A fourteen day discourse by our Sad Gurudev, Pujya Swami Shri Akhandanand Saraswatiji Maharj, was held in the Navratri of the Shravan of 1980. talks were held every evening at the Birla Mandir Park in India's Capital, New Delhi. These public talks were organized by Shri Laxminivas Birla.
Pujya Maharajshri had, in the short period of the above mentioned session, given the audience an appealing and exceptional glimpse of his eloquence, learning and experience of this voluminous literary work, the Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapurana.
The talks were published in a book titled 'Bhagwatamrit', in 1981 and were welcomed wholeheartedly by avid readers all over India. Four editions have been printed due to popular demand.
Due to repeated requests by the English speaking public, the Sat Sahitya Prakashan Trust acquiesced to my request to publish an English version of 'Anand Ullas', for the benefit of these who prefer to read English. But it inspired the Pune based devotee couple, Smt. Sarli and Shri Laxman Sabnani to appeal to me, to be allowed to render the service of sponsoring the translation of one more of Pujya Maharajshri's literary works. This couple has been receiving the Grace of Pujya Maharajshri for long.
I gave the task to Smt. Purnima L. Toolsidass, as she had translated 'Anand Ullas'. She is a disciple of Pujya Maharajshri, and has boundless devotion or him. She began the translation immediately, with great joy. The book comes to your hands as a result of her tireless effort. I have full faith that reading, and contemplating upon this work will bring fulfillment to your lives, because of Sad Gurudev's enthralling style and rendering.
My heartfelt blessings to Purnima, and to the devotee couple, Smt. Sarli and Shri Laxman Sabnani, for their contributions. May they be inspired to continue to contribute thus, through the Sat Sahitya Prakashan Trust, for the benefit of mankind. I bless shri Pankaj Roy for helping Purnima with the nagari script.
Finally, I bless Shri Rajeev Batra, who is a prime devotee of Pujya Maharajshri, and has organized the exquisite presentation and printing of this book.
I pray to the Paramatma, the Father of us all, that Pujya Maharajshri's words may continue to reach people all over the world, and people everywhere may derive the benefits they bestow.
The Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapurana is a highly respected treatise of eighteen thousand verses. It has been a tradition, for the devoted Hindus, to have a seven day discourse of the Shrimad Bhagwat. It is believed that this gives salvation to the departed soul for whom the Bhagwat is held. The Bhagwat is also greatly benefitial whenever organized or heard. The profound depth of this textmakes if one of the most difficult scriptures to repound effectively. Param Pujya Maharajshri was renowned, amongst other things, for being an authority on this most respected part of our scriptures.
The Shrimad Bhagwat opens at the end of the Mahabharata. To understand the contexts with greater clarity, one needs a background of that famous epic. Shri Vedayas is believed to have written the Mahabharata and also the eighteen Puranas, of which the Bhagwat is one. Some people, who are not well versed with our scriptures, tend to mix up the Shrimad Bhagwat with the Bhagwat Gita, which is a part of the Mahabharata. The respect commanded by the Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapurana is due to the fact that it reveals the highest and best of the substance of our scriptures, philosophies and sciences. It has a holistic approach to life and gives clear and positive directions on the right attitudes for every good fortune, and every misfortune. Although the emphasis is on Bhakti, it carries the reader or listener, right up to the highest philosophy of the Vedas and enlightenment, with listener, right up to the highest philosophy of the Vedas and enlightenment, without losing an iota of Bhakti, and without making us impractically idealistic.
It is only by Grace of my Guru, Swami Akhandanandji Maharaj, (and the loving inspiration of Swami Omkaranand Saraswatiji) that this translation of a short commentary of this great work could be presented to those who seek a deeper and richer existence, and a higher goal. Pujya Maharajshri had an amazing ability to express the most difficult subjects, and bring them within the scope of interest and understanding for those who are new to spiritual philosophy. His genius lay also in the act that he made the driest subject come alive, and showed us how religion is an applied science or a finer level of existence. While Maharajshri could elaborate at length, without becoming repetitive or dull, he could - with equal ease - speak in brief, with equal depth, and with fresh insights, on any given subject - no matter how often he spoke upon it. He was known for his skill for keeping within the subject chosen, and his masterly rounding off, exactly on the dot of the stipulated time, and his personal emotional link with each attentive listener. To hear people marvel that the questions in their hearts were answered during his talks, was a common phenomenon, which ceased to surprise anyone who heard him speak a couple of times.
A Saint like Maharajshri is rare indeed - and through him, we came to know a little of the other great Saints he knew! The readers will known that it is he who speaks, and will be enriched by Maharajshri's abounding grace, because grace continues, even when Saints leave physically. Any shortcoming or mistake (in the translation) is entirely due to the lacking of the instrument, and for this, I seek the reader's pardon. I know that just as I have had the experience of Maharajshri's grace - which is not separate from the Grace of the Lord - so can every person who enters this rendering with faith, and an open heart a sincere seeker will experience equally, the same divine Grace, which is so familiar to those who came into contact with Maharajshri, even once.!
Maharaj Shri - A Brief Introduction
The region of Varanasi is considered to be amongst the holiest regions in India. Swami Akhandanandji Saraswati, whom we generally refer to as Maharaj Shri, was born on Friday, 25th July, 1911, in this region, in a village called Maharai, in the lineage of Saryupaareen Brahmins. This was exactly nine months after his Grandfather had prayed to Shri Shantanu Behari, the Lord of Vrinadavan. In the Samvat 1968. Since the baby's birth was by the Grace of the Lord, he was named Shantanu Behari.
Famous and learned astrologers predicted that the baby's lifespan was only nineteen years. Fear of death made Maharaj Shri move towards the path to spirituality. All the great Saints and Sages stated clearly, that they could not save a person from his destined death, but they could certainly impart the Knowledge which would revove all fear of death forever. And that is exactly what happened. The Nectarine Brahman manifested in Maharaj Shri's heart, and the dark shadow of death was gone forever.
Maharaj Shri went to Jhusi, to meet Brahmachari Prabhudattaji, who has acquired great renown. It was there that he first saw Shri Udiyababaji Maharaj, and had the opportunity to discuss Vedanta. Maharaj Shri was captivated by Baba's conviction in the principle of Non-dual Reality, and by the unique, carefree bliss of this liberated soul. Baba showered unstinted filial love on Maharjshri. It was by his inspiration that Maharaj Shri because a Monk, and received initiation from the Shankaracharya of Jyotishpeeth, Swami Shri Brahmanandji Saraswati. Before he was initiated, Maharaj Shri worked or seven years, on the editorial board of the Kalyan publications of Gorakhpur.
Maharaj Shri was ten, when his Grandfather made him read the original Bhagwat in Sanskrit. Since then, the Shrimad Bhagwat stayed by him, like a faithful companion. Maharaj Shri was an authority on Vedantic philosophy, and all the Indian scriptures. His daily discourses were filled with his own inner joy, and continued unbroken until the evening of 17th November, 1987. Even today, those who love to listen to discourses, obtain the joy of watching and listening to his audio-visual recordings, and readings his books.
At about two am, the Brahbela of 19th November 1987 (the Margasheersha Krishna Trayodashi of the lunar calender) the individual space merged into the universal space, and Maharaj Shri became All-pervading.
Maharaj Shri's life clearly showed his equal love and goodwill towards all he met, regardless of their religious background, their level of intelligence, sex, age, or social status. Each person who met him received what his heart desired. Maharaj Shri continued to bestow lavishly, all the four Purasharthas, and even the Pancham Purushartha, Bhakti.
The Anand Vrindavan Ashram established by Maharaj Shri is - in the holy city of Vrindavan - akin to the Teertharaj Prayag, where the three streams of Karma, Bhakti, and Gnan are merged. The activities of the Ashram include Satsang, serving the Lord in temples, serving the cows and Monks, teaching the Vedas to young students, a charitable dispensary, etc. Maharaj Shri also stared the Memorable practice of celebrating the birth anniversaries of all the great Acharyas, bringing together the teachings of different traditions. This is a perfect example of his magnanimous outlook.
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