THE POET SAINT SHRI DAS GANU MAHARAJ
Long long ago there lived a notorious decoit who by the Grace of the Lord was converted into a famous poet. He composed the saga of the Ramayan even before the advent of Lord Rama on this planet. In this era a policeman was converted into a famous poet by Lord Baba's divine Grace. This poet saint not only composed the biographies of various saints but also became a cause to spell out the name of the Avatar to come. Of course, Shri Das Ganu Maharaj does not any introduction to the millions of Sai devotees all around the world. They have been reading his name in almost every chapter of the Shri Sai Sat Charita. They know several episodes from Baba's life connected with him. We do crave to know more about him. Maralhi devotees can read his biography written by Shri Athavale Swami.
Shri Das Ganu Maharaj has set up a very modest Ashram in a small but a very beautiful village called Gorate, dist. Nanded of Maharashlra State. If one takes the South Central train from Nanded and alights at Umari, people can guide one to Gorate. Though it is only at a walking distance from Umari, one can find an autorikshaw to reach the Ashram. Gorate - Oh, what a lovely place it is! Das Ganu Maharaj has aptly chosen a serene place for meditation and devotion. Completely detached from the noisy city life, one enters into the quietness and peace as soon as one steps into Gorate. Shri Chhagan Maharaj, a very soft spoken and extremely kind hearted devotee is incharge of the Ashram. He makes it his duty to see that the visitors arc quite comfortable. Regular daily programmes are performed in front of Das Ganu Maharaja's Samadhi. We find even villagers singing Marathi and Sanskrit prayers in perfect accents and with peace spreading rhythm. One gets bathed in peace and enjoys a different kind of feeling when peace permeates through one's body.
Das Ganu's ancestors - Sahastrabuddhcs were the village chiefs of Kotawade in Ratnagiri district in Konkan. Konkan in general and Ratnagiri district in particular have produced a number of dignitories in India. Maharaj, in one of his poems has said that the Giri (mountain) that gives birth to Ratnas (gems) is Ratnagiri. Sahastrabuddh.es were well to do people. The ancestors of famous Peshwa knights Patwardhans were, then, in their service. Patwardhans moved out of Konkan and with their gallantry, dedication and hard work earned the knighthood in the darbar of the Peshwas. Remembering the past relations, Patwardhans urged the hard working men from the Sahastrabuddhe family to join them. These men also earned fame in the Maratha Empire. They settled down in a place called Karkamb.
When British came to power in India, most of the States were merged in their Empire and the knights lost their importance. The great grandfather of Das Ganu Maharaj - Shri Appaji Narayan Sahastrabuddhe moved to Ahmednagar from Karkamb. He served as a Tahasildar and after retirement, became a Sanyasin and went lo Kashi to leave his body at the feet of Lord Vishweshwar. His son - Shri Eknathpant, worked very hard and made a very good name for the family. His fourth son Shri Dattatreya was the father of Das Ganu Maharaj. Dattopant was not a keen student. He neither bothered to take good education nor did he try lo get a government job. He stayed back in his family house and looked after the family farms and property. He was very much interested in music. He was always surrounded by a number of music lovers. He did not pay much attention to his business. He was married to Smt. Savilribai. The bride was from a royal family of Akolner. She was a very well cultured, intelligent, disciplined and pious lady. Since her husband was a happy go lucky type of a person, she spent most of her time in devotion.
In the year 1867, she gave birth to our Maharaj. After the nativity, the child would not suckle the mother and started weeping continuously. Doctors and Vaidyas were invited but in vein. The child's grandmother prayed to Lord Khandoba with tears in her eyes. These fervent prayers were answered and the child stopped crying and suckled the mother.
The child was named Narayan in Akolner but when it was taken to Nagar, his grandfather saw his big belly, big ears and a Siva Lingam type projection on his temple. Grandfather spontaneously named the child Ganesh. Baba later started calling him Ganu.