Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
The more I read about The Perfect Masters; the further I research on The Oneness Family; what I understand through Their Lives, Their Words, Their selfless Love and most importantly Their Compassion, is that Each One of Them must have known that They were wasting Their time with most of mankind, trying to make us realise that the only thing worth pursuing, the only thing worth having your heart ripped into shreds and pissed upon, the only thing that eventually was real, was realising that one is not the body, one is the Spirit in the body; that you, me, Them, The Creator, are in reality One, and the purpose of life and all the damn journeys we take, again and again and again, is to merge back into our own True Self and to keep giving and giving and giving and getting one’s astral teeth kicked in and the family jewels stomped upon, but never to stop and eventually that is what truly matters, to take as many daft travelers back to the spiritual inn from where the True Journey in reality begins and for us mankind, They, The Avatars, The Prophets, The Masters, kept coming back, still do and will keep coming in different Forms to help us drop the baggage and realise that when we leave the body, nobody is going to come along, no loved one is going to accompany us, no bank balance is going to matter, but one’s Karma and one’s realisation that except The Creator, The Big Boss, The Out of Tune Harpist, nothing matters, and The Masters suffered and we nodded and moments later we forgot Their Sacrifice, Their Words, Their Pain, The various ways They were Crucified and I always wonder, are They bloody nuts, why waste time over a specie that has never learnt, isn’t bothered even now and will never learn, that the only thing that truly matters is to serve Them and love Them and try to go through each moment with grace and giving one’s best and leaving the rest to Him / Her / Them. (I also wanted to see how long I could stretch a sentence without the use of a full stop.)
That The Master’s love us and are with us is a matter of one’s love and grace. If one opens one’s eyes, one can see.
The Bible says nobody is as blind as a person who refuses to see.
A blind person who truly wants to see, will form an image of whatever is going on, as sight means vision and vision is not the prerogative of just the visually not challenged but for all those whose heart and mind are open to let all that which is around us, enter our consciousness and other subtle senses perceptions, through various other senses; thus, one will see with sound, scent, vibrations, touch, feelings.
If one shuts the curtains, the windows and the lights and then moans and groans that darkness surrounds him or her, even God Sighs and fills a pipe which has less tobacco and more herbs, and then scratches His / Her Divine spiritual head and wonders….why did I Create mankind….could have stopped with the universe, galaxies, planets, stars, Mother Earth, animals and birds and what not, even at Adam and Eve….should have got the hint when saw that idiot Adam and Eve stuffing Their faces with the blasted apple….but no, still went about Creating mankind.
The proof of the Love of the Master’s was once again demonstrated when Shankar Maharaj decided to postpone leaving His body and continue His journey and operating through the body, when His disciples pleaded to Him that He should not take Samadhi. He looked at His disciples, abused them and then agreed not to take Samadhi or leave the body, knowing that then He would be able to take Samadhi only after seventeen years, as it was only after seventeen years, that the auspicious time or yog would come about. Thus, He agreed to stay in the body even though medically it was proved that at that time He was already either hundred and twenty five or hundred at forty five years of age. Some claim He took Samadhi at the age of hundred and forty seven while some say He took Samadhi when He was hundred and sixty one years of age.
Imagine the love He must have for His children (disciples and devotees who came to Him irrespective of caste, creed, religion, and finance), that He agreed to postpone His Samadhi by seventeen years after living in the body for nearly a century and a half.
He was very clear about one thing which is, He performed miracles through the Grace of His Master Shree Sadguru Swami Samarth also known as Swami Akkalkot Maharaj and the reason He performed miracles was to win the Faith of those who came to Him, so that after winning their faith, the devotees could focus on The Creator, understand that everything around is an illusion and to make them focus on the Spirit and Energy within them, than the body and the material world around them. “All the miracles I performed are due to the blessings of My Guru and it happens only by His wish. I am bound to fulfill all the wishes of the one who does the ceaseless reiteration of My Guru. So worship My Guru and enjoy the divine experiences from Me”.
All His life He always spoke about His Guru and The Goddess, Maa Padmavati. For Him, existence began and went beyond the beyond because of The Guru and The Mother.
He founded no ashram, no institution and loved travelling and to stay in the homes of His disciples, it didn’t matter how rich or how financially poor they were. He sought love and wanted His children all over the country and the world to focus on the Eternal but never to forsake their duties to their families and their responsibilities to home, work and the world.
He was absolutely against anybody leaving their home, family and their responsibilities in order to search for God or even to pursue their spiritual goal in life. First comes duty and then all else, but never ever to forget to make The Lord happy and proud, whether you were engrossed in your duties towards home, family or work.
He often said that He belonged to the Nath Panthi spiritual tradition and that He would keep coming down in the physical body to serve and liberate His people and all those who craved for liberation. He didn’t seek moksha and liberation but to serve all of Creation.
I first saw Shankar Maharaj at my home. I don’t remember exactly where. Was it where my parents lived or my maternal grand-mother’s home, who I grew up with, but I remember seeing Him, seated in that un yoga pose, hugging his legs, mainly His shins and looking at you, bearded and a glance that says, don’t waste your life, don’t waste your life, don’t waste your life.
The moment I was told by somebody that He smoked cigarettes and drank brandy, I exhaled and said, I likes and lovebs Him. He would smoke a particular brand called Honeydew (known as Pilo hatthi) cigarettes. He often appeared intoxicated due to the consumption of brandy and loved the smell of henna perfume or ittar.
The first time I went to His Samadhi, which is in Pune, was with my friends. We went on a beautiful day. It was winter time in the afternoon. There were a few devotees there. His Samadhi is in a beautiful place. We paid our obeisance. Then just near His Samadhi is a place where one can light cigarettes in His Honour. Usually people light Charminar cigarettes but we had our own brands. I remember lighting the cigarette and you hold the burning cigarette a little up and then a beautiful blissful experience transpired and a very humbling blessing. It was as though somebody had taken a drag from the cigarette I was holding. I thought it was my imagination but all my friends saw it too. It was as though He had taken a puff, a deep puff as quarter of the cigarette was smoked away and all of us, four unshaven men in their mid forties, giggled like small children and we left His place, feeling like a million euros.
So, who is Shankar Maharaj, the One who lived in the body till around the age of one hundred and sixty one, who spoke any language immaculately which He was addressed in, be it English, Russian, Japanese, Hindi, Marathi, Urdu, who could converse with animals and birds, whose body was broken in seven different places, who loved smoking and carried a brandy bottle with Him and most importantly loved His Guru, Shree Sadguru Swami Samarth so much that often He would sit at Swami Samarth’s Samadhi for hours at a stretch and tell one and all, that He, Shankar Maharaj performed no miracles, that all miracles that happened through Him was due to the Grace, Love and Compassion of His Guru, Swami Samarth.
Like Sai Baba of Shirdi, He, Shankar Maharaj, was followed by both, Hindus and Muslims in India, and is known as an Auliya by Muslims and an Avadhut by Hindus (both meaning a Man of God with supernatural powers) but the strange part is He spent time in Russia, Japan and England and has followers, who are Christians and Buddhists too, all over the world.
Shankar Maharaj was short in stature and was bent in eight places in the skeletal. The yogic word for this is Ashtavakra. He had long hands which reached below His knees, which is the sign of an extremely evolved Master in the Naath Panthi sect, also called Ajunubahu. He used to talk with a lisp which He said was due to His unusual long tongue. His eyes were childlike and He kept changing His appearance. He would sometimes wear the fanciest of clothes with a gold chain and a watch and live in the most affluent places and sometimes He would be clothed like a mad man, unkempt, or mostly in the traditional Indian attire of villagers, dhoti and a simple white shirt, living in the most humble surroundings. He loved smoking and would drink brandy and used the choicest of abuses, thrashed folks and if this wasn’t enough, sometimes walked about with a well made hunter or whip and was Compassion personified. He once thrashed an eve teaser with the hunter. He also had difficulty in walking due to being bent at eight places in the skeletal, thus often His disciples would carry Him, but when He needed to He would walk fast and leave all the others behind. He was an enigma. He wanted His children to go beyond His physical form, behavior, attitude, speech and focus on His Oneness with The Master and The Lord. Time and again His disciples realised that He could change His look and appearance as well as His agility and state of youthfulness, depending upon what He wanted to convey.
About His drinking habit, once He had told His disciples that He did not want to be surrounded by anybody who wasn’t interested in moving on the path of liberation and Spirit or if He realised that the only aim of the so called devotee was to enhance his or her balance sheet. He would help those who were struggling to keep body and soul together no matter what, as if the body is hungry, the chance of moving on the Path doesn’t arise. But those who had it all but wanted more and more wealth or name or fame but not give back to the society and the poor and the needy and be immersed in the false illusion of ‘I am the body’ senses, He kept away from. Thus He often behaved in a mad manner. He abused and thrashed and drank and seemed mentally unsound. Also often when He drank and if He was being judged by others around Him, invariably those chaps got intoxicated. Often when people took a sip from of His brandy bottle, they found it was coconut water but the moment they would put the glass or bottle down it was brandy.
He often changed His attire. Sometimes He would adorn Himself with rings and jewellery and at times He would roam about for months in the most humble of clothes.
He used to meet Hazrat Baba Jaan and Fakir Baba often when in Pune and was well versed with The Quran and spoke in detail with Muslim devotees about the true meaning of The Quran and He also spoke to them in Urdu.
He loved devotional songs and was very fond of music and for Him, The Dyaneshwari (pronounced as Gyaneshwari) written by Sant Dyaneshwar Maharaj, which is the commentary on The Gita in Marathi was the closest to His heart. He lovingly called Dyaneshwar Maharaj as ‘My Gyani’ which means “My learned”.
The best part is He made a number of His disciples give talks on various spiritual books and even the disciples who were conducting the talks knew that it was Shankar Maharaj who came through the speaker and spoke through the disciple. He was clear that due to His lisp, it would be best to let a person with the right spiritual attitude and intellect to be the face and He spoke through the individual.
Often He would rue that everybody seemed to be after happiness but nobody truly realised that happiness comes forth from avoiding all that which brings unhappiness. “Everyone in this world is after happiness. But nobody bothers to think about what really is happiness. Unfulfilled desires, jealousy, greed, ambition etc. create sorrow in our life. Eliminating them can alone create happiness in our life. It is a mistake to think that happiness can be obtained by external things without getting rid of our internal shortcomings. Reading various kinds of philosophies can only create ego. We have lost the ability to think independently. We have forgotten that happiness and peace are to be obtained through one’s own efforts.”
Once one of His favourite disciples, Dr. Dhaneshwar, who met Shankar Maharaj when the doctor was barely ten years old and at that time itself Shankar Maharaj seemed a hundred years of age, asked Him of His age and He told the doctor that, ‘You are a man of medicine why don’t you decipher My age’. Yes, medically it was proved that at that time when the doctors took His physical examination Shankar Maharaj was already at least around the age of a hundred and twenty seven years.
When the doctor asked Him how He knew all languages, this is what was told to him.
“The One who understands the principle which is beyond the source of all languages and who becomes one with it, knows any language, even the language of animals and birds. He becomes the Energy itself therefore he is able to decipher the vibration. I understand the English language perfectly. I have read complete Shakespeare. He had rich experiences of life. Among his plays, I Like Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and Romeo-Juliet.”
Shankar Maharaj, in His own words, was a very mischievous child. One day He decided to go hunting in the forest. There was a beautiful Shiv Temple in the forest and He spotted a deer. He took aim and suddenly a tall, well built man, picked up the deer and smiled at the young Boy. The man told the boy as to what sense did it make to kill a harmless deer. If hunting was a sport one should go and kill wild animals who lived with the philosophy of killing and hunting. That would be a humorous game of Karma.
Am sure Shankar Maharaj must have scratched His head and said ‘what the…’ and He shot the deer. The arrow hit the deer but neither did the arrow hurt the deer nor did the deer even wince. He shot another one with the same blunt result. Realising something was odd He approached the man. The man put the deer down and caressed Shankar Maharaj’s head and embraced the Boy. This was in reality Shakti Path, transference of Energy and awakening of the Kundalini or the Divine Holy Spirit. The man was none other than Swami Akkalkot Maharaj or Swami Samarth.
The Boy realised that the man who stood in front of Him was none other than His very Guru, from the beginning of time. Shankar Maharaj spent six months with Swami Akkalkot, where He was taught all that which was needed and then He was told to go for Pilgrimages. He went to the Himalayas where He underwent serious spiritual transformation through various meditation and other techniques and then came back and stayed with Naath Yogis who further made Him realise His Oneness with all of Creation. Sometime later when the British took over Pune, a British Collector realised the greatness of Shankar Maharaj and he became, and could be, became His first devotee and pleaded with Maharaj to visit England and spread His knowledge and Divinity there too. Shankar Maharaj agreed and He stayed in England for over a decade teaching the British officer and all those who were desirous of the path of Oneness through Yoga and other spiritual exercises.
He has Himself admitted of spending a number of years in Russia and Japan.
All His life was spent in the service of mankind and all of Creation. As mentioned above, He wanted to drop His body in the late 1920s but due to the immense love He had for His children, He postponed the time of taking Samadhi for seventeen years.
The script of His Samadhi could have been written only by God, Goddess and The Master Himself.
One day, around the beginning of April in the year nineteen forty seven, Shankar Maharaj told His disciples that He wanted to visit Maa Padmavati’s Temple in Pune. He went and sat in front of Maa Padmavati’s Statue and for a long time He gazed at Her; it was as though both Mother and Son were in deep conversation with Each Other. Then He got up and smiled. The smile should have told His close disciples everything. Seventeen years had passed and He had promised His disciples that He wouldn’t leave His physical body for that period. He asked to be taken to another disciple’s home, family of Malpani, who had a farm near the Katraj Ghat. Shankar Maharaj entered the farm, drank water from the well and then smiled once again and told those near Him that, “Use this place for My Samadhi. This place is blessed with the company of Saint Dnyaneshwar and Goddess Padmavati. I will sleep here forever. When our clothes become old and turn to rags, then we change them. In the same manner My body has become old. So My Soul is going to change the body. The golden chance to be in Samadhi for a Yogi, Saint or Ascetic comes every seventeen years. Now the chance for My self immolation is coming on Vaishakh Shudh Ashtami (eighth lunar day from the new Moon day of Vaishakh month according to the Hindu calendar) on the twenty eighth of this month and this year (twenty eight April, nineteen forty seven). On this day I shall take Samadhi.”
Four days later after meeting His closest disciples, after having a cup of tea but not smoking His cigarettes, which were so close to His heart, He had a bath, made arrangements for an old huge cupboard to be cleaned, a mattress and pillow to be placed within the cupboard. He made it clear to all present that nobody should disturb Him or try to open the cupboard. He would inform one and all what to do as and when the time was right.
For the entire night there was no sound from the cupboard into which Shankar Maharaj had retreated. Then in the early hours of the appointed day for Samadhi, the spiritual sigh of Omkar came through and then those outside heard Him tell one and all that He had left His physical body and to make the necessary arrangements for the final resting place of His body. Thus, on Ashtami, the eighth lunar day from the full moon, which is considered to be the most auspicious day of each month for all Goddess worshippers, Shankar Maharaj, Lord Shankar left His body.
Now Shankar Maharaj had taught His disciples certain spiritual truths and they decided to see if a particular spiritual experiment which He had taught would come to pass. A copper wire was placed on Shankar Maharaj’s throat and the other end touched the disciple’s ear and then a voice came loud and clear through the wire that said, “My Soul has left this body and got united with Almighty God but I will work through my Samadhi for the welfare of My devotees”.
During the final ceremony when His body was lifted to be placed in The Samadhi Temple, one of the four disciples by the name of Mr. Phulari was nudged by Shankar Maharaj and told clearly that, “Hold my body properly or else I will fall”. When Mr. Phulari looked around He saw Shankar Maharaj’s body in the state of Samadhi but also realised that in his grief, in a matter of few steps he would have been responsible in making His Master’s body fall on the ground.
Once again when the disciples were filling the Samadhi Tomb with sand, they realised that no amount of sand could fill the tomb when just then another disciple was told loud and clear that, “Gather used flowers from the temples of Alandi, Jangli Maharaj Samadhi, Sopankaka Samadhi, Omkareshwar Temple (Pune) and Goddess Padmavati Temple and put the flowers on My body”.
After all the flowers were collected from the above mentioned Temples and then strewn inside The Samadhi Tomb, only then did The Samadhi Tomb get filled up.
The best part is that time and again Shankar Maharaj has materialized His body and met a number of His disciples. Sometimes had a meal and sometimes asked for cigarettes and with a smile disappeared.
The fact of the matter is that for The Masters, this business of materializing at various places, resurrecting Themselves, performing miracles is child’s play. The real deal is to fill each disciple and devotee’s heart with the realisation of Oneness, thus making each one of them more compassionate, selfless and operating from brotherhood. That is where the real deal is, that is where the true miracle is, that is what each Master, Saint, Prophet strives for; first to make each one of His or Her child become a more compassionate, less judgmental human being and later on realise The Eternal Guru within and then become One with the Eternal Guru. To perform this miracle They keep coming back, denying Themselves eternal rest, bliss and merger.
The real miracle is The Love and Faith and Compassion They have for us.
And we continue to look up and spit in the air.
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha