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Articles from Pre-1998 Issues 

Bhagwaanji
As our children know and see Him

by A.N. Dhar

For the bulk of Kashmiri Pandits now living in Jammu, away from the valley of Kashmir, the land of their birth, the Bhagawaan Gopi NathJi Ashram at Udaiwala, Jammu has assumed the sanctity of a Tirathasthan. Within the brief span of only a few years, it has grown into a vital centre, throbbing with spiritual and cultural activity. For the young and the old alike, it is a prized fount of inspiration and strength. This is evident from the sizeable gatherings of devotees that can be seen here on all days of the week, especially on Sundays in the evening. Thousands of devotees are served prasad here, consisting invariably of a full meal, on festive occasions. Yagyas are performed here periodically, and the birthday of Bhagawaan Ji is celebrated with extraordinary zeal and devotion every year. One is delighted to watch young volunteers working in perfect discipline and with exemplary devotion, rendering valuable social service to the large crowds on such occasions.

The various programmes and activities organized by the Bhagawaan GopinathJi Trust have produced tangible results. They particularly serve to promote religious and social awareness among the youth of our community. This awareness is an indispensable means to preserving our spiritual and cultural heritage. It is important to mention here that disciplined and collective participation of the devotees in Kirtan, consisting of devotional hymns touching upon the spiritual qualities and attainments of BhagawaanJi, has a significance of its own. The impact on the young particularly is immediate and enduring. The religious activities of the Ashram have thus a healthy, formative influence on our adolescent boys and girls.

It is widely known now that the Bhagawaan Gopi NathJi Trust has been paying special attention to the education and spiritual growth of the young. Incentives in the shape of scholarships and prizes are accordingly given by the Trust to the meritorious and deserving students of our community in order to ensure that they shape well and succeed in life. It is in this context that a symposium on the topic "The Spiritual Eminence of Bhagawaan Gopi NathJi" was held at the Ashram at Udaiwala, Jammu as part of the annual "Navreh" celebration on 1st April, 1995. Thirty six young students (boys and girls) presented essays at the function bearing on BhagawaanJi, which they had thoughtfully planned and written in advance. A panel of judges evaluated the performance of the participants, who were formed into two batches - seniors and juniors. From among the senior participants, Sandeepa Kaul bagged a prize each for i) the best presentation and ii) for the overall best material. Manu Bhat, from among the junior participants, got a prize for the best presentation. Some consolation prizes were also awarded to the other deserving students.

A careful reading of the written scripts of the young competitors reveals that most of them, as was desirable, must have consulted the available published materials on the life, teachings and spiritual achievements of BhagawaanJi. Some of them must have gathered further relevant information from other sources (such as their parents who knew the Bhagawaan through personal contact). In almost every script BhagawaanJi is described in glowing terms as veritably an Incarnation of the Divine and as a Jagat Guru. None of the writers has failed to mention the miracles attributed to the great saint, which he is known to have performed, without making an exhibition of his powers, to help his devotees in diverse ways, to cure diseases like cancer and to save the country when attacked by Pakistan in 1947 and 1965 and by China in 1962. Several essays have dwelt on the intense Sadhana that the Bhagawaan performed with sustained rigour throughout his life. Some essays highlight the fact that BhagawaanJi's fame as a spiritual genius and as an eminent saint has spread to countries abroad and that the number of his devotees has been swelling steadily. In a number of essays there is evidence, at places, of the young students' introspection - their own perception of BhagawaanJi's spiritual greatness, though its articulation is not adequate. Obviously, they owe this gain in self- introspection and spiritual perception to their consistent participation in the programmes of the Ashram. Paying tributes to the spiritual qualities and attainments of the Bhagawaan, the students in general have expressed their adoration for him and acknowledged their faith in him as the Sadguru who alone can heal our woes.

Salient points from the essays (with the name of the participant given at the end of each point in parentheses) are reproduced here for the benefit of BhagawaanJi's devotees and admirers:

A. Extract from the essays of senior participants

1. BhagawaanJi was a spiritual genius, a Master who had the power to carly innumerable souls across the ocean of samsara (Nidhi Khazanchi)

2. BhagawaanJi's spiritual life demonstrates the inner divinity of man and the sacredness of Nature (including the earth we inhabit). He worked for the good of the humanity at large. (Purnima Kaul).

3. BhagawaanJi's spiritual presence as a Jagat Guru has been felt by some of his devotees living in Australia. (Monika Bradoo)

4. BhagawaanJi is the saint par excellence, the saint of all times. He assumed the human form for the spiritual upliftment of mankind. (Jharna Jalali)

5. BhagawaanJi dispensed help to his devotees taking into account their different levels of consciousness and needs. He was inclined more towards the Tantric method of worship. (Vimal Raina).

6. BhagawaanJi is 'Kalpavraksha' in the sunburnt desert that this world is. He gives his bounty to every one according to the latter's capacity to receive. (Rakesh Pandita).

7. In BhagawaanJi's view God-realization is within the reach of any one whose devotion is intense and sincere. (Sachin Bhat)

8. BhagawaanJi had attained the highest state of consciousness through devotion and self- discipline. Spiritual seekers experienced bliss in his company. (Asseem Zutshi)

9. A mere glance at the picture of BhagawaanJi (when I visited the Ashram at Udaiwala, Jammu, for the first time) made me feel that pulifying Amrita was being showered upon me. I always perceive a radiant glow on the Bhagawaan's photograph/statue. What his spiritual eminence consists in can only be felt as 'something' incommunicable. (Sharmishtha Kaul).

10. BhagawaanJi devoted all his time to Sadhana and to the spiritual advancement of his devotees. (Usha Parihar)

11. BhagawaanJi was, in a sense, a category apart as a spilitual Master; he outclassed many a seer and saint. (Archana Raina)

12. With his eyes turned upward, BhagawaanJi remained absorbed in God-consciousness throughout. With the dhooni aname in front of him, he would now and then smoke his chillum, but inwardly he was always attuned to the Divine. (Suman Kachroo)

13. A siddha of a high order, BhagawaanJi was a trikal - drashta. (Davinder)

14. Bhagawaan Gopi NathJi had descended into the human form to deliver Bhaktas across the ocean of Samsara. He illuminated the path of spirituality for the seekers he blessed. He was charitable to all and led men Godward. (Anil Kaul)

15. BhagawaanJi attained spiritual heights, far beyond the limits of Varnashrama and formal religion. In marked contrast to his inward greatness, he behaved outwardly like an ordinary man. (Snehlata)

16. Expressions like 'the depth of oceans', 'vastness of the blue sky', and 'tolerance of the earth' could give us a hint of the Bhagawaan's eminence. Yet, no words can express all about his spiritual greatness. (Sandeepa Kaul)

17. Godlike BhagawaanJi knew the past, present and future of the devotees who came to seek his blessings. (Sonu Bradoo)

B. Extracts from the essays of Junior Participants

1. BhagawaanJi continues to protect his devotees. When we left the valley in 1990, we had to relinquish all our belongings there. Our faith in the Bhagawaan has shielded us all through. We have overcome our difficulties through his grace (Chandrika Jalali).

2. Bhagawaan Gopi NathJi was an accomplished Aghoreshwar, having attained the highest stage of self-realization. He lived a simple life, devoid of pomp and show. All that he said or did during his life time has already become an inspiring legend (Anu Bhat).

3. Devotees sought BhagawaanJi as bees go about in search of flowers (to suck honey from). He was a source of solace and strength to them. Just as sandalwood tree provides its soothing cool to the poisonous snakes that coil themselves around its stem, so did the Bhagawaan soothe and heal the worldlings who approached him. (Manu Bhat)

4. Bhagawaan Gopi NathJi practised meditation both on Sakar Narayan and on the formless Maheshwara. Even after attaining Mahasamadhi, he continues to guide aspirants on the spiritual path. (Ridhma Saproo)

5. When BhagawaanJi provided his healing touch to a devotee in distress, he did so directly himself, without invoking a spirit or a god, or chanting a mantra. More and more people are joining the big family of his devotees and getting blessed. (Isha Kaul).

6. It is very difficult to make an adequate assessment of BhagawaanJi's eminence. As a saint, he was unique and incomparable. (Nidhi Nehru)

7. Bhagawaan Gopi NathJi had remarkable qualities as a saint. He commanded rare spiritual powers which the great siddhas of yore and Avtars only possessed. (Sakchi Nehru)

8. Whoever came within BhagawaanJi's spiritual hale experienced inward peace and illumination. All the devotees felt the impact of his presence. (Shivani Raina)

9. The true mark of a spiritual person is that he is free from prejudices, and is above casteism and communalism. BhagawaanJi had all these qualities. He was a very liberal and kind- hearted saint, and Siddha of high order. (Roma Dhar)

10. Though BhagawaanJi has left his mortal frame, his spirit continues to protect and guide us in all walks of life. When we bow to his statue, we feel blessed inwardly. (Anmol Kaul)

11. BhagawaanJi never acted like a preacher. He spoke very little but radiated spirituality that touched the souls of his devotees. He was virtual Shiva; cosmic rays of perennial bliss emanating from Him illuminated the minds of his devotees. (Remu Kaul)

12. I am a naughty girl in the class and sometimes the teacher taunts me. However, whenever I remember Bab Maharaj (BhagawaanJi), every one loves me. (Rema Kaul)

13. BhagawaanJi would rarely talk but he often uttered the words sezar (simplicity/ straightforwardness) and pazar (truthfulness). He was himself an embodiment of these spiritual qualities. An aspirant who cultivates these qualities in himself is sure to attain his goal. (Sunnhalee Razdan)

14. Although as displaced Kashmiri Pandits we are passing through difficult times, we are lucky enough to remain in BhagawaanJi's blessed fold. I personally feel that His divine Hand is always on my head, guiding me every moment. (Amit Kaul)

15. BhagawaanJi was truly an incarnation of God. His divine descent served one important purpose - the spiritual upliftment'of his devotees. Although he attained Mahanirvana in 1968, He is always accessible to us through prayer and meditation. He influences our spiritual growth in many imperceptible ways. (Sushma)

16. BhagawaanJi did not deliver any spiritual discourses but induced spirituality through a touch, a look or by offering bhasma, prasad or a puff from his chillum. (Nitin Ganjoo)

17. Personally I am indebted to BhagawaanJi, who saved my life here in exile (a fugitive from the valley) when I was stung by a snake. I invoked his name for help and could see only Him around me. The Bhagawaan's kripa saved my life, which was otherwise threatened with death. (Ashutosh Ganju)

18. BhagawaanJi's achievement in sadhana was supreme - he had attained complete union with God. He was Ishwara in the human form and he made free use of his divine shakti for the welfare of his devotees. (Avinash Ganju)

19. Although BhagawaanJi lived throughout in the valley of Kashmir his spiritual influence and fame have spread far beyond the valley, even to countries abroad. Centres dedicated to him have sprung up in many parts of the country; one important centre has been established in Australia. He will continue to inspire generations and multitudes of devotees throughout the world. (Sunita Sharma)

It is hoped that our young men and women will continue to explore more facts about the great personality of BhagawaanJi and his spiritual attainments. They should not rest content with barely reading the articles and books on the Bhagawaan that have been published so far. They should read the materials with care, analyse their content and arrive at their own conclusions. They are expected to extend their knowledge of what sainthood involves and read more about our spiritual heritage. The more advanced students among them should build up a good reading background in the areas of religion and philosophy. Thus equipped, they will develop aptitude for independent study and research. They can surely explore more illuminating facts about Bhagawaan Gopi NathJi's spiritual life and teachings if they persevere in this endeavour.
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