Tej Krishen Dhar
Jagadguru Bhagawaan Gopinathji was one among the most eminent Saints that have ever graced the sacred land of India. Unlike the other Saints, he was called Bhagawaanji and recognized as such in his life-time as all the six attributes which that word stands for were prominently seen in him. He was a Jeewan-mukta, having attained mukti or liberation while still in the gross body, to which he was not attached in the least. HIS spiritual state was what the Shaivites call Shaambhavi avastha (the state of Shiva Himself) and the Vedantins, Brahmisthiti (the state of ever dwelling in Brahman, or God without form).
With his spiritual prowess, he did a lot of good to many spiritual aspirants, house-holders and to the country at large. He brought many sinners round to the path of virtue. Though essentially detached, he showed much concern for the country and its people as a spiritual icon. Bhagawaanji also exercised a beneficent influence on the modern age and the prevailing concepts.
Gopinathji, one among several brothers and sisters, was born in a middle class Kashmiri Pandit family at Banamohalla, Srinagar, Kashmir on 3rd July, 1898. His mother, Shrimati Haara Maali, passed away when he was only twelve and his father, Pandit Narayan Joo Bhan, breathed his last when he (Bhagawaanji) was in his late twenties.
Gopinathji was educated upto the Middle standard, however, he was well conversant with Urdu, Hindi, Persian and Sanskrit languages besides English.
The family into which he was born, being in dire financial straits, he was asked to take up some work; so, at the young age of fifteen or sixteen, he started working at a local Printing Press as a compositor – a job he performed competently. However, he gave up the job after about three years. In his twenties, he ran a grocer’s shop, at which he was noticed generally absent-minded, being inwardly absorbed in meditation. HIS elders in the family pressed him to marry, hoping that marriage would bind him to the world, and so he would be a permanent financial support but he was adamant in his refusal to shape into a house holder. Bhagawaanji started with the spiritual discipline known as Panchaanga-Upaasanaa, involving meditation on the five deities — Ganesha, Surya, Naarayana, Shiva and Shakti. Later, his target was the Divine Mother Shaarika, whose vision he had for the first time, at the age of Twenty Seven. Gradually, he shifted to nirguna upaasana, that is, meditating on the Supreme Reality without a form. In his early thirties, he took to intense Saadhana (spiritual discipline). Shutting himself up in a room, which no one except mostly a niece of his, was free to enter, an earthenware lamp was kept burning there all the twenty four hours and the Bhagawaan did not allow any intrusion or the room to be even swept. His concentration was so intense and he grew so oblivious of his body that a rat nibbled a hole in one of his heels. During this seven-year period of Saadhanaa, he would take no food for long intervals — extending even to six months, sometimes. Bhagawaanji helped two girl-devotees, separately, to have a darshana (vision) of the Divine Mother of the Universe. A third was helped to have an illuminative experience – a darshana of the Mother in the form of dazzling effulgence matching that of several suns. He did not initiate a disciple directly by word of mouth as tradition demands. He did so by a mere glance, by giving the devotee a little bhasama or prashad, or in the case of a male devotee, offering him puff from his chillum. He felt happy when particularly a celebate came to see him though he never asked a house holder disciple or devotee to give up his wife and children in pursuit of self-realization.
Bhagawaanji was far above any consideration of caste, creed or nationality. From 1947 onwards, people of all creeds would come to see him and he would shower his love and compassion equally on all. Once he said, in an answer to a devotee’s question, “Is a Hindu one and a Muslim another?” Among his disciples and devotees today are many who never met him in his life time. These are spread over in other countries like Australia, the USA, Canada, Switzerland and the UK. Globally famous, he has come to be called a Jagadguru, a world spiritual teacher. During his earthly sojourn and even after abandoning the mortal coil the Bhagawaan cared for his devotees in and outside Kashmir and India. While sitting in his room when alive or having left his physical frame, he was seen at warfronts guiding and directing our troops in the years 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999. Bhagawaanji was Tatvajnani (one who has all the knowledge about the elements of Nature). By a special type of saadhanaa, he had gained control over all the elements. During a pilgrimage to the holy cave of Amarnath, he brought rain to a vast drought-hit area. On some occasions, he stopped rain when it was likely to cause sufferings or death. He was able, with his control over the elements, to know which organ of a person’s body was diseased. He could cure a person with a mere look or by offering the Bhasam from his Dhoni; “he cured dreaded diseases like cancer, epilepsy and other physical ailments of the supplicating devotees.”
He would often urge the devotees to lift the veil of ego that envelops the Atman. He observed vehemently: AHANKAARAS NAMASKAR, SUIGAV OMKAR – TAMISAATI BANI SAAKSHATKAAR, which conveys, ‘Bid good bye to the ego and be face to face with Truth’ (implying the attainment of God Realization).
Almost on every Sunday, musicians would sing till late in the night, the Bhagawaan would never ask them to stop. But on his last Sunday on earth, 26th May, 1968 he directed the musicians to stop, remarking, “we shall not listen to any more music”. Then came May 28th, 1968 Tuesday, the day Bhagawaan Gopinathji finally chose to cast off his Bhautik Sareera. At about 3 p.m. he had the last few puffs at his chillum. A devotee started making tea but Bhagawaanji said, “we shall not take tea any more”. He asked for water at 5:30 p.m. and at 5:45 p.m. he uttered Om Namah Shivaya in a low voice, looked around with infinite love towards those present and closed his eyes.
After Bhagawaanji attained Nirvana, his disciples built an Ashram at Kharyar, Srinagar where his marble statue was installed in 1973. This Ashram has become a centre for the spiritual upliftment of his devotees. After the mass exodus of the Pandits from the Valley, other Bhagawaanji ashrams came up at Udaiwala Road, Bohri, Jammu and at Pamposh Enclave, New Delhi. At these ashrams all activities that were regularly performed in Srinagar Ashram are being performed regularly. The number of devotees participating in all such activities is going up day by day. Bhagawaan Gopinathji Trust has expanded its activities at all these Ashrams over and above the infrastructure. With the ever increasing number of devotees across the globe, many more Ashrams, Meditation Centres and Satsang Mandals have come up at Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Vikaspuri, Chandigarh, Australia, Switzerland and at various other places as well.
All these ashrams and centres disseminate Bhagawaanji’s gospels of spirituality and universal brotherhood with great zeal and enthusiasm.
In recognition of his spiritual stature as an extra-ordinary Saint, the Govt. of India issued a commemorative postal stamp on Him in 1998 – his birth centenary year.
A new Heritage Hall depicts the replicas of various places where Bhagawaanji resided and the pilgrimage centres he visited. The various articles of daily use such as the fire pot (Kangri), Pheran, Chillam etc. used by Bhagawaanji constitute a captivating aspect of the Heritage Hall now preserved as relics. The Jammu Ashram has been brought officially on Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Map. Our posterity will be proud of such an ancestor as the Bhagawaan who became a Jagadguru in his life- time.
The Trust organizes a number of social and religious functions such as Navreh, Mahayanjya, Mahajayanti, Painting Competition, Navratra, Baldivas, Hora Ashtami and Shivratri at all these centres on regular basis besides financial help is being provided liberally in the shape of medical, destitute, education and handicapped aid to the needy (irrespective of cast and creed).
Mentally retarded, orphan children and inmates of old age homes are helped by way of providing them with uniforms, stationery items, blankets and clothings suiting to their requirements. In the event of natural calamities, relief is provided to the affected people by the Trust and substantial amount is also donated to the Prime Ministers Relief Fund on regular basis. An OPD is functioning at Jammu Ashram where free check up of ailing people is done by noted specialists and also free medicines are provided to them. The Trust has also established a pathology laboratory at Bhagawaan Gopinathji Ashram at Udaiwala, Bohri, Jammu.
(The author is Publicity Secretary Bhagawaan Gopinathji Trust, Bohri)
Tej Krishen Dhar