is hardly any authenticated information about the early life of
Shri Gajanan Avdhoot, popularly known as Gajanan Maharaj.
His place of birth, date of birth, parentage etc. are shrouded
with mystery, although people speculate that he was born in a
place named Sajjangarh in Maharashtra. It has been experienced
that the terminal points (birth and death) in the lives of spiritually
advanced souls is often mystical. Shri Gajanan did not reveal
about his past and did not encourage people to search for it.
However, Shri Gajanan Avdhoot was first noticed
collecting left over food items in a garbage dump on the outskirts
of village Shegaon in Mahrashtra by a person named Bankatlal Aggarwal.
The Maharaj, although having a shining and extremely healthy body,
was at that time in a Super conscious state without a sense of
his body; for he had no clothes on his person. Bankatlal, who
had earlier association with some spiritually advanced persons,
sensed that the apparently crazy person collecting food from the
dustbin might be a ‘Siddha’. It was 23rd February, 1878.
Bankatlal, along with a friend named Damodar Pant Kulkarni approached
Maharaj with humility and asked "Maharaj, why are you eating
left over food, if you are hungry, I will certainly make arrangements
for you." However, Maharaj paid no heed to his words and continued
to eat his food in a state of utter detachment. Seeing this, Bankatlal
ran to the Ashram situated nearby, collected whatever food he
could, and came back to Maharaj. As he offered food, Maharaj mixed
up all the food items and gulped it down. It may be understood
that the saints at this level actually do not have a sense of
taste as they are beyond the body state. Bankatlal, thereafter,
went away to collect some drinking water. By the time he returned,
he was shocked to see Maharaj happily drinking water from the
reservoir meant for cattle. Bankatlal was convinced that he was
in the presence of no ordinary mortal but a highly evolved spiritual
entity. He prostrated in reverence and asked for blessings. By
the time he lifted his head, Maharaj had vanished from there.
Disappearance and reappearance are one of the eight ‘siddhis’
or powers that yogis of India used to possess in the past.
Bankatlal was extremely sad and depressed at
the sudden disappearance of Maharaj but at that time little did
he know that Gajanan Avdhoot was his own Sadguru (the Master)
who had himself come at that time. Sadgurus or Perfect
Masters attract or reach their disciples when the appropriate
time comes, to lead them to their spiritual goal. Their attraction
becomes so powerful that it becomes difficult for anyone to resist.
No doubt, therefore, that Bankatlal was so sad at his disappearance.
His mind could think of nothing except Gajanan Avdhoot
all the time and he searched for him whole day without any success.
However, he again found Maharaj in the evening when he went to
the old Shiva temple to join the worship. He was overjoyed to
find him and in an emotionally choked voice requested Baba to
come and stay in his house. Maharaj, on his request, came to his
house from where his divine function (Leela) started.
The function of the Sadguru is to give
a universal push to all the human beings and other species towards
spiritual evolution. For them, caste, religion, sex, nationality
and even difference in species etc. does not matter. They are
humans with human beings and animals with animals. When they start
playing this role, people from far and wide start getting drawn
as if by the pull of an invisible force. In fact, this is what
Shri Sainath used to say, "I draw my children from thousands of
miles like a child pulling a bird with a string tied to its legs".
With the advent of Gajanan Avdhoot thousands of them experienced
temporal upliftment. With so many people visiting his house, Bankatlal
tried to make whatever arrangements he could. It is not easy to
have a perfect master as one's guest, as social or religious laws
do not limit them. Whatever they say or think, happens as they
only carry out the functions of God with the help of nature. Their
behavior at times becomes extremely unpredictable to the common
man. At times they behave like children, at times like a mad man
or even like a person possessed. Nevertheless whatever they do,
it is for the good of others. Only spiritually advanced people
can understand this motivation behind the actions of a Sadguru.
Maharaj often used to quietly escape out Bankatlal used to search
him out by strenuous efforts and would request him to come back.
One day Maharaj quietly strayed away to another
village named Adgaon. At about mid day, when the sun was on the
high, he approached a farmer cultivating his land and requested
for drinking water, the farmer had with him. The farmer, named
Bhaskar Patel, thought that he was one of the ordinary types of
mendicant sadhus and started rebuking him saying that he
would not give a drop of water which he has carried from home
to a sadhu who is a parasite on the society. Maharaj only smiled
without any reaction and slowly walked towards what looked like
an old well. Bhaskar Patel again started teasing him from behind
saying that it is a dry well and how can any fool get water from
there. Maharaj reached the well and meditated for a few moments
and soon the well, which was dry for about twelve years, was filled
with clean water. He quenched his thirst with this water. Seeing
this miracle, Bhaskar Patel realized that he (Maharaj) was no
ordinary man and profusely apologized for his intemperate behavior.
The Sadgurus are the ocean of love and mercy, and they
are incapable of getting annoyed or angry-far to speak of being
revengeful to the creations of God. That is why the epithets "Kripa
Sindhu" (Ocean of grace) or "Daya Nidhi" (Abode of
Mercy) etc. are used for them. Seeing the plight of Bhaskar Patel
moved Maharaj told him that he has created water for him in the
well so that Patel does not have to carry water from the village
strenuously every day for cultivation or drinking. The love that
we sometimes feel within us, the depth of kindness that stirs
in our heart when we are in touch with a Sadguru, is because
the Sadguru first showers his total love and compassion
on us without any qualification and even without our asking. This
is what in known as "Ahetuk Kripa" (the grace without asking)
Thus, by total sacrifice of himself, the Sadguru tries
to evolve his children towards their goal and teach that sacrifice
for others without any intention of getting returns raises Godly
qualities in human beings. The Sadguru teaches, by his
own examples that in order to shine one must sacrifice one self.
No one can truly help others without any sacrifice on himself.
Protection of the Sadguru is the strongest
armoury in a person’s life because the extent to which a Sadguru
can go to protect his children cannot be imagined. Once Maharaj;
invited by Bankatlal, went to his farmland to eat corn stalk (Bhutta).
Baba, along with a group of devotees sat under a tree, lit fire
and started roasting the corn (Bhutta). No body had seen
that there was a honey beehive on the tree. As the smoke from
the fire reached the hive, the honeybees got out in swarms and
started stinging everybody. Except Maharaj all of the devotees
ran away. All the honeybees, thereafter, settled on the body of
Maharaj who continued to stay unmoved and in his normal composure.
Suddenly Bankatlal saw this from a distance and was moved by the
plight of Maharaj. When he approached Maharaj to render help,
Maharaj addressing the honeybees said, "you go back to your own
place. My dear devotee Bankatlal should suffer no pain". No sooner
than he uttered these words that the entire swarm of honeybees
returned back to the hive. The devotees on return saw that Baba's
whole body was full of stings. No ordinary person can quietly
bear the stinging of a swarm of honeybees. All of them started
thinking that Maharaj must be in pain. Seeing their plight Shri
Gajanan Maharaj gave a smile and took a deep breath. At once all
the stings fell out of his body in hundreds. In this case what
the Sadguru did was to take on his own body the pain of
the honeybees stings and not allowing his children to suffer.
After a short stay at Khodgaon, the Maharaj returned
to Shegaon. There he moved to the house of one Khandu Patil. His
style of living was so ordinary like that of Shri Sai Baba of
Shirdi that it was not easy for everyone to make out about of
the depth of his spiritual personality in the first look. One
day, about ten South Indian Brahmins, with the intention of earning
some money came to Maharaj, who was sleeping under the cover of
a blanket. Suddenly Maharaj woke up during the recitation and
pointed out to the Brahmins that they were pronouncing the
vedas in a wrong manner. Thereafter, he himself started reciting.
Soon the Brahmins realized that Maharaj was a Saint of very high
spiritual order and prostrated at his feet. Maharaj blessed them
all and also gave them dakshina.
One day Maharaj went to the Nilakanth temple
near the village and desired to stay there. Patil built a palm
cottage for him and people started visiting the place. Once a
group of Gossains (a type of Sadhu) claiming to be the
disciples of one Brahmin Guruji reached the place where Baba was
The pretentious Sadhus demanded halwa, puri
(a variety of food in India) and ganja (opium) from Patil.
They also told him that by doing so he would get more virtue than
by serving a mad and naked person like Gajanan Maharaj. After
taking his food just in order to prove his superiority over Maharaj
the group leader, Brahmagiriji started lecturing on Bhagavad-Gita
to draw attention of people. He started explaining "Nainam
chhindanti Sastrani, Nainam Dahati Pavakam"- meaning ‘neither
weapons can destroy the soul nor can fire burn it’. In spite of
his efforts, people were found to be collecting around Gajanan
Maharaj who was smoking his Chilum (clay tobacco pipe)
sitting on a wooden bed right opposite to Brahmagiriji. His ego
was hurt and he became very angry finding absence of proper public
appreciation and attention. Strange are the ways of Sadgurus.
In this situation a strange thing happened. The bed on which Maharaj
was sitting suddenly caught fire. As the fire rose up the disciples
of Maharaj requested him to get out of fire and also started arranging
for water. Maharaj said that neither water would be used to extinguish
fire nor would he get out of the fire bed. Addressing Brahmagiriji
who was enjoying the sight, Maharaj said, "since you have been
telling people for the last one hour that neither weapon can destroy
nor fire can burn the soul, please come and prove it by sitting
on fire." On this Brahmagiriji did not react but tried to avoid
the situation. Then Maharaj asked a physically strong disciple
to catch hold of Brahmagiriji and bring him before Maharaj. One
can well imagine the condition of a pretentious sadhu in
such a situation. His ego was totally shattered and he repented
not only for his behavior but also for his pretentiousness. Maharaj
pardoned him and advised him on the path to be followed for spiritual
The Sadguru is the Universal Guru. He
deals with each person at his level of consciousness. He tries
to destroy their ego through his superior power in order to evolve
that person. Sadguru removes all such limitations of mind
and body that are not conducive to the evolution of a soul slowly.
What methods in the gross, subtle or mental level the Sadguru
may use can never be predicted by anyone.