'apparent I' from this cycle, one has to 'bury' it mercilessly. Here Baba suggests the mode of burying by practicing Yoga. Bitten by the serpent and having died symbolises the burial of the 'apparent I' by awakening the Kundalini. Yogic path teaches the gradual uncoiling of the Kundalini, which is a spiritual current. As it uncoils and rises upwards, it enfranchies a series of chakras. The six chakras are known for their own powers and at last culminate in Sahasrara or the thousand petalled Lotus in the brain followed by Samadhi State. But this state is not for long as the Vasanas or desires are not destroyed completely. Baba mentions five to six people possibly symbolising the Vasanas governed by five Panchendriyas and Six Arishadvargas. When these evils continue their attack by luring the real sadhaka he is neigher frightened nor affected. On the other hand, "they will also be buried by him". Thus, Baba's statement that "there is a huge serpent, and I buried him, and the journey" symbolises the burial of vasanas. The "strong lady" referred here symbolises maya (illusion). Due to ignorance, the Real Self is forgotten. One then starts identifying with the apparent self. Thus one is entangled in this worldly life and such experiences as birth and death, pain and pleasure, and good and evil. All these seem so real, though the waking stage and the dream stages are both a mirage. This Maya veils the pure soul and has to be buried in order to realize the pure soul or atma. Baba's statement confirms that He has buried Maya by stating that the strong lady met the same fate and was buried. Still the vasanas continue attacking. This is symbolically stated as five to six people "cutting the goat and thrusting the pieces on the lips". So strong are the vasanas or maya. The word Brahmin referes the person who has realized "Brahman". And because of this knowledge of Brahman he is able to convert the pieces of meat into beautiful roses. This symbolises converting vasanas into knowledge. 'The crystal clear water and a small pathway' is the clarity the sadhaka attains by way of Sadhana to be with "Parabrahma". Then there is water all around him without any pathway which symbolises the highest state of realisation - the state of pure consciousness. Thus the Sadhaka finally cultimates with the Parabrahma.

The next day, Baba was in a tearing rage right from the early morning till noon. Some of his devotees received the wrath in the form of beatings and abuses. But His daily routine went on as usual. Uddavesh Bua went to the Dwarakamai Masjid at 3:30 p.m. and did Charan Seva. At that time Baba said: "you received the eleven rupees. Didn't you Shyam?". To which Uddavesh Bua replied, "If the eleven rupees is regarding the reading of the pothi, then yes. But he still had doubt in his mind whether to read Bhagadgita or Jnaneshwari and accordingly he asked Baba. To which Baba replied: "Arre Shyamdas, go to Bapu Saheb Jog and bring the Pothi that he is reading". He did so and Baba opened randomly the eleventh chapter of Ekanath Bhagavat and pointing towards it said: "Read this, every day of your life. Read it just as it is written and understand it for yourself. Do not explain or expound it to other people. Only you need to know and understand it. Allah Malik will do good".

Once, Uddavesh Buva once went to Dwarka on a pilgrimage. His entire entourage went from Mumbai by ship. The tickets were with Buva. The tickets were in two parts - one for the ferry that carried them from the coast to the ship and one for the ship itself. Uddavesh Buva separated the two parts and kept the ferry tickets in his pocket and the ship tickets in his wallet.

While he was on the ship, he had to remove his wallet for some reason. He happened to be standing next to the railing at that time. Somehow his wallet fell overboard and everything in the wallet, including his money and the tickets became an offering for the sea.

While getting off the ship one had to give the tickets to the ticket-collector. Buva narrated the entire story to the ticket-collector and as proof showed him the ferry tickets; whereupon he was satisfied and he let them go.

In Dwarka, they had to pay taxes for bathing in the Gomati, touching the feet of God and to do a Puma. Since Buva had no money left and he did not believe in asking anyone; but Baba for help, he wrote a letter to Shirdi.

The day he posted the letter to Shirdi, a wealthy man from Dahanu dreamt of Baba who asked him to immediately give money to Buva who had lost all his money at sea. The gentleman immediately sent an insured money order of Rs. 50/- to Buva and also wrote a note narrating the dream with it.

Once Uddavesh set out on another pilgrimage to Dwraka, Porabandar, Girnar, Somnath and many other holy places taking about three and a half months to do so. During the journey, he along with the group of pilgrims and his personal servant stopped at Girnar Hills. They chalked out a neat programme to climb the hill and take darshan of the Dattatreya Padukas, Ambaji Tekdhi (Ambadevi Temple atop the hill) and Gorakshaknath Temple. The group decided to climb the hills on a Thursday. Hence, the group decided to have darshan first and then a meal. Eventhough the group started early in the morning, they were delayed and had got late.

Uddavesh while ascending the hill clearly heard Baba say, "I am always with you". Thus, he happily continued climbing up the hill, where some thirty to forty steps were very steep, high and very difficult to negotiate. It was a very hot day with the Sun beating on him with full intensity and the water he had brought with him got exhausted. He was still to climb two hundred to three hundred steps to reach his destination. Uddavesh was four to five stpes behind other group members when he felt extremely exhausted. His throat parched, he felt dizzy and fell down. When the group reached him, they found that he had fallen to the left.

If Uddavesh had fallen to the right, there would have been no trace of him as there was a deep ravine on that side. Quickly Tarabai and other group members came to his rescue. They found that Uddavesh was unconscious, frothing at the mouth and had a heat stroke. Tarabai sat down next to him and cradling his head in her lap, wiped his mouth and started fanning him with a piece of cloth. The groups huddled together and were wondering what to do. The dire need for water was evident and there was nothing around them, except the steps leading to the top. It was decided that someone from the group would retrace their steps to the bottom of the hill and fetch some water.

Just as they looked in that direction, the group saw a Gosavi with a huge pot of water making his way towards them. The Gosavi came near the group, addressed Tarabai and said: "Mother, give the child this water. Sprinkle some on his head and face and he will come around". So saying, he handed over the pot, and further added: "Make sure he drinks all this water. I have some work to do and I will meet you when you return". Then the Gosavi ascended the steps. Mechanically, the group members did what the Gosavi said and Uddavesh started recovering. Uddavesh could see the Gosavi had ascended about twenty septs or so and then he disappeared. It took about an hour for him to fully recover after which the group proceeded further. They all had a wonderful darshan all the temples. In the meantime, the group was talking amongst themselves. "Who was this Gosavi? Why and how did he bring the water for Uddavesh? How specific were his instructions?". Uddavesh however knew very well that Baba had saved his life in the form of Gosavi. Had not Baba assued him saying, "I stand behind and in front of you always and at all times during his earlier visits to Shirdi?" Where is Shirdi and where is Girnar? Yet, the Guru is always at hand to help her child. When they returned to the very spot, he wished to wait for the Gosavi.

Uddavesh did so for about an hour. But the group urged him to continue the descent. It was getting late, as it was now 5:00 p.m. in the evening. It would soon become dusk. Also, everyone in he group were tired and hungry. Reluctantly, Uddavesh agreed and they reached the bottom of the hill at Junagadh Gaon. They had a meal and retired for the night.

But, Uddavesh did not get sleep. He was overwhelmed by what had happned that day. He had sustained no injury from the fall, except a few scratches and a grazed knee. He was quite lucid and mentally in good frame of mind. But, he could not tolerate the thoughut of not having met his benefactor, the Gosavi. He was wondering "why?" about the whole incident. That night, he cried himself to sleep. The same night, at about 4 a.m. in the early morning, he had a dream vision. Baba appeared in his dream and said: "Arre Shyamdas, don't cry like this. There is a lot of work to be done. You wil know in the future. Now get up". Uddavesh was comforted as he was enveloped in Baba's love and concern for him. After few months, he came to Shirdi. As soon as he entered Dwarakamai, Baba said: ""Come Shyamadas, didn't I give you a lot of water to quench your thirst?" Uddavesh went and laid his head on Baba's feet and washed them with tears. Baba placed His palm of benediction on his head and gave him Udi.

On his last visit, Uddavesh had gone to the Dwarakamai Masjid in the afternoon at around 3 pm. Some devotees were seated at the Sabha Mantap and they cautioned Uddavesh not to go to the Dwarakamai. Baba at that time was sitting still as if He was in deep meditation. Just then, one of the devotees went up for darshan. Baba flew into rage and swiftly smacked the devotee with His Satka. He let out a volley of abuses. The devoee fled from the Dwarakamai Masjid. Uddavesh went up and Baba welcomed him as if nothing had happened. Uddavesh sat for a whle and Baba said: "Shyamdas when will you come again?". Uddavesh replied that he would return quickly and taking Udi, he left. He had not even reached the gate of the Sabha Mantap, when Baba called out to him. Hence, Uddavesh retraced his steps and went to Baba. Then Baba said: "Henceforth, don't come to Shirdi Okey. I am always with you wherever you may be, Okay. The people in Shirdi have changed a lot and they trouble me incessantly with their cries for money and I am getting tired. Whether you going on a yatra, or whether you going to meet your family, I am always with you now and forever". Telling like this, Baba gave Uddavesh the permission to leave Shirdi. As prophecied by Baba, however hard Uddavesh tried afterwards to visit Shirdi, he would not make a trip to Shirdi. Not only that. He could not even send letters on Ekadashi day as he did earlier. Later on, Uddavesh received letters from various devotees informing him that Baba had taken Maha Samadhi.

Finally, Uddavesh merged with the Divine Lotus Feet of Sai Baba on 8th August 1951. Please find below the Samadhi of Uddavesh Bua.

Samadh of Uddavesh Bua

(Source: Sai Leela, Ank 4-5, Year 4, 1926, Sai Leela Magazine, Sept - October 2009 and Baba's Rinanubandh by Vinny Chitluri, Photo Courtesy: Shri.Nagaraj Anvekar, Bangalore)