This information mainly comes from a book in Marathi "Srikshetra Balekundriche Shripantamaharaj" by Mr. Vasant Bhimrao Deshpande, published by Shri Pant Vangmay Prakashan Gruha.

Many concepts on these page are from originally from Marathi. Marathi is a beautiful language but could have many meanings to the words used as per their context. Neither a master in Marathi nor in spiritual knowledge, my translation to English is probably not the ideal but an attempt to converse the readers to the beauty of the language as well as the Hindu religion and of course the greatness of our Sadguru.

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The dominant religion in India is Hinduism. There are various sects practising this religion in different ways. Avdhoot sect is one of them. This sect was established by Guru Dattatreya, who is worshipped as a God. In this sect, tradition (parampara) has a great importance. The importance of the tradition is emphasized by the evidences encountered by the followers (bhaktas). While traversing into the twentifirst century, the awareness of our tradition, understanding the teachings of the saints from our soil, comprehending the history of our ancestors is paramountly essential. Often the base of a tradition is experience and we should take the help of these experiences while continuing in our life.

More information about this sect and its practising followers will come on this page.

As the ninteenth century gave way to the twentieth, many enlightened souls appeared on this earth. Maybe due to better communication and recording facilities, much more is known about them than the earlier saints. Sadguru Shri Pant Maharaj occupies a prominent place among these saints. He managed his family duties ideally, was enlightened Himself and took a lot of efforts in enlightening others. Hindu religion identifies four stages of life. The first is childhood which would be devoted to studies, followed by family life (Gruhastashram) in entails earning and raising a family, followed by Vanaprathashram which essentially means detaching yourself from your kids and letting them get on with their life and lastly Sanyas where one leaves all his material belongings and spends his life in the service of the Almighty. Often sanyas is supposed to be the only way of reaching the God. Many saints embraced sanyas in a much younger age seeking the truth. A sanyasi as said has no belongings except for the basic needs of survival, has no home and lives on alms donated by other people. It is a tough life and this mortification cannot be practised by many. The greatness of Sadguru Pant Maharaj is that he showed the way of gaining the same knowledge while fulfilling the obligations towards the family. He demonstrated that all of us have come from the same fountain of eternal life and will end our lives into the same source called as God. His way has worked as is evident from the huge number of his disciples and the recognition of the tiny hamlet of Balekundri as a major pilgrim centre.

Ancestors and Childhood

The earliest ancestor of Pant Maharaj can be traced to the eighteenth century. He was Gurappa Kulkarni (Deshpande) from a village called as Raja Deolgaon in Karnataka near Ganagapur. They were deshastha Rigvedi Bramhins of Bharadwaj gotra. Shri Narasimha Saraswati used to reside at Ganagapur at that time. Shri Narasimha Saraswati is considered to be the re-incarnation of Dattaguru himself. Due to His blessings, a pious son was borrn in the family. This son was named after Sadguru as Narsimhapant. Narsimhapant recited the holy book of 'Gurucharita' at Ganagapur, standing on one leg. Shri Dattaguru blessed him by appearing in material form Himself and saying that there would be an avtaar of Dattaguru in seventh generation of Narsimha's Deshpande family . Narasimhapant further received the revenue collectors post (Kulkarni) from the Nizam at that time. To conduct those duties the family shifted to Balekundri near Belgaum to look after the surrounding seventeen villages. As prophesied by Guru Dattatreya, Pant Maharaj was born in this family.

Shri Pant Maharaj was born at Daddi near Belgaum which was his maternal hometown. He was born on Monday, 3rd Sept, 1855, the date according to Hindu calender being Shravan vadya 8, Krishnashtami. Being born on the auspicious birthday of Shri Krishna, he was initially named as "Srikrishna". Later as the child went to his home, he was named as "Dattatreya" by his grandmother and thus came to be known as "Dattatreya Ramchandra Kulkarni". He spent his childhood at Daddi, Balekundri being a very small village without a school. The atmosphere in his mother's maiden home was very pious and Pant Maharaj was a devotee of Shri Dattaguru from a very young age. He induced his playmates on the path of faith and thus was leader even as a child.

After completeing the primary school in Daddi, Pant Maharaj came to Belgaum for further studies. He was about 15 years of age at that time. Around that time, famine was ruling in Karnataka and monetary help from home started receding. Shri Pant Maharaj was devoted to studies, he managed somehow, taking whatever tuitions he could get and living frugally. Apart from studies, Shri Pant Maharaj also loved gymnastic exercises and wrestling. His had a sound stature because of this. As he was living merrily though stingily in Belgaum, he met Balmukund Maharaj, also called as Balavdhoot.

Pant Maharaj Meets His Sadguru

Shri Balmukund or Balavdhoot as he was known was a deshastha rigvedi bramhin. His full name was Balaji Anant Kulkarni. He was from Parshwavad village near Belgaum where he was practising the 'Kulkarniki' as the profession and was a family man. To gain the blessings of the Sadguru, he forfeited his family life and became a sanyasi. He went to a dense jungle and started tapasya (something like a penance) there. While doing his tapasya, he met Ramavdhoot or Ramchaitanya. Ramavdhoot blessed him and gave him diksha of avdhoot sect.

While preaching the message of his Sadguru and spreading the knowledge of the avdhoot sect, Balappa, as he was also called, came to the village of Kaddegurdi. By now he had reached the ultimate state of a yogi. Nityanand (Nitya- alaways, anand-happiness) state of Balappa caused him to disregard his external appearance. He had a long beard and hair, both unkempt. He wore a 'yadnopavit' (a sacred thread aound the body) like a bramhin and a linga as a neckware like the lingayats. 'Bhasma' (sacred ash), the characterstic of Shaivas, covered his body as also the symbols gandha and shankha-chakra like Vaishnavs on his forehead. As if he wanted to show that Avdhoot sect has all the religions but does not belong to any of them. His appearance was a sure cause of ridicule among the people, not knowing his powers. Religion was practised much staunchly at that time and caste distinctions ruled severely. As the masses came to understand Balappa's greatness, he started getting followers. Pant Maharaj has said about Balappa's state at that time (his original words in English)

I was with Him childlike, innocent of all knowledge or ignorance, fully confident in Him, the worthy and able saviour and Supreme Guide, and He led me to the self-effulgence out of His simple, indefinalble and single love of the truest mother.

This is in Marathi, translated

Balappa enlightened his bhaktas in 'Sahaj stithi' (easy state, essentially means being in one's basic personality, not burdened by social ettiquettes). In this state, whatever words he spoke were 'Vedant', the way he behaved was 'Siddhant'. He was like a statue of 'Bramhanand' (Bramha- the universe, the term means all the happiness of the universe, the perennial joy of the God). He did not bother about anything and behaved like a child. The vices of Fears, Inquisitiveness, Shame, etc were totally lacking in him. Also lacking was 'Aap-para-bhav' (to differentiate between self and others). His soul was united with his guru. The body which was working on a pre-ordained cycle and the mind was hardly conscious of the surroundings. He was seen differently by different people according to their own wisdom. People were rewarded the way they worshipped him . He could interact with anybody and seem at home while discussing any topic. Any topic discusssed was explained by him without an iota of pride. His looks were that of an ignorant person but he was ultimately knowledgable; his utterances were like a fool but he was the best person for seeking enlightenment. He seemed to relish everything, including whatever he ate and drank and was a raj-yogi. Even though visible bodily, he could be sensed when not present physically. He was the master of all four yogas. No one could claim to understand him fully, only venerated when his cardinal virtues were apparent.

Balappa behaved very kindly with his followers and treated them like friends. Haughtiness of a guru was absent in him. He never allowed his disciples to touch his feet, as is a common Hindu custom of idolising the great people. "When you have come to me, you are no more, you have died. So now who is capitulating in front of whom?", he used to ask.

Balappa hated bookish knowledge. He emphasized on experience. He used to say, "Tell me about your experiences, don't talk about some author who is not here and is probably dead. Why do you care about those dead people?" He was enlightened and reclusive too. His Vairagya (detachment or reclusiveness) was intellectual. Even though he had severed the ties of Maya (word of many meanings, centered around the concept of blind love and illusion), he was immersed in the Maya-Jal (bondings) of his disciples and as if had established a family of Avdhoot. He was a symbol of pure love. Always immeresd in thoughts, he rarely spoke about any general matters. Ektari is a stringed musical instrument used while singing bhajans. His ektari was almost a part of his costume. He authored many verses, mostly in Kannada, sixty of which are available today. "Balabodhamrutsar", an essay penned by Pant Maharaj is based on Balappa's verse "Mook nagbeku | Janarolu janagirbeku ||".

Balappa used to stay at 'Kaddegurdi', in a small room of the temple of Basavanna. He preferred to visit a spot called as 'Kardikolla' in a small hillock besides the village. 'Ayyanphadi' is a cave to the west of the village which was visited by Balappa when he wanted 'Ekant' (solitude).

Balappa's disciples came from all castes, even though casteism was practised very vigorously at that time. Almost all the upper caste bramhins had his 'anugraha'. Many relatives of Shri Pant Maharaj were his followers. Pant Maharaj's cousins 'Ganu Marihalkar' and 'Hanamu Daddikar' were ardent disciples of Balappa. Pant Maharaj was very friendly with these cousins. However Pant Maharaj avoided to talk about Balappa with them. Being ignorant about Balappa's accomplishments, Pant Maharaj used to deride Balappa. Once Pant Maharaj wrote a letter to Ganu ridiculing Balappa. As if by pre-ordained fate, Balappa came across this letter. On reading it, Balappa became very furious and said that the writer of such letter will die. Ganu got ultimately scared and started pleading Balappa to forgive Pant Maharaj. At that, Balappa started smiling and said that by death he meant that Pant Maharaj is going to come to Balappa and cease being the identity of 'Dattatreya Kulkarni'. Ganu was extremly happy on hearing this and he wrote to Pant Maharaj asking him to come to Kaddegurdi.

When the letter reached Pant Maharaj, he was suffering from intractable fever and stomach ache. He wrote back explaining his inabilty to come due to his illness. On hearing this from Ganu, Balappa gave some 'Vibhuti' (sacred ash) and prasad to Ganu and told him to convey that to Pant Maharaj with a message of doing 'naam-smaran' (recital of the holy name). Ganu with this prasad and message was like an angel to Pant Maharaj. He did as was told and was well in no time. On feeling better, Pant accompanied Ganu to Kaddegurdi. However on reaching there, he had no courage to face the saint. The same saint who was ridiculed by Pant Maharaj had cured him of his illness. While at Ganu's home in Kaddegurdi, Pant Maharaj was shameful to visit Balappa. Balappa sensed the shame and himself came to seek Pant Maharaj. On hearing Balappa's footsteps, Pant Maharaj ran away and hid behind a bunch of hay in the cowshed. Balappa found him and coming to him said, "My dear child, how long are you going to stay hidden from me? I am expecting you for many days now. You are my torch-bearer and my true disciple of many generations. Why feel humiliated in meeting me? Why fear?" On hearing these kind words and behaviour, Pant Maharaj forgot all his prejudices and misjudgements. He yielded to his Sadguru with all his mind and soul.

"Anugraha" is a very difficult term to interpret. Even though outwardly it is the explaining of the sect to a seeker and indoctrinating him in the sect making him a 'Shishya', it has much more deeper meanings. An ordinary individual gets transformed into an absolute devotee. For him Sadguru becomes the only God, is like a parent, a best friend and a lot more. Having belief in his Sadguru, a devotee can face any challenges and is not afraid of anyone else. The Guru's sayings are the ultimate Geeta or Bible to the Shishya and he never dares to act against Sadguru's wishes. All his past deeds and destiny are wiped out. Thenceforth he is not rewarded for good deeds nor is he punished for bad ones. Whatever Punya (good deeds) or Paap (evil deeds) he acquires is meaningless, the destiny of a Shishya is fixed. The Shishya is blessed and achieves rewards beyond his wildest dreams. In fact he amalgamates with the Sadguru Himself and ceases to be an entity. Meeting a Sadguru in one's life is never easy and recognising Him when he presents Himself is difficult too. Our fate decides whether the Sadguru will accept us with all our misdeeds in our life. Even though apparently we think that we have searched and found the Sadguru, in reality, He is seeking you and allows you to come near. We, the followers of Kaka, Digambarpant Ravalekar, are a few of the fortunate people to get the blessing of Pant Maharaj through him.

Shri Pant Maharaj was given the Anugraha at Kaddegurdi on the day of "Gurudwadashi" as per the Hindu calender in the year 1875. On this auspiscious day, Balappa explained Pant Maharaj about the intricacies of the Avdhoot sect. He was also taught Yoga practices and made perfect in them later at Kaddegurdi and Desnoor. Shri Pant Maharaj has likened this experience as being illuminated by a sun of knowledge banishing the dark nights of ignorance.

Shri Pant Maharaj has explained about the importance of meeting the Sadguru as

You will get anything you pursue at some stage of your life but getting a Sadguru is difficult. It requires the God's will and many good acts in this and previous lives. If in a weighing scale, you take the gains of the blessings of Sadguru on one side and put all the universe in the other, the side bearing the Sadguru's blessings will stay unmoved. The day of meeting the Sadguru is the most Providential day in many eras, many lives of a human being. The sight of the Sadguru is the opening of the sun of your intellect, opening of the gates of the heaven and opening the route of the mukti (the end of it all). All the pilgrimages, all penances, all holy recitals, all magnamanious deeds performed get rewarded on the day of meeting the Sadguru.


Shri Pant Maharaj has explained about his Guruparampara or the ancestry of Gurus in his article of 'Atmajyoti' in marathi. This is a translation

Shri Dattatreya Himself explained the unknown and unexplained principles of Avdhoot sect to Ramavdhoot in privacy. The knowledge was passed on to Balavdhoot who consequently passed it on to Shri Pant Maharaj in a cave situated far away from civilisation. On account of receiving this enlightenment, I was transformed into a complete individual ('Yatharth-sthiti'). The knowledge has been handed over thus in privacy by tradition.

Even now this tradition of secrecy survives. The knowledge is being passed as per the intensity and capability of the inquisator.The ability to assimilate the truth and behave accordingly may differ individually. A devout bhakta persists with his guru seeking more of it and is rewarded till he is satisfied. Very few disciples probably get the whole of it.

In some of the verses, Shri Pant Maharaj has said that his Guru Parampara can be traced to Shri Nrusinha Saraswati who was the incarnation of Dattaguru. Balavdhoot recognised the abilities of Shri Pant Maharaj and ordered him to propagate the Avdhoot sect while fulfilling his family duties. He also ordered the rest of his disciples to obey Shri Pant Maharaj, nominating him as his successor. After a short while, Balavdhoot went to the pilgrimage of Srisailya and never returned from there.

Family Life

Shri Pant passed his matriculation exam in 1880 and immediately took the job of a teacher in 'London Mission Hogh School' in Belgaum. One by one he brought his yonger brothers to Belgaum for studies. Shri Pant Maharaj was married in 1882 on the Hindu calendar day of 'Vaishakh Vadya 1'. The ceremony was held at Raybag and the bride was Yamunakka, daughter of Shri Pant Maharaj's maternal uncle Shri Shripadpant. The family of Shri Pant Maharaj prospered after this marriage. As if Annapurna, the godess of prosperity and fulfillment, had entered his house as a 'Grihalakshmi'. Shri Pant Maharaj had a son and a daughter but unfortunately they didn't survive long.

The way Shri Pant Maharaj lived his family life is an ideal combination of 'pravrutti and nivrutti' (Pravrutti- concerned with personality, the way we act and behave; Nivrutti- the detachment from worldly life and it's pleasures). The joint family of Shri Pant Maharaj was huge. His house was always full. family Apart from the family members consisting of five brothers and six sisters, Shri Pant Maharaj's students, other kinsmen, guests made the numbers. Due to his family obligations, being the eldest, Shri Pant Maharaj couldn't study further but he made encouraged his brothers to higher studies. His three brothers, Wamanrao, Narsinharao and Shankarao graduated as B.A., LL.B.s. Of these Wamanrao was appointed as a civil judge. Fourth brother Gopalrao ascended to the post of district deputy collector in revenue department. He was felicited by the then British goverment with a title of "Ravbahaddur". The youngest brother, Govindrao, however was a pious and religious man liking bhajans and kirtans. He was the person to lead the Avdhoot sect after Shri Pant Maharaj. He was a key figure in establishing the 'Shri Avdhoot Sansthan' at Balekundri. He devoted his life to the workings of this sansthan, supervising the daily poojas and rituals, the yearly ceremonies of 'Punyatithi' and 'Jayanti' utsavs. He was popular among the disciples as 'Dada' due to his kind nature and selfless attitude.

Shri Pant Maharaj was a very caring person towards his dependents. He showed the path of practising spirituality while tending to daily chores. His students from nearby villages stayed at his house as also some people who had nowhere to stay. Shri Pant Maharaj could be descibed as impeccable morality, courteousness, adherance to social bindings and ethics, the resoluteness about the truth, traditional behaviour, simple living, the love of physical exercises leading to excellent physique, pity for the underpriviledged, feeding of the poor, entertaining the guests, the sense to recognise the virtues of people, respect of the learned, craze of reading, mastery of oratory, excellent teacher, and so on.

Shri Pant Maharaj loved reading. He had read many religiuos books, not only pertaining to Hindu religion but also Islamic, Parsee, Christian, Buddhist and Lingayats. His mind was quite sharp and memory too was exceptional. Marathi and Kannada were his native languages but he could understand and converse in English, Sanskrit and Hindi too. His favourite tomes were the Upnishads, The Avdhoot Geeta, Shrimat Bhagwat Geeta, The Teachings of Shri MatShankaracharya, Updeshsahastri, Shri Gurucharitra, Amrutanubhav, The Dnyaneshwari and Wamanpandit's Yatharthdeepika. Of these Amrutanubhav and Shri Matbhagwat Geeta he almost knew by heart.

The basis of a well mannered behaviour depends on the concepts of reasoning, fairness, morality, truth and virtues. Social happiness can be achieved only by these. If there is no restrictions of integrity, then the society will be harmed by indecency, frenzy, chaos and lawlessness. Hence one must adhere to the social ettiquettes and morality.

Shri Pant Maharaj was almost a fanatic towards the truth. "Satyamev Jayate" (the truth will win) and "na hi Satyatparo Dharma" (there is no religion without the truth) were his logos and were written prominently on a board in his living room right in front of his seat. He hated squealers and those reversing their attitude as per the circumstances. Those with evil intentions, boasters and liars had no place in front of him. Anybody found doing so was heavily punished. Shri pant Maharaj used to stay aloof from day to day activities but he knew about the major happenings in the home.

A learned person has to be wise because what is knowledge in spiritualism is the wiseness in material world.

Even though tending to spirituality, Shri Pant Maharaj was very proficient in the material world. In his life, the family prospered. Major decisions were taken easily and were correct most of the times. His religion never hindered with his family life. He always thought that Guru Dattatreya Himself is running his family. His philosophy is evident from his many verses where he is describing the way his household is being run by Guru Dattatreya who is minding his divine pursuits as well.

Literary Pursuits and Love of Bhajans

In his spare time while in the teaching job, Shri Pant read many tomes pertaining to the religious matter. He used to think about them, try to analyse the implications in the present world and discuss the same with other learned people. He liked bhajans very much and used to sing them with his ektari almost everyday. Shri Pant was so infatuated about the love of his Sadguru Balavdhoot that there was no other liking for him in life. Even though Shri Pant had met Balavdhoot for hardly 2-3 years, it was enough for the lifelong attachment. With these strong feelings in the heart, these thoughts would come out in a poetical form. Someone around would record them. Around 3000 such verses are available now. Both in marathi and kannada, these show the staunch love towards the Sadguru. These verses are filled with love but are melodious as well. Ornated with metaphors, they are very catchy to hum and are thought inducing as well. Even today they are sung by the people who get entranced while singing them, even to the level of dancing on the tunes. The sweet nectar of these verses has persisted in this fast age. Only a true disciple knows the difference in reading the verses from a book and singing them with his fellow bhaktajans. The occasions of getting immersed in the love of Sadguru along with companions are indeed not common and are to be sought for. The chance of sprreding the Sadguru's message is a priviledge in life.

Shri Pant Maharaj did not pen the verses himself but were written down by those around as they emerged during his bhajans. However to direct his disciples, Shri Pant has written many essays and books. 'Bhaktalap', 'Balabodhamrutsaar', 'Prem-Tarang', 'Aatmajyoti', 'Paramanubhav Prakash', 'Anubhav-valli', 'Bramhopadesh', 'Premabhet' are some of his famous books. Many other essays are also published. In all these works Shri Pant Maharaj has guided his disciples on the ways of spiritualism depending on the abilities and yearning of the bhaktas. He has opined on such diverse matters as Yoga, Spiritualism, the ways to sing Sadguru's verses, the importance of reciting the holy name (Naam-mahatma), self-learning, the duties of the disciples, the meanings of miracles, the avdhoot sect, finer meanings from the verses of Geeta and a lot more. Some of his oral preaches addressing his bhaktas are also available. Some of his letters written to his disciples have been published as well.

This webpage lists more information about his literature.

His Devotion to Sadguru and The Importance of the Recital of the Holy Name

The feelings of Pant Maharaj towars his Sadguru are evident from his many verses. In one verse he has said "knowledge helps us understand the intricacies of the divine" (verse 96, Datta Prem Lahari) but further in the same verse he has said "the one who immerses oneself in the bhajans of Sadguru, attains mukti while alive". This shows that knowledge has importance but devotion has equal importance, perhaps a bit more than knowledge. Without devotion, knowledge is useless (verse 202). His absolute devotion to the Sadguru puts these words in his verses, "Guru is my wealth, Guru is also my bane, I have no course left apart from my Sadguru"(verse 417).

Shri Pant Maharaj was a enlightened person in all respects. He knew about Himself, the powers of the soul within the body. He had experienced the might of the Sadguru and had read widely from the holy scriptures. All this gave his utterings immense authority. In verse 460, he has said, "I myself am present both inside and outside (the divine luminosity which rules the world is the same within me), then whom should I venerate? I am a pillar of the same divine, how can I diffrentiate between these? Wherever I see, I see the same energy in everyone, then whom should I praise? I have lost my senses while residing at the abode of Guru Datta and love to be there."

This wisdom when received from the Sadguru has made us very bold. Our Guru's greatness was evident at Anugraha, when the perception of the whole world changed instantly. Sadguru is seen all over our life even though he might have departed from this material world. His strength, his blessings, his friendly slap on the back is experienced by the true bhakta all his life. When we travel on the way He has shown, The Sadguru is never far from us. The same thing has been said in the holy scriptures of Hinduism like the Sashtras and Vedas.