Gurus & Saints of India

Swami Akhandanand


Anantshri Swami Akahandanandji Saraswati was a great saint of the twentieth century; a well-known exponent of Shrimad Bhagvata and a scholar of Vedanta and Bhakti Shastras. He was known as "Maharajshri" to his followers and friends.

Maharajshri mentored many on the spiritual path, including the past and present generations of Grihasthas, Sanyasi Mahatmas, and Shankaracharyas. Maharajshri's discourses were loved by all - Mahatmas and Scholars from all traditions, as well as people from all walks of life. He authored over 180 books which cover Shrimad Bhagwat, Gita, Ram Charit Manas, and Upnishads of the Vedanta.

Maharajshri established many institutions, including the Anand Vrindavan, which is a well-known Ashram in Vrindavan. Today, Swami Omkaranandji Saraswati "Mahantji" Maharaj guides the Anand Vrindavan Ashram and associated trusts, continuing Maharajshri's traditions of service (Karma), devotion (Bhakti), and knowledge (Gyan).

Life Sketch of Swami Akhandanand Ju Maharaj

Exactly after nine months of prayers by his grandfather, Maharajshri was born by the grace of Lord Shri Shantanuvihariji of the Braja on Friday, 25th July, 1911 in Pushya Nakshtra. (Shravana Amavasya v.s. 1968) in the village of Maharai in the most sacred district Varanasi. The Saryupaarine Brahmin family, named him "Shantanuvihari", since he was born by the grace of the Lord Shantanuvihari.

The greatest astrologers of the time said that the child would die at the age of 19. The fear of death led Maharajshri to the path of spirituality. All the great saints of the time clearly averred that we cannot avoid the death destined by faith, but we can impart the knowledge which can destroy the fear of death forever and this really happened. The immortal Brahman appeared in the heart of Maharajshri and the black shadow of death fled.

Once upon a time Maharajshri went to see the well-known saint of Jhusee, Brahmichari Prabhudattaji at Allahabad (Prayaga). There he met Shri Udiyababa ji Maharaj for the first time and held a conversation with him regarding the Vedanta. Maharajshri was spell bound on seeing the Baba's devotedness to the non-duality (Advait) and the extraordinary ecstasy of the liberated life. He was blessed with love and affection of the Baba. It was the inner inspiration of the Baba that impelled Maharajashri for renunciation and he was initiated for Sanyasa, by his Holiness Swami Shri Brahmanand Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of the Jyotishpeethadhishver. Maharajashri was a member of the editorial board of the Kalyana in Gorakhpur for seven years before he was initiated to Sanyasa.

For the first time at the age of 10 years his grandfather arranged his discourse on Shrimad Bhagvata Purana and from that time till he left his heavenly abode, the Shrimad Bhagvata remained his constant companion. His daily spiritual meeting was also a state of self-rapture, which continued without break till the spiritual meeting on the evening of November 17, 1987. Even today the Satsang lovers enjoy his immortal gospels through audio-video cassettes and books. On 19th Nov., 1987 (Margshirsha Krishan Trayodashi) at about 2.00 a.m. i.e. Brahmvela, the individuality was merged into totality and became all pervasive.

The Anandvrindavan Ashram established by Maharajashri at Shri Vrindavan Dham is like Prayaga, the king of Tirthas, where one finds the confluence of the work (Karma), devotion (Bhakti) and knowledge (Gyan). The Satsang, the worship of the Lord, the cow service, the saint service, the study of scriptures in a school for the Vedas, the Akhandananda Library, the free dispensary, and the different activities of the Ashram including the practice of celebrating the birth anniversaries of all the Acharyas - which were started by Maharajashri - will remain unforgettable from the point of view of cultural harmony. This exemplifies the liberal attitude of Maharajshri that is prevalent in the Anandvrindavan Ashram today.