Somnath Shankar Deshpande

Son of Shankar, Nana Saheb Nimonkar, Brahmin, Inspector of Police, aged 51, 37, Saniwar Peth, Poona

Another instance of Baba’s care for me was mentioned by my father, even before I got my service. It seems that Baba, sitting at his Mosque, would take up coins and be rubbing them with his fingers saying “Kakacha”, “Somyahca” etc.. My father said that showed that I was often in Baba’s mind and that augured nothing but good for me.

Of numerous instances of Baba’s taking all care of us, Yogakshema bahamyaham the chief may be his looking after my father himself during the last 3 years of his life. In 1916, my wife was in the family way and we looked forward to my parents to come here, so that my mother may help in the delivery. We had no other help. My father and mother left Nimon on that account to go to Poona. But as Shirdi is near and as there were rumours that Baba was passing away, they first visited Baba. Once they went to Baba, he detained them and did not give them leave to go away- either back to Nimon or forward to Poona. My father did not understand the reason for this refusal and Madhava Rao on his behalf asked Baba for leave.

Baba : Do you want to kill my people'? Is Kaka eating away your father’s property?

Madhav Rao : But his daughter-in-law is pregnant and needs help.

Baba : Arre Kaka, why are you anxious? God will help.

Baba also said to my father at that time, “Bury me and then go.” When Baba detained my father, he tied a cloth bandage to his own arm which he kept on for three years and removed only four days before his death. My father died four months thereafter. That is just what he anticipated and told Madhav Rao when he left Shirdi two or four days after Baba expired.

When my parents were being thus detained at Shirdi, we at poona were relying solely on their going to us for the accouchement and made no other arrangements up to the last. Suddenly one night my wife told me “I feel that pains are coming.” At once, I ordered a tonga and took her at 10P.M. to the Poona Municipal Maternity Hospital and left her abed. The nurse that ought to have attended on her was talking with me in an adjoining room. It was about 11 P.M. At once we heard the cry of the new born child, a male child. The delivery was over without any help. It was a safe delivery. At that time - or rather just before delivery, Baba said to my father at Shirdi: “There was a woman. She was taken to a place. There she was delivered safe, of a male child.”

Soon after the delivery, I sent my brother with “Peda” which is usually presented to all on the birth of a child - to Baba and to my parents at Shirdi requesting that my mother may go over and help us at Poona. Permission was not given to her to go. My father then told my brother of what Baba had said to him about the delivery on the very day of its birth. That was Bhadrapad 1916.

Another instance of Baba’s care for our family is this. In December, 1917, plague was beginning its ravages at Poona; and during X'mas holidays, I started with my first son Gopal, then a child, 2 or 3 years, to Nimon where my brother’s wife had recently had a safe delivery. On the way, we halted at Shirdi. Baba in sending me away with the usual Udhi said “Porala jiv lav” which means “Save the child.” Interpreting it as a mere blessing intended for my Gopal, I gave him the Udhi and started off in a tonga to Nimon. When we reached that place, my brother’s baby, 12 days’ old, was in a precarious condition. It had become cold and chill and the parents lost all hope and thought the child was dead. Then I bethought myself of Baba’s words at parting and found that he must have referred to this child and not to my boy. I searched for the Udhi he had given me. But it had been lost during the journey. So I took the baby on my lap and sent up a fervent mental appeal with all my strength, with all my soul entreating Baba to save the child. In 15 minutes’ time, the child improved and became alright gradually and is now called “Datta” i.e., God’s gift, in consequence.

Plague was still prevalent at Poona when I wanted to return. When I wanted to start form Shirdi back to Poona, Baba was loath to give me permission. But I had no “leave” to stay and must rejoin duty on 8-1-1917. So my father put Udhi in Baba’s hands and practically forced him to give me leave. So we returned on 3rd January. My landlord was there down with plague and on the 4th, my wife was attacked. We could not escape elsewhere; my self, children and all stayed there. Baba saved her and saved us all. She i.e. my wife, recovered her health but her eye-sight was lost. At that time the question of leaving the town and going to a health camp was mooted before Baba; but he did not permit it. “Why leave home?” was what he said. We followed his guidance and were safe. When my wife was unwell, we had also requested my father to go to Poona. But Baba then told him again “Bury me and then go.”

In March or April, 1917, I fell ill, it might be plague or Typhoid perhaps. Again I wrote to father to go to Poona. Again Baba refused permission, but said, “Why are you anxious? Your Somniya will recover and come here to see us.” I had twenty-one days continuous fever and lived on water alone. Then I recovered. I took leave for a period of two or three months for convalescence and went first with my family to Belapur where the Samadhi of Vidyanandswami (who gave me my regular initiation into my mantra and my bhakti marga) is. There I stayed for a while and my mother came there and took us all to Shirdi. I had improved very little at Belapur and was very weak. When I went to Shirdi, Baba said I should be given a little Kichadi thenceforward. That was done. I stayed there a month and picked up my health and strength.

I was with Baba some days before he passed away. He was ailing and people were anxious about him. When I wanted to start, he was unwilling to permit me to go. But I had to go and I went away to Poona.