Gulab would meditate at night regularly for 3 to 4 hours. He would start his meditation after others had gone to sleep. One night, when Gulab was meditating as usual, Bhikabhau, a neighbour, came to his room. He had just returned after attending the late night “Kirtan”, the session of devotional songs in the temple. To his great surprise, he saw Gulab sitting motionless like a stone statue. Bhikabhau felt very troubled. Was Gulab still breathing? Had he stopped breathing ? He held his finger before Gulab’s nose to find out. No breathing at all. Was Gulab dead? He called Gulab’s uncles and nearby neighbours hurriedly. They did not know what to do. They were all terribly worried. An hour passed. two hours passed, three hours passed. At last at 4 clock in the early morning Gulab started breathing.
Gulab’s uncles could not understand that Gulab had gone into a yogic trance. They thought it was some mischief on the part of Gulab so they got furious. “What is this nonsense!” The eldest uncle shouted. But Gulab left the room without answering back as a token of respect for the elders.
Next day he told Bhikabhau that he was in ‘Samadhi’, the yogic trance, after meditation and that this happened regularly every night.
- GULAB’S TEACHER BECAME HIS DISCIPLE
At Madhan, when Gulab was in his eleventh year, his uncle thought that Gulab should be given some schooling and should learn some arithmetic.
At that time Shri Ramarao Deshpande had come to Madhan as a school teacher. He was a Sanskrit scholar. He had studied the Gita, the Upanishads and other Sanskrit scriptures deeply.
Now a blind boy could not be admitted to the school. so Gulab’s uncle took him to Ramarao at his residence and requested him to teach the boy some simple useful exercises in arithmetic. Intending to start him in the numerical tables, Ramarao recited the first table, i. e., the table of the twos. Gulab repeated it instantly without a mistake after listening to his teacher only once. Ramarao continued with the tables in their order. Gulab learnt by heart all the tables in one day and urged his teacher to teach him some more. Ramarao was astonished. Such quick intelligence and wonderful memory was never known or even heard of.
Next day Ramarao taught him some simple rules of Sanskrit grammar. Gulab quickly mastered them also. Gulab had no formal education of any kind till then. Yet within a few weeks he had learnt Sanskrit grammar and was able to speak in Sanskrit with ease. Ramarao was simply stunned. Now he started reading the Gita for Gulab. He began to explain the meaning of the verses read by him. But Gulab could interpret them in different ways. Now Ramarao realised that Gulab knew much more than what he himself had learnt. He read the Gita, the Upanishads and many other books and scriptures in his possession, along with Gulab. These sessions continued for a few months.
One golden day it dawned upon Ramarao that he should learn spirituality and philosophy from Gulab. So he touched the feet of Gulab as a mark of reverence and prayed to him to accept him as his (Gulab’s) disciple. A miracle had taken place. The teacher had now become the disciple. The news spread like wild fire in and around Madhan. Now people started referring to Gulab as Shri Gulabrao Maharaj or simply Shri Maharaj.
For the villagers in and around Madhan, Ramarao was perhaps the most respectable and learned person. When he accepted Gulab as his spiritual master, many other villagers started coming to meet Shri Gulabrao Maharaj regularly to hear his talk about God and the wonders of spiritual experience. Even at that early age, Gulab started telling them of the legends from the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas and their spiritual significance.
- MARRIAGE OF GULAB AND THEREAFTER
One day Shri Gulabrao Maharaj had gone to Shri Sitaramji Bhuyar, one of his neighbours. Mainabai, the mother of Sitaramji, was sitting at the entrance of the house with her grand daughter in her lap. The old lady told Shri Gulabrao Maharaj in a jocular mood, “If you break this coconut in one stroke with your bare hand, I shall marry my granddaughter to you.” Shri Gulabrao Maharaj accepted that challenge. He broke the coconut in one stroke with his bare hand. He then said “I would marry this girl at an appropriate age.”‘ When Shri Gulabrao Maharaj was eleven years old, a marriageable age according to the custom of that period, his marriage was celebrated with the same girl. She was seven years old at that time.
On the day of the marriage, it rained very heavily. The pandal specially raised for the marriage, was completely drenched. There was no dry place to sit anywhere in the pandal. At last some empty gunny bags were spread out in the pandal and even while it continued to rain, the marriage of Shri Gulabrao Maharaj was celebrated. His wife was named “Manakarnika.”
Even after his marriage, he was never interested in spending time with his wife. He would spend most of his time with Ramarao Deshpande and the priestly families in the village. He had an insatiable thirst for spiritual love. In his personal life he observed the rules laid down in the Shastras (religious books) meticulously. Though he possessed great knowledge or perhaps because it was so he was always humble and simple. He had a lovely way of speaking even at that young age. People observed .that this boy had an exceptionally sharp intellect and he used to explain religious doctrines and principles in a lucid, straight-forward and homely manner. He was a very good conversationalist. Still he was unassuming all the time.
- THE FORESEEN ACCIDENTS
In 1895 A. D. in the month of March, Shri Gulabrao Maharaj had gone to Loni Takli to attend the marriage of one of his relatives. Just before the day of the marriage, the sister of the grandmother of Shri Gulabrao Maharaj decided to go back to her village for some urgent work. Shri Gulabrao Maharaj heard her telling her sister of her decision. The grandmother noticed that Shri Gulabrao Maharaj was listening to her attentively. She realised that he was foreseeing something and would say it openly. So before Shri Gulabrao Maharaj opened his mouth, she assertively told him : “Please keep quiet. Don’t say anything.” Shri Gulabrao Maharaj kept quiet for some time. Then he said: “Well! Would it not do if she does not start today?” His grandmother said in an assertive tone: “She may go or may not go today. But you keep quiet. For God’s sake please do not say anything.” Shri Gulabrao Maharaj thought for a moment. Then he said, “Please tell her not to go today. If she does, she would have to suffer greatly.”
Nobody listened to Shri Gulabrao Maharaj. The sister of his grandmother started for the village the same day in a bullock-cart. On the way the bullock-cart met with an accident. It was overturned completely. She was seriously wounded. Though she survived, It took months for her to recover her normal health.
Shri Gulabrao Maharaj had come to Loni Takli to attend the marriage ceremony of his relative. The day of the marriage dawned. The marriage was celebrated at the auspicious predetermined time. At night the bridegroom and the bride were to be taken to a temple to get the blessings of the deity for the new couple. Shri Gulabrao Maharaj said that they should not start for the temple at the hour. Nobody listened to him. The bridegroom and the bride started for the temple in a procession. Some firecrackers were kept in the pandal. By mistake the person carrying a ‘mashal’ (lighted torch) dropped it on the firecrackers There was a great explosion. Two persons died on the spot. Many persons were injured. The procession of the new couple had to be cancelled.
The next day Shri Gulabrao Maharaj said in the morning, “Somebody would fall today into the nearby well.” Since on the earlier day the people had experienced how Shri Gulabrao Maharaj could foresee bad events there was a great panic. Shri Gulabrao Maharaj said calmly, “No need for worry. A girl would fall into the well. But she could be taken out alive. No danger to her life.” The same evening a girl fell into a well. She was however immediately taken out. She survived as she was treated in time.