Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj – Epitome of Priti

Obeisance a million times at the Lotus Feet of Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj on the occasion of His Janmotsav which will be celebrated on 7th July 2024. In this Article, His disciple Dr Jayant Athavale has presented some of His unique characteristics.

Serving His Guru with intense yearning

Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj’s (Fondly called ‘Baba’) entire life can be summarised in the word ‘Guru’ when He was a disciple and ‘devotee’ after He became a Guru. As a disciple, when His Guru went out without wearing footwear, He would run behind Him barefoot, holding the Guru’s slippers in His armpit. He would continue singing bhajans (Devotional songs) for 8 to 10 hours at a stretch till His Guru told Him to stop. He would stand on one foot in front of His Guru and sing bhajans for hours. At night, He would press the Guru’s feet till the Guru told him to stop, such was His Guruseva (Service unto the Guru). Through such Guruseva, Baba has placed a great ideal of discipleship in front of us.

Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj merged into His devotees

Generally great Saints and Holy men remain engrossed in chanting, meditation, etc. and give only some time for guiding devotees. However, Baba was never at rest without devotees; in fact He had merged with them completely.

Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj teaching His devotees in different ways

Most Saints teach devotees only through guidance; but Baba taught His devotees in different ways. Besides guidance He would teach through casual conversation, behaviour, humour, sometimes even by losing His temper. If devotees made mistakes, He would even abuse verbally or beat them up. Yet devotees perceived nothing but Priti (Spiritual love devoid of expectations) in His reprimanding and beating and His yearning for their welfare.

Hence, even today just remembering Baba brings tears to the eyes of devotees. In this Kaliyug, Baba was a pillar of strength for His devotees. He saved many devotees from the difficult phases in their life. He would claim, ‘I am no ordinary Guru. I do not tell which Path to follow; rather I make you follow the Path myself’.

Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj moulded devotees of various types. He would impart knowledge to His devotees through words as well as those that transcend words (meaning, knowledge based on spiritual experiences). However, while teaching through the medium of words, many a times, one would not understand His teachings; because, the mind would either become thoughtless in His presence or one would enter a meditative state. Besides teaching Spirituality, Baba would get spiritual practice and chanting performed from His devotees.

Baba is the epitome of one who led life of a renunciant while being in the material world. His renunciant state made Him a Supreme Saint who is perpetually in a Shivabrahman state (State of communion with God).

He may not be among us today; however, His devotees have had the spiritual experience that whenever we call out to Baba from the depth of our hearts, He rushes to help us. This shows that He is still very much with us in the nirgun (Non-materialised) state. Whatever be the gratitude we express unto the Holy feet of such a Guru, it will not suffice.

Baba’s blessings to Sanatan’s mission

According to various Saints and Nadipatti astrological readings my (Dr Jayant Athavale’s) Mahamrutyuyog is continuing from 2007. Due to weakness I have not gone out of my room. I can hardly walk; in fact even standing is next to impossible. Despite this state, the mission of Sanatan Sanstha continues due to the blessings of Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj. I am not mentioning this out of ego but to show the strength in the blessings of Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj.

‘Sanatan Sanstha’ was founded in 1991 with the blessings of Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj. In fact the organisation was named by Him. Since the foundation of the mission of spreading Spirituality by Sanatan Sanstha lies in Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj’s resolve, its mission is growing leaps and bounds. His blessings to Sanatan Sanstha and the results of His blessings are given ahead.

1. Since Baba’s bhajans provide Chaitanya (Divine consciousness) which reduces the distress caused by negative energies, seekers all over the world listen to bhajans. And, since this is favourable for their spiritual practice, they are then able to perform satseva (Serving the God Principle).

2. Gurukrupayoga (Path of Guru’s grace) : I wrote a Text on how to perform spiritual practice as taught by Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj. When I showed the matter to Him and asked what title should I give the Text, He said ‘Namasankirtanyoga (Path of Chanting)’. I replied to Him ‘But I have written in the Text about the eightfold Path of spiritual practice which includes – personality defect removal, ego removal, chanting, satsang, satseva, awakening of spiritual emotion, sacrifice and Priti. Chanting is only one of them. Since all these help in obtaining the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa) can we call it Gurukrupayoga ?’ He was overjoyed and agreed at once. With His blessings now thousands of seekers are performing spiritual practice as per Gurukrupayoga.

3. Spiritual practice is of two types – individual spiritual practice (Vyashti sadhana) and for the sake of society (Samashti sadhana). Sanatan teaches both for the spiritual progress of spiritual aspirants in society and for establishing the ‘Divine Rule’. As part of my samashti sadhana, Baba told me to preach worldwide. Due to His blessings, thousands of seekers worldwide are now performing spiritual practice.

4. Blessings to write Texts on Spirituality – In 1992 Baba said to me, ‘The blessing my Guru gave me that I will write many Books on Spirituality, I pass it on to you’. As a result, 366 Texts in 17 languages have been published so far.

5. Blessings for the construction of the Ramnathi Ashram – Guru Purnima of Baba was celebrated at Shri Ramnath Temple in 1993. When He came here, pointing to a plot beside the Temple, Baba had said, ‘This is the land kept for the future Sanatan Sanstha Ashram which will become the guiding light of the world’. Truly so, the Ashram of Sanatan Sanstha was constructed here. In this Ashram, spiritual aspirants and seekers – from India and abroad – come for spiritual guidance.

6. Sanatan Prabhat Periodicals – Sanatan Prabhat is published in four languages – Marathi, Hindi, Kannada and English.

7. Different websites – Spread of Spirituality also takes place on a large scale through websites.

8. Many Saints are associated with the mission of Sanatan Sanstha.

9. Blessings to carry on the mission abroad – In 1995 Baba told me to go to USA to spread Spirituality. In response, I told Him that I neither have contacts there nor funds to travel. He then said that it was alright as USA would come to me. It is due to this blessing that not just Americans but seekers from all over the world are coming to the Ramnathi Ashram to learn Spirituality.

Unique events of being graced by Baba

Today though Baba has renounced His body, all of us are experiencing His grace. A photo of Baba had been placed in the temple in my room in the Ramnathi Ashram in 2006. In 2010, spontaneous changes were noticed in this photo. Baba’s face has become yellowish-white and a little hazy – indicating that it is going towards the nirgun (Non-materialised) Principle. Seekers in India and abroad get many spiritual experiences with respect to Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj.

However much I write, I will never be able to describe the greatness of Shri Guru. My prayer at His Holy feet is – ‘May Baba’s grace on all of us continue in this way and may He always grant us the strength to continue our mission of spreading Spirituality’.

– Disciple Dr Jayant Athavale

The three-point programme of Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj’s Life – Bhajan (Devotional songs), Bhraman (Travel) and Bhandara (Festival of serving food)

Bhajan (Devotional songs)

Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj would say – ‘Bhajans are my life’. The peculiarity of Baba’s bhajans is that even today many years after they were composed, in every incident, every seeker receives whatever is essential for his spiritual practice from that bhajan. So, these bhajans are a precious treasure. Through bhajans Baba taught not only Bhaktiyoga (Path of Devotion) but also Namasankirtanyoga (Path of Chanting), Karmayoga (Path of Action), Jnanyoga (Path of Knowledge), etc. in spiritual practice.

Many seekers have experienced that simply by listening to Baba’s bhajans, due to the Chaitanya (Divine consciousness) in them, the distress caused to them by the negative energies reduces, and later, gets completely eliminated.

Bhraman (Travel)

To give devotees the benefit of His satsang (Holy company), Anand (Bliss) and spiritual guidance, Baba would travel hundreds of kilometres, not bothering about the weather, His own health or other factors, to meet devotees. Even today, when devotees recollect these meetings they get goosebumps due to their bhav (Spiritual emotion).

Bhandara (Festival of serving food)

Once Baba’s Guru invited everyone to a bhandara at Dinu’s place (Baba’s name before attaining Sainthood was Dinkar; so He was fondly called Dinu). Baba thought to Himself – ‘I neither have money nor groceries; how will I serve food to them ?’

Yet with the faith that the Guru would take care of everything, He decided to hold the bhandara. His Guru invited many people for the bhandara.

Truly so, with the Guru’s grace all material required for the cooking became available easily and there was no shortage of food. Baba passed the Guru’s test. Later too, despite not having much money, He organised several bhandaras and taught the devotees to have immense faith in the Guru, to sacrifice everything unto the Guru and then watch the Guru showering His grace.

Baba taught the devotees to have immense faith in the Guru, to sacrifice everything and watch the Guru shower His grace !