Dr. Bharat Bhushan
India is a pious land where many saints, scholars, social reformers and crusaders came from time to time to give the society message of peace, communal harmony, brotherhood, amity and solidarity.
Guru Nanak Dev, Bhagat Kabir, Bhagat Ravi Dass, Guru Gobind Singh, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Dayanand Sarswati and hundreds of revered saints enriched our society with their invaluable contribution and served mankind through their moral and ethical preachings.
The life and teachings of Goswami Guru Nabha Dass Ji Maharaj – a great Saint of 16th Century whose birthday is celebrated every year on 8th April all over the country and even abroad, very relevant even today.
Nabha Dass was born on 8th April, 1537 at village Bhadrachalam located at the bank of river Godavari in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh. His parents – father Ram Dass and mother Janki Devi were ardent devotees of Lord Rama and belonged to Mahasha community. They earned their living by making wooden and Bamboo baskets. Nabha Dass’s parents expired when he was barely five years old. He lived alone and used to play with village children and pray regularly in village temple.
After few years, the revered Saints of that time Agar Dass Ji and Keel Dass Ji were passing through Ram Bhadrachalam hills. They saw Nabha Dass under a tree and asked him who he was and why he was sitting there? Narayan Dass told them that he is made up of five elements and is there by the grace of Almighty.
The reply of Narayan Dass impressed the Saints who took him to their temple Ghalta Dham near Jaipur, Rajasthan. At Ghalta Dham, Guru Agar Dass Ji assigned him the duty of serving pilgrims who used to come for satsang and operate hand fan around him in the satsang hall during religious sermons.
One day Narayan Dass observed that Guru Agar Dass was not concentrating properly in the satsang because one of his disciples – Hari Dass who was a businessman was trapped in seaway. His ship was sinking due to a cyclone (sea storm). Narayan Dass flapped the fan vigorously to save the ship. He asked his Guru to concentrate on Satsang as the ship has been saved from cyclone. Guru Agar Dass opened his eyes and enquired from Narayan Dass how he come to know about his internal feelings.
Narayan Dass told Guru that it was all due to His Grace. Guru Agar Dass hugged Narayan Dass and announced that henceforth he will be named as Nabha Dass and declared him a saint and entrusted him the task of writing about lives of holy Saints. Nabha Dass wrote about the lives of more than 200 saints. Guru Agar Dass and Guru Keel Dass were very impressed by the writings of their disciple. They decided to arrange a large religious congregation to release his book. They asked Nabha Dass to go to Varanasi for holy dip into River Ganga and enroute invite all saints to Ghalta Dham. On way to Varanasi, Nabha Dass passed through Ayoudhya and spent some days there. On way back, he visited Mathura, Varindavan and prayed at temple of Lord Krishna. During his journey, he also met revered saint Tulsi Dass ji who was much impressed by Nabha Dass.
At Ghalta Dham, Guru Agar Dass and Keel Dass released the writings of Guru Nabha Dass in presence of invited Saints and named that collection as “Bhagatmaal” in 1585. They collectively renamed Nabha Dass Ji as Goswami Guru Nabha Dass Maharaj.
After the ceremony, it is said that Goswami Guru Nabha Dass with the permission of Guru Agar Dass and Keel Dass went to his native place and then visited many areas of the then India. It is documented that he visited undivided Punjab and J&K also besides other areas and held religious congregations.
After visiting various places, he went to Ghalta Dham to meet his Guru Agar Dass and together they went to Ravasha forests for meditation.
One day, Maharaja Maan Singh went to Ravasha forests for hunting along with ten thousand soldiers while hunting for days together, all soldiers including Raja were exhausted of eatables. On spotting a hermitage, Raja Maan Singh went there and sought blessings from Saints. Agar Dass asked Nabha Dass to offer Prasad of bananas to King. Nabha Dass gave a banana to kind who refused to take and instead asked to give Prasad to the soldiers first. Nabha Dass called soldiers and gave them ten bananas each. Raja Maan Singh was so impressed that how Nabha Dass provided ten bananas each to 10000 soldiers when there were only 10 bananas in the basket. Raja fell down on his feet and sought blessings. Raja gave 1600 acres of land for Dham and got erected a gate named after Agar Dass and Nabha Dass. The gate is still there at Revasha Dham. It is said that Goswami Guru Nabha Dass thereafter visited far-off places and worked for spiritual upliftment of the mankind.
He died in 1643. His other notable works are found in Brij Bhasha.
Every year on 8th April, millions of followers of Goswami Guru Nabha Dass Ji Maharaj remember the revered Saint and resolve to work for communal harmony and universal brotherhood.
(The writer is a KAS officer)
Dr. Bharat Bhushan