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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Chapter VI
Daily Routine

At various places in Srinagar or while on his visits to various shrines outside Srinagar, Bhagawaan Ji sat on his aasana all the 24 hours, deeply absorbed in the Supreme. When he lived at Dalhasanyaar, Srinagar (1937-47 AD), he had his aasana on the second floor of the building at a window overlooking a street. At Reshi Mohalla (1947-57 AD) and Chondapora (1957- 68 AD), his aasana was on the first floor. While at Dalhasanyaar and Reshi Mohalla, he went out to visit various shrines. He did not move out of his Chondapora residence except on very few occasions. One thing, however, is certain: during the last seven years of his life, he did not leave his aasana al all. During the last two years he did not leave it even to answer the calls of nature. His was a state, in this respect, known as Aasana-Jaya.

Every morning, he would wash his face and yajnopavita at a water-tap, and resume his seat on his aasana which he would not leave till the next morning or, sometimes, for 48 hours, not even to make water. Seated on his aasana, he would tie his turban and put on a saffron tilak with a touch of ash at the centre. He would next start his dhooni (sacred fire). The receptacle used for it was an iron sigdi about a foot and a half in diameter. This was placed on a rectangular slab of stone or in a big round tray. He would sometimes use the outer iron tray only for his dhooni if the occasion so demanded. Fire-wood was used as the fuel for the dhooni After offering some oblations into the dhooni he would fill his chillum and start smoking. The dhooni ' would be kept burning from morning till evening with ahuties put into it off and on The aahuties consisted Or shakkar (sugar. brown in colour, rice, barley, dry fruits, flowers of various sorts, Mentha leaves (mint), skimmia leaves, bhel patri etc. With eyes glued towarddd ds the sky, he would take intermittent puffs at his chillum. Live coals and cinders would sometimes fall off from his chillurn on his phiran or on his aasana and burn holes in them. But his deep absorption left him unaware of it. He would remove the live coals and cinders only after he had finished his smoking and extinguish the fire in the burning clothes by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. One could see several gaping holes in his phiran which he would not care to get mended.

On certain rare occasions, he would fill the big iron tray of his dhooni with tobacco, sprinkle a layer of turmeric over it, and spread over the whole layers of sugar, and rice-maize-and wheat flour. Then he would set fire to it. This fire would continue for two or three days till everything was consumed During this period, he would eat very little, if anything, and remain absorbed, puffing at his chillum. He did not allow anybody to touch this dhooni even to poke the fire. All this struck me as rather extraordinary. Once, I picked up courage to enquire of him what all that was about. He said that that was done to propitiate Mahakaala (the god of death) to save somebody's life. During the last ten years of his lire, he repeated that process on four or five occasions only.

Personal Hygiene
During the last thirty years of his life, Bhagawaanji appears to have taken a bath only twice. He once bathed at Kshir Bhawaani where pilgrims bathe before offering, pooja. and then again in his last residential place at Chondapora when the Dal Lake was frozen one very severe winter. Soon after he had bathed, there was a thaw and the cold wave, which had been sweeping through the Valley, abated. He did not bathe generally as he did not look upon the body as we do, Once, when I was pressing his legs, he told me that they were splinters of wood. But even though he did not bathe usually, his skin gave out an aroma.

Bhagawaan Ji got his head shaved clean once every month. His devotees used to massage his body with oil, but, some years before he gave up the gross body, he discontinued this practice, stating that there was enough oil in his skin. He would never take a bath after the massage. He however, advised some people to have an oil massage after their bath to cure them of some physical ailments.

Dress
Before 1925, Bhagawaan Ji wore good quality pashmina phirans and shoes of a sophisticated design. The year 1925 marks a turning point in this respect. Since then, he seems to have lost interest in what he wore. When his sister and devotees insisted, he changed his clothes once a week or even after a fortnight.

In later years, he used a shirt, a waist-coat and a phiran and potshoo (an inner phiran of cotton cloth). The phiran used in winter was woollen and in summer of dyed linen. In winter, he used, besides, a woollen blanket and kangri (fire pot) under his phiran.

Food
At about 9 a.m., he took a cup of tea (known as kahva in Kashmiri) prepared from dried green tea leaves and sugar only, without milk. At 1 p.m., he took his lunch of rice, vegetables etc., but his sister had to remind him many a time before he could be persuaded to take this meal. He would sometimes miss it on the pretext that it was too early in the day, or too late to have it. In the afternoon, he took another cup of kahva or of tea with milk and salt (called shirchai in Kashmiri). He would, on rare occasions, take a piece of bread with his kahva or shirchai. Sometimes, he took only one rice meal or some milk in the evening. Eight months before giving up the gross body, he stopped even taking this one meal a day. After great persuasion, he took rice meals on only four occasions during those months. He did not show any interest in sweets or other tasty foods, though he seemed to like peaches.

Even while taking his meals or tea, he did not seem to pay much attention to what he was taking, and continued to be absorbed in the Infinite. Hot Kashmiri tea is served in a bronze cup known as a khos which is held with a towel. On occasions. the cup, full of tea, would remain in his hand for an hour or so, after which he would seem to 'wake up', and either finish it in a draught, though it had cooled. or simply throw it away.

Drinks
Whatever was offered to Bhagawaan Ji was accepted; some people would offer him brandy, whisky or other alcoholic preparations. He would distribute small dozes of these to the assembled devotees, and empty the rest of the bottle himself. While drinking, his physical frame would shake, giving those present the impression that he was shaking off the sheaths of the antahkarnas (Chit, Buddhi Manas and Ahankaara) that envelop the Jivaatman. Then he would fall into some sort of samaadhi for two or three hours, or more. This state was interrupted ~ short periods when he would smoke his chillum. He would not touch food for many hours after he had had a drink.

Fasts
Bhagawaan Ji used to observe fasts very often, sometimes for a month, three months or even six months. His fast was not of the ceremonial type where one misses a meal a day or observes other formalities, but total abstinence from food except for a cup of tea on rare occasions.

At the Shaarikaa Bhagawati Shrine (Haari Parbat), he lived at the house of one Pandit Ram Joo, a priest. On one occasion, he observed a continuous fast for 33 days. He grew very weak, so much so that one day, while trying to stand up, he fell down face downwards, but this did not deter him from continuing the fast. He was a saint with great purushaartha. However difficult the aim, nothing would deter him from trying to achieve it. On one occasion, he had not taken anything for three days when one Pt Gwash Ram implored him to take food. He said petulantly in my presence, 'Where are you born today (to proffer such advice)? I have not taken meals for six months on end.' It is a known fact that those on the path of spiritual advancement take little food. It is likely that he resorted to frequent fasts to conquer hunger. He once told a devotee. whom he wanted to elevate, 'One should not eat when one feels the pangs of hunger, but feed it (the body) when it does not ask for it.'

Fasting did not in any way affect the pursuit of Bhagawaan Ji's ideal but he appeared to be mentally more alert during fasts, though his body showed great strain: his lips foamed, his mouth got parched and his tongue had a white coating. His chillum was, more or less, his constant companion during these days. Implored by his devotees to take some food, he would say that by smoking his chillum, he got enough nourishment.

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