About Shri Shridharaswami Maharaj
In the year 1954, a saint Shridhara Swamiji from Sajjanghad of Maharashtra came and established his hermitage (Ashrama) here to continue his spiritual sadhana. His tapas and sadhana attracted many spiritual seekers and devotes from different parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra. In the year 1973 the Swamiji left his physical body. A Samadhi was constructed here, even today many devotes visit this Ashrama to learn Vedas, Upanishads and Sanskrit classes and to seek the blessings of Swamiji.
Shri Shridharaswami Maharaj
Whose pre-monastic name was Shreedhar Deglurkar, was one of the foremost spiritual leaders of modern india who dedicated his life for the spiritual upliftment of hundreds of thousands of indians. Considered by many to be an incarnation of Dattatreya, Shri Shreedharswami worked tirelessly for the revival of Hinduism which had fallen prey to evils like casteism, sectarianism and orthodox ritualism.
In a lifetime spanning over six decades, Shri Shreedharaswami toured the entire length and breadth of the country preaching the core principles of Sanatan Vedic Hindu Dharma (core philosophy of Vedanta), before establishing an ashram at Varadpur in Karnataka in 1954. Here he erected the Dharma Dhwaja which serves as a permanent reminder for all Hindus to persist in their endeavors towards revitalizing Sanatan Vedic Hindu Dharma. Every year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit his Shrine at Varadpur to seek spiritual inspiration.
Birth and Early Life
Sri Shreedhaswami was born in Lad Chincholi, Karnataka, India on December 7, 1908 as the son of kamalabai and Narayan Rao Deglurkar. He was the youngest of five siblings, the eldest, Govind, having died before his birth. A recent English translation of an ancient Hindu relic, Shripad Shri Vallabha Charitramrita (originally written in archaic Telugu) by Malladi Govind Dixit reveals that Shripad Sri Vallabh had prophesized Shri Shreedhaswami's birth almost 600 years ago. It is said that while on a pilgrimage, kamalabai had a dream in which dattatreya himself gave an indication that their next child would be an avatar. On 7th December, 1908, the same day as Shri Datta Guru was born, the Deglurkars were blessed with a boy. He was baptized as 'Shridhar' on the 12th day after his birth.
Calm and caring by nature, Shridhar displayed a natural fondness for Ram bhakti from the very beginning. His mother encouraged him to continously chant the name of Lord Ram (Hereafter referred to as Ramnam Jap) and thus even at a tender age of five, he could be spotted engrossed in Ramnam Jap in front of a portrait of Lord Ram. A story goes that once an elderly man sarcastically told him to jump in to a lake, knowing that he could not swing saying, I will see how your Ram saves you!. Without thinking for a moment he ran to jump but his brother and friends caught up with him and held him firmly to prevent him from jumping.
Sridhar's father died when he was only three. His elder brother Trimbak who was the sole earning member of the family died a few years later when Sridhar was ten years old. Kamalabai was inconsolable. He suddenly went to her and belying his age started talking to her, why are you weeping? The soul which we loved and have now lost was in effect neither born nor has died. This body is made of elements. Birth is combination of these elements by the Ultimate Soul. Death means separation of these elements and merging of them in the Ultimate Soul. The Ultimate Soul never dies. When the soul inside the body leaves it we declare the body as dead. But the soul inside migrates to another body.
So what is lost at the time of death is just the elements and not the soul which we love. Therefore this crying is not justifiable. One who knows that the ultimate Soul is indestructible gets freed from this cycle of birth and death. One who does not know this keeps gyrating in this cycle. The Ultimate Soul is the only truth; rest is all but an illusion. With this knowledge I am sure you will stop weeping and will be happy again. His mother and others, who were listening, just could not believe that a 10 year old boy was saying all this.
One year later even she left the mortal world and Shridhar was now an orphan. He spent the next few yaers in Gulberga and Pune pursuing his education. His innate benevolence and kindness was evident even at this tender age when, in order to help his school mates, he began working in a grocery store to pay for their school fees. All this while, the desire for spiritual enlightenment was growing stronger in him.
Sajjangad and Spiritual Awakening
During the course of time, he got well-acquainted with one of his teachers at school, Shri palnitkar Guruji. Discovering Sridhar's intense inclination towards spiritualism, he advised him to solicit the blessings of Samartha Ramdas Swamiji. Sajjangad was the abode of Samartha Ramdas Swamiji for the last six years of his life. Legend has it that a stone structure (his Samadhi) surged out of its own at the cremation place of Shri Samartha on the very next day of his nirvana.
His yearning for a spiritual awakening at this point can be guaged by the fact that he started to dispose all his money to the poor and the remaining he just threw. He liked a particular sweet dish, so he bought it, kept it in front of Lord Ram's idol and then mixed cow dung in it and ate it. Now he could not even think about the dish he once liked so much. On the day of departure to Sajjangad, Which also coincided with Vijayadashmi, he suddenly felt that he was going there to find out the creator of the universe who had control over the living, nonliving things and also time and space.
He meditated for a while and then wrote on a paper-THAT |
· will remain a bachelor to the core till death.
· Will not touch money, even if given forcefully to poor or for a good cause
· will not become the head priest anywhere
· will keep my needs to bare minimum
· will not differentiate between men and women
· will consider every woman as my mother
· will spend my life for the benefit of society by all means
· will try my best to revive the religion to make the world happy.
For this I am hereby submitting my body to the God, now he is responsible to pull me out of the wrong track and put me on the right one, if it so happens. I am submitting this document to the scared fire to reproduce it if the need be.
At Sajjangad one is allowed to stay for 3 days, during which all necessities are provided free of cost, but no one, whosoever it may be, is allowed to stay beyond that period. Shridhar didn't know that; so he stayed there for 3days during which he did Ramnam Jap continuously except for the time devoted for daily chores. After 3 days he was asked to leave.
That was like end of universe for him. But politely said that he was prepared to do anything to stay near the samadhi (shrine). The Math in charge agreed but put forth a condition that he would have to voluntarily do some kind of work that would please Shri Samarth. Shridhar was overjoyed. Probably in hindsight we can say that Shri Samarth wanted to show all other workers in the math the type of work that pleases him the most and therefore he brought Shridhar there.
But Samarth was a hard task master and although he himself awarded the ultimate title 'Bhagwan' to Shri Shridharswami he put him through very hard rigors and tested him to the hilt. How he could finally please the probably only Saint (Shri Samarth) who never hesitated to call a spade and even advised to tackle aggression by more severe aggression is something which is unparalleled in spiritualism, spanning a period of about 3 and a quarter years from the full moon day of Ashwin (Hindu month) 1927 to 9th day of 2nd half of Magh, during which period Shri Shridharswami stayed at Sajjangad.
Shri Shridharswami used to get up before dawn and after the morning rituals, started to work. He used to sweep the floor, serve the food, and wash the clothes on Shri Samarth's samadhi and utensils which were used by Shri Samarth. He was so deeply engrossed in the work of the Math that many a times he just forgot to have his meals also. He was offered milk by the chief of the Math but he refused saying that it was too costly and instead ate groundnuts which were available in plenty but then he switched on to simple gram and then to jawar (Staple food of the poor) simply to reduce the burden on the Math.
He was now doing practically everything which all the other workers were doing individually. In a sense he was doing the work of a 100 workers at a time. This was possible only on account of his unflinching faith in Shri Samarth and Shri Samarth's blessings. He was now handed over most pious duty of reciting Dasbodh (The scared book written by Shri Samarth) after the daily puja. Once, a worker who was cooking for all others had to leave for long period. Without thinking for a moment Shri Shridharswami offered to cook and immediately started cooking and serving the food also. For all the water drunk by everybody so he started bringing about 50 bucketful of the scared lake, Sontale which was about a one furlong away.
He was doing now practically every work in the Math. He had to cook the food for about 30 people daily and for 100 on every Thursday in addition to people coming routinely without any intimation.
He had no prior experience of cooking but everyone used to relish the food prepared by him, simply because his mind was in it he was doing continuous Ramanm Jap even while cooking. After everyone finished the meals he did the sweeping of floor also. And was he proud of doing all this Never! How could he be? The was Shri Samarth's work.
He even Massaged the visiting elderly people's legs as he knew that they would be tired. He saw Shri Samarth everywhere and therefore even listened to the kids and their orders let alone those who purposefully tired to trouble him! He was so utterly devoted and dedicated to shri Samarth. Seeing all this one elderly lady once remarked that he may force the god to eat!
As mentioned earlier his intake was now so less that it was almost nothing. On top of that he used to take bath Sontale, at least thrice a day, the water of which is very cold. This continued even in winters when the cold and wins on sajjangad would be unbearable even with warm clothes on and Shri Shridharswami was wearing only a langoti all the time. The consequence of this was that Shri Shridharswami's skin gave way at many places. Yet he never cared for it.
His philosophy was -”This body is an illusion, so why waste time tending to it” If I can sustain it with almost nothing, I would find the real me inside sooner!
The omnipresent Shri Samarth was seeing this all the while and finally decided after one and a half years of Shri Shridharaswami's arrival at Sajjanagad that the time had to come come bless him. One day Shri Shridharswami was meditating in the cave outside the samadhi. He suddenly saw that the whole cave was lit up with an unforeseen light
Shri Shridharswami went into a trance. The light converged into a human shape. He had long hair, a protruding, wide forehead and he was smiling. This was Shri Samarth himself. Shri Shridhara's swami offered sashtaang namaskar and stood politely before him with folded hands (Hereinafter referred to as namaskar). They were communicating with each other without a word being said. After that also Swamiji stood there with waves of utmost pleasure sweeping across his body. When he finally came out of it he cried incessantly. He had finally got what he had aspired for all these years and more importantly, for which he was born. This was the first time in 300 years that Shri Samarth had himself blessed anyone!
Swamiji now used to spend to spend most of his time is in meditation only. He preferred total solitude. He had described Shri Samarth as the, Coolest source of the most powerful light! He himself now looked like one! Shri Samarth had himself given him the title of Bhagawan Shrimat paramhansa parivrajkacharya Shri Shridharaswami Maharaj, but even after that throughout his life he never stopped pursuing spiritualism and spreading the message
After Two and half years at sajjangad Shri Samrath asked Shri Shridhara swami to proceed south and spread the light of knowledge he had been endowed with. And so Shri Shridharaswami embarked upon a journey that saw many lives transformed and salvaged. The highlight of his stay in south India was his sojourn at Shigehalli, a small village in Karnataka, where he came across a great yogic saint, Swami Shivananda and on his insistence he stayed at his Ashram.
It was under the able guidance of Swami Shivananda that Shri Shreedhaswami learnt the art of yoga and began performing yogic activities. Swami Shivananda wanted to proclaim Shri Shridharswami as his chief disciple and wanted him to take charge of his Ashram. Strictly abiding by the vow taken by Shri Shridharswami that he would not consent to take responsibility of any institution, he denied his this proposal and decided to continue his journey, thus leaving Shigehalli. The resoluteness and the indefinite fasts of swami shivarananda and his disciples made Shridhar Swami's departure all the more difficult and he was compelled to come back each time. Finally with permission and a promise that he would return back soon, Sri Shreedhaswami left Shigehally. He toured extensively and a performed his Chaturmasya at various places all over India.
Varadpur and Erecting of Dharma Dhwaja
At last, Shri Shreedhaswami arrived at a small hamlet, by the name of Varadahalli (Varadapur in Marathi) in the Sagar taluka of Shimoga district in karnataka. One of the most picturesque places in the western ghats of India, the place is encircled by hills and is the heavenly abode of the presiding deity, Goddess Durgamba. A folktale suggests that Maharishi Ved Vyasa stayed here. A few hidden caves behind the temple provide evidence for the plausibility of this being a true fact.
Despite the calm and quiet landscape, there was an immense scarcity of water at Varadpur. Realizing this, Shri Shreedharswami dug out a small hole from the ground with the thumb of his right leg. A small stream of water surfaced and began flowing down. This Stream, known as the Shridhar tirtha, flows with full force till date facilitating people with water supply in abundance.
Shri Shreeedharaswami is also credited with erecting a Dharma Dhwaja at Varadpur pronouncing the very purpose of his life, rejuvenation of Sanatan Vedic Hindu Dharma and also channelising all those treading on the path of salvation. He propagated the path of Bhakti (devotion) through his work. The secret being the trinity of work. The secret to salvation, as revealed by his master, became the motto of his life. The secret being the trinity of work, Perseverance and meditation (karma, Upasana and Dhyan) through which the common man could achieve the state of salvation.
As the saying goes, “the Good always over-powers the evil”, the evil of baseless criticisms and other odds that came his Shridhar's way, was over-powers by his greatness as the most devoted Bramha-Nishta which was accepted by all his contemporary saints and sadhaks. Swami Shivananda, Swami Chinmayananda, Shri Gulvani Maharaj, Swami Swarupanand, Satya Sai Baba, Shringeri Sankaracharya, Shri Karpatrikarji to name a few. Shri Shridhar Swamiji always said, “Dutt ani mi vegla nahi (Dutt and I are no two different forms.)
Thus, after a continuous solitude of six years, from 1968 to 1973, Swamiji decided to undertake Smadhi and left his physical being on Chaitra Vadya Dwitiya in the year 1973 to once more unite with Dutt Prabhu. Varadpur is blessed with his Samadhi and is known as Shridhar Ashram. For all the Devotes of Shridhar Swamiji, it is the most sacred place with an air of sanctity and an ambience filled with the positive vibrations of the benign presence of their master.