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Pandit Radha Krishan Kaul Mohtsib

A True Ascetic

- Professor S.S. Ambardar

The valley of Kashmir is truly called "Resh Vaar" (or Peer-Vaar), the garden of rishis and sufis. In this beautiful vale, shielded from the eyes of the world by snow-capped mountains, have sprung up saints and sufis whose lives have lent a sweet aroma to the culture of the valley from time to time. Their contribution to spiritualism is a source of ever- lasting inspiration for the devout. These saints and sufis denied to themselves even the ordinary comforts of life and devoted their lives in the pursuit of the unknown. Self denial and penance has been the corner stone of their lives.

One such ascetic who passed away recently was Pandit Radha Krishan Kaul Mohtsib, of Motiyar, Rainawari, Srinagar. Few know him but those who came in contact with him could not but feel deeply impressed by his saintly nature, contentment and deep dispassion. He was a true Karma-Yogi. To serve mankind as one's larger self was the hall-mark of his life. Born around 1907, he was the youngest son of his father Pandit Taaba Kaul (short for Aftab Kaul). He had probably studied upto 9th standard. He then set himself up as a dealer in Pashmina yarn. Having been deeply influenced by the Gandhian philosophy, he charged the lowest profit from his poor clients, who included mostly widows and disabled people. His reputation as a fair tradesman was soon discovered by the local branch of the All India Village Industries Association, popularly known as the Gandhi Ashram. He volunteered to supply the Ashram raw Pashmina yarn at cost price. This gesture highly impressed the officers of the Ashram and they offered him service in the organization and posted him at Verinag. Honesty and uprightness were the two important principles of his character; but these did not earn him any credit from his colleagues. He would not turn a blind eye to their dishonest practices which soon brought him into conflict with them. Once he brought to book one of his colleagues when he unearthed a huge stock of Khadi which had been stolen from the Ashram. He was, however no match for his corrupt colleagues, and he had to leave the Gandhi Ashram. He was rendered without a job. He did not mind this and preferred poverty to work in an organization where he would be pressurized to compromise his principles. Failing to get a suitable job, he stayed home for several years and served his three elder brothers. All the brothers not having married had no families, so Pandit Radha Krishan, being the youngest, looked after them. His elder brother Pandit Sona Kaul was a police constable. He was also a man of saintly disposition. The two brothers spent most of their time in meditation and contemplation. His intimate association with Pandit Sona Kaul brought out his latent spiritual tendencies. He was initiated into Gayatri Mantra. He would sit in padmasana for two hours every day and recite the Maha Gayatri Mantra. He spent much time in the company of saints and holy- men. A devotee of Lord Rama, he would often visit the well known woman saint Mathura Deviji at Durganag and recite the Adyatma Ramayan to her and explain its profound meaning.

A few years later, Pandit Radha Krishan got the job of a peon in the office of the Accountant General, Jammu & Kashmir, Srinagar. He was soon recognized as a disciplined man. Most of his officers and colleagues gave him respect, yet there were occasions when he was indirectly taunted for his devotion to Dharma. He was called an orthodox, old fashioned "Bhatta" but that would hardly perturb him. He was full of regard for his officers and was always willing to carry out their orders, yet did not feel shy of telling them what they should expect from him. He was polite but could also be firm and outspoken. Once, it is said, he told one of his officers that he was not meant to buy Kababs from the market for his lunch. If ever he was late to work, he would stay back in the afternoon and complete his allotted job before returning home. In due course he was promoted to the post of a duplicating machine operator, which job he held for few years. However, finding that the Government service interfered with his spiritual pursuits, he sought voluntary retirement.

In course of time his family commitments also diminished. All his brothers had died and he had only to maintain himself. His pension was enough to meet his simple needs. After his retirement he devoted all his time to contemplation. His daily routine was more or less fixed. He moved to a small room in his neighborhood and lived like a hermit. He was happy to study the Ramayana, the Bhagwad Geeta and Vaks and Shruks from Lal Ded, Paramanand and Nund Rishi which constitute an important part of the spiritual tradition of Kashmir. Jap, penance, charity and surrender to God's will were the four cornerstones of his Sadhana. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs would visit him and seek spiritual guidance from him. He would rarely enter into a discussion, but when pressed for his opinion, he would recite an appropriate shloka or verse or a proverb garnered from the centuries old lore of his beloved native land of Kashmir. That would aptly answer the question raised.

He was very frugal and wherever he could save he would do so. He would eat only one meal a day. Well-cooked rice, vegetables and a cup of Kashmiri tea were the only delicacies he enjoyed. He would never use soap but cleaned himself with the sacred clay brought from the Shankarcharya Hill or Hari Parbat. A daily wash with cold water was a must, come summer or winter as he led a perfect orderly life. You would see him cleanly and modestly dressed sitting in his room doing his puja or reading scriptures. He never donned the yellow robe. To his last days he kept good health.

He had some knowledge of Ayurveda too. He would collect herbs and prepare Ayurvedic medicines and give these to the needy. Though himself never a man of means, he was a philanthropist to the core and would always help the poor and needy of every community. Whoever poured out his heart trustingly to him would surely find him helpful. Herein lay his greatness as he lived not for himself but for others. He believed that it was worthwhile sacrificing one's comfort and providing relief and succor to a deserving person or institution. Never seeking limelight, he would look for an opportunity where he could help others quietly and discreetly. It is said about him that he had the heart of a king, for his acts of philanthropy are many. Realizing that he did not need his house-hold utensils any more, he gifted them to Durganag Temple where devotees flock in large numbers from all over India during summer. He once came to know of a family living in destitution at Rainawari Shiv Temple and gave them a handsome contribution to perform the marriage of their daughter. Arya Samaj Rainawari approached him and requested him to donate the portion of his ancestral house and adjoining land to it for conducting prayers and spiritual classes. He found the proposal tempting. However, he could not reconcile himself to gifting only his share of the house and land. Therefore, he purchased another share from other co-heirs and donated the two shares to the Arya Samaj Rainawari and a sum of Rs. 500 as 'Dakshina'. Pandit Radha Krishan Arya Swadhyaya Bhawan is a testimony to his inner urge for charity. The Bhawan was a thriving institution until a few years back. The cremation ground at Rainawari, called Kelam-Demb, situated on an island a kilometer away is not easily accessible in winter. The need to buy a boat to ferry the dead was acutely felt by the people. Sensing it was a good cause, Pandit Radha Krishan got a boat made at his own cost. He got it fitted with four oars and two petromax lamps and gifted it to the Hindu community at Rainawari. Such was the good Samaritan. With advancing years he became more charitable. The "Baba Kali Kambli Walle Trust" at Rishikesh had specially impressed him as it provided free meals to pilgrims. Pandit Radha Krishan Kaul donated a sum of Rs.70,000 to this institution. As a wise person he willed a sum of Rs. 10,000/- for his funeral and for feeding the poor. He died after a brief illness in 1988 at the age of eighty one.

Needless to say that all the monies that Pandit Radha Krishan Kaul gave away in charity had been painstakingly laid back by him mostly from his pay and pension and that of his elder brother Pandit Sona Kaul. He had no other source of income and had inherited little from his father. Pandit Radha Krishan Kaul Mohtsib was one of those rare persons who denied himself worldly pleasures but donated gladly all his hard-earned money for deserving causes. An ascetic among householders, he renounced everything for the good of the small social circle wherein he was born. While it would be appropriate to call him a Mahatma, he preferred to be called a Pandit as instead of letting vanity take root, he wanted to curb whatever of the 'ego' was left in him. It would be in the interest of the society if the memory of such men and women of pristine purity is perpetuated.

(The writer is thankful to Shri Triloki Nath Bhat Shastri. in whose house Pandit Radha Krishan Kaul Mohtsib lived during last years of his life at Motiyar, Rainawari, for corroborating the facts given in this brief sketch).

Source: Koshur Samachar

 

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