The Indian culture, society and religion are there since ancient times. In those good old days the religion and culture of our nation was based on the principle that 'world is one family' and its primary aim was to work for welfare of everyone With passing of time the so called upper strata of people started acting in a manner to establish their superiority over others in the society. For their own benefits they deformed the society by dividing it on the basis of caste and creed and gave it religious credentials in a very shrewd manner. In this way Indian society and religion, which stood for equality of all was converted into different groups based on heredity and breed.
India has always been a land of saints. To fight against the existing old customs and rituals in the society saints have been appearing from time to time. Mahamati Prannath is an important link in the series of saints of the moghul period.
Shri Prannath was born in the family of the erstwhile 'diwan' (minister) of Jam Nagar in Gujrat. On seeing the dominating social evils like communalism and untouchability he was upset and opposed the ruler of Jam Nagar, a supporter of old conventions and religion based differences. He started preaching the principles of Vishwa Dharama (one religion for the entire world) based on the teachings of his own 'guru'. To bring equality for all he stood against the existing practices of differentiating among person to person. He put forward the conception of one religion by combining the principles of all religions namely- Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Buddha, Parsi etc. who are spread all over the world. By his own reasonings based on scriptures and by quoting from the saints of various religions he tried to prove that in reality there is only one religion and followers of all religions should adopt the principles of this one religion and shed their differences. Propagated by his own writings, which are in simple languages, for this purpose. Aurangzeb, who was ruling Delhi at that time, was approached with a message from Shri Prannath to change his staunch religious thinkings and acknowledge the principles of one religion. He devoted whole of his life in establishing the foundation of 'one world religion' The present book- 'Mahamati, the Supreme Wisdom' is a collection from the writings of Shri Prannath. Besides giving a description of his life and work it contains on interpretation of his beliefs on one world religion. This book thoroughly describes the subjects like creation of this universe, the theory of incarnation, gaining of spiritual knowledge based on love and devotion. His divine sayings in the form of his writings on a number of concerned topics are compiled in several books, some selected portions of this has been translated in English by Dr Bajpai for spreading its utility in India and abroad for everyone. This attempt of Dr Bajpai is highly praiseworthy and he must be congratulated for his work.
I do hope that this book will be extremely useful and of great interest to the readers.
Introducing Mahamati Prannath to the readers of the present generation is not an easy task. As he was born in an age of religious intolerance of Aurangzeb, it is natural to conclude that much of what he conceived in his time ought to have become out of fashion to talk these days. But when we witness the sporadic riots in the name of religion still and the growing apathy in the minds of the people towards religious matters, we strongly feel that Mahamati's message to the world has more significance today than what it could have 350 years ago in the period of his own time.
The common place notion in regard to religion is very vague. People, by and large, believe that the main purpose of their life is to earn a decent living and lead a happy life. Religious life hardly makes any difference towards this end. Mahamati, however, says that it does. A man can never be happy, if he ignores religious aspect of life or interprets religion in a narrow sectarian sense.
Looking to the way modem youth of affluent countries drift aimlessly, as if there is something fundamentally missing in their life, we can very well understand how meaningful Mahamati's warning has been in this respect. The short span of our life in the world of problems and struggles for survival is not a full explanation. It needs reference to our previous history prior to our entry into this world. We would not be satisfied unless we find the proper explanation of life in relation to the total background extending much before our birth and also long after our departure from this world
The oft-repeated remark is that we do not know anything about it. This is because many of us have never tried to know it. Those who have tried sincerely to acquire knowledge of these matters are the religious mystics. They have described from time to time what they have learnt about the existence of our life in eternity. Such records are available in the form of the holy books and if we know the technique of interpreting them properly, we all can come to know the details of the purpose of our present life and its destiny.
No doubt, to many the term 'religion' may not be very clear in its wider import. And, that was why, Mahamati took infinite pains to sift essentials of each religion and clarify the fundamentals of all religions by examining their significance in our life. The narrative way in which he tried to put in the meaning of human life and explained its riddle and mystery is so astounding that nowhere in the history of religious thought we come across such a systematic explanation that can reconcile even the smallest parable or allegory of the Sacred Books, laying bare its meaning.
Mahamati Prannath was a mystic to his deepest core and hardly had time to write anything. Yet, at times, particularly in his state of trance (Samadhi), the poetic verses poured forth from his utterances which the people aroud him noted down. Mahamati knew several languages such as Gujarati, Hindi, Sindhi, Urdu and Arabic. The verses came out from him in almost all the languages. It must have been the real task with his disciples to note them down in the true form, but now we know that Mahamati himself persued those verses and had them complied in the form of fourteen books.
The first two books of Rasn and Shntritu contain verses in Gujarati. The book of Sindhi has the verses in Sindhi language. The four books namely Sanandh, Khulasa, Marefat Sagar, and Kiyamat-Nama are full of Urdu and Arabic words, since they attempt to reconcile the teachings of the Quran and Bible with those of the Hindu scriptures. The remaining seven books, viz., Prakash, Kalash, Kirantan, Khilvat, Parikarma, Sagar and Singar are in simple Hindi dialect of 350 years back. The two books, i.e. Prakash and Kalash, are available in Gujarati language as well, but in the present book we have taken extracts from their Hindi version.
In view of the use of so many languages it has really become a problem with the readers in understanding Mahamati properly. There is a regular three year course for the uninitiate to make a thorough study of the collection of his verses, known as 'Tartamya Vani' and the desirous persons do undertake such a pains-taking training at Panna and Jamnagar. However for the English readers the task is simplified by giving a free English rendering of few extracts from his voluminous work with brief introduction.
It is our endeavour to translate all the works of Mahamati in English Language also, but it will take some time. Meanwhile this small effort will give some introduction.
Today when we are looking for a unifying principle of humanity, our eyes are focussed on one great soul of medieval India whose contribution in this respect became beacon-light to show the way to the whole of mankind.
Behind him lay a world of thousands of years of holy wars in which people had massacred one another in the name of religion. Even as late as the seventeenth century the orthodox theologians had found it very hard to adjust themselves with the mood of the time. From east to west the ancient world was full of gods, tribes and castes, and castes within castes, all warring with one another in the name of religious ideas and holy writings. And while the teeming lives of millions of half-clad and semi-starved people were in complete chaos, they were undoubtedly striving for the revealing of some universal and slow-wrought ideal of humanity.
Such was the psychological arena which confronted Mahamati Prannath when he rose to speak in Jamnagar, a city on the west coast of India. At that time the entire western India was fragmented into small city states independently ruled by princes, and each prince employed a premier. Mahamati was born in the family of the premier of Jamnagar state. His family name was Mehraj Thakur.
A yearning for truth is a dangerous seed. In the young heart of Mehraj Thakur it blossomed forth into a spiritual quest. Soon he was to achieve his divine vision, and he encountered the Supreme Godhead through his Guru Devechandra, who entrusted him with the task of keeping this torch of divine vision illuminating and showing the light of truth to others.
In his efforts in this direction Mahamati found casteism and religious intolerance the main hurdle. He therefore started his campaign by making endeavour at removing them in the first instance.
The four-tier system has been the basis of ancient Indian society. It surely must have depended upon difference in ability and apititude for professions in India. But gradually this division began to be determined by birth instead upon one's profession. Accordingly, this set-up no longer helped social progress, as was expected, rather it retarded the onward movement of the society. The rules of castes within castes became water- tight and eventually the evil of untouchability began to act like cancer to eat up the very vitals of the Indian society. Though many saints of the period were fully alive to the evil consequences of it, Mahamati Prannath, however, went ahead and openly commented upon the evil of this system with a view to uprooting it tooth and nail. He said:
'Two extreme types of persons are there: One is attired as Brahmin and the other is called Chandal. What is in store for a man whose very touch may cause impurity to the other? Though, the Chandal of the so-called 'mean birth' in his purity of heart, revels in the Lord without making a show of his secret love for God, yet respect is accorded to the hypocrite ritualistic Brahmin in whose heart the Lord abides not for a second even in his dream.'
Mahamati had approached the entire social sphere with an open mind and cosmopolitan outlook. In advancing his religious ideals his point of emphasis was marked by a concept of unity and magnanimity. It was a period of great crisis and people all over the world were quarrelling with one another without understanding the true meaning of religion and without grasping the fundamental unity underlying all the religious creeds. Mahamati took up the sword of integral knowledge to kill this monster of ignorance.
In the beginning, with a view to serve the fellow companions gathered around his Guru, and for reasons of financial hardship, Shri Mehraj like this father accepted the office of the premiership of Jamnagar. But soon he found that his administrative job came in the way of disseminating his spiritual experiences. Therefore soon he relinquished his job in persuance of his sacred mission.
Shri Devechandra called God his Prannath, i.e. master of his life. Shri Mehraj called his guru his Prannath. Now the followers saw both God and guru in him, so they addressed him as Prannath. From Prannath's spiritual ecstasy started flowing verses in the name of Mahamati. Mahamati means the supreme wisdom of God. Hitherto the wisdom of God gleamed through the different protagonists of various religions. But Shri Prannath felt within him that through his person this time the supreme wisdom of God wanted to perform the special task of bringing unity among the revelations of separate religions. Hence the term Mahamati, the supreme wisdom. In this name the revelatory verses poured forth through him. All those verses have been written down by the disciples around him. The verses number over eighteen thousand and are now considered to be the most outstanding piece of knowledge on the oneness of religions. The collection of those verses is known as 'Tartamya- Vani' and also as 'Kulzam Swarup' comprising nearly two thousand pages. It is the compilation of fourteen books. An attempt has been made in the present book to give a short gist of each of them with suitable English translation of the important couplets.
Mahamati Prannath wanted this message of unity between the teachings of different faiths to reach the whole world. He went abroad and sailed towards the Middle East. He visited Basra, Baghdad, Muscat, and Abbas for a period of three years. Mahamati's visit to a place meant the awakening of men in large numbers who flocked around him. He travelled extensively throughout the length and breadth of India after corning from Arab. In the year 1672 A.D. Mahamati had started his campaign with 500 devotees but shortly from a small flickering flame his teaching grew into a glowing sun radiating its light in all parts of the country, and the number of his companions, whom he named as Sundersath, increased to thousands.
In the year 1678 the news came that Hindus from all over India were to gather in a large number at Hardwar at the time of Kumbha fair. Mahamati thought it to be a good opportunity for discussing with heads and scholars of various Hindu sects the need of establishing Universal Religion and liberating it from the meshes of superstitions and ceremonies.
Impressed by discussions and arguments on scriptures, heads of many sects came to Mahamati collectively. He explained to them how their attitude clinging to the ritualistic formatism had tarnished the image of Hinduism in the eyes of others. When God is One and reveals His presence to all the people, it is meaningless to fight in the name of religion. God is the supreme Reality and transcends His perishable creation in His grandeur and magnificence. People should not degrade themselves by worshipping perishable demi-gods of his illusive creation, instead they should surrender to Him in exclusive devotion. The Gita and many other Hindu scriptures advocate for it in strong and unequivocal terms.
In a great religious dialogue all of them admitted the greatness of Mahamati's knowledge. They unanimously declared that he was the right man to establish the One World Religion on earth, and even the Puranas had predicted such unity of religions in this age (by Nishkalank Buddha). Therefore Mahamati clarified by quoting exracts from the Maheswar Tantra, the Sanhitas and later on, from the Quran that not only in the Puranas but also in the Quran and the Bible it was promised that at first the messangers would come separately in each community to bring down the messages of divinity, and then finally their messages would be brought to a unity to establish the Universal Religion. The time had come and through him that stupendous work was to be done. All those who were present agreed with Mahamati on the need of such Universal Religion and wished him well.
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