Santram Mandir is a famous temple situated in Nadiad, Gujarat, India. It is home to Santram Maharaj who is a holy figure in Gujarat. It is very famous for other social activities for the needy too. The Santram mandir trust runs a physiotherapy centre, an eye clinic as well as various other charitable organizations. It also carries out various cultural activities. There are other "santram mandir"s located in Vadodara, Karamsad and other places.
Many people offer fast on Thursdays in reverence to Santram Maharaj.
The original Santram Maharaj was a great Saint of the Avadhoot category. He came to Nadiad from Girnar, so he was also called Girnari Bava, Videhi Bava, or Sukha-Sagarji. He came here in Samvat 1872, lived for the spiritual good of People for the 15 years, and took Jivat-Samadhi on the full-moon-day of the month Magha of Samvat 1887. At the first he was dwelled in a hollow of the Rayan-tree, situated where the Deri is located today.
There were two miracles that happened; first, a laborer from the neighboring field came to fetch water from the well near the Rayan-tree. He had brought with him a rope and a bucket. The Maharaj asked him to keep the rope and bucket there for some time, as he wished to take his bath, but the laborer turned a deaf ear to the words of the Maharaj. He had to come again to fetch more water after a few minutes and he saw the Maharaj taking his bath, sitting on the Thala of the well by means of a gourd. The water of the well had come to the surface by the attraction-power of the Great Yogi, who had full control over the five great elements. The second miracle was this: A Kanbi used to come for darshan to the Maharaj every day and he wised to give supper to the Maharaj in the evening. The Maharaj said, "I will take only Milk today evening". The face of the Kanbi fell in dejection. He said that his she-buffalo had stopped giving any milk. The Maharaj said, " Take this gourd with you and bring for the Maharaj the milk that your she-buffalo gives". That evening the Kanbi’s she-buffalo filled the Maharaj’s gourd with sweet luckwarm milk. The Maharaj took that milk.
Due to these two miracle people began to come to the Maharaj in great numbers. He thought of going away to some other place, but Poojabhai Patel of Lakhawad stopped him, saying "If you go away from here the good luck of Nadiad would leave the town and go away". To test Poojabhai the Maharaj said: "I would stay here on condition that you will render service to me till I stay". Poojabhai said: "What greater luck could there be for me than that".
In accordance with this condition the Maharaj took his Jivat-Samadhi on the full-day of the Month of Magha Samvat 1887 instead of the full-moon-day of Posha of that year. When the Maharaj took Jivat-Samadhi, luster came out of his Brahmie aperture at the top of the head. The lamp of ghee was lighted with that luster. The lamp of ghee has been burning for the last 147 years. In fact, Shree Santram Maharaj is the eternal flame of light of the Divine.
During his lifetime and thereafter there became many devotees of the Maharaj, such as: Haridas, Hariram, Jetho, Adesang, Narayandas of Vankaner, Raghav-Muni, Mugat-Ramji and others. All of them have written Padas and Bhajans, except the last devotee. They have been published in ‘Pada-Sangraha’. Most of the devotee are farmers, laborers, and workmen of the villages.
The Nadiad Temple has its branches in Baroda, Umreth, Padra, Karamsad, Koyali, and Radhu. They carry on their work in accordance with the behests of the main temple in Nadiad. One devotee had the Darshan of Santram Maharaj at Benaras after he took Jivat-Samadhi. A manuscript book on Yoga is kept in the Kalasha (the top circular vessel) of the Nadiad Temple.
Laxmandasji was the main disciple of the Santram Maharaj. He has laid down the rules for the Mahants of the main Nadiad temple. For example, the Maharaj shall not step out of the vicinity of the temple, he shall never ask for anything from anybody, and depend only on the will of the Divine.
The present Mahant of the Nadiad temple, Shree Ramdasji is the ninth Mahant on the Gadi of the temple. The details are as follows:
Shree Jankidas Maharaj occupied the Gadi for 53 years and he was very practical. He could see through a man as soon as he came near him. The temple’s expansion became very big during his period. It became known throughout India. He did many things for the good for the temple:
There are no historical books/manuscripts exemplifying the life and work of Maharaj Shree. Whatever is known or written about Maharaj Shree is transferred by word of mouth from one generation to other.
The origin or lineage of Maharaj Shree is not known but the devotees strongly believe that He was avatar (incarnation) of Lord Guru Dattatraya and has materialised in the mountains of Girnar, Gujarat. It is believed that He has wandered from Girnar to South Gujarat and than to Nadiad. Along the way, He had enlightened many devotees with His preaching and interpretation of religion and servings to humanity.
An incident in Varad, a small village near Surat, compelled Shree Lakshmandasji - principal devotee and successor to Maharaj Shree - to embark on a search of Maharaj Shree. Once, Shree Lakshmandasji and other devotees were worshiping Lord Krishna when suddenly this Avdhut appeared and on request of the devotees, joined them in their worship. One of the devotees suggested that it would be an exceptional experience if Lord Krishna himself would play his divine flute while the devotees were worshiping. Seeing the eagerness on faces of the devotees, the Avdhut asked the devotees to close their eyes and continue their worship. The devotees did as instructed by the Avdhut and then a musical tune on flute was heard by the devotees. Everyone present there was spellbound by the heavenly music of the flute. After a while, the music ceased and the devotees opened their eyes. The Avdhut was nowhere to be found. Shree Lakshmandasji left the village and began the search for the Avdhut which later brought him to Nadiad.
Maharaj Shree has traveled from Varad to Nadiad via Vadodara, Padra, Umreth, Khambhat and Radhu. In Nadiad, Maharaj Shree opted to stay in the laps of nature. A hollow trunk of an ancient Rayana tree, in the farm of Poojabhai Patel, became his dwelling for a long period. Here, in the trunk of Rayana tree, Maharaj Shree used to meditate most of the time, thereby, reducing all the needs of the material world. One day a farmer came to fetch water from a nearby well. Maharaj Shree wanted to have a bath and therefore requested the farmer to leave the rope and bucket behind. But the farmer took no notice of the Avdhut’s request and left with his rope and bucket. Later that day when the farmer came to fetch some more water he was astounded to see the well overflowing with water and the Avdhut bathing there. The farmer ran to his companions and informed them about his magical experience with the Avdhut. Slowly the word started to spread across Nadiad and surrounding areas about the divine soul dwelling in the trunk of tree.
Devotees started to visit the Avdhut regularly and occasionally would leave behind some offerings to this Holy Spirit. One such devotee, a Kanabi (peasant caste), once invited Maharaj Shree to dinner but Maharaj Shree refused him saying that He wont be taking any food that day but the Kanabi can bring him some milk from his buffalo. Kanabi felt deep sorrow as his buffalo was not giving any milk. He explained his situation to Maharaj Shree and apologized as he won’t be able to bring the milk. Maharaj Shree gave Kanabi his vessel and advised him to milk his buffalo. To Kanabi’s surprise, the buffalo did give milk and filled the vessel. After the words of this spread out, more and more devotees started to drop by to bow down to and worship the Avdhut.
With crowds of devotees always surrounding him and lack of seclusion for meditation, Maharaj Shree decided it was time to move on. When Poojabhai Patel came to know about Maharaj Shree’s decision, he requested Maharaj Shree to stay there forever and enlighten the people of Nadiad. Maharaj Shree would not that easily be convinced but Poojabhai wont let him leave the place. Poojabhai promised his service and even offered his farm to Maharaj Shree to make an Ashram to impart spiritual wisdom of the people of Nadiad. Maharaj Shree was obliged with Poojabhai’s offering and asked him to demand anything he wished. Poojabhai still insisted that Maharaj Shree should stay there and give the people of Nadiad a divine opportunity to serve Maharaj Shree which would enlighten their lives. Maharaj Shree was pleased with Poojabhai’s unselfish and benevolent answer and promised him that He will establish an Ashram and that He won’t leave the Ashram without informing Poojabhai.
People of Nadiad cherished the idea of Ashram and took the responsibility to make the Ashram and a temple. While the work was in progress, a man in torn and dirty clothes, exhausted from long run, came and fell down near the Ashram. Everyone present around was curious to know from where this stranger has wandered from and who was he. Maharaj Shree came to the stranger and helped Shree Lakshmandasji to get up. A new life source dashed across Lakshmandasji’s body. Maharaj Shree explained Shree Lakshmandasji about the Ashram and that He will need help of pious and pure souls like Shree Lakshmandasji in construction and management of Ashram and for the upliftment of the humanity. Shree Lakshmandasji promised to serve Maharaj Shree for the rest of his life and thus, with the union of two divine souls Santram Ashram was to become centre of pilgrimage in Charotar region. Knowledge, devotion, faith in Yoga, helping the poor and distressed were the founding ideology of the Ashram.
After 15 years of his service to humanity, it was time for Maharaj Shree to move on. In Shree Lakshmandasji he had found an eligible successor who will nurture the Ashram. Maharaj Shree decided the full moon day of Posha (3rd month of Hindu calendar) of Vikram Samvat 1887 (A.D. 1830-31) as day for his departure from material world - Samadhi. Obliged by his promise to Poojabhai, a messenger was sent to Poojabhai’s grandson - Bapubhai (Poojabhai and his sons has passed away) seeking his permission for Maharaj Shree to leave for his final journey. Bapubhai, being government servant, would not be able to come to Nadiad and so he requested Maharaj Shree to postpone his Samadhi for few days and thus full moon day of Maha ( 4th month of Hindu calendar) was decided when Maharaj Shree would take his Jivat Samadhi (buried alive). As the day of his Samadhi came closer, more and more devotees started to pour in Nadiad to get one last chance to be in vicinity of the divine soul. Bapubhai was in service of Maharaj Shree on the day of Samadhi with heavy heart. Devotees from far came down to pay their homage. An unlighted earthen lamp with wick and ghee was kept ready by the Samadhi as ordered by Maharaj Shree. The devotees poured out their hearts as Maharaj Shree slowly started moving towards his Samadhi. Slowly Maharaj Shree started descending in the burial place and soon the mortal body was buried alive freeing the divine and immortal soul. The departing soul lit the lamp (Jyot) kept near the Samadhi and soon sugar candy/cubes started falling from the skies as if the Gods were welcoming the divine soul to the heaven.
Shree Lakshmandasji immediately took the Jyot and placed it in the temple where it is kept burning day and night, till this very day, guiding and blessing the devotees. It is now know as Akhand (everlasting) Jyot.
[Importance of Word" [Narayan Narayan]" http://www.santram.org/images/Santram_May_2008_Tiranga.pdf