Although there are no specific references in the Sai Satcharitra regarding Sai Baba posing for paintings or photographs, it is indeed intriguing to observe the abundance of Sai Baba images. The absence of explicit documentation raises the question of how these visual representations of Sai Baba came to exist.
We owe a profound gratitude to the legendary artists who skillfully created oil paintings of Sai Baba, as well as the sculptor who crafted the lifelike idol of Sai Baba that we reverently adorn each day in the Samadhi Mandir.
These gifted individuals, inspired by their deep devotion and spiritual connection to Baba, have bestowed upon us tangible representations of His divine presence. Through their artistic talents, they have captured the essence of Baba, allowing us to visually experience His radiance and grace.
The oil paintings of Sai Baba by Shyamrao Jaykar serve as windows to His world, transporting us into His presence and enabling us to connect with His teachings and blessings. These masterpieces, created with meticulous attention to detail, bring Baba’s form to life, evoking a sense of awe and reverence in our hearts.
Similarly, the sculptor Balaji Vasant Talim’s craftsmanship in creating a lifelike idol of Sai Baba has provided us with a physical embodiment of His divine energy. This idol, placed in the sacred Samadhi Mandir, becomes a focal point of devotion and a symbol of our unwavering faith in Baba’s presence and guidance.
Through these artistic expressions, the artists have enriched our spiritual journey and deepened our connection with Sai Baba. Their creations inspire contemplation, devotion, and a sense of awe, reminding us of Baba’s eternal presence and His boundless love for all.
As we admire and cherish these paintings and the idol, let us express our heartfelt gratitude to the talented legends behind them in today’s post, recognizing their invaluable contributions in keeping the spirit of Sai Baba alive for generations to come.
The Enigmatic Portraits by Shyamrao Jayker at Dwarkamai
Shyram Rao Jayker
The painting we encounter at Dwarkamai is not the original portrait of Sai Baba. Rather, there are three distinct versions of the painting, each with its own unique origin and significance. It is worthwhile to explore the captivating account surrounding the creation of these portraits and their whereabouts.
According to the available information, it is believed that the painting present in Dwarakamai, Shirdi, is not the original artwork but a replica. The original painting, for which Sai Baba posed, is said to be kept in Dixit Wada, located in the present-day museum in Shirdi. However, it’s important to note that even the painting in the museum may not be the actual original.
The original painting, which Sai Baba posed for, was initially in the possession of Shri Moreshwar Pradhan’s family. Later, by Sai Baba’s instructions in the 1970s, it was transferred to Dixit, the grandson of Kakasaheb Dixit. Currently, this original painting is believed to be kept in Dixit’s house.
It is worth mentioning that the painting in Dixit’s residence portrays Shri Sai with a faint smile on His face, exuding a sense of happiness. In contrast, the painting in Shirdi, created by Jaikar in his studio, seems to depict Sai Baba in a slightly pensive mood.
One noticeable difference between the original and the painting in Shirdi is the presence of additional elements. In the original painting, there are representations of panch aarti (five lamps), five fruits, and baskets placed beside Baba. On the other hand, the painting in Shirdi features only one aarti and a coconut.
Shyam Rao Jayker’s Spiritual Journey in Shirdi
In the bustling town of Ville Parle, Mumbai, resided a talented painter named Shyam Rao Jayker. His artistic journey would eventually lead him to the sacred land of Shirdi, where he embarked on a transformative spiritual quest. It was around the years 1916-1917 when Jayker made his inaugural visit to this divine abode, finding solace and companionship among fellow devotees.
Even as others came and went, Jayker remained steadfast in his devotion, choosing to extend his stay in Shirdi. It was during this time that he experienced the benevolent hand of Sai Baba in his life. Sai Baba would provide Jayker with the financial support he needed during his time in Shirdi, and in return, Baba would humbly request Dakshina (donations) from him. Without hesitation, Jayker willingly offered whatever amount Baba asked, understanding the significance of this exchange.
However, circumstances changed when the other devotees departed from Shirdi, leaving Jayker without financial means. Sensing his predicament, Baba, the omniscient master, recognized Jayker’s dire situation without the need for words. Consequently, Baba refrained from seeking Dakshina from him, demonstrating his profound understanding and compassion for Jayker’s plight.
Jayker’s spiritual journey had its roots in his youth when, at the tender age of 16, he received the gift of a Siva Mantra from a wise Brahmachari, initiating him into its practice. Later, a revered sanyasi bestowed upon him a Shakti Mantra, complementing and enhancing the spiritual path he had embarked upon. Armed with these sacred mantras and his guru’s guidance, Jayker carried his faith and devotion wherever he went. His words of wisdom to fellow seekers were simple yet profound: “Je Karith Ale Thech Kara” meaning to stay dedicated to what one already possesses—their guru, their mantra, and their chosen path.
While Jayker held steadfast to his personal practices, Baba, the divine guide, imparted invaluable ethical teachings to all who sought his wisdom. One of these timeless teachings emphasized the importance of purity and truthfulness in one’s conduct, urging devotees to treat all people with respect and kindness.
In the realm of Shirdi, Shyam Rao Jayker’s artistic talents merged with his spiritual journey, weaving a tapestry of devotion, selflessness, and profound teachings. His encounters with Sai Baba served as a catalyst for his growth and provided him with invaluable insights into the true essence of life. As Jayker continued his sojourn in the realm of devotion and art, the teachings of Sai Baba echoed in his heart, guiding him towards purity, truth, and the proper treatment of all beings.
Jayker’s Journey to Capture Sai Baba’s Presence as Oil Paintings
Jayker embarked on a momentous journey to meet Sai Baba for the very first time. He was commissioned by Rao Bahadur M.V. Pradhan to create a lifelike oil painting of Sai Baba, and thus it was crucial for Jayker to lay eyes upon the revered saint himself. With anticipation coursing through his veins, Jayker made his way to Baba’s presence.
As Jayker stood before Baba, he took in every detail of the holy figure before him. Simultaneously, Baba’s piercing gaze seemed to penetrate Jayker’s very soul, creating an unspoken connection between the two. In that profound moment, their eyes met, and the exchange held a depth of understanding beyond words.
Before an oil painting of Baba could be crafted, Baba’s permission needed to be sought. It was Madhav Rao Deshpande, affectionately known as Shama, who bravely approached Baba to request his consent. With sincere humility, Baba questioned the necessity of having an oil painting of himself, remarking, “Why should I, a poor fakir, have an oil painting of me? You, Shama, you may get a portrait of yourself.” Baba’s humble nature shone through His reluctance, yet after due consideration, permission was granted for the painting to proceed.
Driven by his passion and devotion, Jayker’s artistic prowess exceeded expectations. Rather than creating just one portrait as initially instructed, Jayker was inspired to paint three distinct renditions of Baba. Two of these remarkable works were gratefully received by Rao Bahadur M.V. Pradhan, while the third held a special destiny ordained by Baba himself.
With great reverence, one painting was touched by Baba’s divine hands and entrusted to H.S. Dixit. This precious artwork found its sacred abode in Dixit’s bungalow, where it continues to be revered and worshipped to this day. The profound presence of Baba emanates from every brushstroke, captivating the hearts and souls of those who gaze upon it.
Jayker’s artistic journey did not end there. Fueled by his unwavering devotion, he created yet another magnificent painting, this time a grand and imposing depiction of Baba. Although initially left unused, this significant artwork found its rightful place in Dwarkamai, the mosque where Sai Baba lived in Shirdi. Standing as a symbol of devotion, it serves to enrich the spiritual experiences of countless pilgrims who come to witness its majesty and find solace in Baba’s benevolent presence.
Through Jayker’s dedicated craftsmanship, the spirit of Sai Baba comes alive on the canvases he meticulously painted. Each stroke and color imbued with love and reverence, these portraits serve as gateways to connect with the divine. They stand as tangible expressions of devotion, inviting devotees to partake in the mystical realm that Sai Baba so graciously shared during his time on Earth.
The Divine Sculptor: Balaji Vasant Talim
The Artistic Journey
Balaji Vasant Talim, the renowned sculptor behind the iconic statue of Sai Baba in Shirdi, holds a special place in the hearts of millions who seek darshan (divine sight) of Sai Baba.
Born in Hyderabad in 1888, Balaji hailed from a family associated with the construction projects of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Tragedy struck at an early age when his father, Vasanth Rao, passed away, leaving behind his wife Saraswathi and their three young children. In search of a better life, they eventually migrated to the bustling city of Mumbai.
Balaji’s passion for art blossomed, leading him to enroll in the prestigious J.J. School of Art to pursue his studies in sculpture. His exceptional talent and dedication were recognized when he was awarded the prestigious “Dolly Khurshatjee” scholarship, which provided him with the means to complete his education. Balaji’s artistic prowess was particularly remarkable in the field of portraiture.
In 1918, Balaji established the revered ‘Talim’s Art Studio,’ which became a haven for his creative expressions. His masterful craftsmanship and artistic brilliance earned him numerous accolades, including prestigious awards and coveted gold medals. His talents were highly sought after, and the esteemed committee for the ‘Beautification of Mumbai’ handpicked him for sculpting various statues that grace the cityscape. From the magnificent Flora Fountain to the dignified precincts of the High Court, Balaji’s sculptures became an integral part of Mumbai’s cultural landscape. His exceptional work was also acknowledged by the British, who entrusted him with significant assignments.
Sculpting Sai Baba’s Iconic Statue in Shirdi
The Shirdi Sai Baba Sansthan entrusted the monumental task of sculpting Sai Baba’s idol to Balaji Vasant Talim. With meticulous dedication, he arranged for custom-made tools from skilled iron-smiths and carpenters. However, he faced a challenge in capturing the precise physical features of Sai Baba due to variations in different photographs he studied. The images depicted different characteristics, leaving him confused about the idol’s appearance.
Seeking guidance, Balaji fervently prayed to Sai Baba for help in determining the idol’s face. In His characteristic way of guiding His devotees, Sai Baba answered his plea through a dream. In the dream, Sai Baba instructed Balaji to examine His face and physical attributes from all angles. This vivid impression remained etched in Balaji’s mind, enabling him to skillfully carve Sai Baba’s form with divine grace.
The remarkable details of Sai Baba’s physical characteristics were conveyed to the artist through this significant dream. The devotees who ardently loved Sai Baba and desired to know his physical appearance were bestowed with this precious gift. Various accounts mention that Sai Baba appeared in B. V. Talim’s dream, while his grandson recalls Sai Baba manifesting as divine light one morning, revealing His divine face. With the blessings and assistance of Sai Baba, the face of the idol was sculpted with utmost zeal and religious fervor.
The idol of Sai Baba, standing at a height of 5.5 feet, was commissioned in 1952, and the Prathista (installation) ceremony took place in 1954. The accompanying photograph showcases the original image of Sai Baba, which served as the reference for Late Shri. B. V. Talim during the sculpting process. (Source: “Baba’s Rinanubandh” by Vinny Chitluri)
In a dream, the revered Sai Baba imparted a profound message: “Finish the work, and you will not create any other idol in the future.” This enigmatic proclamation held a deep significance, and as time unfolded, its truth became evident.
Below, you will find an interview with Sri Rajiv Talim, the grandson of the late Shri B.V. Talim. In this interview, he shares insights into the process of creating the Sai Baba idol in Shirdi. This interview aims to provide valuable information to Sai devotees.
D D Neroy: A Journey of Art and Entrepreneurship
Shri. Dattaram Dwarkanath Neroy, fondly known as D D Neroy, entered this world on the remarkable date of 29th February 1896, bringing with him a vibrant spirit and a passion for artistic pursuits.
Born into a large and loving family, D D Neroy grew up amidst the presence of his five sisters and one brother. He held the position of the third sibling, nestled between two elder sisters and followed by three younger sisters and a youngest brother. His father, Shri. Dwarkanath Bhau Neroy, laid the foundation of D B Neroy & Co in 1898, leaving a significant mark in their family’s history.
Education beckoned D D Neroy to the prestigious Sir J J School of Art in Mumbai, where he honed his artistic skills and unleashed his creative potential. It was here that he embarked on a journey to master the art of hand engraving on boxwood, a craft that would soon earn him recognition as a pioneer in the field. With each meticulous stroke, he transformed plain surfaces into intricate works of art, establishing a name for himself and the Neroy family business.
The humble beginnings of the firm flourished under the guidance and foresight of D D Neroy’s father, Dwarkanath Bhau Neroy. His vision, combined with unwavering determination, propelled the company towards remarkable growth and success. However, tragedy struck in December 1922 when Dwarkanath Bhau Neroy, at the young age of 47, succumbed to pneumonia, leaving a void that needed to be filled.
Stepping into his father’s shoes, D D Neroy assumed the mantle of leadership at a tender age. Recognizing the need to equip himself with comprehensive knowledge and expertise, he embarked on a journey to England and Germany, immersing himself in the rich artistic traditions of these nations. Through his dedication and commitment, he became a gold medallist from Hamburg, emerging as a master of his craft.
The ancestral Neroy house at Khotachi Wadi in Girgaum, Mumbai, stands as a testament to their enduring legacy. It serves as a reminder of the Neroy family’s unwavering spirit and commitment to their artistic heritage. Today, the fourth generation of the Neroy household continues to reside within its walls, honoring the rich traditions and values passed down through the generations.
D D Neroy’s journey exemplifies the fusion of artistry and entrepreneurship, a legacy that continues to inspire and captivate. His relentless pursuit of excellence and his passion for the arts remain an enduring symbol of the Neroy family’s contribution to the world of creativity and craftsmanship.
After the untimely demise of Shri. Dwarkanath Bhau Neroy, Sri Dattaram Dwarkanath Neroy, the eldest son, assumed a great responsibility at the tender age of 22. As the Karta of the family, he took charge of both the household and the family business. His duty extended to caring for his mother, his five sisters, his youngest brother Balasaheb Bhau Neroy, who was merely a two-year-old infant at the time, and his young bride, Anandibai Neroy.
During this challenging period, Dattaram received invaluable support, guidance, and blessings from his mother, Mathurabai Dwarkanath Neroy, a resilient and determined figure who was often referred to as the “Iron Lady” of the Neroy household. With her unwavering strength, Dattaram successfully ensured the marriage of all his sisters.
When their father passed away, Balasaheb Bhau Neroy was a mere two-month-old baby. In addition to being a brother, Dattaram stepped into the role of a father figure for Balasaheb, providing him with love, care, and guidance.
Spiritual Journey with Sai Baba and Kamu Baba
D D Neroy, a devoted follower of Sai Baba, had the privilege of visiting Shirdi numerous times during his youth. In 1918, he experienced a divine encounter with Sai Baba at Shirdi – an enlightening “Sakshatkar.” Sai Baba, D D Neroy’s revered guru, mentor, and guide, blessed him with His grace. As a humble devotee, D D Neroy dutifully followed Sai Baba’s teachings and directions.
Deeply inspired by his spiritual experiences, D D Neroy embarked on a mission to spread Sai Baba’s name far and wide. He accomplished this by distributing mass quantities of Sai Baba’s photograph prints. These prints depicted Baba sitting on a stone and the blessed Ashirwad (blessing) photo prints painted by artist S M Pandit. D D Neroy ensured that such donations of Baba’s prints were presented to the Sai Sansthan in Shirdi on an annual basis.
One particular photograph, featuring Baba sitting on a stone, held a transcendental and mystical significance, known only to Sai Baba and D D Neroy. D D Neroy chose to keep this extraordinary occurrence confidential, respecting Sai Baba’s wishes. He seldom spoke about it or shared it publicly, adhering to the guidance of his beloved master.
In addition to his devotion to Sai Baba, D D Neroy was also deeply committed to Kamu Baba, a revered saint in Girgaum, Mumbai. He commissioned a portrait of Baba sitting on the stone, which was meticulously crafted and adorned with an ornate frame. Accompanied by four men, D D Neroy presented the portrait to his Guru, Kamu Baba. Although appreciative of the gesture and the artwork, Kamu Baba declined to accept it. Instead, he instructed D D Neroy to take the portrait to Shirdi and place it in the Sabhamandap of the Dwarakamai.
Initially disheartened, D D Neroy sat at his Guru’s feet and expressed his disappointment, mentioning the effort and time he had invested in creating the portrait. To this, Kamu Baba calmly explained that it was not a matter of rejection but rather a profound desire for the portrait to be taken to Shirdi, where countless devotees could benefit from praying before it. Following his Guru’s guidance, D D Neroy eventually installed the portrait in the Sabhamandap of the Dwarakamai, where it would serve as an object of devotion for thousands of Sai Baba’s devotees.
Smt. Ghayathri, the granddaughter of Shri. D D Neroy, confirms the authenticity of the photograph featuring Sai Baba, which bears her grandfather’s signature. She raises awareness about the unfortunate occurrence of individuals using advanced technology to remove the signature and deceitfully sell these altered photographs as the originalphotographs of Sai Baba.
D D Neroy, driven by his deep devotion, produced numerous photo prints of Baba accompanied by one of Baba’s eleven sayings printed below them. His mission was to distribute these photographs to temples, homes, and devotees, aiming to bring Baba’s blessings into every household across India and around the world. The intention was never to sell Baba’s photographs but to ensure their wide distribution.
The original photograph of Sai Baba sitting on a stone measures 6′ by 4′ and was initially framed with wood, later replaced by a silver frame. To preserve its integrity, it has recently been encased in a glass-door cupboard-like frame. Prior to Kakad Aarti, the priest adorns it with Ashtagandh (a mixture of sacred substances) and garlands. This photograph, blessed by Baba, has granted divine experiences and healings to numerous devotees.
D D Neroy had signed only one photograph of Baba, which is now placed in the Mangal Karyalay of Shri Sai Baba Sansthan. Another photograph signed by D D Neroy, measuring 3′ by 4′, is displayed at the R DD Neroy Gallery in Mumbai, where Baba’s Aarti is conducted every Thursday.
D D Neroy primarily resided at the gallery premises, making occasional visits to his home in Khotachi wadi, where the entire family lived together. His wife, Anandibai, diligently sent home-cooked food to him twice a day. He was accompanied by his two servants, Gangaram and Vishram, who stayed with him and made sleeping arrangements within his workplace.
D D Neroy’s close association extended to renowned artists in Mumbai, such as Shri S M Pandit, Mulgaonkar, Hebbar, Talim, and others. These talented artists created paintings commissioned by D D Neroy, and he himself meticulously crafted blocks of these paintings.
The gallery continues to showcase the artistic collaborations between D D Neroy and these esteemed artists. Visitors can still appreciate the exquisite painting of Sainath’s ashirwad (blessing) by Shri S M Pandit, bearing the copyright stamp of D D Neroy. This masterpiece stands as a testament to their creative alliance and serves as a visual representation of the profound spiritual connection between D D Neroy and Sai Baba.
Even after Sai Baba’s Maha Samadhi (passing), D D Neroy maintained a profound devotion to him and continued to visit Shirdi regularly. During these visits, he would distribute Sai Baba’s photographs to fellow devotees, ensuring that Baba’s blessings reached far and wide. This tradition has been faithfully carried forward by the Neroy family, preserving the legacy left behind by D D Neroy.
A life-sized photograph of Baba sitting on a stone holds a place of honor on the walls of the Ancestral House in Mumbai, as well as in the family’s homes in Pune. This iconic depiction of Baba serves as a constant reminder of His divine presence and inspires devotion within the family. Additionally, an art gallery in Mumbai proudly showcases this captivating photograph, inviting visitors to connect with Sai Baba’s timeless teachings and grace.
Through their continued dedication to sharing Baba’s presence with others, the Neroy family upholds the spiritual heritage established by D D Neroy. Their commitment to preserving and displaying Baba’s photograph reflects their enduring connection to the beloved saint, allowing devotees to experience his divine energy and receive His blessings.
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