Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jagadguru Bagwaan Gopinath Ji

Kashmir has produced a galaxy of saints and sages from times immemorial and, in the 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 Gopinathji has done.

Born in a respected Bhan Kashmiri Pandit family in Srinagar on 3rd of July, 1898, Bhagawaan Gopinathji almost inherited spiritual tendency from his highly religious-minded father and mother. Bhagawaan Gopinathji had two brothers and two sisters. The family being in dire financial straits, Gopinath was asked to take up some work. So, at the young age of fifteen, he started working at a local printing press as a compositor. However, he gave up that job after about three years. In his twenties, he ran a grocer's shop, where 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. Shri Gopinath was educated only upto the middle standard, however, he was conversant with urdu, Hindi, Persian and Sanskrit languages besides English.

Bhagawaanji started with the spiritual discipline known as panchaanga - upaasanaa, that is, meditating on the five deties. Ganesha, surya, Naarayana, Shiva and Shakti. Later, his ideal was the Divine Mother Shaarika, whose vision he had for the first time, at the age of twenty-seven. 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. In the early thirties, he took to intense Saadhana (spiritual discipline). Shutting himself up in a room, which no one except mostly a niece of his, was to enter. An earthenware lamp was kept burning there all the twenty four 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 heel of his. It is not possible to say what type of spiritual discipline it was, but it caused his body to swell and sometimes, made him vomit blood. During this seven year period of Saadhanaa, he would take no food for long periods extending even to six months, sometimes. After breaking a long fast, however, he would take food in very large quantities.

Bhagawaanji 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 dazzling effulgence equal to that of several suns.

Having attained the highest spiritual state, Bhagawaanji, 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 some one 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 not initiate a disciple directly by word of mouth. He did so by a mere glance, by giving him a little bhasama or prashad, or by allowing him to have a puff at his Chillum.
What exactly was Bhagawaanjis spiritual state? A pointer in this direction is that a devotee of the Divine Mother-Raagnaa had a vision of Bhagawaanji seated before Her at the Kshirbhawani Shrine at village Tullamulla, Kashmir. The devotee was a great saint and would have visions of the Divine Mother off and on. Our question is, however, clinched if we consider what Bhagawaanji himself said when an achaarya from outside the state wanted to know from a devotee in his (Bhagawaanji's) room at what stage of spiritual evolution Bhagawaanji was. While the devotee wondered what to say, Bhagawaanji recited the sixth verse of the Fifteenth chapter of the Bhagvadagita, 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).

He felt happy whenever celebate 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.

Bhagawaanji kept a dhooni (sacred fire) 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 outside, Srinagar.

In his later years, Bhagawaanji took to another type of spiritual practice. He would emit vibration 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. According to S.N. Fotedar, Bhagawaanji regarded this (emitting and receiving vibrations) as a very superior and direct method of self-realisation though it involved much taxing effort and many tribulations.

Bhagawaanji was above all consideration of caste, creed and nationality. From 1947 onwards, people of all creeds would go to see him and he would shower his love and compassion equally on all. Once he said, in answer to a devotee's question, IS a Hindu one and a Muslim another?

Among his disciples and devotees are many who never met him in his life-time. These include some in other countries like Australia, The USA, Canada, Switzerland and the UK. That is why he has come to be called a Jagadguru, a world spiritual teacher. During his earthly sojourn and even after abandoning the earthly coil he cared for his devotees in and outside Kashmir and India. Though even after sitting in his room or left the physical frame, he was seen physically at warfronts guiding and directing our troops in 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999. Regarding the debates at the UN about Kashmir, Philip Simpfendorfer, an Australian devotee writes: it was thought that Bhagawaanji visited the Assembly because he was heard to speak Russian during that period, and was able to give information regarding the progress of the debates.

Bhagawaanji was Tathvajnani (one who has all the knowledge about the elements of Nature) By a special type of Saadhanaa, he had gained control over all these elements. During a pilgrimage for the holy cave of Amarnath, he brought rain to a vast 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. He could cure a person with a mere look or the Bhasam from his Dhoni; he cured dreaded diseases like cancer, epilepsy, heart, kidney and many other physical ailments of the praying devotees.

The family lived in Srinagar, but it had to shift residence from place to place. Thus, Bhagawaanji lived in eleven different houses including his ancestral house. These included the house of his niece at Chandapora, Srinagar.

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 Gopinathji finally chose to cast off his Bhautik Sareera. At about 3 p.m. he directed one of his devotee 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. He would often urge the devotees to lift the veil of ego that enveloped the Atman. AHANKAARAS NAMASKAR SUIGAV OMKAR - TAMISAATI BANI SAAKSHATKAAR, which means, 'bid good bye to ego and be face to face with truth".

After Bhagawaanji assumed Nirvana, his disciples built an Ashram at Kharyar, Srinagar where his marble statue was installed in 1973. This ashram has become a centre for spiritual upliftment of his devotees.After displacement from the Valley, other Ashrams came up at Udaiwala, Road, Bohri, Jammu and at Pamposh Enclave, New Delhi. At these ashrams all activities that were regularly performed in Srinagar Ashram are being performed. The number of devotees participating in all such activities is increasing day by day.

During the last five years the Bhagawaan Gopinathji Trust has expanded the activities of these Ashrams as well as added to the infrastructure. With the ever increasing number of devotees across the globe, ashrams, meditation centres and Satsang Mandals at Vikaspuri, Mumbai, Pune, Bagalore, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Australia, Switzerland are rapidly coming up. All these ashrams and centres disseminate Bhagawaanji's ideals of spirituality and universal brotherhood.

Our posterity will be proud of such an ancestor who became a Jagadguru in his life time.

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