Jangli Maharaj Ashram Shirdi

By Sanjeev Nayyar [email protected] | 2015

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About 3 Sundays ago, was walking in Dadar market. Saw a shirt with Om Sai written all over it. Bought instantly. On Monday I got a call from a Swami''s friend asking me to visit Shirdi i.e. the Jangli Maharaj Ashram. It is a 10-15 minute drive from Shirdi. U seen the main temple. Went in July 2014.

At entrance to ashram saw these ladies. In dress quite similar to ones I saw in Barmer, Rajasthan. To see pics Click here

I was lucky to be there on Guru Purnima day. The ashram organises a function where lakhs of devotees come from far and wide. Overview of audience. On stage is Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head of the ashram. Motto of ashram is ''Sabka Malik Atma''. It means that the Atma or Soul is supreme. Each one of us has a Atma - so we are all equal. Met devotees from Indore, Pune, Mumbai, other parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat. They were there to meditate on the Atma that lies within them.

A cross section of the crowd. Focus is on meditating. Meditation makes your mind calm, gives you peace that enables you to think clearly and in a manner where you look at every issue objectively without allowing past memories (impressions or Samskaras) to influence your thinking.

During the day there were bhajans and devotional songs. Note the turban of the man playing an instrument in the centre. The way he had tied the turban thought he was a Punjabi Sikh. I was later told it is one of the many ways a turban is tied in Maharashtra. One observes so many similarities in our culture whilst travelling to various parts of India.

Maharashtrian Lady . She was speaking to devotees, full of energy and life. Observed her, then asked can I click. She said ''in my old age''. The sari kept on covering the mangal sutra n other malas - so a devotee helped place the sari right. Ready to click asked her to smile. She said ''I have no teeth how to smile''.

The Ashram runs schools in the complex. There is a Marathi medium that you see, semi-English and CBSE. It caters to the needs of different types of students. Schools have residential facilities. I had food in the canteen - very good. There are app 4,000 students in all the schools.

During Guru Purnima all devotees are provided with meals free of cost. There is a langar where devotees and staff cook food. Atleast 1.5 to 2 lakhs visited during Guru Purnima. Everything was very organized and clean. A devotee donated thermacol plates -suggested to Management it is not environment friendly better to use banana leaves, the Indian way. Glad that Management agreed to suggestion immediately.

Ladies making chapatis and a professional cook making jhalebis (loved them). Food was simple and wholesome. Work done in the spirit of devotion. Some ladies sang songs while working.There was a chapati making machine as well.

The trust also run a 100 bed specialty hospital. Walked around, pretty impressive. Good healthcare facilities are a boon anywhere, more so if it is in a rural area.

This is the Atma Malik International School. Of the 4,000 students in schools run by the Vishwatmak Jangli Maharaj Ashram Trust app 3,000 are Marathi medium, English medium 800 and C.B.S.E. 200. Work done in the spirit of devotion. They is a huge cricket play ground coming up.

Overview of building, is ground+3. Pic taken from one corner of building. Loved the playground in the centre. Design is such that when I entered complex was greeted with cool breeze. Ample place for children to play. Building also has residential hostels and canteen.

On terrace children were reciting devotional songs. U see farmland behind - school is surrounded by agricultural farms on all sides. 2 kids were playing the tabla (not in pic). Students are also taught Yoga/Surya Namaskar.

Children dormitory. Spotlessly clean, with children belongings well organised. The building took only 12 months to make, amazing given its size.

This dining hall can accommodate 800 odd children. Swami Maharaj insists that food served to children should be of good quality and tasty.

In the same building is a MPSE and UPSC Career Academy - basically those aspiring for government jobs in the state of Maharashtra and at a All India level undergo specialized coaching for entrance exams. U see one such training class in progress.

As part of the Guru Purnima celebrations students who have excelled in various fields are rewarded is what you see. Just next to this hall is a huge kitchen and dining hall where food is made for devotees and served free round the year. Same kitchen used to cook for kids. Again very clean.

Devotees at the Guru Purnima Aarti that took place at some 3 in the morning. Bhajans, discourses continue all through the Guru Purnima celebrations. Thus the Ashram''s activities encompass spiritual work, education, health, sports and a Prasad Hall where food is served free round the year. All work done with a minimum of fuss, quietly and maximum devotion.

Once the hall that you saw in the preceding pic gets full, devotees sit in a huge ground outside the hall. There are screens placed outside so they get to see. The trust has ashrams in Yevla,Purangaon, Ojar, Nevle, Wada all in Maharashtra + Karatgaon (Karnataka), Bhavnagar (Gujarat). They also have an engineering college in Shahpur, Thane district.

Building of the English medium school. The ashram has a temple, meditation centre, rooms for devotees to stay, schools, rooms for children to stay. Place has very positive vibrations. It is on the Shirdi-Kpargaon road. Number is 02423 285166. Site is Click here