by Shanker Nath Fotedar

Chapter IV

It is not known for certain who Bhagawaan Ji's guru was. Some of his relatives were of the opinion that he was initiated by his own father, Pandit Naraayan Joo Bhan, but this was not borne out by his sister or by the testimony of the people who were his associates in his early life. His younger sister was of the opinion that, probably, he had received initiation from the great Kashmiri Saint, Swaami Baalak Joo Kaw. This, too, was not corroborated by any evidence. Bhagawaan Ji, in one of his soliloquies, some years before he gave up the gross body, addressed him as 'Hato Baallakc Kaawaa' meaning 'O, Baalak Kaawaa.' He would not have addressed him thus, had he been his guru. Bhagawaan Ji also sometimes visited Swaami Naraayan Joo Bhan, a well-known saint of Bodager, Srinagar. But the Swaami is said to have had only one disciple, Swaami Kash Kaak of Manigaam, and, hence, Bhagawaan Ji being his disciple is ruled out.

The evidence collected now shows that Bhagawaan Ji very often used to go to the house of Swaami Zana Kaak Tufchi of Karafalli Mohalla, Srinagar, who was a great saint. In his later life, Swaami Zana Kaak had moved to the house of Swaami Aftab Joo Waangnu at Baabaapora, Srinagar. It is certain that Bhagawaan Ji used to go to the house of Swaami Zana Kaak, when the latter resided at Karafalli Mohalla, and very frequently when he resided at Swaami Aftab Joo Waangnu's house. Every Saturday night, there used to be a bhjan rnandali in his house, and Bhagawaan Ji would invariably be present at such rnandalis, where the Guru Gitaa and the Vaaks alone were recited.

After Swaarni Zana Kaak Tufchi had shaken off his mortal frame, Swaami Aftab Joo used to perform a big yajna ever year, on Swaami Zan Kaak's death anniversary, which Bhagawaan Ji attended for many years, doing all sorts of work including even cooking and washing utensils, along with the other disciples of Swaami Zana Kaak Ji. This could only have been possible if either Swaami Zana Kaak or his disciple, Swaami Aftab Joo Waangnu, had been his guru. Pt Maheshwar Nath Trisal of Badgaam, who associated with Bhagawaan Ji during the latter's early life, says that Swaami Aftab Joo Waangnu was his guru. One instance given by Shri Trisal is that of an occasion when Swaarni Aftab Joo addressed him as 'Goopiya, have you had the darshana?', Bhagawaan Ji replied, 'I am having darshana', meaning that it was a continuing process for him. After I enquired of Shri Trisal whose darshana Bhagawaan Ji was having, he said that it was his guru's darshana.

The enquiries made from Swaami Aftab Joo Waangnu's younger brother, Pt Baal Ji Waangnu, yielded the information that Swaami Zana Kaak was, Bhagawaan Ji's guru and that Swaami Aftab Joo was his brother disciple. This appears to me to be the correct position.

Some of Swaami Zana Kaak Tufchi's disciples alive today stated that Bhagawaan Ji was not among the known disciples of Swaami Zana Kak. It is possible that the Swaami had secretly initiated him. Bhagawaan Ji had been very subtle since his early childhood. It is just possible that he had been visiting the saints mentioned in this chapter to learn whatever he could from them, but without any involvement of an initiation. A few years before Bhagawaan Ji's giving up the mortal frame, a devotee had the courage to enquire of him who his guru was. Pointing towards the Bhagvadgitaa lying before him, he said, 'Any one of the 700 shlokas of the Bhagvadgitaa can be one's guru, and, in reality, God, Who is the True Self, is one's Guru.'

Of all the past saints of Kashmir, he alone was addressed as 'Bhagawaan' in his own life time. People also called him 'Bub', i.e., father. As he had attained the highest stage of consciousness and remained ever absorbed in the Supreme, there was nothing extraordinary in his being styled as 'Bhagawaan.'

Two others of the greatest saints of Kashmir, LaLla Dedi and Roopa Dedi were addressed as Lalleshwari and Roopa Bhavaani respectively, but that status came to them after their passing away, whereas Bhagawaan Ji was known as a living personification of God even in his life time.

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