History of saint Eknath Maharaj

Mahatma Eknath was a Gyani saint and a great devotee, as well. He was a contemporary of Goswami Tulsidas. He wrote commentaries on both Ramayan and Srimadbhagvad. He was born in a pious Brahman family. His ancestors were devotees and Vaishnav. Bhakt Bhanudas was his great grand father, who was a devotee of Lord Pandharinath. Mahatma Eknath has mentioned about his great grand father in the commentary on Srimadbhagvad that it was because of him that their family received trhe grace of Lord Krishna. Chakrapani was the son of Bhanudas and Surya Narayan, the son of Chakrapani was Eknath’s father. His mother was Rukmini. He was born in the year 1590 Vikram Samvat in Mool-Nakshtra and his father died at the time of his birth. After a few days his mother also died, as a result he was brought up by his grandparents, who named him ‘Eka’.

Right from his early childhood, Eknath showed great spiritual inclination. He not only used to assist his grandfather Chakrapani in Pooja but used to himself do Kirtan. His grandfather used to say that Eknath would one day bring glory to the name of his great grandfather Bhanudas. At the age of six his sacred thread ceremony was performed. The neighbors were very affectionate to him. Every evening various scriptures were read over at their residence. Thus he was deeply rooted in bhakti right from the childhood.

Gradually he felt the need of a Guru to guide him. One night while he was doing Kirtan in a temple, he heard a divine voice asking him to go to Devgarh to take shelter at the feet of Mahatma Janardan Pant. Eknath sat on the journey by foot and after traveling for two nights reached Devgarh and became a disciple of Mahatma Janardan Pant. He used to serve him whole heartedly. Once he saved Mahatma Janardan Pant from enemies by fighting with them for four hours. Mahatma Janardan Pant was very much pleased with Eknath. He deployed him for keeping accounts. One day the accounts did not telly as there was an error of one Pai. When ultimately the accounts tallied Eknath was overjoyed. Mahatma Janardan Pant remarked that if he was so overjoyed by finding the mistake relating to a Pai, how much he would be happy if he could understand the mistake one commits in the world. Mahatma Janardan Pant told him that the greatest purpose of life is to realize the Truth and wasting this opportunity was the biggest mistake. Eknath fell at the feet of his Guru Mahatma Janardan Pant and by his grace had a glimpse of Lord Dattatrey. He felt no duality between Lord Dattatrey and his Guru.

Eknath kept on getting glimpses of Lord Dattatrey. At one place Eknath has mentioned that ‘within or without, in the entire creation Lord Dattatrey is present; He has enchanted me; my feeling of duality has vanished.’ Once Dattatrey appeared before Eknath in the form of a Malang (an Avdhut) and blessed him that he would lead many people on the path of bhakti and would author an extra-ordinary commentary on Srimadbhagvad.Eknath then took Shri Krishna Mantra from his Guru and with his permission proceeded to Shoolbhanjan Mountain for Tapa near the Tapovan of Markendey Rishi. He used to meditate upon Lord Krishna and Lord Krishna appeared before him. During this period of Tapa, a snake entangled him but because of touching Eknath’s body, the snake lost his biting faculty. The snake started dancing with its hood over the head of Eknath. A Gwala (milkman) used to bring some milk for Eknath, who later narrated this incidence to him. After completing his Krishna-Upasana Yagya, Mahatma

Eknath proceeded for pilgrimage with the permission of his Guru.For thirteen years Mahatma Eknath kept on visiting various places of pilgrimage and at the age of twenty-five he came back to Paithan, where he stayed in the Pimpleshwar Mahadev temple. His grand parents came to meet him. His grandfather Chakrapani showed him a letter of his Guru Mahatma Janardan Pant, who had asked Eknath to marry and lead a family life. Eknath complied with his Guru’s order and married a Brahman girl named Girija. His family life was very peaceful and he spent his time in bhakti. His wife Girija extended him all support. He used to sleep for four hours in the night and the remaining time was used in talking about the Divine, Gyaneshwari (the book authored by Sant Gyaneshwar) and other scriptures.

Girija very competently managed her family. By serving her husband she climbed up the path of spirituality. Mahatma Eknath at one place has stated that when the husband and wife both together think alike and move ahead only then they accomplish their task. They had three children; their son was named Hari and two daughters were named Godavari and Ganga. Their house was regularly visited by Sadhus and Mahatmas. Mahatma Eknath was very tolerant and dignified. An important incidence of his life relates to a Yavan. Mahatma Eknath daily used to go to take bath in the river Godavari.This Yavan used to gargle on him when he returned after taking bath. Thus Mahatma Eknath had to take bath a number of times. One day he gargled 108 times on Mahatma Eknath and Mahatma Eknath happily took bath 108 times. This aroused a feeling of deep remorse in the Yavan, who fell at the feet of Eknath Maharaj. Mahatma Eknath forgave him immediately. He became a completely changed person by the grace of Mahatma Eknath.

Once on the occasion of the Shraddh (a ceremony in the honour and for the benefit of deceased) of his father, Mahatma Eknath was standing at his gate waiting for the Brahmans to arrive. Just then a few Mahars (low caste people) passed through and smelling the good odor of the food commented that they could never eat such a food. Mahatma Eknath heard them and his heart melted with pity for them. He invited them and offered them the food. He then got the food prepared afresh but Brahmans refused to

eat. Eknath Maharaj then prayed the Pitars (the deceased parental ancestors). Bhanudas,Chakrapani and Surya Narayan, his ancestors appeared in person and accepted the food. The Brahmans were astonished and sought his forgiveness. The great poet saint Moropant has described this incidence very vividly. Mahatma Eknath saw the same soul manifesting in the form of various creatures.Once after finishing his pilgrimage to Kashi, he was carrying the holy water of the Ganges from Prayag to Rameshwaram to offer it to Lord. On the way he saw a thirsty donkey in a deserted area. He was moved seeing the pathetic condition of the donkey and gave him the Ganges-water to drink. His companions objected to his doing so but Eknath Maharaj told them that the God resides in all creatures. Quenching the thirst of a thirsty creature was equivalent to offering the holy water to the Lord a million times. The great poet saint Moropant has stated that by his act Eknath Maharaj earned the Punya (reward) of feeding a hundred-thousand Brahmans. Eknath Maharaj was very kind hearted. He visited the residence of a prostitute, who repented for her past life and sought Eknath Maharaj’s blessings in order to receive God’s grace. Similarly, he blessed some thieves, who wanted to run away after committing theft at his house but became blind. Eknath Maharaj not only forgave them but gave them food. Their lives changed thereafter and they became good citizens. Once a Brahman came to Paithan. He was in need of two hundred rupees for the sacred thread ceremony of his son. Some people told him that they would give him the money if he could somehow annoy Eknath Maharaj. The Brahman was a simpleton. He believed them and came to the residence of Eknath Maharaj, who was engaged in Pooja then. The Brahman set cross-legged on Eknath Maharaj’s thigh. Eknath Maharaj, however, took it very kindly and took it as an expression of Brahman’s affection. He was not annoyed at all. At the time of food the Brahman rode on the shoulders of Eknath

Maharaj’s wife Girija. She also was not annoyed and told Eknath Maharaj that she would not let her son (the Brahman) fall down. The Brahman was embarrassed. He told the entire story to Eknath Maharaj, who told him that if he knew about it, he would have expressed annoyance in order to help him. Once a Brahman, who had Parasmani (the philosopher’s stone) left it with Eknath Maharaj while going on pilgrimage. Eknath Maharaj kept it under the seat of the Lord and forgot about it. On return when the Brahman asked for the Parasmani, Eknath Maharaj asked his servant Uddhav to bring the Parasmani. Uddhav, however, told him that the Parasmani would have been thrown in the river Godavari along with other remnants. The Brahman doubted Eknath Maharaj, who took him to the river and picked out many such stones, asking the Brahman to take the one which belonged to him. The Brahman was surprised to see that all those stones were Parasmani. The Lord enjoys the company and serving his Bhakts. Lord Shri Krishna used to serve Eknath Maharaj in the form of Shrikhandiya, who used to collect items necessary for Pooja and used to prepare Shrikhand-sandalwood paste for Eknath Maharaj for offering it to the Lord. A Brahman was doing Tapa in Dwarka for having a glimpse of the Lord, Who told him that He would meet him in Paithan in the form of Shrikhandiya at the residence of Eknath Maharaj. The Brahman accordingly came to Paithan and saw Shrikhandiya going to fetch water but he could not make it out that he was seeing the Lord. The Lord then disappeared. When the Brahman asked Eknath Maharaj about Shrikhandiya and told him what the Lord had told him, Eknath Maharaj was overwhelmed with gratitude towards the Lord, Who took all the pains for Eknath Maharaj and had served him in the form of Shrikhandiya. Eknath Maharaj was deeply attracted towards Sant Gyaneshwar, who inspired him to visit Alandi-the Samadhi place of Sant Gyaneshwar via Pandharpur. Sant Gyaneshwar told him in his dream to remove the loop of Ajan-tree from his neck. Eknath Maharaj located the Samadhi of Sant Gyaneshwar spotting the Ajan-tree near the Samadhi of Sant Gyaneshwar. He went inside the Samadhi place and saw that a branch of Ajan-tree was encircling the neck of Sant Gyaneshwar, who was seated in Vrijasana. Eknath Maharaj removed the loop and closed the door of the Samadhi. He remained there for three days and got inspiration to propagate Gyaneshwari. After returning to Paithan, Eknath Maharaj explained the principles of Gyaneshwari and interpreted Srimadbhagavadgita to people in accordance with Gyaneshwari. Mahatma Eknath embraced both his slanderers, as well as those who praised him.

In regard to slanderers, Eknath Maharaj used to say that they are the real well-wishers, who through their criticism afford an opportunity for one to reform. They are like Guru, who cleanses one of dirt. Thus Eknath Maharaj was liberal to all. He left this mortal world in the year 1656 Vikram Samvat and had predicted about his last. On the fateful day of Chaitra-Krishna-Ashtami he took bath in the river Godavari in the early morning. People were doing Kirtan. Great saints and Mahatmas had gathered over there and enchanting the name of the Lord when Eknath Maharaj took Samadhi.