Friday, January 21, 2011

Baba Shri Manohar Das ji, the Pride of the Spiritual World-XXVIII

Lord Krishna, the Cowherd of Vraja
Manohar Baba never made anyone his disciple till he reached ninety-one years of age. He often used to say, “A young cowherd of Vraja (referring to Lord Krishna's youthful career spent as a gopa amongst the simple people of Gokula & Vrindavan),stays by his side for twenty-four hours of the day. So where was the need for anyone else.


Age Never Weighed on Manohar Baba

His age was never a burden for him. Baba could easily do the daily chores on his own, without anyone's assistance. Getting the akhand (continuous) sankirtan ( a gathering which glorifies a deity with devotional songs) of the 'Mahamantra' done everywhere was very dear to Bal Krishan Das ji Maharaj. Every year he would get the thirty days continuous sankirtan of the Mahamantra, done at Lonara Village situated near Barwani (Madhya Pradesh.) Manohar Baba would take part with his entire parikar (inner circle of adherents) and it is a practice followed even today. Once he had got the non stop kirtan of chanting Hari's name which lasted for eight months, done in Barwani.


Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Chief Exponent of the Sankirtana Movement

On completion of 500 years of the tirobhava (disappearance by divine power) of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the chief exponent of the sankirtana movement, a resolve arose in Shri Maharaj;s heart to get the 501 days akhand sankirtan done in Barwani. He informed the denizens of Barwani about his vow but could not get an instant approval letter to get this difficult task done. Later on due to Maharaj ji's health being on the decline this matter was overlooked. In the course of time, after Maharaj ji had gained entry into the eternal nikunja (passed away), Manohar Baba came to know of Shri Maharaj ji's resolve through the bhaktas of Barwani.That is when Baba reflected that the flame of the lamp of chanting Hari's Name which had been lit in Barwani, should never become weak.


Manohar Baba with his Sankirtan Mandal in Barwani

Consequently, in spite of his enfeebled state Baba often visited Barwani and kept inspiring its people to have the 501 days akhand sankirtan of the 'Mahamantra' done. He endorsed that everyone's heart's desires are fulfilled by group chanting of the 'Mahamantra.' He also set up a sankirtan mandal or circle consisting of youths for this cause.


Revered Baba with the Bhaktas of Barwani

Simultaneously, he urged his own bhaktas and followers there, “You just get the sankirtana started and see how the chanter instinctively does japa of the Lord's name and gets it done from others as well. There is neither a need to ask any person for wealth nor to get worried about making arrangements. By the grace of Maharaj ji, all the tasks will be completed without any impediments.” This statement of Manohar Baba became a harbinger of enthused fervour for the residents of Barwani.


Shri Ram Mandir, Barwani

Soon after, they got the akhand sankirtan of the Mahamantra which lasted for 501 days (18 months), done in the Ram Mandir of Barwani from 18th July, 2004 till 5th January, 2006.


Scenes from the Akhand Sankirtan in Barwani

Right in front, little girls clad in colourful clothes and decked as gopis carrying auspicious water pots on their heads, walked ahead in joyous abandon of the majestic procession of Hari Naam's akhand sankirtan taken out on 18th July, 2004 in Barwani. Just behind the svarupas of Radha-Krishna along with a portrait of highly revered Shri Maharaj were resplendent on a decorated buggy. Several mandlis ( religious groups) singing bhajans and women dancing joyously, walked alongside.


After them, Vrindavan's Svami Shri Ram Sharma, the renowned rasacharya, who was recipient of the President's Award, sat in a jeep adorned with flowers and moved ahead while singing bhajans. Right after, countless bhaktas and devotees sang devotional songs, as they swayed enthusiastically. Several women were doing the colourful garba dance (of Gujarat). Thereafter, Manohar Baba sitting majestically in an open jeep was escalating the glory of the majestic procession.


This long procession making the entire town of Barwani abound with sankirtan, reached the Ram Mandir which was its destination, after roughly four hours. All along the grand procession was given a splendid welcome by the showering of flowers by onlookers.


Kalash Sthapana

The kalash sthapan (the offering of a water-pot of water to a deity in which twigs from sacred trees have been placed) and pujan (ceremony of worshipping) was done by Manohar Baba at the Ram Mandir, the site of the sankirtan. Simultaneously Shri Kavthekar ji, a famed musician did the mangalacharan (auspicious religious observance) with shastriya sangeet or classical music.


That is when Manohar Baba said while addressing the audience that by this sankirtan the vow of Shri Maharaj ji which he had taken taken 16 years back, was materializing. “By this congregation every person can attain however much he wants, and his temporal, unearthly and spiritual cherished desires are fulfilled, for certain.


Shri Bal Krishna Das ji Maharaj

This religious function is the last resolve of Shri Maharaj ji and our final duty.” Soon after ,Manohar Baba sang the mahamantra,


“Hare Ram Hare Ram, Ram Ram Hare Hare

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare |”

and auspiciously inaugurated the 501 days congregation of chanting Hari's name.


When Baba had begun the divine sankirtan in Barwani, Damu Bhai staying in the neighbouring Narmada Nagar invited him to his residence. Baba clarified that he would not be coming alone but getting 20 other people of his parikar (inner circle of adherents). In good humour Baba asked him what he would give them all to eat? Soon enough,Manohar Baba gave the answer himself, “Home made daal baati (vegetarian dish of Rajasthan) and kheer (rice cooked in milk with sugar.)”


Damu Bhai instantly responded, “Whatever you want.” Alongside he sent his cars to Baba and got him over to his place along with the parikar. On Baba's reaching Narmada Nagar, he was given a grand welcome. Manohar Baba was very pleased to observe that there was a separate faction of Maharaj ji's followers even here, wherein the portrait of Shri Balkrishan Das ji Maharaj was resplendently placed on the bed. And its seva (service) and puja or worship was being carried on with absolutely proper rites and rituals, very much like Vrindavan.


Sankirtana

Thereafter Baba was invariably invited by his bhaktas and devotees everyday to Barwani and its neighbouring regions. Baba would go everywhere with his entire mandali (group of adherents), do satsang (worship and sing bhajans)


Manohar Baba(standing) and Bal Krishan Das ji Maharaj

and narrate his personal recollections of Maharaj ji. Asking about the devotees' own joys and sorrows, he accepted their seva while giving consolation. (page 379-380 of 'Smriti Kaumudi,'the memoirs of Shri Manohar Baba)

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