Jagadguru Bhagwaan Gopinath Ji
A Brief Introduction
by Prof. J. N. Sharma
Jagadguru Bhagwaan Gopinath Ji
was one of the most eminent saints who have ever graced the sacred land of
India. Unlike the other saints, he was called Bhagwaan in his lifetime as all
the six attributes which that word stands for were seen in him. He was a
jeevanmukta, having attained mukti or liberation while still in the gross body,
to which he was not attached in the least. His spiritual state was what the
Shaivites call Shaambhavi avasthaa (the state of Shiva Himself) and the
Vendandns, Brahmisthiti (the state of ever dwelling in Brahman, or God without a
With his spiritual power, he did a lot of good to
spiritual aspirants, house-holders and the country. He had a peculiar way of
bringing sinners around to the path of virtue. Though utterly detached, he, in
his later life, showed much concern for the country and its people. Now,
according to S.N. Fotedar, his biographer and one of his senior disciples, he
also exercises a beneficent influence on the modern age and its concepts.
Gopinath, one of the several brothers and sisters, was
born in a middle-class Kashmiri Pandit family at Banamohalla, Srinagar, Kashmir
on 3rd July, 1898. His mother, Shrimad Haara-Maali, passed away when he was only
twelve, and his father, Pandit Narayan Joo Bhan, when he (Bhagwaan Ji) was in
his late twenties.
Gopinath was educated only upto the Middle Standard,
but had absorbed well whatever he had been taught at school. He would very
rarely, though utter beautiful English sentences even in later life, when he
used to be absorbed in the Self most of the time. He was also conversant with
Sanskrit, Persian, Hindi and Urdu.
When Gopinath was only 10, Pandit Narayan Joo Bhan
reliquisted the possession of his residendal house, along with most other
belongings, to his step-mother. The family continued to live in Srinagar, but
had to shift residence from place to place.Thus, Bhagwaanji lived in 11
different houses, besides his ancestral house. These included the house of a
niece of his at Chondapora where he gave up the mortal frame on 28h May.
The family being in dire financial strains Gopinath was
asked to take up some work so at the young age of about 15 or 16, he started
working at a local printing press as a compositor. He, however, gave up that job
after three years. In his 20, he ran a grocer's shop, here he seemed to be
generally absent-minded, being absorbed in meditation. The family pressed him to
marry, hoping that marriage would bind him to the world, and so he would be a
permanent financial support, but he was adamant in his refusal.
As a young man, Gopinath stood out for his bravery,
fearlessness and hatred of dishonesty. Another notable feature of hls youth was
his longing to visit the great saints of that time. The ones he visited included
Swami Baalak Kaw, popularly known as Baalji, Swami Jeewan Saheb and Swami Zana
Kak Tufchi, Gopinath remained a celebate all his life.
He regarded lust as the greatest obstacle to self-realisation.
Here is an incident worth mentioning in this connection. Some friends once
forced the youag Gopinath to visit a coutesan, along with themselves. At the
very sight of her, he felt such a revulsion that he called her a witch and
reprimanded her in very harsh language. Then, he advised, her to live a virtuous
life. However, thinking that poverty must have forced her to take to a sinful
life, he in his characteristically compassionate manner, threw a rupee-coin
towards her before leaving her room.
His hatred of lust was noticed throughout his later
life was well. Once, among the many visitors, there was a woman sitting before
him. At the very sight of her, he started beating her with nis long iron tongs,
and chased her away. Returning to his seat, he told the others that the unchaste
woman had visited two friends that morning, and then had come to him steeped in
He felt happy whenever a celebrate came to see him
though he never asked a house-holder disciple or devotee to give up his wife and
children in pursuit of Self-realisation.
Bhagwaan was above all considerations of caste, creed
and nationality. From 1947 onwards, the people of all creeds would go to see him
and he would shower his live and compassion equally on all. Once he said, in
answer to a devotee's question. Is Hindu one and Muslim another?
Unmistakable spiritual leanings were discernible in the
child Gopinath from the early year of seven or eight. That he visited some great
saints in his youth. Most probably, he did so to find out a guru who would
initiate him formally. It was not generally known who his guru was. However,
much investigative work was done in this regard by Sh. S.N. Fotedar. One piece
of irrefutable evidence on which he based his conclusion that the great saint
Swami Zana Kak Tufchi was Bhagwaanji's guru is that it was confirmed by Pt Baal
Ji Wangnoo, the younger brother of Swami Aftaab Joo Wangnoo, Bhagwaan Ji's
Bhagwaanji started with the spiritual discipline known
as Panchaanga-upaasanaa, that is, meditating on the five deities, Ganesha, Surya,
Narayana, Shiva and Shakti. Later, his ideal was the Divine Mother Shaarikaa,
whose vision he had, for the first time, at the age of 27. Gradually, he shifted
to nirguna-upaasanaa, that is, meditating on the Supreme Reality without a form.
His interest in wordly affairs, including domestic matters, dwindled till in the
early thirties, he took to intense saadhanaa: (spiritual discipline), shutting
himself up in a room, which no one, except mostly his, was to enter. An
earthenware lamp was kept buming there all the 24 hours. He did not allow even
the room to be swept. His concentration was so intense and he grew so unaware of
his body that a rat nibbled a hole in a heal of his. It is not possible to say
what type of spiritual discipline it was, but it caused his body to swell and
made him vomit blood, sometimes. During this seven-year period of saadhanaa, he
would take no food for long periods extending even to six months. Sometimes,
however, he would take food in very large quantities.
He came out of this terrible ordeal with the full
realisation of the Supreme Reality.
In his later years, Bhagwaanji took to another type of
spiritual practice. He would emit vibrations from some parts of his body, e.g.
the knees and the intestines, and through his chillum smoking. The vibrations
seem to have been in tune with (to-us, mysterious) cosmic vibrations.
Bhagwaanji kept a dhooni(sacredfire) burning before him
and offered oblations into it off and on. He continued with this practice even
while he stayed at some holy shrines in, or outside, Srinagar.
Ekam Sat vipraah bahudhaa vadanti (The Reality is one
but the wise call it variously), so says the Rig Veda. The paths leading to It
are also various. Having realised the Reality, Bhagwaanji respected all these
paths. He defied categorisation as a Shaiva, a Shaakta a Vaishnava, a Vedaantin,
and so on. Discerning people could find the characteristics of all these in him.
He uttered 'Aum namah Shivaaya ' at the time of giving up the gross body, and
yet a copy of the Bhagavadgita (a vadantic text, which also he regarded as a
guru) used to be always by his side. Calling Aum the throat of the Godhead, he
once said that nothing was possible without it in the spiritual field. It is
known that he put two of his prominent disciples on the path of the upaasanaa of
Narayana with a form. However, he seems to have preferred to guide his disciples
from the upaasanaa of God with a form to that of God without a form.
Having attained the hlghest spiritual state, Bhagwaanji,
as already stated, used to be absorbed in the self most of the time. But he
could easily come down to our level of consciousness to answer questions, or, to
give permission to someone to leave. Immediately thereafter, he would rise to
his own state. He talked little and that, too, in such low whispers as to be
Generally, he did initiate a disciple directly by word
of mouth. He did so by a mere glance, by giving him a little bhasma or prashad,
or by allowing him to have a puff at the chillum. Once, a European's kundalini
was awakened by just having a puff at his chillum. With a mere touch of his iron
tongs, he shifted a senior disciple from meditating on Narayana with a form to
meditating on Him without a form.
What was exactly Bhagwaanji's spiritual state? A
pointer in this direction is that a devotee of the Divine Mother Raajnaa had a
vision of Bhagwaanji seated before Her at the Khirbhawaani shrine at village
Tulamulla, Kashmir. The devotee was a great saint and would have visions of the
Divine Mother off and on. Our question is, however, clinched for ever if we
considcr that Bhagwaanji himself said when an aachaarya from outside the State
wanted to know from a devotee in his (Bhagwaanji's) room at what stage of
spiritual evolution Bhagwaanji was. While the devotee wondered what to say,
Bhagawaanji recited the sixth verse of the Fifteenth Chapter of the Bhagavadgita,
which, translated into English, reads:" The Sun does not illumine it, nor
the moon, nor fire. That is my supreme abode, reaching which one does not return
(to this world of birth and rebirth).
Bhagwaanji did not perform miracles deliberately.
Miracles often happened where, out of compassion, he helped someone or the
country. A very brief account of a few of them is given below.
Bhagwaanji helped a devotee to realise the concept of
time relative to man and Lord Brahmaa (The devotee had some reservations about
this). Bhagwaanji enabled him to live three life-cycle in only some earthly
hours! And in each cycle he reached a mature old age!
Bhagwaanji helped two devotees separately to have a
darshana (vision) of the Divine Mother of the Universe in the form of two girl
children. A third was helped to have Her darshana in the form of dazzing
effulgence equal to that of several suns.
From 1947 onwards, Bhagwaanji took much interest in
what was happening around him. He used his spiritual power to help the country.
In 1948, our soldiers saw him, at the front and just in front of them, directing
them to fire in this or that direction though at that time he was seated in his
room in Srinagar. His body was no hurdle in his going anywhere. Once he said
that he was himself present at the battle-front, and so there was no danger to
Kashmir though, again, he was physically in Srinagar. During the border was with
China (1962), he once left his residence and returned the next day. His body was
quite cold. He had caught a chill and had bronchitis. In answer to a question by
a devotee, he said that he had gone to Tibet to settle the matters. In a few
days, there was a lasting cease-fire. He kept a close eye on the 1965 war also.
Bhagwaanji was a tattvajnani (one who has all the
knowledge about the elements). By a peculiar type of saadhanaa he had gained
control over the elements. During a pilgrimage to the holy cave of Amarnath, he
brought rain to a drought-hit area. On some occasions, he stopped rain when it
was likely to cause suffering or death. He was able, due to his control over the
elements, to know which organ of a person's body was diseased, and to cure it.
With a mere look or the bhasma from his dhooni, he cured dreaded diseases like
cancer, epilepsy, and the diseases of the heat, the kidneys and the stomach,
besides many other physical ailments.
He brought the dead back to life temporarily of
permanently, as the situation demanded. Once, he asked someone (probably,
Mahaakala, the god of death) to wait till the next day to revive the dead father
of a girl whose marriage (lagana) was being performed just then. The man came
back to life, blessed the newly-wed couple, and died for good at about noon the
next day. Once, two cooked fish, chewed and swallowed by Bhagwaanji himself,
were vomitted by him in their original form, that is, as two live fish, because
the situation demanded that the fish sprang into the nearby spring and swam away
Once, Bhagwaanji visited Mata Jawalamukhi Shrine at
Khrew in Kashmir. There were five or six people with him, so his sister cooked
rice sufficient for seven or eight people. But may more started coming to have
Bhagwaanji's darshana and, finally, food was needed for 50 people. Finding
herself in awkward predicement, Bhagwaanji's sister talked about it to him. He
asked her to keep the pot of cooked rice covered while taking helpings out of
it. And, lo and behold! All the 50 people were fed, and there was still some
food left in the pot!
Now something about how Bhagwaanji used his spiritual
power to help householders in solving their domestic problems. Once he fasted
for a month with the specific purpose of extending by a year the life-span of
man, whose children still needed his attention. Could it be that the food
Bhagwaanji would have taken for a month sufficed the man in question for a year
and so he continued to live, even though the stock of food he was destined to
take in that birth had been exhausted? Several times, he made a peculiar
offering to Mahaakala to save the lives of certain people. Sometimes, he
prevented road accidents even at far-away places. His blessings helped people in
arranging and performing the mairiages of their daughters. As a result of his
blessings, some people suspended from their services, got reinstated.
It has been already mentioned that, after attaining the
highest spiritual state, Bhagwaanji in his life-time, was never hampered by his
gross body. He could be present at some other places, too, while he was in
Srinagar. No wonder, then, that, after giving up the gross body, he has been
helping spiritual aspirants in, and outside, the country. He may appear in his
astral body before them or in their meditation.