THE WORLD’S FIRST SAI TEMPLE

Bhivpuri is a small and remote village in the Raigad District. Bhivpuri Road is a Railway Station on the Mumbai Pune railway route and it is in between Karjat Railway Station and Neral. The Temple is at a distance of 2 KMS from the Bhivpuri Road Railway Station.While going from Mumbai to Poona, on the Central Railway, you will the board “Bhivpuri Road” on a small station just before Karat.Get down on this station and look at the East side, you will notice a small dome of a temple surrounded by fields. This is the dome of the Sainath temple at Bhivpuri Road. The way to this temple passes through fields and you can reach the Mandir within about five to seven minutes.(Bhivpuri .)..

This is the first ever Shirdi Saibaba Temple built in the year 1916 at Bhivpuri by Sri.Keshav Ramachandra Pradhan when Baba was still in his physical Body. Hence, this is a must see pilgrimage centre for all the Saibaba Devotees. The history of this temple is very interesting and the devotees of Shri Sai Baba will be happy to know how Shri Sai Baba converts people and creates devotion in their minds.

Sri.Keshav Ramachandra Pradhan hailed from this village. He owned a house and farmland in this village. He also worked as a Bill Collector in a private finance company to earn his livelihood. His home was next to his farm in an isolated area. The place was very peaceful and had a beautiful flower garden and also surrounded by luscious trees. Next to his house there is a Saibaba Temple which was built later. There is a Tulasi Brindavan, a well and aged trees in the vicinity. In the Flower Garden, there was an old Banyan Tree, a Peepul Tree, two Neem Trees and an Audumbara Tree.Before Pradhan met Baba, he had a great deal of disrespect and contempt for saints.

Once his friend was going to Shirdi along with his family. He repeatedly requested Pradhan to accompany them but Pradhan declined. Finally Pradhan agreed to accompany his friend on the condition that he would not bow before Baba and would not drink Baba’s “Pada Teertha” as the very thought repulsed him. They reached Shirdi and went to Dwarakamai to have darshan of Baba. Dwarakamai was fully crowded and hence Pradhan sat in a corner far from the Sanctum Sanctorum. Gradually the crowd became less and the Dwarakamai was empty. His friend was in the Sanctum Sanctorum worshipping Baba. Baba told “bring that irresponsible and contemptuous rascal here” pointing towards Pradhan. His friend brought him before Baba who was still shouting. Then Baba advised him about his behaviour and contempt for ascetics and saints. While Baba was advising him Pradhan got a glimpse of Baba’s omnipresence and his knowledge of every passing thought. Pradhan was touched by Baba’s words and his contempt for saints vanished at once. At that very moment he became an ardent devotee of Saibaba.

As the days progressed, the financial position of Pradhan improved by the grace of Baba and he found peace of mind. He started making frequent visits to Shirdi. During every visit, he requested Baba to come to Bhivpuri. On one of his visits, his persistence paid off and Baba said “I will come”. But, Pradhan was extremely stubborn and adamant by nature. He was repeatedly asking Baba during his frequent visits to Shirdi as to when he would come to Bhivpuri. On one of his visits to Shirdi, Baba gave Pradhan a Bas-relief image of himself and said “Hear, take this and keep it in your home. Truly believe that this is me and do not come to Shirdi hereafter”. Pradhan took the image home but he thought that Baba was joking. So, he went to Shirdi again. As soon as he stepped into the Sanctum Sanctorum Baba said. “I am in your home. Do not come to Shirdi again. Go back to Bhivpuri. Erect a temple and install my Bas-relief image in it. Perform all the festivals there. Do not come back again for that is your Shirdi. Now leave at once, and go home”.

Thus on the instructions of Baba, Pradhan stopped going to Shirdi.Pradhan constructed a temple next to his home. Once at midnight he heard the temple doors open. He and his family went to see who it was; everyone was surprised at what they saw. Baba entered the temple and closed the door behind him. Then at 3 a.m. the door opened and Baba left. Pradhan narrated this wonderful event to all his friends and relatives who also came to behold this wonderful event.

Once Pradhan had a terrible crisis in his life, and it seemed to be never ending. He could not find a solution for it. At that juncture Baba gave him Sakshatkar or divine vision and patting his back said “Don’t be afraid, I am here to protect you”. Pradhan considered the place that Baba gave him Sakshatkar very sacred. He did not want any one to walk on it. Hence, to preserve the sanctity of the place, he built a Tulasi Brindavan over it.There is a trust which is taking care of the management of this Temple in Bhivpuri. The trust has recently decided to demolish the old buildings and construct a new temple in this place.

Dev Baba does Parayan of Shri Sai Satcharithra at Bhivpuri:The ties between Baba and Dev Baba were deep and unfathomable. Dev Baba often went to the Bhivpuri Road Temple and did Parayan or continuous reading of the Shri Sai Satcharitra. On one occasion he completed the Parayan at 11 a.m. The villagers knew that it was the last day of the reading so they had gathered at the temple to receive the Prasad. It is a practice that on completion of the “Shri Sai Satcharithra” a grand feast is offered to everyone.It was 12 Noon and the Aarti was performed. The villagers stayed on to attend the Aarti. Although completely immersed in the Aarti Dev Baba felt a very powerful spiritual presence beside him. He opened his eyes and looked around. A tall man was standing next to him. He was dressed like a shepherd, and looked quite different from the rest of the villagers. At that time the “Mantra Pushpaanjali” i.e., offering of flowers to the deity (was completed. Everyone went forward to offer flowers to the Idol. But the shepherd stood right where he was, and quietly let the flowers fall on to his own feet. Dev Baba saw this and realized that Baba had blessed him by appearing for the Aarti on the day that the Parayan was completed. With utter devotion he prostrated before him.

Details about Shri Sainath Mandir (Bhivpuri Road) Trust:The temple has good natural surroundings. There are big trees all around. By night there is perfect peace and silence. However, after the temple was built by about midnight the noise of the opening of the temple door used to be heard and Shri Sai Baba used to be seen going about in the precincts of the temple. Sometimes he used to be seen resting under a tree. At about 3 a.m., in the early morning, the noise of closing of the temple door used to be heard. This was noticed not only by Shri Pradhan and his family members, but even some guests who came to Shri Pradhan, also saw this miracle. The doubts in the mind of Shri Pradhan were completely removed in this incident and he became a confirmed Sai devotee from that time, and cost of thousands of rupees Shri Pradhan built a beautiful Shrine room, a specious hall, a wide verandah and a guest house.Shri Sai Baba went into Maha Samadhi in 1918, but the worship of Saibaba by Shri Pradhan continued with the same devotion.

In 1924, Shri Pradhan’s daughter was married to Shri A.V.Gupte of Dadar, Mumbai. As Shri Gupte was himself a very pious man, he started taking keen interest in all the functions that were held at Bhivpuri and also encouraged many of his friends to come to visit the temple there. This resulted in the increase of the number of visitors coming to Bhivpuri.Shri Gupte visited Shirdi in 1936. He was so much impressed by the grandeur of the Samadhi Mandir there that with folded hands he prayed to Sai Baba that such a grand temple should come up at Bhivpuri very soon. As Shri Sai Baba is famous for granting the sincere prayers of his devotees, the above request of Shri Gupte was immediately granted by Shri Baba and from that time the Bhivpuri temple of Shri Sai Baba became more and more famous.

Shri Pradhan expired in 1939, leaving the responsibility of the temple to his sons and son-in-law. For perpetuating the functions of the temple, an institution under the name “Shri Sadguru Sainath Seva Sanstha” was formed in the same year and seven trustees wee appointed to manage the temple affairs.Due to influx of more and more pilgrims, the old temple was found to be inadequate to accommodate all of them. The work of renovation and extension of the same was started; but though the brick work was completed, the work of construction of the roof was held up due to shortage of funds and material. In order to find a way out, late Shri Narayan Purohit, a Sai devotee started “Parayan” of Sai Satcharitra. After four days Shri Baba appeared in his dream and said, “Where is my Dhuni? If there is no Dhuni, how can this be Shirdi? How will the temple be complete?” As this dream was repeated, Shri Purohit informed Shri Gupte about it and in consultation with the other trustees, it was decided to start a Dhuni at the temple. A place was therefore fixed for construction of the Dhuni and Shri A.R.Walawalkar, the grandson of Shri Dabholkar, the author of Shri Satcharitra lit the fire and the Dhuni for the first time on 7th April 1949 on the auspicious day of Sriramanavami, at about 10 a.m.Shri Kumarsen Samarth, offered to pay all the expenses of the roof and other structures around the Dhuni. Like the Dhuni in the Dwarakamayee at Shirdi, this Dhuni also burns continuously.

Various functions are held at the temple throughout the year and the functions on Ramnavami and the Samadhi day are celebrated with special pomp and show. Late Prof. D.D.Parchure, the former Executive Editor of the magazine, Shri Sai Leela who was a sincere Sai devotee, used to remain present at the time of both these special functions and perform Keertan expounding the life and teachings of Sai Baba.Many great personalities visit the temple and give the financial help. The trustees are grateful to all the visitors for their devotion and financial help. Due to this wonderful story of this temple, it is now a living centre of the spiritual influence of Sai Baba and it is no wonder that persons who visit it once, come to Bhivpuri for the Darshan of Sai Baba with renewed …

(Sai Leela Magazine 1976)…

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