Sunday, July 16, 2006
Vidyaranya great and famous saint who is known as the founder of Karnataka. When people had lost all hope, he provided inspiration to Hakka and Bukka who tilled the people with hope and courage. He adorned the Sharada Peetha of Sringeri. He strove to strong then the foundations of the Empire of Vijayanagar.
Link: Web Page
Sakhubai, a devotee of Panduranga Vittala. Though suffering hardships from a cruel mother- in- law and a foolish husband, She bore it and reposed pure 'Bhakti'(devotion) in Lord Vittala whom, for her sake, served her people and transformed them.
Link: Web Page
Bahubali defeated his elder brother who was puffed up with pride, but at that very moment understood his life's aim. He gave back the kingdom to his defeated brother and went away to meditate on God. He enriched the lives of his fellowmen with the light he received. The magnificent figure of Gommateshwara at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka State is that of Bahubali.
Link: Web Page
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Meera Bai one of the greatest devotees of Lord Krishna. The daughter of a prince and the daughter-in-law of a prince, she gave up every thing and faced persecution. Her songs live on the lips of people to this day.
She dedicated her entire life to God and endured all the difficulties of life. Awake or asleep, all the time she thought only of Sri Krishna. Thus Mira lives in the hearts of the people of India as the very embodiment of Bhakti (or devotion to God).
Prabhu, who is otherwise known as Allama, Allaya, Allama Prabhu or Prabhudevaru, was probably born in the very beginning of the 12th century. The exact date of his birth is neither known nor has it been ascertained by any of his biographers. His biographers can be divided into two groups: one holding all too human and the other all too divine view of him. Both views are wrong, for both lack the historical perspective and predominantly represent a mythological view. Yet out of this legendary outlook we can glean a few historical facts. Prabhu was undoubtedly born of the human parents at Ballegavi, a village near Banavasi. His father's name was Nirahankara and his mother's, Sujnani. Karavura seems to be his family name. Ballegavi was set in the midst of palm trees, water-pools and rice fields. The temple of Goggeshwara or Guheshwara adorned this inspiring setting. His parents were a devout couple and Goggeshwara was their family deity. Sujnani had often visitations from God, Goggeshwara, in her dreams. Nirahankara was the head of a dance school and was well versed in three branches of music. But a secret longing was gnawing at their hearts. It was the longing for a child. In her daily prayers, Sujnani appealed to God to bless her with a child. One day she dreamt that she had been possessed by God. In the temple opposite her house the image of Shiva quickened to life under her own eyes. A ray of light penetrated to the depth of her being. In the course time, she conceived and gave birth to a child. The child, whom the world was to know as the Vairagya Chakravarti (the supreme renunciate) was named Prabhu. He was a little boy full of fun and life. Nobody imagined what giddy heights, what tremendous depths lay hidden in the little body of this charming child. His artistic temperament and prowess were revealed when he was only six years old. He had inherited from his father's artistic temperament. A passionate instinct for the beautiful was the first channel which brought him in contact with God. But there was a rich undercurrent of asceticism which occasionally peeped through his demeanour. The mutually conflicting instincts for the artistic and the ascetic and for the beautiful and sublime struggled within him for supremacy. In the end, the ascetic instinct got the upper hand and turned him into a renowned 'renunciate'.
Link: Web Page
Friday, July 14, 2006
Basava [also known as Basavanna] flourished in the 12th century in Karnataka. He was a Prime Minister to king Bijjala who ruled from 1157 to 1167 over Kalyana, a city of historic importance. Basava was indeed a great prophet for in him we find the combination of rare qualities. He was a mystic by temperament, an idealist by choice, a statesman by profession, a man of letters by taste, a humanist by sympathy and a social reformer by conviction.
Basava strove hard to bring about reformation in Hinduism into which social evils had crept in. The social and cultural conflicts which had been going on in India from ancient days were stimulating a new foment within the Hindu society. At the time of Basava there were apologists who had been giving a new interpretation to the irrational religious practices and form of thought. But Basava with a courageous frankness acknowledged the prevailing evils of the Hindu society and suggested ways and means to create a new orientation.
Link: Web Page1, Web Page2, Web Page3
Akka Mahadevi was born about 1150 A.D. at Udutadi, a place of historical importance, in Shivamogga District of Karnataka State. Her parents, Nirmalshetti and Sumati, were great devotees of Shiva. Akka Mahadevi, even when a young child, displayed her religious proclivities which she probably inherited from her parents. She was a paragon of beauty and princess of lyrical poetry. Her vachanas or sayings are a poetic testament of her mind's reaction to the wonder and awe of existence. Though the same wonder and poetry are there in her sayings, yet they are deepened and widened by the calm of meditation. Keen spiritual longing shifts the emphasis from the wonder of the outside universe to the significance of the self within. The quest for God, her favourite Channamallikarjuna, rekindled the emotional exuberance of her early poetic genius and compelled her inwards to explore the infinite depths of the soul in which the central principle of creation or God is reflected. She measured the heights of philosophical imagination, yet she did not remain content with the mere intellectual curiosity, she sought more and more a centre of reference in God whom she approached through ardent love and devotion. She instinctively felt that man can never be fully and wholly fulfilled through self-discipline and knowledge, though self-discipline is arduous and knowledge superior. A more human approach to God lies through pure love and unselfish love which withdraws most of the obstacles that the ego interposes between the divine and the devotee.
Link: Website, Web Page1, Web Page2
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Saint Francis is called the little poor man of Assisi. He was born in the year 1182 in the town of Assisi in Italy. His father's name was Bernadone. Bernadone was a very wealthy merchant of Assisi. Francis was a very good-looking boy. He was merry and soft-hearted. So he had many friends. All the noble men's sons were his companions.
Francis was brought up in luxury and gaiety. He spent a considerable portion of his wealth in extravagant pleasures. He used to drink with the young princes of the land.
One day Francis was joking and laughing with his friends. A beggar came along crying for alms. Francis, who was soft-hearted, gave whatever he had in his pocket to the beggar. His companions mocked at him for his charitable act. Dispassion dawned in his heart. The sight of the beggar set him thinking about the poverty and misery of mundane life. He gave much money to the poor. His father thought that Francis was wasting his money and rebuked him.
Web pages with good information on the Saint Francis of Assis
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Madhvacharya was a great religious reformer and an orthodox commentator on the Brahma Sutras and the ten Upanishads. He was born in 1199 A.D. at Velali, a few miles from Udipi in the district of South Kanara in South India. He was a Tulu Brahmin by birth. He was born of Madhya Geha and Vedavati. Vedavati was a virtuous woman. Madhva is regarded as an incarnation of Vayu, the Wind-God. The father gave him the name Vasudeva.
Link: Web Page
There is no certainty at all about the age in which Zoroaster lived. Some say that Zoroaster lived about 6000 B.C. Others maintain that he flourished in the middle of the seventh century B.C.
Zoroaster was the greatest prophet among the ancient Iranians. He took his birth in order to establish the worship of Ahura Mazda, the Supreme Lord of the Universe and to fulfil the Divine Mission. His own original writings, the precious Gathas in the Avestan language, indicate that he was a God-intoxicated person.
Zoroaster’s father was the venerable Porushaspo and his mother Dughdhvo. Zoroaster was born in the west of Iran in Takht-e-Suleman in the district of Azerbaijan. He was a direct descendant in the royal line of the house of Manushcihar, the ancient King of Iran.
Link: Website, Web Page
Mahavira was born in 599 B.C. He lived for 72 years. He abandoned home in 569 B.C. He attained omniscience in 557 B.C. and entered into Nirvana in 527 B.C. He was the last Tirthankara.
Mahavira lived a life of absolute truthfulness, a life of perfect honesty and a life of absolute chastity. He lived without possessing any property at all.
Mahavira was born of Sidhatha, Raja of Kundalpura, and Queen Trisala, who was known by the name Priya Karni. ‘Maha’ means great and ‘Vira’ means a hero. ‘Tirtha’ literally means a ford, a means of crossing over. Metaphorically, it denotes a spiritual guide or philosophy which enables one to cross over the ocean of recurring births in this world. ‘Kara’ means one who makes. The whole word Tirthankara means a Jain holy teacher.
Link: Website, Web Page
Monday, July 10, 2006
Jesus was born a Palestine Jew. He was born of Mary and Joseph at Bethlehem without impregnation and out of immaculate conception. He was meek and humble. He remained as innocent as a child throughout his life. He was tolerant, kind and merciful. He was a Yogi of the East though he preached in Palestine.
Jesus welcomed and embraced the sinners, the despised and the harlots and purified them. He comforted them and gave them solace and peace. He raised the fallen. He brought relief and rest to the broken-hearted.
Jesus said: "Unless you become as little children, you shall in no wise enter the Kingdom of God". To Jesus, God was a loving Father. Jesus' watchword was love for God and fellowmen.
Link: Web Page
In ancient days, our forefathers, the Rishis of Aryavartha, went to the forest to do Tapasya during the four months following Vyasa Purnima—a particular and important day in the Hindu calendar. On this memorable day, Vyasa, an incarnation of the Lord Himself, began to write his Brahma Sutras. Our ancient Rishis did this Tapasya in caves and forests. But times have changed and such facilities are not common nowadays although Grihasthas and Rajas are not wanting who are able and willing to place at the disposal of the members of the fourth Ashrama such help and facilities as they can afford. The forests and caves have given place to the rooms of Sadhus in their own Gurudwaras and Mutts. One has of necessity to suit himself to time and place; and change of place and situation should not be allowed to make such a difference in our mental attitudes. Chaturmas begins from the Vyasa Purnima Day when, according to our Shastras, we are expected to worship Vyasa and the Brahmavidya Gurus and begin the study of the Brahma Sutras and other ancient books on ‘wisdom’.
Link: Web Page
Sunday, July 09, 2006
He is recognized as the mythological incarnation 'Kalki'. According to the ancient scriptures, it is stated that a divine incarnation will manifest on the planet to destroy 'Kalka' meaning pollution, and resuscitate the Vedas. He will re-establish Satya-Dharma (Eternal Religion). The message of Shree delivers the planet from all types of 'Kalka'. The process of Agnihotra revived by Shree purifies the atmosphere and human mind. Thus the epithet kalki is befitting.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Chinnabomma, Raja of Vellore, invited Appayya and Acchan Dikshitar to his capital after the death of Rangaraja, who was the Chief Pundit of the State. Srinivasa Thathachari, the Dewan, had great dislike for the worshippers of Lord Siva. He censured the devotees of Lord Siva. Appayya praised the Siva Lilas and the glory of Lord Siva.
Appayya was very intelligent. He was a master logician. He was well-versed in grammar, metaphysics and other sciences. He was a master in all branches of learning. His exposition of Vedanta was unique. He cleared the doubts of all. His name and fame spread far and wide. The Rajas of Thanjavur, Kalahasti and Tirupathi invited him.
Link: Web Page
Tulsidas was born in Rajpur, in the district of Banda in Uttar Pradesh, in Samvat 1589 or 1532 A.D. He was a Sarayuparina Brahmin by birth and is regarded as an incarnation of Valmiki, the author of Ramayana written in Sanskrit. His father’s name was Atmaram Shukla Dube and his mother’s name Hulsi. Tulsidas did not cry at the time of his birth. He was born with all the thirty-two teeth intact. In childhood his name was Tulsiram or Ram Bola.
Tulsidas’s wife’s name was Buddhimati (Ratnavali). Tulsidas’s son’s name was Tarak. Tulsidas was passionately attached to his wife. He could not bear even a day’s separation from her. One day his wife went to her father’s house without informing her husband. Tulsidas stealthily went to see her at night at his father-in-law’s house. This produced a sense of shame in Buddhimati. She said to Tulsidas, "My body is but a network of flesh and bones. If you would develop for Lord Rama even half the love that you have for my filthy body, you would certainly cross the ocean of Samsara and attain immortality and eternal bliss". These words pierced the heart of Tulsidas like an arrow. He did not stay there even for a moment. He abandoned home and became an ascetic. He spent fourteen years in visiting the various sacred places of pilgrimage.
Link: Web Page1, Web Page2
Ramdas was one of the greatest saints of the world. He was the inspirer of Shivaji. He was born of Suryaji Panth and Renuka Bai in Jamb, Maharashtra, in 1608 A.D. His original name was Narain.
Ramdas was a contemporary of Sant Tukaram. He was a great devotee of Hanuman and Lord Rama. He had Darshan of Lord Rama even when he was a boy. Lord Rama Himself initiated him.
As a boy, Ramdas acquired some knowledge of the Hindu scriptures and developed a liking for meditation and religious study. One day he shut himself in a room and began to meditate on God. When his mother asked him what he was doing, Ramdas replied that he was meditating and praying for the good of the world. His mother was surprised at the precocious religious inclination of the boy and felt happy.
When Ramdas was twelve years of age, all arrangements were made for his marriage. He sat in front of the bride. There was a screen between the bridegroom and the bride. When the priests chanted "Sawadhan!' (be alert), Ramdas bolted away from the place and disappeared within the twinkling of an eye.
Gossain Tirtha Rama was born in 1873 in a small village in the district of Gujranwala, Punjab, India. From an early child hood he was inclined to listening recitations from the holy scriptures. At the age of ten his father arranged a marriage for him and left him in the care of a friend who exercised a great influence on young Ramathirtha. After completing his college education he worked for a while as a Professor of Mathematics. A few years later he resigned from his job, renounced the worldly life and went to the Himalayas. After returning from the Himalayas, Swami Ramathirtha spent the rest of his life, spreading the Vedanta. He went to Japan and then USA, where he attracted the attention of many and gained many followers. After an eventful life, the Swami left this world in 1906, but left behind him a large following and a great legacy.
Link: Web Site
A spiritual genius of commanding intellect and power, Vivekananda crammed immense labor and achievement into his short life, 1863-1902. Born in the Datta family of Calcutta, the youthful Vivekananda embraced the agnostic philosophies of the Western mind along with the worship of science.
At the same time, vehement in his desire to know the truth about God, he questioned people of holy reputation, asking them if they had seen God. He found such a person in Sri Ramakrishna, who became his master, allayed his doubts, gave him God vision, and transformed him into sage and prophet with authority to teach.
After Sri Ramakrishna's death, Vivekananda renounced the world and criss-crossed India as a wandering monk. His mounting compassion for India's people drove him to seek their material help from the West. Accepting an opportunity to represent Hinduism at Chicago's Parliament of Religions in 1893, Vivekananda won instant celebrity in America and a ready forum for his spiritual teaching.
For three years he spread the Vedanta philosophy and religion in America and England and then returned to India to found the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Exhorting his nation to spiritual greatness, he wakened India to a new national consciousness. He died July 4, 1902, after a second, much shorter sojourn in the West. His lectures and writings have been gathered into nine volumes.
Link: Web Site, Web Page
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was born in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, in Calcutta in 1922. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent devotional scholar and the founder of sixty-four branches of Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge in the Western world. Srila Prabhupada became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad, he became his formally initiated disciple.
At their first meeting, in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura requested Srila Prabhupada to broadcast Vedic knowledge through the English language. In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita and in 1944, without assistance, started an English fortnightly magazine.
Link: Web Site
The founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak was born on April 15, 1469 in the Western Punjab village of Talwandi. He was born to a simple Hindu family. His father Mehta Kalian Das was an accountant in the employment of the local Muslim authorities. From an early age Guru Nanak made friends with both Hindu and Muslim children and was very inquisitive about the meaning of life. At the age of six he was sent to the village school teacher for schooling in reading and writing in Hindi and mathematics. He was then schooled in the study of Muslim literature and learned Persian and Arabic. He was an unusually gifted child who learned quickly and often question his teachers. At age 13 it was time for Guru Nanak to be invested with the sacred thread according to the traditional Hindu custom. At the ceremony which was attended by family and friends and to the disappointment of his family Guru Nanak refused to accept the sacred cotton thread from the Hindu priest. He sang the following poem;
"Let mercy be the cotton, contentment the thread, Continence the knot and truth the twist. O priest! If you have such a thread, Do give it to me. It'll not wear out, nor get soiled, nor burnt, nor lost. Says Nanak, blessed are those who go about wearing such a thread" (Rag Asa)
Link: Web Site, Web Page1, Web Page2
The less known fact even among Srivaishnavas about this well known Acharya by whose name Srivaishnava philosophy is called 'Ramanuja Darsanam' and who is hailed as "Sri Vaishnava Siddhanta Nirdhaarana Saarva bouma" is that he was a 'Vadama' by birth.(Authority :" Periya Thrumudi Adaivu, Pazhanadai Vilakkam and Visishtaadvaita Catechism" - quoted in GLE)
Link: Web Site1, Web Page
"When Holy Mother came to Dakshineswar at the age of sixteen, Sri Ramakrishna asked her whether she had come to pull him down to a worldly life. Without hesitation she said, "No, I am here to help you realize your Chosen Ideal." From then on, Holy Mother lived with Sri Ramakrishna as his spiritual companion, devoted wife, disciple, and always the nun. She was the embodiment of purity. Her mind was never sullied by the faintest breath of worldliness, though she lived with Sri Ramakrishna for the greater part of fourteen years. She never missed communion with God, whom she described as lying in the palm of her hand, though she was engaged day and night in various activities.
Paramahamsa Yogananda was a practitioner of Kriya Yoga who recorded his spiritual journey in the classic work "Autobiography of a Yogi". He was born in Calcutta in 1893. His autobiography was first published in 1946, twenty-six years after he was instructed by his Guru to leave India and go to America to spread the teachings of Kriya Yoga (literally, the Yoga of "ritual action").
Some unusual events are recounted by his mother concerning his early life in the autobiography. His mother described how once when visiting her spiritual teacher, the guru asked her to come forward from the back of a crowd of people and took the young Yogananda in his lap. The master said:
"Little mother, thy son will be a yogi. As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to God's kingdom".
Link: Web Page, Online Biography
Friday, July 07, 2006
Dasganu was originally in police service and it was during this time that Nana Chandorkar took him to see Sai Baba. From the very first, Baba tried to get Das Ganu to quit the service, but he always found an excuse. It was only after a series of disasters had befallen him that he vowed to give it up.
Baba rarely allowed him into the mosque but rather sent him to the Vittal Temple where he stayed and wrote about the lives of saints and composed kirtans (devotional songs) which he sang with great feeling.
His writings include the biography of the great saint Shree Gajanan Maharaj of Shegao named as "Gajanan Vijay".
After he finally gave up his work, Baba advised him to settle in Nanded, which he did, and he became well known for beauty of his kirtans which inspired many to seek Baba's darshan
Link: Web Page1, Web Page2
In the thirteenth century of the Christian era, the knowledge of the Sanskrit language was getting scarce in Maharashtra, A very minor percentage of the society knew the Sanskrit language and followed the religious and other books written in that language. The majority of the people of the society were therefore denied the key to religious books or to knowledge. At such a stage in the history of Maharashtra, there arose a very bright star on the horizon of knowledge, who pledged himself to writing in the language of the people, the Marathi Language. This star was none else but the Saint Dnyaneshwar who was bold enough to go against the traditions of his times of writing in the Sanskrit language and to use Marathi as the vehicle of his preaching. Dnyaneshwar was so very sure about the power of the Marathi language that he writes in Dnyaneshwari that, his highly appreciative readers will surely say that Marathi Language is even sweeter than nectar.
Link: Web Page1, Web Page2
Whenever we talk about the Saints of Maharashtra, the name of Dnyaneshwar easily stands the first. However his contemporary Saint Namdeo is also equally important. His place among the Maharashtrian Saints is unique; because unlike most other Maharashtrian :saints he moved far and wide outside Maharashtra for preaching, and even today his followers are found in large numbers in far off places like the Punjab and Haryana.
Like Dnyaneshwar there is no reliable information available about Namdeo, The information that is available is through legends .and also through a number of biographical ' Abhangas' which .are included in the Gatha known after his name; but though over 2000 Abhangas are included in Namdeo's Gatha, we feel that they are compiled by six different persons who were known by the same name viz. Namdeo. We have therefore to accept the information derived from these ' Abhangas' very guardedly, relying only on those that appear to be definitely of Namdeo himself.
Link: Web Page1, Web Page2
Meherwan Sheriar Irani (Meher Baba) was born in Pune, India in February 1894.
His parents were of Persian origin. He was first educated in Dastur Girls’ School and later in St. Vincent High School, from where he was matriculated. In 1913, while in his first year at Deccan College he came in contact with Hazrat Babajan, one of the five Perfect Masters of the Age, who by a kiss on his forehead awakened him to the experience of what one may call God-realization.
During the course of subsequent seven years Upasani Maharaj, another Perfect Master of the age gave him knowledge of his infinite state and integrated his God-consciousness with the consciousness of the gross world, preparing him thus for his role.
He was reported to have met the other three perfect Masters of the time before he came in contact with Upasani Maharaj, but no record of what happened in such meeting is available, except that Sai Baba of Shirdi uttered “Parvardigar” on seeing him.
Link: Web Page, Web Site1, Web Site2
Hazrat Babajan hailed from Afghanistan (Central Asia) and was the daughter of well to do Afghan of noble lineage. Her maiden name was Gulrukh (rose faced) and her early training was that befitting the status of an Afghan aristocrat. At a very early age she learned Quran by heart and later became conversant with Arabic, Persian, Pushtoo and Urdu. From early life she developed mystical tendencies, and unlike girls of her age, she used to pass a good deal of her time in prayers, meditation and solitude.
This mystical aspect in her asserted itself, as when coming of age, she was found to be against any idea of marriage. The parents could not understand her and to them the idea of a Pathan girl remaining unmarried was extremely scandalous. Finding the situation no longer tenable and the parents bent upon forcing the issue of matrimony on her. Gulrukh managed to escape and came to Peshawar (India) and then to Rawalpindi. For a Pathan girl brought up under the strictest discipline of the Parda system, wandering at the age of 18 years, was not an easy undertaking.
Link: Web Page1, Web Page2
An explanation about the role and greatness of Shri Sai of Shirdi would remain incomplete without the understanding of the life of Kashinath Govind Upasani Sastri, who later came to be known as ‘Shri Upasani Maharaj’. Shri Sai’s deeds and life was full of miracles, but the greatest miracle was His creation of this once inconsequential person to the status of a Sadguru within a period of four years!
The methods used by Shri Sai to completely transform Kashinath Sastri, the pain taken by him to protect the neophyte and the assurance with which he grew this unsure and confused disciple to the state of a Perfect Master, would indicate where in the spiritual hierarchy of this world Shri Sai remains.
Link: Web Page1, Web Page2
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Believed to be an incarnation of Shri Dattatreya the name of this spiritual master, popularly called Swami Samarth, is a household word in Maharashtra and the region around. As this Perfect Master chose to reside at a place called Akkalkot for 22 years where he took Mahasamadhi (left his mortal body) in 1878, he is also known as the Maharaj of Akkalkot, Akkalkot is situated in district Solapur of Maharashtra state of India.
For the devotees of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba, it would be inspiring to learn about the life and deeds of 'Swami Samarth'. A comparative picturisation of the lives of these two great Saints, i.e. Swami Samarth and Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi would establish a surprising amount of commonness in their lives and deeds which includes their methods of teaching, the universality of their approach and the miracles they performed. Even a critical approach by a non-conformist would ultimately lead to the assertion that the over-all role of these two spiritual masters during the second half of the nineteenth century was similar, if not same. One, who is capable of making finer spiritual analysis, would be faced with a bewildering reality.
The reality is that Swami Samarth and Shri Shirdi Sai Baba were the manifestations of the same Divine Spirit in two gross bodies.
Link: ShreeSwami.org, SwamiSamarth.com, ShreeSwamiSamarth.com, AkkalkotSwamiSamarth.ord
Biography of Swami Samarth is available on ShreeSwami.org. PDF/HTML
Sripaad Swami told a Brahmin lady to devote her life to the worship of Lord Siva. She did accordingly and, as a result of it, she was born in Karanja a town near Akola (Central India) in a pious family and was named Amba.She grew and she was married to a pious man Madhava Sharma. She was devoted, heart and soul, to the service of of her husband. His noble company added to the holy tendencies she developed as a result of her spiritual discipline in her previous life. She now became an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva.In course of time, she gave birth to a son.The child did not cry, as usual, at birth.On the other hand, the only sound he uttered was 'AUM' (the eternal sound - 'AUM' is the manifestation of the spirit) and everyone was amazed at it. Astrologers assured Madhava Sharma that their child was indeed an avatar of the Lord. They also prophesied that he would renounce all worldly ties and that he would uplit the fallen souls. The child was named Narahari.
The name signified that he was the dispeller of the sins and miseries of human beings.
Link: Web Page
Sripaad Shri Vallabh was born in a Brahmin family in a village named Pithapur (East Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh, India). A Brahmin couple Appala Raju Sharma and Sumathi, were devotees of Lord Datta.They had many children of whom only two survived. One was lame and the other was blind. They worshipped Lord Datta and never failed to offer food to mendicants and monks. They looked uponon all such as they very forms of Lord Datta. One day, they were performing the annual ceremony in their house and many Brahmins were invited as guests for thefeast. Tradition holds that none should eat on that day before these guests partake their food.
At that time Lord Dattatreya appeared at their threshold in the form of a renunciate sadhu (saint), bearing the staff and the water-vessel (Kamandalu) and asked for food. The housewife, with immense faith that the visitor was none other than the Lord to whom the whole annual ceremony was being offered, gave Him food even before the Brahmin guests were fed!
Link: Web Page
Narayan Maharaj was born on 20th May 1885, at Bagalkot in Karnataka. His early childhood was full of calamities. He lost his father, when he was hardly 14 months old and lost his mother when he was four. As a worldly duty his grandmother looked after him. His sacred thread ceremony was performed at the age of nine. His grandmother was planning to appoint Narayan as her heir, but it created problems with the other relations and he was also not interested in any material acquisition. He left his grandmother's place and all his relations, as he was keen on establishing the only relationship with Lord Dattatreya. After leaving home he took rest for the night in Shiva's temple, but no one came to enquire about him.This proved to be an important event to break all the worldly ties for him. Whatever is destined to take place must take place. Suffering is a great blessing in disguise, it has the ultimate objective to bring sufferer on the path of love and realisation.
His life was full of hardships, trials and traumas but he had the absolute and unflinching faith and devotion for Lord Dattatreya, hence he had no fear of any kind.
Link: Web Page
Hazrat Tajuddin Baba was one of the five Perfect Masters (Sadgurus) of his Age. Such is the play of nature known as maya (illusion) that this Perfect Master was declared a lunatic and kept in confinement in the Nagpur Lunatic Asylum for more than sixteen years. However, Baba Tajuddin started his divine play from this place and virtually converted the asylum to a place of worship. Baba Tajuddin was born on the 21st of January in the year 1861 at a place called Kamthi situated near Nagpur in the state of Maharastra.
From the birth itself, there was something unusual about the child, for the new-born baby would not at all cry. He would, at times, open his eyes and look at people and again go to sleep. All normal methods to induce the child to cry having failed, the parents took recourse to a traditional shock method of touching hot iron to the forehead and ear of the child. With the application of this method the child jerked out of its stupor and started crying. The burnt marks thus made on the head and ears of the child remained on his body till the last.
Link: Web Page
Shankar Maharaj was a Perfect Master in the tradition of Nath Siddhas.Different stories are told about the birth and early life of Shankar Maharaj. But the following story of his birth and initiation by his guru appears to be most authentic, having been told by Maharaj himself to his prime disciple Dr. Nagesh Dhaneshwar of Nagar, about 200 kms from Pune.
Once Dr. Dhaneshwar asked Maharaj his age. Instead of answering, he asked him to judge his age from physical examination since he was a medical doctor.
Dr. Dhaneshwar judged his age to be more than 125 years. Maharaj agreed with him and told him that he was born in about 1800 at Mangalwedha (near Pandharpur) in the family named Upasani.
Link: Web Page
Surdas was born blind to poor parents and because of this he was a victim of neglect and abuse. He left home at the tender age of 6.
The greatest blessing of Surdas's life came when Sri Vallabhacharya, the celebrated exponent of the Shuddhadvaita. also known as Pushti Marga, accepted him as his disciple. From his teacher he received knowledge of hindu philosophy. He memorized the Srimad Bhagavata and other hymns in Sanskrit.
He portrayed in exquisite poetry the life of Krishna, especially child Krishna, in such vivid detail that he has not been equalled by any saint or poet, not even Kalidasa, in describing childhood.It is one of the marvels in the realms of literature how a blind poet could portray in such meticulous and colourful detail the childhood of Krishna, stage by stage. Krishna's cutting his first tooth, his uttering of the first word, his taking the first step unaided, are all occasions for Surdas to compose inspired songs which are sung even to this day, in hundreds of homes, by mothers who see child Krishna in their own children.
The love that had been denied to him as a child flows by means of his songs on, the love that was showered on Bala Gopala in Braj by Yashoda, Nandagopa, the Gopis and the Gopas.Surdas never entertained any idea of marriage but saw in Sri Krishna the eternal lover and he portrayed the love between Radha and Krishna as ethereal love-the irresistible attraction the individual soul has for the Oversoul or of the Jivatma for the Paramatma.
His work consists primarily of three major compilations, the Sur-Saravali, the Sahitya-Lahiri and the Sur-Sagar. The Saravali is supposed to haveoriginally one hundred thousand verses but many have been lost forever. It is based on the analogy of the Holi festival, by far the most popular of the festivals of the time, and always associated with Krishna as part of his Divine Play. Apart from being great narrative poetry they are also significant sources of information about the past.
The Sahitya-Lahiri is supposedly a treatise of various forms of poetical composition, dealing primarily with Bhakti.
The Sur-Sagar is his masterpiece, the ‘Oceanic work’ as its name indicates and remains the most influential and important of all his works. It deals with the life of Krishna in detail. His fame was wide spread though he never left his native land, even the Mughal emperor Akbar paid homage to him.
Link: Web Page
The newborn child was named Viswambar. He was the tenth child of Jagannath Misra and Sachi Devi. The first eight--all daughters--died soon after their birth. The ninth was Viswarup, a son. He abandoned the world at sixteen when he was being forced to marry and entered a monastery in South India. The women, thinking that Sachi had lost many children, gave the tenth child, Viswambar, the bitter name of Nimai (derived from the name of the Neem tree) as a protection against all evil influences. The neighbours called him Gaur or Gaur-Hari or Gauranga (fair-complexioned) on account of his marvellous beauty. Gaur means fair and Anga means body; and they called him Gaur-Hari, because he was so fond of the name 'Hari' that nothing could soothe him, when he cried during childhood, save Hari's name.
Link: Web Page
In the 19th and early 20th century India was undergoing an enormous change in its educational system and its political and religious beliefs. The entire social structure was shaken and the age-old values were getting lost in Modern Times. This state of affairs of instability in every walk of life brought about renaissance in political thinking, education, abolition of Caste System and more importantly in spiritual thinking. In India, this period of approximately hundred and fifty years saw luminous Spiritual Masters, Gurus and Saints of different religions working silently in and through the masses for spiritual uplifting and realization of the ‘Ultimate Truth’. Shri Gondavalekar Maharaj was one of such galaxy of saints who did specific work for spiritual uplifting through an ancient but re-defined Sadhana (spiritual practice) of Namasmaran (Chanting of Holy Name).
Shri Gondavalekar Maharaj Aarti
There are many backward communities in India. One such community called the Boharis lived in Angol, Belgaum. Until 1940's there was no hope of improvement in their poor way of living. This was partly because of society's indifference towards their needs and development. They contributed their part by accepting hopelessness, lack of will power and reluctance to change. They lived in huts with poor sanitation. They lacked sense of personal hygiene and took bath once a week. Their language was indecent. Due to lack of education and any goals in life their young ones became vagabonds. The adults indulged in drinking, gambling, and fighting for trivial reasons. Now you see a profound change in their social status. They now regularly attend the three prayer sessions in the nearby Shri Harimandir [7am-8:30am, 5:30pm-7pm and 9pm-10pm]. Since it is customary to go to prayers after a bath, clean & tidy they inculcated a sense of personal hygiene. As they started enjoying the prayers they would not miss them at any cost. If they ran out of fuel to warm the water for bath they would resort to cold-water bath. The night session of prayers kept them away from alcohol and gambling
Through the spiritual discourses and sincere prayers their reluctance to change gradually waned. They developed an awareness that God is pleased only through universal love and compassion towards all creatures. They gave up their age-old primitive way of worship involving sacrifices of animals without any hesitation. There was a radical change in their thought process, language and conduct. They became cultured in true sense with higher lofty goals in life [spiritual]. Secondarily, material gains and social upliftment went with it. This is in sharp contrast to traditional education which results in great material gains but loss of higher spiritual values. This is the only reason why we see degeneration of humanity and utter chaos in the world today. No wonder sincere prayers and genuinely holy men can bring about miracles in real life, a fact to which this community bear ample testimony.
Who was the inspiration behind this incredible transformation? It was none other than a humble lady saint by name Kalavati Devi, who is called by Her devotees as Param Pujya Aai or the Holy Mother. India is lucky to be endowed with innumerable great saints throughout the ages who have kept the path of Bhakti [Devotion] vibrant. This Holy Mother was one such unique saint [1908-1978]. She carried out her mission through Shri Harimandir, the main headquarter in Angol, Belgaum, Karnataka State. With a remarkable ease she fostered Bhakti in the hearts of millions bringing Joy and Hope in their lives. Thus runs the life story of a great soul.
Wikimapia: Shri Hari Mandir (Samadhi Mandir of Shri Kalavati Mata)
His Holiness Sadguru Shri Siddharudh Swamiji hailing from Hubli city of Karnataka State devoted and dedicated his entire life.(A.D. 1836 to A.D. 1929) for the noble cause of soul-stirring dynamic spiritualism and universal brotherhood. Shri Sadguru Sidhharudh Swami was the incarnation of Lord Shiva. In the galaxy of his followers and diciples stand out the names of enlightened Maharaja's of the erstwhile States (Sansthans). Such as Sandur, Kolhapur, Akkalkot etc. National leaders of freedom movement viz Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma gandhi had sought his blessings.
Wikimapia: Samadhi Mandir
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
He is the saint who installed the idol of Sri Krishna at Udupi in Karnataka. The Philosophy he preached was previously known as ‘ Tattawavada’. Now it is known as ‘Dwaita’. He lived seven hundred years ago. He boldly said to a Muslim king: "By whatever name you may call, God is One." He maintained that one’s religion is not decided by birth but by his nature and personality. The Acharya’s knowledge, scholarship and achievements made him a great savant.
Born in 1854 AD, Sri Vasudeva Shastri, who was later to be known to his followers as Sri Vasudevanand Saraswathi, led an ordinary householder's life before he turned completely to spiritual life. As a householder, he led a rather difficult life, owing to the disputes between his wife and mother. As he turned to spiritual life, he made rapid progress and received direct guidance from Lord Dattatreya. Shri Govind Swami whom he met at Wadi acted as his guide and mentor during these testing times. After his wife's death, he renounced the worldly life completely and went to Ujjain, where he was initiated into monastic life by Shri Narayananand Saraswati, who also gave him the title of Shri Vasudevanand Saraswati. The Swamiji spent the next 23 years of his life in the service of Lord Dattatreya, traveling to various parts of the country by foot and propagating the Vedic ideals.
Ma Anandamayi was born on April 30, 1896, to Bengali parents in a small village named Kheora in Tripura, which is now situated in Bangladesh. From an early age, like many saintly persons, she manifested her miraculous powers and occasionally fell into trance. She was married at an early of age of 12 to Bholanath who worked in police department. After her marriage she passed through difficult times, but carried herself with aplomb. During this period she developed intense devotion to Lord Krishna and underwent gradual inner transformation, which led to her self realization at the age of 26. As time went by, her popularity grew and people from far and wide started visiting her to seek her blessings. During her eventful life she visited many parts of India and met many influential people including Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who developed a special liking to her and treated her with fatherly affection. She passed away in August 1983.
Sri Guru Raghavendra Thirtha was born in 1595 AD in southern India to humble parents, who gave him the name of Venkatanatha as an acknowledgement of their devotion to Lord Venkateswara. As a child Venakatanatha grew up at Kumbakonam under the watchful eyes of his guru Sudheendra Thirtha. As a young man he led normal household life, in poverty, served by his dutiful wife Saraswathim, through whom he had a son. But he continued to serve his guru, whom he succeeded as Swami Raghavendra Thirtha to become the head of the Mutt. Unable to bear the news of his renunciation, his wife said to have committed suicide. As the head of the Mutt, Raghavendra Tirtha performed many miracles and helped many people who became his devotees. During his life time he composed many important Vaishanvite works and propagated the Dwaita philosophy. He died at the age of 78 at Mantralayam, originally known as Manchala, near Adoni, in present day Andhra Pradesh, India. Sri Raghavendra continues to bless his devotees from his Samadhi which is now a famous pilgrimage center in Southern India and known as the Mantralayam temple to which rich and poor alike go to pay their homage.
Link: Web Site1, Web Site2, Web Site3
Known popularly as Arunachala Swami and referred as Bhagawan by his ardent devotees, Ramana Maharshi can be rightfully regarded as the spiritual southern twin of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, but with a message of his own that is rooted in the age old Hindu traditions of jnana marg (the path of knowledge) in contrast to the bhaktimarg (devotional approach) of the latter. He was born on December 30, 1879 at Tiruchuli, a small village, about thirty miles from Madurai, in Tamilnadu. As a childe he was unlike many other saints and was said to be rather dull and sleepy, without any signs of his extraordinary powers or the great events of his life that were yet to come. In 1896, at the age of 17, he had undergone a peculiar experience at the end of which he overcame his attachment with his physical self and realized the true nature of his hidden self. Shortly thereafter he left his home and went to Tiruvannamalai, where he spent the rest of his life providing inspiration and guidance to his followers. During his life time many foreigners visited him including such famous personalities as W. Somerset Maugham and the British author Paul Brunton. An ashram was built for him on a hill called Arunachala at Tiruvannamalai, which became popular as Ramanashram, which is now famous pilgrim center, attracting a huge number of visitors each year. His philosophy was simple, that suggested intense and persistent self enquiry to find the true nature of one self. Sri Ramana Maharshi passed away in 1950.
Shri Krishna Saraswati Swami of Kolhapur was during the period 1836 -1900 AD. Of the various incarnation of Lord Dattatreya that occurred, only this biography is completely available fron Swami's birth to end. Swami is also known widely as Dattaswami , being incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. He stayed at Kolhapur in Kumbhar Lane (Potters Lane) and hence he was called as Kumbhar Swami.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
One of the greatest philosophers and savants of Bharat. Though he lived for only thirty-two years, his achievement was unparalleled. He propounded the vedantic tenet that Brahman the Supreme and man are of one essence and that all people should strive to cultivate this vision of oneness. He established four spiritual centres in the four corners of the country, thus' upholding the underlying unity of the holy land of Bharat.
Links: Adi Shankara
Bodh means wisdom, knowledge, talent, preceptor, revelation etc and Buddha means the one who has comprehended, understood, recognized, perceived and known the Truth. Buddha means the Enlightened One.
It was about 2550 years ago when Prince Siddhartha Gautam left all the worldly pleasures to attain the reality of life, and became the Buddha. It was a state in which the Buddha gained an insight into the deepest workings of life and therefore into the cause of human suffering, the problem that had set Him on his spiritual quest in the first place.
Siddhartha Gautama was born in 563 BC in Lumbini, Nepal as a son of Shuddhodhana, the king of Kapilavastu and his Queen, Mayadevi. Unfortunately, Mayadevi died only seven days after the birth of Siddhartha and so, He was brought up by His stepmother, Gautami. It is interesting to note that when Siddhartha was born, the astrologers had predicted that the prince would renunciate the comforts of the materialistic world and instead, opt for a path of His own. When the King Shuddhodhana came to know about the prediction, he naturally became extremely cautious and tried to prevent a thing that was bound to happen, and he did not let Siddhartha even move out of the palace. It was the deepest desire of the king that his son would fulfill his father's dream one day by becoming a King.
The Turning Point
At the back of his mind, Gautama always wanted to see the world outside his palace. So, one day secretly He moved out of his palace, and saw certain things that changed the entire course of His life. He first saw a very old man who could barely walk, a sick man who was in severe pain, and lastly a corpse. Since, He had never been exposed to pain before, these sights affected him immensely, although His charioteer tried to explain Him that pain and death - both were inevitable.
This entire episode turned His life and His heart compelled Him to evaluate His life completely and then, He began the search for the reason of existence. King Shuddhodhana got perturbed by whatever his son was going through and therefore, he tried everything from his side to keep Gautama's mind engrossed into the worldly sensual pleasures. He selected a beautiful princes Yashodhara to be his wife. Gautama and Yashodhara lived very happily and soon Yashodhara gave birth to a baby boy who was named Rahul. King Suddhodhana was very happy to see Gautama enjoying his life as the prince. But Siddhartha was not able to forget the scenes of pain and suffering that He saw on the street. Finally He made up his mind to find the Truth and on a starry night, left his palace without telling anybody.
Quest for Truth
Siddhartha was only 29, when He had left home. For some time, He moved around the entire country meeting various sadhus and saints in His search for inner peace. It was during this period that Siddhartha lived the life of a hermit and involved Himself in rigorous tapasya in order to comprehend the reason for life and death. A time came when He realized that it was useless to torture one's body while finding the truth, and then, He gave-up the method of tapasya and fast.
After the long journey in search of Truth, one day He reached Bodh Gaya. He was completely exhausted, He took a seat under the shade of a Peepal (Ficus religiosa) tree and closed His eyes. He sat there for about 49 days He felt a divine light coming within Himself. This was the turning point in His quest as He realized that the truth is within every human being and to search for it outside was baseless. From this moment on Siddhartha became 'Tathagata' (Tatha: truth, gata: the one who knows) or 'Buddha' the enlightened one.
The central beliefs of Buddhism are based on Buddha's Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path by which the enlightenment can be attained.
The Four Noble Truths are:
- Dukhha: The Suffering.
- Samudya: Attachment is the origin of Suffering.
- Nirodha: The cessation of Suffering.
- Marga: The path to the cessation of suffering. The Path of cessation of suffering is explained through the Eightfold Path.
- Right Understanding/View
- Right Resolve/Intention
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Meditation
The Right Path and Immortality
For 45 years, Buddha spread His message of spiritual life to not only His disciples but the common people as well. He gave emphasis on the purification of mind, heart and soul. After spreading His message to the world successfully, Buddha died at the age of 80 years in 483 BC. at Kushinagar, India. Today, Buddhism has a strong following in various Asian countries and is gradually finding its feet in some of the western countries as well.
Sai Baba, a personification of spiritual perfection and an epitome of compassion , lived in the little village of Shirdi in the state of Maharashtra (India) for sixty years. Like most of the perfect saints he left no authentic record of his birth and early life before arriving at Shirdi. In fact, in the face of his spiritual brilliance such queries do not have much relevance.
He reached Shirdi as a nameless entity. One of the persons who first came in contact with him at Shirdi addressed him spontaneously as ‘Sai’ which means Savior, Master or Saint. ‘Baba’ means father as an expression of reverence. In the Divine play it was designed as such, that He subtly inspired this person to call Him by this name, which was most appropriate for His self-allotted mission.
Link: Saibaba.org, Shri Sai Baba Sansthan , Saileela.org, Web Page
Sri Ramakrishna, who was born in 1836 and passed away in 1886, represents the very core of the spiritual realizations of the seers and sages of India. His whole life was literally an uninterrupted contemplation of God. He reached a depth of God-consciousness that transcends all time and place and has a universal appeal. Seekers of God of all religions feel irresistibly drawn to his life and teachings. Sri Ramakrishna, as a silent force, influences the spiritual thought currents of our time. He is a figure of recent history and his life and teachings have not yet been obscured by loving legends and doubtful myths. Through his God-intoxicated life Sri Ramakrishna proved that the revelation of God takes place at all times and that God-realization is not the monopoly of any particular age, country, or people. In him, deepest spirituality and broadest catholicity stood side by side. The God-man of nineteenth-century India did not found any cult, nor did he show a new path to salvation. His message was his God-consciousness.
Gajanan Maharaj is prince amongst saints who first appeared in Shegaon on 23rd February 1878 . A rich moneylender Bankatlal Agarwal is credited with discovering Maharaj at 12.22 pm while scratching food particles from abandoned patravalis to give credence to the saying that Food is Bhahma and should not be wasted. " Annam Brahmeti " is what Maharaj seemed to have expressed. Maharaj was scantily attired and made gesticulations befitting an insane person. But it is the greatness of Bankatlal who did not consider him as insane and logically argued as to why Maharaj must be scratching food particles when sumptuous food was available nearby in a family celebrating a fertility ritual.
- Gajananmaharaj.org - The official website of Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan, Shegaon (CR), District: Buldana, Maharashtra State, India.
- Shri Gajanan Magaraj Charitra Online version is available at http://www.gajananmaharaj.org/shreevijaygranth.htm