About Maharaj Ji
Early Childhood: A Latent Spiritual Spark
Pujya Maharaj Ji was born to a modest and extremely pious (सात्विक) Brahmin (Pandey) family and was named Aniruddh Kumar Pandey. He was born in Akhri Village, Sarsol Block, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
His grandfather was a Sanyaasi (सन्यासी) and the overall household environment was deeply devotional, utmost pure and serene. His father Shri Shambu Pandey was a devotional person and accepted Sanyaas (सन्यास) in later years. His mother Shrimati Rama Devi was very pious and had great respect for all saints. Both were regularly engaged in Sant-Seva (संत सेवा) and various devotional services. His elder brother enhanced the spiritual aura of the family by reciting verses from Shrimad Bhagvatam (श्रीमद् भागवतम्) which the entire family would listen to and cherish. The holy household environment intensified the latent spiritual spark concealed within him.
Given this devotional family background, Maharaj Ji began reciting various prayers (चालीसा) at a very young age. When he was in class 5th, he started reading Gita Press Publication, Shri SukhSagar.
At this tender age, he began to question the purpose of life. He was moved by the thought whether the love of parents is everlasting and if it is not, then why to engage in the happiness which is temporary? He questioned the importance of studying in school and gaining materialistic knowledge and how it would help him realize his goals. To seek answers he began chanting SHRI RAM JAI RAM JAI JAI RAM (श्री राम जय राम जय जय राम) and SHRI KRISHNA GOVIND HARE MURARI (श्री कृष्ण गोविन्द हरे मुरारी).
By the time he was in class 9th he had strongly decided to lead a spiritual life exploring the path leading towards God. He was prepared to leave his family for this noble purpose. He informed his mother about his ideas and decision. At the young age of thirteen, one early morning at 3am Maharaj Ji left his home to unveil the truth behind human life.
Life as a Brahmchari and Sanyaas Diksha:
Maharaj Ji was initiated into Naisthik Brahmcharya (नैष्ठिक ब्रह्मचर्य). He was named, AnandSwaroop Brahmchari and later he accepted Sanyaas. On accepting MahaVakya he was named Swami Anandashram.
Maharaj Ji led a life of complete renunciation following strict principles to rise above bodily consciousness. During this time he accepted only Aakashvriti (आकाश वृति) for his survival which means accepting only which is offered by the mercy of God without any personal endeavour.
As a spiritual seeker, most of his life was spent on the banks of river Ganges because Maharaj Ji never accepted the hierarchical life of an Ashram. Very soon Ganges became a second mother to him. He roamed on the Ghats of Ganges (Assi-Ghat and others between Haridwar and Varanasi) without caring about hunger, clothes or weather. Even in the harshest winter he never stopped his daily routine of taking bath thrice in Ganges. He used to fast without food for days and his body would shiver from the cold but he stayed completely absorbed in meditation of "The Ultimate" (हर छन ब्रह्माकार वृति). Within few years of Sanyaas he was duly blessed by Lord Shiva.
First Seeds of Bhakti and Coming to Vrindavan:
Maharaj Ji was undoubtedly blessed by Lord Shiva, the epitome of knowledge and mercy. However he continued to strive for a higher purpose. One day while meditating under a tree in Banaras, by the sheer Grace of Shri ShyamaShyam he was drawn to the glory of Vrindavan.
Later, an inspiration of a saint persuaded him to attend a Raas Lila which was being organized by Swami Shri SriRam Sharma. He attended the Raas Lila for a month. In the mornings he would watch the pastimes of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and at night the Raas Lila of Shri ShyamaShyam. In a month alone he became so captivated and attracted to watching these Lilas that he could not imagine leading a life without them. This one month proved to be the turning point of his life. Later, on the advice of Swami Ji and with the help of a disciple of Shri Narayan Das Bhaktmali (बक्सर वाले मामाजी), Maharaj Ji boarded a train to Mathura, not knowing then that Vrindavan would steal his heart forever.
Transition from a Sanyaasi to RadhaVallabhi Saint:
Maharaj Ji arrived in Vrindavan without any acquaintances. Maharajji's initial daily routine comprised of Vrindavan Parikrama and darshan of Shri BankeBihari. In the temple of BankeBihariji, he was told by a saint that he must also visit Shri RadhaVallabh Mandir.
Maharaj Ji would stand for hours admiring RadhaVallabh Ji. The respected Goswami's would notice this and developed a natural affection for him. One day Pujya Shri Hit MohitMaral Goswami Ji recited a verse from Shri RadhaRasSudhaNidhi but Maharaj Ji despite being well versed in Sanskrit was unable to understand its deep meaning. Goswami ji then encouraged him to chant the name of Shri Harivansh. Maharaj Ji was initially reluctant to do so. However, the next day as soon as he began Vrindavan Parikrama, he found himself chanting the same holy name by the grace of Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu. Thus, he became convinced of the power of this Holy Name (Harivansh).
One morning, while doing parikrama (परिक्रमा), Maharaj Ji was completely captivated by a Sakhi singing a verse ...
" श्रीप्रिया-वदन छबि-चन्द्र मनौं, प्रीतम-नैंन-चकोर | प्रेम-सुधा-रस-माधुरी, पान करत निसि - भोर "
Maharaj Ji casting aside the rules of Sanyaas spoke to the sakhi requesting her to explain the verse she was singing. She smiled and told him that if he wants to understand this verse he must become a RadhaVallabhi.
Maharaj Ji promptly and enthusiastically approached Pujya Shri Hit MohitMaral Goswami Ji for diksha, thus proving what the Goswami Parikar had already predicted. Maharaj Ji was initiated into the RadhaVallabh Sampradaya with the Sharnagat Mantra (शरणागत मंत्र). Few days later on the insistence of Pujya Shri Goswami Ji, Maharaj Ji met his present Sadguru Dev, one of the most prominent and established saints in Sahchari Bhav - Pujya Shri Hit Gaurangi Sharan Ji Maharaj, who initiated him into Sahchari Bhav and NityaVihar Ras (निज मंत्र).
Maharaj Ji remained in the close service of his Sadguru Dev for 10 years and served him with great earnest, performing any task given to him with utmost humility. Soon by the Grace of his Sadguru dev and the grace of Shri VrindavanDham, he became completely absorbed in Sahchari Bhav developing unflinching devotion in the lotus feet of Shri Radha.
Following in the footsteps of his Sadguru dev, Maharaj Ji lived by Madhukari (मधुकरी) in Vrindavan. He has the utmost respect for Brajwasis and believes that one cannot experience "The Divine Love" without eating the grains of a Brajwasi (ब्रजवासी).
The infinite Grace of his Sadguru Dev Bhagwan and Shri Vrindavan Dham, is evident in each and every aspect of Maharajji's life.