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Introduction One of the most prominent religious figures of India during the nineteenth century, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa was a mystic and a yogi who translated…
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.