Shreepad Seva Mandal (SSM)
Since 1991, SSM has been under the benevolent guiding gaze of Founder and Chief Architect, the late P. P. Sadguru Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande (Shree Mama). Under the strong and visionary leadership of chairpersons P. P. Sadguru Sau. Shakuntala Jayant Agate (Sau. Tai), and P. P. Sadguru Shree Shireesh Shantaram Kawade (Shree Dada), the Mandal faithfully carries its activities based on the aims and objectives as broadly laid out by Shree Mama.
These objectives encompass social-interests that are cultural, environmental and educational in nature. These include the generation of strong social character and the preservation and research of ancient arts and sciences. Its spiritual goals include propagation of the knowledge as projected in the literature of saints and sages of India.
Towards achieving these objectives, several projects are currently underway whereby the Mandal operates in all five continents of the world through more than 80 charter-centers in India and over 40 satellite locations in the Middle East, Europe, North America and Australia. Generations of selfless workers with sincerity, humility and strong moral character are being created at each of these projects. These groups of volunteers, regardless of age, sex, national origin, language or cultural heritage commit themselves to becoming role models for the society at large.
Sau. Tai, holder of a Masters degree in science and Shree Dada, an Electronics engineer by education, bring a contemporary outlook to their leadership as they lend able guidance to the various projects and the overall activities of Shreepad Seva Mandal.
Lord ShreeDattatreya is the reigning deity of the ShreeDatta Sampraday (ShreeDatta Lineage), an ancient religious and philosophical fellowship in India.
The Universal Mentor
The guiding principle of all spiritual and philosophical schools in India is that ‘all knowledge is gained only through the kind grace of a Guru (a qualified teacher)’. Lord ShreeDattatreya is widely accepted as the ‘Universal Mentor’, the ‘Guru of all Gurus’. It is for this very reason why centuries-old lineages like the Nath, the Mahanubhav, the Bhagwat and the Varkari lineages as well as virtually all spiritual paths and sects find their source in the ShreeDatta Sampraday. From this point of view, any Guru is but the representative, an image of the Eternal spiritual guide, Lord ShreeDattatreya and by the same logic every seeker and all aspirants of self-realization are ultimately led on the path of the truth by the kind nurturing of Lord ShreeDattatreya Himself.
The Teacher-Disciple Tradition
Born to Sage Atri and Mother Anasuya, the very meaning of the word ‘Dattatreya’ (Datta + Atreya: ‘ Datta - that which was given selflessly - to Atri’) spells out the chief attribute of a spiritual master. The word Atreya, even as it refers to Sage Atri underlines the principle requirement of a true seeker: someone who is ‘a-treya’, i.e. beyond the three guna (three base attributes) of the mundane world, viz: Sattva (Purity), Rajasa (Passion) and Tamasa (Pride). Lord ShreeDattatreya thus forms the foundation of the much celebrated Teacher-Disciple tradition (chain of master-pupil), the teacher who ‘gives selflessly of himself’ to a disciple striving to be ‘beyond the base attributes of the mundane world’.
The Physical Form
Lord ShreeDattatreya, the ‘Grand Master Principle’ is commonly represented as the amalgamate incarnation of Lord Brahma (the Creator), Lord Vishnu (the Preserver) and Lord Shiva (the Destroyer). Hence the physical depiction of Lord Dattatreya is a figure with three heads, six arms and two feet. The portrayal may also include four wandering dogs and a grazing cow. Various sects explain the symbolism of this vision in various different ways; for example, the four dogs are said to represent the four Veda (Four volumes of Holy Scripture reputed to contain the entire knowledge of the universe) and the cow as a representation of Mother Nature herself.
The Eternal Guide
Lord ShreeDattatreya is one of the oldest deities and finds mentioned in epics like the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. He is Guru to King Yadu, the first ancestor of the Yadav dynasty of Lord ShreeKrushna and to Lord Parashuram the incarnation of Lord Vishnu preceding that of Prabhu Shree Ramchandra and also to Lord Kartaveerya, King Ayu, Lord Prahlada and King Alarka from various eras.
Incarnations in the Kaliyug
Even though Lord ShreeDattatreya is the ‘Grand Guru Principle’ that permeates every spiritual guide of man, he also incarnates in various physical forms in different eras. In the present era of Kaliyug, Lord Shree ShreepadShreevallabh, Lord ShreeNrusinha Saraswati, Shree Swami Samarth of Akkalkot, Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati are widely regarded as incarnations of Lord ShreeDattatreya. ‘ShreeGuru Charitra’ or ‘Memoirs of the Gurus’, a contemporary core classic and gospel of the ShreeDatta Sampraday, describes in beautiful details the life and earthly deeds of the first two incarnations, Lord Shree ShreepadShreevallabh Swami Maharaj and Lord Nrusinha Saraswati Swami Maharaj.
Bhagwan Shreepad ShreeVallabh Swami Maharaj
The First Avatar
Sensing the decline in moral values and distortion of ancient spiritual wisdom, Lord ShreeDattatreya incarnated as Lord Shree Shreepad ShreeVallabh Swami Maharaj, his first incarnation in this era of Kaliyug.
Purpose of the Sojourn
The social fabric of the times before his birth was characterized by the rise of foreign influence in central India, coinciding with the decline of ancient Vedic tradition. Kannada, Marathi, Telugu and Gujarati speaking subjects came under this outside persuasion and lost the royal protection that had enabled them to practice their customary religious ordinances and rites without fear of persecution. Temples and other places of worship were destroyed in the thousands, time-tested rituals and rites rapidly lost their place in memory amidst complete cultural chaos as local Hindu kingdoms became increasingly eclipsed and weakened by the prevailing rule. To offer solace to his suffering devotees, Lord Shree Shreepad ShreeVallabh Swami Maharaj was born to a pious Brahmin called Apalraj Sharma and his devout wife Sumati at Pithapur on the banks of the river Godawari, in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. Bhadrapad Shudha 4 (Ganesh Chaturthi), according to the lunar calendar, is celebrated in the ShreeDatta Sampraday as the birth anniversary of Lord Shree Shreepad ShreeVallabh Swami Maharaj. His very name means ‘the vallabh’ (husband) or Lord of ‘Shreeya’ (dispassion)’.
Considered to have resided in the early parts of the 14th century spreading the message of devotion and love for all fellow beings, Lord Shree Shreepad ShreeVallabh Swami Maharaj on Ashwin Krushna 12, according to the lunar calendar, immersed himself and vanished in the divine torrent of river Krushna in Kuravpur, in the State of Karnataka in India. It is believed with innate faith that just as Lord ShreeDattatreya will wander this earth as long as there is suffering so will Lord Shree Shreepad ShreeVallabh Swami Maharaj reside at Kuravpur, offering peace and succor to his devotees for centuries to come.
Bhagwan Shree Nrusinha Saraswati Swami Maharaj
Birth and the Miracle of 'Om'
Lord Shree Shreepad ShreeVallabh Swami Maharaj, having promised his devotees to reincarnate, was reborn as Lord Shree Nrusinha Saraswati Swami Maharaj in the late 14th century to Madhav Kale and his wife Ambabhavani at Karanja in the State of Maharashtra in India. Born as Narhari, the boy is said to have uttered the divine cosmic sound ‘Om’ right at birth and proceeded to remain muted for the next seven years of his life.
Not realizing his divinity and assuming him to be a mute child, his parents decided to perform his thread-ceremony with reluctance. To the immense surprise and joy of all, however, he recited the Veda (Four volumes of Holy Scripture reputed to contain the entire knowledge of the universe) right during this ceremony and earned the respect and reverence of one and all. Travelling the length and breadth of India, this second incarnation of Lord ShreeDattatreya initiated several devotees into the spiritual path prescribed by the ShreeDatta Sampraday. He showed the righteous path of dharma (Way of life) to thousands while revitalizing its ideological purity and rejuvenated the traditional observance of prescribed religious duties. He further re-established the fledgling karma way of life, stressing the importance of conforming to appointed rites and religious exactness. His grace and spiritual generosity cast aside the boundaries of caste, creed or religion and his devotees came from all walks of life. Several Muslim fakirs and Sufi saints were among his ardent followers, including even the Muslim king of Bidar, Allauddin II (1435-58 AD). Lord Shree Nrusinha Saraswati Swami Maharaj showered one of his devout followers, Sayandev, with blessings of his devotion for generations to come. True to this word, in the fifth generation of Sayandev was born ‘Saraswati Gangadhar’ the author of the classic, ‘Shree Gurucharitra’. To this day, this holy book continues to mesmerize its readers with the divine biographies of the two incarnations of Lord ShreeDattatreya, Lord Shree Shreepad ShreeVallabh and Lord Shree Nrusinha Saraswati. Owing to the presence of Lord Shree Nrusinha Saraswata Swami Maharaj, places like ̣Ganagapur, Nrisinhapur (Narsobachi Wadi), Audumbar, etc. in India have gained immense importance as places of pilgrimage for followers of the ShreeDatta Sampraday.
Lord Shree Nrusinha Saraswati Swami Maharaj is said to have taken leave of this material world and vanished in the ‘Kardali’ woods at the mountains of Shree Shail. As in the first incarnation, he assured his grieving disciples that he will reside forever at Ganagapur to offer them his eternal love and devotion.
Bhagwan Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj
Mauli (Fond Mother), is the affectionate name by which 13th century saint, poet extraordinaire, child prodigy and manifest vision of literature royalty, Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj was known and referred to by saints, philosophers and devotees alike. The moniker is still used with extreme affection and deep respect and ‘mother’, the literal translation, barely manages to display the fondness, reverence and affection actually intended. It is impossible to gauge the real authority of Shree Mauli, as no mere mortal will ever approach the depth of Shree Mauli's experience of 'The Eternal Truth'. All saints, contemporary and all that followed; consider him Mauli, the benevolent mother, owing to the mysticism of his inner experiences and his kindness and generosity in sharing this nectar for the redemption of all souls.
Bhagwad Geeta (loosely translated as ‘God’s Song’), the hope of humanity and cream of all philosophies prevailing since time immemorial, is in the 'Devabhasha' (Celestial Language) Sanskrit. This puts its teachings quite beyond the reach of a lay person. Shree Mauli, at the tender age of 16, created ‘Shree Jnaneshwari’, a critique of the ancient classic ‘Bhagwad Geeta’. Written in Marathi, the Jnaneshwari, a 9000-verse epic poem of unparalleled beauty, is widely revered as the most authoritative and complete text on spiritual sciences and a crowning glory in literature excellence. The 700-year old work is still the primary source of philosophy for research scholars the world over. It is praised by 21st century visionary-saint, leading scholar, noted philosopher and Shree Mauli aficionado, the late Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande (‘Shree Mama’) as a 'Single-Volume' library. It is in verse form (a meter popularly known as ‘ovi’) and written in the language of the common man of the State of Maharashtra in western India. The Jnaneshwari not only laid the foundation of Marathi language and literature but took it to unprecedented heights of flourish. The present day riches of the language can undoubtedly be traced back to Shree Jnaneshwari. It is widely considered the crown jewel of all philosophical writings of Indian saints and understandably maintains a stronghold on the hearts of Marathi speaking devotees across the world.
Shree Mauli wrote Amrutanubhav (or, 'the experience nectar': nectar being the adjective for the 'experience') after having penned Shree Jnaneshwari. If the Jnaneshwari is a guide to the road of salvation, Amrutanubhav is the divine savor of the journey itself, a journey into Vedic Philosophy. Research scholars are in general agreement that though much more arcane, Amrutanubhav is a philosophically superior volume. It seems to capture the essence of the Veda (Four volumes of Holy Scripture reputed to contain the entire knowledge of the universe) and is thus very popular among theorists and has been a subject of several critiques. Shree Mama believed that the influence of the ancient writings of YogaVasishthya is clearly visible in this book. He explained that both books seem to share a common philosophy. Amrutanubhav is the generosity of the affluence of Sadguru’s grace, a mysterious ancient philosophy immortalized in words. All philosophical teachings boil down to one thing: the only truth is the eternal 'Brahma' and everything else is perishable. This teaching is at the core of Amrutanubhav. The explanation includes the source of the teachings, its relationship with other bodies of eternal knowledge, its harmony with the teachings of the 8th century philosopher, the enlightened Shreemad Adya Shankaracharya, and also the teachings of 'the Veda, the ultimate primordial source of all knowledge.
Shree Changdev Pasashti
Shree Changdev Pasashti, has a mere 65 verses (hence the word ‘Pasashti’, meaning 65 in Marathi, in its title) but it is widely considered to be one of the most mystical creations of Shree Mauli. Everything associated with the Pasashti is nothing short of amazing, starting from the circumstances around the creation to the one who it was written for and, of course, the creator himself, Shree Mauli. Shree Mauli (then all of 21 years) wrote these 65 verses for Shree Changdev Maharaj, a 1400 year old ascetic! Shree Changdev Maharaj had heard of Shree Mauli and the divine quartet of his siblings. Having observed severe penance for fourteen centuries, Shree Changdev Maharaj had acquired innumerable mystical powers, including the ability to postpone death via yogic penance, but apparently true peace and self-realization continued to elude him. He thus decided to write to Shree Mauli seeking advice. As he began to write his letter on a blank piece of parchment, his pen stopped at the first word. He was uncertain as to the proper designation to use for Shree Mauli. Shree Mauli, of a tender age, was but a mere child compared to the 1400 year old, so he couldn’t possibly be addressed as ‘Respected Sir’, on the other hand Shree Mauli was a realized soul of the highest order and thus commanded the highest respect that one could muster. Completely befuddled, Shree Changdev Maharaj left the parchment blank and sent it to Shree Mauli. Upon receipt of this blank document, Shree Muktabai, Shree Mauli’s younger sister and an enlightened soul herself, exclaimed in jest that, even after 1400 years of penance, Shree Changdev Maharaj still remained a blank piece of paper. Shree Mauli ‘corrected’ Shree Muktabai and proclaimed Shree Changdev Maharaj as one with a pure mind. He then proceeded to write the 65 verses of advice on the same parchment and send it over to Shree Changdev Maharaj. In course of time, in a case of celestial irony, Shree Muktabai became the Sadguru (Spiritual Guide/Master) of Shree Changdev Maharaj and led him to self-realization.
Abhang (celestial songs)
The creations of Shree Mauli, particularly the Jnaneshwari and the Amrutanubhav, were at the behest of his guru and elder brother Shree Nivruttinath Maharaj, whereas his poetry (written in the popular meter, abhang) is his own natural emotive expression. Well known and popular, they form a luminous part of the cultural heritage of State of Maharashtra. These abhang are extraordinary in their simplicity and simultaneous intricacy. They explain the inner meaning of devotion as well as yoga.
Describing a work of Shree Mauli as unique is redundant at best, since every creation by Shree Mauli in his short but lofty life span of 21 years is, by default, absolutely unique. The incredibly unique Haripath is a set of 28 abhang (celestial songs) describing the 'Path to Hari' (the Lord Himself). The path is already described in stunning details in The Jnaneshwari, considered the life-work of Shree Mauli. But he is at the pinnacle of his creativity while capturing its essence in the enchanting lyrics of the Haripath. The life-breath of the Varkari Sampraday [a centuries old fellowship, whose devotional focus is the foot-pilgrimage (Vari) to see their Lord Pandurang Hari], Haripath relentlessly teaches the devotee to live a fulfilled life, while chanting the name of the Lord, every waking moment.
Bhagwan Shree Akkalkot Swami Maharaj
Shree Swami Samarth Maharaj of Akkalkot, known to his devotees simply as Shree Swami Maharaj appeared near Akkalkot, State of Maharashtra, India in the early 19th century and took mahasamadhi in 1878 A.D. Even though nothing is known with any exactness regarding the origin, the birth, the family background or even his physical age, Shree Swami Maharaj, when once asked about his early life, lifted the shrouds of mystery momentarily, claiming that he came from the woods of Kardali.
The Master of Creation
Shree Swami Maharaj paid scant attention to the rigorous karma way of life (a way of life that overemphasizes the methodology of the religious rites and rituals without adequate appreciation of their spirit) and displayed a non-conformist streak. To Shree Swami Maharaj, the universe, it seems, was nothing more than a plaything, a masterfully designed game of karma, observed from a spiritual vantage point by its creator. And this is aptly depicted in several portraits of Shree Swami Maharaj, where he holds a marble between the thumb and the index finger of his right hand; the marble representing the existence of the universe in its entirety.
The Path of Devotion
From his unorthodox mannerisms it seemed as though he appeared to show his faithful, that the means are not as important as the goal as long as one truly believes in the goal. That goal is to harbor relentless unconditional love in one’s heart for Him. This path of devotion offered much more latitude from the strict and severe karma path and was thus much better suited for this Age of the Lost Way, the era of Kaliyug.
"I am right there with you"
The spread of devotees of Shree Swami Maharaj across the length and breadth of India, as well as in all continents of the world, stands testimony to the effectiveness of his message and its relevance in the era of Kaliyug. More than a century after his Mahasamadhi, his devotees across the globe virtually rely upon the words of Shree Swami Maharaj to serve as the very foundation, motivation and reassurance of their spiritual lives. Shree Swami Maharaj said, “Do not worry. I am right there with you.”
In India, several of his accomplished disciples with exalted spiritual authority, like Shree Sai Baba of Shirdi, Shree Shankar Maharaj of Pune or Shree Gajanan Maharaj of Shegaon have gone on to deliver thousands of seekers from the unremitting ties of worldly miseries.
During his lifetime, Shree Swami Maharaj did as he willed. Miraculous anecdotes of him having brought back to life the dead or having vanished in thin air or turning live snakes into bars of gold abound in the annals of his miraculous biography, which is not only an uninterrupted source of wonderment, but also a continuous reminder that there is so much more beyond the grasp of our material intellect.
Sadguru Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati (Tembye) Swami Maharaj
Birth of an Avatar
One of the greatest philosopher-saints of the last century and holder of the highest Order in the Vedic religion; considered the fifth incarnation of Lord ShreeDattatreya and a towering figure in the ShreeDatta Sampraday, the venerable Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati Tembye Swami Maharaj was born in the village of Mangaon in the State of Maharashtra, India, in 1854 A.D. to Shree Ganesh Bhatji and Sou. Ramabai, a devout and virtuous couple.
Blessed with a phenomenal intellect, ability and incredible grasping power, he mastered Sanskrit grammar, the Veda (Four volumes of Holy Scripture reputed to contain the entire knowledge of the universe) and the mantras therein and many other scriptures required for his priestly duties. Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj, from a very young age, was respected and beloved by all for his knowledge and command of the Veda and Dharma (Way of life).
His insatiable thirst for the divine guided him to Nrusinhawadi, where he was destined to meet his Guru Shree Govind Swami. Shree Govind Swami, realizing Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj’s spiritual potential, initiated him in several rites of the ShreeDatta Sampraday and even instructed him in the knowledge of the Upanishads. Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj was additionally instructed by Shree Mauni Swami and Shree Narayananand Saraswati, who were also Gurus to him.
The Lord Himself is the Guide
Very soon, Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj had attained such a high level of attunement with the Lord that he conducted himself entirely at His behest. To be able to curb one's own singular thought and simply await the Lord's next wish is not for the common mortal.
One of the defining aspects of the life of Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj is his passage into the sanyas-ashram or state of renunciation. After his initiation in the sanyas-ashram, following the divine Order given to him by Lord Shree Dattatreya, Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj traversed the entire length and breadth of India to preserve and spread the age-old edicts of Veda.
As per the laws of the sanyas-ashram, a sanyasi performs an austerity every year for a two-month period. This period, called the chaturmas characterized by rigorous observances, is an extraordinary opportunity for the devotees as during this time period, the devotees get to hear life-redeeming pearls of wisdom from the learned renunciate (sanyasi). Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj performed 24 such chaturmas all over the country and enlightened thousands of his followers.
Legacy and Mahasamadhi
The voluminous writings that Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj created discussing the principles of spiritual science and the basics of Adhyatma (the science of understanding the inseparability of the individual and the Whole) during the chaturmas, the likes of which perhaps has never been encountered by its modern readers, truly makes him the bearer of the spiritual commandments of Dharma.
It was this herculean effort with singular resoluteness that almost single-handedly revived and revitalized the ShreeDatta Sampraday. His life was one long demonstration of exemplary behavior, of dedication to the spiritual way of living and fastidiousness to ideal practice ordained by the scriptures.
The immense nature of Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj’s lifework, accomplished under the most trying conditions, gives us only a glimpse of his lofty status. A dazzling pearl in the string of brilliant gurus that is the lineage of the ShreeDatta Sampraday, Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj took Mahasamadhi in 1914 A.D., leaving behind thousands of grieving followers, forever enriched by fond memories of their encounters with him.
Sadguru Shree Lokanath Tirtha Swami Maharaj
The Swami From East Bengal
It was the will of the Bhagawati Kundalini Shakti (Universal Force) herself that the Shaktipat sadhana that originated in the Eastern parts of India, in Bengal, be propagated throughout the country. Shree LokanathTirtha Swami Maharaj was chosen to be instrumental in this historically monumental task. She, as Goddess Jagdamba, as Mata Kali, lent guidance to Shree Swami Maharaj throughout his life and in choosing the right disciples to carry this task forward. The sadhana, originating from Lord Shiva was transmitted through a lineage of luminaries like Shree Gangadhar Tirtha Maharaj, Shree Narayan Tirtha Maharaj and Shree Shankar Purushottam Tirtha Maharaj.
Shree Lokanath Tirtha Swami Maharaj was born Yogeshchandra (his given name) in 1892 in Dhaka (in present day Bangladesh) in a family of priests. With a deeply religious predisposition, he learned all required sacred rituals in his early childhood years from his father. He learned to meditate and soon found solace in seeking guidance from the Shakti herself in the form of Kali Mata. She directed him to his Guru, Shree Atmanand Brahmachari (later Shree ShankarPurushottamTirtha) who initiated him into life-long celibacy and Shaktipat. Later in 1922, he was initiated into Sanyas (monkhood) and named Chinmayanand Saraswati. After receiving initiation from Swami Shankar Purshottam Tirtha, Shree LokanathTirtha Swami Maharaj, was directed by Jagadamba Mata to “proceed southwards.” In 1927, Swami Chinmayanand was ordained into a higher order of Sanyas by his Guru Swami ShankarPurshottam Tirtha who bestowed on him the name of LoknathTirtha.
The Unchallenged authority
Shree LokanathTirtha Swami Maharaj, the unchallenged authority on Shaktipat Sadhana, bestowing mercy on souls entrapped in this material world, took this compassionate art form all over India and granted Shaktipat Diksha solely at the behest of the Shakti. LokanathTirtha Swami Maharaj took Mahasamadhi in 1955 in Kashi with the name of mother Kali and the primordial word ‘Om’ on his lips.
Sadguru Shree Gulavani Maharaj
The Divine Convergence
In the cultural heritage of India, confluences of streams and rivers carry immense importance. Saints from all ages have found sanctuary along the banks of such confluences for their solitary penances. It is perhaps for this very reason that Yogiraj Sadguru Shree Gulavani Maharaj is looked upon with such unreserved awe not only by his thousands of followers but also by all contemporary saints. For he was a veritable confluence of two profound spiritual streams, the one from central India representing the tradition of devotional philosophy of the reigning heir of ShreeDatta Sampraday, Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj and the other originating from the east, representing the Kundalini Shaktipat Sadhana of Shree LokanathTirtha Swami Maharaj. Thousands of devotees have ‘bathed’ in this confluence and found their way on the path of true self-realization and love for the Lord.
Shree Vamanrao Gulavani Maharaj was born at Kudutri, Kolhapur, in the State of Maharashtra in India in 1889 into a family of keen practitioners of the Vedic traditions to virtuous parents, Shree Datta Bhatji and Sou. Umabai. Sou. Umabai had received divine paduka (divine, symbolic footwear of the Lord) while she was pregnant with Vaman, signaling the arrival of a child with great spiritual authority. As a child, Shree Vamanrao was initiated with the usual religious duties of a young Brahmin, like sun-worship, idol-worship, fire-worship and several religious and Vedic verses like the Purush Sukta, Shree Sukta etc. In his later years, he was, in fact, quite admired for the regularity and sincerity with which he performed his daily rituals.
Shree Vamanrao had an inherent talent for the art of drawing and passed state-level exams and was even enrolled into the world-renowned Sir J. J. School of Arts in Mumbai, India. it is this artistic talent that brought him close to his Sadguru, Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati (Tembye) Swami Maharaj. Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj heard of Shree Vamanrao’s talents from his elder brother and asked him to draw a picture of Lord ShreeDattatreya wearing a garland of a shloka (hymn). Shree Vamanrao drew a beautiful picture of the Lord with a 'word - garland' and an intricately woven shloka in a flower motif, a poetic creation of Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj himself. Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj was truly impressed by this service performed by Shree Vamanrao and presented him with a protective talisman. This occasion forged a rare informal bond of affection between this pair of Guru-disciple that would go on to last forever, a fortune that evades most disciples. Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj nurtured Shree Vamanrao’s spiritual growth and molded him into a potent heir to his legacy at the helm of the ShreeDatta Sampraday.
Shree Vamanrao had also come in contact with a young Bengali ascetic named Swami Chinmayanand Saraswati (later, Shree LokanathTirtha Swami Maharaj) and experienced his amazing spiritual powers. Swami Chinmayanand Saraswati was known for his deep knowledge of Kundalini Shaktipat yoga, both the science and its practice. Enamored by this mystical and fulfilling spiritual practice and only after seeking approval from Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj, Shree Vamanrao received Shaktipat Diksha from Shree LokanathTirtha Swami Maharaj.
Armed with the potency of two commanding spiritual schools, Shree Gulavani Maharaj spread the benefits of Shaktipat sadhana to all. He kept a vow of celibacy and lived an unattached life, spreading the grace of Shaktipat yoga throughout India. He took Mahasamadhi in 1974, but left behind a multitude of powerful disciples who have carried his life’s mission and work forward, that of providing self-realization and spiritual fulfillment to those dedicated to a detached, steadfast spiritual pursuit and the dissemination of the ancient wisdom of Kundalini Shaktipat Yoga.
Sadguru Matushree Parvatidevi
The Great Mother
P.P. Sadguru Matushree Parvatidevi Deshpande; the revered mother and Sadguru of the great saint P.P. Sadguru Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande (Shree Mama); was herself a great yogini and spiritually accomplished person. Bhagwan Shree Akkalkot Swami Maharaj was her great Sadguru.
She lived a life of hard penance and endured many cruel blows of fate. A phenomenal picture of unique spiritual capabilities, she literally molded Shree Mama, whose wonderful and extra-ordinary life bears testimony to her unique personality, a heady combination of spiritual and worldly prowess. In Shree Mama, Sadguru Parvatidevi with an uncanny intense focus, and with the grace of Shree Swami Samarth had indeed created a dazzling gem for the world to see. In this era of Kaliyug, it may indeed be difficult to find a more exemplary, complete and multifaceted personality such as Matushree. She was determined and courageous and was endowed with the riches of yoga. She was a supreme devotee full of all the kindness in the world. Her entire life is a guiding towering beacon to all of us. This supreme spiritual authority, this one-of-a-kind mother who spent her entire lifetime in the consonance, service and love of God serves as an inspiration to all aspirants!
Sadguru Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande
Freedom-fighter, philosopher, scholar and prolific author, the late Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande (Shree Mama) inspired the foundation of Shreepad Seva Mandal (SSM), a non-profit organization with several wide-ranging goals, aimed at bringing about a change in the moral fiber of society in general, and to achieve that goal, the propagation of ancient Indic philosophy in particular.
Towards that, generations of selfless workers with sincerity, humility and strong moral character are working tirelessly all across the world. These groups of volunteers create an excellent example for society at large. They themselves, however, draw on the inspirational biography of their mentor and founder, P. P. Sadguru Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande.
Birth and Early Years
Shree Mama (Shreepad Dattatreya Deshpande) was born in Pune on 25th June 1914 to Shree Dattopant Deshpande and his wife, Sau. Parvatidevi Deshpande. Both parents, with an illustrious spiritual background, reared young Shreepad with utmost care and discipline, instilling in him the religious and social values as taught in the Veda (Four volumes of Holy Scripture reputed to contain the entire knowledge of the universe). Shree Dattopant was a disciple of Lord ShreeDattatreya incarnate, P. P. Sadguru Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati Tembye Swami Maharaj, whereas Sau. Parvatidevi and her family was blessed by Lord ShreeDattatreya incarnate, Bhagwan Shree Swami Samarth Maharaj of Akkalkot (Shree Swami Maharaj).
Shreepad was born precisely at the same moment in Pune that Sadguru Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj took Mahasamadhi in Garudeshwar! Realizing that young Shreepad was none other than Sadguru Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj, his parents prepared him for his mission in later-life that of redeeming entrapped souls from the bonds of the material world.
Initiation and Vari
Matushree (‘revered mother’) Sau. Parvatidevi lived a harsh life that would break any ordinary mortal. Notwithstanding her own hardships, she taught Shreepad to look at life as merely a play of one’s karma and the Lord’s maya (The Grand Illusion). She also went on to initiate Shree Mama and pass on the potent Shakti of Shree Swami Maharaj and thus became his first Guru. With her own singular focus on the Lord, she set before him an example of relentless penance and fierce attention to one’s Sadhana (an uninterrupted spiritual endeavor, a meditative spiritual practice).
She also instructed him in the critical reading and contemplation of ‘Shree Jnaneshwari’ (created almost 700 years ago by Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj, this critique of the Bhagwad Geeta is considered one of the greatest volumes to espouse the foundations of spiritual science and philosophy). She also made him part of the Varkari Sampraday (a centuries old fellowship consisting of ‘Varkari’ - foot pilgrims of the Lord Pandurang of Pandharpur, India). During the course of his pilgrimages to Pandharpur, Shree Mama was imbued in the tenets of the world of devotion. He delivered discourses and sang hymns and gave sermons to spread the love of Lord Pandurang.
In 1954, Shree Mama was granted Diksha and Diksha - granting rights by one of the foremost spiritual authorities of the ShreeDatta Sampraday, P. P. Sadguru Yogiraj Shree Gulavani Maharaj. Shree Gulavani Maharaj himself was a disciple of one of the contemporary pioneers of the Shaktipatyoga sadhana, P. P. Sadguru Shree Loknathtirth Swami Maharaj and, coincidently enough, also of Shree Tembye Swami Maharaj.
Shree Mama was thus the true convergence of the streams of ShreeDatta Sampraday, the Varkari Sampraday and the Nath and Bhagwat Sampraday; a bright star in the galaxy that is the great parampara (lineage) of ShreeDatta Sampraday!
Legacy and Initiatives
Shree Mama spread his legacy throughout the world and brought solace to the harsh lives of thousands of followers. To his sadhaks (disciples practicing sadhana), he was not just a Diksha guru but also their loving guardian, ‘Mama’! He undertook several yatra (pilgrimages) to all corners of India. His disciples not only enjoyed his divine loving company, but, in the course of the journey, also got to see up close his approach to everyday life, to people from all strata, but most importantly to the Lord Himself. These yatra were thus not just an opportunity to visit places of religious and spiritual significance but also a lesson in life for all sadhaks. Shree Mama travelled everywhere, from the Himalayas, to Mt. Girnar, to Kuravpur to Kanyakumari and participated with his sadhaks in the annual Vari of Lord Pandurang.
He resided in Pune in his ashram, Mauli which has become a permanent home away from home for thousands of his followers. Disciples from all over the globe visit Mauli, where they are received with the warmth of a loving family.
Shree Mama conducted yearly anusthan (a period of austerity and penance observed in the lunar month of Shravan, roughly coinciding with the months of July/August) at Mauli and other places. These periods were marked with several discourses (pravachan) and sermons (Kirtan). The discourses were intellectual treats to his sadhaks, as he routinely revealed the inner meanings of the writings of Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj and other saints of State of Maharashtra. Of particular interest to him was the ‘Jnaneshwari’. He strived to reach the heart of this book in the course of his reflections.
During the course of his life, he established and inspired the creation of several ambitious projects such as Shree Kshetra Datta Dham at Helwak in Satara, the P. P. Vasudevanand Saraswati Swami Maharaj Tapovan at Amberi, among others. The most prominent and ambitious project that Shree Mama envisioned and undertook was the ‘Shree Jnandev Siddhabet Tapovan’ in Alandi. An undertaking of immense proportions, Shree Mama dreamt of building a grand memorial befitting the stature of Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj and acquired with tireless zeal, the very land where Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj was born and lived his early years with his divine siblings nearly 700 years ago. This land, Siddhabet, will go on to become the site for the memorial, a fitting reminder to the legacy of Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj.
In 1982 Shree Mama founded a publishing house, ShreeVamanraj Prakashan (SVP), in the fond and reverential memory of his spiritual mentor, Shree Gulavani Maharaj. SVP continues to function under the umbrella organization, SSM and operates from its headquarters in Pune India. The publication is dedicated to spiritual and devotional themes, tirelessly spreading the message of Shree Mama that of universal peace and unadulterated love for one’s Guru and the Lord. Shree Mama’s spiritual and philosophical heirs, Sau. Shakuntala Agate and Shree Shireesh Shantaram Kawade are presently serving as Chief Editors of ShreeVamanraj Prakashan and have worked tirelessly in capturing the teachings of Shree Mama as well as the sampraday, in print form. With over 215 books published so far ShreeVamanraj Prakashan proudly celebrates its 31st anniversary.
Sadguru Sau. Shakuntala Tai Agate
Sadguru Sau. Shakuntala Jayant Agate (Sau.Tai), holder of a Masters Degree in Chemistry, has gone on to serve as a Professor at Ferguson College, S.P. College and Abhinav Abhiyantriki College in Pune, India. She is the President of ‘Shree Jnandev Siddhabet Tapovan Jnan-Yoga-Adhyatma University and Foundation’, Alandi (India) and the Chief Executive Officer of Shreepad Seva Mandal.
Sau.Tai is the Principle designer and Chief councilor for the project ‘Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati Swami Maharaj Tapovan’ by Shreepad Seva Mandal at Amberi, Sindhudurg district, in the State of Maharashtra, India. Additionally, she serves as the Co-Editor at ShreeVamanraj Prakashan’s periodicals ‘ShreeVamanraj’, dedicated to subjects dealing with ‘Krupa Yoga’ and ‘Guru-bhakti’ as well as ‘BapRakhumaDeviVaru’, dedicated to higher studies and advanced research of the teachings of 13th century world renowned litterateur and philosopher Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj.
A prolific author of over twenty-five books, she is a master of spiritual themes and owns a distinct, easy-to-understand, flowing, engaging and winsome linguistic style that speaks to the heart of its reader and audience. Her tender language intoned by the love for the Lord, seeps into the minds of the eager reader providing instant access to the core of the subject. Published by ShreeVamanraj Prakashan several of her books are in their 2nd/3rd editions and have been translated in various languages like Hindi and English and many more are in the process of being published. Her discourses lend guidance by using examples from daily lives. She has a strong foundation of the recondite tenets of the school of devotional philosophy. She is blessed with a lucid, charming verse that manages to manifest in the minds of her reader, the endearing playful events created by Lord ShreeKrushna in the land of Vraja. Her poetry is infused with the radiance of the love of Lord ShreeKrushna, and her intensely reflective creativity bears insight into the sentimental construct of the spiritual soul of Lord ShreeKrushna companion, Shree Radhaji.
Spiritual Authority and Activity:
Sau. Agate is the exalted spiritual heir to the leading authority of the Shaktipat-Yoga tradition as practiced in the Nath, Datta and Bhagwat Sampraday, Sadguru Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande Maharaj. She proudly bears the blessing of the divine heritage of Shree Swami Samarth Maharaj of Akkalkot. She counsels through discourses and spiritual conferences providing succor to thousands of spiritual practitioners both in India and abroad. She has single-handedly expanded and spread the work and teachings of Shree Mamasaheb in foreign countries and guides many spiritual aspirants all over the world.
Sadguru Shree Shireesh Shantaram Kawade
Sadguru Shree Shireesh Shantaram Kawade (Shree Dada), an Electrical and Electronics engineer by training is the Founder and President of Shreepad Seva Mandal, a spiritual-social foundation. Shree Dada is the chief councilor for various projects of the Mandal currently underway in India. He is the Chief Executive Officer of the ‘Shree Jnandev Siddhabet Tapovan Jnan-Yoga-Adhyatma University and Foundation’, Alandi (India) and the Founder and Chancellor of the ‘Shree Sant Muktai Philosophy University’, Alandi (India).
He is the Editor-in-Chief of the publication wing of Shreepad Seva Mandal, ShreeVamanraj Prakashan. This includes periodicals like ‘ShreeVamanraj’ dedicated to subjects dealing with ‘Krupa Yoga’ and ‘Guru-bhakti’ as well as ‘BapRakhumaDeviVaru’ dedicated to higher studies and advanced research of the teachings of 13th century world-renowned litterateur and philosopher Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj. He was the Editor-in-Chief of the project ‘Shree Nrusinha Kosh’, (published in 1996) an encyclopedia dedicated to the ancient deity Shree Nrusinha and is also the Editor-in-Chief of the project ‘Vari Kosh’, (proposed publication in 2013), an encyclopedia detailing the phenomenon of Vari and one of the major centers of pilgrimage, Pandharpur, situated in the State of Maharashtra, India.
He is engaged in the steadfast pursuit and in-depth study of the mysterious inner linings of Shree Jnaneshwari, a grand offering of universal philosophy and a core classic by 13th century saint and intellectual, Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj. This effort is authoritatively founded on experimental personal experience and fruition. He is a prolific writer and a worthy preacher of saint-literature and a renowned expert of the gospel of Varkari school.
His discourses and research articles dedicated to Shree Jnaneshwari, ShaktipatYoga Sadhana and saint-literature have been compiled and published extensively by ShreeVamanraj Prakashan. He has had more than eighty books published to-date and several of his books are soon to be released. Quite a few of these have been recipients of prestigious national awards and accolades. Many of his books have also been translated in other languages like Hindi, English and Kannada. He is blessed with a scintillating and divine inspiration for verse and several of his collections have been published and presented in the form of music compositions.
Spiritual Authority and Activity:
He is the spiritual heir to the only branch of the lineage of Lord Shree Swami Samarth Maharaj of Akkalkot, dedicated to the Shaktipat tradition. At the tender age of twenty, he received Shaktipat Diksha and initiation-rights from Sadguru Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande Maharaj. As ordained, since 1981, thousands of seekers and aspirants have been graced with Shaktipat and Nam Diksha. Through his incessant study of old texts and traditions, he has attained a deep understanding of the ancient Shaktipat-Yoga institution and come to acquire through personal experience the knowledge and intricacies of the various processes of Shaktipat Diksha. Notably he possesses an advanced knowledge of several esoteric sciences of Tantra, Mantra, Occult, Astrology, Palmistry and Numerology.