(Chapters from the biography of Shri Gulabrao Maharaj in English by Shri. Sharad Kopardekar. Names of some places have been changed to their modern equivalents.)
33. SPIRITUAL VOW VS. MOTHERLY AFFECTION
Though Shri Maharaj had got a son now, he continued to remain free from all attachment for he never forgot the spiritual mission of his life. But things were different now for his wife. It was thirteen years after her marriage, that Anant was born. Anant was her only son, for it was not likely that she would get another child. She was now twenty years old and was so infatuated with the child that she forgot everything else and spent all her time in caressing the child. She even forgot her spiritual vow taken at the feet of her spiritual Master in 1898. Shri Maharaj understood the great change in her life. But he also knew that for her proper spiritual development it was necessary for her to overcome this infatuation of her motherly love towards her child and to be more detached from material life.
When Anant was four months old, Shri Maharaj arranged things in such a way that Anant remained with his grandmother at Amravati and Manakarnikabai accompanied Shri Maharaj to Badnera. Though she went to Badnera, her heart continued to thirst for her child all the time. She felt lost. She longed and pined for her child and nothing else could interest her. When Shri Maharaj noticed her emotional conflict. he permitted her to go back to Amravati to meet the child. She rushed back to Amravati and was overjoyed to meet her son. But the spirituality of Shri Maharaj continued to be with her. Thus when she took the child into her arms, her inner conscience reminded her of her spiritual vow taken at the feet of her spiritual master. Her spirituality which was never weak now returned in full force especially in the physical absence of Shri Maharaj. “I want spirituality and nothing else, her conscience pricked her; and at once she realised her folly. She realised that she had lost the balance of her mind and that her affection for the child had become an obstacle to her progress on the path of spirituality. This caused her so much mental agony that being unable to bear it, she became unconscious.
The spirit of Shri Maharaj had all this while been with her. When she regained her consciousness she had developed the necessary detachment from the worldly life. Now Shri Maharaj himself came back to Amravati when he heard about this. Shri Maharaj asked her to read the Dnyaneshwari twice. She did this faithfully and with full devotion, and for the rest of her life she could keep the balance necessary for spiritual progress.
34. DIPLOMA IN THEOSOPHY
In those days the cult of Theosophy had become quite popular, especially amongst people who had been educated in English schools. Shri Maharaj decided to study theosophy for he wished to understand why educated people were attracted towards that cult.
Shri Nassarwanji Mancharji, a Parsee gentleman from Akola was a follower of Shri Maharaj. He had good contacts with the Theosophical Society and also had a lot of literature about its doctrines and beliefs. Shri Maharaj stayed with Shri Nassarwanji at Akola and studied theosophy deeply enough to get the diploma awarded by the society.
Thereafter he wrote extensively on this philosophy, revealed its shortcomings and deficiencies and showed how the old Vedic philosophy was superior to theosophy. A number of the followers of theosophy returned to the fold of Vedic philosophy when they studied his writings. Siri Vasudeorao Mulay, one of the theosophists, was so much influenced by Shri Maharaj that he prayed to Shri Maharaj to stay with him for a few weeks. He made all the books of theosophy available to Shri Maharaj so that Shri Maharaj could refute the doctrines of that cult. Shri Nassarwanji Mancharji was also disillusioned about theosophy when he heard of Shri Maharaj. He became an ardent devotee of Shri Maharaj in his later life.
34. VISIT TO ALANDI
Shri Maharaj visited Alandi, the place of the Samadhi of Shri Dnyaneshwar Maharaj at least twice a year. Shri Vishnupant Panwalkar, a devotee of Shri Maharaj; got two pairs of the “Paduka” (wooden footwear) of Shri Dnyaneshwar Maharaj made in silver and offered them to Shri Maharaj. Then in 1905, Shri Maharaj, Shri Panwalkar and a few other devotees visited Alandi along with the two silver Paduka pairs. Shri Maharaj offered one pair to the temple. The residents of Alandi were so pleased that they took this silver pair of the Paduka out in a big procession in the town.
The other pair of the sacred silver Paduka was given by Shri Maharaj to his “Math” (Abbey) at Amravati for the daily pooja (worship). Shri Maharaj then instructed his followers to take it out in a procession every Thursday. So it was in the lifetime of Shri Maharaj and even today the practice continued at Amravati. Specially for that purpose Shri Panwalkar purchased a beautiful image of Shri Krishna and presented it to Shri Maharaj who made all the necessary arrangements for its worship daily along with the silver pair of the Paduka.
35. VISIT TO PUNE AND MUMBAI
While returning from Alandi Shri Maharaj visited Pune on the way. For 10 days he stayed there with Shri Keshavrao Maharaj Deshmukh, a noted saint of those days. Thousands of his followers came to meet him. Day and night there were discussions on the Vedanta philosophy. Shri Nanasaheb Deshmukh, the uncle of Shri Keshavrao Maharaj, was a leading physician in Mumbai. He happened to be in Pune at that time and was also staying with Shri Keshavrao Maharaj during that period. He was greatly impressed by the personality of Shri Maharaj. He most earnestly urged and succeeded in persuading Shri Maharaj to visit Mumbai along with him. Shri Keshavrao Maharaj also accompanied them to Mumbai.
Dr. Deshmukh invited the leading lights in Mumbai from the medical profession as well as some lawyers, thinkers, political leaders, musicians and educationists to meet Shri Maharaj. Among those who met Shri Maharaj were Barrister Setalvad, the most eminent lawyer in Mumbai, Dr. Bhajekar, a leading physician, Shri Manohar Gavai, a social leader and Shri Vyankata Shastri, great Sanskrit scholar. For about ten days there were discussions on various subjects. Shri Keshavrao Maharaj Deshmukh has written a biography of Shri Maharaj in which he has described these meetings in Pune and Mumbai. He writes, “Shri Gulabrao Maharaj spoke extensively on various subjects including Music, Ethics, Allopathy, Politics, Vedanta, Nyaya, etc. Thousands of people came to meet Shri Maharaj and asked him questions. Shri Maharaj satisfied them all by giving them appropriate explanations of their doubts and problems which showed how deeply he had studied all these subjects. He would give quotations after quotations from books on these subjects and would state the details of these quotations with page numbers, years of publication, names of the authors and publishers, etc. Some of the visitors tried to verify the quotations and they were amazed to find that Shri Maharaj had quoted word by word without a single mistake and even the page numbers quoted by him were correct. All the visitors wondered how a blind person could study these subjects so deeply and remember the books after books word by word. This was really a miracle, unheard of and unknown in the history of our country.”
The crowds of visitors began to increase day by day. So after ten days, being tired of this popularity, Shri Maharaj left Mumbai without informing anybody.
Shri Keshavrao Maharaj writes further, “I have not come across any person who had even a half of What Shri Gulabrao Maharaj knew. His memory, intelligence, knowledge and perception were indeed a miracle, most difficult to believe. One had only to see him to believe. Perhaps this was the rarest of gifts given to this child blessed by God Himself. Shri Maharaj was the greatest miracle, nay more than a miracle which I have myself experienced in my life ”
The above remarks of Shri Keshavrao Maharaj as given by him in the biography of Shri Gulabrao Maharaj need no further comments.