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Chapter Three: Spiritual Experiences of Various Disciples

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Experiences of Mr. Sadashiv Khanderao Garude, of Parel, Mumbai.

Myself and my aunt’s son, the late Mr. Moreshwar Ramachandra Mathure, were staying at Lower Parel. Sri Gajanana Maharaj used to come to see Mr. Mathure. I came in contact with him on one such occasion. Looking at his costly dress no one could have any idea that he was a Maharaj or saint, but we came to know that he was so later on.

One day he asked my wife for wine as prasad. I came to know about it in the evening when I returned from my office. Owing to this, I began to lose my feeling of respect for him. Although I had money to spare for buying wine, still I could not get any one to go to the shop to bring it. [Devout Hindus will literally not even touch a bottle of wine, as it is considered supremely defiling. Editor’s note.] I never visited such shops myself, and now I think that I was purposely put to this hard test.

My wife secured a little brandy from a neighbor on the pretext that my young daughter was suffering from stomach ache, and having poured it into a bottle kept the bottle before the deities in our shrine. I thought that a drunkard, although he may be a Maharaj, was hardly the person who would ever be able to lead me to the right path. I did not get any sleep that night. Also I did not go the next morning as usual for his darshan to Mr. Mathure’s room.

But at about 9:30 a.m. he came inquiring about me, supporting himself on a cane and repeating a line of a Hindi song to the effect, “Be always on the watch, keeping always an eye on the workings of your mind.”

I was then about to sit for my meal, having completed my worship of the deities. He began to eat the papad (a crisp, pungent and salty kind of cake baked on fire) in my dish. [This is considered very unclean by observant Hindus. The only time two people eat from the same dish is to show that they consider each other the closest in relation. I have only seen it once, by a man and his brother-in-law. This was done by Gajanana Maharaj both as a test and as a sign of the closeness he felt for Mr. Garude. Editor’s note.]

My wife told me to give the wine as prasad to him, but Maharaj offered it to me. I was at a loss what to do as it was almost next to impossible that I should drink that kind of prasad at the time of going to the office. But he said that I must drink it and, having poured the wine from the bottle into a small pot in our presence, placed his hand over it and asked my wife and myself to drink it. To our wonder we found that it had turned into fresh milk. We both of us then took it, and since then I quit making any criticisms about him.

On one Mahashivratri day my elder brother, Mr. Ramachandra Khanderao Garude, my aunt’s son Mr. Moreshwar Mathure, myself and some other persons went for the darshan of Maharaj to the house of Mr. Narayanrao Samartha. The lamps had just been lighted there, as it was nightfall. Maharaj told me to look at the lamp which was near me. As I did so, I saw that around every person and every thing there was a shining big orb like the sun. This vision continued for about half an hour, then Maharaj placed his hand upon my head and the experience stopped and I began to see things in their ordinary form. Some time later we all returned home.

Maharaj had once been to my brother’s place at Worli. At that time he jokingly asked my mother to take him on her hip [as babies are carried by their mother]. As Maharaj is very thin and light, my mother could easily lift him up, but he again asked her to do so, and she found it impossible as he had then grown very heavy. [The ability to be very light or very heavy at will is a well-known yoga power. Krishna himself did the same as a child. Editor’s note.] He performs such miracles whenever he likes to do so. But he becomes annoyed if any one asks him to perform them.

One can never get tired of Maharaj’s company. Whatever may be the state of mind of a person, if he comes near Maharaj he always enjoys a feeling of quiet and happiness and becomes oblivious of the passing of time. My friend Mr. Balkrishna Ganesh Dixit and myself took him several times in a carriage to some saints, and these saints all paid him respect.

Whenever Maharaj stayed with me or with Mr. Dixit, he never took anything except tea and on rare occasions chivda [a light rice snack that tastes like popcorn]. We thus know that he never eats any ordinary meals.

Experiences of Mr. Bhabani Charan Sidhanta, a resident of Calcutta

I am a resident of Calcutta in Bengal where I was employed in the Judicial Department. I have a wife and three children. I am a devotee of Kali and used the name of the Goddess for my meditation and japa.

In Calcutta there are a number of cults or missions named after their founders: great yogis or bhaktas of Kali. In these missions the heads are generally sannyasis, but I found them not of very good moral principles. I visited these missions and approached the heads with a view to obtain the knowledge of the way to the realization of the Almighty, but I am sorry to say that I failed. Not only that, but I found them no better than ordinary grihasthas.

During the last five years I was very much keen on having guru upadesh (instruction from a guru) for spiritual realization. One day while I was lying down on my bed half awake, I observed a ray of light between the eye-brows. It remained for about ten minutes and then disappeared. This ray of light encouraged me to leave my employment and home and go forth in quest of God.

I wandered forth to various holy places, and while in Brindaban (the birthplace of Krishna) for the second time, after six months I heard a voice telling me to go to Nashik. I had no money as all my finances had by this time been exhausted. So I walked from Brindaban to Nashik [over seven hundred miles], and stayed there with the Mahanta (Head) of the Chatus Sampradaya Akhada [association of sannyasis]. I enquired of the Mahanta whether there was any yogi in Nashik. One of his disciples knew about Sri Gajanana Maharaj and took me to him. On my appearing before him my first impression was that I was sitting before Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and I felt that was the place where I would find my guru.

On the 15th of October, 1938, which was a Saturday, I went to Sri Gajanana Maharaj at about nine a.m. He took compassion on me, gave me the mantra of Soham, and placed his hand on my head. As soon as he did so, there was a loud sound of Soham, my mind became concentrated and void of ideas, and a wave of extraordinary joy arose in my heart. This feeling of joy lasted till the next day, which was Sunday. On that day I again went to Maharaj at nine a.m., and sat before him in meditation. The sound of Soham which was loud became more and more soft, until I could see the Sahasradala lotus (the thousand-petalled lotus of the brain) in a dim light.

That evening I again went to Maharaj to take his permission to go home. He asked me to begin my worldly life again, and said that I would experience real joy even while carrying on worldly life. That night when I was sitting in meditation at the place where I was staying at Nashik, I found that a flood of joy poured itself upon me and I could see before me the form of my sadguru Sri Gajanana Maharaj.

On Monday the 17th of October 1938, at 10 a.m. I went for Maharaj’s darshana and after taking his permission left Nashik.

Experiences of Mr. D. D. Bhave

On December 10, 1937, Sri Gajanana Maharaj conferred his grace upon me by giving me the mantra Soham.

One day when I had been to Maharaj in the evening as usual for his darshan, Maharaj said that one must worship Shakti. Then one gets all the siddhis (powers) of the yoga path. Only care must be taken to not utilize those powers for oneself. There must not be a single thing in the Yoga path which one does not understand.

Next day when I sat for meditation early in the morning, the goddess having six arms, whom I had once seen before, stood before me and told me to do japa of the stotra beginning Namo Devyai, Mahadevyai….” [This is a hymn to the goddess, part of the Sri Durga Saptasati, also known as the Chandi. Editor’s note.] She said that by that japa one can acquire the whole power of the universe in oneself, saying which she disappeared.

After I had repeated the japa for about a week or fortnight the goddess again appeared before me and said, “I have not got six arms; I have only two. But I showed six arms to you as I had to put down your six enemies (the six passions), and for that purpose I had equipped myself with six arms. But now there is no necessity for me to put down your six enemies as they are being slowly conquered by you without effort by the japa of the mantra Soham. I have originally only two arms and one should meditate upon me in that form because my form of two arms represent dwaita (duality)]; and through this dwaita you have to go into adwaita (non-duality; oneness).”

[In Hindu theology, the Six Passions, Arishadvarga, are the six enemies of the mind, which are: kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (delusive, often emotional, attachment or temptation), mada (pride), and matsarya (jealousy): the negative characteristics of which prevent man from attaining moksha or salvation. In this experience of Mr. Bhave, the two syllables of Soham are the two “arms” of the devi (goddess) which take the sadhaka from duality to non-duality. Editor’s note.]

I narrated this incident to Sri Gajanana Maharaj. He said “Through the grace of my guru you have acquired so much power that the goddess has of her own accord given you her grace although you had not asked or begged for it. Among all these different stages of the powers of Shakti, the power of Soham is the most exalted.”

Experiences of Mr. Vishnupant Chaphekar, Nashik

I am a Brahmin, a follower of the Vedic tradition and devoted to the path of action (rituals, etc.). Like other people of the world I, too, used to attend kirtans, recitations of puranas and also discussions on the Vedanta philosophy. My mind, however, attained no peace. I was for about twenty-five years repeating the japa of Gayatri and also the japa of the twelve-lettered mantra of Vasudeva [Krishna]. Still I obtained no peace of mind. But I thought that if I would meet with a real saint I would get peace of mind, and my life in this world would then have fulfilled its object.

 When I was at Sinnar I happened to meet Amritanath, alias Baba Maharaj Kopargaonkar of Kopargaon. He gave me advice regarding spiritual matters and encouraged me to follow my usual practice. But even though twelve years passed after that, the restlessness of mind did not stop, no peace was attained and no spiritual experience was gained. On one occasion I prayed to him that although I was following his advice for the last so many years I had not got any spiritual experience and he should, therefore, confer his grace upon me. He listened attentively to what I said and replied, “The ground of your mind has been now prepared, and you will very soon meet with a saint of Self-realization, and your life’s purpose will be fulfilled. You will get a guru of real atmic experience. Do not ruin yourself by looking merely at his external conduct. Even if people blame you for accepting initiation from him, do not feel sorry for it. Whatever he will tell you, follow it accordingly.” After this I always remained longing to meet this sadguru and continued my former practice.

Four years passed after that, and I was transferred to Nashik. There I heard that a dhyana yogi, Gajanana Maharaj, had come to Nashik. I made an attempt four or five times to have his darshan but he sent me away with harsh words. From the appearance of his face, I thought he was in a superconscious state akin to madness. I felt that this must be the saint hinted at by Amritanath Kopargaonkar.

Then on the Dattajayanti day in December of 1933, I went to him and caught hold of his feet and prayed, “I am now in the last years of my life and I have come to you with a sincere desire that my life should have its real fulfillment. Save me or not, as you like.”

As soon as I said this, he raised me up with great affection and spoke words of consolation to me. Then I began to go to him daily and listen to his words of advice for about an hour or two. Fifteen days later, he told me that I should sit at night in darkness and try to make my mind peaceful. When I did this for four or five days, my mind got peace through his grace. Seven or eight days later, when I had been to him in the morning, he made me sit near him, whispered the mantra Soham in my ear, removed my cap and placed his hand on my head. He had me sit for an hour and repeat that mantra internally without pronouncing the words with the mouth. When I began to repeat the mantra, my eyes shut of themselves and before my internal sight there appeared a brilliant light. I mentioned this fact to Maharaj when I later on recovered full consciousness. He thereupon said, “Continue your Brahmakarma (duties of a Brahmin) as you have been doing for so long. Only after all your ritual is over, repeat without break the mantra Soham internally.”

After he said this, I bowed to his feet and started to go away, but Maharaj again asked me to sit down. As soon as I sat down, my mind became concentrated, a brilliant light began to shine and I felt that someone from inside was telling me not to fear. A short time after that I regained consciousness and then experienced a feeling of great joy and all my restlessness disappeared.

After I obtained the grace of Maharaj, I found that the japa of Soham naturally of its own accord began to be repeated internally. A year after I was admitted into Maharaj’s grace, Kopargaonkar Maharaj came to visit me. As soon as I saw him, I felt overflowing joy. I placed my head upon his feet and narrated to him the whole account regarding my meeting with my sadguru which I had through his (Kopargaonkar’s) grace. He was very glad to hear it and he asked me to take him to Gajanana Maharaj. I did accordingly. Both the Maharajas embraced each other closely. Words fail me in describing that meeting of the two saints. Kopargaonkar Maharaj said to Gajanana Maharaj, “I have entrusted this child,” meaning me, “to you.” To which Gajanana Maharaj replied, “If you give me the power, what will I not be able to do? I want only your grace. I am only a servant of your feet.” All people who were then sitting there were quite wonderstruck at seeing the meeting and hearing this talk.

One day in the evening instead of going to the Godavari for my sandhya-adoration, I went to Maharaj. He asked me why I was there instead of giving arghya (oblations of water) to the sun and performing my sandhya. I replied that I had come there through his (Maharaj’s) inspiration. He then told me not to have any misgivings, but to go home and quietly perform my sandhya. Accordingly I went home, performed my sandhya, and after having taken my evening meal, I as usual sat for meditation. Then I saw the sun just as by day. I narrated this next day to Maharaj, who said that as the sun of knowledge had arisen in my heart, I could very easily see at any time the moon, the sun and the stars.

On another occasion I was sitting by the Godavari river entirely absorbed in meditating upon the joyful countenance and the clothing of Sri Gajanana Maharaj, and in worshipping him mentally. At that time I was sitting near the river whose waters were rising, and my dhoti became wet, but I was unconscious of all this, and it was only when people round about raised cries that I regained consciousness. [Near the coast of India, when the sea tide rises, so does the water of the rivers that flow into it.]

I then got up quickly and went in haste to Gajanana Maharaj and told him what had happened. I was greatly wonderstruck to see the same clothing hanging on a peg there which I had seen Maharaj wearing in my meditation. I asked him why it was so, to which he replied that he had only put me to a test.

The net result is that my attention is less and less directed to worldly matters and cares, and my mind is always at peace. What is really wanted is this absolute cessation of pain and pleasure.

[Editor’s note. The following incident regarding Mr. Chaphekar was told by a fellow disciple. Once Mr. Chaphekar was meditating by a huge lake called Bageshree. Many carnivorous wild animals, snakes, insects, etc., were there in abundance. A tiger came to drink water and passed by close to him. Seeing this some cattle-herders immediately came and started telling him that a tiger had come and gone. “Why are you sitting here? What are you doing here? There was a scorpion sitting in your lap. What if he had stung you? Then you would have experienced great pain. Don’t sit in such places. When you might be in danger, nobody can tell.” Listening to this Vishnupant only said, “Guru-mother is protecting me.”

Experiences of Madhukar Damodar Chitnis, a student in St. George’s School, Nashik.

I was born in Nashik. My father has long been acquainted with Mr. Bhise, with whom Sri Gajanana Maharaj stays. I am now telling things which happened when Sri Gajanana Maharaj probably came for the first time to Nashik. I was about six or seven years old then. My father used to go occasionally to Mr. Bhise’s house and saw Gajanana Maharaj there. He at that time had no faith that he was a yogi or a Maharaj, because there were no signs or characteristics in his conduct showing that he was a saint or a yogi. His dress was like that of an ordinary gentleman, his conversation was quite ordinary and full of wit, humor and jokes. Sometimes he used to speak harsh words also. Women in my family also had no faith in him. Besides, Maharaj also did not ask anyone to sit near him, nor did he himself go to anybody’s house.

A few days later, however, my father had a dream in the early morning in which someone said to him in a clear voice that Maharaj was a great saint, and that my father should go to him and get initiated by him and fulfill the great object of human life. My father was greatly delighted at this dream, and told it to me and all the members of my family. He then took us all to Sri Gajanana Maharaj. He was then lying on a cot. We all bowed down to him. He shouted out, “I am not a Maharaj or a saint. I am also not a pseudo-saint cheating people. I am an ordinary man like you. Hence I do not like these foolish acts of yours.” He then asked us to go back home, which we did.

My father once more went to him and prayed to him. Then he said, “You come on Thursday, then I shall do as I may be inspired by my sadguru.” On the very next Thursday myself and my father went to him with a cocoanut, a garland of flowers and one rupee as dakshina, and my father got himself initiated. Maharaj returned the rupee and materials of worship to my father, and told him to offer the things to our household deities as he had not as yet arrived at a stage of being worshipped.

He further said, “I am neither a saint nor a Maharaj, but owing to you being acquainted with me, I am giving you the Soham mantra given to me by my guru. In this I am simply doing my duty. That mantra has great powers as it has come out of the mouth of a saint of great Self-realization, and owing to its powers a man is sure to have the goal of human life fulfilled. Meditate and repeat this mantra Soham in your mind.” We returned home with the worship materials returned by Maharaj.

After that my father had many experiences on the path of yoga, during which a fragrant smell pervaded our whole house.

When I became about sixteen or seventeen years old, I used to wonder at the experiences told me by my father. I however was unable to put any faith in them. I used to say that there are many gurus regarding whom such things are told. I used to ridicule these experiences of my father, and to find fault with and censure Sri Gajanana Maharaj. My father was later on transferred to various places, but I continued to stay at Nashik for my education. I however never visited Maharaj. On the contrary, whenever I heard his name mentioned anywhere, I used to speak in terms of disparagement.

Over the years I read the works of Ramatirtha, Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Vivekananda, practiced pranayama, had various inner experiences, and felt a tremendous attraction towards the spiritual path. I told all this to my maternal uncle, Mr. Raje, who in his turn told them to Sri Gajanana Maharaj. He thereupon remarked that Madhu (i.e. myself) had not seen him for the last six or seven years.

My maternal uncle was in a short time after this transferred to Deolali. I took a letter of introduction from him and went to see Sri Gajanana Maharaj. He listened to all the details of my experiences, and then with very great solicitude explained this subject to me. He said that I was a yogi in my former birth, hence I could see these visions in my early life. I then had firm faith in those experiences implanted in me. I then prayed to him that he might kindly lead me to the proper path. He replied that he would do so.

Two or three days later I went to see Sri Gajanana Maharaj. At that time a book entitled, Shatchakra Bhedan (Passing Through the Six Chakras), written by Dr. Vaidya, was lying there. I took it up and began to read it. I suddenly got into a trance, my prana went up, and the book dropped down from my hand. At the time Sri Gajanana Maharaj had gone into the inner apartment of his house. He came out and finding me insensible, shook me for a long time and brought me back to consciousness. I told him how I had gone up. He ordered me not to practice pranayama at all and rebuked me sternly. But his face showed that inwardly he was extremely pleased. This was the first time that I went into the state of samadhi in his presence.

He then immediately initiated me and told me to repeat the mantra Soham internally. I did it sitting in front of him. I found that the japa began to be repeated in the Sahasradala (the thousand petalled lotus of the brain). Then I found that the whole current of my thought was full of Soham, and all the pain and troubles that I had undergone owing to pranayama stopped altogether. Not only this, but my meditation decidedly got a different turn owing to the japa of Soham, which was made internally, being brought to its fruition.

On one occasion when I was sitting near Sri Gajanana Maharaj in meditation, I thought I was going through a deep valley. There was partly light and partly darkness there, and when I went almost to the bottom, I heard the sound of “Soham” coming from above, and the sound of “Koham” coming from below. When I asked Maharaj what it meant, he said, “‘Koham’ means ‘Who am I?’ to which the answer is ‘Soham, I am He’–God.”

In this manner Sadguru Gajanana Maharaj has brought me to the right path. At present I feel no trouble and I remain in this peculiar state surrounded by light, and I enjoy great happiness and peace.

Experiences of Raosaheb Gupte, L. C. E., retired Engineer, Nashik

I had the good fortune of getting the darshana of Sri Gajanana Maharaj for the first time at Dhulia in the year 1926. He had then been on a visit to Mr. Raje. My friend Mr. D. M. Saswadkar, obtained information regarding him, his practice and progress in the path of yoga, and his high standing in that path, and then communicated the information to me. Since the time I arrived at maturity of understanding, I had faith in the existence of God, which had increased owing to the various experiences and difficulties in life.

When I used to go for a walk with Mr. Saswadkar in the evening, I would have discussions with him regarding spiritual matters. I also heard the talk of Maharaj with some people visiting him about yoga, and also saw miracles which appeared to take place at his hands easily and naturally. All these things produced a great impression upon me and I decided to get myself initiated by Maharaj, with the sole object that I might enjoy peace of mind in the remaining part of my life after I retired.

On the first Monday in Shravana of that year, I managed to take Maharaj to my place in the morning. I worshipped him with great reverence, and having placed a garland of flowers round his neck and bowed to his feet, I humbly prayed him to lead me to the path of the Lord. Maharaj told me to repeat the japa of Soham. It is still going on. I have realized how the ajapa japa is going on and the mind also loses itself in it.

I asked Maharaj about visions, to which he replied that visions are only guides taking a sadhaka towards the bliss of the Self. The visions themselves are not the real thing. These visions later on disappear and the sadhaka then experiences the bliss of the Self. That is the goal of human life.

I am gradually getting experience of this bliss and I pray at his feet that through his grace the state of Self-realization may more and more be developed.

My wife also has been favored by Maharaj, and even in her old age (68 years) she sits for two hours at a stretch.

I have seen miracles which appeared to take place easily and naturally.

Once when Maharaj was sitting in the house of Mr. Pradhan at Dhulia, and near him Messrs. Pradhan, Raje and Saswadkar were sitting, I saw a shower of bukka (black scented powder) falling from above for some minutes. I kept a quantity of that bukka with me for several years.

I saw with my own eyes at Dhulia that Maharaj turned wine into milk.

Once when he was suffering from fever, in order to keep his strength up people near him, including myself, decided to give him a boiled egg. When the boiled egg was broken, the internal part of it had been turned into potato. All persons present there observed this.

From the time I went to Sri Gajanana Maharaj, there was a good effect on my health, also. While I was in Dhulia, I had hernia on the right side. I began to use a belt as advised by the doctors, and at the time I used to practice Dhyana Yoga according to the instructions of Maharaj. The swelling on my right side slowly began to subside and in about two years it disappeared altogether. For the last three years I have stopped using the belt also. I regard this as a result of my sadguru’s grace.

I came to Nashik in November of 1927. About two years after that my wife had an attack of paralysis on her right side and she was under medical treatment. One evening Maharaj came to my place and told my wife to stand in front of him and to go walking to the back door and to come back. She did so without any support. After this was repeated for four or five times, he gave her the blessing that she would thenceforward feel all right. More than five years have now passed since then. She is now feeling no effects of the paralysis at all. She is also experiencing the good effects of Sri Gajanana Maharaj’s grace. This shows Maharaj’s power of curing diseases.

Experiences of Mr. P. L. Inamdar, Nashik

Since the time I was a school boy, I was always thinking on spiritual topics. The sight of a dead body carried along a road, bodily ailments of a person in old age, condition of the blind and the lame, and the different natures of different individuals and their different circumstances gave me food for thought which ultimately resulted in restlessness of mind. Except the time actually passed in the school, the whole of my other time was passed in thinking over these problems in secret, and I could not do anything else sincerely. I had an aversion to read anything not dealing with spiritual matters.

A sort of fear was generated in me by pondering over these problems of life, suffering and death, and I began to feel that it was the primary duty of a person to try to acquire a state of fearlessness. Seven or eight years passed in this state. I got the idea that I was someone different from the body, that I was not the body. I suffered great tribulations in the attempt to satisfy my mind about the truth of this idea.

I used to sit looking at my own reflection in a mirror for a long time and then direct my gaze to the various parts of my body. I then got the idea in my mind that all the actions of the human body and of the whole world depended entirely on the existence of some invisible power. In order to strengthen this idea, I used to ponder over the problem for hours together. I was convinced that if the life-principle be removed from the body, the body would not be able to do anything. Hence the body was a sort of machine which works according to the will of the moving power inside. I thought and thought over these matters and was anxious to get a satisfactory explanation–of course satisfactory so far as my poor reason was concerned.

I have given above a brief outline of the trend of my thoughts in those days. It is not possible to give a detailed description of all the thoughts and the conclusions arrived at. Then I was convinced that I would not get any further conclusion by mere thinking. I arrived at this stage owing to the following ideas.

Once while I was engaged in thinking, I suddenly got an idea that the happenings in the actual physical world, the joys and sorrows, the results of good and bad actions, resembled exactly incidents seen in the dream-world. While we are in a dream, we feel the incidents to be equally real. Just as our physical body is quite detached from the pains and pleasures which we experience in a dream, similarly we are really detached from the pains and pleasures which we experience in this big dream of human life, which dream is the result of our ignorance of the real truth. Just as when we become awake, all the sensations in the dream are seen to be unreal and unsubstantial, similarly when we shall awake from this big dream, we shall see the unsubstantiality of all pains and pleasures, and we shall reach the state of fearlessness. Hence the only thing that must be done is to get a knowledge of one’s real Self, which means awakening from this big dream of ignorance.

When I reached this stage in my thought, I stopped all thinking about these matters and became extremely eager to obtain a knowledge of the path which would lead to this realization. I then felt that unless I met a sadguru and obtained his grace, there was no other way of getting knowledge of the right path. Only God himself in the form of a sadguru could show it.

In March 1939 I came to know of Sri Gajanana Maharaj from Mr. Baba Satpurkar. I went for his darshan and told him the whole history of the process of my thought. He said, “I will see if my sadguru extends his grace to you.” After a few minutes he told me not to be anxious as I would get the object of my desire. I then began to visit him daily and sit with him for about an hour, praying to him to extend his grace to me soon.

Soon after this Sri Gajanana Maharaj went to Mumbai for about a month. During this period I had a dream as follows. I saw that I was sitting in front of Sri Gajanana Maharaj. We both looked at each other for a short time. A dim fog-like light appeared between him and me and I got into a trance-like state, then the appearance vanished.

After his return from Mumbai, on the afternoon of April 6, 1939, he initiated me by giving me the mantra Soham. Since that time I began to repeat the japa. I do not see any visions while sitting in meditation. There is generally darkness and only sometimes a dim light is seen. My mind, however, becomes concentrated, the repeater of the mantra, the listener, and the heard become one, the body becomes motionless and there is a feeling of deep joy. I feel that the japa of Soham is going on in various parts of the body: in the head, in the heart and in the pupils of the eyes.

Occasionally the concentration is almost complete and for some time I have no remembrance of my body. Throughout the day at present the mind is under the influence of joy and meditation. In short, although I see no visions at the time of meditation my mind becomes concentrated and I enjoy a feeling of joy and peace through the grace of my sadguru.

One day while I was asleep I got a great shock inside the spine which turned me sideways. (Originally I was lying on my back). I suddenly became awake and found that the japa of Soham was going on of itself.

After that experience, when I sit for meditation through the grace of guru my mind becomes concentrated without any great effort and all other thoughts disappear. In the beginning there appears darkness which is soon succeeded by a mild light which slowly becomes more lustrous. My attention then withdraws itself from the light and fixes itself on the mantra Soham. I feel a desire to reach the source whence this mantra proceeds. The japa goes deeper and deeper. Some time later while I am listening to the sound of my inner repetitions Soham, the vibrations go deeper and deeper and then the sensation of those vibrations also stops. This state, however, lasts for a very short time. A sense of great joy is felt in that state and I feel that that is my real Self.

On July 6, 1939, in the evening I took my meal after having as usual finished my meditation of Soham. Some time later the japa commenced of itself internally with great force, owing to which I had to keep sitting down in that state for some time. Then I wrote my daily accounts and went to bed. As soon as I lay down on the bed the japa again automatically began with great force and my attention was perforce attracted towards the japa and the feeling of sleep passed away. Three or four hours passed in this manner. During this period of time, thrice I experienced such joy that it cannot be described in words. To attempt to do so would be as ridiculous as to try to describe the sweetness of sugar in words. After that I could not get sleep owing to this excessive joy. I was lying on my bed and a feeling of a great and pure love for my sadguru overpowered me. I felt that just as a mother always looks after the child and the child is therefore fearless, similarly the sadguru is always near us, guarding and protecting us. This feeling of love for the sadguru produced fearlessness. I have tried to describe the feeling of the great joy which I experienced on that night, but the real joy which I experienced was a myriad times greater.

At about 4 a.m. on that night I fell asleep and had the following dream: I was sitting on a carpet in the outer hall of a big house. Maharaj was also sitting there talking with some persons. Maharaj then went inside the house. I too followed him inside, wishing to ask him to come outside. I saw him standing there (he was not lame in the dream), and people coming one after another, taking his darshan and going away. He was, however, looking here and there and sometimes looking at me. I also placed my head on his feet, when he caught hold of me with both hands, sat down and brought his mouth near my ear. Instead of, however, hearing any words, I felt that he sent through the aperture of my ear a wave of that extreme joy which I had previously experienced in my waking state, which wave spread through the whole of my body.

For the last eight or ten days, as soon as I sit for meditation I begin to see a dim light, but immediately afterwards I see clear white light and the japa continues automatically in the mind and no effort is required. I become almost absorbed in the light. The delight and concentration experienced at the time cannot be adequately described in words. While in a state of meditation a sound of snoring is occasionally heard at intervals. Persons round me might think that I am then sleeping soundly but internally I am enjoying the bliss of complete quietude of mind and am seeing the light. (November 11, 1939)

Two or three days ago I got the following experience at the time of meditation. I saw light on all sides of me and felt that all thoughts are merely moving in this light like waves on water. If I made any sound myself, I heard it and also its echo. Suppose we go to a temple and are sitting there alone. If we make a sound, we hear it as well as its echo. Here the producer of the sound and its hearer are one and the same; similarly I feel that everything is produced from the One Being and it is also experienced by that Being. To remain without giving rise to any sound or thought produces a sensation of great delight. As long as one remembers this One Being as truly the cause of every action, its stay and support and its ultimate goal, there is no delusion. But when one becomes completely engrossed in the action and forgets the Self, then all trouble arises and delusion holds its sway. While doing actions, when we forget that we are merely observers of the actions and identify ourselves with the actions, we are carried away from our firm position and become victims of delusion and trouble. This is what is known as egotism.

When this fact has been clearly experienced in the light seen during meditation, remaining quiet there without any disturbing factor is what is known as sakshitwa: looking upon oneself as merely the observer. If by practice one becomes absorbed in such a state, I am sure that one would go into nirvikalpa samadhi, where there is neither knowledge nor absence of knowledge.

Experiences of Mr. Vaman Keshav Mahegaonkar

Being hard pressed by domestic difficulties, I became disgusted with this worldly life which is so full of misery and my mind became full of penitence. I felt that I had made no good use of my life as a human being. I had neither achieved success in the worldly life nor had I gotten any insight into the spiritual side of life. I then thought of devoting at least the remaining part of my life to spiritual matters, and since then began to hanker after spiritual life and to try to find out a path leading to it.

Through good fortune–or in other words through efforts made in past births having come to fruition–I got introduced to Sri Guru Gajanana Maharaj Gupte through my good friend, Mr. Vishwanath Gopal Vaidya. After having his darshan I told him the whole history of my life and expressed my longing for the spiritual path.

Seeing my intense desire and also knowing what was passing in the innermost part of my mind, he gave me assurances. And he never misled me. On the contrary he said, “I am neither a saint nor a Maharaj. As ordered by my guru, Sri Narayana Saraswati, I tell the mantra Soham given to me by him to any one who comes to me. I do this in the manner of a friend. In the words of Ramdas, ‘One should teach others what one knows and make all people around one wiser than before.’ My master has allotted this work to me. Whoever comes to me with a sincere desire, I tell him this mantra, through the power of my master.

“I look upon all human beings as being equal. All living creatures bear the Divine Spirit and hence every human being is fitted to follow the spiritual path. I do not look upon any one as wicked or unfit to follow the spiritual path. Whoever comes to me, I tell him what I know. But it is not my custom to accept any worship, service, dakshina or arati as a guru first and then to instruct that person. Nor do I mislead women.”

He then told me the Soham mantra and conferred his grace upon me and asked me to repeat the japa with firm faith. Not only this, but he for about two and a half to three months, used to have me sit near him to practice meditation. Hallowed be the name of my Master! I am very glad to say that this conferring of his grace changed the whole course of my life.

For the last twenty or twenty five years there was not the slightest change in my mental tendencies. But after being instructed by Sri Guru Gajanana Maharaj and having come into contact with several of his disciples, I was deeply impressed with the wonderful individuality of Sri Gajanana Maharaj and I do not believe that this impression will ever be wiped from my heart.

This great saint will never mislead even an ordinary person, much less a real aspirant. Whatever may be a man’s religion or whatever may be the duties devolving upon him he does not ask him to leave them. He only urges that man to repeat the mantra Soham with firm faith. He further gives the following advice in the spirit of a friend:

“My sadguru had me drink the nectar of Nama (Name of God) and I tell you the same Nama, being ordered by my sadguru to do so. I am approaching the stage of perfection. If you also wish to come with me, you should repeat that Nama, Soham, in your heart with firm faith. Your deep-rooted mental tendencies will vanish and the dirt of desire accumulated in previous births and in this birth will be washed away and your individual Self will be merged into the Universal Self and you will always remain in your real, original state and thus attain everlasting peace.

“The advice that I give to others is not given in the capacity of a guru, but in that of a friend. I give this advice through the inspiration of my guru Sri Narayana Saraswati, and almost in his words. I, too, am still a student and I am sure that in some birth, either this or future, I shall attain the state of perfect union with Brahman (the Supreme Self).”

In this manner Sri Gajanana Maharaj had several conversations with me regarding knowledge and humility, and then he blessed me with his grace and had me practice meditation. During my practice of meditation my mind became calmer and calmer. I also began to experience joy and the current of thoughts began to grow less and less.

Once in meditation I saw Sri Dattatreya, who asked me whether I had understood the meaning of Soham. According to my understanding I replied, “‘So’ means ‘He’–that is, God–and ‘Ham’ means ‘I am.’ Hence Soham means that God is my Self.” Hearing this reply Sri Dattatreya nodded His head in approval, but asked me again whether I knew any other meaning of that mantra. I, however, could not answer this question. Then Sri Dattatreya told me with His own lips that “So” meant taking in of the breath and “Ham” meant letting out of the breath. Hence, he said, Soham meant Taking In and Letting Out. What is to be taken in and what is to be let out? The answer to that is that bad qualities, passions, egotism etc., are to be let out and then good qualities–that is, good morals, faith in truth and devotion to God–are to be taken in. First of all bad qualities are to be let out and then good qualities are to be taken in. Soham can be interpreted in this manner also.

Experiences of Mr. Vasanta Narayan Nirokhekar

My uncle, Mr. D. L. Nirokhekar, was often going to Sri Gajanana Maharaj since the Diwali of 1938. I accompanied him to the house of Maharaj on March 15, 1939, and had the darshana of Maharaj for the first time. I had a desire that Maharaj should have compassion on me and shower his grace upon me.

On April 13, 1939, Maharaj told me to do the japa and meditation of Soham, and said that by daily practice within a period of about six months I would get peace, happiness and joy. I began to meditate for about two hours daily. After a little less than a month my mind became more concentrated and I began to feel that the japa was going deeper and deeper inside. I got these experiences during the space of only a month and a half. I pray that my progress in this path may continue and that I may enjoy real bliss always.

Experiences of Mr. Bhargava Vaman Parchure, Nashik

I came to Nashik and for twenty-one years worked in the police department, retiring in 1935. Some months before my retirement I came to know that one Gajanana Maharaj lived there. But when I actually saw him, my common sense could not let me think that he was a saint or a Maharaj.

Mr. Appasaheb Walawalkar, who was living in a house near the one where I was staying, used often to talk about Sri Gajanana Maharaj to me. So when I retired, I requested Mr. Walawalkar to take me to Gajanana Maharaj and introduce me to him.

After my introduction I began going for his darshan daily in the morning and in the evening. Seven or eight days passed, and on one Thursday he conferred his grace upon me by instructing me in the mantra Soham. Accordingly I commenced the japa and meditation of Soham, and experienced a great calmness of mind and began to repeat the mantra with great earnestness.

Only a few days after I was favored with the grace of my master, I began to experience the smell of fragrant flowers, owing to which the mind always felt refreshed. So also, whenever I bring before my mind Sri Gajanana Maharaj, whether he be in Nashik or not, I experience the smell of incense and I feel as if I had gotten his darshan in that form.

On one occasion I committed some mistake while repeating the japa. Maharaj appeared before me and gave a forcible slap on my thigh and brought me to the right path. Even when I came back to ordinary consciousness, I felt the aching sensation on my thigh. From this experience I am led to think that our sadguru is always near us when we are repeating the japa, discharging his responsibilities regarding us.

At present I am not perturbed by worldly difficulties. I have a feeling that I have to discharge certain duties through this mortal body and my peace of mind is never in the least disturbed.

Experiences of Mr. Dattatraya Shankar Sakrikar, Nandgaon, District Nashik

I first saw Sri Gajanana Maharaj at Nandgaon in 1928. In that year he might have come there after that once or twice, but I had no talk with him. I used simply to sit as an observer or spectator. I had a fixed idea in my mind that I would only acknowledge that person as my sadguru who would recognize me and mention the path which I had been following up to that time. On the third or the fourth visit, when I was alone with Maharaj he began to talk with me, and then he described the path I was following, and also the degree of my progress. 

One day Maharaj was sitting quietly without talking. Suddenly all his clothes became wet. One or two days after this incident a letter was received from somewhere containing the information that some person while about to be drowned in the sea had been saved by meditating upon Maharaj.

Experiences of Mr. Shankar Malhar Sant, Nashik

I suffered many troubles in this worldly life and my mind became absolutely restless. I then visited many saints and mahatmas and received their blessings. The result was that I began to entertain a keen longing for spiritual knowledge and a firm faith in its efficacy. While I was in this state of mind somebody told me that Sri Gajanana Maharaj was coming to Nashik in a day or two, and that I should take his darshan and receive initiation from him. I was greatly delighted at this and I passed the two days in anxious eagerness. When he arrived I went for his darshan with my mind full of eager longing. He asked me several questions and conversed with me for some time.

At that time, Messrs. Bhave, Vaidya, Mahegaonkar and others were sitting near Maharaj. The conversation is briefly given below.

Myself: Please initiate me and make me blessed.

Maharaj: Who told you that I am a Maharaj?

Myself: I came to know about you about six or seven days ago. I became anxious to see you, and hence I have come now.

Maharaj: What works have you read?

Myself: I have read Jnaneshwari and a part of Dasabodh.

Maharaj: How long have you been staying at Nashik?

  Myself: I have been staying here for the last seventeen or eighteen years.

Maharaj: Have you been initiated by any saint?

Myself: I received initiation from N., about thirty or thirty-five years ago. I have not as yet attained peace of mind. I am at present about eighty years old. I have no worldly ambition; still for maintaining myself and family I am even now writing petitions in the court.

Maharaj: Baba, I am like your son. I am not worthy to bless you. I might mislead you. I am myself a student still, and not an adept.

Mr. Bhave then said to me, “Baba, Sri Gajanana Maharaj is a Kayastha by caste. Have you thought about this?”

I laughed at this and said that a Brahmanishtha (one who has become one with Brahman, the Supreme Self) has really no caste.

Maharaj: How do you know that I am a Brahmanishtha?

Myself: As soon as I bowed down at your feet I felt a great calmness, and felt as if I was meeting a long-lost acquaintance. I therefore firmly believe that you can benefit me.

Maharaj: I am not a saint who has realized the Self. I have got certain experiences by the practice of meditation and japa. I shall give you certain directions through my guru’s grace, which you should follow and see what happens. If you are not benefited, you may leave them aside.

Maharaj then asked me to come to him on a Thursday. I went there and placed a garland of flowers on the portrait of Maharaj’s guru and distributed sweetmeats as prasad. Maharaj then had me sit down, placed his hand on my head, and told me to repeat the japa of Soham. I immediately went into a trancelike state in which the japa of Soham was going on. For forty minutes I did not return to ordinary consciousness and experienced a great joy. Maharaj told me to carry on the practice. I have been doing it since then.

Experiences of Mr. S. T. Saygaonkar, Nashik

I reside opposite the house in which Maharaj resides and I have been seeing him for the last so many years. But up to this time I had not understood that there was anything special in him, nor had I made any effort to understand it. A person generally forms an estimate of the personality of others in this world by placing reliance upon his own intellectual capacity. But the powers of our intellect are very limited, and in the search for truth, when the cloud of ignorance rolls away from one’s intellect, the light of real truth shines forth. I understood the truth of the above when I came into contact with him only for a few days, and I got certain experiences which are narrated below.

About a year before this time I had begun to take a very keen interest in spiritual things. I had tried to acquire knowledge of the subject from various books, and had made various self-directed efforts to get realization in actual experience by trying to put into practice the knowledge gained from books. But having no idea whether my efforts were in the right direction or not, my mind was often full of doubts and uneasy. From this bookish knowledge, I could not be sure on what particular step on the spiritual path I was standing.

About a month and a half ago, while my mind was in a very uneasy state owing to worldly troubles, Sri Gajanana Maharaj sent someone to call me to see him in connection with some photo work. I went to him, saluted him and sat near him. He handed over to me the negative of a photo and asked me to supply him with some copies of the same. Then he began a casual talk with me in his usual witty manner. I too, made some funny remarks and diverted the current of the conversation to spiritual topics which had become dear to me.

Once while I was sitting in meditation I heard words to the effect that a Bengali saint would call me to his house and meet me there. This happened about ten or twelve days before I got this seemingly accidental call from Sri Gajanana Maharaj.

As the conversation turned on spiritual topics, Maharaj while sitting on his bedstead asked me to read out to him some papers. They contained an account of the spiritual experience of a Bengali and of his having attained the everlasting bliss of nirvikalpa samadhi by coming in contact with Sri Gajanana Maharaj.

The message which I had received in meditation, and the practical realization of it in my being called by Maharaj and given his darshan, made me think that there was something wonderful in this individual about whom I had no conception before. And with the idea that I should get some spiritual experience as a mumukshu, and that thus my life should be made worth living, I made an humble supplication at the feet of Maharaj and he, too, understanding my keen desire, gave me an assurance that he would confer his grace upon me and asked me to meet him again. Maharaj then went to Mumbai. Eight days later I was again called in connection with the photo, and again I proffered my urgent request.

For about two or three days after that, I daily went to him and passed about fifteen to twenty minutes near him. At that time he was suffering from fever and was lying down. However, in our conversation on spiritual topics he told me that he would confer his grace upon me after he would be cured of his illness. I then began to visit him daily for making inquiries regarding his health. I used to sit near him, and the conversation was sometimes light and witty, and at other times on spiritual topics. I sometimes used to read out to him portions from newspapers, throwing light on these topics. I was also minutely marking everything, and realized that some inscrutable divine power was repeatedly bringing before me thoughts, words or deeds in consonance with the workings of my heart.

Some days later he wrote with his own hand some portions of the work of Swami Vivekananda, Karma Yoga, which work I was reading every day, and asked me to read them. The wonder of it was that these were the very portions which I had read the previous night before going to sleep. Later on I felt that during his conversation he had, as it were, described with his own mouth my daily actions. My faith in him began to increase day by day, and later on I got very unusual experiences owing to which my faith in him got firmly fixed.

One day in the morning at about nine a.m., Maharaj and myself were sitting together after having drunk tea. I smelled a delightful fragrance pervading the atmosphere. It struck me as if it proceeded from a place where someone was performing worship. I was about to ask about it, but dropped the idea, thinking that somebody must be performing worship in the house. While these ideas were passing in my mind, I thought that Maharaj was closely looking at something with concentrated attention. He told me that I should bring a garland of flowers the next day, and that he would communicate to me something more according to the order of his sadguru.

The next day was the first day of the month of Margashirsha. I bathed in the morning and having taken with me a garland of flowers, went for Maharaj’s darshan. As directed, I placed the garland on the photo of Sri Narayana Saraswati and took my seat in front of Maharaj. He was sitting in front of me and was describing the experiences of his previous disciples. The same fragrant smell which I had experienced on the day before occurred, and the whole atmosphere in the room became full of it and felt purified.

I began to feel a sensation resembling a trance stealing upon me. Maharaj continued talking, and when he found that my attention in listening had become less, he told me to repeat the mantra Soham in my mind and fixed his gaze on my eyes. My mind was becoming calmer and calmer, and I felt that it was being submerged under the waves of extreme joy. I felt that I was going down and down somewhere, and a sense of complete forgetfulness of the external world was increasing. There appeared to be dense darkness everywhere, only the beating of my heart continued. In this state I felt some power moving up towards the brain through the spinal cord at the back, and a sensation like that of heat from inside was experienced at the center between the eye-brows.

Something seemed to fall down in a line from the center of the brain upon the heart, and the former darkness then gave place to a faint light and I had the darshan of my favorite deity. Slowly the face of the deity began to change and assume the features of my master sitting in front of me. All my doubts dissolved away, my mind became assured, and my heart became full of joy.

I was then about to place my head on the feet of my master when he lightly touched my head and told me to come back to my original state. I opened my eyes and found Maharaj looking fixedly at me. His face appeared to be changing till it looked like his original face. This being a novel experience in my life, I found that it gave me extreme delight. I cannot say how long I was in this state.

Maharaj, who was still sitting in front of me, was describing the experiences of some of his disciples, but I could hear only in a sort of indistinct and hazy manner. An extremely good fragrance was pervading everywhere, and some vague and indistinct forms of deities appeared to pass before my sight.

Later on when I used daily to repeat the japa of Soham, my mind got into a state of absorption and I was convinced that the only true and eternal thing, which I had been seeking so long, was extremely close to me, and that I had been groping in darkness for it owing to ignorance. When my heart was enlightened by the light of knowledge through the grace of my master, many things which had appeared mysterious became completely clear. I got the experience of nirvikalpa samadhi and the darshan of the deity of my heart’s desire and of the place of that deity, which was familiar to me. All my misgivings and doubts disappeared in this manner.

Soham.

Experiences of Mr. Vishwanath Gopal Vaidya of Nashik

For the last five years since the darshan of my master, Sri Gajanana Maharaj, and the bestowal of his grace upon me, I am becoming engrossed in meditation and am almost swimming continuously in an ocean of joy.

On Dattatreya Jayanti day, Sunday the 15th of December 1929, I had the following dream: I saw that I was in the house of my son-in-law, Mr. Narayan Gangadhar Sahasrabuddhe. While I was sitting in the front hall, a lame and decrepit person carried on the back of another came there with ten or twelve other persons, got down and went crawling into the inner hall of the house and took his seat there. All persons then bowed to this person. Observing this I also went there and bowed to him. I thought that he might be a saint. Then I returned to the front hall. Some time later the lame person (saint) came from the inner hall to the front hall near me and asked me, “When did you come from Nashik?” I replied that I came on the day before. He said, “Come to my house, we shall talk there.” He then went away with some persons, being carried on the back of another person. Some persons remained behind to accompany me, with whom I went to the saint’s house, which was situated on a hill beyond the Saraswati river. I went and sat down in a room. Then the lame saint came there and asked me about all the events at Nashik. I told him that a sacrifice [yajna] was being performed at Nashik and many shastris had assembled there. The saint then took a piece of paper, wrote upon it Rupees Seven and gave the paper to me. I saw what was written upon it, then looked into my pocket but saw that I had not got seven rupees. The saint said that it did not matter, but that I should not forget to give that amount when the time would come. I then started from that place after having bowed to him again. Here the dream ended. After I awoke I wrote down the dream in my diary.

Four years later I found the dream realized. How this happened will be described in its proper place and sequence.

In February of 1933, a Mr. Saswadkar started one day by the railway train to go to Pune. Mr. Jayarambhau Karmarkar, proprietor of the Samartha Press of Nashik, who is residing in my house, also started by the same train to go to Sajjangad, the place where there is the samadhi of the great saint Ramdas. The two gentlemen happened to meet in the train. During their conversation Mr. Saswadkar casually remarked that a great saint was staying in Nashik for the last eight or ten years, and that it was a wonder that the people of Nashik did not know him, nor had they any idea of his greatness. Mr. Karmarkar asked him about the saint’s name, original place of residence and his present address. But Mr. Saswadkar instead of giving the information merely remarked that everything would be known in the near future.

Mr. Karmarkar, who is a friend of mine and who is my neighbor, narrated this talk to me when he returned to Nashik. I then made inquiries in Nashik but I could not trace the whereabouts of the saint. I then intended to go to Niphad and see Mr. Saswadkar, but owing to some unavoidable reasons I had to postpone my plan till the month of May.

I then went to Niphad on Sunday, May 2, 1933, and introduced myself to Mr. Saswadkar and asked him information about the saint at Nashik. Mr. Saswadkar was only too glad to give me the information. Not only this, but he also showed me some letters written to this saint by some of his disciples containing a description of their spiritual experiences after they had received initiation from this saint, Sri Gajanana Maharaj. I was simply wonderstruck after reading the experiences described in those letters.

After returning from Niphad on Wednesday, May 3, 1933, I went on May 4 to Sri Gajanana Maharaj, and having given him information regarding myself had a frank talk with him for some time and then I returned home. Even in the short time that I was in his company, I could see his child-like innocence, his absolute want of egotism, his even-mindedness and his extremely keen desire to uplift other human souls. I found that he was as if absolutely unconscious of ego, and I was greatly delighted to see this. Then I every day used to go to him for darshan.

Six or seven days later, when I had come for his darshan he lighted a cigarette and began to smoke it. All along it was burning in a flame, which is generally not the case. It also emitted a fragrant smell like that of an attar. I was greatly surprised at this. Maharaj then said, “I shall show you the unextinguishable flame of the Self, just as I have shown this flame to you. Come to me tomorrow in the morning.”

Accordingly on the next day in the morning I went to him. He told me the mantra Soham and asked me to repeat it and also explained to me how to practice. I accordingly started practicing for half an hour in the morning and in the evening. Two days later Maharaj remarked to me that I was committing mistakes in my practice. He explained to me my mistakes. Within a week after that I got the following experience.

In my meditation I saw a flame which began to enlarge and in the flame I saw the extremely shining form of Sri Krishna. When I mentioned this fact to Maharaj, he appeared to be glad and asked me to continue the practice. Then every day at the time of meditation I saw the flame and in the flame the shining forms of various deities. When this had continued for some time, Maharaj stopped it.

Some days later Maharaj went to Niphad to visit Mr. Saswadkar, and I followed him there two or three days afterwards. One night when all the other people were asleep, Maharaj said to me that he would take me into the nirguna state (where there are no forms and attributes), and placed his hand on my head. Instantaneously I began to hear the sound of Soham loudly in my ears. Then he asked me to repeat the japa of Soham while lying down. I did so and in the state of half consciousness and half sleep I began to hear the loud sound of Soham. I described this in the morning to Maharaj. He said, “You will get the darshan of the Supreme Self by going into the Brahmarandhra (the center of the brain).”

A few days before Maharaj went to Niphad he asked me for money. I had with me a five rupee note, which I handed over to him. Upon this he said, “Now only two rupees are due from you.” At that time I did not understand the meaning and context of what he said.

On the next Guru Purnima day, although Maharaj was not at Nashik I went to his house, garlanded his photo and put two rupees as dakshina before it. A few days later while I was reclining on a chair and had shut my eyes, I suddenly remembered the dream which I had in the December of 1929. The saint whom I saw in the dream was lame just as Maharaj is lame. The saint had written Seven Rupees on a piece of paper. When Maharaj asked for money and I gave five rupees, he had remarked that two rupees had remained. Then I had put two rupees before his photo on the Guru Purnima day. All these things tallied with the dream which I had been favored with four years before, foretelling that I would meet Sri Gajanana Maharaj. I looked upon it as nothing less than the grace of Sri Dattatreya, and was greatly delighted. I was also greatly amused to see this divine arrangement of things. When I went to Maharaj in the afternoon, I told him the whole thing regarding the dream and how the account of seven rupees tallied. He merely smiled at this.

On August 14, 1934, when I had gone to Maharaj in the morning, he said, “What sort of trouble is going on at Bombay [Mumbai]?” People in his house told me that he was talking like this since the previous night. I asked Maharaj whether any letter, etc., had been received, to which he replied, “Where is the necessity of a letter? Can we not see ourselves?” While he was saying this, a telegram from Mr. Nanasaheb Samartha was received from Bombay to the effect that his nephew Shankar was lying seriously ill, and requesting the immediate presence of Maharaj there. Maharaj proceeded immediately to Bombay and found that Mr. Samartha’s nephew Shankar was seriously ill, suffering from meningitis and doctors had given up all hope. This nephew recovered from the illness through the grace of Maharaj. This incident shows that yogis can see what is going on in different places.

According to the orders of Maharaj, I practiced meditation for two years, half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening. Owing to this, now as soon as I shut my eyes I can see light at any time and at any place. My mind becomes so engrossed that I become unconscious regarding my surroundings and I forget all mundane matters. If a person has to leave his mortal coil while he is in this state, he again becomes a yogi in the next birth, as the Gita says.

Experiences of Mr. Balkrishna Mahadeo Gadkari

I first got the darshan of Sri Gajanana Maharaj in the month of May, 1929. After I had the good fortune of being in his company for four or five days, he had me sit near him and placed the right palm of his hand on my head. He told me to shut my eyes and fix my mind inside on the movements of breath, and he favored me with the japa of Soham. When I had repeated the japa of Soham for five minutes, he in his great mercy manifested to me a strong light and said, “This is the light of your own Self. By means of the Soham japa you will be able to see it constantly.”

Experiences of Mr. K. K. Pradhan

I had been living at Nashik for five years or so, but it was not till February of 1937 that I heard about Mr. Gajanan Murlidhar Gupte, alias Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nawa Darwaja, Nashik.

It was in the course of some talk with some visitors to my place. Our conversation drifted from everyday casual talk towards the intricacy of adhyatma (the Self). Finding me interested in the subject, especially in acquiring some insight into the spiritual world, one of the visitors just by way of information referred to the name of Gajanana Murlidhar Gupte. His words about him were very cautiously worded, with the utmost care to eliminate exaggeration either way. The description was enough to arouse curiosity in any heart. I immediately made an appointment with my visitor friend to come to me at a particular hour on a particular day and take me to the so-called saint.

After the visitor left, my mind had quite a riot of thoughts, ideas, and imagination. I thought to myself “If he is really a saint as said, how is it that for the last five years that I am here in Nashik I did not hear anything about him? Again I have never heard of a real saint belonging to Kayastha Prabhu Community except Sri Rama Maruti Maharaj of Kalyan whose fame to the effect is far and wide. His friends and disciples have published a book about his life. How is it that not even a single writing about this man ever came to my notice? Who can say the report is not an exaggeration of the man’s qualities?” However my heart within me was almost jumping with curiosity to meet the saint at the appointed hour.

My mental inclinations from my early boyhood were towards implicitly believing in Divinity, construed by my imagination in whatever phenomena or deity. I read about various spiritual luminaries at a very young age and my passion for attaining some spiritual experience grew so strong that, when I was in the first year in college, I actually used to go to the Fergusson Hills at Pune and practice meditation. However, I felt that I was standing at the edge of two worlds, the outer and the inner, and it became imperative to bring about an adjustment between these two views. Anyway I could not do it, and I felt many times quite unable to attend to ordinary daily routine duties as efficiently as I should, nor could I concentrate properly on my studies. My friends had occasions to remark about my absent-mindedness. My career was about to suffer, and I left the pursuit of the divine knowledge halfway. A curtain was dropped by me on that aspect of the inner faculties as if with a vehemence and I became quite stolid and a practical everyday man.

I very well remember the day and the hour we went to meet the saint. Our way lay through lanes and by-lanes of Nashik City and we ultimately came to a low-roofed humble house at the corner of one of them, near the temple of Rama popularly known as Bayancha Rama. It had a small open area in front with an old-type well in the middle. The way to the saint’s room was through a narrow corridor in the interior. I was half embarrassed, half afraid within myself. I took off my shoes at the door and went in to find a very emaciated and lean man with high cheek-bones and an intelligent expression on his face welcoming us there with folded hands and a winning smile. He was not old as I had assumed him to be, but rather a middle-aged man. The room was a spacious one with a bedstead in one corner covered by a bedspread and a mosquito curtain on its frame with red sewn borders. Some photos of unknown saints adorned the whitewashed walls. There was a gramophone machine on a stand in another corner. A few chairs and an humble but clean carpet spread on the ground were the only additional contents of the room.

He started his talk with humor. There was a tin of cigarettes near the man, who enjoyed a few from them during our talk which was about several everyday matters. We had tea there and returned homewards, I having found nothing unusual in the person. I said to myself, “Is this man a saint? As for me I do not find any saintliness about him. I can say, he is a loving and good man–good to have as a friend.” I very carefully hid my opinion about the man from my visitor friend so as not to wound any feeling of reverence fostered by him about the person. To his queries I replied only half-heartedly and returned home with a feeling of having wasted time and trouble. I almost forgot the incident of my visit by the time I was in my house.

But somewhere deep within my subconscious mind remained the memory of the man. I felt, God knows how, an inclination to practice a little meditation after my return. I sat for dhyana almost without my will and lo! intense joy was suddenly felt within my heart. I felt I was as if peeping into a temple to view the steady flame of the oil lamp before the deity. Who caused this all? How is it that I did not get the joy before, and who is HE, the great one, that caused it to arise in me this evening? The reply to all these queries…?

From that day I feel I have launched my boat on a steady course; steadily but surely I feel I am advancing on the path of spirituality and a master hand is guiding my spiritual destiny. Whenever I find leisure I hasten to my master, sit in his aura, get the divine thrills and come home. Can I now say my acquaintance with him has ripened? With such a really great soul, I now find acquaintance is too poor a word to use. No, it is not intimacy, not friendship. It is a merging into experience of him in his fullness.

He who holds that spiritual beauty within must have its expression in polished outward actions and behavior. He many times says, “Oh, we Haridasis [Servants of God] stand at the confluence of three rivers: Beauty, Truth and Joy. I actually feel within like that. Nay, I have caught hold of the origin of these three aspects of the all-pervading One. Oh, I have become that One.”

And the nectar-like words from his lips have a divine effect upon those around who understand him. His manners are naturally very sweet, so nobody who visits him can expect to meet with discourtesy; rather he will be very hospitably received with scrupulous care to make him feel that he is enjoying an extraordinary happy company.

The secret of this saint’s greatness appears to be in carefully hiding his inner towering greatness. His humility surpasses all his other virtues and has given him a childlike temperament. He listens with rapt attention equally to learned discourses on adhyatma and the everyday gabble about the minor details of living. He calls himself a student in spiritual matters, while those who call themselves masters cannot with his tremendously quick flash actually arouse the inner adhyatmic energy of their visitors as this humble-looking individual does. Verily God on earth is here represented by his humble messenger Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nashik, the unrivalled yogi.

Experiences of Mr. Kurdukar, Vaidya

In April, 1940 the following conversation took place when I went for the darshana of Maharaj.

Maharaj: What is your name and why have you come to see me?

Myself: My name is Krishnarao and my surname is Kurdukar. I am a Vaidya [Ayurvedic physician] and for the last seven or eight years I have been practicing as a Vaidya from altruistic as well as interested motives.

Maharaj: Who told you that I am a Maharaj?

Myself: Mr. Pundit first gave me information regarding you. I wanted to come to you for darshana but somehow or other I could not do so up to this time. I then met Madhukar Chitnis who also gave me information about you. I knew that Madhukar Chitnis was practicing yoga, and so I was greatly delighted at the information given by him. I thought that perhaps I, too, might be graced by you. With this idea I have come to you.

Maharaj: I am a poor cripple. You have practiced yoga for a long time and have made great progress. I, therefore, consider myself as lucky in having obtained your darshana. Well, how long are you going to stay at Nashik?

Myself: I am here for two days more. I shall then go to Sangamner. I have private dispensaries at Nashik and Sangamner. I visit Nashik every fortnight or so. I shall give you in writing a brief account of my life from my childhood.

Maharaj then asked me to give him a short sketch of my previous practice of yoga. I told him what practices in Hatha Yoga had been done by me, and how later on after practice for three years I had to quit it owing to a feeling of fear which was generated at the time of practice, and how I had gone to various saints with the hope that they would guide me further and how ultimately I opened dispensaries at Nashik and Sangamner. I then bowed to the feet of Maharaj and left his house.

On the third day after that I had been to see some people staying in the locality near Maharaj’s house and after the visits were over I had gone a pretty long distance on the side opposite to Maharaj’s house. At that time I had no idea of going to Maharaj or of asking him about yoga, but somehow or other my feet began as it were to be drawn back, and for two or three minutes I went backwards. Then an idea struck me that I should go for Maharaj’s darshana. It was about 9:30 in the morning. I fell at his feet. He asked me, “Why have you come?” I replied that I had gone there for his darshana.

Maharaj: All right. I suppose you have no particular object in seeing me.

Myself: Yes. I have a particular object in coming here. Since you have as it were forcibly dragged me here, there must be some purpose in it. Kindly fulfill that purpose.

Maharaj: I am neither a Baba nor a hatha-yogi. I have no power of knowing what is in your mind. I consider myself as fortunate in having your darshana. Please do not think that I am indulging in a bit of exaggeration.

Myself: I have tried various things and I am now absolutely tired. The restlessness of my mind, however, has not abated. I have left off the practice of yoga for the last so many years. It is in your hands to guide me further on the right path.

Maharaj: All right. I shall tell you through the grace of my guru.

Maharaj then asked me to sit in a particular posture. I sat in the siddha-padmasana posture. Maharaj then told me to repeat Soham. As soon as I did so, my mind instantaneously turned inwards and became absolutely calm. All the bad effects of my old practices of hatha yoga disappeared. [In the past, for three years Mr. Kurdukar engaged in very drastic hatha yoga disciplines until he weighed only 48 pounds and was living on nothing but one pint of water a day. Editor’s note.] The breath which had been going astray, straightway entered the sushumna and reached the brahmarandhra. Since then I feel no trouble and am enjoying great joy.

Mr. Upadhye

Mr. Vithal Pandurang Upadhye, an attorney of Nashik, has been on terms of friendship with Maharaj for the last several years. Mr. Upadhye is a man of very peaceful temperament and is very social. He has a knack of explaining the principles of Vedanta in a simple and easy manner. He is also very fond of reading. About two or three years ago on the second day of Diwali in the evening, there were many persons sitting chit-chatting in the hall in the house of Mr. Saswadkar, who was then staying at Nashik. Maharaj was also there.

Mr. Upadhye said to Maharaj, “Maharaj, you make many people sit in meditation near you almost daily. Here is Mr. Baba Satpurkar who has a great desire to sit in meditation. Why do not you ask him to do so? He has been waiting for a long time hoping that you would grant this favor to him.”

Maharaj thereupon said, “Vakil [Lawyer] Saheb, you also have made great progress in your previous birth, and even now you must be practicing yoga to some extent, because you have received grace from your guru. Notwithstanding all these facts, and although you have been in my company for so many days, have I ever asked you even casually to sit in meditation? I have never done so up to this time. But it appears that the opportunity has come today. Instead of asking me to make others sit in meditation, why do not you yourself sit before me?”

As soon as Maharaj said this, Mr. Upadhye suddenly got up and sat before Maharaj, and the wonderful thing was that he became completely absorbed in meditation with his eyes open. For nearly an hour and a half he had no consciousness of his body. People called out his name, then shook him and tried various other means of bringing him back to consciousness, but they were of no avail. His whole body had become stiff like a piece of wood. He regained consciousness after about an hour and a half. Immediately he drank two lotas of water, and lay down, reclining completely. He was still in a trancelike, dreamy state of joy. He did not speak for about twenty minutes. Maharaj also called out to him several times but he could not utter any words. He only made signs with his hand, asking Maharaj to stop for some time. After about fifteen minutes he got up. At that time Maharaj was sleeping.

People asked Mr. Upadhye regarding his experience and he gladly gave the following description: “In the beginning the tip of my tongue turned inwards and pressed itself on the uvula in the throat and there was a slight checking of the breath and my eyesight became drawn upward internally. I saw the Sudarshana chakra at the center between the eye-brows. It was whirling around and a light similar to that of fire-works or of electric lamps appeared. Then I saw flames near the navel region and felt that the whole of my body was burning. I tried to come upwards, but it was no use and I again went downwards. Then I began to feel very cool and then hot. I then came upwards, and as I proceeded upwards I began to feel cooler and cooler until I felt I was drinking nectar dropping down in drops from the uvula in the throat. Its taste was so sweet that I cannot describe it in words. It cannot be compared with any other taste. It has been written in works on Yoga Shastra that some yogis can drink this nectar. I got actual experience of this and hence I am extremely delighted.”

While Mr. Upadhye was describing his experience, Maharaj had been sleeping. He got up and said to Mr. Upadhye, “Oh Vithal! Oh Pandurang! Let me also know what you saw, so that I, too, may share in the joy. One does not tell such experiences to others. Everyone has got this in himself and he can experience it in himself. Owing to merit acquired in previous births, if a disciple carries on the practice as instructed by his guru with firm faith and disinterestedness, he becomes fit for treading the path leading to the highest goal, although he may be leading a worldly life. He becomes submerged in joy within himself.”

Then Mr. Upadhye again described his experience to Maharaj, and said, “Maharaj, if you had not slept, I would not have been able to regain consciousness soon.” All the people then got up and went to the river Godavari for a walk.

The next day when Mr. Upadhye came to Maharaj, he said, “Maharaj, yesterday I reached home with great difficulty because waves of that joy were again and again overwhelming me and I was afraid that I might fall down.” He then again described his experience of the previous day to some other people who were then sitting near Maharaj at the time. As Mr. Upadhye has read various works on Vedanta and has also thought a good deal over spiritual matters, he could describe his experiences graphically and in an understandable and easy manner.

Experiences of some other disciples

Shankar Keshav Fansalkar was a spiritual and moral person with a strong attraction to the path of devotion (bhakti). He was given a mantra by a yogi, but whenever he repeated the mantra he felt great fear, even terror. Therefore he went to Nashik and searched for Sri Gajanana Maharaj, to whom he revealed his dilemma. For some days Maharaj had him visit him and then gave him the Soham Mantra, explaining how to do japa and meditation with the mantra. All his fear left him. At first he saw some visions, but they stopped and after some months his mind became always engrossed and joy-filled in japa and meditation. He would tell people, “Sadguru Gajanana is compassion personified. He has shown me the right path.”

Narayan Lakshman Samarth believed in spiritual attainment through karma yoga. He and his wife often went to have darshan of Maharaj in whom they had full trust and whom they loved as one of their own family. Mr. Samarth used to become engrossed in meditation, forgetting his physical state in the vastness of infinity.

Next: Chapter Four–Atma Prabha (Light of the Self)

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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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