"A benign Saint who
helped the country and people in distress"
SWAMI Sonakak, one of the greatest
mystic saints of Kashmir was known variously as
Sona Bab (father), Sona Bayu or Sona Matoo
He was born in the year 1878 AD in Srinagar and
attained Mahanirvana in the year 1942. His younger
brother Swami Rugh Bayu too was a saint but no
where near the spiritual advancement his brother
Swamiji's father, though a priest by profession
was a well recognized "Grahasd Saint"
and was popularly known as "Lori-Pir"
wielding a stick all the time. He had permission
from Maharaja Pratap Singh Ji to roam round the
Palace wherever and whenever he liked. The
Maharaja knew him as a saint who could not only
foretell the future but also help people in their
From his early boyhood, Swami Sonakak was man
of dispassion. In his early youth, he assisted his
father in his profession an right, but he would
also find time to visit the cremation ground near
Khak Chowk for a daily round of Upasana,
presumably of Suchindnath Bhairow. He appears to
have attained Sakshatkar whilst there, but this
had unhinged him both physically and mentally. It
did not take people long in discerning that there
was a method in his madness and no wonder those
who did not have a discerning eye to see in him a
"Trikal Darshi" looked upon him as an
While roaming through the streets of Srinagar
he would sometimes suddenly fall into a fit of
temper and start abusing people. Presumably he did
this to scare away people who would otherwise
naturally have pestered him with their personal
problems. The next moment he would sit on a shop
either demanding tea or smoke his "Chellem"
all at peace with himself and the world around. He
would even offer tea to people around him and
answer queries indirectly, rarely directly.
Though he seldom changed his clothes which
looked filthy and dark with oil stains standing
out as sentinels in a desolate desert, he
invariably changed while going to answering the
ca11s of nature followed by a bath soon afterwards
with cold water even in sub-zero temperature.
Rarely he would sport a Tilak.
Throngs of people gathered round him wherever
he went. He saw to it that everybody around was
served tea or given a bit of whatever was
available. He rarely accepted presents but readily
accepted what he himself demanded.
Swamiji had many devotees but few disciples.
One of his well known devotees was Dr. Gwash Lal,
a renowned and gifted physician of his time in
Kashmir. To humble his pride (Ego) Swamiji once
made him go along the streets of Srinagar with a
bund1e of firewood on his shoulders. Of his
initiated disciples Shri Bishember Nath Zutshi was
a great 'tyagi'.
Swamiji left his ancestral home in Kharyar,
Srinagar in Baisakh 1985 (Bikrami) as his single
storey house collapsed. He shifted to the
residence of Shri Shridharjoo Dhar at Alikadal.
Occupying a room in the ground floor he continued
to live there for 14 years. A couple of months
before his Mahanirvana he moved to the residence
of Dr. Gwash Lal Kaul at Sheikh Bagh for sometime
and then shifted back to his Alikadal residence.
On the 8th of Baisakh 1999 (Bikrami) he started on
the Last lap of his journey. Before doing that, he
vacated the room he had occupied for 14 years,
made a bonfire of his bedding, mats etc. returned
the metallic utensils (after heating) given him by
people for use. He left behind no relics
whatsoever. He then went to one Shri Sham Lal's
house who was his devotee and spent the night
there. Next day he ordered a pot of curd which he
took to 4th Bridge and facing the sacred shrine of
Mahakali, immersed it in the river Jehlum. He then
went to the residence of Dr. Mela Ram, his another
disciple. While there he ordered a "Doonga"
(covered boat) and moved to Pokhirbal Shrine next
morning with a few people along with some rice and
other Hawan Samgrih. Soon after the boat anchored
at Pokhirbal. Swamiji declared that he had the
Divine Mother's permission to leave his mortal
coil and saying this he put the Hawan Samagrih,
rice etc. in the Shri Sharika Bhagawad's spring
there. This done he ordered the boat to turn back
keeping two lighted lanterns on his either side.
These lanterns continued burning till he gave up
his mortal frame the next evening. As soon as the
boat reached near Gadadhar Temple next evening and
just before his Mahasamadhi, he ordered all the
occupants out of the boat except Shri Bishember
Zutshi, Shri Bishamber Das and Shri Said-ud-Din.
Shri Bishamber Nath was asked to prepare tea
immediately which he served to him. Said-ud-Din
and Bishamber Das were asked to take the remaining
tea outside. He then removed all his clothes, sat
in Padmasama with Bishember Nath supporting his
back and attained Mahasamadhi on Chaitra Durga
Ashtami just before sunset. The boat was moved to
Kharyar and his body placed in his ancestral home
for Darshan till the next noon when it was carried
to the cremation ground followed by a large
assembly of people. The cremation was done at a
particular place, which according to the attendant
had been selected by Swamiji himself two days
earlier, though he had never gone there in the
Sthula Sharira but presumably by Sukhshma Sharira.
Though Swamiji is no more he still inspires,
many who have known him and helps them out of
their difficulties and protects them all.
Both Swamiji and his brother were life long
Brahmacharis and left no direct descendants. His
devotees had got erected a temple in his name in
the premises of his ancestral home but after his
younger brother's death, his younger sister
claiming right to the ancestral house, sold it on
the plea that the sale proceeds would be utilized
to perform their "Baah" (Nirvana
ceremony). The purchaser was a Hindu but he
mutilated the memorial temple. Apparently Swamiji
did not approve the idea of such a memorial.
He was a benign saint who helped the country
and its people.