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Articles from Pre-1998 Issues 

How Bhagwanji Called Me Back To His Fold

by S. N. Bakshi

It was in January, 1997 that, having had darshan of Satya Sain Baba at Putaparti when I was accompanied by a party of 22 karsevaks from Jammu, 8 ladies and the rest male devotees, I came to Bangalore, where I stayed with my son (employed with HMT Factory) until the 20th of January, 1997.

There in Bangalore my grand-daughter, doing her B. Pharmacy course in a local college, and her two female cousins attended the prayer meetings devoted to Bhagawanji held regularly in the evenings on Sundays at the residence of a lady, who too is an employee of the H.M.T. Factory. She has kept a room for being exclusively used for devotional prayers offered to the Bhagawan. My son too attends these prayers whenever he is free from other preoccupations. Turmeric-red cooked rice (tahar) and cheese (mixed with pieces of potatoes) are distributed as prasad among the devotees after the arti is over.

Not long after my return from Bangalore it was actually in mid-March-my grand daughter wrote to her father here (my elder son) that Bhagawanji had appeared in her dream and asked her, "Why don't your parents visit the Ashram at Bohri, Jammu and offer turmeric-red cooked rice and charwan (cooked pieces of liver) there, to be distributed as prasad among the devotees ?" My son and daughter-in-law, joined by my grandson, lost no time in doing Bhagawanji's bidding : they visited the Ashram at Bohri, Janunu, on Sunday, 3 March, 1997 carrying with them two varieties of cooked rice, one variety mixed with pieces of liver and the other with pieces of cheese (meant for vegetarian devotees like me). When they returned home after having attended the Arti, all the members of my family, including me and my children/grandchildren, partook of the prashad and the vibhuti brought from the Ashram. During the next week I too had a dream, someone asking me therein, "Why don't you come to Bohri Ashram for a darshan of Bhagawanji I felt shaken, realizing that having had a long and deep association with Bhagawanji going as far back as 1947, it was a pity that I had paid my obeisance at the Bohri Ashram only three or four times since 1990. So I decided to go to the Ashram with some halwa as prasad on the coming Sunday, 4th Sunday of March, 1997. Since the ingredients of halwa were not available from the market on account of the day being a Sunday, I had to postpone my visit to the next Sunday, when I did carry halwa to the Ashram (in place of cooked rice). Since then I have been attending the evening Arti at the Bohri Ashram on all Sundays.

At the Ashram, Shri Shibanji Turki Sahib, who has known me as a fellow-devotee for many years past, asked me to contribute an article for the forthcoming issue of the 'Patrika', on the theme of how I came to Bhagawanji and about all that I owned to Him spiritually. Initially, I felt hesitant to write on the subject, for two reasons (i) I cannot recapitulate all that is worth recording in view of the long lapse of time since I met Bhagawanji many years ago, (ii) I felt that a humble person like me could not conceive of the greatness of, and write about, Bhagawan Himself. And so I did not make an attempt at writing a piece. Since Turki Sahib would not let me go and persuaded me insistently on the next two Sundays at the Ashram not to disappoint him I realized that I could not shirk the responsibility. I took the prompting of my friend (Turki Sahib) as a direct command from Bhagawanji that had to be complied with. What follows is a truthful account of my experiences bearin on my contact with Bhagawanji. Wherever I inadvertently go wrong or deviate a little from the truth, I hope He will make allowance for human error imperfection and forgive me.

It was way back in 1938-39, when I was a student of the 9th Class, studying in the C.M.S. High School, Srinagar that I had to migrate to the National High School, Baramulla in view of my father's transfer from Doda Forest Division to the J. V. Forest Division, Baramulla. As employees of the Forest Department, my father and his colleague (in fact his assistant) late Shri Shankar Nath Zadoo, lived as close neighbours, occupying the residential quarters allotted to them by the Department. Shri Zadoo's first daughter, who was bom in Baramulla, was less than a year old when my father took over in that Division. Both Shri Zadoo and his wife came to love me very much as a young boy. After finishing my studies in 1944, as my good luck would have it, I secured the job of a senior clerk in the Chief Conservator's office (through my father's influence).

From my early childhood, I had intense devotion for the divine Mother and was, therefore, drawn to the feet of the Goddess Ashta Dashbuji whose peeth is at Hari Parbat. I maintained the habit of going every morning to Hari Parbat during my college days and even later, after joining Govt. service, I paid my obeisance to the Mother Sharika every morning without fail. Since Shri Shankar Nath Zadoo too (then working as a Head Clerk in one ofthe divisions, of the Forest Department in Srinagar) also visited Hariparbat daily in the mornings, I was able to revive my contact with him at the feet of the Great Mother. It was one day during the year 1946/47 that Shri Zadoo just asked me, "Why don't you come to Babji, a saint of a very high calibre ?" I readily expressed my willingness to see the saint in view of my reverence for saints in general such as Sam Baba, Grata Bab and others.

So, one lucky Sunday, I was accompanied by Zadoo Sahib to the house at Rishi Mohalla in which Bhagawanji lived then (that actually belonged to his sister). As I came near the lotus feet of Bhagawanji , he asked Shri Zadoo who I was. After introducing me, Zadoo Sahib informed Bhagawanji that I could recite verses from the Panchastavi tunefully. Bhagawanji responded by asking me "pur" (which means recite in Kashmiri). I reverentially enquired of Bhagawanji which tav I should read (Panchastvi has five tavs or sections). His holiness asked me to recite the 4th tav (Ambas tav-that glorifies the Mother), which I did. In fact, I must express my gratitude to the late Shri Lala Kaul Ji (Shoda) of Karfali Mohalla, Srinagar front whom I had picked up the bhang (the right tune) in which the verses of the Panchastavi should be sung. Whenever later I paid my obeisance to the lotus feet of Bhagawanji, I recited the 4th tav for the Bhagawan in the tune I had become proficient in through practice. With the passage of time, I got familiar with Bhagawanji and naturally gathered courage to press his feet and even his legs. When for the first time I introduced my hands inside his feran (outer garment) to press his legs, I could feel that there was virtually no flesh on them-the large legs, when touched, were felt to be simple splinters. So instead of pressing them. I would massage them. Whenever I went to pay homage to Bhagawanji, I invariably found Shri Shankar Nath Zadoo in the house. During those days Shri Shankar Nath Fotedar and others were not to be seen there. This continued to be the position till October, 1947 when Qabailis and plain-clothed Pakistani soldiers invaded Kashmir. When the news that the raiders had reached Shalteng spread to Srinagar, panic gripped the city. In the evening, in great distress, I went to Bhagawanji's and saw Shri Shankar Nath Zadoo as usual there. There were only we two of us besides Bhagawanji (and the other inmates of the house). I found Shri Zadoo entreating the Bhagawan to save the Kashmiri Pandits. Bhagawanji remained silent for a long time and made no response to Shri Zadoo's request. I left the house and the next day, on my return from Hari Parbat, I enquired of Shri Shankar Nath Zadoo as to what had been bhagawanji's response to his request, He replied that Bhagawani had asked him if there was really a bata there (implying that no Kashmiri Pandit was really a Pandit as he should be). Being very close to Bhagawanji, Shri Zadoo would not relent and persisted in his request. Thereupon Bhagawanji had asked him "Will you sacrifice yourself for the Pandits (tcha lagakha balayi batan)? " Shri Zadoo, in his simplicity, replied, "Yes Maharaj (Ahanmara)". Then Bhagawanji asked him to thrust the fore-fingers of his two hands into the holes of the pinjara (Kashmiri word for a window with numerous holes) that served as the window of the room in which Bhagawanji was seated. After an hour or so Shri Zadoo was allowed to go home by Bhagawanji. Thereafter, I noticed that Zadoo Sahib did not behave like a normal person and sometimes talked irrelevant. He did not look 100% sane and became abnormal. I did ask him what the matter was and why he did not behave as he used to. To this he replied that he had sacrificed himself for the Pandits (bu chusna batan logmut balayi). Later he was posted as a Head Clerk in the Direction Office of the Forest Department in the C.C.'s office in which I too worked. He did regain his normalcy in two or three years, but continued to have a touch of abnormality, behaving like a mastana (inebriate) at times.

I continued to visit Bhagawanji's abode on Sundays for paying him my obeisance. One Sunday it so happened that a Kashmiri Pandit lady came to see Bhagawanji from Karan Nagar, Srinagar, accompanied by a servant, a Muslim, who was carrying a bag-ful of yellow pears (goshibob variety). The bag of pears was placed as an offering at the feet of Bhagawanji. He asked the 'everpresent'. Shankar Nath Zadoo to distribute the pears as prasad among all the devotees present. Shri Zadoo started distributing the pears from the devotee who was sitting next to Bhagawanji. But Bhagawanji made a nod and desired that the fruit be distributed starting from the servant (who had carried the bag). After Shri Zadoo gave him a pear, Bhagawanji asked him to give another and then another (nodding several times) till the servant got five pears. At this the servant got up trembling in obeisance, telling Bhagawanji that he had got enough. The rest of the devotees were given one pear each. That shows how kind and considerate the Bhagawan was to the poor and underprivileged. The inquisitive Zadoo Sahib, however, enquired of the servant what must have made Bhagawanji specially bountiful to him in having him given five pears instead of one. The servant revealed that at the time of purchasing the pears, he had felt tempted to eat them. He had further thought to himself, "I do not know for whom Mataji is purchasing the fruit ; at any rate, she is not going to offer me any pear to eat". Obviously, Bhagawanji being ananterymi had read what thoughts had occupied the servant's mind and so he asked Shri Zadoo to feed him to his fill.

That very summer, I witnessed another miracle. My sister had appeared in her B. A. Examination and she was very keen to pursue higher studies. A class-mate of hers, who was the daughter of a cousin of Shri Shankar Nath Zadoo, had also appeared in B. A. Examination. Being close to her as a friend, my sister had asked her to inform her when applications would be invited by the State Govt. from the aspiring students for admission to the B. T. Course. The girls's father functioned as an auditor in the A.G.'s office, Srinagar. One day that year, on the 3rd of July (I don't remember the year precisely) I could lay my hands on the Govt. gazette which carried the advertisement in question (regarding admission to the B. T. Course). It said that the candidates whose B. A. result had not been declared yet could also apply. Unfortunately, the closing date for entertaining the applications was mentioned as 30th June, which had already expired. I took the relevant leaf of the Gazette and enquired of my sister if she had been informed by her friend, Miss Zadoo, about the advertisement. She was taken aback and at once ran to the friend's house at Khardouri, Srinagar. She came back in tears and told me that her friend had hidden herself and not come forward to see her. Depressed and dejected, my sister did not take her meal that evening and she wept bitterly. On the following morning (when it was Sunday) I, as usual, went to Hari Parbat. It was there, at the feet of the Mother Sharika, that it occurred to my mind that I should approach Bhagawanji and urge him to help my sister. As I reached home, I advised my sister not to feel depressed and frustrated. I asked her to accompany me to Bhagawanji's house at Reshi Mohalla, Srinagar. I bowed to Bhagawanji (who sat facing the door), and took my seat close to his feet. My, sister sat on the other side, against the wall. Bhagawanji observed her sobbing, with her head bent on her knees. He wanted to know who the girl was and why she was weeping. I made bold to tell him that she was my sister and had been cheated by the daughter of Shri S. N. Zadoo, who was very much present there. Feeling abashed at the mention of his name, he asked "My daughter ?" I replied back saying "yes please, actually your cousin's daughter". I first narrated the whole story to Shri Zadoo and then to Bhagawanji particularly, who was outwardly inattentive but heard every bit of what I said with rapt attention. He pondered for a while and then said to my sister, "Ma vad (don't weep). Chanyi jayi tamis ta tamsanz jayi ceh (your place will go to her and hers to you)". None could understand the actual import of this cryptic remark. We left after receiving Bhagawanji's blessings. While proceeding towards our home, I consoled my sister, reassuring her that Bhagawanji's words would bear some fruit. On the next day (Monday, 5 July) my father, by chance, met one of his former class-fellows, Dr. B...... who was working then as a Professor in the S. P. College, Seeing my father gloomy, he said to him "Manakaka, why are you looking sad today ?" My father explained to him at length what had made him feel depressed and helpless. The Professor, in a heartening tone, asked him to furnish him an undated application from my sister, which he promised to get entertained in the Education Department by the officer concerned who happened to have been his pupil (whom he had taught). It so happened that when the B. A. result was declared, my sister's friend, Miss Zadoo, was placed in the compartment category (she had not cleared all the subjects) whereas my sister passed in the second division. Through Bhagawanji grace, she was selected for the B.T. Course. Was it not a divine miracle wrought by our Bhagwawan ? My sister not only passed her B. T. Examination but also got the M. A. degree in two subjects and was appointed a teacher in a Government School; she rose to the position of Head Mistress in a High School. The reader can now appreciate the meaning of Bhagawanji's cryptic statement as I too did when my sister was admitted to the B. T. Course and her friend had to lag behind her.

Finally, I recount the miracle connected with Thakur Harnam Singh Pathania, who was the Chief Conservator of Forests in whose office I worked. There was a colleague of mine in that office, Shri Neelkanth Kalla, who functioned as the Steno-cum-P.A. of Shri Pathania. Shri Kalla too had turned into a devotee of Bhagwaanji through my association with him. One Saturday he had gone to Bhagawanji's to pay his homage to him. Bhagawanji asked him, "Is your officer (Afsar) well?" "The officer with whom you, are working", Bhagawaiiji continued. Shri Kalla replied back saying "Yes, Shri Pathania is fine" "Has he to go to Jammu ?" Bhagawanji asked next. Actually Shri Pathania was scheduled to leave on tour for Jammu on the approaching Monday. So Shri Kalla replied to Bhagawanji in the affirmative. Thereupon Bhagawanji took out a piece of candy sugar and asked Shri Kalla to give it to Shri Pathania before he would leave for Jammu. Shri Kalla met Shri Pathania well in time and delivered the piece to him, narrating to him all that Bhagawanji had enquired of him. Shri Pathania went to Jammu in his official Land Rover jeep, which he drew himself, and he was accompanied by two peons in the jeep besides his driver, Madhov Ram, on whom he did not depend much since he found him unfit. Shri Pathania was a dauntless driver and as such he was on the steering, Madho Ram being seated to his left. They left Srinagar at 7.30 a.m. and halted at Qazigund where Mr. M. I. Beg, D.F.O. Anantnag, was waiting to receive them. On resuming the journey, Shri Pathania was again on the steering. About 200 yards away, the jeep had to cross a bridge built across a small canal. It so happened that an army truck coming from the other side was followed by a Jonga jeep driven by an army officer who wanted to overtake the truck. This jeep somehow struck the Land Rover of Pathania Sahib. As narrated by the peon, Sadhu Singh, it seemed to him as if the Land Rover driven by Pathania Sahib was lifted by some one and placed harmlessly in the Nallah below without getting overturned. Shri Pathania got a small scratch on one of his ears and sustained one or two light bruises and the others too suffered no serious injuries. When the Army officer (whose fast driving led to the accident) came to know of Shri Pathania's official status and of his being a brother of Major General A. S. Pathania he got an Army Rescuer and thus Shri Pathania's jeep was rescued. He was offered another jeep which he declined. Instead, a jeep was arranged for him by the D.F.O. So Pathania Sahib managed to reach Jammu safe in the evening. On his return, he was accompanied by Shri Neelkanth Kalla to Bhagawanji's residence at Reshi Mohalla, Srinagar. Shri Pathania conveyed his gratitude to Bhagawanji who responded by blessing him with a smile!

[The author is a senior devotee of Bhagawanji, living at Karan Nagar, Jammu]
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