Maharashtra: Popular Kirtankar Baba Maharaj Satarkar Passes Away At 89 In Nerul

Maharashtra: Popular Kirtankar Baba Maharaj Satarkar Passes Away At 89 In Nerul

His cremation is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, October 27, at 5 pm in Nerul.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Thursday, October 26, 2023, 10:23 PM IST
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Kirtankar Baba Maharaj Satarkar Passes Away At 89 In Nerul |

Mumbai: Veteran of the Kirtan style of devotional singing, Baba Maharaj Satarkar, passed away in Nerul, Navi Mumbai on October 26. He was 88 years old. His funeral will be held in Nerul today.

Satarkar’s death has anguished the Warkari community, followers of the Bhakti religious tradition – a Hindu revival and reform movement that reached its peak in Maharashtra between the 15th and 17th centuries.

Life and contributions of the Kirtankar

Baba Maharaj Satarkar devoted his life to spreading spirituality, emphasizing the importance of clear speech and pure thoughts. He illuminated the masses through Kirtana. Earlier this year, in February, his wife Rukmini Satarkar, also known as Mai Satarkar, passed away.

Born as Neelkanth Dnyaneshwar Gore on February 5, 1936, in Satara, Satarkar studied to be a lawyer. However, decided to pursue his family’s tradition of religious singing.

He was a descendant of a tradition started by Dada Maharaj Satarkar who was renowned for his religious sermons. Satarkar’s son, Appa Maharaj Satarkar took charge of the tradition. After the death of Appa Maharaja in 1962, Satarkar, his nephew followed in his footsteps.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde expressed his condolences, describing Satarkar's passing as a significant loss to the state. He highlighted Baba Maharaj's melodious voice and impactful presentation style, emphasizing that his contributions would always be remembered.

In 1983, he founded the Chaitanya Spiritual Knowledge Dissemination Institute.

Baba Maharaj and the tradition of Kirtana

The tradition of Kirtana has been passed down through three generations in Babamaharaja's family. His father, Dnyaneshwar Dadamaharaj Gore, was an accomplished mridung player, while his mother, Lakshmibai, had a deep love for Sant Vadhamaya. Cousins Appamaharaj and Annamaharaj played vital roles in Babamaharaj's development. His grandson continues this tradition.

From the young age of eight, Baba Maharaj led Kirtana sessions alongside his father. He received singing lessons from Purohitbuwa and Latafat Hussain Khan Sahab of Agra Gharana from the age of eleven. He organized Kirtan weeks at various locations in Maharashtra, such as Bhandara Dongar, Dehu, Trimbakeshwar, and Pandharpur, where hundreds of thousands of devotees would gather.

Satarkar’s followers

Satarkar’s followers come from diverse backgrounds. Suresh Talekar, who works with an Information Technology company in Pune, said that when he lived in Kandivali, he never missed Satarkar’s prayer meetings. 

“I was introduced to his kirtans as a school kid when Satarkar released an audio cassette of Vitthal devotional songs called 'Haripath'. I was fascinated by his voice and would travel to Girgaum where he lived to listen to his singing,” said Talekar.

His fans – the Warkaris who are devotees of Vithal, an incarnation of Krishna, with the Vithal temple in Pandharpur as their main pilgrimage site – liked his kirtan style which made available the teachings of his sect in simple linguistic style. 

“He had an ashram at Pandharpur, where he held kirtans during Ashad Ekadashi (the season for pilgrimage to Pandharpur). I attended the prayers when I was in Pandharpur,” said a Vithal devotee. 

He said they were impressed by his knowledge of the Dnyaneshwari, the epic poem on Vithal written by Bhakti saint Dnyaneshwar.

Satarkar had discontinued his appearances during the last few years due to bad health. His grandson is now continuing the tradition. He had built a Vithal temple in Nerul where his body was kept for public viewing on Thursday.

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