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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…
Sri Shreedhara Swami Maharaj (7 December 1908 – 19 April 1973) was a prominent Marathi-Kannada saint and religious poet in the Hindu tradition. Shreedhar Swami was a devotee of the Hindu god Ram and a disciple of Samarth Ramdas.
Sri Shreedhara Swami Maharaj was born in a Brahmin family to Narayan Rao and Kamalabai Deglurkar on 7 December 1908 in Lad Chincholi, Karnataka. He was a devotee of Lord Ram and a disciple of Samarth Ramdas. When Shreedhara Swami was 3 years old he lost his father and thereafter his mother and elder brother Trimbak took care of the family. Young Shreedhara was admitted to a school in Hyderabad for his primary education. Since the very early days, he was spiritually inclined. One recorded incident from his early childhood is as follows: He had once fallen very ill and had lost a lot of days at school because of it. Thus he feared that he might fail in the examinations. His mother then told him to constantly chant the name of Lord Ram and that he would see him through the exams. He solemnly started doing that so much so that he finally did not do any studies at all and all the time chanted the name of Ram. On the day of the examination, he went without reading anything and to the surprise of everybody he answered every question so nicely that he did secure first rank. Shreedhar Swami’s elder brother died when he (Shreedhar) was just ten. His mother, unable to cope with the shock and prolonged illness, soon followed him. After her death, Shreedhar Swami went to Gulbarga to live with his aunt and continued his education there. After spending a few years in Gulbarga, he headed for Pune where he lived in an orphanage for some time. Here his urge for spiritual enlightenment grew and on the suggestion of one Mr. Palnitkar, he embarked on a journey to Sajjangad with the intent of seeking spiritual knowledge at the place where Shri Samarth Ramdas had resided nearly three hundred years ago.
During the course of time, he got well-acquainted with one of his teachers at school, Shri palnitkar Guruji. Discovering Sridhar’s intense inclination towards spiritualism, he advised him to solicit the blessings of Samartha Ramdas Swamiji. Sajjangad was the abode of Swami Samarth Ramdas for the last six years of his life. Legend has it that a stone structure (his Samadhi) surged out of its own at the cremation place of Shri Samartha on the very next day of his nirvana. His yearning for a spiritual awakening at this point can be gauged by the fact that he started to dispose all his money to the poor and the remaining he just threw. He liked a particular sweet dish, so he bought it, kept it in front of Lord Ram’s idol and then mixed cow dung in it and ate it. Now he could not even think about the dish he once liked so much. On the day of departure to Sajjangad, Which also coincided with Vijayadashmi, he suddenly felt that he was going there to find out the creator of the universe who had control over the living, nonliving things and also time and space. After one and a half years of having arrived at Sajjangad, Samarth Ramdas himself blessed Shreedhar Swami. Later, he directed him to go south to Karnataka and spread the real message of Sanatan Vedic Dharma.
For the next twelve years, Shreedhar Swami toured most of South India on foot. He used to halt at temples and Mathas where he would deliver discourses on Sanatan Vedic Dharma for religious upheaval. During his travels, he made acquaintances with many other wells has known Hindu religious leaders and saints. The most significant of these was with Sivananda Swami of Shigehalli. He also visited the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and performed meditation there. In 1942, Shreedhar Swami took Sannyasa at Shigehalli and was accorded the title, ‘Shreemat Paramhans Parivrajakacharya Bhagwan Shreedhar Swami’. After this till 1967, he extensively toured all over India and through his speeches, writings, and spiritual initiatives, spread the core messages of the Vedas among common people. He returned south to Varadapura in 1967 where he set up an ashram.
On the first day of the second half of the first month of the Hindu calendar, Swamiji’s health deteriorated. The disciples again pleaded for bringing a doctor, but Swamiji again refused and told them that Samarth Ramdas had told that the bodily pains should be considered as pleasures. He enquired what day was the next one and when told about that he knew that it was a day for very auspicious things, but didn’t tell it to anyone. Then, as usual, he took bath thrice, had a little milk and rested for a while in the night and spent the rest of the time in Sahaj Samadhi avastha. Swamiji got up the next morning at 5 am. After the morning chores, he sat in meditation for a while. He came out of the meditation room at 8 am. The disciples requested him to have some milk, to which he agreed and again sat in meditation. Swamiji in sitting position and in meditation twice said ‘Om, Om’ and then from the upper side of his body through the head he made his soul leave his body to be eternally unified with the Parbramha. Despite this his posture didn’t change nor did his facial expressions. In fact, the aura around his face became brighter for a while. This was at 9 am. on 19 April 1973. After a while, Swamiji had attained the Ultimate Samadhi. On hearing this all hell broke loose over the ashram. The news spread like a wildfire as it was announced over the All India Radio and Swamiji’s disciples started coming to Varadpur. His body was placed on a specially made bed of flowers.
Shreedhar Swami was a gifted composer and fluent in Marathi, Sanskrit, Kannada, Hindi and English. All through his extensive traveling, he managed to spare some time for religious writing. His aim was to simplify the complex nuances of Vedic teaching into a form that would be easily digestible to the common man.He wrote prolifically and wrote over twenty books in Marathi, Kannada, and English.