Being a Sadguru, Baba assigns various tasks to his devotees, so that they could earn his blessings – guru krupa. He got the temple constructed through Booty. He decided that Hemad Pant should write His stories. Baba asked Shyama to go on a pilgrimage. He made Das Ganu sing devotional songs - kirtans. Kirtans are stage shows in which the artiste tells glorifying stories of great mythological heroes, partly in prose and partly in poetry with the help of music. He will have a ‘chiplis’ in his hands. Whenever and wherever Dasganu Maharaj performed, the audiences were spell bound. He had that rare quality of holding the attention of the audiences with his story telling art.
Baba was not so widely known in the earlier days. He was known only in Poona and Ahmednagar Districts. It was mostly because of Nanasaheb Chandorkar and Dasganu Maharaj that Baba came to be known in the Konkan (Bombay) area. Dasganu Maharaj performed kirtans singing the glories of Baba. He used to perform at various places and at all those places, he sang about Baba. Kirtans attract many people. During those days, it was one of the very few sources of entertainment mixed with education. The story was always from mythology, glorifying God. Some came for the music; some came for the erudition with which the kirtankar spoke and many came just to spend time. Very few came for getting benefited from the moral of the kirtans. Dasganu was one of the best kirtankars of that time and attracted huge crowds wherever he performed. And the topic was invariably about Baba. The effect of listening to Dasganu was electrifying. He had a fine metallic voice and could hold an audience of over 2,000 people spellbound in rapt attention. As he never asked for any money, his kirtans were very popular. In all his kirtans, he would place Baba's picture next to him and even though his katha was about Tukaram or Namdev or Jnanadev, he would always refer to Sai Baba as the living Satpurusha, as the present Great Saint. Dasganu would emphasise that it would be a great blessing for people to have darshan of Sai, as the very darshan would purify and benefit the visitor. As soon as his kirtans ended, people started in numbers to go to Shirdi and see Baba. These numbers included high officials of good and great position, as also the poor. Thus he was the means of sending some tens of thousands of people to Baba. He was justly styled Hari Bhakta Parayana Kirtankar.
Das Ganu Maharaja's regular kirtans throughout Maharashtra have raised him in the estimation of all whether they are devoted to Sai Baba or not. His eminence may be seen from the fact that he was the President of the All India Sai Devotees' Conference held at Coimbatore in 1948. Das Ganu Maharaj passed away at the ripe old age of 95 years on 23 October 1962. Sai devotees had to wait for nearly 30 long years to see and hear Das Ganu again, as Abhinava Dasganu continued the good work of spreading SaiTatva electrifying the audiences with his masterly narration of Sri Sai Satcharitra.
Abhinava Dasganu, or Sri Krishnavajjula Rajendra Prasad as he is known, was born in the erstwhile city of Madras (presently Chennai) on 28 June 1954. Brought up in an atmosphere of spirituality and devotion, Prasad was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva during his childhood. He also had the great fortune of spending three months with the Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. This experience gave him the adequate grounding in Vedas and other scriptures. Inspired by Swamy Chinmayananda, young Prasad left everything and stayed with the Swamy for some time. Swamy Chinmayananda’s Geeta Gyana Yagnas left a lasting impression on his young mind.
His father, Sri KV Narasimham, was a noted writer. He was writing under the pen name of ‘Vihari’ and his articles appeared in eminent journals like ‘Bharati’ and ‘Krishna Patrika’, ‘Chitragupta’ and many others. Sri Prasad’s mother, Smt Lalita Devi, was a very enlightened person and worked as a school teacher. She was a Hindi Pandit and was a great devotee of Goddess Sri Lalita. In addition, she was also a devotee of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba. In spite of his best efforts, Prasad could not get any employment till his twenty-fifth year, which was the prescribed age limit for employment in those days. When he was pondering over his future, his elder brother, Sri KR Sharma gave him Sri Sai Satcharita written in Telugu by Sri Patti Narayana Rao. That was the beginning of Prasad’s association with Sri Shirdi Sai Baba. Baba immediately took him under his fold and the first grace that Prasad experienced was getting an employment in the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) in Hyderabad, days before completing his twenty-fifth year. Prasad still works for NGRI.
Sri Rajendra Prasad married Smt Hymavathy in the year 1976 and the couple are blessed with a daughter, Jayanti and a son, Sai. Still unemployed when married, Prasad’s mind was constantly thinking of doing something. It was then that his mother, Smt Lalita Devi suggested that he should take up Sri Sai Satcharitra and devote himself to it. With a background of Swamy Chinmayananda’s Geeta Gyana Yagna and also inspired by Sri MS Rama Rao’s “Sundara Kanda” discourses in Telugu, Prasad thought of bringing Sri Sai Satcharitra on to a similar platform. Thus was born the concept of Satcharitra Gyana Yagna. Though he was working in NGRI, his mind, however, was working on the above concept. He then founded The Gyana Yagna Samiti, which is a registered body and became its first Chair-Person.
The first Gyana Yagna was performed on the Shivaratri day, 02 March of 1992. The place was his own house at Uppal, opposite Uppal Bus Stand, built in 1990. A total of 30 persons, including friends and relatives attended it. The Gyana Yagna lasted for 40 days, culminating on Sri Rama Navami day of the same year. Prasad had realised the goal of his life. And then began a relentless pursuit of excellence in his chosen subject. For the first 30 or 40 Yagnas, he had written notes to support him. The audience, having been mesmerised by his eloquence, felt that the notes were a hindrance and insisted on him to go extempore. In one of these Gyan Yagnas, Sri Rajendra Prasad was honoured with the title of “Abhinava Dasganu” and “Sai Tatva Kathamruta Manasa Hamsa”. The title was only a logical and appropriate step as Prasad had inherited all the qualities of his predecessor, the late Dasganu Maharaj. His discourses were equally electrifying, and induced the same devotion in devotees for Baba. Baba had really blessed him. With a voice reminiscent of Sri MS Rama Rao, and the ambrosia of Baba’s tales, it was no wonder that the Satcharitra Gyana Yagnas became highly popular and went on scaling new peaks – first the 100th one. Then the 200th one was held, once again, in his own house, this time in the first floor, where a hall dedicated to the Gyana Yagna was already built. The 300thGyana Yagna was held in Ashoknagar, Hyderabad. The 400th one was held in Vijayawada, during the Krishna Pushkaras with the blessings of Pujya Guruji Sri CB Satpathy. The 500thGyana Yagna was held in Swamy Vivekananda Centenary Hall of Mehboob College, Secunderabad. Till date, Abhinava Dasganu has completed 528Gyana Yagnas. It may be mentioned here that so far, no one has attempted so many Gyana Yagnas on a single book anywhere in the world. Sri Prasad’s name is well worth being entered in the Guiness Book.
Baba had entered Prasad’s life when Prasad’s brother gave him a copy of Telugu Sri Sai Satcharitra, but the full impact of realisation came only when his daughter, Jayanti, fell ill. She was around 7 or 8 years. The girl used to lose consciousness occasionally, and on that occasion, the intensity was slightly more and caused concern. Prasad and his wife took the girl to the local doctor in Habsiguda, Hyderabad and the doctor advised them to take the girl immediately to Nilofer Children’s hospital. On the way, near the Andhra Mahila Sabha, the condition of the girl became more serious. Worried parents cut short the distance and got the girl admitted in Andhra Mahila Sabha itself. The doctors there did not give them any hope. She was kept under observation.Sometime in the night, the doctors gave up all hopes. Prasad’s wife asked him what to do. With immense faith in Baba, he asked her to give Baba’s udi to the girl. She made a mixture of udi and water and made the girl drink it. True to his faith, in the next five minutes, the girl regained consciousness and opened her eyes. This incident cemented the faith of Prasad and his wife in Baba.
With more than two decades of living with Baba and over 520 Satcharitra Gyana Yagnas, Abhinava Dasganu summarises Sri Sai Tatva in three words – Unostentatiousness, Selflessness and a Sathvik way of life.
In addition to the Gyana Yagnas, Sri Prasad has also penned around 14 poems on Baba and sung it also. His Sri Sai Chalisa, sung by most of the Sai devotees while worshipping Baba, is Sri Sai Satcharitra condensed in 40 simple verses. He has also published an audio DVD of Sri Sai Satcharitra in Telugu as well as a video DVD of the 53 episodes of Sri Sai Satcharitra narrated in a very simple language understandable by anyone. The video has been telecast repeatedly over the years on Local TV Channels, every morning at 06.30am. His life, so far, is an ample proof, if at all proof is required, of the immense care Baba takes of his devotees. With Baba’s blessings, all Sai devotees fervently hope and expect to see Sri Krishnavajjula Rajendra Prasad sing the glory of Baba to those who are residing in lands beyond the frontiers of our country.
Sri Satchidananda Sadguru Sainath Maharaj Ki Jai!!