Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj
In keeping with the tradition of Swaroop Sampradaya [a sect, wherein the aspirant concentrates on viewing the 'Atman' - the soul]. Shree Sadguru Ramanand Beedkar Maharaj took birth to become the disciple of his disciple of Shree Sadguru Baba Maharaj and in this birth, he came to be known as:
On October 17, 1912, in a small village Pomendi (Budruk), which is in a coastal province of Konkan and 12 Kms. from the city of Ratnagiri of Maharashtra State in Western India, a son was born to a couple Shri.Ganesh Vishnu Joshi & Smt. Janakibai. The child was named Vitthal Ganesh Joshi and later came to be known as Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj alias Shree Sahajanand Saraswati alias Shree Maharaj.
Since his childhood, he was completely detached from the worldly matters. At the tender age of 18 during 1929-30, he left his home in search of a Guru (preceptor). He came to Pune, Maharashtra State, Western India and stayed at the Muth (temple-shrine) established by Shree Sadguru Beedkar Maharaj and started rigorous tapasya [penance]. It was here that he was blessed with the graciousness by Shree Sadguru Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe. Shree Baba Maharaj initiated him into the Swaroop Sampradaya and made him the apostle of the sect.
Later Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj worked for a shortwhile as a medical representative. Soon he left it, went back to Ratnagiri, and started his rigorous tapasya (penance).
On July 24, 1953, when he had gone to offer his obeisances to Shree Baba Maharaj, Shree Baba Maharaj removed from his finger a ring having the pattern of serpent's head and put it round the index finger of the right hand of Shree Maharaj and said "the ring from a preceptor's finger has been put back in the finger of the preceptor only. Vithoba (Shree Maharaj), right from this moment I have taken all the conceit (ego) of yours. Henceforth you will not do anything of yours. Rather, I will perform my role on your behalf." Then Shree Baba Maharaj ordered him to propagate the Swaroop Sampradaya amongst the discerning persons.
About a year later, on August 18, 1954, Shree Baba Maharaj took Mahasamadhi [the last conscious communion with God].
Last rites of Shree Baba Maharaj were performed at Plot No. 937-D, Chatashrungi Road, Shivaji Nagar, Pune, Maharashtra State, Western India - a place which Baba Maharaj had owned. Though his devotees decided to build His Samadhi [temple-shrine], no one was ready to shoulder the responsibility. Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj took upon himself the entire responsibility. At the site of the Samadhi [temple-shrine], a neat temple structure was erected. The atmosphere in the temple shrine was made very lively and full of devotion by various celebrations like the birthday, death anniversary of Baba Maharaj, Shree Datta Jayanti, Shree Swami Samarth Jayanti. etc. He attracted a lot of devotees of Shree Baba Maharaj and for their welfare he worked relentlessly organizing various programmes and functions to spread the holy messages of Hindu religion, morality and devotion.
His personality was extraordinarily pleasing, powerful and imposing. His discipline, his ever alertness, his very keen sense of observation and his meticulous planning etc were of such supreme standard that it would be almost impossible for anyone to emulate him. He was like an ocean of Mercy. The phrase "Harder than a stone yet more tender than a flower" could aptly describe Shree Maharaj's personality.
Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj had the knowledge of all the 64 Kalas (Arts). Some of these Kalas [Arts] are classical music, Astrology, Astronomy, Agriculture, Drama, Painting, Veterinary Science, Architecture etc. He had the command over many languages like Marathi, Gujarthi, Konkani, Kannada, Bengali etc. When he delivered spiritual discourses, the audience listened with rapt attention and would be soaked in devotion.
He always practiced and advocated the preachings of the Sanatan Arya Vedic Dharma (The original form of Hindu religion based purely on the Holiest Hindu scriptures - the four Vedas). These preachings advised simple living and detachment from the material world, sacrifice for the wellbeing of others and experience of God's existence in all the living beings etc.
In the past, Bhagwan Vyasa Maharshi while commenting on YugaDharma [the eternal principle of righteousness or religion that uphold all creation] has clearly stated that the abode of Dharma Mandir [temple of righteousness or religion] is in the heart of human being and the foundation of this mandir is in one's stomach. We have forgotton this important maxim. The real meaning of Karma [actions] or selfless service has been shown to the world by Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj by practising it through the work he undertook atDervan, Pune & Mumbai.
Further Bhagwan Vyasa Maharshi states:
"Ashanam Vasanam Vaasah Yeshaam Chaivaavyavasthitam!
Magdhen Samaa Kashi Gangaapyangaaravaahini!!"
This means that for one, who does not get adequate food, clothing and shelter, for one, sacred places like Kashi (Banaras) and Magadha are alike. Similarly, pure water of river Ganga would be like burning embers to one. In short, one would not be in a position to understand the spiritual teachings, human values etc. unless one's basic needs are satisfied. Providing the necessities of life is a must for spiritual, intellectual or material well being. With this aim Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj established two trusts viz. Shree Seetarambua Walawalkar Charitable Trust at Shree Kshetra Dervan, Taluka - Chiplun, District Ratnagiri, Maharashtra State, Western India and Shree Vitthalrao Joshi Charities Trusts at Pune city, Pune District, Maharashtra State, Western India. Through these trusts, Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj carried out the numerous religious, educational and social activities for the upliftment of the masses.
Shree Swami Shivanand of Hrishikesh, Shree Anandamaye Maa, Shree SaiBaba's disciple Shree Rambaba, Shree Gagangiri Maharaj, Shrimad Jagadguru Shankaracharya Bharateetirth of Shringeri Peeth (sect) and many others had often expressed their respect for Shree Digambardas Maharaj.
In 1982, with the express intention of retaining the rich past and tradition of Vedic [regarding Holiest Hindu scriptures] learning, he set up a school imparting the Vedas in Shree Sadguru Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe temple Shrine in Pune. At present about thirty students are being taught the Vedas [Holiest Hindu scriptures] and sacrificial ceremonies, Shree Vitthalrao Joshi Charities Trust has shouldered the responsibility of providing the trainees with residence, food, clothes and medicines in the temple-shrine itself. The trust also makes provision for the honorarium to the teachers and scholarships to the pupils.
He performed various Yadnyas [religious rites as per the four Vedas] every year to ensure that the respect and gratitude towards the Vedas and Brahmins who protect them, be developed in the common man so that people perform their duties as laid down by the four Vedas.
His devotion to the Maratha King of the 17th Century, Shri Chhatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj was total. No words would be adequately describing his sense of deep reverence and pride for the great king. Those who considered him like a deity would call Shri Chhatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj as Shivprabhu. The thoughts that his country should witness the reincarnation of personalities of the stature of Shri Ramdas Swami and Shri Chhatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj thereby rekindling and restoring the people's pride in Hindu faith, that the Hindu community which was in majority should get well-organized and united; that this community should solve its problem through its own ability and strength had taken deep roots in his mind. It was his earnest desire that again his country should assume the role of world-preceptor. It was this desire that prompted him to get built a fortress-like structure called Shiv Samarth Gad at Dervan.
Signboards with instructions to the effect that while visiting Shree Kshetra Dervan as well as the temple-shrine at Pune, the women devotees must come in six yards or nine yards sarees, have been installed at three places of worship. This in fact is Shree Maharaj's command. Nine yards sarees have remained the traditional dress of women of Maharashtra. Yet, with changing times the six yards became the acceptable alternative. But any change beyond this limit, Shree Maharaj thought would prove detrimental to the Aryan-Vedic religious culture, which had a rich past. A woman should not transgress the limits of behavior and should always dress in a dignified way. Only chastity and fidelity to her husband would be a woman's protectors. If the society is to be protected from the dangers unleashed by loose morals, women should develop in themselves as sense of hatred for seducing dresses. Only through the inculcation of high morals coupled with the efforts in character building; that the next generation can be moulded the right way enabling itself to follow the footprints left by King Shivaji upon the sands of high morals of this nation. It would be this teaching of his that Shree Maharaj would put forth before the society.
During the various ceremonies and celebrations of various religious places run by the trusts, jobs like cutting fruits, Arati (to sing compositions praising the God), preparing Vidas (rolls of leaf of pepper-betel with areca-nut cloves, lime etc. enclosed in it) would be entrusted to those women only, who were ready to do this work wearing nine-yards sarees. He had made it almost obligatory for male volunteers to wear Dhotis (a garment of males worn around the waist passing under and tucked behind).
Shree Maharaj's patriotism would match with the intensity of his unflinching faith in his religion. During 1940-42, Shree Maharaj, besides participating in the freedom struggle had organized people through his wanderings that took him to many villages. Thus, he had contributed appreciably to the freedom movement. He had also some meetings with the great freedom fighter Shri Vinayak Damodar Sawarkar.
Shree Maharaj would shun publicity of every sort. He had tremendous contempt for injustice. He would not compromise with self-honour. His whole self symbolized fearlessness. Whatever work he would undertake, it would be accomplished perfectly. Indeed, he was a genius possessing the ability of discernment and to top it all, he has the rarest and most important quality of being a man of action very much down to earth.
Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj took Mahasamadhi [the last conscious communion with God] on May 21, 1989 in Pune.