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|Shri Gajanan Maharaj|
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|Shri Gajanan Maharaj|
Gajanan Maharaj (गजानन महाराज, शेगांव) from Shegaon (Buldhana District), Maharashtra, India was a Saint from India. "Sant Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan" is the largest temple trust in the Vidarbha region. It is not known when he was born but his first known appearance, perhaps as a youngster in his 20s, dates to February 1878. He took Samadhi on 8 September 1910, and the date is marked as Samadhi-din by his disciples. The date of his first appearance is also marked as an auspicious day (प्रकट-दिनोत्सव).
The early life history of Gajanan Maharaj is obscure, his birthdate being unknown. He is said to have made his first appearance on 23 February 1878 in Shegaon. His devotees believe him as incarnation of Lord Ganesha and Lord Dattatreya. Biruduraju Ramaraju has tried to establish in his collection of books called "Andhra Yogulu" that he was a Telangana Brahmin. However, in a recently published Marathi book entitled, "Shri Gajanan Maharaj Charitra Kosh" by Shri Dasabhargav (who himself hails from Shegaon) some interesting facts have been revealed. This author met Shri Swami Shivanand Saraswati, who was 129 years old at Nashik. Shri Swami told the author that he was Telangi Brahmin who had met Shri Sadguru Gajanan Maharaj in 1887 in Nashik, which is a pilgrimage centre. He also clearly told that after Shri Gajanan Maharaj appeared in Shegaon and remained there, he had visited Maharaj 25–30 times. During these visits Shivanand Swami declared that he used visit Shri Dadasaheb Khaparde in Amravati and stay with Khaparde family. Thus, Shri Shivanand Swami is none other than the Telangi Brahmin whose mention has been made in the foreword of "Shri Gajanan Vijay" on his own admission. Later Shivanand Saraswati left to perform penance in Himalaya and was never spotted again (refer pages 362–365 of the above book for the detailed conversation of the author and Shri Shivanand Swami along with their photograph). Thus, it is quite clear that Shri Gajanan Maharaj was not Telangi Brahmin as some speculate. Some speculate that he might have in fact hailed from Sajjanghad, (which was the place where Sant Samartha had lived). Das Ganu Maharaj has written a 21 chapter biography, "Shri Gajanan Vijay," of Gajanan Maharaj in Marathi. Contemporaries of Gajanan Maharaj identified him by several names like Gin Gine Buwa, Ganpat Buwa, and Awaliya Baba.
There is no proper past history of Gajanan Maharaj of Shegaon but in "Shree Gajanan Vijay" Dasganu Maharaj has mentioned that Gajanan Maharaj was calling some people as his brothers. They are as follows: Shree Narasingji, Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati (Tembhe Swami Maharaj), Sai Baba and such great saints of the time. This indicate that Gajanan Maharaj was Pure incarnation of the supreme power. In the holy book (Shree Gajanana Vijay) it is also mentioned that Shree Gajanan appeared in the form of Shree Hari Vitthal (Pandurang) in Pandharapur) for his one devotee named Bapuna Kale. Shree Gajanan Maharaj was able to do this because he was none other than the supreme (or fully awake part of the Supreme), who resides in every (Alive and non-alive) body.
Some people believe that Shree Gajanan Maharaj was student (Shishya) of Shree Swami Samarth, however it is not acceptable as most of devotee or Students (Shishyas) prefer to chant Shree Swami Samarth however Shree Gajanan Maharaj had alway chant "Gan Gan Ganaat Bote" or "Chandan Chawal Bel ki patiya...."
There are lot of similarities between Shree Swami Samarth and Shree Gajanan Maharaj. Both were Paramahans Sanyasi, both were AjanBahu and many others. Thus many people also believe that Shree Gajanan is none other than Shree Swami Samarth.
Maharaj accepting a human body is a mere pastime (Leela) as he is Brahmadnyani; that is why thousands of the devotees flock to Shegaon for his blessings. How he functions and transforms people from vile, wicked ways to great devotees is really unknown. None in his earthly days ever saw him chanting any special mantra holding japamala etc. But he is a supreme saint, whose blessings everyone must have.
According to a legend, a money lender named Bankat Lal Agarwal first saw Gajanan Maharaj in a "superconscious state" on 23 February 1878 on a street,eating leftover wasted food which was thrown (and thus spreading the message of food is life). Sensing him to be a saint, Bankat took him home and asked him to stay with him. Legends say that in his lifetime, he performed many miracles such as giving a fresh lease on life to one Janrao Deshmukh, lighting the clay-pipe without fire, filling a dry well with water, drawing sugar cane juice by twisting canes with his hands, and curing leprosy of a woman. He took samadhi on 8 September 1910. A temple in his name is built on his Samadhi at Shegaon. At the time when he filled a dry well with water, the saint who had denied him water, saying all wells here are dry, Shri Bhaskar Maharaj Jayle, later went on to become his big devotee. Bhaskar Maharaj's grandson, Shri Vasudeva Maharaj Jayle was also a great devotee of Gajanan Maharaj, whose Shraddhasagar Ashram in Akot is a spiritual place for devotees in nearby areas. At the time of Maharaj, during a public meeting on the occasion of Shiv Jayanti, the great freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak met Gajanan Maharaj. When Tilak delivered a charismatic speech, Maharaj told Tilak about getting sentenced by the British Raj. Maharaj's words did come true, however Tilak is said to have taken blessings of Maharaj and his Prasad which helped him in writing his book – Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya, which is the summarised version of the holy book of Hindus, the Bhagavad Gita.
In the presence of Gajanan Maharaj, Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan, a body of 12 trustees was formed on 12 September 1908 so as to commemorate the holy place which Maharaj had hinted Ya Jagi Rahil Re(It will be at this place) about his place and day for Samadhi. Head of the Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan-Shivshankarbhau Patil is the head of the trust and well known in India for his administration and management of the temple,bhojan kaksha,engineering and management college, Anand Sagar project and many other institution run by the trust located at Shegaon managed by Shri Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan Shegaon affiliated to Amravati university. This college is one of the best institutes for engineering education in Vidarbha region. The Anand Sagar project is also developed by the trust over 650 acres for tourist with all facilities at nominal rates. The temple is famous in Maharashtra for its clean, neat, tidy environment and polite and respectful behaviour of the sevaks of gajanan maharaj trust who works there just for seva.