Swaroop Sampradaya

 

Akkalkot Niwasi Shree Swami Samarth Maharaj

Sri Swami Samarth Maharaj ordered his youngest and dearest disciple, Shree Ramanand Beedkar Maharaj of Pune, to propagate the Swaroop Sampradaya.

 

Swaroop Sampradaya is a religious sect wherein the aspirant concentrates on viewing the ‘Atman’, the soul. ‘Swaroop’ means knowledge of the ‘Atman’, the soul. A living being is normally entangled in worldly illusion. To liberate a living being from the entanglement of this worldly illusion and lead him towards the knowledge of ‘Atman’, the soul is itself known as the Swaroop Sampradaya of Sri Swami Samarth.

 

Swaroop Sampradaya is a very ancient tradition

with Lord Shiva as the first Guru. Lord Shiva first initiated Goddess Parvati into Swaroop Sampradaya and later this tradition continued in history with the initiation of Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, Sages Vasishtha, Shukdeo and others. This tradition further continued with Guru’s such as Sri Govindpad, Sri Jagadguru AdiShankaracharya, Sri Vidyaranyaswami, SriKrishnasaraswati and Srimat Nrusimha Saraswati up to Sri Swami Samarth, the incarnation of Lord Dattatrey.

 

‘Swaroop Sampradaya’ is based on ‘Dnyan-yog’, the acquisition of true knowledge that leads to the attainment of absorption into the universal spirit. It represents worship of attribute-less Supreme Spirit, but also accepts the worship of a deity with attributes. The human soul attains the Supreme Spirit through the worship of a deity with attributes. This philosophy is honoured as a doctrine for the identity of human soul and the divine essence.

 

With the kind blessings of Sri Swami Samarth, the tradition of this ‘Swaroop Sampradaya’ was passed on to Shree Ramanand Beedkar Maharaj who then blessed Shree Vasudevanant Sarswati (alias Shree Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe) for further propagation of the ‘Swaroop Sampradaya’. Shree Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe in turn blessed Shree Sahajanand Saraswati (Shree Vitthalrao Joshi alias Shree Digambardas Maharaj) to continue further with the Swaroop Sampradaya.

Shree Digambardas Maharaj has versed -

Nrusimha Saraswati the incarnate of Lord Dattatrey (l)

            An idol of purity and knowledge (ll)

He himself manifested as Sri Swami Samarth (l)

            In the city of Akkalkot (ll)

Instantly propagated the Swaroop Sampradaya (l)

            With the bestowal of true knowledge (ll)

Initiated Ramanand as disciple (l)

            A great disciple for regular disposition (ll)

Ramanand initiated Vasudevanant Saraswati (l)

The incarnate of Sri Swami Samarth, for the welfare of mankind (ll)

For the propagation of Swaroop Sampradaya (l)

            Ramanand showered kind blessings on him (ll)

In the family of Sahasrabuddhe, (l)

Ramachandra manifested in auspicious period (ll)

He only is Vasudevanant Saraswati (l)

He himself is Lord Dattatrey, the God Almighty (ll)

He initiated Vitthal (l)

            And then showered his distinguishing form of splendour (ll)

For the propagation of Swaroop Tradition (l)

          He ordered Vitthal (ll)

He named Vitthal as Sahajanand Saraswati (l)

Ordered him to propagate the tradition (ll)

Of Swaroop Sampradaya with path to meditation (l)

For the branch of Saraswati Sect (ll)

Know that ours is the sect of Lord Dattatrey (l)

Holding the authority of natural state of self without attributes (ll)”.

Shree Digambardas Maharaj later passed on the responsibility of this tradition to Shree Ashok Joshi, alias Shree Kaka Maharaj.

 

The Swaroop Sampradaya follows the path of ‘Rajyog’, a simple and easy mode of abstract meditation and not that of ‘Hath Yog’ that is a mode of austere devotion. One can accomplish the ‘RajYog’ by living in this illusive world and conducting normal household duties. Even King Janaka[1] had attained ‘Rajyog’. One can continue with the feelings of sacrifice internally, while maintaining worldly relationships with external society, but strictly without any attachments. To achieve such detachment is possible but not easy. Shree Digambardas Maharaj has versed –

 

“Internally with feelings of Sacrifice and worldly relationship externally (l)

You can still maintain yourself without any attachments (ll)”.

 

‘Rajyog’ has five different modes –

“Pipeelika mode, Kapi mode, Meena mode, Shambhavi mode and Vihangam mode”.

 

Pipeelika (Ant) Mode, where the aspirant attains accomplishment starting from the very base organic circle, crosses each circle after than until he reaches the thousandth circle, just like an ant.

Kapi (Monkey) Mode is where the aspirant attains accomplishment jumping like a monkey from one organic circle to another, until he reaches the Thousandth circle.

Meena (Fish) Mode is where the person who attains accomplishment, sees an ocean filled with knowledge of self and that person filled with joy sinks into that sea of self-knowledge. In this condition, the living being absorbs into the essence of Supreme Spirit along with the knowledge of self.                         

In Shambhavi (Hemp) Mode, accomplishment is easily performed based on the principle of ‘Soham’, a feeling that “I am that Supreme Spirit”. The natural and continuous accomplishment of ‘Soham’ comes along with breathing techniques. This accomplishment is also called as ‘Ajapajap’. With the kind mercy of a Sadguru, the person who repeats ‘Soham Soham’ accomplishes the liberation from personal existence and gets absorbed in divine substance, with the realisation that He is the Soul.

In the Vihangam Mode (Bird), the person who attains accomplishment flies like a bird and in a moment reaches the Supreme Soul. He gets absorbed in the essence of Supreme Spirit without any delay.

 

This path can be achieved only with the kind blessings of a Sadguru. If anyone tries to practice by reading books without the blessings of a Sadguru that person can loose their mental balance. One should not advise an immature person to these modes. If a person is immature because of the lack of accomplishment, prostration of strength takes place and that person becomes wicked. If the accomplishment takes place in a proper manner, the person who accomplishes attains the knowledge which itself is a clear proof of the success.

 

Basically, this path leads to the worship of the attribute-less, but to achieve success in that path one has to worship a deity having attributes and form. Only through this worship can one attain the attribute-less Supreme Soul. There is always oneness in the natural state of self as well as that of the Supreme Soul. The names may be different but the result is the same. The final accomplishment of an individual self is always to get absorbed into the universal self, the Supreme Soul. Only a great Sadguru  can bless his disciple and take him beyond this worldly illusion by granting him the divine sight and accomplishment of the individual self, getting absorbed into the all pervaded universal self, the Supreme Soul.

 


The Tradition Of Swaroop Sampradaya – Shree Beedkar Maharaj

 

Shree Sadguru Ramanand Beedkar Maharaj

Akkalkot Niwasi Sri Swami Samarth Maharaj had ordered his most able and enthusiastic disciple Shree Sadguru Beedkar Maharaj to propagate further the Swaroop Sampradaya, by staying in Pune, Maharashtra, Shree Beedkar Maharaj was the youngest disciple of Sri Swamiji by age, but senior-most in spiritual accomplishment. He was born on 22nd November 1839, in the family of a Rigvedi Brahmin. He was very intelligent, fair skinned with bright lustrous eyes, a charming slim body stature, and an impressive personality. 

His father worked as one of the trusted employees of the wealthy peshwai of Pune. By misfortune, Ramanand lost his father at a tender age of seven. The British rulers at that time offered a pension of two hundred rupees to his mother Gangutai

, but she declined to accept it on the grounds of self-respect and her resolve not to subsist on the help of foreigners.

 

From early childhood, Ramanand had a great attraction towards the worship of God. One particular year, he and his friends planned and started their journey towards Pandharpur. However, after walking for some distance his friends got tired and foreseeing the difficulties in their journey they returned, but Ramanand continued his journey alone on foot and finally reached Pandharpur.

 

In Pandharpur, there was a huge crowd of pilgrims everywhere around the temple. Overwhelmed with the huge crowd, Ramanand felt he would never be able to get the Divine sight of Lord Vithoba; he became totally helpless and started to cry. Miraculously, Lord Vithoba himself, disguised as a temple priest took hold of Ramanand’s hand and walked him to the innermost part of the temple very near to the idol of Lord Vithoba. He arranged for his ‘Darshan’ of Lord Vithoba, grabbed one of the garlands from the idol of Lord Vithoba, and put it on Ramanand’s neck. Afterwards, the priest took him out of the temple in open space, left him there, and then suddenly disappeared.

 

Once Ramanand had been to Saptashringee Hill near Nasik, Maharashtra, for having the ‘Darshan’ of Goddess Saptashringee. Then miracle took place. The Veeda, which was placed in the mouth of Goddess Saptashringee, fell down in the hands of Ramanand. It was a miracle, since this Veeda never had fallen down in the past. The devotees standing there clapped their hands for this miracle and had respected Ramanand saying, “You are a great devotee and the Goddess has blessed you”.

 

After completing some school education, Ramanand started his own money-lending business. He also had a remarkable gift of examining precious stones. He later started a business for antiques. Once, he while he was cleaning some of the antiques he had bought in a good deal, he found a unique lamp stand. While cleaning this lamp stand, he found that it was made of gold and contained diamonds and rubies in the hollow portion of its base. Thus, he became a wealthy man overnight. He then started his own money lending business and people now started addressing him as Bhausaheb Shroff with due respect for his high status in the society.

 

Due to the sudden dawn of good fortune, he started living a life full of enjoyment and pleasures. He developed a passion for dance and music entertainment, as well as drinking wine. Gradually, the Divine grace of Goddess Laxmi started diminishing on him and he was mentally very unhappy. He sought after various saints, when one of them taught him the art of alchemy. Shree Beedkar Maharaj had enjoyed all pleasures of life to the utmost degree and had reached the top of worldly pleasures. When all paths to worldly pleasures came to a saturation point, he decided to put an end to his sensual pleasures and achieve life’s highest truth, the Divine Truth.

 

He sought out and visited many ascetics as well as saints and often had long spiritual discussions with them. Observing his ways and style, one saint remarked sarcastically “You are enjoying all the pleasures of your life to the utmost degree. You are not fit for achieving life’s highest truth, the Divine Truth. You have to accept ascetism otherwise, you cannot achieve anything”. This sarcastic remark touched the heart of this strong minded as well as firmly resolved Ramanand Beedkar and vowed that he would put an end to his life of sensual pleasures and achieve life’s highest truth, that is the Divine Truth. He did vow but became restless, as he was totally accustomed to the life of sensual pleasures.  

 

 However, once he took a forward step, it was his in-born quality never to retreat, so he started worshipping his family deity, Lord Hanuman. After few days of concentrated worship, pleased by his strong devotion Lord Hanuman blessed him with a vision in his dream and advised him to go to Akkalkot and get the blessings of Akkalkot Niwasi Sri Swami Samarth.

 

Ramanand went to Akkalkot. He was so determined that he vowed not to accept any food until he gets the blessings from Sri Swami Samarth. Sri Swami Samarth was staying at the palace of the ruler of Akkalkot during those few days and there was no possibility of him coming out of the palace, at least for the next fifteen days. Ramanand was determined not to break his vow. He fasted severely for two days. On the third day, Sri Swami Samarth started screaming at the palace incumbents, “You are imprisoning me? My devotees are facing difficulties since they are not getting my blessings”. So with an uproar, Sri Swami Samarth jumped out from a wall of the palace possibly for the sake of his to-be favourite disciple, Ramanand Beedkar.

 

When Ramanand Beedkar came to know about Swami’s whereabouts, he carried all the material and objects required to worship a deity and went to Sri Swami Samarth. He offered his worship and surrendered himself at the feet of Sri Swami Samarth. Sri Swami Samarth asked him “Why are you prostrating at my feet? ”. Ramanand replied, “I want a very firm foundation (I want your full blessings)”. Sri Swamiji pointed his finger to a deerskin hanging on a wall peg and said, “Look there, Look there”. Ramanand did not understand the purpose of showing deerskin and said, “I am ignorant”. Upon hearing this, Sri Swamiji burst out with anger and started abusing Ramanand. Other devotees present there became very nervous and started pulling Ramanand away, but he stood there steady and patient without getting nervous with the abuses. Seeing his firmness, Sri Swamiji stopped his abuses and finally said, “You can now go from here - Your work is done (You are fully blessed)”.

 

As per the orders of Sri Swami Samarth, Ramanand returned to Pune. His was totally transformed and he continuously started chanting the words Sadgururaj Mauli[2] and Sadguru Atmaram[3]. A year later, when Ramanand went to Akkalkot to get his blessings, Sri Swami Samarth said to him, “The seed you have sowed has grown into a mango tree. Mangoes are getting ripe. When the mangoes are fully ripe, your aim will be fulfilled”. Another year later (third Year) Ramanand went back to Akkalkot with determination not to return without getting fully blessed with initiation from Sri Swami Samarth. So upon arriving at Akkalkot this year, he started rendering devotional service at the lotus feet of Sri Swami Samarth.    

 

Ramanand continued his devotional service to Swamiji even at night and slowly massaged Sri Swamiji’s legs. He massaged throughout the night, but Sri Swamiji did not ask him to stop even when it was dawn. Suddenly, a miracle took place and a dreadful cobra appeared from in between the knees of Sri Swami Samarth. It started hissing at Ramanand by raising its hood. This was a moment of test for his virtue and courage. So without caring about his life, he continued massaging the legs of Sri Swami Samarth. Sri Swami Samarth angrily got up and roared at Ramanand “You monstrous fellow, go away from here” and slapped Ramandand with force. With this strong slap, Ramanand lost his consciousness and instantly passed into Super conscious state.                                 

 

He regained consciousness only on the next day and his delightfulness was inexpressible in words. Since that very moment, he experienced total detachment from the worldly matters. Ramanandji thus attained Vairagya[4]. Sri Swami Samarth ordered Ramanandji to give a ceremonious dinner to a thousand Brahmins. Ramanandji became very worried, since he had absolutely no money left to comply with the Guru’s orders. The container of perfume bottles, which he had brought with him, had been destroyed in an accident. By collecting the remains of these perfumes from the broken bottles, Ramanandji prepared a special perfume ‘Ashtagandha’ (a mixture of a variety of perfumes, normally eight different kinds of perfumes). He offered this special perfume to the ruler of Akkalkot, who was very much impressed and paid a good price to Ramanandji. Ramanandji then arranged for the ceremonial dinner to thousand Brahmins with this money and thus he fulfilled the commands of his master, Sri Swami Samarth.

 

After this, Sri Swami Samarth asked Ramanandji “What would you offer me as ‘Gurudakshina’? ”. Ramanandji said, “I shall obey your orders with great respect”. Then Sri Swami Samarth said, “You must immediately stop your business of perfumes and converting base metal into gold using the medicinal herbs. This will be your Gurudakshina[5]”. Ramanand agreed without hesitation.

 

After returning to Pune, Ramanandji totally detached himself from worldly attachments. People started saying that Ramanandji had gone lost his mental balance. He did not pay any attention to their remarks. Next year, when he went to Akkalkot, Sri Swami Samarth ordered him to undertake NarmadaError! Bookmark not defined., an arduous circular pilgrimage of the entire route of the river Narmada. He started the Parikrama bare feet from Omkar Mandhata. He had vowed to himself, that he would not request anybody for food unless someone offers by free will; if required, he will only drink water for survival. This pilgrimage was a real test of his devotion towards his Guru and for his patience. He had various adventurous and dangerous experiences during this pilgrimage, He was harassed by the Gosavis / ascetics; had to jump into a river inhabited by crocodiles. He had to walk bare feet and had to complete his pilgrimage in burning hot sun. Once Mother Narmada appeared in person and offered him a pot of milk to drink. One great ascetic fed him a root to repress hunger. One beautiful lady put his honour to test, but by the kind grace of Sri Swami Samarth he remained calm without distraction and successfully stood the test. By this time Sri Swami Samarth had taken Mahasamadhi.

 

Ramanandji returned to Pune after his Narmada parikrama. He had left everything at the will of God. To pay back his loans, he had to sell his house. His virtuous wife, Smt. Janakibai ‘Aaisaheb’ became restless on account of these circumstances, but Ramanandji remained indifferent. He set up a Temple-shrine at Pune and worked towards resolving the difficulties of the people. In addition, he also propagated spiritualism for the upliftment of his devotees to achieve life’s highest objective, the Divine Truth. Every year, seven to eight festivals and other religious practices as per the family tradition were being celebrated with great pomp and show.

 

Shree Beedkar Maharaj was strongly rebuking his devotees for their mistakes. He said “You show carelessness in your worldly dealings. Hence you are not able to make any progress in spiritualism either. Because you are under my shelter, I am rebuking you. It is my earnest attempt that you become skilful in every matter and also sharpen your intelligence. Those who do not come under my shelter will not get a single word regarding them”.

 

Shree Beedkar Maharaj had a mother’s affection towards his devotees but was equally tough at the same time. Very often he said, “I tell you to go insane. But nobody is ready to become insane”.

 

It was only Shree Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe, who always acted as per the advice of Shree Beedkar Maharaj. Hence Shree Beedkar Maharaj exclusively blessed Shree Sadguru Baba Maharaj alias Raosaheb Sahasrabuddhe by placing his hand on the latter’s head and entrusted to him the task of continuing the tradition of Swaroop Sampradaya. Of the many other disciples of Shree Beedkar Maharaj, Anna Maharaj Bahutule took over the responsibility of Shree Beedkar Maharaj Muth.

 

As per Shree Beedkar Maharaj, once a person comes in contact of devotion, he cannot leave that impression of devotional rite. He used to say “Just like cowdung fallen on the ground is bound to lift some earth with it, a person who takes the refuge of a Guru, shall definitely achieve some spiritual development”. Sri Swami Samarth Maharaj had once told him “Ramya, serving food to somebody unless he is hungry, will fail to serve any purpose. The food will be wasted”. But Shree Beedkar Maharaj replied, “Anybody can feed the hungry. I shall feed a person who is satisfied to one’s fullest capacity. I shall certainly impart spiritual advice to those who have the desire for knowledge; likewise for those, who have no desire for knowledge too. I shall also feed spiritual advices and lead them towards God”.

 

Shree Beedkar Maharaj had enjoyed all the worldly pleasures of this life to the utmost degree. Likewise, he also achieved life’s highest truth that is the Divine Truth. The case of Shree Beedkar Maharaj was a burning example of what a man can achieve with firm belief and devotion. He took Mahasamadhi on Tuesday, 1st April 1913.


Shree Vasudevanant Saraswati Maharaj

 Shree Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe alias Shree Raosaheb Sahasrabuddhe

 

Shree Sadguru Baba Maharaj

The one who carried forward the tradition of Swaroop Sampradaya from Shree Beedkar Maharaj was Shree Vasudevanant Saraswati. He was also known as Shree Baba Maharaj alias Shree Raosaheb Sahasrabuddhe. He had gained a spiritual height that led Shree Beedkar Maharaj to say,

“Raosaheb is my Gem”.

In the tradition of Swaroop Sampradaya he is acknowledged as the incarnation of Sri Swami Samarth. He was born on the noon of 14th November 1883 as per English Calendar and Kartik-Poornima-Shake 1805 as per Hindu Calendar in Hubli, Karnatak State. He was named as ‘Ramachandra’. His family name was ‘Sahasrabuddhe’.

When Shree Baba Maharaj went to Pune to pursue his studies in Engineering, he came under the kind blessings of Shree Beedkar Maharaj. Since then his life was entirely transformed. From then onwards, he remained absorbed in meditation. During his final examination for L. C. E. (Engg), he did not distance with his practice of meditation. His mother, Smt. Laxmibai Sahasrabuddhe worried about his future and prayed to Shree Beedkar Maharaj. Shree Beedkar Maharaj consoled her and said, “He is completely under my care and attention”. Accordingly, Shree Baba Maharaj passed his Engineering Examination with good marks due to the blessings of Shree Beedkar Maharaj and eventually, he took employment in the Public Works Department (P.W.D).

 

In the year 1906, Shree Beedkar Maharaj was greatly pleased to bless Shree Baba Maharaj; he blessed him by placing his hand on the forehead of Shree Baba Maharaj and said “Raosaheb, I have now made you permanent”. With these words, Shree Beedkar Maharaj bestowed upon him the ultimate self-realization with the help of Shaktipath[6]. Since then, Shree Baba Maharaj always remained in ‘Videhi state’ (Disembodied state). Later in the year 1910, Shree Baba Maharaj got married according to the wishes of his Sadguru Shree Beedkar Maharaj.

 

He worked in the Public Works Department (Govt. of India) as Assistant Engineer and was posted to different places like Ratnagiri, Pen, Mahad, Panvel and Nagothane, all in Maharashtra State. Because of strong devotion towards his Guru (Preceptor), Shree Baba Maharaj visited Pune every Saturday however far his employment may be just to seek the blessings from Shree Beedkar Maharaj. When he was at Pen, he would travel to the nearest Palasdari station 36 miles away by riding a bicycle and then catch a train to go to Pune station. After some days he was posted as P. A. in the office of Assistant Architect, Mumbai. Since he always remained absorbed in transcendence, his subordinate staff thought that he is not working; so they made a complaint to their officer. The Supervisor then came for investigation based on this complaint. He asked for the measurements of the buildings in construction as part of inspection. Without seeing the records, Shree Baba Maharaj wrote all the measurements of the building just from his memory on a piece of paper and gave it to the Supervisor. When the supervisor inspected that building and took all the detailed measurements, he was simply astonished to find these actual measurements matching precisely with the measurements written on the paper, by Shree Baba Maharaj. The Supervisor was just marvelled at this incredible memory power and the mysterious working system of Shree Baba Maharaj.

Shree Baba Maharaj had sentiments of oneness. He had a tendency of seeing God in every living being. Hence he would bow his head and salute the peons to everybody else in his office. Since he was always absorbed in meditation, some people considered him crazy. Once when he was taking a stroll he went up to the church at Bandra, Mumbai. He sat down near the church and lighted the chiroot[7]. After taking the first puff he got himself absorbed into such a state of meditation that he regained consciousness only when the cheroot was completely burnt along with his fingers holding it.

Once on his payday, he saw a beggar standing in front of him. Being so absorbed in meditation, he put his hands in his pocket and gave away the entire pay to that beggar. Since Shree Baba Maharaj was always absorbed in state of Divine contemplation, people thought he had lost his mental balance. His relatives admitted him in a Mental Hospital at Yerawada, Pune. The doctors in the hospital thoroughly examined him and concluded that he had no psychological issues and instead they thought he had extraordinary wisdom. Hence the doctors arranged for a separate bed away from all other mental patients and provided all good facilities to him. He remained there for about one year.

 

At last when Dr. Nirokhekar, another disciple of Shree Beedkar Maharaj came to know about Shree Baba Maharaj being admitted to a Mental Hospital, he took help of some close associates and fellow students to get Shree Baba Maharaj discharged from the Hospital. After this, Shree Baba Maharaj presented himself in the office and got reinstated. But because of his condition of being absorbed in the state of Divine contemplation, he regularly missed office. Therefore, ultimately he opted for Voluntary retirement and got it sanctioned. After retirement he started staying in Dhumal Building, Narayan Peth, Pune, for the rest of his life.

 

The temple-shrine of Sadguru Shree Beedkar Maharaj was very near to this place. Shree Baba Maharaj visited the temple three times in a day, sang devotional songs with Ektari, a single string musical instrument, and simultaneously got himself absorbed in Divine contemplation. Even if he were sick with temperature up to 105 degrees, he would stay absorbed in the Divine contemplation. Once vowed and stared at the sun from sunrise to sunset with naked eyes continuously for 21 days.

 

 His wife Smt. Durgatai Maa saheb took good care of him as long as she lived. But after her death in 1945, there was nobody to look after him. His devotees brought him food and he would keep a little from it for himself before distributing the rest to his devotees. Very often, Shree Baba Maharaj would distribute stale food that was sometimes even four days old, like tea and khichdi [8]to his devotees. It was a common experience that the stale food he gave always tasted like fresh food. Shree Baba Maharaj cured a number of sick people, saved them from the jaws of death, and took them beyond their calamities. He directed many people desirous of knowledge towards the spiritual path.

 

Shree Baba Maharaj accompanied some of his devotees & travelled to various holy places such as Rameshwer in Tamilnadu, Jagannathpuri in Orissa, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. Once he visited the holy place of Tryambakeshwar in Maharashtra State, Western India. The devotees that accompanied him learned about a great saint residing on a nearby mountain. When the devotees went to take the blessings of that saint, the saint proclaimed, “When a great saint is already with you, why are you searching for him somewhere else?”. Shree Keshavdutt Maharaj of Sonageer would come every year to worship Shree Baba Maharaj in a ‘Shodshopchar way’. He always said, “If you want to see a fully accomplished Divine saint, you have go to Shree Baba Maharaj”. Shree Lele Maharaj, the Guru of Yogi Aurobindo said, “Shree Baba Maharaj has attained the stage of Ultimate self-realization. It is impossible for a worldly person to perceive that stage of Shree Baba Maharaj”. The great Parsi saint MeherBaba had come to pay homage to Shree Baba Maharaj. Anandmai Maa and Shree Shankar Maharaj also maintained great respect and love towards Shree Baba Maharaj. Shree Baba Maharaj preached his devotees and disciples “Meditate for half an hour before having your meals”.                                                         

 

In the year 1953, Shree Baba Maharaj blessed and initiated Shree Vitthalrao Joshi (Shree Digambardas Maharaj) and passed on the responsibility of propagating the Swaroop Sampradaya. Shree Baba Maharaj had mentally decided of departing from this world, so he decided to free himself from this mundane existence by taking ‘jalsamadhi’ (ending bodily existence by drowning in water) in the Sharayu River, at the holy place Ayodhya in U. P. State, North India. So he took the permission to depart from all and went on pilgrimage to Ayodhya along with some devotees. At Ayodhya he got down in the Sharayu River for the abandonment of his body, but it so happened that he could not find any place in the Sharayu River with water level above the anklebone. Then Shree Baba Maharaj remarked, “This shows that the Sharayu River refuses to give me any place for taking Jalsamadhi. This may be the wish of God Almighty”. So he returned to Pune.

 

After returning from Ayodhya, his health was fast deteriorating. He had continuous temperature as well as the trouble with piles. Over time, he reduced the intake of food. He wanted to stay near Shree Digambardas Maharaj, but he had ordered Shree Digambardas Maharaj to stay in Ratnagiri. His health started deteriorating further. He had such a burning sensation in his body that even by placing ice cubes nearby or by dressing him with wet coat the burning sensation would not calm down.

 

Ultimately on Tuesday, 18th August 1954(Shravan Vadya Chaturthi 1876, Manmath Samvatsar Mangalwar Angarki Chaturthi as per Hindu Calendar, Shree Baba Maharaj left his mortal body and merged with, the Nirguna Parabrahma, the infinite formless Supreme Lord. His last rite was performed on the plot owned by him at Chatushringi road in Pune.

 

          Shree Baba Maharaj had promised his devotees and disciples “I would stay here for 1000 years for the well being of my devotees and disciples”. After some days, his disciple and apostle of Swaroop Sampradaya, Shree Digambardas Maharaj built the “Shree Sadguru Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe Samadhi Mandir[9]” on that plot. In that Samadhi Mandir, Shree Digambardas Maharaj started rendering service to Shree Sadguru Baba Maharaj by celebrating many festivals. As per his Sadguru’s wishes, Shree Digambardas Maharaj took responsibility of the social service offered by Shree Sant Seetarambua Walavalkar, at Dervan and simultaneously also handled the Samadhi Mandir work of his Sadguru Shree Baba Maharaj at Pune. The devotional awareness has risen to its topmost level and taken practical form due to the wisdom, hard work, and resourcefulness of Shree Digambardas Maharaj in both places, Dervan and Pune.

 

 


Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj

 

Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj worked extremely hard for the upliftment of the masses, which earned him a distinguished place in the family of modern-age saints of Maharashtra. His was deeply inspired by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj for his ambitions on the awakening of this country and by Shree Samarth Ramdas Swami for his strong beliefs in the Hindu religion.

 

On October 17, 1912 (Ashwin Shukla Ashtami Shake 1834 as per Hindu calendar), in a small village called Pomendi (Budruk) in the coastal province of Konkan (12 Kms from Ratnagiri), a son was born to the devout and deeply religious couple, Shri Ganesh Vishnu Joshi and Smt. Janakibai. The parents named the child as ‘Vitthal’ with great love. His father was a

landlord and ran a business of renting farms. He was born in a flourishing home.

 

Since early childhood, Vitthal Ganesh Joshi was a devotee of God and completely detached from worldly matters. At a tender age of 12, he lost his mother and at the age of 18, he lost his father. He then developed a strong desire to seek a Sadguru. So he left home and went in search of a Sadguru. Coincidently, he went to the Muth of Shree Beedkar Maharaj at Pune, where by his great fortune he got the blessings of Shree Sadguru Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe alias Shree Vasudevanant Saraswati. It’s almost as if the Guru and his disciple were mutually awaiting each other. Shree Baba Maharaj manifested himself in the form of Akkalkotnivasi Sri Swami Samarth - the incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. He blessed and initiated young Vitthal (later known as Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj or Shree Maharaj) with graciousness in the Swaroop Sampradaya and made him the apostle of this sect. With this blessing from his Sadguru, Shree Digambardas Maharaj got a protector for life.

 

Later Shree Digambardas Maharaj worked as medical representative in Dr. Bose’s laboratory for a short while. He faired extremely well at work, but the ardent desire for the divine knowledge did not let him focus on his career. Hence in 1946, he finally quit the job & returned to Ratnagiri to perform rigorous ‘tapasya’ (penance).

 

On July 24, 1953, Shree Baba Maharaj took his gold ring with serpent-headed pattern along with another silver ring and placed them on the right index finger of Shree Maharaj. Graciously blessing him with all favours, Shree Baba Maharaj said, “The ring from the preceptor’s finger is finally back with the preceptor. Vithoba, from this very moment, I have taken your entire ego. Henceforth, you will not do anything of your own will; rather I will perform my role on your behalf”.

                                                                                                         

In 1953, Sadguru Shree Baba Maharaj decided to give up this mundane existence. Shree Maharaj was very distressed with this decision of his Guru, so he earnestly prayed and persisted in getting an assurance from his Sadguru to stay on for one more year. Finally on August 18, 1954, Shree Baba Maharaj took Mahasamadhi (the last conscious communion with God). The last rites of Shree Baba Maharaj were performed on the plot No. 937-D, Chatushrungi Road, Shivaji Nagar(Pune, Maharashtra).

 

After the Mahasamadhi of Shree Baba Maharaj, Shree Maharaj resolved firmly to dedicate his life in the service of his Sadguru. Shree Baba Maharaj owned the plot where his last rites were performed. Shree Maharaj leased that plot No. 937-D from Smt. Nirmalatai Neelkanth Khare, the heir and only daughter of Shree Baba Maharaj. He dedicated himself to enhance the glory of his Sadguru and carry out all the public welfare works of Shree Baba Maharaj. Shree Maharaj said, “On July 24, 1953, my existence as Vitthal Ganesh Joshi came to an end. Now Shree Baba Maharaj performs his role through me. My condition is like “When I existed, my Guru did not! Now my Guru is here and my ego completely gone!”

 

Initially, the Samadhi place was a wasteland filled with bushes. Shree Maharaj had the land levelled after cleaning the bushes and then constructed a temporary shed. All four sides of the land were enclosed with walls. A dwelling place and a water tank were constructed for the devotees. A flower garden was cultivated to provide fresh flowers for the daily worship. All surrounding land in the vicinity of this Samadhi place was purchased and the border was expanded.

There is always a wicked eye on every good deed in this world. Similarly, there were people who brought obstruction in the execution of this good deed and tried to take the land in their control by claiming it as public land. The case was taken to court. But Shree Maharaj did not lose his courage. The court finally gave a judgement in the favour of Shree Maharaj and declared that the temple is a private property and Shree Maharaj is a legal leaseholder of that property.

 

Even when going through all this harassment, Shree Maharaj very well organized and decorated the Samadhi place of Shree Baba Maharaj. He initiated spiritual programmes such as daily worship, meditation, and devotional prayers at the samadhi place. The performances of religious ceremonies as prescribed by the sacred books and scriptures were also started. A number of anniversary celebrations such as the anniversary of Shree Baba Maharaj, Sri Datta Jayanti (the birth day of Lord Dattatrey), Sri Swami Samarth Jayanti (the birth day of Sri Swami Samarth), Sri Rama Navami (Birthday of Lord Rama), Sri Ganesh Chaturthi and Sri Krishna Janmashtami (the birthday of Lord Krishna) were organized with great devotion. Innumerable devotees started to visit for these various festivals and also to get blessings.

 

Shree Digambardas Maharaj had a personality endowed with several remarkable qualities. He had a strong memory and would always remember the name, originating village, family occupation etc. of anyone he ever met, even if it was after a number of years. Nobody could ever equal Shree Maharaj in qualities like simplicity, discipline, punctuality, generosity and tender-heartedness. He maintained intimate and affectionate relations with everyone, young or old. If anyone faced difficulties, Shree Maharaj was always eager to support and help them through their difficulties. But, if necessary he would not cease from rebuking someone with harsh words for their mistakes. Although, after such incidents he would talk to the person normally with good feelings as if nothing had happened.

 

If Shree Maharaj were ever pleased with any good qualities of his devotees, he would praise and then encourage those devotees to take meals with him. He would try to eradicate the difficulties of his attendants. He paid special attention and made sure the pets, such as parrots and dogs that lived at the Samadhi place were fed properly and on time. He was a true saint.

 

Shree Maharaj at times had such good legal advice for people visiting the samadhi mandir that even the prominent of lawyers would be surprised. He had an extra-ordinary wisdom. He always provided perfect guidance with regards to medical treatment or professional difficulties. During the construction of the samadhi mandir, he even explained the right from wrong on construction topics to the engineers at the site.

 

When the palanquins were taken in procession around the temple during the festive ceremonies at the samadhi mandir, Shree Maharaj would compose devotional songs and narrate them in an inspiring way. He was a very speedy composer of devotional poems. Even at the time of Kirtans (devotional singing), such devotional songs would trickle out spontaneously from his lips. He composed thousands of such devotional songs and sang them too. Unfortunately and by our misfortune very few of these compositions are available in writing. He was also an expert ‘tabla’ (Musical instruments) and drum player. He acted in dramas and was an artist too. In Pomendi (Ratnagiri) he created idols of Lord Ganesh, which portrayed his talent in art and painting. He also gave the right advice to artists as well as artisans.

 

Shree Maharaj was very well conversant with agriculture and farming. He had himself ploughed and cultivated the land. His knowledge regarding new and old systems of cultivating land, fertility of soil, fertilizers, seeds etc. was far superior to any experienced farmer. He directed the building of a good cattle shed and personally ensured that the shed was always neat, clean and the cattle were healthy and strong. He never liked the idea of selling old cattle to the butcher. He considered it as an ungrateful act on part of humanity to sell old cattle to a butcher after utilizing their services all through their life.

 

 He had infinite faith towards Brahmins who were well versed in and followed the path of Vedas (Holiest Hindu Scriptures). He always said, “I treat Brahmins as my God” and believed with due reverence that “As Brahmins have protected the Vedas for thousands of years by undergoing great difficulties, we have to be highly grateful towards them”. Hence to render due honour to the Brahmins, Shree Maharaj arranged a number of religious ceremonies and invited learned Brahmins from distant places. He expressed gratefulness for the knowledge and skill of those Brahmins and honoured them generously.

 

Along with his fiery religious devotion, Shree Maharaj also had a burning loyalty towards his country. A glimpse of patriotism was prominent in his expressions, words and conduct. He initiated a custom of celebrating the nations Independence Day as well as the Republic Day in the samadhi mandir by hoisting the National Flag. He was also involved in the ‘1942 freedom movement’. He went from village to village awakening nationalism amongst people and carry out agitation in a secret way. When ‘SwaatantryaVeer’’ (freedom fighter) Sawarkar visited Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, Shree Maharaj went to meet and discuss with him. This very national inspiration in him manifested the creation of the ‘Shiv-Samarth Gad’ (Fort) at Dervan, Chiplun Taluka (Subdivision) of Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra State in future.

           

In parallel to the work at the samadhi mandir of Sadguru Shree Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe in Pune, Shree Maharaj also managed the workload at Dervan as his field of work.

A great saint Shree Sant Digambarbaba Wahalkar resided in a neighbouring village in Chiplun, Ratnagiri District. Shree Maharaj had an old acquaintance with this saint who belonged to the tradition of Akkalkotnivasi Sri Swami Samarth Maharaj. Shree Maharaj also had great love towards Shree Sant Seetarambua Walavalkar, a disciple of Shree Digambarbaba Vahalkar. Shree Sadguru Baba Maharaj had entrusted upon him the responsibility of looking after Shree Sitarambua. Hence he often visited Sawarde village and rendered service to Shree Seetarambua. On observing that Shree Seetarambua faced a lot of difficulties in Sawarde he purchased some land for him in Dervan, built a house and also made arrangements for agriculture.

 

Shree Maharaj formed the “Shreesant Seetarambua Walawalkar Charitable Trust” and determinedly carried out large and important social activities through this trust. He purchased lot of land in the vicinity. The rich moneylenders, Muslims and political leaders, were harassing the poor people in the area. The trust provided the poor people with free food, clothing and blankets through this Trust. The poor people were also provided employment and free of charge Medical facility. They were taught new methods of cultivating lands and Shree Maharaj tried his best to get rid of their bad habits. He also encouraged their children in the field of education. He provided them notebooks and other school necessities, free of charge. Since their houses thatched by straw, leaked during monsoon, Shree Maharaj arranged for roofing thousands of such houses with Mangalore tiles, all free of charge. There was a shortage of water in the nearby villages therefore, the Trust organized tankers from Chiplun, 20 Kms away and supplied water to the villagers.

 

By satisfying these daily necessities of the poor, Shree Maharaj desired to create consciousness in them for the love and devotion towards their religion and nation. This sent a shocking wave of disapproval amongst the selfish people in the region, when their methods of exploiting the poor started to fail. They utilized various means of harassing the trust and Shree Maharaj by creating mischief and negative publicity. But Shree Maharaj stood firm, faced all these difficulties courageously and continued his public welfare service.         

 

Shree Maharaj raised unparalleled memorials of Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Shree Samarth Ramdas in the form of Shree Shiv-Samarth Gad at Dervan. He did this for inspiring the local people on the ideals of loyalty to one’s Nation as well as Religion. The birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is celebrated every year with great pomp. Thousands of people who adore Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj along with the Varkari (pilgrims) participate in a grand procession and fill up the air with love for their Nation and Religion.

 

Remaining averse from publicity, Shree Maharaj worked tireless for public welfare and for achieving life’s highest objective i.e. the Divine Truth and thus always kept the flag of Eternal Vedic Religion of the Aryans hoisted. He continued these social welfare activities until his last breath. He took Mahasamadhi (the last conscious communion with God) on Vaishakh Krishna Pratipada, Shake 1911 i.e. on 21st May 1989.

Expansion Of The Sampradaya

         

Shree Sadguru Kaka Maharaj

Before his Mahasamadhi, Shree Maharaj had consoled his disciples and devotees by saying, “Even after departing from this world I will be around and act via Ashok (Shree Ashok Joshi-KakaMaharaj)”.

 He had also clearly said, “Ashok is my son. Ashok will continue the propagation of Swaroop Sampradaya and the public welfare activities further. Infact, I will myself perform all the activities through Ashok”.

 

Thus, the responsibility of the preceptor to continue the tradition of a Sadguru has come upon the shoulders of Shree Ashok Joshi alias Kaka Maharaj and he is accomplishing the same skilfully.

 

Shree Digambardas Maharaj constructed the Shree Shiv-Samarth Gad (fortress) and the temple-shrine of Shree Seetarambua at Dervan. Now Shree Ashok Kaka Maharaj has been able to bring into reality the resolves of Shree Digambardas Maharaj for Divine service, National service and public service. He has been successful in these ventures with untiring efforts & hard labour along with the cooperation of disciples and devotees like the late Shree Kamalakarpant. L Walawalkar Saheb, Shree Vikas K.Walawalkar Saheb, Shree Prasad Tendulkar, Shree Balasaheb Kajarekar, Shree Madhavrao Mule and the rest. The various activities have continued up to date and the various resolves of Sadguru Shree Digambardas Maharaj that were already completed or in progress have been well taken care of under the active guidance of Shree Ashok Kaka Maharaj. Some of these resolves are as follows:

 

Mumbai

1)     Shree Swami-Samarth Mandir- Andheri West

 

Pune

1) Shree Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe Samadhi Mandir (Temple Shrine)

2)     Shree Digambardas Maharaj Samadhi Mandir (Temple Shrine)

3)     Dispensary

4)     Ved-Pathshala (Vedic School)

 

Dervan

1) Shree Shiv-Samarth Gad

 (Fortress, A place for Historic as well as Cultural inspiration)

2) Shree Datta-Mandir (Temple of Lord Dattatreya)

3) Shree Swami Samarth- Shree Ram Mandir (Temple)

4) Shree Sant Seetharambua Walawalkar Samadhi-Mandir (Temple-Shrine)

5) Shree Sant Digambarbaba Vahalkar Samadhi-Mandir (Temple-Shrine)

6) Shree Hanuman Mandir (Temple)-Sawarde

7) Shree Jnyananath Mandir (Temple)

8) Go-Shala (cowpen)

9) Shri Swami Samarth Udyan (Garden)

10) Bhaktashreshtha Kamalakarpant Walawalkar Hospital.

(The only Hospital in Konkan, Maharashtra, equipped with C. T. scan, Dialysis, Operation-Theatre, Laboratory and all medical facilities. Here the reputed doctors of Mumbai-Pune visit this Hospital on regular basis and give cooperation)

11) Relief Centre for Village Farmers

 (Providing assistance as well as guidance regarding money, corn, cloth, seeds and manure for the fields etc. )

12) Relief Centre for the Students

(Providing free books, Notebooks, Uniforms, Scholarships, assistance regarding construction of new School-buildings as well as repairing of existing School buildings)

13) English Medium School

14) Nursing School

15) Nursing Collage

16) Publication of ethically sound books.

 

The daily worship, annual festivals, religious ceremonies, sacrifices and also the birth anniversary festival of Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj are being performed with great enthusiasm in Mumbai, Pune and Dervan. Thus, the tradition of the Swaroop Sampradaya of Lord Dattatrey is on the rise under the able guidance of Shree Ashok Kaka Maharaj.


TRADITION OF PUNE-DERVAN

 


 

 


The Tradition Of Sawarde- Dervan

                  

Gopalbua Kelkar Alias Preetinand Swamikumar

           

Sri Swamiji had ordered his virtuous disciple ‘Haribhau alias Swamisut’ to hoist the devotional flag of Sri Swami Samarth along a seacoast. Following his orders, Swamisut erected a temple of Sri Swami Samarth at Kandewadi, Mumbai (Seaside near Girgaon, Mumbai) and spread the spiritual teachings of Sri Swami Samarth. Eventually, he selected a second seaside place at Chiplun, Ratnagiri District in Maharashtra. He had sent Sri Swamiji’s ‘Padukas’ (Foot prints) to Chiplun in the year 1873 through Brahmachari Buwa. Bua then handed over these ‘Padukas’ to a teacher and mentioned, “Our man will come and look after these later. Until then you worship these ‘Padukas’ of Sri Swamiji”.

According to the predetermined arrangements, Gopalbua Kelkar erected a temple on the banks of Markandi River in Chiplun to hoist the devotional flag of Sri Swami Samarth.

 

Gopalbua, Gopal Ramchandra Kelkar, was born in the year 1847 AD at Korle village near Rajapur Taluka, Ratnagiri District in Maharashtra. His poor living conditions only helped him study up to English third standard and therefore, he later joined the Railway Department. Due to his hard work and expertise, he soon became the Station Master and was transferred to Nagpur. There he suffered from dropsy, a stomach disorder. He had severe stomachaches and no remedy could give him any relief. The doctor advised him to go for a climate change and hence he resigned from his service and returned home. He was so frustrated with the severe stomach pain that he finally gave up and called upon God for help, “Whoever is the God of this world, if I am cured of this severe stomach pain then except for God, I shall not render service to anybody else throughout my life”. It was a great wonder that within eight days of this keen prayer, he started getting relief from the severe pain.

 

 He then decided to go to Akkalkot and get the blessings of Sri Swami Samarth, but he had no money. By lying to his family members, he somehow managed to reach Akkalkot. He only had five paise with him at that time. With that money, he purchased two dried dates and visited the shelter of Sri Swamiji. As soon as he was graced with the blessings of Sri Swamiji, he lost his consciousness. He stayed in Akkalkot living on food provided by people and continued rendering service to Sri Swami Samarth. Once Sri Swamiji appeared in his dream, touched his stomach with his hands and said, “I shall cure your illness”. Gopalbua suddenly woke up from his dream. He then passed plenty of urine and was cured of his severe illness forever. Gopalbua had the habit of smoking tobacco. One day he woke up early dawn and got a strong urge to smoke tobacco. But he could not find it anywhere. He saw a lamp lit near the place where Sri Swamiji was sleeping. He went there and started burning a thin rope. Sri Swamiji suddenly woke up and Gopalbua started trembling. He prostrated at the feet of Sri Swamiji and prayed “Kindly shower your mercy on this humble servant”. Sri Swamiji happily initiated Gopalbua. Gopalbua became fully gratified. .

 

Gopalbua had left his house to go to Akkalkot without informing his family and therefore, they had become very anxious. When his wife came to know that he is in Akkalkot, she immediately travelled to Akkalkot in search of her husband. Sri Swamiji brought her and Bua together and then ordered Bua “There is a place called Markandi near Chiplun, Maharashtra. A Brahmacharibua has installed my Padukas. You must stay there and worship those ‘Padukas’. Take your wife along with you and set up a family”. Sri Swamiji blessed them and gave two coconuts and one dried date as Prasad. After these orders from Sri Swamiji, Gopalbua left Akkalkot, stayed with Swamisut in Mumbai for a few days and then went to Chiplun along with his wife.

 

During those days, Markandi was place surrounded with thick forests. Gopalbua settled in such a place along with his wife. Every Thursday, he would collect alms in the form of rice, rice-gruel and prepare their food. He would then get himself fully engrossed in the devotion of Sri Swamiji. Over time, people learnt about this place and started visiting. A number of people had their difficulties resolved with the grace of Sri Swamiji. A temple was then built with the cooperation of these people.

 

With the kind grace of Sri Swamiji, Gopalbua soon became a father to two sons and one daughter. Sri Swamiji had named Bua as Preetinand Swamikumar. Following his name, Preetinand was totally absorbed in the happiness that flowed from his affection towards Sri Swamiji and rendered service with single-minded devotion. He took samadhi in the year 1929. His Samadhi-tomb was constructed in the temple itself.

 

Gopalbua composed two devotional scripts- ‘Karuna Stotra’ and ‘Sadhana Vivek Saramrit’ in poetic form using the name of Preetinand Swami Kumar. He also compiled all the known miracles of Sri Swamiji in his book “Bakhar (historical annals) of Shree Swami Samarth”.


Shree Digambarbaba Vahalkar Maharaj

 

Shree Ramchandra Narasimha Katdare Maharaj was a resident of Vahal village located near Chiplun, Ratnagiri District in Maharashtra. He was born in the year 1872. After studying to some extent, he started working with Nanal, a lawyer from Ratnagiri who owned large agricultural farms at Sawarde-Dervan. Ramchandra Narasimha Katdare-Vahalkar looked after these farms. He regularly visited the Datta Mandir of Sawarde to get blessings.

 

Once Vahalkarji had some conflicts with the lawyer, so he quit the job and went to Sawarde. He sat under a banyan tree opposite to the Datta Mandir in a naked condition without any food or water for one whole week chanting the name of God. Finally, the people of Sawarde persuaded him

to accept some food willingly. He was absorbed in Divine contemplation and behaved as though he was possessed by a demon.

 

In this condition, Akkalkot Niwasi Shree Swami Samarth Maharaj, graced him by making an appearance in from of him. His mental condition became self-meditative with the blessings of Sri Swamiji. He lost his consciousness and started wandering continuously chanting the name of God. Therefore, people started calling him as ‘Digambarbaba’ (naked Baba). His wife and family members tried their best to divert his attention towards worldly life but he was fully absorbed in attaining life’s highest objective, the Divine truth.

 

Digambarbaba left Sawarde and came to Gopalbua Kelkar Maharaj at Chiplun. He took the initiation from Kelkar Maharaj as his Guru and performed rigorous penance. He was fully absorbed in chanting the sacred Gayatri mantra for nearly 13-14 years. Gayatri Mantra is a sacred verse from the Vedas. He chanted this mantra ten million times along with contemplation, meditation as well as the practice of yoga or Spiritual devotion. In the afternoons, he would stare intently at the Sun with fixed eyes; he also sprinkled holy water continuously on a ‘Shaligram’. He would dive in water thousand to twelve hundred times in any season. He would perform devotional worship in a lonely place. Digambarbaba had already destroyed his fondness and attachment towards his physical body. He was blessed with the company of many great saints like Brahmachaitanya Gondavalekar Maharaj, Vasudevanand Saraswati (the incarnation of Lord Dattatrey alias Tembeswami), Chounde Maharaj, Narayan Maharaj Kedgaonkar, Sai baba Mahara, Gadge Maharaj and Kaka Puranik Maharaj.

 

He was able to attain such perfection in Yoga-Vidya[10] that he could dive & sit under water in a state of trance, absorbed in devout meditation for hours. Once when was visiting Gondavale in Satara District, Maharashtra, he dived into a well and he did not come out of the water for quite some time. People tried to pull him out, but Gondvalekar Maharaj told them “Digambarbaba is practising penance under water. So, please do not trouble him. He is a great saint”. Digambarbaba came out of water after a few hours. He practised similar penance in Ratnagiri where Shree Sadguru Digambardas Maharaj would take him in a boat in the mornings to a far away spot in the sea. Digambarbaba would dive into the sea and practice penance for hours. In the evening Shree Digambardas Maharaj would go to the same spot and call him. Upon hearing the call, Digambarbaba would come out of the sea and then come back to seashore with Shree Digambardas Maharaj. Digambarbaba practiced such penance for a number of days.

 

Once when he was travelling to Sawarde from Mumbai in a ship, he could not buy the ticket since he had no money. The ticket checker made fun of him and jokingly said, “If you do not have a ticket, then jump into the sea”. Digambarbaba immediately jumped into the sea. They stopped the ship and started searching for him. After about an hour, they saw Digambarbaba swimming in the sea at a far away distance. The fishermen pulled him in their boat and later he was seen on the dock at Jaigad port.

 

Digambababa Vahalkar Maharaj travelled to all the holy places of India. He mostly visited places where Shree Swami Samarth had performed his miracles. He desired to build a temple of Shree Swami Samarth near Vai in Satara District, Maharashtra, and was busy making arrangements for the same. But Lord Dattatrey appeared in person in his dream along with Shree Swami Samarth and ordered him to renovate the Datta Mandir (Temple of Lord Dattatrey) at Sawarde, Ratnagiri District.

 

With cooperation from several devotees, the renovation of the Datta Mandir at Sawarde was completed in the year 1915. The festive inauguration went on for one full month. During that period, Digambarbaba directed a number of religious ceremonies like Rigveda Samhita Swahakar, Ganapathi Atharvasheersha Sahasravartan, Shatachandi Havan, Srimadbhagwat saptah and so on. There was Mahaprasad daily and thousands of devotees attended the celebrations. In the meanwhile, all members of the Vahalkar family fell sick with dysentery. Digambarbaba went into deep meditation and realized that when installing the new ‘Padukas’ during renovation, they had forgotten about the Padukas of Shree Swami Samarth he had brought from Shree Swamisut and installed in the Datta Mandir before renovations. These ‘Padukas’ were now lying outside the temple in the open, near the holy basil plant. He immediately picked up the ‘Padukas’ from that open place and placed them in the same old place where they were previously installed. After this incident, the sickness of all his family members suddenly disappeared.

 

Shree Digambardas Maharaj first met with Shree Digambarbaba Vahalkar Maharaj in the year 1942. From then onwards, Shree Digambardas Maharaj was linked to Sawarde. Shree Vahalkar Maharaj had visited Shree Digambardas Maharaj’s house in Ratnagiri as well as in Pomendi.

                                                                                     

Shree Digambardas Maharaj offered good service to Shree Digambarbaba. Whenever Shree Digambardas Maharaj visited Sawarde he would stay in Datta Mandir along with Shree Digambarbaba. One night when Shree Digambardas Maharaj was sleeping in this Datta Mandir, Shree Swami Samarth Maharaj personally woke him up and gave him a round marble with his own hands.

 

Shree Digambardas Maharaj had great respect for Shree Digambarbaba Maharaj and always offered him the best of service. Shree Digambarbaba, with severe penance as well as untiring devotional service hoisted the flag of Shree Swami Samarth in Sawarde. In the year 1951, Shree Digambarbaba took Samadhi. His disciple, Shree Sant Seetarambua Walawalkar built his ‘Samadhi’ near the Datta Mandir.

                  


Shree Seetarambua Walawalkar Maharaj

 

Shree Seetarambua Walawalkar was a dedicated disciple of Shree Digambarbaba Vahalkar. He belonged to the Terase Bambarde village, Sawantwadi Taluka, Sindhudurg District in Maharashtra. After studying for a few years he went to Mumbai in search of employment. He worked for 8 to 10 years in a cotton mill, a cloth store and for some time with the Police Department. From early childhood he had strong attachment and devotion towards God. One day suddenly he distributed his entire salary amongst beggars, quit his job, and wore a loincloth and a long robe to become a fakir.  He continuously started to chant

the name of Lord Shiva and smeared his entire body with ashes. Wandering about in this condition he reached the Maruti-Mandir at Kondamala village near Chiplun District.

 

Observing his inclination towards asceticism the people of Kondamala took him to Shree Digambarbaba Vahalkar at Sawarde. Shree Digambarbaba stayed with his fellow-disciple Shree Shembekarbua at Sawarde in Datta-Mandir (the temple of Lord Dattatrey). Shree Digambarbaba accepted Shree Seetarambua as a disciple and allowed him to stay at the temple. Since then, Seetarambua humbly offered his entire life in the service of his Guru.

 

 He fully absorbed himself in ploughing the fields belonging to Datta-Mandir, building embankments in the farms to prevent flooding, begging and collecting alms for managing the temple works, celebrating the festivals and rendering service to the Guru  etc. He single-handedly broke a sheet of rock near the temple and built a well. He used water from this well and built a garden for the temple. Early every morning he collected the holy basil for his worship and then worked in the farms.

 

At noon, after taking bath he performed all the religious rituals and then went to collect alms. He would then cook his food with the alms collected and offer the same as ‘Naivedya’ to Lord Dattatrey before serving himself. From noon until night, he would work in the field and then render service at the feet of his Guru, Shree Digambarbaba. Shree Seetarambua rendered such undivided devotional service to his Guru Shree Digambarbaba for nearly forty years. He was the ideal of devotion to a Guru.

Shree Digambarbaba Vahalkar Maharaj of Sarwarde belonged to a particular tradition of Shree Swami Samarth, which also belonged to Shree Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe alias Shree Vasudevanant Saraswati, Pune (disciple of Shree Ramachandra Beedkar Maharaj). There was a tie of affection between these two sects. Shree Digambardas Maharaj, disciple of Shree Sahasrabuddhe Maharaj always met Shree Vahalkar Maharaj since 1942. After Shree Vahalkar Maharaj took Samadhi, Shree Baba Maharaj Sahasrabuddhe had ordered Shree Digambardas Maharaj to take care of Seetarambua in all ways. As per his wishes, Shree Digambardas Maharaj provided all types of support to Seetarambua. Shree Digambardas Maharaj coordinated with both these branches of Shree Swami Samarth tradition and handled exceptional social welfare works.

 

Every year, Shree Digambardas Maharaj went to Sawarde three to four times and celebrated the religious festivals at Sawarde with great pomp. He provided petromaxes, carpets, pots and vessels, pairs of cymbol and tabors, wealth and food grains etc for these festivals. He helped Seetarambua in all manners with pleasure as per the wishes of his Sadguru.

 

Seetarambua survived by collecting cooked food for alms. To reduce his hardships, Shree Vahalkarbua had given him the one and a half acre land belonging to the ‘Datta-Mandir’. Shree Vahalkarbua had entrusted the temple ’Datta-Mandir’ to his son-in- law Raghunath Shembeka who seized the land given to Seetarambua and took it in his possession. Shree Seetarambua had to once again start collecting cooked food in alms. He somehow managed the festivals of Datta-Jayanti (The festival held in the month of Margashirsh, December in the honour of Lord Dattatrey) as well as the ‘punyatithi’ (the death anniversary day) of saint Sadguru Vahalkarbua by collecting alms.

 

 Shree Digambardas Maharaj purchased some nearby land and a bullock cart for Seetarambua. Raghunath Shembekar was furious with this act and started disregarding Seetarambua. Shree Seetarambua had built a small Lord Hanuman temple at the funeral site of his Guru, Sadguru Vahalkarbua. A thatched roof covered the top of this small temple. Out of anger, Shembekar pulled down that temple. Shree Digambardas Maharaj purchased land in the nearby Dervan Village and built another ‘Hanuman Mandir’ (Temple of Lord Hanuman). He also started building a house for Shree Seetarambua but in the meantime, Seetarambua ended his mundane life in 1969 and departed from this world. Thereafter, Shree Digambardas Maharaj had to take all the responsibilities of that temple.

 

In the memory of Shree Seetarambua, a dedicated devotee of Shree Swami Samarth tradition, Shree Digambardas Maharaj established the ‘Shree Sant Seetarambua Walawalkar Charitable Trust’ through which he started many resolves for the awakening and welfare of the people. First of all he built a Temple-shrine of Shree Seetarambua and then onwards started many programmes of rendering devotional service to God, nation as well as rendering welfare service to the people in Dervan. This place now represents an everlasting and permanent memory of Shree Seetarambua Walawalkar.

 



[1] King Janaka: King of Mithila, father of Goddess Sita, the devoted wife of Lord Rama

[2] Sadguru Mauli: The preceptor a mother - Ramanand with affection looked upon his preceptor Sri Swami Samarth, as his mother

[3] Sadguru Atmaram: The precepto, who has been distracted from sense objects and delighted in the contempletion of one’s own soul

[4] Vairagya: Complete detachment from worldly pleasures. A very high state of realization.

[5] Gurudakshina: A gift to a Guru, the spiritual preceptor on the completion of a course of instruction

[6] Shaktipat: The ancient method of awakening and activating the Kundalini energy in the shortest possible time. Kundalini energy is the energy dormant at the base of the spine of every human being

[7] Chiroot: A kind of cigar

[8] Khichdi: A mixed preparation of rice and pulse

[9] Samadhi Mandir: A Temple Shrine dedicated to a Saint after he leaves his body

[10] Yog-Vidya: Science of spiritual discipline