Swami Ashokananda
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Swami Ashokananda

by K.N. Koul

A seeker, with his hard Endeavour evolves into higher and still higher emergent forms. The process goes on till super mind and its higher state of consciousness integrate and attain oneness with the all pervading Super Consciousness.  A human being, who achieves this stage, is a saint, being Super Consciousness or Divinity itself. Swami Ashokanand was a mystic sage of high order and belonged to this category. He adhered to  fabled way of ascetic life roaming  Himalayan forests particularly Garhwal and other adjacent ones, naked in rain and snow defying nature. Those who came in contact of him  earlie,r speak high of him and the miracles he could perform. Swami Ji could predict future of individuals and of nations in whom he felt concerned .He was an  enigma  and  an oceanic  divinity with deep depths. Only some who were blessed got their pitchers filled with happiness and bliss.

Swamiji in pursuit of his complete surrender to Nature and its pristineSwamiji at a devotee’s house. divinity observed that  forces of superior Nature did care for its species and adhered to ways of preservation in its entirety. One of his disciples related an incident which would be relevant to describe. Once while roaming in a forest he felt tired and hungry, and then came across a hut from which an old effulgent person appeared and got him inside. The person told Swami Ji that he was hungry and tired, and so, must have something and should rest. Thereafter some old lady with equally radiant and divine appearance brought khir liked very much by SwamiJi. He ate khir full to his belly after which he was asked to rest. He slept and when he got up, sun shone above and neither the old man nor the old lady was there. The hut also was nonexistent and he felt he was sleeping on bare ground with sun shining above. Swamiji  felt sorry that his Lord had to take such great trouble to feed him and arrange for his rest.

After Garhwal, Swamiji was ordained by his Guru, to move to Kashmir and reckon the place as his karambhumi. He landed at Kathleshwar temple Zaindar Mohala Srinagar. The temple had a broken dome which was exposed to vagaries of weather. Swami ji was found there with his head resting on prenali of the Shivlinga lost in deep meditation. He was naked, and his serene hypnotic silence and smiling face spoke of a lot  of  compassion and  soothing love. The dome was covered with bushels and grass and a temporary arrangement was made for his stay therein. There was also a small playground adjacent to the temple. The place was haunted by some spirit and anyone particularly a child visiting the place during night would get sick and suffer from frightfulness. Such a person or a child got well after examination and treatment by a sorcerer who would set him right after adherence to certain rituals. At a later date, we asked Swami Ji whether or not he faced any difficulty on this account. He replied in affirmative and said that he had to pray for the spirit and free it from the curse that it suffered from.   People at Kathleshwar loved and respected SwamJi for his spiritual prowess and sweet divine nature. He got closer to Tarazudar family and a class fellow of mine Shri Som Nath Tarazudar once led the writer to Swamiji to be in his association till Swami Ji lived.

While Swamiji was just to leave Bengal for Kashmir, one of his gurubhais remarked that while being in Kashmir he would have plenty of juicy fruits to eat. Swami ji retorted with a pledge that he would not touch any such fruit, while in Kashmir, and this promise, he kept for the whole of his life. SwamiJi had only two possessions one being his kashkole which a sanyasi carries. It is made of outer shell of a gourd and is used for bhiksha and water. The other thing carried was a small bottle of "naswar” snuff. Once while he was crossing Habbakadal, on way to some mountainous place he remembered that he had forgotten his Kashkol needed for his onward journey. He went back to Kathleshwar temple, to bring the Kashkol only to be thrown into river Jhelum and never to be used thereafter. He felt bad at being attached to this small item to the extent that he had to go back to fetch it for his use,

SwamiJis fame as a sage, spread to other adjacent places and he was invited to be at Sumbal a town around 15 kilometers away from Kathleshwar. He accepted the invitation and stayed at Nandi Bhairav for some years. He however, felt unhappy at the place because it lacked the characteristics of a hermitage, where people could stay and breathe some divine atmosphere. He is said to have brooded over the subject and then having seen a place he was in search of, in his vision. He left Sumbal where he was called "Sumbal ka Baba"and for some time nobody knew where he was. He had landed at Nagdandi, a place around 2 kilometers away from the picturesque Mogul garden of Achabal and situated at a foothill around a few furlongs away from the road leading to Uma Nagri from Achabal. Three small mud huts were constructed; one for cooking used as a kitchen another for SwamiJis bed room, and third one for spiritual discourses. Often we could not understand subtle and intricate philosophies unfolded by him. We had our limited comprehensions and would get lost in what he would say. On occasions when this writer went to press Swamijis legs, late in night, he was observed by this writer reciting the words "Ma, Ma" with tears in his eyes.

In course of time further purchases of land were made and added to 2 kanals of Ashram land already in existence. The Ashram, as such, assumed size of five acres. Some pucka constructions came up for guests, and otherwise, besides plantation of fruit trees to form an orchard to yield some income. Wet land, down in the village, was also purchased to make the Ashram self sufficient in food and expenses. Swamiji changed his room into a building that came up nearby the garden and used it as his living room. He now held his discourses there from.

In order to be real hermitage, Nagdandi still lagged many things. One gentleman by the name Maharajji (Jia Lal) was already serving the Ashram along with Shri Shamu Nath later named as Shakti Chaitanya. They were joined by two more boys Sarvshri Samvit (Makhan Lal Chaku/Raina) and Shanti (Kanaiya Lal) both in teens who had left their homes and education, and joined SwamiJi to have his guidance and company  Everything was thus shaping to lend the place as a semblance of true hermitage.

While Swamiji was conceptually in communication with Shri Ramakrishna through meditation or otherwise, he felt the need to have a temple. The same was built with outer facade and inside both designed by him. Picture of Shri Ramakrishna was placed inside and formal pujas started.

On an auspicious day of deepawali of 1948, the boys were initiated, and besides DadaJi, Swamij’s Guru, a large gathering converged at the Ashram, including this writer. Swami Ji went into deep trance and, as such, Dada Ji had to attend to participants, and, impending functions. An incident that took place stands imprinted on the firmament of my mind. Samvits parents were also present. His mother could not see her only son in a sanyasin’s attire and was in tears all through the function. Some elderly people suggested Samvit to come forward, prostrate and touch her feet. He desisted the suggestion for being now in some other sphere. He however, did so later, on getting instructions from DadaJi. DadaJi told Samvit in presence of all, that, mother’s position was supreme and her blessings were necessary for fulfillment of divine postures. There were tears on large number of faces, and some, including this writer, were heavily surcharged with emotions.. Incidentally, SamvitJi,(Makhan Lal Chaku/ Raina ) has been a cousin of this writer and perhaps high pitch was obvious  knowing all the circumstances, the boy had posed by his renunciation, and the effects it had created on his parents and other. SamvitJi is no more now. He passed away recently with the picture of DadaJi on his mind and latter's photograph nearby his bed. He was conscious and did not like anybody to disturb his concentration. During earlier days, SwamiJi once called this writer beside, and whispered that Samvit had still some karma to fulfill and to lead a life of riches. He was however, to be assisted at some point of time for a turn in his life, for which, as he   said, he had chosen this writer. The prediction did come out true both in letter and Spirit. SamvitJi had his post graduation from Benares University, married and joined business, where he earned a lot. He has two sons and both have had their graduation and  post graduation n U.S.A. Both are in business and are doing fine..

Swami Ji had another admirer by the name Shri Manmohan Dhar. Both Mr. Dhār and his wife Smt. Mohini Dhār were his disciples, and lived their lives, the way Swami Ji ordained. Shri Dhar (Managing Director of Braithwaite and representative of renowned world Steel Companies of U.K., U.S.A.,Canada,,Russia,Australia,Japan and many more countries. Has been a l known figure to Nehru and other Indian politicians.) published a book containing letters written to him by Swami Ji under the name " Swami Ashokananda Maharaj- His Divine Message."The book was printed at Indigo Press, New Delhi and released by Dr. Karan Singh at a function in the same city on 27-8-2002. The letters speak of the mission of Swami Ji and the way one should proceed in Sadhna. The letters emphasize Gurukrippa and Sharnagati which should be at one's back. The book is quite informative and is recommended for every Sadak to go through. In regard to Swamiji, It appeared that everything was proceeding as per Gods will and nobody knew as to how events were proceeding, and what force was driving the same.

Swami Ji had a picture of Christ hung above, at the place he sat in his kutia, and we once posed him a question as to how was the picture there, when his mission was different than that of Christ. Swamiji retorted that Christ was a great soul in as much as He died for others without any malice or ill will for those who were responsible for his torture. Swami Ji further predicted that there would be trouble in India where men would kill each other and suffer and die in large numbers. He further said that at that time he would offer himself as a sacrifice in footsteps of Christ, As events have it, Pakistan fell in War with India in 1971.  Swami Ji passed away, almost the same time, after choosing day and date of his choice. He stayed at the house of Ogras in Srinagar, and a member in the family, who was his disciple, was requested by Swamiji to lend him his support. While SwamiJis head was on the former’s shoulders, the person went into a different state of mind, and felt Thakur coming to the room and telling Swami Ji "Utho Ashoo mein tujay leney aya hoon" When Shri Ogra came to his normal state Swami Ji had passed away after offer of obeisance to Thakur's picture with folded hands.

When this writer went from Srinagar to see Swami Ji at Nagdandi for the first time, he was rather late and in twilight missed the passage meant for the Ashram. After going farther on the road, this writer realized the mistake, and in rectification, took different route through barren fields and fringe forests to reach the Ashram. Soon a feeling crept in that night  was drawing nearer and that  he was  exposed to danger of any wild animal attacking him. After a brief interval of worry, Swami Jis sound was audible and hope revived. Swami Ji was holding a discourse with some body and the voice guided this writer to the spot. Swamiji was in his Kutia and on seeing this writer reach the Ashram retorted saying.”Oh, good you have reached here. Perhaps you have been under the impression that Swami ji was living in a palace”

Once Shri Manmohan Dhār was at the Ashram he saw a 10 ft long snake entering the mud plaster above Swami Ji in his hut.. After that day the snake was never visible anywhere in the Ashram. There are innumerable miracles and it is difficult to narrate any larger number, within the ambit of this brief and without consulting  others in this regard. Many have passed away and only a small number of admirers are still living.     

Swami Ji would visit Naran Nag so often, and on way at Wangat would be in contact with a mystic sufi saint by the name of Sobur Sheikh. The two would communicate through exchange of naswar. Here Swami Ji picked up some Kashmiri which he improved further and spoke later with Bengali accent.

Towards April 1971 this writer along with wife on way from Jammu to Srinagar paid a visit to Nagdandi and prostrated before Swami Ji. He offered fruits and khanna. We took the fruits and for Khanna excused saying that we stood committed somewhere in Anantnag. Swami Ji was particular for us to stay for the night. Never before he had asked us to stay unless we wished to do so and or had come with intention to do so. We could not understand Swami Jis insistence this time and our desire to attend commitments at Srinagar decided not to stay..We realized the secret of Swami Jis insistence only when Swami Ji passed away on 19th of December the same year. Alas we did not know that he was not to be met in flesh and blood any more.

Towards later years, Smt. Sushila Narendrajit Singh, daughter of reputed Dewan of Kashmir, Dewan Badri Nath, came in contact with Swami Ji and became his disciple.  At her insistence Swami Ji allowed Sushila Behan to record, what he spoke, in discourses. These dictated words recorded verbatim, form now a full-fledged book. The lady married in Kanpur took the manuscript there for publication. As ill luck would have it, Sushilaji passed away leaving publication unfinished. The gauntlet was taken up by one Vishwanth Gaud; head of Hindi Vibag of V.S.S.D College Kanpur functioning under the control of Sushilaji's family. He got the book published with, words expressed untouched, under the name, "Tatva Chintan Ke Kuch Khen" The copies of the book were sent to Rock Memorial Authorities, now managing the Ramakrishna Mahasamelan at Nagdandi. The book is thoughtful defining processes of  nature, committance  of positive /negative feelings/thoughts and shows the way one can evolve/emerge free from this tangled web of Maya and enter the domain of true freedom and  divine bliss ultimately, The copies I hope must have been sold out by Rock Memorial Authorities by now and that they would republish the book with new shape and  wide publicity for good of people in general.

The present writer has desisted from any duplication or comments on what has already been stated on web by other writers on Swami Ashokananda. More information on Swamiji would be welcome to readers all around. 

Some photographs are posted for view by readers.  

Image Gallery: http://ikashmir.net/gallery/categories.php?cat_id=281 

 

 

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