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Offline JR

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« on: April 04, 2007, 09:45:40 AM »
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  • By Dr.  S.   D.   Parchure M, A., Ph. D.
    (Continued from February 1976 issue)

    Importance of solitude has been stressed by many saints all over the world.  Many saints have been resorting to solitude whenever possible.  Running away from the tumult of the common people is always found necessary by many saints.  Thinking about God, concentrating on God or meditating always requires solitude.  Sometimes even to think about a complex problem and to have its solution, requires a person to resort to solitude. Saint Ramdas had spent nearly twelve years in austere penance.  Then he travelled all alone in the whole of India for pilgrimage.  He therefore, was used to live by himself; but after he came to set¬tle at Chafal, where he put up the Rama temple, he had many disciples and he was usually surrounded by a lot of people.  Hence he sometimes felt like resorting to solitude.  Within a few miles from Chafal, there were a number of mountain caves where Saint Ramdas used to retire when he used to be in such pensive moods.

    In order to have an idea of these mountain resorts of Saint Ramdas, it would not be out of place to describe them briefly here.

    Sajjangad was the place of abode of Saint Ramdas in his later age.  In that same mountain when one is desending from the fort there branches off a road leading to Parali.  Just above this road there is a cave where saint Ramdas used to stay at times.

    There is another cave in the Chandragin Mountain.  On one side of the Krishna River the villages of Masoor and Shahapur are located, while on the other bank of the river stand Umbraj and Charegaon.  In the rear of Charegaon is the location of, cave.  This was a favourite resort of Saint Ramdas in the beginning.  It is stated that a tiger was occupying this cave.  The mountain cave is on a good height and because of the jungle  its vicinity, and the atmosphere  is very pleasant.

    Another cave exists in the mountain, which stands in the Shineanwadi.  This mountain is at a distance of about two to three miles from Chafal.  To reach this cave, you have to climb very high.  It is recorded that Saint Ramdas used to watch the Ramnavami festival at Chafal from this cave.  This pleasant cave is known after the name of God Rama.

    At a distance of about five  to  seven  minutes  walk  from this cave, there is a holy place known  as the Kubdi  Teertha.  A story is as usual  told  about  this Teertha.   Once Chhatrapat Shiwaji Maharaj came to meet Saint Ramdas, due to long jour¬ney, Shiwaji Maharaj was tired as well  as thirsty.    He  however came and bowed down to  Saint   Ramdas;   but he could not ask for water to drink.    Ramdas however came to know about it and immediately thrust his Kubdi under a nearby stone and overtur¬ned it, and lo !   Out came a gush of water ! this stream is flow¬ing continuously since that time.   Even in the hot season, when there is no water elsewhere, this stream flows continuously and cold and sweet water from this Teerth refreshes the traveller who passes by (Kubdi) is a crutch.   Now-a-days lame people use a pair of crutches to help them  in  walking, but in   the days of Saint Ramdas there was a fashion among the Sadhus, who used to give Pravachan by sitting,  to use a small crutch (Kubdi) to give them support in the sitting posture.   This kubdi they usually held under their armpit and reclined on it.   Among  the followers of Saint Ramdas, this Kubdi, made out of wood, used to be designed in such a manner that it used to conceal a small dagger in it, which would be used by the wearer   in emergency.    In some of the pictures of Saint Ramdas, in a sitting posture, this kubdi can be seen.

    The cave at Shivtar played a very important part in the life of Saint Ramdas.  From Shaka 1576 to Shaka 1598, Saint Ramdas used to stay here very often and  sometimes for  a long duration. It is recorded that on many occasions Saint Ramdas and Chhatrapati Shiwaji Maharaj met here for discussion  on policy matters. This cave is in the mountain range in the rear of the village of Shivtar.   Dasbodh which is the most famous book of   Saint Ramdas, was mostly composed in this same cave.    A few other compositions are also stated to have taken  birth in this  place.  It appears that even after the Samadhi of Saint  Ramdas, his disci¬ples used to visit  this  cave.   This cave is very spacious.

     It is about 125 feet long and about seventy five feet wide.  It has also got compartments.  At a little distance just above this cave, there are the remains of the house of  Chandrarao   More, the famous Raja of Javli.  Shiwaji Maharaj tried his best to win over Chadrarao More to his side, but Chandrarao was not  ready to transfer his loyalty from the Sultan of Bijapur to Shiwaji Maharaj.    Ulti¬mately Shiwaji Maharaj had to  attack  Chandrarao  and capture Javli Valley.   Since the downfall of   Chandrarao More in Shaka 1578, Saint Ramdas started staying here for longer duration.

    Another cave is located in the Tarala valley in the Kalamba Mountain. This valley is on the south side of the Chafal valley. Kalmba mountain is at a distance of about five miles from Tarala. This cave is also quite spacious, its length being 110 feet and breadth about 25 feet. The weather at this place is quite healthy and balmy.

    The last important cave is known as the Hehvak cave.  Helwak is on the Koyna river.  To the North of Helwak, there is another village Kondhavle by name.  In the mountain near this village, is the Helwak cave.  This cave is about 130 feet in length but its breadth is not uniform.  It varies from twenty feet to 40 feet.  This cave faces the north.  It is known from the records that the whole of the chaturmas (sacred four months of the mon¬soon ) in Shaka 1596, was spent by Saint Ramdas in this cave.

    Saint Ramdas was strong  disciplinarian.  He had a fine conviction  that without discipline,  there would be no efficiency.  Hence though he founded more than a thousand Maths, as star before, he never allowed  the disciples in charge of the Maths to run them as they liked.  Rules for running the Maths were framed by Saint Ramdas and they were closely followed by all the disciples in charge of the Maths:   Every Math was in charge of a disciple, who was known as Mathadhipati (Offier in   charge of the Math).   Any  Tom,  Dick and  Harry could not aspire to be the Mathadhipati.

    There were certain  tests like some standard of learning, capacity to manage and preach etc.  The Mathadhipati was required to beg alms every day as that was the sign of a follower of Saint Ramdas.  In every Maths  all the literature Saint Ramdas was kept for the study of all visitors.  In the ab¬sence of printing presses, it was common practice to copy all important religious books and epics.  This work of copying holy books was constantly going on in all the Ramdasi Maths.  These Maths therefore, more or less served as public free libraries.

    We now come to a very controversial incident in the life of Saint Ramdas.  The  research   scholars of  Maratha  History are divided on the point of the meeting of Saint Ramdas and Chhatra-pati Shiwaji Maharaj prior to Shaka 1594.  Some historians are of opinion that this meeting must have taken place much earlier, though there may not be any written evidence to that effect in this behalf, but some are apt to conclude that in the absence of some evidence to that effect it should  not be taken for granted that they must have met before that date.  There is also another point.of discussion  about these two big personalities, whether Chhatrapati Shiwaji Maharaj got a push because of Saint Ramdas or whether Saint Ramdas became known so mush because a king like Shiwaji Maharaj supported and gave protection to him.
    This discussion is however only academic, because  both these persons were incarnations of God and they had  taken birth in this world in order to fulfill certain mission.  The mission of one was to put a stop to the expansion of the Mohamedan rule and the mission Of the other was to spread the devotion to God and thus avert the danger to Hindu religion and we find that both these persona¬lities did full justice to their mission and inscribed their names in the Maratha history permanently.

    There are however very strong reasons to conclude that the first meeting of these two great personalities must have taken place round about Shaka 1571.  There is some forest at Shingan-wadi at the foot of the mountain behind the Shree Rama temple at Chafal and it is probable that they met each other there for the first time.

    The assasination of Afzalkhan took place in Shaka 1581 and Saint Ramdas had warned Chhatrapati Shiwaji Maharaj about the danger from the Khan.  He had also warned Shiwaji Maharaj to be alert and watchful, otherwise there would be danger to his life from the treacherous Khan, who had come from Bijapur with special army in order to crush the mountain rat (Chhatrapati Shiwaji Maharaj).

    The Mathadhipati of Kanhari Math, Shri Wasudeo Mahant, who was a disciple of Saint Ramdas, was granted an Inam of eleven Bighas of land by Shiwaji Maharaj in Shaka 1592.  In view of this fact, we cannot overrule the possibility of the meeting of Saint Ramdas with Chhatrapati Shiwaji Maharaj prior to Shaka 1594.

    We are concerned very little with the aforsaid controversy of the historians. They may continue their heated discussion on the issue.  Our concern is with the work done by these two great personalities in the history of Maharashtra and the turn that they gave to the history by swimming against the current.  Just as the two rivers Ganga and Jamna start separately in the Himalayas, meet together at Allahabad and go on supplying water and food to the people thereafter, similarly the work of both these great personalities was complementary to each other.

    The  work of  one enabled  the other to go ahead in his play, about  Shaka (1567-68) Saint Ramdas first inaugurated Maruti temple and raised the bannar of the Hindu religion and about the same time, not very far from that place, Chatrapati Shiwaji Maharaj   captured the Torana Fort and laid the foundation of the independent Maratha State.   Hence it is quite possible that both of them had heard about each other’s work and had a strong desire to meet each other.

    It is however an accepted fact by all that these two met each other in Shaka 1594 and from  that time their respect for each other went on growing in  limitless manner.  It was   because of this  respect that Chhatrapati Shiwaji Maharaj  thought that Saint Ramdas should shift to a very safe and comfortable place.   Saint Ramdas was however never  bothered where he lived and how he lived.  His wants were very few and he led the life of a   real ascetic, not caring for his personal  comforts.   However because of the special request of Shiwaji Maharaj, Saint Ramdas decided to shift his abode from Chafai to the Parli  Fort which was later on renamed as Sajjangad.   The temple at Chafai was the creation of Saint Ramdas and hence he first made all arrangements regard¬ing the daily worship and  the festivals of that temple.   At the same time he ordered certain arrangements to be made at the Parli Fort in order to make that place suitable as his permanent abode.

    In Shaka 1598, Saint Ramdas   decided  to shift to the Parli Fort permanently.    According to the wish of Saint Ramdas all the saints and devotees in Maharashtra were invited to attend the inaugural function.   Saint Ramdas himself saw that all the guests were given all the comforts and that they were properly entertained.   Chhatrapati Shiwaji Maharaj himself attended the func¬tion and welcomed all the guests.  In the gathering all exchanged their views with each other and  made various suggestions for expanding the Maratha Kingdom and for furtherance of the Hindu religion.  The gathering vowed to try   their best to establish permanently the Rama Rajya in this world.

    Keertan, which was most popular form of giving expression to  religious feeling, performed every day.  At the request of Saint Ramdas, Chhatrapati Shiwaji Maharaj also performed  keertan on one day.
    This long festival concluded with the keertan of Saint Ramdas. At his mature age, the speech of Saint Ramdas was flowing like the river Ganga in flood. All were simply drowned in the Ras of devotion.  Because of this congregation of all the good people of Maharashtra on the Parli Fort, it was renamed as Sajjan-jad and it became the permanent abode of Saint Ramdas from that time.

    ( to be continued )
    सबका मालिक एक - Sabka Malik Ek

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