Jagadguru Bhagwaan Gopinath Ji
is being felt in even greater measure now"
by G. N. Raina
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.
Ji did keep his date and he appeared to the said devotee twice in the subsequent
two months (Jan-Feb 1974).
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
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''.
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 Ji, showed 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
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 Guru''.
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 Ultimate Truth.
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 realization.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Ji laid stress on Vichar, rational 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.
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 surrender.
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 reality.''
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 houshold, wife 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.
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.
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
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 clear now".
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
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.
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
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 instil
the much-needed faith and love. Bhagawaanji has a divine mission to fulfil.
He will, we firmly believe, shed light and illumine the dark patches of
our aggrieved souls.
to this great sage who made Kashmir, nay the entire world, proud.
- 110 001