Somnath Shankar Deshpande

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

Baba showed his faith in my father by making him his banker during the years (1916-18) that he stayed with Baba. As funds came, Baba would hand them over to my father. Even Madhav Rao mistook them for gifts. My father stood in no need of gifts. We had about 500 rupees per annum from our Vatan and I was sending him all moneys he required. Besides, my father also knew the truth of Baba’s often repeated statement. “Fakir’s money is forced away”. If one grasped at and swallowed a Fakir’s money, he will in due course have to disgorge it all, to the last pie.

My father desired and got from Baba gifts superior to monetary gifts, i.e. our temporal and spiritual welfare. So my father paid up all the deposits for Baba’s expenses. Baba himself frequently called upon him for these expenses e.g. (a) Burfi would have to be purchased and distributed as present; (b) firewood on a large scale also had to be bought etc.. We called my father “Kaka,” so did the villagers; and so also Baba called him “Kaka”.

To illustrate the spiritual benefit received by my father, I will give an instance. My father wished to read “Bhagawat” etc., in Sanskrit as “Pothi”, but his ignorance of the language stood in his way. Baba once said to him:

S.B : Why don’t you read Pothi?

N.N : I do not know Sanskrit.

S.B : Never mind. Masjid Ayi will teach you Sanskrit, and gradually you will learn. Begin.

Then with faith in Baba’s words, my father began the daily reading of Shrimad Bhagwat and its commentary - both of them in Sanskrit - without understanding what he read. Gradually he began to understand all that he read, and he advanced so far as to proceed (at Baba’s bidding) with the Gita and next with Jnaneshwari. All these he understood, and when Kaka Saheb Dixit and Jog had doubts he cleared their doubts. They were learned scholars and had regularly studied Sanskrit. But my father had not, and so they said my father’s understanding was inspired by Baba’s grace. But Baba once stopped his further explaining things to others. “Why should we explain things to others? That will make us puffed up with self-conceit.”

As for quasi-spiritual benefits derived by my father, instances will be given presently of the cures he effected when he spent his last two months with me here at Poona.

Temporal benefit may include not only the growing esteem in which he was held by all who knew him and the consequent increase of his influence, but also the safeguarding and advancement of the interests of all members of his family, including myself. I had been taken to Baba from my infancy by my father and Baba spoke to me and spoke of me always affectionately giving me the sobriquet, “Somniya.”

In 1912, I was a police Sub-Inspector at Kopergaon; and Shirdi was within my jurisdiction. As soon as I got my first pay, I sent rupees two every month by M.O. to Baba. That was my father’s order and possibly his vow. I continued that payment every month up to 1920 i.e. till shortly after my father’s death. When I was at Kopergaon my father and I went down once to Shirdi. Then Baba asked me to pay a dakshina of 10 rupees and I did. It appeared to have no significance at that time. But about six months later, I got the order that my pay was increased by 10 rupees from that date, (i.e. the date of my paying the dakshina). I got a transfer in 1912 from Koperegaon to Poona.