Saturday, November 9, 2013


 Born : 1948

Dharmananda Maharaj was born in 1948 in a small village of Sulkur, situated about forty kilometers from the city of Kolhapur, near the border of the Karnataka state. He is the oldest child in the family and has four brothers and four sisters. His father was a respected village carpenter. His two younger brothers are of the same profession, too. Dharmananda Maharaj’ family tradition was singing religious songs – bhajans. At the beginning there were no signs that the eldest son would become a sadhu, because, like his brothers, he got married and has a son. Dharmananda Maharaj first met Omgurudev Janglidas Maharaj in 1971 in his native village of Sulkur, where Janglidas was carrying out his first public program in an ancient temple of Hanuman.

Shyamsundar, the third son of Dharmananda’s parents is now a well- known bhajan singer. In the course of his career he won many radio and TV prizes. Presently he has a twenty seven-year old son who was born with a severe problem with his legs. When the son was three years old, the complications caused by gangrene were so serious that doctors suggested amputation. The parents did not want to accept that and took the boy child to Janglidas for help. Omgurudev cured Shyamsundar’s little son in the course of two months, but at the same time he told them: “I will give you one, but I will also take one”, meaning that he would take Dharmananda from his parents for spiritual life.

One day in the village of Sulkur Dharmananda and his two friends heard a voice of an invisible person who instructed them to go to a certain tree and see what was there. All three of them went to the indicated tree. There they found three plates filled with food and three notes placed upon the plates. The notes said that each of them should become a sanyasin (a spiritual person) and take the proper vows. They hastily ate the food and quickly ran away from the place, frightened by the voice speaking to them from nowhere. However, only Dharmananda became a sanyasin.

At the beginning Dharmananda did not practice his meditation intensively, but in the years 1984-86 he lived in Naganath Mandir, situated not far away from the present ashram in Valivalde, on the outskirts of Kolhapur. Many times he meditated there incessantly from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and then, after a short break he additionally sat in meditation during the night. His wife and young son were then staying in his native village of Sulkur. At that time, on Janglidas’ command, Dharmananda organized Panchagni (tapasya of five fires) several times for Janglidas’ women disciples: Hindu Mata, Jagat Mata, Maha Devi Mata and Bharat Mata. He, too, underwent the Panchagni tapasya, but it lasted for one day only. Then, some time later, when he was on a visit in Sulkur, a man brought him a message from Omgurudev, commanding him to burn 16 man of wood (one man is a weight unit equal to about 100 kg) on his head. It meant that Dharmananda had to burn 1600 kg of wood on his head, and he knew that during one Panchagni day only 100 kg was used.

Dharmananda did not believe that he would survive this ordeal, and inwardly prepared himself for death. However, it did not even cross his mind that he might not obey his guru’s command. For two days he thought how to execute it, till at last an idea occurred to him to dig a hole in the ground, deep enough to contain his body sitting in padmasana; a steel plate was to be put 15 cm above his head. It was agreed that the wood-burning would take place in Sulkur between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Two persons were chosen to keep the fire burning and to pull Dharmananda out of the hole after the practice was finished. Before this ordeal by fire Dharmananda had to sign a document at the police station, stating that he has decided to submit to this tapasya all by himself, without any external pressure. On the day of the ordeal all the villagers gathered around the fire to watch it and to pray to Janglidas for its successful ending. In the morning, when the steel plate was removed, “baked” Dharmananda was found; his body lost its water completely and weighed the inconceivable 5 kg, while his normal weight was 72 kg. The man, who was assigned the job of pulling Dharmananda out of the hole, wanting to see if he was still alive, touched his body and left signs on his thigh, visible till the present time.

When asked if he had felt the heat, Dharmananda said that at the beginning, when he was entering the samadhi state, he had felt a little heat, but after a while everything was all right.

In 1982 Dharmananda, Omgurudev and many other sadhus from the ashram set off on a big pilgrimage all around India, southwards to Rameshwaram, and northwards to the Himalayas. As many as 20 cars traveled in the pilgrimage caravan. During the journey South one of the cars broke down and it was necessary to stop at a repair shop. While the vehicle was repaired, Dharmananda went to a restaurant to have some tea. A tall and nearly naked man approached him there, as if appearing from nowhere. At the beginning, Dharmananda did not realize who he was, but he quickly recognized him - it was nobody else but the great Jangli Maharaj himself. Jangli looked more or less the same as on our website photograph. Dharmananda embraced him, bowed to him, and they started talking. When Jangli learned that the cavalcade of 20 cars was going to the Rameshwaram temple, he gave Dharmananda 1 rupee and 25 pice for abishek there. After the car had been repaired, the cavalcade set off on the road once again, and Dharmananda’s car was the last one in the line. And here some strange thing happened, because for 3 km, Janglidas’ hand was seen in the open car window, holding the money.

Since 1994 Dharmananda has been running an Omgurudev ashram in Valivade on the outskirts of Kolhapur. Some young students live in the ashram; they attend the university during the week, and take part in the meditation practice in the mornings and in the evenings. Dharmananda’s son, now grown up, has a wife and three sons, and is the ashram manager; his wife and his son’s wife help run the ashram kitchen. It is worth knowing that in the Hindu tradition the sanyasin’s closest family generally become his devotees, and normal family relations cease to exist. Dharmananda’s wife, mother, son and grandson address him as their Guru and not as the family member.

Dharmananda has an enormous spiritual charisma, he lives very spontaneously and often takes part in public programs, where he gives lectures and sings bhajans. Although his younger brother is a professional classic singer, it seems that due to the power of Dharmananda’s spiritual practice, the bhajans sung by Dharmananda are much more inspiring.

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