Shri Siddharaj Manik Prabhu Maharaj
Shri Siddharaj Manik Prabhu (born on 1st February 1939), the fifth incumbent of the Gadi, was but a child when he ascended the Gadi. Many had misgivings about the choice. As said earlier, people forget that the succession to the Gadi is not an elective post. It is the Divine Will that determines the selection, where a person becomes but a medium through whom Shri Manik Prabhu Maharaj decides to make His presence manifest. In spiritual matters, it is rarely the person who matters as much as the Shakti that is posited in him. None should forget that Shri Manik Prabhu’s Gadi is the Shakti Peetha, in respect of which Shri Manik Prabhu has assured his presence for all time to come.
This fact was demonstrated by the young Shri Manohar Manik Prabhu through his extraordinary achievements even during his short span of empirical life.
This was further demonstrated by Shri Martand Manik Prabhu through his vast and comprehensive capacity in expanding the range and sphere of influence of Shri Manik Prabhu Sampradaya and by Shri Shankar Manik Prabhu, who, through his humility and open candour expressed the true role of each occupier of the Seat. Shri Manik Prabhu Maharaj had seen that for every generation he provided a person to grace the Gadi, suitable for the time and conditions prevailing. The ascending of the Gadi by Shri Siddharaj Manik Prabhu, therefore, should be seen in this context.
Through the medium of Shri Shankar Manik Prabhu, it was shown how important education was to be in the life of people. Shri Siddharaj Manik Prabhu was to carry on the mission, for which the previous incumbent had laid the foundation stone. To make him capable of shouldering this enormous task, it was decided that he should be educated in the well-known Scindia School at Gwalior. Here, Shreeji was to stay with people who were being educated in all the modern disciplines. This broad spectrum of education gave him a comprehensive vision to shape the future of Maniknagar. In the midst of scepticism, superstition and seeming lack of confidence in the efficacy of religion in modern society, influenced by the blinding glare of modern science and technology, Shreeji had to reconsider his role and the means of imparting the ancient wisdom to the modern mind.
All of Shri Siddharaj Manik Prabhu’s activities were guided by these thoughts. While new ideas were not rejected just because they were new, the old values also were not forgotten because they were old. Out of the historical heritage, from which humankind had gathered cultural, ethical, moral and social norms, the things which are permanent in nature and eternal in essence were required to be protected and inculcated in the coming generation. This is what Shri Siddharaj Manik Prabhu did with a great sense of passion and dedication.
For all these generations, Shri Manik Prabhu Sampradaya was looking for traditional values to inculcate in the character of the human being. Bhakti and unquestioned faith in Guru’s Grace was predominantly emphasized. Shri Martand Manik Prabhu gave a direction to Jnana, the wisdom of the Dharma. Shri Shankar Manik Prabhu and Shri Siddharaj Manik Prabhu felt that along with these, a sense of inquiry should also be inculcated in the devotees. They should enquire how they happened to be here in this world. What is the characteristic of the diversity which they see before them? Where is one proceeding and what should be one’s role and objective?
Realizing this fact, Shreeji opened a school in Maniknagar, on the model of the school in Gwalior where he had taken his education. Here education was not teaching the pupil only the essentials to make him pass the examination and be prepared to earn his livelihood but to make it the basic forum which will make him enquire and think about life in general and its values in particular.
This does not mean he gave lesser importance to religious rites and rituals. The tragedy of the modern mind is that what he considers as knowledge is but the collection of information and not wisdom born out of one’s own endeavour or experience which comes out of hard work, sacrifice, austerity or Tapas.
The entire outlook of Shreeji, therefore, represented the ideal of samatvam, equanimity. He would neither be perturbed with unpleasant invitation nor would he be elated with a rapturous reception. His patience and humility was the hallmark of his personality. His spiritual capacity was shrouded in his childlike simplicity. He was as keen a participant in the philosophical discussion as he was in Cricket and other mundane activities.
For one who is inculcated in Shri Datta Sampradaya, Shreeji appeared like an Avadhoota, taking life as it came and observing the activities of the world as a Stithaprajna. He identified himself so much with Shri Manik Prabhu that it was common for him to say, Shri Prabhu’s Will prevails… He had nothing of his own, needed nothing for himself. He had the simplicity of Shri Manik Prabhu as well as the grandeur of the Seat which he occupied.
He was a great mystic, which is evident from the Bhajans composed by him. What he spoke was heard with attention because it came straight from his heart. He belonged to the tradition of Tukaram, Tulsidas, Kabir, Rohidas, whose every word speaks love and adoration of the Lord. His emphasis on Bhakti and Bhajans is because of the disinclination of the modern generation to philosophical learning.
His presence inspired such close affinity that many persons tended to be familiar with him when they should have remained quiet and respectful. Often devotees played on his patience when his intention was to be compassionate and shed his love. His love for music made each one participant of the Naad-Brahman and made each one forget himself and made each one feel that they were the closest to him.
One often felt like asking him the question which King Yadu asked Shri Dattatreya. Remaining inactive, as it were, whence did you acquire this vast wisdom, even after which, you move like an innocent child? Generally, men strive for spiritual merit, riches or enlightenment or for long life, name, and fame or good fortune. You, yourself, are of able body, learned, skilful, handsome and soft-spoken. You do nothing, covet nothing and behave like a simpleton, lunatic, or a devil. In the midst of people burning with the fire of greed and desire, you remain unscathed like a Lord of the Elephants standing in the waters of the Ganges. Tell me, who is enquiring thus, the reason of the joy abiding in your mind, even though you are living alone and devoid of enjoyment?
No one possibly asked this question to Shreeji. None, in fact, needed to ask. Blessed are those who got an opportunity to interact with Shri Siddharaj Manik Prabhu. None can surely describe the taste of honey who has not, in the first instance, tasted it. We may, therefore, with the seer of Brihad Aranyak Upanishad speak, Let a wise Brahman after knowing him alone, practice the wisdom (spoken by him). Let him not reflect on many words, for that, verily is a mere weariness of speech.
Shreeji’s more than five-decade-long efforts of developing Shri Manik Prabhu Samsthan not only as a spiritual organization but also as a social institution committed to the cause of wider societal development, bore fruits of success and thus Maniknagar was transformed from a sleepy little hamlet into a throbbing centre of social, educational and cultural activities.
After successfully heading the Samsthan for more than six decades, after bringing material and spiritual happiness and a sense of purpose into the lives of thousands of his devotees, after spreading Shri Prabhu’s divine message of love and equality into every nook and corner of the country, after bringing Maniknagar on the forefront of the spiritual social and educational map of India, Shreeji attained Maha-Samadhi on the 6th of October 2009.