Swami Akhandanandji Maharaj
‘Maharashri’, as he was popularly known, mentored innumerable people from all walks of life and all four Ashram – the Brahmachari, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sanyasi – including Shankaracharyas, scholars, and people from other countries and faiths.
Maharajshri’s grandfather had prayed for a grandson at the temple of Lord Shantanuvihari of Vraja. Exactly nine months later, Maharajshri was born, on Friday, 25th July, 1911, in the Pushya Nakshtra (Shravani amavasya v.s. 1968) in the village Marhai, near Varanasi. The Saryuparine Brahman family in which he took birth, named him Shantanuvihari, in acknowledgement of the Grace of the Lord his grandfather had prayed to.
The most renowned astrologers of the time stated that the shadow of an early end to Maharajshri’s mortal life was cast over his horoscope. They predicted that he would not live beyond the age of 19 years. A fear of death led Maharajshri towards his spiritual quest, and disinterest in worldly matters, during which he met many true Mahatmas. They averred that although they had no power to alter the ordained time of death, they could impart the knowledge that removes the fear of death. By the Grace of the Mahatmas, Maharajshri had a direct personal experience of the Brahman, driving away the black shadow of death. The direct personal experience of the no-dual Brahman that is the substratum of all that exists, manifests in the person who has this experience in seeing every being as his own Atma. Every person who met Maharajshri felt Maharajshri’s love pouring into him/her. Even today, decades after he left this world, those who had met him even once, recall how each felt that they were especially dear to him!
Maharashri had gone to meet Prabhudatta Brahmachariji, a well-known Saint from Jhusi, who was living at Allahabad (Prayag). That was the first time he met Shri Udiya Babaji Maharaj. He placed questions regarding Vedanta and had many conversations with Baba. Maharajshri was entranced by Baba’s identification with the Advaita (non-dual Brahman), and the extraordinary ecstasy of this Saint’s liberated life. Baba showered love and Grace on Maharajshri. It was his inspiration that impelled Maharajshri towards renunciation. He was initiated into Sanyas by His Holiness, Swami Brahmanandji Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotish Math. Before being initiated into Sanyas, Maharajshri gave seven years of voluntary service to the famous Kalyana Pariwar, editing and writing many of the books printed by the Gita Press at Gorakhpur.
Maharahshri’s grandfather had arranged for Maharajshri to give a discourse on the Bhagwat when he was just ten years old! Since this first discourse, up to his last days on this earth, the Bhagwat remained Maharajshri’s constant companion. Inner rapture filled his daily discourses, which continued till he gave up his breath on November 17th, 1987 (Margashirsha Krishan Trayodashi), at about 2 a.m. At this Brahmavela, the individual merged into totality and became a pervasive force.
Even today, spiritual aspirants of all ages, in India and abroad, treasure his audio-visual CDs and books, preserved and published from the Anand Vrindavan Ashram (founded by Maharajshri’s devotees). A number of the books have been translated into English and other languages. Interested people can obtain them by ordering them from Maharajshri’s website.
A baby boy, destined to be a true disciple of Bade Maharajshri, and the spiritual guide to so many, was born on the 2nd day of July, 1964, in a small village in Uttar Pradesh. Having lost his parents at an early age, he was brought up, along with two elder brothers, by his uncle. At the age of sixteen, he completed his 10th grade as an outstanding student at Artara, Hamirpur in 1980. His love for God and his thirst for Gnan impelled him to leave home, in search of God. While studying Sanskrit, he had the opportunity to associate with several learned and enlightened Mahatmas. He spent a year with Shri Roti Ram Babaji, a great Saint of the time.
In due course, he became Swami Girishanandji, our beloved Guruji. Guruji came to Vrindavan to complete his studies. Destiny brought him to the Anand Vrindavan Ashram, to get the Grace and guidance of Swami Akhandanandji Maharaj. During his stay there, he mastered the intricacies of the Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapurana and other ancient texts. At the command of Param Pujya Pundit Shri Ramkinkarji Maharaj, Guruji started to give discourses in 1996, and such was the quality of his rendering that he has found it increasingly difficult to acquiesce to the incessant requests for undertaking a Bhagwat Saptah, and other Kathas all over India and abroad. Guruji’s superb blending of the content and purport of the text, with practical matters and examples makes it a delightful, emotionally enriching experience. His Kathas have a quality that makes it captivating to young and old alike and are frequently telecast on the electronic media.
Guruji was given Sanyas Deeksha in 2008, by Paramhansa Pujya Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga at Munger. Later, in 2009 Paramhansa Swami Niranjanandaji conducted the concluding ceremony on the bank of the Holy Narmada. This was done in Jabalpur, at the Saket Dham Ashram. This Ashram is graced by the sublime Mandir of Shri Rameshwara Mahadev, established in 2005 under the aegis of the well known Saint, Pujya Baba Kalyandasji Maharaj. People who hear Guruji’s Katha often wish to meet him to clarify their doubts about the complexities of Dharma, and the sadhana they should do. He never turns away a spiritual aspirant, always willing to guide them to be true to God and come closer to the Satya – either as the Nirguna Brahman, or as the bhakta’s Ishtadev – depending on the individual’s spiritual status. ‘Sab Thakurji aur Guruji ki kripa hai’, is his response whenever he is asked about his immense popularity and the position of high regard in which he is held by the most highly respected Mahatmas and scholars of present times. He brushes aside all talk of his impressive achievements with a characteristic humility that only serves to draw people closer to him in love and respect.