Gajanan Maharaj was an Indian Hindu guru, saint and mystic. His origins remain uncertain. He first appeared at Shegaon, a village in Buldhana district, Maharashtra, as a young man aged 30, probably on 23 February 1878. He attained Sanjeevana Samadhi on September 8, 1910, which is thought to be a process of voluntary withdrawal from one's physical body. This date of his Samadhi is commemorated every year as part of the Shree Punyatithi Utsav.[1] The date of his first appearance is considered an auspicious day and is celebrated as Prakat Din Sohla.[2]

Shri Gajanan Maharaj
Sadguru Shri Gajanan Maharaj
BornUnknown[a]
DiedSeptember 8, 1910

Background and biographical versions

edit
 
Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj, Shegaon.

Gajanan Maharaj's birth data and details of his early life are unknown. He is believed to have first appeared in February 1878 at Shegaon.

One of his biographies, known as Shree Gajanan Maharaj Charitra-Kosh, was written by Dasbhargav or Bhargavram Yeodekar, a native of Shegaon. The biography mentions various versions of Gajanan Maharaj's origins. While at Nashik, Dasbhargav is thought to have met a contemporary saint known as Swami Shivanand Saraswati, who was speculated to be 129 years old at the time. According to Shivanand, he was a Brahmin who had previously met Gajanan Maharaj in 1887 at Nashik. He informed Dasbhargav about the period when Gajanan Maharaj appeared in Shegaon, where he lived for the remainder of his life. He said he had made around 25 to 30 visits to Gajanan Maharaj during this period. Shivanand Swami also said that he would often visit Dadasaheb Khaparde, a resident at Amravati, and stay with his family during these visits. It is noted that Shivanand Swami later traveled to the Himalayas and was never seen again (according to pages 362–365 of the biography mentioned above that details the conversation between Dasbhargav and Shivanand Swami). It is also believed that Shivanand Swami may have been a former resident at Sajjangad, Maharashtra, where the prominent 17th-century saint and philosopher Samarth Ramdas lived for many years. Gajanan Maharaj was an ardent user of marijuana and hashish, exemplified in almost all available images in the public domain from the time of his attaining samadhi. Even the temple premises where he attained samadhi and his sitting position with one hand at the top,showing like an elephant a symbolic representation of shri Ganapathy Dev.

Another biography of Gajanan Maharaj, known as Shree Gajanan Vijay, was composed by Das Ganu, born at Akolner. Das Ganu, who was initially named Narayan by his maternal relatives, had at some point moved to Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, where his father had been a caretaker of a property. He was later renamed Ganesh, and his grandfather often called him Ganu, a shorter version of his name.[3] When he arrived at Pandharpur, Das Ganu was contacted by a resident at Shegaon, Ramchandra Krishnaji Patil, also a devotee of Gajanan Maharaj. He advised Das Ganu to write a biography on Gajanan Maharaj.[4]

He was believed to have once visited Nashik, Maharashtra, and the surrounding pilgrimage sites, including Kapiltirtha. He lived at Kapiltirtha for around 12 years.[5] Contemporaries of Gajanan Maharaj identified him by several names, including Gin Gine Buwa, Ganpat Buwa, and Awaliya Baba.

Parallels with other prominent saints and spiritual masters

edit

According to his biography, Shree Gajanan Vijay, Gajanan Maharaj used to consider a few other spiritual personalities such as Narasingji, Vasudevanand Saraswati (Tembhe Swami Maharaj) and Sai Baba of Shirdi as brothers. Gajanan Maharaj appeared as the Hindu deity Vitthala in Pandharapur for his one devotee, Bapuna Kale. He also appeared as Samarth Ramdas for another devotee.

There are some similarities between Gajanan Maharaj and Swami Samarth of Akkalkot, another Hindu guru and mystic. They both were Paramahans and AjanBahu. They represent different forms taken from the same source.

He is regarded as an enlightened being.[citation needed] He received a significant following in Maharashtra; lacs of people visit the Shegaon temple annually. According to the Shree Gajanan Vijay, he was an exponent of three streams of Yoga, i.e. Karma, Bhakti, and Gyan Yoga.

Appearances and divine powers

edit

According to a legend, a money lender named Bankat Lal Agarwal first saw Gajanan Maharaj in a "superconscious state" on 23 February 1878 on a street, eating leftover food which was thrown (and thus spreading the message that food is life and food should not be wasted). Sensing him to be not an ordinary man who needs food to eat but a Yogi, Bankat took him home and asked Maharaj to stay with him. In his lifetime, he performed many miracles such as giving a fresh lease on life to one Janrao Deshmukh, lighting the clay pipe without fire, filling a dry well with water, drawing sugar cane juice by twisting canes with his hands, curing leprosy of a man, healing himself of the many bites of honey bees, etc. Some of the above acts are because Shri Gajanan Maharaj knew Yoga Shastra on his admission in the book by Shri Das Ganu Maharaj.

During a public meeting on Shiv Jayanti, the great freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak met Gajanan Maharaj. When Tilak delivered a charismatic speech, Maharaj predicted Tilak would get a harsh sentence from the British Raj. Maharaj's words did come true; however, Tilak is said to have taken the blessings of Maharaj and his Prasad, which helped him in writing his book – Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya, which is the summarised version of the holy book of Hindus, the Bhagavad Gita.[6]

Shree Gajanan Maharaj took Samadhi on 8 September 1910. His earthly remains were buried, and a temple in his name was built on his Samadhi at Shegaon. Maharaj was prescient and had predicted his time on this earth was nearly over. His devotees had built the temple in his honour for some time before his Samadhi-din. His Samadhi mandir is just below the temple of Shri Ram. It is said that Shri Gajanan Maharaj would routinely worship at the temple of Shri Ram during his lifetime. Shri Gajanan Maharaj was fond of smoking ganja in his chillum and is supposed to have also started a dhooni (loosely meaning hearth, but representing a glowing chillum during his lifetime. The dhooni is still burning and is located very near the Samadhi mandir. When he filled a dry well with water, the saint who had denied him water, saying all wells here are dry, Shri Bhaskar Maharaj Jayle, later became his big devotee. Bhaskar Maharaj's grandson, Shri Vasudeva Maharaj Jayle, was also a great devotee [1] of Gajanan Maharaj, whose Shraddhasagar Ashram in Akot is a spiritual place for devotees in nearby areas..

Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan

edit

In the presence of Gajanan Maharaj, Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan, a body of 12 trustees was formed on 12 September 1908 to commemorate the holy place which Maharaj had hinted Ya Jagi Rahil Re (It will be at this place) about his place and day for Samadhi.[7] Shri Gajanan Maharaj Mandir is located below the temple of Shri Ram.[8] In the same area, there is the place where the Dhooni is burning. Also nearby, the Dhooni is where the devotees can see Maharaj's paduka (wooden sandals), the temple of Vithoba and Rukmini, and the temple of Hanuman. There is an umbar tree just near the temple of Hanuman, which is said to have existed since the days of Shri Gajanan Maharaj.[9]

Shivshankar Patil is the head of the trust. [10] Educational institutions run by the trust are located at Shegaon and are affiliated with Amravati University. These colleges are one of the best institutes for engineering education in the Vidarbha region.[11] The Anand Sagar project for tourists was developed in 2005 by the trust and spans over 650 acres. It is one of the largest amusement places in Maharashtra. Shegaon is on the main line Mumbai-Howrah route. Most trains going to Howrah stop for around 2–3 minutes at Shegaon.[12][13]

Gajanan Maharaj Temples are spread in various parts of India, such as Indore[14] and Dewas.[15]

References

edit
  1. ^ Date of first appearance: February 23, 1878.
  1. ^ "Shree Gajanan Maharaj, Shegaon last paragraph". Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  2. ^ "Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj Prakat din Sohla 2014 video". Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  3. ^ "SAI BABA LEELAS: Das Ganu Maharaj - Brief Biography". 2 January 2011.
  4. ^ "श्री गजानन विजय ग्रंथ | श्री दत्त महाराज". www.dattamaharaj.com. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  5. ^ "Shree Gajanan Vijay pdf". Shri Gajanan Vijay Granth. 26 July 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  6. ^ "Shree Gajanan Maharaj, Shegaon". www.gajananmaharaj.org. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  7. ^ "Shree Gajanan Maharaj, Shegaon". www.gajananmaharaj.org. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Temples of Gajanan Maharaj". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  9. ^ अॅग्राेवन, टीम. "संत गजानन महाराज पालखीचे सहा जूनला पंढरपूरकडे प्रस्‍थान". Agrowon (in Marathi). Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  10. ^ "Trustees". www.gajanandarshan.com. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  11. ^ टीम, एबीपी माझा वेब (28 May 2022). "गजानन महाराजांच्या पालखीचे 6 जूनला प्रस्थान". marathi.abplive.com (in Marathi). Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  12. ^ "असदपूर में गजानन महाराज मंदिर का भूमिपूजन". Mandal News. 5 May 2022. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  13. ^ Watch Latest Marathi Devotional Video Song 'Shri Gajanan Maharaj Bavani' Sung By Swapnil Bandodkar (6'35" video). Times of India Videos.
  14. ^ "Gajanan Maharaj: दो साल बाद फूलों से श्रृंगारित पालकी में इंदौर भ्रमण पर निकले गजानन महाराज". Nai Dunia (in Hindi). 24 February 2022. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  15. ^ "गणेश चतुर्थी आज, सज गए गजानन महाराज". Amar Ujala (in Hindi). Retrieved 31 May 2022.
edit