Gurus and Saints

योगीराज श्री वेथथिरी महर्षि [Vethathiri Maharishi]

सामान्य परिचय

योगीराज श्री वेथथिरी महर्षि [Vethathiri Maharishi] (१४ अगस्त १९११ – २८ मार्च २००६) जो कि चैन्नई में विश्व समुदाय केंद्र (१९५८) के संस्थापक और ट्रस्टी होने के साथ साथ विश्व समुदाय के एक आध्यात्मिक नेता, विश्व शांति कार्यकर्ता, वैज्ञानिक, दार्शनिक, सिद्ध, आयुर्वेदिक,होम्योपैथिक व्यवसायी थे | बिग बैंग थ्योरी के लिए एक विकल्प के रूप में यूनिवर्सल मेग्निटिज्म का सिद्धांत उनका दिया हुआ है | उनका ये सिद्धांत ब्रह्माण्ड के गठन को और अधिक सामान्य तरीके से दिखाता है जिसमें कुछ चीजें एक बैंग के साथ होती है | उनका ये सिद्धांत परमाणुओं का विकास प्रदान करता है | उन्होंने विश्व शांति के लिए १४ सिद्धांतो का प्रतिपादन किया तथा साथ ही सयुंक्त राष्ट्र में एक ब्लू प्रिंट प्रस्तुत किया |

उन्होंने दुनिया में ३०० से अधिक योग केंद्रों की स्थापना की और लगभग ८० पुस्तकें लिखीं, जिनमें से कई को शैक्षिक पाठ्यपुतस्कों के रूप में अपना लिया गया है | द्रविड़ विश्वविद्यालय द्वारा उन्हें १९ वी सिद्ध घोषित किया गया था और हाल ही में तमिलनाडु सरकार ने उनके सरलीकृत कुंडलिनी योग को स्कूलों में पढ़ाने के लिए मंजूरी दे दी है |

जीवनी

जन्म

श्री वेथथिरी महर्षि का जन्म १४ अगस्त १९११ को चेन्नई के दक्षिण गुदुवंन्चेरी गांव में, एक स्वदेशी विवर परिवार में हुआ था |

प्रारंभिक जीवन

कई छोटी नौकरियों में कई साल बीताने के बाद उन्होंने एक कपड़ा मील की स्थापना जिसको लाभ साझाकरण के आधार पर २००० से अधिक श्रमिकों को रोजगार देने क लिए बढ़ाया गया |महर्षि ने नियमित रूप से गहन ध्यान और आत्मनिरीक्षण में भाग लिया, जिसमें उन्होंने दावा किया कि उन्हें ३५ वर्ष की आयु में पूर्ण ज्ञान प्राप्त हुआ | ५० वर्ष की आयु में महर्षि ने अपने सारे व्यावसायिक उपक्रम बंद किये और अपना सम्पूर्ण जीवन आध्यात्मिक सेवा के लिए समर्पित कर दिया | आध्यात्मिक सेवा के लिए उन्होंने अपने परिवार से सम्बन्ध खत्म नहीं किये अर्थात वें गृहस्थ जीवन में बने रहते हुए ही आध्यात्मिक सेवा में लगे रहें |

कविताएं और किताबें

श्री वेथथिरी महर्षि का भारतीय दार्शनिक परंपरा में दर्शन अद्वेत था और उन्होंने दार्शनिक विषयों पर ३००० से अधिक कविताएं लिखी | संस्कृत में द्वैतवाद का अर्थ “२ ” तथा विज्ञापन का कोई अर्थ नहीं हैं तथा ये केवल यही बताता है कि भगवान एक हैं | इसे पैंथिस्टीक मोनिसम कहा जा सकता हैं | उनकी भाषा और व्यवहार समकालीन, गैर- साम्प्रदायिक व गैर- कट्टरपंथी हैं, वें अपने जीवन के अंतिम समय तक लिखते रहे तथा उनके द्वारा तमिल और अंग्रेजी में लगभग ८० पुस्तकें लिखीं गई |

आध्यात्मिक शिक्षाएं

श्री वेथथिरी महर्षि तीन सवालों के जवाब खोजने के लिए निकले – “भगवान क्या हैं ?” “जीवन क्या हैं ?” “दुनिया में गरीबी क्यों हैं ?” इन सवालों के जवाब को ढूंढने के और अपनी जिंदगी को आगे बढ़ाने वें विभिन्न क्षेत्रों में गए और वहां उन्हें स्वदेशी चिकित्सा, सिद्ध आयुर्वेद और होयोपैथी के योग्य प्रमाणित व्यापारियों में शामिल किया गया। वेथथिरी महर्षि ने गृहस्थ जीवन का नेतृत्व तब तक किया जब तक की वो ५० वर्ष का ना हो जाये, और उसके पश्चात् अपने दैवीय अनुभवों को पढ़ाने और लिखने के लिए अपने जीवन को एक व्यवसायी के रूप में बदल दिया तथा अंग्रेजी और तमिल में कई किताबें प्रकाशित की | १९७२ से १९९३ के बीच वेथथिरी महर्षि के द्वारा अमेरिका, यूरोप, मलेशिया, सिंगापुर, दक्षिण कोरिया, जापान तथा मेक्सिको का दौरा किया गया |

वेथथिरी का जीवन विज्ञान (वीठाथीरियम)

वेथथिरी महर्षि ने मानवता के सुधार के लिए और जीवित रहने के सम्पूर्ण विज्ञान के रूप में सरलीकृत कुंडलिनी योग-ध्यान, शारीरिक व्यायाम, काया कल्प योग, और और आत्मनिरीक्षण का मार्ग बताया, वेथथिरी के जीवन काल का यह समय विथथीरीयम के नाम से जाना जाता हैं जो की ज्ञान रूपी पहाड़ का एक आराधनालय के तौर पर अनुवाद करता हैं | उन्होंने दावा किया कि प्रकृति के नियम के अनुसार जीवन जीने के लिए प्रकृति की गहरी समझ आवश्यक हैं, जबकि आध्यात्मिक प्रगति के साथ भौतिकता का संतुलन बना रहना चाहिए |

वेथथिरी महर्षि की बतायी हुई ब्रह्मांड की प्रारंभिक अवस्था जिसे उन्होंने निरपेक्ष अंतरिक्ष कहा में दो अव्यक्त गुण अंतर्निहित हैं :

  • फोर्स या ग्रेविटी: ये अतुल्य आत्म-संकीर्ण बल हैं, जो सभी जगह कार्य करता है और सभी बलों का स्रोत हैं |
  • चेतना: सभी चीजों में कार्य का सर्वज्ञानी आदेश होता हैं, स्वामी जी के अनुसार पूर्ण स्थान के स्व-संकुचित प्रकृति के परिणामस्वरूप मौलिक ऊर्जा कण जो की अंतरिक्ष की एक अन्तर्ग्रानिक मात्रा हैं एक चक्राकार गति से शुरू होती हैं | उनका मानना था कि कताई कार्यवाही एक बाहरी शक्ति को प्रेरित करती हैं, और इसको दो बलों के आकर्षक और प्रतिकारक सह-जुड़ने को यूनिवर्सल चुंबकत्व के रूप में परिभाषित किया गया हैं | आंध्रा द्रविड़ विश्वविद्यालय ने उन्हें १९ वें सिद्ध पुरस्कार से सम्मानित किया हैं |

संगठन

१९५८ में वेथथिरी महर्षि ने एक गैर-लाभकारी पंजीकृत समाज विश्व समुदाय सेवा केंद्र (डब्लू यु सी एस सी) की स्थापना की जो की विश्व शांति के लिए कार्य करने वाली एक संस्था थी | आज २०० से ज्यादा ट्रस्ट और लगभग २००० से अधिक ध्यान केंद्र भारत में डब्लू यु सी एस सी से संबद्ध हैं | १९७२ से १९९३ के बीच महर्षि ने जापान, दक्षिण कोरिया, मलेशिया, सिंगापुर, और अमेरिका (यु.एस. ए.) की यात्रा की और बड़े पैमाने पर अध्ययन और व्याख्यान किया |

१९८४ में अल्लियर, पोलाची, तमिलनाडु में स्थित ” वीठाथिरी महर्षि योग और काया कल्प रिसर्च फाऊंडेशन” की स्थापना अत्रिरुनजोत्थी नगर के नाम पर की, यह पोलाची- वालपराई राजमार्ग ७८ पर स्थित है जो के अजिययार बांध के पास हैं और राज्य-परिवहन बसें पोलाची से अरुपरुनजोत्थी नगर तक उपलब्ध हैं | बड़ी संख्या में लम्बी अवधि के लिए SKY पाठ्यक्रम और रहने के लिए जाने वाले लोगों को सभी प्रकार की सुविधाएं प्रदान की जाती है, चेतना का मंदिर परिसर का केन्द्रस्थ हैं |

१९९८ में विभिन्न क्षेत्रों के बुद्धिजीवियों को एक साथ लाने, मानव जाति का सामना करने वाले मुद्दों पर चर्चा करने और व्यक्तियों और दुनिया में बड़े पैमाने पर शांति और सामंजस्य के लिए ब्रेन ट्रस्ट (Brain Trust) स्थापित किया गया |

२८ मई २००६ को वेथाथिरी महर्षि की मृत्यु हो गई और उनका मृत शरीर विश्व कम्युनिटी सेवा केंद्र के मणि मंडपम में रखा गया हैं, जो के अरुत्रपुंजोजी नगर, अजीययार, पोलाची में स्थित हैं |

वेथथिरी महर्षि पर जारी किये गए स्टाम्प

पूर्व केंद्रीय संचार एवं सुचना प्रौद्योगिकी मंत्री ऐ.राजा ने तत्कालीन मुख्यमंत्री एम. करूणानिधि से महर्षि वीथथिरी के स्मारक पर जारी किये गए एक डाक टिकट को प्राप्त करते हुए कहा था कि प्रसिद्ध व्यक्तियों और स्वतंत्रता सेनानियों के शताब्दी समारोह और उन पर जारी किये गए डाक टिकट युवाओं में ऐसे व्यक्तित्व को जन्म देने और उनको उनके द्वारा किये गए कार्यो और उनके दिए हुए संदेशो को अपनाने और उन संदेशो का अनुकरण करने के लिए मदद करेंगे|

पूर्व मुख्यमंत्री ने अपने एक भाषण के दौरान कहा कि वीथथिरी महर्षि (१९११-२००६) की शिक्षाओं से एक प्रकार की प्रशंसा प्राप्त होती हैं, क्योंकि आध्यात्मिक नेता ने “बुद्धिवाद के हथियार” के अधीन में रहकर कार्य किया, दावा किया जाता हैं कि वें ईश्वर के संपर्क में थे लेकिन फिर भी उन्होंने लोगों को आकर्षित करने के लिए किसी प्रकार की जादुई शक्ति का प्रयोग नहीं किया | जैसे की उनकी तर्कसंगतता थी जो लोगों को खुद ही यह समझने में और महसूस करने में मदद करेगी की उनकी शिक्षाए और सन्देश आज भी बहुत अच्छे हैं |

करूणानिधि ने कहा कि, श्री रामलिंगा स्वामिगल (१८२३-१८७४) और महर्षि वेथथिरी लोगों पर पड़े हुए अंधविश्वास के प्रभाव के प्रति जागरूक थे और उन्होंने लोगों को सही रास्ते दिखाने के संघर्ष भी किया |

एन. महालिंगम, चेतना मंदिर अल्यिर के अध्यक्ष ने महर्षि के साथ अपने रिश्तों को याद करते हुए कहा कि आध्यात्मिक नेता द्वारा स्थापित विश्व समुदाय सेवा केंद्र, अडिगल के सत्य ज्ञान सबाई का नतीजा था |

credit- wikipedia

Advaita Acharya

Introduction

Advaita Acharya (1434–1559), born Kamalaksha Bhattacharya, was said to be an incarnation of Krishna or Chaitanya in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya, notable disciple and companion of the founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sect, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and guru of Haridasa Thakur. He was born at Navagrama-Laur village in the present-day Sylhet District of Bangladesh in 1434, some fifty years before Chaitanya, and spent most of his adult life in the town of Shantipur with his wife and family (Advaita Acharya had six sons, Acyutananda, Krsna Misra, Gopala Dasa, Balarama, Svarupa, and Jagadisa) teaching the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana and promoting Bhakti Yoga.

The ancestry and life of Advaita Acharya are narrated in a number of hagiographical works, which include the Balyalilasutra (1487) of Krishnadasa in Sanskrit and the Advaitasutrakadacha of Krishnadasa, the Advaitamangala of Haricharanadasa, the Advaitaprakasha of Ishana Nagara and the Advaitavilasa of Naraharidasa in Bengali.Many of his activities are described in the Chaitanya Charitamrta, the Chaitanya Mangala, and the Chaitanya Bhagavata.

Biography

Advaita Acharya appeared in the village of Navagrama near the city of Sylhet as the son of the Varendra Brahmin Kubera Pandit and his wife Nabha Devi, on the seventh day of the waxing moon in the month of Magh. Kubera Pandit is identified in the Gaura-ganoddesha-Dipika (v. 91) with the original god Kubera, who was Mahadeva’s friend and leader of the Guhyakas.

Kubera Pandit, a devotee of Nrisingha, resided in the village of Navagrama near Sylhet in Bangladesh. He was a greatly fortunate follower of the path of devotion; he knew nothing other than the lotus feet of Krishna. His devoted and faithful wife was named Nabha Devi. She is worshipable to the whole world for she is the mother of Advaita Prabhu.
(Bhakti-ratnakara 5.2041-3)

On the seventh day of the waxing moon in the month of Magh, the great ocean of joy overflowed. In that auspicious moment, the moon of Advaita descended in the blessed womb of Nabha Devi. In his ecstasy, Kubera Pandit gave in charity to the Brahmins and the poor. He tiptoed to the birthing room and his heart was filled with gladness upon seeing his son’s face. All the villagers came running to his house and said to each other, “What pious works did this Brahmin do that in his old age he has been blessed with such a jewel of a son?” The gods rained down flowers without being seen. There is nothing with which this scene can compare. Ghanashyama sings of this great auspicious occasion when a joyous uproar rang around the earth. (Bhakti-ratnakara 12.1759-62)

In the Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhana, Advaita’s birthplace is given as Laura Gram. It is also said there that Advaita Prabhu left Laura to go to live in Sylhet and then from there moved to Shantipur. He also had a home in Nabadwip. His full name was Sri Kamalaksha or Kamala Kanta Vedapanchanana. His birth took place in 1434 AD and he disappeared in the year 1559, at the age of 125 years.

Jahnava Mata’s Diksha disciple Nityananda Das wrote in his Prema-vilasa that Advaita’s birthplace is to be found in Shantipur. He writes that Advaita studied the Veda and other scriptures with the scholar Shantacharya, who lived in the Phullabati section of Shantipur and earned from him the title Acharya. Advaita’s life has been described in several Bengali books, including Advaita-Mangala, Advaita-vilasa, and Sitacaritra. In the Advaita-vilasa it is written, “The Lord remained on this earth for a century and a quarter, performing unlimited pastimes.”

Advaita Prabhu’s Travels

When Kubera Pandit and Nabha Devi disappeared, Advaita went to Gaya on the pretext of performing the appropriate rituals of mourning, and thence continued on a pilgrimage tour of all of India’s holy places. When he came to Vrindavan, he became absorbed in the worship of Krishna, but through his meditation, he was able to understand that Krishna was about to appear in Nabadwip. While on this pilgrimage tour, he came to Mithila where he met the poet Vidyapati. This encounter is beautifully described in the Advaitavilasa. Advaita Prabhu finally returned from Vrindavan to Shantipur after spending several days in Nabadwip. The people of Shantipur had been suffering from his separation for a long time and were very happy to see him back.

Advaita had two wives; one was named Sri, the other Sita. In the Gaura-ganoddesha-Dipika, it is written that the divine Yogamaya took the form of Advaita’s wife Sita and that Sri is her prakasha expansion.
(Gaura-ganoddesha-Dipika 86)

Advaita Acharya also had two residences, one in Shantipur, the other not far from Srivasa’s home in Nabadwip-Mayapur. His heart was greatly pained at seeing that the people of the world were devoid of any devotion to Vishnu and were as a consequence greatly suffering the pains of material life. Overwhelmed with compassion, he began to teach the Bhagavad-gita and Bhagavat, explaining that the purport of the scriptures was to engage in devotional service to Krishna. At about the same time, Madhavendra Puri had a dream in which Govardhanadhari Gopal commanded him to find sandalwood paste for the Deity service. Madhavendra then started out for Puri, taking the road through western Bengal. While there, he stopped at Advaita’s house in Shantipur. Advaita became convinced to accept Madhavendra Puri as his guru when he saw his devotional ecstasies, even though he himself is an expansion of the supreme lord. He underwent this ritual in order to demonstrate to the conditioned souls the necessity of accepting a spiritual master.

Madhavendra Puri arrived at the house of Advaita Acharya. When Advaita saw Puripada’s Prema, he felt a deep inner joy. So, he took care to receive the mantra from him, after which Madhavendra left to continue his voyage to the south.

It is said that Mahaprabhu is the main trunk of the wish-fulfilling tree of devotion, as well as the gardener who enjoys and distributes the tree’s fruits. Though the tree was planted in Nabadwip, it grew in Purushottam Dham (Puri) and Vrindavan, expanding into an entire orchard producing many, many fruits of love. Madhavendra Puri is said to be the first seedling, which eventually grew into this tree. Isvara Puri was the nourished form of this seedling. Mahaprabhu, though himself the gardener, also became the tree’s main trunk through his inconceivable energies. Advaita and Nityananda were the two secondary trunks into which the main trunk divided.

The Cause of the Lord’s Incarnation

Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the main body of the devotional movement, and Advaita and Nityananda are the limbs. All three of them became incarnate, along with Srivasa and other devotees, in order to preach devotion to Hari. All those who were senior to Gauranga appeared on this earth prior to him. Advaita appeared along with the other elderly members of Chaitanya’s retinue and when he did so, he observed that the sinfulness of the age of Kali had reached a disturbing limit and that the world was entirely devoid of devotion to Krishna. He thought that a partial incarnation of the lord would not be sufficient to completely bring about the welfare of the earth in this state. He thought, “The world will only benefit if the Supreme Personality of Godhead himself descends to the earth.” So he began to worship Krishna’s lotus feet with Ganges water and Tulasi leaves, shouting and pleading to the lord to become incarnate. With roars of love (prema-hunkara) Advaita showed his desire for the Lord of Goloka to descend to the earth.

The Sons of Advaita

Although six sons were born to Advaita Acharya, the incarnation of Maha Vishnu, he indicated that some of them had understood the essence of spiritual life and some had not. Those who simply claimed to be his followers but showed no affection for Gauranga were the latter; those who were attached to Mahaprabhu in ever-increasing affection were the former. These included Achyutananda, Sri Krishna Mishra, and Gopal Mishra, while Balaram, Svarupa, and Jagadisa belonged to the category of those who did not recognize Chaitanya. Achyutananda was the oldest brother and Sri Krishna Mishra and Gopal Mishra followed his lead. The Chaitanya Charitamrita (Cf. 1.12.12) compares the two groups to the wheat and chaff.

Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati also writes in his Gaudiya-bhashya to the Chaitanya Bhagavat (2.10.162), “If someone takes Advaita Acharya to be the best of all the Vaishnavas, then he can be called a Vaishnava. On the other hand, if someone considers him to be the object of all religious life, the vishaya Krishna, and Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to be his devotee or ashraya, then he will never be able to attain Krishna’s lotus feet.”

The Lord Punishes Advaita

It is also said that Mahaprabhu taught Advaita the real meaning of the Bhagavad-gita.

Vishvambhara explained the true understanding of the Gita to Advaita, he hid the gates which held back the understanding of bhakti.

Another wonderful pastime was prepared by Advaita in order to show the fallen jivas how auspicious it is to receive punishment from the Lord, or from the guru or a Vaishnava. How fortunate is a devotee who is chastised by his guru! This is described in the seventeenth chapter of the Chaitanya Charitamrita, about which Bhaktivinoda Thakur has made the following comments in his Amrita-pravaha-bhashya: “Advaita Acharya is the godbrother of Mahaprabhu’s guru, Isvara Puri. For this reason, Mahaprabhu treated Advaita as his elder and spiritual master, even though Advaita considered himself to be Mahaprabhu’s servant. Advaita was pained to see Mahaprabhu treat him with such respect and so, in order to seek out the merciful punishment of the lord returned to Shantipur and began to explain the path of knowledge to a few unfortunate individuals. When the Lord caught wind of this, he became extremely angry and went to Shantipur to give him a good thrashing. When he was thrashed in this way, Advaita danced for joy, saying, “Look. My desires have been fulfilled today! Mahaprabhu was previously miserly with me, treating me as his respectful elder. Now he has acted toward me as though I were his servant or disciple, by trying to save me from the heresy of mayavada.” When the Lord understood that this had all been a ruse on Advaita’s part, he was embarrassed but pleased with Lord’s mercy, Sadashiva plays two different roles in Vraja, in/div/div on/div e he is Shiva himself, in the other, he is a cowherd boy.

The Lord treated Advaita with the respect deserved by a guru. This caused the Acharya great distress, so he adopted a ruse of teaching the path of knowledge. Mahaprabhu became angry and scorned Advaita, causing him great bliss. When he saw his satisfaction with the turn of events, the Lord became ashamed and was merciful to him.

“Previously Mahaprabhu would honor me. This (Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.1.12-13) made me unhappy, so I thought that if I start giving lectures on the Yoga-vashishtha, explaining Mukti as the supreme goal of life, the lord would become angry and insult me.

The Lord Comes to Shantipur

Advaita Acharya was Mahaprabhu’s associate in sankirtan, both in Srivasa’s house and in the streets of Nabadwip and along the shores of the Ganges.

Everyone sang together in great joy, “Krishna Rama Mukunda, Murari, Vanamali!” Holding on to Nityananda and Gadadhara, Advaita, like a lion ran in every direction.

The Lord danced along the banks of the Bhagirathi while all around him all the people sang the names of Hari. Advaita Acharya preceded him, dancing ecstatically with a small group of devotees.

After Mahaprabhu had taken sannyasa from Keshava Bharati in Katwa, he became overwhelmed with love for Krishna and started to run toward Vrindavan. With the help of some cowherd boys, Nityananda Prabhu tricked him into coming to the banks of the Ganges. Nityananda wanted to show him to the people of Navadwip and wanted to bring him to Shantipur. When Mahaprabhu saw the Ganges, he thought that it was the Yamuna and became ecstatic. Meanwhile, Advaita had heard that Nityananda had brought Mahaprabhu there and came by boat across the river with new clothes for him. Mahaprabhu was astonished to see Advaita, wondering how he could have known that he was in Vrindavan. Advaita answered by saying that Vrindavan was there wherever Mahaprabhu went and that the western flow of the Ganges was the Yamuna. When he heard these words, Mahaprabhu realized that he had been tricked into coming to the western bank of the Ganges across from the town of Shantipur. Advaita had him take a bath and dressed him in the new cloth and then took him to his house where he stayed for several days.

When Sachi and the people of Navadwip heard that Gaurahari was at Advaita’s they all came there to visit him. Seeing him in his dress as a sannyasi, they were felt joy mixed with separation. Sita Thakurani prepared an immense meal and served it on whole leaves from seed-banana trees. As Mahaprabhu and Nityananda ate, Advaita Prabhu talked and joked with them. This has been extensively described in the Chaitanya Charitamrita’s Madhya-Lila, chapter 3. Mahaprabhu afterward also ate foodstuffs prepared by Sachidevi in order to ease the suffering he had imposed on her by his departure. The reunion of Devotees turned into a great festival, and Advaita’s house in the town of Shantipur was transformed into the city of Vaikuntha.

Everyone was dancing and singing the names of Hari. Advaita’s house became the city of Vaikuntha.

Advaita Goes to Puri on the Annual Pilgrimage

When Mahaprabhu was saying his goodbyes to the Devotees, he set off to Puri or Nilachala to live there at the behest of his mother. Advaita and the residents of Navadwip were once again hurled into the ocean of separation from their Lord. These events took place in the year 1510. It was probably three more years before the Devotees went to Puri during the caturmasya period to visit him there at the time of the Rathayatra.

The first year, Advaita and the other Devotees went to Nilachala to see Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet. They witnessed the Rathayatra and then stayed for four months, passing the time in kirtan and dancing in great joy. When the time came for them to depart, the Lord told everyone to return every year to see the Rathayatra festival. And so the yearly trips to Puri to see the Lord became an institution.

Of the last 24 years of Mahaprabhu’s life, six were spent in traveling to and from Puri, while He spent the last eighteen there without ever leaving. During the six years that He was traveling, the Bengali Devotees would first find out whether He was present in Puri before going. During the eighteen years of Mahaprabhu’s permanent stay in Puri, the annual trips became a matter of course.

After Mahaprabhu arrived in Puri, returning from Vrindavan, He never again left in the eighteen remaining years of his life. The Devotees came from Bengali every year, meeting with the Lord and staying for the four months of the rainy season.

The place on the banks of the Ganga where Sri Advaita Acharya worshiped the shaligram shila and called out to the Lord to descend to the world is known today as Babla. A temple has been built in memory of Advaita Acharya’s pastimes there.

 

Credit  – Gaudiya history

Credit  – Wikipedia

Nityananda Prabhu

Introduction

Nitai or Nityananda was a Vaishnava saint, famous as a primary religious figure within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of Bengal, is an expansion of Balarama.Nitai was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s friend and disciple. They are often mentioned together as Gaura-Nitai (Gaura, “golden one”, referring to Chaitanya, Nitai being a shortened form of Nityananda) or Nimai-Nitai (Nimai being another name of Chaitanya).

According to Gaudiya-Vaishnava tradition, Nitai is an incarnation of Balarama, with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu being his eternal brother and friend, Krishna.He is considered the ‘most merciful’ incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Biography

Nityananda Prabhu appeared in the village of Ekachakra, in West Bengal, India, around 1474. In the Caitanya

Caritamrita and other scriptures He is declared to be the avatar of Lord Balarama, the direct expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.

Her pastimes of Lord Nityananda narrated by Harinama Dasi.

As a child, He was called Nitai and had a close circle of friends. Together they used to imitate the pastimes of Krishna and His associates. The adults of Ekachakra were fascinated by this unique little boy and loved Him as their own. Seeing His total absorption in avatars of Krishna, they suspected that He might be some sort of incarnation Himself. Day after day he would enact a different pastime, and did it so skillfully that His neighbors wondered, “How is it that He is so talented? How does He know the stories so well? No one has explained all these details to Him.” On one occasion, one of the boys dressed as Akrura and took Krishna and Balarama away from Vrindavana on the order of Kamsa. Nitai cried in grief, feeling the separation of the cowherd girls from Krishna. Tears of love flowed from His eyes. His acting was so authentic that it made all who watched question whether He was merely acting or in some way experiencing the part He played. This was true whether He was playing Krishna, Balarama, or even Vamana and other Incarnations of the Lord. When questioned, Nitai would respond: “These are My own divine pastimes, and I am allowing you to see them.”

Among His most convincing roles was that of Lakshmana, brother of Rama, which intimated His divine identity as Balarama. For His first twelve years, Nityananda Prabhu stayed in Ekachakra and shared loving pastimes with His neighbors.

Traveling on Pilgrimage

Just before His thirteenth birthday, however, a traveling mendicant came to His home and was welcomed as a guest by Hadai Pandita, Nityananda’s affectionate father. With deep respect and hospitality, Hadai Pandita offered his eminent guest all that he had. “Please feel free to take whatever you like,” he said. “My home is your home.” The visiting ascetic explained that he was a simple life and that his needs were minimal. However, he said, he needed a traveling companion, and young Nitai would be an appropriate person for such a service. Nitai was eager, and reluctantly, Hadai Pandita agreed to let his son go.

Nitai traveled from holy place to holy place for the next twenty years, until He was thirty-two, receiving instruction and friendship from His elderly sannyasi companion. He journeyed the length and breadth of India and sanctified the subcontinent by His presence. As Nitai continued to travel, feeling the ecstasy of these sacred places, He more and more took on the character of an avadhuta, a spiritually elevated person who is aloof to material surroundings and appears crazy to the uninformed. His mode of activity and general behavior became increasingly unexplainable; no one could understand what motivated Him or why He behaved in certain ways. For example, He sometimes danced ecstatically with the cloth meant to cover His loins wrapped instead around His head.

In Pandarapura (present-day Maharashtra), Nityananda Prabhu met the saintly guru Lakshmipati Tirtha. It is said that Lakshmipati Tirtha was given to intense dreams about Lord Balarama, and when he met Nityananda, he was convinced that this beautiful young personality was none other than Balarama Himself. They soon developed a deep, devotional relationship. According to some authorities, Lakshmipati initiated Nityananda Prabhu at this time, giving Him the student name “Svarupa.” Lakshmipati’s most famous disciple was Madhavendra Puri, who received direct instructions and gifts from the deity of Gopinatha. Because Madhavendra Puri was His senior, Nityananda Prabhu always treated him as though he were His spiritual master.

Soon Nityananda Prabhu reached Vraja, or Vrindavan, the Land of Krishna. His ecstasy increased one million times. Visiting the many places associated with Krishna’s pastimes, He shouted, danced, rolled around, laughed, and howled like a madman. With overwhelming intensity, He cried out, “Where is Krishna? Where is My very life and soul?” As these words emanated from His anxious lips, He shivered uncontrollably and tears of love poured from His eyes like torrents of rain. At that moment, He had a startling inner vision of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who had completed His childhood pastimes and was now overtly engaged in His mission. This realization made Nityananda chortle with affection for His spiritual brother, and so from Sringara-vata, He proceeded to Navadvipa to join Mahaprabhu in His pastimes.

Nityananda aham Vande karne lambita-mauktikam caitanyagraja-rupena pavitri-krta-bhutalam

“Salutations to Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Who has a single pearl suspended from one of His ears, Who is the elder brother of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Who is the purifier of the world.”

Uniting With Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

The year was 1506, and after arduous travel through dense forests in a trance-like state of devotion, Nityananda Prabhu reached the land of Nadiya, where Chaitanya Mahaprabhu resided. When the two Lords finally saw each other for the first time, they were immediately overtaken by waves of ecstasy. Nitai was roughly thirty-two years old, and Mahaprabhu was twenty. They each felt that their lives were now perfectly complete. Embracing, they cried what seemed like rivers of ecstasy.

Nityananda Prabhu, who is identical with Lord Balarama, the first expansion of Krishna, is considered to be the original guru for all of the mankind. Thus, soon after their initial meeting, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu tried to honor Nityananda Prabhu with a Vyasa-puja worship ceremony befitting a great spiritual master. However, Nityananda Prabhu protested and grabbed all of the worship articles from Mahaprabhu and worshiped Him instead. Nityananda Prabhu kept repeating, “Nimai Pandita [Mahaprabhu] is my Lord and master! Nimai Pandita is my Lord and master!” There was constant competition as to who would serve whom. Their transcendental love for one another is indescribable.

From this point until Mahaprabhu left Navadvipa for Jagannatha Puri, Nityananda Prabhu was always at His side. The two biographers Vrindavana Dasa Thakura and Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami clearly assert that Nityananda Prabhu holds the key to Mahaprabhu’s heart. The teaching of the Chaitanya tradition is emphatic: One who thinks that he can attain love of God without first attaining the mercy of Lord Nityananda Rama is living in a hallucination.

The Liberation of Jagai and Madhai

Mahaprabhu asked Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura to serve as His door-to-door preachers, spreading the message of love of God to every home in Navadvipa. It was at this point that Nityananda and Haridasa met the two brothers Jagai and Madhai. They were descendants of an illustrious priestly dynasty but had abandoned the pious ways of their forefathers for a life of debauchery.

Life

Nityananda Prabhu was born to a religious Bengali Brahmin, known as Pandit Hadai and Padmavati in Ekachakra(a small village in Birbhum district of present West Bengal) around the year 1474. His devotion and a great talent for singing Vaishnava hymns (Bhajan) were apparent from a very early age. In his youth, he would generally play the part of Lakshman, Rama’s younger brother, in dramatic re-enactments of Lord Rama’s pastimes, along with the other boys of Ekachakra.

At the age of thirteen, Nitai left home with a traveling renunciate (sannyasi) known as Lakshmipati Tirtha. Nitai’s father, Hadai Pandit, had offered the traveling sannyasi anything he wished as a gift. To this Lakshmipati Tirtha replied that he was in need of someone to assist him in his travels to the holy places (he was about to begin a pilgrimage) and that Nitai would be perfect for the job. As he had given his word Hadai Pandit reluctantly agreed and Nitai joined him in his travels. This started Nitai’s long physical and spiritual journey through India which would get him in contact with important Gurus of the Vaishnava tradition. Apart from Lakshmipati Tirtha, who at some point initiated him, he was also associated with Lakshmipati Tirtha’s famous other disciples: Madhavendra Puri, Advaita Acharya, and Ishvara Puri, the spiritual master of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Household Life and Final Pastimes

When Nityananda Prabhu returned to Bengal at Mahaprabhu’s request, He decided to abandon His avadhuta status and get married. A village leader named Suryadasa Sarakhel had two daughters who were great devotees; their names were Jahnava and Vasudha. As qualified girls who felt great affection for Nityananda Prabhu, they were chosen to marry Him, and He, in turn, reciprocated their affection. According to the poet Kavi Karnapura, the two girls were incarnations of Revati Devi and Varuni Devi, the wives of Lord Balarama.

After some time Vasudha gave birth to two children, a boy named Virabhadra and a girl named Ganga-Devi. Virabhadra later became a great leader in the Vaishnava community and continued to spread Lord Chaitanya’s teachings in the mood of His distinguished father. However, soon after the birth of her two divine children, Vasudha passed away, and Jahnava vowed to raise them as her own.

As the years went by, Jahnava Devi developed a reputation as a superlative Vaishnava, embodying the ideals of devotion in Lord Chaitanya’s line. She initiated her son Virabhadra as well as many other males and female members of the Vaishnava community. Major figures in Mahaprabhu’s lineage took shelter at her lotus feet, and personalities like Narottama Dasa Thakura, Srinivasa Acarya, and Syamananda Prabhu accepted her as the most prominent Vaishnava in Bengal.

In Ekachakra, not far from his birthplace, Nityananda Prabhu established a deity of Lord Krishna known as Bankima Raya, accompanied on the right by a deity of Jahnava Devi, and on the left, Srimati Radharani. The priests of this temple say that Nityananda Prabhu merged into the form of Bankima Raya to leave the earth for His eternal pastimes in the spiritual sky. There are no other stories of Nityananda Prabhu’s departure, and so this one is generally accepted by the Vaishnava community. Be that as it may, His presence is always felt in the presence of one’s own guru, for the guru is considered to be a living manifestation of Nityananda Prabhu’s love, and His power is what gives a disciple the ability to perform devotional service and experience the bliss of devotional life.

 

Credit – Krishna

Credit – Wikipedia

 

Gopala Bhatta Goswami

INTRODUCTION

Gopala Bhatta Goswami (1503–1578) is one of the foremost disciples of the Vaishnava saint, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and a leading historical figure in the Gaudiya Vaishnava school of Hinduism. He was part of a group of Vaishnava devotees known collectively as the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, who were influential in establishing the philosophical basis of the Gaudiya tradition in formalized writings.

Background

According to biographies such as the Bhakti Ratnakara Gopal Bhatta’s first meeting with Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was in 1510 during Mahaprabhu’s tour of South India. Although of a young age he was given the opportunity to meet with Chaitanya and serve him over a number of months. Such was his love for the saint, that when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was about to leave, Gopala Bhatta became upset, and for Gopala Bhatta’s sake, Chaitanya then agreed to stay a few more days.

According to Gaudiya tradition, it was during this time that Gopala Bhatta had a spiritual vision in which Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revealed Himself as an avatar of Krishna, the supreme God. In the vision, Krishna then told him that in the town of Vrindavan he would meet with two devotees, namely Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami who would instruct him in the finer details of devotional service (bhakti).

When Gopala Bhatta awoke from the experience, he wanted to leave for Vrindavan at once, however, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told him to stay and serve his parents. After Chaitanya’s departure, Gopal Bhatta took guidance from his uncle Prabhodananda Sarasvati. Gopal Bhatta took care of his parents into their old age, and then after they died he then traveled to Vrindavana. There he met Rupa and Sanatana who accepted him as a brother. Gopal Bhatta later helped Sanatana compile the book Hari Bhakti Vilasa, the authorized book explaining the ritual and devotional practices of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya. He also wrote Sat-kriya-dipika and the outline for Shri Jiva Goswami’s Sat Sandarbhas.

He eternally serves Shrimati Radharani as one of Her asta manjaris, Guna-manjari. His samadhi is within Radha Ramanaji’s Temple compound behind the appearance place of the Deity. Shri Gopala Bhatta Goswami initiated Gopinatha (Pujari Goswami), a lifelong brahmachari who served Radha Ramanaji for his whole life. Gopala Bhatta Goswami initiated Shrinivasa Acharya and many other stalwart Vaishnavas.

Vrindavan

Gopala Bhatta studied rhetoric, poetry, Vedanta, and Sanskrit grammar from his uncle Prabodhananda Sarasvati. After the passing of his parents he went to Vrindavan, where he met both Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis as had purportedly been instructed in his vision.

When Lord Chaitanya discovered that Gopala Bhatta was in Vrindavan, he was extremely pleased and sent some of his personal belongings to Gopala Bhatta, who worshiped them. Mahaprabhu also sent a letter instructing Gopala Bhatta to help Rupa and Sanatana compile Vaishnava literature. Gopala Bhatta accepted this instruction as his life and soul, and he later also engaged his disciple Srinivasa Acarya in carrying the writings to Bengal. Gopala Bhatta established the Radha Raman Temple in Vrindavan in 1542, his samadhi also exists within the temple complex.

Bhakti yoga

Bhakti yoga, also called Bhakti marga (literally the path of Bhakti), is a spiritual path or spiritual practice within Hinduism focused on loving devotion towards a personal god. It is one of the paths in the spiritual practices of Hindus, others being Jnana yoga and Karma yoga. The tradition has ancient roots. Bhakti is mentioned the Shvetashvatara Upanishad where it simply means participation, devotion and love for any endeavor. Bhakti yoga as one of three spiritual paths for salvation is discussed in depth by the Bhagavad Gita.

The personal god varies with the devotee. It may include a god or goddess such as Ganesha, Krishna, Radha, Rama, Sita, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Shiva, Parvati, Durga among others.

The Bhakti marga involving these deities grew with the Bhakti Movement, starting about the mid-1st millennium CE, from Tamil Nadu in South India. The movement was led by the Saiva Nayanars and the Vaisnava Alvars. Their ideas and practices inspired bhakti poetry and devotion throughout India over the 12th-18th century CE. Bhakti marga is a part of the religious practice in Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism.

Hare Krishna (mantra)

The Hare Krishna mantra, also referred to reverentially as the Maha Mantra (“Great Mantra”), is a 16 word Vaishnava mantra which is mentioned in the Kali-Santarana Upanishad, and which from the 15th century rose to importance in the Bhakti movement following the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This Mantra is composed of three Sanskrit names of the Supreme Being; “Hare,” “Krishna,” and “Rama.”

According to Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, one’s original consciousness and goal of life is pure love of God (Krishna). Since the 1960s, the mantra has been made well known outside of India by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his International Society for Krishna Consciousness (commonly known as “the Hare Krishnas”).

Gopala Bhatta Goswami – Biography

ananga-manjari yasit sadya gopala-bhattakah
bhatta-gosvaminam kecit ahuh sri-guna-manjari
She who was formerly Ananga Manjari has appeared to enrich Mahaprabhu’s pastimes as Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami. Some say that Gopal Bhatta is actually Guna Manjari.

Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami appeared in 1500 AD (though, according to some authorities, he was born in 1503) as the son of Venkata Bhatta in the town of Shrirangam in South India. Their residence was in a village not far from Shrirangam called Belagundi.

According to Narahari in the Bhakti-ratnakara, Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami was given a vision in a dream by Mahaprabhu in which he was fortunate enough to witness all the Lord’s Navadwip pastimes. An eternal associate of Krishna, he appeared in a faraway place in order to participate in Lord Gauranga’s pastimes. Even so, he was able to know long before he even saw him that the Lord had appeared and taken sannyas. Gopal Bhatta did not particularly like the Lord’s appearance as a sannyasi. He was distressed and crying alone when the Lord appeared to him and gave him the dream vision of his Navadwip lila. In this vision, the Lord was overwhelmed by ecstatic love, embraced him and drenched him in his tears.

Having said this to Gopal, the Lord embraced him and drenched him in his tears. He then told him to keep all these experiences secret, and Gopal felt great joy in his mind.

Through the power of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s merciful association, Venkata Bhatta, his brother Prabodhananda Saraswati, his son Gopal Bhatta Goswami, and all the other members of his family, were inspired to give up the worship of Lakshmi-Narayan and became engaged in the exclusive devotional service of Radha and Krishna. Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami took initiation from his uncle, Tridandi Yati Shrimat Prabodhananda Saraswati. Proof of this is found in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa:

bhakter vilasams cinute prabodha-
nandasya sisyo bhagavat-priyasya
gopala-bhatto raghunatha-dasam
santosayan rupa-sanatanau ca

Shri Shri Radha Ramana

When Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami was visiting the pilgrimage centres of northern India, he found a Shalagrama Shila on the banks of the Gandaki River. He took the worshipable stone and carried it with him wherever he went, treating it as Vrajendranandana Krishna Himself. One day he thought that he would like to worship the Lord in a Deity form so that he could expand his service. On the very next day, he found that the Shalagrama Shila had transformed itself into Radha Ramana to fulfill the wish of His Devotee. This Deity stands alone without any form of Radha standing by His side. Instead, as a symbol of Radharani, a silver crown is placed on His left side.

The story is also told in the following way. It is said that Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami used to daily worship twelve Shalagramas. He developed a desire to serve the Lord in the form of a Deity, thinking that in this way he would be able to worship Him in a much better way. The Lord within his heart knew his feelings and through a rich merchant had many beautiful items used in the worship of the Deity, such as ornaments and clothes, sent to him. Gopal began to worry that all these beautiful objects would be wasted because there was no way that he could use them unless he had a Deity in human form. That night, he put the Shalagramas to rest and in the morning he saw that one of Them had been transformed into the Radha Ramana Deity. When Rupa and Sanatan heard that Krishna had so mercifully appeared to Gopal Bhatta, they immediately came with the other Devotees for darshan, and when they saw him, they were ecstatic with love. The annual festival commemorating Radha Ramana’s appearance, when he is bathed publicly, takes place on the full moon day of Vaishakh. The Radha Ramana Temple is considered one of the most important in Vrindavan.

Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami ended his earthly pastimes on the Krishna Panchami of Asarh of 1507 of the Saka era (1585 AD). His samadhi Temple is behind the current Radha Ramana Temple. By reading Shrinivas Acharya’s hymn to the Six Goswamis, Sad-gosvamy-astaka, we can understand their glories.

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Gajanan Maharaj

INTRODUCTION

Gajanan Maharaj from Shegaon (Buldhana District), Maharashtra, India was a Saint from India. “Sant Shri Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan” is the largest temple trust in the Vidarbha region. It is not known when he was born but his first known appearance in Shegaon, perhaps as a youngster in his 20s, dates to February 1878. He took Samadhi (i.e. his soul left for the heavenly abode and his earthly remains buried) on 8 September 1910, and the date is marked as Samadhi-din by his disciples (ऋषी पंचमी ).The date of his first appearance is also marked as an auspicious day.

History and Origin Speculations

The early life history of Gajanan Maharaj is obscure; his birth date is unknown. He is said to have made his first appearance on 23 February 1878 in Shegaon. His devotees believe him as incarnation of Lord Ganesha and Lord Dattatreya.[citation needed] Biruduraju Ramaraju has tried to establish in his collection of books called “Andhra Yogulu” that he was a Telangana Brahmin. Shri Dasbhargav, a Shegaon native, has written “Shri Gajanan Maharaj Charitra Kosh”. This book mentions different version of Shri Gajanan Maharaj’s origin from that explained by Ramaraju. Shri Dasbhargav is said to have met Shri Swami Shivanand Saraswati, who was 129 years old at Nashik. Shri Swami told the author that he was Telangi Brahmin who had met Shri Sadguru Gajanan Maharaj in 1887 in Nashik. He also clearly told that after Shri Gajanan Maharaj appeared in Shegaon and remained there, he had visited Maharaj 25–30 times. During these visits Shivanand Swami declared that he used visit Shri Dadasaheb Khaparde in Amravati and stay with Khaparde family. Thus, Shri Shivanand Swami is none other than the Telangi Brahmin whose mention has been made in the foreword of “Shri Gajanan Vijay” on his own admission. Later Shivanand Saraswati left to perform penance in Himalaya and was never spotted again. Argument can, therefore, be made that Shri Gajanan Maharaj was not Telangi Brahmin as explained by Ramaraju and others. Some speculate that he might have in fact hailed from Sajjanghad, (which was the place where Sant Samartha had lived). Das Ganu Maharaj has written a 21 chapter biography, “Shri Gajanan Vijay,” of Gajanan Maharaj in Marathi. Contemporaries of Gajanan Maharaj identified him by several names like Gin Gine Buwa, Ganpat Buwa, and Awaliya Baba. In summary, it may be unlikely that Shri Gajanan Maharaj’s early life will ever be known.

Divine existence and similarity with other saints

There is no proper past history of Gajanan Maharaj of Shegaon but in “Shree Gajanan Vijay” Dasganu Maharaj has mentioned that Gajanan Maharaj was calling some people as his brothers. They are as follows: Shree Narasingji, Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati (Tembhe Swami Maharaj), Sai Baba and such great saints of the time. This indicate that Gajanan Maharaj was Pure incarnation of the supreme power. In the holy book (Shree Gajanan Vijay) it is also mentioned that Shree Gajanan appeared in the form of Shree Hari Vitthal (Pandhurang) in Pandharapur) for his one devotee named Bapuna Kale. For one other devotee, Shri Gajanan Maharaj appeared as Shri Ramdas Swami. Shree Gajanan Maharaj was able to do this because he was none other than the supreme Brahman(परब्रह्म or परमात्मा), who resides in every (sentient and insentient) body.

There are lot of similarities between Shree Swami Samarth and Shree Gajanan Maharaj. Both were Paramahans Sanyasi, both were AjanBahu and many others. Thus many people also believe that Shree Gajanan is none other than Shree Swami Samarth. However, it is really immaterial whether Shri Gajanan Maharaj was the disciple of Shri Swami or not as, both were the forms of Supreme Brahman, who appeared on earth to deliver and liberate the souls from the worldly fetters.

Appearing in a human body was a mere pastime (Leela) of Shri Maharaj, as he is Brahmadnyani. Thousands of the devotees flock to Shegaon for his darshan and blessings. How he functions and transforms people from their vile, wicked ways into great devotees is really unknown. None in his earthly days ever saw him chanting any special mantra holding japamala etc. In the 19th chapter of “Shri Gajanan Vijay”, he has clearly expounded the details of three paths, Karma, Bhakti and Yoga to reach God and declared that he was following the path of Bhakti. It is a great blessings to devotees of Maharashtra in general and those from Vidarbha region of Maharashtra in particular, to know Shri Gajanan Maharaj.

Appearances and divine powers

According to a legend, a money lender named Bankat Lal Agarwal first saw Gajanan Maharaj in a “superconscious state” on 23 February 1878 on a street, eating leftover wasted food which was thrown (and thus spreading the message of food is life and food should not be wasted). Sensing him to be a saint, Bankat took him home and asked him to stay with him. Legends say that in his lifetime, he performed many miracles such as giving a fresh lease on life to one Janrao Deshmukh, lighting the clay-pipe without fire, filling a dry well with water, drawing sugar cane juice by twisting canes with his hands,curing leprosy of a man, curing himself of the many bites of honey bees, etc. Some of the above acts are because Shri Gajanan Maharaj knew Yoga Shastra on his own admission in the book by Shri Das Ganu Maharaj.

During a public meeting on the occasion of Shiv Jayanti, the great freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak met Gajanan Maharaj. When Tilak delivered a charismatic speech, Maharaj predicted that Tilak would get a very harsh sentence by the British Raj. Maharaj’s words did come true, however Tilak is said to have taken blessings of Maharaj and his Prasad which helped him in writing his book – Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya, which is the summarised version of the holy book of Hindus, the Bhagavad Gita.

Shree Gajanan Maharaj’s soul left for the heavenly abode on 8 September 1910. His earthly remains were buried and a temple in his name is built on his Samadhi at Shegaon. Maharaj was prescient and had predicted his time on this earth was close to getting over. His devotees had started building the temple in his honor for some time before his Samadhi-din. In fact, his Samadhi mandir is just below the temple of Shri Ram. It is said that Shri Gajanan Maharaj would routinely worship at the temple of Shri Ram during his lifetime. Shri Gajanan Maharaj also started a dhooni (loosely meaning hearth) during his lifetime. The dhooni is still burning and is located very near the Samadhi mandir. At the time when he filled a dry well with water, the saint who had denied him water, saying all wells here are dry, Shri Bhaskar Maharaj Jayle, later went on to become his big devotee. Bhaskar Maharaj’s grandson, Shri Vasudeva Maharaj Jayle was also a great devotee of Gajanan Maharaj, whose Shraddhasagar Ashram in Akot is a spiritual place for devotees in nearby areas.

Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan

In the presence of Gajanan Maharaj, Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan, a body of 12 trustees was formed on 12 September 1908 so as to commemorate the holy place which Maharaj had hinted Ya Jagi Rahil Re (It will be at this place) about his place and day for Samadhi. The area around the temple is well maintained. Shri Gajanan Maharaj Mandir is located below the temple of Shri Ram. In the same area, there is the place where the dhooni is burning. Also nearby the dhooni is the place where the devotees can see Maharaj’s paduka (wooden sandals), temple of Vithhal Rukmnini and the temple of Shri Hanuman. There is a peepal tree just near the temple of Shri Hanuman and it is said to have been in existence since the days of Shri Gajanan Maharaj.

Head of the Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan-Shivshankarbhau Patil is the head of the trust and well known in India for his administration and management of the temple, bhojan kaksha, engineering and management college, Anand Sagar project and many other institution run by the trust located at Shegaon managed by Shri Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan Shegaon affiliated to Amravati university. This college is one of the best institutes for engineering education in Vidarbha region. The Anand Sagar project is also developed by the trust over 650 acres for tourist with all facilities at nominal rates. It is one of the largest amusement places in Maharashtra.The temple is famous in Maharashtra for its clean, neat, tidy environment and polite and respectful behaviour of the sevakas of Gajanan Maharaj trust who work there just for seva.

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Meera Bai

INTRODUCTION

Meera, also known as Meera Bai, was a 16th-century Hindu mystic poet and devotee of Krishna. She is a celebrated Bhakti saint, particularly in the North Indian Hindu tradition.

Meera Bai was born into a Rajput royal family of Kudki district of Pali, Rajasthan, India. She is mentioned in Bhaktamal, confirming that she was widely known and a cherished figure in the Indian bhakti movement culture by about 1600 CE. Most legends about Meera mention her fearless disregard for social and family conventions, her devotion to god Krishna, her treating Krishna as her husband, and she being persecuted by her in-laws for her religious devotion. She has been the subject of numerous folk tales and hagiographic legends, which are inconsistent or widely different in details.

Thousands of devotional poems in passionate praise of Lord Krishna are attributed to Meera in the Indian tradition, but just a few hundred are believed to be authentic by scholars, and the earliest written records suggest that except for two poems, most were written down only in the 18th century. Many poems attributed to Meera were likely composed later by others who admired Meera. These poems are commonly known as bhajans and are popular across India. Hindu temples, such as in Chittorgarh fort, are dedicated to Mira Bai’s memory. Legends about Meera’s life, of contested authenticity, have been the subject of movies, comic strips, and other popular literature in modern times.

Biography

Authentic records about Meera are not available, and scholars have attempted to establish Meera’s biography from secondary literature that mentions her, and wherein dates and other moments. Meera unwillingly married Bhoj Raj, the crown prince of Mewar, in 1516. Her husband was wounded in one of the ongoing Hindu-Muslim wars of the Delhi Sultanate in 1518, and he died of battle wounds in 1521. Both her own father and her father-in-law were killed within a few years after her husband, during a war with the Islamic army of Babur – the founder of Mughal Empire in the Indian subcontinent.

After the death of her father-in-law, Vikram Singh became the ruler of Mewar. According to a popular legend, her in-laws tried many times to execute her, such as sending Meera a glass of poison and telling her it was nectar or sending her a basket with a snake instead of flowers. According to the hagiographic legends, she was not harmed in either case, with the snake miraculously becoming a Krishna idol (or a garland of flowers depending on the version). In another version of these legends, she is asked by Vikram Singh to go drown herself, which she tries but she finds moment floating on water. Yet another legend states that the Mughal emperor Akbar came with Tansen to visit Meera and presented a pearl necklace, but scholars doubt this ever happened because Tansen joined Akbar’s court in 1562, 15 years after she died.

Similarly, some stories state that Raidas was her guru (teacher), but there is no corroborating historical evidence for this and the difference of over 100 years in the birth years for Raidas and Meera suggest this be unlikely.

The three different oldest records known as of 2014 that mention Meera, all from the 17th century and written within 150 years of Meera’s death, neither mention anything about her childhood or circumstances of her marriage to Bhojraj, nor do they mention that the people who persecuted her were her in-laws or from some Rajput royal family. Nancy Martin-Kershaw states that to the extent Meera was challenged and persecuted, religious or social conventions were unlikely to have been the cause, rather the likely cause were political chaos and military conflicts between the Rajput kingdom and the Mughal Empire. Further, the diversity and inconsistencies in Meera’s stories suggest that her biography was likely invented and molded by all sides, long after her death, for political goals through the medium of historical rewriting.

Other stories state that Mira Bai left the kingdom of Mewar and went on pilgrimages. In her last years, Meera lived in Dwarka, Vrindavan, where legends state she miraculously disappeared by merging into an idol of Krishna in 1547. While miracles are contested by scholars for the lack of historical evidence, it is widely acknowledged that Meera dedicated her life to Hindu deity Krishna, composing songs of devotion and was one of the most important poet-saint of the Bhakti movement period.

Poetry

Meera’s poems are lyrical padas (metric verses). While thousands of verses are attributed to her, scholars state that only a small fraction of those are authentic. There are no surviving manuscripts of her poetry from her century, and the earliest records with two poems credited to her are from early 18th-century, more than 150 years after she died. The largest collection of poems credited to her is in 19th-century manuscripts. Scholars have attempted to establish authenticity based on both the poem and Meera being mentioned in other manuscripts as well as from style, linguistics, and form. John Stratton Hawley cautions, “When one speaks of the poetry of Mirabai, then, there is always an element of an enigma. there must always remain a question about whether there is any real relation between the poems we cite and a historical Mira.”

In her poems, Krishna is a yogi and lover, and she herself is a yogini ready to take her place by his side unto a spiritual marital bliss. Meera’s style combines impassioned mood, defiance, longing, anticipation, joy and ecstasy of union, always centered on Krishna.

My Dark One has gone to an alien land.

He has left me behind, he’s never returned, he’s never sent me a single word.

So I’ve stripped off my ornaments, jewels and adornments, cut my hair from my head.

And put on holy garments, all on his account, seeking him in all four directions.

Mira: unless she meets the Dark One, her Lord, she doesn’t even want to live.

Meera speaks of a personal relationship with Krishna as her lover, lord, and mountain lifter. The characteristic of her poetry is complete surrender.
After making me fall for you so hard, where are you going?

Until the day I see you, no repose: my life, like a fish, washed on shore, flails in agony.

For your sake I’ll make myself a yogini, I’ll hurl myself to death on the saw of Kashi.

Mira’s Lord is the clever Mountain Lifter, and I am his, a slave to his lotus feet.

Meera is often classed with the northern Sant bhakti who spoke of a formless divinity.

Influence

Scholars acknowledge that Meera was one of the central poet-saints of the Bhakti movement, during a difficult period in Indian history filled with Hindu-Muslim religious conflicts. Yet, they simultaneously question the extent to which Meera was a canonical projection of social imagination that followed, where she became a symbol of people’s suffering and a desire for an alternative. Dirk Wiemann, quoting Parita Mukta, states,

If one accepts that someone very akin to the Mira legend [about persecution and her devotion] existed as an actual social being, the power of her convictions broke the brutal feudal relationships that existed at that time. The Mira Bai of the popular imagination, then, is an intensely anachronistic figure by virtue of that anticipatory radical democracy which propels Meera out of the historicity that remains nonetheless ascribed to her. She goes beyond the shadowy realms of the past to inhabit the very core of a future which is embodied within the suffering of a people who seek an alternative.

The continued influence of Meera, in part, has been her message of freedom, her resolve and right to pursue her devotion to deity Krishna and her spiritual beliefs as she felt drawn to despite her persecution. Her appeal and influence in Indian culture, writes Edwin Bryant, is from her emerging, through her legends and poems, as a person “who stands up for what is right and suffers bitterly for holding fast to her convictions, as other men and women have”, yet she does so with a language of love, with words painting the “full range of emotions that mark love, whether between human beings or between human and divine”.

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Swami Rama

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Early life and Education
  • first ashrams
  • organization
  • Simplicity
  • Death
  • Articles

Introduction

Sri Swami Rama (1925–1996) was an Indian yogi. Several Indian yogis have influenced Westerners including Swami Vivekananda, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Paramhansa Yogananda and much more. Swami Rama was one of the first yogis, however, to be studied by Western scientists. In the 1960s he was examined by scientists at the Menninger Clinic who studied his ability to voluntarily control bodily processes (such as heartbeat, blood pressure, and body temperature) that are normally considered to be non-voluntary.

SI;SWAMA RAMA 101A

Early life and education

Swami Rama was born Brij Kishore Dhasmana or Brij Kiśore Kumar, to a northern Indian Brahmin family in a small village called Toli in the Garhwal Himalayas. From an early age, he was raised in the Himalayas by his master Bengali Baba and, under the guidance of his master, traveled from temple to temple and studied with a variety of Himalayan saints and sages, including his grandmaster, who was living in a remote region of Tibet. From 1949 to 1952 he held the position of Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India. After returning to his master in 1952 and practicing further for many years in the Himalayan caves, Swami Rama was encouraged by his teacher to go to the West, where he spent a considerable portion of his life teaching, specifically in the United States and Europe.

First ashrams

After leaving the post of Shankaracharya and going back to the master, he afterward traveled to Nepal in the Himalayas barefoot with nothing but a kamandalu and tiger mat. It was here where he created his first ashram. It is at the outskirts of Kathmandu on the way to Dhulikhel on the mountain of Janagal. He later granted it to Swami Vishuddha Dev. The ashram is known as Hansada Yoga Ashram. Now it is the headquarters of the characterology movement. However, other programs are also conducted there.

Then in 1966, the original Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science & Philosophy was established by Swami Rama himself in Kanpur, India. 2016 was the 50th anniversary of the institute.

ORGANIZATIONS:

Over many years a pattern emerged with the various organizations and teaching institutions Swami Rama founded around the world. He would start an organization to disseminate the teachings of the Himalayan masters, the people of the organization would either change or abandon the teachings, and Swami Rama would then renounce that organization. This has happened in Asia, Europe, and North America, and possibly other places. I personally know of at least seven such instances.

By the time Swami Rama left the body in 1996, the only remaining organizations with which Swami Rama was affiliated were the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust and Sadhana Mandir Ashram, both of which are in India. I do not mention the names of the organizations that Swami Rama dropped because that would sound too negative towards them, and most still claim affiliation with Swami Rama. New people have come to these organizations, and most of their students are probably not aware of this history. It is not my place to reveal those organization names here.

RITUALS:

Swami Rama often taught us through his books, lectures, and personal guidance that our tradition is a purely meditative tradition of the Himalayas, and that we perform no external rituals; our practices are purely internal. However, during the years since Swami Rama left the body institutions or groups founded by or related to Swami Rama have increasingly started performing external rituals under the guidance of Hindu pandits, priests.

UNIVERSAL REALIZATION:

Swami Rama believed in, and taught the universality of the realization of spiritual truths, in the inner chamber of one’s own being. He never asked to be followed or worshiped, or for any change in culture, or for or any conversion of religion. Rather, he encouraged self-awareness through practices of yoga meditation and contemplation, with an attitude of self-reliance. The job of the external teacher, he taught me, is to find the teacher within.

FEARS AND THE ABSOLUTE REALITY:

Swami Rama continued to spread the teachings his own teacher had given him, that the first goal is to seek freedom from fears, and second, to seek the direct experience of the absolute reality at the core of your being, the center of consciousness that goes by many names.

KNOWING YOURSELF:

Swamiji taught that one should “know yourself at all levels,” explaining that “After visiting hundreds of countries I have discovered that all over the world there is one great problem, and that problem is that the human being has not yet understood himself or herself, and tries, instead, to understand God and others.”

SIMPLICITY:

While teaching the profound depths of the Himalayan masters, Swami Rama was also committed to simplicity. He writes, “You really do not need to know many things, but you definitely need to practice what you know. It is a sad thing to tell you, but I have not really learned anything new since I grew up. That which I learned in my childhood is what I have been practicing.”

That balance of depth and simplicity is one of the most beneficial and loving gifts of Swami Rama to humanity, his many students, and to me personally. This balance has been a major source of inspiration since Swami Rama instructed me to pass on the teachings to others as a representative of the Himalayan tradition.

Ruling in sex abuse case

On September 4, 1997, almost a year after Swami Rama’s death, when Swami Rama didn’t have the opportunity to defend himself in the court, a federal civil Jury awarded nearly $1.9 million to a 23-year-old woman after concluding that Rama had forced her to have sex with him up to 30 times while she lived at the Himalayan Institute in 1993. In his closing statements after a three-week trial, Irwin Schneider, the Himalayan Institute’s attorney, argued that even if the sex took place it was consensual.

Death

Swami Rama dropped the body on the evening of November 13, 1996. Although naming no individual person as the successor of the lineage, he is succeeded by many people who each serve others in his or her own way. Unfortunately, it is sad to say that there has been significant politics in the years since Swami Rama left the body, and at least two people falsely claim to be the SOLE successor of Swami Rama.

Swami Rama Articles

Swami Rama wrote extensively on the path to Self-Realization through traditional Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra. He writes from the highest perspective of a Himalayan master, yet explains the path in straightforward, understandable language. Following are many articles written by Swami Rama.

  • Architect and the Path
  • Basis of Holistic Health
  • Beyond Religion
  • Bhagavad Gita 6.18-6.20
  • Breath Awareness and Sohum
  • Chicken and the Egg, Nondualism, and Gods
  • Children and Meditation
  • Choice for the Discovery of the Real Self
  • Citizen of Two Worlds
  • Condemnation of Yourself
  • Conscience
  • Control Over Mind and Its Modifications
  • Consciousness and Knowledge

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Udiya Baba

INTRODUCTION

Udiya Baba (1875 – 1948), also pronounced and spelled as Uriya Baba, Oriya Baba or Odiya Baba, was a Hindu saint and a guru. He was a teacher of Advaita Vedanta and was regarded to be a Paramahansa. He was a Parivrajaka, i.e. one who does not stay in any one place for too long. He would walk all along the banks of Ganges, moving from one place to another. Udiya means one who hails from Orissa. Baba means a Sadhu. Sometime during 1937-38, he came to Vrindavan and an ashram named Shri Krishna Ashram (also known as Oriya Baba Ashram) was constructed by his disciples as a place for his permanent stay. He was a contemporary of the very well known Hindu saints – Anandamayi Maa and Shri Baba of Mokalpur.

Birth

He was born at Jagannath Puri in 1932 of Vikram Samvat, on Bhadrapada Krishna Saptami, on Monday, at noon. That was the day of Krishna Janmashtami for Smartas. The year was 1875. His father’s name was Shri Vaidyanath Mishra who was a direct descendant of Shri Kashi Mishra who lived during the time of Chaitanya Maha Prabhu and was an ardent disciple of the same. His childhood name of was Artatrana, which is one of the names of Lord Vishnu meaning ‘protector of those in distress’.

Education

From the age of four to twelve, he learned to read and write Oriya language, mathematics as well as some knowledge of Sanskrit at home. He was enthusiastic to learn more so one day he left his home without informing anyone and reached a place called Balyabeda, where he studied Sanskrit for five years and passed a course of Kavya-teertha.

Penance for a social cause

Orissa had a severe famine. Thousands of people were dying due to starvation. He, therefore, decided to serve the needy but soon realized that in spite of his herculean efforts, he could not improve the situation much. He felt deeply saddened by his inability to help people at large. It was then that he thought of obtaining the mythological Akshaya Patra. A bowl which can yield an unlimited supply of food and which is inexhaustible. Akshaya Patra is also called as Annapoorna Siddhi, which is believed to be bestowed by Annapoorna Devi, the Hindu mythological goddess of food and nourishment, and his devotees believed he possessed this mystic power. One finds the description of such magical bowl in the epic Mahabharata. Krishna had gifted it to Draupadi during her exile with the Pandavas. To obtain such a bowl he decided to do penance i.e. tapasya. He left his home on the 5th day of Chaitra month, of 1951 Vikram Samvat era, towards goddess Kamakhya temple in Guwahati in Assam. During his stay there, he happened to listen to a discourse on a treatise of Advaita Vedanta called ‘Viveka Chudamani’. Inspired by the knowledge of Nondualism his views were transformed and he started to question the very motive of his penance. He thought, what will he gain even if the goddess granted him his wish of obtaining the Akshaya Patra. How many people would he be able to benefit, and how long would he, for that matter, going to live on this planet, besides would all the problems of people be solved by finding food alone?? Therefore, he discontinued his penance and traveled to Kashi and then back home to Jagannath Puri.

Vow of celibacy

After coming home, he met and persuaded Swami Shri Madhusudan Tirth who was the Jagadguru and Shankaracharya of Govardhana Peetham at Jagannath Puri, to give him Naishthik Brahmacharya Diksha. initiation into lifelong celibacy. Then he was given a new name of Brahmachari Vasudeva Swarup. His age was 22 years old.

Pilgrimage

Soon he decided to take a pilgrimage for searching an accomplished ‘Siddha’ or Guru. He wandered and searched out entire India from Benares i.e Kashi to Rameshwaram. During this journey, he experienced many miracles and spiritual wonders, met many sadhus, mahants, and spiritual men. After staying in Rameshwaram for 10 days, he visited Pandharpur, Poona, Mumbai, and then reached Haridwar and Rishikesh. But no matter where he searched, he could not find any true Siddha. After such a long pilgrimage which he throughout did walking, he returned to Govardhana Math in Jagannath Puri.

Vow of renunciation

He accepted Sannyasa from Swami Shri Madhusudan Tirth, the Jagadguru and Shankaracharya of Govardhana Peetham at Jagannath Puri, at the age of 32, in 1964 of Vikram Samvat. Then he received a new name as Swami Purnananda Tirtha since he was also carrying a staff, he was called Dandi Swami Purnananda Tirtha.

Teachings

Udiya Baba would teach people according to their natural inclinations. He would teach a follower of Bhakti the secrets of devotion as well as to a follower of Jnana by helping him understand the true nature of Brahman. He would keep the students of these two paths separate, saying that one should proceed in whatever path one is naturally inclined to. He would say it was difficult for common people to understand texts like Yoga Vasistha, therefore for such people, he would make arrangements for Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavatam. Along with Vairagya i.e dispassion, he would stress the importance of practice or Sādhanā. Regarding practice, he would say, referring to his own experience that what is only the Pure Consciousness appears, to be a hard physical body due to constant wrong thinking. This is the effect of practice! Therefore it is necessary to constantly practice the opposite thinking. He used to say, there are three stages of practice, first understanding oneself to be different from the physical body. When this practice becomes perfect, one develops the identification with the subtle body. Second, after this, experiencing the detachment from the objects of senses. As a result of this practice, the vision shifts from the subtle body and abides in the causal body, then thirdly comes the experience of separation from pain and pleasure. With this practice, the vision or identification shifts from all the four functions of the mind and abides in the Self. He always said one must accept everyone as he or she is, without any desire to change anyone in the slightest.

Death

In the afternoon of Chaitra Krishna Chaturdasi of 2005 Vikram Samvat, the date being 8th May 1948, he was fatally assaulted by a deranged man named Thakur Das.His mortal body was given a Jala Samadhi. immersion in the holy waters of Yamuna.

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Bahinabai (1628–1700)

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Early life
  3. Later life
  4. Literary works

Introduction

Bahinabai (1628–1700 AD) or Bahina or Bahini is a Varkari female saint from Maharashtra, India. She is considered as a disciple of another Varkari poet-saint Tukaram. Having been born in a brahmin family, Bahinabai was married to a widower at a young age and spent most of her childhood wandering around Maharashtra along with her family. She describes, in her autobiography Atmamanivedana, her spiritual experiences with a calf and visions of the Varkari’s patron deity Vithoba and Tukaram. She reports being subjected to verbal and physical abuse by her husband, who despised her spiritual inclination but who finally accepted her chosen path of devotion (bhakti). Unlike most female saints who never married or renounced their married life for God, Bahinabai remained married her entire life.

Bahinabai’s abhanga compositions, written in Marathi, focus on her troubled marital life and the regret being born a woman. Bahinabai was always torn between her duties to her husband and her devotion to Vithoba. Her poetry mirrors her compromise between her devotion to her husband and God.

Early life

Bahinabai has written an autobiographical work called Atmamanivedana or Bahinibai Gatha, where she describes not only her current birth but also twelve previous births. The first 78 verses of the total 473 trace her current life.

As per the account, she was born in Deogaon(Rangari) or Devgaon(R) near Ellora or Verul in northern Maharashtra, where she spent her childhood. Her parents, Aaudev Kulkarni and Janaki were brahmins, the Hindu priest class, and considered their first child Bahinabai as a harbinger of good fortune. Bahinabai started reciting the names of God from an early age while playing with her mates.

Bahinabai was married at the age of three with a thirty-year-old widower called Gangadhar Pathak, who she describes as a scholar and “an excellent jewel of a man”, but stayed with parents until she reached puberty as per the custom. When Bahinabai was about nine years old, she with her parents and husband, had to leave Devghar due to a family dispute. They wandered with pilgrims along the banks of river Godavari and begged for grain, as customarily wandering holy men do. They visited Pandharpur, the city which hosts the chief temple of Vithoba, in this period. By the age of eleven, she with her family finally settled in Kolhapur. She was “subjected to the demands of married life” at this age, but she was not into it.

Later life

In Kolhapur, Bahinabai was exposed to Hari-Kirtana songs and tales from the scripture Bhagavata Purana. Here, Bahinabai’s husband has gifted a cow, who soon gave birth to a calf. Bahinabai reports a spiritual encounter with the calf. The calf, in Varkari literature, symbolizes a person who has attained the highest state of yogic concentration in the previous birth, but due to some fault, is forced to take birth as a calf. The calf followed Bahinabai wherever she went. Bahinabai with the calf also attended the Kirtana of the famed swami Jayaram. Jayaram patted heads of the calf and Bahinabai. When Bahinabai’s husband heard of the incident, he dragged Bahinabai by her hair, beat and tied her up in the house. Following this, the calf and the cow gave up food and water leading to the former’s death. At its burial, Bahinabai fainted and lay unconscious for days. She awoke with her first vision of the Varkari’s patron deity Vithoba and later of her contemporary poet-saint Tukaram. Following the incident, she had another vision of the duo that revived her from the sorrow of the calf’s death. In these visions, Tukaram fed her nectar and taught her the mantra “Rama-Krishna-Hari”. Thereafter, Bahinabai pronounced Tukaram as her guru. In her visions, Tukaram initiated her into the path of bhakti (devotion) and instructed her to recite the name of Vithoba. Some people considered her behavior as a sign of madness, while others considered it a mark of sainthood.

Bahinabai’s husband dissuaded her by saying that she being of a Brahmin, should not listen to the lower caste Shudra Tukaram. However, Bahinabai did not find happiness in the life of a dutiful wife and turns to bhakti, at the same time serving her husband. As her fame spread, her husband is portrayed to have been jealous of the attention Bahinabai received. Her hot-tempered husband is reported to have abused, beaten and confined Bahinabai to the cattle-shed. When all methods fail to deter her, he decided to leave Bahinabai, who was three months pregnant at the time. However, he could not do so as he suffered a burning limbs sensation lasting a month, on the day of departure. Finally, he repented and was convinced of Bahinabai’s faith and devotion to God. At the same time, Bahinabai realized her neglect of her husband and decided “serving him was more important than devoting herself to (another) god.” Bahinabai writes:

I’ll serve my husband – he’s my god …
My husband’s my guru; my husband’s my way this
is my heart’s true resolve.
If my husband goes off, renouncing the world,
Pandurang (Vithoba), what good will it do me to live among men? …
My husband’s the soul; I’m the body …
My husband’s the water; I’m a fish in it.
How can I survive? …
Why should the stone god Vitthal (Vithoba)
and the dream saint Tuka (Tukaram)
deprive me of the happiness I know?

The family of Bahinabai went to Dehu, the home-town of Tukaram and paid their respects to him. Here, the brahmin Bahinabai’s acceptance of the lower caste Sudra Tukaram as her guru agitated local brahmins, which led to harassment of the family and threatening of ostracism. In Dehu, Bahinabai gave birth to a daughter, who she named Kasibai. But, she was distressed and mediated suicide. Tukaram in her vision, stopped her and blessed her with poetic powers and prophesied that she would have a son who was a companion in her previous birth, thus Bahinabai is believed to have started composition of poetry, the first of which were dedicated to Vithoba. Consequently, she had a son, who she named Vithoba, the exact time of his birth is not provided, but he is mentioned in a later part of her autobiography.

Finally, the family moved to Shirur, where Bahinabai practiced a vow of silence for a while. In 1649, on Tukaram’s death, Bahinabai revisited Dehu and fasted for eighteen days where, according to the traditional account, she has blessed with a vision of Tukaram again. She then visited the saint Ramdas and stayed in his company until his death in 1681. Afterward she returned to Shirur.

In last sections of her autobiography, Bahinabai says she has “seen her death”. She prophesied her death and wrote a letter to Vithoba, her son, who had gone to Shukeshwar to perform last rites of his wife. On her death-bed, Bahinabai told Vithoba (her son) that he had been her son throughout her twelve previous births and also in her current (thirteenth) birth, which she believed was her last. Further, she narrated the tale of her twelve previous births, which are recorded in her autobiography. She died in 1700, at the age of 72.

Literary works

Apart from her autobiography, Bahinabai composed abhangas, which deal with various subjects like praise of god Vithoba, Atman, Sad-guru, sainthood, Brahmanhood, and devotion. Bahinabai’s abhanga compositions also focus on her troubled relationship with her husband, the conflict between husband and wife, and to the certain extent its resolution. She even portrays her husband’s hostile and harmful feelings with empathy. Unlike many of the woman saints of the period, Bahinabai remained married her entire life, dutifully serving her husband, balancing her roles pativrata (a devoted wife) and Virata (the detached). Bahinabai does not revolt against social traditions and believed denouncement of the world is not the solution to a woman’s suffering. Her poetry reflects her compromise between her devotion to her husband and her god Vithoba.

Bahinabai also comments on the duties of a married woman. Some abhangas extol the merits of a pativrata, others advocate pure devotion to God which may lead to the ire of society. Others advocate the compromise. She also speaks of pravrtti (action) and nivrtti (quiescence), personified as wives of manas (the mind). Both of them argue over their own superiority, winning a particular moment in the debate and finally reconciling and together directing the mind to its ultimate goal. In her own life, Bahinabai sought to balance these two: pravrtti – the duties of a virtuous wife and nivrtti – renunciation of the world.

Bahinabai sometimes curses his fate of being born as a woman, which author Tharu interprets as “her skepticism, her rebelliousness and her insistent refusal to abandon her aspiration for the truth”. She regrets her female birth as she was kept away from the knowledge of the holy scriptures like Vedas and sacred mantras, by the male-dominated brahmin society. Bahinabai sings in her abhanga:

The Vedas cry aloud, the Puranas shout
“No good may come to the woman.”
I was born with a woman’s body
How am I to attain Truth?
“They are foolish, seductive and deceptive –
Any connection with a woman is disastrous.”
Bahina says, “If a woman’s body is so harmful,
How in this world will I reach Truth?”

At times, Bahinabai’s abhangas call out to her god Vithoba (Panduranga, Hari) to help her to balance her twin roles. Bahinabai’s wisdom can be summed up in her words as: “A woman’s body is a body controlled by somebody else. Therefore the path of renunciation is not open to her.” Bahinabai’s philosophy reveals the social status of the seventeenth-century Indian woman, who was supposed to no existence apart from her husband.

She has also composed a text called Pundalika-Mahatmya, which details the legend of Vithoba and devotee Pundalik, a central figure in Varkari tradition.

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Gopalanand Swami

Early Life

Gopalanand Swami (1781–1852) was one of the top most prominent Paramhansa of the Swaminarayan Sampraday who was ordained by Swaminarayan. He worked alongside Gunatitanad Swami to spread the Swaminarayan Satsang. Within the Swaminarayan Philosophy it is believed that Gopalanand Swami is the manifestation of Lord Vishnu/Lord Krishna, he is regarded as Anadi Mahamuktaraj throughout the Swaminarayan Sampraday and forms the Mukta part of the trinity of Dham-Dhami-Mukta also known as Mukta-Akshar-Purushottam.

Biography

Born Khushal Bhatt, he was born in the Aravalli District’s, Torda Village of Bhiloda Taluka, Gujarat. Torda is surrounded by mountains. His father was an audichiya brahmin, Motiram Sharma and his mother was Kushaladevi Thakar. Gopalanand Swami pursued deep study and showed great interest in grammar, Indian philosophy of Nyaya and Vedanta. Gopalanand Swami was a scholar, with knowledge in Vyakaran (grammar), Nyaya, Mimasa, Astrology etc. He was married to Adityabai and had two children Harisankar and Anupamba though he felt no attachment. Swaminarayan gave diksha (the becoming of a saint in which vows such as celibacy and renunciation of all personal possessions and of all worldly duties, including family ties are taken) to Gopalanand Swami in Vadodara, Gujarat. Swaminarayan held Gopalanand Swami in very high regard and he was very learned in Ashtanga yoga. Gopalanand Swami died in 1852 in Vadtal. Gopalanand Swami spread the belief & reality that Bhagwan Swaminarayan is the Supreme Being higher than all.He is still alive with the divine body,  hanuman Ji, in salangpur.

Meeting with Bhagwan Swaminarayan

Khushal Bhatt once learned about the visit of Sarveshwaranand Swami to Dabhoi and went for his darshan and attended his discourses. He joined Sarveshwaranand Swami and went to Dabhan where he had the Darshan of Sahajanand Swami. Shreeji Maharaj rose from his seat, came forward and hugged him with great love and affection. Khushal Bhatt expressed his desire to be with him forever, but Sahajanand Swami sent him back to Toddla. Honouring Goda’s desire Khushal Bhatt went back to Toddla and opened a school.
Khushal Bhatta’s meeting with Shreeji Maharaj in Jetalpur is also a miraculous episode. Later Khushal Bhatt was initiated as Gopalanand Swami by Shreeji Maharaj in Gadhada.

Swami’s Yog Sadhana

Gopalanand Swami was a master of Ashtanga Yog. He is a great Nadi Vaidya (Ayurved physician who identifies illness using the pulse) Hemraj Shah of Sundariyana was a staunch devotee of Lord Shree Krishna. Even though he was very learned, kind in serving the ailing without distinction of rich or poor and chief in his Brahmin caste, he disliked the fact that his sons were devotees of Lord Swaminarayan.
Once Gopalanand Swami called him on the pretext of his illness and asked him to check his pulse. Swamiji by his yogik talent made his body such that there was no pulse, his body felt as if it were a dead body, but at the same time Swami was talking to Hemraj Shah. Â Hemraj Shah was astonished by this and knew that only God (Shree Krishna) can do it. He bowed at Swami’s feet and said, “you are Lord Shree Krishna”. Swami replied I am just a devotee and my Lord is Lord Swaminarayan. Hemraj Shah then became a staunch devotee of Lord Swaminarayan.

Swami control of the Universe

Krishnaram Shastri was a renowned Astronomer in the Gaikwad kingdom of Vadodara, Gujarat and a devotee of Lord Swaminarayan. Â Other scholars in the kingdom envied him as the kingdom had a liking towards him.
Once there was a lunar eclipse forecast And Krishnaram declared that according to his calculations the eclipse will not occur. Other scholars were adamant that the eclipse will occur and thus from a war of words, the exchange turned into a bet, where others asked Krishnaram if he would bet his head, to which Krishnaram agreed. He then returned home and calmly did his calculations again and to his shock found that the eclipse was actually going to occur as the other scholars said.
He felt very sorry for his behavior and approached Gopalanand Swami and told him of his situation. Gopalanand Swami told him never to indulge in such activities. Swami told him that he shall change the positions and the speed of the earth and the moon to save him. Â Swami did so and to everyone’s surprise the eclipse did not occur when it was supposed to.

Swami boon to a young sadhu

Once Swami traveled from Gadhada to Vadtal and was sick. He was tired and ill so a younger sadhu remained at his service for the entire night without taking any rest. When Swami awoke in the morning, he noticed the sadhu still serving him and asked him, have you had anyrest?? the sadhu replied, you are older to me and ill and tired, but I am young and able, so it does not matter if I don’t rest for a night. Gopalanand Swami was extremely pleased by his attitude and asked him to make a wish. The young sadhu told Swami about his fight against sensual desires and how he performed austerities to overcome those, but that he could not overcome those. Swami said, from now on, all such desires that harass you will get destroyed and you will be a an absolute celibate. After that the sadhu was relieved of such malicious desires.

Responsibility of the Swaminarayan Sampraday

When the Swaminarayan died (Gadhadha, year 1830), he left responsibility of the Swaminarayan Sampraday and the Acharyas in his hands and he looked after the satsang after the death of swaminarayan. Further, it is said that Swaminarayan had asked Brahmanand Swami to overlook the completion of the Junagadh Temple because he knew Brahmanand Swami had powers to bring a person back to life after death. He therefore instructed Gopalanand Swami not to inform Brahmanand Swami about his death till after the cremation of his mortal remains.

Sarangpur temple

Gopalanand Swami arranged for an idol of Kastabhanjan Dev Hanuman to be installed in the Sarangpur temple which is said to have come alive and moved when installed by him. He wanted to see the idol of Hanuman interactive.

Works

Sanskrit Books

  • Vivekdeep
  • Vishnuyaag Paddhati
  • Pujavidhi
  • Bhakti Siddhi
  • Haribhakta Namavali
  • Brahmasutrarthdeep
  • Ishadi Upanishad Bhashya
  • Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta Bhashya
  • Commentary on Second Canto of Shreemad Bhagwat (Sukabhipray Bodhini Tika)
  • Dasham Skandh Goodharth Bodhini Tika
  • Ekadash Skandh Krushnabhipray Bodhini Tika
  • Ved Stuti Shrutyarth Bodhini Tika and Anvayarth Bodhini Tika
  • Shandilya Sutra Bhakti Prakashika Tika etc.

Vernacular Books

  • Varta Vivek
  • Advait Khandan
  • Marathi Translation of Shikshapatri
  • Updeshi Vartao
  • Puja Paddhati na Pana
  • Bhaktisiddhi Bhashantar (Translation of Bhaktisiddhi)
  • Sampraday Pradeep

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