Math Balekundri is a small village, located about a half hour drive from Belgaum. The temple of Shri Pant Maharaj is located there. The temple is situated in a garden of mango trees and the surroundings are so serene and peaceful that thay have to be felt rather than described.

In the adjoining math there is a kitchen, which serves free food to all present. The kitchen is named after Shri Pantmaharaj's wife Yamunakka.

An utsav is celebrated at Balekundri on Hindu calendar date of Ashwin vadya 3/4/5. Many people gather here and the atmosphere is filled with bhajans of the Guru.

How to Reach There

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Although the nearest railway station to Balekundri is Sulebhavi, the most convinient one is Belgaum. Belgaum (Belgaavi is the new name) is a big industrial city in North Karnataka. It is a major railway station on Pune-Miraj-Bangalore line. It is well connected by roads and air too. The Belgaum airport at Sambra is midway between Belgaum and Balekundri. Belgaum has a lots of good hotels across all the star ratings for lodging and boarding. The atmosphere too is very pleasant, it being situated at a little altitude compared to the surrounding area.

Balekundri can be reached from Belgaum within half an hour by city buses which have a good frequency. There are two bus stops sharing the name of Balekundri, the one to visit is 'Pant Balekundri' which is the second stop coming from Belgaum, the first being 'Balekundri'. The buses going to 'Pant Balekundri' drop you right in the front of the temple, with other buses going through like those to Sulebhavi will drop you on the main road entailing a 5 minute walk to the temple.

Rather than staying in Belgaum, the another option is to stay at Balekundri itself. Details are given below in the paragraph about Shri Datta Sansthan. It's an experience to stay in this serene atmosphere. A taste of simple village life with unpolluted air rejuvenates us tired from the hectic city environments.

The Math (Temple)

The 'math' houses the 'paduka' (ornamental shoeware) of Shri Pant Maharaj. The usual custom is to offer an 'abhishek', by which the paduka are worshipped.Bhatajibuva The ceremony requires the performer to be very clean and sanctified which is achieved in Hinduism by having a bath and wearing a only silk cloth (called as 'sovale') like a 'dhoti'. The priest conducts the puja and recites the holy hymns of Lord Shankar called 'Rudra'. The whole cermony is thus called 'Rudrabhishek'. A prasad or plate of food is offered symbolically to the Sadguru and the puja is completed by an aarti which is our way of calling the Gods.

Apart from rudrabhishek, other pujas can be offered here like 'Panchamruta- abhishek', 'Ekadashanis', 'palkhi seva' and 'butti puja'. Our guru Shri Digambarpant (kaka) always made us to perform rudrabhishek with 'naivedya'. Also he would insist on donating for the 'annadan'. This is a process wherein a day's prasad is sponsored in the name you register. This can be done for a single day or on per year basis. Kaka always asked us to donate to the annadan for the dates on which our ancestors expired. This was the best way to remember them.

Audumbar Just behind the Temple is the site where our Sadguru was cremated. The site is marked by an 'Audumbar' tree and is called 'Audumbar katta'. The recital of the holy book 'Pant Guru-charitra' (pothi) is best done here. At least the smaller version of 'Pant Guru-charitra' which contains only 52 verses should be recited on this spot. Both these books can be purchased at the nearby book shop.

In the main temple facing the 'paduka' is a hall displaying the photos of those associated with the Sadguru. His brothers, companions, His Guru, Gurubandhus are represented here.Main mandir 'Akhand Jap' or continuous recital of the holy mantra of "Om Namah Shivay" is performed here at all times of the day and on all days of the year. Some minor functions are also held here.

Behind the temple complex is the 'Aaamrai', a cluster of mango trees surrounding an open area. On the other end of this aamrai is the 'dhuni', a holy fire in Avdhoot sect, which has been kept burning since Sadguru expired. In fact the fire originated from the pyre in which Sadguru was cremated. It has a photograph showing Sadguru wearing the 'kafani' (a loose outer garment worn by sadhus). Holy objects for avdhoot sect like 'kamandalu' ( a water pitcher) and His 'aasan-vyaghrajin' (a mattress of tiger skin) are also kept there.

In the front of the temple are the 'Tulsi vrindavan' and the 'Prem-dhwaj'. Tulsi vrindavan is small rectangular structure present in most of the homes in this part of India. The medicinal tulsi plant is grown in it. This was the spot where Shri Pant Maharaj's mother was cremated. Prem-dhwaj is a flag pole which is seen in most of the temples hoisting the holy flag. This is the site to remember Shri Pant Maharaj's brother Shri Govindpant.

There are many more sites to see here, some of the personal things used by Shri Pant Maharaj also displayed. After a little look around, you can have free prasad in the dining hall besides the temple. The prasad is a simple meal prepared in the local style. As said above, the kitchen and dining hall are named after Shri Pant Maharaj's wife, Yamunakka, who was considered to be an 'Annapurna', meaning no one would go hungry from her door, there would always be food available for everyone.

Functions and Ceremonies

As said earlier, the main functions are 'Punyatithi Utsav' and 'Shri Pant Janmostav'.

Punyatithi Utsav is celebrated to remember the day on which Sadguru left us for His heavenly abode. The dates in Hindu calender are Ashwin Vadya 2,3 and 4. This year the corresponding dates were 16-18 October 2008. It is the most important ceremony at Balekundri.

On this day, a lot of worshippers converge in Balekundri. The amount of following Shri Pant Maharaj has can only be aprreciated on this day. People come from far and near, by different modes of travel, singly or in groups, each attracted by the Sadguru, each enthralled by the visit. Special buses are run from Belgaum to Pant Balekundri on those days around the clock. All the rooms at the temple are full, even the open courtyard is full of devotees. There are a lot of groups singing bhajans, since that is the way, as Shri Pant Maharaj said, to reach The Avdhoot.

On the first day, a procession of the holy Avadhoot flag, the Prem-dhwaj, starts from the 'Pant wada' in Samadevi street of Belgaum and reaches Balekundri by late afternoon. The flag is hoisted at Balekundri mandir in the evening and the ceremony is declared open.

The second day is the palkhi day. Palkhi is a palanquin symbolically carrying the Sadguru. It is borne by the worshippers who consider it as an ultimate honour. The procession of palkhi is quite long, every one wants to be a part of it. Worshippers sing bhajans in front of the palkhi.Palkhi It starts from the ancestral house of Shri Pant Maharaj at Balekundri village. After visiting the regular spots, it reaches the main mandir by afternoon.

The last day is of Mahaprasad. All those present are given prasad which is prepared by many mandals of different places. As per our tradition, everey one sits together and consumes it. In Avdhoot sect, every one is equal, there are no differences by castes, wealth or knowledge.

Shri Pant Janmostav or the birthday of Sadguru falls on Shravan vadya 8, the auspiscious birthday of Lord Krishna too. A function is arranged on that day too. A grand function is also arranged at 'Daddi', the birthplace of Shri Pant Maharaj.

Other festivals celebrated are : Dattajayanti, Shri Guru pratipada, Shri Pant Mangal Vivahadin, etc.