YOGIRAJ SHRI SHANKAR MAHARAJ
ACTIVITIES IN PUNE - 1
RAOSAHEB AND TAISAHEB MEHENDALE
Activities of Maharaj in Pune have been well described in the books by Yogi Dnyananath and Tandale. (The book by Yogi Dnyananath is now available on the Internet at the link: http://www.shreeshankarmaharaj.com). I also could collect a good deal of additional information through my meetings with the disciples and devotees in Pune, thanks to the active support of Mr. V. M. (Nana) Pandit. Also, I could visit the places which Maharaj frequented and which are still intact. Among the persons interviewed, besides Mr. Datta Abhyankar and Nana Pandit himself, were Mr. Madhusudhan V. Kanhere and Mr. G. L. Joshi. Later I also met Mr. S. B. Patwardhan who had met Maharaj and had received his blessings.
The main centre of activity in Pune used to be Mehendalewada at the Appa Balwant Chowk, the ancestral home of Raosaheb Mehendale and Taisaheb Mehendale. Maharaj also visited and camped in the homes of his other disciples. Mamasaheb Dhekne was a well-known disciple in whose house Maharaj often camped. It is this house that he took samadhi.
The palatial Mehendalewada no longer exists in the old form. The structures of those days were largely wooden. Some years ago a part of the Wada was demolished for road widening and the municipality demolished another part as being unsafe. It is in the process of being completely demolished now. The house where Mamasaheb Dhekne lived has given way to a multistory building which now houses a hotel. Many other places too have undergone changes due to development and ravages of time.
For Maharaj, the palatial Wada and the small tenement of Dhekne were all the same. What he looked for was faith and devotion. Let us start this narration of Pune activities with the Mehendale couple.
His full name was Balwantrao Khanderao Mehendale but was better known as Raosaheb Mehendale, Raosaheb being a title of honour and respect. He was a descendant of Sardar Appa Balwant Mehendale who fought bravely in the Panipat war between Marathas and Rohilas. Sardar Mehendale had built this big mansion, which, since it belonged to the Mehendale family was known as Mehendalewada. The road junction (called a Chowk in Marathi) near is known in his memory as Appa Balwant Chowk. In the forties and fifties the Wada was a centre for intensive spiritual activities. These activities lasted for many decades under the wings of Maharaj who used often visit Raosaheb and his wife Padmavati, better known as Taisaheb. Taisaheb used to give discourses on Dnyaneshwari on the instructions of Maharaj for many years.
Tragedy leads to Dnyaneshwari
Raosaheb was a scholar. He stood first in the degree examination and went abroad to study law returning to India as a barrister. Raosaheb was married to Akkasaheb, daughter of the king of Sangli State and practiced law in Bombay. Unfortunately, Akkasaheb died from a minor ailment and Raosaheb's world collapsed. Raosaheb left Bombay and came to live in the Mehendalewada in Pune. It was a torture to live alone in that enormous house since there were no children. Visits from consoling friends gave only a temporary relief. Such tragedies sometimes lead people to alcohol or other vices. But in Raosaheb's case fortunately things moved in a different direction. Once, his friends Dr Bhadkamkar and Sardar Nanasaheb Mirikar came, expressed their deep concern for the way he was immersed in grief and invited him to come with them to meet some saints.
Raosaheb agreed. Sardar Mirikar first took him to a discourse on Dnyaneshwari by Dadamaharaj Satarkar at Kandewadi, Bombay. Raosaheb developed an immediate liking for Dnyaneshwari, which became stronger as he attended more discourses.
Raosaheb meets Maharaj
A few days later, Sardar Mirikar suggested that since the courts were having a holiday, Raosaheb could come with him for a few days to Nagar, (about 150Km from Pune) where he would introduce him to a Siddha Yogi staying with him at that time. He also warned, “You may not notice any outward signs of his being a Siddha Yogi. Actually, he will appear to you as a simpleton and half-wit, lisping, and not even able to walk properly. But I assure you, that meeting him will give you an experience of the divine.” Raosaheb agreed and accompanied Sardar Mirikar to Nagar.
When he saw Maharaj for the first time he was sitting or rather spread out on a mattress reclining against a cushion. He was wearing only a dhoti and full shirt. His hands and feet were deformed. Hair was ruffled. His eyes looked like a drunkard's. He was puffing a cigarette and laughing to himself.
Raosaheb had a momentary doubt about this person being a Siddha Yogi, in spite of Sardar Mirikar's warning. However, he kept quiet. On Sardar Mirikar's signal he got up and made namaskar to Maharaj who slapped him hard on back and said, “Come my child, I was waiting for you only. You are the King Bhartrihari of the Nine Naths. Your Pingala is dead. You have lost a person possessing external beauty and wealth. It is all gone now. Very soon you will enjoy the wealth and beauty of Dnyaneshwari. You will play the main role in it.” Maharaj was comparing Raosaheb's condition to that of Bhartrihari.
Reference to King Bhartrihari comes from the tales of the Nine Naths. King Bhartrihari loved his queen Pingala very much. One day, wishing to test Pingala's love for him he pretended to be dead. Pingala committed Sati by burning herself to death. This was a counter shock to Bhartrihari who retired to the cremation ground and stayed there calling for Pingala day in and day out for twelve years. On Lord Dattatreya's instructions, Gorakshanath went to Bhartrihari and demonstrated to him the power of yoga by making thousands of Pingalas appear before him. Bhartrihari recovered from his grief and was initiated by Gorakshanath into Nath Sect.
Maharaj was speaking haltingly, lisping but his words and touch sent waves of bliss throughout Raosaheb's body. He found himself immersed in the vibrations of love. Thus was the first meeting.
On being urged by his elders and friends, Raosaheb married Padmavati, the younger sister of Mr. Dajisaheb Patwardhan of Miraj. Raosaheb was not quite inclined towards this marriage. His newly developed attraction for the company of saints and for Dnyaneshwari had transformed his attitude towards life. He was not sure the marriage would be successful in view of his changed attitudes. He was wondering whether his new wife, who was considerably younger than him, would be agreeable to this spiritual path. It was in this mood that he started his new family life with Padmavati or Taisaheb in Bombay.
He tried to keep Taisaheb happy by going, against his own wishes, to play tennis, to attend parties etc. To judge her feelings, he used to take her also to the Dnyaneshwari discourses of Dadamaharaj Satarkar. But the mutual relationship remained somewhat distant and both were languishing internally. However, Raosaheb was guided by the advice of Maharaj to face the situation squarely without conflict. For Taisaheb who had not yet met Maharaj there was no such guiding light. And one day the matters reached a climax.
A depressed Taisaheb meets Maharaj
On that fateful day Taisaheb was in a very depressed mood. She felt her life was a failure. With all the worldly luxuries available to her, she was tired of life and had even thoughts of committing suicide. In that depressed mood she left her home alone on that fateful day and wandered towards the seashore behind the Mahalakshmi Temple, thoughts of suicide taking shape in her mind. Suddenly she saw a small temple and thought she would take the last look at the Deity in the temple. It was not a temple of a Deity but a Math of Swami Samarth of Akkalkot (the Guru of Shri Shankar Maharaj). She closed her eyes for praying and heard the word "Ashtavakragita" repeated in her ears. There was nobody around and anyway she did not know what "Ashtavakragita" was. She sat on the temple steps wondering about the phenomenon. Suddenly she heard somebody asking her how it was that she had come for the stroll alone. It was Mr. Noori, a Muslim friend of Raosaheb speaking to her. She avoided any further query by inviting him home.
When they reached home they found Raosaheb sitting there worried about where Taisaheb had gone. He felt relieved when he saw Taisaheb who rushed to her room with a feeling of guilt. A little while later, a message came that Shankar Maharaj had come to Pradhan's house. (This cannot be Mr. G. K. Pradhan since his meeting with Maharaj was in 1942 while this episode occurred before 1938.) Raosaheb's mood changed immediately to that of joy but Taisaheb felt annoyed and thought, “Who is this new Maharaj who has come now? My husband's life seems to be full of swamis and maharajs. Is this going to continue the entire life?” Raosaheb came to her and suggested they should both go to meet Maharaj. She agreed in order not to annoy him further.
They went to Mr. Pradhan's home where Taisaheb saw a half-witted simpleton with drunken eyes, with a light smile on his lips moving his head this way and that. Mr. Noori did namaskar to Maharaj. Raosaheb followed. Maharaj hit him hard on the back with his fist and said lisping, “Where is Baby? Where is Mirabai? Where is Janabai?” Everybody wondered whom he was referring to, because Mirabai and Janabai were well-known female saints from several centuries earlier. Raosaheb signalled to Taisaheb and she made namaskar to Maharaj who said, “Come Baby, come and sit before me.” In India the word Baby is used for small girls. Everybody realised that he had called Taisaheb as Baby.
Taisaheb is initiated
Maharaj scrutinised her and fixed his eyes on her. When their eyes met, Taisaheb was completely lost unto Maharaj. He touched her throat with his ring finger and her body was full of divine vibrations. She lost herself completely, started shivering and tears started flowing from her eyes. Suddenly, a poem of Dnyaneshwar Maharaj, which she never knew before, came out of her lips. The type of the poem is called "Virahini" which is a song about separation of the devotee from God. Translated, the meaning is:She sang this poem for more than half an hour. That touch from Maharaj permanently changed the entire tone of her life. Her condition really became like Janabai and Mirabai, engrossed in the Supreme. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in the same condition she remembered as having sat before Maharaj. Maharaj patted on Raosaheb's thighs and said, “I ate Baby! I swallowed Baby!” and started rocking in a trance. After some time he came out of it and left.I led the worldly life,
But now I don't want the separation.
It is very painful; oh! Guru,
Don't take this calf away from your bosom.
Next day it was Ekadashi (eleventh day of each fortnight of lunar month). Mehendale couple went to the Dnyaneshwari discourse of Dadamaharaj Satarkar. Dadamaharaj was completely engrossed in the spirit of Dnyaneshwari. A very unusual incident happened at the end of the discourse. Dadamaharaj picked up the volume he used during the discourse and put it in the hands of Taisaheb. He made her read a few quartets from the first and twelfth chapters and asked her to give discourses on Dnyaneshwari in future.
Taisaheb was surprised at this and was wondering how she could fulfill the instructions. That night Taisaheb had a vision in which Shri Ganesh and his mother Parvati appeared, resplendent with ornaments, with bright golden aura. She felt a deep devotion from her heart. Shri Ganesh then held her with his trunk and placed her on his lap like a child, caressed and kissed her. He then touched her with his trunk on the same point on her throat where Maharaj had touched with his ring finger earlier and blessed. At that time she was hearing some unknown power singing quartets from Dnyaneshwari.
When Taisaheb came out of the dream, she opened Dnyaneshwari and found them to be the first two stanzas from seventeenth chapter. It was as if she was initiated into the Nath Panth by those stanzas, which may be translated as:It was thus that Shambhu (i.e. Lord Shiva) who is actually Shankar Maharaj removed the veil of Maya from her mind.Oh Guru, I greet you
Whose Maya gives form
To the universe and who is
The master of all creatures.
The soul imprisoned in the fortress of life
Being trapped by the three attributes
Is liberated by Shambhu
Just by remembering you.
Mehendale Couple comes to Pune
Thus, Maharaj totally transformed the life of the Mehendale couple to spirituality. They left Bombay and settled in Pune in their ancestral Mehendalewada. Spiritual programs like discourses, bhajans, kirtans started and became an integral part of their life. Mehendalewada became a centre of solace for people needing relief from frustrations in life. Number of visitors to the Wada increased.
Mr. G. C. Nerlekar, a friend of mine living in Pune, told me of his impressions when he first saw Maharaj. He does not remember the exact date being way back in past but it must be around 1945 that his maternal uncle, an ardent devotee of Maharaj took him to Mehendalewada to attend a discourse by Taisaheb Mehendale. While the discourse was going on Maharaj came up by the stairs, walked in and sat on her lap like a child. Taisaheb then performed his worship and he sat aside reclined on a pillow listening to the discourse. In those days Maharaj did not have a beard. His body was so bent in many places that Mr. Nerlekar wondered how he could at all walk, let alone climb the stairs.
On the instructions from Maharaj, Taisaheb started celebrating the festival of Gokulashtami on a big scale from 1941 onwards. Gokulashtami is the festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna on the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the fifth lunar month Shravan. It usually falls in August.
The Gokulashtami celebrations in Mehendalewada began eight days earlier i.e. from Narali Purnima itself. On these days Taisaheb used to give regular discourses on Dnyaneshwari. Sometimes, when the discourse on Dnyaneshwari started, a whitish vapour could be seen emanating from Taisaheb's mouth. Whenever this happened, the discourse used to impart deeper bliss to the members of the audience and they used to feel the meaning of their life being unfolded. It was as if Shri Shankar Maharaj was speaking through her, for he had already told that, “I myself cannot speak. I need someone intelligent with pure mind.”
Maharshi Vinod - Messenger Siddha
The incidence that initiated Taisaheb into giving discourses on Dnyaneshwari in Bombay was repeated in Pune in a strange way through Maharshi Vinod. Maharshi Dhundiraj Vinod was a philosopher and scholar who had mastered yoga and tantric techniques from various masters in Himalayas and Tibet. He became a great yogi and had extrasensory powers, which he used for curing people. Since 1937, when he settled in Pune, he was in contact with Maharaj and was a good friend of the Mehendale couple.
Yogi Dnyananath (Bapu Ranade) who has described this incident in one of his articles was a boy of about 12 years then. He used to visit Mehendalewada frequently with his Guru's permission. On the day before Narali Purnima in 1943, Taisaheb had reminded Bapu that next day was Narali Purnima and he must come early in the evening since Maharshi Vinod (whom they referred to as Appasaheb) was expected at half past eight. She was insistent on Bapu coming because of a special programme arranged for the next day. Accordingly, Bapu came and waited with others for Appasaheb's arrival.
Appasaheb arrived at about quarter to nine. He was wearing a white dhoti, white shirt, a Jodhpuri coat, and cap and had a walking stick in hand. A pleasant smile adorned his face. Raosaheb ran to the door and embraced him. When he saw Bapu with Taisaheb, he referred to him as Namdeo who was a great saint seven centuries ago, famous because god Vithoba had eaten the food offering by him.
Bapu asked innocently asked Appasaheb whether he knew Shankar Maharaj. Appasaheb whispered to him that he did know him and had inner links with him. He was among the many in Maharaj’s inner circle and tells him to do some of his tasks. He added that that was the reason why he came there.
Appasaheb then went and sat on the mattress reclining against the cushion in the manner of Shri Shankar Maharaj. Raosaheb offered tea but he declined and asked to be given only water.
As soon as he drank water, his eyes became half closed and lips were joined together giving out a peculiar whistle. After a while, the whistling stopped. He asked Taisaheb to take out the Dnyaneshwari and read the seventeenth chapter, remarking on the great bliss one gets from mauli (mother).
In India, Guru is considered like a mother and often referred as such. He was referring to Dnyaneshwar Maharaj whom many people refer as Dnyanoba Mauli or just Mauli. Taisaheb quickly got the volume and started reading the seventeenth chapter.“Here Shambhu means Shankar Maharaj”, Appasaheb said.Oh Guru, I greet you
Whose Maya gives form
To the universe and who is
The master of all creatures.
The soul imprisoned in the fortress of life
Being trapped by the three attributes
Is liberated by Shambhu
Just by remembering you.
He asked for the incense stick that was burning on the stand. Raosaheb quickly handed it to him. He then touched Taisaheb's throat with the tip of his ring finger and followed it by momentarily touching at the same spot with the burning incense stick thus branding her with the brand of Nath Panth. Immediately he pressed the tip of the same finger in between the eyebrows, saying,
“Through the medium of seven tunes, through the mine of holy literature and at Shankar's request the Adnya chakra is hereby activated.” Adnya chakra is one of the six Kundalini Chakras located in between the eyes.
Taisaheb went into trance. Tears started flowing from her eyes. A divine fragrance flooded the hall. Taisaheb suddenly started reciting the opening quartets from the first chapter of Dnyaneshwari. Appasaheb said,
“Nivruttinath, Guru of Dnyaneshwar Maharaj, has generated a fountain of immortalising nectar in the form of Dnyaneshwari from his disciple's lips by yogic powers. Recite that same Dnyaneshwari from tomorrow.”
This processing, though virtually same as the earlier one done in Bombay by Shri Shankar Maharaj, was now repeated on the instructions of Chouranginath, one of the nine Naths, through the lips of Maharshi Vinod.
Bapu’s Guru, a Nath Panthi yogi named Harinath, later told Bapu that Maharshi Vinod is in the class of a messenger siddha through whom Naths arrange the yogic processing of seekers. When a seeker has a deep longing for God-realisation, such Siddhas sense it and activate his spiritual faculties by touch or through dreams or otherwise. Maharshi Vinod had been to Himalayas, Ladakh and Tibet where he had an opportunity to acquire the siddhis. A siddha from Avadhut sect by the name of Kevalanand Avadhut had accepted him as his disciple and then handed him over first to Chouranginath and then to Shri Shankar Maharaj. Maharshi Vinod enjoyed the favour of both, who had given him the power of siddhis.
Mehendalewada was one of the places in Pune where Maharaj visited often. He used to listen to the discourses and kirtans. One day, when reference to Lord Shiva was made during the discourse, Maharaj started performing the Tandav dance of Lord Shiva. Nana Pandit (see later) who used to regularly attend these programmes actually saw Lord Shiva dancing instead of Maharaj.
The Gokulashtami celebrations continued until 1972 for thirty-two years. Raosaheb Mehendale passed away in 1958; Taisaheb much later. They are survived by a daughter Kumud who is married and lives with her family in whatever is left of the Mehendalewada. Maharaj transformed the life of Mehendale couple and through them gave spiritual solace to many people. The good work of Naths does not stop. Only the location changes as per the needs of the times.
ACTIVITIES IN PUNE - 2
VASUDEO M. PANDIT
Mr. Vasudeo M. Pandit, better known as Nana Pandit to his friends and relatives, comes from a spiritual family. He was born in 1925 in the Janorikar family and was adopted by Pandit family. Shortly after his birth his mother died. At the time of death she gave the infant Nana to Mrs. Pandit, told her that she has been called by Lord Vishnu who has sent his Garuda (The eagle bird vehicle of Vishnu) for her. Before leaving her body she asked Mrs. Pandit to take care of the child. The adopted mother also died in 1940. His real brother Triambak Janorikar is a well-known singer of classical music and had an opportunity to meet Shri Shankar Maharaj about which we shall see a little later.
FIRST MEETING WITH MAHARAJ
The person who brought Nana in contact with Maharaj was Mr. Anantrao Umbrajkar, a disciple of Janardan Maharaj of Solapur. Mr. Umbrajkar often visited the Pandit family. When Nana describes his first meeting with Maharaj, he is overfilled with emotions and cannot help his tears at the memory. Such is the attachment to the Guru! Nana described this first meeting in the following words:
“One day Mr. Anantrao Umbrajkar took me to see Maharaj. I was only 15 years old then. Maharaj was in Mehendalewada on the third floor. When we entered, I saw Maharaj sitting with a brandy bottle in his hand. A hunter was lying nearby but I did not feel any fear. Mr. Umbrajkar asked me to touch his feet, which I did. Maharaj called me, took me on his lap and caressed me on back like a mother does to her child. Maharaj then asked me to bring a tonga (horse cart). I went down to get the tonga. When the tonga was brought Maharaj asked me to help him put on his clothes. Actually only a coat was to be put on. This done, we both went down. As soon as he came near the tonga, Maharaj whipped the tongawalla (tonga driver) with his hunter. Poor tongawalla kept quiet throughout the whipping. Maharaj then said to me, “Sit, Bhadvya!” I did so and he followed me. He then asked the tongawalla to be taken to Laxmi Road and then to Deccan Watch Company owned by one Mr. Khansaheb near City Post Office. On reaching the destination, Maharaj got down and went inside the shop. I had no money to pay the tongawalla. Intuitively, even today I don't know how I, only a 15-year-old boy, told him, “You will be blessed with prosperity.” Tongawalla seemed satisfied. I then left for home.” (The tongawalla did prosper. He used to visit the Samadhi every year with offerings of garlands.)
After this, Nana used to be with Maharaj all the time whenever he was in Pune. Maharaj used to be in the Mehendalewada often. During the discourses on Dnyaneshwari by Taisaheb, Nana used to give cymbals accompaniment to the singing. It was during one of these discourses that Nana had experienced the vision of Lord Shiva's dance about which you have read in the last chapter.
Raosaheb Mehendale treated Nana (whom he used to call “Vaashya”) and Prof Bhalchandra Deo like his own sons. Prof Deo and Nana were related, Deo being married to Nana's niece. Prof Deo translated Dnyaneshwari into English (which unfortunately remains unpublished) and was a tutor of Marathi language to the Governor of the then Bombay Presidency.
MEETINGS AFTER SAMADHI
All the episodes given below about Nana’s encounters with Maharaj pertain to the post-Samadhi period i.e. after April 1947. In all these episodes Maharaj visited Nana through the medium of other persons. The visits were intended to save Nana and his family members from calamities. The episodes are examples of the boundless love and concern a Guru carries for his devotees and the alertness with which he oversees their welfare.
Nana's father (adopted) passed away on 21st July 1948. This was the day after Gurupurnima, the full moon day on which disciples pay respects to and worship their Guru. On this occasion, which was about fifteen months after his samadhi, Maharaj visited Nana through the medium of Yogi Dnyananath. Another time Maharaj visited him through the medium of Shambhu, Mama Dhekne's young son, to save him from some family problems. This is the time he was given his mantra by Maharaj.
Saved from Witchcraft
About ten years later, Maharaj saved Nana and his family through the medium of his sister-in-law Lata. It happened like this.
Thread ceremony of both his sons was scheduled to be performed on 21st February 1958. On the previous day, Graha-shanti rites prior to the main rites were in progress. Nana and his wife were sitting for performing the rites. The task of cooking was entrusted to Mrs. Dhekne (Dheknemami) and Mrs. Soman, another acquaintance. People used to believe that Mrs. Soman was a medium for Devi (i.e. Goddess Durga or some other female deity) who spoke to them through her.
While the rites were in progress, Mrs. Soman, while sitting in the kitchen, started strange gestures with her hands, typical of black magic. Lata was sitting in another room. She suddenly got up and shouted,
“Vaashya, what is going on in the kitchen?” It was obvious that Maharaj had come and was speaking through Lata. Lata would not have addressed Nana as Vaashya. Only Maharaj used to do that. Maharaj was heard telling somebody, obviously the spirit that occupied Mrs. Soman's body, “Get out! I am here”. Mrs. Soman left cursing. Later, they came to know that it was not a Devi but spirit of the former wife of Mr. Soman that used to possess her. Mrs. Soman or rather the spirit in her medium had hidden some bangles and kumkum in the loft in the worship room without anybody knowing about it, with obvious intention of harming the Pandit family. Maharaj (through Lata) told Nana about it and asked the things to be removed from the house immediately.
Son Saved from Death
Nana took up teaching profession after his graduation. He has two sons and two daughters. His elder son Ravi is now a professor in Commerce section in Wadia College, Pune. One day, sometime during 1956, Ravi, then about ten-year-old, returned from school with clenched mouth and became unconscious. Nana had just finished his routine worship. Nana’s wife started crying and asked Nana to get a doctor immediately. Nana with his deep faith in Maharaj was not worried. He said,
“Who is it that I worship? If he (i.e. Maharaj) has some shame he will cure him.”
Nevertheless, on her insistence he went to call the family physician Dr Apte. Doctor was not available at the dispensary so Nana went to his residence where he was told that the doctor had gone out on a visit. Nana therefore left a note “Ravi serious, come immediately” and came home to find Ravi well and up. Ravi told Nana that Maharaj had come (while he was unconscious) and had told Ravi,
“Bhadvya, where are you going (meaning to the other world) when I am here?”. Ravi recovered. Maharaj thus saved Ravi’s life.
The following incident happened while Maharaj used the body of Mr. Dinesh Kulkarni (DK) of Malad as his medium. In 1972, Nana's wife underwent an operation of the uterus in Pune. During the period the operation was in progress at Pune, Maharaj (DK) who was in Nashik about 250Km from Pune, had covered himself under a blanket and was lying down. When the operation was over he got up saying, “Now I am relieved”. The operation was successful. But this incident has a sequel.
Seven years later Nana's wife passed away. She was hospitalised for asthma problems on 13th September 1979, at the KEM hospital in Pune but was shifted to a private nursing home the same day. She was to be discharged from the nursing home on 16th but it being a Sunday the discharge was postponed to the next day. On the next day she unfortunately developed pneumonia and passed away on the 22nd. The tragedy affected Nana very much. He held the doctor who was treating his wife as responsible for the death. It was about 3 or 4 PM on the seventh day after the death. Nana was sitting at home thinking seriously of filing a case of criminal negligence against the doctor. At that time Dr N. R. Dhaneshwar who, as readers would recall was a close disciple of Maharaj, arrived. He came up the stairs to where Nana was brooding over the legal action and kicked him shouting,
“Bhadvya, against whom are you filing the case? Do you think you will get back your wife if you file a case against the doctor? Someone is always a cause of termination of life. Did I not save her when she was to be saved?” (Maharaj was referring to the uterus operation mentioned earlier).
Dr Dhaneshwar used to live with his son at Pashan, about 12 Km from Nana's home. He had no means of knowing that Nana was thinking of filing the case. Actually it was Maharaj who was using the body of Dr Dhaneshwar, then 79 years old (that is only about three months before his death) as medium, while the latter was sitting at his home with his disciples, Mr. Vartak and Mr. Palnitkar. It was Mr. Vartak who had brought Maharaj (in Dhaneshwar's body) in his car, Mr. Palnitkar accompanying. Nana got severe tongue-lashing from Maharaj for nearly one and a half hours. Maharaj reprimanded Nana in the following terms:
“What happened to your spiritual path? It is easy to preach philosophy to others, but when your own turn comes then only you understand their suffering.”
Nana of course did not pursue the matter further. Because of such incidents devotees are always confident that Maharaj will help even after samadhi.
That day, Nana asked Maharaj about the marriage of his daughters also. Maharaj told him,
“Is it you who are running the affairs of this world? You are responsible only for the birth of your daughters.” In due course Nana's daughters got married into good families.
EXPERIENCE OF NANA'S BROTHER
Nana's brother Mr. Triambak Dattatreya Janorikar is a classical vocal music maestro and was recently honoured by public bodies on his 75th anniversary. The worship of Shri Yantra, the symbol of Goddess Durga's power runs in his family. He himself has been initiated by Gulwani Maharaj of Pune by Shaktipat technique. In this technique the initiation and awakening of Kundalini can be done from a distance. In spite of many physical problems including heart problem he is still able to sing for an hour or more, which he ascribes to his Guru's power. When he starts singing he says it is not he who sings but the Divine power.
Mr. Janorikar met Maharaj at Shubhrai Math at Solapur. When Maharaj saw him he made a sign connected with the worship of Shri Yantra and told him that he was all right spiritually and need not come to him. One day, Mr. Janorikar visited the Samadhi of Maharaj in Pune. That night, in his sleep he saw a flash of light as bright as a thousand candle power lamp followed by cracking sound throughout his body signifying blessings of Maharaj. Thus Maharaj could at once understand the spiritual status of Mr. Janorikar and was benevolent to him.
ACTIVITIES IN PUNE - 3
YOGI DNYANANATH RANADE
We are already familiar with Yogi Dnyananath or Bapu Narayan Ranade in connection with the events in Mehendalewada. We must be grateful to Yogi Dnyananath who gave us the first glimpses into the life of Maharaj through his book “Yogiraj Shri Shankar Maharaj” published by Santakripa Prakashan, Pune.
Bapu was initiated in the Nath Panth by his Guru Yogi Harinath at an early age of about 12 years and was renamed Dnyananath. Yogi Harinath lived in a hut under a tree in Rasta Peth not very far from Mehendalewada. He used to cure people with herbal medicines as many Nath yogis do. Yogi Harinath was the twelfth Nath Yogi in the lineage of Dnyaneshwar Maharaj. Dnyananath was therefore the thirteenth in that line. He is married to the sister-in-law of Mr. V. M. Pandit.
Yogi Dnyananath is one of the persons still living at the time of this writing. He has been in close contact with many yogi saints and has written similar biographical books on his own Guru Yogi Harinath, Kaka Uplekar etc. He lives in Pune, is a spiritual guide to many and has written books on spiritual subjects. Recently, his disciples and well wishers in Pune celebrated his 75th birth anniversary.
FIRST MEETING WITH MAHARAJ
Bapu's family was very spiritual minded. Bapu's mother who had moved from Nashik after her husband’s death used to live near about Mehendalewada in Pune. One day in 1938, after his initiation into the Nath Panth, his mother took him to Mehendalewada to listen to the kirtan (discourse) by Taisaheb. This is where he first met Maharaj. He was not immediately impressed. He thought that a great saint should have had a traditional look i.e. wearing a dhoti, a rudraksha or tulsi string in neck and sandalwood paste with kumkum on forehead. Instead, he saw a half-witted person with closely cropped hair, with unusually long hands, a square headed ring in the right hand, wearing a loose black coat on a white shirt, laughing sometimes like child, sometimes awfully and lisping unintelligible sentences. He had a cigarette packet and a liquor bottle in hand and was sitting on a mattress reclining against a cushion. There was no crowd of disciples around him. Nevertheless, Bapu was impressed and attracted by some strange power. He bowed to him and did namaskar.
Next day he his told his Guru Yogi Harinath about his meeting Shri Shankar Maharaj. He gave Bapu permission to meet him and further advised him to continue meeting Maharaj since it would be spiritually beneficial for him.
ADINATH IS WITHIN YOU
One day when Bapu went to attend the kirtan in Mehendalewada, he did not see Maharaj there. Bapu went searching for Maharaj and finally found him at the home of Motiwale Lagu. Maharaj was relaxing against a cushion talking to Mr. Lagu and a Muslim gentleman by the name of Khansaheb, owner of Deccan Watch Company near City Post Office. Maharaj beckoned him to sit and continued his talk. He was speaking on certain instructions in Koran. Khansaheb was asking and Maharaj was explaining,
“A real Namazi is one who is not rude i.e. one who has lost his ego and become one with Allah”.
When Lagu asked him whether there are Namazis in Hindus also, he asked him to open Dnyaneshwari and showed and explained him a quartet and said that one who follows Gorakshnath's instructions exactly will enjoy the samadhi state. He said that such a person is a real Namazi. Then he asked tea to be served. When Maharaj was in good mood, he used to ask for tea. He then introduced Bapu to the duo as “Bapya” from Baby's house. (Recall that Maharaj used to call Taisaheb Mehendale by the name Baby)
Bapu said he had come because he had not met him for two days. Maharaj told him cryptically that you cannot meet Adinath by going here and there. Your Adinath is within you. Don't go after external Adinath. Bapu felt better but did not understand the cryptic meaning at that time. Maharaj then got up and said, “Bapya, hold my hand; let us go to Mama”.
As soon as he reached Mama Dhekne's home Maharaj shouted like a boy, “Mami, I have come!”
Maharaj sat relaxed on a torn carpet with the same indifference as on the soft mattress minutes earlier. He told Bapu to remain in the company of Raosaheb. He said, “You will realise the truth there. I cannot speak clearly. I need to speak through somebody who is intelligent and has clear mind. I have to teach through his intellect.” He then left for Nagar with another devotee.
BAPU SEES LORD SHIVA
It was Mahashivaratri day. Bapu had visited Mehendalewada in the morning. That morning, Maharaj had schemed with Dr Dhaneshwar to remove from Bapu’s mind the ego he had developed because he had received initiation at a very young age. Bapu had left huffed.
Bapu returned to Mehendalewada in the evening with the intention of asking pardon of Maharaj and all others. When he reached there, everybody was engrossed in listening to Yellubai singing a bhajan. With his ego now dissolved, he ran to Maharaj, embraced his feet and started weeping. Maharaj fondled him and said,
“Today is Mahashivaratri. The temple opens only once..... only once”.
Before even realising the significance of these words, the deformed body of Maharaj slowly turned blue and everybody saw before them Lord Shiva in person. That was an unusual Mahashivaratri for those present.
We shall read more about Bapu in the chapters that follow.
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BIOGRAPHY: CH I-III : CH IV-V : CH VI-VII : CH VIII-X : CH XI–XIICH XIII-XIV : CH XV
Address: Dr V.V.Shirvaikar, A-23 Yashodhan Soc.
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