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Articles from Pre-1998 Issues 

Bhagwaan Gopinathji
Some reminiscences and thoughts

by A. K. Jalali

I had my first 'darshan' of Bhagwaan Gopinathji in the year 1966. Those days, he lived at the house of the Mallas at Gudood Bagh, Srinagar-Kashmir. I found him seated on an 'aasana' in a corner of the room on the first floor. He was wholly absorbed in the self, seemingly oblivious of the surroundings snd even of his own body. There, I saw for the first time also a young bachelor, Bodha Kak, Later, I found that he was deeply devoted to Bhagwaanji. Everyday, he would light, in a 'Sigrhi', the small 'dhooni' (sacrificial-fire) into which Bhagwaanji would make offerings, off and on. Whenever Bodha Kak was away, I would have the privilege of lighting the 'dhooni'.

I went to have a 'darshan' of Bhagwaanji almost everyday. Seated before him, I got wholly absorbed in divine thoughts and almost lost the awareness of my physical existence. This continued upto May, 1968 when he gave up the gross body in the very house in which I had seen him first.

Bereft of the bliss of his physical presence, I found myself utterly lost a ship-without an anchor. A student of the B.A. then, I found it very difficult to concentrate on my studies. I even cursed myself, feeling that I was floating rudderless in the ocean of life. Then, lo and behold! Bhagwaanji's grace came in the year 1969 when I had a vision of him in a dream. He said to me, "My child, why are you sad? I am alive and at the place which you used to visit to see me." This filled me with inexpressible joy. I started once again visiting the place and experienced as much bliss there as before.

Then, owing to Bhagwaanji's grace, some of his disciples and devotees set up an 'ashram', named after him at Kharyar, Habbakadal, Srinagar. A beautiful marble statue of his was also installed there. I felt as if Bhagwaanji had returned to this world in his physical form. Unfathomable was the joy I experienced. My visits to the 'ashram' were regutar, and I participated every day in the prayers and the evening 'aarti' (song service) offered to Bhagwaanji there.

Now, I should. Iike to pen down further what I observed about Bhagwaanji in the course of my regular visits to him ae Gudood Bagh during a period of two years or so. It has been already mentioned that he would be absorbed in the self and make offerings into a small 'dhooni' (The latter practice, I have long since been told, was related to his efforts to save Kashmir). He lived a hard and disciplined spiritual life, never indulging any of his senses. Sometimes, for weeks and even months on end, he would deny himself even food, taking off and on, only a cup of the Kashmiri milkless sugar tea seasoned with cardamom. Ever absorbed in the Divine, Bhagwaanji would never say anything to any one, unless it was in answer to a question. Even then, he spoke the fewest words needed, and in a low whisper which was hard to catch. Men, Women and children came in large numbers everyday to have his 'darshan'. He spoke to everyone politely and sweetly. Towards some visitors in particular, whom Bhagwaanji perceived as faulty or erring, his behaviour was visibly harsh, he got up and chased them away even from the stairs leading up to his room and, on occasions, struck them with the long iron tongs-the kind some ochre- robed wandering monks carry-which he always kept by his side. However, to the true devotee, Bhagwaanji's anger too proved a blessing.

Even a casual visitor could feel that Bhagwaanji had all his senses under perfect control. His affectionate nature reminds me of a personal experience. Once, after I had prepared Kashmiri tea-Kahava-and poured it into his khos (an alloy tea-cup used only by Kashmiri Hindus), he asked me lovingly, 'tehi cheyaunaa? tohi phirvanna Pannas? (Won't you take tea? Didn't you pour yourself a cupful?). A person's faith did not come in the way of his affection. Once he remarked in answer to a question from a devotee, "What is the difference between a Hindu and a Mussalman?" He was, indeed, an ocean of love and compassion. Whoever approached him with a mundane or spiritual problem, never went away disappointed, very often, his helping others resulted in miracles though he did not seem to believe in performing miracles in order to impress anyone. His spiritual state was far above to that of egoism. I never found him using the first person singular pronoun.

All were equal before him. In this connection, I can recall an incident to which I was an eye-witness. Once, some Ochre-robed monks called on him as they would often do. As was his habit he gave away to them a rupee each. One of them expressed the wish to be given two rupees. Bhagwaanji simply sent him packing; he would not discriminate between one monk and another.

Devotees and musicians would sing devotional songs before Bhagwaanji though, being absorbed in the self, he would not seem to be listening to theni. Once, while a party of musicians was singing 'Soofiana' songs to the accompaniment of the relevant instruments, I heard Bhagwaanji remark in Kashmiri, 'Poga Kashiree' (O Kashmir, which has seldom been calm and peaceful). I was unable to grasp the significance of this remark then, but its full import became clear to me many years later when militancy robbed kashmir of all calm and peace, and lacs of people had to migrate to several other parts of the country to save their lives and dignity.

Bhagwaanji's eminence as a guru is hard to imagine. He became one with God during his earthly life. If anyone thinks of him as Shiva, he will see him in the form of Shiva, and if, in any other form of Divinity, he will see him in that form. This has been borne out by several of his disciples and devotees. Meditating on him helps one to get rid of lust, anger, greed and delusion.

How can one attain Bhagwaanji's grace? My own observation and experience have shown that, for this purpose, one must perform right actions and have right thoughts, one should not harbour any evil designs against anyone, to whatever creed or caste that person may belong. Egoism and pnde catapult one far away from Bhagwaanji. And last but not the least one must surrender completely at his holy feet.
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