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Manik Prabhu Charitra: A Biography of a Hindu Saint and Mystic
Manik Prabhu (1817-1865) was an Indian saint and mystic who is regarded as an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya, the supreme guru of Hinduism. He was born in a Brahmin family in Humnabad, Karnataka, and showed extraordinary spiritual powers and wisdom from a young age. He traveled widely across India and met many other saints and sages, such as Swami Samarth of Akkalkot and Sai Baba of Shirdi. He settled in Maniknagar, a village near Bidar, where he established a religious institution called Shri Manik Prabhu Samsthan. He performed many miracles and taught his followers the path of devotion, service, and knowledge. He also composed many hymns and poems in praise of God and his guru. His biography, known as Shri Manik Prabhu Charitra, was written by his disciple Ganesh Raghunath Kulkarni and published by the Samsthan in 1936. It is available for free download as a PDF file from various online sources.
Manik Prabhu's teachings lay stress on the path of Bhakti (devotion). Alongside, he moralizes most remarkably on the Vedantic Truths concerning the Spiritual Unity of beings. Manik Prabhu's life truly symbolizes absolute detachment, renouncing worldly ties, a non-dual approach towards the ultimate reality, supreme dispassion, and absolute surrender to the will of God. He also advocated the essential harmony of all religions and respected all faiths and traditions. He had devotees from various communities such as Hindus, Muslims, Lingayats, Jains, Sikhs and Christians. He treated everyone with equal love and compassion and fulfilled their material and spiritual needs.[^2^] [^3^]
Manik Prabhu traveled extensively across India and visited many holy places such as Varanasi, Haridwar, Rameswaram, Gokarna, Srisailam and Kuravapura. He also met many other contemporary saints and sages such as Sai Baba of Shirdi, Swami Samarth of Akkalkot, Bramhachaitanya of Gondavale and Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. He had profound spiritual conversations with them and exchanged their blessings and grace. He also participated in the First War of Indian Independence in 1857 and supported the freedom fighters with his miraculous powers.[^3^]
Manik Prabhu settled in Maniknagar, a village near Bidar, where he established a religious institution called Shri Manik Prabhu Samsthan. He built a temple dedicated to Lord Dattatreya and installed his own idol as the presiding deity. He also composed many hymns and poems in praise of God and his guru in various languages such as Marathi, Kannada, Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit. He performed many miracles and healed many people from their physical and mental ailments. He also initiated many disciples into his Sakalamata Sampradaya and imparted them his spiritual wisdom and power. He attained Sanjivani Maha-Samadhi at Maniknagar on 29 November 1865 at the age of 47.[^1^] [^2^]
Manik Prabhu Samsthan is a socio-spiritual organization established by Manik Prabhu Maharaj in the year 1845 at Maniknagar for the propagation of his message of equality and love among the differing religious factions torn apart by mutual hatred and distrust. The Samsthan runs various charitable and educational activities such as free medical camps, annadaan (free food distribution), dnyandaan (free education), vidyadaan (scholarships), cow protection, environmental conservation, and cultural promotion. The Samsthan also organizes various events and festivals throughout the year to celebrate the life and teachings of Manik Prabhu Maharaj and other saints of Datta Sampradaya. The Samsthan is currently headed by Shreeji Shri Dnyanraj Manik Prabhu Maharaj, who is the sixth Acharya in the illustrious Guru Parampara.[^1^]