The Source of this Article is From Sri Sai Samaj 120-B, Rash Behari Avenue, Calcutta-29
The belief is held, in India, that the way to spiritual progress of woman lies through man and that woman cannot by herself do anything towards her own spiritual uplift. Lord Buddha who raised the standard of revolt against Vedic religion innovated the order of ‘‘Bhikshunis’’ (nuns) in our country. Among other things, the personal charms with which Nature has endowed her expose the woman to a considerable amount of risk, as the poet has observed that ‘‘beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold’’. There is, again, the question of sex complications; in this, however, men are as much prone to err as women.
Under these circumstances, the path to the spiritual regeneration of women solely by her unaided efforts had to be shown by man. This might appear strange; but truth is stranger than fiction. It was given to the Perfect Master Shri Upasani Maharaj of Sakori (Bombay State) to show the woman how to break down her shackles through her own efforts. An account of the life of Shri Upasani Maharaj may therefore prove not only of some interest, but of value in this connection.
In his pre-ascetic life, Maharaj was known as Pundit Kashinath of Satane in Maharashtra. Born on the 15th May, 1870, of Govind Shastri and Rukmani Bai, Pundit kashinath came of an orthodox Brahmin family of Sanskrit scholars, his grandfather Gopala Shastri being a Pundit himself and in his later life an anchorite.
After perfunctory schooling, Kashinath left home when he was only fourteen or fifteen and sought sanctuary in a cave eight miles off Nasik, for eight years. In 1900, he was, however, traced and brought home and persuaded to enter the life of a householder.
Till 1910, he practised successfully as an Ayurvedic doctor at Sangli and edited with renown a medical journal entitled ‘‘Bheshaja Ratnamala’’. In 1910, he contacted at Nagpur Shri Narayan Maharaj of Khedgaon who had even at that early stage discerned his greatness. He was later on directed by Kulkurni Maharaj of Rahuri to go to Shri SAI BABA whom maharaj met on the 27th June, 1911, for the first time at Shirdi.
That contact proved to be the turning point in his career. Pundit Kashinath had undergone for a period of four years, with a brief interval, his apprenticeship under the strict vigilance of Lord Sai Nath. It was a period of fiery ordeal accompanied by fasting, blindness for some time, physical mortification, insult and other forms of austerity.
Out of that fiery furnace, Maharaj emerged as the purest gold, being thoroughly smelted of the last particle of dross that might have clung to him. Lord Sai Nath Himself called him Maharaj’’‘‘and declared before His devotees that He was leaving the ‘‘Keys of the Treasury’’ in the hands of Shri Upasani Maharaj.
It is interesting to note that under Lord Sai Nath, Maharaj was tormented by lust and he sought BABA’s direction to overcome the temptation. Sai Baba reminded him of how Sriman Narayana had alone remained Purushottama and that all other individuals were but His consorts and that he should also try to perceive the inner Self in every individual and should not be carried away by external charms.
BABA prescribed the practice of wearing the cloth like a saree and mixing among women as one of them and behaving in similar ways. Devotees of Shri Upasani Maharaj might have noticed him dressing himself as a woman and offering coconut and other articles to women.
The life of Upasani Maharaj and the doings of Lord Sri Krishna contain very valuable lessons to earnest spiritual aspirants, Lord Krishna has been thoroughly mis-understood and misinterpreted by superficial critics in regard to His dealings with the ‘‘Gopis’’. Shri Upasani Maharaj had in his own life-time to be defended in Court by Brahma- shri B. V. Narasihaswamiji for what was considered to be a breach of the law in married life. The mistake that is committed in understanding these personalities consists in our judging them to be occupying the same level as we do. Most of us are not capable of perceiving the individuals beyond their physical bodies, or of resisting the temptations of the sex.
If we grasp this principle and try to apply it in our everyday life, we are sure to find that the conquest for the promptings of the sex is not such a hazardous enterprise as it may at first appear to us. Pilgrims to Sakori Ashram had sought the help of Upasani Maharaj in this direction and he had unreservedly assisted them in tis. He also showed by his example that woman is not be regarded in any way different from man and that she has as much right to do spiritual work as man himself.
After his training under Lord Sai Nath, Upasani Maharaj left Shirdi and visited among other places Kharagpur, Amraoti, Nagpore etc., until he settled down in a burning, ghat of Sakori village. It is significant that Maharaj had chosen the burning-ghat as the site of the Ashram.
It at once symbolises the perishable nature of the physical body as emphatically as it does the eternal nature of that Inner Self which the aspirant is taught to perceive in his efforts to subdue the lower self. Devotees of Maharaj cleared the spot of unwanted trees and bushes and built a palatial Ashram for him. Maharaj left the physical body on the 24th December, 1941. The founder of the Sakori Ashram was alone a man.
The Mother Superior of this famous Convent is today SATI GODAVARI MATA who is a source of inspiration to all earnest aspirants. There she continues to carry on with the assistance of the ‘‘Kanyas’’ the work of spiritual regeneration of the woman hood of the world which was started by Shri Upasani Maharaj.
Shri Upasani Maharaj had delivered very valuable discourses on spiritual matters in Maharathi. English rendering of these is now available in three volimes. Copies can be had of: Sri N.S. Sahasra budhe, M. S., Professor of Anatomy (Retd..,) ‘‘Ashirvada’’, 377, Canal Road, Ramdaspeth, Nagpur (India,) Publications Of Sati Godavari Mata can also be had off the same address.
(This Article is Compiled And Shared By our guest contributor Purvang P Thakkar, Shirdi- 423109)