#1 | Visit to Pune, Alandi & Dehu
Following the Master | Maharashtra Adventure 2020
11 January 2020
On the first day of the Maharashtra Pilgrimage, Guruji took all the devotees to the place of blessed Sindhutai Sapkal. Called “Mai” affectionately by her children, she is known in India as 'the Mother of Orphans'. Guruji was very eager to meet her.
Born in a poor village in Maharashtra, instead of going to school, Sindhutai had to take care of the buffaloes. At 9 years old, she was married to a 30-year-old man and by the age of 19, she had three children and was pregnant again. One man was exploiting the people of the village, forcing the women to work really hard but paying them almost nothing, so Sindhutai told the police, who forced him out his cruel business. He was so angry with her that he told a lies to her husband saying that she having affairs with many men and the child in her womb was actually his. He said to her husband: 'If you don‘t kill her, I will kill you.' So the husband kicked her in the stomach repeatedly in order to kill her and the unborn child. When she fainted from the pain, her husband thought she had died, and so dragged her to a cow shed so that people would think that the cows had trampled her to death. When she regained consciousness, she saw a cow standing right above her protecting her from being trampled. She gave birth to a baby girl under this cow. When she regained enough strength, she embraced the cow and promised her, 'Like you protected me, I will protect other people in great need.'
Despite all the hardships Sindhutai endured in her life, she decided to dedicate her life to giving shelter to anybody who needed it and treating everybody as her child: be it an orphan, a cow or a dog - and even her ex-husband. It was deeply touching and inspiring to see a person who has gone through so much suffering in life, and yet, found so much strength within her heart to remain compassionate to others, regardless of the circumstances. She said: 'My life has been a road with many thorns. But I became friends with those thorns and my life became beautiful and I could give beauty to so many people.'
Meeting Sindhutai was a great inspiration for all the pilgrims. After she shared with us some of the stories from her life, Guruji encouraged every person to accept a blessing from her as well.
After a visit to the orphanage of Sindhutai, the entire group went to Alandi, birthplace of the great saint Dnyaneshwar, where his sanjivan samadhi is located. Sant Dnyaneshwar wasn’t an ordinary saint. It is believed that he was an incarnation of Lord Narayana Himself, while his two brothers, Nivritti Nath and Sopan Dev, were incarnations of Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma respectively, and their youngest sister, Muktabai, was an incarnation of Maha-shakti. Throughout his lifetime, he performed many miracles and touched the hearts of many people, encouraging all to sing the Name of God and bringing the message of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita in Marathi, the local language, to simple, uneducated people. At the end of his life, when his mission was completed at the early age of 21, he took sanjivan samadhi. His body is still intact in the cave under the temple.
In the evening, Guruji went with the group to Dehu, a place where another great saint, Tukaram, had lived, composed his devotional poems, prayed to God and, finally, was taken by Garuda to Vaikuntha at the end of his life. Everybody got a darshan of the self-manifested deities worshipped by Tukaram and the day finished with visiting a sacred tree, on which Garuda landed to take Tukaram back to the heavenly abode. Guruji explained to us that every year, on the same day and at same time as when Tukaram’s samadhi took place, the tree still shakes the same way it was shaking when Garuda landed on it to take Tukaram back to God.
Stay tuned for more posts as we ‘Follow the Master’ on an adventure to the Divine!