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Swami Vidyadhar

Swami Vidyadhar

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Description: Swami Vidyadhar

- Prakash Kaul

Koshur Samachar

SWAMI VIDYADHAR was born on the 13th bright day of Ashad 1942 (Bikrami), corresponding to 1886 AD, in an orthodox Brahmin household of a Kanthdhomayan 'Gotra'. His father, Shri Ganakak Razdan (Khonmushi) died when Vidhlal, (the Swami's parental name) was only six. His mother, Harmali, was from a respectable Khushoo family of Malayar and an embodiment of the finest traditions of Indian womanhood. His elder brother, Shri Gopi Nath, entrusted him to the able care of Shri Madhav Joo Chander and Shri Rajkak Ganz for being taught in the traditional Brahminic ritual. Later he obtained the degree of Visharad.

Devout Behavior

Right from his boyhood Vidyadhar astounded everyone by his sharp intellect and humility. He had a sharp memory and a resolute disposition. For his devout behavior and ability, he was deeply loved by his teachers and others. At the age of 15, he was married to Shrimati Padmavati, the illustrious daughter of Shri Rishi Kak Kalu, a noble Brahmin.

There is no record how and when Vidyadhar surrendered himself at the feet of his master, Yogiraj Ramji. Swami Ramji, the embodiment of allÑ pervading bliss, initiated and taught many of his disciplesÑchief among them being Swami Mahtab Kak, Swami Vidyadhar and Swami Govind Kaul. The backdrop of this stream of Gurus is depicted thus in Shri Vidyadharastava.

Vidyadhar studied Shastras under his Guru and also received initiation into mysteries of the 'Shaiva Sadhana'. Swami Ramji was a perfect Guru - Stroti and Brahmnisht. It was the benevolence of the Lord Himself personified in Swami Ramji that guided the real Sadhakas like Vidyadhar. By and by Vidyadhar became absorbed in his inner self and the only longing he had was to free himself from the mundane chorus of household activities. He attended his worldly jobs with more of a detached bent of mind. During this period, Vidyadhar lost his mother. He was only 28 and still a perfect Sadhaka. Gradually, he lost all taste for worldly life and he would remain aloof confined mostly to a room in his house. Occasionally, however, he would teach scriptures to those who came to him.

Then came the turning point. In 1915, Swami Ramji shed his mortal frame. From now onwards, it became virtually impossible for Vidyadhar to remain confined to the four walls of his house. In 1919 came the breakthrough. He left his home and remained for some time at the holy place of Thajiwara - a hallowed place near Bijbehara. Thence, he went to the aloofness of Kamlavan a solitary place near village Tral. An SOS from his elder Gurubhai, Swami Mahtab Kak, unsettled his future plans. Swami Mahtab Kak, after the exit of his Guru, was in command of Shri Ram Shaiva Ashram. The Gurubhai asked him to return home apparently on the entreaties of his (Vidyadhar's) father-in-law. He would not spurn the directive of the Gurubhai.

Wandering Monk

His stay at home did not, however, check the strong yearning for the life of a wandering monk. At times, the future care of his small children would flash through the ascetic Vidyadhar's otherwise serene mind. At the same time, the absolute mood, said euphemistically that he did not like to see majority of his Srinagar disciples running agitatedly here and there. All laughed far it referred to the usual practice of Srinagar disciples going to villages where Swamiji would stay, entreating him to come over to Srinagar.

Last Days

On Amavasi at about 10-30 a.m. Swamiji addressed three of his disciples present rather unexpectedly thus: "World is changing fast and Adharma is growing. It is better that you people be of some help to these mortal remains". Then he asked one of his disciples to check up the 'Tithi' from the 'Panchang' while going to the bathroom down in the courtyard. When Swamiji came back the disciples informed about the 'Tithi' and 'Mahurat'. With a smile, the Swami said "All right" and wiped his hands and feet with a towel. A few moments later his body had a paralytdc attack and, simultaneously, the outward sensations ceased. The body remained in this state for about two-and-a- half days amidst the continuous chanting of hymns by the great concourse of disciples and other people. On the third bright day of the Margshirsh at about 3 a.m. the numb body of Swamiji opened eyes at the conclusion of the Bhairavstotra of Swami Abhinavagupta. The eyes were full of tears.

The Bhaktas started the daily Aarti and at its conclusion the mortal frame ceased to breathe. The revered Gurumata of the disciples, Shrimati Padmavati, had also come there after 30 years of her seclusion and Sadhana and paid homage to her departing illustrious consort. In deference to the wishes of the Swami, expressed to some of his disciples, the last rites were observed without any fanfare.

Many are the anecdotes of Swami Vidyadhar's acts of benevolence and miracles to which even to this day many are eyewitness. To respect the sentiments of Swamiji's disciples not to write about any such miracles of their illustrious Guru, it would not be worthwhile to recall all the majesty of the Yogi both in his spiritual and social spheres.


Swamiji had great command over Sanskrit grammar and language and an astounding hold on Shastras. In his moments of intense Bhakti, he composed some devotional Sanskrit poems and many of these hymns are popular among the Kashmiris even to this day. The hymn to 'Rangy Bhagwati' forms part and parcel of the 'Aarti' being recited at Kheerbhawani.

For his erudition he was called lovingly Vidyadhar and rightly so. Swamiji, throughout his life, remained an embodiment of intense Sadhana and complete detachment. Self-abnegation and an unflinching faith in himself were hall-marks of his illustrious life. Never in his life did he show any traces of exhibitionism; in fact, he shunned all such extraneous propensities. He lived a simple ascetic's life. Never after renunciation did he touch money. He had absolutely left 'Kamini' and 'Kanchan' as Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa enjoins upon the travelers on spiritual path in his gospel.

The Swami knew no fear and showed great courage in going against the tradition in dealing with matters of suffering and injustice. It will be fit to recall some of the prominent incidents in his life which undoubtedly show his lofty disposition.

At the death of one of his sons, a relative came to Swamiji apparently to offer his condolences and in the process wept bitterly. Swamji gave him sympathy and advised him not to grieve over the inevitable.

Once when Swamiji was coming down the stairs of his Ashram for his usual 'Sandhya' a thief loaded with articles stolen from the Ashram passed his way and even paid homage to him. In the morning when disciples informed him of the theft, he told them that a man loaded with the stolen articles had paid him respects in the early hours of the morning and he did not catch him then.

Among Kashmiri Pandits, there was a subcaste called 'Leji Bhat' who due to changing fortunes of the valley had got converted at some distant past and had reverted to their parent faith subsequently. Even though their lives were ideal, high caste Brahmins would not even partake the meals prepared by them. Likewise, was the situation for the Bohra sub-caste in the Pandit community. Swamiji could stand no such differentiation. He initiated fairly good number of disciples from among the sub-castes and started a slow but sure propaganda against this high-handedness of the so- called top-class and orthodox Brahmins.

Menace Eliminated

Finally, a big Yagya was organized by the sub- castes at Bijbehara. Swamiji invited all the learned and orthodox Brahmins of the valley to the Yagya along with other leaders of the Pandit community. They could not spurn his offer. At the conclusion of the Yagya food was served by the brethren who had been wronged and everybody took the meals. Thus the menace to the integrity of the Pandit community was eliminated.

Swamiji was fond of music and often musicians, both Hindus and Muslims, used to recite rare Sufi and devotional poetry of great Siddhas like Parmanand and Lalleshwari to him. One among them was Swami's constant companion. Swamiji loved him like a child. But the musician married a Muslim girl and got alienated from his community. Some time later, the musician left the company of the girl and came to Swamiji after a period of self- imposed exile. While others despised him, the Swami received him with open arms. Nothing had changed the love of the Swami for his child.

Playful Countenance

That was Swami Vidyadhar, the great saint who would keep the audiences spell-bound by his sweet voice and great discourses, opening new vistas of spiritual path. This scribe, whose father was a disciple of Swamiji, had the great fortune of his constant company right from his early childhood to his early teens. He cherishes the playful countenance of the great Yogi for the Yogi seemed to be his playmate all the time he was in contact with him. He vividly recollects the mock horse which the Yogi would lovingly offer himself to be while the writer as a conscious Balak rode on his back.

Picture Courtesy: Pran & Asha Chaku, Houston, TX (1997)
Date: 25.04.2004 15:39
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