Vanjari's Religious leader
This is a brief biography of Bhagwan Baba Maharaj.It is not possible
to narrate about the life and times of such an extraordinary person in
such a small forum. But we are making an effort to present a small
glimpseof the great saint, who continues to inspire us all.
Baba Maharaj was born in a farmers family in Maharashtra, his real
name was Abaji. He was a very brilliant child which was evident from
the fact that he use to top his class and soon was the apple of the
eye, of all his teachers. But since he lived in a small village he
could not enjoy the benefits of schooling and had to abandon his
studies by the fifth or sixth standard as the school was not
available beyond these levels at his village.
Since further schooling was not possible, Abaji's father told him to
start caring for their family live stock, which he used to take them
to open pastures and forests for grazing. Even here he was popular
with other children and was expert at various games which the kids
played. Some time he would start a mock sermon for the benefit of
his play mates. This we can say today was the first sign of things
to come ahead.
Once when Ashadhi Ekadashi was approaching and Abaji saw a
group of pilgrims walking singing chants praising the gods, he asked
them where they were going and when he as told to the Holy city of
Pandharpur, he insisted that he would join them. But nobody was
ready to take him for he was only but a child. Abaji nevertheless
joined the group and walked all the way to Pandharpur. He was so
enchanted with the idol of the Lord Vithoba, he forgot even to take
food. It was here that Abaji received his "mala" from
Gite Maharaj and became a Varkari for life.
his Guru :
Once on the visit to Narayangad, Abaji just loved the peace and
serenity of the place that he just was not ready to leave for his
village. So Manik Baba allowd him to stay for few days, he was only
twelve then. He used to help in the activities of the place. On a
Vijaya Dashmi day, Manik baba was accepting new disciples by giving
them "Guru Mantra" for which a huge ceremonial pyre was
lit. Abaji also wanted to be a disciple, but Baba was in no mood to
do so, for Abaji was only a child. On constant bickering from Abaji,
Manik baba told him that he could become his disciple if Abaji would
jump of the temple dome which was far away and quite tall, thinking
that matter would be closed now. But Abaji was determined, soon he
scaled the wall of the temple and stood on the top dome with
thousands of people seeing what was happening, Manik baba also saw
that, soon Abaji jumped of the dome to the amazement of everybody.
But he was miraculosly unhurt. Abaji walked back to Manik Baba and
again prayed that he be given the "Guru Mantra". And a
tearfull Manik Baba made him his disciple.
So Abaji started staying with Manik Baba and started to learn
various scriptures. During the stay at Narayangad Abaji met the
great knowlegable monk Shri Bankatswami Maharaj, who took him under
his study after accepting Abaji from Manaji Baba as a offering.
Abaji was only fifteen when he proceeded along with Bankatswami
Maharaj to Alandi, on the bank of river Indrayani. Here he studied
the Warkari religious literature and also studied the vedas.
So Bhagwan Baba Maharaj had three Gurus :
* Manik Baba who was the Guru who accepted him as a disciple.
* Bankatswami who trained him in various religious scriptures.
* Gite Baba who started him on the path of enlightment.
Bhagwan Baba had a very attractive personality, flawless skin, a
happy smiling face, a very soft general look which belied the fact
that he was very strong and tough physically. Very soft and sweet
voice coupled with flawless diction and pronunciation. He had a very
amicable nature and was always helpful to the needy. He did not
praise any one nor was he critical of any one. We could say his
philosophy of life was one of universal brotherhood.
His dressing was also simple as his lifestyle. A simple orange
coloured feta ( a kind of turban ). A simple Nehru shirt and
dhoti. Sometimes he used to wear a tight trousers with a kind of
long coat (Sherwani). Whatever be the dress, he never failed to
impress others with his radiant personality.
Soon Bhagwan Baba was doing Kirtan's on Narayangad.
Kirtan is a kind of sermon which is very musical in nature. The way
he sermonised help his audience spellbound, never feeling satisfied
and always wanting more of the kirtan. His sermonising and spreading
the word of god and talks about good virtues converted many people
to the correct way of lives. His was able to influence dacoits,
robbers and other social offenders to give up their vices and lead a
No wonder Bhagwan Baba has followers not only in Marathwada, but
also in Vidharbha, Andhra, Karnataka, Indore, Gwalior etc.
Such was his influence over the general public, he was capable of
solving long drawn family feuds. He was even capable of ending
enimities between various families. He took initiative in helping
poor and helpless girls get settled in life. He also helped landless
labourer acquire piece of land for themselves. He was a major force
in providing education and medicine for poor people. With his
support, many blind, physically handicapped, and lepers were
rehabilitated and this social work is still going on.
He was instrumental in stopping various types of animal slaughter
under the grab of religious activity at various places like,
Bhindsingdi in Pathardi Taluka, Chinchali in Majalgaon Taluka, in
Shevgaon and Vadgaon.
Wari or Pilgrimage to Pandharpur :
With the blessing of Manik Baba, in Shake 1840 about 1920 AD.
Bhagwan Baba started a walking pilgrimage to Pandharpur called as
Wari. In the beinging there were only 5-6 people but soon it swelled
to about 15-20 thousand. Again in 1949 or thereabout Baba Maharaj
started the wari to Paithan for the Nathshashti festival.
This was the brief glimpse into the Life and Times of Bhagwan