GADEKAR RAMCHANDRA K.
Ramchandra, Gadekar was son of Kanhoba Rao Gadekar of Ahmednagar who made a pair of sandals made which was presented to Baba by Gulmai in 1922 when Baba was staying in the thatched hut on Fergusson Road in Poona. The 21-year-old cobbler’s son, Ramchandra, came to Meherabad on 29th April 1925, for darshan. Baba received him warmly and urged him to stay at Meherabad. Baba also promised him the necessary funds to pursue his education in Poona.
Other events of his life time related with Meher Baba and conversations are recorded as under:
For a long time, Ramchandra had been suffering from acute stomach pains, which no medicine had alleviated. He had come to pay his respects to Meher Baba and also to consult with him about his ailment, which had troubled him for a long time. When he bowed down, the Master asked, “What do you want? Why have you really come to see Me?”
At that moment, Ramchandra was overcome by a divine desire that made him forget about his affliction. He spontaneously replied, “Baba, I want God-realization!”
Hearing this, Baba smiled and touched His head, blessing him. Later Baba inquired about his health and advised a certain treatment.
After some months, the stomach ailment disappeared and Ramchandra and his wife became teachers in the Hazrat Babajan School. Later the entire Gadekar family came to live at Meherabad, in one of the small earthen rooms built behind the Mess Quarters. His father Kanhoba also served the Master by keeping those particular sandals repaired.
Not only did the low cobbler caste of people come into Meher Baba’s contact through Ramchandra Gadekar, but also many others were affected; for wherever Ramchandra would go in future years, he would disseminate the Master’s message of Love and Truth to all he met.
Ramchandra Gadekar, who was staying in Meherabad at the time, had recently taken his college exams. On 31st May 1926, Baba informed him, “You have failed in your exam!” The young man was crestfallen and tears welled up in his eyes. To console him, Baba called for sweets and distributing them among all, declared, “This is to celebrate Gadekar’s failure in his exams!” But moments later, news was brought from Ahmednagar that Gadekar had actually passed his tests. Gadekar’s unhappiness turned into a smile of relief.
Although Gadekar had passed his exams, he was worried about his further studies. On the night of 5 th June 1926, Baba advised Gadekar, “Due to worry, this universe came into being. And now man is unable to realize his own Real Self due to engaging his mind in worry. I advise you to be at peace and remain quiet in the face of any agitation, any worry and any calamity. Do not allow such thoughts to enter your mind, but push them toward Me, saying, ‘Go to Baba!’ If you follow My advice, things will turn out fine.”
In 1927, a tragic event at Meherabad afflicted one of the teachers. Ramchandra Gadekar and his wife Yashoda had come to live at Meherabad where both served as teachers in the schools. Baba had given Gadekar orders not to touch his wife. Yashoda would rise early in the morning and work all day. She was very devout, and in obedience to Baba’s instruction, she would recite His name many times in the small room where they lived. But after nine months, Yashoda became extremely distraught. She fought badly with her husband and late one night, ran away and committed suicide by jumping in a well near the railway tracks.
On morning of 12 th June 1929, Gadekar arrived bearing flowers and sweets with the happy news that he had passed his B.A. exam. Gadekar was sure he had failed, even though Baba had assured him he would pass.
In 1930, Gadekar had also come to Nasik and invited Baba to Sangamner, where he was now working. He introduced his fiancée, Gunatai, (either on this visit or another) and Baba agreed to come to Ahmednagar to attend their wedding. Gunatai and Gadekar had met when they were students in Poona. They were later married in Ahmednagar, and Baba attended their wedding along with the mandali.
Baba left Madras on 19th February 1934, by the Bombay Express train and reached Meherabad the following day via Sholapur, where Gadekar and Gunatai had Baba’s darshan at the station.
In 1937, traveling on the same ship was Ramchandra Gadekar, the son of the humble cobbler who was deeply connected with the Master. Gadekar had won a government scholarship to study education at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Actually, Baba had informed Gadekar in advance that he would be traveling to France on the Strathnaver, but He had instructed Gadekar not to tell anyone. So when Gadekar’s wife Gunatai and their two children saw him off in Bombay, they were delighted to see Baba and the mandali on board. To Gunatai, Baba remarked, “Do not worry. I am with your husband.”
In 1940, Gadekar visited Pandharpur. Taking Bhabananda and Babadas with him, he returned to Sholapur and arranged a large meeting where both spoke. Wherever Gadekar’s job took him, he would disseminate information about Meher Baba, and his love for Baba drew many people to the Master.
In 1943, at the Kurduwadi railway station, a throng of followers had collected to see Baba, and He lovingly gave His blessings to all. Baba and the mandali continued their journey and reached Sholapur in afternoon, where they were taken to Gadekar’s small house. After a meal was served, Gadekar’s family had Baba’s darshan.
Baba left Barsi and returned to Sholapur at midnight. A judge from Akkalkot (24 miles away), M. G. Bendre, had invited Baba to his house, and Baba went with the mandali in early the next morning. Before leaving, Baba praised Gadekar and Gunatai: “I am very pleased with the love of both of you and the splendid arrangements you made for Myself and the mandali. I wish you to continue, in My love, the work you are doing of spreading My name.”
After some time, Gadekar was transferred to Ahmednagar, where he and his family lived in Mutha’s Bungalow. The family kept one room reserved specially for Baba. As the house was situated on Station Road, Baba would stop there on His way to Meherabad, but He would not inform them in advance of His visits. Once Gunatai complained to Him saying, “Baba, why do you come so unexpectedly, without informing us? The house is in such a mess at times. If we knew you were coming, we could keep everything in order.”
Baba smiled, gesturing, “Is this your house? This is my house. Do I have to inform you when I come to My own house?” They showed him to his room, and Baba was pleased, but remarked, “Do you want to keep Me locked up in only this one room? I want to go to each and every room.” Even the kitchen was not left out of His inspection tour.
In 1944, once Baba came to the Gadekars’ house and indicated, “I want to cook for Myself,” and proceeded to peel potatoes and prepare them and bhujias.
Baba then kissed Gadekar’s daughter Nalini and his son Digambar, and departed for Akkalkot.
Gadekar had rented a large bungalow, known as Dr. Kotni’s house, in Sholapur for the function, since many lovers from Bombay and Poona had come and required accommodation. Baba advised Gadekar before leaving, “Don’t give up this bungalow for a year. I will pay the rent.”
At the time, Gadekar could not fathom why Baba had suggested this, as his family was small and Dr. Kotni’s bungalow was certainly too large for them. But after Baba’s visit, more and more people kept coming for information about Baba, and thus a center with weekly meetings came into being in Sholapur. Only afterward did Gadekar understand why Baba had wished him to retain the bungalow. Baba had also remarked, “Keep the bungalow and I will come to visit occasionally.” Although Baba did come to Sholapur twice after this visit in 1943, He stayed at the dak bungalow at those times, not at Kotni’s. However, his presence was felt in Dr. Kotni’s house, as His lovers gathered in His name each week to sing His praises.
Once, in a lighter vein, Baba asked Gadekar, “Do you fight with Gunatai (his wife)?”
“Never, Baba. She fights with me!” he insisted.
“She is teaching you forbearance. You are in her debt.”
In year 1950, Gadekar wanted to tell Baba about Khak Saheb’s recent death, but because of the New Life restrictions against mentioning any such Old Life topic, he could not do so. But he hit upon a stratagem by telling Madhusudan to sing the particular ghazal to Baba that Khak had written before he passed away.
In 1954, Baba’s visit date was fixed for the 6th and 7th, and Gadekar in Poona was informed. For a year prior to this, Gadekar had been transferred to Nasik. While in Nasik, Gadge Maharaj would come to Gadekar’s house, and he also continued to visit his family in Poona. Gadekar with his wife, Gunatai, and their children, Digambar and Nalini, proceeded to Pandharpur ahead of Baba. There Gadekar arranged for Baba and the mandali to stay in a military boarding school.
In 1955, once Baba in the morning, Baba entered the hall. Some of the sahavas groups were still there. Baba asked Gadekar, “Why didn’t you leave yesterday?”
Gadekar replied, “I am going today.” (Actually, he had gone to the train station early in the morning, but when he heard Baba had come to Meherabad he came back.)
“While doing My arti yesterday,” Baba further asked, “Were you thinking of the arti or the thorns in your feet?”
“Of the arti.”
Joining His hands, Baba offered His namaskar to Gadekar. Taking advantage of Baba’s mood, Gadekar broached another subject: “I am now 51 years old, and there are four years left before I retire with my pension. I would like to resign at once and stay with you.”
Baba replied, “Up to the 15th of February 1957, just obey Me; thereafter, I will call you to stay with Me for all time.” Baba’s words came true, as readers shall see — but not in the way that Gadekar could have imagined.
Another man said, “In my dream, I saw Baba in a violent mood. He caught hold of me and pushed me against Gadekar’s stomach, and Gadekar likewise threw me back at Baba. I immediately woke up and could not go back to sleep because of this dream.”
Baba joked, “One thing pleases Me. I am happy that even in the dream I threw you on Gadekar’s tummy!”
In another incident, because of his duties, Bhau had not been able to have his tea in Satara before leaving, so Baba asked him to have it at Gadekar’s. Gadekar’s wife, Gunatai, served tea to all, after which Baba had a few words with Gadekar in a separate room. Gunatai had also prepared food which she offered to Bhau. Remembering Baba’s orders, Bhau declined, but Aloba willingly accepted and ate it. When he was doing so, Baba appeared and reacted angrily. He rebuked Aloba severely. “Do you never get the food that you are eating here? In Satara you claimed that you never took food at anyone’s place. You complained against Bhau for eating bhujias at Sushila’s. Now I know the real reason why you said it.
Baba had agreed to see them but stipulated, “I shall give them darshan at Gadekar’s residence, but no one should be present in the room except Gadekar, Conybeare and the Sakhares. Gadekar’s family members were not allowed darshan, although they were in the house at the time. That morning, Gadekar’s wife Gunatai had prepared a full meal for Baba and covered it and laid it on the table. As soon as she saw Baba’s car approaching, according to His instructions, the family hid in the interior of the house. Baba met the Sakhares, and before leaving, he peeped through the curtain on the doors of the drawing room to see if there were some “miscreants” who had been secretly watching him. Of course, no one was there. Baba was told that a meal had been kept ready for Him, but he did not eat, and strode briskly to the car. Gadekar ran after Him with a fresh baked cake they had specially kept for Him. But that too Baba did not accept.
Gunatai was highly disappointed that the meal, which she had prepared with so much love, was left untouched by the Beloved. She wrote to Baba and gave vent to her sorrow. Baba had this message written to her: “When all of you, the Sakhares and Conybeare ate the food, it was as good as My having eaten it!”
While returning to the cricket grounds, a taxi with two of Baba’s followers, Gadekar and K. K. Ramakrishnan, passed Baba’s car. A circular had been issued, strictly advising Baba’s lovers not to contact Him during His seclusion. If they happened to see Baba while he was traveling somewhere, they were to ignore Him and go on their way.
Gadekar had seen Baba, and Baba asked Pendu if their taxi was following them. Pendu saw that it was, so Baba told Eruch to drive fast and lose it. Baba was happy when Pendu reported that the taxi had disappeared, and they returned to the cricket grounds.
As the match proceeded, Pendu saw Gadekar’s taxi stop under a tree some distance away. Baba seemed to be taking an interest in the game, so Pendu did not inform him, knowing that it would upset him. Jalbhai, however, had seen the taxi and said, “Baba, they are here; they followed us and are standing there.”
Baba said, “Go and ask them, ‘Have you received Baba’s circular?’ If they received it, why have they broken My order not to follow Me, to turn their face and go away. I came here to relax; I am tired and they are spoiling My mood!”
Pendu went, and Gadekar, who was a very emotional old man, was on the point of tears, regretting his mistake, but explaining that he had simply been unable to control himself.
Baba instructed Eruch to turn the car around and leave for Satara. While passing Gadekar’s taxi, Baba had the car stopped. He told Gadekar, “You have received the circular; you are the oldest member of the Poona Center; he (Ramakrishnan) is new, but you should have followed My orders.” Gadekar admitted his mistake. “Then why do you break My order?
Why did you follow Me?” Gadekar said he thought it would be all right from such a long distance.
Baba was annoyed at first, but then forgave him. “I forgive you this time,” Baba said, “but next time; don’t make such a foolish error.”
In 1957, whenever Baba was in Poona, he would always visit the Gadekars at their new home on 885/5 Bhandarkar Institute Road, Deccan Gymkhana. Baba would sometimes even go to Gadekar’s office and give him darshan there. Baba had expressed a desire that He would like to have a spacious bungalow for His stay during the summer. Six years before, with the help of Sardar Raste, Gadekar had found Maharani Shantadevi’s palatial Guruprasad bungalow in Poona for Baba’s use. Gadekar again contacted the Maharani and was able to obtain the palace for Baba.
In 1958, during the entire program, Gunatai Gadekar kept a tray of camphor burning on the dais. It went out during the arti singing and Baba instructed her to relight it. Before leaving the pandal.
Despite Baba’s instructions, Gadekar sought a private interview with Baba, and Raosaheb did likewise. Baba was displeased with both men, but joked, “It is not Gadekar’s fault because his screw is loose!”
After returning to his home in Poona in November, Gadekar was diagnosed as having Hodgkin’s disease, with two cancerous tumors under his armpits. His son Digambar went to America at the end of January 1959 for further college studies, and his daughter Nalini Tai was studying at the Poona University Medical School. Gadekar wrote to Baba about this on 28 January, and Eruch sent this reply:
1st February 1959
My dear Gadekar Saheb,
Baba took great interest in hearing the contents of your letter of 28th ultimo (last month).
Baba knows how you have taken, and are taking great pains to spread your beloved Baba’s message of Love and Truth in Poona and elsewhere — wherever you are posted. All this labor of love will never and cannot go in vain.
Baba also knows how much pain and discomfort you are undergoing at present due to the swollen glands. All this pain should never be taken by you as “paying for your sins.” No! It is to give you greater opportunity to remember Baba more frequently. Baba wants you to bear the pain patiently in loving him the more.
Baba says that he is well pleased with your efforts, your deep love for him, and your unfailing support and your cooperation with Baba lovers at all times and under every situation, and, this time, under severe physical pain and discomfort, Baba feels very proud for having such lovers.
Now Baba wants you to concentrate your attention on loving him more. So, do this: remember Baba more and much more. Repeat Baba’s name silently as often as you can do and remain engrossed in your love and devotion for the Beloved of all hearts —Baba.
Stop worrying about Digambar, Tai or Gunatai (his wife). Let them now worry for your comforts and health. You have had enough worries for them in the past. Give them a chance to give their share and let them play their parts. Instead of worrying for “this, that and them” get seriously engrossed in “him, his and his work.” This is the time for you to do this. Now is the time for you to feel completely relaxed from the routine worries and to get engrossed in the joy and peace that prevail when one shares Baba’s “pleasure and happiness” with other fellow beings — relations, neighbors, friends and all the rest.
On 7th March 1959, Baba departed for Bombay. They halted in Poona for two hours to have lunch and tea at Guruprasad (sent from Bindra House by the Jessawalas), but before taking any food or rest, Baba went to Gadekar’s residence with the mandali, to inquire about Gadekar’s health.
“How is your pain?” Baba asked him. “How do you feel?”
Gadekar said, “Because you have come to see me, I don’t feel the slightest pain.”
“Today is Maha Shivratri (a Hindu holiday in honor of Lord Shiva) and Shankar in person has come to your house to see you. Repeat My name day and night. Go on doing it.”
Gadekar wept tears of joy. After embracing him, Baba returned to Guruprasad. It was to be the last time Gadekar ever saw his Beloved.
Baba sends His very dear love to His very dear Tukaram (Baba’s nickname for Gadekar) and to Gunatai, Tai and Digambar.
Gadekar and Gunatai came to Meherazad to see Baba on the morning of 12th February 1959. Gadekar had grown weak and was suffering terribly. Weeping, he cried out, “Baba, cure me. I want to go to different places to spread your love.”
Baba consoled him, “Don’t worry; you will be all right soon. You have devoted your whole life for My cause, and I am pleased with you.” Sending him out of the hall with one of the mandali, Baba informed Gunatai, “Gadekar will come to Me soon, so serve him well. Keep him as cheerful as possible. Whatever is going to happen will happen. You should not worry. Keep your head cool and give him as much rest as possible.”
On 12th March 1959, news was received that Gadekar had died in Poona at midnight at the age of 55. He had been sitting on his bed repeating Baba’s name when his heart suddenly stopped. Don had been to see him that morning. Baba commented, “Only I know how fortunate Gadekar was, who with his last breath called out my name. He has come to me forever.”
Baba sent this telegram to Gunatai:
Gadekar was dear
Now he has come near.
Inform all not to fear,
But to love Me with cheer.
Baba added: “Be happy that Gadekar enjoys My company forever.”
After the 1955, Sahavas, Gadekar had requested Baba to permit him to stay with Him as one of the mandali, and Baba had promised that, within a few years, “I will call you to stay with Me for all time!” Baba had fulfilled his promise – but not in the way that Gadekar had thought.
During Gadekar’s final days, the Poona bhajan group had helped him through the long nights of pain by singing bhajans to him. Digambar, the couple’s only son, had gone to America one and a half months before according to Baba’s instructions. Baba sent a telegram for him to remain there and continue his studies. “Be happy that your father has come to Me,” Baba cabled.
When Pleader saw Baba at Ashiana on the 13th, Baba remarked, “Gadekar has gone. I have relieved Him.”
On the same day 12th March 1959, Gadekar’s ashes were buried at lower Meherabad. Baba Himself lowered the box of ashes into the grave and covered it with earth. He scattered flowers on top, as did the mandali present, and garlanded the grave. Turning to Gunatai, who had come with the ashes from Poona, Baba remarked, “Gadekar is free; he will not take birth again (for a long time). He is very fortunate that I, with My own hands, have placed the box containing the last remains of one of My dear ones in the grave. He will only come back with Me after 700 years, when I return as the next Avatar.”
Age appreciated Gadekar’s devotion: “Truly, Gadekar did much to spread Baba’s cause. He was the link which brought many, many souls into the Avatar’s contact. This was the reason that for many years Baba had worn the sandals sewn for him by Gadekar’s father, Kanhoba Rao, which are preserved in the museum at Meherabad.”
Baba said that Gadekar is a person who comes to tears by talking of the good qualities of others.I won’t talk much about him. He is a smiling Buddha (he was round in shape) and bhola bhaktas (guileless devotee). He has passed through ups and downs but he never left Me. Although he has all along been serving Me, he told Me yesterday that it is a great pity that he does not get opportunities to serve Me.
On his demise Baba said. “Gadekar has come to Me forever.”
Truly, Gadekar did much to spread Baba’s cause. He was the link which brought many, many souls into the Avatar’s contact. This was the reason that for many years Baba had worn the sandals sewn for him by Gadekar’s father, Kanhoba Rao, which are preserved in the museum at Meherabad.”
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