Born at Peth-Makhama, Magam, (Kashmir) in the year 1946; passed M.A. in English Literature from Kashmir University in 1972; worked a long tenure in J&K Government Education Department as an English Lecturer. Had an exclusive taste for teaching English Literature and Language improvement; left Kashmir in January 1990 along with fleeing Pandits and retired from Government Service in 2004; currently settled in Faridabad, Haryana (India).
Authored six books on English Language improvement and one on Personality Development - (Kumar Publications, Rajender Place, New Delhi). Below are the most popular ones:
Choicest Essays - for IAS, IPS and other competitive exams
A New Approach to Modern Grammar and Practice
A Dictionary of English Usage
English Phrases and Idiomatic Expressions
Essentials of Personality Development
Got interested mainly into writing on KP displacement imbroglio. Following articles published in various issues of ‘Koshur Samachar, New Delhi’ are worth a mention:
Lalleshuri--a brief study – June 2008
Paradise can be regained - October 2007
Sant Swami Nand Lal Ji Maharaj - June 2006
What Ails Our Youth? - August 2005
Alliances Outside Community - October 2004
Slipping Paradise - November 2001
Hindu Kashmir sans Pandits - December 2000
We and our Cultural Heritage - September 2000
SEDBUB -- a biographical sketch - (‘Har-van’ an online magazine)
B-3 Ashiana Apartments, Sector-46, Faridabad, Haryana (India)
Phone: +91-129-4096114, Email: email@example.com
Weblog: Kashmir Warbling - http://kashmirwarbling.blogspot.com/
YOGRAJ SWAMI NANDLAL JI was born in GURGARI MOHALLA, ZAINA KADAL (Srinagar) into a prosperous KOUL family nicknamed as KOTHDARS. His grandfather PANDIT SEHZA KAUL had two sons RAM KAUL and HARA KAUL. Swami Ji was son of PANDIT HARA KAUL born on an auspicious day, FALGUN SHUKLA PAKSH ASHTAMI (TAILA ASHTAMI), the exact year of birth not confirmed. It is said that his childhood at his home was not comfortable as his mother had passed away when he was quite young so he left his home at age 14 while he was in class IX. His step-mother didn’t treat him well and it was one of the reasons that he left home at this tender age. In fact he was not destined to be an ordinary householder. He had come for the accomplishment of a larger mission which he did by achieving the highest echelons of higher life. Thus Swami Ji detached himself at an early age from the bondages of the household life to seek a higher purpose for himself. Having sought refuge in the feet of many awakened saints and savants of that time young Swami Ji remained on move from place to place in search of the ultimate path for himself till one day around 1932-33 he reached ZOONI-PORA, a village near BOMAI (SOPORE) on way to KUPWARA in Kashmir.
YOGRAJ SWAMI NANDLAL JI
There was a well established Ashram complex in ZOONI-PORA where saints and BHABAS were regular visitors from far and near. It was this Ashram which was destined to be the ultimate destination for young NAND LAL JI to get associated with lots of saints and SADHUS and among them his Guru BHABA SWAMI LAL JI, a highly accomplished yogi from outside Kashmir. The Ashram kept especially brimming with activities of devotees because it fell on way to MAA SHARDA, a reputed temple complex situated in SHARDI near MUZAFFERABAD across TITWAL (GUREZ) presently in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK). The devotees on way to SHARDA-MAYEE, as it was popularly called, crossed ZOONI-PORA Ashram and stayed there for a couple of days or more for the facilities available and sought blessings of the DHOONI-MAYEE. Before Swami Ji was initiated into the ascetic order by his holiness SWAMI LAL JI he had a long stay in this Ashram in the service of numerous saints present there and by keeping attendance of many learned souls he adhered to the high disciplined saintly life. Thus Swami Ji received the choicest education of the saint order. It included the study of religious scriptures and especially the practice of YOGA. Thus ZOONI-PORA Ashram proved to be the basic school of learning for Swami Ji and also a place where he had the occasion to be in the feet of his Guru. The Ashram in those days (around 1932-40) was headed by PANDIT SHIV JEE SHAH who managed all the affairs of the Ashram along with a huge property attached to it. A regular LANGAR (cooking arrangement) to cater hundreds of visitors daily was arranged and devotees from far and near came there for service at the Ashram. All food-grains, vegetables and fruit consumed there were the product of the farmland attached to it tended by the farmers nearby and as such there was no dearth of anything and abundance prevailed.
Unfortunately this abundance, peace and spiritual atmosphere didn’t last longer at this Ashram. The whole complex was razed to ground in a great fire put to it in 1947 by miscreants during Pakistani Aggression on Kashmir and Partition. The complex was almost deserted already as all Pandits in the area were trying to save their lives by taking refuge in safer places nearer to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. This area, SOPORE, BARAMULLA, HANDWARA, KUPWARA, URI and LOLAB was the worst affected during the 1947 turmoil as thousands of Hindus and Sikhs were brutally killed and property looted and gutted so it took a long time for the remaining few to reestablish themselves at their places after Indian troops pushed back the raiders and restored normalcy in the areas. And among the tragedies that befell Kashmir in 1947 in general and Kashmir Pandits in particular was their access to their beloved SHARDA- MAYEE temple complex which incidentally fell across the Line of Control (LOC) in the area controlled by Pakistan.
While Swami Ji was in ZOONI-PORA Ashram being probably the youngest, he was occasionally sent for some petty errands to village BOMAI just a kilometer away, which comprised of a good number of (about 60-70) Pandit families. SH. JIA LAL DASS, a reputed person of village BOMAI was especially attached to young Swami Ji for his attractive yogic appearance and cheerful aspect. One day Swami Ji expressed his desire to PANDIT DASS of staying in his house for pursuing SADHNA there. Being scared to shoulder such a sensitive responsibility SH JIA LAL JI talked about it in his family and SMT RADHA MALI his mother and a saintly lady immediately consented to it and offered to provide all requirements of the Swami herself with full devotion and sanctity. Thus Swami Ji was offered to stay in DEEWAN-KHAN the first floor of a wooden structure outside the main house of PANDIT DASS with a separate entry approach quite suitable for the requirements of Swami Ji. It was quite a large joint family of about fifty members and everyone was excited to have Swami Ji in their house so they extended all possible service to Swami Ji but the main contribution was of the head lady SMT. RADHA MALI and her daughter-in-law SMT UMAWATI wife of PANDIT JIA LAL DASS whose service and devotion in the form of serving foods and other beverages with all sanctity to Swami Ji and his numberless visitors at all odd hours for years together is unparalleled. Swami Ji stayed in this DEEWAN-KHAN for about 8-10 years before he shifted to the KUTIYA in GOWRI-PORA, BOMAI in the apple orchard of the same DASS family.
The period of Swami Ji’s stay in ZOONI-PORA Ashram and later in the DEEWAN-KHAN was the formative period of his holy life. It was quite hectic for Swami Ji as he remained almost all the time absorbed in YOG-KRIYA besides being on move meeting saints and SADHUS and visiting various places of religious importance and solitude. His visits to remote interiors of unknown dense forests and staying there for long periods in association with highly awakened souls have also been reported. Swami Ji was also all these years a regular visitor to SHARDA-MAYEE. The visits there involved a long travel on foot and later on horses through KUPWARA and LOLAB VALLEY and as such he along with his associates stayed in the houses of Pandits in villages in that area. This association created a vast field of devotees and admirers of Swami Ji in the area and also caused certain events that had a deep impact on the holy life. The first was the formal initiation of Swami Ji to saintly order by his holiness SWAMI LAL JI. He though a non-Kashmiri saint was also a regular visitor to SHARDA TEMPLE and stayed with Pandits there. He too had a large number of devotees in the area and when the occasion came for the formal initiation of Swami Ji his Guru himself selected a place for him in village SOGAM in the house of one SHRIDHAR BHAT to perform his basic KRIYA. And later it is said that on completion of his first stage, SWAMI LAL JI commented that young NANDLAL was able to do in a few days what he himself had been able to do in several months.
Immediately the popularity of Swami Ji spread far and wide while he settled at the DEEWAN-KHAN in BOMAI. The atmosphere was especially charged with high sanctity when SWAMI LAL JI was there in his association. Meanwhile Swami Ji visited a learned Pandit in SOPORE Town SHRI AFTAB JOO KHER for academic guidance and learning of essential religious scriptures.
His thirst for knowledge was so great that he had mastered almost all authentic scriptures and was consequently regarded as a learned scholar and an authentic teacher. During those days in SOPORE a galaxy of saints and learned Pandits assembled occasionally in a temple complex for discussions and discourses regarding Hindu scriptures in which Swami Ji and his GURU SWAMI LAL JI also participated. It is said that Swami Ji especially took interest in the interpretations of the famous WAKHS of LAL-DED, the famous YOGINI and mystic poet-saint of Kashmir. Since the LALLA-WAKHS are the most comprehensive source of instruction in the field of YOGA so Swami Ji was especially interested in them. He would usually refer the WAKHS of LALLESHURI (LALLA WAKHS) in his discourses as an authentic treatise and explain the content very forcefully. Undoubtedly he excelled in the field of Yoga far above most of other Kashmir saints. Very few saints of Kashmir including the highly awakened ones practiced YOGA path for their uplift in the spiritual arena. Swami Ji achieved the highest stages of self-realization through YOGA under the guidance of his GURU. He has won the title YOGIRAJ for the extraordinary capabilities he acquired in the field of YOGA.
It was felt that the available accommodation in the DEEWAN-KHAN was insufficient because of heavy influx of devotees but the problem was immediately addressed and Swami Ji selected a lush green beautiful spot away from the hustle and bustle of the village near GOWRI-PORA village about a kilometer away from BOMAI beside the apple orchard owned by same DASS family for an Ashram and in due course a small Ashram with a couple of rooms in the ground and a hall, a kitchen, a TAPASYA room and a balcony facing east in the first floor was raised under the directions of Swami Ji. All essentials were provided and Swami Ji took personal pains to give the KUTIYA, as it was later called, the shape of a traditional Indian saint’s cottage. A small rivulet was directed in the compound and a small waterfall made of it beside a small rectangular raised space which was used by Swami Ji for AASANA during days before a small audience of his devotees. The compound was walled with dry willow twigs and a small entry gate provided to keep away stray animals and cattle.
The visits of devotees went on increasing and Swami Ji listened to every one patiently. Besides the people of BOMAI and surrounding villages, devotees from far off places as far as SRINAGAR, BUDGAM, ANANTNAG and SHOPIANcame to meet Swami Ji and share his spiritual experiences and ask for his blessings. The earliest devotees worth the name were PANDIT SHRIDHAR JOO DHAR Ex. Conservator of forests who was himself a highly awakened saint, SH JAGAN NATH SUMBLY Ex. Deputy Commissioner and SH SOOM NATH HALWAI among others. Late MAHATMA VIBHISHAN JI came here in the same KUTIYA in the service of Swami Ji and it was here after very hectic service and SADHNA that Swami Ji initiated him in the ascetic order. He was perhaps the first and foremost disciple initiated by him and was naturally very beloved of Swami Ji. VIBHISHAN JI was basically from BARAMULLA and the name was given to him by Swami Ji himself.
The diverse aspects of the personality of Swami Ji seemed to exhibit here in this KUTIYA more extensively. He had acquired a deep knowledge of AYURVEDA and various medicinal herbs and their use in different ailments for their cure. Swami Ji used this skill in curing various people of many dangerous diseases miraculously in the KUTIYA. Moreover, Swami Ji had a deep taste for classical SUFIANA music and so here in this KUTIYA under the shade of the CHINAR trees Swami Ji occasionally played on a string-instrument called MADHAM very sweet SUFIANA RAGAS and the holy MEHFIL put to trance many of his devotees for hours. It is essential to mention here that Swami Ji was a strict disciplinarian and didn’t allow any deviation from the moral and ethical standards whatsoever and the traditional codes of sainthood at the hands of anyone present.
The visit of some noteworthy saints to Swami Ji needs mention here. SHRI VED LAL JI of HANJIVERA, PATTAN, popularly known as SED-BAB and an accomplished saint frequently visited him stayed with him and accompanied him to places. It is not clear whether he was his disciple but the relationship was definitely special as both of them were seen occasionally engaged in serious discourses on the matters better known to them. He was given the name SED-MOL by Swami Ji for his simplicity, devotion and straightforward ways of saintly life and dedicated SADHNA. The name was borrowed from the Guru of LAL-DED who was also called SED-MOL. Another name worth mention is of one saint poet who is famous for his Kashmiri devotional poetry, PANDIT NEELKANTH JI of DAB-WAKOORA village. He was a devotee of Swami Ji and visited him frequently. His oration of Kashmiri BHAJANS was exceptional as he could compose without effort very beautiful couplets and songs on occasions. It is said he had MAA SARARSWATI on his lips and so he could sing extempore devotional BHAJANS whenever the environment demanded as such. He was very famous for his sharp wit and Swami Ji had great respect for him and some say he was not only a devotee but a disciple initiated by him. The assertion is further strengthened as Pandit NEELKANTH JI is the poet of the famous GUR-ASTUTI of Swami Ji---
AGNYA’NE GHAT’Y SIR’YE PRAKA’SH CHU’KH AASE’WONUY
GYAN’E PRAKA’SH CHU’KH AASE’WONUY
HEE M’YANE SAT’GURU KSH’ENE KSH’ENE CH’UM AA’SARE CHO’NUY
sung by his devotees everywhere every day with utmost devotion and love even today but there is no authentic confirmation and it is said that he was his GURU himself. However, the fact remains that PANDIT NEELKANTH JI was fervently devoted to Swami Ji and visited him and both enjoyed the company of each other. An another remarkable devotional poem, as an outcome of this celestial union is the depiction of the visit of Lord Shiva in the form of a SANYASI to the house of MAA JASODHA for having a glimpse of child SHRI KRISHNA in GOKUL. The poem has been reportedly an extempore recitation of PANDIT NEELKANTH JI in the presence of Swami Ji on his holiness’ desire, probably in the KUTIYA. And interestingly the fact is rendered very beautifully in the last stanza of the poem as under-
YEE NEEL’E KANTH’AS SANT NAND LAL JEE’AN WON’UY
WAN SHIV’E SUND’UY GOKUL’AS UNDH’ER YU’NUY
SHANKAR TE KRISHEN, KRISHEN’E SHANKAR CH’UY NO BYUN’UY
SHO’D BO’DH SHANKAR AA’V LAA’RAN GOKUL KUN’Y
AZAR AMAR YUGHESH’UR NIRMAL KUN’UY
The KUTIYA was the abode of Swami Ji for about twenty years though he used to be regularly on move visiting important shrines, places and persons. His sojourns included the deep forests where he stayed at unknown places for long periods probably to follow some special SADHNA on the instance of his Guru. As already stated Swami Ji was a fervent devotee of SHARDA-MAYEE the celebrated temple complex in present POK. He visited there frequently on foot or horseback and stayed there for days together performing austerities in the lap of the MOTHER GODDESS. Swami Ji used to be the guest of some of his devotee there who happened to be there in connection with some business or employment. Incidentally, Swami Ji happened to be in SHARDI(SHARDA TEMPLE) in October 1947 when tribal raiders invaded and entered Kashmir and went on barbarous killing and looting spree of non-Muslims of the area. Swami Ji marched towards BOMAI with some of his devotees facing encounters with the raiders. They couldn’t face the miraculous power of his holiness and the guns aimed at him didn’t work and they bowed before his holiness before fleeing. Meanwhile the Pandits in BOMAI were scared beyond measure and preparing for every eventuality. When Swami Ji reached there, he instructed them to be contented and be at their places. The miracle that ensued was none of the raiders entered BOMAI though the Pandits there were a good number and all prosperous. It is said that some confusion erupted in their ranks and they didn’t venture entering there till they were hounded back by Indian Army.
Swami Ji used to practice regularly various Yogic exercises by combining postures and breath-restraint (PRANAYAMA) vigorously along with DHOTI-KRIYA for purification. Deep studies were the routine of Swami Ji and he used to be absorbed in serious readings of scriptures. He was in the habit of smoking CHARAS and tobacco all his life incessantly from his CHILLAMotherwise he maintained very clean habits and the KUTIYA exhibited a flavour of calm and pure atmosphere. Personally he looked after the cleanliness of the place though there used to be some devotees invariably present to do all the jobs. During summers and suitable climates Swami Ji laid his AASANA on an elevated space in the compound beside the small cascade facing east and the devotees present sat in front of him and listened to his discourses. All visitors were welcomed by him warmly and served with a cup of KEHVA, a traditional Kashmiri tea without milk, taken in bronze cups held with a towel. Swami Ji also took a cup but after taking a few sips he offered it to some of his devotee present there as a PRASAD. The evenings were especially quite attractive as there was a collective recital of certain BHAJANS or LEELAS in which Swami Ji also participated. The scene presented such a beautiful environment that the devotees repeatedly attended the evening PUJA. Regarding food Swami Ji was a strict vegetarian all his life and took very simple SATVIK food and avoided strictly onions, garlic, tomatoes and some leafy vegetables. The preferable foods included PLAIN RICE; KASHMIRI SAAG, MOONG DAL and LOTUS STEM (NADRU). Swami Ji observed fast on many days especially ASHTAMI, PURNIMA, AMAWASIA, EKADASHI and other auspicious days. Swami Ji himself prepared many kinds of pickles and medicinal preparations in small glass bottles which kept hanging outside on the verandah of the KUTIYA in open sun and he probably used them in curing patients who came to him.
As the field of devotees expanded the need of more ashrams in the name of Swami Ji in other areas too was felt. Consequently two Ashrams one at TIKKAR (KUPWARA) and the other at HUSHOORA village in BUDGAM DISTRICT came up. Both Ashrams were planned and the venues selected by Swami Ji himself. The TIKKAR (KUPWARA) Ashram was especially planned tastefully and Swami Ji preferred to be there for longer periods in his later life. The HUSHOORA Ashram was constructed before TIKKAR ashram and was especially raised on the instance of the devotees of that area. Swami Ji stayed there for many days and performed many HAWANS on auspicious occasions. Devotees at this Ashram showed particular enthusiasm and devotion for Swami Ji and the Ashram was always full of devotees and renovations here were carried on endlessly.
Both Swami Ji and his GURU Swami LAL JI were already acquainted with Village TIKKAR as it fell on way to their favourite destination SHARDA MAYEE. Their frequent visits had made almost all the Pandits familiar to them and most of them their devotees and admirers. Swami Ji made plans for an Ashram at a sacred spot and without any particular efforts the foundation was laid in 1957. His holiness was in those days mainly placed in GOWRI-PORA (BOMAI) in the KUTIYA among fine environs and beautiful location and any thought of a change was unthinkable as the devotion and love that Swami Ji received here was unprecedented. Swami Ji stayed in BOMAI for not less than 25-27 years but given the purpose to be nearer to his devotees of TIKKAR area Swami Ji sought the change and TIKKAR Ashram was inaugurated with great fanfare. Besides the main temple a beautiful small temple was constructed on the adjacent hilltop with about a hundred steps made out of stone boulders as an uphill approach. Swami Ji loved to perform his routine SADHNA in the hilltop temple. The rush of devotees in TIKKAR Ashram was significantly much more than other places as the field of influence had increased tremendously than before. Very influential people of the area and far away were regular visitors in this Ashram and strangely whoever came to seek blessings once was attached for life. This author put this question to one fervent devotee of Swami Ji who had spent many hours in the holy company of Swami Ji, ‘What aspect of the personality of Swami Ji fixed a devotee for life?’ In reply he said, ‘Swami Ji was a living incarnation of Lord Shiva. How a person would not!’ Here it would be interesting for the reader to know something about the experiences of some eminent devotees of Swami Ji. SRI SHRIDHAR JOO DHAR the then Conservator of Forests visited Swami Ji occasionally. He stayed and enjoyed the discourses of Swami Ji and especially wanted to see Swami Ji comfortable. He was himself an established saint and a fervent devotee of BHAGWAN GOPI NATH JI the eminent saint of Srinagar. SHRI DHAR was often seen with some saint or the other in spite of his high official position. He was a great admirer of the advancement of Swami Ji in Yoga and academics both and often got some problems fixed by Swami Ji. JUSTICE JANKI NATH BHAT was a High Court Judge and held many prestigious positions in J&K and outside was a devotee of Swami Ji and visited TIKKAR many times along with his wife. He writes in one of his papers that on his first visit to TIKKAR Swami Ji called him from distance, ‘Are you BHAT Sahib?’ He reports that he had the good luck to take Swami Ji along to Srinagar Airport in his car when he (Swami Ji) was going to bid final audio to Kashmir. Swami went into eternal Samadhi in Delhi (MALVIYA NAGAR) in the house of Shri PREM NATH SADHU in January 1966. According to BHAT Sahib Swami Ji was very fond of one SHRI KASHI NATH BHAT, Advocate who was his fervent devotee those days. JUSTICE BHAT further reminiscences in his write up that he was given some money by Swami Ji for the construction of a lodge for SADHUS visiting AMARNATH SHRINE at AMBPHALLA in Jammu before his last flight from Kashmir. BHAT Sahib fulfilled this wish of Swami Ji honestly and the building came up within a short time but he regrets that the place wasn’t later used as desired by Swami Ji but given on rent to raise income for the institution.
Swami Ji spread his message of sustained devotion of the Lord accompanied with fair and truthful dealings in all worldly affairs. He stressed upon his devotees to get somehow detached from the attractions of the world and nurture the true love of God. He told them to be actively involved in just and truthful activities but not be constantly after collecting material wealth. The real wealth, he said, was to seek the extreme love of God and his people. The human life is a great boon and each of us should understand the purpose of this life. It is for us to use it purposefully or misuse it. The sooner we try to realize ourselves the better. It is very simple to get access to the lord. Simply try to purify your inner self by developing pure thoughts and intense devotion of the lord. Realization of the self is the way to the lord. These simple teachings of Swami Ji attracted lots of devotees from diverse hues and many among them submitted themselves eternally in the lotus feet of Swami Ji and were formally initiated into the ascetic order.
MAHATMA VIBHISHAN JI
Swami Ji’s earliest disciple worth the name was MAHATMA VIBHISHAN JI. He came in the service of Swami Ji in GOWRI-PORA KUTIYA and after hectic service he was formally initiated into sainthood. His devotion and service is an example in itself. He acquired such extraordinary capabilities that none else among the disciples of Swami Ji equaled him. His humble nature and soft attitude won him great laurels not only in the eyes of his Guru but his numerous devotees too. He talked very less and was always seen absorbed in his SADHNA. He was mostly seen in the service of his Guru though at times he was given the charge of Ashrams at HUSHOORA or GOWRIPORA independently. He won the devotion and love of lots of people who visited him for the solution of their problems. VIBHISHAN JI had surrendered completely before his Guru and didn’t like any separate personal identity. His only mission was to serve his master and pursue his personal enlightenment. Whoever met him once to seek his blessings got permanently fixed with him. After Swami Ji attained the eternal Samadhi VIBHISHAN JI continued staying in Swami Ji’s Ashrams representing him and serving the community interests. On mass displacement of Pandits from Kashmir in 1990 he came to Jammu and stayed with some of his devotees for some time and then came to BOHRI (TALAB TILLU) ASHRAM got constructed by Swami Ji’s wonder devotee SHALPUT JI in those appalling conditions. VIBHISHAN JI stayed there quite absorbed with his SADHNA till late nineties when he sought eternal Samadhi.
SHRI KRALBAB JI
Next to make mention of is SHRI KRALBAB JI. He was the most popular disciple of Swami Ji who by dint of his SADHNA and achievements was able to make his own individual place after Swami Ji. KRALBAB was born at KRALGUND (HANDWARA) on PHALGUN PURNIMA in 1928. His parental name was BHAGWAN DASS and he was given this name by Swami Ji himself as he loved to call him as such because he belonged to KRALGUND. KRALBAB was initiated by his master in the TIKKAR Ashram and performed his basic KRIYA there. His progress in sainthood was very rapid and soon he was recognized as an established saint. He had soon a vast field of devotees not only in the TIKKAR area but far off places as well though he remained mostly confined to TIKKAR Ashram only. Due to the very cold climate of Kashmir in winters he had considered an Ashram outside valley. And his plans soon matured into an Ashram at UDHAMPUR in Jammu region. There were a good number of his devotees among Pandits in UDHAMPUR and consequently the magnificent Ashram of GARHI (UDHAMPUR) with the name KRALBAB ASHRAM came up beside the national highway. The Ashram proved a great boon for the fleeing Pandits from the valley for its sufficient accommodation and efficient management. Lots of them found shelter there in the most telling circumstances. It is said that KRALBAB JI had quite before indicated to the turmoil in the valley and the bad times for Pandits and wanted the Ashram to be built for this purpose also. Hence it served as a resting place for hundreds of Pandits till they got temporarily settled somewhere else. The other Ashrams in his name were constructed at VENKURA and NAMTEHAL in BUDGAM area of Kashmir besides the recently constructed at BANTALAB, JAMMU. Shri KRALBAB JI achieved NIRVAVA on MAGHA SHUKLA TRITYA in 1968 and the day is celebrated with grand celebrations and HAWANS in all Ashrams especially GARHI (UDHAMPUR), the Ashram very well maintained by Swami Kumar Ji the beloved disciple of SHRI KRALBAB JI. The legacy of Swami Ji is very well carried forward by his PARIWAR wherever they are.
Swami Kral Bab
Picture Courtesy: Anjali Kaul, Austin
MASTBABJI belonged to BUDLADA (PUNJAB) a householder with two kids. He belonged to a farmer family with name SOHAN LAL. Right from childhood he was not satisfied with his life and wanted to do something special. The worldly material wealth didn’t attract him till one day he left his home in search of the ultimate reality. He visited many places and persons but couldn’t find his soul’s thirst fulfilled. At last he reached Kashmir and heard about Swami Ji and the TIKKAR Ashram. On reaching there Swami Ji welcomed him and told him it was his destination. Immediately he found his soul’s content and dedicated himself to the service of Swami Ji. He was named as MASTRAM and initiated into sainthood probably there or in GOWRIPORA ASHRAM as in those days Swami Ji was frequently on move from place to place to spread his message. MASTRAM JI proved to be the most dedicated saint to the purpose. He acquired the various stages of sainthood and Yoga in minimum prescribed time and soon became the beloved of Swami Ji. He has adopted all the SANSKARS of Kashmir Pandit culture and become fully conversant with Kashmiri Language. His Ashram at BADIPORA (BUDGAM) was constructed by his devotees of the area and named MASTBUB ASHRAM. He stayed there on the insistence of his devotees but he always preferred to be nearer to his GURU MAHARAJ. After the MAHA-SAMADHI of Swami Ji MASTBAB JI remained on move often outside valley visiting TIRTH-ASTHAPANS unknown even to his beloved devotees. The grand MASTBUB ASHRAM at PATOLI JAMMU was raised in mid eighties and MASTBUB JI came there when it was on the last stages of construction. In fact MASTBUB JI is an awakened saint quite unconcerned about the material developments. The MASTBUB ASHRAM at PATOLI proved a great shelter and support for the displaced Pandits in Jammu after 1990 turmoil. Hundreds of Pandits spent days and nights in the Ashram and found solace and peace in the blessings of MASTBUB JI. The Ashram keeps always humming with activities both in the presence and absence of MASTBUB JI. The mornings and evenings keep very busy with devotees singing BHAJANS in the praise of the lord and especially the GUR-ASTUTI which gives immense solace to everyone every where. Other MASTBUB ASHRAMS constructed in Delhi and HARIDWAR are also very well established and provided with all essential requirements. The HARIDWAR ASHRAM is the real beloved place of MASTBUB JI. He spends most of his time there and many of his devotees go there in his service and stay there for many days. MASTBUB JI is a kind of saint who wants solitude so he prefers mostly being out of Jammu as the heavy rush of devotees there seems to disturb his peace and tranquility.
Swami Mast Bab
Courtesy: Anjali and Ravi Raman Raina, Houston, Texas
The original name of SEDBUB was SHRI VEDLAL BHAT. He belonged to HAJIVERA (PATTAN) and was a householder. He was a saint of very high order with numerous attained SIDHEES. His association with Swami Ji is not well defined but one thing is clear that the name SEDMOL was given to him by Swami Ji himself as a tradition maintained by him and consequently he was called SEDBUB by his devotees and admirers. Some are of the opinion that Swami Ji had initiated him and he was his Guru but the fact is not very strongly established. Whatever the facts are it can’t be denied that there was some sacred celestial relation between the two great souls. They have been seen together on numerous occasions in almost all Ashrams, tours and on special occasions sharing some moments quite unknown to the onlookers but definitely indicative of some special relationship. During the last moments of worldly existence, in the house of SHRI PREM NATH SADHU at MALVIYA NAGAR, NEW DELHI, Swami Ji was accompanied by SEDBUB and it is said that they kept busy for long hours in some special talks before Swami Ji went into eternal Samadhi. SEDBUB, though a householder, was perfectly detached from the worldly affairs. Though seemingly associated with his family responsibilities he was a SANYASI in the real sense of the term. A perfect SIDH Yogi he was a fully awakened soul with clear knowledge of everything that made him stand upright in the realm of sainthood. SEDBUD had opted for no Ashram or a place associated with his memory in Kashmir. He left his mortal coil at his native place at HANJIVERA (PATTAN). His devotees later tried to raise a memorial at the site of his Samadhi but strangely a feud erupted between local Muslims and Pandits and the administration had to put a ban on the construction to avoid confrontation. This was in late eighties as the situation in Kashmir had already turned volatile due to large scale influx of Pakistan trained insurgents into the valley. Now after the displacement of Pandits in 1990 and the bulk of them placed in Jammu the devotees of SEDBUB have constructed a magnificent Ashram in his name at PALOURA, JAMMU where there is a huge rush of devotees daily besides celebrations of grand HAWANS and other events in the name of SEDBAB.
Swami Sidh Bab
Picture Courtesy: Anjali Kaul, Austin
SHALPUT JI was a boy of 5-6 years when he got attracted to Swami Ji in HUSHOORA ASHRAM. His parental name is JAI KISHEN and he belongs to parents from HUSHOORA who were regular visitors to Swami Ji there. The name SHALPUT was given to him by Swami Ji when he frequently insisted on staying in the Ashram and wanted to be close to Swami Ji. Though Swami Ji didn’t initiate SHALPUT JI directly to sainthood in his lifetime because of his tender age but SHALPUT JI came into the holy fold automatically when the time was ripe for him. It is some celestial connection and a quite unknown guarded secret but the indications definitely relate something worth a mention. It was in late seventies when SHALPUT JI was a student of class X that he left his home for a destination for which he had taken birth. A youth of barely 18 with flowing locks of hair, strikingly attractive features, came directly to the house of SHRI JIA LAL DASS OF BOMAI (SOPORE), probably to get inspired by the place and people where Swami Ji had stayed for many long years in his formative years of sainthood. He was welcomed warmly by the whole household for their love and devotion to Swami Ji. Everyone in the DASS FAMILY instantly became alive once more with the reminiscences of Swami Ji and thus started the renovation of the KUTIYA at GOWRI-PORA. It was soon discovered that SHALPUT JI was a past master singer of BHAJANS in accompaniment of harmonium. Thus the whole nights in DASS HOUSE were spent for not less than two months with SHALPUT JI singing BHAJANS in accompaniment of the youth of the family and the rest of the members enjoying as if Swami Ji was himself present. This author has personally witnessed that everyone in the DASS family kept awake all these nights enjoying the devotion of the lord and Swami Ji. SHALPUT JI was such overwhelmed by the devotion of the family and others around for Swami Ji that he decided to stay in the KUTIYA and get inspired by the place where Swami Ji had spent many long years of SADHNA. Soon he settled there and the devotees in large numbers started coming to see this wonder devotee of Swami Ji. What followed were more constructions in the KUTIYA and more celebrations and HAWANS and especially the daily BHAJAN-MADALI which was the main attraction. Time passed and SHALPUT JI progressed in sainthood and the number of devotees went on increasing day by day till 1990 when the displacement of Pandits started in consequence of the threat perception of the Muslim fundamentalist elements in the valley. In no time Pandits began moving out bag and baggage and so did SHALPUT JI. After some stray lodgings he managed for a little piece of land in AANAND NAGAR, BOHRI (JAMMU) donated by a builder and thus came up the SHALPUT ASHRAM there. The field of influence of SHALPUT JI has increased tremendously all these years and devotees especially Pandits from far and wide continue coming here. MAHATMA VIBHISHAN JI had been staying here in this Ashram for long time and SHALPUT JI served him with great devotion and treated him as his Guru. It was here that VIBHISHAN JI achieved NIRVANA and SHALPUT did all KRIYA and service whatever suited this great soul and the beloved disciple of Swami Ji. One more SHALPUT ASHRAM has been constructed with the help of local people at JIBB near GARHI (UDHAMPUR) within very beautiful and cool surroundings. MAHATMA VIBHISHAN JI loved to stay there for the solitude and serene atmosphere and the devotion that he got from the residents especially Pandits.
SWAMI NANDLAL JI was a celibate since childhood and an accomplished Yogi. He had acquired the highest stages of enlightenment through rigorous SADHANA and YOG- KRIYA in minimum period of time. His pure conscience and simple teachings won him great laurels and he was soon accepted one among the most awakened souls in the high echelons of sainthood of the time. Though Swami Ji had acquired bare minimum formal education but his thirst of knowledge was so great that from day one he sought ways and means to acquire highest religious scholarship firstly at the feet of some learned teachers and then his Guru. Lots of aspirants later took advantage of his profound knowledge and especially his discourses on the teachings from BHAGAVAD-GITA, UPANISHADS and VEDAS. He was a great admirer of LALLESHURI, the great YOGINI and poet saint of Kashmir. He often quoted LALLA-WAKHS in order to establish his philosophy of simple advancement in life by way of simple detachment from the futile worldly attractions and glamour of riches. He believed in the strict disciplined life based on the Yogic practices and sustained SADHANA. He also believed in the supremacy of a householder’s life model but the aspirant here had a greater responsibility of combining SANYASA with day to day activities, is what he said. The same is true with everyone. KARMA-YOGA shows us the simple way of achieving the highest goals in life. Swami Ji wanted his devotees to follow the normal activities of life based on truth and fair dealings. He time and again stressed upon the great opportunity that we are provided with in our lives to achieve something higher than the ordinary existence. One whose mind is perpetually attached to the memory of the Lord despite being busy in just and truthful worldly vocations is a perfect Yogi. Swami Ji wanted his devotees learn the simple lesson of doing everything in the name of Lord so that nothing wrong is done and each and every life performs better for the uplift of his or her individual self. One should cultivate the feeling that all that exists belongs to God and regard everything as God’s play, renouncing both attachment and desire for fruit.
The life of Swami Ji is an open book to be read by all. His devotees were especially inspired by his simple, clean and highly disciplined way of life. He was always ready to help anybody out of worldly difficulties as well as spiritual hurdles. He involved his devotees occasionally in discourses on the purity of life, NITYA-KARMA and BAKHTI (sustained devotion of the lord). About NITYA-KARMA that we perform every morning and evening, Swami Ji said, it was an exceedingly important activity in our daily routine. It should be performed with due attention and in right earnest. The time devoted to the NITYA-KARMA i.e. morning (GAYATRI) and evening (SANDYA) is the most valuable, most sacred and most useful. Paying less attention to it and going through it hurriedly, he said, was the reason that we’re deprived of its benefits and joy. Swami Ji had no inhibitions in allowing anybody in his fold provided one was ready to maintain certain discipline essential for the higher life. Lots of Muslims too have been benefited by the healing powers of Swami Ji and as such many of them even now remember his magnanimity and the height of his awareness.
BAKHTI or sustained devotion of God is the surest, shortest and easiest way of self-realization but a SADHAKA should clearly understand the spirit of the BAKHTI otherwise a lukewarm approach will lead him nowhere. BAKHTIpertains to the spirit of devotion which is disinterested in character and unobstructed in its course. Human mind gets purified only by the extreme love of the Lord. One whose heart melts completely in His devotion is the true beloved of the Lord. Swami Ji said that the Lord’s wish is absolutely the wish of His celebrated devotees. Those who surrender completely to the will of the Lord win Him over completely. This is essential for our SADHANA that our heart must cooperate. Swami Ji said that one must be able to put one’s whole heart into one’s SADHANA, be it DYANA (meditation), JAPA or PRANAYAMA (control of breath). The most important factor in UPASANA is love combined with reverence. Love transforms all work into worship and whatever is done with love leaves an indelible impression on our mind. The worship done in desultory manner, in a half-hearted way, will bear no fruit even if done for years together; whereas UPASANA done with reverence and love, even once, will yield speedy results and be a source of untold joy and peace.
As a spiritual SADHANA, Swami Ji said, practice of divine name is at once the easiest and the best; there is nothing higher than that. The more secretly the practice is performed, the higher the result. It is necessary that the JAPA of the divine name be performed most secretly so that others do not know about it. A SADHANA performed secretly floods the heart of the devotee with love for the Lord and brings immense joy and peace. Concentration of mind while performing any kind of SADHANA is essential. Achieving concentration is hard but not impossible. It takes some time and practice to master concentration. Mind should be cleared of all the dross of worldly worries and cares and got fixed on a single point i.e. God’s name; concentration follows. BAKHTI or love of God is the supreme achievement to be attained by a devotee. When a person is flooded with intense love of God he is freed of all worries and cares and he experiences great joy and peace and nothing but the grace of the Lord remains supreme with him. All worldly attractions instantly shake off and a feeling of eternal bliss is experienced. Swami Ji stressed upon his devotees to work tirelessly for achieving BAKHTI of the Lord such that it became the only priority with them not the collection of worldly possessions. The ardent lovers of God enjoy the perennial presence of the almighty in their thought so naturally their each deed or action is enveloped by the divine bliss and hence nothing goes amiss in their hands and everything whatever they do or experience is right and there is no question of doing anything wrong by them. Swami Ji worked tirelessly in making his devotees understand how they could in a very simple way attain the highest purpose of their lives. “Be truthful and fair, clear your mind of the dirt of the worldly attractions and keep the Lord’s name alive in your mind all the time so that nothing bad is done,” said Swami Ji. BAKHTI or love of God transports a devotee to the realm of Godliness and hence there remains no choice of doing anything wrong. ‘Everything and everybody is simply God’s grace’, such higher feelings clear the mind of the devotee of all the dross of worldly attractions and naturally he or she is lifted above the normal life of an individual and there remains a negligible gap between God and the devotee. Swami Ji was a saint with a mission to make his devotees follow the greatest reality of human life in simplest terms. He left no stone unturned to fulfill his mission and succeeded in transforming the lives of thousands of his devotees from ordinary to ideal human beings. His impact was so great and lasting that whoever came to bow before his holy presence once kept attached for life. And surprisingly it hasn’t ceased even after Swami Ji’s celestial flight but remains eternally with his devotees, not only those who have blessed themselves with his holy DARSHANA but also those equally who are coming into his holy fold after his material absence. The fact is appropriately described in the famous GURUASTUTI penned by LATE SHRI NEELKANTH JI and recited by all devotees every morning and evening which says:
O MY SATGURU! I DEPEND ONLY UPON YOUR MORAL SUPPORT EVERY MOMENT.
IN THE DARKNESS OF MY IGNORANCE YOU ARE ALWAYS A BEACON LIGHT LIKE SUN TO SHOW ME WAY OUT FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT.
JAWAHAR LAL BHAT
B-3, ASHIANA Apartments,
SECTOR-46, FARIDABAD, HARYANA
CONTACT NO: 0129-4096114
Lalleshuri (LAL DED) of Kashmir has invited attention of a number of scholars throughout the world. Her poetic compositions or VAAKHS as they are popularly called are the extempore outpourings of a highly awakened YOGINI and exhibit high quality poetry with a deep philosophical content. Here and there we find her personal spiritual experiences unfolded in a simple form besides terse principles of Yoga exemplified with easily graspable day to day activities. Lalleshuri communicated her spiritual teachings in the language of the common man using verbal medium only and the impact was so great that her poetry safely has carried through centuries by memory lane as a divine word with negligible distortion of language.
The VAAKHS of Lalleshuri is a vast canvas with varied hues spread over by a great literary artist, a highly awakened SHAIVITE YOGINI and a religious philosopher. Her sayings about the futility of worldly existence and the escape route through the practice of Yoga have received wide recognition and continue as such. She had detached herself completely from the material world and become a wandering ascetic displaying a frightful aura devoid even of her clothes to cover her nakedness. Her poetic compositions were instantly committed to public memory and sung as divine songs to make retribution to God for ones sins. A highly awakened soul, a YUGPURSHA and a living incarnation of Lord Shiva, she gave out rare gems of VAAKHS in the common man’s word showing a clear path towards self realization. She has castigated man time and again for collection of material belongings ignoring the real divine treasure that only is capable to give safe passage through temporal existence. She was shocked to see people enjoying life’s glamour which they knew was nothing but an illusion and how eager she was to see people shun the lure of the world. Repeatedly she like a past master preacher stressed upon man not to take the false for the true. She says it was only their ignorance that bound them to the falsehood and thus waste the precious moments of their lives that could otherwise be fruitfully used for higher purpose.
Lalleshuri was very much dedicated to her GURU. While expressing her gratitude to her GURU in guiding her in all her progress she says that her GURU is both father and mother to her, who made her blind eyes capable to see, her bare body able to wear the celestial garments and thereby discriminate between falsehood and the truth. Lalleshuri has repeatedly described the importance of a teacher in the way to self realization. She says one who develops full faith in his GURU and follows religiously his directions, is able to control all five senses with the help of GYAN YOGA and succeeds in overcoming the sea of ignorance. He is lifted above the gross material world and all worldly events, joys and sorrows, sound immaterial to him. LALLA says in one popular VAAKH--- she asked her GURU a thousand times who was the one who was nameless and beyond comprehension but she didn’t get a reply. When she got tired by asking repeatedly and hence helpless she was suddenly satisfied without an answer and understood the truth of life and its creator who was responsible for all creation and still beyond comprehension. The purpose here is to bring home to the seeker that the GURU guides his disciple in all circumstances and the seeker doesn’t fall short of guidance in association with him. LALLA says she has washed her body with the GANGAJAL (water of the sacred Ganges) of the GURA-SHABDA (word of her GURU) and thus attained pure salvation while living the same material body.
Lalleshuri is a great interpreter of the divine word AUM. She extensively explains the validity of AUM in achieving higher stages in yoga through PRANAYAMA and advancement of self by mastering efficiently the recitation of AUM. She says one who is able to master the recitation of this divine word with the rhythm of his breath without any digression of thought can form an easy bridge between him and the universal consciousness. LALLA says further that she gradually mastered the recitation of AUM in a way that she began feeling a strange sensation and with it her whole ego vanished, and thus detached from the world she was enlightened. At this stage, says Lalleshuri, she closed all the doors of her body i.e. controlled all her physical senses and took to recitation of AUM with the beats of the heart and thus achieved the higher echelons of consciousness. Here she cautions the seeker to inhale and exhale slowly with a particular rhythm such that there is a transformation of self as from a baser metal into gold and no stopping at any stage till the goal is reached. There is always at each stage the danger of being carried away by worldly digressions as these are much overpowering and most misleading. Lalleshuri points to a stage where the seeker gains full control over five senses and to him the world of matter vanishes completely. His soul is released from the bondages of the body and that is liberation. Nothing can be achieved without full control on the material self and ego. Lalleshuri expresses her personal experience in this context. She says she reached perfection by experiencing the bliss of the realization of truth and became the embodiment of celestial gleam through the discipline of yoga. She felt the presence of Lord everywhere and became herself too part of the infinity. She was wonderstruck that she had lost her identity and merged with the supreme. The fully realized yogi ultimately achieves that stage of perfection as LALLA says when Lord SHIVA becomes a horse to ride for him, Lord VISHNO the saddle and BRAHMA to hold the stirrups. That indicates the fulfillment of purpose or the ultimate liberation from material bondages.
In her ecstasy of achievement Lalleshuri describes her encounter with the supreme. With her tears of joy she washes the divine feet but feels the divine presence on her head indicating the ultimate success of a yogi. She says on her observation that the lord is without name, form, shape, caste or creed and still the nucleus of the universe, so there is none else worthy to be worshipped. She feels the presence of the lord shining everywhere, she listens to the divine talk and LALLA nowhere, already merged with the supreme. The influence of the lord (Shiva) is everywhere in the cosmos and it is only the human mind that can work to tune it in its favour in its lifetime. Human life is precious as only capable to achieve the highest stage of perfection by being one with the supreme. When human mind is absorbed in worldly affairs it is quite non-receptive to divine influences, alternatively when one is absorbed in meditation and looking within his self it naturally becomes sensitive to divine vibrations by losing interest in material advancement and shunning all egos.
Lalleshuri gives a very beautiful description of her journey towards her liberation. Comparing her birth to the bloom of a cotton flower she says that she came to this world as a cotton flower, which is a symbol of purity and innocence. Soon the weaver took her control and gave her knocks and beatings to make the thread out of it capable to be taken to the loom for weaving a coarse cloth. The cloth was then taken by the washer-man who washed it by beating it again repeatedly on his washing stone to be finally given to the tailor. Still her ordeal was not over as the tailor again mercilessly cut it into pieces and joined them by sewing them with sharp needles to give it the shape of a garment to be worn gracefully. The purpose here is to bring home to the seeker that the way to perfection is full of trials and tribulations but the end is quite rewarding. Lalleshuri gives her experiences further in order to make a guideline for the seeker to liberation. She says she didn’t seek wealth or power, remained away from sensual pleasures, adopted moderation in taking foods, bore lot of pain and suffering but took refuge in her lord, her love. She didn’t attach herself with the material possessions but cultivated intense desire to reach her goal by keeping her mind fixed constantly on her beloved Lord. The pain that she suffered cannot be estimated by a layman. She wore the robes of pain and anguish, wandered lonely door to door to seek the divine grace. She left all forms of caprice and deceit, she didn’t differentiate between a Hindu and a Muslim, and she simply tried to look within her self to get awakened and get acquainted with the Lord.
In a very popular VAAKH Lalleshuri describes her journey through her life. She says she is towing the boat of her life through the murky waters of the sea of life pulling at the frail untwisted cotton thread praying constantly to her lord to help her across. Her life is like an unbaked earthen pot with water gradually seeping through ready to fall apart, but she is still aspiring to get liberated from the agony of life and reach her real home, the house of her Lord. The symbol used here is very appropriate. There is a permanent danger to the boat of life to get detached from the path of salvation and get lost. The pulls and pressures of worldly attachments are so hard that there is always a danger of leading astray from the reality. She says further that the flesh of the soles of her feet wore off while going on the rugged path towards her goal but she sustained and was finally rewarded and was now dancing with joy. Why not, it was an occasion for celebration but instantly she wondered that her lord was nowhere else but within the closeness of her heart and enjoins upon the seeker to find out and meet Him there. In her deep ecstasy LALLA had a chance to see Lord SHIVA and His consort SHAKTI in close embrace. She took a deep dip into this celestial spectacle and was graced eternally and thus freed from the cycle of life and death. Thus she got admittance into the abode of immortal bliss which she calls the garden of most beautiful flowers. Here she calls upon the aspirants to seek this stage of immortality as there remains nothing beyond to be achieved further.
Lalleshuri has given exhaustive description of KUDALINI SHAKTI and the exercise of KUNDALINI JAGRAN. The KUDALINI SHAKTI is a latent energy in the form of a coiled serpent with its abode in the lower end region of the spinal cord of the human body. On purification and awakening of this energy which is a systematic YOG-KRIYA the divine energy takes an upward course through spinal cord called KUNDALINI JAGRAN performed with the inhalation and exhalation of breath (PRANAYAMA) and gradually with sustained effort the energy reaches the top of the head of the YOGI. On acquisition of this energy the seeker attains the final and most comprehensive truth about the entire universe. This is the highest stage in YOGA and when the seeker reaches this stage all his passions for worldly pleasures retire and he is freed from the cycle of birth and death, a stage of eternal bliss. Lalleshuri calls KUDALINI SHAKTI in the form of a coiled serpent a SHAH-MAR (king serpent) and calls upon the seeker to lift the lid off the container of this energy by the power of exhalation and inhalation of breath and dive deep into the supreme consciousness.
The VAAKHS of Lalleshuri is an ocean of learning and spirituality, an authentic guide to the science of Yoga and self realization and above all a treasure of masterpiece poetic compositions. The symbols and similes, metaphors and picturesque compositions are the creations of a super artist. The world of literature is yet to recognize the greatness of the poetry of Lalleshuri. The greatest hurdle here is of language which has a limited readership and so the responsibility of Kashmir scholars is to open these gems of VAAKHS without prejudice before the world so that the worth of Lalleshuri is established further as a poet and a YOGINI. Whatever work has been done so far does not do full justice to the great work of Lalleshuri and one of the reasons is the prejudicial treatment that Pandit artists and writers faced in Kashmir in recent times. As such in order to establish the greatness of Lalleshuri in the international forums some more authentic work needs to be done urgently and the responsibility again goes to our learned scholars who are capable enough to take up such projects for this great service to Lalleshuri the pride of Kashmir in general and our community in particular.
JAWAHAR LAL BHAT
B-3, ASHIANA Apartments,
SECTOR-46, FARIDABAD, HARYANA
CONTACT NO: 0129-4096114
(The article has been published in ‘KOSHUR SAMACHAR, Delhi’ in its December 2000 issue with some minor changes)
After her revelation out of a vast sheet of water, SATISAR, thousands of years before, the valley of Kashmir turned to be a choicest spot for unknown long periods of time for RISHIS and MUNIS throughout the world for meditation, TAPASYA and acquiring exclusive spiritual powers in its cool a serene atmosphere. As such almost every nook and corner of the valley became a place of worship and TAPASYA and the atmosphere highly spiritual and places centers of attraction for whole of Indian population especially those interested in spiritual advancement. As such, the periods that followed gave rise to a population of high-caste Hindus deeply rooted in the studies of scriptures and religiously disciplined life. Consequently with the passage of time the valley was decorated with great seats of learning and knowledge along with spots and places invested with great spiritual power so much so that KASHMIR was called a PEETHA of SIDDHI and the Hindus of plains continued adoring her for being a source of inspiration to lots of knowledge hungry souls for all times to come.
Many authentic indications are found in the valley that the RISHIS and MUNIS of the highest order practiced their austerities at various spots for long times either inside deep caves carved out of hill- slopes with their spiritual powers or on open hilltops or in dense forests. Many such places discovered perchance by local people quite unknown before and suggestive of great mysterious powers are still a reality. Shri AMARNATH SWAMI, the world famous abode of LORD SHIVA is a prime example of such a spot discovered in the modern times by a shepherd. The influence of the rigorous TAPASYA performed by the great seers of yester years have made various spots in the valley speak out themselves of the powers these places are invested with and any casual visitor even today can experience such influence at these places however humiliatingly these be desecrated from time to time by fundamentalist forces of modern times. The fact doesn’t pertain to a few places of worship only widely known today but the point to be emphasized here is that there is hardly a single hamlet, forest or a hillside in the valley which doesn’t have one or the other spot, a cave, a stone, an old monument, a spring or a tree, a cascade, a hilltop or the like which doesn’t speak out itself of some influence of some RISHI or a MUNI or an event of the past, though mute. Many of these places continue performing unbelievable miracles even now continually at special occasions of the day, night or season, obviously sacred to the deity attached to the spot. These miraculous happenings include a sudden change of atmospheric phenomenon like a sudden rainfall or a hailstorm, shower or lightening, presence of sudden water-flows coloured or milky, mysterious sounds or change or presence of some object specifically attached to the place. Lots of such places have remained hidden for being placed at some inaccessible far off hidden mountain terrain or embedded deep inside the bosom of earth as a consequence of geographical change through long passage of time.
No authentic survey has been so far conducted about this treasure house of spirituality, knowledge and mystery in the valley except some stray references made in various books old and new by authors concerned with a specific purpose, as a result that the mysteries about them have remained hidden from the knowledge of the outside world so far, despite advancement in technology. The reason especially is not that the outer world has failed to take notice of such happenings in the valley but much before such survey could be undertaken, much before the outer world had entered the advanced age of science and technology and capable of doing such an authentic research work, KASHMIR the abode of RISHIS had witnessed a worst drama of wholesale desecrations of holy places and conversion of its age-old Hindu installations developed through scores of centuries at the hands of Muslim fundamentalist invaders and rulers who were mad after converting the total ethos of this land through every possible means. The huge structures of Hindu religion, its power and pelf, temple complexes and libraries were razed to the ground and the occupants ruthlessly put to sword or forced to change their faith. The treasure houses of old scriptures, recorded works of great authors and numerous historical documents were burnt to ashes and history changed to suit their interests. Thus the glorious period of Hindu Kashmir ended before the modern advancement of technology ushered its way into the modern age. The old seemed to dwindle into the past. The masses perforce got converted along with their local places of worship. The selected few who didn’t opt for the change of their faith fled for their lives either outside valley or into far off hills and forest terrains to escape vigilance and lived a life of total seclusion. There are indications about some Hindu installations which are in tact even today that the forces couldn’t face the obvious spiritual power manifest in them and had no other way but to keep them undisturbed. Still in many cases their names were changed akin to the new faith and thereby a new cult called SUFI cult came in vogue. Thus SUFI-ISM was born in Kashmir within the parameters of Muslim faith, which was in fact a changed version of Hindu faith in the garb of Muslim culture. Consequently, no authentic historical records are available now about the golden culture and civilization of old Hindu Kashmir except some oblique references found in some long epic-like poems like RAJTARANGINI of KALHAN PANDIT and some other lesser known books of yore.
Thus the modern times saw the total face of the valley changed from its chaste Hindu RISHI cult to Muslim fundamentalist way of life. Down to the period of BUDSHAH (SULTAN ZAIN-UL-ABIDIN) son of SULTAN SIKANDAR (the iconoclast) at whose hands the worst is said to have happened in this calm happy abode of the gods, the conditions remained unchanged. There was no place for Hindus anywhere. They were hounded like the animals of prey and put to death ruthlessly. In the reign of BADSHAH, however, the Hindus began showing their presence in very small numbers as the king was lenient towards them and allowed them to settle of their own. By their spiritual powers and capacity to accommodate in the new circumstances they started living among their Muslim neighbours very humbly. They continued their religious pursuits and learning and tried to maintain their distinct cultural identity. The left-over places of worship were maintained and looked after but they had to accept the supremacy of their Muslim lords and fulfill their wishes from time to time. Thus the Hindu population of Kashmir began showing their heads in very small numbers in almost all rural and urban areas. They had to accept whatever was left over for them out of their glorious past and thus the changeover from one generation to another gave them the capacity to adapt themselves with the changed circumstances. Kashmir had no longer remained a Hindu Kashmir as the new lords tried to change her wholly by building powerful installations of Muslim culture and religion in place of old intricate Hindu fabric.
No doubt everything seemed to have changed on the face of it but strangely the basic elements remained unchanged in the valley. The traces remained there and showed their influence on everything. The solid deep roots of Hindu culture remained embedded under the soil of the changed environment and hence the change at times seemed superficial. Every new structure had its original roots alive sprouting their influence every now and then although the forces tried to cut them as deep as possible. As such Kashmir culture gave rise to a synthesis of the old order and the new change. Various indications in the form of a mixed culture were seen here and there. Some time a Muslim poet sang the glories of Hindu mythology or a saint became an adorer of Hindu gods and traditions, quite contrary to the beliefs of Muslim extremist attitude of religion. This attitude usually angered the religious bigots of the time but strangely enough the public at large didn’t raise objections to it but rather cherished such orations.
Then the DOGRA rule came in Kashmir. It provided a somewhat suitable environment for the skeletal population of Hindus now called PANDITS to retain and maintain whatever remnants of Hindu installations had escaped from mass destruction. The Hindus could now breathe freely and exhibit their talents overboard after a long time. Being the cream of the age-old Kashmir Hindu culture, the left-over installations seemed to stretch their wings and gain attention of the whole of India. The Pandits began showing their excellence outside the bonds of Kashmir though a microscopic minority in their land. Their worth was recognized everywhere and their presence conspicuously felt in various important places of power in India and abroad. But the next blow was quite at the threshold, this time also a severe one. In 1947 India became independent and partitioned. Though Kashmir fell into the lap of India but completely bruised. About half of it was snatched by Pakistan by proxy and aggression and the Pandits had again to see a bad day. They suffered untold miseries. Lots of them were killed, property looted and burnt, women raped and widowed.
The post independence period didn’t make the Kashmir Pandits any comfortable as the things worsened for them. They continued to be an eyesore in the eyes of the majority community in Kashmir for their being exclusive mentally, educationally and ahead in every field. The state government headed by Muslims tried to devise all ways and means to keep the Pandits in back burner and push Muslims into all important positions. Since Pandits were a community almost hundred percent educated so pushing them back was not so easy. Thus open discrimination prevailed everywhere so much so that Pandits began gradually moving out of Kashmir seeking better avenues of employment and thus escape humiliation that they had to face by working under junior and inefficient hands among Muslims. Gradually Pandits began feeling insecure and humiliated in their own land and thus started their migration to other parts of India and abroad. Their population in the valley showed decreasing trends day by day and they were forced to face humiliation at every level. The majority community encouraged all such moves and tried their level best to purchase the properties of fleeing Pandits at throwaway prices till the game plan of Pakistan gave the final blow in 1990 when Kashmir witnessed all the Pandits of the valley running away for their lives leaving behind everything, their homes and hearths, culture and civilization and above all the place of their birth, the paradise on earth. It was a terrible scare created by merciless killings of Pandits in cold blood and the majority community not raising even an eyebrow over the events and thus Kashmir was bereft of its residual Hindu population in only a few days. How these helpless people suffered in the unfriendly environs outside Kashmir is a tale full of woes and untold sufferings.
It is a pity that Kashmir, a part of independent secular India could not stop the worst tragedy of modern time, the mass displacement of Pandits from the valley and now after more than a decade these hapless people are clamouring for their return to their homes and the administration is unable to give any green signal so far. Meanwhile the majority community in Kashmir has usurped all the important positions held by Pandits in the valley and thus the Pandits have lost their separate identity of being the descendents of India’s choicest population who had come to Kashmir thousands of years before to seek benevolence and who had attained the highest wisdom and powers of spirituality through toughest SADHNA and TAPASYA and had thus made Kashmir the crown of India.
Alas! There is no one to protect this land of RISHIS (RISHI BHOOMI). It is virtually wrenched from our hands by the hostile forces bent upon weakening India. Each and every grain of soil, stone, slope, mountain and river of Kashmir is Hindu but unfortunately held hostage by elements quite hostile to her origin. How far will it continue? Have the powers of our ancestors lost their relevance? India has been robbed of her golden crown.
JAWAHAR LAL BHAT
B-3, ASHIANA Apartments,
SECTOR-46, FARIDABAD, HARYANA
CONTACT NO: 0129-4096114
(The article has been published in “KOSHUR SAMACHAR, Delhi” in its August 2005 issue with some minor changes)
That our youth are displaying admirable qualities of head and hand in every field, wherever they are, is a matter for great pride. Their sprinkling presence on the highest positions of the corporate world throughout the globe is not a small achievement and definitely an occasion to rejoice. But the million dollar question is whether they are able to nourish in them any of the choicest traits of our KP personality, not essentially in their daily routines of eating, dressing, language habits but in their mental capacities that would get them an upright life, peaceful existence and contentment, to crown all. Many of our youth would be interested to know that the secret of our glorious past was the strict observation of certain essential elements of our rich cultural heritage spiritually transmitted from one generation to another without any deviation whatsoever.
The most tragic phenomenon that the community is facing currently is that our youth are distancing from their roots, e.g. their cultural interaction with parents and grandparents, elders, neighbours and various cultural and religious festivals while they keep busy in the pursuit of their professional excellence and material advancement right from the day they are out of school. As a result our boys and girls are adopting a hostel culture highly susceptible to the modern western influences in place of Indian traditional values, not to speak of what is peculiar to KP lifestyle.
The most cogent impact on the preservation of KP culture was the observance of certain day to day routine adopted by KP family comprising of the people of all ages. The prime influence started with the wearing of the sacred thread (YAGNYOPAVIT) at a tender age (9-12) by boys at a grand ceremonial YAGNA (HAVAN) which continued at least for two days attended by all relatives, neighbours and friends. The main purpose of the ceremony was the formal entry of the child into observing certain essential codes of conduct according to Hindu scriptures in day to day life. The first and foremost was putting in the habit of offering regular morning and evening prayers with the formal recital of GAYTRI MANTRA (JAPA) every morning invariably along with washing of the sacred thread (YAGNYOPAVIT) in fresh water before doing anything else or eating something. It had to be a lifelong routine and had thus a strong impact on the person wearing it as the sacred thread was worn invariably every time which proved to be a permanent accompanying deity with enormous spiritual powers to ward off all misfortunes and sudden mishaps. Unfortunately the modern KP youth are ignoring the sanctity of this essential accompaniment, as most of them are unaware of the great spiritual power that the GAYATRI MANTRA and other SIDH MANTRAS possess. The fault does not lie with our erring youth but especially with their parents and other elders in the family who ignore fulfilling this prime responsibility while grooming their children for their successful future. Generally now most KP parents delay this most important ceremony in respect of their sons and perform it very late just to complete a formality such that its very purpose is lost.
KP culture is enormously rich in terms of an established religious and social order with sound foundations laid and enriched from time to time by great RISHIS and SAINTS of the highest order for thousands of years. The uniqueness of the order thus established has been a source of great pride not only for the Kashmir Hindus but for the masses of the rest of India who treated Kashmir Hindu way of life a prime example in the field of religious and spiritual excellence. Thus the KP is the sole heir to this rich heritage inherited by them directly from their forefathers developed through a long history of TAPASYA and SADHANA of numerous RISHIS of the highest order. With the total displacement of KPs from the land of their origin during 1990 this rich heritage has been at severe peril because of the most unfavourable circumstances they are forced to live in. A lot of damage has been done and much more is expected if things are not taken care of and set right. Unfortunately the worst victims of the damage are our youth, our future hopes, who are suffering for want of a sound cultural foundation which is essential for their healthy development. The reason, as already said, is that they are detaching from the mainstream of our cultural background.
To me, this is the main reason for the deterioration of moral attitudes in our community resulting in the loss of mental peace among our people and also the rash decisions taken by our youth in the selection of their matrimonial partners. The bitter relationship in our families along with a strange escapist attitude from various household responsibilities in our youth is another horrible development cropping up. There seems nobody to stop this all and nothing is coming in sight that has the capacity to rectify the damage because our youth are scattered, rudderless, a soulless lot rubbing shoulders with those who also seem no better on face but on looking deeper there is surely an aura of peace seen around them as they have their roots fixed somewhere.
This is no doubt, a casualty which our high-heeled youth are facing the world over that they are tense mentally, frustrated to the core and hence unable to find any mental peace. Consequently many of them resort to many evil ways and drugs though financially very sound. Though it is a general menace and our youth in this category cannot be an exception but the fact that I want to bring home to the reader is that our KP culture has been particularly imbibed with certain essential traits inherited by us from our forefathers, who were great masters and capable to see very deep into the future, have laid down certain canons for day to day activities for a well-knit family and social fabric of our society which was and can even now be capable of disciplining the mental faculties of an individual starting from early childhood. There were as such no chances of being a victim of or being a prey to the adverse social impacts of whatever severity they were.
The year 1990 and the aftermath got in store such strange influences for us that everything shattered to the root that belonged to this community in Kashmir. How many among us are capable of reciting regularly the prayers and hymns like THE BHAWANI SAHASTRANAM, SHIVA MAHIMNASTOTRA, and SHALOKAS OF PANCHASTAVI which belonged exclusively to Kashmiri Pandits. The importance of morning SANDYA and other evening prayers are now almost Greek to most of us. The celestial beauty of these STOTRAS have enormous powers invested in them, capable of relieving the believer from all troubles and hence a source of immense peace and tranquility.
The circumstances that prevail do not seem to guarantee any prospect of our return to the valley in near future so there is an urgent need to save our future generation from further damage caused by their detachment from our parental legacy that made us keep our heads high among the people of India and the rest of the world. The protagonists of the preservation of KP culture seem sleeping over the pitiable condition of our youth suffering for want of succor showing appalling behaviour, though alert mentally and sound educationally.
JAWAHAR LAL BHAT
B-3, ASHIANA Apartments,
SECTOR-46, FARIDABAD, HARYANA
CONTACT NO: 0129-4096114
For ages religion and spirituality has been a number one priority for common Indian and it continues to be so. There is nothing that can distract the masses of this land from this influence. India continues to be a staunch believer of Hindu faith in spite of lots of negative inputs provided by modern westernized life standards and culture. The Indian religious and spiritual culture continues to be a strong force though for the last many centuries very strong foreign influences that entered this land in various forms tried their best to alter her cultural base but she was able to retain her cogent basic elements of culture which continues to be her most coveted treasure for all times to come. Lots of Indians changed their faith from time to time but continued to preserve in them certain basic elements of local Indian culture thus rejecting the most powerful influences that wished to change the whole fabric of Indian culture according to their own vested interest. India has not allowed herself succumb totally even to the most vigorous foreign influences repeatedly for hundreds of years, though the face of India changed a lot but she retained the essential traits of her culture. Thus India continues to be a strong advocate and preserver of certain strong religious and spiritual values along with substantial development of science and technology and high economic growth. A rich treasury of authentic religious and philosophical scriptures preserved through thousands of years along with numerous religious institutions and places of spiritual importance is spread widely over this land and a galaxy of learned scholars, saints and seers with high spiritual awakening and knowledge are working overtime teaching people of this country and abroad the tenets of Hindu religion and spirituality. There is a substantial development of Indian thought and spirituality supported by deep faith of the masses of this great country despite many provocative elements working against it.
Indian faith and godliness, an established religious and philosophical movement with a glorious history of thousands of years, is gaining more and more attention for the last more than fifty years among the people of the west. More and more people in the western world are getting influenced by Indian religious and spiritual thought, and the Indian saints and pundits (religious teachers) are greatly honoured and welcomed for discourses than they used to be a century before. The practice of Yoga as a science and art is welcomed by all and sundry not only as a body healer but also for spiritual awakening. Numerous Yoga teaching centers in the US and other countries are catering to the aspirations of the people of all ages and the response is tremendous. Besides Yoga, Indian meditation centers help thousands of youth throughout the globe ease themselves of the stress and strain that they suffer from due to present day high heeled life.
Unfortunately along with this rich religious and spiritual environment an another trend of godlessness and atheistic attitude is cropping up in this society with a good number of individuals trying to refute the existence of gods and propagating the futility of religious beliefs obviously the result of some foreign influence or better financial independence or wrongly implicated higher educational inputs in them. The impact is not alarming but invites a good deal of awakening among the masses especially the highly educated high-heeled youth before any damage is done to our well established culture. Their argument is strong against religion and spirituality for lack of sufficient scientific proof to any divine existence, soul or the so called spiritual emancipation or awakening as propagated by numerous holy men and the religious literature circulated throughout the world. The Indian faith and godliness is thousands of years old with a solid background supported by authentic scriptures including Vedas and Upanishads, Mahabharata and Ramayana, and above all the world renowned Bhagwadgita, besides the open book lives of numerous holy men and women that have come down on this land as the messengers of God to propagate and recall the God’s message among the misleading men and women from time to time. Millions and millions of people around the globe continue to be the staunch believers of various faiths and believe God as the almighty power guiding solely the whole universal activities.
The advancement in modern science and technology has given an impression to certain people that life processes cannot exist beyond the assumptions of the scientific studies of living creatures including man. These studies that prompt certain people especially youth change the time tested beliefs of this land are just recent developments based on knowledge recently acquired by man cannot be an alternative to the world of knowledge and experience established by numerous scholars of yore and practically experienced by unlimited number of sages and seers not only on this land but also at various other locations. These people unfortunately do not like to go beyond whatever is scientifically proved recently by the men of science and are naturally averse to the belief of the presence of any supernatural existence on which the whole edifice of religion and spirituality stands. They limit their knowledge and understanding of life to its existence only from birth to death which is in fact only a small portion of the real life that exists far beyond. The life that is assumed to be the absolute reality is not the whole process but only a small portion of our existence, part of which has been lived in the gone by stages and the rest is yet to be experienced. The human life on this planet that we consider the absolute truth is actually an occasion provided to the mortal man especially to work for his personal enlightenment that has the capacity to take him nearer to the absolute reality and ultimately release him from the cycle of life and death, the ultimate object of this whole life process. The glamour of life that is witnessed here is simply to distract man from the real task that he or she is entrusted with so that he fails to perform the real function of life and passes away and just according to ones deeds gets some other life.
All development and technological advancement along with the glare of modern life is a part of the process that eludes man from seeking the real purpose of life. In fact the life process is a major test that a man is put into as two distinct options are clear before him, either to live for the sake of life and enjoy the transitory pleasures of the worldly existence and face death leaving everything behind or otherwise fulfill the task of seeking emancipation of self and try to approach the absolute reality, i.e. God. The task which seems stupendous may or may not be fulfilled in a single life so a human being may get one or more lives further to strive for achieving the ultimate reality. Since the period of stay on this planet as a human being is a transitory phase but with a very essential purpose and the ultimate aim of religion and spirituality is to bring home to the erring man that human life is the rarest of the rare opportunity that one gets after going through various stray lives and the purpose is to strive for personal enlightenment along with the routine duties as a householder with normal function as a bread earner or whatever function he or she is put to perform. One, who understands the real purpose of life and dedicates himself wholly for the purification of his real self besides performing his or her legitimate duty as a human being, consequently displays the choicest traits of human character-- truth, justice, spirit of sacrifice, honesty, and respect for all. For him the pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat are alike as he is dedicated to the path of salvation where only the deeds of goodness and godliness help. Such people distance themselves from the false pleasures of life while keeping busy in the honest dealings as the scriptures command to renounce all selfish desire and work making all life a sacrifice offered with true devotion. Here one is also able to discriminate between the real self and the material self, as it the material one that has to perish and the real self does not die, it repeats its existence on this earth time and again in one form or the other as a consequence of its deeds till it ultimately gets a human form and an occasion to work for enlightenment. How unfortunate that we lose this rarest of rare occasion in the quest of worldly pleasures and forget the essential purpose of life by following the dictates of the objects of desire and sense enjoyments till the end comes and one passes away just to enter into one more link of the chain of our life cycle.
There was never a time when the reality of life and godliness was not experienced by lots of people in this land and numerous other places and most of them left an indelible impression on the psyche of people of their time and for the future generations to follow suit. Most of these awakened souls lived a normal life but definitely displayed an aura of spiritual excellence which naturally attracted people towards them. Many among them were people with high academic qualifications and held high elevated positions besides working overtime for the betterment of the social and spiritual fabric of their society. They made their life an example for others to follow and continue supporting and showing the path to awakening to lots of their devotees even today after they have passed into eternity. Such people actually do not die; their presence is felt eternally among their people for the influence created by them. The people of India have never been fanatic in their religious beliefs. This country has a long history of adopting various outside beliefs and faiths by people who liked to make a ground for themselves here in this country. Our people at every juncture displayed a great openness of heart and soul to accommodate everyone whoever came at her doors and shared her culture with them thus changing herself every time but essentially retaining certain basic elements of her glorious past which is her strength even today and will continue till eternity.
Our youth and those who are following a rebellious attitude towards our time-tested faith and beliefs should try to delve deep into the Indian religious philosophy and spiritual experience instead of nourishing a superficial knowledge of the real facts of life. The glorious past of this great country is not based on superficial beliefs or baseless blind faith but very solid foundations of time tested spiritual experience, philosophy and religion. This deep rooted religious, spiritual and cultural panorama with an uninterrupted history of thousands of years is the sacred legacy received by us from our forefathers. It has long helped India keep her head high and withstand the vagaries of time and nature quite contrary to many advanced nations of pre-historic period who had touched the zenith of prosperity and development in the days of yore but perished totally leaving no traces of their existence. There should be no reason to believe, act or propagate ideas contrary to the spirit of our motherland as an attitude and belief which does not correspond to her spirit is a crime against the land of our birth. We’re never bound by any blind faith to believing or acting simply as the tradition goes but we’re proud to belong to a country where you always look before you leap and scrutinize before you act. Our faith is based upon the divine experience of numerous unknown sages and seers who worked for their spiritual advancement for long periods of unknown history and the scriptures developed in centuries not by individuals but by successive generations of highly awakened sages and strangely enough without any clue of the original creator. India is a country with traces of advanced civilized culture from deep pre-historic periods when the present advanced countries of the west who boast of their advancement did not even exist in their most crude primitive forms not to speak of any of their organized system. The unfortunate that has happened with India is her slavery and subjugation to various foreign powers for long periods which deprived her of her independent spirit for a long time, thus giving an occasion to her rivals in the international forums raise fingers on her cultural integrity. Here we are indebted to some of our social and literary stalwarts like DR. R. N. TAGORE and DR. S. RADHAKRISHNAN and others who tried and succeeded in exploring the real image of India before the English speaking west who presented a very dismal picture of India lived by uncivilized people with no worthwhile cultural history.
We are proud that India is displaying remarkable development in all fields of modern technology, education, secular democratic pattern of governance, social and economic development, so much so that the image of India has got a tremendous uplift in the post independence period. India is proceeding fast on the path of economic and technological development but it is encouraging that it does not anyway overshadow our religious and spiritual development and the faith of people in the institution of religion and spirituality is increasing day by day.
JAWAHAR LAL BHAT
B-3, ASHIANA Apartments,
SECTOR-46, FARIDABAD, HARYANA
CONTACT NO: 0129-4096114
The original name of SEDBUB was SHRI VEDLAL BHAT and he belonged to village HANJIVEIRA, TEHSIL PATTAN, KASHMIR, where he was born to his parents SH. VESHN BHAT and SMT. YEMBERZAL on an auspicious day JESHTHA SHUKLA PAKHSH NAUMI around year 1902.
Swami Sed Bub
Very little is known about his early life but he had some schooling at a local school and got conversant with some essential scriptures at a local Hindi PATHSHALLA. He had a good knowledge of Urdu and Persian along with Hindi and Sanskrit. He had a nice handwriting and would write nice brief letters and converse freely in Urdu language whenever need be so. He was married to SMT GUNWATI at an early age who proved to be the most dedicated housewife who shouldered household responsibilities including the bringing up and education of their three sons and two daughters. In spite of being a highly awakened saint SEDBUB didn’t entirely ignore the household responsibilities but attended each detail though his heart was centered to a much higher purpose for which he had taken birth. This higher standard of life together as a householder and a highly awakened saint is the wont of very few and has as such been greatly admired. He had a brief stint as an Assistant in government revenue department which he gave up sooner than he had got it.
Obviously no traces of sainthood were observed during his early life and youth being a householder who managed a large family along with tending of household lands, cattle and all other occupations of an ordinary Kashmir farmer but as time passed his detachment towards worldly affairs manifested more clearly and he started displaying an aura of sacred countenance which was observed firstly by his family members and later by others who came into his contact. The condition is very rare and is looked upon as an exclusive uplift of soul usually a result of some holy connection with an exalted position in ones past life. Thus subsequently he began visiting various reputed saints and savants of that time and went to important temples and places without notice obviously to seek guidance and inspiration. He stayed with them or at places for several days thus leaving his esteemed wife with all the responsibility at home. It was thus immediately obvious to all concerned that he followed a much higher responsibility and as such nobody had the courage to question him in the context.
SEDBAB was soon recognized as an established saint and the visits of devotees commenced at his residence and places where he moved. His visits to MAA RAGINYA at TULMUL also increased where he used to stay for a couple of days and sometimes a full fortnight. He would invariably be present there on SHUKLA PAKHSH ASHTAMI when lots of PANDITS visited there to pay obeisance and participate in the evening AARTI which proved a great boon to various devotees who submitted before him and sought his blessings. He had some favourite followers who used to accompany him to places and persons. He had soon developed a deep attraction for saints and visited many of them and sat in their company for long hours and sometimes for days. Among saints that he visited frequently SWAMI NAND LAL JI of BOMAI (SOPORE) and later TIKKAR (KUPWARA) had the greatest influence on him. He is reported to be constantly in his company for long hours and days besides accompanying him to various places and people. The fact is not fully established whether Swami Ji was his GURU but the association was certainly something special as both of them were seen together frequently in almost all Ashrams of Swami Ji and other places. They definitely shared something special and subsequently Swami Ji was so much attached to him that he called him SEDMOL for his simple extraordinary saintly qualities, the beautiful name which he retained all his life though he was later fondly called SEDBAB by his devotees. SEDMOL was the GURU of Lalleshuri (LALDED) the most famous poet-saint and YOGINI of Kashmir. Swami Ji was a great admirer of LALDED and often quoted her LALLA WAKH to establish some of his argument on YOGA.
SEDBAB was very simple, affectionate and calm by nature. He was known for his simplicity and smiling nature. His frequent smile was his trademark as he responded everyone with a smile. To a casual visitor he hardly showed any signs of sainthood. He wore the aspect of a common Kashmiri Pandit of those days, a large turban with a shining face conspicuous with a huge TILAK on his forehead. His long PHERAN, with long narrow sleeves folded outside at their end fell up to his ankles. The large pocket below right side of his PHERAN kept always bulging as it was always filled with something. He probably didn’t wear a shirt or pajamas but wore a shawl or a woolen CHADDER over his PHERAN depending on the climatic conditions. He had always a big towel hanging on his shoulders or around his neck for its legitimate use. The SADHNA of SEDBUB was a routine of very early rising and after a routine bath in fresh preferably flowing water he went into long bouts of meditation till almost midday and repeated the same in the evening before nightfall. He used to talk very less and was mostly absorbed in his deep thought. He was a regular reader of the SHALOKAS of BHAGWADGITA and recited the famous STOTRAS like BHAWANI SHASTRANAM, PANCHASTAVI and MAHIMNAPAR and incited his devotees to follow him.
Since he was a regular visitor to various saints and places of repute so he used to be away from home frequently sometimes for months together. Wherever he was seen people flocked to seek his blessings. Some times he accidentally visited some of his devotee at his house and suddenly it turned into a high jubilation for the inmates and the news spread like wild fire and immediately scores of people came to see BAB and tried to be near him all the time he was there. Nobody had the courage to ask him about his plans or programme. Whenever he sat for meals or tea along with some of his devotees at a place he would take a bit and give away the rest to someone present. It was a great pleasure for the devotees around to have a bit of it as PRASAD. He observed no hard and fast routine in eating as he ate very less and seemed to relish whatever was offered to him. He was a strict vegetarian and avoided onion, garlic, tomatoes and some leafy vegetables. He was also a regular observer of frequent fasts on occasions like ASHTAMI,EKADASHI, AMAWASI, PURNIMASHI and many other auspicious days. Simple food, rice and vegetable curry and occasional KEHWA, a preferred Kashmiri beverage without milk was his preference. He took very little and gave away the rest to his devotees present there as a PRASAD. A great caution had to be observed as whatever was to be served was cooked fresh after washing afresh all the wares in fresh water with brown clay. Only brown clay was used for all cleaning purposes as soap was usually considered impure in those days. SEDBUB didn’t use any kind of soap on his body and hence no soap was used in washing the cook wares used in his cooking. For all sacred devotional jobs only brown clay and no soap is preferred for all cleaning purposes in all KP homes even now.
KARAMYOGA is the way of life where an aspirant is actively involved in all worldly affairs but his heart is perpetually fixed with the Lord. It is considered the simplest way of devotion and the shortest possible way towards enlightenment. A KARAMYOGI is instinctively able to differentiate between the good and the evil, between DHARMA and ADHARMA, and hence neither anything wrong is committed nor does a single thought which is detrimental to the sublime ways of the supreme visit the clean slate of his mind. SEDBAB was necessarily a SANYASI though he didn’t shirk the legitimate responsibility of a householder, a KARMYOGI who performed honestly the duties of a large family and a saint who had attained the highest enlightenment and all the SIDDIES without any obvious hectic KRIYA. To a common man he was a simple householder performing his legitimate duties but there was something special which made him look different rather taller than the rest. His strange spiritual aura attracted people towards him though he tried to avoid them and not look conspicuous. The uniqueness of SEDBAB as a saint lies in performing his worldly affairs efficiently on one side and on the other being absorbed in the task of achievement of his higher goal. As a GRAHASTHI (householder) his status in the realm of sainthood is highly commendable though not unique as there have been a good number of such highly awakened saints in Kashmir who were evidently normal persons engaged in all worldly affairs. An event of his household life can sufficiently establish the unprecedented detachment of SEDBUB. His second son Late OMKAR NATH was employed in the Indian Army and was very unfortunately martyred in action during Indo-China war in 1962. When the news was delivered formally by an official of the Army at their residence BUB was incidentally at home. Everyone was dumbstruck and immediately a gloom of death spread in the house. Since BUB was preparing on a routine sojourn and it is said he didn’t shed even a single tear and without any slightest waver of mind proceeded on his scheduled visit. Such a gesture of determination is the act of a supreme KARMYOGI not an ordinary mortal.
SEDBUB was beloved of numerous devotees who wanted to seek his blessings but he was always on move from place to place without any fixed schedule so he usually eluded them. His devotees included a good number of Muslims too who had a great reverence for him and sought his blessings whenever in trouble. It is said that SEDBUB was very hard to grant a favour to a devotee but some are of the opinion that everything was granted instantly provided the need was genuine and sincere.
There is sufficient evidence to substantiate that SWAMI NAND LAL JI and none else was SEDBUB’S preceptor (Guru) but still there is enough difference of opinion on the issue as many of his devotees do not conform to this view. They say as is said in such a situation, he was himself his Guru or he was born with enough awakening which he carried through along with him from his past life and that there was no need of any further initiation. Still there is nobody denying that SEDBUB used to be in the association of Swami Ji for long hours and sometimes many days wherever Swami Ji stayed and he always enjoyed the highest position in all his devotees and disciples. There always seemed something special between the two great souls that they relished in the company of each other. As such it is not easily digested that SWAMI NAND LAL JI was not his Guru but since SEDBUB was in the habit of keeping all his activities low-keyed and avoided being ostentatious though he always displayed a high spiritual aura, as such, he must not have been formally initiated into sainthood by Swami Ji though the association was surely above comprehension of ordinary people.
The last days of SEDBUB have been quite uneventful. Nothing substantial can be recorded except that on October 31, 1985 (KARTIK KRISHNA PAKSHA DOEY) SEDBUB was at his residence HAJIVERA (PATTAN) when he went into eternal SAMADHI. The news soon spread like wild fire and besides Pandits from the neighboring villages devotees from farther areas began pouring in large numbers. So the subsequent day the mortal remains of SEDBUB were cremated in the local SHAMSHAN BHUMI with great fanfare among chanting of sacred hymns in the presence of a large number of people especially Pandits. The administration had to arrange for a sizable security arrangement to manage the crowd. For twelve days the customary mourning like that of a householder was observed and devotees in large numbers visited his house to pay homage to the departed soul between continuous chanting of sacred SHALOKAS of BHAGVADGITA and other MANTRAS. Thus the sojourn of this great soul on this planet ended leaving deep traces of his holy life.
Then what followed will be interesting to the readers. Sometime after the MAHASAMADHI of SEDBUB his devotees planned to construct a memorial in memory of SEDBUB at his SAMADHI, the SHAMSHAN BHUMI, at HANJIVERA the land legally earmarked for the purpose in revenue records in all Hindu populated areas in Kashmir, and so in HANJIVERA (PATTAN). After the construction reached a certain stage strangely without any provocation the Muslims of the area objected to the construction severely so much so what ensued was a large scale feud and communal tension. The administration intervened and after a lot of tension the construction was stayed by a court order. The basic reason for the episode was the growing Muslim fundamentalist attitude among the youth especially whose plan was to discourage all religious expansion programmes by Pandits in the valley. Thus the much publicized memorial in the name of SEDBUB could not be raised as was desired by lots of his devotees. Actually what was not wished by SEDBUB in his lifetime could not be achieved after his celestial flight.
Now after mass displacement of Pandits from the valley in 1990 and with their sizable concentration in Jammu the devotees of SEDBUB have recently raised a magnificent Ashram at PALOURA, JAMMU with all facilities where devotees come in large numbers to submit before a large STATUE of SEDBUB installed in a room. The Ashram has no doubt become a pilgrimage spot for the numerous devotees of SEDBUB who regularly visit there and get rid of their worldly troubles besides their soul’s consolation and peace.
JAWAHAR LAL BHAT
B-3, ASHIANA Apartments,
SECTOR-46, FARIDABAD, HARYANA
CONTACT NO: 0129-4096114
Pranayama is the control or regulation of `Prana' (breath). All the functions of our body are directly or indirectly related to Prana. It has been compared to and given the status of Brahma (the creator and the supreme being) from which this entire universe has emerged. Prana is present in all the cells of our body. The sense organs of the body take rest occasionally but the Prana is always active. Constant movement is its innate character. It provides energy to all our limbs, organs, brain and spinal cord. The sages of the Upanishads say, "Whatever is there in the universe, within or beyond our cognition, is all in the control of Prana." Pranayama has the capacity of freeing the mind of ignorance, untruthfulness and all other painful and unpleasant experiences of the body and mind; and when the mind becomes clean it facilitates the seeker to concentrate on the desired spiritual goals and it becomes possible for him to progress furthering the direction of Dhyana and Samadhi.
By Yogaasanas we remove the distortions and disabilities of the physical body and bring it into discipline but Pranayama influences the subtle and the physical bodies in a greater measure than Yogaasanas do and that too in a perceptible manner. Physically Pranayama is a systematic exercise of respiration, which makes the lungs stronger, improves blood circulation and makes a person healthier and ensures a longer life. Inhalation (Purak) stimulates the system and fills the lungs with fresh air. Retaining the breath (Kumbak) raises internal temperature and plays an important role in increasing the absorption of oxygen. Exhalation (Rechak) causes the diaphragm to return to the original position and air full of toxins and impurities is forced out by the contraction of inter-costal muscles. The activities massage the abdominal muscles and tone up the working of various organs of the body.
Normally people are not in the habit of breathing deeply with the result that only one fourth of the lungs are brought into action as a routine. Most of the pores in the lungs do not get regular fresh oxygen and fall victim to disease. The regular Pranayama helps in flushing out all these pores with fresh air. The regular practitioners of Pranayama enjoy a long disease free life as numerous diseases are averted by the free flow of Prana in the body.
Lalleshuri has stressed upon the practice of Pranayama for the purpose of the basic wellbeing to the mental purification, meditation and all other spiritual attainments including Kundalini Jagran.
Dama dam kormas daman haley, prazlyom deep te nanaiyam zaath
Andrem prakash naiber tshotum, gati rotum te kermas thaph
Lalleshuri gives a beautiful expression of her personal continued exercise of breath. In perfect rhythm and proper timing and speed she indulged into the exercise for a pretty long time obviously under the guidance of her master. She didn't fault anywhere as the stability of mind in complete unison was essential. The perfect concentration of mind with continuous exercise of breath made the internal spark of her soul glitter profusely and revealed her all the secrets of awakening. She says she caught hold of all of these secrets and preserved them for all times. Thus Lalleshuri was able to reach the heights of her success through systematic breathing exercise (Pranayama) along with getting rid of all worldly distractions and achieving the full control of mind. To keep the mind under control free from all digressions is the main task of the seeker in the divine path. One who succeeds in this crucial task becomes the real master of his self and the gates of development open wide for him.
Poorak kumbak reechak karum, pawnas theivem pethe kani wath
Anahatas bhasem karum, kyanh nai motum soi cham kath
Lalleshuri explains here the crux of her personal experience of celestial journey. She continued with her essential exercise of breath (Pranayama) in the systematic taking in of the breath, retaining for a while and then taking out systematically under the guidance of her master. The whole body was thus furnished with sufficient Prana, the life force essentially required for the spiritual development of the body and soul together. She says she gave first priority to this exercise which helped her first in shunning all ego and worldly attractions. Gradually she was lifted far above the ordinary earthly existence, reduced to complete nothingness and be one with her Lord. The purpose of defining her personal experience is to make it essentially a guide for the seekers in the divine path.
Dihe chay larey daari bar troprim, prane choor rotum te dyutmas dam
Hradyechi koothri andhar gundum, Aumky chobuke tulmas bam
In order to achieve the real purpose of her life Lalleshuri says she closed all the doors and windows of her body-temple indicating her full control over the evil influences of the five sense organs which are the worst hurdles in the way of all spiritual development. Further she controlled her breath systematically (Pranayama) considering again that the uncontrolled breath is an enemy of development and unless the seeker has his breath strictly under control as prescribed in Yoga any personal realization is difficult. Lalleshuri says she adopted the systematic recitation of the sacred word AUM with the beats of her breath with a proper rhythm and succeeded in her mission. Here keeping ones mind under perfect control is also a must because the wavering mind disturbs all concentration and without perfect concentration of mind no development is possible.
Daman baste dito dil, damnas yithe paeth damaan khaar
Shesteras soen gachey haesil, vune chay sul te chandun yaar
Lalleshuri wants the seeker to concentrate on the systematic inhalation and exhalation of breath just like a goldsmith puts his full mind on the current of air that is directed towards the burning coal to produce enough heat so that the pure gold is separated from the impurities without any loss of the precious metal. There should be no distractions caused by the wavering mind or other worldly attractions that deviates the seeker from the main purpose. Lalleshuri further enjoins upon the seeker to get up instantly and seek the Lord as there is always enough time and occasion for the purpose and never too late.
Soen thav thaje taiy hosh thav phokas, loleke naray sorus vaichaar
Suey ras sartale wavath pyayee, ade soen sapdey kundan kaar
Chaet chay yirnay gyane dokray, paet kanas kuney taar.
Lalleshuri advises the seeker to take extreme caution and concentrate fully on his devotion and avoid all distractions of thought in his path to salvation. She compares the process beautifully to the working of a goldsmith, who with his knack and presence of mind succeeds in extracting pure gold out of various impurities. She refers allegorically to a goldsmith collecting pure gold in the form of a thin pure gold wire. She advises the seeker to be continuously in line with the exhalation and inhalation of breath (Pranayama) exactly as the goldsmith does not fail to direct the air current of his bellows directly into the dross to separate it clearly from the pure gold. He uses his sharp intellect and presence of mind for his maximum advantage and in the same manner the seeker in the path of divinity can achieve his goal soon if he uses the skills of his patience, sacrifice and devotion in ample measure in the proper direction. The allegorical description is the example of supreme poetic genius in its exactness of comparison and vivid description.
Sarafas nishe kahwache kharun, rache rache tolun choene ma haar
Chawuhme baazare pahe lagey, penchehme sapdakh kundan kaar
Shatwuheme baazare molum sapdey, paanay grakh tay paanay swarnkaar
The stages that a seeker has to encounter in his path to divinity are discussed in this couplet but again allegorically with reference to the working of a goldsmith. After a seeker crosses the first stage of his Sadhna, he has to present himself before his master (Guru) for his first test just as the goldsmith takes his gold to the market to verify its purity. The disciple is then tested for 24 days by his master and on passing out successfully he is honoured graciously on 25th day. On 26th day, which is the day of great celebration for the pupil, there is an automatic feeling of divine realization in the mind of the seeker and he becomes one with his master and his Lord. The wall of separation between the seeker and the sought vanishes and he merges with the absolute truth and tranquility.
Soen draav dehein tai mael gos wathith, yeli may anikh dyutmas taav
Katur zan lall vaiglith gayas, kath koesh goel te nishe rav draav
Lalleshuri draws a magnificent comparison between the clearing of the precious metal gold of its impurities and the human being of its involvement in the worldly affairs. While the pure gold is obtained with the persistent impact of the heat the impurities burn into smoke, the human being is liberated from the shackles of the worldly affairs with the impact of the systematic exercise of breath or Pranayama. Lalleshuri compares her personal liberation from the worldly attachments with the sudden appearance of the sun on breaking of the densely clouded sky of winter when everything around is enveloped in a thick blanket of frozen snow and the warm rays of sun bring fresh hopes of new survival. Lalleshuri says she was a frozen sheet of ice which felt like coming to a new life with the persistent practice of Pranayama like the melting of the sheet of ice upon getting the fresh rays of the sun.
Azappa gaytray hamas hamas zapith, aham traewith ada soye rath
Yaem trov aham su rood panay, bae no aasun chuy wopdeesh
While describing her personal mystic voyage, Lalleshuri sets a guideline for the seeker in the path to eternity. She guides him to follow the regular routine of the systematic recitation of Gaytrai Mantra corresponding to the beats of his breath on the condition of having renounced the entire worldly ego and false worldly attachments. All this can be achieved by controlling one's mind which is capable to move faster than anything else and which is actually responsible to lead a seeker astray from the real path at a crucial juncture. One who succeeds in overcoming these impediments in the path to salvation naturally becomes one with the supreme losing all his personal identity and this as per Lalleshuri is the basic and the highest lesson for the seeker towards awakening. The two conditions laid down for spiritual advancement, shunning ego and the subsequent surrender of personal identity are worthy of prime attention and following.
Dawadash mandlas yas deevas thajee, naasik pawan darae anaahat rav
Swayam kalpane antah tsaji, suy deev tay artsun kas
One who has achieved the highest stages of spiritual development by awakening Kundalini Shakti to its highest stage, the crown of head, called `Dawadsh Mandal', through the practice of Pranayama is worthy of all honour and worship. Lalleshuri compares the achievement of such a seeker with a farmer who is delighting in his success of getting a nice crop in his field by his persistent look after and care. The same is true of a sage with his ultimate success of purpose upon working systematically in the inhalation and exhalation of his breath through his nostrils right and left. This is the stage where all the worldly vanities and attractions vanish from the clear slate of mind and one virtually becomes one with the supreme Lord. As such there can be none else worthy of worship and devotion above him. Lalleshuri had achieved all the higher stages of awakening of her self and become one with her Lord so she advises the seeker to understand the significance of the awakening of the celestial power present in all human beings and the necessity of yogic exercise especially Pranayama.
Pawan te praan somuy dyuthum, Meelith roodum sheri khor taaen
Dhih yali mothum adhe kyah motum, Na kuni pavan tay na kuni praan.
On achieving appropriate mastery in the practice of Pranayama along with higher concentration in meditation the seeker does not find any difference between the normal respiration and the practice of Pranayama as his normal respiration becomes a controlled process and the body does not require the normal breathing as with the impact of the meditative process almost the whole system is controlled by a higher regulation. This is a condition when the body is reduced to nothingness and the head and the feet virtually club into one. When the existence of the body is reduced to a naught with the impact of the full awakening there is no inhalation or exhalation of breath as the self has lost its individual identity. The seeker, upon full awakening forgets all the interests of the body and the worldly existence as a whole and gets merged with the Param-Shiva leaving no traces of any individual existence. This is the stage of higher consciousness where the human soul becomes one with the universal existence and there remains nothing for him to achieve further.
Pavan poorith yus ane wagay, tas bavine suparsh na boche na trash
Tee karun yas antah tagay, samsaaras suy zevi neich
Lalleshuri says the seeker who follows systematically the exercise of breath (Pranayama) and is able to tune up his breathing system with the beats of his heart without any obvious effort commences a perfect revolution of self. Such a person gets virtually unconcerned about the requirements of the body like thirst and hunger, sense of touch and smell along with all other animal instincts. Lalleshuri speaks very high of such a person saying one who continues as such all his life achieves the essential purpose of his life and earns a great name for himself.
Pranas saety lai yali karem, dyanas thavnam ne roznas shaai
Kayas andar soruy vuchum, payas povum te kaedmas graai
Lalleshuri says when she mastered the exercise of Pranayama there was a complete revolution of her self and with it there remained no requirement for any further form of meditation or kriya. She virtually lost all the consciousness of her personal self by experiencing all the contours of the cosmos in her own person. She got clear awakening of all the divine secrets and there remained nothing unrealized for her. Gradually she gained full consciousness of her inner self and experienced that her holy person was the abode of all the aspects of the Lord. Here Lalleshuri indicates to her divine realization through the practice of Pranayama that opened all the doors of awakening for her.
Dame dame man Omkaar parnowum, paanai paran te paanai bozaan
Sooham padas aham golum, teli Lall vaiches prakash-sthan
Lalleshuri says that by regular practice of Pranayama her whole system was tuned in a way that it took no conscious effort on her part. Gradually the systematic exhalation and inhalation of breath became an automatic process with the recitation of the sacred word AUM coming out naturally and being beaten on her ear drums without making a sound. Thus there was a rapid advancement towards her goals till she achieved the highest stages of her awakening. The purpose of describing her personal experience is to indicate a clear way for the seeker towards emancipation and to understand the significance of the Pranayama.
Andar aasith naebar chondum, pawnan ragan kernam sath
Dyan keyn daiy zagi keeval zonum, rang gow sangas saet meelith kaith
Lalleshuri says she sought her Lord here and there though He was seated within the recesses of her own self. The secret was revealed to her upon systematic exercise of breath when each of her body nerve responded positively to her call. Moreover the non-duality of Param-Shiva was confirmed when she became one with her lord. On being fully awakened to all the secrets of the universe and a realized soul, Lalleshuri saw herself merged completely with the lone divine. There remained essentially nothing unrealized for her as her individual self had become part of the universal spirit. The essential fact stressed upon here again is the truth about Lord Shiva being Himself the embodiment of the whole universe with all other numerous awakened souls inseparably merged with Him.
Shurah te dah yus sumrith kharey, dawadashant andar gum nohi
Trei sumrith kenh matras praray, soi depzay sehza kray
Lalleshuri gives some directions here about the right approach of Pranayama. The inhalation and exhalation of breath sixteen times (five times three plus one) followed by ten times (three times three plus one) with a slight break in between is the right approach. One who is able to master the practice without any digression and full control of mind is able to centralize all his divine activities up on the crown of his head which is the abode of Param-Shiva. The seeker after attaining this stage experiences ultimate joy and excitement of perfection and with further meditation experiences the Lord or the full awakening of oneself.
Tsitta-twaruge vagi hyath ro'ttum, tseth milvith dashnaaddi waav,
Tavay sheshikal veyglith vatsham, shuunyas shuunyaah miilith gav.
Lalleshuri says she reined in the fast running steed of her mind, i.e. controlled the overpowering senses and by constant practice of Pranayama and meditation succeeded in bringing the proper alignment of wavering Prana through ten Nadis till she achieved the final goal of guiding the Kundalini Shakti to its destination, the crown of the head. It's here that she enjoyed the nectar of the mystic moon (Sheshkal) which came melting down and suffused her whole being and thus her void merged with the cosmic void i.e. she became immortal and an integral part of the supreme soul which is the ultimate goal of the individual soul to become one with the cosmic soul or Parmatma. Lalleshuri gives a lucid description of her mystic experience in her poetic compositions which goes to her credit as besides a highly accomplished Yogini she was a celestial poet with a definite mission of not only achieving her own liberation but also setting a precept for the coming generations to follow.
Gaytray azappa tshale aki taejim, suham satsey kermas thaph
Ahmas loti paeth zathrei waijem, gure kath paejem tsaejim tsakh
Lalleshuri says, after a systematic practice she was able to align her exhalation and inhalation of breath with the proper rhythm of Pranayama and recitation of Gaytray Mantra such that the process became a natural one which ultimately took no efforts but came out automatically and she stuck to it permanently. She did it all under the guidance of her master (Guru) while she cut all the roots of all egos firmly along with controlling all anger which was the first and foremost essential requirement in such devotion and spiritual advancement.
Abhyse kiney vikas pholum, soprakash zonum yohuy deih
Prakash dhyan mokh yee dorum, sokhey borum korum teiy.
Lalleshuri says that her individual self transformed into a glorious spiritual whole by persistent meditation and practice of Pranayama. She was able to realize the eternal truth in the same body of flesh and blood and thus her human existence proved the safest vehicle for her development to her present stage of emancipation. Here the stress is laid upon the importance of the human body in the pursuit of divine realization as without it no transformation of spirit is possible so Lalleshuri refutes the theory of the neglect and persecution of human body while proceeding on the celestial path.
Akuy Omkaar yus naabi daray, kombai brahmandas sum garay
Akuy manther yus tsaitas karay, tas saas manther kyah karay
One who is able to concentrate on the single divine word—AUM and with help of systematic exhalation and inhalation of breath (Pranayama) make a divine connection between his personal self and the eternal universal self does a great job. The exercise of Pranayama if done under the guidance of a teacher along with the jappa of Omkaar, the sacred divine word has the capacity to take the seeker to big heights in the celestial undertakings. Lalleshuri says one who masters the repetition of the sacred word in Pranayama does not require any other Mantra whatsoever in the advancement of self as the influence of the sacred word AUM is far greater than all other thousands of divine Mantras.
Aayas kami deeshe te kami watey, gache koet te kave zane wath
Ante daey lagi mai tatay, chaim chainis phokas kuse sane sath
Lalleshuri gives a clean expression of life and its ultimate reality. She says nobody knows where-from he has come and what's his final destination. Everyone is confused about the real secret of this life but one thing is clear that his stay here is transitory and he has to proceed to an unknown destination after the allotted time is over. It's also clear that one has to take a limited number of breaths in this life and then proceed towards some unknown destination. As such Lalleshuri calls upon the ignorant being that the ordinary breathing can't anyway help in any of the life's purpose but with a systematic breath exercise or Pranayama it can work wonders for this seemingly frail human body. The purpose here is to bring home to man how the simple exercise of breath or Pranayama would take an ordinary being to the highest stages of spiritual development.
Deva watta deevar watta, pathe boen chuy yike vaath
Pooz kas karakh hayo batta, Kar manas te pavnas sangaath
Lalleshuri makes a very intelligent description of the world and says that almost everything settled on this rocky terrain (the globe) is made of stone with Lord Shiva also in the form of stone (Linga) present in His numerous temples. So what's fun of worshipping a stone again when all around from the highest to the lowest level is simply a stone? Now Lalleshuri stresses upon the seeker that in the circumstances the best available option is to make the individual mind and the cosmic mind one with the practice of Pranayama, the exercise of breath that has the capacity to take the individual soul to such heights as to be one with Parm-Shiva.
Karam ze kaaran trai tay kombai, yave labakh te parilukas anakh
Wuth khas surye mandal tsombith, tavay tsali zaine marnuk kronth
A human being is free to follow at least two things in life, good or bad. The bad comes out of being a slave to human animal instincts and the good is equally the product of the good influences and actions though the motive of all these common influences are the three Gunaas, the Satuguna--the pure and serene actions and thoughts, the Tamoguna—complete inaction and inability to act, the Rajuguna—full movement and drive to act fast. The simple and easy way to get the full purpose of life is through the practice of breath control (Pranayama) which has the capacity to control all evil influences as a result of the human frailties and animal desires. Lalleshuri stresses upon the fact that one who is able to do the systematic exercise of Pranayama can exercise control not only on his self but the entire universe. So she extols the seeker to come up and prepare for traveling high up above into the space cutting through the skies with the celestial power of Pranayama and overcoming the cycle of life and death for all times to come.
JAWAHAR LAL BHAT
B-3, ASHIANA Apartments,
SECTOR-46, FARIDABAD, HARYANA
CONTACT NO: 0129-4096114
(The article has been published in “KOSHUR SAMACHAR, Delhi” in its November 2001 issue with some minor changes)
A matter for concern is the latest trend of displaced Pandits selling their properties including their residential houses in Kashmir. No doubt, they need money to get settled immediately wherever they are as the prospects of our return are getting bleaker day by day but it essentially invites for every one of us some introspection to consider its consequences and the aftermath.
This trend not only dwindles the prospect of our return to our homes but we also help thereby come true the dream of the negative elements in the valley of ethnic cleansing. Our hearts bleed profusely on our homes and hearths being usurped by Muslims there. These properties are the choicest in both urban and rural areas and our neighbours always kept a hawk’s eye on them, being the best in the whole lot, be those the paddy fields or orchards in the rural areas or residential accommodation or commercial establishments in both rural and urban areas as the Pandits owned everywhere the choicest elevated places and enjoyed the purest bounties of nature in the form of water, land and air in abundance.
There is nobody to stop this development as individually everyone thinks that he is taking the right step but it has invariably a dark side behind it for each one of us to ponder deeply. The properties are mostly inherited from our forefathers and have always been a source of not only sustenance to our families but also a mark of prestige and financial soundness for generations. Selling them with a stroke of pen for some money, no doubt, enables the present generation build houses in the new colonies being set up in Jammu, Delhi or elsewhere with a few more additions of modern living facilities than they had in the valley. How many of the readers would share this view that a single generation or a person has no right of selling these properties wholly and enjoy solely the benefits. Aren’t we depriving our future generations of a wider scope for financial soundness and a prospect of a settlement any time in future for them on this heaven on earth? The soulless structures in Jammu, Delhi or elsewhere erected from the sale proceeds of a large chunk of the inherited property can’t bear comparison with the houses in the valley which were and would have been a MALYUN (parents house) to many a daughter and sister, not only for their relationship but also for the emotions attached to every nook and corner of the whole vicinity now occupied by those for whom entry was restricted only up to the WUZ (passage connecting the entry gate of the house to upstairs and rooms on the ground floor).
The JAJEER (earthen HOOKAH used especially by Kashmir Muslims) has found place where many a sacred ritual was performed on numerous occasions. Not to speak of the THOKUR KUTH (the puja room) which was the soul of the house and always a centre of attraction for the new visitors as it housed some age-old objects of worship in the form of paintings and idols, especially a small SHIVA-LINGA accompanied by some very smooth stone pebbles (SALIGRAMS), some black and some white, tastefully decorated in the interiors of a small temple-like structure routinely worshipped daily without fail early in the morning before sunrise by the eldest in the family for generations together. No trace of such a thing in its original form is found in any KP house in Jammu or Delhi probably for lack of accommodation or more probably for shifting of values, the greatest tragedy we are facing after our mass exodus.
The old order has replaced a complete changeover of relations and customs and traditions to suit the standards of a new life. Thus the construction of new houses and the new life therein is cherished by the inmates, though a few, to a large extent. The old family order of the valley has given place to an entirely changed environment. With the change of neighbours, our mental propensities have altered. The rural folk kept busy there in maintaining their lands, orchards and surroundings keep housed here in posh interiors of their drawing and bed rooms or keep chatting incessantly with their new-found friends, neighbours and relatives. Many are happy to have got themselves rid of their family disputes about their ancestral or shared properties. The urbanites are a much disturbed lot. They are robbed of their status, office, pen and everything before they were to retire. They get salaries for doing no work. They have lost their distinct identities of work and office and live only with a single name, viz. migrant.
The revolution in the life-style of a majority among us is the result of the unexpected flow of money from the valley by the sale of their age-old properties obtained and preserved by their forefathers. Who are ultimately the gainers and who are the losers in the bargain is an embarrassing question which every one of us needs to answer internally. We are selling our roots, our culture, our forefathers and also the blessings of our saints and savants along with our places of worship. No body is going to stop it as we have no authentic organizing body capable of controlling our activities even in these appalling circumstances. So the end can be easily imagined, we are ultimately to get detached from our roots and get lost in the ocean of humanity without any identity of our own. No body is going to save this community, proud of being the descendants of the rarest of the rare, choicest among the choicest, the crown of BHARAT, from being extinct very soon and the orations of a wayside bard would sing thus:
A Pandit there was
A long robe he wore,
A broad forehead and a tilak,
A storehouse of learning and
A life so simple he led.
Misfortune dogged his steps, alas!
Got lost and is found nowhere.
JAWAHAR LAL BHAT
B-3, ASHIANA Apartments,
SECTOR-46, FARIDABAD, HARYANA
CONTACT NO: 0129-4096114
(The article has been published in “KOSHUR SAMACHAR, Delhi” in its October 2007 issue with some minor changes)
The dream of return to our lost paradise (Kashmir) is not going to fulfill in near future is a proved reality beyond doubt. All efforts made in this direction have proved a failure but the craving is getting intense day by day. The sweet fragrance of Kashmir is kicking and the need of the hour is to devise ways and means that get us to the jackpot.
Day in and out our BIRADARI members both important and ordinary visit Kashmir to take a stock of the situation and meet the common folk there both known and unknown. Most of them along with being nostalgic about their roots admire the attitude of common Kashmir Muslims towards them. They do not smell any quantum of hatred in the majority community towards us despite severe provocations at the hands of the negative elements that still exist galore. What does it signify? Is it not a silver lining behind the dark cloud? Does the KP not err by not taking an advantage of the situation? Is it not a historical fact that a common Kashmir Muslim many a time rejected heartily the advances made by our hostile neighbour country to make him deadly fundamentalist and religious fanatic? Though the current onslaught of the enemy was fraught heavily with serious planning, unlimited resources and foolproof strategies, clearly enough as the facts on ground suggest, he is playing his last losing battle.
No doubt, a lot of damage has been done. The environment in Kashmir has changed drastically. The essential Pandit flavour that existed there before 1990 seems dwindled away to a great extent but the hearts of the common Kashmiri seem deprived of something which they want to recover. And it will be a Himalayan blunder on our part if we do not rise to the occasion.
Kashmir, in spite of the chaotic conditions that prevail, is not a mere spectator to the speedy development that India along with rest of the world is experiencing now. Almost all MNCs are doing thriving business in the valley employing youths both local and non-local in their assignments with lucrative earnings. A good number of non-Kashmiri youth are working in various institutions, hospitals, banks and other business establishments. They are quite satisfied with the co-operation that is extended to them. Scores of students get enrolled in various institutions for Para-medical training and teaching courses. The famous LAL CHOWK is humming with business as numerous business related people, tourists and shoppers roam freely. More than a dozen Punjabi DHABAS keep busy there till late night hours catering them. There in unlimited opportunity for business as Kashmir Exports have always been a craze and are experiencing a boom nowadays. The visits of KPs have accelerated during last couple of years and many reports of such visits that appear in KOSHUR SAMACHAR, Delhi present an interesting reading. How far will KP be a mere spectator to the humming activity of Kashmir? How far shall we only aspire for our motherland the real paradise on earth and continue living in a hostile environment that doesn’t suit any of us and not think a while how we can be back to our roots! We call ourselves the original residents of Kashmir. No doubt, we are! We command a common language with the majority there and do have a sound background. Why not partake of the opportunities before others take the lead!
KPs are basically in the habit of playing extra safe. We do not want to take a risk of any kind and that is why more than ninety per cent KPs preferred petty Government jobs and did not go in for any business whatsoever. The habit has naturally descended to our youngsters who prefer to work for others not for themselves. This trait of our character has further deepened all these years of displacement with the doles that we received in the form of salaries without work besides the cash relief. Enough is enough. How far shall we wait for the government and authorities to provide foolproof arrangements for our mass return along with a guarantee of our safety! They could not and would not in future too manage for a green signal for which we have been waiting for all these years. Why not each of us individually devise ways and means to back home with dignity and honour! We need not accept any assistance from the government, be it accommodation or any cash assistance. There is a good amount of risk involved, but all great moves involve such risks. The time is ripe right now and small moves in this direction will show us the road to success. We cannot land there with a bang. It would invite reaction and resentment. Only small moves and individual efforts will be fruitful.
The greatest blunder committed by us is the gradual sale of our properties, the footholds that we possessed. The elements and their mentors across the border understand the situation better than us, so they go on encouraging the sales by helping the buyers both morally and financially. Do we thereby not fall into the trap of their cunning and give in to their crooked designs? Why the KP always at the receiving end? Why does he not gather courage to fail the designs of the enemy? The common Kashmir Muslim is ready to welcome us with open arms but we need to take the initiatives. No collective moves! It will prove disastrous.
Wisdom always lies in taking advantage of the flaws of the enemy and selecting the right time. Their ranks are losing direction. They are frantically trying to re-establish their base. The common Kashmiri is fed up and wants prosperity and peace. The popular democratic set-up is gaining ground. The masses have understood that they are exploited and used as scapegoats time and again by Pakistan to settle their own scores with India. They no more follow the dictates of the enemy blindly as it used to be in the first half of the 90s. Those who want to keep the pot boiling on both sides of the border are quite a few, not the masses. The situation has improved.
What is the latest tragedy of the KPs? Most of us feel delighted with the temporary settlements that many of us have been able to make all these years outside the bounds of Kashmir. We have become lavish expenders on occasions of ceremonies and weddings. It gives some a feeling that we are satisfied with our lot. The fact is that none of us feels at home in this alien atmosphere that doesn’t suit us. Why do we encounter the cries and cravings of going back home now and then? Nobody is contented though every thing seems well on the face. If we really want to restore our homeland, we’ll have to judge the situation judiciously and act purposefully. We’ll have to repair the broken bridges of relationships with the majority community and try to win their goodwill. The ground is already fertile and there is the need to sow the seed with good manure and allow the sunshine of sincerity shower the heat of love liberally.
Brothers and sisters, it is high time to give the matter a serious thought and select one of the two options before us. The first---- be contented with whatever circumstances you’re in and stop clamouring for the restoration of your homeland for good. Why not shut all shops of our so-called leaders who are engaged in the so-called fight for the cause of our return with no teeth or direction. Why not forget that we once lived in and were part of the Paradise on the Earth! If it isn’t agreeable, then follow the second option vigorously. Let’s not depend on the false promises and assurances of the authorities or leaders. Let’s ourselves devise a way to regain our motherland for ourselves. It may be a hard task but not impossible. Many of my brethren may bear out my assertions that the common Kashmir Muslim is not our enemy. He was our well-wisher and will be so if we sincerely approach him for co-operation. The road to success is tough but not impassable. We can regain our paradise, but with sustained effort and proper direction.
Let a good number of KPs make possible inroads into the business opportunities that are available in plenty in Kashmir. Let us not hanker after the petty Government jobs which make us subject to the already biased administration. Why not make our presence felt there through our intelligence and talent? Push your youngsters in high-tech places so that they show their worth and make a base for them. All professionals, doctors, engineers, architects, IT related experts, lead them and make them follow you. They are submissive while you are important and aggressive when you are weak. They know and respect your worth and abilities. They want your guidance, so why not take advantage of the situation. Kashmir is an open field for professionals to grow. India is a vast ocean where your lifelong efforts at a place can’t give you a name as the competition is high and chances rare. Kashmir has the raw potential for growth and it is high time for our youth to explore opportunities as they have Kashmiri blood in their veins, Kashmiri language to support and Kashmiri appearance and aspect to be one with them. The dream of regaining our Paradise and preserving our cherished cultural heritage cannot become a reality by writing nostalgic poetries and stories, beating breasts and staging dramas of public gatherings or asking the authorities to do something for us. It demands a systematic approach to catch opportunities that wait for us across BANIHAL.
Going to our deserted homes and gathering the tottered remains of our past and be subject to the sympathies of the majority and their whims and propensities is not the solution of the problem. Let us emerge out among them with authority and power, not taking cudgels with them but seeking co-operation but with heads high, not sympathy. Let us not bear the brunt of their wrath as we used to as a minority in olden days, but let us try to assume authority with the power of talent and capacity to do things better than they can. They are bound to follow you and give you place ahead of them because they recognize your worth and cannot stay in the path of your development among them.
Paradise can be gained by taking some solid individual steps not waiting for the destiny to shower upon you ways and means nor the administration making arrangements for your welcome with garlands of fresh flowers.
JAWAHAR LAL BHAT
B-3, ASHIANA Apartments,
SECTOR-46, FARIDABAD, HARYANA
CONTACT NO: 0129-4096114
(The article has been published in “KOSHUR SAMACHAR, Delhi” in its October 2004 issue with some minor changes)
Another unfortunate development that has put the KP community on crossroads in the post-migration period is the alliances of our youth outside community. It is no secret that the new trend is working overtime in cutting the roots of our cherished cultural heritage.
Kashmiri Hindu culture has its roots deeply embedded in a history of thousands of years. Being almost detached from the rest of India for her difficult inaccessible location and environment Kashmir has developed for the last thousands of years a unique culture of her own almost unaffected by the changes in the rest of the world. Though the later Persian and other Muslim impacts changed the face of the valley tremendously by forcible conversions of her people and religious installations, surprisingly, the left over Hindu population has retained its distinct way of life and habits despite all pulls and pressures, though a microscopic minority. The majority Muslims haven’t probably challenged the authenticity of the distinct Hindu way of life, being recent converts and emotionally attached to these principles.
Now after the mass displacement of the community around 1990 outside the bounds of Kashmir valley our children both boys and girls are coming in direct contact with non-Kashmiri youth along with whom they get educated and are put to work to earn their living. The elders, mostly confined to the four walls of their new-found quarters, try to stick to their old customs, habits and the ways of life they are accustomed to. It has given rise to extensive colonies of KP establishments in Jammu, Delhi and other cities where they have had a chance to settle down. The recent years that passed saw our small children grow into adulthood in an alien environment, interacting strongly with strangers and getting influenced deeply in their language, eating habits and emotional patterns. The age-old KP culture and heritage remained in the backseat of the vehicle of their lives and the outcome that has especially started shattering the very foundations of this community are the frequent instances of outside community alliances in the form of the marriages of our kids outside the KP realm.
These youth can be easily absolved of the blame as it is a natural phenomenon with them because they are brought up in an alien environment with minimum impact of specific Kashmir Hindu culture being out of the bounds of their original habitat firstly because of the recent displacement and secondly in respect of their education and the work-place environment but the point here to consider is how these emotional outbursts of the youngsters of our community affect the course of their future lives.
A KP girl if married in a non-Kashmiri household instantly loses her specific identity and becomes part of an alien culture. In case of a joint family the things go catastrophic immediately because our daughter cannot change instantly to adapt herself to the new environment which is diametrically different by way of eating habits, social interactions, customs, language, day to day dealings with elders and guests. As such she is unable to fulfill the aspirations and expectations of her parents-in-law and their relatives and so the glamour of their young married life fades away very soon giving rise to feuds between the husband and the wife and others. Thus immediately the relations get embittered for the young couple as the boy can neither take the side of his parents nor his wife and the worst aspect of the matter is that the girl cannot complain before her parents as the choice of the marriage was only hers, not her parents.
Things are better in case it is a husband and wife unit living separately apart from the other members of family but not essentially satisfying, as again the interaction of the girl with other relatives on her in-laws side cannot be comfortable because of the huge cultural gap that exists between the families as the customs and the way of performing ceremonies vary to the extent that there is a sure possibility of bitterness in the relations. And who is ultimately the victim? First the girl and second her parents. Now, in case of the marriage of a non-KP girl with a KP boy, the total fabric of the household is shattered as a result of the differences of tastes in eating, dressing, manners, etiquette and language. From the very first day of the marriage the daughter-in-law experiences complete isolation as a result of a quite different environment in the house of her in-laws to which she is not accustomed. She cannot adjust with them even with difficulty because she is alien to everything that is the usual activity in the KP household.
The change puts her into extreme emotional depression and the result is that she rebuffs and there are frequent clashes on mere trifles and the family breakups very soon. All the expectations of the parents from their son are shattered. The unfortunate boy is sandwiched between the expectations of his young wife and the duties towards his parents.
Modern KP youth, mostly a product of Maharashtra Technical Education, get usually involved emotionally during studies there and end up in getting married contrary to the wishes of their parents. They have a very strong argument in support of their relations and alliances. They argue that their KP background cannot affect their future life as they have got used to non-Kashmiri culture, foods and ways of life being out of home for a long time. The new relation as they feel further would be capable to make them financially sound than otherwise. Little do they imagine that alliances like marriage are not simple short term agreements and thus cannot to be broken easily. Matrimonial alliances do not get only the boy and the girl together but make a permanent bond between the two families for all social interactions. These contacts cannot be avoided because of the Indian tradition of deep social intercourse between relatives and friends on frequent occasions like marriages and other social gatherings. The deep cultural chasm that exists especially between a KP and the Hindus of the plains cannot be ignored so easily for such alliances. The bonds of KP culture are full of various intricacies which cannot be easily adopted by a non-Kashmiri nor are all these capable to be shunned away simply. The modern youth must understand that these alliances are a result of hasty emotional outbursts of raw minds without any serious thought and hence liable to invite serious implications.
This author would definitely like to invite serious arguments in this context from the youth especially defending the cause, if any. It is not out of place to mention here that matrimonial alliances between Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali and Rajasthani families or the like except KPs can definitely be comfortable with a minor adjustment and would as such not pose any major problem for the youth concerned and their families because their individual cultures and ways of life are easily accommodating with each other. The unique KP culture with patterns of strange hues is very difficult to be compromised. The development has, as such, proved detrimental to the sacred matrimonial ties and the subtle cultural heritage of Kashmiri Pandits.
The long talks and discussions currently going on about the preservation of our cherished cultural heritage outside the bounds of Kashmir is proving futile without showing serious concern on these out of the community alliances. Giving a daughter outside the community means loosing a KP family along with all traditions and customs. Getting in a non-Kashmiri girl as a daughter-in-law is to deprive the household of all Kashmiri flavour and cherished values. The protagonists of the preservation of Kashmir culture do not seem to show any serious concern towards this fatal development which is cutting deep the roots of our so-called heritage. All of us seem to be helpless in the hands of our erring youth who repent at leisure on having a taste of the impacts of these hasty alliances. Time is not far when instances of breaking such alliances along with others will boost up but the damage caused by them would have taken the toll of many households shattered to pieces and left many erroneous youth suffering enormously.
JAWAHAR LAL BHAT
B-3, ASHIANA Apartments,
SECTOR-46, FARIDABAD, HARYANA
CONTACT NO: 0129-4096114
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