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Author Topic: YOGIRAJ VASUDEVANANDA SARASWATI ( A Biography) (Continued from January 1975 Issu  (Read 8650 times)

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Offline JR

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By:-Shri S.N.Huddar
Chaturmas-24-Shak 1835 (1913 A.D.)
                  This place is on the bank of Narmada. Temples of Narad, Garud and Karoteshwar are here. Some Bhillas live here.All provisions and articles are to be brought from Tilak Wada or Nandod. Garud did penance to please Shankar and so this place is known as Garudeshwar. Swamiji came here on Chaitra wadya 6.
                   Vishnupant Soman had a grocery shop here.Swami Maharaj did his rituals at Naradeshwar and slept on a slab of stone in the open. Madhukari can be had here only at the house of Vishnupant Soman.
                   The news of Swamiji’s arrival spread and people began to come to this place. A Mandap  was then constructed for visitors. Ramchandra Shastri Prakashkar came here on Vaishakh Suddha 7-8.Swamiji told him that he should not go anywhere from there.

                  Vasudeo Shastri Phanse also came here. He would bring alms for Swamiji. From Gujarati Brahmins fruits only were accepted. Dhondopant Koparkar came here with his family and brought phanaspoli, coconut, dried phanas,chips etc.Swamiji only took the phanspoli and other articles were distributed. Dhondopant constructed a hut for Swami Maharaj. There was a neem tree here. On Chaitra Suddha 1 the leaves of this tree were given as Prasad. The taste of these leaves was sweet.The number of visitors was increasing day after day and the one hut was found quite insufficient. Parashram Bhai Kuberi Engineer therefore constructed a separare shed for cooking.

                Swami Maharaj explained ‘Geeta Bhashya’, ‘Datta Bhava Sudharas etc’ to the interested audience. Shri Datta Murti was given bath with Laghu rudrabhishek in the morning. Some Maharashtrian ladies came there to stay and then Swamiji could get alms at 3 places.
Swamiji’s Diet

                Swamiji took bread of Vari ( a cereal), boiled rice, vegetable of Bhindi (lady finger) or suran, baskets of fruits were offered but he did not look at them. In the afternoon he gave replies to the questions asked or read puran. Bhajan was sung in the night. After Bhajan gram or Mung pulses were usually distributed in good quantity as there was usually no cooking at night. Sarta Datta Pujan was performed several times. One and hald maund Prasad was distributed.

                            Many persons from Baroda had also come here. One shed to accommodate 50 persons was constructed. Visitors lived there in co-operation. Some brought water, some collected fuel, some did cooking. After offering Naivedya to Shri Datta all dined.Daily 3 to 4 hundred persons dined. Swamiji used to tell in the morning “So many persons will come today and prepare particular articles of food”. Visitors would come by 12 or in the mid-day.

                              Brahmanand Teerth of Shringeri and Brahmananda Saraswati from Niloor Math had come to Garudeshwar. They also ovserved chaturmas along with Swami Maharaj.

                      Balwantrao Bhagwat of Gwalior was in service at Gokarna, He was given Sanyas and Dand by Shri Brahmanand Teerth and was named Pradyumna Teerth.

                      Due to heavy rains, the level of the river Narmada was increased and all became anxious. They approached Swami Maharaj who then came to the Narmada, touched the water with his dand and requested ‘ O mother, there should be no flood, else your devotees here will come into troubles.” After this the level of water came down.

Dhondopant Koparkar again came here in Shravan, when Narmada was flooded. Forty to fifty persons sat in a boat at Nandod for Tilakwada. The flow of Narmada was very powerful. Hence the boat could not be rowed upwards. There was danger of its sinking. Dhondopant and others prayed Swami Maharaj and then the boat reached Garudeshwar safely. All bowed to Swami Maharaj humbly. Swami Maharaj said “you prayed to god when you were afraid of sinking”.

Relief from Diseases

                     Some Muslims also approached Swamiji for relief from certain diseases. Swami Maharaj gave them medicines and Koran mantras for recitation. The only son of Manubhai Umrekar of Bharoach ‘Ganapati’ had some mental trouble. He came to Garudeshwar.Swamiji looked at him and he was all right.

                 A Parsi gentleman of Navasari came and said that a spirit di not let him take even one morsel of food. After your darshn, only yesterday I could take food. Swamiji gave him a yantra and he was relieved of the spirit trouble.

                Dr.Chintamanrao of Baroda lost his 5-6 issues. He has one son who was suffering from fits. He asked Dhondopant to bring angara from Swami Maharaj. After applying the same the boy was cured.
Nath Comes Out of coconut

              A woman took darshan and offered a coconut to Swamiji. Her Nath(nose ring) fell down. She realized this after returning to her place. She inquired from Swamiji if it could be found.Swamiji asked her to break the coconut. As she broke it the nath came out of it. All wondered to see this miracle.

              Swami Maharaj wrote Atmanatma Vichar. Chitta Subodha and Nakshatra Mala in Prakrit and distributed them to those who agreed to act as per instructions given in the booklets. He also wrote “Datta Bhawasudharas” nut shell based on “Datta Mahatmya” and Gurucharitra for daily reading. A son of Rambhan Subnis of Sangli was an officer in the Baroda state. He came to see Swami Maharaj, when he was informed to come after shaving off the hair on his head. He had decided to depart in the morning and took permission of Swamiji in the night. Next day when he started Swamiji was giving lessons. Subnis wished to have teerth and Prasad. When they were going, a man came to him and gave the Teerth and Prasad.

Shri Rang Awadhut Swami

             Yogiraj Shri Vasudevananda Saraswati Swami Maharaj roamed all over Bharat from North to South and from East to West visiting almost all the holy places. He had thousands of disciples out of whom some have been very illustrious such as Narsinha Saraswati (Dixit Swami) of vadi, Yogananda Saraswati alias Ganda Maharaj of Gunj (Dt.Parbhani) Shri Govindraj Pandit of Sipri, Shri Shankarrao Shirolkar (who later became Shankaracharya of Sankeshwar) Sitaram Maharaj(younger brother of Swamiji), Ramchandra Shastri Prakashkkar of Baroda,Shri Vamanrao Gulavani Maharaj Poona, Shri Dhundiraj Maharaj Kavishwar,Deolgoan Raja, Shri Shankarrao Deshmukh Ajegoankar, Hingoli, Janakiram Maharaj of Pali (Dist Aurangabad) and many others.

                         Shri Rang Awadhut alias ‘Bapuji’, a most popular saint of Gujarat was also a principal and staunch devotee of Swami Maharaj. He lived at Nareshwar near Baroda on the bank of Narmada carrying on the mission of spreading the devotion of Shri Datta amongst the Gujarathi people. Recently he has been to Africa due to pressing invitation of his devotees,many of whom are staying in Africa and other foreign countries. He therefore earnestly wished to publish an English Biography of his revered Gurudeo, Shri Vasudevananda Saraswati Swami Maharaj to enlighten the English knowing people, spread all over the world, with the pious and divine life of his Gurudeo. But it is a misfortune that Shri Rang Awadhut Swami passed away on the 19th of November 1968 at Haridwar before the life sketch of his guru, could be published. An attempt is made here to give in short some incidents in the life of Shri Rang Awadhut Swami, whose inspiration has been the cause of writing this biography.

                    A vedic Brahmin Balambhat Valambe lived at Deole (Tal. Sangmeshwar Dist.Ratnagiri). His third son Vithalpant came to Godhra (Dist. Panchmahal Gujrat) as a priest of the Vithal mandir of Sakharam Anant Sarpotdar. He was only 18 years of age but had studied Vedas and Shastras. The name of his wife was Rukmini. The pious couple gave birth to a son named Pandurang on the 21st of November 1998 and he was later on known as Shri Rang Awadhut Swami.

        At the age of 3, Pandurang saw a dead body being taken for a funeral when he asked his father where was the person being taken. Father replied, “To the place of God”. Pandurang again asked,”Can we not go to the God’s place by our feet?” Vithalpant did not like this unauspicious question, yet he said “ By reciting the name of Ram one can go to the God’s place.” Innocent Pandurang got inspiration from this and he constantly began to recite Ram nam.

Vithalpant died in 1903, when Pandurang was only 5 years old and his younger brother Narayan was 2 years old.When Pandurang was of 8 years his mother came to Konkan with her two sons and performed their thread ceremonies. The mother then came to Vadi with her two sons.Shri Vasudevanand Saraswati Swami Maharaj was there at that time. As soon as the 9 year old Pandurang saw Swami Maharaj, he ran to Swamiji, who also seeing the smart boy exclaimed, “Oh,this is our boy”. Swamiji asked Pandurang, “To whom do you belong?”. He replied, “To you”.Swami Maharaj said, “My boy, you begin to read Pothi”.

              This is the only instance, when Pandurang had contact with Swami Maharaj. He regarded Swami Maharaj as his spiritual Guru from this time and Swamiji also had often been guiding Pandurang. Swamiji had his Samadhi at Garudeshwar in July 1914, when Pandurang was only 16 years old. He could not se Swamiji again, like his other chief disciples.

Pandurang had a brilliant school and college career. He was a student of Baroda College when Mahatma Gandhi launched his non-co-operation campaign in 1921. Pandurang responded to Nation’s call and leaving the Baroda college he joined Swarajya Ashram at Ahmedabad and became Snatak (graduate) of Gujarat Vidyapeeth.

He worked as a teacher and also participated in the Satyagraha movement. He had liking for Sanskrit. He began to write articles and books on subjects of National interest. He translated two books of Tolstoy in Gujrati and they were published by Navajeevan Prakashan, Ahmedabad. He wrote a Sanskrit treatise on Bhartrihari’s “Subodh Shatak” and ‘Girvan Bhasha Pravesh” ie Sanskrit text book for Swarajya Ashram. Tales from Upanishatts (Upnishdoni Baton) was also written and published by him in Gujrati.
However his inclination for devotion to God Datta continued all the time. He had longing to have darshan of Shri Datta. When his younger brother Narayan completed his education and was employed, Pandurang concentrated his mind of devotion of Datta still more. Once he was so seriously ill that his relatives had lost all hope about him. But with intense devotion he composed poems and prayed Datta most sincerely and he got relief.

In this state of health Swami Maharaj advised him to read “Datta Puran” 108 times. At the time of his first visit to Vadi, Swamiji had asked Pandurang to read the ‘Pothi’. But it was not clear which Pothi was to be read. But by intuition Pandurang guessed that the pothi referred to was “Shri Guru Charitra” as it was being read by his maternal uncle, who had received it from Shri Sai Baba as Prasad. Pandurang took the Pothi from his maternal uncle and began to read it with devotion. He would not even take his food before reading it.

He entrusted his mother to his younger brother Narayan and some how consoling her started for the Himalayas. But on the way some saints and sadhakas requested him to do penance on the bank of Narmada. He therefore chose the lonely but charming place of Nareshwar on the bank of Narmada. On its east there are hills and it is surrounded by thick forests. It is an abode of peacocks, bright skinned cobras and beasts. There is a Shiva Mandir, which had been in neglected condition so far. Pandurang stayed there, completed 108 readings of Datta Puran. For the completion function, he decided to have Narmada Parikrama in 108 days drinking only the water of Narmada. Due to such hard penance and blessings of Swamji and Datta, Pandurang was now being known as Shri Rang Awadhut Swami.

After the brahma Niryan of Swami Maharaj at Garudeshwar in 1914, Swamiji’s Datta Murti was retained there as Shri Datta had expressed his desire to stay at Garudeshwar. Shri Rang Awadhut carried the torch of devotion of Shri Datta and spread its light throughout Gujarat. He wrote Guru Leelamrit in Gujarati which includes Shri Gurucharitra and Datta Purana. This is a book which is much respected and has been very popular amongst the Gujrati people. His Sanskrit volume “Rang Hridaya” expresses his heartfelt devotion. He has also composed several songs, strotras etc in Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi and Sanskrit, which are much liked by the devoted public. He was reciting the name of Datta with every breath.

It is due to Shri Rang Awadhut Swami Maharaj that some new mandirs, dharmashalas and dwelling places of modern type have sprung up at Nareshwar and it has been an attractive holy place for the devotees and other visitors.
(to be continued).
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