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Bhagwan Gopinath and the Contribution of Kashmiri Mystics to the World Order of the 21st Century

by S. Bhatt

Bhagwan Gopi Nath is among the all time great seers of Kashmir. He passed away in 1968 in Srinagar, Kashmir, where he lived in Habba Kadal area. Some scholars such as the late Justice Shiv Nath Katju compare him to Maharishi Raman, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Shri Aurobindo. Katju has written that Bhagwan Gopi Nath had by his intense sadhana become a Kaul and an Aghoreshwar (meaning those who see the vision of God) of the highest order. He lived the life of a recluse and an ascetic, says Katju. Bhagwan Ram of Varanasi has made a sacred shrine of Bhagwan Gopi Nath in Varanasi along with other great saints. There is a Sat Sang Mandal for Bhagwan Gopi Nath in Kreem Kund in Varanasi. More such Sat Sang Mandals exist in Allahabad, Pamposh Enclave, New Delhi, and Jammu etc. His spiritual influence is on the increase. He has become a part of the great mystic vision from Kashmir which aims at bringing harmony and peace to the modern world.

Mysticism And Global Environment Movement

Writing about Bhagwan Gopi Nath, another devotee, an Australian, Philips Simpfendorfer, says : "The salvation of earth is the great contemporary issue." He writes that "the threat is from physical and psychic pollution and the intense exploitation of earth's resources."

Thus mankind is faced with two tests : One, to promote harmony of man with man; and two, to establish harmony of man with nature.

The importance of Kashmiri mysticism and Kashmiri seers can be highlighted in the context of the global environment movement of our times. The United Nations as a representative body of mankind has made an important contribution to protect the global envirornments and the resources of nature. In 1972, it passed a historic Declaration in Stockholm. Some of its salient features are briefly recalled here not only for their intrinsic importance, but also to bring home the messages of seers and saints of the world in general and of Kashmir in particular. These sages have sought world peace and harmony through times immemorial. The UN Declaration calls for "a common outlook and for common principles to inspire and guide the people of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human environment." It says that environment is needed for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth of man. In a major policy statement the Declaration says : "A point has been reached in history when we must shape our actions throughout the world with a more prudent care for their environmental consequences". It calls upon man to live in the freedom of the world of nature ! and use knowledge in collaboration with nature for a better life on earth. To defend and improve environment has become a predominant goal of mankind. Harmony with nature is the unnost need of mankind, says the Declaration.

Thus, we see why mystics and seers have been inspired to practice harmony with nature. Mysticising is a science as well. Albert Einstein said of mysticism: "The fairest thing is the mysterious, it is the cradle of true art and true science." In a world of global science today mysticism gives us new hope, new joy to comprehend nature and the global environments, it is increasingly being realised now that the entire management of the biosphere is based on realising the laws of nature operating in it and maintaining its ecological balance.

Man is also a part of nature. Mysticism helps us understand nature better, Bbagwan Gopi Nath attempted to discover the mysterious. Elevation of self to superconscious level enables seers look into the mysteries of nature. In a dialogue between Einstein and Tagore, both agreed that "the infinite personality of man comprehends the universe." "Truth", said Tagore, "which is one with the universal being, must essentially be human, otherwise whatever we individuals realise as truth can never be called truth, at least the truth which is described as scientific and can only be reached through the process of logic..."

Thus, as Einstein says, the art of mysticism is simply to discover the truth and beauty of nature. Mysticism and meditation, it has been increasingly stressed the world over now, lead to world peace and harmony. So the role of Bhagwan Gopi Nath in the process of global peace-making is profound.

The Art of Meditation

Let us see what the philosopher-historian Arnold Toynbee says on the art of meditation. In his important discourse in 1960 on "Azad Memorial Lecture" in New Delhi he spoke on the theme of "One World And India".' He referred to the habit of contemplation which promotes a harmonious world order. He said : "Western Christian does did recognise and practise the virtue of contemplation to some extent in the western Middle Ages. Since then, we have almost entirely lost this spiritual art, and our loss is serious, because the art of contemplation is normally another name for the art of living. So now we turn to India. This spiritual gift, that makes Man human, is still alive in Indian soul."

So, does Rabindranath Tagore speak of the contemplative habit of India as is exhibited by noble souls like Bhagwan Gopi Nath. He says : "The East did once meet the West profoundly in the growth of her life. Such union became possible, because the East came to the West with the ideal that is creative, and not with the passion that destroys moral bonds. The mystic consciousness of the Infinite, which she brought with her, was greatly needed by the man of the West to give him his balance.

Therefore, we see recently United States, showing keen interest to integrate foreign policy with the concern for nature and global environments. In a new context of our world order, Mrs Madeleine Albert, the US Secretary of State, has said that "the global environment affected American people. " She said our families will be healthier if the rate of emission of green house gases was slowed. Our families would be safer if we cut back toxic chemicals used in food production. Our coastal economies will be stronger if our bays and beaches are free of pollution and our oceans full of fish. She asks "that our future will be brighter if we are part of a world that is increasingly able to support life, rather than one that is losing that capacity day by day." She summed up her observations maintaining that modem man needed to adapt to a crowded global environment.

Synthesis for a Common Future

Thus Secretary Madeleine Albert sets the agenda for a world wide integrated vision of modem world society to take care of the global environments. There is need for a synthesis of our beliefs and cultures for a better tomorrow. The world is one large interdependent ecological unit. A recent editorial in Times of India New Delhi, says that "Modern science has begun to understand the interdependent nature of our universe, even if social and political institutions still function as if they are autonomous of each other, it is the increasing social and physical interdependence of our world that is forcing our diverse pasts, our different presents to merge into a common future. Tomorrow's world will be a world of greater interdependence." The editorial analysis conveys that the successful future societies will be those that can adapt to changing lifestyles, changing technologies, changing environments and changing methods of governance. It says "the key is the ability to think in the future tense."

Therefore the message from the historical and recent seers of Kashmir is : Understand nature and mankind with an open and broad synthetic view. Nature cannot be seen and understood with a myopic view; but only with a broad magnificent canvas as Bhagwan Gopi Nath did. These seers from Kashmir have synthesised spiritual and cultural beliefs. Arnold Toynbee once again says with much historical insight on this subject of synthesis that he has a praise for the Indian experiment. "India has also succeeded in establishing some kind of synthesis out of her immense variety of religions, cultures, languages and people. Her success in this field is an earnest of the successs which mankind may achieve in achieving a synthesis of the still wider variety of religions, cultures, languages and peoples of the world."

The seers of Kashmir like Lalleswari, Nundrishi, Bhagwan Gopi Nath and others have a very urgent message for our civilisation. They are the path-finders for a common outlook for a common global cultural synthesis and even for a spiritual synthesis. New integrated global culture and religion is in the making for the 21st century. There is no confrontation between various cultures and religions of the East and West, North and South. A prominent Arab scholar wrote recently: "Let us have dialogue, not clash between civilisations". He calls for discussion of modernity in the full historical and cultural context, and asks to play down our cultural differences. In other words, a synthesis of global life is already there. The synthesis, manifests in the unity and diversity of global life. Diversity helps, man grow with the diversity of nature. Yet, it is important to grasp the overall unity of mankind on this planet which is based on the interdependence of global life and ecology of earth.

Concluding Remarks

I have briefly referred to Bhagwan Gopi Nath and his message as of other seers of Kashmir for our civilisations. These sages and saints have created, like the great scientists Newton and Einstein, visions for mankind's journey for the future in harmony. Indeed, the next century will see an intense effort to combine the creativity of modern science and spiritual philosophy. Therefore, Bhagwan Gopi Nath belongs to all times.

[The author is an eminent scholar, academician and writer. Working as an Honorary Professor at the J. N. U., he is based in New Delhi]
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