- An Introduction by Sh. G. N. Raina
The history of India has for its landmarks not wars and emperors but saints and scriptures.
- Dr. S. Radhakrishanan
The nations have a history as well as geography. They grow not by the sun and stars, the wind and rain but by the creative Spirits who by precept and practice, work toward the establishment of universal brotherhood of man, overcoming the artificial barriers of caste, creed or colour.
In the last millennium, Kashmir, as also the rest of India, has produced a galaxy of great saints, seers and savants who have enriched, elevated and refined life and helped the people at large in distress. In India, we have had illustrious God-men like Kabir, Tulsi, Surdas, Tuka Ram, Srikrishna Chaitanya, Eknath, Narsi Mehta, Tyagaraja, Dhyaneshwar, Tiruvalluvar, Namdev, Mirabai, Dayanand, Guru Nanak, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda, Swami Ram, Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi, Ramana Maharishi, Sri Satya Sai Baba, and Sri Aurobindo. In Kashmir, too, we have had the great fortune of producing greatsaints like Lalleshwari, Rupa Bhawani, Sheikh Nuruddin, Parmanand, Rishipir, Jeewan Shah, Lassa Sahib, Anandji, Ramji, Sahib Kaul, Manas Razdan, Zaikak, Kakaji Mastana, Grata Bab, Ramjoo Tabardar, Vidya Dar, Shankar Razdan, Bhagwaan Gopinath Ji, Kashkak, Sona Kak, Nandlal Ji, Swami Lakshman Joo, Sati Devi and Mathura Devi.
These saints belong to all times and to all nations. They transcend the bonds of communities and conventions, place and time. They are born to serve God by serving His creatures. A saint, a seer and a sage is, indeed an universal phenomenon.
In the present troubled times when the people of the Valley, Kashmiri Pandits in particular, are passing through untold miseries, the only solace comes from our glorious philosophic and spiritual traditions enriched by our saints and sufis. The sayings of Lalla Arifa echo and re- echo to this day. She sang in the language of the masses. A mystic of the purest ray serene, Lalla urged the people to rise above caste, creed and colour and see the light within.
(Siva is all-pervading and present in each particle.
Never differentiate between a Hindu and a Muslim.
If you are shrewd and intelligent, know THY SELF.
There lies acquaintance with god".)
Long after her, Parmanand gave us a recipe for attaining peace of mind.
"SANTOSHI BYALI BHAVI ANAND PHAL"
(Contentment leads to perennial joy and bliss.)
We have not been able to collect details of most of our saints and seers. But a good number of them are represented here and most of these have been drawn from our special numbers issued in the past. We are grateful to the learned authors whose articles on various saints have been reproduced here for the benefit of all, particularly our youth, who, I am sure, will derive inspiration and strength from the lives of these Sages and Seers.
Right from his boyhood Vidyadhar astounded everyone by his sharp intellect and humility. He had a sharp memory and a resolute disposition.
Bhagwaanji was veritably God in the human form. This became unmistakably evident to the discerning among his devotees who found him ever-absorbed in the universal consciousness.
Manigaam, the silent sleepy village in the north of Kashmir, produced in the early part of this century a gem of a Faqir, a Mastana, who led a normal life of a Grahasta, and, earned his bread by tilling whatever little land he possessed till the end of his life.
Who is there in Srinagar who has not seen at one time or the other, a quick-walking, queer-looking nimble man with a big hat on his head and a tight belt round his waist, taking long strides in quick succession along the streets of the city and elsewhere?
It is only when you met him, as I did for an interview in 1971, that you would feel his irresistible charm emanating from that sweet child-like innocence which hid from our naked eye his spiritual and philosophic attainments.
Swami, was forthright in telling that as the bird employs two wings to fly, one has to practise spirituality and undertake worldly duties simultaneously
Swami Ashokananda was a perfect Sadhak but he never performed any miracles. His sound advice and kind look were the only remedy he offered to those who visited him.
His devotional lyrics reveal that he was deeply influenced by the thought-current of Mansurul-Halaj as well and he freely used the popular idiom of his own Kashmiri dialect, being a blend of Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic.
The Holy Mother, Shri Sarada Devi, symbolizes the ideal motherhood of women, ancient and modern. Her life is an enigma. On the surface, it appears to be just the homely life of a Bengali Brahmin lady, mostly in a rural setting.
Swami Govindananda lived for many years in Kashmir and commanded great respect in the Valley. He was a rare saint, a yogi par excellent, who was visibly discernible as such to the thoughtful among his devotees.
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