PANDHARPUR TRAVEL DIARY--PART FIVE
En route to Pandharpur we visited Satara.
Now Satara is famous as Virat in Mahabharat----the place where the Pandavas and their wife Draupadi stayed incognito for one year after 12 years of exile in the forest. They do so in the court of Virata. They assume a variety of concealed identities. Yudhishthira is Adviser to the King and calls himself Kanka, Bhima of a cook Ballava, Arjuna teaches dance and music as eunuch Brihannala and dresses as a woman, Nakula tends horses as Granthika, Sahadeva herds cows as Tantipala, and Draupadi is the maid Sairandhri to queen Shudeshna.
But today Satara is famous for Gondavale and Gondavale Maharaj.
Gondavale Budruk is a small town in Mann taluka of Satara district, 64 kilometres from Satara. It is the samadhi (shrine) place of Shri Brahma Chaitanya Gondavalekar Maharaj . Gondavale is a very famous pilgrimage place. It gets crowd on every Pournima and especially at the time of Shri Rama Navami, Gurupournima, Gokulashtami, Daasnavmi.
Gondavale is famous for Gondavalekar Maharaj Math. Gondavalekar Maharaj was a devotee of the Lord Rama. He spent a lifetime teaching the importance of peace. He showed path of devotion of God Rama to thousands of devotees. He taught a Mantra to people "Shri Ram Jay Ram Jay Jay Ram . There are other temples in Gondavale .
Brahmachaitanya also known as Gondavalekar Maharaj (Feb 1845 - --1913) is a Hindu saint who resided in the taluka of Maan at Gondavale Budruk in Satara District, Maharashtra, India. His pre-sainthood name was Ganapati. Brahmachaitanya was a devotee of the Hindu god Rama and signed his name as 'Brahmachaitanya Ramdasi'.
He left his home in search of a spiritual guru when he was nine years old. After knowing his whereabouts, his father brought him back from Kolhapur. He married when he was 11 years old, and again left home in search of a guru. He went to Yehalegaon in Nanded district and became a disciple of Tukamai. Tukamai gave him the name Brahmachaitanya. After the death of his first wife, he married a girl who was blind since birth.
"Sri Maharaj" as he was reverently addressed by his disciples, spent his life on teaching the importance of remembrance of lord in every single moment of day-to-day life of laymen. This is in accordance with teachings of Ramadas swami, of whom Sri Maharaj is considered an incarnation. He spent a lifetime teaching the importance of peace with oneself over the material creature comforts alone. He advocated the continued remembrance of GOD as a means of happiness, contentment and peace. Family life is not incompatible with the attainment of ultimate peace. One does not have to be a sage living outside the social bounds. It is how one leads one's life that will determine the self. Key to the ultimate peace is in the regularity of prayers to Rama without expecting anything in return.
He showed path of devotion of Rama to thousands of devotees in Maharashtra, Karnataka and parts of North India. Most of the devotees were from the middle-class income group. He discouraged people from bad habits, bad behaviour, etc. He made extensive use of 'Pravachans', 'Bhajans', Vaidik Anushthans etc. for encouraging people to follow the path of devotion. He taught people to achieve perfect balance between prapancha and paramartha by doing extensive nama japa. He taught people the Mantra ' Shri Ram Jay Ram Jay Jay Ram'. This Mantra has 13 letters (Alphabets). Each letter has its own meaning and he wrote 13 different 'Abhangas' on each of this letter. He says that this mantra was given by Rama to Sita and that it implies that Ram is their master and is in their hearts and takes care of all. He believed that each and everything that happens in life is according to the will of Rama.
He helped the poor, those suffering from drought. He taught Gorakshan (protection of Cows), Anna-Daan (food donation), Nama Japa (chanting name of God),Bhajans (devotional songs), Teertha yatras (spiritual tour).
The Ashram is vast full of greenery. It has a Dining Hall which can accommodate 1500 persons at a time. Lunch is provided free.. This has gone on for over 150 years. All ofus partok of the lunch--reminded us of Langar in the Golden Temple.
For those who want to know more, Prof Belsare wrote has written the biography of Maharaj and today thousands,particularly,educate
d class are the disciples of Maharaj. Shri.G.S.Gokhale ,a Textile Engineer has composed Gondavalekar Maharaj Pravachane in Marathi in 1970s which has become a guide to Maharaj's thought and 25 editions are sold.The book is translated in Hindi,Kannada,English,Gujarati and French.
There is a hospital opposite Samadhi Mandir set up by Dr.Bavdekar who was leading orthopaedic of Mumbai and there is free medical treatment including free operations here..