Smt.Chandra Bai Borkar was the wife of Sri.Ramachandra Borkar who lived in Vile Parle, Mumbai. She went to Shirdi and met Sai Baba for the first time in the year 1898. Baba used to give her udhi every day with his own hand in small quantities and Chandrabai preserved that carefully as it had great healing power.
She had deep devotion towards Sai Baba and at the same time powerful response to her devotion from Sai Baba. When she went to him in the year 1898, the present masjid had not been built, nor the Wada of Sathe which came after rebuilding of the masjid. Baba was then sitting under the neem tree which is now in Sathe Wada. She saw Baba filling his panathi’s, i.e., lamps with water, instead of oil, after drinking away the little remnant of oil mixed with some water. She also saw his lying on a plank in the Masjid hung up from the ceiling with strings made of slender shreds of cloth. There were lamps on the plank, whereon he lay. No 'bigwigs' were coming then. Whenever she went to Shirdi, she used to stay in the house of some villagers.
Baba's kindness to her was very great. Her husband Mr. Borkar never went and saw Baba; but even to him, Baba showed great kindness. In or about 1909 her husband, who was an engineer, was engaged for the construction or repair of a bridge at Pandharpur. His residence was, therefore, at Pandharpur. When he was there, she had gone to Baba at Shirdi and was serving him. One day Baba told her, 'you had better go to Pandharpur and I will go with you' and added that there was no difficulty for him to travel and that she should start expeditiously. So she started. She did not know what had happened there. When she reached that place, she found that her husband was not there, that he had resigned his work there and gone away to Mumbai. That information she got there for the first time and she was in great straits and sorrow. She had just a few rupees with her and had taken two companions with her. She had just money enough to take them back upto Kurdwadi. They went there. She had got thoroughly moody and was brooding over the situation. Suddenly a Fakir appeared before her, and asked her what she was brooding over. She evaded replying to him. He told her that her husband was at Daund and that she should go at once with her two companions to Daund. But, where was the railway fare to come from, she enquired. Then, he immediately delivered 3 tickets for Daund and went away. She took the tickets and with her companions boarded the train for Daund. Meanwhile, her husband was at Daund drinking tea and sinking into half dozed condition or a reverie. A Fakir appeared before him and said, "How is it you are neglecting my mother? She is coming down by the train in carriage No. such and such" and gave him the number of her carriage.
He was startled and got up saying, 'Who is this that is taking me to task?' and looked up. But the Fakir disappeared. When the train arrived, she stepped down and her husband was there to receive her and take her to his quarters. Her husband told her of the Fakir's appearance before him and wanted to see a photo of Sai Baba whom she was worshipping. She showed him the photo and he recognized therein the Fakir who came to him.
Chandrabai's husband Ramachandra was a railway employee. In the year 1912, he was serving at Pandharpur railway station. In that year Ashadhi Adik Maas came and Baba advised Chandrabai, "You do Kokila Vrat, Lord Shiva will be pleased with you and He will take care of your family's welfare".
Ramachandra Borkar (Picture Courtesy:Shri.Nagaraj Anvekar, Bangalore)
Adhering to Baba's words, Chandrabai chose a pure and clean place near the River Godavari in Kopergaon village. One fine day, when Chandrabai was doing Pradikshana
in the Shiva temple after finishing Arti, a young Fakir came and stood before her. He said thus, "Maai Mala Guda Chi Poli Ani Lasan Chi Chatani Dyaa meaning O mother please
give me jaggery chapati with garlic paste (garlic pounded with spices, salt )".
Chandrabai said, " We observe vrat of Chaturmaas - four months from July to October and so we do not consume onion and garlic during these four months. Moreover, I don’t have any house of mine here. I am staying here to observe Kokila Vrat". The Fakir said with a smile on His face and without any sign of disappointment, "Dennar Pan Chaangla Naahi Denaar Pan Changlaa meaning Welfare be to the one who gives and also to the one who does not give".
After the Fakir left, when Chandrabai recalled that incident she felt that the Fakir had the same glow on his face which she saw on Baba's face in Shirdi.She thought, "To conclude my Kokila Vrat I cannot go to Shirdi and offer anything to Baba, but when He came to me, I sent him empty handed!!! Who is more unfortunate than me? God came to my place and I sent him without giving Him anything". She became very restless at night and said to herself, "The night is not passing away quickly". She mentally started praying to Baba, "O my loving Sai Nath! Please pass away this black long night quickly, so that I can come to Shirdi to have your Darshan".
Somehow the night passed and she woke up early, quickly finished off her morning chores, prepared jaggery chapati and garlic paste for Baba and set off for Shirdi.
On reaching Shirdi, she saw that Baba was returning from Lendi Baag. She immediately fell at Baba's feet. She was very content with Baba's Darshan and her love flowed in the form of tears. After the noon arti was performed by Bapusaheb Jog in the Dwarkamai,Baba sent all devotees to their lodgings and homes and Chandrabai then offered jaggery chapati and garlic paste made out of love to Baba.
Baba said, "When I came to you to get my desired thing, you did not give me, now why have you come to me with these things?" Chandrabai said, "Ignorant being as I am, I could not recognize you but now I have come to you with your desired food".
Baba said to others, "She is my sister in my last seven births. Wherever I go she finds me and comes to me" and turned to Chandrabai and said, "Go, your Vrat will be fruitful". In this way Baba blessed Chandrabai.
Chandrabai realised that Lord Shiva had taken form of Sai Baba for completing Kokila Vrat and thus her joy knew no bounds. She concluded Kokila Vrat and returned to Pandharpur quite contended and happy.
On a Guru Poornima day, before Upasani Maharaj, who is Chandrabhai’s Gurubandhu, left Shirdi for Kharagpur. Sai Baba asked her to take Pooja Dravya and Naivedya and worship Maharaj. She went and worshipped him, telling him that it was Baba's order and Maharaj did not prevent her from doing that worship. But, after that day, she never again worshipped Maharaj. Chandrabai’s attitude towards him is what she should have towards a Gurubandhu. She did not hate him as so many Shirdi people did. Sai Baba has often said that we should not harbour feelings of hatred against any, nor entertain feelings of envy, rivalry or opposition or a combative disposition towards others and that if others hated us, we should simply take to Namajapa and avoid them. But, her attitude towards Upasani Maharaj has been misunderstood by him and others. Two years later, she went to Sakori to help in establishing a proper arrangement about recent changes in the Panchakanya establishment of his. But, apprehending her attitude to be hostile, he never gave her the chance of a free private talk with him and she returned.
Sai Baba's kindness towards Chandrabai was manifested even in 1918 before his expiry and even afterwards.
Some three months before Dasara of 1918, he was thoughtful of her welfare after he should leave the body. He told her, “Bai, (that is how he addressed her) you need not hereafter trouble to come and see me here. I am with you wherever you are”. So kind he was and his words are ever true. She went away then. Just at the Dasara following, when she was at Panchgani, she got Mr.H.S.Dixit's message that Baba was often thinking of her and that Baba was not likely to survive even for a short time. She went to Shirdi in time to see him pass away. Her strong devotion towards Baba prompted her to go to Shirdi and she had the good fortune to be with Shri Baba during His last moments. It was Smt. Chandrabai, who placed the Tulsi leaf in Shri Baba's mouth at the time of his Maha-Samadhi. She also gave him some water at the last moments and Bayaji did the same. Baba leaned back on Bayaji and took samadhi.
After this, she visited Shirdi once in 1919, and once in 1933. But Baba, as he promised, has ever been with her and helped her wherever she remained. She had composed some verses and communicated them and her experience to the Sai Leela Magazine.
In 1921, her husband fell down from a carriage and his leg broke. She took him up and applied Udhi and paste of Biba nut Jongla (ata?) and thaqdipala. In three months' time he got alright.
In 1921, she also got a child. That was also Baba's grace. In 1918, when she was aged 48 and had not conceived at all, she naturally yearned to have a child, though lay-people and doctors alike would declare conception thereafter out of the question.
Three years thereafter, her menses stopped and after some months Dr. Purandhare diagnosed her condition as one of internal tumor and proposed to remove it by operation. She protested and said that she would bide her ten months' time and then decide. He opined that in her fifty-first year, after long continued absence of conception, there was no chance of her having any child. But Sai's grace made the impossible possible and a son was born to her on Dhana Trayodashi day (i.e.) 3 years and 2 days after Baba attained Maha Samadhi And for that delivery, which took place at Chembur, she had neither doctor, nor nurse, nor any medicine. She attended to her regular duties during the day preceding delivery and at night had an easy and safe delivery. All that time and for 9 months previous, she had numerous complications. Her legs etc. were swollen. She had carried on a fast for months taking hardly any food, but more often water and Udi. Shri Tatyaba, who was a favourite devotee of Shri Sai Baba, was considered as a brother by Smt. Chandrabai. Due to the blessings of Sri Sai Baba, Shri Tatyaba had a son and it was a strange coincidence that Smt.Chandrabai also had a son in the same year, at the age of fifty years.
Baba's grace was shown again at the time of her husband's demise. Two months before that event, Baba was preparing her mind to face that calamity. He appeared in a dream and told her, “Have no fears. I will take away Sri Ram”. (her husband's name was Ramachandra). She told, “Baba, take me away first”. Then Baba replied that there was much work for her to do and that she should nerve herself to survive her husband and do the duty allotted to her. She communicated this dream to her husband. He made light of it, saying it was only a dream. That was about two months before the close of Chaturmasya. Sometime later, he developed serious kidney trouble and hiccough supervened. The end was perceptibly drawing near. Then he told her that he felt his end was near but that he wished earnestly that he should die after Chaturmasya was over. But at or immediately after he was saying this, symptoms of the close of life were being manifested. His limbs got rigid and he passed into unconsciousness. She prayed to Baba to spare him at least for the remaining days of the Chaturmasya. The next day, he regained consciousness and limbs lost their rigidity. Her husband was more cheerful. Then the 7 days or so of Chaturmasya lapsed, Kartik Poornima (1934) came and also pratipada. That day at midnight, he took tea and then told Chandrabai to go on with arati (of Baba) and to utter Vishnu Sahasranama loudly. She did as directed by him. This was going on till morning when the doctor came. They were talking hopefully. But she knew that he would pass away by noon or in the afternoon. She gave him Ganges water to drink. He drank and a little later he was chanting “Sri Ram, Sri Ram”. A chokra came and called him “Baba”. He got up saying, “Oh” and as he said “Sri Ram, Sri Ram”, he passed away. She was by his side praying to Baba and Sri Krishna that he may be taken to the divine feet. He thus passed away with full smaran of God and Baba. She saw the grace of Baba in securing for him such a good end.
After he passed away, she had to look after her son and the building she was living and etc. Some relations were giving her endless trouble and threatened suit etc. So, she had to get Rs. 14,000 to pay it to them to secure her house, etc. from further troubles. Then some evil-minded persons thrust into this house lime fruit charmed, i.e., filled with black magic, so as to do harm to them and to prevent anyone becoming out tenant in this house. Sai Baba appeared to her in a dream and told her of this. She then sent some one to go to Goa to her family deity Devi and there they secured her intervention to break the black magic and spell of her enemies.
Because of her long association with Shri Sai Baba, Smt. Chandrabai intended to commemorate the memory of Shri Sai Baba in Vile Parle; but somehow the plan for the same could not materialize till 1958. On the Ramanavami day in that year, the statue of Shri Sai Baba was installed by the holy hands of Pandit Padmanabhshastri Palaye in the compound of the bunglow of Smt. Chandrabai. Only on the previous night Smt Chandrabai and her daughter-in-law, Mrs Mangalabai had a dream about the installation of Shri Sai Baba's statue. This incident brought over a complete change in the life and thoughts of Mrs. Mangalabai. She turned overnight from Prarthanasamagist to a staunch devotee of Shri Sai Baba. Smt. Chandrabai appeared to have fulfilled her last wish of installing the statue and closed her chapter of life only about eight months thereafter in the month of November 1958.
One Pujari is appointed to worship and perform the Aarti in the temple. The festivals, that are being celebrated at Shirdi from time to time, are all being celebrated in this mandir all the year round. Smt. Banutai Dukhande, a friend of Smt. Chandrabai, used to perform keertans at this temple for many years. Like Dasganu, this activity also helped a lot in spreading devotion to Shri Sai Baba in the masses.
The Daughter-in-law of Mrs.Mangala Bai Borker, Mrs.Ujjwala Borker is now taking care of this house temple. Sai devotees staying in the suburbs should take advantage of this Sai Mandir, which is so near to them.
The Location details of Late Smt.Chandrabai Borker's house mandir is mentioned below for the benefit of Sai Devotees:
(Source: Devotees Experiences of Sai Baba by Poojya Sri.B.V.Narasimha Swamiji and http://www.shirdisaibabastories.org/2008/04/holy-gujarati-book-sai-sarovar.html)