Sant Odhavram was born in Jakhau, a small village located on the west coast of India in Kutchh. He was born in a Bhanushali family on a day that the whole country celebrates as “RAM NAVMI” in 1889, he was named “UDHAV” His parents were mother Chaagbai & father Hemraj. Udhav had one elder brother & two sisters.
As a kid Udhav was special. He did behave kiddish but was more inclined towards spirituality. He loved Music and Bhajans from the age of 5 and when he grew 9, he always carried the Bhagwat Geeta to school and at play too. He used to narrate single liners from the sacred Geeta to his friends and at times discuss the same with Pandits too. It looked like he knew each and every chapter
of the Bhagwat Geeta and was just revising them.
Udhav got his first guru at the age of 9. He was Shri Shanakaranandji from Mandvi Takula in Kutch. Udhav learnt Sanskrit and the Veda’s from Shri Shankaranandji for 6 months and following an life scaring accident in the ashram was returned to Jakhau. Later Udhav came to Mumbai and worked as a gunny bags laborer for 8 years but finally left Mumbai dedicating his life for the mankind and for the upliftment of Kutch and Gujarat.
Odhavramji came to Vandhai in Kutchh. Shri Lalramji was the Mahant at the Ishwar Ashram, Vandhai. The Vandhai Ashram follows the Harihar parampara. The Harihar Parampara was started by Shri Deva Saheb in Hamla, kutchh and a few decades later his disciple Shri Ishwarramji settled in Vandhai. After Ishwarrmji, Shri Lalramji took care of the Ashram and after Lalramji, Odhavramji was declared the Mahant of the Ishwar Ashram.
Odhavramji always believed that society cannot progress without Education. Odhavramji went door to door and person to person in Mumbai, Calcutta & Madhya Pradesh asking people to contribute funds to start the first Gurukul in Kutch. As the construction of Gurukul began, Odhavram walked from house to house, village to village preaching the need of education. At times Odhavramji used to work as a laborer carrying bricks overhead, make the cement mix and feed workers with food & water. The first gurukul of Kutch was named Ishwarramji Gurukul & inaugurated on Vasant Panchmi 1937. Odhavramji welcomed his first batch of 330 students.
Odhavramji was firm and dedicated in his decisions & this dedication made his Gurukul dream come true. Now he wanted to push the gurukul barriers further by wanting to teach & educate the blind. He believed and preached that we all are children of God and we all deserve love and respect in the society. A blind person has no option but to beg or rely on family. He wanted to gift the blind self reliance and respect in society. The school for the blind began in 1938. He called for the brail script from Bombay and his first batch had 7-8 students. Apart of book knowledge he used to teach them the intelligence of senses. He revealed to them, their power of ears, nose and fingers. Sadhu Sevadas who studied in the blind school, still resides at the IshawarAshram, Vandhai, Kutchh.
The 19th & 20th century was the period of illiteracy & poverty. People inclined towards Spirituality could be easily cheated in the name of God. In the same era, the Kadwa Patidaar Samaj (Kadwa Patel) fell into the hands of some greedy spiritual Guru’s & got converted to a religion that has had no existence in history called the Peerani Panth.
Odhavramji struggled for 16 years to bringing the entire Patidaar samaj back to Sanatan Dharma. In this struggle Odhavramji faced 3 to 4 life threatening attacks but escaped without a scratch. Once a guy entered his sadhana kutir ( meditation place) & tried to shoot at him from point blank range but failed. Once he was attacked by a mob of 8-10 people with swords but they failed. Odhavramji was a believer of “Ahimsa Paramo Dharma (Non violence the highest religion). In his entire life span he never ever touched a weapon & still succeeded in his mission on faith & dedication.
In 1943, Odhavramji supported Gandhiji’s movement to accept the untouchables as part of the society. In Odhavramji’s life this was the only decision that sparked off the society against him. Villagers throughout Kutch revolted but Odhavramji stood firm on his decision. Some unsocial elements started provoking the villagers & People started leaving him. But as every night has a day, Harijans got their rightful place in the society & Odhavramji won his battle for Humanism with pride and dignity.
Sant Odhavramji was a firm believer of Mahatma Gandhi & follower of his deeds. Odhavramji accepted Gandhiji’s Swadeshi Apnao slogan & put it to practice the same day. He stared weaving his own clothes on the CHARKHA and made it compulsory for every student of the Gurukul to learn & weave. Odhavramji used to say one should first practice what he preaches.
In 1945 a convention was called under the leadership of Shri Meher Ali in Mundra. Sant Odhavramji was also invited for this convention as his speeches had a very strong impact on people. When Odhavramji was invited to give some spiritual discourses a strange incident happened. Odhavramji said “ I cannot die in peace till my motherland is freed from these invaders. In this freedom fight write my name first followed by my 330 students of the Gurukul. I would be honored to sacrifice my life for my motherland” In 1947 India was declared independent & Odhavramji continued to serve mankind.
The year 1940 saw the worst drought of Kutchh. Cattle was dieing in thousands. In this period Odhavramji sidelined all his other activities & dedicated his life for the suffering cattle & villagers. Odhavramji said “Saving these speechless cattle is the first & foremost responsibility of a true Hindu. If one has to give away everything he has and even his life for this noble cause it worth”. In thousands cattle started flowing in Vandhai and Odhavramji offered sufficient food, water & shelter for all. At times he, his students & ashram had to starve but thousands of cows & other cattle was saved.
In 1942 Odhavramji started a movement for the Bhanushali community. Bhanushali’s are “Surya Vanshi” but due to illiteracy & poverty were being harassed by society. Odhavramji decided to draw a path for his own community & give them their real place in the society. He traveled across villages & cities preaching the importance of education & finally succeeded in starting the first boarding in Mandvi. Bhansuhali Haridas Pradhan Joisar sold off almost all his properties & life savings to manage the required funds for this cause. A few years later Odhavramji also struggled to build home shelter for the Bhanushali’s who had migrated from Kutch to Mumbai for work & with funds provided by Bhanushali Haridas Velji Joisar of Mumbai, The Bhanushali wadi in Mumbai came into existence in 1952.
During this era there was a 9 year old girl who came very close to Odhavramji. Odhavramji blessed her with his knowledge & today she is serving mankind & showing all the divine path to happiness. She is Param Pujya Sant Mataji Rama Devi of Haridwar.
In1954 Odhavramji handed over the vandhai Ashram to “DAYADDASJI” and reached Haridwar to spend the rest of his life at the Ganges but when he saw a few Kutchi’s roaming on the streets of Haridwar without any place to stay, He felt the need of a Dharmashala for people to stay & spend their last days peacefully. He wrote several letters asking for funds & help. Finally with the help of a few disciples the Kutchhi Lalrameshwar Ashram was established in 1956. Pujya Jashoda Maa gave a helping hand & worked day & night in setting up the ashram.
In Haridwar Odhavramji found a holy soul who would follow his path of serving mankind after he was gone. His name was “VALJI” Valji took diksha and became VALDAS. Valdasji started serving mankind & followed the path laid by Odhavramji. Odhavramji returned to Vandhai & took the Mahasamadhi on 13th January 1957.