(Chapters from Shri Gulabrao Maharaj’s biography in English by Shri. Sharad Kopardekar.)
41. THE DEATH OF MANAKARNIKABAI
In 1906, Manakarnikabai became seriously ill. She was suffering from ulcers in the stomach. She used to vomit whatever she ate. Day by day her health deteriorated. Shri Nanaji Kavimandan who had learnt Ayurveda from Shri Maharaj was treating her. He consulted Sakharam Appa, a practitioner in Ayurveda from Madhan, who had also learnt Ayurveda from Shri Maharaj. But the disease refused to respond to the treatment. About that time Shri Maharaj decided to celebrate the Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna at Yaoli. While preparing for the journey, Shri Maharaj told Nanaji Kavimandan to take all the necessary medicines with him. “One of us would be seriously ill at Yaoli,” he said.
The day after Shri Maharaj, Manakarnikabai and other followers reached Yaoli, Manakarnikabai’s illness became serious. She vomited blood and fainted. Shri Maharaj sent for his relatives. Sakharam Appa came to Yaoli to help Nanaji Kavimandan. But Manakarnikabai got worse. She could not even open her mouth to receive the medicine. She was slowly sinking. On the fourth day she breathed her last (Shravan Vadya Chaturthi, Shake- 1828 – 1906 A. D.)
Shri Maharaj had anticipated her death. His various remarks from time to time indicated this. Yet the blow when it actually came must have given him a jolt. However, Shri Maharaj faced it bravely. He gave discourse on Vedanta Bodha to all those who had come to console him. It certainly helped all to compose themselves. Shri Maharaj went to Madhan for completing the last rites of Manakarnikabai according to the Hindu shastras.
Manakarnikabai was not just the wife of Shri Maharaj. The two lived the life together on the spiritual plane. He was her spiritual master and she, his ardent disciple. She used to look after and care for Shri Maharaj as a mother would do. Hence Shri Maharaj must have felt a great emptiness in his life after the death of Manakarnikabai. That is perhaps the reason why he went to the mountains of Brahma Ram near Nagpur and stayed there alone for a few weeks.
He must however have realised that his life was after all not his own. He had come to fulfil a mission to rejuvenate the religion. He had arrived for the spiritual upliftment of the Society. He therefore swallowed his personal grief and continued his work.
Sarajabai, the mother of Manakarnikabai now stayed with Shri Maharaj in order to look after Ananta, the son of Shri Maharaj. Dattu, the brother of Manakarnikabai, also stayed with Shri Maharaj all his life.
42. HELP & GUIDANCE TO SHRI GANPATRAO
Shri Maharaj continued to help and guide his followers – Shri Ganpatrao, one of the devotees of Shri Maharaj fixed his daughter’s marriage with a boy from a well known, respectable family. Arrangements for the wedding were complete. Invitations had been sent to all friends and relatives and the guests started arriving at Yaoli.
Two days before the actual wedding ceremony, Shri Ganpatrao went to Shri Maharaj to extend personally to him the invitation to grace the occasion with his presence. On being asked he narrated the whole story, how it took a lot of efforts and time for him to fix the marriages because it happened that there was some defect in the horoscope of the girl. Shri Maharaj looked grave. He thought for a while and said to Ganpatrao, “This marriage must not take place. You must see that it is cancelled.” Shri Ganpatrao was shocked to hear this. He could not utter even a single word. Shri Maharaj said, “What are you thinking? The marriage must be cancelled at any cost. Even if the other party claims reimbursement of the expenditure incurred by them, I will bear this expenditure, but the marriage must not take place.”
Shri Ganpatrao had great faith in Shri Maharaj. He did not ask Shri Maharaj anything further. He cancelled the marriage. The guests and relatives were upset. The bridegroom was furious. Ganpatrao had to bear a lot of harsh words from his guests and relatives. But he did not change his decision to cancel the marriage. Two days passed. And what a shock? News reached Yaoli that the bridegroom had died suddenly. Shri Ganpatrao now realised why Shri Maharaj had insisted on cancelling the marriage. He touched the feet of Shri Maharaj with great reverence again and again. After a few days Shri Maharaj selected a proper bridegroom for the daughter of Shri Ganpatrao and the wedding was celebrated in the presence of Shri Maharaj. The couple lived a normal life.
When Shri Maharaj was at Mandla, Ganpatrao came to see him there. He wished to go back to Yaoli, his native place, within two days for starting the agricultural operations. But he could not go until Shri Maharaj gave him permission to do so; and Shri Maharaj did not give him the permission for four months. Shri Ganpatrao was worried that the yield from his lands would suffer badly that year as he had not been there to supervise the operations. The monsoon was over by the time Shri Maharaj permitted him to return to Yaoli. And what a surprise? When he did return, he found that the yield had never been so plentiful during the previous few years.
43. PUBLISHING OF THE BOOKS
Everyone who came into contact with Shri Maharaj could develop himself and reach up to a higher plane. The number of followers who accepted initiation from Shri Maharaj was increasing gradually. In the company of Shri Maharaj they experienced a spiritual change in themselves. This was indeed a great achievement in itself. But Shri Maharaj was not satisfied with it. He felt that if his writings were published, his thoughts could reach a larger number of people and further help him in the mission of his life.
In 1907, in a private meeting of some of his intimate followers Shri Maharaj opened his mind. They immediately decided to give concrete shape to his desire.
Shri Shrinivas Shastri Hardas took lead in starting a printing press in 1907 with the sole object of publishing the works of Shri Maharaj. The press was named Shri Dnyaneshwar Prasadik Press. The name itself expressed clearly the purpose of the press viz. spreading of the spiritual message of Shri Maharaj by publishing his works, which was in reality the blessing of Shri Dnyaneshwar Maharaj. Shri Vithalrao Kekare, a lawyer from Mandla and Shri Balwantrao Deshmukh, a lawyer from Chanda, made the necessary finance available.
When an organiser like Shri Maharaj takes up a project, how can it fail to get all kinds of necessary support? Shri. Haribhau Kavale, Shri. Gangadhar Mulay, Shri. Vyankatesh Deshpande and Shri. Govind Ramchandra Bhakta devoted themselves to the work of writing down whatever Shri Maharaj dictated. Here the work especially of Shri Haribhau Kavale must really be appreciated. He was unusually swift in taking down the words of Shri Maharaj. But Shri Maharaj used to dictate so fast that normally four persons were needed to take down his words. The first would write the first line, and the second, third and fourth would write the second, third, and fourth lines, respectively. The process, would then be repeated. Finally the writing of these four persons would be combined together.
Haribhau Kavale came from a millionaire family. He was the owner of thousands of acres of land and a big house. Thus he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and was brought up in a rich luxurious style. Yet he left everything and stayed with Shri Maharaj for the whole of his life. He renounced all material comforts and lived a very simple life at the lotus feet of Shri Maharaj. He was always ready with his pen and paper to write down whatever Shri Maharaj said.
The first book to be published by the press was “Bhakti Pada Tirthamrut.” Then it was decided to publish the entire writing of Shri Maharaj in a series of volumes. The printing of the series once started at the press continued for years together even after the Maha Samadhi of Shri Maharaj. The series was titled as ‘Sookti Ratnavali’. meaning a chain of gems. In all, twenty volumes were published. This series contained all the 131 books dictated by Shri Maharaj. The writings were in Marathi, Sanskrit. and Hindi, The total writings of Shri Maharaj exceed 6,000 printed pages demi size.
Here particular reference must be made to the 115 letters of Shri Maharaj, which have also been published in volumes. No. 1, 2, 7 and 12. These letters are gems of literature and spirituality of the highest order.
44. MEETINGS WITH SHRI ROY
Shri Roy from Bengal was a Professor of Philosophy in the Morris College, Nagpur. He was deeply interested in the Eastern as well as the Western philosophy. He was also interested in the modern developments in physical sciences. He used to visit Shri Maharaj regularly and they used to enjoy discussing their favourite topics for hours together. With his help, Shri Maharaj purchased a number of books published in America and England and studied them.
Shri Maharaj showed particular interest in the works of Darwin, Spencer, Myres and Hamilton. He purchased the then latest books on philosophy and scientific development and dictated extensively on them. Shri Maharaj has refuted Theory of Evolution of Darwin. He has also shown how the theory of materialism does not stand the test of time. He has dictated extensively to show how Indian philosophy is superior to the popular branches of western philosophy like agnosticism, nihilism, skepticism, etc. Shri Roy was interested in the work of Shri. Jagadish Chandra Bose. He read the then latest books of Shri. Bose for Shri Maharaj. Shri Maharaj dictated his thoughts on the theory of Shri. Bose.
Shri. Priyanath Mukherjee, another Professor from Bengal, had specialised in the study of Biology. He was a professor or Biology in the Morris College, Nagpur. Shri Maharaj showed his comments on the work of Shri Bose to Professor Mukherjee. When he read them, he was astonished. He could not believe that a person who did not specialise in Biology could have such a deep understanding of the latest developments in Biology. He was astonished by the interdisciplinary approach taken by Shri Maharaj. He said, “I cannot believe this. Unless we accept that Shri Maharaj is the very incarnation of God, we cannot explain this.”