The real name of Radhakrishnamai was Sunderbai Ksheersagar. She came to Shirdi in the year 1907 and completely dedicated herself to Baba’s service. Before her arrival at Shirdi, Balaji Sevalkar used to clean the paths on which Baba walked and also the front space before Dwarakamai and Lendi Bagh. Later, Radhakrishnamai attended to this work. She devoted herself with body, mind and soul in Baba’s service, for nearly 9 years till her death in 1916. She had no other thoughts except serving Baba. After her death, a Muslim devotee, Abdula, attended to the work done by Radhakrishnamai. Tatya Kote Patil also served Baba with love. Tatya’s duties were to changing Baba’s dress, serve Baba with tasty food, arrange soft mattresses one over the other for Baba to sleep. If sometimes Baba did not do as told, Tatya somehow coaxed him and if necessary by undertaking fast, made Baba do as he was told. The mutual love between Baba and Tatya appeared like the uncle-nephew relationship.
Baba slept in Chavadi on alternate days. On such days he and Venkusa talked over several matters. The eastern side of Chavadi was set apart for Venkusa, as per his wish and none were permitted to sleep there. Ladies were not allowed to enter this portion but only the western side portion and after visiting Baba, they had to leave immediately. Thursdays were important to Baba’s devotees. Baba who gave much importance to the Guru tradition told them that Thursday (Guruvar) was very dear to him. Thus, the importance to Thursday started from then onwards. In the beginning Chavadi Utsav was celebrated once in two days. Afterwards, it was celebrated once a week on Thursdays. The Utsav attracted a large number of devotees who participated with joy and danced with full abandon. We shall now go into these details.
Chavadi UtsavOn Utsav night, devotees gathered near the front side of the mosque and sang bhajans (singing of devotional songs accompanied by musical instruments) for sometime. Behind the bhajan party was the chariot, on their right side was the tulsi plant and to their front was Baba. The lighted torches for the procession were got ready. Some said loudly now and then with devotion "Sainath Maharaj Ki Jai". Lights were lit all around the mosque and buntings tied. While these arrangemnents went on, Tatya would come to Baba and ask him to get ready. Baba’s horse Shyam Karna, gaily decorated, would be kept ready for the procession.
Baba, putting on his upper cloth, carrying the sataka under the arm and also the chillum along with tobacco, would get ready to go. Tatya brought a zari shawl and it was put around Baba’s shoulders and lifted him up slowly. After getting up, Baba would go near the Dhuni, push the firewood with the toe of his right foot and with his right hand put out the lamp in the mosque,turning in all directions, appearing to talk to someone by making gestures. Perhaps, he was talking to his mother Dwarakamai! After this he would come down the steps of Dwarakamai and the devotees would cry out "Shri Sainath Maharaj Ki Jai". Some devotees on either side of Baba would wave the chamaras. Lengths of white cloth were spread throughout on the path on which Baba walked. Tatya would hold Baba's left hand, while Mhalsapathi his right hand. Bapu Saheb Jog would hold a zari silk umbrella over Baba's head. Baba's horse Shyam Karna would be in the front of the procession. The bhajan party were behind the horse, with different kinds of musical instruments.
After proceeding for about 10 or 15 feet, Baba’s sight would wander somewhere else. He appeared to be talking to somebody and making gestures. Perhaps, Gurudhan, Dwarakamai and Venkusa were also there in the procession along with Baba! Baba also appeared to be talking and making gestures to Hanuman in the Maruthi Mandir to the left. When the procession reached halfway, the facial expressions of Baba changed. He appeared shining and emitting bright light like the morning sun. Sometimes he used to look with piercing eyes at some of the devotees, and their fears, sufferings and diseases would disappear. The devotees would become joyous and Mhalsapathi would dance as if in a trance. Tatya used to shed tears of joy at this sight. But Baba appeared unmoved by all this and was steady. Dixit used to shower flowers and gulal on Baba.
In this manner, as soon as the procession reached the main entrance to Chavadi, Bapu Saheb Jog washed the feet of Baba in a silver plate, applied sandalpaste and gave arathi with Camphor. Then Baba was slowly taken inside and made to sit on a bed made up with several mattresses. Then Shama prepared chillum and gave it to Tatya. After smoking once, Tatya gave it to Baba. It was then given to Mhalsapathi after Baba smoked. This act showed oneness. In this way the Utsav ended and some devotees put garlands on Baba. Baba had no desire for all these. But he agreed to all these for the satisfaction of the devotees. Finally, Bapu Saheb Jog gave full arathi and the devotees went back to their places. After making all arrangements for Baba, Tatya took leave of Baba, and while permitting him to go Baba asked him to come once during the night and see him. Tatya did as asked. After all the devotees left, Baba used to make a bed with 50 or 60 bed sheets, one over the other and slept. That was Yoga Sleep. But, for Baba it was not real sleep. If Baba slept then the entire world will sleep.
Sai devotees, while going to bed, are advised to recollect the Chavadi Utsav and imagine themselves to be in the procession. Then they will be nearer to Baba and it would be possible to see him in their dreams