Thursday 8th December 2016
The beginning of the Shri Datta Jayanti Mahotsava festivities at Maniknagar is marked with a Ritual Purification ceremony. Hundreds of devotees volunteer in the cleaning of the entire Manik Prabhu Temple Complex. The Sanctum Sanctorum or the Garbha Griha of Shri Prabhu Mandir is specially washed amidst chanting of the ‘Mahamantra’. After it is thoroughly washed, the Garbha Griha is filled with water up to a level at which the Samadhi of Shri Manik Prabhu Maharaj is partially submerged. The water thus filled surrounds the holy Samadhi of Shri Prabhu. Since it comes into contact with Shri Prabhu’s Samadhi it no longer remains plain water but transforms itself into Teertha, which has the potential of washing away our sins and impurities. Shreeji, after performing Aarati to Shri Prabhu, performs Teertha Snaan by prostrating before the Samadhi in the holy water. With him hundreds of devotees also take a dip in the holy water. This is symbolic of a cleansing of our inner (spiritual) and outer (corporeal) selves which is a pre-requisite for any kind of worship or ritual.
There are around 1300 wooden batons or ‘Yoga Dandas’ which Shri Prabhu had specially got prepared from his followers, since they always accompanied him in his sojourn in jungles and woods with the fear of attack from wild animals and thugs always looming over their heads. The distribution of Yoga Dandas by Shri Prabhu among his followers also had another angle to it. It was a period of mass unrest as the first war of independence had been waged against the British by Tatya Tope, Rani Lakshmi Bai and other nationalists. The Nizam of Hyderabad, in whose dominion Maniknagar fell, was a faithful ally of the British Government and his army and police always nursed a doubt that Shri Prabhu, with his hundreds of followers, was sympathetic to the cause of the freedom struggle and was always conspiring to destabilize the government of the day. It is said that Shri Prabhu touched each one of the sticks, thus equipping them with his yogic power of protection and handed them to his followers on the condition that they would be promptly returned to him when they felt that they no longer required them. All these 1300 wooden sticks or ‘Yoga Dandas’ are meticulously preserved to this day. They are taken out once in a year, on this day, in the presence of Shreeji, cleaned, embalmed with a preservative oil and kept back in their original place. Devotees participate in this process and feel blessed by touching the Yoga Dandas which once had the holy touch of Shri Prabhu.