Shri Avadhootananda Maharaj
Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj ( formerly Dr. G.B Chavan ) was acquainted , with Shri Nisargadutta Maharaj in 1972 at the age of 18.
Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj had just passed his matriculation and had come to Mumbai from Kudaal ( near Goa) for further studies. He had limited means at that time; infact, he arrived in Mumbai with only a pair of cloth. He was clever in studies but from a poor family. Thus, he intended to take up some part-time job to support himself. The huge expanse of Mumbai frightened him but at that critical time, he met his guru. With the grace of his guru, he met a doctor called Dr. Amin from Bombay hospital who encouraged him to pursue medicine as a career.
He first stayed with a relative in the hutments on Senapati Bapat Marg and later shifted to Elphinstone-Road with another relative in the Cement Chawl (B.D.D. bldgs). One of the disciples of Shri Nisargadutta Maharaj- Shri Keshav Insulkar (who later became his father-in-law) resided in that building with his family. He introduced Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj to Nisargadatta Maharaj and the rest is history. Avadhootanand Maharaj continued to be a close disciple and devotee of Sadguru Nisargadatta Maharaj until Sadguru’s maha-samadhi in 1981.
The motherly care of Nisargadatta Maharaj transformed the young boy’s life in many ways. Earlier, he used to observe fasting, read religious books, recite prayers etc but when he listened to the words of wisdom from Nisargadatta Maharaj, he understood that real devotion was putting all his trust in the words of his Guru. He stopped all other unnecessary drills.
Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj, in his initial days was penniless and used to live and sleep on the footpath. One meal a day was a luxury. From Worli, he often walked as he didn’t even have 25 Paise for the ticket! He made lot of effort and with the grace of his guru, became a doctor. He started his medical practice as well ! Truly, It was the Sadguru who brought him to the shore of fulfillment of life. By the blessings of his guru, he got everything necessary to lead a good life.
His Transformational journey
Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj started regularly seeing Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj and performing Bhajan four times every day . One day after the morning Bhajan was over , Shri maharaj of his own accord asked him to take the Naam-Mantra at 1 pm on the same auspicious day of Gudhi-Padwa ( April 1972) .
Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj saw many ups and down as a sadhak. However, he was firmly devoted to his guru in all circumstances.
In his initial years, Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj was trying hard to make a living with little support from friends, family or relatives. But, even then, he never missed on his sadhana. His daily routine consisted of getting up at 3 am in the morning and completing his sadhana in the form of meditation, reading of dashbodha, bhajans etc and then leaving his room at 5 A.M. and returning at 10 or 11 at night. This schedule was never broken.
However, even he had to bow before the power of Maya once! He had reached a point where he was simply exhausted from his efforts of making a better life and career. His medical practice was unsuccessful and parties were deceiving him. It was a breaking point for him and he even told Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj that he felt it was better to end his life.
Nisargadatta Maharaj stared at him for some time and then told him - “ In the path of devotion, first some years we get many difficulties. Maya (Illusion) gets very angry. She does not like that you are going to ignore her existence. In order to discourage you from the Path, she entices and entangles you in miracles or Siddhis (Occult powers) or creates all sorts of difficulties, makes you run here and there. But we have not to lose courage. This is our test. If we give in, Maya will finish us. It is better to trust in the words of our Sadguru and stand firm. Any circumstance is bound by time. It is not permanent. It will come and go. I am like a tiger with twisted tail when disasters fall upon me. I say to myself - If I am lucky, difficulties will be plenty. Do you not know the adverse conditions I had to face! I lost my wife, my daughter and son-in-law very early. My trade was lost, but I did not lose heart at all. My Hari is here! He who removes all sorrow is Hari .My Guru, Shri Siddharameshwar Maharaj is giving full support to me , and all of us . Though we have suffering first, in this path of devotion, afterwards, we get lot of good luck. Keep on walking the road of life remembering the Mahawakya-Naam mantra given by Sadguru. There is joy ahead! That’s all. "
These words of his guru gave Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj great strength. He always abided by his guru’s teachings, even in difficult situations. In his own words, Sadguru gave him much more than he had expected. He overcame his difficulties and made a decent living. All of his 3 children are trained doctors, 2 of them settled in Mumbai and one settled in the US. He says that only the power of blessings of his Guru is responsible for this.
Avadhootanand Maharaj's father left this mortal world one month earlier than the Mahasamadhi( demise) of Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Needless to say, he really felt orphaned and heart-broken. However, because of the teachings of Shri Nissargadatta Maharaj, he knew that Nisargadatta Maharaj is the Paramatman ; death cannot do any wrong to him ; and that as he was present while living in his body , he would also be present after he had left his body.
Still, the pain of knowing that his guru's living body made up of five elements have been absorbed into themselves ; and that he will not be able to see his physical form , was very difficult to sustain . Then Avadhootanand Maharaj used to remember the advice earlier given by his guru - You are not body. You are Pure Spirit. You are the Paramatman , the absolute Brahman . There is no other Guru except your own self-knowledge. The remembering of the Sadguru is the light of the Atman, which is also the form of Satguru . He is within you. You are your own light of the Atman. Be as you are, the inner Atman. Then you will see yourself as Parmatman permeating all and witnessing all. He in whose mind, this great teaching is always alive, will look at the passing away of his Sadguru as just another happening. For him nobody is born, and nobody is dead. Sadguru is always here, and he responds to the call of his good devotee in any possible form, and gives help as is needed. He even becomes manifest in his physical body for the devotee. Such is the great power of devotion on the Spiritual Path.
Maharaj recalls that he was also very lucky to be in the saintly company of Shri Vichare Maharaj who was a spiritual brother of Nisargadatta Maharaj ( and disciple of Siddharameshwar Maharaj) and who used to live with Avadhootanada for months together. Through Vichare Maharaj he met Ranjit Maharaj ( spiritual brother of Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Parabrahman himself) . Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj had the holy and loving company of Shri Ranjit Maharaj from 1981-2000.
Ranjit Maharaj used to tell Shri Avadhootanad Maharaj “You’re full now. Leave everything and devote yourself to the spiritual path.“ At the age of 47, Avadhootanand Maharaj freed himself from his regular business and devoted all his life to the spiritual path. He had promised his guru that he would leave his family life and business as soon as a reasonable provision is made to meet the needs of everyday life and would devote himself to spiritual path. When that provision was made and through internal realization and indication received from his Guru he gave up his business as promised.
Shri Nisargadutta Maharaj’s disciple devotees sincerely desired to have some place tributed to their beloved guru, where they could gather and reinspire themselves. There are four such places. One is at Dahisar (west) in Mumbai , the second one at Nasik ; third one at Kandalgaon (near Malvan ) and the fourth at Vangaon . All these places house the sacred ashes of the funeral pyre of sadguru's physical body.
The Samadhi Mandir at Dahisar West is the former residence of Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj and was developed by the trust - Nisargadatta Adhyaatma Kendra. Avadhootanand Maharaj currently resides in the Nisargadatta ashram at Vangaon. The Samadhi temple at Vangaon was built through Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj’s hard efforts and love for his guru.
It was the year 2000. One fine day, during meditation near the Samadhi place , Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj saw his guru as a very shining person of great proportion seated on a high throne . His seat was in the centre surrounded by Gods- Shiva , Vishnu , Brahma , and others on all sides . His central seat was so high that Shri Avadhootanand had to look up towards him . There was brilliant light around him. Lamps of various coloured flames were giving beautiful light . It was an eye-dazzlig scene . Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj was blessing him very joyfully raising his hand . This darshan was being seen in limitless space . His figure was as large as the horizons on both sides . The revelations was made. The boundary of you and me was obliterated and everything was his beloved guru - Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Duality ceased to exist. Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj knew from his direct experience that he was his guru himself. Everything was in him and he was in everything. Shri Avadhootanand Maharaj started receiving spontaneous answers to questions.
When self realisation was experienced by the grace of his Guru he began to give initiation through the naam-mantra and discourses about the divine wisdom. But, still after self-realization, he continues his guru’s bhajan in day to day practice, the same way Nisargadatta Maharaj used to do for his beloved guru Shri Siddharameshwar Maharaj.
The Meaning of the word Avadhootanand is the same as that of the word Nisargadatta. Avadhoot means Avinashi, the one which is never destroyed, always there. It also means naked, untouched, as it is. Anand means permanent un-interrupted happiness. Self realization marks a new birth and the death of body -mind identification. After self-realization, some of his senior guru-brothers ( disciples of Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj) suggested that Dr. Chavan change his name to Avadhootanand Maharaj. Hence, his name was changed in 2000 as per the Sampradaya ceremony in 2000 in the company of his senior guru-brothers.
The name change is a constant reminder to every jiva - you are not a body, you're not the mind. Shun this body-mind identification. Shun this hoard of concepts and definitions which have been accumulated since the birth of this body, awaken and become Avadhootanand. By changing his name, the guru symbolically shunned the body-mind identification given to him by his father-mother. He himself realized that he was free from his body-mind and hence, didn't want to carry forward his body's name.
Avadhootanand is not a name; the supreme doesn't have a name. The name was adopted only to understand the symbolism of awakening to one’s divine nature.