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Articles from Pre-1998 Issues 

Remembering Bhagwaan Ji

by Prof. A. N. Dhar

Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji attained Mahasamadhi in 1968. since then his renown as an eminent saint has spread far and wide. The number of his devotees and followers has swelled considerably during the past 2-3 decades. In consequence, Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji centres have sprung up at several places in India in addition to the main centre at Srinagar one centre has been established in N. S. W. Australia. The present Ashram at Udaiwala, Jammu, that came up in the wake of the outbreak of militancy in Kashmir, has turned into a busy spiritual centre where regular prayer meetings devoted to Bhagawaan Ji are held on all week days. Besides, Yajanyas are performed periodically at this centre and the birthday of Bhagawaan Ji is celebrated with great fervour and devotion annually here. In fact, it is noteworthy that all the centres are managed and run efficiently, thanks to the orderly manner in which a disciplined and dedicated band of Bhagawaan Ji's followers is seen to handle congregations and conduct proceedings at each centre.

I remember having seen the Bhagawaan on some festive occasions at Khir Bhavani and also several times at his Chandapora residence in Srinagar in the fifties (when I was a young man in my twenties).

Whenever I observed this great saint, what impressed me deeply about him was his total absorption in divine contemplation - that a true seeker could immediately percieve. One had to lend one's ears keenly to the words he sometimes mumbled to get at what they actually conveyed. Once, in my very presence, Bhagawaan Ji almost whispered some meaningful words into the ears of my friend, Sh. Triloki Nath Dhar, and then made an offering into the dhooni that was there in front of him. As I gathered from my friend later, Bhagawaan Ji had spoken of his own exalted state of consciousness, what: in mystical parlance could be described as Unitive Experience, I, myself, had an 'encounter of a different sort with Bhagawaan Ji, which I still shudder to recall (though the experience, in effect, turned out to be auspicious for me). I saw the saint last at his Chandapora residence in 1961 purposefully to seek his blessings. Something about me was perhaps not liked by Bhagawaan Ji. This became evident when he spoke some harsh words to me, making me leave the room in an agitated state of mind. Wlthin a couple of days ofthis seemingly 'unpleasant' encounter, I got the job I had applied for a Lecturership in English, which I held at the start of my teaching career. Obviously, the Bhagawaan's 'anger' proved to be a blessing for me.

In attempting the present article on Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji, I am acutely conscious of two handicaps - my first handicap is that I have not had the advantage of knowing this saint closely as a disciple nor as a devotee who paid regular visits to his residence. The other handicap is that my own knowledge of authentic facts relating to Bhagawaan Ji's life and teachings is scanty, far less than what one can glean from the two sequential studies published by Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji Trust - the biographical study by the late Sh. S. N. Fotedar and the volume bearing the sub-title 'The Saint of All Times' by the late Professor K. N. Dhar. Shri Fotedar's work is a well-documented study, offering a lucid account of the life and teachings of Bhagawaan Ji. It is replete with authentic facts, in terms of dates and events, concerning the life of the saint. Analytical and critical in his approach (aiming at objectivity in spite of his devotional fervour), the author has arrived at sound conclusions regarding the spiritual attainments and eminence of Bhagawaan Ji. Professor K. N. Dhar's volume is a useful sequel to Shri Fotedar's biographical study. It sheds further light on the important observations and statements made in the earlier work. The author has attempted to provide illustrative support from relevant scriptures (bearing on Vedanta and Shaivism) to the findings and conclusions of Shri Fotedar. The concluding section of the book, titled 'Exchange of Notes', is revealing. On going through the letters exchanged, among others, mostly between Mr. Philip Simpfendorfer and Shri Pran Nath Koul, Secretary Bhagawan Ji Trust, the reader realizes how 'Bhagawaan consciousness' has grown and spread beyond India, 'touching' and influencing devotees in far offplaces like Australia, where Bhagawaan Ji's Australian devotees have established the centre mentioned earlier.

Having touched briefly on the two studies brought out by Bhagawaan Gopinath Ji Trust, I should like to elaborate a few points that I gathered from Shri Fotedar's work. I shall deal with them one by one:

i) The question of who actually was Bhagawaan Ji's Guru has been discussed at some length by Shri Fotedar. After thorough investigations - all controversies settled - he has come to the conclusion that Swami Zanakak Tupchi was his Guru. However, the author mentions Bhagawaan Ji himselfas having conveyed, in response to a disciple's query, that he considered the Gita as his Guru. At the same time, we know on authority that Bhagawaan Ji was fond of the Guru Gita. Understandably, he prized it because his Guru, Swami Zanakak Tupchi, had prescribed its study for his disciples. And this work indisputably attaches utmost importance to the Guru (as a person). The only conclusion we can draw from this apparent divergence is that while the Guru's grace is indispensable, the seeker has to assimilate his Guru's teaching through self-effort. The Guru's anugraha and the seeker's purushartha are complementary in character.

ii) Bhagawaan Ji led a celibrate life, yet he continued to live in grahasta and performed agnihotra as a ritual in earnest throughout his life. He never donned the yellow robe and did not preach or practise vegetarianism. Nor did he preach any orthodox doctrine but spent all his time in Sadhana. All this could lead one to the conclusion that Bhagawaan Ji was in line with the tradition of Kashmiri saints who were at once Shaktas and Saivites, who would'nt make a distinction between 'Siva' and 'Kesava', who never thought high of external sanyasa but emphasized inward purity and discipline.

iii) Bhagawaan Ji was a great Siddha and used his spiritual powers for the welfare of mankind. He performed miracles to alleviate the suffering of bhaktas and to help those who were in distress. As a tattava jnani, the Bhagawaan emphasized self analysis and introspection. Ample evidence is available to suggest that he continues to guide spiritual seekefs and events as Jagat Guru.

iv) He was an institution in himself, an accomplished Master who could initiate the seeker through a glance, a gesture or a puff from his chellum. As a spiritual genius, he evolved his techniques to awaken 'Bhagawaan Consciousness'.

v) Bhagawaan Ji was accessible to all and gave liberally of his spiritual bounty, taking, of course, into account the receptive capacity of each seeker. His impact on a large number of spiritual seekers has been phenomenal, explaining his pervasive influence in this country and abroad.

May Bhagawaan Ji's grace descend on all of us in this hour of crisis and deliver us safe across the perilous ocean of samsara.
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