Upasani Kanyakumari Sthan at Sakori Shirdi
India is widely known for its Heritage of Culture, Festivals and Religions throughout the world. Even today there are some temples, monuments, mosques, churches, darghahs, gurudwaras and samadhi's of great saints which are known to very few people. Here is our effort to bring infront of all, one such Samadhi Mandiram of Great Saint known as "Shri Upasani Baba of Sakori" who was the prime and true disciple of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba situated at Sakori just 5kms from Shirdi, Maharashtra, India.
Sakori is a quiet and calm village and this place is very ideal for those whodoes meditation. It has modern amenities like mandaps, rooms available for residents and visitors and is fully surrounded by greenery like little gardens. One would certainly experience visiting this place and feel like present in heaven of equanimity and purity, with a great atmosphere which is fully charged with positive vibrations and perfect for meditation. It is also known as 'Kanyakumari Sthan' as he was the person who established this foundation for the unmarried women called as Brahmacharins.
The presence of Divinity of Lord Ganesha,Shirdi Sai Baba,Upasani Baba
Birth Story of Upasani Baba:
Upasani Baba (1870-1941) was born to a Brahmin family residing at Satana near Nasik on 15th May 1870, to Govind Shastri and Rukhminibai, the second among his five brothers. His actual name was 'Kashinath' who got fame as Shri Upasani Baba with the divine grace of his 'Shri Narayan Maharaj of Kedgaon' and 'Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi'. His grandfather Gopal Shastri was a Hindu Pandit with a spiritual temperament. During his childhood as he was not keeping well, he was not at all interested in studies but learned 'Shastras' from his grandfather with great interest. Due to his inner quest he left the material life and went into search of inner truth.
At the age of 41 years Kashinath came to Shirdi on 27th June 1911 and met Sai Baba for the very First Time. After attending Sai Baba's Aarthi,it was turning point in his life when he got instructions in Dwarkamai from Sai Baba to live in a temple which was three miles from Shirdi called Khandoba Temple. He was installed by Sai Baba as a Guru on the day of Guru Pournima in 1913, and since then he was known as Upasani Maharaj. After this incidence Sai started to send all his devotees who came for his darshan at Shirdi, to have darshan of Upasani Maharaj also who was residing in Khandoba temple.
Khandoba Mandir where Upasani Baba stayed 4 years
Dieties in Khandoba Temple Shirdi
It was his fastings which made Him just look like a skeleton and this "Upas" or the fasting he made brought Him the name Upasani. He spent almost four years in Khandoba temple full of snakes and scorpions. Upasani Baba got various experiences of the three worlds in this Khandoba temple. "Shri Shirdi Sai Baba" had also visited Khandoba temple on one occasion to meet Upasani Baba during his period of fasting and sent a devotee with coffee and food for him. Thus His long fast got ended and Upasani Baba started taking food as usual which helped improve His health and activities. In July 1914, he left Shirdi when he was at his end of the four years of his discipleship said by Shirdi Sai, and returned only in 1915 & 1916 for Shirdi Sai's darshan after which he would only come twice or thrice of the months each time.
In 1914 Upasani Baba was fully conscious like a normal person, who retained the knowledge of the three worlds, the gross, the subtle and the mental. Meher Baba had also well explained in His famous book "God Speaks" about these three worlds.
Shri Upasani Baba Sakori Shirdi
His behavior in certain things was very peculiar and mostly remained naked except for a gunny sack flung around his waist. "Mahatma Gandhiji" who is the 'Father of our Nation' even came to meet Him at Sakori, saw him sitting with a sack cloth where Gandhiji was unable to understand the divinity of the consciousness of the perfect one the Upasani Baba.
Upasani Baba stayed with Shirdi Sai Baba at Shirdi for a period of 4 yrs for his health treatment and attained self-realization through Baba. In 1917, one fine day on Baba's instructions he moved to Sakori, Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra which was 5kms from Shirdi, where he made young unmarried girls on Baba's instructions his disciples called as 'Kanyas' (Bramhacharins). An institution was set up for these girls by Upasani Baba in 1917 who taught them all the Vedas and learn Sanskrit to perform all the ritualistic functions according to Vedas and Upanishads where the ladies were prohibeted earlier and named as "Shri Upasani Kanyakumari Sthan". This ashram is run by Bramhacharins and has only women priestesses.
Upasani Baba Kanyakumari Sthan at Sakori Shirdi
Significance of Kanyakumari Sthan:
"It is well said that the visit of Shirdi Sai Baba is incomplete without visiting the Shri Upasani Baba Mahasamadhi or even called as Upasani Kanya Sthan". Thus it became customary for those pilgrims who come to Shirdi for Shri Sai Baba's darshan also visit the Khandoba temple and meet Upasani Baba, as Sai Baba would ask some of his disciples to go to Sakori.
'Amraveli' is the cottage where Upasani Maharaj used to sit for meditation from where deep sense of peace and serenity pervades and thus this ashram stands as a proud monument of Spiritual Inspiration. This ashram was the first revolutionary incident where ladies were allowed to learn Vedas and perform and it is still going on uninterruptedly being the hermitage for these Bramhacharins to learn Vedas and perform puja and yajnas by learning Sanskrit language. This is the reason why Upasani Baba has become great in this aspect of the women’s life among Hindus who respected every women throughout his life.
Upasani Ashram,Things used by Baba and Handwritten Paper of Himself
Contribution of Upasani Baba:
When Sai Baba dropped His physical form in 1918, Sakori a small poor village, had already become spiritually rich, with the presence of Upasani Baba and a growing fleet of disciples. Upasani Baba looked after the last rites of Sai Baba as His chief disciple and always welcomed hardships. He also composed the famous "Shri Sainath Mahimna Stotra" (hymn) in Sanskrit in respect of Shirdi Sai Baba. Once in 1921 He locked Himself inside a small bamboo cage which was too small for such a stout person like Maharaj and was most cramped inside. He said He suffered for the release of His disciples, and was standing as a surety in the divine court for their release. Over thirteen months He confined Himself in that small cage, practically fulfilling all His daily needs from there. The disciples performed His "Aarthi" and listened to His discourses from within the cage. At last on 31st January 1924, Upasani Baba released Himself from the cage, and stepped out of it to greet a small child named "Godavari".
Upasani Baba inside Bamboo Cage
Spiritual Successor of Upasani Baba:
''Godavari Maata"(1914-1990) was the first disciple of Upasani Maharaj as she was admitted to the ashram when she was 10 years old. She was hailing from Shegaon (the residence of Saint Gajanan Maharaj), Akola District of Maharashtra. Finally in the early hours of 24th December 1941, Shri Upasani Baba before attaining samadhi appointed Her as his spiritual successor in Sakori. Godavari Maata run this ashram after Upasani Baba as he used to do with all the Brahmacharins and attained Samadhi on 11th April 1990.
Upasani Maharaj with His Disciple Godavari Maata
This Ashram has other shrines like Lord Ganesha, Lord Dattatreya, Lord Shani Dev, Kanyakumari Devi and Khandoba. After UpasaniBaba attained samadhi the Brahmacharins conducted Puja to Shirdi Sai and Upasani Baba in Samadhi Mandiram of Shirdi to both of their Padukas.
Brahmacharins conducting Puja to Shirdi Sai and Upasani Baba in Shirdi
Special features of this Ashram:
1)There is 'Shri Ek Mukhi Dattatreya Temple' opposite to the ashram which stands as one of such places where the image of Lord Dattatreya has only one face, as he is usually seen in most of the temples having three faces.
Legend says that, Once when a Queen of Gwalior during Shinde dynasty, came for Shri Upasani Baba’s Darshan she had a wish which was shared with Baba and stayed at Sakori for a period of one month in his company. After her wishes got fulfilled she came back and with the blessings of Baba, builded a temple of "Shri Ek Mukhi Dattatreya" in 1925. At that time Mr. Valimbe was the chief architect and civil engineer who started working for this temple under the guidance of Upasani Baba and completed the construction of this temple in 1928. The temple first only had the photo frames of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba and Shri Upasani Baba and the "Padukas" (footprints) of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba. Shri Upasani Baba stood on the same "Padukas" himself and also made Godavari Mata to stand on the same "Padukas" when she was a small girl who is the successor of Him. So these "Padukas" have very special significance in this place.
Shri Ekamukhi Dattatreya Swamy at Sakori
This idol of Shri Dattatreya has a very special significance and has unique importance as it symbolizes the unity of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba, Shri Upasani Baba and Shri Godavari Mata, all the three essembled in this spiritual lineage. That's why
the Idols face is of Shri Godavari Mata,
the Idols dress is made of jute cloth as Shri Upasani Baba used to wear, and
the Idols four hands are equipped with the symbols like "Shankha" (sea shell), "Chakra" (round blade) , "Gada" (special traditional weapon ) and "Padma" (lotus) which are characteristics of Lord Vishnu symbolized as Shri Shirdi Sai Baba who is considered as the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Hence, All the rituals in the Sthan first take place in the Dattatreya Temple. There is a procession conducted on every Thursday from Shri Dattatreya Temple to "Zhopdi", and it also includes the decorated chariots on some special occasions. It is believed that Lord Shri Dattatreya fulfills all the wishes of his devotees and thus this temple stands as a very special place in the hearts of devotees of Shri Upasani Kanyakumari Sthan.
2)Inside of Sakori ashram there is a Pepul tree on which has a self incarnated Ganesh face on its trunk, to which the Godavari Mata, Upasani Baba's disciple used to worship everyday. It is well known as "Chintamani Vinayak", because of the magical powers present in this tree. It is believed by locals that if you pray this ganesha with "Durva and Flowers" and take 9 rounds around it, the desired wishes of the devotees, will be fulfilled soon. Earlier there was a practice by the devotees to offer coconut to the Lord in the form of a garland while visiting this ashram as soon as their wish was fulfilled. Below is the image of this tree which recently got coated with chemicals for its preservation.
Chintamani Vinayaka Worshipped by Godavari Maata Sakori
3)There is Kanyakumari Mata besides Lord Ganesha, is the goddess worshiped here by the Kanyas of this Ashram and is considered very special for ladies.
Image Courtesy: myyatradiary.blogspot.com, photos.saibaba.com, www.tropmondo.com, www.saiamrithadhara.com, www.shirdisaibabastories.com, www.trustmeher.com, trustmeher.org