The Inimitable Sage
Jagadguru Bhagwaan Gopinath Ji
"whose influence is being felt in even greater
Guru has directed me to grace
you''- these words were uttered by no less a spiritual luminary than Shri Satya
Sai Baba of Puttaparti to a close devotee of Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji when he
approached the sage in Bombay at the behest of his son-in-law to seek Grace for
overcoming his bodily ailment. The Baba moved his right hand, and poured some
holy ash to be taken orally and lo and behold, the devotee instantaneously got
rid of his physical pain. The Baba, then, continued saying, ''Your Guru was the
greatest Kashmiri saint: he was Jiwan Mukta in the real sense. He will appear
before you in about two months''. This was in December 1973, nearly six years
after the Bhagawaan had left his mortal coil.
Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji did keep his date and he appeared
to the said devotee twice in the subsequent two months (Jan-Feb 1974).
An embodiment of com- passion for all those who sought
his grace, Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji has been and continues to be an unfailing
source of solace to their afflicted souls. Men and women, young and old, the
educated and the unlettered, the agnostics and the believers, would visit him,
in and out of season, to receive words of comfort which would still the
throbbing pain of their hearts.
Kashmir has produced a galaxy of saints and sages from
times immemorial, and in recent past we have had a number of them. But few among
the contemporaries have left as indelible an impression on the minds of the
people as Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji. Two highly venerated mystics of con- temporary
Kashmir -- Kashkak and Nanda Bab, recognised Bhagawaanji's greatness. While
Swami Kashkak is on record as saying that Bhagawaanji has been the recipient of
special grace of Mother Sharika, Swami Nandlalji described Bhagawaan as ''the
king of saints in Kashmir''.
Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji led a simple, austere life. He
never moved out of Kashmir: in fact, he shunned publicity, and covered himself
with anony- mity. Sadhus and saints from outside Kashmir did visit him. A
celibate, he lived with his near relations all his life. Though he read upto
middle standard only, yet he displayed a fair knowledge of Sanskrit, Persian,
Urdu and English. He spoke very little, never preached, puffed Chillum
constantly and always remained engrossed in Brahman, so much so a casual visitor
would remain unnoticed by him for hours together.
A Siddha, having attained the olympic heights of
spirituality, Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji was an enigmatic God-man. His life was a
curious blend of Jnana (knowledge), Bhakhti (devotion) and Karma (action). For
most of us who had had the good fortune of his darshan in flesh and blood, he
was the holiest of the holy, with a healing touch and wielding Ashta Sidhis for
the good of the people and the nation. To some others, his bizarre behaviour
presented a picture of his inscrutability. His marijuana smoking, his non-
vegetarianism and unortho- dox ways were an enigma to the uninitiated. Ordinary
mortals like us could hardly fathom his 'Gunateet' and 'Mayateet' nature.
Born in a respected Bhan family of Kashmiri Pandits in
Srinagar on 3rd of July, 1898, Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji al- most inherited
spiritual fervour from his highly religious minded father and mother. His mother
was born to her parents following the grant of a boon by Goddess Rajnya herself.
Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji had two brothers and two sisters. While the elder brother
was a bachelor, the one younger to him did marry but remained issueless. The two
sisters unfortunately lost their husbands early, the elder one after bearing two
daughters and the younger one after bearing two sons and two daughters.
Bhagawaanji was looked after by his elder sister and her two daughters.
From the days of infancy, Bhagawaan Gopinath
little interest in things material. He would sing the glories of God, of Mother
Sharika and seize whatever opportunity he could get to attend bhajan mandalis
and raslilas. The spirit of renunciation and the other- worldliness had
overtaken his sensitive young mind. That is why his schooling was not complete
and he did not take seriously to his uncle's Pashmina business either. He did
take up the job of a compositer in the city's oldest press-Vishnath Press, but
gave it up only after three years, during which period the press is said to have
flourished. Bhagawaan ji rejected the entreaties of the proprietor of the Press
saying that his ''Dassdaraz'' with him had ended. Later, he started a grocer's
shop which he gave up soon after to plunge headlong into a rigorous tapasya.
From the age of 20, he had begun daily Parikrama of
Hari Parbat and would spend hours in Devi Angan absorbed in the meditation of
the Divine Mother. Of course, Chillum was his constant companion, even in those
days. This period of his Sadhana was marked by devotion to the Shakti aspect of
Godhead. He used to recite from memory hymns like Panchastavi, Bhawani
Sahasranama, Saundaryalahri Vishnu Sahasranam, Mahimna Stotra, Utpalastotravali,
Guru Gita and Bhagwadgita.
Not much is known about who initiated him. The
well-known biographer of Bhagawaan ji, Shri S.N. Fotedar has tried to lay his
hand on all evidences in this regard but has not been able to establish who his
Guru was. Here, we would like to accept what Bhagawaan ji himself hinted at,
obliquely though. On being asked, only a few years before his Nirvana, as to who
his Guru was, he replied'' any one of the 700 Shlokas of Gitaji can be one's
The second and the most important phase of his quest
for self realization began when he was 32. For the next seven years, i.e. upto
the age of 39, he wrestled with God, so to say. In this period of intense
tapasya, he would lie on a bed, face towards the wall, with a lamp burning in
his room which would often be cover- ed with layers of dust. It is said that a
rat made a hole in one of his heels which took a long time to heal. He had
almost lost all consciousness of his body. He would often take Datura seed,
opium and other intoxicants and would, at times vomit blood.
While it is difficult, nay impossible, to assess the
state of Bhagawaan ji's spiritual advancement during this period, we have a clue
given again by Bhagawaan ji himself in a cryptic reply he gave to his elder
sister when she tried to pursuade him to take to wordly life in view of the
financial difficulties the family was in. He told her, ''Sister, our boat is in
the midst of an ocean. Either we will reach the shore safely or get drowned''.
To our great good luck, Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji did swim
to the shore and out of the great ordeal of seven long years emerged a Siddha,
with of course, a mauled body but a radiant spirit, with full vision of past,
present and future. He had realized his true self and become one with Siva, the
The truths of spirit can be apprehended only by those
who like Bhagawaanji prepare themselves for their reception by rigorous
discipline. It was not for nothing that in later years, he would often tell his
close devotees that ''MEHNAT PANANYA BIYI GURU KRIPA'', meaning that intense
personal effort and the grace of Guru are the essential pre-requisites of God
Devotees like Prof. K.N. Dhar feel that Bhagawaanji
inclined towards the Tantric method of Sadhana. According to him, ''Bhagawan
Gopinath Ji opt- ed for the more strenuous path of Tantras with its curves and
bends and wove the threads of his life on this texture''. This body, says
Rudrayamala Tantra, is an oblation which is to be continuoulsy offered to the
fire of self scrutiny. The unextinguishing Dhooni in front of Bhagawaanji since
the end of the seven-year spiritual odyssey symbolized this truth.
After realizing the dynamic aspect of Reality, i.e.,
the Divine Mother, Bhagawaanji took to the worship of Siva, the pure
consciousness aspect of Truth. Siva is Infinite Consciousness, the subject as
well as the object. Siva and Sakti are one indivisible whole. While Siva is the
changeless reality underlying the entire universe, his energy, Shakti, has an
infinity of aspects - Chit (intellect), Ananda (bliss), Ichha(Will), Jnana
(knowledge) and Kriya (creative work). The recognition (Pratyabijna) of reality,
according to Kashmiri Saivist thought, is all that is needed for Moksha. That is
why Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji was recognized as Jeewan Mukta (a liberated soul).
Again, Siva and Shakti, in the Ultimate analysis,
constitute the contours of a common rather than a specific gender. The male (Nar)
and the female (Nari) aspects of Reality are fused together in the case of
Tantrik mystics who have often been observed to give feminine names to males and
vice versa. One of the foremost Tantrik mystics of Kashmir, Swami Anandji of
Jamnagari often addressed his male disciples as females, perhaps to demonstrate
that gender had lost all meaning for him and the likes of him. The great
sage-poetess of yore, Lal Ded, looked upon all males as females.
An important aspect of Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji's
spiritual Sadhana was emission of well-controlled rhythmic vibrations from
various parts of his body. Spanda Shastra of Kashmir Saivism speaks of the
vibratory nature of ultimate reality. In the last 30 years of his earthly
existence, Bhagawaan ji would keep talking to invisible forces while he would be
smoking his Chillum. At times, he would not even respond to people around him.
None dared disturb him while puffing his Chillum with his eyes turned skyward,
emitting and receiving vibrations. Always immersed in Samadhi, he would come
down to our plane of consciousness when his attention was drawn, speak a few
words and then go back to the same state. It was quite apparent that Chillum
symbolized the vehicle of his communion with the Divine. The inhaling of the
smoke acted as an aid for supra- mental dialogue with the Ultimate Truth. In
such planes of mystic exhilarotion, natural propensities of human organs are
said to reverse the roles, where the eyes can speak, the ears can see and the
mouth can feel. The senses are said to be under complete control and the mystic
utilises them the way he thinks is the best. This stage is known as DIWA SHAKTI.
There is neither East nor West for the naked soul. The
whole world is its home and as its home is in each of us, it belongs to all of
us''. These words of the French Savant, Romain Rolland, are true of all great
saints, savants and sages, Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji belongs to the entire world.
There was no Hindu, Mussalman or Christian for him. All religions and all faiths
led to the same goal. He once told a close devotee of his. "Think of
Brahman as a Tree and sit on any one of its branches. All branches will lead you
to the same goal''. As Isa Upanisad puts it, this entire universe is enveloped
by God, and nothing but God.
Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji laid stress on
thought and the ability to discriminate between the real and the unreal, and he
would often say that ''a Yogi may attain realisation of God but it is only the
Vicharvan, the discerning sage and the profound seer, who can fathom all aspects
of the Brahman, the Ultimate Truth.'' He confirmed the faith of the devotees in
whatever they held dear and guided them according to their capacity. Though he
suggested Saakar Upasana (worship of God with form) to the beginners, he would
say Yl Gav Taaph Parun meaning that it was just like worshipping the effulgence
and not the substance of the sun. On yet another occasion, he told a Sakar
Upasak ''you have light to the level of your throat but your body is blank''. He
wanted his devotees to realize the absolute truth in all its aspects.
Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji advocated special efforts on the
part of a spiritual aspirant. He abhored lackadiasical form of Upasana which he
thought was like moving under the shade of willow trees, Yi Gav Veeri Shihilis
Tal Pakun. He wanted Truth Seekers to plunge into God realization with complete
He would often urge the devotees to lift the veil of
ego that enveloped Atman. AHANKAARAS NAMASKAAR - SUI GAV OMKAAR - TAMI SAATI
BANI SAAKSHATKAAR, which means, ''bid good-bye to Ego and be face to face with
Here, one would recall an incident when a saintly
person was disuaded by a scholar-saint from visiting Bhagawaan ji, saying
''since when have you started bowing to lumps of muck?'' And when the said
gentleman went to see Bhagawaan ji, he was asked, ''Why do you come to bow
before lumps of muck? We are not chiselled scholars.'' A nice, subtle dig at the
scholar-saint! How true! It is the meek, the humble, the unsophisiticated who
shall be saved rather than those with inflated egos.
He never advised anyone to give up his
or children in the quest of Truth. According to him, a worldly man, a Grihasta,
could be a man of dispassion and reach the Ultimate. But he was quite adamant in
not guiding those who could not practise celibacy, for he believed that the two
centres of Brahma Jnana were located in the Cit (intellect) - one near and the
other beyond the back of Chidakasha and that these centres were well preserved
only by remaining celibate.
In our spiritual tradition, there are two ways to
attain God- head-the one is known as the Buddha way where you tread the path
alone, better known in scriptures as tapasya in which individual effort
dominates, and the other is to cross the ocean of existence through the medium
of a Guru who represents the Divine, who knows the path and is in a position to
help others in finding it. The Guru seeks to awaken much more than to instruct,
says the great Yogi, Aurobindo Ghosh in his famous work Synthesis of Yoga. And
Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji him- self said on one occasion, when a verse in Kashmiri
extolling the virtues of a Guru was being sung, Yl GACHHI YACHHUN. It is an
indication of God's grace, if one surrenders at the feet of the Guru.
He did not deliver sermons. He initiated a devotee and
induced Parmarth (spirituality) by a touch, a mere glance and by sharing his
chillum. Each received his grace according to one's Karma.
Strange are the goings-on of mystics. We recognise
their greatness on the basis of something they do which is not explained by the
ordinary laws of nature. And we describe these ways as mysterious. Saints and
sages have been known to have a clear vision, with ability to read the thoughts
of others, forecast events, prescribe remedies and clear impediments.
The saints, however are not to be judged by miracles
alone, for some of them are really averse to demonstrations of this sort as they
do not wish to interfere with nature. But, again, as Bhagawaan Raman Maharishi
of Tiruvanamalai put it, ''it is enough for the thoughts of a Jnani to be turned
in any direction and the automatic divine activity begins''. As if to prove
beyond doubt the effi- cacy of what Shri Raman Maharshi had said about miracles,
Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji, during his Amarnath Yatra, addressed an overcast sky at
Wavjan above the sacred Sheshnag lake, ''You settle down in Sheshnag'' and in no
time was the sky cleor of the black clouds and the thousands of pilgrims resumed
journey without fear of a bad weather.
Kind and compassionate as Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji was, he
cured incurable diseases like blood cancer, and he would often ask those
stricken with malignant diseases to be brought to him and a mere glance or touch
would cure them completely, to the surprise of all. On request, he would give
some ash from his Dhooni to cure ailments. Diabetes, Tuberculosis, brain
haomorrhages and mental disorders were cured by him. He never asked for any
money, though whatever was offered was accepted only to be distributed among
those present. Once he referred to these offerings (money, fruits, sweets etc)
as blood. This is all blood, he would say. And, it is said, he took upon himself
any evil attached to such offerings.
A mystic tradition has it that at a particular point of
time, a Divine Government functions and oversees the workings of human mind. It
also directs the world affairs. Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji was regarded the king of
this Divine set up in the State. In this context, one can understand what
happened in 1947 and 1948 in the aftermath of a tribal raid conducted
surreptituously by Pakistan into the territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
In 1947, in one of his soliloques, Bhagawaan ji was
heard saying: ''What is our army doing? They get so much ration and yet do not
open a direct route to Kashmir for Ladakhi Lamas.'' And in 1948, we witnessed
Indian army conquering Zoiilla Pass and Kargil, thus establishing a direct link
with Ladakh. A Military Police Officer connected with this operation was
informed by the Front Commander that the operations were directed by a
mysterious person, giving his identification clues. Long after that, the said
Military Police Officer, a Christian, did visit Bhagawaanji in Srinagar through
the courtesy of one Mr. T.N. Dhar and the officer confirmed that the saint
exactly answered to the description given by the Front Cammander.
This is not all, In September 1962, when he was at
Bhadrakali, Bhagawaanji told his sister and Swami Amrit- ananda who accompanied
him, ''Don't you see what is happening across the mountains? A whiff of wind
from that side will blow you over''. Rest is a matter of history. Again, before
the 1965 war, he pointed towards south-west and said, Kaala (death) was dancing
there. At the end of the hostilities, however, he pointed out that ''the west is
Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji used to sit on his aasan almost
all the 24 hours absorbed in Higher Self. Every morning he would wash his face
and Yajnopavit at the water tap, tie his turban and put on saffron tilak with a
touch of ash in the centre. And then he would start his Dhooni. He would rarely
take bath. In fact in the last 30 years of his life, he took bath only twice,
once at Kshir Bhawani and another at Chundapora residence in Srinagar when Dal
Lake was frozen. It is said that soon after he took bath, there was thaw and the
cold wave abated. But even though he did not take bath, his skin usually gave
out an aroma. In fact, he had no body consciousness. He used to describe his
legs as splinters of wood. He clean shaved his head once a month. The devotees
used to massage his body but he would never take bath after the massage. He,
however, stopped devotees from doing any massage a year before he left us. He
would undertake fasts for months at a stretch. The fasts were not of the
ceremonial type, that of missing a meal a day but these involved total
abstention from food, except a cup of Kahwa on rare occasions.
In the last two years of his sojourn on the planet
earth, he gave enough hints of his decision to give up his gross body. During
this period, he did not leave his aasan even to answer the calls of nature. He
would remark: ''I have now grown old''. To a devotee who showed concern at his
failing health, he said about one and a half month before the fateful day: Amar
Chha Maraan (Do the deathless die?) Again, a few months before his leaving the
mortal frame, his biographer and a close devotee, Shri Fotedar, asked him why
swelling in his genitals persisted. He replied, ''What else is going to happen
to this body? It will get shattered piece by piece''. Only a few days before his
passing away, he remarked:'' I should like to go to Kshir Bhawani now''. He also
said that Dhooni was no more necessary.
Almost on every Sunday, musicians sang till late in the
night and he would never ask them to stop. But on his last Sunday on earth, 26th
May, '68 he directed the musicians to stop, remarking ''we shall not listen to
any more music''.
Then came May 28, 1968, Tuesday - the day Bhagawaan
Gopinath Ji finally chose to cast off his Bhautik Sareera. He went through the
morning routine as usual. At about 3 p.m. he directed one of his devotees to
give the three Sadhus rupee one each. He had the last few puffs at his Chillum.
A devotee started making tea but Bhagawaanji said ''We shall not take tea any
more''. He asked for water at 5.30 p.m. And at 5.45 p.m. he uttered OM NAMAH
SHIVAYA in a low voice, looked around with infinite love towards those present,
and closed his eyes. All was over. The revered Nanda Bab mourned the loss by
saying that Kashmir had been rocked by an earthquake.
Thus, passed into eternity a great Siddha. He may be no
more with us in flesh and blood. But his Spirit continues to guide the
ever-increasing number of devotees scattered all over the world. His influence
is being felt in even greater measure now.
Nearly a quarter of a century has elapsed since his
Nirvana. Yet a mere look at his portrait gives, to the man of faith, the feeling
of the presence of a Living Reality. He seems to talk through his lustrous and
penetrating eyes. His angelic countenance takes charge of one's afflicted heart,
as it were and fills it with inexhaustible bliss. Many a devotee who had never
seen him in his life-time, have testified to this mysterious experience.
In his Cosmic form, Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji has been seen
to take care of all those who surrender to him, heart and soul. Not bound by the
limitations of time and space, Bhagawaanji has been munificent in answering
sincere prayers anywhere any time. In the words of Swami Yogananda, the
celebrated author of ''The Autobiography of a Yogi'', perfect Masters like
Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji "can materialize and dematerialize themselves and
move with the velocity of light and utilise the creative light rays in bringing
into instant visibility any physical manifestation''. According to him, a sage
who has merged his consciousness with that of the Supreme Reality perceives the
cosmic essence as light and being free from the three dimensions of space and
the fourth one of time, is able to transfer his physical or cosmic form with
equal ease through the light rays of earth, water, fire and air.
We are passing through very critical times. Materialism
has taken a firm hold over our minds, particularly the young. The moral and
spiritual values are on the wane. The need to move from the outer to the inner
life, to coordinate the scientific temper and the spiritual approach and to
restore the efficacy of our ancient ethical, cultural and spiritual
perspectives, has never been greater than now. And in this task, only the saints
like Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji can show us the right path, dispel fear in our minds
and instill the much-needed faith and love. Bhagawaanji has a divine mission to
fulfill. He will, we firmly believe, shed light and illumine the dark patches of
our aggrieved souls.
Our salutations to this great sage who made Kashmir,
nay the entire world, proud.
41-M.M. Connaught Circus
New Delhi - 110 001