Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj alias Krishnaji Kasinath Joshi was known as Kusha Bhau and was the son of Kasinath Padmakar Joshi, a Joshi Vatandar, living at Mirzgaon, 70 miles from Ahmednagar. He was born in 1866.
Kusha Bhau’s experience with Baba is very interesting as a study in Baba’s ability to confer mysterious power. He was a poor vatandar, having passed a vernacular school examination to qualify himself for a master’s place on Rs. 5 or Rs. 7 per month. He also got himself trained for the hereditary duties of a village priest. But neither the school master’s place nor the priestship attracted him. He was ambitious. He found once Datta Maharaj, a Guru with great power and went to him and got trained in Yoga, that is, Asana, pranayama and the raising of Kundalini Shakti. The Guru imparted to him only the general teachings, but this sishya was not satisfied and prevailed upon the Guru to give him instruction in Maaranam, Uchchatanam and Vasikaram. The Guru gave those mantras to him and he learnt them all. He had therefore to deal with evil spirits, and so he wore an iron bangle as a talisman when he was repeating the mantras. He mastered the mantras by his japa, and he was able to order sweetmeats to come, and they would came. He would spread out his hands and his hands would become filled with pedas. He would show this to the on lookers and distribute the pedas to them. But he was debarred from using them for himself. He could destroy abhicharan, evil spells, by others. When he was aged only 22 in 1888, fully armed with these magical powers, the Guru left him, wanting to go to the Himalayas to live there alone up to the end of his life. Kusha Bhau accompanied him up to Delhi, and there, when parting, the Guru told him that he should go to Sai Baba of Shirdi whom he referred to as his elder brother, ‘Maja Vadil Bhai’ and that he should go to him and do whatever he directed. With this injunction he disappeared.
Kusha Bhau Guru Vakratund Maharaj
Kusha Bhau in 1908 went to Baba at Shirdi, but, as soon as he came near the Mosque, Baba would not allow him to enter. “Throw away your iron bangle. Stop the production of your pedas and then come” was Sai Baba’s order. Kusha Bhau broke the iron bangles and threw away. Then to sustain himself, he had to beg for food at Shirdi. Baba’s order was that he should sit in a corner of the Mosque and go on reading Dasabodha of Ramdas Swami during the day. At night Kusha Bhau would sleep wherever he found some place to lie in. Baba gave him no upadesa mantra.
When Kusha Bhau went in 1908 Baba had few visitors, and He was not even asking for dakshina. But he would take only a few pice for His fuel for dhuni. Nana Saheb Nimonkar was a big man visiting him. Baba imparted faith to those resorting to Him by His internal work and internal operation. He would ask every one to stick to His Ishta Devata and would grant them Sakshatkara of that Ishta Devata. Kusha Bhau stayed three full years at a stretch with Baba, and afterwards he visited Shirdi off and on for 9 years. Baba then told him, “See a man with three heads, that is, see Datta at Ganagapur.” Every year Kusha Bhau went to Ganagapur twice; one for Guru Poornima and the other for Magha Poornima. Baba once told him to do 108 parayana of Guru Charitra, taking 3 days for each parayana, and Kusha Bhau did this at Ganagapur and stayed there for 10 or 11 months for this purpose.
As for his mantric powers Baba had forbidden their use and he was not using them. He felt the loss of mantric exercise keenly. One Ekadasi day, however, he visited Baba, and Baba asked him, “What do you eat today”” Kusha Bhau replied “Nothing, it is Ekadashi today.”
Baba: What does Ekadashi mean?
Kusha Bhau: Upavasa.
Baba: What is Upavasa?
Kusha Bhau: It is like Rojas.
Baba: What is Rojas?
Kusha Bhau: It means eating nothing except Kandamula. Kanda means tubers, usually sweet potatos, and Mula means roots.
Baba punning upon the word Kanda, called it Kaanda. Kaanda means onion. Baba said, “Kaanda you are eating. Here is Kaanda for you.” So, saying, Baba handed over few onions to Kusha Bhau and asked him to eat them. Kusha Bhau replied, “Baba, if you eat, I will also eat.” Baba ate some and Kusha Bhau also ate some. Then visitors arrived. Baba wanting to have fun, and said, “Look at this Bamnia, he is eating onions on an Ekadashi day.” Kusha Bhau said that Baba ate it and so he also ate it. Baba said, “No, no; you see what I ate.” He then vomitted. What Baba vomitted was really ‘Kanda.’ Baba said, “See, it is not onion but sweet potatos.” Kusha Bhau was surprised and thought the production of sweet potatos was his opportunity. He fell upon the sweet potatos and swallowed them. Baba abused him and beat him, saying “Why do you eat the vomit – uchishta?” Kusha Bhau did not answer. In a moment, Baba’s mood changed. He said, “I shall give you now my varam. Henceforth you will have the power to produce the udhi, that is, udhi from the dhunimayi of Shirdi, by merely remembering me and holding forth your hands. Give this udhi freely. It will help all people and you will get punya. This was said to contrast Baba’s boon with Kusha Bhau’s previously distributing stolen pedas, which if eaten would result in sin.
As Kusha Bhau was giving this statement, he was seated on a bed at Poona on a cold day and suddenly he stretched our his hand with closed eyes and uplifted face, and in a minute he said, “Here is udhi.” His palms were full of udhi. “Hold your hands and receive the udhi” he said. Mr.Avaste, who was with Mr. B. V. N. Swami, stretched out a piece of paper as the udhi was falling from Kusha Bhau’s hands, and it was found to be warm, coming fresh from the Dhunimayi on a cold day. Kusha Bhau used this power of producing udhi with great effect. There was an aristocratic family in Poona where a patient had a longstanding illness, paralysis probably, and Kusha Bhau, by the use of this udhi, cured him. “This production of udhi”, Kusha Bhau says, “is a power vested in him by Baba once and for all and does not require any japa on his part, but only prayer. This udhi removes various ills and might even cure barreness.” He said that he had practically given up the production of pedas; but the temptation of producing them was sometimes irresistible. Once at Shirdi itself, this Kusha Bhau produced pedas. He also used his old power of exorcising Abhicharan in the case of Rajmachikar’s grandson, who was suffering from mysterious biba marks, that is, marks of the marking nut on his body, on his cloths, even his bed clothes and cured him.
During one visit, Baba told Kusha Bhau, “Next time you come, come two of you.” His father was with him at the time and Baba’s order meant “Come married.” Shortly thereafter he got married, but he went to Shirdi alone without his wife, at first. Then his wife came to Shirdi and took him away to lead a married life. In consequence of this, he had children and grandchildren.
On one occasion, Baba told him, “Why do you take the trouble to come all this distance to see me? I am there.” Kusha Bhau could not understand this. Then Baba described a specific plot of land in Mirzgaon and Kusha Bhau went there and after clearing the prickly pear on it, found a samadhi there. That samadhi he began to worship. There he got darsan of Baba, that is, Datta Baba, whose samadhi it was, and that Datta Baba always appears once a year on Datta Jayanthi. That saint, however, was called Fakir Shah. He lived 200 years ago and held the land on which the tomb now exists as an inam from the jagirdar. That Fakir Shah or Datta as he is called, occasionally talks of Sai Baba, though he talks very little. People can see him only once a year. This Fakir Shah does not give any help either for jnana marga or bhakti marga. His appearance merely inspires faith. He is to be seen and worshipped or bowed to, and he says, “Sai Baba is alive”, but whether as a spirit or as some Avatar, he does not say. Fakir Shah says that he and Sai Baba are inter-related as persons of the same order. Baba received Kusha Bhau from one Datta Maharaj and left him under the care of Datta Fakir. Kusha Bhau passed away on Magha Bahula Dashmi, Saturday afternoon 12:00 Noon i.e., on 19th February 1944 and his tomb near the foot of Shivaji Hills at Parvati, Pune is worshipped by his devotees.
Interesting Story Behiend The Origin of Shree Krishnanatha Datta Mandir:
It all started with the association of Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni with Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj (Kusha Bhau).
Meeting Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni and Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj Maharaj (Kusha Bhau):
Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni used to do Tutoring Work to supplement his family income in the city of Pune. In 1939, he used to tutor one girl who was a daughter of a lawyer, Mr. Paradeshi. They lived in Pune City. He also tutored all the sons of the famous Perfumers Lakade Joshi near the temple of Shani on the Bajirao Road, Pune.
Mr. Paradeshi’s family included his young daughter, himself, his wife and his old mother. The family had a strong wish of having a boy born in their family. They tried all methods, but with no fruit. Mr. Paradeshi used to meet all known astrologers to know the possibility of having son, and any rituals that he has to follow to effect the birth of his son. But, all of them told him that his horoscope shows no signs of getting a son. Therefore, the family had a lacuna in their mind.
One day, a reputed astrologer arrived in Pune. This inspired Mr. Paradeshi, but he had previous experiences in his mind. Mr. Paradeshi’s family knew that Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni used to perform strong Tapas and Worships. Therefore, Mr. Paradeshi’s old mother requested Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni that he should accompany Mr. Paradeshi to the newly arrived famous astrologer for asking about getting the son.
Apparenty, by that Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni had reached a very high level in the Spirituality. He told Mr. Paradeshi’s mother that the family should trust in Bhagavanta (Indian concept of God) than astrologers, and ask Bhagavan for anything directly. Mr. Paradeshi to Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni that he had done all possible rituals and worships to obtain a son, but they all failed. Then, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni asked him to do Parayana (serious and repetitive reading) of Navanatha Pothi (Scripture related to Nine Naths who are the original pioneers of the Natha Sect. Natha Sect follows Bhakti – devotion, Jnana – knowledge, Yoga – Hathayoga as well as Meditation, and strong ascetism. The most famous Natha Yogi is Gorakshanath, composer of Goraksha Shatakam and Goraksha Samhita.). But, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni added that Mr. Paradeshi should do that in a particular schedule and a certain number of times. And, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni forecasted that on completion of all repetitions a Yogi would meet the Paradeshi family and bless them with a son.
Mr. Paradeshi agreed to try out the above Parayana method, but he explained that he has to go to rest room (toilet) frequently due to his diabetic condition, and he could not take shower each time he goes to toilet. The Parayana has to be done in washed clothes with showered body. Also, Mr. Paradesh expressed that he has to frequently travel for his lawyer duties, so being in one location for long is hard. Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni told him that Bhagavanta will take care of these problems.
Mr. Paradeshi started the stipulated Parayana. Surprisingly, his toilet visits for urination stopped as soon as he sat for reading. Also, all his legal appointments were cancelled during this period. He was inspired and he continued the Parayanana. He completed all the repetitions and he was so joyful that he forgot all about the Yogi who was supposed to meet him. On the last day of the completion of reading, the Paradeshi family performed a Closing Ceremony with Prasad and Worship (Udyapana). It was Thursday. In those days (1939), people slept early without using electric lights at night, and also the roads were empty by the dusk time. Thus, the Paradeshi family was sleeping at night and at around 11 O’Clock night, someone knocked at their door. They were surprised to receive someone at such a late hour. As Mr. Paradeshi opened the door, he found a person with long hair and beard, standing at the door. No doubt, he looked like a great Yogi. He said to Mr. Paradeshi that someone has told Mr. Paradeshi that such a Yogi would arrive. Paradeshi remembered the words of Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni and was overjoyed. He went in and called his wife to bow to the Yogi. As soon as she bowed, the Yogi raised the hands and blessed, “May you get a Son!”. It is impossible to describe the joyful feeling of the family. The Yogi was none other than Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj (Kusha Bhau) of Mirajgaon!
The Yogi stayed at Mr. Paradeshi’s home that night and next day they went to a nearby Shani Temple. At that time, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni had just completed the tuitions at the Lakade Joshi family next to the temple and he was visiting the Shani temple as per his habit. When Kusha Bhau and Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni saw each other, instantly Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni fell at Kusha Bhau’s feet, who uttered, “Shree Gurudeva Datta”. Mr. Paradeshi tried to introduce Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni to Kushabhau. But, Kusha Bhau told Mr. Paradeshi that he already knows Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni from the past lives. Kusha Bhau invited Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni to Mr. Paradeshi’s home for a meeting at night. That night something transpired between them. No one knows that. But, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni was totally transformed. He probably got Samadhi state that night. Also, he became a devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba.
Thus, the Yogi Kusha Bhau met his foremost disciple Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni, proving that it is the Guru who finds out his disciple, and not otherwise.
About Shree Krishnanatha Datta Mandir, Parvati, Pune:
Just 5 days before the Mahasamadhi Day i.e., on 19th February 1944, Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj gathered his close devotees and on that day, two things happened. A) He asked Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni what he would do for him (Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj ) after he passes away. Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni said, “I will make friendship with all those who are poor, trodden and rejected by the society”. At this Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj got up and hugged Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni saying, “my life is successful indeed due to this”. Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni carried out this promise throughout the life as we shall see from the webpage on Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni (My Father-Final Book (flipbuilder.com). B) Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj told the gathered close devotees that he shall pass away in 5 days and a Samadhi Mandir with his bones should be made and a statue of Dattatreya should be installed above the Samadhi Tomb so that the water of Dattatreya’s Feet will go into the Tomb. Shee Krishnanath Maharaj passed away as announced and while departing he transferred his Yogic Powers to Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni. This made Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj ’s son in law Dr.Narke extremely jealous and he developed animosity to Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni thenceforth.
After Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj ’s passing away, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni worshipped the bones of Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj at his house for some duration. Then, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni collected donations from the people and built a small Samadhi Mandir exactly as described above, at the feet of the famous Hill in Pune, called Parvati Hill. This mandir was extremely simple with wooden lattice walls and tin metal roof. Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni regularly maintained the purity of this temple from 1944 to 1988. Many a miracles occurred in this temple. Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni was able to communicate with Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj at this site in order to obtain his guidance and to help the suffering devotees. Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni’s son, an Aerospace Engineer and a world renowned Yoga Teacher, Dr.Neel Kulkarni has himself watched Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni communicating with Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj at this site.
Due to the opposition from Dr. Narke and another businessman who were the two out of five trustees, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni was not able to build a safe and stable temple at this site. However, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni peacefully carried out his devotional activities at the temple, and also helped hundreds of suffering people. On special occasions, a very large gathering of worshippers occurred at the temple.
Around 1970s, Sai Baba Devotees of Malad wanted to build the Samadhi Mandir of Das Kisan Maharaj, who was a brother disciple of Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni. Actually, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni used to purchase caps from Das Kisan, a cap merchant. On a pleading from Das Kisan, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni requested Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj to bless Das Kisan in spiritual progress, which Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj agreed to and did so. After this Das Kisan started progressing in spirituality and soon became a well known Spiritual guide. He went to Mumbai and made lot of songs as he was having aptitude for poetry. One school teacher in Girgaon, Ms.Damayanti Mahad-dal- kar became his disciple and also received spiritual blessings from Das Kisan. Lot of Sai Baba devotees in Mumbai, mainly belonging to Sindhi Sect, became devotees of Das Kisan and disciples of Damayanti Mahad-dalkar. Later Das Kisan passed away.
Damayanti Mahad-dalkar, with the help of her disciples of Damayantiji wanted to build Samadhi Mandir of her guru Das Kisan Maharaj, and a land was already purchased next to the Bombay Borivali Highway in Malad. The construction of the Malad mandir called Mangal Sai Dham (Address: 5VH5+P83, Near Dindoshi Police Station, Western Express Highway, Malad East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400097) was about to begin. However, Damayantiji had a dream and was directed to build the Shree Krishnanath Datta Mandir in Pune before starting the Malad temple, as the Pune temple belonged to the Guru of Das Ganu Maharaj, the subject of Malad temple. Now, a person with the name Kripalani was sent to Pune to search for Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni who was the chief trustee of the Shree Krishnanath Datta Mandir and the foremost disciple of Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj . Out of thousands of Kulkarni’s in Pune, Kripalani was able to find Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni.
Kripalani and other Sai Devotees of Mumbai indicated their wish to build the Pune Temple properly so that they can continue their work for Malad Temple in Mumbai. However, a permission to build this temple without all trustees being present, needed to be obtained. Mumbai devotees did this job successfully. In 1988, a full-fledged temple was built on the then present site of the temple. Just after this, as his life mission was complete, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni finished his life. His son, Dr. Neel Kulkarni was informed 15 days before Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni finished his life. Dr. Neel was in New Zealand at that time, and could not attend the funeral due to the immigration situation.
Since 1988, Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni’s disciple, Mr. Ram Khaladkar, an industrialist in Pune, was the chief trustee and managed the temple. Mr.Ram Khaladkar passed away in 2021.
The Pune Temple is maintained well with daily worship, and with very little finances. But, several devotees, including Dr.Neel Kulkarni has witnessed miracles there. Each and every sincere devotee of that temple succeeded in his/her life. The temple is a vibrant place with Live Energy of Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj . Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj was a real Devotee of Sai Baba and also a Yogi. To indicate this, a picture like sketch of Shirdi Sai Baba appeared on the White Marble Slab of the Tomb of Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj over a period and now can be viewed very clearly. Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni also was a devotee and Yogi. Dr. Neel Kulkarni himself became a strong Yoga student.
Shree Krishnanatha Datta Mandir, Parvati, Pune in 1944
Renovated Shree Krishnanatha Datta Mandir, Parvati, Pune,
The Samadhi of Kusha Bhau is loacted at the below mentioned address:
Shree Krishnanatha Datta Mandir
(Source: Life of Sai Baba by Shri.B.V.Narasimha Swamiji and Dr.Neel Kulkarni, Son of Saint Vinayak Rajaram Kulkarni, foremost disciple of Shree Krishnanatha Maharaj , a resident of California, USA, www.adhiyoga.com ; Photo Courtesy: Dr.Neel Kulkarni & Smt.Shreya Nagaraj, Pune)