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His Holiness Swami Haldhar Ji Maharaj

A Wath Sadh - abandon the Five Worldly Reactions

(Kam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh, and Ahamkar)

- Kanhaiya Lal S Raina 

Kashmir (the Kashyapa Bhumi) has given birth to many saints and savants from time to time. One such savant whom our lineage knew intimately was Swami Haldhar Ji Maharaj (1853-1921), a saint of high calibre and veritably a divine incarnation. Swami Haldhar Ji Maharaj was born in Kuckroo’s family residing in Batapur Mohalla at Sopore Kashmir. This house produced many saints, namely late Shri Shridhar Joo Bub, and late Shri Lakshman Joo Bub.

I must admit that it is very difficult for a person like me to write about the spiritual life of Swami Ji. I beg an excuse from all esteemed readers for any erroneous interpretations, although I have tried to give it a form and shape. Initially I felt hesitant to write on the subject, for a lay man in spiritually, is nothing short of impudence. But then I remembered what Cicero said; “Not to know what took place before you were born is to remain for ever a child. For to be aware of the present without being aware of the past, is to have a deceptive view of things.”

Swami Haldhar Ji was an example of an ordinary man developing into a superman under very trying circumstances. He was under the full control of an almighty Power without any offer of resistance on his part. Out of the bounty of Lord’s grace, he enlightened others. Blessed indeed is the day When God made Swami Haldhar Ji entirely His own. He lived in his own-self and yet lived with masses around him. He has purified the faithful and with his all-pervading spirit continues to guide the needy and the deserving, even after attaining Mahasamadhi in 1921 on Ram Navami day. He was Ishwara in the human form. He made free use of his divine Shakti for the welfare of his devotees. Verily, Swami Ji was such a super-saint. Undoubtedly he came to family just when he was most wanted.

Further what encouraged me to write is the feeling that, talking, writing in praise of Swami Ji comes near to worshipping him. As some one has rightly said, the enlightened soul cannot remain hidden in the worldly grab, the flame of spirituality shines out, inspite of covering. Since no senior member in our family had ventured to write about Swami Ji’s life during the past 80 years, I decided to bare my thoughts, instead of being stuck up by fear of facing criticism from any quarter.

I have attempted to peep into various dimensions of Swami Ji here. And whatever little I have gathered and learnt from various persons who enlightened me about Swami Ji’s life just like the proverbial six blind persons who went to see the elephant, every one described the elephant as they touched and felt.

The basic idea with which this narration has been written is to acquaint those who possibly have heard of Swami Haldhar Ji Maharaj and want to know more about him. This write up could have been written about 20 years ago, when in 1981, I had the pleasure of listening with warmth and gratitude Swami Ji’s life in the form of a true story, first hand source, from my grand mother late Smt Tarawati (1902-1984).

She visited us at New Delhi and during the course of her stay with me she described in detail various events about Swami Ji. I owe a deep lifelong debt of gratitude for the great spiritual benefits and upadesha that I have derived from her company. My grand mother possessed a beauty in feature and colour, which was quite unique and ethereal. She was married at the age of 12 years to our grand father late Pandit Nath Ram Ji (1894-1926).

Deep admiration further rose up in me, when I listened to the folktales, from my respected father Pandit Swarup Nath Ji Raina (1919) and his sister Smt. Goveri (Mohan Rani) Kuchroo (1924). These not only inspired an intellectual elite and spiritual luminaries, but also captured the imagination of the common people. Later I tried to acquire as much useful information as possible from various people who were at times close to Swami Ji who enlightened me about the spiritual path of Swami Ji.

I made my own various short notes on the basis of conversation mostly held in Kashmiri with them. It is through their hearty and devoted co-operation that this write up has been at last satisfactorily concluded. Whatever I have gathered about Swami Ji from my grand mother, parents, relatives and those who had good fortune to be in contact some time with him, besides my own personal experiences of last 40 years, I take this liberty to share the same with you.

Swami Haldhar Ji Maharaj’s guru I have told was Late Pandit Raja Ji, a saint of high order, his own brother-in-law. It is said that a seeker of God is doubly born. First he gets his birth from his parents and then the second birth from his guru who puts him on the righteous path. He met his real guru at a very young age and took up his apprenticeship under this great yogi, who lived in the foothills of the Himalayas at village called as Dayal, Anantnag and raised Swami Ji.

For many years he remained attached with Pandit Raja Ji. Born and brought up in this atmosphere of learning, and true to his family tradition, became very learned in religious and secular fields. Swami Haldhar Ji took leave from his guru and started wandering in further pursuit of knowledge Divine and to intensify his meditative practices. It appeared that various villages in Kashmir exerted on him a strange fascination. He avoided the din and bustle of city life.

In the year 1908, Swami Ji with his followers happened to come to village Budhmulla (Narvav) situated under the foothill of Ma-Sharika Koh, about 10 kilometres from Baramulla town. As he reached the foothill of Ma-Sharika Koh, new and sublime scenes of the majesty of nature unfolded themselves before his eyes and he was thrilled with joy at the enchanting vision.  He was attracted by the cool and bracing breeze of Ma- Sharika Koh.

There he rested adjacent to a pond in the compound of a small wooden structure known popularly those days as (gaundmandal) that belonged to our great grand father, late Pandit Telakchand Ji Pandita (1854-1903). My great grandfather originally a resident of Habba Kadal Srinagar had settled down at Budhmulla village after his marriage to my great grandmother Smt. Shreewded (1862-1923). It is said with this, he also adopted the surname Razdan as my great grand mother’s family was known then, but later that surname was also changed to Raina.

Swami Ji after examining the surroundings and the scenic beauty filled with dense forests of pine and cedar trees, chirping birds and blossoming flowers of Ma-Sharika Koh, Budhmulla village presented an enthralling sight of supreme beauty and grandeur to him and his followers.

Swami Ji showed his intent to stay at this place. Initially my great grand mother showed her reluctance in offering him a place to reside. She expressed her inability, being a widow, to serve and feed Swami Ji and his followers, more so due to the fact that she was also very poor and had difficulty even in feeding her own eight children (5 sons & 3 daughters). To which, it is said, Swami Ji offered himself as another child of the family and settled down without waiting for her reply. My grand father Late Pandit Nath Ram was hardly 14 years of age at the time when Swami Ji blessed the family with his presence.

It is said that Swami Ji was of a highly emotional temperament. He felt the urge to instantaneously help our ancestors. Like a compassionate father he helped the young ones to grow. Swami Ji, unlike any other Kashmiri saint, since then maintained his identity in preferring to stay indoors and remain a member of the household though leading a godly/celibate life. All family members in the house got attached to him and were constantly in attendance on him and looked after him with great care and love.

To Swami Ji every living creature was divine. The young children had great attraction for him and especially my grand father was his favourite. They would play, laugh and dance with him. Swami Ji’s deep sincerity, irresistible sweetness and moving sympathy often used to express themselves in tears and his meditations on the Divine led him into a state of God-intoxication. Swami Ji was very courteous and polite to the meanest; he worshipped man as God incarnate. Late Smt Shreewded also sought his society and felt very happy in his presence. Altogether our house which Swami Ji blessed was filled with inexpressible love and joy.

Swami Ji did not choose to live in seclusion or in ashrams nor did he look different from household members in respect of dress or food habits. He wore a long simple toga - loose outer gown (pheran) made of pashmina reaching below the knees with long sleeves, covering his body with a woollen shawl and old-fashioned turban. He had wooden sandal (kharaavoon) to cover his feet.

He would carry a small kangdi (portable fire pot having an earthen bowl-like vessel having hot charcoal inside, fitted into basket made of willow with a handle of the same material). He did not smoke nor took to chillum or charas (an extract of Ganja), but was fully absorbed in God-consciousness throughout. He lived a simple life devoid of pomp and show. He was charitable to all and illuminated the path of spirituality for the seekers he blessed. In marked contrast to his inward greatness, he behaved outwardly like an ordinary man.

There was in him the spontaneous serenity and joy of a natural man, which sometimes burst out into peals of laughter at the sight of others - a laughter, which touched the innermost core of their hearts making them feel that the Swami Ji knew everything of them. Swami Ji did not see marriage as an obstacle to the attainment of spirituality in spite of the fact that he himself had remained brahmacharin. His Vedanta does not ask you to give up your wife or children or other relations, or go to forest or to strip of all the clothes or to walk bare-footed or bareheaded. He believed that man’s prime task was, in discharging household duties in truest sense. He believed the greatest ashram was his own home.

Swami Ji’s life was marked by sustained and intense spiritual efforts aimed at the upliftment of the ailing mankind. He cured both physical and mental wounds of his disciples instantly, and helped to raise the economy of the down trodden and brought the wrong on the right path. He talked little and preached a little but he was full of compassion and love for all that sought his protection and blessings. He felt he had no right to preach to any one. The only right, he believed, anybody has is to serve.

Swami Ji never performed miracles to impress anyone, although our family members have witnessed many many such spiritual chamatkars. None of the devotees and persons, who supplied the material or narrated their experiences, failed to mention the miracles attributed to the great saint. He indeed helped any person who approached him sincerely and with devotion. He lived an unpretentious and sincere life. They regarded him as a great yogi and saint.

Late Smt. Shreewded’s three daughters, pure and glorious souls - veritable goddesses - and five sons tended and fed him with all tenderness and care at their command. Whenever they were with him, he would feel they always carried him with the fragrance of purity, simplicity and innocence. Under the watchful eyes of Swami Haldhar Ji it is said that in due course of time, business started by my grand father at a young age of 16 years. He was married to my to my grand mother when he was 19 years old. The business picked up so fast and well that very soon a new house was built at the foot hill of Ma- Sharika Koh. With his blessings and the grace of the true Guru, all the eight children got married and all their children were further highly educated. Late Shri Ved Lal Ji my grand father’s youngest brother was the first student from district Baramulla, (Varahmula) who passed his graduation examination.

According to my grand mother, Swami Ji used to tell my grand father to engage in doing worldly jobs, while keeping heart fully devoted to God. Swami Ji used to say God’s help accompanies self-help and in the battlefield of this world, continue your struggle of life by having faith in God. He will Himself show the right path. Never forget that you have to do your duty righteously, without caring for the result. Swami Ji advised my grand father to work hard to justify the right. You have to earn your right. What you fully deserve with your own efforts and noble acts, you will achieve your objective without delay. Any unselfish act lays God under Debt. He may not pay you by the hand that He employed in receiving that very time, but possibly through some other hand or person He shall certainly pay you back at some other time. These were the pet lines of Swami Haldhar Ji.

Keeping these noble principles in mind, my grand father established a roaring business at Budhmulla. He acquired thousands of acres of agricultural land, fruit gardens, and several shops spreading over to many neighbouring villages, besides establishing a money-lending business as a banker.

All this was accomplished with in a span of just 12 to 16 years. Business spread to Poonch and other places. High breed horses and cattle were imported from Iran, Russia (Kazakistan) and other places by my grand father. Rice and ghee was exported to Lahore through our agents at Baramulla. My grand father constructed then a new house at Srinagar at Zaindar Mohalla for his sister late Smt Sati Ded; married to late Shri Sudershan Ji Kaul. Our family members used this house whenever they were studying at Srinagar. All through out this period, Swami Ji remained at Budhmulla and due to his blessings the business flourished and expanded and all the children got good education.

Hundreds of high breed horses, cows, sheep and other animals were purchased and looked after by employees engaged for the purpose. Special cattle huts were constructed for their safety and stay. Plenty of curd, cheese, ghee and milk was thus available in the house. The staple food being rice was cultivated in the paddy fields spreading over thousands of acres. Fruit and vegetables were available from our own gardens and fields in plenty.

It is said that once my grand father in his dream became aware of the existence of deity of Lord Nrisingha Avatar buried somewhere in one of our fields. Next day he discussed this matter with Swami Ji and immediately upon his advice, arrangements were made to dig certain places around our fields. To every one’s surprise, a huge full size deity of Nrisingha Avatar at village Zandefaran was found. While excavating the deity, one arm got broken. Later various other deities of Lord Shiva’s family were also found, at village Fathegard, belonging to the period of Pandavas. My grand father took keen interest and very cautiously all these deities were carried on wooden carts to our place of residence. These deities were then placed near the adjacent garden of our residence.

My grand father wanted to construct now a big temple complex near our place of residence, just under the foothill of Ma Sharika Koh, and install the deities there. However the land chosen for the site of temple, belonged to one Muslim, late Shri Ahmed Sheikh, Numbardar, who declined to sell or hand over the piece of land to my grand father.

At the request of my grand father, Swami Ji also advised him to give this piece of land for construction of the temple complex for the good of the community. Swami Ji also advised my grand father to make full payment of the land or in exchange give him, Mr. Ahmed Sheikh, any other piece of land, which Ahmed Sheikh may like.

Ahmed Sheikh did not agree to sell the land. It is said that within next three days thereafter, Ahmed Sheikh came weeping and wailing and offered the land free of cost to Swami Ji for constructing the temple complex. He told my grand father that during the last three days he had been continuously dreaming of misfortunes in his family and had not taken any food since then. He offered his land for temple and in lieu did not accept any money or land in exchange. He became an ardent disciple of Swami Ji thereafter. All this happened due to blessings of Swami Ji.

A temple was built, and the deities of Lord Nrisingha Avataar and Lord Shiva along with other deities, were installed. Soon the entire village became a place of pilgrimage. Hundreds of devotees started coming to village Budhmulla to see statue of Lord Nrisingha Avataar. It was first such temple in whole of Kashmir having a deity of Lord Nrisingha belonging to Pandavas period.

Maharaja Partap Singh’s, who was the ruler of Kashmir, came to know about these ancient deities and wanted to remove them from the temple to be kept under his govt. control of archaeological dept. But upon the intervention of Swami Ji these deities were retained at the temple complex.

During the day, often Swami Ji would sit under a huge mulberry tree, which was within the temple complex. Swami Ji would meditate in isolation and was often seen reciting the sacred word OM. However Swami Ji it is said never went inside the temple. However during the night Swami Ji would sit in meditation on a special platform (aasan) raised for him in the prayer cum assembly hall that was specially constructed in the new building and would get blissfully merged with the Lord.

An evening aarti was however became a regular activity. His followers late Shri Hari Ram Ji of (Lalad Sopore), late Shri Budh Ji Lal, Late Shyam Lal Ji Kachroo (Sopore) and late Shri Narayan Kaul (Baramulla) became his devotees and were always at his side. Late Shri Hari Ram Ji was brother of my grand mother.

Many devotees would come to meet Swami Ji from far off places. People in large number also attended the daily bhajans. He believed in Satsang a society of saints. The devotees would bring fruits, clothes and money and offer the same to Swami Ji. These were immediately redistributed to all the people assembled there and in the village. He never retained any gifts or money with him.

About 7 kms down from village Budhmulla, there is another pilgrimage shrine called “Kani-Maiji” situated on the banks of river Jhelum. Kashmiri Pandits hold the main river of Kashmir Jhelum very sacred, a tributary of the Indus. The river flows right through the entire length of Kashmir and both the banks of it are studded with temples and residences of Kashmiri prior to the mass exodus, which took place in 1989. All my relations were forced to leave their homes and hearths at Kashmir due to reign of terror, butchery and exploitation that were prevailing in Kashmir. Many had migrated from the valley to different parts of the country. The Kashmiri Pandit houses were either burnt and or looted and many shrines were destroyed.

Prior to this pilgrims from all over Kashmir used to visit this shrine on Narayani Ekadashi. It was almost like a ritual that all pilgrims after visiting “Kani-Maiji” shrine would visit Budhmulla village to see the temple complex of Nrisingha Avataar and have Swami Ji’s darshan as well. Some of them would stay for the night before proceeding for the next shrine  “Kutitirath” at Baramulla.

It is said that thousands of people started visiting our house to have a darshan of Swami JI after the temple was built. To accommodate more people, additional houses having large halls to accommodate more people were constructed. Swami Ji directed that the new houses be built in the form of L shape. However there was a problem. The formation of “L” was difficult without obtaining one of the corner pieces of land, which belonged to one Late Pandit Manna Shah.

My grand father offered Pandit Shah the price, but he refused to accept any amount in exchange of the land. When the matter was brought to the attention of Swami Ji, he too advised Pandit Shah but the later was adamant. It is said that a few days’ later police arrested Shah on charge of murder. However on the intervention of Swami Ji, he was released from jail next day and Shah came and begged pardon and offered entire land without accepting any money.

Thus new houses with large halls and deevankans were built, where more than 300 persons at a time would be served hot food from the daily Langer arranged for this purpose. The hundreds of devotees assembled were served food on the floor itself in three or four long rows. They would be served food in earthen plates (tubchi- bowl). Some time later metal plates (Sartal Thallies) replaced these tubchi plates. Some of the devotees would carry prashaad to their homes in a small earthen pot called as (tok). During winter months, kangdis were kept ready for the devotees. A special hall with heating arrangement through use of several fire pots called (Bhukari wott) was also added for the comfort of the devotees.

The whole complex was now named “Haldhar Kutir” as a mark of respect and regard for Swami Ji. After the new complex was ready, Swami Ji attended the Bhajan sessions in the big prayer hall specially designed on the second floor for this purpose meant for summer period. A special aasan was made for Swami Ji where he would meet his devotees and followers. Every day aarti was a regular activity, followed by devotional songs and music. All devotees were then offered rice and milk pudding (khir).

It was an unusual experience that no matter how many pilgrims/ devotees would come to meet Swami Ji, there would be hot food ready for them. At times Swami Ji would tell Bhainjigree, (1887-1956) my grand father’s eldest sister, who was directly responsible to look after Swami Ji needs, and would in turn inform my grand mother Smt. Tarawati., as she was incharge of kitchen, to keep food ready for the persons about to land there.

Many a times it so happened that the food prepared was meant for 40 to 50 guests only, but according to my grand mother she never felt at any time shortage of cooked rice or vegetables, even when more people arrived and stayed back for their meals. Every one used to share rice, dal-pulse, potato and sag as prashaad, which was prepared under the direct supervision of my grand mother.  Bhainjigree used to organise Kashmiri sugar tea (kahwa) in the special tea pot (Samawar) for Swami Ji and where as my grand mother would prepare tea for the village folk and guests who stayed for 2 to 3 hours in the company of Swami Ji. All the devotees would usually plead for small favours and mercies. All of them held Swami Ji in high esteem. Swami Ji himself used to have kahwa tea many times a day. He was served specially in a cup called as (Kenzi Khoss).

The flourishing business of my great grandfather resulted in a lot of animosity and enmity. It is said that once some persons entered my grand father’s place of business and wanted to burn the office records, pertaining to family’s money-lending - banking business. But no records got burnt as these records were under the (asana), seat of Swami Ji, although major portion of the house was completely gutted by the fire. Enemies tried to set on fire our houses many times later but on all these occasions with the grace of Swami Ji presence all the records and family members were safe.

Swami Ji had occult powers, which he would rarely manifest. A vivid experience was seen when he desired to visit his guru Pandit Raja Ji, who had earlier initiated him to spiritualism. One day he informed my grand father that his Guru had come to Baramulla for a few days and desired to meet him. Immediately arrangements were made and he was taken to Baramulla. It is said that when Swami Ji was about ½ kilometre away from the place of Raja Ji, his guru sensed the coming of Swami Ji and suddenly he directed his followers to close the door of the house.

Soon thereafter Swami Ji arrived with his followers and found the door closed. He knocked at the door but to his surprise, Raja Ji wanted to know what type of a person had come to see him. Was he (kath sadh,) a Preacher, (bat sadh) Food Grabber or (wath sadh) Seeker of Truth? Swami Ji replied that he was a wath sadh treading the path of Righteousness and Truth. On hearing his reply the guru immediately opened the door and Swami Ji was allowed to enter into the house. He stayed there silently at the feet of his guru for an hour without uttering a single word and returned back to his place at Budhmulla along with his followers.

Swami Ji would mainly absorbed in the Self - most of the time, although he could easily be approached and asked questions. Swami Ji would quote lines from the mystical utterances of several celebrated Kashmiri saint-poets, including (Lalleshwari) Lal-Ded. He had a great yearning for the Bhagawad Gita, Ramayana, Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas. When in ecstasy, tears would roll down his eyes.

He would often tell the story of Gobardhan Lila of Lord Krishna, Buddha, Shankaracharya, Vivekananda, and Tulsi Dass. On these occasions the devotees would get spell bound, fully enraptured with the wonderful harmony and would not leave the prayer hall. Many Sadhus and Brahmins leading religious life would come from far off places to listen these stories. Swami Ji loved the verses of the saint poetess Lal Ded and would recite many stories about the lives of various saints of Kashmir. He would interpret vaakhs of Lal Ded in his own unique way. He was of view that Lal-Ded presented a true spiritual figure, as an apostle of universal love.

In 1918, Swami Ji visited visit Hardiwar, Varanasi and other holy shrines in UP. Prior to leaving for Hardiwar, my grand mother requested Swami Ji to bless her with a son, since her first child was a daughter. When he came back from the pilgrimage, he handed over prasad to my grand mother and informed her that she would be blessed with a son whom he got from Yamuna. In due course of time a son, my father Pandit Swarup Nath Ji was born in 1919. Swami Ji himself gave this name to my father.

Swami Ji was fond of devotional songs and music. Kirtans and bhajan mandalis were daily held in the prayer hall. He believed that when heart is filled with divine light, sweet and melodious tunes are sure to come out. Swami Ji would some time recite a new leela in Kashmiri and there were many followers / devotees who would write whatever Swami Ji would speak. It used to be composed later in its right tune and voice. They used to sing the Sanskrit slokas and mantras in dhun (chorus).

It is said late Shri Narayan Ji Kaul of Baramulla was given the responsibility of taking notes of Swami Ji’s teachings. Unfortunately all these notebooks got destroyed during 1947 war. A few verses that my father copied during his student days in 1935 from one of the notebooks written by Late Narayan Kaul give us an insight into the high spiritual state of Swami Ji. This leela is dedicated to Lord Shiva “BHOW SAR TAR DIM GOURI SHANKER”.

Swami Ji was basically a free thinker and was guided by direct experience and inner wisdom, Swami Ji never taught any particular religious doctrine. His concept of prayer was also unique. He did not worship inside any temple or before any statue. He did not put sandal paste mark (tilak) on his forehead even. This mark is usually prominent on that of a Kashmiri Pandit. In fact this mark between the eyebrows on the face of a Muslim and Pandit is the main distinction. But he never put this tilak on his forehead.

Swami Ji used to say and I quote:  “All pooja, aarti or namaz are good for nothing, if they give out the slightest odour of selfishness. If the prayer is not all absorbing and unselfish, all this standing, sitting or bowing is futile and empty. He believed in making the inner senses (the Antah Karan, mind, heart, intellect and ego) pure, by sincerely remembering Him all the time through Satsang, Kirtans and bhajans.

He believed in the law of karma. Swami Ji once answered to this question of karma and I quote:

“Considering all the misery of samsara and the lower realms, my devotion and perseverance do not seem great. Thoughtful people who accept the great law of cause and effect are capable of such perseverance. Those who do not believe in the Dharma have little understanding and are incapable of abandoning the Five Worldly Reactions (Kam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh, and Ahamkar). Every human being is endowed with an intellect (buddhi) which represents in some way his archetypal essence. When buddhi falls into an environment subject to conditions of namarupa (name and form), it produces ahamkara (self-consciousness, source of the individuality).”

My grand mother would narrat in Kashmiri a few sayings of Swami Ji and I quote: -
 

HANG MUNG TANG OWNNUS AHAMKARAN,
NANG KURNUS SANGDOSH SAMSARAN,
RANG RANG BRAHMKIN HAVENUM ARSAAR,
KAM, KRODH, LOBH, MOH BEYE AHAMKARAN,
AINI GHATI LOGNUS CHAMBUN TA CHARAN,
GHATI MUZ GHASH HAWTUM WHYN SATGUR.

“That is why it is important to believe in the law of karma. When one has continually shown signs of disbelief, even in the obvious aspects of karma, it is far more difficult to understand and believe in the emptiness of things, regardless of ample explanations and rational considerations. The foundation of all Dharma practice lies in belief in the law of karma, and therefore it is very important for you to devote yourself wholeheartedly to the elimination of harmful deeds and to the practice of virtue”.

“First, a vivid state of mental tranquillity and a sustaining energy with a discerning intellect are indispensable requirements for attaining perfect insight. They are like the first steps of a staircase.

Second, all meditation, with or without form, must begin from deeply aroused compassion and love. Whatever one does must emerge from a loving attitude for the benefit of others.

Third, through perfect seeing, all discrimination is dissolved into a non-conceptual state.

Finally, with an awareness of the void, one sincerely dedicates the results for the benefit of others.

“This body, made of flesh and blood along with mental consciousness, is gathered together by twelve chains of cause and effect - one of which is volition - originating from ignorance. The body is the blessed vessel for those fortunate beings that wish for freedom, but it also leads sinners into the lower realms.

Furthermore, a fortunate human existence is a state difficult to acquire. By arousing the mind with great intensity regarding impermanence and death, the consequences of action, and the pain of samsara, one develops a longing for liberation and must pursue it through the observance of moral precepts. Such is the foundation upon which one must build”.

My grand mother used to say that Bhainjigree was a true devotee of Swami Ji. She was devoting her time wholly to the service of Swami Ji. She had in fact by then taken a role of Sadhvi. She was attending to the entire daily needs of Swami Ji. Some time, before Swami Ji’s Mahasamadhi, she desired to take Guru-Dhiksha and become his shishya but Swami Ji refused by advising her that this was not meant for her.

He said that so long as she believed in the reality of sense objects, and so long she set her heart on them, she would never get them. They will never give you any real comfort. Possibly that day Swami Ji told Bhainjigree that a misfortune would fall on our family, and we would lose every thing resulting in poverty, misery and they would all leave this village. Nothing but memory shall remain.

It is said that one of his devotees Pandit Sonna Bhan suddenly fell sick. People approached Swami Ji to help him to recover from his sickness. Instead Swami Ji covered himself with a woollen blanket and slept. Many people tried to wake him up but there was no response from him. By then Sonna Bhan had breathed his last. Immediately Swami Ji got up. When asked why he did not help Sonna Bhan, he simply said “Truly He gives and He takes away. His will is supreme and He means always well.”

It is said that Swami Ji knew about his last day of journey to Vaikunt. The disciples who were with him for the last days narrated later about the preparations that he had made for Mahasamadhi, although none imagined it to be so at the time. One day Swami Ji jokingly requested my grand father to arrange a fine palanquin (palki a wooden couch with sides covered by cloth curtains) as he had never sat in palki nor taken a ride earlier.

Accordingly many carpenters were engaged and a beautiful heavily garlanded palki was made for him. Once it was ready he directed my grand father to arrange some persons who could carry him to Baramulla, as he wanted to go there for a few days. Accordingly some persons were selected and Swami Ji was carried in palki to Baramulla. When he arrived at Mata Sheila Devi’s mandir at Baramulla situated on the banks of river Jhelum, many devotees came to see him there. From here he desired that a “doonga” (a wooden boat having one or two cabins) be arranged for him, as he wanted to go Sopore and travel along side river Jhelum.

My grand father immediately arranged a doonga. The doonga carrying Swami Ji was followed by many small boats (shikaras - kistis), meant for his devotees in a big procession. When he arrived at Sopore, he directed the doonga towards Rishipeer temple, situated on the banks of river Jhelum, where he wanted to take some rest under a huge chinar tree. Incidentally Swami Ji’s ancestral house was just hardly 2000 yards away from this place (Rishipeer). All the members accompanying Swami Ji stayed in the temple compound with him, under the chinar tree, (bonishehjar), where he performed his last meditation.

Here Swami Ji called for a Hakim, known to him, who had great love for him. The followers accompanying him thought that possibly due to long journey he was tired and was not feeling well. He had slight fever. Accordingly Hakim paid his visit and examined Swami Ji and prescribed some medicines. Swami Ji directed one of his followers to pay the Hakim eight annas. The Hakim promised to re-examine Swami Ji again the next day.

Swami Ji would not have the treatment. The followers were persistent to have him take some medicine. Once again Hakim came to see Swami Ji next day, and informed his followers that Swami Ji was much better after the treatment. Followers were surprised to hear him say so. Swami Ji would only laugh and again directed one of his followers to pay the Hakim eight annas. When Hakim left the place, Swami Ji felt relaxed and informed his followers that he had to pay one rupee to Hakim and now he felt better and at the same time fever vanished.

Soon thereafter Swami Ji advised his followers to spread kusa grass (darbha) on the ground and directed them to wake him up next morning just before the sunrise. He slept on the darbha grass all through out the night, where as followers recited bhajans and other verses dear to Swami Ji.

Early in the morning on the day of Ramnavmi, Swami Ji woke up, before sunrise. He took bath on the banks of river Jhelum, and went back to the place where the darbha grass was spread. Prior to the day of his attaining Mahasamadhi, he told his follower to wash the place and spread the darbha and wash the place with cow excrement (ghober).

He asked for a cup of tea and after taking the tea, sat on scattered darbha (kusa grass) in his usual yogic posture and in this he mingled with the infinite and attained the abode no sooner the first ray of sun touched the ground. The priest of the temple recited sacred and efficacious verses from the Bhagavad-Gita and Ramayana. So in this atmosphere consecrated by vibrations of sacred texts, he shed his mortal frame in 1921 on the day of Ramnavmi.

His achievement in sadhana was supreme. He had attained complete union with God. My grand father and all present made a sacred circumambulation, (pradaksina) around Swami Ji’s, while incense and camphor were burnt. Samadhi postured body was then taken in a heavily garlanded palki, around Sopore, where thousands joined the procession set out through the narrow lanes. Vedic mantras were recited as disciples performed last rites.

His shawl and wooden paadukaa were collected by my grand father and brought in a procession to Budhmulla. Swami Ji’s relics, photograph, shawl, wooden paadukaa and articles of his daily use were kept on a raised aasan for darshan of the people to pay their homage. Regularly Kheer and other eatable were distributed amongst the hundreds of his devotees who used to come to our village on this day till 1947.

At a very young age of 32, my grand father too expired under mysterious circumstances, when he was to take over the charge of Zaildaree. At that time, my father Pandit Swarup Nath Ji Raina was just six years old. My grand father’s younger brother late Pandit Shiv Ram (1896-1941) then took over the affairs of family and after the expiry of late Shiv Ram Ji Raina his younger brother Late Pandit Ved Lal Ji Raina became the sole custodian of all our properties.

But it is after Swami Ji’s death that more miracles and legends began to gather round his life. Once during the time of Independence partition in 1947, Swami Ji came in the dreams of Bhainjigree, advising her to leave immediately as their lives were in danger and reminded her what he had once told her about the coming misfortunes.

Swami Ji had foreknowledge of what laid ahead. One day Swami Ji had told clearly Bhainjigree that a misfortune would fall on our family, and we would lose every thing resulting in poverty, misery and had said that they would all leave this village. Nothing but memory shall remain. Remembering what swami Ji had said when he was alive, she woke up her youngest brother late Pandit Vedlal Ji Raina (1900-1953) and told him about the dream and also what earlier Swami Ji had prophesied.

All the family members consisting of 17 adults and children, promptly acted and left the village immediately in the dark mid night, carrying very few essential clothing including the Shawl of Swami Ji and his photograph, and left for safer place to Srinagar. No sooner our family members were about 22 kms away from the village than our entire property was looted and all houses were set on fire. Nothing was left for us.

The whole district of Baramulla, which included our village, was an object of plunder and genocide in the month of October 1947. Kashmiri Pandits were terrorised and hounded out of their homes and hearths for no reason except being Hindu. Over night we became refugees, lost every penny. If we had not left the village all of us would have been burnt alive. Many of our neighbours who stayed behind at Budhmulla were murdered, tortured and butchered. Many of our relations at Baramulla were murdered or shot dead.

Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of Accession with Govt of India, on 26th Oct 1947 to save people of Kashmir. Indian Air Force undertook 704 hazardous sorties from October 27th to Nov 17th 1947 to save Kashmir valley from the ravages of the raiders.

I, then a small child still cherish the memory of those beautiful buildings, the temple complex, flower gardens, fruit orchards full of apples- peaches- berries- walnuts, paddy fields, vast green playgrounds surrounding our houses and Ma-Sharika Koh, which Swami Ji had blessed. It was entirely due to Swami Ji’s blessings that we reached safe at Srinagar and stayed temporarily at late Shri Sudershan Kual’s house at Zaindar Mohalla, till arrangements were made to shift to another building which was taken on rent at Tankipura Srinagar.

While we were at Srinagar, one of the farmers who was earlier working at our fields at Budhmulla village, met Shri Madhusudan Kaul (my Mossa Ji), who owned a chemist’s shop Jai Hind Medical Stores at Baramulla, to buy some medicine for his ailing son. During the conversation he enquired about our family members and quite unknowingly informed him that he took the wooden paadukaa of Swami Ji, when villagers looted and gutted down our houses. He further said since then, he had faced lots of problems and lost one son and the other one was terribly sick.

He did not know what to do with this paadukaa which felt had some spiritual power in it. On hearing this story, Madhusudan Ji advised him to get the wooden paadukaa immediately from his house, as otherwise his second son may also die. The farmer got frightened and rushed to his home and brought the wooden paadukaa and handed over to Madhusudan Ji. In return he was given free medicines till his son fully recovered.

Madhusudan Ji was also a relation of late Narayan Kaul a great follower of Swami Ji. He took the wooden paadukaa to his home that very time and after a proper wash, he performed paadukaa poojan. Later he worshipped the paadukaa daily. He kept this secret from our family members. His business started flourishing since then.

Some how it seems our family after 1947 episode, forgot Swami Ji totally mainly because of bad financial conditions prevailing in the family, since there was no regular income and every one remained busy in solving their day to day problems. Our joint family got separated. Our vast land running in thousands of acres was taken over by Govt. under the land Act of 1952 and we were left with bare minimum piece of land at Budhmulla.

Once the conditions became safe, we returned to Baramulla. Since all our houses were already destroyed and damaged, we settled at Baramulla instead of Budhmulla and my father constructed a new house after a great struggle and encountering many hardships.

My father came to know about the existence of Swami Ji’s paadukaa one-day when a terrible fire started very close to Madhusudan Ji’s house. The intensity of fire was so high that it was sure that his house too would get destroyed with the furious flames approaching towards his house.

At this stage he brought out the wooden paadukaa of Swami Ji and exhibited towards the leaping flames, with the paadukaa in hand, and requested Swami Ji to help them in saving the house from fire and destruction. It is said that the flames changed the direction immediately and thus Madhusudan Ji’s house was completely saved. When this story was known to the public my father requested Madhusudan Ji to return our Swami Ji’s paadukaa, but he did not oblige and my father did not insist either.

Swami Ji’s other devotees reported many such incidents of fire, and were saved from destruction by bringing out the photograph of Swami Ji, and in some cases due to regular prayers and touching the photograph cured them from diseases and in few cases operations were successful performed. It is said that one-day Late Shri K L Kaul’s house (advocate) at Baramulla caught fire. This house was adjoining to our cousin’s house son of Late Shri Ved Lal Ji Raina. Late Shri Som Nath Ji Raina exhibited the photograph towards the fire and begged Swami Ji to save their lives and property. While Shri K L . Kaul’s house was completely destroyed, Som Nath Ji’s house and his entire family was saved.

Conditions at Kashmir have never been favourable for Kashmiri Pandits since 1947. I left Kashmir in 1960 for further studies. After completion of my studies I decided to settle down at Bombay. Initially I worked at Bombay but later was employed at New Delhi for a number of years. With some of my own savings, started business, under a joint venture with a renowned company in 1978 but unfortunately our joint venture partner closed their operation in 1980 and so did my business. Thereby I suffered heavy losses in my business. I was terribly upset and ran into absolute financial mess.

After collapse of my business, I took up a job at New Delhi. It was during this period, my grand mother visited us at New Delhi, in 1981, when she talked a lot about Swami Ji and described in detailed various events and in the process she enlightened me to a great extent about Swami Ji’s spiritual capabilities.

I started praying daily in the mornings at Swami Ji’s photograph. In 1984, I left the job and started working as an independent professional consultant. I had to travel a lot in India and abroad. All places without fail I would carry Swami Ji’s photograph and pray every morning in front of the photograph. Within a period of two years, my business started picking up. I got a new lease of life. Swami Ji helped me at every stage. The list is endless. In the meanwhile we constructed a huge house. Recently an artist prepared a life size portrait of Swami Ji, based on Swami Ji’s original photograph. The mere glance at this portrait of Swami Ji, which adores our living room, makes us feel comfortable and gives us inward peace and illumination.

Many copies of Swami Ji’s portrait were distributed to all his devotees and our relations stationed in India and abroad. One such photo was kept in a special pooja room at our new house along with other deities.

In 1993, my daughter Saloni got married. On the day of her marriage and before the arrival of barat, there was a sudden down pour of rain. We had made arrangement for serving food to over 600 guests, under a shamiyana (a kind of canopy). We were all worried as to how to cope up with this unexpected problem, which was threatening to damage all our arrangements.

My mother Late Smt Rupawati Raina (1923- 1999) advised me to bring out Swami Ji’s photograph and directed me show the same to rain gods. I followed her instructions. The heavy down pour suddenly changed to a light drizzling and rains totally stopped, at the time of arrival of barat. Thereafter for two hours our place had no rain, where as neighbour hood was flooded with rainwater.

On this occasion we had invited all his relations. Shri Madhusudan Kaul also attended this function and stayed with us for a week or so. Being himself a very religious man, Madhusudan Ji used to pray in front of Swami Ji's photograph. During his stay at our house we discussed quite a lot about Swami Ji. I had no knowledge at that time that he had the wooden paadukaa of Swami Ji.

One day I discussed with him in presence of some of my relations assembled there, about a dream of seeing wooden paadukaa of Swami Ji. He showed interest and wanted to know the type/ shape of paadukaa. I drew the picture on a piece of paper. He told me that the paadukaa are lying at Jammu and narrated the whole story, how he got the paadukaa.

I demanded the return of the paadukaa. He showed his inability to help me since the paadukaa was under the control of his son and where as he was staying at Bombay. He had no objection provided his son Shri Nana Ji Kaul now staying at Jammu was willing to hand over the same to me. I requested my uncle, Shri Mohan Lal Pandita (originally from Sopore) to rush to Jammu and get the paadukaa from Shri Nana Ji. He visited Jammu but was not successful in getting the paadukaa.

At this stage I requested my mother to visit Jammu and get hold of the paadukaa. She found the paadukaa lying in some kangri (fire pot) unattended. Possibly this must have been the main reason why I dreamt of paadukaa when Shri Madhusudan happened to be at our house. It needed attention, love and care. My mother was successful in getting the paadukaa released from Nana Ji hold. We are all thankful to him.

After a span of 46 years the Swami Ji’s paadukaa was finally back with us. It was a happy and triumphant occasion. We made a beautiful casket of wood and silver. After my mother performed pooja, covered it fully with sandoor, and she kept it in the casket and placed the same in the special pooja room constructed in the house. Since then we have been performing daily pooja of Swami Ji’s paadukaa.

The more I think now of Swami Ji the more I am convinced that Swami Ji continues to live with us.

I think what I have said is enough to show that I am enthusiastic, to know more about Swami Ji’s life from others as well, who may be anxious in paying tributes to his spiritual qualities and attainments. We are expressing adoration and acknowledging our faith in him as the sadguru.

At the close I remember what Saint Kabir has said. “My Guru and the Lord are both standing before me. Whose feet should I touch? I would sacrifice my body, mind and all for my Guru, as it was he who put me on the path leading to Lord.”

Source: Koshur Samachar

 

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