And thus Manohar Baba would pluck 108 bilav patra (leaves of the wood apple tree as offered to Shiva) and worship the aforementioned Shivling (the phallic emblem of Shiva) with them. When he was roughly 15-16 years of age, he learnt the six duties of hatha yoga (a kind of austerity in which the body is subjected to severe hardships) form Rangnath Guru a renowned yogi or ascetic in Maheshwar and acquired perfect expertise in this field, simultaneously.
Maharaj Kulkarni ji, a siddh (having supernatural powers & perfected or sanctified as by penance) saint used to live in a hut made on the banks of river Narmada in those days. Invariably, Baba would go to have his darshan every day.He would also come to Baba's house to ask for bhiksha (begged food or alms) from time to time.
Baba did several purushcharan (a preliminary rite; repetition of the name of a deity with burnt offerings, to obtain a purpose) of Gayatri (a name of goddess Durga, under his guidance. Simultaneously he did several of the extremely tough anushthan (religious observance,1,25,000 Japas of Gayatri Mantra at the rate of 33 Malas per day. Time taken: 3-4 hours per day) to be completed in forty days for the entire night to gather knowledge.
Pleased by this observance, Maa Saraswati (the goddess of knowledge and the arts) had given darshan to Baba in his dreams and bestowed her own mantra(incantation) on him and ordered him to compose poetry simultaneously. But Baba somehow forgot the mantra granted by goddess Saraswati.
Maharaj Kulkarni ji would often tell Manohar Baba, “The storm of renunciation is going to uproot you from here and carry you off, very soon.” Baba was also an active member of the Rashtriya Swayamseva Sangh (RSS) (founded in 1925 by Dr. K. B. Hedgewar as a social and cultural organisation in British India, to oppose British colonialism and Muslim separatism.) from the year 1935 to 1945.
Kripalu ji Maharaj
When revered Baba Manohar Das ji was around 25 years of age, a young saint named Shri Kripalu ji Maharaj had propagated Naam Sankirtan (glorifying the name of the divine by repeating it) with great fervour in Madhya Pradesh.He would not merely ecstatically do kirtan (singing of hymn to a deity) but tears would stream down his cheeks constantly without fail.Because of which his eyes were always swollen. At times he even became unconscious on perceiving Lord Krishna's lila or divine play while doing kirtan.
Shri Banke Bihari ji of Vrindavan
By being in the company of this saint for a short span of seven days made Baba completely detached from the mundane world.Simultaneously he was extremely impressed by him. Probably using this saint as a medium, Shri Banke Bihari ji Maharaj, the Thakur (deity of Vrindavan) had passionately drawn Baba to Vrindavan.
Thus the fire of asceticism inflamed Baba day after day with greater intensity. He found it increasingly difficult to stay at home. Mixing together the wide array of vegetarian dishes which were served to him, he would eat a few morsels. Constantly he was residing in seclusion, neither meeting anyone nor conversing with them.Baba's mother was extremely distressed by this state of affairs and his father eagerly strived to bind him in the bond of a domestic life as a householder.
However Baba was least willing for this turn of events to take place. With increasing speed his ardent longing to go to Vrindavan was escalating. His mother just could not bear to see his miserable plight.Hence patiently strengthening herself, she gave him the permission to proceed to Vrindavan on this condition that he would certainly come to meet her once a year, as long as she lived.
In addition when Baba was leaving for Vrindavan, she made him wear a gold finger ring on one of his fingers with this in mind that it would be of some use at the time of need. (page 355 of 'Smriti Kaumudi', the memoirs of Manohar Baba)