Guruji was born in village Mhasve of Jalgaon district in the state of Maharashtra, India on August 15, 1917 in an agriculturist family. Mother PANKABAI and father RAMCHANDRA were a devout couple of honest living.
Right from his childhood Guruji had keen interest in physical exercise, divine songs, bhajans and bhakti. Academically bright, he was spiritually inclined owing to the influence of NAVNATHI cult followers visiting his home frequently.
Revolutionary views of the saints Gadge Baba and Sane Guruji kindled the spark of social work in his adolescent mind. During the teen years itself, varied interests in herbal therapeutics, Ayurveda, massage therapy made him acquire thorough knowledge in the alternative healing.
Later he was to use these measures amply and aptly reinforcing his mastery in Yoga, for curing thousands of patients with various disorders.
Guruji’s life took a key turn when, in the young age itself he came in contact with Dharmabhaskar Vinayak Maharaj Masurkar, a religious authority, who taught him the techniques of SURYA NAMASKARA, or Sun Salutations.
The practice of SURYA NAMASKARA along with chanting of certain mantras became integral part of Guruji’s routine. He realized that this aspect of positive health had much more to offer to an individual than various other types of exercises. He focused on SURYA NAMASKARA for quite some time, mastered the art with great penetration and began to teach the same to masses.
Before long, his father’s untimely demise compelled Guruji to put a full stop to academics and take up a job in Police Department to support the family. His adventurous nature and work ethics soon made him popular in the Police Department. Curbing indiscipline and unrest he ensured law and order at every location of posting.
Stressing on the importance of fitness, he gathered and trained youths in physical exercises wherever he was transferred. Being impartial and poised he gained popularity and support from all strata of the society. Entering in to wedlock with Anusaya, fondly called by Guruji’s disciples as “Aai” was another significant event during this period.
During his posting at Raver, an important incident took place which was instrumental in leading him to Yoga. He had founded a gymnasium at Raver, where he carried out his training activities for youths.
A young boy named ‘‘Bichchoo’, once came to this gym. As Guruji demonstrated various intricate exercises, to his great surprise, Bichchoo grasped them instantly. He lived with Guruji for a few days.One day he showed Guruji some very different techniques like NAULIKARMA and other few yogic postures but Guruji’s primary interest lying in gymnastics he was not inclined to learn those postures right away.
One day, Bicchhoo suddenly disappeared. Guruji did his best to find his whereabouts, but in vain. Guruji then tried to recollect & understand the postures demonstrated by him. With substantial efforts and perseverance in practicing what was just shown by Bichchoo, Guruji learnt that those exercises were prescribed in Yogic scriptures. That was the precious moment when he switched over to Yoga.
Struggle To Learn
Yoga was not in common practice at that time and practically no literature or guidance was available in the rural areas where Guruji was posted. The only solution was to acquire books on the subject and do self learning. Feeling the need for practical guidance Guruji tried visiting various yoga centers but was heavily disappointed. Some of the yoga pundits denied providing guidance and some others asked for exorbitant fees. Many had already commercialized this ancient treasure of sages for personal benefit instead of using it for social welfare. (This was the precise time, when Guruji vowed to reach the science of Yoga to the commonest of common man without charging any professional fees for the same.)
Of course, Guruji was not the one to give up once he was determined to learn Yoga. He was posted to the metropolis of Mumbai then. The scriptures became his GURUs and he commenced his own training in the subject after the duty hours. Having fundamental interest in the matter, he shortly mastered most of the postures. He then moved deeper in to the study of purification techniques, Pranayama, Bandha-Mudra etc. Over a period of time, he established a genuine command over them too.
The more he practiced, the more he was ascertained of the marvelous curing powers of yoga, even for chronic disorders. Soon many people started coming to him to get rid of their ailments. Far from being egotistical like most self-made personalities, Guruji’s approach was always modest and gentle towards all. With his absolute and strict adherence to yogic therapy supported by herbal medicines only if needed, he could obtain best results for the ailing people. It must be mentioned here that his wife, the caring “Aai” (mother) of all disciples supported Guruji at every step and took good care of the home and family.
Guruji lived for the suffering masses of the society. Even in the time when mass media was not much developed, he reached up to hundreds of thousands of people to make Yoga their life’s practice. All through his life since the day Guruji turned to this science, he gave over three hours daily for personal practices of Pranayama, Dhyana etc. and another three hours or more for absolutely selfless service, free of charge to the people who really needed it. The place he occupies in millions of hearts even to this date is owing to his amazing capacity to empathize with all and his unpretentious, very practical teaching technique that was caring yet selfless. He could read the minds of people coming to him with worries and problems. Many would come to him with a variety of questions in their minds and return with satisfactory solutions as he advised even without them having to ask him.
Guruji left for his heavenly abode on 18th July, 1999. But his glorious memories live in the hearts of millions. Throughout his lifetime, he was consistently supported by his wife, Smt. Anusaya Nikam, who tried to maintain his legacy till her last breath. She left for her heavenly destination on 4th April, 2013.
As a tribute to this saint we, SHRI AMBIKA YOGASHRAM, THANE, MAHARASHTRA, strive to carry out his work in the best interest of community at large strictly adhering to his principles.