Sunday, April 15, 2018

Chapter 10: Intensification of Sadhana (Part II)

 Shri Maharaj ji Undergoes Many Spiritual Tests

  Shri Maharajji had to undergo spiritual tests during this period. When he began getting renowned for his constant Naam Japa in the Kadamba Khand other spiritual practitioners became jealous of him. One fine day after the daily routine chanting God's Name three and a half lakh times, he went to Nandgaon for bhiksha and slept somewhere. After bathing early in the morning when Maharajji came to the fixed site of his devotional practice beneath the peelu tree, he found that someone had defecated there. Maharajji was getting late in chanting God's Name so he cleaned the spot by coating it with cow-dung and got engrossed in worshipping the Almighty. Not the slightest trace of suspicion rose in his tender heart that someone had purposely done this out of hostility. The person who had done this spiteful act got a carbuncle boil on his back and  later came to Shri Maharajji to beg for forgiveness.

Peeli Pokhar, near Barsana

 However, a few days later Shri Maharajji had to undergo a very tough trial at Peeli Pokhar near Barsana. It was evening  and the place was being cast over by darkness. Shri Maharajji was engrossed in Naam Japa when a young beautiful girl came to Maharajji at that secluded site.

Come Baba, satisfy your ardent desire,” she said passionately.

Advancing ahead she stood very close to Shri Maharajji. Assuming that he was being spiritually tested, Maharajji began weeping loudly. The young belle ran away on seeing this outburst. Greatly disturbed by this incident Maharajji wept for several days. Ultimately some divine power consoled him and his anguish was pacified.

Shri Maharajji did bhajan beneath that peelu tree, for four months at a stretch. After that he continued his devotional practice in a hut located in Nandbaba's bagicha[13] nearby.That peelu tree withered gradually after he had left the site of that tree. I had gone with Shri Maharajji later and seen that peelu tree which had dried up. Maharajji used to say that the tree had got salvation.

Sangeet Madhava

Some Bengali Gaudiya sadhus also resided in Nandbaba's bagicha. One of them Shri Swasti Karanandji was a great lover of bhajan and an expert in playing the khol, a muscial instrument. This mahatma living a life of great austerity, stayed very close to Maharajji's hut. He would melodiously sing lovely padas from 'Sangeet Madhava' composed by Shri Prabodhananda Saraswati, which Shri Maharajji found very pleasing. Therefore, he requested Shri Swasti Karanandaji to give him those verses in writing but he did not do so because of sectarian differences between them. Just By listening to the verses over and over again, Maharajji began singing them, which became a matter of astonishment for Shri Swasti Karanandji.

Yashoda Kund

After living for four months at that place, Maharajji wished to do bhajan at some extremely secluded spot and he began searching for a silent isolated site but he could not find the place he longed for. One day he was sitting dejectedly beside the Pawan Sarovar. It was evening time. Suddenly he saw a huge-statured, old aged, fair-complexioned saint with a grey beard and moustache, appearing before him. Smiling the saint raised his hand and blessed Maharajji and looked at him with compassionate eyes, indicative of a solution to the problem.  
Pointing towards Yashoda Kund with his finger, the saint vanished instantly. Shri Maharajji was very satisfied with this unsolicited grace of the saint. He got up instantly and started walking in the direction which the saint had pointed at. Unexpectedly, his feet stopped near Yashoda Kund.  

The Old Cave

 A small cave could be sighted right in front, which appeared to be a fitting site for his bhajan, in accordance to his liking. The cave was far from habitation, near the jungle, surrounded by dense creepers and tree leaves and in a dilapidated state. The tiny cave had no entrance door but a narrow entrance. After getting down six or seven steps there was just enough space for a person to sit down. It was not possible for anyone to stretch out his legs and lie down. This cave had neither any window nor ventilator but only an aperture over the stairs through which rays of light would shyly filter in, slightly and slowly.

We had heard from Shri Maharajji himself,This cave is four hundred years old and several saints have done bhajan here. The saint which I had seen at Pawan Sarovar had also lived in this cave and worshipped God.Such had been Maharajji's statement.

Lord Krishna & Balrama in The Forest

Two to three furlongs away from Nangaon and close to the cave, stands the natural tank of Yashoda Kund from where a rough track leads to Barsana. Surrounded by rows of trees, this tank is very charming and an ancient site of Lord Krishna's playful dalliance. A ghat [14]  made of bricks is made on one side of it. It is said that Shri Yashoda would come early in the morning from Nandgaon to bathe in the pool. Lying on the west of this sarovar is the Hau Bilau site. It is believed that to stop Lord Krishna from going alone into the forest, Yashoda Maiya would scare him by saying that Hau Bilau would catch hold of him if he ventured there. The cave referred to above, is located on a somewhat high mound, about a hundred steps away from this tank.

Naam Japa

Shri Maharajji cleaned the cave himself, coating it with cow-dung, and sat there with a firm resolve to do bhajan or worship the Almighty. His heart spontaneously immersed itself in the delightful rasa of doing bhajan here. He woke up precisely at 3 AM every morning and bathed in the Yashoda Kund. Sitting in the cave he would do Naam Japa, three and a half lakh times. While chanting the name of God if some other thought entered his mind apart from meditating on God, he would not count it amongst the number which had been ascertained for that particular time. After completing the Naam Japa he would go to Nandgaon for bhiksha and sit at any secluded place to eat it. Besides, he would rest for the night by sleeping on the cave's roof, or some nearby platform where Rasa was enacted or any other place. Neither did he have any acquaintance nor did he visit anyone but simply chanted God's Name and constantly shed tears.

Sometimes Shri Maharajji would go to see the Rasa Lila when a theatre troupe would come to Nandgaon. Intense prema for Shri Radha-Krishna would awaken in his heart and he would keep crying at that time. Seeing this state of his, the residents of Braj had named him 'The weeping Baba.'

During this period Shri Maharajji's physique began emitting a light which looked like faint moonlight. Above all, on dark nights he was able to see the path with this light emanating from his body.

Seeing this radiance a couple of times, the denizens of Braj asked,What is this happening?

Ever since he would cover his entire body except his eyes when he went to beg for alms. After four months of effort he was able to check this light.

Lord Vishnu, Ekadashi

The restlessness arising due to an ardent longing to meet Krishna, the Supreme Lover, was constantly on the increase. On Ekadashi [15] only jaggery is got in alms. After finishing Naam Japa according to his daily regime, he went and got jaggery in bhiksha and became immersed in reciting God's Name again. At 7 pm in the evening of the third day, a saint came and called out to him from the entrance of the cave.

On not getting an answer he called out even louder,Acharyaji! Acharyaji!

Becoming a bit alert Shri Maharajji replied,Radhe! Radhe!and came out with the jholi, a small begging cloth pouch.

What is there in the begging pouch?” the respectable saint asked.


Looking at the jholi Maharaj replied,This is the jaggery I  had got in alms since today is Ekadashi.

Laughing, the saint responded,Ekadashi was day before yesterday. How is the jaggery you got day before, still kept now?

Greatly Astonished, Maharajji asked,What is the date today?

The answer was,Trayodashi[16].

Shri Maharajji was nonplussed. He recalled his condition when he had lost consciousness. The saint's talk made him realize that he had been in a semi-conscious state of religious rapture for the past three days. It was only when the saint called out to him that his trance[17] was broken. However, what could Maharajji say to that saint? I could never get to know about the divine experiences Maharajji had had in that condition from him.

Nand Bhavan, Nandgaon

One day Shri Maharajji was meditating when Nand Bhavan, situated in Nandgaon, materialized in front of him in the cave. After a few months he had visions of the ten incarnations of Vishnu, gradually. His condition became indescribable after these divine experiences. His butter-like soft heart would melt and flow in a constant shedding of tears by the mere touch of bhava that is love flowing towards the Lord. Once he has passed several days by weeping non-stop.. Suddenly the cave was illuminated with light. A divine gopi emerged from that halo of light. She cuddled Shri Maharajji in her lap and showering affection, pacified him. Soon after, she vanished.

Bhava: love flowing towards the Lord
[13]    Bagicha: garden
[14]    Ghat: a flight of steps leading to the water
[15]    Ekadashi:is the eleventh lunar day (Tithi) of the shukla (bright) or krishna (dark) paksha (fortnight) of every lunar month in the Hindu calendar.
[16]    Trayodhasi: 13th day,  after full moon or after new moon
[17]    Trance:  a temporary state in which a persin, with suspension of personal consciousness, is controlled by an intelligence from without and used as a means of communication

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