Shreepad Seva Mandal Headquarters (Mauli)
How it all began:
Situated in the heart of Anandnagar, a quaint locale in the southwestern suburbs of Pune (India), Mauli Ashram is the nucleus of the ‘Mauli Campus’ sprawled over an area of two blocks. It is located on a street named after its distinguished resident, P. P. Sadguru Shree Mama Deshpande. A leading scholar of Shree Jnaneshwari, and an authoritative proponent of Shaktipatyog, Shree Mama spearheaded the ShreeDatta Sampraday the world over. Shree Mama built his residence in the early 1970s when the surrounding area was relatively secluded and unknown. He however inspired a burst of development, including starting a post-office, a bus-stop for the city public transport system and created the well established Anandnagar of today. He named his place of dwelling ‘Mauli’ (‘Fond Mother’) in the memory of his beloved mother and Guru and also in honor of his life and breath, ‘Mauli’ Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj. The focal point is the sanctum sanctorum where Shree. Mama performed his daily puja of the idols of various deities. The central hall is the place where Shree. Mama held court and entertained guests. Huge lifelike oil paintings of the various luminaries of the ShreeDatta Sampraday like Shree Mama’s guru, P. P. Sadguru Shree Gulavani Maharaj; Shree. Mama’s dearest counselor, confidant P. P. Sadguru Shree Akkalkot Swami Maharaj, P. P. Sadguru Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati Tembye Swami Maharaj and others overlook the central hall.
Shree. Mama’s ‘Karya’ begins in Mauli:
Mauli is the place where Shree Mama’s life-work unfolded, achieved the depth and breadth and the wide shape visible today. Mauli was witness to the amazing and towering work of Shree Mama as he tirelessly pursued the wellness of his disciples, dissuading them from the allures of the mundane and planting in them an all enduring longing for the Lord. Mauli has been a gracious host to several noted dignitaries with extraordinary spiritual authority, as they visited to share Shree Mama’s vision.
The walls of this building have reflected scores of his discourses and sermons that have gone on to unveil secret wisdom hidden away in passages from spiritual writings. This is where some of the early writings of Shree Mama and his lofty spiritual heirs, explaining the core teachings of saints and seers, took place and have gone on to form the foundation of the publishing wing, ShreeVamanraj Prakashan.
Shreepad Seva Mandal and ShreeJnandev Sidhabet Tapovan
Here were sowed the early seeds of what is today Shreepad Seva Mandal, an organization that has now spread its roots on all five continents. The original idea and instructions for such an institution was provided to Shree Mama by Shree Mama’s guru himself, P. P. Sadguru Shree Gulavani Maharaj as early as in 1971. The organization however was officially registered with the Charity Commissioner’s office only in 1991 after the passing away of Shree Mama. Mauli also saw the birthing of ShreeJnandev Sidhabet Tapovan, a foundation created entirely to honor and expound the legacy of Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj.
They come from all over the world:
Mauli is the solemn resting place of Shree. Mama, for he left his physical garb in the confines of his residence, having given clear instructions about his departure as well as the task that lay ahead, to his spiritual successors. Today even after almost a quarter century of his passing, the Mauli neighborhood is bustling with his devotees attracted from all over the world. They travel long distances just to spend a few precious moments drenched in the memory of Shree Mama’s loving presence. That ever present spark of divinity in Mauli recharges the embers of their own life enhancing spiritual quest. Various religious functions are held annually as ordained by Shree Mama. The fervor of these celebrations recreates the magic of the past.
Regular morning and evening services are held and attended by devoted followers. The grand worship rite for the idols of various deities, from the time of Shree Mama is performed every day. This includes the abhishek of the famous Shivaling ‘Narmedeshwar’ which was a boon from Lord Shiva Himself to Shree Mama. Festivities like ‘Ashadhi Ekadashi’ (celebrated in the months of June/July), observation of ‘Shravani’ (July/August); celebration of ‘Shree DattaJayanti’ (late December) are a few of the various annual events that take place in Mauli. Today, this monument that stands bridging three generations of disciples of Shree Mama and devotees of ShreeDatta Sampraday while holding a special place in their hearts has been accorded a ‘Historically Significant Site’ status by the local civic authority.
A grand memorial:
Located on the campus of Shree ‘Mauli’ in Anandnagar, Pune (India), Shreepad Niwas, approximately 8 Km. from Swargate, can be approached via Sinhagad Road, by private and public transport with relative ease. Constructed in the year 2000, the imposing, three-storey structure with a welcoming arch, and pleasant, spotlessly clean surroundings, houses a grand memorial of spiritual authority and Sadguru to many, the late P. P. Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande. The inner sanctum, slightly sunken in the ground has a life-sized bronze statue of P. P. Shree. Mama seated on an ornamental marble high-seat. The raised darshan platform, strategically placed mirrors and perambulation pathway offers a close and striking view of the sculpture from all angles. The huge statue while simultaneously shocking to its viewer by its life-like features, also manages to convey a serene sense of calm with its kind, steady gaze. Many a fortunate devotees have felt the overwhelming presence of Shree Mama in the cool shade of Shreepad Niwas.
Shreepad Niwas is host to the headquarters of ‘ShreeVamanraj Prakashan’. Boasting a stable of over 215 titles, ShreeVamanraj, at the forefront of publishing in the field of spirituality and saint-literature, is a non-profit unit functioning under the umbrella organization, Shreepad Seva Mandal. It also publishes a quarterly, ‘ShreeVamanraj’ from the same premises. The magazine airs the views of the Sampraday, that of an unreserved dedication to the Sadguru and an unrelenting pursuit of sadhana. The office of the publication is run by several full-time and part-time devotee volunteers.
Daily Service and activities
Occasional Sanskrit classes and workshops to teach rigorous and authentic details of worship rituals are held for the seekers in the pathway after the regular operation hours. The Mandir hosts the annual Memorial Day celebration for P. P. Shree Mama, a function that felicitates Shree Mama in the grand style of a monarch. The majestic event is attended by throngs of devotees who consider it their fortune to have witnessed the rare rituals. A small concert hall forms the topmost floor of Shreepad Niwas. It serves as a perfect venue for a myriad number of functions all year long, including mass sadhana every Sunday and rendering of ‘Haripath’ and ‘Varkari Kirtankram’ on Wednesdays and Saturdays respectively.
Tapovan At Amberi
It can be said about the land for some of the Ashrams of Shreepad Seva Mandal like that at Jalgaon-Jamod in Dist. Buldhana or the one at Helwak in Dist. Satara or the one in Nagpur, that these were donated by Sadhak and disciples of philosopher, the late P. P. Sadguru Shree Mama Deshpande. But this does not apply to the site at Amberi in Dist. Sindhudurg. Here is approximately 6+ acres of land that was donated by a person who never even saw P. P. Shree Mama. This place in Amberi is within a short distance of the birth-place of the patriarch of the lineage, P. P. Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati Tembye Swami Maharaj. Today on this site at Amberi behind a giant welcoming arch, stands a grand temple combining the architectural schools of the classic and contemporary, several modern houses for the full-time volunteer staff, cattle-barns, a residence abode for P. P. Sadguru Sau. ShakuntalaTai Agate and P. P. Shree Shireesh (Dada) Kawade, a central administrative building and a kitchen floor, all amidst lush green paddy fields and rows of trees and shrubs laden with fruits and nuts and local flora.
The Mandir for the Lord:
The main Mandir rising high up on the ground with an accompanying towering minaret of lamps and a soaring pinnacle, houses the central idol made of sparkling black marble of the Lord ShreeKrushnachandra Prabhu with life-sized brass idols of Shree SwamiSamarth Maharaj of Akkalkot as well as that of P. P. Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati Tembye Swami Maharaj on both flanks. The central hall befitting a court of a monarch is so built that it has not supporting pillar in the middle of its expanse. Its entire load sustaining structure has been moved aside on both hands creating long and wide corridors on the sides that are ideal for devotees moving to and fro while leaving an unobstructed view of the marble-adorned high central hall. This among many other unique features of the Amberi project is a testament to the grandeur of the vision and the divine inspiration of P. P. Sau. Tai. Her design acumen is apparent behind every corner and beyond every wall at Amberi manifesting as a confluent beauty of form and function.
Services and Activities:
Daily worship of the idols along with morning and evening services are collectively performed and participated by the on-site Sadhaks. The entire place, be it the central temple or be it the cattle barns or the rice-fields or the bee-sheds or the administrative offices, is run by the Sadhaks that live on the campus. Each function and every activity has been strung into a disciplined routine as ordained by P. P. Sau. Tai. Most of the full-time volunteers at Amberi have been urban dwellers before arriving at Amberi. Watching them digging their elbows in the dirt, raising, tending and milking cattle, keeping bees, producing rich golden honey, reaping the cream of the earth with seasonal rice and a bountiful harvest of several tropical fruits and nuts of the local variety with such skills and efficiency is sure to put any professional farmer to shame. Amberi manages to produce several kilos of rice, cashews, groundnuts, black pepper, turmeric, fruits, vegetables all year around along with a variety of pickles and other seasonal produce that are sent over to all SSM centers specifically for Sadhak consumption.
The Lord’s Birthday:
The routine serenity however, is replaced by exuberant cheers on the day of the birth anniversary of the Lord ShreeKrushnachandra Prabhu and that of Shree Sant Jnaneshwar Maharaj. The two day event of Janmashtami, celebrates the birth of the avatar and his early days spent with his childhood mates in Gokul, on the banks of river Yamuna in the northern India. The events at Amberi in the divine presence of P. P. Sau. Tai and P. P. Shree Dada aim to recreate the ebullient river banks, as Kanha (the Lord’s loving name as a child) engaged in his celestial playful activities with his friends in Gokul, dispensing divine inequitable love in return for life times of singular devotion by these elite souls. The celebrations include flowing discourses and high-spirited sermons by P. P. Shree Dada regaling the enraptured audience with age-old tales of the adventures of Kanha that have lived in the hearts of devotees forever. The sermons, unlike all others have an active participation of several devotees as they reenact the adventures and recreate the devotional fervor. The delighted audience, laughing and crying all at the same time, keeps craving for more. The hours of singing hymns and spirited chanting of the name of the Lord culminates in a god-suffused daze, as devotees experiencing a sweet exhaustion proceed homeward bound.
Through every activity performed at Amberi, P. P. Sau. Tai’s poignant message rings loud and sweet; ‘Anything and everything you do, should be for the Lord’. The physically demanding ground work turns into selfless service to the Lord and beatitude only when this message drips into the mind and every breath of air and every drop of sweat. That peace is perceptible on the silently chanting faces of every volunteer Sadhak at the ‘Tapovan at Amberi’.
P.P. Mamasaheb Deshpande Library
A community Library:
Shree Mama always envisioned a community coming together around an institution of knowledge that not only encouraged and cultivated the habit of reading but also a diversity of thought. Towards that, the 'P. P. Sadguru Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande Public Library’ was founded and established in 1999 by P. P. Sadguru Shree Shireesh (Dada) Kawade. It is located right in the midst of a quiet and peaceful cul’-de-sac in the Anandnagar suburb of Pune as part of the Mauli Campus.
A Vast Collection:
The library’s collection was seeded by a generous donation of several hundred extremely rare and valuable books from the collection of Shree Dada an extraordinary book-lover himself. Similar selfless donations from the personal collections of noted authors and linguists, Dr. V. M. Bachal, Dr. M. V. Kulkarni, Dr. P. V. Kulkarni, Shree Mohan Pendharkar, Dr. Pradip Karnik, Dr. Narendra Kunte, Shree Jayant Vasht, actor Sonali Kulkarni, the Dr. V. D. Kulkarni Smruti Samiti, Vishwa Bharat Sanskrutik Kendra and many other book-lovers have gone on to enrich the library's overall collection of books.
Within a year the library was accredited by the State Govt. of Maharashtra and granted a 'B'-level status. What started as just 25 subscribers has slowly ballooned to over a thousand active subscribers today. Numerous readers around the neighborhood avail of the free newspaper service.
A Grade ‘A’ institution:
In due course the library has settled in its own independent site managed by four full-time staff members and several devotee volunteers. It is fitted with all the modern day computer facilities and additionally equipped with a state-of-the-art library management software, ‘e-granthalay’ developed by the ‘National Informatics Center’, an undertaking of the Govt. of India. These increased efforts resulted in an upgrade of the library to the 'A'-level status from the State Govt. in the year 2008.
Shreepad Seva Mandal works tirelessly towards the expansion and overall up-gradation of the library. Along with the generous gift of books from book-lovers, the library also routinely buys newer publications. These include publications put forth by Gita Press (Gorakhpur), The RamKrushn Matha, The Kalpataru Research Academy, ShreeVamanraj Prakashan, to name a few. There is a rich collection of Stories, Novels along with classics from various languages. Readers will find thousands of books on a variety of topics of their liking. Thus the past few years has seen a marked increase in the number of titles made available and today the library boasts a proud collection of close to 27,000 volumes; more than 70 periodicals and over 20 newspapers in various languages.
A Women’s section and a Children’s section:
The library has a special women's section containing books with a special appeal to the female reader, such as career building, child-rearing, child-psychology, child-behavior, knitting/weaving, cooking, home-remedies, etc. in various languages along with several biographies and saint-literature.
It also has a children's section containing a series of children's classics like the Panchatantra, Aesop's fables, Ramayan, Mahabharat along with biographies of various saints. Books by Bharat-Bharati Prakashan, P. Kalavatidevi, Gita Press and RamKrushna Matha are also available. Popular classics like Tarzan, Harry Potter, Arabian Nights, Bokya Satbande, Faster Fene also grace the library shelves. For special educational needs, the Encyclopedia Britannica, World Encyclopedia, various dictionaries etc are available. Moral stories, comics, magic stories etc. fill this children's section. There is a teen section containing short stories, novels, mysteries along with books on computers and various branches of Engineering.
For the grown-ups:
The grown-up section has along with elegant world literature, popular volumes like Sampurna Chaturmas, books on rituals, Purans, pilgrimages and other saint-literature spanning all religious and spiritual topics.
The highlight however is the Reference Section. This rich reference section containing hard to find volumes, rare manuscripts, ancient publications, etc. assists both researchers as well as students. These include ‘The Jnaneshwari’ in various Indian languages, copies of some ancient handwritten manuscripts of the Jnaneshwari; a large collection of encyclopedias including the Marathi, World Encyclopedia, the Indian Cultural Encyclopedia, the Devotion Encyclopedia, etc; the hymnals (Gatha) of the saints of Maharashtra like Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj, Shree Namdev Maharaj, Shree Tukaram Maharaj, Shree Eknath Maharaj, Shree Ramdas Swami Maharaj etc; along with several original and rare manuscripts in Sanskrit. This collection is the pride and joy of the library. An independent seating area is especially reserved for those who want to take advantage of this facility.
The library also intends to posses the entire works of Shree Pant Maharaj (Balekundri), Shree Raman Maharshi, Shree Gurudev Ranade, Shree Sant Gulabrao Maharaj, Yogi Aurobindo, etc. As per the library rules, depending on the demand, up to 50 books can be borrowed from various Government libraries.
To foster a sense of community, the library also arranges a range of cultural events including discourses by authorities from various fields, like Dr. Maruti Chitampali, noted naturalist and president of the ‘All India Marathi literary fest’ 1985, Dr. Suhas Kane, noted environmentalist and researcher member of the Indian mission to Antarctica, Dr. Narendra Kunte, renowned scholar of saint-literature, among others. Several city-wide competitions like elocution, reading-memory, and even ‘vocal-Hindustani classical music’ have been arranged and conducted by the library.
Despite the availability of all kinds of literature the reader eventually gravitates towards the massive collection of spiritual literature in his quest for inner peace. Towards that there is a copious selection of saint-literature by Shree Sant Jnaneshwar Maharaj, Shree Namdev Maharaj, Shree Tukaram Maharaj, Shree Eknath Maharaj, Shree Ramdas Swami, Shree Raman Maharshi, J.Krushnamurti, Shree Gulabrao Maharaj, Shree Gondnwlekar Maharaj, Yogi Aurobindo, Osho Rajnish, Shree Gurudev Ranade, Guru Nanak, etc.
Shree Kshetra Dattadham
The Ashram at Helwak in the district of Satara on the Karad-Chiplun highway touches a tender spot in the hearts of the devotees of the leading authority of Shree Datta Sampraday, the late P. P. Sadguru Shree Mama Deshpande, as it was virtually a matter of days after installing the central idol in this Datta Mandir that Shree Mama passed on to his divine abode. The project had come up just a few months prior, when a devotee of Shree Mama donated an entire mountainside to him. What followed was a whirlwind of activities with Shree Mama as its focal center directing and orchestrating every aspect of the project to its final details, right from finalizing the temple site hundreds of meters high up in the mountains culminating with the ceremonial consecration of the central idol, creating Shree Kshetra Dattadham at Helwak. It was as if the Lord Shree Dattatreya built His own memorial before His grand ascension. (Mesmerizing tales including the one of an old asthmatic carrying the main idol—heavy even for 7-8 healthy men-- all by himself on his back all the way to the top in one go and other details of how Dattadham came into being in the final days of Shree Mama are scripted in a book published by ShreeVamanraj Prakashan, titled ‘Chandanache Hat, Payhi Chandan’)
A solace for Devotees:
After his passing away, the devotees of Shree Mama felt a kind of bottomless, wordless sorrow that left their grieving hearts so empty that all the high heavens could never fill the void. It was however places like Helwak, still bearing his last warm touches that provided soothing solace. Even today devotees visit Dattadham, as to this day, it continues to envelop them with his fond memories.
The Mandir Surroundings:
A small Mandir sits atop a flat table-top courtyard, with a life-sized statue of Lord Shree Dattatreya incarnate, Lord Shree NrusinhaSaraswati Swami Maharaj, attired in flowing ochre robes. The characteristic landmark of the Datta Sampraday the holy tree of Audumbar has, not surprisingly, naturally sprouted right behind the main Mandir. The surrounding yard is embellished with seasonal flowers. An archway to its right leads to ‘Sadguru Niwas’ where the present spiritual heirs of Shree Mama, Sau. ShakuntalaTai and Shree ShireeshDada reside during their visits to the project. Right next to it lies ‘Sadhak Niwas’ where up to three full-time volunteers dwell at any given time carrying the arduous task of maintaining and tending to the needs of the entire project, including the daily worship services in the main Mandir and other smaller places of worship, the morning services at the Hanuman Mandir at the foot of the mountain, rain, chill or mist. At the bottom of the hill is a small storage and residence shed where outside Sadhak routinely visiting for additional voluntary services, reside. There is a drinking water source on the hill-top called the ‘Kamandalu Tirth’ owing to its uncanny resemblance to an ascetic’s water gourd. Between the Mandir and the Sadhak Niwas is the ‘Nam Samadhi’ the memorial dedicated to P. P. Sadguru Shree Mama, featuring idols of Lord Shree Vitthal and Goddess Rakhumai.
The entire mountain-side, purportedly an ancient site of penance for exalted souls of the ShreeDatta Sampraday and Nath Sampraday, with the little rivulet Kafna flowing at its feet, hundreds of steps cut deep in stone, winding all the way in the high mountains to the site of the Mandir, the surrounding dense green forests with frequent big game sightings, seem perpetually enrobed in a mystical serenity. This is even more so in the monsoons when it rains incessantly for months, virtually cutting off this place from contact with civilization. The receding rains only usher in a bone-chilling winter further shrouding the mountain tops in dense fogs. In the waning days of December however this little place comes alive as it gets ready to celebrate the birth anniversary of Lord Shree Dattatreya on the full moon day in Margashirsha. Devotees from all over the world gather early in the afternoon for this occasion celebrated in the fading light of dusk. And even though the steep climb involving the 300 odd steps of stone leaves (especially its urban) climbers breathless, once atop, the beauty of the place takes his breath away. The strange anticipation of the unknown in the minds of its first time visitors is quickly replaced by the warmth of familiarity. The air, even an atheist would be inclined to admit, is infused with the oxygen of the divine. As arriving devotees fill their lungs with the cool, pure and pious atmosphere, their thoughts unbeknownst, drift to the hardship and the extraordinary privilege that must be the ‘Seva’ at Shree Kshetra Dattadham. A solemn calm enters the minds of the devotees at the overwhelming immanence of the luminaries of the ShreeDatta Sampraday. The deafening peace drowns all thoughts. Dazed, with folded palms and half-closed eyes, they simply lay prostate and surrender to the Lord Shree NrusinhaSaraswati Swami Maharaj. The ensuing palanquin procession is a nameless expression of the joy of all Sadhak, their exuberance, their devotion and the singular thought that they are all together. The non-participating devotees watch the proceedings in a silent awe under the silver moonlight of the full moon, as the mountain-top along with its celebrations seem to be air-lifted, suspended in mid-air. After the celebrations they descend with a heavy heart even though their minds still stay afloat, promising themselves yet another visit to Dattadham, the ‘ Mt. Girnar of the South’.
Functional for the past 27 years at the aptly named ‘Upasana’ Building in Abhyankar Nagar, Zenda Chowk, near the Nagpur sadhak-center is app. 5 km. from the Nagpur Railway Station.The site is considered blessed as whenever philosopher, saint and a spiritual leader of the Shree Datta Sampraday, P. P. Sadguru Shree Mama Maharaj visited Nagpur he would make this apartment in ‘Upasana’ building his central location as he visited his sadhak devotees and attended his other works. Even more significant is the fact that several of his sadhaks were granted diksha (spiritual initiation) by Shree Mama in this very place. A devout sadhak of Shree Mama, Smt. Akka Didolkar who owned the house, very generously donated the site to Shreepad Seva Mandal (SSM) in 1986, which in turn dedicated this location to be a sadhak-center for Nagpur, benefitting sadhaks not only from its immediate vicinity but also from the entire Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
After a period of time the center was renovated in the year 2009-10 as per the able directions of P. P. Sadguru Shree Shireesh Kawade, the spiritual heir to Shree Mama. Not entirely inexplicably, an ‘Audumbar’ tree (Ficus racemosa-iconic for the ShreeDatta Sampraday, the audumbar tree is considered extremely auspicious in the lineage) has sprouted in the courtyard of the center. The central hall is graced by beautiful hand-portraits of various luminaries of the Shree Datta Sampraday, Bhagwan Shreeman Nrusimha Saraswati Swami Maharaj, Shree Swami Samarth Akkalkot Swami Maharaj and P. P. Sadguru Shree Mama Maharaj. The spacious prayer hall (termed Sadhana-gruh) has an artistic wooden alter holding a pair of paduka (symbolic divine sandals of Sadguru) along with a copper emblem of Bhagwan Dattatreya.
Daily services including Puja (worship rites) and Aarti (singing of divine hymns) are regularly performed by sadhaks. Weekly group sadhana (Samudayik Sadhana) takes place every Sunday. As per the instructions of P. P. Sadguru Shree Dada, a Namjapa (repetitious chanting of the Divine name of the Lord and divinities of the lineage) along with recitation of Haripath (a set of abhang by 13th century saint, philosopher and poet extraordinaire, Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj, extolling the significance of Namjapa in one’s pursuit of the Ultimate Truth) follow the conclusion of the group sadhana. Additionally, all celebrations of various significant occasions of the lineage are observed with great enthusiasm by the sadhaks of Nagpur and around in accordance with instructions from the main office of SSM. Presently sadhaks are also being instructed in the traditional Varkari way of rhythmic movements and recitation of Haripath. This activity has gathered a lot a momentum owing to an incredibly enthusiastic response from the young and old alike. The sadhak-center also serves as a focal point for aspirants and students of the literature of Shree Mama, Shree Dada and Sau. Shakuntala Tai Agate (senior spiritual heir to Shree Mama) by maintaining an up-to-date stock of all their titles as published by ShreeVamanraj Prakashan, the publishing endeavor of SSM. The center also boasts of a small library with over 500 books and periodicals.
The project at Jalgaon-Jamod is a promise coming true. In his first meeting with P. P. Shree Shireesh Kawade (Shree Dada), his eventual spiritual heir, P. P. Sadguru Shree Mama Deshpande, made a cryptic promise to him. He said “I’ll accept dutiful service from all your family members and provide an everlasting home to your mother”. Not quite knowing at the time what he exactly meant Shree Dada was nevertheless a witness to each and every word of Shree Mama’s promise come to life.
It so happened that Shree Dada’s mother and all her siblings donated to SSM a large piece of property in Jalgaon-Jamod consisting of their dilapidated ancestral home that included the birthplace of Shree Dada himself. They also donated a large sum which was utilized towards subsequent renovation and erection of a large temple dedicated to Lord Shree Dattatreya incarnate, Lord Shree ShreepadShreeVallabh Swami Maharaj. The location is said to have concealed a hidden chamber supposedly used for penance for several centuries. In the temple, located on a small hillock on the edge of the town, is a beautiful 18“ idol made from white marble depicting Lord Shree ShreepadShreeVallabh in his child-like innocent form, consecrated at the very spot where Shree Dada was born. The idol is another testament to the prescient powers of Shree Mama as he had arranged to get this idol made years before this mandir came into being and had it stored with a sadhak. Years later the sadhak was instructed in his dream to contact Shree Dada and the rest as they say is history! There is also an idol of Lord Shree Hanuman to its right in a small temple of its own and a pair of marble ‘Paduka’ within the confines of the main temple. There is a ‘Sadhak-Niwas’ where the full-time staff engaged in the daily running of the project resides, along with an administration building and rooms for stay for visiting Sadhaks. In the basement is a large hall for sadhana and the upper floor holds a kitchen and storage area.
Freedom-fighter, philosopher, prolific author and great saint, the late Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande was a self avowed devotee and dutiful servant of 13th century saint and miracle personified, Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj and his extraordinary literary creation, ‘The Jnaneshwari’. He considered Shree Maharaj as ‘saint of all saints’. Such was the exalted spiritual stature of Shree Jnaneshwar Maharaj that he was addressed as ‘Mauli’ by all contemporary saints. Even though the word itself means ‘affectionate mother’, it only approximates the fondness and reverence that was carried in their hearts.
Shree Mama dedicated his entire life in the contemplation of Jnaneshwari and its words became his every breath. In the ancient vedic convention, the Master-Disciple tradition is accorded immense importance. Shree Mauli exemplified all attributes of an ideal disciple and in an act perhaps forever unparalleled created the Jnaneshwari, as ordained by his Sadguru (Spiritual Mentor) and elder brother Shree Nivruttinath Maharaj. A critique of the Bhagwad Geeta, the Jnaneshwari reveals in intricate details the core philosophy as espoused in Sanskrit in the Geeta in a form more conducive to put in practice. Constructed in Marathi, in the ‘ovi’ form (a three-and a-half phrase versicle set to meter), since immortalized, the Jnaneshwari, a 9000 verse epic is the epitome of literature excellence. Its enthusiasts truly believe that no other work in Marathi has ever come close to its lofty flights of brilliance nor would any future work aspire to do so.
Real admirers of Jnaneshwari like Shree Mama, consider that to be able to enter the heart of the Jnaneshwari is to ultimately get past the radiance of its wordplay and to touch the inner meaning of the verse. It is with this zeal that Shree Mama led his entire life, making the ovi of Jnaneshwari his very life. Shree Mama’s incessant reflection of the Jnaneshwari, using its own verses as references led him to proclaim it a ‘single-volume library’. In his ponderous state Shree Mama was often revealed several dazzling and wondrous explanations of the verses, otherwise hidden. These were reflected in many of his incredible discourses lending insights that eluded even dedicated scholars of the Jnaneshwari. Even though his discourse achieved dissertation status and acquired immense popularity and admiration among his sadhaks, Shree Mama, the true heir to the ovi of Jnaneshwari, humbly claimed that his contemplations were for his own benefit and were a service rendered to Shree Mauli. Shree Mama always maintained that the Jnaneshwari was a subject of intense self-experience and not just word-twisting. His life-wish to extend this joy to all devotees lead him to dream that there would be a Jnaneshwari in every household one day.
Shree Mama idolized Shree Mauli and his siblings and considered them the very incarnation on the Lord. He made their extraordinary life a subject of two three-act plays he penned, as well as that of an extensive biography in verse form. So much was the life of Shree Jnaneshwar intoned in Shree Mama’s very being that no form of articulation was enough to express his tremendous respect and affection. It was hence that he embarked upon a mission to create a grand memorial befitting the enormous spiritual stature of the four siblings. Shree Mama worked tirelessly to secure the very location where the brothers and sister spent their childhood with their devout parents. Siddhabet as the site is known is in the district of Pune in the state of Maharashtra (India) near the town of Alandi. A small island in the river Indrayani, Shree Mama envisioned recreating the humble abode of Shree Mauli on Siddhabet. This land is also known to be a land of austerities and residence of the mysterious eighty-four eminent Siddha personalities of the ancient Nath fellowship. An iconic memorial that would bring back the ancient glory of this site would go on to add to existing mystic of Siddhabet. With the blessings of many contemporary realized soul, along with scholars, thinkers and researchers this memorial will go on to become the most auspicious ‘Tapovan’. Shree Mama further imagined an open university aligned with the memorial dedicated to the study of all religious philosophies in general and that of Shree Mauli in particular. The university would abide by the strictest international standards ensuring a level of research unsurpassed in its depth and breadth. With these objectives in mind, Shree Mama and several other like-minded individual established a dedicated foundation that was officially registered in 1973 and named ‘Shree Jnandev Siddhabet Tapovan, Jnan-Yoga-Adhyatma Vidyapeeth Pratishthan’. Shree Mama fought tirelessly with the snail pace of bureaucracy, along with circumstances that had several hues of political hostility. It took almost 14 years for the land to be recognized for the construction of the memorial.
Shree Jnandev Siddhabet Tapovan
Currently as put together, the activity of the institution has been divided in to two broad parts. The first part dealing with the actual plan that includes a grand temple constructed in the unique Yadav styling. A grand auditorium, a hostel for students and researchers, an administrative building, an open stage, a large meditation hall are also envisioned. A meticulously planned plantation with specific trees and shrubs with special medicinal properties will be landscaped to benefit aspirants. Cottages in natural surroundings and other associated temples will add to the beautification of the entire surroundings.
ShreeSant Muktai Vidyapeeth and ShreeSant Nivruttinath Maharaj Granthalay
The second part is an Open University, named after the younger sister of Shree Mauli and part of the heavenly quartet, ShreeSant Muktai Maharaj, titled, ‘ShreeSant Muktai Vidyapeeth’. It is said about Muktai Maharaj that she added mystic to the mysterious. That a place of advanced research and studies aimed at unraveling the mysteries of spiritual science be named after her is indeed divinely apt. An auxiliary library named after the eldest brother and Sadguru of Shree Mauli, ShreeSant Nivruttinath Maharaj, termed ‘ShreeSant Nivrutinnath Maharaj Granthalay’ is operational. With over eight thousand manuscripts, the library has already gained a ‘B-Grade’ from the State Government. The sparkling new library building consists of two large meeting halls ideal for discussion sessions, kirtans, discourses and other various programs. Study rooms and residence halls for researchers are also included in this handsome structure. Along with in-depth studies of the philosophy of the literature of saints, there would also be a department dedicated to Ayurvedic research. There would also be a hospital attached to this department. There would be a trained faculty, teaching the fundamentals of the Varkari fellowship. Several selfless volunteers are working with mind and body towards implementing this phenomenal project executing the detailed instruction as left by Shree Mama when he left his mortal coil in 1990, thus leaving a huge scar in the hearts of his devotees that when this mission is finally accomplished Shree Mama would not be bodily present to see his vision come true.
ShreeVamanraj Prakashan (SVP), the publishing arm of Shreepad Seva Mandal, is a publishing house reputed for its distinct literature in the field of spiritual science and Indic philosophy. Based in Pune (India), the cultural capital of the State of Maharashtra, ShreeVamanraj Prakashan, was founded by freedom fighter, eminent philosopher and one of the foremost visionaries and saints of our times, His Holiness, the late Shree Mamasaheb Deshpande (Shree Mama).
SVP functions with the following broad guidelines, originally set by Shree Mama:
Helping an aspirant create at his fingertips, a small yet invaluable library of treasured classics from the timeless writings of our beloved saints.
Creating literature that serves as a beacon for students, researchers, seekers and disciples of spiritual science and philosophy, using print, audio and video media.
Making this literature readily available on a 'no-profit' basis.
Shree Mama’s spiritual and philosophical heirs, Sau. Shakuntala Agate and Shree Shireesh Shantaram Kawade presently serving as Chief Editors of ShreeVamanraj Prakashan follow these tenets to the letter.
Over 215 titles written in various languages like Marathi, Hindi, Kannada, and English, printed using state-of-the-art techniques and an extensive readership spanning the globe, is a testament to the dedication of ShreeVamanraj Prakashan towards following the vision of Shree Mama. These volumes, touching the hearts of the extensive saint-literature, aspire to bring their message of selfless service to one’s Sadguru and that of unrelenting devotion to the Lord to all God-ready seekers. There is hardly any other assortment of work dealing with spiritual subjects like sadhak-duties, mysteries of sadhana and the true form of sadguru and his similitude with the Lord in the publishing world as that published by ShreeVamanraj Prakashan. Additionally, SVP also publishes 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. Continually inspired by Shree Mama, every issue of ‘ShreeVamanraj’ is a 96 page journey in the land of Vedic philosophy in general and the fellowship of Shaktipatyog in particular. ShreeVamanraj’ is a guide for the seeker as well as student of the rare and mysterious writings of ancient Indian philosophies. ‘BapRakhumaDeviVaru’, featuring contributions from university professors, research scholars and writers with an extraordinary track-record in their respective fields, these periodicals are perhaps the only publication available in Marathi for scholars and researchers of ancient fellowships and sects, and is considered prescribed reading at various levels of university research.