Yogiraj Sri. Gagangiri Maharaj, who was revered and worshipped as Emperor Chalukya Pulakeshi, hails from Patankar family. His original personal name is Sripad and he belongs to village Manadure in Patan district of South Maharashtra. At the age of 7 he left his home and He went to Battees-Shirala. This place has a Math (ashram) of Nathsampradaya. This cult (sampradaya) has a wide following all over India and has about 1600 establishments.
Sri Gagangiri Maharaj as a youthful sanyasi, also moved about with Mahants (Senior Sages) right up to the Himalayas. During pilgrimages he learnt yoga and several occult and religious practices. He travelled far and wide to places such as Nepal, Bhutan, Manas Sarovar, Gaurishankar, (Gorak assembly), Gorakshdarbar, Gorakhpur, Pashupatinath and returned to Almora. Finally, he travelled through the valley of Ganga, Himachal Pradesh and reached.
Near Badrika Ashram there ice-clad mountains, where Gagangiri Maharaj was extremely tired as a result of his peregrinations and he decided to settle in a cave. When he was relaxing, a sage wearing saffron robes came there from the mountains. He sprinkled water from his Kamandalu, on the face of Gagangiri Maharaj. He also gave him some kind of green grass to eat which resembled coriander leaves. For his penance, he had prepared mattresses of grass. He found his mattresses growing like living vegetation. This was considered as an experience, where Tantrik technique is perfected. He did a number of Kaya Kalpas (Rejuvenation). In this process he invented several new concepts in Tantrik techniques and proved them true.
He said "You will now attain the state of salvation, and you shall be responsible for the welfare of humanity and you shall go to the South". Accordingly, Maharaj moved from the valley. He experienced a lot of difficulties and arrived at Rhishikesh. Swamiji then decided to move all over India alone on foot and accordingly his journey started.
He did penance at a number of places like Mauli Kund, Mauli Kada, Zanzu water, Mausame Kada, Kasarbari, Ginger water, Sat-barkund, Holi Kada, Margaj water, Jungledeo patti, Shirale etc. During monsoon, he stayed in the cave at Garbhagiri, Gagangiri. He did penance in a pond near the river at Sangashi, Vazar, Vesraf, Palsambe, Ramling etc. Later he went to Vijaydurg, in the Konkan area from where he reached Bombay by steamer. During 1945 to 1948, he did Kayakalpa at Angale, near Rajapur in Konkan.
At Bhopal while he was taking rest after bath near a tank, the princely ruler of Kolhapur and his retinue happened to be nearby while on a brief visit. Swamiji's mother tongue being Marathi, a conversation between him and Kolhapur ruler's retinue ensued resulting in the Ruler requesting Swamiji to accompany him to Kolhapur. In 1932 the Raja of Kolhapur had been to Dajipur jungle for hunting. Swamiji who had accompanied him stayed back in the jungle, where he lived from 1932 to 1940. He spent these years in meditation and deep reflection.
In the beginning Sri Maharaj built a hut on the outskirts of the shepherd colony, in the dense forest, thick with trees and plants of infinite varieties, he revelled with satisfaction as he had found an ideal site for penance and meditation. He was also interested in acquiring Tantrik knowledgle and was able to gain a lot of information about the spirit world (ghosts), secrets of birth and death, during the period of penance.
In Bombay between 1948 to 1950, he stayed in Dadi Hirji Parsi graveyards, near the temple of Maruti, at shidi near Walkeshwar.
Similarly, he did penance in the barren, rocky beach at Breach Candy, Mahalaxmi, BanGanga etc. He also did penance in the Papeti bunglow of Dadi Hirji, as well as near the well in the graveyard. During this period several rulers and princes such as Sayajirao Gaikwad, Madhavrao Shinde, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, Rajaram Maharaj (Kolhapur), Bavdekar Sarkar and Bhausaheb Pant Amatya, Maharani Tarabai (Sayajirao, Gaikwad's daughter) and a number of ruling families of Kolhapur came for his blessings. He had occasion to visit and stay at several places. These ruling families used to visit jungles for hunting during summer and leave the jungles when the rainy season set in.
Sri Maharaj built small shelters for himself in the caves of trees as his dwelling place. Usually, he would select a tree with abundant supply of fruit and vegetables. In order to protect himself from rains, he would devise some kind of clothes made from the bark of trees, such as Kumbha, Apta and Palas. Usually leaves and the threads would be used to prepare a cloth called as Irla. This he would put on his head to protect himself from the rains. He used to call it as his mobile home. He would use threads and ropes from tree trunks, for loin - cloth towels, shawls, bed covers for himself. This rough attire known as Walkal would be sufficient for him as protection in rainy days, for continuing his penance.
This continuous penance and struggle helped him to achieve considerable amount of self-realization, which was of immense benefit for him. This resulted in a great Punya or spiritual merit. As people benefited from his meditation, they started worshipping and respecting him.
His life style can be described in words "Such a Yogi Living alone by himself understand and accomplishes the Art of Life." Living alone sleeping on the banks of rivers, listening to the flowing of the river water, drying the entire body by solar radiation, sleeping on rock, meditating continuously, staying absolutely still under water, keeping mind completely at rest, keeping all the physical desires under control and having only clean, hygienic, pious, wholesome pure and acceptable food. All this is the life of the perfect yogi.
Therefore, one should always crave for the company of a Sadhu, serve him as much as possible and respect him. We should always think reverently of a Sadhu because a saintly person bestows peace of mind on us.
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