Sunday, April 13, 2014

Why do I visit Gondavale?

Gondavale is a village in Satara District of Maharashtra where Shree Brahmachaitanya Gondavalekar Maharaj was born in 1845 and lived till Dec 22, 1913.

The story is very long and we have a history in the family of how we started following Shree Brahmachaitanya Gondavalekar Maharaj's teaching. It was my father who as a seeker found solace at the feet of Shree. After him it was a natural choice for me and my mother and our 18 member joint family slowly accepted the presence of Shree Maharaj in our lives. There was worship practiced at home and we had this habit of telling Shree Maharaj everything that we set out to do and everything we did.

I was about 10 years old since I started visiting Gondavale. It is now more than 30 yrs as a pilgrim. It is a place of my family's faith. What appeals to us is the teachings of Gondavalekar Maharaj that you need not renounce the world to follow the spiritual path. Chanting of the name of God is the easiest path to the ultimate. Above all this can be practiced at any place, anytime and nothing can touch its purity.

Yet when you land in Gondavale you realize how disciplined the routine is at the Samadhi Mandir. What is unique is the homely feel. You can make offerings at the Samadhi but none of the coconut breaking, money flashing is tolerated here. Everything is free at the Sansthan right from stay to food and tea. If you do want to contribute to the maintenance of the Sansthan you can do so at the office and a reciept will be handed out to you.

For me visiting Gondavale is like recharging my batteries and coming back to the daily grind in the city with a new leash of life. It gives me immense strength to face whatever may come my way.

Here is what you can look forward to in Gondavale.

As soon as you reach there. Go to the office and request for accomodation.

Once you recieve the keys to the accomodation freshen up and go to the Samadhi Mandir.

1. Samadhi Mandir : is the place where Shree Maharaj rests after he discarded the human body. The day begins early at the mandir at 3 am. It is best to attend the Kakad aarti which starts at 4.45 am which is followed by phugadi, bhajan etc. The Samadhi is a simple stone structure atop which are the paduka. On the level above that is the Gopal Krishna idol. It represents that this location was a cowshed. Shree Maharaj loved cows and he had wished that he be put to rest among the cows.




2. Thorla Ram Mandir : After the Kakad aarti visit this temple. It is housed in the family home of Shree. The courtyard also houses the Vithal Rakhumai mandir and the museum.



3. Vithal Rakhumai Mandir : The idols in this temple were excavated by Shree Maharaj's grandfather , Lingopant after they appeared in his dream from the family's field. On excavation water was found at that spot and later a well was built there. Lord Vithal Rakhumai came to stay in his home grandfather Lingopant was unable to do his Vaari due to old age and he was very sad about it.

4. Museum and Birthplace : In the same courtyard at the place were this saint was born is a museum. It has a collection of articles Shree Maharaj has used. It also narrates the story from his life thru pictures, paintings and other articles. It is a must visit for a first timer but I like to go there everytime I visit for it is a peaceful place to be reminded of a life that changed so many mortals.

5. Maruti Mandir : Next to the Thorla Ram Mandir is the village temple of Maruti. It was here that Shree Maharaj returned to after he found his guru.

6. Dhakta Ram Mandir : This is the second or smaller Ram Mandir that Shree Maharaj built for this devotees when the numbers increased and the family home and Thorla Ram Mandir could not hold more people.

Why go to Gondavale?

To chant the name of GOD. To be honest that's the goal, not that I am successful each time. I can very well do it anywhere. However the divinity of the place just recharges one enough to be able to do it anywhere without any restrictions of pure and impure.

For you here is a quick tour of Gondavale santhan and village in pictures.


Some more pictures of the last Navratri and Dasara 2013 celebrartions in Gondavale.