by Prof. J. N. Sharma
Bhagwaan Gopinath Ji was one of the most eminent saints who have ever
graced the sacred land of India. Unlike the other saints, he was called Bhagwaan
in his lifetime as all the six attributes which that word stands for were seen
in him. He was a jeevanmukta, having attained mukti or liberation while still in
the gross body, to which he was not attached in the least. His spiritual state
was what the Shaivites call Shaambhavi avasthaa (the state of Shiva Himself) and
the Vendandns, Brahmisthiti (the state of ever dwelling in Brahman, or God
without a form).
With his spiritual power,
he did a lot of good to spiritual aspirants, house-holders and the country. He
had a peculiar way of bringing sinners around to the path of virtue. Though
utterly detached, he, in his later life, showed much concern for the country and
its people. Now, according to S.N. Fotedar, his biographer and one of his senior
disciples, he also exercises a beneficent influence on the modern age and its
Gopinath, one of the
several brothers and sisters, was born in a middle-class Kashmiri Pandit family
at Banamohalla, Srinagar, Kashmir on 3rd July, 1898. His mother, Shrimad
Haara-Maali, passed away when he was only twelve, and his father, Pandit Narayan
Joo Bhan, when he (Bhagwaan Ji) was in his late twenties.
Gopinath was educated only
upto the Middle Standard, but had absorbed well whatever he had been taught at
school. He would very rarely, though utter beautiful English sentences even in
later life, when he used to be absorbed in the Self most of the time. He was
also conversant with Sanskrit, Persian, Hindi and Urdu.
When Gopinath was only 10,
Pandit Narayan Joo Bhan reliquisted the possession of his residendal house,
along with most other belongings, to his step-mother. The family continued to
live in Srinagar, but had to shift residence from place to place.Thus,
Bhagwaanji lived in 11 different houses, besides his ancestral house. These
included the house of a niece of his at Chondapora where he gave up the mortal
frame on 28h May.
The family being in dire
financial strains Gopinath was asked to take up some work so at the young age of
about 15 or 16, he started working at a local printing press as a compositor.
He, however, gave up that job after three years. In his 20, he ran a grocer's
shop, here he seemed to be generally absent-minded, being absorbed in
meditation. The family pressed him to marry, hoping that marriage would bind him
to the world, and so he would be a permanent financial support, but he was
adamant in his refusal.
As a young man, Gopinath
stood out for his bravery, fearlessness and hatred of dishonesty. Another
notable feature of hls youth was his longing to visit the great saints of that
time. The ones he visited included Swami Baalak Kaw, popularly known as Baalji,
Swami Jeewan Saheb and Swami Zana Kak Tufchi, Gopinath remained a celebate all
He regarded lust as the
greatest obstacle to self-realisation. Here is an incident worth mentioning in
this connection. Some friends once forced the youag Gopinath to visit a coutesan,
along with themselves. At the very sight of her, he felt such a revulsion that
he called her a witch and reprimanded her in very harsh language. Then, he
advised, her to live a virtuous life. However, thinking that poverty must have
forced her to take to a sinful life, he in his characteristically compassionate
manner, threw a rupee-coin towards her before leaving her room.
His hatred of lust was
noticed throughout his later life was well. Once, among the many visitors, there
was a woman sitting before him. At the very sight of her, he started beating her
with nis long iron tongs, and chased her away. Returning to his seat, he told
the others that the unchaste woman had visited two friends that morning, and
then had come to him steeped in sin.
He felt happy whenever a
celebrate came to see him though he never asked a house-holder disciple or
devotee to give up his wife and children in pursuit of Self-realisation.
Bhagwaan was above all
considerations of caste, creed and nationality. From 1947 onwards, the people of
all creeds would go to see him and he would shower his live and compassion
equally on all. Once he said, in answer to a devotee's question. Is Hindu one
and Muslim another?
leanings were discernible in the child Gopinath from the early year of seven or
eight. That he visited some great saints in his youth. Most probably, he did so
to find out a guru who would initiate him formally. It was not generally known
who his guru was. However, much investigative work was done in this regard by Sh.
S.N. Fotedar. One piece of irrefutable evidence on which he based his conclusion
that the great saint Swami Zana Kak Tufchi was Bhagwaanji's guru is that it was
confirmed by Pt Baal Ji Wangnoo, the younger brother of Swami Aftaab Joo Wangnoo,
Bhagwaan Ji's senior co-disciple.
Bhagwaanji started with
the spiritual discipline known as Panchaanga-upaasanaa, that is, meditating on
the five deities, Ganesha, Surya, Narayana, Shiva and Shakti. Later, his ideal
was the Divine Mother Shaarikaa, whose vision he had, for the first time, at the
age of 27. Gradually, he shifted to nirguna-upaasanaa, that is, meditating on
the Supreme Reality without a form. His interest in wordly affairs, including
domestic matters, dwindled till in the early thirties, he took to intense
saadhanaa: (spiritual discipline), shutting himself up in a room, which no one,
except mostly his, was to enter. An earthenware lamp was kept buming there all
the 24 hours. He did not allow even the room to be swept. His concentration was
so intense and he grew so unaware of his body that a rat nibbled a hole in a
heal of his. It is not possible to say what type of spiritual discipline it was,
but it caused his body to swell and made him vomit blood, sometimes. During this
seven-year period of saadhanaa, he would take no food for long periods extending
even to six months. Sometimes, however, he would take food in very large
He came out of this
terrible ordeal with the full realisation of the Supreme Reality.
In his later years,
Bhagwaanji took to another type of spiritual practice. He would emit vibrations
from some parts of his body, e.g. the knees and the intestines, and through his
chillum smoking. The vibrations seem to have been in tune with (to-us,
mysterious) cosmic vibrations.
Bhagwaanji kept a
dhooni(sacredfire) burning before him and offered oblations into it off and on.
He continued with this practice even while he stayed at some holy shrines in, or
Ekam Sat vipraah bahudhaa
vadanti (The Reality is one but the wise call it variously), so says the Rig
Veda. The paths leading to It are also various. Having realised the Reality,
Bhagwaanji respected all these paths. He defied categorisation as a Shaiva, a
Shaakta a Vaishnava, a Vedaantin, and so on. Discerning people could find the
characteristics of all these in him. He uttered 'Aum namah Shivaaya ' at the
time of giving up the gross body, and yet a copy of the Bhagavadgita (a vadantic
text, which also he regarded as a guru) used to be always by his side. Calling
Aum the throat of the Godhead, he once said that nothing was possible without it
in the spiritual field. It is known that he put two of his prominent disciples
on the path of the upaasanaa of Narayana with a form. However, he seems to have
preferred to guide his disciples from the upaasanaa of God with a form to that
of God without a form.
Having attained the
hlghest spiritual state, Bhagwaanji, as already stated, used to be absorbed in
the self most of the time. But he could easily come down to our level of
consciousness to answer questions, or, to give permission to someone to leave.
Immediately thereafter, he would rise to his own state. He talked little and
that, too, in such low whispers as to be almost inaudible.
Generally, he did initiate
a disciple directly by word of mouth. He did so by a mere glance, by giving him
a little bhasma or prashad, or by allowing him to have a puff at the chillum.
Once, a European's kundalini was awakened by just having a puff at his chillum.
With a mere touch of his iron tongs, he shifted a senior disciple from
meditating on Narayana with a form to meditating on Him without a form.
What was exactly
Bhagwaanji's spiritual state? A pointer in this direction is that a devotee of
the Divine Mother Raajnaa had a vision of Bhagwaanji seated before Her at the
Khirbhawaani shrine at village Tulamulla, Kashmir. The devotee was a great saint
and would have visions of the Divine Mother off and on. Our question is,
however, clinched for ever if we considcr that Bhagwaanji himself said when an
aachaarya from outside the State wanted to know from a devotee in his (Bhagwaanji's)
room at what stage of spiritual evolution Bhagwaanji was. While the devotee
wondered what to say, Bhagawaanji recited the sixth verse of the Fifteenth
Chapter of the Bhagavadgita, which, translated into English, reads:" The
Sun does not illumine it, nor the moon, nor fire. That is my supreme abode,
reaching which one does not return (to this world of birth and rebirth).
Bhagwaanji did not perform
miracles deliberately. Miracles often happened where, out of compassion, he
helped someone or the country. A very brief account of a few of them is given
Bhagwaanji helped a
devotee to realise the concept of time relative to man and Lord Brahmaa (The
devotee had some reservations about this). Bhagwaanji enabled him to live three
life-cycle in only some earthly hours! And in each cycle he reached a mature old
Bhagwaanji helped two
devotees separately to have a darshana (vision) of the Divine Mother of the
Universe in the form of two girl children. A third was helped to have Her
darshana in the form of dazzing effulgence equal to that of several suns.
From 1947 onwards,
Bhagwaanji took much interest in what was happening around him. He used his
spiritual power to help the country. In 1948, our soldiers saw him, at the front
and just in front of them, directing them to fire in this or that direction
though at that time he was seated in his room in Srinagar. His body was no
hurdle in his going anywhere. Once he said that he was himself present at the
battle-front, and so there was no danger to Kashmir though, again, he was
physically in Srinagar. During the border was with China (1962), he once left
his residence and returned the next day. His body was quite cold. He had caught
a chill and had bronchitis. In answer to a question by a devotee, he said that
he had gone to Tibet to settle the matters. In a few days, there was a lasting
cease-fire. He kept a close eye on the 1965 war also.
Bhagwaanji was a
tattvajnani (one who has all the knowledge about the elements). By a peculiar
type of saadhanaa he had gained control over the elements. During a pilgrimage
to the holy cave of Amarnath, he brought rain to a drought-hit area. On some
occasions, he stopped rain when it was likely to cause suffering or death. He
was able, due to his control over the elements, to know which organ of a
person's body was diseased, and to cure it. With a mere look or the bhasma from
his dhooni, he cured dreaded diseases like cancer, epilepsy, and the diseases of
the heat, the kidneys and the stomach, besides many other physical ailments.
He brought the dead back
to life temporarily of permanently, as the situation demanded. Once, he asked
someone (probably, Mahaakala, the god of death) to wait till the next day to
revive the dead father of a girl whose marriage (lagana) was being performed
just then. The man came back to life, blessed the newly-wed couple, and died for
good at about noon the next day. Once, two cooked fish, chewed and swallowed by
Bhagwaanji himself, were vomitted by him in their original form, that is, as two
live fish, because the situation demanded that the fish sprang into the nearby
spring and swam away !
Once, Bhagwaanji visited
Mata Jawalamukhi Shrine at Khrew in Kashmir. There were five or six people with
him, so his sister cooked rice sufficient for seven or eight people. But may
more started coming to have Bhagwaanji's darshana and, finally, food was needed
for 50 people. Finding herself in awkward predicement, Bhagwaanji's sister
talked about it to him. He asked her to keep the pot of cooked rice covered
while taking helpings out of it. And, lo and behold! All the 50 people were fed,
and there was still some food left in the pot!
Now something about how
Bhagwaanji used his spiritual power to help householders in solving their
domestic problems. Once he fasted for a month with the specific purpose of
extending by a year the life-span of man, whose children still needed his
attention. Could it be that the food Bhagwaanji would have taken for a month
sufficed the man in question for a year and so he continued to live, even though
the stock of food he was destined to take in that birth had been exhausted?
Several times, he made a peculiar offering to Mahaakala to save the lives of
certain people. Sometimes, he prevented road accidents even at far-away places.
His blessings helped people in arranging and performing the mairiages of their
daughters. As a result of his blessings, some people suspended from their
services, got reinstated.
It has been already
mentioned that, after attaining the highest spiritual state, Bhagwaanji in his
life-time, was never hampered by his gross body. He could be present at some
other places, too, while he was in Srinagar. No wonder, then, that, after giving
up the gross body, he has been helping spiritual aspirants in, and outside, the
country. He may appear in his astral body before them or in their meditation.