God Lived with Them
Offered By Dr. Gopalkrishna Shenoy
Anant Koti Brahamandanayak, Bhaktapratipalak, Bhaktavatsala, Bhaktabhimani, Bhakatakripalu, Shripad Shreevallabha, Shri Narahari Narshimha Saraswati, Dattavatari, Kanhangadnivasi,Bhagavan Nityanandabhilashi Sadgurunath Shree Parampujya Shree Janananda Maharaj
It was 27th December 1982. I had come to Kanhangad Ashram a couple of days earlier on being informed that Swamiji was not keeping well. Many devotees from Mumbai, Mangalore, Kanhangad and other places had gathered. Devotees were holding bhajans and prayers for Swaqmiji.s health in the hall where Swamiji was sleeping. A week ago one devotee called Mudanna Shetty had a dream that Swami wanted him in Kanhangad. He rushed to Kanahangad, but as he tried an audition with Swamiji, he was prevented from meeting Swamiji by Krishna Nair. Swamijis health was poor and there were restrictions on visitors. Mr. Mudanna Shetty pleaded with Krishna Nair to allow him to have darshan of Swamiji. As this tussle was happening Swamiji called out at Krishna Nair. On knowing that Mudanna has come Swamiji admonisdhed Krishjna Nair for not allowing Mudanna to meet him. When Mudanna met Swamiji, Swamiji instructed Go to my village Hejmadi. On reaching there you shall find a well. You must personally draw water from that well and drink a glass. Then you shall find five Cobras under a tree. Offer water from this well and tell each one of them this water is offered by Sinha Swami. Having done that you shall find a cow shed. Inside the shed you shall find cows and calf. Pass your hands over them lovingly. Having done that you must come back to Kanhanagad. Mudanna immediately left for Hejmadi. He reached late in the evening and thus alighted at friends house. After getting fresh, he began to go in the search of the well. They were troubled as to how would they locate the well in the dark. Just then they saw a beam of light beckoning them. They followed it till they reached a well where the beam disappeared. Muddana looked inside well to find dazzling light being emitted from it. He was wonder struck to see the well filled with light. He drew water from the well and drank a glass. Next to well he saw a huge tree under which there were four statues of Cobra and a live Cobra. He took water from the well and as instructed by Swamiji offered the water to each Cobra saying that it has been offered by Sinha Swami. Having done that he looked for the cowshed. Finding one he affectionately rubbed his palms on the cow and the calf. With mission accomplished he began his journey to Kanhangad to inform Swamiji. Just yesterday, Ratnakar Shenoy held mass Request Prayer to Swamiji that he should soon recover and continue to guide and bless us in his saguna form. Swamiji, who was in turiya awastha for few days, momentarily recovered and opened his eyes, but went back into turiya awastha. Sri Sadananda Swami of Tungareshwar and his devotees were stationed at Kanhangad for last several days. He was holding bhajans and guiding devotees who had gathered. Swamiji, however showed no signs of relenting to our prayers although Dr. Thakar and Dr. Sharmista were doing their best. Malou Lanvin from Paris had taken the responsibility of nurse. Annual festival of Datta Jayanti was fast approaching and was on 29th December that year. At the back of our mind the words of Swamiji were echoing This Data Jayanti the Akasha (sky) and Patal (the earth) will merge. Swamiji had indicated that the gross shall merge with subtle and only subtle would remain to serve his devotees. There was fear in our minds that Swamiji may take Mahasamadhi. Devotees offered him Gangajal to annoyance of doctors attending him. I was present in the hall offering my seva as requested by those attending Swamiji. It was around three in afternoon that Dr. Sharmista and Mrs. Hingwala gave a loud scream. Dr. Thankar rushed to examine Swamiji. It was at 3.03 pm that Dr. Thakar declared that Swami had taken Mahasamadhi. I just bowed and went on the top where Bhagavan Nityanandas shrine was. I bowed to at Bhagavans statue. Suddenly the bright afternoon became very cloudy and the breeze stopped completely and so did the clattering of the leaves of huge piple tree. The birds became silent, the time just stood still as if the Universe went in silence to pay homage to the foremost devotee of Bhagavan Nityananda, who having completed his sojourn on the earth, had merged with the Brahaman forever. Thus Swami Janananda took his Mahasamadhi on 27th December 1982 at 3.03 pm.
Swami Janananda was born in Hejmadi, a village close to Mulki in South Karnataka. Mulki is famous for the Lakshmi Narshimha Temple of Kashi Mutt Sansthan and the deity here is known to be very powerful and place vibrant with shakti. Hejmadi was a typical south Indian village with coconut orchards, large green paddy fields and houses of poor farmers who used to toil hard. India was ruled by British in those days. The young child, then known as Sinha Bogi Shetty, had all the features of a leader. He was robust, strong, tall for his age and huge. His feet, arms and fingers were large. His face was bright and he had wheatish complexion, which gave his skin copper-reddish color tinge. Being very strong, he was always full of fun and frolic and used to enjoy playing with local village children. In those days, poor could hardly afford to study in schools. As Sinha had lost his father, his care was left to his mother who worked in field in return for few kilos of rice as salary. In those days of zamindari the feudal lords used to treat the laborers very badly and often not pay them their dues. With extreme difficulties she used to manage her house and try to shield her young son from the impact of poverty by herself going hungry to feed him. Young Sinha, who was bright and very observant, knew the state of his household and used to often ask pointing questions to his mother who found it difficult to answer as she did not want her son to learn about their poverty.
The first encounter with Master
Sinha was rapidly growing. He was now twelve years old. He used to help his mother at home and when she went to work on fields he took care of the siblings. He used to go and fish so that they could have some curry with the cooked rice that his mother brought daily. Sinha was a very good swimmer and expert in catching fish by sharp arrows. Later in life he shared with my father, Raghunath Shenoy the art of catching the fish. How he used to make sharp arrows from bamboos and how he used to wait in the river to catch the largest fish. He used to enjoy talking about his childhood. In evenings he used to play with local children in the village maidan (flat play ground). His favorites were marbles, football and other village games. Being very fast, sharp and strong there was competition among the children to have him in their team. One day as he kicked the football hard, it went far and wide crossing the road. Children were forbidden to go on the road for the fear of accident. Since it was he who had kicked the ball hard, it was for him to get the ball breaking the rule of not going on the road. The brave Sinha went running to the road where the ball was. Just as he picked up the ball, he saw a man standing in front of him with a large smile on his face. This man was lanky, had darkish complexion, having bright large eyes, set of white teeth and had a very magnetic personality. Instead of being frightened by the stranger, young Sinha looked directly at him. This man lifted Sinha in his arms and ran his palm from his temple (sarasar) to the tip of this spinal cord. A short of electric shock passed into young Sinha, who did not know what it was and was thoroughly shaken by this experience. Sinha appeared bewildered; the strange man gave a loud laugh and disappeared. The young Sinha gave up theball for ever.
Since his encounter with the stranger, Sinha behaved strange. He no longer played with children of the village. They pleaded and coaxed him, but he would not budge. He had become very serious, quiet as if he was introspecting, absorbed in deep thoughts and lost. He showed no more sign of typical I dont care attitude of small child and looked very serious. He had stopped catching fish totally. In fact he was against killing any creature. His mother and younger brother were now disturbed as they could no longer get fish for their meal and had to eat only plain rice which was very insipid. All efforts of his mother to find out what was wrong with him for this strange transformation brought nothing but a stare and silence from young Sinha. He had lost his childlike innocence and looked very mature, serene, and stoic. He however continued to help his mother and looked after his young brother. He got attracted to visiting Sadus and monks and often withdrew in solitude. He asked his mother questions which she had no answers as it dealt with spiritual world of which she had no knowledge. His mother became frightened and worried by his strange behavior.
One day Sinhas younger brother insisted on getting tender coconut as he was thirsty and hungry. In Karnataka, it was very common to drink tender coconut water and eat the fruit. Sinha could not find any coconuts except those hanging on the tall coconut trees. Normally one carried safety rope to climb the tall trees, but Sinha had none as he was not a professional coconut picker. At the insistence of his younger brother Sinha began to climb a tree. He was very fast and knew the art of climbing the coconut trees. On reaching the top he plucked a bunch of coconuts, but lost his balance and fell down. As he hit the ground he lost consciousness. His younger brother ran to the village to get his mother. His mother went into great agony seeing her son unconscious and bleeding. Carefully she lifted him and took him to her hut. She called for help, but being poor who could not pay for treatment, neighbors just came out of curiosity and not to help. Mother wept ceaselessly. For hours Sinha remained unconscious and there it appeared that he was seriously injured. He remained in that state for couple of days and his mother just remained by his side hoping against hope that he would soon recover and call out to her like before. After couple of days, Sinha opened his eyes. He found his mother staring at him and gave her a smile. Mother picked him to her bossom and tears of joy rolled down her cheek. Young Sinha soon recovered. He was no longer serious like what he was recently, but there was an air of authority in his way of being. When she asked him about the fall he said When I was about to die, a beautiful lady in white came to me and she nursed me. She looked very divine just as the statue of Mother Goddes in our temple, but more beautiful. This Mother took care of me and assured me that I shall live and that I have to now go in search of truth. When he said this, Sinhas mother wept as she understood what it meant. Her son was to soon leave her. She pleaded with him and told him all her difficulties in running the house and how much she needed him as support. Sinha remained unmoved and said Goddes Lakshmi who rescued me shall take care of you. You and family shall never go hungry and there would be abundance. Surrender to Mother and everything will be all right.
Sinha now started avoiding his friends and preferred solitude. He used to go up the hills or deep into the woods and remain there for hours. At times he used to sit on the bunds of fields and go into trance. Children used to harass him and tease him for his behavior. Sinha had nasty temper and often cursed them for their bad behavior. The curse used to come true and often children suffered. The villagers then recognized that Sinha was no longer ordinary and seeked his pardon. Soon people stopped disturbing him and left him alone.
Sinhas behavior and his longing to remain in solitude continued for many months. The elders from village advised Sinhas mother that she should send Sinha to Mumbai in serach of job. Mumbai was looked upon as land of opportunity and they felt that earning money would bring young Sinha back to normalcy. Although she did not wish to part from her son, in his interest, she requested a local person one Mr. Krishna Bhat (G. S. B. community) who had hotel in Panvel to take Sinha with him. In those days small children were taken by business men from Mumbai to work in their establishments. It not only turned out to be cheap labor but also like helping their friends and relatives in earning extra live hood. Thus Sinha came to Mumbai.
In Panvel Sinha worked in Mr. Bhats hotel. He used to clean tables and wash vessels. Being very sharp he soon learnt the art of cooking. Whenever the chief cook was over burdened or was not reporting to duty, the charge of cooking was handed over to young Sinha. Sinha was now in teens. He was tall, strong, well built with sharp intellect and strong voice. He cooked so well that the business on those days was supper hit. The hotel owner soon recognized this and appointed Sinha as a permanent chief cook. However, Sinhnas strange behavior continued. Many times he used to go in trance and lose consciousness of the world around him. Since his cooking served his purpose, the hotelier did not bother about Sinhas strange behavior till one incident. One day Sinha was frying bhajias in a huge deep frying pan full of hot oil. As he was frying, he put his hand inside the oil and started removing the bhajias. This cooking was done outside the hotel on the footpath. Soon a crowd gathered to see Sinha doing this with apparently no harm to his hand. This continued for long till the hotelier came. When he noticed what was happening he got worried. He first thought Sinha was possessed by evil spirits. Every effort to draw Sinhas attention failed as he appeared to be in deep trance. Finally he picked Sinha up and took him to the back of the hotel. He washed Sinhs hands and found that there were no signs of blisters or burns. To check whether any evil spirit had possessed him, the hotelier sprinkled holy water in him. Sinha remained in deep trance and bliss without showing any sign of agitation which an evil spirit is supposed to exhibit.
Sinha declared as realized Soul
This scene continued for some days till one day the oil in which Sinha was frying caught fire. When people shouted, Sinha just put his hands in the burning oil and lifted the pan from fire and doused the fire by covering it with a large plate. This, however, made the hotelier worry in fear of his hotel getting gutted by the idiosyncrasies of Sinha. He was ready to forgo a good cook. The hotelier was a devotee of Balkrishna Maharaj. In those days Baqlkrishna Maharaj was in Mumbai and was often found staying in the Shiva temple on the railway tracks just outside Dadar Railway Station on the south-east side. He decided to take Sinha to Maharaj for his opinion on the state of his mind. Since Sinha was from his village he was concerned about his wellbeing.
Shree Balkrisha Maharaj was a disciple of Narsingh Maharaj and was exponent of occult sciences and a spiritual authority. He was known for holistic healing and many visited him to be cured of mental and physical illness. This hotelier thought it was right to take Sinha to Balkrishna Maharaj and get him treated for his strange behavior. He took Sinha to Dadar by train and walking to railway tracks towards south, he took him inside the Shiva Temple. No sooner, the hotelier entered the temple along with Sinha, Balkrishna Maharaj got up from his seat and took Sinha by his hand. He examined Sinhas head, face, his fingers, palms, and his feet and on noticing the various signs of a realized monk, a Siddha on Sinha, his divine and serene face and his religious fervor, Balkrishna Maharaj was over whelmed with great joy and respect to this young man. He hugged young Sinha and made his sit beside him and affectionately passed his hands over his back repeatedly. He then looked at the hotelier and asked for the purpose of his visit. Hotelier declared this boy working in my hotel is possessed by evil spirit and has turned mad. Balkrishna Maharaj laughed on hearing these words. He said Yes! Yes he is possessed; but not by evil spirits but by divinity. He is turned mad, but this madness is divine. Rare is such madness. He has all the signs of a Maha Yogi. In coming years he shall reach great heights of spiritual magnitude and work for welfare of humanity. Turning to Sinha he said Child do not worry. You have already received the grace of Guru. He shall guide you to your goal. You must go to Nasik and Gangapur. You must carry your anusthan there and in due course everything will be revealed to you. Guru kripa will guide you. Everything will be fine with you. This declaration made hotelier Mr. Bhat look upon Sinha with reverence and love. He repented that he had treated such Siddha like a common worker and made him do odd jobs in his hotel. This made him repent and he fell at Sinhas feet again and again asking for his forgiveness. He thus became the first devotee of future Janananda. When all this was happening, there was a young man standing and watching. He was another devotee in making. He was Baburao Khade. Baburao used to visit Balkrishna Maharaj regularly. Coming from an aristocratic family he was well educated. He had strong inclination towards spiritual matters and used to visit Balkrishna Maharaj for guidance. It was here he got introduced to Sinha which left a deep impression on his mind. Young Baburao could not get Sinha off his mind since then.
Anusthan at Nasik
After meeting Balkrishna Maharaj, young Sinha got awakened to purpose of his life. He soon gave up all attachment to materialistic things and gave up all connections. He wore ochre robe and left for Nasik as told by Balkrishna Maharaj.
As per purva sanchit Sinha was already an evolved soul. He knew his purpose of life and the path that he had to travel. He came to Nasik and reached Kapila Teertha in Nasik where sage Kapila had meditated. Here he chose a cave to meditate. After remaining in this cave for several months, Sinha came to the famous Kalaram Temple of Nasik. On eastern side of Kalaram Mandir lies the Padukas of Shree Narsingh Maharaj. Sinha chose this place for ,meditation. The priest at Kalaram Mandir did not welcome the coming of Sinha as they felt that the sanctity of the temple as he was not a Brahmin. They therefore started making trouble for Sinha and disturbed his penance. When repeatedly Sinha was thus harassed, he asked them why they were troubling him. They replied As you are not from Brahmin community you have no rights to be in this temple and pursue religious activity. Your presence here is adulterating the sanctity of this temple. Sinha replied If that is so why cant you Brahmins bring back the sanctity. Now that you are discriminating creatures of God, soon days will arrive when your temples will be invaded by non-brahmins and your monopoly will be lost forever. Atrocities on downtrodden by upper caste will not last for long. All will be treated as children of one God. This infuriated the priests further. They lodged a police complaint against Sinha. The Police Inspector who was assigned to address the complaint, on seeing Sihna was impressed by his tranquility and divinity. He was mesmerized by the Sinhnas innocent but divine personality and could not help himself from falling at his feet. On studying the complaint he found that there was no substance on the claims made by the priests and soon took them to task. The prediction of Sinha came to be true. The Kalaram Mandir which was under orthodox Hindus was soon thrown open for all caste and the status and was open for worship to all. The monopoly of orthodox Brahmins was lost forever.
One day, Sinha took shelter in the temple in anticipation of storm. Eight more pilgrims too took shelter. Sinha chose a corner and went into deep meditation. The intensity of storm increased and heavy rains lashed with lightening. All of a sudden a high intensity lightening struck the temple entering from one door and leaving from the other. The eight pilgrims who were in its way were struck by the lightening leaving them dead. Next morning a huge crowd had gathered to see the dead bodies and the damage that lightening and storm had caused to the temple. Police gathered to disperse the crowd and on finding Sinha sitting in the corner in deep trance shook him up. Sinha who came out of the trance was least aware of what had happened in the night and the commotion. Police wanted him as the witness but they found that he was absolutely unaware of what had transpired and could not provide any details. Noticing this and the fact that the lightening had not harmed him, the crowd took him to be a monk with divine power. They fell at his feet and called him Sinha Swami. Thus from Sinha, he became Swami. Crowd gathered around him and he was treated with respect. He soon became popular with locals who seeked his blessings.
The temples in Nasik were governed by those from the lineage of Nath panthis. They found it difficult to accept popularity of Sinha Swami and wanted to hound him away as they thought him to be a threat to their domain, power, control over locals and wealth. The number of people visiting Sinha Swami swelled and people from far and near took his darshan. The Nath pantis spared no efforts to trouble Sinha to an extent they used physical violence on his devotees. They threatened them and prevented them from offering Sinha Swami food and water. Sinha was still a youth and had little tolerance for any short of atrocities committed on weak. He predicted Soon you Nanth pantis shall perish at the wrath of God and your clan shall become extinct. The power, money, property and respect that you had gained by bullying devotees will soon vanish. This prediction soon turned out to be true. That monsoon there was a deluge and many perished in the flood. This was followed by famine which further took toll of lives. The Nath pantis who escaped from deluge died in the famine. Looking at the devastating situation, Government declared a red alert and evacuated the entire town. Thus the Nath pantis were either dead or had to leave their homes never to return losing their hold on the temples.
Sinha Swami at Gangapur.
Balkrishna Maharaj and instructed young Sinha that he should first go to Nasik and then to Gangapur. As instructed, he spent few years at Kalaram Temple and then moved to Gangapur, the place associated with Shree Narshimha Saraswati, incarnation of Lord Dattatreye. He reached the confluence of two scared rivers, Amraja and Bhima. On the bank of this is the holy shrine which houses the sacred padukas of Shree Narshima Saraswati. He stayed there for some days and then moved to a place which had hill of sacred ash. This hill of sacred ash was result of a huge yagna held by Shree Narshimha Saraswati. Just close to this hill is a hanuman Temple. Sinha Swami took shelter in this temple and resumed his intense meditation. The pilgrims who visited the sacred hill were attracted by his divine parents and left for him offerings of milk, fruits and something to eat. Thus Sinhas care was automatically taken care of as if by divine grace. He continued to meditate and at times he remained in meditation for days at a stretch.
Sinha stayed at Hanuman Temple for few years. He now looked like a Rishi of yore although he was young in age. He had grown very tall, broad and slim but strong. His face was bright, eyes sparkling and sharp and overall he looked divine. Pilgrims visiting Gangapur made it a point to have his darshan. He was popular as Sinha Swami and many came for solutions to their problems. Gangapur is famous for exorcising evil spirits. People brought their relatives who were believed to be possessed or having mental disorder. They brought them to Sinha Swami whose presence immediately brought relief and the victim was totally free. Soon, there was always a small crowd around Sinha Swami and many became his regular devotees. Even today these devotees from Nasik visit Kanhangad every Punyatithi of Swamiji although several years (more than 50 years) have passed since he last visited Nasik.
The Brahamins from Gangapur were jealous of Sinha Swamis popularity. They started troubling him, Sinha Swami, however continued his penance with least attention to these people. Crowd of devotees continued to swell. By now he was spiritually evolved and just by his presence, devotees got immediate relief from various problems. Holistic healing was automatic. Thus, on one side were devotees and on the other side were the local priests who resisted Sinha Swami in all the possible manner. During rainy season, Sinha used to move down to the banks of river where his devotees used to build a small hut for his stay. One day a sadhu called Golap Babafrom North India came to Gangapur. Instigated by local priests, he occupied this hut when Sinha Swami had gone out. When Sinha Swami returned, he found that there was a trespasser in his hut who refused to budge out. When Golap Baba along with his retinue created a scene, young Sinha just quietly moved away to Rudra Kunda and sat in lotus position. Annoyed, he looked like Rudra. Within few minutes the hut caught fire and with great difficulties Golap Baba escaped. He soon realized his mistake of hurting Sinha Swami and surrendered to him along with his retinue. News of this incident spread like a wild fire and huge crowd gathered to greet Sinha Swami. Since then his popularity grew many folds and even local Brahmins became his ardent devotees. One family who regularly welcomed Sinha Swami to their house was Dattatreye Upadhay family. Every Thursday evening Sinha Swami visited their house and asked for tea Chaya Kodu. Mr. Upadhay used to offer tea which Swami asked him to pour in his palm from where he sipped the tea. Sinha never drank from the cup or glass. Today Gurunath Dattatrey Upadhay is living in this ancestral house which is close to the Paduka Shrine on the banks of Sangam. The Sacred hills of the holy ash which was a huge mound has been reduced to almost flat ground due to contant withdrawal of the holy ash over the years by visiting pilgrims. The Hanuman statue still exist at this place. The confluence of the tow holy rivers, Amraja and Bhima, known as Sangam is famous pilgrimage place dedicated to Lord Dattatrey and his incarnation as Shree Narshima Saraswati. The Paduka shrine of Shree Narshima Saraswati is renovated and is now a large temple.
Sinha Swami resided at Rudra Kunda for several months and performed intense mediatation. It was here he was blessed by Lord Dattatrey when Lord appeared to him in person. Sinha also got internally connected to Bhagvan Nityananda whom he had met as a small child when he had gone on the road to fetch the ball at Hejmadi.