Yogiraj Parampujya Swami Gagangiri Maharaj, who is revered and worshipped as Emperor Chalukya Pulakeshi, hails from Patankar family. His original personal name is Shripad and he belongs to village Manadure in Patan district of South Maharashtra. At the age of 7 he left his home and was sent to a relatively wellknown place, Battees-Shirala. This place has a Math (ashram) of Nathsampradaya. This cult (sampradaya) has a wide following all over India and has about 1600 establishments. In this cult, the head of the ashram is changed every 12 years, and young children are appointed as leaders of renowned ashrams.
Shri Gagangiri Maharaj as a youthful sanyasi, also moved about with Mahants (Senior Sages) right up to the Himalayas. During pilgrimages he learnt yoga and several occult and religious practices. He travelled far and wide to places such as Nepal, Bhutan, Manas Sarovar, Gaurishankar, (Gorak assembly), Gorakshdarbar, Gorakhpur, Pashupatinath and returned to Almora. Finally, he travelled through the valley of Ganga, Himachal Pradesh and reached Badrika Ashram. This place is near the site where King Bhagirath had changed the course of Ganga river towards the Indian sub-continent (Bharattvarsha). This place has ice-clad mountains, embedded in which is a place known as Vyas Gumpha. Gagangiri Maharaj was extremely tired as a result of his peregrinations and he decided to settle in a cave. When he was relaxing, a sage wearing saffron robes came there from the mountains. He sprinkled water from his Kamandalu, on the face of Gagangiri Maharaj. He also gave him some kind of green grass to eat which resembled coriander leaves. For his penance, he had prepared mattresses of grass. He found his mattresses growing like living vegetation. This was considered as an experience, where Tantrik technique is perfected. He did a number of Kaya Kalpas (Rejuvenation). In this process he invented several new concepts in Tantrik techniques and proved them true. He did penance at a number of places like Mauli Kund, Mauli Kada, Zanzu water, Mausame Kada, Kasarbari, Ginger water, Sat-barkund, Holi Kada, Margaj water, Jungledeo patti, Shirale etc. During monsoon, he stayed in the cave at Garbhagiri, Gagangiri. He did penance in a pond near the river at Sangashi, Vazar, Vesraf, Palsambe, Ramling etc. Later he went to Vijaydurg, in the Konkan area from where he reached Bombay by steamer. During 1945 to 1948, he did Kayakalpa at Angale, near Rajapur in Konkan.
This continuous penance and struggle helped him to achieve considerable amount of self-realization, which was of immense benefit for him. This resulted in a great Punya or spiritual merit; which contributed to the welfare of various regions as also Bombay.
As more and more people benefited by his meditation, more and more people started worshipping and respecting him, and his reputation spread all around. In those days Ministers like Yeshvantrao Chavan, Balasaheb Desai, Rajarambapu Patil, Kapse and several respected officers used to worship him. When you attain such a state of mind and body (which is called the 17th state) all the secretions that spring from the mouth flow backwards emitting nectar, ("Amrut'). Hence a Yogi does not need to have any food. Living in jungles, mountains, river banks provide enough loneliness, so that a Yogi achieves 'Siddha' state. This helps him to take care of the misdeeds and sins of the people around him. As the next stage is (Siddha) Master of Masters, when life of Parmatma and Bramha become one, a yogi lives very happily and life for him is 'Anandvan" (park of happiness).
Finally, he attains salvation. Even people who have committed a lot of sins are benefited when they come in contact with such a person of divine gifts. He is the embodiment of knowledge and wisdom. Groups of grown-up children are formed and these groups are placed with senior sages (Sadhus) at places of worships and pilgrimage, especially at Kumbha Mela and also in the Himalayas.
He said "You will now attain the state of salvation, and you shall be responsible for the welfare of humanity and you shall go to the South". Accordingly, Maharaj moved from the valley. He experienced a lot of difficulties and arrived at Rhishikesh. Swamiji then decided to move all over India alone on foot and accordingly his journey started. At this time, his fair skin was glowing with health. Attired in saffron robes of a sanyasi, he was revered by people. He travelled on foot from Haridwar to Delhi, Bhopal, etc. At Bhopal while he was taking rest after bath near a tank, the princely ruler of Kolhapur and his retinue happened to be nearby while on a brief visit. Swamiji's mother tongue being Marathi, a conversation between him and Kolhapur ruler's retinue ensued resulting in the Ruler requesting Swamiji to accompany him to Kolhapur. In 1932 the Raja of Kolhapur had been to Dajipur jungle for hunting. Swamiji who had accompanied him stayed back in the jungle, where he lived from 1932 to 1940. He spent these years in meditation and deep reflection.
In the beginning Shri Maharaj built a hut on the outskirts of the shepherd colony, in the dense forest, thick with trees and plants of infinite varieties, he revelled with satisfaction as he had found an ideal site for penance and meditation. He was also interested in acquiring Tantrik knowledgle and was able to gain a lot of information about the spirit world (ghosts), secrets of birth and death, during the period of penance.
In Bombay between 1948 to 1950, he stayed in Dadi Hirji Parsi graveyards, near the temple of Maruti, at shidi near Walkeshwar. Similarly, he did penance in the barren, rocky beach at Breach Candy, Mahalaxmi, BanGanga etc. He also did penance in the Papeti bunglow of Dadi Hirji, as well as near the well in the graveyard. During this period several rulers and princes such as Sayajirao Gaikwad, Madhavrao Shinde, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, Rajaram Maharaj (Kolhapur), Bavdekar Sarkar and Bhausaheb Pant Amatya, Maharani Tarabai (Sayajirao, Gaikwad's daughter) and a number of ruling families of Kolhapur came for his blessings. He had occasion to visit and stay at several places. These ruling families used to visit jungles for hunting during summer and leave the jungles when the rainy season set in.
Shri Maharaj built small shelters for himself in the caves of trees as his dwelling place. Usually, he would select a tree with abundant supply of fruit and vegetables. In order to protect himself from rains, he would devise some kind of clothes made from the bark of trees, such as Kumbha, Apta and Palas. Usually leaves and the threads would be used to prepare a cloth called as Irla. This he would put on his head to protect himself from the rains. He used to call it as his mobile home. He would use threads and ropes from tree trunks, for loin - cloth towels, shawls, bed covers for himself. This rough attire known as Walkal would be sufficient for him as protection in rainy days, for continuing his penance. In fact, he enjoyed this kind of lifestyle thoroughly.
This kind of penance is known as Navnath penance, because during this yogic exercise his face exhudes a kind of divine glow. His body is as youthful as that of a young man. He is enthusiasm personified while performing such penance. He can be truly called a Navnath sage. Guru Pournima (full moon day of Ashadha month for worshipping the Guru) used to be celebrated on a big scale at Birla Kreeda Kendra in Bombay,in spite of all these preoccupations in respect of the society/ he has continued his penance for over 60 years, uninterrupted and even in old age he continues meditating while breathing, submerged in water, in sunshine for the whole day.
His life style can be described in words "Such a Yogi Living alone by himself understand and accomplishes the Art of Life." Living alone sleeping on the banks of rivers, listening to the flowing of the river water, drying the entire body by solar radiation, sleeping on rock, meditating continuously, staying absolutely still under water, keeping mind completely at rest, keeping all the physical desires under control and having only clean, hygienic, pious, wholesome pure and acceptable food. All this is the life of the perfect yogi.
Therefore, one should always crave for the company of a Sadhu, serve him as much as possible and respect him. We should always think reverently of a Sadhu because a saintly person bestows peace of mind on us.
To know more about Parampujya Swami Gagangiri Maharaj please visit http://www.gagangiri.org/.
The above Biography is from the same website.