By: Seetha Vijayakumar
Dasganu Maharaj (1867-1962) as a Kirtankar of Sai Parabrahman and many saints will always be remembered as the ‘Adhunik Mahipaty’, ‘Mahan Sant Dasganu’, ‘Melody Maharaj’ etc, whose long career spanned nearly seven decades. He was born in Ahmednagar and his wife belonged to the Royal family of Akolner. From childhood, he was interested in music and did not bother about schooling. While most of his Kirtans, and songs most of them ex tempore, have entertained us, healed and rejuvenated us for sure, some have gone deeper and given us spiritual insights on God and how to achieve Self-Unfoldment, too.
The song ‘O Pandranga Vithal Sai Baba Vithala’ for instance, addresses Sai Baba the God directly in prayer-like lyrics: “O Divine Nurturer, beyond description and beyond all.
Without you, we have no one. Ease our difficulties, O God. You are our only protector.” The song speaks of how sometimes when life is difficult, we can become lost in Maya and lose hope. Who else to turn to if not the Divine? It is especially in adversities that we need to remember Him as the only Supreme Truth. And when we humbly ask Sai Maharaj the God Almighty for help, our prayers are sure to be answered at the right time. Dasganu Maharaj sings the line O Sainatha Sadgurunatha, nirgun aur nyaare… with such devotion that it is repetition and choral culmination at the end assume a mantra-like quality, pointing to the aim of all life: realizing Brahman as that which is ‘beyond description and beyond all’. These lyrics signify the Saguna and Nirguna, attributeless aspects of the Divine, and remind us that no matter how much we may theorize about God, with attributes such as saguna, or nirguna, for our moksha, liberation, we must transcend both. Brahman then becomes That, ‘from where the speech and mind return without attaining It’, Adi Shankara, Aparokshanubhuti 107.
Besides Dasganu Maharaj’s many songs, the legendary Kirtankar is also remembered for his enchanting Sai bhajans. Attributed to Radhakrishna Mai, the bhajan titled ‘Sairam Pahi, Sairam Pahi, Hari Bol HaBin Kun Gati Meri’ gives us an idea of the path of devotion and what bhakti embodies: “From beginning to end, I take only your name in my heart. I call out again…and say, O God Sajnatha, I am a sacrifice to you.”
Many enlightened souls have given us the message that Lord Sainath is the Only Goal of life. They selflessly dedicated themselves to the Divine by becoming an embodiment of Truth. In the same way, we too need to follow by sacrificing our ego for the sake of Lord Sainath the God. As the bhajan continues, we are reminded that seeking happiness in a finite world is a futile undertaking: “This world is a sea of disorders. My boat is broken. Sainatha, please put sails into it, otherwise I will drown. Distressed by separation, I look for the path of my beloved, Sainatha ..”
The metaphor used signifies the sea of samsara in which God Sainath is our only means to become liberated in the absolute Truth. It is when we abide in Sai Baba the ‘Antaryamin’ the Divine within and see through the world’s emptiness that we become disenchanted by it. Dasganu Maharaj underscored the point that books written by him are prescribed as textbooks for undergraduate as well as Post Graduate studies in all the Universities in Maharashtra. He attributed this to Sai Baba’s blessings as he did not study beyond Fifth Class in the school.
Dasganu Maharaj never bothered about name, fame, or comfort. He used to say: “Why should I grieve over money and physical comforts…and turn away from my Guardian angel Sai Parabrahman who beckons me? Why should I not merge this existence within the eternal peace of Sainath Maharaj?” Therefore, put yourself into Baba’s hands and know that by experiencing Oneness, your life will have fulfilled itself. You will never see unnecessary separation again.
Perhaps this is also the reason why Dasganu Maharaj sang Allah Tero Naam, Ishwar Tero Naam, whose lyrics carry the most simple and yet profound message of One God: “Sai – Your name is Allah, your name is Ishwar. Bless everyone with equanimity.”
This summarizes Baba’s life and mission. In our essence, we are all equal. Names pertain to God’s Maya. It does not matter by which name we address Him — they all point to the same Truth. What matters is that everyone has a unique gift to give and we have much to thank Dasganu Maharaj for this.
Dasganu Maharaj’s wife passed away in 1920 and they had no children. Dasganu Maharaj passed away at Pandharpur in 1962 on Kartik Ekadashi day and his mortal remains are interned in a memorial at Nanded.