Shree Ganeshaya Namah!
Let us come back to the story of the Guardian of the capital.
It was in October 1983 that Brahmachariji initiated the project of sculpting the big Hanuman idol. The task was entrusted to the renowned sculptor Shri Radhamadhav Shenoy and was being done at Karkala in Udupi district.
The 150 ton Hanuman idol took five years to sculpt.
Every year during this process, Brahmachariji would make a visit, inspect the progress, and soulfully pray to Hanuman to get done soon and come over to his planned abode in Basant Gaon, Delhi. As a part of the overall preparations, one of the big questions was as to how the massive idol was to be transported to Delhi. On the advice of the sculptor, it was decided that it could be transported only by rail. And so Railway officials were contacted, and after a lot of preparatory study, a special wagon was designed and made for carrying the 150 ton Hanuman.
And in 1989, the idol was complete, but for some finishing touches which could be done later, on site, at Delhi.
It was time to commence the great Hanumat yatra, the last and indeed the most significant yatra in the life of Brahmachariji – the epic journey to bring Hanuman JI and install him in the capital of India. He was in his nineties… Imagine that… An ascetic activist Sadhu, a great writer, ripe in age and tapasya, putting his whole being to accomplishing one of the most key aims of his life. To install Hanuman, as Kotwal of the Capital…
Before commencing from Jhusi (Allahabad) Brahmachariji visited the great ascetic, Devraha Baba Ji, presumably when Baba visited Sangam for Magh Snaan. The year 1989 was one of Purna Kumbh. Purna Kumbh is special, and occurs when the Mauni Amavasya on Mahakumbh happens to fall on a Monday. This happened on Feb 6th in 1989. One and a half crore people had a bath in Sangam that day…
Brahmachariji took Devraha Baba’s blessings for bringing Hanuman from Karkala to Delhi. A project of this magnitude is bound to suffer from great vighna (obstacles) and it is only divine force that helps overcome them. Devraha Baba was a Siddha, who lived on a machaan by the banks of Yamuna in Brindavan. His following included people from all walks of life, from the pauper to the President, commoners and Congressmen…. (Click here for Wikipedia entry on Devraha Baba)
Finally, Brahmachariji , started from Delhi on 25th March 1989, by AP Express. On 27th, they left Vijayawada for Mangalore. Reaching Mangalore at 8 PM that day, they left by road for Karkala and reached Shukateendra Vatika by 11 PM.
Then started the preparatory worship festival. As the Indian new year as per lunar calendar was falling on 6th April, a new year festival was started. Bhagavata reading, singing during the day, and Bhagavat Leela plays in the evenings. The festival was concluded on 22nd April, and Brahmachariji concluded this Yajna with avabhruta snaan in the ocean. A huge bhandara (feast) was organized for the people there. While Brahmachariji never ate any rice or roti throughout his life (he lived on a diet of cooked vegetables and Ganga water, on days when he did not fast) – for the relish of the local people, a great North Indian feast of Puri, halwa etc was prepared…
The huge road trailer to carry the idol arrived from Bombay.
Brahmachariji and his retinue were all Hindi speaking people, now in Karnataka, where they had all manners of difficulties in communicating with local authorities. Much to his relief, help came in the form of Pujya Shripad Baba Ji from Brindavan. Brahmachariji had been speaking of him on the night of 26th April, and he, to the surprise of all, arrived on 27th.
Shripad Baba was a mystic, philosopher, scholar, educationist, ascetic…. Indeed, he was an institution in himself.
Some details about him….
He was a god drowned yogi. Even as a child, his spirituality was recognized by Anandamayi Ma, who called him a ‘Chota Baba’ (the little Baba). He was an Avadhut, who was as modern in tools as he was ancient in consciousness. He headed the Vraja academy in Vrindavan, organized conferences and seminars, used computers to document research and manuscripts… A fascinating account about experiences with him has been documented by a Russian Professor, N M Sazanovoy – click here to read…
Incidentally, George Harrison (Beatles) has written about him too. He was introduced to Baba by Pandit Ravi Shankar.
Here’s a pic of George Harrison and Ravi Shankar with Shripad Baba…
George Harrison has written about his meeting with Shripad Baba, in his book “I, Me, Mine”… Here are some excerpts below… (excerpts taken from this link)
“Everybody was coming up to him all the time and touching his feet. He looked like an old beggar; real matted long hair and wearing an old sack robe, with bare feet. Yet all these swamis with shaved heads and saffron robes were coming and bowing to him and touching his feet.
He took us round to every temple in Brindaban and he was known in all of them. I was a stiff Westerner when we started off, but there was a moment when the atmosphere of the place got to me, melting all the bullshit away.
I thought about this man a great deal as it became a fantastic, blissful experience for me. Later, they gave us some rooms and we slept for just a few hours until he came and got us at 4 am to go for the morning puja in the temple. We’d probably only slept for 3 hours but it was the deepest sleep I ever had in my life and all through the sleep I could hear choirs singing. I still don’t know to this day – I don’t think it was temples I could hear – I think it was something else – all through the sleep I was hearing huge heavenly choirs – it was a fantastic experience….”
“…That morning when we came back from the temple at about 5am, it was still dark, and we sat in a room. Sripad started singing a bhajan (a devotional song) to which we all sang the answering part, repeating it over and over. I got blissed out with my eyes shut, and didn’t want it to stop, even when I felt I was going to stop, we would keep it going on. In the end when it eventually stopped, the sun was so high; it must have been 9 or 10 in the morning – the time had flown by – fantastic.
And so he said to me, “Why don’t you make that into a song?” So what I did was take that old chant
Jai Krishna, Jai Krishna Krishna, Jai Krishna, Jai Sri Krishna,
Jai Radhe, Jai Radhe Radhe, Jai Radhe, Jai Sri Radhe…
and then wrote the English words in between the verses. “It Is He” was for Sripad Maharaj, a wonderful, humble, holy man.”
Shripad Baba joined Prabhudatta Brahmachari Ji, to help him in this great journey of bringing Hanuman from Karkala to New Delhi…
** To be continued **