Gadagebaba was a great saint from Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. His family name was Debu. He came from a very poor and downtrodden class. He was born in 1876 and he passed away in 1956.
?Gadage? means an earthen pot. He was so called because an earthen pot and a broom were the significant marks of this great saint. With these he used to travel from place to place, visit Harijan localities, start cleaning the roads of that locality and at night perform the Harikirtan. His style was rustic, poetic, plain and simple. His words emanated from his heart and reached deep down into the hearts of the listeners.
Through his kirtans, Gadagebaba stressed the importance of cleanliness. He laid emphasis on literacy. He loved the depressed and downtrodden and used to say that cleanliness and literacy are the sure ways to reach God. He waged a relentless war against superstitions.
While he was a youth, Debu once saw a poor and illiterate person by name Raghu requesting everybody in the village to read out for him a post-card received from his son at Mumbai.
Nobody obliged Raghu. Finally a well to do person by name Shamrao agreed to read out the post-card provided Raghu chopped all the logs of wood lying in a heap in the courtyard.
Raghu was too eager to know the contents of the post-card sent by his dear son. He was helpless. So he agreed to chop the logs of wood.
The heap was huge and so the job could not be finished till evening.
Poor Raghu was tired. He kept the axe aside and begged Shamrao to read for him the post-card containing a few lines only.
Shamrao refused outright to read out the post-card. Nor did he return the post-card to Raghu.
Young Debu was present at the site. He noticed that poor Raghu was pleading repeatedly for the return of the post-card with tears in his eyes. But Shamrao was unmoved. Shamrao started cursing Raghu in nasty words. So Debu took the axe in his hand and he chopped all the remaining logs for Raghu and then requested Shamrao to read out the post-card.
Shamrao refused to do so. Nor did he return the post-card to Raghu under a plea that the condition to chop the entire heap was not fulfilled by Raghu only as previously agreed for .
So Debu was infuriated. He threw aside the axe and started declaring loudly, ?Here is a cheat harassing Raghu. I will not allow this cruel game to succeed.?
The passers by started thronging. Red with rage Shamrao threw the post-card on Raghu'sface and he shouted, ?Vanish or else I will beat you.?
Raghu lifted the post-card. He thanked Debu for the help rendered by him. He requested Debu to read out the letter for him. Debu said with a sad smile, ?I too am illiterate like you. Our lives are useless like stones?.
Little friends, this great saint even though illiterate and poor himself, awakened the masses to practise cleanliness, be literate and worship the real God who dwells in the hearts of the depressed and downtrodden, for that is the real religion.
As on today so many colleges and institutions have emerged in Maharashtra in the name of this great saint.