#5 | Pandharpur to Satara
Following the Master | Maharashtra Adventure 2020
15 January 2020
On the 5th day of our Maharashtra Adventure, we visited the samadhis of three great saints: Lakshman Maharaj (close to Pandharpur), Sri Brahmachaitanya Maharaj (Godavale) and Sri Sevagiri Maharaj (Pusegaon).
The samadhi of saint Lakshman Maharaj is located in a serene, remote place close to Pandharpur. Unfortunately, there is limited information about the saint and, after visiting the local village, very little seemed to be preserved. Yet, Guruji encouraged everybody to do their japa and chant the Divine Name in this sacred place. After a few minutes, everybody began chanting “Vitthala” and Gurudev joined us, too. It was an incredibly magical and peaceful moment.
Guruji explained there about how, when saints come into our lives, they endure a lot of suffering as they absorb a tremendous amount of negativity and go through turmoil to cleanse and purify their area. After they leave their bodies, their energy remains ever-present due to this tapasya.
Our next station, after a few hours drive, was Godavale: a place where Sri Brahmachaitanya Maharaj Godavalekar lived, inspired people and took his samadhi. Brahmachaitanya Maharaj had felt the urge to find his satguru at the early age of 12 and so left his home in quest of spiritual guidance. He finally found his satguru, Sri Tukaram Chaitanya, and took shelter at his feet. Sri Tukaram Chaitanya put him through many tests, but finally, gave him the vision of God.
Afterwards, obeying the instructions of his guru, Sri Brahmachaitanya proceeded to travel across India - and only after a 9-year-long pilgrimage finally returned to his family to begin family life. His first wife immediately recognised a saint in him, and following his instructions and chanting the Divine Name, very quickly left her body. Sri Brahmachaitanya Maharaj then got married to his second wife, who was a blind girl chosen by him, and who became a saint as well. In addition to visiting the samadhi of Sri Brahmachaitanya Maharaj, we visited the samadhis of his wives and saintly disciples as well.
Sri Brahmachaitanya used to say: 'A sadhaka should be softhearted like butter; agreeable to all and hurtful to none. You can do this only by being absolutely unselfish.'
In the early days, Brahmachaitanya built a Ram darbar which was an extension to his home and used to say to his followers that Rama would settle there. When he took samadhi, all of his devotees were in tears and seeing their distress, Brahmachaitanya began crying. Due to his devotion to Lord Rama, the deity which was in the extension to his home began crying, too. We met with a relative of Brahmachaitanya whose great-grandfather was a pujari who said that when tears were flowing from Lord Rama, they checked to see whether water was flowing from anywhere. To confirm that it wasn't, they wiped away His tears, but they re-appeared very shortly.
Today the ashram supports the local town with free medical camps by having doctors visit from a major city, by a goshala with 80-90 cows, and by offering rooms they do not charge for.
The last place we visited on this day was the samadhi of another great saint, Sri Sevagiri Maharaj. Sevagiri Maharaj, originally from Gujarat (Junagadh), was ordered by his guru, Purnagiri Maharaj, to go to Pusegaon, where there is a self-manifested Shiva-lingam, and to spread his spiritual teachings there, leading people closer to God-consciousness. In the beginning, he was resisted by local people, who couldn’t recognise a saint in him and wouldn’t give him any food in alms. Discouraged, Sevagiri Maharaj was almost about to leave the city. But then, a snake, a naga devata, appeared in front of him on the way and told him that he must stay, as this is the land where he must spread his spiritual teachings. Sevagiri Maharaj, not knowing what to do or how to survive in a city where everybody denied him food, decided to seek the shelter of a nearby peepal tree which still exists behind the temple of his samadhi. He bowed down to the sacred tree and asked for divine guidance. During the next few months, whenever he would not receive alms from the people, wheat flour would fall from the peepal tree, so he could make some chapati out of it.
Some people witnessed that miracle. From that time on, local people accepted him as a saint and teacher and started to follow his practical and spiritual instructions. He taught them not only to chant the Name of God or to study the Bhagavad Gita, but also encouraged people to plant trees, dig wells, build dams and to respond to everybody with compassion. He used to say, 'Accept the green lime and give the grain'. Right behind his samadhi site, we could see the peepal tree from which the flour had miraculously manifested; we also had the grace to visit the self-manifested Shiva-lingam worshipped by the saint.
Every year they celebrate the samadhi of this great saint; on this past 25 December, over 150,000 participated in celebrations and they collected over 5.6 million rupees in donations from worshippers.
Guruji and His devotees were extremely warmly welcomed both places.
Stay tuned for more posts as we ‘Follow the Master’ on an adventure to the Divine!