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Param Krupalu Dev: As a Shatavdhani

Param Krupalu Dev’s Divine Life is a mine of exemplary qualities. Digging deeper and deeper into His life, we unearth the hidden jewels. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of His advent on this earth, let us view His life from various perspectives throughout the year, marvel at His unmatched virtues and draw inspiration to walk on His footsteps.

Param Krupalu Dev’s life gives us numerous instances which reflect His impeccable virtues. From a very young age, He showed extraordinary mnemonic powers, poetic ability and oratory skills. Let us marvel at His ability to perform avdhans and His dispassion for material achievements.

Avdhan – His Exceptional Skill

From a very young age, Param Krupalu Dev displayed an inquisitiveness to learn new things. Such was His enthusiasm to learn new things that whenever He used to see something good, He immediately imbibed it and within no time surpassed it. An ideal example of this is His ability to perform avdhans. An avdhan is the ability to concurrently be attentive to a number of activities and objects. Once Param Krupalu Dev, at the age of 16, was invited to witness a demonstration of eight avdhans by Shastri Shankarlal Maheshwar Bhatt in Morbi. As per the available information, during those times, only 2 people in the whole of India were able to exhibit such skill!

Due to His astounding ability to grasp things, as soon as Param Krupalu Dev witnessed this demonstration, He immediately imbibed the skill to perform avdhans. The very next day He demonstrated eight avdhans in front of a few friends. The following day, He performed 12 avdhans in front of 2000 people. Subsequently in Jamnagar, He performed 12 and 16 avdhans in front of the scholars there and left them spellbound. He was honoured with the title ‘Hind na Heera (The Jewel of India)’. After another demonstration of 16 avdhan at Vadhvan, Param Krupalu Dev performed 52 avdhans at Botad without any prior preparations! The avdhans included activities like:

  • Playing the game of chaupat (a kind of checkerboard) with three other players.
  • Playing cards with three people.
  • Playing chess.
  • Keeping count of the sound of a small gong.
  • Computing mentally arithmetical sums involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
  • Keeping count of the movement of beads on a thread.
  • Composing verses on sixteen diverse topics selected on the spot, and in the specific meter chosen by various members of the audience.
  • Recalling four hundred words spoken at random in sixteen languages, including Greek, English, Sanskrit, Arabic, Latin, Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali and rearranging them in the proper order of subject, object etc.

And He did not stop over here. What was to follow was an awe-inspiring demonstration of incredible ability!

A Stunning Display of Shatavdhan

On Saturday, January 22, 1887, people witnessed an extraordinary display of exemplary excellence. Param Krupalu Dev, at the age of merely nineteen years effortlessly performed the herculean task of shatavdhan- ability to flawlessly focus on one hundred different activities and objects at the same time. This public demonstration of His special skills was held at Framji Cowasji Institute in Mumbai and was attended by renowned people from various fields.

The audience was wonderstruck and in appreciation of this astonishing ability, Param Krupalu Dev was conferred the epithet ‘Sakshat Saraswati’ (Goddess of Learning Incarnate). Accolades followed in numerous newspapers including, The Times of India, The Mumbai Samachar etc. and people everywhere showered Him with effusive praises.

Dispassion – His True Greatness

While the world may stop at marvelling at His extraordinary powers, as devotees of Param Krupalu Dev and spiritual seekers we should definitely take a glimpse into His inner state through these incidences! If we think what it would take to perform these avdhans, it would be evident to us that it primarily needs a quiet and still mind, along with other skills. A mind that is free of emotions like fear, anxiety, greed, etc! Just as only a still lake can reflect the things around it perfectly, the retention ability of Param Krupalu Dev bears witness to the fact that His mind was completely calm and still. And to reach to that level of mental quietude one needs to be dispassionate within. Only in a state of supreme contentment within can a mind be so calm!

While youngsters in their late teens are usually brimming with ambitions to achieve big in the material world, Param Krupalu Dev was revelling in a state of pristine satisfaction within. He sought nothing from the world outside. He knew that no amount of name, fame or wealth could give true peace and bliss. He was convinced that the temporal achievements of the world do not give lasting happiness and the real bliss lies within. Thus, He was not attracted to any achievements outside, but dedicated His life to advance in His inner journey. This was evident in the events that followed the feat of Shatavdhan.

Impressed by Param Krupalu Dev’s mental prowess of retaining and reproducing a hundred things at a time, Sir Charles Sergeant, the then Chief Justice of the Mumbai High Court, invited Him to Europe to showcase His extraordinary skill, but Param Krupalu Dev politely declined the offer. He was aware that demonstration of such power and popularity earned through it could hinder His spiritual journey. Therefore, at the young age of twenty, He decided not to perform such feats in the future.

As His disciples, let us resolve to keep our higher purpose in life always as the priority and never to compromise on it for achieving the temporary worldly laurels.

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