India, the home of sages
and savants for centuries past, heir to one of the oldest civilizations in the
world, temple of inspiration for the seekers of the truth and spiritual
knowledge, is now a witness to cataclysmic changes within itself. The society
that is taking birth is sans the roots which helped to sustain it, when
avalanches swept away many other civilizations in the past. Soon enough, we may
find ourselves rudderless and enslaved, 1ike the West, to the cult of
materialism, unless we make positive efforts to arrest and reverse this new,
apparently tempting, though dangerous, trend. We must re-discover ourselves and
recapture our lost values and faith in the Almighty, the Universal Aatman who
sustains and controls the destiny of the World.
Apart from the avataaras, Shri Rama, Shri Krishna, the
Buddha and Shri Mahaavira, India gave birth to a galaxy of saints, who played a
notable part in raising the moral standards and blazing the trail for
God-realization in a manner suited to the times they lived in. What the saints
preached and practiced conformed to the basic tenets of our scriptures, but
dogmatic ritualism was, to a large extent, eliminated. Because of their
super-sensory perception, saints may be regarded as supermen working in all
dimensions and can, therefore, guide us, three-dimensional beings, much better
on the paths of God-realization and our journey through life.
The names of the illustrious saints like Guru Nanak,
Kabir, Mirabaai, Tuka Ram, Ram Dass, Chaitanya, Ramakirshna Parmahansa,
Vivekananda, Aurobindo Ghosh, Sai Baba and Chaturbhuja Sahai come instantly to
mind. Kashmir, too, was fortunate in having a galaxy of saints like Lalleshwari,
Roopa Bhavaani, Sheikh Noor-ud-Din, Zaina Shah, Reshipir, Zai Kaak (Zanaana Zoi),
Jeewan Sahib, Mirza Kaak, Aatma Raam ji, Lasa Sahib, Swaami Sona Kaak, Aftab
Koul, Aanand Ji, Kailas Koul, Raam Ji (Shaiva philosopher), Zana Kaak Tufchi,
Prasad Joo Sahib, Chandra Kaak Buchru, Sahib Koul, Shyaam Sunder Koul, Manas
Razdan, Maana Kaak Goja, Kaakaa Ji, Gana Mole, Sobur Sheikh and Trihgam Baba.
Some of these were karma yogis and actively participated in moulding the destiny
of Kashmir. Saint-hood was a regular institution and people flocked to saints.
Some people sought spiritual solace (advancement) but a larger number went to
them to seek the fulfillment of mundane desires or to ward off calamities. The
situation has changed. Very few good saints are to be seen now-a-days. Perhaps
they have gone into seclusion. If you tell a young man that God exists, the
chances are that he will scoff at the very idea and, unbelieving, demand of you
to show him God on the palm of your hand, i.e., a limited three-dimensional God,
perceived with our five senses. All that one can do under the circumstances is
to refer him to the saints who know the past and the present, and can predict
the future. Their super natural powers may stir up his imagination, and his
faith in God may revive.
The institution of sainthood is fast disappearing and
in the near future people will be wondering what saints were like and how they
lived and behaved. With this background and for the benefit of posterity, I am
writing this short biographical sketch of one of the rarest saints of Kashmir of
this century, Bhagawaan Gopi Nath Ji who gave up the gross body at the age of
about 70 in 1968 AD. People used to call him Bhagawaan Ji or Bub (father) as he
had endeared himself to one and all.
I had the unique privilege of being associated with him
for the last 22 years of his life. While in Srinagar (7 to 8 months in a year) I
used to visit him everyday, sitting before him in humble supplication for 3 to 4
hours, and keenly observe his ways. The facts and events narrated here are those
I observed personally or were reported by his relatives or other disciples who
knew him relatively closely. From amongst his relatives, most of the information
has been given by Pt Gobind Kaul, a companion of Bhagawaan Ji since his early
boyhood, Pt Maadhava Joo Sathu, in whose house he lived for about l0 years and
his own sister, Shrimati Jaanaki Devi. Much useful information has been
collected by Pt Pran Nath Kaul, Pt Shiban Lal Turki and Sister Jai Kishori Ji-all
disciples of Bhagawaan Ji. Pt Shankar Nath Zaadu and Pt Gopi Nath Dhar, devotees
of Bhagawaan Ji, have also provided very useful information. Pt ShridharJoo Dhar,
Pt Gopi Nath Malla. Pt Mohan Kishen Ticku, Pt Shyaam Lal Dhar and Pt J.L. Nehru,
though theee ey had limited contacts with him, have also played their part in
making this enterprise possible.
As there are few authentic records of the past and the
living saints of Kashmir, this biography is published lest we lose memory of the
life activities of this great saint of Kashmir also. The subject matter has been
divided into fourteen chapters.
Chapter I gives the
information about his birth and genealogy in order to maintain an authentic
record of them.
Chapter II: As he had to
shift residence from place to place on account of the family circumstances in
his early life, and later, of his own choosing, the places he lived at and the
time he spent at each place, have been given corresponding to his age and the
progressive stages in his saadhanaa.
The relevant facts about his education, employment and
initiation have been given in Chapter III.
The pilgrimages he went on and a few of his miracles at
each place have been given in Chapter IV, to give a
connected account of the background of his saadhanaa.
To give an idea of his activities. his daily routine,
his dress, food, drink, personal hygiene and fasts etc., have been spoken about
in Chapter V.
Chapter VI gives an account
of his attitude to marriage and sex. This has a great bearing on the spiritual
advancement of saadhakas.
In Chapter VII, his
generous nature has been described.
Chapter VIII gives an
account of Bhagawaan Ji 's darshana to the general public, his ways Or curing
ailments and his attitude to the offerings made to him.
As the places where he stayed are definite landmarks in
his life, each period of saadhanaa along with the important events connected
therewith are reported in Chapter IX.
Chapter X dwells upon the
peculiarities observed in his behavior during the last two years of life.
Chapter XI deals with his
giving up the gross body.
Chapter XII deals with
some of the miracles performed by him for the good of the country or for some
Chapter XIII gives a
resume of his philosophy.
Chapter XIV deals with his
devotees and disciples, past and present.