Vishnu Dutt Shastriji is Babaji's High Priest. Babaji often called him "the purest man on this earth." Babaji often kept Shastriji very close to Him, even having him sleep on the floor of His room many times when he was in Haidakhan.
Shastriji said of himself that he "followed Babaji like a shadow," accompanying Him on his many journeys through India in his function as chief priest, celebrating the ancient Vedic ritual of the Yajna, fire ceremony, in hundreds of places.
Shri Shastriji was a prolific writer, Sanskrit scholar of repute and was one of Mahendra Baba's closest disciples, who already two decades earlier had prophesied Babaji's incarnation as the Lord of Lords and world-teacher. During his discipleship with Mahendra Maba, Shastriji had received a profound preparation to recognize and serve the Lord in his thirteen-year sojourn on earth. In fact, he had written most of his works in mantric verse on Haidakahan Baba many years before His physical appearance in 1970.
When asked, Shastriji emphasizes that whatever he has written was "by the grace of my master and by the direct inspiration of the Lord himself... I am merely a writing instrument."
Whenever Babaji gave His short, informal talks at His ashram in Haidakhan, at the Himalayan foothills, Shastriji would be asked by Him to repeat His every word, before they were translated into English, Shastriji was, and still is, the mouth-piece of Him, whose coming he had helped to prepare with his writings; and when He had come, Shastriji was the one who put across through the spoken word to the many thousands who came, the timeless wisdom of the Sanatan Dharma.
Shastriji was born in March, 1908, and he resided in Rajgarh, a small town in the Alwar District of Rajasthan, in India. To visit his home is to visit a very special and holy place, in a setting that feels like living in a fairy tale. If you have the privilege to visit Shastriji's home, even to sleep there in the same bed that Shri Babaji and Shri Mahendra Maharaj slept in when they would visit Shastriji. It is such a warm and loving atmosphere to stay in the home of one who was a perfect example of selfless giving and service. Shastriji had a prayer book in his hand all day, and while he took care of the daily duties and guests, he was constantly reciting prayers.
He received this piece of property from the Maharaja of the area after he gave a very eloquent speech. The Maharaja was so moved by Shastriji's eloquence, he gave this as his gift. Babaji also stated at one time that it was Shri Shastriji who had written the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, as well as other Vedic scriptures in other lifetimes.
We are eternally grateful to Shastriji for his Love and Dedication to Baba and The Mother of Everything and for all his teachings and wisdom. May we all be inspired to serve with the same heartfelt devotion.
Bless you Shastriji in your Union with Baba and All That Is. You, who gave us the 700 Praises of the Divine Mother and includes transliteration of the original text in Sanskrit plus a word-by-word translation in English. This is most inspiring and beautiful poetry by Shri Shastriji.
Here are some beautiful verses from Shastriji's Sapta Sati.
1. High waves of fear fill this ocean of life.
The night of illusion has left me bewildered.
I pray to Thee Mother Durga, be pleased.
Save me, O Mother Queen of the World.
2. In the midst of this sea of transient existence,
O Mother, no-one but Thee can protect me.
O Queen of this World, I pray to Thee. save me!
O help me, O help me to cross this great sea.
3. Thou are my dear Mother, full of compassion.
I am Thy child in distress.
O Mother bless me with ardent devotion.
4. O Queen of Queens, raising the kingdoms.
All-present protectress of the Three Worlds.
To Thy tender lotus-feet let me surrender.
Be pleased, I bow to Thee, Mother of All.
5. Sovereign Supreme, reigning victorious over the foe.
By all spheres Thou art worshipped, Consort of Shiva.
Thou shower'st nectar of Grace, O world Mother,
Be pleased, obeisance to Thee.
6. Thy graceful beauty hath no comparison,
Thou bring'st across the endless ocean of change.
Thou liv'st in the heart-lotus cave of Munindra,
We greet Thee, O Durga Destroyer of Sins.
7. Thy Form is bliss, the Force of light of awareness,
The knowledge of silence, of the Absolute Brahman.
Thy Form is the Guru, full of compassion,
We bow to Thee Devi, Queen of the World.
8. Forever protect me, Support of the World.
Thou art the True Source of all life.
Thou heal'st the disease of birth in samsara
Praise to Thee, Mother of Haidaka-Khand.
Shastriji about Mahendra Baba
Shastriji (Shri Vishnu Datt Shastri) was a great devotee of Babaji. He was a knower of the vedic literature en always in the service of Babaji as a priest. Mahendra Baba was a great yogi of whom is said that his great devotion to Babaji made Babaji come to earth again. Mahendra has also been the guru of Shastriji.
In this section Shri Vishnu Datt Shastri tells of the devotion and greatness of Shri Mahendra Maharaj:
"Phuro , be inspired !
Ladies and gentlemen, and children You are all indeed very fortunate to be sitting in the court of Lord Haidiyakhandi, listening to the stories of His divine lilas.
Today I am going to throw some light on the incidents, on the background of how Lord Haidiyakhandi took human form and came on this earth for the good of mankind. Lord Haidiyakhandi is the absolute Brahma. To describe how He came to earth in human form is beyond speech, beyond the intellect of man. Thousands and thousands of people had His darshan, but there were very few to whom he revealed Himself, and they were the fortunate ones witnessing some of the things that happened.
To bring Him into a physical form on this earth was due to the prayers of a great saint called Mahendra Maharaja. Sri Mahendra Maharaja was born in the province of Bihar in India, in a small town called Manka. At the age of six, when Sri Mahendra Maharaja was still a child, he suffered from an incurable disease and to save him from this disease, Lord Haidiyakhandi appeared before him. And in the child's pure heart, the image of that saint remained inscribed. As he grew up, he kept thinking and meditating on the image of this saint in his heart. When he was nine years old, one day -- it was his birthday -- his mother asked him to go to a sweet-shop and buy some sweets. She gave him some money and when he went to the sweet-shop, he saw the same saint whom he had seen when he was a six year-old boy.The saint, who was Sri Mahaprabhuji, blessed him and told him, "Son, here are some sweets for you. Go home. Today is your birthday. I give you my blessings."When Mahendra Maharaja came home and gave the money back to his mother and also the sweets, she was very surprised and asked, "Who paid for them?" He told her the story, that there was a saint who paid. She took the boy with her and went back to the sweet-shop, looking for the saint, but he had already disappeared. From that day on, Mahendra Maharaja's heart was very sad, as he always missed the saint, longing to meet him again.
Mahendra Maharaja studied his maternal grandfather's books. His grandfather was a very learned man, and Mahendra received a lot of knowledge from reading his books. By the time he grew up, his intellect and consciousness had developed so much, that whatever he had read once, stayed with him indelibly as he had a photographic memory. After some time, he was not happy in the house, so he left home. But, he continued his studies always. He received his Masters Degree from Bhagalpur University. Then he came to Northern India and started to walk from Northern India to the West-coast of India. He walked to a place called Mount Abu where there is a famous Siddha pith, a sanctuary of the Divine Mother called Ambaji.
While in search of his master, whom he had met as a child, he kept on doing penance at Ambaji for 22 years, always searching for his master. After 22 years of penance, the Divine Mother Amba appeared before him, manifesting before Mahandra Maharaja, telling him, "My child, the guru you are looking for you will find in the Kumaon region, the foothills of the Himalayas. Go there and you will find your master. Mahendra Maharaja started walking, crossing one mountain top after another, always looking for his guru. The whole day used to walk and wherever he came to at night, there he used to rest. After walking for days, one day he came to a place called Shitlakhet. Night had fallen, and in this place there was a tea shop whose owner was a man called Shiromani Patak.
When he saw Mahendra Maharaja, he realized that this was a great saint, so he suggested to him, that since night had fallen, he should come to his house as his guest to spend the night there. But, Mahendra Maharaja replied to Mr. Patak, "I will not come to your house, but rather show me a place where I can spend the night in meditation and remembrance of the Lord. Mr. Patak said to him, "Mahendra Maharaja, there is a beautiful place down the hill, on the other side of the mountain, which is called Siddhashram. Spend the night in my house and tomorrow morning I will send my servant to take you there. You can live there as long as you want to."
When Mahendra Maharaja came to Mr. Patak's house, he went and sat down in a place where the old Haidakhan Baba in His former incarnation used to come and sit. When Mr. Patak saw that Mahendra Maharaja was sitting in the same place as old Haidakhan Baba had been sitting, he fell down, prostrating himself at his feet, and he started to cry. Quite overwhelmed, he said, "Mahendra Maharaja, I'm very happy and honored that today you are sitting in the same place as the old Babaji used to sit. All the memories are flooding back into my mind."
He was so overwhelmed by this experience that Mr. Patak started narrating story after story about Herakhan Baba to Mahendra Maharaja about what a great divine being he was, and about all the things that had happened during his presence on earth. He brought out all the literature he had written and showed it to Mahendra Maharaja. The whole night both of them spent talking about Babaji, and in the morning Mahendra Maharaja said, "Please send somebody, or you come and take me, to Siddhashram." As they were talking, suddenly they saw a man coming down from hills who shouted and said to Mahendra Maharaja, "I would have come most happily with you, but I just saw the pujari of Siddhashram who will accompany you there. I will come later and bring the foodstuff with me."
Mahendra Maharaja and the pujari went and when they arrived there, Mahendra Maharaja was very happy to see a most beautiful and peaceful ashram. There was a spring also next to the ashram. The pujari told him that, when old Haidakhan Baba first came to this ashram, there was no water there and because there was no water, they asked for some people who looked for water with a divining rod. But even with a lot of effort, they could find very little water. So one day, old Haidakhan Baba took a bowl of water with Him and went there. First He smelt the water bowl. Then He just started to dig in the ground with His hands and a strong spring welled up, wide like an elephant's trunk, and now there is a constant flow of water.
Mahendra Maharaja went to this spring and took some water, drank it and then took a bath also. There is a near-by very old Divine Mother temple (Vaishnavi Devi) where he offered worship. Mahendra Maharaja described all these incidents in his autobiography called "Anupam Kripa." After a while he started to meditate there, but realized that his mind was not in the meditation. He was not comfortable there, so he stopped and fell asleep.
He dreamt that the Divine Mother Vaishnavi Devi appeared before him, saying, "My son, I am hungry." So Mahendra Maharaja replied, "Oh Divine Mother, you are feeding the whole of creation. It is not you who is hungry, but this child of yours who has not touched any food for the last three days. That is why you have pangs of hunger."
When he woke up, he saw Mr. Patak coming with a man, bringing everything to prepare food. In a short while food was cooked and offered to the Divine Mother Vaishnavi Devi as prasad, and then they all ate. For two or three days, Mahendra Maharaja was quite content to be there, but on the fourth day he thought, "To live like this is no good. If by tonight my Lord and guru, the Supreme Divine Being, does not appear before me, I'll end my life here."
Around 1:00 am, he woke up. He saw the (star) studded sky, he became even more depressed. So, again he went inside the cottage and locked the door from inside. After a short while, when he looked up, he saw Sri Babaji standing in full human form before him. He offered his pranam at His lotus feet. Babaji said to him, "Brahmachari, what is it you want?" So Mahendra Maharaja replied, "Oh Divine master, the way I am seeing You before me, I want all humanity to have your darshan. Come and make the world happy." To which Babaji replied, "Your desires will be fulfilled."
Then Mahendra Maharaja was in seventh heaven, ecstatic with joy, and after some time, he left Siddhashram and went to Haldwani. In Haldwani he said to some people, "Now that the Lord is coming on this earth, I have to go and do some work. I have to prepare the ground for His arrival. I have to prepare some literature so that people will know about Him."
After that he lived in Vrindaban for some time or in Lobhan. In Vrindaban he used to stand in the queue for the beggars, begging for food, moving here and there. At night, he used to sleep on the roof of the Shiva temple in Vrindaban called "Gopeshwara." He kept on visiting one place after another on foot. But later on in life, he used to go also by cars and trains. Once, he was visiting a place called Bandikui in Rajasthan. In Bandikui, my younger brother was living who was a district magistrate. One day a lawyer friend of his told him that a great saint had come, so he should go and have his darshan. My mother had been suffering from paralysis for 22 years. Therefore, my brother always used to go to these saints and ask for a cure and blessing for my mother, but nothing had helped so far. After my brother arrived at Mahendra Maharaja's place and had his darshan, he realized that he was a great saint as well as a great man with much knowledge. My brother requested him to come to his house the next day. Mahendra Maharaja replied, "Yes, I'll see." The next day, early in the morning, Mahendra Maharaja came with one of his followers to my house.
My mother was totally bedridden and could not move at all. When Mahendra Maharaja blessed her, touching her, what did we see? The next moment, she sat up in bed by herself! My brother then requested, "Mahendra Maharaja, please cure her completely." But, Mahendra Maharaja said, "That is enough. Whatever had to be done, as much as she could be cured, I have done."
Mahendra Maharaja then talked to my father, asking him, "How many sons do you have?" Then he also asked about the family. My father replied, "I have two sons. My elder son I have taught Sanskrit. This is my second son whom I have taught law and he is a magistrate. We are a brahmin family of a town called Alwar and our family is the family of the "raja gurus" (teachers of princes, hereditary advisors of the royal family). They used to perform all priestly functions at the court."
(Shastriji belongs to this family of princely advisors. His father told Mahendra Maharaja that nowadays the maharajas were no more, so he worked and his son also worked, and that is how they supported the family.)
After some time, Mahendra Maharaja wanted to leave for Vrindaban, so my father, my brother, and some servants took him to the railway station. As luck would have it, I came by the same train from Alwar (Rajgarh). As I stepped onto the platform, I was surprised to see my father, brother and servants with a bearded saint -- obviously, the saints wear saffron clothes, so I understood him to be a saint. I wondered who was this man and quickly went to offer my respects to my father who said, "Son, here is a great saint. Bow to him." Without asking a single question, I fell at his feet to offer my pranams, but he just took me in his arms, embraced me and calling me by my name, said, "Oh, brother Vishnu, now I have met you!" So, as the train started to move, my brother asked Mahendra Maharaja when he would see him again. He replied, "After one month, when you both will be together in one place, I will come and give you darshan." Exactly on the 30th day, my brother was transferred from Bandikui to our native town of Rajgarh where I used to live. After that, I had many experiences and witnessed many miracles with Mahendra Maharaja. One day I will share them with you. Now I just want to speak to you of my first meeting with Mahendra Maharaja.
What has he not given me! One day in Rajgarh, Mahendra Maharaja just touched my head and from that moment onwards, I started composing poems in Sanskrit which is a very difficult thing to do -- but they just started to flow through me. He said, "Today is the eighth day of the new moon and the Divine Mother's grace is one you, so whatever you want to write, start writing." After that, whenever I would sit down to write, a kind of plate of written words used to appear before me, and I would just copy it and keep on writing. And within ten days, I wrote my first book called "Sadguru Kusumanjali." I took this book and offered it to Mahendra Maharaja in Vrindaban. And when Mahendra Maharaja had read the book, he said, "I'm very happy. You have written like the great old master poets of India, like Kali Das and all the others. Your language is as good as theirs, if not better. You have written everything I wanted the world to know about my Lord Haidiyakhandi." Then he wrote a letter to Mr. Vora, a publisher in Bombay, to publish this book immediately. Mahendra Maharaja made one comment. "Son, your Sanskrit poems are beautiful, beyond fault, but your Hindi translation is not as good as it should be. I would like you to write in such a manner that, after 450 years, the world will say that, "Yes, he was another Tulsidas."
After that I stopped writing in Sanskrit and concentrated on writing in Hindi. It just kept on flowing. Then, during the nine-day festival of the Divine Mother, Navaratri, Mahendra Maharaja sent someone to call me to come to Vrindaban. It was the night of the seventh day of the festival. When I went and offered him my pranams, he said, "Now the time has come when you can start writing poems in Hindi as well." So I asked him, "Please give me some outline for this book." He turned and took a small photograph from the shelf and that photograph was of the old Haidakhan Baba. It was covered by garlands. He removed the garlands and took that photo and gave it to me. He also gave me the garlands and said to me, "Now go back home and put this garland on your little daughter (whom he had named Saraswati). She will tell you what to write."
Saraswati was then four years old. When I had arrived, as I was instructed by Mahendra Maharaja, I put the garlands on my four year-old daughter Saraswati, and the moment I put the garlands on her neck (she could not walk, so I was carrying her), she felt for my pen. I took it out and from that time onwards, my daughter would just come, draw all kinds of lines on the blank paper that was lying there. Everyday she would draw all kinds of lines -- straight, crossed, or anything -- on several sheets of paper, and I would just fill up as many pages with beautiful poetry. As I would come to the last page (on) which she had marked and made her lines, she would come running from where she had been playing outside and say, "Give me the pen." She would again draw more lines on five or ten pages, so I kept on writing.
The whole of my family was amazed at what was happening. This was the happy period of my life, because at that time, Mahendra Maharaja visited my house at least 40 times. Whenever he came, he would say, "Come on. Write. Finish it off quickly, because when Sri Mahaprabhuji comes, when will you find the time to write? Finish it as quickly as you can. Don't be late!" My brother, who was a great devotee of Mahendra Maharaja, used to come and visit Mahendra Maharaja every Saturday and then go back to his work. He said to Mahendra Maharaja, "You make my brother write all these pages but without the presence of the deity, how will people understand who He is? There should be a murti (statue) deity about whom you are writing."
Mahendra Maharaja instructed my brother to go to Jaipur and there, he got three statues made and brought them to Mahendra Maharaja. The question arose where these murtis should be installed. A place called Kathgharia near Haldwani was selected and there a temple was built and the murti of old Haidakhan Baba was installed. According to the Christian calendar, this was in 1958. The night before the installation, thousands of people were there for this ceremony. A divine light was seen by all of them which had the form of Babaji. These thousands of people, - men, women, children -- all saw this with their own eyes, going into ecstasy on seeing this manifestation of Babaji appearing before them. Mahendra Maharaja called out, "He is here! He is here! The eternal form of Lord Shiva Lord Haidiyakhandi is here!"
In 1969, my brother died in Gangapur while he held the post of District Judge. I wrote a letter to Mahendra Maharaja saying, "Your servant and devotee, my brother, has died and I am without any support now." My brother left his body on June 10, 1969, and my letter reached Mahendra Maharaja on June 23, 1969. When he read my letter, tears started streaming from his eyes and he said, "When such a good devotee of mine is no more, what am I doing living in this world?" And he left his body on the same day. On June 23, 1969, Mahendra Maharaja left his body, and in 1970, Sri Mahaprabhuji appeared. On February 25, 1971, he was brought to Vrindaban. This date, February 25, is the 12th day after leaving His body (Sri Mahaprabhuji i.e. -- February 14, 1984). For 13 years, Sri Mahaprabhuji kept on giving darshan sitting on His ceremonial seat in Vrindaban. He went and gave darshan in many places, but these were the two main places where He resided -- Haidakhan and Vrindaban.