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Chapter One: The Life and Character of Sri Gajanana Maharaj

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“He should be called a saint who has known God, and who has definitely ascertained what is eternal and what is non-eternal” (Samarth Ramdas). A perusal of the life of Sri Gajanana Maharaj will convince us that he is one of these extraordinary personages. Regarding him one of his spiritual friends (disciples) wrote: “In the first half of the twentieth century there lived in Nashik a man who had reached a high level of Yoga. This remarkable man was unmarried, and his name was Gajanana Murlidhar Gupte. His surname, Gupte, means invisible. His spiritual knowledge and everything about him was invisible to the world at large.” Fortunately we do have the following information about him.

Birth and early childhood

The worldly name of Sri Sadguru Gajanana Maharaj was Gajanana Murlidhar Gupte. His father, Murlidhar Bajirao Gupte, was originally a resident of Pen in the district of Kolaba, Maharashtra. His family were the Inamdars of Pen, Vasi and some six or seven more villages. (Inamdar was a feudal title prevalent before and during the British Raj, including during the Maratha rule of Peshwa and other rulers of India. The title was bestowed upon the person who received lands as Inam–grant or a gift–rewarding the extraordinary service rendered to the ruler or the princely state.)

But owing to financial adversities, Murlidhar left Pen and went seeking some employment elsewhere. He obtained a government position at Malkapur in the district of Buldhana. He, however, found that the wages were too meagre to enable him to meet his expenses and to lead a life of comfort and ease. He therefore read law side-by-side with his work and succeeded in passing with credit the barrister’s (attorney’s) examination which was then taken in Marathi. He then began to practice as a barrister at Yeotmal. At that time there were only two or three other barristers there. He very soon made good progress in his profession and became well known as a successful and rising barrister.

His wife’s name was Rajubai. This couple gave birth to eight children: five sons and three daughters. The fifth son was named Gajanana.

Sri Gajanana Maharaj was born at Yeotmal in 1892. In the third year of his age, he suffered a very strong attack of smallpox, owing to which his right foot became permanently crippled. He was taken to Amraoti and was examined and treated by various doctors, but all the remedies were of no avail. He remained a cripple throughout his life. This caused great sorrow to his parents.

Both of Gajanana’s parents fell ill some time later and died within a month or two of each other. At the time of her death the mother of Sri Gajanana Maharaj, Rajubai, called her sister Balubai near her, and having placed Gajanana’s hand in hers, said, “I shall shortly cease to be a denizen of this world. My Gajanana is a cripple, as you see. Be a mother to him. Love and cherish him deeply and bring him up in such a way that he will never even think of me. If ever you happen to meet a saint, place my Gajanana on his feet. By the blessings and grace of a saint, Gajanana’s life will be happy and blessed.”

This aunt of Gajanana, Balubai, was a widow from her childhood, and had immersed herself in devotion and passed her days doing good deeds. [At that time throughout India there was the practice of marriages being performed for small children, arranged by the parents. If the girl died, another marriage could be done. But widows were never allowed to remarry, so if the boy died the girl was condemned to be unmarried. This was a terrible evil that caused great suffering. Some “child widows” turned their minds to intense spiritual study and practice–and such was Balubai. Editor’s note.] Having no other relatives, she was staying with her sister. All the members of Gajanana’s family had feelings of deep affection for her. She, to the last, never slackened in her care of Gajanana and as soon as an opportunity occurred as desired by Gajanana’s mother in her last moments, this aunt did not fail to take advantage of it and carry out the last wishes of her departed sister.

The death of the parents of Gajanana within a few days of each other was a very serious calamity. The responsibility of the whole family then fell upon Mr. Narayanrao, the eldest brother, and upon the aunt, Balubai. But it appeared that God himself had taken the family under his special protection and slowly light began to be seen in the grim darkness of adversity and the three sisters were married one-by-one and left for their husbands’ houses. Gajanana’s Sacred Thread Ceremony (Upanayanam) was celebrated at the age of nine. This event occurred in 1901.

Refuge in a saint

When Gajanana was about ten or eleven years old, his brother Rambhau wrote a letter to Akola regarding Sri Narayana Saraswati Maharaj, asking Narayanrao to go to Chikhli with the whole family to meet this great saint. Narayanrao accordingly obtained leave for two months and went to Chikhli with all the members of the family. At about a distance of six or seven miles from Chikhli, there is a village called Antri, near which there are many hills and dense thickets of trees. In this forest near the village of Jambore, there is a samadhi (tomb of a saint) and some underground rooms. The well-known yogi siddha, Sri Narayana Saraswati Maharaj, lived there. His name had spread far and wide and devotees from Punjab, Delhi and Bengal used to visit the place for the darshan of that great yogi. The whole family went to Antri from Chikhli in bullock carts.

The place of residence of Sri Narayana Saraswati was very charming. Just nearby was a big plaza, in the center of which there was a samadhi of a saint of great antiquity. On the four sides of the plaza there were apartments and some underground rooms built of bricks and mortar. The apartments were well lighted and contained accommodation for ten or fifteen persons. In the thicket of trees near the square there was a beautiful well of good-tasting and wholesome water. People performed their sandhya adorations and their japa near it and also ate their food there. Near the samadhi there was a cot on which Sri Narayana Saraswati usually sat. Early in the morning there was arati, at noon worship and arati, and in the evening again arati after which there was bhajan (chanting of devotional songs).

The Gupte family went immediately on their arrival for the darshan of Maharaj, who assigned to them an apartment for their stay. The aunt separately went for the darshan of Maharaj, taking Gajanana with her. Gajanana immediately firmly caught hold of the feet of Maharaj. The aunt said to Maharaj, “Oh Maharaj, take pity on this crippled child. He has neither father nor mother to take care of him. How will he fare in his future life? Except the Almighty God, there is no one to support him. You are a great saint and have become one with God. You possess all the powers of the Almighty God. Kindly take this child under your protection.”

She further said, “My sister who was this boy’s mother, was a pure and noble woman. Just before her death she entrusted this child to me and asked me to place him on the holy feet of some saint, saying that only by the grace of a saint would his life be blessed and happy. The present occasion has been brought about only by her good wishes.”

Blessings from Sri Narayana Saraswati

Narayana Saraswati MaharajMaharaj was pleased at these words of the aunt. He turned towards her and said, “Mother, both of you sisters had practiced yoga in your former births and the present occasion has been brought about by the great merit acquired in those births. This Gajanana was a yogi in his former birth. After some years he will become known as a saint and will be a guiding light to aspirants on the spiritual path. From his eyes I can see that he is a yogi of the Nath Pantha and practiced Dhyana Yoga in his previous life. Do not be anxious about him at all. But mother, you are not destined to witness his spiritual mission. So now let your anxiety regarding him disappear.”

He further told her, “His elder brother, Narayan, will become a great poet. His poetry on spiritual subjects will be superior to anyone’s.” That happened exactly as he said. His brother, Narayan, who, was born at Malkapur in 1868, from his childhood showed great intellectual capacity and righteousness of conduct. This Narayanrao was the intellectual and learned poet of Maharashtra known by the name “Bee,” though he disliked celebrity. A collection of his poems was published under the title A Handful of Flowers (Fulanchi Onjal).

Maharaj then asked all to go and cook their food. After taking their food, all went to sleep. It had been agreed that at 4 a. m. all were to attend the morning arati. All were awakened in due time and went to attend the arati. However, Gajanana appeared to be sleepy and he remained sitting on his bed in a state of half sleep and half wakefulness, and he was found so sitting when the others returned.

Spiritual vision

When all others had left for the arati and Gajanana was sitting on his bed, half awake and half asleep with his eyes open, he had the following vision.

There was dense darkness everywhere and Gajanana found himself walking on foot in the darkness. Occasionally he saw a star shining and again there would be darkness. Rain began to pour down, sounds of thunder were continuously heard and there were intermittent flashes of lightning. The way was full of serpents, some black, some white, some with marks like cowrie shells. Some were of the thickness of a man’s wrist while others were as thick as a man’s thigh. The serpents entwined themselves round Gajanana’s feet and waist. The largest among them encircled Gajanana’s neck and got upon his head. Gajanana was observing this and still walking on. While walking his body became that of a stout and strong man and he was going ahead pushing all the serpents aside. He was feeling a mixed sensation of fear and joy. He could not get any idea as to what distance he had travelled. Then he began to feel lightness in his body. The serpents, however, were still there. But the darkness disappeared and there was a clear light spreading on all sides. In the light Gajanana saw in front of him a beautiful samadhi adorned with various kinds of flowers giving out fragrant smells. There was a small ghee lamp lighted and camphor was burning on one side. A beautiful damsel was standing near the samadhi. She had a gold waist-band, from which a shining sword was hanging. As Gajanana was about to bow down to her, she became invisible. 

Gajanana was surprised as well as delighted. He felt a curiosity to know what saint’s samadhi it was, and felt a keen desire to get the darshan of that saint. Inwardly he prayed, “Oh please give me your darshan. I am an orphan, a pauper and a beggar.”

Next moment the samadhi broke in twain and a grand personage of dazzling appearance came out. There was a great sound of SOHAM. Gajanana felt as if that very sound was coming out of his own body. At the sight of that grand personage–having a long beard, wearing a gerua robe, having garlands of rudraksha beads round his neck and with a crown of matted hair on his head–Gajanana’s eyes were dazzled and he felt that the sound of Soham was issuing out of his own mouth just as it was coming out of the mouth of that personage. Then the form of that personage assumed a mild appearance, there was a sound of “Machhinder Adesha” [Matsyendranath’s Instruction], and the whole scene vanished.

After the vision

Gajanana then became fully awake and sat up on his bed. His body and clothes had become wet, and a sweet fragrance was coming out of all his body. He was rubbing his eyes. Although the sun had arisen a long time previously, still he was feeling a great darkness before his eyes and hence he was a little bit frightened. Looking at his wet body, Gajanana as well as others thought that Gajanana in his sleep had upset with his foot the pot of water which was near his bed.

Seeing Gajanana’s terrified condition, the aunt’s mind became full of fear and anxiety and she took Gajanana and placed him on the feet of Maharaj, who turned towards the aunt and said, “Have you understood? He is a real yogi. You need not be anxious about him.” He turned and said to Gajanana, “Your birth is now fulfilled.” He then asked Gajanana to repeat the mantra which had been given to him in his dream. That mantra was reverberating in the ears and the whole body of Gajanana, and “Soham, Soham” was going on continuously in his ears and body. Gajanana, therefore, replied only “Soham.” Maharaj then said, “Even at such an early stage, you got the darshan of the Goddess and of Matsyendranath. Is it not so?” Gajanana then described the whole vision to Maharaj, who was highly pleased at hearing it. 

Gajanana then asked for his blessings, saying, “Please give me this boon. Let my ego go away. One more boon for myself is that I should have the right knowledge of the Self. I have a yearning for Guru Darshan too. Please fullfil it, oh merciful one.” 

Maharaj caressed Gajanana and kissed him and uttered the following prophetic words, “Oh Gajanana, you will become famous in the world and many aspirants on the spiritual path will be benefited by you and you will always experience great joy and peace of mind.” After bestowing this blessing Maharaj further said, “I shall always manifest myself to you in your breath.” Thus Gajanana was made to realize himself in the company of his sadguru, which was unprecedented. After this all took the darshan of Maharaj and returned to their place. Food was then cooked and all had their meal.

A tiger visiting the samadhi

One day when all the members of the Gupte family were having the darshan of Maharaj, he said that a big tiger daily came for the darshan of the samadhi in the plaza and therefore no one should keep awake after 11 p.m., lest he might be terrified by the sight. That night others slept as usual, only Gajanana lay down pretending to sleep. His japa of Soham was going on and his mind was full of joy. In the meanwhile, the tiger as usual came there, took the darshan of the samadhi and of Maharaj and went away by the way it had come. Maharaj casually cast his eyes at Gajanana and finding him awake, said, “Child, are you still awake? Were you not afraid?” Gajanana replied, “I was awake, still by the grace of the sadguru I did not feel the least sense of fear.” In the morning all others came to know about the incident at night. Everyone then said to Maharaj, “If Gajanana was awake, why were we also not awakened?” To this Maharaj replied, “Because you would have been frightened.”

Visit to Borgaon: guru of Sri Narayana Saraswati

Some time later the day of the anniversary of the mahasamadhi of Maharaj’s guru arrived. The samadhi of his guru was situated at Borgaon, and the road to it passed through jungles and was very difficult. By this road Sri Narayana Saraswati started with about two or three hundred disciples and about one hundred and fifty bullock carts. They reached the place on the seventh day. Borgaon is a small village. Maharaj was well-known in those parts. All persons took the darshan of the samadhi. They stayed there for fifteen days. Every day there were bhajan, worship, arati and processions. Dinners on a large scale were also given.

Guru’s message to his disciples

There is a river near Borgaon. Maharaj pointed out the spot where his guru used to sit for meditation. One day while there, Maharaj narrated the following.

“My original name was Paramananda and my sadguru’s name was Narayana Saraswati. When my sadguru knew that the time of his departure from this world was approaching, he called me near him as I was under his special favor and said, ‘Paramananda, I am soon going to depart from this world. The tradition of my path must be continued as before. I do not see anyone more fitted for the task than yourself. You will be the only one to continue this tradition. Leave therefore, your name of Paramananda and assume my name of Narayana Saraswati and carry on the tradition. Do not instruct anyone who is not a sincere aspirant and who has not trained himself in self-control. If you instruct a person and he later on acts thoughtlessly, withdraw yourself from him.’ Soon after this my sadguru left his mortal coil.”

Sri Narayana Saraswati as seen by his disciples

Sri Narayana Saraswati (Paramananda) was a saint of great powers. Many miracles performed by him were witnessed by Gajanana and his other devotees. He never allowed any one to take his likeness in a photograph. One Mr. Pendharkar, a drawing-master at Akola (Berar) and a photographer, had tried to take the photo of Maharaj about a hundred times but had failed in getting a likeness. Then he fell at the feet of Maharaj and prayed earnestly that Maharaj might be gracious enough to allow his likeness to be taken. Maharaj then consented and he succeeded in getting a likeness.

Many devotees of Maharaj once earnestly prayed to him to allow himself to be photographed. They begged earnestly for the favor, particularly urging that devotees living at a distance would thereby get something like his darshan and would be able to honor his image. When this earnest prayer was offered, then Maharaj willingly allowed himself to be photographed. If any of his devotees felt a keen desire to see him, Maharaj used to appear before him and ask, “Why have you called me?” Owing to such miracles his disciples were extremely delighted.

While he was at Antri or Jambore, thousands of pilgrims came for his darshan. To some he appeared to be sitting on a tree, to others he appeared sitting in meditation on the brink of a well. To some he appeared young, to others old. Sometimes he appeared jumping from one tree to another, sometimes weak and sometimes stout and strong. His form thus appeared as changing. He, however, told his disciples that such miracles happen naturally in the case of yogis, and undue importance should not be attached to them.

Sri Narayana Saraswati (Paramananda) left this world in November of 1910. His age was then one hundred and twenty-seven. His birthplace was Daithana on the banks of the Godavari at a distance of about forty miles from Paithana. The traditional trade of his family was that of a banker. His father died when Paramananda was very young. He was then brought up by his mother, and his thread ceremony was celebrated by her. When Paramananda was twelve years old, his mother also died and he took the bones of his mother’s body after it was burnt to Nashik in order to put them into the Ramakunda there. He never returned home, but from Nashik went to the Punjab and remained there for a very long time.

Return of the Family to Akola

Gajanana, his brothers, aunt and others remained for some days at Antri and then took leave of Maharaj to return to Rambhau’s place at Chikhli. Sri Narayana Saraswati placed his hand on the head of Gajanana and, having mercy in his mind, gave him this blessing: “If you follow yoga sadhana you will become known to worthy seekers. You will free souls just by your blessings. Oh, Yogadhikari [Fully Qualified in Yoga], now go back to your place. Show the path to the seekers. You will be a true Atmajnani.”

Gajanana and others returned to Akola. Gajanana was educated up to the fourth standard Marathi at Akola. Narayanrao, his oldest brother, was then transferred to Washim, where Gajanana accompanied him for continuing his education. But in a month or two Gajanana stopped attending school.

Narayanrao was then again transferred to Akola, where he remained till his retirement. Gajanana also naturally stayed with Narayanrao at Akola. At the end of his stay at Akola, he succeeded in experiencing the over-flooding ecstasy of the bliss of the Self. He was always immersed in the awareness of “Soham” within. He was never entangled in material things, had a liking towards the company of spiritual people, was eager in the pursuit of spiritual ways and always wished to be with saints.

Meditation

About a quarter of a mile from the place where Gajanana Maharaj was living at Akola, there is an old abandoned fort. Gajanana Maharaj used to go to a secluded spot in the fort for meditation by day as well as by night. Nobody knew about this. Jackals came there at night and howled. Once or twice through fear of the jackals Gajanana Maharaj had to run away from the place. He, however, always went there for meditation.

Once while Gajanana Maharaj was sitting there in meditation he heard a voice saying, “Do not be afraid. After four or five days more you will never feel the sensation of fear in the least.” Owing to this he gained great courage and continued his daily practice. After some time the howlings of jackals ceased altogether and at the time of meditation he began to be immersed in joy.

A friend of Gajanana Maharaj, named Shivrambhau Gupte, was then living in Gawalipura at Akola, and he alone knew about Gajanana Maharaj’s place of meditation and about his going to and coming back from that place. Occasionally Gajanana Maharaj used to sleep in the house of this friend after returning at night from that place after meditation.

Sometimes in the house of this friend some miracles took place naturally at the hands of Gajanana Maharaj. When Gajanana Maharaj told him about his sitting for meditation in the fort and gave him an idea of his experiences, he advised him saying, “Child, you should not go at night to the fort.” To which Gajanana Maharaj replied, “I do not go of my own accord. A superhuman power leads me there and I feel a wave of ecstasy surging in me and that power again brings me back safely. My sadguru is extremely kind. He guides my thoughts. As soon as the idea enters my mind, the mind itself begins to repeat Soham. I myself make no effort.” Gajanana Maharaj later on began to sit for meditation in the house of Shivrambhau Gupte.

Miracles and the Anxiety Caused

Sometimes in Shivrambhau’s house miracles took place spontaneously at the hands of Gajanana Maharaj quite naturally and without any conscious effort on his part. They all happened among his friends and were not revealed by them. On the contrary, efforts were made to keep them secret. As Gajanana Maharaj was then a young boy about eighteen or nineteen years old, a cripple, and did not observe all the rules of ritual purity and caste observance, they thought that if these miracles became known abroad people would ridicule them or think that they were tricks of ghosts and evil spirits.

Later on these miracles began to occur even in other places, when Gajanana Maharaj happened to visit the house of a barrister there or the houses of other acquaintances. Some people then asked Gajanana Maharaj whether they should communicate these miracles to the barrister and other people and whether he would perform some miracles in the presence of others. To this Maharaj replied, “I do not know anything about these miracles. I am not conscious of them. How can I then say anything regarding them? I do not know what these miracles are and why they occur. You know more about them than I. I just sit at one place in a state of meditation. How can I then throw light on these things?”

The members of Maharaj’s family did not know anything about these miracles and no one had told them. When Gajanana Maharaj heard that these miracles were known by other people, he began to feel apprehensive that people would entertain various doubts regarding him, would blame him and would think that perhaps he was in league with evil spirits. This later on assumed the form of keen anxiety and he began to feel very uneasy.

Once when he was sitting in meditation he saw a vision in which it was made clear to him that such miracles often occurred in the case of yogis unconsciously without any effort on their part and there was no reason for being uneasy on account of them. When this elucidation was vouchsafed to him, Gajanana Maharaj became free from anxiety and was greatly delighted.

A boyish whim

Gajanana had seen the Shakti Puja [worship of a goddess according to tantrik rites] that was done by a Mr. Karnik, and according to his boyish mood he thought that he should also try the Shakti Puja in the manner he had seen. Mr. Karnik used to hold a pot of wine to be offered to the goddess and used to sit in meditation as if the goddess would come and take the wine from his hand.

Gajanana, taking all the puja material, shut himself up in a room in the house of Mr. Shivrambhau Gupte and started his experiment. He imitated Mr. Karnik in all his ways, solemnly offered his prayers and shut his eyes, but nothing came of this. The next night the same experiment was repeated, but with the same result. The third night, Gajanana persisted in the experiment and immediately went into an ecstatic state. And lo! he saw in his inner vision that the offerings were transformed from wine to milk and meat into rose flowers, and the garland offered to the deity was on his own person. When Gajanana regained his normal consciousness, to his surprise he found that there was an actual change in the puja material, as he had seen it in the state of meditation.

At this time, Mr. Shivrambhau who had been peeping through the chink of the door, rushed in and fell at the feet of Gajanana Maharaj, who blessed him and imparted to him instruction in the Soham Mantra.

Darshan of saints

After this Gajanana Maharaj’s practice of meditation went on smoothly and he got the darshan of Riddhi and Siddhi (goddesses who are the presiding deities of the powers acquired by yoga practice), and of several saints. All the saints heartily gave him their blessings and said, “Your yoga is now complete. You will now be in a state of meditation ceaselessly. You have now become a siddha (a perfect yogi). Whatever mantra you will give to a spiritual aspirant, it will be attended with success. If you will touch an aspirant, he will make progress on the path of yoga.” Then the saints disappeared.

Mental worship of the guru

One day at night, Gajanana Maharaj sat in meditation. His guru appeared before him, and Gajanana Maharaj worshipped him and offered him the naivedya (food offering). His sadguru thereupon smiled and said, “All this is not required, but the real truth is yourself–your devotion and faith. You yourself are the real bliss. Enjoy this bliss!” So saying, he disappeared.

From then on, at the time of meditation in his inner vision he would see Sri Narayana Saraswati sitting near him, and all the materials of worship, such as milk, shira (a sweet), garlands of flowers, etc., which were merely mentally conceived, were actually observed by others to be lying in front of Sri Gajanana Maharaj in the physical world. People often saw a garland of flowers appear round the neck of Gajanana Maharaj without anyone placing it there.

Disappearance of the Krishna Image

While Sri Gajanana Maharaj was at Akola a number of miracles occurred naturally at his hands. Only a few of them which were narrated by different eye-witnesses are given below.

While Gajanana Maharaj was at Akola, a wonderful miracle occurred at his hands. An old lady neighbor, an aunt of one Mr. Rambhau, was one day worshipping as usual a bronze image of Lord Krishna in her room. Gajanana, in company with some other boys of his age, had a whim to play a childish trick on her. He, therefore, asked her what she would do if he made her Balkrishna (Child Krishna) disappear from there. The old lady did not pay any attention to this silly boy. Gajanana therefore gave an order, quite innocently of course, to the image to go away from there. To the surprise of everybody the image of Sri Krishna disappeared! The old lady was horrified at this jugglery and began to weep at the disappearance of her beloved image. She said that she would not eat or drink until the image was restored. At last Gajanana took pity on the old lady and asked her to spread out her palms. Gajanana then as innocently as before ordered the image to come back. To the pleasant surprise of her and the others present the little image reappeared in her palms. This was the first miraculous happening observed in the life of Gajanana Maharaj–at the early age of thirteen.

Mrs. Dighe’s Account

Mrs. Dighe from Akola, a playmate of Gajanana in his boyhood, visited Gajanana Maharaj in the month of February, 1940. She narrated the following account of which she was an eye-witness.

It was the month of May. Gajanana, a boy of sixteen, was then sitting in the house of the clerk of Mr. Rambhau Gupte the attorney, which was close to Mr. Gupte’s house. Most of the inmates of Mr. Gupte’s house were assembled there. They requested Gajanana to procure for them some roses as he had obtained miraculous powers from evil spirits and they had heard of his having performed many miracles through their help.

Thereupon Gajanana remarked: “Do you wish that I should invoke the evil spirits and get myself killed by them? It is all sheer nonsense that I am possessed by evil spirits. The miracles which appear to occur at my hands are not done by me intentionally nor do I know at the time how they occur. They occur at the instance of some unknown Higher Power. I receive a strange shock and a light appears before me. This light later on takes the form of my sadguru and then sometimes such things occur. As they appear miraculous, people attribute them to the working of evil spirits.”

“Anyhow, do anything you like, but do get some roses for us,” was the persistent request of the people. Gajanana then went out of the room (though all the while the people could see his movements) and within a couple of minutes he came back into the room and threw twenty to thirty roses on the floor. Mr. Gupte’s father, Mr. Martandrao Gupte, preserved some of these roses in a steel safe in order to test their their reality in case they were a kind of hypnotic illusion. To his surprise, however, he found the roses intact in the safe. None of them had disappeared. So his idea that they had been produced with the help of evil spirits proved to be erroneous.

[The foregoing needs some explanation. Evil spirits have an aversion to iron (and therefore steel) as it seems to burn them. Because of this many people in India wear small iron or steel bangles on a wrist to repel or neutralize any negative spirits or energy vibrations. If the roses had been produced by evil spirits and were either real or illusions, if put into an iron or steel receptacle they would disappear or be changed into something else. Since they remained intact, the men knew they had not been produced by any negative entities or energies. Editor’s note.]

Mrs. Dighe also said that the young Gajanana always avoided taking a bath, but one day some people insisted upon his taking a bath. He then consented, and while he was bathing, the water gave out the fragrance of highly scented attar of khus. [Khus is vetiver, a grass whose essence is used in India both as flavoring and perfume.]

Cure of pneumonia

When Maharaj was at Akola, there was a gentleman named Mr. Santuram Gupte staying in the house where Maharaj lived. His wife had a serious attack of typhoid with pneumonia. Maharaj merely asked the people of the family to burn camphor near her, and she was cured.

Gajanana Maharaj in Bombay

After visiting many places of pilgrimage Sri Gajanana Maharaj went to stay with Mr. Narayanrao Samartha at Parel in Bombay. Mr. Samartha was his relative and had received instruction in the Soham Mantra from Maharaj.

One day Mr. Moreshwarrao Mathure came to visit Mr. Samartha. Mr. Mathure in his boyhood had been staying in the house of Mr. Gupte at Akola and was attending school. At that time Mr. Narayanrao Gupte (the poet “Bee”) was also staying at Akola with his aunt and younger brothers as he was employed in government service there. Laxmanrao Gupte, one of the elder brothers of Gajanana Maharaj, was a class-fellow of Mr. Mathure and both of them were studying in the fourth standard Marathi. Gajanana Maharaj was then learning the first standard. Mr. Mathure, therefore, knew Gajanana Maharaj then.

More than fourteen years had passed when Mr. Mathure saw Gajanana Maharaj again at Parel. Maharaj was at the time sitting in meditation. Mr. Mathure asked Nana Samartha as to who the man was, to which Mr. Samartha replied that he was Gajanana, the youngest brother of Narayanrao Gupte of Akola and that he was called Gajanana Maharaj.

Mr. Mathure asked, “Is this Gajanana Murlidhar Gupte? When did he become a Maharaj? Some time ago Ramchandra Mahadeo Gupte, a barrister’s clerk, had been to Bombay from Akola. He, too, told me about several miracles performed by this Gajanana in the house of Mr. Gupte, the barrister at Akola, in whose house I also was staying in my childhood. But I did not believe him, because this Gajanana in his childhood was a truant and a vagabond and was very mischievous. I know his brother Laxmanrao very well.

“You and I belong to the same place, Mahad, and are also related to each other. You, too, call him ‘Maharaj’ and I now see him sitting in meditation. I am, therefore, compelled to believe that he must have in him something special deserving of respect. Formerly Gajanana Maharaj of Shegaon used to come to Akola. This [present] Gajanana then used to go to take his darshan and spend time with him. I think that that Maharaj might have perhaps conferred his grace upon him. This Gajanana in his childhood was very fond of taking the darshan of saints. All right, it is now very late. I shall come to you again some time and then meet him at leisure.”

Two or three days later Mr. Mathure again went to Mr. Samartha’s place. Gajanana Maharaj was also there then but he did not recognize Mr. Mathure. He, however, asked Maharaj several questions regarding practicing meditation, and Maharaj answered them.

When a question was raised about the use of reading religious books, Maharaj observed that the only use of books was to arouse a keen desire to know the Self. The reading of books did not deserve more credit than that. One should not, therefore, stick to books alone. If a person becomes addicted to the reading of books, his own powers of thinking and of discriminating between good and bad become weak and vacillating, and when this happens his whole life becomes futile and worthless. The most important thing in life is to get Self-experience.

After this conversation was over, Maharaj also asked Mr. Mathure his name, whereabouts, profession and other particulars. During these questions and answers Maharaj came to recognize his former acquaintance and having observed Mr. Mathure closely, and especially his eyes, remarked, “Mathure, do you practice pranayama?” Mr. Mathure was very much surprised and asked Maharaj how he could know that. Maharaj replied, “Quite naturally. By looking at your face, I could understand it by the grace of my guru.” Mr. Mathure was greatly surprised at this and turning towards Mr. Nana Samartha said, “This is not the Gajanana of former days. Owing to the grace of his sadguru, a great transformation has taken place in his state.”

Mr. Samartha replied, “Moroba, this Gajanana is now traversing the path of everlasting happiness. He has attained a very high stage owing to the grace of his guru. He is a great saint, but he does not wish this fact to be known and I, too, respecting his wishes, do not say anything about it to any one. As in the bazaar every one must test a coin himself and find out whether it is true or false, similarly in the case of saints everyone should find out for himself. Moroba, I am, however, glad that I have met a real saint.”

Mr. Mathure then asked Nana Samartha whether he had gotten any spiritual experiences himself, and whether he would tell them to him. Mr. Samartha replied, “Maharaj told me to repeat the mantra Soham, which I have done continuously for four or five years. I had various experiences, but at present, however, all, these visions have disappeared and I go into the state of samadhi lasting for an hour or an hour and a half. The feeling of joy experienced in that state cannot be described in words.

“You know, I suffer from attacks of asthma very often. But I am glad to tell you that when in meditation I do not feel even the slightest pain from the malady. If you practice meditation as taught by Maharaj you, too, will get these experiences. It is not that everyone gets the same experiences. It all depends upon one’s capacity and aptitude of mind. It is only necessary to carry on the practice steadily and perseveringly. Such is the power centered in the mantra Soham. I cannot say anything more.”

Then Mr. Mathure said to Maharaj, “Gajananrao, now I must call you ‘Maharaj.’”

To this Maharaj replied, “No, no. I am not a Maharaj. I am a servant of you all. That sadguru who conferred his grace upon me is the real Maharaj.”

Mr. Mathure said, “I am very glad to see this humility of yours. I now request you to come to my place and give darshan to all the members of my family and bless me. I shall just call for a carriage.”

Then Mathure brought a carriage and took Maharaj to his place. There Mathure’s sister recognized Maharaj, and all talked together for some time. Then Mr. Mathure left the house and went to the market. During his absence his sister told Maharaj that Mr. Mathure was practicing pranayama, owing to which he had lost balance of mind and sometimes talked incoherently and at random and sometimes lay down for hours at a time in a state of semiconsciousness. She therefore requested Maharaj to take compassion on him and lead him to the right path.

When Mr. Mathure returned Maharaj made him sit near him and said, “Your practice of pranayama is not correct. You have learnt it from some novice in yoga and hence it is all wrong. You must now quit this pranayama. It is much better and also easier to get control over the mind instead of trying to get control over the breath. After getting control over the mind, if as a result you get control over your breath it will be extremely beneficial.

“In raja yoga, otherwise known as dhyana yoga, one who wishes to attain the spiritual goal must practice a good deal and that, too, regularly. Besides, one must to a certain extent be disgusted with worldly existence. Blind faith is harmful in raja yoga and is contrary to its principles. If a guru or a saint merely asks you to put your faith in him and he does not enable you to realize some experience within your Self, you should tell him plainly that there is nothing secret in raja yoga, which is not a mysterious science. All its practices are open.

[Whenever in this book Gajanana Maharaj speaks of “raja yoga” he means the yoga of Soham meditation, and not the system that employs pranayama as its central practice though it is often spoken of as raja yoga, also. Editor’s note.]

“Those who merely rely on their guru without trying to get any Self-experience, weaken the power of themselves and will find themselves deluded in the end. Those who say that yoga is a secret lore are either deceivers and cheats or imperfect yogis, and it is better to keep at a distance from them because they bring a stigma on that celestial science and contribute to its decadence. Thousands of years have elapsed since the birth of the science of Yoga in this blessed land of India. Since then various sages have dived deep into it and given it the form of a definite science and explained it openly to various aspirants.

“Dear Mathure, you must have read various books on this subject, but I have told this to you in brief, not from what I have read but from what I have experienced in myself. You will be fully convinced of its truth when you also will get that Self-experience. You cannot be expected to put your faith in me, because we have stayed together in our childhood and known each other’s character well, and it would be difficult for you to believe that I have acquired any great proficiency in yoga. Hence I had to explain to you at some length.

“In comparatively modern times, various modern learned men have written commentaries on the Yoga Shastra, but I have heard that they have committed many mistakes. The old commentators were much better because their commentaries are based more upon solid reasoning calculated to satisfy the intellect. But these latter commentators have covered the yogic lore with mystery and created an atmosphere of difficulty about it. These later commentators, instead of explaining all things more openly and on a scientific basis, have made the Yoga Shastra a bogey and rendered it more incomprehensible. The only advantage they got from doing so was the absolute power which they could exercise over their disciples, in their capacity as so-called ‘gurus.’”

Mr. Mathure then said to Maharaj, “I shall stop pranayama, but you should kindly take me under your protection, bless me and lead me to the right path.” He then immediately garlanded Maharaj and placed his head on Maharaj’s feet.

Observing his keen desire, Maharaj told him the mantra Soham. Maharaj then told him that if he would practice meditation daily in the way shown, he would soon get Self-realization and attain the highest goal of human life.

Maharaj then added, “This path of meditation has been shown to you by me through my guru’s grace and inspiration. I have up to this time shown this path to some of my friends and I shall show it to others in the future, only through the grace and by the order of my guru. But the result or success will depend upon everyone’s keenness in practicing and his faith in the Self.

“Consider Self-experience as your real sadguru. Then there will be no necessity of relying upon the words of others, however great they be. Hence I say there is nothing secret in this path. What little I have told you has been told freely and with frankness. You should not pay any attention to miracles because they are absolutely useless. 

“Every step in this path of yoga should be minutely scrutinized by the inner sight and tested by experience and reasoning. Where you cannot understand, shastras may be referred to. I would never tell you to place your blind faith in anyone, as I consider that to do so leads to self-ruin. Awaken your discriminating power, test everything in the light of your experience as you test gold in fire and on the touchstone. If you think that there is some sense in what I say, try to realize it in your experience. There is no cause of fear in this path. Truth can be proclaimed in broad daylight to thousands of people. There is no danger to it. You should, however, keep away from pseudo-saints.”

In the course of conversation with Mr. Mathure, Maharaj had remarked that if Mr. Mathure would practice meditation as directed, in the course of time he would reach even the state of samadhi. Mathure thereupon asked Maharaj, “Do you go into samadhi? What is the nature of your practice?” Maharaj replied, “I was practicing meditation and going into the state of samadhi even when I was in my mother’s womb. Now I do not do anything and I cannot do anything. Strictly speaking I do not do anything; whatever appears to be done by me is done by Rama (God). I am simply as it were playing in this world in a peaceful state of mind. I do not understand Vedanta and its theories. I am, however, seeking in myself my own Self which is one and beyond all these things, which is eternal, which is life and which is joy incarnate.”

Mathure: “It is said that one must have the support (adhishthana) of God. Please explain to me what is meant by this.

Maharaj: Mathure, you have learnt too much Vedanta. I myself feel that there is no support of any thing to any other thing. Do not pay any attention to the above-mentioned saying regarding the support of God. Try to get the support of your own Self. Make the three things one: the meditator, the act of meditation and the entity to be meditated upon. And be absorbed into the state of joy. It will be of no use reading and discussing about what is written in thousands of books. In order to attain one’s goal three things are necessary: association with saints, devotion towards one’s guru and disgust with worldly life. If your conduct is pure, if you try to follow the principles of morality, and your mind is full of disinterested devotion and you repeat the mantra given by your guru, your mind is sure to be ultimately purified. He who experiences the joy of his own Self naturally and easily follows these rules of conduct!

“The real mission of saints in this world is to guide aspirants on the spiritual path. I am an humble servant of my sadguru. I am still in the sadhaka stage and am still carrying on the practice of yoga. I always tell my friends that I do not know anything about devotion [bhakti] or knowledge [jnana] or detachment [vairagya]. I, however, wish to impress upon you that while there are a few real saints who can be counted on one’s fingers, there are thousands of hypocrites who merely imitate the outward behavior of real saints.

“People in the world cannot recognize real worth. They cannot recognize a real gem but are attracted by the tinsel luster of false diamonds. It is difficult under these circumstances to find out the worth of a genuine coin.”

Mathure: Maharaj, from the time I was at Akola I have seen many pseudo-saints. Their method of testing the devotion of their followers was very peculiar. Some said, ‘Serve me and then you will be purified.’ Some asked their followers to keep their wives in their (saints’) company and to devote their money, mind and body to their (saints’) service. Some saints said, ‘I was the husband of your sister in her former life, so keep her with me.’ Some asked people to make their minds pure first of all and then go to the saints. Some said, ‘You are not as yet fit for the reception of spiritual knowledge.’

“In this way they used to dispose of persons going to them for spiritual advice. Some Babas have amassed vast estates by accepting worship, and thousands of rupees as dakshina from their followers. Some are attended upon by women. Some Babas always propound Vedanta by their mouths. Some purposely put on a very shabby and dirty dress, while some even remain naked. But these are all tricks with a view to create an impression on the minds of aspirants. Some say, ‘I have purposely been sent into this world by God for the uplift of women. I have undergone great endeavors from my childhood and went to the Himalayas and practiced severe tapasya in the caves there. Bhagavan Shankar [Shiva] then manifested himself to me and gave me the boon that I would be the savior of women. Hence I am fulfilling my mission.’

Maharaj: Moroba Mathure, I have carefully listened to what you have said. I, too, have heard about the various tricks practiced by many so-called saints, similar to those described by you. I say that perhaps God might have granted such a boon to some of these saints. Why should we not accept their word?

Mathure: Maharaj, I must say that you are misleading me by such words.

Maharaj: Mathure, I am not misleading you. Even in old times, when many great saints who had attained Self-realization flourished, there were also side-by-side hypocrites and pseudo-saints. At present, too, we have some “specialists” who have been given a boon to save only women. These things will always go on. Only we should not allow ourselves to be deceived and should learn to distinguish the true from the false coin. Sri Tukaram has remarked regarding such saints, “Tuka says that such (false) saints should be buried underground alive.” Sri Ramdas has also remarked that crores [tens of millions] of such gurus can be had for a pice [one hundredth of a rupee]. When I was at Akola I, too, was for about four or five years going after such saints; but God saved me from their machinations and I was able to warn about twenty or twenty-five of my friends also. These saints were later on thoroughly exposed and we thanked God for having saved us from them.

Mathure: Maharaj, what you say is quite true. People who fall a prey to the various tricks of false saints and make efforts to stand the various tests laid down by them in many cases are ruined both from the worldly and the spiritual points of view. Your test on the contrary, that of concealing your greatness under the garb of vice, is much better. [Sri Gajanana Maharaj was a chain smoker–yet there was never the smell of burning tobacco, but rather the scent of the best incense! He also appeared to drink wine right from a bottle, but when he offered it to others they discovered that as they took it into their mouths it was changed into milk!] No crowds collect round you. There are no pictures of deities, there is no bhajana and there is no paraphernalia of materials of worship. You mix yourself in whatever is going on. He who does not know this fact may perhaps be misled by your drinking and abusing and may perhaps leave off coming to you. [Maharaj spoke very plainly and rebuked fools and fakes who came to pester him with silly and hypocritical questions and objections–as is very common in India. Naturally, such people considered his reprimands “abuse” and therefore unsaintly.] This, however, will not ruin him in any way. He, however, who has come in contact with you in his previous birth will, in spite of all these external appearances, stick to you and be surely benefited.

Now, Maharaj, I shall ask you one question. Many people, who are either atheists or pose as atheists, ask me questions regarding the existence of God and challenge me to prove it. Although I have firm faith in God, I get nonplussed at such questions, have to eat humble pie and say that it is a question of every one’s belief and not a thing capable of proof. Will you kindly tell me how to answer such questions? Can the existence of God be proved by arguments?

Maharaj: I think the following is an easy and a scientific way of answering the question. Water may be produced by the chemical combination of hydrogen and oxygen, as the science of chemistry says, but the calculation of the proportion in which these two gases are to be combined can only be made by an intelligent agent to produce water. This faculty of calculating cannot dwell in unintelligent matter. There is such a vast expanse of water in this world. That intellect which calculated this proportion and produced this immense quantity of water could not belong to dull matter nor to any being of limited capacities. This universal intellect can only belong to a Being of universal power, who is none other than God.

If, however, any of your questioners say that matter has intelligence, then it is nothing but the doctrine of Vedanta that Brahman is all-pervading and is the only entity existing, only expressed in a different way. The distinction between matter and intelligence then disappears and one entity remains.

Thus whether you look at the question from a scientific or religious point of view, it cannot be doubted that God exists.

Mathure: Maharaj, you say that you are ignorant, that you have studied only Marathi and that too up to the Fourth Standard, that you have not read any shastras. Then how is it that you are able to answer such questions cleverly? Although I have read a good deal, I cannot answer such questions and find myself confounded.

Maharaj: I have heard educated men discussing among themselves and have learnt some facts mentioned in various books from educated men. I then thought over these things myself, and I can immediately remember things heard long ago and am able to give appropriate answers. In my childhood I always attended kirtans and purans [discourses on the Puranas] and carefully listened to any discussion on the shastras. Later on I read whatever religious books fell into my hands. I thus read some Upanishads and the Yoga Shastra of Patanjali. Some of these books I read myself and some I got explained to me by others. I have also read the lives of some saints. Hence I have been telling to my friends, brothers and sisters, whatever I have learnt from the lives of saints, only nowadays I have almost stopped doing so. At present I do not do anything, and make it appear as if I do not know anything. I find it necessary to let the world think that I am full of defects. To show off one’s merits is to deceive others as well as oneself. Rishis in ancient times, too, tried to create the impression on people that they were full of defects.

Mathure: Maharaj, shall I be able to see my Self in the state of meditation? It has been said that the human Self is also the same as God.

Maharaj: Now enough of this Vedanta. You will be able to see your Self. I say so because I myself have some experience of it. I see that you are trying to pump out information from me. But it appears to me that this our meeting was decreed by fate, otherwise I would not have afforded you any opportunity to do so.

I have a feeling of great affection for Nana Samartha who told you of many miracles which occurred at my hand. That generated great faith in your mind towards me. Besides, Mr. Gupte of Akola also told you about me and the many miracles which happened at Akola at my hands. All this has swept off all dirt of doubt from your mind and it has become full of faith. Hence I am compelled to tell you.

Now just see. When your meditation will become ripe and developed, you will be able to see how the Self slowly enters the sushumna and is seen like a streak of lightning for a time before it enters the Brahmarandhra (the center of the brain). Only the attention must be quite alert. Otherwise it passes off so quickly that it is not noticed at all. All right. I have told you this particular sign. If you observe minutely with close attention, you will be able to see it. I had pointed this out to Mr. Shivrambhau at Akola.

Mathure: I wish to ask one more question. What is your opinion regarding miracles?

Maharaj: There are some mahatmas at whose hands miracles do occur. But these great saints do not care for the miracles in the least. There are also some real saints at whose hands miracles do not occur. But they should not on that account be considered as not being saints. A spiritual aspirant or a devotee is sure to attain the right path, provided he follows the right methods.

Now enough of all these discussions, Mathure. Nana Samartha must be waiting for me, I shall again visit you at some other time. You should now carry on the practice of meditation intensely. If you do so you will obtain real peace, although you may be leading a worldly life.

After this, Maharaj took leave of Mathure.

Mr. Mathure died at the age of fifty-eight, having reached the stage of samadhi.

An offer to take the position of a saint

At one time in his travels Sri Gajanana Maharaj met a very famous saint, Sri Rama Maruti, who received him very graciously and spoke of him extremely highly. When that saint left his body, some of his disciples were seeking Gajanana Maharaj to ask him to take over the ashram of the saint and become their spiritual guide. They had not previously met Maharaj, but came to the home of Mr. Nana Samartha seeking him. When they met Maharaj without knowing his identity, the following exchange took place between him and one of the group named Mr. Gupte.

Maharaj: What is the object of you all in coming here?

Mr. Gupte: We had to spend about a hour and a half to find out this place. We met one man below and we asked him where Mr. Samartha stayed. He told us to go upstairs and thus we arrived here.

Maharaj: That is all right. What is your work with me?

Mr. Gupte: We have no work with you. We want to see Gajanana Maharaj who stays here in Mr. Samartha’s place.

Maharaj: Oh my God! But will you please tell me who gave you information about him? If you will tell me freely, I too will tell the whole truth to you, so that you might not be misled. Your purpose then will be properly fulfilled. Otherwise you might get yourselves into an awkward situation. In speaking thus, I have a sincere desire to help you. You will come to know by experience the truth or otherwise of what I will tell you. Mr. Gupte: Sri Rama Maruti has left this world. I have a relative at Uran who is a virtuous and a sincere man. He is not a man to recommend any person, even though that person may be a mahatma, unless he is convinced of his greatness by his own personal experience. He is also not a man to be deceived by merely external appearances. He told me that the only person in our Kayastha caste who was worthy to occupy the place of Sri Rama Maruti was Sri Gajanana Maharaj, and that he was staying for many years with Mr. Samartha. Hence we have come here.

Maharaj: Now I understand. I shall tell you in short about Gajanana Maharaj. You may believe me or not. I leave it to you. Had your relative told you that Gajanana Maharaj has some bodily defect in his arms or feet?

Mr. Gupte: No. He has not told me anything about it.

Maharaj: All right. I won’t ask any more questions. I shall tell you the opinion I hold about him. This opinion is based not on hearsay but on my own experience. He had almost dragged me into the meshes of the vice of drinking and it was only through sheer good fortune that I freed myself from it. He is an absolutely worthless man. He is a drunkard of the worst type. He abuses even women like a mawali [the lowest class of male street ruffians]. He does not care a bit for the world or for the opinions of other people. He rarely eats food. He taunts others in the presence of their friends or acquaintances by speaking about some awkward incident regarding them which might have occurred years ago. He repeats indecent sayings and proverbs, and when someone blames him about it, tries to give them a spiritual meaning. Some people say that he performs miracles. I cannot say whether he is a follower of the Aghora Pantha (the path of evil magic) or whether he has propitiated some evil spirit or whether they are tricks of hypnotism.

How can people like me say anything about him to Nana Samartha? First of all, he is a cripple. Secondly, he is related to Nana Samartha. Thirdly, Nana considers him as his guru and lastly all the members of his family, young and old, have full faith in him. They do not do anything without taking his advice and never transgress his orders. Of course this does not mean that every member of the family implicitly follows his advice in every matter but what I stated above is, broadly speaking, true. They all call him “Deva Mama” [Maternal Uncle]. This being so, how can I tell Nana that I do not like his conduct?

I am a resident of Akola from which place Gajanana Maharaj also comes. To place such a person in the position of a saint like Sri Rama Maruti would be an insult to the memory of that great saint. If such a thing is done the disciples of that great saint will become objects of contempt and ridicule in the eyes of the world.

Besides Gajanana is a cripple and he answers his calls of nature at the place where he is sitting even though women might be nearby. In short, all his external behavior at least is censurable from the ordinary worldly point of view. I cannot say anything about his internal spiritual progress, if any.

He has gone away from Bombay for the present temporarily. He will return in a day or two. You should yourselves personally see him and gather your impressions about him. I am leaving this place by tonight’s train. If, however, I have to postpone my departure on some account, we shall all meet together in the presence of Gajanana Maharaj. Only I won’t say anything in his presence. You should observe for yourselves and form your own opinion.

Now, therefore, all of you should go. Having heard from someone only about the good qualities of Gajanana Maharaj you have, in your minds, raised him to the position of a real saint. But please go now and when we meet again tell me what your opinion regarding him is after mature consideration. Please come over here again without fail.

As soon as Maharaj said this, one of those four or five disciples, who was a clever and keen-witted man, suddenly caught hold of Maharaj’s feet and would not let go of them, saying, “You yourself are Gajanana Maharaj.”

Maharaj had ultimately to admit the fact and said, “I am not really a Maharaj; but some few persons call me so. Well, now you know me as Gajanana Maharaj, what have you to say?”

They replied, “Not much. You are worthy to succeed Sri Rama Maruti.”

Maharaj told them, “I am exactly as I described Gajanana Maharaj to be, neither more nor less.” All of them laughed at this.

They were then given tea. After tea Maharaj said to them, “Really I am not worthy of the honor. Even supposing I leave off all my bad habits, still I am as yet a sadhaka. I also have not much knowledge. Whatever I appear to know is not my own knowledge, but my guru makes me his mouthpiece and speaks through me. I only repeat the japa in my mind without others knowing about it, as has been advised by saints. Through my sadguru’s grace, I contemplate upon and repeat ‘Soham’ internally. My internal dirt has not been swept off. When it will be entirely swept off by means of some broom, then I will not mind being placed in any saint’s position. Even if I then do not occupy any ‘seat,’ still I will be able to instruct aspirants and guide them on the spiritual path through the order and grace of my guru.

“All right. It is now nearly five o’clock and you have to catch your train. If all of you really wish that I should succeed Sri Rama Maruti, come again a week or so hence after mature consideration and then we shall see.”

They never returned or made any communication with Maharaj, nor was he ever even invited to attend the annual anniversary festival of Sri Rama Maruti.

When Nana Samartha came to know about this, he asked Maharaj why he had not accepted their offer. He said that it was a very good offer and it would be a credit to the Kayastha caste also.

Maharaj said, “I personally have no objection to sit on the seat of Sri Rama Maruti. He was a great saint. Through his grace I should be able to carry on his work. But there is one thing. You people will lose the pleasure of my company. I shall be there surrounded by many people. Many rich persons will visit me and pay their respects to me. Who knows, I may also get a little feeling of pride and perhaps would find it a little derogatory to my dignity to be on friendly terms with people like you! Would you like it? Consider.”

Nana Samartha then said to Maharaj: “Please remain as you are. If we were to lose you, nothing could compensate us for such loss.”

Some time later this incident was narrated by Maharaj himself to a friend. After narrating the incident, Maharaj remarked, “That is as it should have been. Everything further may happen as it may.”

Humility, mercy and grace

[This account centers around the proposed visitation of a woman to her family whom she had not seen for four or five years. For some reason, in India this matter of a woman going to her husband’s household, or returning to her parent’s household for a visit, is very often a source of conflict, mutual recrimination and all-around ill feeling, usually with no basis at all except ego. Editor’s note.]

When Maharaj was at Bombay he was often asked by his brother, Mr. Narayanrao, to go to Pen and other places where their family had their landed property for receiving land rents which amounted to about five to eight hundred rupees per year. During one of his visits to Pen, a friend of Gajanana Maharaj, Mr. Trimbakrao Shikekar, went to him and requested him to accompany him to the village Nate via Roha. He said he had to bring his sister Kerubai from Roha, where her husband was living. As Maharaj was not acquainted with anyone at Roha, he hesitated to accompany him. But as Trimbakrao insisted upon Maharaj’s accompanying him, he at last consented.

The next day Trimbakrao, his friend and Maharaj started in a bullock cart in the morning and reached Roha in the evening. Maharaj was at that time dressed rather shabbily, and he asked Trimbakrao to tell the people there that he was his servant. Trimbakrao was unwilling to do so. But the occasion was such that it was necessary for Maharaj to remain incognito.

On arriving at Roha, Trimbakrao went to his sister and told her how Maharaj had asked himself to be represented. She did not like the idea, as she had heard about Maharaj being a saint. But when she came to know that these persons had come to take her with them, she was glad, and she hoped that her husband’s people would consent to her going.

The family consisted of Kerubai’s husband Wamanrao, his father Narayanrao, his mother, children and other near relatives. Kerubai, however, had no child although nearly eight years had elapsed since her coming of age. Some said that she was possessed of some evil spirits and so had no issue.

When these guests arrived, Narayanrao, Wamanrao’s father, was at home. He received the guests and Maharaj being a stranger to him, asked him the following questions.

Narayanrao: What is your caste?

Maharaj: We people have no caste.

Narayanrao: What is your father’s name?

Maharaj: They say it is Murlidhar.

Narayanrao: What is your surname?

Maharaj: Gupte.

He asked him no further questions. [This was because his family name indicated his family’s place of origin and his caste.] In the meantime, Wamanrao returned home and without taking any notice of the guests went straight into the house. He was told in the house that the guests had come to take Kerubai with them to her father’s.

At the time of dinner in the evening, Maharaj was served outside in the verandah as he was supposedly a servant brought by the guests for driving the cart.

After dinner, arrangements for sleeping were made for the guests. Trimbakrao asked Maharaj to open the topic regarding his sister, and if her people consented to her going with them, they would start early next morning. Maharaj accordingly opened the topic with Wamanrao, but he did not say anything in reply. Some time later the same night, Kerubai asked her husband for permission to go with her brother. Wamanrao became so enraged that she was absolutely silenced. Maharaj tried to pacify him but it was of no avail. Before going to sleep Maharaj told Trimbakrao that he would see his way next morning and that he should not yoke the bullocks till 10 o’clock.

Next morning, Maharaj told Trimbakrao and his friends to go out and that he would again open the topic with Wamanrao. Maharaj then joined Narayanrao, the old father of Wamanrao, near the hearth. Immediately Wamanrao came out and Maharaj asked him whether he was willing to send his wife with them, as she had not seen her parents for four or five years. Her father was also then ill. Maharaj gave these reasons and assured him that she would be sent back in a week and that they would be highly obliged if she were allowed to accompany them. Wamanrao got excited and told them to go away–he was not going to send his wife to her father at all. Maharaj then asked him not to lose his temper and said that though he was a servant he made himself bold to make those casual inquiries. Wamanrao became a little mollified at this and after drinking tea began to explain the reasons for not sending his wife to her father’s. He said that whenever she went to her parents, people there blamed him as she was possessed by evil spirits and consequently had no issue.

Thereupon, Maharaj, casting a glance at him, asked him whether he observed any fast, to which he replied in the affirmative. Wamanrao used to observe a fast every Tuesday, having been told to do so by an astrologer who had come to Roha and of whose proficiency in that science he had been convinced. The astrologer had directed Wamanrao to observe fasts for thirty-six Tuesdays. It was then the third Tuesday.

Maharaj then asked him whether he had full faith in astrology. As this question was put, Wamanrao began to think that it was rather peculiar for a person who was merely a servant to speak in that calm, dignified and thoughtful tone. Maharaj again asked him the same question and inquired whether he had faith in astrology and would put faith in whatever Maharaj would tell him. To this he replied that it all depended upon his being convinced about the truth of what Maharaj would tell him. Then Wamanrao went inside and brought the Panchang (astrological almanac) and gave it to Maharaj. While he went inside he was becoming comparatively calmer and calmer and he began to wonder how that man, a mere servant, was influencing him in that manner.

Maharaj looked at the Panchang and said that he did not know how to read it, but asked him to write down on a piece of paper the questions which he had a wish to ask–without showing them to him. Maharaj made a show of counting on his fingers and then correctly gave him the answers to all his questions.

Wamanrao was extremely surprised and he at once placed his head upon Maharaj’s feet and caught them firmly. He felt that Maharaj was not a servant or an astrologer, but a saint. He asked Maharaj to give him guru upadesh (instructions given by a guru to a disciple), and said that he would not leave Maharaj’s feet until he granted his request. Maharaj granted his request and gave him the Soham Mantra and conferred upon him the internal sight. He made Wamanrao sit in front of him for half an hour repeating Soham in his mind. Wamanrao asked Maharaj to tell him exactly who he was, for he knew he was not a servant as he feigned to be.

He did not allow Maharaj to go that day. He himself took a day’s leave and remained at home to attend upon the guests. Maharaj told him who he was and said that he was only a crippled child of God. Owing to the grace of his guru he was able to benefit people on the path of Self-realization. All were delighted and begged Maharaj’s pardon for having treated him as a servant. Maharaj replied that he looked upon respect or disrespect as one.

The guests remained there for a day and started next day, accompanied by Kerubai. Maharaj assured Wamanrao that he would cure his wife of her complaint and that she would have an issue. Maharaj’s words came true and Kerubai gave birth to a son.

Wamanrao progressed well on the path of Yoga. He occasionally visited Parel (a suburb of Bombay) to see Maharaj while he was there.

A vegetarian miracle

In the next trip of Maharaj to his landed property for collection of rents, he happened to be at Mahad. There was a friend of Maharaj, Mr. Randive, who was of a believing nature. He had been introduced to Maharaj some time before this by Mr. Vamanrao Kulkarni of Roha. Their camp was about three miles away from Mahad. Mr. Randive requested Maharaj to be with them in the camp that night. Maharaj had another doctor friend, Wamanrao Mathure, who was a devotee of Sri Rama. Maharaj went to him and requested him to accompany him to the camp as he had been invited there by Mr. Randive. They started in the doctor’s bullock cart and though the river Gandhari near Mahad was in flood they reached the camp by about 10 p.m.

All those in the camp were waiting for Maharaj for dinner. Among the camp there were some Brahmins and some Kayasthas also. Dishes of meat were served. Maharaj and the doctor protested that they were unaccustomed to such a meal and that they ought to have been served with vegetarian food along with the Brahmins. The Kayasthas who knew Maharaj began to joke and said that he being a Kayastha should not find anything unusual in the dishes, and charged Maharaj that he was making an unnecessary show. [Actually, in Maharaj’s family, even before his was born, no meat was ever eaten.] Maharaj said that if they persisted, he would partake of any dish which was given to him. Maharaj then offered the food to God and lo! The meat served to all was immediately transformed into vadas in broth. [Vadas are a kind of deep-fried savory doughnut.] All were struck with wonder. Some said it was jugglery and some that it was hypnotism.

Mr. Randive, who had invited Maharaj to the camp and was originally of a believing nature, was convinced of the greatness of Maharaj as a saint and sent the same broth as prasad to his family at Alibag. And the wonder of it was that the broth remained unspoiled for eight or ten days.

Some days later Mr. Randive appeared for the higher standard examination of the Revenue Department. Before his writing the papers he brought Maharaj to mind, and he succeeded in passing the examination and later on became a high official.

It is, however, sad to relate that although Mr. Randive had gotten such decisive proofs regarding Maharaj’s greatness as a saint, some mischievous persons duped him into the belief that Maharaj was either a clever conjurer or a follower of the Aghora Panth (path of black magic). Mr. Randive fell a victim to these evil suggestions and as it were surrendered his own reasoning power to the makers of these suggestions. May we all beware!

Mr. Raje of Dhulia

In 1924 Sri Gajanana Maharaj became acquainted with a Mr. Raje who lived at Dhulia. On the Gokul Ashtami day [the birth day of Krishna] of that year, Mr. Raje and all the members of his family were in their house with Maharaj, who was reclining on an easy chair in the verandah, seemingly asleep. Mr. Raje, in another room, smelled a fragrance as though hundreds of perfumed incense sticks were being burned. He looked everywhere in the house but could not discover whence the fragrant smell was proceeding. He came to the place where Maharaj was reclining on the easy chair. The smell was coming from there! Mr, Raje then awakened Maharaj and told him of it. Maharaj laughed loudly and only remarked that he himself had been absorbed in a feeling of joy, and that he could not explain it. [We can see from various accounts that miracles were often the result of supernormal states being experienced by Gajanana Maharaj.] All the members of Mr. Raje’s family then came there.

Later, on two or three occasions at about four or five o’clock in the early morning, all of a sudden there was spread everywhere an exquisite and almost celestial fragrance of flowers.

Mr. Raje also observed on some occasions Maharaj’s whole body besmeared with ashes and his forehead marked with sandal paste without any apparent physical cause. Maharaj, when asked about it, kept silent.

As Mr. Raje had published several books on astrology, many educated men used to visit him. These persons would see Maharaj sitting on a cot in the outer apartment. One day some of them asked Mr. Raje as to who the lame man was. It is not known what Mr. Raje told them.

The next day, some of these persons said to Maharaj, “Maharaj, where do you generally stay?”

To this Maharaj replied, “I am neither a saint nor a Maharaj. I am just like a member of Mr. Raje’s family and have come to him as a guest. I am only a poor ignorant member of the universal family of human beings. Some people call me Maharaj. This name has been given to me by others. My real name is Gajanana. I am a resident of Akola. For the present I am staying at Bombay with Mr. Nana Samartha, who is a friend and relative of mine. I am returning to Bombay in a week or so.”

These persons, however, thought that Maharaj was purposely giving them evasive replies, and said, “We have perfectly understood that you are a saint.”

Upon this Maharaj said, “I do not know what has been told to you about me and by whom. I do not know anything else except the two syllables which have been granted to me by my sadguru. [By this he meant the two syllables of Soham.] I have not the ability and worthiness to instruct any one. I myself am still a student. I also do things which are not done by others. I drink wine almost the whole day and night. What would be the use of such a guru to you?”

But the people were not convinced by this reasoning and persisted in their request that he should instruct them. Maharaj, therefore, granted to them the Soham Mantra.

Miracle of Bukka (Incense Powder)

Once Mr. Raje and Mr. Saswadkar came to Nashik. While there they told about many miracles of Maharaj which had occurred at Dhulia. Mr. Saswadkar recounted a miracle in the following actual words.

“It was the month of Bhadrapada and the day was Anant Chaturdashi day, the last day of the Ganapati Festival. All of us had gone to the house of Mr. Sule, a barrister, at about 6 p.m. After seeing the dioramas and Ganapatis there we, Messrs. Raje, Madhavrao Vaidya, Pradhan and myself, went to the place of Mr. Pradhan and sat there casually talking about various matters.

“The talk turned upon saints and miracles performed by them. Many miracles were described by their disciples as having been performed by certain so-called saints, and these saints were later on exposed in the newspapers as hypocrites and charlatans. Many educated people who also were of a believing nature were deceived by these miracles, which later on were proved to be false. I myself had seen a sadhu in a village where thousands of people were coming for his darshan. But that sadhu later on committed suicide and instead of light spread darkness on the village. I remarked that I, owing to such instances, had no faith in any of these latter day saints. Sri Gajanana Maharaj was there, and I said to Maharaj, ‘Why don’t you say anything?’

“Maharaj said, ‘What can I say in the matter? Every one describes the things seen by him and the actions of saints observed by him. I am an ignorant person. I do not do anything. I do not know Vedanta or its principles. I have no knowledge of books. There is, however, one thing–the Supreme Brahman–which is beyond all these things. Earlier saints like Tukarama, Ramadas and Ekanatha, and modern saints like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda, Sri Gulabrao Maharaj and Sri Rama Maruti have pointed out the path of reaching that Supreme thing, Brahman, and of realizing It within oneself.

“‘My Sadguru Mother has pointed out the same path to me and has given me the mantra of Soham. If you ask me anything about it, I might be able to say something. If you people, however, begin raising fanciful doubts, the whole night might be spent without coming to any conclusion. If you say that all saints are hypocrites and all miracles are false, what sort of reply can I give?’

“I said, ‘I do not mean to say that all saints are hypocrites and all miracles are false but I only say that in these days false saints predominate.’

“Maharaj thereupon replied, ‘It may be so, but it cannot be helped. If five or ten saints are true, there are hundreds of hypocrites who merely imitate these true saints and try to pass themselves off as true ones. Hence people are misled. Some married women abandon their husband and families, but have people on that account given up marrying? Accidents occur to railway trains, motors and airplanes. Have people on that account stopped using those things? Similarly there may be many false saints but that does not mean that an aspirant on the spiritual path should not try to seek for a real sadguru. I can only say that one should act carefully in the matter.’

“While Maharaj was speaking, my eyes had been fixed upon his face. I saw a halo of light encircling his face and then a shower of bukka began to fall from above on the bodies, faces and coats of all persons sitting there, including Maharaj–and also on the carpet. Maharaj was crying out, ‘Sadguru Narayana Maharaj Ki Jai! Ganapati Maharaj Ki Jai!’ All there were highly delighted.

“Mr. Pradhan then took Maharaj to the terrace, where bukka fell on the head and body of Mr. Pradhan. He made Maharaj sit on a pata (wooden board used as a seat/asan) and gave him tea. All persons in the house then came upstairs and took the darshan of Maharaj. Raosaheb Gupte also was there. All present took a little of that Bukka and kept it in a small box. 

“This miracle became known to many people in Dhulia. Maharaj, however, soon after this left for Bombay. He requested that the miracle should not be made known to others as far as possible.”

A conversation

Next day Messrs. Saswadkar and Madhavrao Vaidya came to see Maharaj, and the following conversation took place.

Mr. Vaidya said: “Maharaj, I had asked some questions to one or two saints at Pune and one of them had said, ‘We send various dreams to our disciples and also give them advice on spiritual matters. Those who act according to our orders are saved by us at the time of their death, and after death they are born again and become saints like ourselves, and God actually speaks with them. But the disciple must have implicit faith in us and must freely give us whatever we ask for. If, however, he does not serve us properly, we never look to his welfare, because we have to give a portion of our merit to the disciple and we many a time have to suffer from diseases for the sake of our disciples.’ I and some of my friends agreed to follow the advice of the saint. We were told to write down the name of Rama one lakh [one hundred thousand] times on separate pieces of paper, then roll each piece of paper in a pill of wheat flour and give these pills to fish to eat. If we would do this, we were told that we would get the darshan of God.

“Another saint told us, ‘We save a disciple after his death. You should first try to make your minds pure and should repeat the Name of God.’

“Another saint said that his particular mission was to save women.”

Maharaj pressed Mr. Vaidya to tell the name of the last-mentioned saint. But he said that the name of that saint was well known and that some time in the future such false saints would be fully exposed in newspapers.

Maharaj then said, “All right. What have I to do with his name? I must see that my own house is swept quite clean. It is true that one should have a discerning mind. What is not wanted is the tendency to raise unnecessary and baseless doubts and suspicions. If a spiritual aspirant has real insight, he will not be deceived. You are like brothers to me. I shall try to explain to you in a few words what I think about these things. I, too, have many bad qualities in me. I do not find a single habit of mine which I think to be good. It is you who must really judge what is good and what is bad in me.

“Many saints have flourished in past times, there are some living at present and there will be saints in the future, also. All real saints have said that the source of real joy is in ourselves. In order to understand how to experience this internal joy of the Self, it is necessary to go to a sadguru and act according to his instructions. If once you know the real path leading to this Self-experience, you can enjoy the bliss of the Self even though you may be leading a worldly life.

“If any saint says that he has a special mission to save women only, he may be considered a specialist. Whatever a devotee asks for is granted to him by God. This saint might have asked for such a boon from God and God might have granted it. Great saints like Jnaneshwar, Tukaram and Ekanath, however, have said that they had come into this world to save all human souls and not women only. Female saints like Mirabai, Muktabai, Janabai or Bahinabai, did never say that they were in this world to save male persons only. Nothing like this has been mentioned in the lives of the ancient rishis or in the Upanishads or in the Yoga Shastra of Patanjali. It appears that God has created such ‘specialists’ among the present day saints only.

“In the ocean of this worldly existence, I have been thrown like a log of wood, and you call me a saint. How am I, then, to close your mouths? I tell you that I am not a Maharaj; still you persist in calling me Maharaj. You are simply besmearing a stone with red pigment and calling it a god. [This is a common practice in India. Editor’s note.]”

Madhavrao Vaidya thereupon said, “Maharaj, is it ever necessary to gild gold? Can a real gem be hidden even in darkness? Can the fragrance of a rose or a champak flower or of musk be ever concealed?”

Maharaj said, “What is the use of discussing such senseless questions? Every person will get the fruit of his actions. Never again indulge in the censure of any saint. There might be sometimes among them a real saint who has realized the highest bliss and you might be incurring sin in censuring him also among the others.”

Madhavrao said, “I shall ask only one final question. Is it not the duty of parents to teach ignorant children?”

Maharaj said that it has been prohibited by the shastras to shake the faith of other people, ignorant though they may be.

Madhavrao said that that did not hold good in the case of educated people.

Maharaj asked Madhavrao whether he was ever deceived, to which he replied that he had never been deceived although during the previous ten years he had taken the darshan of many saints, and that he was sure that he would not be deceived in the future also. He added, “It is the mission of real saints to teach wisdom to people. Great saints like Tukaram, Ramdas, Eknath and Gulabrao Maharaj have written in severe terms of censure regarding hypocrites and false gurus in order that ignorant people might not be misled. Were these great men not saints? Then why did they criticize others? They really saw God everywhere. Then why should they have done so?”

Maharaj said, “Madhav, you are wrong. Those great saints had authority to do so. Such great personages have authority over the whole world. How would it be proper for us to imitate them? My sadguru has given me the shining torch of Soham. I do everything in my mind: bath, sandhya, japa, etc. I sit among people and talk with them. Whatever good things I see in saints or even in ordinary educated people of good conduct, I try to take a lesson from them and I sweep off myself whatever bad things there may be in my mind. I do not allow bad ideas to enter my mind again.

“I, however, cannot tell you why miracles occur at my hands, although that they sometimes occur is true. Mr. Raje might have told you about many miracles which occurred here. But I do not know how they occur. I, however, feel sorry when they occur. I go into an ecstatic mood, I see light before me and the form of my guru in that light, and then sometimes a miracle occurs which is observed by other people. I, however, attach no importance to miracles and pray that they should not occur. Please go away now. I shall not come here again. If you want to see me, you will have to come to Parel, Bombay, when we shall talk further.”

“Adventures” of Mr. Saswadkar in his own words

I was transferred to Dhulia in 1926. Soon after that I got information that a great saint known as Gajanana Maharaj, and who was a cripple, was staying with a Mr. Raje who was the postmaster there. I also came to know that he came to be recognized as a saint some months after he arrived at Dhulia, although he never gave any sign of his greatness and did not permit anyone to praise him or to describe his greatness. His external appearance and his dress also belied the idea of his being a saint. Whenever people came to see Mr. Raje, this saintly guest always left the place and went inside the house, where he sat alone.

Mr. Damodar Martand Chitnis, who was then living at Nandgaon, had come up for a visit to his brother-in-law, Mr. Raje. I took Mr. Chitnis for a walk to the railway station. On the way I began asking him searching questions regarding the saint. He, however, appeared extremely reluctant to answer them. I thought that Mr. Chitnis was reluctant to give any information regarding him because the external conduct, dress, talk and the habit of abusing indulged in by the personage were such that to describe him as a saint would provoke only ridicule. I, therefore, told him a fib. I said, “Why are you not answering my questions? Only yesterday Maharaj himself told me that you know everything about him and that if asked you would give me all information about him. Then where is the objection?”

Then Mr. Chitnis began to speak and said, “I first met Maharaj in 1924 in Nashik. He had then come on a visit from Bombay to one of his relatives, Mr. Bhise, whom I often visited. I asked various questions to Maharaj and pestered him with various doubts and objections. In the beginning he kept quiet, but ultimately he acted as if he was angry and began to answer the questions. By taking worldly and homely illustrations he turned my mind towards spiritual matters and gave me an idea about what real happiness was.

“A few days later I had a dream in which I was told to go to Maharaj and take his upadesha. I accordingly was instructed by him and I was shown the path of dhyana yoga. I saw various visions, and could see Maharaj himself in my state of meditation, and in that state would know if Maharaj went anywhere in the physical world from one place to another. Later these visions began to disappear and I began to experience a state of extreme joy in which I was entirely unconscious of my body, and which lasted sometimes for more than an hour. This is the present stage of my progress.”

As by this time it was nearly 8 p.m., we returned and Mr. Chitnis went to Mr. Raje’s house and I went home. I was feeling a little bit afraid, as I had obtained all this information by telling a lie.

The next day was a Sunday. Mr. Chitnis came to me in the morning and said that Maharaj had taken him severely to task for having told me about him, and that Maharaj had forbidden Mr. Chitnis to see him when he would be visiting Nashik. In short, Maharaj had been very angry with him.

Mr. Chitnis appeared to be greatly troubled and said, “You told me a lie–that Maharaj had asked you to get all information about him from me–and hence I gave the information. I have now come into trouble for it. I was unwilling to give you any information regarding him, as it was his desire that we should not say anything about him to others. He wants everything left to the course of circumstances.

“Nowadays almost all people want worldly happiness and they want saints who will give them worldly happiness. They consider spiritual knowledge as all bosh and to spend time in trying to get it as mere waste of energy and a sure sign of future poverty and adversity. They want saints who will give them wealth, children and worldly prosperity, and they will bow down to such saints. They do not want spiritual happiness, which they regard as chimerical. They want a life full of worldly pleasures.

“Hence Maharaj is known to very few people. Only someone will go to a real saint and ask for lasting happiness who has realized that all worldly pleasures are perishable and ultimately lead to misery. Really speaking, poor and rich persons stand equally in need of real saints who have attained Self-realization. But who wants real saints?”

Then I said to him, “Chitnis, please do not be angry. I asked you in the capacity of a friend, and although I told you a lie I had no bad intention in doing so. Nowadays many pseudo-saints are flourishing in this world and we see even educated and big persons falling a prey to their machinations. It has, therefore, become very difficult to recognize a real saint. I do not mean to say that at present there are no real saints at all, but if at all they are there they are very rare. Newspapers and magazines are full of descriptions of such false saints and are warning people to beware of them. Still we find even learned men getting into the clutches of such false saints and offering their estates and even their wives to them by putting blind faith in their words.

“Instead of being thankful to the writers in newspapers and magazines, they on the contrary run them down as blasphemers of saints saying, ‘What do they know? They do not admit the existence of God. How can they then believe in saints? They do not want either God or religion. They have no idea of what is meant by devotion. The only thing they can do is to spread scandals regarding saints and to increase the number of their subscribers.’

“I asked you for information so that I might not be deceived, because some of these false saints have powers of hypnotism owing to which they produce an impression upon others and catch them in their snares. My only point is that genuine coins and counterfeit coins are mixed in the bazaar, and it is the duty of every one to test the coin and find out whether it is true or false. I again request you not to be angry.

“If you know from your experience that Maharaj is a real saint, then where is the cause for anger? I fully believe what you have told me regarding him. But please remember that I will not rely simply on your words, but shall try to find out the truth for myself, although I shall not do so in a spirit of fault-finding and opposition, but in the spirit of a real seeker of truth.”

Mr. Chitnis then gave me additional information. “Gajanana Maharaj does not accept any worship from anyone. He treats all equally, young or old, rich or poor. The mantra, Soham, which he gives is to be repeated, keeping time with the incoming and outgoing breath. I, after some time, obtained the gift of internal vision and easily I went up to the sahasradala [the sahasrara, the thousand-petalled lotus of the brain].

“Then he told me to practice at home and said that there was no necessity of going to him. He thus remains aloof even from those who have taken his upadesha and hence it is that he has remained so unknown.

“If anyone goes to him, he finds only two or three persons near him and hence no one can think him to be a saint or Maharaj unless he is specially told about him by somebody. I am, however, fully convinced that he is one of those very rare real saints who have realized the Self themselves and are prepared to show the path of Self-realization to others. I cannot say anything further.

“I have read several letters written by some of his disciples to Maharaj, which contain a description of their spiritual experiences which they obtained after having fully tested the correctness of the path shown to them by practice for a year or two. What more proof do you want? He has more disciples among Brahmins than among persons of our Kayastha Prabhu Caste and they are far advanced in their spiritual experiences.” I then gave tea to Mr. Chitnis and accompanied him to Mr. Raje’s house. Mr. Chitnis left the same night for Nandgaon.

Later on I personally asked Mr. Raje about the saint and Mr. Raie also told me everything that he knew about him. He said that he himself had no faith in modern saints but his mother being an aspirant on the spiritual path, he had brought Maharaj there. He personally liked Maharaj as his conduct was very pure, he was witty, humorous and mixed freely with children and there was nothing reserved or awe-striking about him. He never left the house, and unless particularly questioned rarely talked with any one.

After having obtained the above information I went to Maharaj in order to take his darshan. He was then sitting on a stool. He was a very lean man and his hands and feet appeared to be very weak and emaciated. I took his darshan and asked him some questions. He, however, gave evasive replies.

He said, “I am a poor man. I go to anyone who invites me affectionately and is glad to receive me as a relative. I am a fakir [wandering sadhu] in mind and consider myself as an humble member of the universal human family. I go wherever I am invited sincerely and stay there as long as I please.”

I then began to visit him daily for about seven or eight days. Whenever he was in a joyful mood, he talked with me freely.

I once said to him, “Maharaj, please do not be angry. When we are sitting near you we occasionally experience various kinds of beautiful fragrances. What is the use of exhibiting such miracles?

“I have heard that there are eight kinds of siddhis (powers) which tempt a yogi and interfere in his spiritual progress. Only those yogis who are of an exceptionally strong mind are not tempted by these siddhis. They turn aside from them and steadily reach the highest goal.

“You, on the contrary, perform these miracles by using these siddhis. How then can it be said that you have really accomplished yoga? We, too, can go to the bazaar and bring various kinds of highly scented attars or sweetmeats or other things. Whether you get these things by means of powers (siddhis) acquired by practicing yoga in this birth or you get these things by means of money obtained in this birth as the fruit of merit done in previous births, the result is the same. I myself attach no importance to these miracles.

“If a yogi practices yoga and tapasya for years together, obtains these siddhis and gets himself entangled in them, I do not attach the slightest importance to him. Such yogis ruin themselves and also others. Please excuse me if I have spoken too much. But is it not simply deceiving ignorant people? If I am wrong, please correct me and explain to me and satisfy my doubts.

“In all spiritual matters, in yoga, in all the different religions, tenets and books, the only real thing that matters is experience. I have read the works of many philosophers, the sayings of many saints such as Ramakrishna Paramahansa, books of Vivekananda, Jnaneshwari and Yoga Vashishtha, and tried to understand their meaning. I have nowhere found any importance attached to such miracles. Ancient sages also in explaining the characteristics of a sadguru have always criticized yogis who indulge in miracles, and have definitely warned people not to place themselves under the spiritual guidance of such miracle mongers.

“There is nothing secret in raja yoga or in the other yoga paths, and I am not prepared to believe anyone who says that there is something secret or mysterious in yoga. A real saint or yogi will never ask any aspirant on the spiritual path to put blind faith in him, without having shown him the path of at least a little Self-experience.”

By speaking in this manner I pestered Maharaj to a great extent.

Raosaheb Gupte and Mr. Madhavrao Vaidya were then with me. Maharaj did not speak a single word but was smiling quietly to himself, being greatly amused. We then went to our respective houses.

All of us three were, however, greatly perturbed and became very anxious to know something further about Maharaj.

The next day we three again went to him a little earlier. Maharaj appeared glad to see us and said, “My dear brothers, you have told me a great deal about Vedanta, but I am an uneducated man and do not know anything about Vedanta. I have learnt only up to the second or third standard in Marathi.

“But what is the use of raising objections and arguments before me and making me non-plussed? I have not come here for exhibiting myself as a saint and for deceiving ignorant men and women by displaying miracles. Miracles are inherent in every one. They are not required to be procured from outside. If you practice meditation you also will be able to bring about such fragrant smells. When a person practices meditation, as his concentration increases these smells naturally come out. These experiences are got merely on the lower steps of Yoga. They only show that one is proceeding on the right path.

“I casually got acquainted with Mr. Raje, and as I learned that Mr. Raje’s mother and my aunt knew each other from childhood, I have stayed here, being pressed by Mr. Raje’s mother to do so. Then why do you bother me? What advantage or benefit do you get from it?

“There is another thing. If a person keeps a parrot and teaches it to speak and the parrot speaks cleverly, would you give real credit to that person or the parrot? It is obvious that real credit is due to that person. I say these arguments of yours are like words spoken by a parrot. You have read many books and shastras. Suppose I also tell you something and you merely listen to it. What benefit would you get from it? You repeat things learned from books, but just as a parrot does not understand the meaning of the words he utters, similarly you do not understand the real meaning of what you say. It is all words and nothing else.

“Dear friends, I urge upon you to practice meditation and get actual experience. If after practicing for some time you do not get any experience then say that everything is false. Real saints will always urge you to get actual experience because they love all human beings heartily and sincerely. Tukaram has said, ‘I cannot bear to see people sinking in ignorance, and a feeling of tender pity rises in me.’ Such outbursts of feeling on the part of real saints will give you an idea as to how deeply they love all human beings and what great and keen interest they feel in their welfare.

“Now you have seen certain miracles and have heard of others. But have you any personal experience regarding them? Absolutely nil. I tell you, my dear friends, that if the mind gets internal sight and is concentrated in meditation, every person who practices meditation will, in the course of nature, experience such fragrant smells. There is absolutely nothing wonderful in this.” After this talk we all went home.

Next day I again went to Maharaj accompanied by three or four others. At that time I had applied highly scented attar (perfume oil) to my hands and clothes and had placed small pieces of cotton soaked in attar in my ears. Some other men also were then sitting with Maharaj.

One of them said to me, “Well, you have come besmeared with attar scent today. Do you celebrate your Diwali today?”

I replied, “Maharaj gives out various fragrant smells. I thought I would do the same by means of merely attar.”

Upon this Maharaj remarked that he himself was not smelling the fragrance of attar, but on the contrary the bad smell of ordinary oil. Other persons, on being told by Maharaj to do so, actually smelt my clothes and they too experienced the smell of ordinary oil. Then a big laugh burst from all the people there. I alone felt a sensation of shame and immediately begged the pardon of Maharaj.

All the people then said to me, “If at all you want to test a saint, it should be done with all humility. It is much better not to undertake such a difficult task. If we do not find our way to put faith in a saint, we should salute him from a distance, but should never find fault with him. Now this Maharaj is here for the last eight or nine months, but very few people know about him. It does not appear proper to us that any one should try to test this great saint. However, whatever has happened, has happened for the best.” After this all went away.

Mr. Saswadkar tells about an incident involving an attar [perfume oil] seller

One or two days after the above, Gajanana Maharaj came to my place at about 9 a. m., and we both sat talking with each other.

A vendor of attars, who had been to Dhulia from Kanouj, came there. He had sold attars to many rich and important personages in the town, and he had made a list of them. He showed the list to me and said, “I have come to you, having heard about you. You must buy at least two or three tolas of attars. [A tola is about one third of an ounce.] I said that I was not fond of attars and wanted to send him away, but somehow I had to purchase attars from him worth two or three rupees. I then went inside for taking my bath. When I came out I heard some talk going on between the attarwalla [attar salesman] and Maharaj.

The attarwalla said, “I never give samples gratis. Pay money and I shall give you a piece of cotton soaked in attar. My attars are not of an inferior quality costing eight or twelve annas per tola. [There were sixteen annas in a rupee.] I take eight annas for a small piece of cotton soaked in the attar.”

Maharaj thereupon said, “I am a poor man, my good sir; merely apply a little attar to the back of my palm. I do not want a piece of cotton soaked in attar. Show me Hina [a fragrance prized in India] or Mogra [Jasmine] attar.” Still the attarwalla refused to show Maharaj samples.

I then told the attarwalla to show samples to Maharaj. I had an idea that Maharaj would work some miracle. I therefore again pressed the attarwalla and said, “Do show your samples to him, he will purchase your attars.”

But the attarwalla seemed to be an obstinate fellow and said “My attars are very costly. How can this gentleman purchase them?”

Ultimately, however, he applied two different kinds of attar to Maharaj’s hand. Maharaj asked him about the price of those attars. He said that it was ten rupees per tola, but that he would give them at the same rate to him as he had given to me–eight rupees per tola.

Maharaj then inhaled the smell of the attar and remarked that the smell was like that of ordinary oil which we use in our cooking for frying things. The attarwalla got angry and began to sputter and fume.

I then said to him, “You cannot understand the real worth of persons, just as some persons cannot understand the real worth of attars.”

Maharaj then turned to me and said, “Bhausaheb, pay this man five rupees and ask him to show samples of all his attars.”

Accordingly the attarwalla began showing the samples of all attars which he had with him. But every sample that was shown had the bad smell of ordinary oil. Even the costliest attars smelt likewise. The attarwalla himself and myself smelt the attars and both of us were convinced that what Maharaj said was true.

Then the attarwalla got frightened and he began to think that the man wearing the shabby coat was some great saint. He fell at the feet of Maharaj and prayed for pardon. We then burst into a laugh.

Maharaj said to the attarwalla, “I have done nothing in this matter. For all attars you use ordinary oil. A least I have heard that you do so. Hence the attars went back to their original form of ordinary oil. What is there to wonder at?” Maharaj, however, again transformed all his attars into their sweet-smelling state as before.

Mr. Saswadkar continues…

Since that time, however, I began to feel an extremely anxious longing for obtaining Maharaj’s grace. Then Rao Saheb Gupte, Madhavrao Vaidya and myself consulted together and came to the conclusion that it would be very unwise not to get ourselves instructed by such a saint.

Madhavrao Vaidya was the first. He begged Maharaj’s pardon for having taken part in and helping me in my attempt to ridicule Maharaj, and having taken him to his house garlanded him and got instruction from him. Maharaj had him practice meditation which developed his internal sight. He described his experiences to me. I was greatly delighted to hear all this and whatever doubts had been still lurking in my mind were entirely dispelled and I became full of repentance for having entertained doubts regarding such a saint.

Madhavrao Vaidya said to me, “Bhau Saheb, I feel I must have acquired great merit in my previous birth, as I have the good fortune of obtaining the grace of such a saint, who not only has spiritual experiences himself but also can show them to others. Such saints are very rare. Besides, Maharaj is absolutely selfless. Even the food which he takes is as small in quantity as that taken by a small child and he merely makes as it were a show of sitting for dinner.

“Some years ago Annasaheb Patwardhan of Pune had come here. He had told me that I should not be anxious, and that I would get initiation at the hands of a great saint. His prediction has been fulfilled. Maharaj gave me these experiences and showed me the path. He then told me not to put my faith in him but in the things experienced by me.”

Two or three days later Raosaheb Gupte and myself got ourselves instructed. Maharaj gave me the mantra of Soham and told me to practice meditation. He conferred the grace of internal sight upon me and I began to see various wonderful visions in the internal world. For a year or two I continued practicing meditation according to my convenience and leisure. I then began to feel calmness of mind and a sensation that the japa was proceeding from all parts of my body. At any time the japa would automatically proceed. Sometimes I felt someone giving me pushes while I was sleeping and asking me to carry on the japa. After a pretty long time had passed in this manner and after Maharaj had gone back to Bombay, I communicated to him all my experiences by means of letters.

Two or three years later I personally went to see Maharaj and mentioned all these experiences to him in the presence of some of his disciples, who jotted them down. I then asked the following to Maharaj: “These visions which are seen during meditation are also sometimes seen in dreams. What is the difference between the two?”

Maharaj replied, “Things seen in a dream have no luster, that is to say they are not of light. But things seen in meditation are full of light and are really made of light. Brahman is just behind these appearances. Hence when all these appearances disappear, what remains behind is pure bliss. Although these appearances are not real things, still they are external manifestations of the real thing.

“This was the path followed by all the great saints like Jnaneshwar, Tukaram and Ramdas and by all the ancient rishis. This was the path which was pointed out to me by my guru, and the same path has been shown by me to you. All these appearances are as it were sign-posts on the way leading towards the highest goal: Brahman. When they disappear, the person practicing meditation enters the state of samadhi. This is the real experience in raja yoga. If you are prepared to say that all those old saints were fooled by hallucinations, then suppose me to be one of those fools.

“I, however, am still a student. Even though you may call me a siddha (one who has attained perfection), it will have no effect upon me.”

In this manner Maharaj solved my doubts. During the last two or three years, all visions have disappeared, and for the space of an hour or an hour and a half I remain in a state of pure joy without any thoughts or ideas. Since then the whole tendency of my mind has been changed and I feel a sort of peace pervading everywhere. I feel as if the whole world is inside me. In this state of peace the Atmarama inside–the real Self–appears to repeat the japa of Soham. I can only say, Glory be to my sadguru who has made me realize these things in myself!

Restoring the Ashes

In May of 1928 when Mr. Saswadkar was at Talegaon Dhamdhere in the Pune District, Maharaj accompanied by Mr. Nana Samartha and Bala Maharaj Ramshejkar went to him on a visit. There is a holy place by the name of Vithal Vadi at a distance of about ten miles from Talegaon, and one day Mr. Saswadkar took his guests there in a bullock cart.

Mr. Saswadkar gave a bath to Maharaj in the river there and Mr. Nana Samartha similarly gave a bath to Bala Maharaj. He also washed Bala Maharaj’s zoli (a square piece of cloth with the two ends on each side tied into a knot, used by sadhus to keep their things in) in the river without noticing what it contained. That zoli contained sacred ashes and sundry other articles belonging to Bala Maharaj. All these things had flowed away into the river Bhima and the zoli was clean washed, dried and handed over to Bala Maharaj, who felt very sorry for the loss of his sacred ashes as he wanted to besmear his body with them after his bath.

Bala Maharaj said, “Maharaj, what is this? Mr. Saswadkar and Mr. Samartha did not take care to see what was in my zoli, and have thrown away the things in it. Especially I am sorry for the loss of the sacred ashes.”

Maharaj said, “Don’t worry, these people have no sense. I, however, ask you why you are so very upset. Why don’t you ask your favorite deity, Dattatreya, to give the things back to you? You have for such a long time served your deity faithfully on the hill known as Ramasheja. Will he not take pity on you? And now you are actually sitting in the temple of Shiva, who is fond of these ashes. All right. Tell me how much ashes do you want. Do you want a sackful or only as much as your zoli will hold? Because that much will suffice you for about two or three months.”

In the meanwhile Messrs. Saswadkar and Samartha came to that temple of Shiva where Gajanana Maharaj and Bala Maharaj were sitting, and they heard most of this conversation.

Gajanana Maharaj said, “Oh Samartha and Saswadkar, how is it that you have no sense at all? You have thrown away the sacred ashes of Bala Maharaj contained in the zoli!”

Then Saswadkar and Samartha begged the pardon of Sri Gajanana Maharaj and Bala Maharaj, and fell at their feet.

Bala Maharaj said, “What is the use of all this talk? Give me ashes to besmear my body.” Gajanana Maharaj again asked him how much he wanted, a sackful or as much as the zoli would hold. Bala Maharaj then got a little irritated and said, “You are simply talking and talking. You have not as yet produced as much ashes as would be held in two fingers. You simply talk about devotees and their gods. You have also taunted me about my tapasya and asked me to invoke my deity.”

There was a great laugh at this and Gajanana Maharaj said, “Bala Maharaj, please do not be angry. I do not possess the merit of tapasya, I have no soul-force (atmabala), I have no knowledge of spiritual or worldly matters. I am simply a sweeper at the door of saints and my duty is to do menial work there. I only take a dose of Soham and that suffices for me. Oh Dattatreya, run for my assistance, run for my assistance and give ashes to my friend Bala Maharaj here.”

With these words Gajanana Maharaj put his hands near the pindi [stand for the Shiva linga] and began taking out handfuls of ashes and besmearing the bodies of Bala Maharaj, Samartha, Saswadkar and on himself. Then he stopped, and Bala Maharaj fell at the feet of Sri Gajanana Maharaj and asked his pardon, saying “I am your child, kindly pardon me for my mistakes.” Then Gajanana Maharaj and Bala Maharaj embraced each other. The cart was yoked and all started from that place at about 2 p.m.

On the way they saw a garden of orange trees. They got down there, purchased some oranges and ate them and drank cool water from the well there.

Gajanana Maharaj remarked, “It is worth observing how wealth and women lead to ruin. If we leave Brahmajnana (knowledge of the Supreme Self), devotion to God (bhakti) and detachment (vairagya) aside, it is difficult to say in this world what virtue is or what constitutes vice. If fortune is favorable, a man of originally bad disposition becomes virtuous so far as his worldly actions are concerned. If, on the contrary, fortune is unfavorable, even a person of originally virtuous disposition sometimes does questionable actions. But one thing appears to me to be clear. Just as gold, even though thrown into the dust, does not become dirty, similarly the virtues of a really virtuous man, even though he may be undergoing adversity of fortune, are sure to spread their luster all around and attract the attention of other people.” (These remarks, which appear to be uncalled for and unconnected with any previous topic, we think were made in reply to the thoughts of Bala Maharaj).

They then started again and reached Talegaon at about 9 p.m. Gajanana Maharaj, Samartha and Bala Maharaj then went to Bombay.

Curing Meningitis

In 1934 in Mr. Bhise’s house at Nashik, Mr. Appasaheb Vaidya, Mr. Walawalkar and one or two others were sitting talking with Maharaj, when Maharaj suddenly exclaimed, “He is lying ill on my bedstead in my room in my house. I must go to Parel.” As no letter or telegram had been received from Parel regarding anybody’s illness, people were wondering about Maharaj’s sudden exclamation, when to the surprise of all a telegram was received from Parel that Shankar, the nephew of Mr. Samartha, was seriously ill and requesting Maharaj to come immediately.

Maharaj started by the first train available which was in the afternoon and reached Parel in the evening. The children of the family came running to the place where Maharaj’s motor had stopped crying aloud, “Deva Mama has come.” Maharaj made inquiries with them regarding the illness and then went upstairs. Shankar being almost unconscious did not recognize Maharaj at first but after some time did so.

Doctor Dabholkar was the family doctor of Mr. Samartha. He was a very good man, benevolent and successful in his profession. In the beginning the case could not be properly diagnosed as it was the first case of meningitis in Bombay. It was only after four or five days since the illness had begun, when the patient showed signs of delirium, that a proper diagnosis was arrived at. Shankar was examined by a committee of doctors consisting of Doctors Bharucha, Mulgaonkar and Mistry, all MDs.

Neighbors and relatives and friends were coming morning and evening to see how the patient was doing. Every day about forty to fifty persons visited. Shankarrao was a store-keeper in the office of the Times of India and people from his office also used to come for making inquiries regarding him.

Nearly a month passed, during which doctors were paying their visits. Religious ceremonies such as japa and other things were also performed. Whatever was suggested by anyone was done.

Maharaj visited Shankar only twice or thrice in the beginning and at last when his critical time came. Outsiders began to ask the members of the Samartha family, “What has your Maharaj to say about the illness?” To which they replied, “We only know that everything depends upon his grace.”

In this manner two months passed and still there were no signs of any improvement in the patient’s condition. The eyes of the patient became swollen and there was pus in his ears and he began to stammer incoherently in English, Urdu and Gujarati. His fever was 103 or 104 degrees continuously.

Shankar’s superior officer had told all clerks to make inquiries regarding his health every evening and give him a detailed report next morning. The officer had sent a message to Nana Samartha, Shankar’s uncle, that he would remove Shankar to a hospital and arrange for his special treatment there. The officer himself then came with his wife to see Shankar, but Shankar could not recognize him. The officer felt very sorry and after seeing Shankar’s condition was convinced that Shankar would not live for more than five or six days. He therefore left, thinking that it was useless to remove him to a hospital.

The next day Shankar saw a vision which he afterwards described as follows: “I saw a black Yamaduta (Messenger of Yama, the God of Death) putting his noose around my neck. There was a funeral pyre burning nearby and a widow was ceaselessly crying. I myself was also crying loudly and shouting, “Oh Deva Mama, Deva Mama, save me, save me!” Then somebody went and brought Sri Gajanana Maharaj near me. He saw me crying and said, ‘Do not cry; from tomorrow you will feel better.’ Still I could not be consoled. Then he told me to repeat Soham continuously. I began to do so with my eyes shut.”

At this time almost all people had gone away. Only four or five persons were sitting near Shankar’s bed and were continuously burning camphor near the head of the bed. Shankar began to speak and said, “Have all run away? I see here a big snake and Sri Krishna upon it, who has placed his hand upon my head. See they have gone.” All felt glad at hearing this. [Vishnu is often portrayed as reclining upon the great serpent Ananta which symbolizes Infinity. In this instance Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu, was seen instead. Editor’s note.]

From that night Shankar’s fever began to subside slowly. Three months later he became all right and regained his former strength. He then resumed his employment.

Healing paralysis

Raosaheb Shankar Sitaram Gupte, was associated with Maharaj after he received instruction from Maharaj at Dhulia. His wife, Mrs. Anandibai Gupte, also received instruction from Maharaj. At one time she was suffering from paralysis for about six or seven months and was confined to her bed. Raosaheb Gupte had been staying at Nashik since 1927 for getting the benefit of Maharaj’s company. But somehow or other he never thought of taking Maharaj to his house, as perhaps he did not like to give trouble to Maharaj regarding his worldly affairs and thought that one must try to bear one’s own afflictions sent by fate. One day, however, Raosaheb Gupte casually said to Maharaj, “I am tired of giving doctor’s medicines to my wife. It would be better if you would kindly come over to my house and give her your blessing.”

Maharaj replied, “Only doctors can cure such diseases. You ignorant people wish them to be cured by the blessings of saints. Of course the blessings of saints can accomplish anything, but I am not a saint of that sort. If I could cure diseases, why should I not be able to cure my own? As you know, in a month I am generally ill and suffering for nearly twenty days. Your wife is now about sixty years of age. Such ills of the body are quite natural.” Although Maharaj said this and Raosaheb Gupte thought that the matter would rest there, Maharaj suddenly changed his mind and agreed to accompany Raosaheb to his house.

Maharaj then went to Raosaheb Gupte’s house and took hold of Anandibai’s hand and had her stand up and then said, “Meditate, while standing, upon that upon which you meditate every day. Direct your mind upon all your senses and carry on the japa.” Mrs. Gupte was greatly delighted as she had not had the darshan of Maharaj for eight months, and she felt that the Great God Himself had brought about this meeting with Maharaj. She then did as she was told to do by Maharaj and could move a few steps. This was repeated two or three times during the period of two or three hours. She then was able to go into the inner house and again come out. Maharaj then returned home. In a day or two more she became all right as if she had never suffered from paralysis.

The look of grace

Vishwanath Patankar was never religious or spiritual. Rather, he was an atheist. But due to his past life karma he happened to suddenly meet Maharaj at Mumbai. When Maharaj looked at him lovingly, his mind took a complete turnabout and he prostrated at Maharaj’s feet, saying, “Now you need to save me!” Spontaneously he began both praising and praying to Maharaj as though he had known him always. Understanding his good intentions Maharaj readily blessed him, then gave him the Soham Mantra and showed him how to meditate.

Mr. Bhave

Mr. Bhave after his retirement was living at Nashik as a tenant in the Shringeri Math of Sri Shankaracharya. He had been doing various religious practices, but had not obtained peace of mind. In November of 1937 Mr. Bhave learned of Sri Gajanana Maharaj through a letter from one of his friends. One day Mr. Bhave found out the location of the house of Maharaj and went there at about two o’clock in the afternoon. Mr. Bhave saluted Maharaj, who asked him about his name, etc., and as to how he happened to come there. Mr. Bhave mentioned everything in detail unreservedly and said, “Maharaj, teach me yoga and take me under your protection.”

Maharaj at first tried to put him off, but as Mr. Bhave continued to come successively for some days, he ultimately conferred his grace upon him.

Sri Gajanan Maharaj said to him, “I have told you something in the capacity of a friend as I have been telling some others also. As those others are enjoying spiritual joy, you also may enjoy it. The only thing is that you must continue the practice. I do not wish to lead anyone astray, as I do not possess that art. You have to convince yourself by experience. From the worldly point of view, you are like parents to me and from the spiritual point of view I am like a father to you. Worldly transactions are to be carried on according to the worldly point of view and spiritual things according to the spiritual standpoint.

“All saints in the world are objects of reverence to me. But nowadays many false saints are flourishing. These false saints on the strength of the sayings of old saints say to their disciples, ‘Miracles are worthless. True saints have considered the performance of miracles as unworthy. We are real saints, who have gone beyond the stage of performing miracles. Real saints never make a display of any miracles.’ With such words they delude their disciples and conceal their own falsity and unworthiness. Simple people are deceived thereby and accept upadesh from these Babas and become their devotees. Both the Babas and their disciples are thus carried away by the flood of ignorance and sin. These Babas had committed many sins in their previous births, and in this birth also they commit many sins. They deceive people and enrich themselves at their expense. When they themselves have no idea of what is real purity of mind, how would they be able to save their disciples? If there is no water in the well, how can you take a bucket of water out of the well? Though saints of old have considered miracles as unworthy, still on certain occasions miracles have occurred at the hands of saints. Real saints who had reached the stage of complete Self-realization have performed miracles on proper occasions. They only say that it is merely a primary stage and aspirants on the spiritual path should not allow themselves to be tempted by them. They should not allow their attention to be diverted from their goal by such miracles.”

On the Dattatreya Jayanti day Mr. Bhave came with sweetmeats and garlands of flowers and said to Maharaj, “Today is the day of Dattatreya Jayanti [Birth Day of Dattatreya]. It is a very good day according to the shastras. Kindly confer your grace upon me today.”

Maharaj replied, “What you say is correct according to the shastras. But to saints all days are equally good. They do not look to auspicious or inauspicious days or times. This does not mean that I am a great saint. You are like a father to me. I shall willingly learn from you. The true knowledge which is really in you, but of which you are not conscious, will manifest itself to you.”

Mr. Bhave appreciated the true meaning of this conversation and was greatly delighted. Maharaj then told him to come on the next Thursday, when he promised to tell Mr. Bhave what had been told to Maharaj by his guru. Mr. Bhave then garlanded Maharaj, took prasad and went away.

The next day Maharaj made him sit for meditation before him in an erect posture, and asked him to concentrate. For about ten minutes he became absolutely void of thought, and he told Maharaj about this state. Maharaj said that he himself had taken his thought process under his own control.

On Thursday he went to Maharaj again. Seeing that he had firm faith, Maharaj gave him the mantra Soham and also asked him to practice meditation. Mr. Bhave carried on meditation with great devotion and concentration of mind, owing to which his mind became absorbed. In the mental worship which he used to perform, Maharaj appeared before him and solved all his doubts and difficulties by explaining all things in detail by apt illustrations.

He used often to complain to Maharaj that he did not see light as other disciples did. Maharaj told him directly and indirectly that he should proceed according to his own way and get whatever experiences are to be obtained in that path. If he would look to the experiences of others or to what is told in the shastras, he would place himself in a state of doubt and difficulty. There are different ways in the case of different persons. Some see various visions and some hear different kinds of sounds. There is expansion or restriction of the pranavayu in different parts of the body in the cases of some. Some have to pass through all the six chakras. Various saints have got various experiences. After this conversation Mr. Bhave continued his own practice and left off asking such questions.

A few months ago, while Mr. Bhave was sitting in his house, he happened to shut his eyes for a moment and he saw Gajanana Maharaj standing near him. This was not merely an illusion, but an actual fact, except the form of Maharaj was of light. Mr. Bhave carried on the practice of meditation with full faith and self-confidence, and he began to see various wonderful things in his body. He felt that his body became as light as a flower and as if it was moving in the air. He felt that his strength was increasing of itself. He began to practice meditation for longer periods at a time, and with greater concentration. He sat in the padmasana posture, slowly began to lose consciousness of his body, and others could actually see that his limbs were becoming contracted as it were. He felt his whole body became as light as cotton and feared that it would be blown away if a strong breeze came. It appears clear from this that owing to his great faith, persevering practice, and merit acquired in his previous births, he has secured the full grace of Maharaj.

Mr. Ghanekar’s child

Mr. Dattopant Ghanekar of Nashik has been intimately connected with Maharaj for about the last fourteen years. He visits Maharaj occasionally. Maharaj sometimes used to speak harshly to him, but that had no effect upon him. He did not discontinue his visits on that account. On the contrary, he has firm faith in Maharaj. He has never asked Maharaj for worldly happiness, and is not likely to do so in the future.

One time his wife and his child, four years of age, also visited Maharaj for darshana. Thereafter she used to visit Maharaj with the child very often. This child appeared to have acquired great merit in his previous birth, because while sitting near Maharaj he used to go into the state of samadhi. He used to describe his visions in that state, saying that he got the darshana of many saints who gave him their blessings, and that he felt a sense of deep joy.

Maharaj once said, “This boy will be a great saint in his next three or four births; but you should not expect that he will live long.”

The child died at the age of about six years. Mr. Ghanekar visits Maharaj every Thursday. When time permits the couple both go to have the darshana of the Maharaj.

Basic Teachings recorded by an unnamed disciple

“If a person has any defects, the responsibility for them lies upon him. You may come to me or not as you like. I do not insist on your listening to my advice and acting according to it. It is a matter which should be left to everybody’s conscience. Really, people like you should not associate with persons like me. You will thereby render yourselves objects of censure and obloquy. Of course I have no objection to your coming to me. The world will naturally censure things which appear bad to it. If people will censure, you must be prepared to listen to it with equanimity. The only thing to be remembered is that appearances are not always true and are not permanent. Real saints are beyond all censure.”

In short, one should not form one’s opinion without experience of longstanding and should never put blind faith in anyone. Maharaj says, “I have to say this to you as you are people who have to lead worldly lives. To me, either censure or praise is entirely worthless and meaningless. But I have to speak to people according to the worldly standards.”

The only thing Maharaj persistently lays stress upon is that a person should day and night repeat Soham in his mind and direct all his senses towards it. He will then become one with it.

He sometimes says, “I have not made any efforts to obtain the siddhi of speech (the power which is gained by a saint by which whatever words come out of his mouth prove to be true, and events occur accordingly). I have also no great merit acquired in previous births. There are many learned and meritorious saints and mahatmas whose words carry influence with people, and hence people flock to them. Such saints are highly esteemed, and they will be able to effect cures and other things. I am a simple man like yourselves; only owing to keeping company with good men I have acquired the qualities of a real human being. I am always trying to take a lesson from whatever good I find in others. I am an ignorant child in the universal family. I am just like water which takes on the color of the thing with which it comes in contact.”

Sometimes when Maharaj is in a joyous mood, he gives discourses useful to a person practicing meditation, and illustrates his remarks by apt worldly illustrations and stories. Once he said, “Varkaries [members of a Vaishnava sect] often say that the body is the temple and the Self is Panduranga (Krishna). But only those will know the truth of this statement who try to get inner spiritual experience. If anybody would ask me as to my experience regarding the above, I would say that I am not merely quoting the sayings of saints. Merely giving quotations is the business of learned men who explain to others without having any real experience themselves. If a person has really experienced these things in himself, and he says that he has done so, he should not be blamed as showing pride. There is nothing blamable in such a sattwic ahankar (ego). If a person is rich, is the master of thousands of rupees, and he actually gives you one thousand rupees at the time of your need and then says to somebody else that he has given you one thousand rupees, will you blame him for being proud of his wealth? No.

“If, however, a man having nothing says that he will give a thousand rupees to anyone, then he deserves only censure. Similarly, a saint who instead of merely saying that he has found God and known him, has really realized him in his Self, is a fitting guide to all aspirants on the spiritual path.

“The mantra Soham reveals the same principle. He alone is a true saint who has thoroughly realized the truth of Soham (I am He). His mind, intellect and his senses, and even the hair on his body, are full of the true meaning of Soham. He may or may not do any outward actions. Even though he may do certain actions, he is detached from them. He is videhi (apart from the body), like King Janaka. He looks upon worldly and spiritual things equally, and goes beyond the states of pain and pleasure. He knows the only true Being, and is always experiencing the state of unlimited joy.

“Some people say that meditating upon the Nirakara (Formless) is difficult. But in my opinion it is very easy and in addition it is natural. A man easily gets into the state of samadhi by meditating upon the Nirakara. The path of doing so is, however, concealed and secret. Once you are established in it, you can be in that state although outwardly you may be talking, laughing, playing or sleeping. This power is concealed like the river Saraswati. [The sacred Saraswati river which once flowed above ground, has for centuries been only flowing underground. Editor’s note.] As some people have not understood this secret path, therefore they mistakenly say that it is difficult and that it would require the passing of many lives to obtain success in it.

“Not to see anything in meditation shows a state of concentration. When seeing is turned into non-seeing, then there is the real state of samadhi. The state of complete samadhi is like the state of death, but it is a state of life after having conquered death. The state of sleep is also a kind of death, and he really knows the secret of Dhyana Yoga whose sleep is nothing but samadhi.

“I therefore, say that if you have learnt Dhyana Yoga it is all well with you. If not, try to learn it. Stop learning shastras and do not entangle yourselves in discussions. If you merely learn shastras and try to acquire mere learning, you will spend lives after lives uselessly. You might get a reputation for saintliness and deceive others and yourselves, but in your innermost Self you will know your real worth, and will have to wander through cycles of births and deaths.

“Strictly speaking, God is none else than our own Self. Every one should try to see this Self by the torch of Soham, and obtain the internal sight. Saints have said, ‘People who have obtained the internal vision are saved, while those who have only the external vision are drowned.’ I do not say that you should not meditate upon a deity. I only say that you should obtain the internal vision. Do not meditate merely upon the form, but upon the internal power (shakti) which pervades that form.

“It does not matter whether you can do external actions correctly, or not. If you really enter inside, your true guru who is inside will automatically lead you to the right path. Otherwise you will not be able to understand clearly who is leading you on. Kabir has said, ‘If you want to know the Eternal, you will not find Him in the Vedas, the shastras or in the Koran, in the temples or in the mosques. Tapasya, pilgrimage, breath-control, or living only on neem leaves will not lead you to him. You can find him only in your breath (Soham: So when naturally and spontaneously breathing in, and Ham when naturally and spontaneously breathing out).’

“All human beings on this earth are really gods, but only those who know themselves enjoy peace and joy. They alone are entitled to say to an aspirant, ‘Whomsoever you think of as an incarnation of God, he is really an incarnation.’ I only wish to warn false saints that they should not represent themselves to be incarnations of Rama, Krishna, Dattatreya or the Goddess, and deceive ignorant people.

“If your life is not pure, what can soap do? Your mind must be internally merged in the divine joy. Do not put on merely the outward dress of a saint, such as orange-colored robes or garlands of rudraksha beads, and deceive others as well as yourselves.

“Do not entertain evil thoughts. If, however they arise in your mind, check them then and there by the mantra Soham. Then your mind gradually will become void of thoughts. But you must be very careful then. Because siddhis will then tempt you. Do not succumb to them, but disregard and discard them, and go straight to your goal and be one with your Self. Then duality will disappear, and you will enjoy the real bliss of the Self.

“The real mission of great saints is to teach ignorant persons how to turn inside towards their real Self. They make the human being realize that he is not insignificant and worthless, but he is really the beloved child of God. Those who have received modern education cannot appreciate this. However, I have tried to explain in my own way certain things so that they may be acceptable to all, ignorant as well as learned.”

Concluding remarks

All people who have seen Maharaj or observed miracles performed by him, even though they may be his worst enemies, can be sure in their minds that Maharaj has never taken even a single pice from others and that he has no wish to do so. Then what would be the purpose of displaying false miracles? Maharaj has visited several places. Not a single individual in all these places could ever say that Maharaj has in any case deceived anyone or obtained money from him.

It is true that he has no learning of Vedanta and does not perform worship of gods with flowers and other outward materials. Whatever he says in his simple words is his Vedanta which is based on Self-experience and not on books. This Vedanta is such that ordinary people can understand and appreciate it.

Although there are some of Maharaj’s disciples staying at Nashik, Maharaj generally does not go to their houses for years together unless there is some special reason. It depends upon his will. He never goes to some at all, while he goes to others of his own accord without being called. 

Sri Gajanana Maharaj is at present staying at Nashik and a small number of persons who are aspirants on the spiritual path are his disciples. To these persons who have attained actual experiences in Dhyana Yoga, the publication of this life sketch is a matter of indifference. Without putting blind faith in anyone, these persons have got actual experiences, and they are enjoying peace of mind and joy.

Maharaj’s personality is very genial and witty, and by his affectionate dealings with all who come in contact with him he attracts people to himself. Aspirants are sure to be benefited by the company of such a saint.

His personality

We shall conclude this life-sketch of Sri Gajanana Maharaj with a brief description of his personality.

He was one of the most unostentatious persons–such as one so rarely meets with in these days of reckless egoism and spiritual bankruptcy. Though a cripple and lame in the right leg and rather lean and emaciated in his general constitution, one never found him gloomy or morose in his dealings with the world and the people in it. In fact he had an inexhaustible fund of sparkling humor on his lips.

He was a bachelor in the strict sense of the term and looked upon all women as his mothers or sisters. He had all the appearance of a worldly man about himself. He liked to dress well, was clean and tidy, and his stiff collar, golden pin and white speckled tie were typical of his dress.

His food habits were of the simplest kind. He ate only once or twice in a week–a piece of chapati with some unspiced vegetables. Usually he drank tea five or six times daily.

He smoked cigarettes almost continuously. But it was the experience of his disciples and friends that there was no smell of tobacco, but rather a powerful sweet fragrance of burning incense sticks, particularly at moments when he withdrew his mind into an ecstatic mood.

In his external appearance and mode of life there was very little that would reveal the great yogi hidden within. In fact nearly all those who came in contact got the first impression of his being an ordinary person with worldly habits and earthly ideas. It was only more intimate contact with him that convinced others of the presence of a mighty soul residing in that frail body. Not that there was any dubiousness about him, but it was all due to his instinctive virtue of self-effacement so characteristic of him since his childhood.

It is noteworthy to mention here, that whenever he wrote to others he invariably styled himself as “Your humble sweeper or broom.” Curiously enough that word “broom” is very significant. It unmistakably indicates his mission in this life. It appears he was charged by destiny to serve as a sweeper of the minds of men who happened to come to him.

The human mind often gets clouded and eclipsed by a false and deceitful valuation of material things. It becomes dirty and unclean and cannot therefore see the beacon light within. In the absence of a guiding star it becomes miserable, despondent and diseased. Modern medical science may cure physical disabilities and alleviate bodily sufferings, but it is absolutely helpless in regard to mental disorders, particularly of the type mentioned above. The only science that will render effective and lasting cure to the human mind under such conditions is the science of dhyana yoga.

Sri Gajanana Maharaj by continuous practice in his previous births and by the grace of his guru in this life was an adept in that science. He often said that he had yet to climb many a step, but that whatever he had learned so far, it was his bounden duty to give it to others in the name of his guru and thus help deserving humanity to see and realize the divine light inside each and every individual. His principal mission therefore was to sweep the human mind of its dirt, render it an effective reflector of the inner light and thus establish harmony or equilibrium between spirit and matter. One fact however needs special mention here. Though his mission had a positive background, Sri Gajanana Maharaj being by nature a strictly non-advertising person never allowed himself to be brought into the limelight of this world like so many other contemporary saints. He in fact left it to the seekers of truth first to seek him out of obscurity and then to attain their salvation through his guidance. This is exactly in keeping with his tendency towards self-effacement and absolute humility.

In this quality of humility and absence of egotism Sri Gajanana Maharaj stood on a very high level. His disciple Mr. Vaidya wrote, “Maharaj said to me that in the outward world I should behave towards him as if I was his elder and he (Maharaj) was a youngster.” He further wrote, “Sri Guru Gajanana Maharaj is a great personality and knows worldly as well as spiritual matters thoroughly well. If any one bows to him as a sadguru he bows to him in return. He addresses old men as fathers, young men as brothers and women as mothers or sisters, calling himself their child. His words are full of affection. He does not treat anyone as his disciple and does not accept service from anyone, but loves one and all.”

Sri Gajanana Maharaj stayed at Parel with one of his relatives for sixteen years. He remained there unknown. Nobody had the least idea that he was a yogi or a Maharaj. At Nashik, too, he was known to very few persons, and he never came into celebrity.

Words of a devotee

Gajanana Maharaj was a great saint; he knew spirituality as well as material transactions. If someone prostrated to him as a sadguru, he in turn prostrated to that person. He respectfully told old people, “You are my parents.” He lovingly addressed young people as his siblings. All women for him were his mothers and sisters. He addressed them as if he was their own child. Such was the speech of sadguruji that those to whom he spoke in this way could not control their loving tears. The love that flowed from his speech, made everyone very moved.

Maharaji gave the Soham Mantra, telling the newly-instructed to repeat Soham as japa. When they did so, he asked them to describe their experiences. In this way was new wisdom gained every day. He asked them to write their perceptions down to help in remembering them.

Thus was the method of Maharaj. He was in all things and at all times a Meditation Yogi. He made all the desires and various longings vanish and made the mind very pure. He spoke very nicely, sweetly with young and old, and showed respect to one and all.

This Maharaj was an authority on spirituality. He never accepted any acknowledgement of his greatness. He respected close people, friends, society and everyone in general. This great man did not desire any relationship of guru and disciple with anyone. He never accepted any service from any person, but had love for everyone within himself.

The path to attainment of spirituality is very easy. He gave the Soham Mantra which should be constantly repeated within. By the blessings of God meditation became like the drinking of heavenly nectar (amrita) here on earth for his friends.

As soon as he was alone, he was immersed in Atma Swarup, the Vision of the Self. Only those who, impelled by their seeking in previous births, had mastered yoga themselves could realize the greatness of Sri Gajanana Maharaj.

When Maharaj was immersed in Self-Attainment, true miracles happened spontaneously, as others witnessed. In the first years after his meeting with Sri Narayana Saraswati, Maharaj lived in Akola. There he did his yoga sadhana in solitude. He also mentally did worship of his guru, Sri Narayana Saraswati. When only in his mind he gave a bath to his guru, his body would actually become cleansed as from a bath. [Editor’s note. Because of this he rarely took an ordinary bath and thus was scorned by many ritualists as being ashuddh–impure.] Offerings he made only mentally were often seen to appear physically in a miraculous manner. For example, a flower garland he offered mentally would suddenly appear around his neck in physical reality. Wonderful fragrances would be experienced around him. Sadguruji did not like any importance to be given to these things. He also did not want them to happen and said to God, “I don’t want such things.” Then he heard a voice saying, “Though you do not like this, nevertheless it is happening by itself. When the worship in the mind is complete then everything is merged with the Self. Worshipper, worshipped and worship itself become one. That is when such things happen.” Hearing this voice, Guruji felt happy. Doubt was cleared and he became at peace in his mind from then on.

During yoga practice miracles may result, but beyond such miracles is that of Self-Realization. Maharaj said himself, “Material or external miracles do not matter. What is important is that which is happening during the meditation of the yogi. Never reveal such miracles, as this will only result in unnecessary trouble with the worldlings.” 

Whenever he heard that a mahatma was somewhere, he would go there, have their darshan and be in their company to confirm his Self attainment. He would live with them for a few days to learn from them. He sought many saints and mahatmas and thus confirmed his Self-attainment.

He had never read Vedas or Srutis (Hindu Scriptures), never studied the Atma Vidya (Science of Spirituality) yet experienced the Supreme Being due to his previous tapasya.

Childhood, youth, and old age are the three stages of the human body. Having taken birth as a human being it is better to go through everything that is accumulated due to one’s karma. Unless this karma is exhausted, even the saints and other seekers suffer also, so what is so surprising in that? Similarly this Gajanana Maharaj, crippled since childhood, was paying off the karma. There is no escape from this.

Because he was crippled he was dependent. He lived at his niece’s husband’s home where his niece Kamalabai used to look after him. Both Kamalabai and Sitaram Bhise, her husband, were relatives of Maharaj, therefore he lived there. Previously Kamalabai’s mother at the time of her death had prostrated to Maharaj and entreated him, “I am your god-daughter. I would love to do good things for my only daughter Kamala, but my life will be over in just a few more moments. Therefore I am asking you to bless her.” Maharaj replied, “Don’t worry my dear sister, God will bless.”

Maharaj left Akola at that time and came to Mumbai where he lived at Narayan Lakshman Samarth’s home and meditated. After living there for years he imparted knowledge to the believers. Then he came to Nashik and lived at his nephew-in-law’s home. Again he went to Mumbai and then to Dhule where he lived at the postmaster’s home.

He became Self-realization personified. To those who desired the same realization he gave the Soham Mantra.

There are many saints, mahatmas and sadhus in the world. Many follow the path of rituals, and many follow the path of mantra. In every place, including households, mantras which are written in the scriptures are given and repeated over and over, but all that is to no avail. Unless the mantra is empowered or awakened, there is no use of repeating it. Certainly it is only empowered or awakened by the practice of yoga meditation. The siddha purushas (perfected souls) perform external actions, but they are always done while immersed in the Name of the Lord. Anyone who can do and teach this type of mantra siddhi is a guru. Others are just businessmen filled with ego and a dozen a penny.

Maharaj was once ill with high fever and suffered with pain in his eyes. Allopathic and Ayurvedic doctors administered medicines, but nothing worked. Maharaj himself told them, “This is just suffering of the body due to karma. It will not go away without being undergone. This is according the scriptures.”

Maharaj was very peaceful at all times. Peacefulness was his very nature.

Maharaj was very natural in his moods. Sometimes he would be very happy, sometimes very quiet, sometimes he would discourse on sadhana and sometimes he would be quite jovial. He respected everyone. He spoke very softly. He frequently drank tea, but rarely ate food. This was his daily routine.

When Maharaj wrote letters to his disciples, he used to sign as “Your Broom” Seeing this devotees were puzzled as to why he was using this name. One devotee, understood the deeper meaning in this and wrote a poem which he sent to Maharaj as an offering. In this poem he set forth these ideas:

“Broom” is the name of that which cleans from dirt. It cleans the dirt of karma, then gives the inner sight.

This is the the condition called turiya. It is the basis of all forms of knowledge.

It is Maharaja’s work to keep his disciples engaged with the only true japa: the japa of Soham.

I prostrate to my sadguru–not to his physical body but to his instructions for the attainment of Self Knowledge, which are easy.

The essence is the constant repetition of the Soham Mantra by which we cross through this material world. Therefore salutations to it!

If we always hold on to the truth with faith and trust, and stay detached from this material world, then what more does a person need?

The greatest benefactor is the sadguru. Prostrations always to this Broom, Hail always to Gajanana Maharaj.

A broom which cleans the house and removes all the dirt from the home, is always treated as a lowest object but is happy with it, and always stays in a corner all alone. But the ignorant do not know its properties. Therefore Maharaj adopted that name.

Words of another devotee

Early in 1938, my friend Mr. Kamat saw Gajanana Maharaj, who expressed a wish that I should come to see him. That a yogi like Gajanana Maharaj should express such a wish was in my opinion a great compliment which I hardly deserved. Towards the middle of last July (1939), I went to Thana for some business and thence I went to Nashik on the weekend and saw Gajanana Maharaj and prostrated at his feet. I was most cordially received and welcomed by Gajanana Maharaj and all the disciples, for which I thank them all most heartily.

As Gajanana Maharaj has not the least paraphernalia of a yogi or saint, and as he dresses well, wearing a shirt, coat and necktie, and looks more or less stylish, many people mistake him for an ordinary man. But on closer contact with him, his due worth and merit stand out prominently and are recognized.

Gajanana Maharaj looks very simple and unostentatious, but he is original and full of wit and humor. He always talks freely and without any reserve with all. But with regard to his disciples, he criticizes them openly and does not spare them in the least. If his jokes and criticisms are closely observed they are seen to have a truly positive effect on the persons to whom they are addressed.

As Gajanana Maharaj is perfectly egoless and guileless, he soon endears himself to all, who when they come to know his real worth hold him in high esteem. He styles himself and signs as Kersuni (Broom), and his principal mission in life is therefore to sweep the minds of his disciples clean and render them fit for Self-realization.

His life habits are very simple. He takes meals very rarely. Whenever there is a guest with him, he sits down with him for meals when any special dish is prepared, but he partakes very little of the things served. Otherwise he goes without food for days altogether. He drinks tea many times a day. Like a true yogi he is not fond of wealth, women or fame. If any coins are offered, he tosses them back. He is a true bachelor, as he does not care a jot for the fair sex. He has got very few women disciples. As he is by nature selfless and unassuming, he shuns the limelight of fame and publicity and likes to work out his mission in secret.

A bow To That Broom Always

In consonance with the mission stated above Sri Gajanana Maharaj instructed aspirants into the science of dhyana yoga. Some of these people were arta [seeker of earthly welfare], while others were real jijnasus [seekers of spiritual knowledge]. Whatever their nature, whosoever approached him with a sincerity of heart and firmness of purpose was gladly shown the way to spiritual realization and eternal bliss. The experiences of some of these aspirants in the process of their spiritual enlightenment have been given in this account about this great, though unassuming, saint of Nashik. It may be that these experiences, though varied in their exposition according to the mental make-up of each individual aspirant, will induce other seekers of truth to find a source of solace and a way to salvation by his holy teachings.

The final phase

Sri Gajanana Maharaj for the remainder of his life stayed at Nashik and only a small number of persons who were aspirants on the spiritual path became his disciples. Most of those persons came in contact with Sri Gajanana Maharaj during the last dozen or so years of his life. Without blind faith these persons obtained actual spiritual experiences and peace of mind and joy.

Sri Gajanana Maharaja left the mortal coil of his physical body and entered into mahasamadhi at Nashik on the 28th of September, 1946.

Sri Gajanana Maharaj–The Great Saint at Nashik

by A Peace Seeker

This tribute to Sri Gajanana Maharaj was an introductory essay in Atma Prabha, but I have put it here as it fits as a kind of summary of Maharaj’s life. The Editor.

Pseudo-saint worship is a kind of disease ever and anon attacking the people of India. This disease is constantly carrying away such a vast number of the Indian population that even plague and cholera together have never done it so far. Particularly our moral and economic exploitation has never been carried out in such a ruthlessly alarming proportion as is done by the following of false sadhus. Illiteracy campaigns alone will never be able to eradicate this evil, as even many of the literate, educated and intelligent people have been found falling an easy prey to false sadhus. The angle of vision towards life itself must be changed, and the inner life must be made morally stronger than what it is today.

The market-monks that we often come across are in fact void of that selflessness which is the prime factor of saintliness. In a crore [ten million] of ascetics, perhaps only one may be found worth the worship which the great soul Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nashik deserves. He can be easily approached by those who wish to do so with a pure and sincere heart, without which he cannot at all be found even after a good deal of effort on the part of the seeker!

There are Hindus, Muslims and Christians amongst those who hold Sri Gajanana Maharaj in high esteem and respect and take delight in paying homage to him.

For more than twenty years Sri Gajanana Maharaj has been continuously staying at Nashik and yet, out of those who annually spend their summer or even of those who live throughout their lives there, not even a score of men know him! People living within the radius of a couple of homes around his residence cannot tell his correct address to a newcomer.

Sri Gajanana Maharaj never calls any one his disciple, but calls all his “friends.” Such is the degree of his humility.

Today, in 1946, Sri Gajanana Maharaj is about fifty-five. Schooling he had barely for one year or two, and yet he can best the most intellectual man in talks on any subject, all the while complaining that he himself is an ignorant man! By nature he is as simple and innocent as a baby!

His dress and needs are of a more simple standard that that of a middle class Indian gentleman. A sip or two of tea is enough to sustain him for the whole day, while rarely during some weeks he takes a morsel of dry bread. He never needs a square meal.

He never shows miracles to order or by previous intimation and intention. Sometimes miracles do take place in his presence, but he at once declares that their origin is not himself but his Master, Sri Narayana Saraswati. He says they take place without his efforts and knowledge.

Healing physical pains, foretelling births or deaths or increments of pay and wealth, are subjects outside the domain of his discussions and discourses. He never asks for even a farthing, nor does he accept anything offered without sincerity. On rare occasions he has asked some people to do something for him or bring him certain articles. But those who brought something at his request in this way found that somebody else had already supplied the same to him. Thus, by the grace of the great God, he has no wants whatsoever, and it is only to give an aspirant a chance of selfless service that he may request someone to do something for him. His personal expenses do not exceed the amount of ten or twelve rupees per month.

This demonstrates that Sri Gajanana Maharaj belongs to a higher rank of saints than we ordinarily come across in everyday life. He has no tricks and paraphernalia that deceive masses. Hundreds of people never find his abode unless he so wills it, and this alone is saying enough. One day the writer observed the servant of a well-known Nashik merchant searching for his house for not less than an hour just in the neighborhood, with coconuts sent for the marriage ceremony of the merchant’s niece.

How could he reach such a high order of spiritual grace? Only because he is an adept in the science and art of yoga or spiritual union with God. He is one with Him. This science of yoga is far superior to ordinary jugglery which so many of the so-called monks make use of to squeeze out others’ money and weaken their minds. Yoga is a science well-established in society by the rishis of olden times. They have taken the utmost pains to put it in the most scientific and practical form for the generations that followed them and that are still to follow. Anyone can practice it and get one’s self lifted high up to God! Sri Gajanana Maharaj is here to help men in realizing the highest goal of life, to distribute amongst us freely the everlasting joy that he himself has acquired through the grace of his guru.

While still a boy, Sri Gajanana Maharaj was directed by his guru to guide aspirants on this path. He selects them and freely gives them the Soham mantra. Some approach him intentionally, others come accidentally in contact with him, and yet there is not the least doubt about the fact that it is a sheer impossibility for souls that seek only materialism to meet with such an eminent director on this path. Only one who is earnest can obtain his grace. His followers, though not materially very prosperous, have all the same acquired profound spiritual experiences by practice.

The man of the world is generally in need of that mental peace and tranquility which lead to an equilibrium of mind in pleasure and pain. Without that peace many cannot even bear to live in this world. The saints of old have shown the way of repetition of mantra: the name of someone or some principle. Concentration is another step further. Then comes meditation and lastly realization. Sri Gajanana Maharaj directs his friends with his divine love. In this book his methods are described and explained to help pilgrims progress. The book shows the reader his undoubted ability to do it.

His everyday life is absolutely simple and methodical. Images and ceremonies exhibiting unnecessary show have no place in his room. He has nothing of decorations belonging to any religion, caste or cult. All are welcome to him and can meet him as man to man. He directs all who approach him in the simplest way and language through the spiritual realm without performing any miracles or practicing any deceptions. No selfishness, no snobbery. To lead the soul onward is the only mission of his life. He explains things so convincingly and in such a masterly manner that even the most intelligent man that goes to him is entirely satisfied. Anyone can have this experience of peace and satisfaction from him in the first, or at the most the second, visit and keep it for life.

There is not even the idea of any dependence on him. Rather he makes us independent and free. It is the raising of the Self [Atman] through self-effort.

At the feet of this Master soul, who is a self-sacrificing, developed being of authority and intelligence and who is a fine jewel in our land, we beg to lay our heads with deep devotion and love.

Om Peace! Peace!! Peace!!!

Next: Chapter Two–Conversations of Sri Gajanana Maharaj

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Chapters of Light of Soham: The Life and Teachings of Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nashik

About Light of Soham: The Life and Teachings of Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nashik

Foreward by the Editor to Light of Soham

Appendix One: Soham Meditation: An Introduction

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