“Maharashtra is rich with Gaatha of Bhakthi”, echoed the Balvikas Children during the previous day’s cultural programme titled, Maharashtra Bhakti Gaatha. With her rich spiritual tradition, by virtue of being the birth land of many an illustrious spiritual giant, the state of Maharashtra brings to introduce glorious illustrious lives of great saints and sages belongs to the land, every year during the Ashadi celebrations, in the immediate Divine presence of Bhagawan.
On the 4th evening, marking the Grand Finale of the three day celebrations, the Bal Vikas children from the satellite city of Navi Mumbai presented a scintillating Musical Ballet on the life of Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj.
A number of glorified saints have made Maharashtra, a “Sant Bhoomi” and one such highly revered and largely worshipped saint was Sant Gajanan Maharaj of Shegaon, who was a contemporary of Bhagawan’s previous incarnation at Shirdi. Shri Gajanan Maharaj first appeared at Shegaon on the 23rd February, 1878, as a young lad. He was spotted by one Bankatlal while eating waste food from a public dustbin. Thereafter, the Maharaj remained in public life for 32 long years, teaching humanity, often correcting their follies, transforming them through miraculous acts. Das Ganu Maharaj, who has authored Shirdi Sai Satcharita, the life and teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi, has also chronicled a biographic poetry of the great saint, titled Pothi.
Sai Kulwant was resonating the beauty of the mysterious mantra, “Gani Gana Ganath Bothey”, that used to be the constant companion of the great saint. Completely oblivious of his surroundings, the saint would lie down anywhere, eat anything, and wear any piece of cloth, while preaching to see and seek God in everything.
The musical ballet commences with a narration by Das Ganu, expressing grateful thanks for the “yet another” opportunity granted, to have His holy darshan, after having blessed to be with the previous incarnation at Shirdi. The narrator often appears during interludes talking of the greater glory of the saint, mixing the same with the greater import his life and teachings signified, often talking from a spiritual perspective.
Bankatlal, who spots the saint eating leftovers abandoned on the road side, growing inquisitive, questions the saint about his identity. Retorting to the layman, bouncing back with the question with an advice to ask “who am I” before asking such foolish questions, the Maharaj blurts out into a ‘discourse’ talking on the principle of Self.
Interesting anecdotes from his illustrious life were shown depicting the transformation he brought about in individuals bringing in societal transformation. In an interesting incident showing his mysterious ways of bringing in transformation, the Maharaj entered a village asking for a pot-full of water to quench his thirst. Enraged at the severe drought that hit the village very badly, with the only well in the village going dry for almost twelve years, the villager showered abusive words at the saint asking him to work hard to understand the pain and suffering of the villagers. Nonchalant, still showing greater concern, he reached out the ultimate refuge with his sincere prayers. …And yet another miracle! The well that had gone dry for twelve years overflowed to the astonishment of the innocent villagers bringing in greater transformation in them. Faith sprung the villager’s heart and repenting for his infantile outburst, the villager promised to use the Maharaj’s name as a sword to preach goodness and godliness. …and the village erupted in joy, singing, “Jai Ho…Jai Ho…Gajaanan Maharaj…”
In two incidents, the Maharaj showed his spiritual powers to bestow the boon of liberation on his chosen disciples, Bhaskar followed by Peetambhar. When Bhaskar was bitten by a rabi dog and defying all suggestions to go to a doctor, Bhaskar sought to come to his Master. The Master, pleased with his faith and devotion granted him two more months of life after which he would be liberated. Taking the disciple to Trimbakeshwar, the seat of one of the twelve Jyothirlingas, the Guru asked the disciple to sit facing east, to meditate and amidst the chanting of “Vittala..Vittla” sent his disciple to the world of absolute freedom.
In another incident, another celebrated disciple Peetambhar was ordained to leave his village to spread the message of his Guru. Entering into a village, Kondoli, Peetambhar was bit puzzled as to where he would take rest. Finally seeing a dried up tree, he decided to take shelter on the same. Passerby villagers, having seen the odd sight, doubted the integrity of Peetambhar, calling him names and asked to surrender all his belongings. In vain attempt to prove his identity, he was challenged by the villagers to prove his identity beyond doubts by bringing back the dead tree into life. The simpleton in Peetambhar expressed his inability to do so, but prayed to his Master to save his name which was at stake. …and there bloomed yet another miracle! The dead tree came back to life and the villagers turned into devotees.
A self styled Brahmajnani, who out of his folly and arrogance, completely hypocritical was exposed by the Maharaj, guiding him to lead a life adhered to principles. Though the hypocrite dared to insult him, dared to call him names, the Maharaj was ever the cool compassionate persona, his original self.
The master spoke about the three paths leading to liberation, namely, karma, bhakti and jnana.Visiting an evolved soul in neighboring village, he would often get into spiritual discussions and even advised the householder devotee, who was very much evolved, that, despite following grihastha dharma one could still reach the exalted state of spiritual ecstasy.
“Recite the Name and the Named will be before you” was one of the slogans adorning the Sai Kulwant Hall, depicting the greater significance of Namasmarana. True to this saying, the parting scene of the musical ballet saw the Lord of Pandharpur appearing before the great Maharaj in response to his heartfelt yearning. Reaching out Pandharpur, the Maharaj prayed to the Lord that he had done his part of duty successfully that now he should be allowed to return to the Lord during the auspicious month of Bhadrapad. The Lord was happy to grand this boon. But, Lord Vittala had a desire to be fulfilled in turn from the devotee. He wanted the Maharaj to sing with Him “Gani Gana Ganath Bothey…” Despite the villager’s grievances at the Master’s proposed parting, the Master convinced the devotees with his usual discourses making them spiritually aware that he would be always be with them and there was no birth and death for an immortal soul.