By: Dr. S. K. Ravindra
“I am under my devotees’ obligations. I am always beside them (standing close). I am always hungry for love. I am at their beck and call.” – Shri Sai Baba (Chap 11, Ovi 76).
Ganesh Govind Narke or G.G.Narke studied M.A. in 1905 and in 1907-09 he was at Calcutta and was trained in Geological Survey Department as a scholar. In 1909, he was sent as a State Scholar from Govt. of India to Manchester where he stayed for three years till 1912 and secured M.Sc. in Geology and Mining. He came back to India in August 1912. He was the son-in-law of Bapu Saheb Booty, a staunch devotee of Baba. His wife, his mother, and Booty were visiting Shirdi frequently and then Narke went to Shirdi in April 1913 and paid his respects to Baba. When Shama introduced him Baba replied, “You introduce him to me! I have known him for thirty generations”.
Once at Arati time, Narke observed that Baba was angry and fumed and cursed without any apparent reason. So Narke doubted whether Baba was a mad man and a thought developed in his mind. On the same day in the afternoon, when Narke was massaging Baba’s legs, Baba gently stroked Narke’s head and said, “I am not mad.” Narke was surprised at this remark and concluded that Baba knew every thought that was crossing in every mind and he was convinced that Baba was God beyond doubt. Narke realized that nothing could be concealed from Baba and that Baba was God within him.
In the year 1916, plague was rampant at Shirdi. Sai Baba called Narke and gave him some money and asked him to go and bring sweetmeat from Rangarao’s shop for distribution as Prasad. In Shirdi, there were not many sweetmeat shops. Narke knew this and was also aware of Rangarao’s shop as he was living in Shirdi for a considerable length of time. It was evening and when Narke reached the shop he saw that the shutter of the shop was half closed as Rangarao, the vendor of the shop was dead and the dead body was lying on the floor, and Rangrao’s wife Sitabai was crying. Narke observed the situation and was in a fix as to what should be done then. He was in a dilemma that on one hand a dead body was lying in the shop and the death was due to plague and on the other hand Baba had strictly asked him to get the sweets from Rangarao’s shop. Narke took the sweetmeat and kept the money aside and came to the masjid and placed the sweets on the Holy Feet of Baba. Baba then distributed the sweetmeat among the devotees present in the masjid. Then Baba said to Narke, “Do you think that by living in Shirdi you will die and if you leave Shirdi will you be saved? This is your delusion. This masjid will save the one whose death has not come and the one whose death is definite, will die”. Thus, Narke’s was practically destroyed by Baba.
Narke also observed that Bhagoji Shinde, a leper devotee of Baba was changing the bandage on the burnt hand of Baba every morning and was also massaging Baba’s legs daily. On Baba’s instructions, the leper devotee was taking the Udi from the Dhuni and giving it as prasad to the devotees and was also putting Udi into the mouths of sick people. Even though a leper was doing all these things, no harm had happened to any devotee. All these things were known to Narke.
Once Baba told Narke in 1913 that Booty, his father-in-law would construct a Dagdiwada (a stone edifice) in Shirdi and that Narke would be in charge of that building. Booty started constructing the Butiwada in 1915 and it was completed only in 1918. As prophesized by Baba, after 1920, there was a Sansthan with trustees and Narke was one of the Trustees.
Narke was not employed for a considerable length of time and in this background whenever he went to the masjid, Baba used to ask him on several occasions for Dakshina of fifteen rupees which was a considerable amount in those days. Though Booty, his father-in-law was very rich, Narke, did not depend on him. He knew that Baba was omniscient and was fully aware of his unemployment. Even then, Baba was asking for Dakshina frequently. Then he thought that there must be an inner meaning behind Baba asking for Dakshina of fifteen rupees every time and wanted to find out the underlying meaning. Narke asked Baba, “Baba, you know that I am unemployed for a long time and you ask for a dakshina of fifteen rupees from me, I don’t understand the reason behind this”. Baba said, “Oh son, do you think that I need this money made of gold and silver? What will I do with such money? You read Yog Vashishta daily, so inculcate fifteen teachings from the chapter which you are reading right now. Practice those fifteen teachings and they will help you”
Narke was unemployed for 13 long months He got disgusted and thought he ought to become Baba was fully aware that asceticism was not suitable for Narke and that even if he was unhappy at that time Baba knew that his future was going to be bright and he had a different mission to carry out.
Narke continuously tried for jobs but Baba said, “You go to Burma-Poona. You go to Kolkatta- Poona.” Baba used to add the suffix Poona after every city’s name which he recommended. Narke got an interview call from the University of Banaras, but Baba said to him, “There is no need to go to Banaras, you go to Poona.” Narke said, “Baba, there are no colleges and universities of Geology in Poona.” But he did not get any answer from Baba.
Narke in full suit begged for food on behalf of Baba. Later for as long as four months, he went on begging at noon on behalf of Baba in his ordinary dress and he was the only person who went on begging for such a long period. People could not understand why he was chosen for this work. But since he had that desire, Baba knew his thought in his innermost mind and gave him the opportunity of serving Baba in that way. This honor of begging for food on his behalf at noon time was reserved by Baba for a select few.
Finally, in the year 1917, the Department of Geology was started at Poona University. Narke applied for Professor’s position as per Baba’s permission and was selected even though there was tough competition. Then in 1918, he was appointed as a Professor of Geology and Mining on a handsome salary and he lived in Poona comfortably with his wife and children.