#8 | Exploring Kolhapur
Following the Master | Maharashtra Adventure 2020
On the 8th day of the Maharashtra Adventure with Guruji, we explored the sacred places of Kolhapur. The first site we visited was a famous Ambabai temple of Maha-Lakshmi, which is one of the 108 Shakti-pithas. The deity of Maha-Lakshmi there is made of gemstone, weighs around 40 kilos, and is considered to be 5000-6000 years old. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi eternally resides in this temple and has promised the people of Kolhapur that nobody there will ever be poor.
On this busy and significant pilgrimage site, there was a gated area where the group meditated with Guruji in front of Maha-Lakshmi with thousands behind us aiming to catch a rare glimpse of the Divine Mother. What was noticeable was that, despite all the noise, there was great peace and love as we all chanted together. Gurudev donated his golden diamond ring to Maha-Lakshmi there.
Not far from the Ambabai temple was the samadhi of Sri Krishna Saraswati, one of the direct disciples of Swami Samarth and one of the incarnations of the guru Dattatreya, which we visited with Guruji. There we had a chance to see the unusual padukas of the saint, which had no straps, just the soles. The priest explained that whenever Sri Krishna Saraswati would place his feet on them, they would immediately just attach to his feet without any other adjustment. There was a second temple dedicated to this saint nearby with a 20-foot tree which he used to pray under, but it has been adjusted without causing damage to the building structure and to his room next door. This continues to remain preserved along with some of his belongings.
After lunch, we visited the places where the relics and samadhis of some other saints were preserved. First was the place where the padukas of Bala Mukunda Maharaj were worshipped. Bala Mukunda was an incarnation of guru Dattatreya and an avadhuta, a completely detached sage, who would frequently test his disciples in many unconventional ways.
Later we visited the place where the padukas and deity of Lord Hanuman belonging to Sri Katkar Maharaj is preserved. Katkar Maharaj accepted Swami Samarth as his Guru. He was a respected senior local government officer and spent his early years doing his dharma and being immersed in the Name of the Lord. His home was always open for people and we were provided with loving hospitality from his devotees, with Guruji being requested to perform the arati in the evening. Katkar Maharaj took samadhi very recently, in 2014, and was estimated to be 89 years old. His samadhi is placed at the temple opposite his home.
It was wonderful to see respect shown from both sides and how they looked after Guruji and the love they showered upon Him. As Guruji has a framed photo of Swami Samarth, Bhakti Marga extended an invitation to the devotees of Katkar Maharaj to come and visit Shree Peetha Nilaya.
At the end of the day, we visited another place where the relics of Bala Mukunda Maharaj are kept, among them a little bit of his hair and nails, which Guruji also received as relics. The padukas of his teacher, Pant Maharaj, are also kept and worshipped there.
Stay tuned for more posts as we ‘Follow the Master’ on an adventure to the Divine!