It was 3rd July 2002 and the occasion was 104th birthday (solar) Icelebration of our Master Bhagavaan Gopi Nath ji at Uttam Nagar, Delhi. A troupe of musicians from the Sangeet Sadhana Sadan was singing the above quoted lines from a popular Kashmiri hymn. The Principal of the institute was so overwhelmed that he stated that these lines appeared to have been composed and addressed specifically to this great saint. These lines opened up a floodgate of old memories in my mind. I was reminded of a number of occasions when Bhagavaan ji would ask me to stay overnight at his lotus feet. On these occasions Shri Badri Nath Khodbali, who resided in the same premises, would also join us. He would recite the same hymn up to the late hours, usually up to midnight in front of the Master.
I am one of those fortunate persons who have had lifelong association with 'Tathi Bab', as we fondly call the saint. I remember vividly the 2nd November 1947, when for the first time I had the privilege of receiving his 'Prasada', brought by my father and my uncle late in the night from Reshi Mohalla near Habba Kadal in Srinagar, where the saint resided then. The following day Srinagar city was saved, with his kind intervention, from the tribal marauders who, aided and abetted by Pakistan, had invaded the state. As my revered father and uncle were regular visitors to the saint I got the opportunity of accompanying them frequently and receiving his blessings quite often. In due time, due to the sheer grace of the preceptor, 'Guru Kripa', our family had to move temporarily from our ancestral house at Ali Kadal to the vicinity of the residence of Bab Maharaj. Our stay there lasted for about three years from 1967 to 1969. This proximity to the saint was God-sent. It provided our family innumerable opportunities of remaining at his lotus feet, serving him, listening to him and receiving his benign grace. The celestial atmosphere of that place inspired my wife also to visit it regularly and pay her obeisance to the Master. On one such occasion, when I was already there, she came in and `Tathi Bab' remarked that she was Parvati. Perhaps he saw Shiva in every man and Parvati in every woman. Even then giving this epithet to my wife was a special grace ' Anugrah'of his, which has stood us in good stead all these years. Our entire family has received special benediction there up to the last moment when he left his mortal frame. Even now we feel his presence around us and pray to him to continue to be kind towards us and shower his grace on us.
I can vouch from my personal experience that Bhagavaan Ji is always there to help anybody who perseveres on the path of 'Sadhana', quest after the truth. He has been ever at hand to help those who prayed for help and those who deserved his benign favours. He has proved to be 'Gopi Nath' in true sense and all that is needed for a devotee is to be a `Gopi' and have the same unflinching love towards him as the 'Gopis' had towards Krishna. He is sure in that case to care for his devotee, guide him on the path of 'sadhana'. He is at such a spiritual state that a devotee has only to place him in his consciousness, meditate upon him and then his grace will flow like the sacred water of the Ganges. People have benefited from him materially and spiritually when he was physically present with us. People are benefiting from him even now when he guides them in his astral form. He is the source of constant solace and eternal bliss.
There are innumerable stories of devotion in our scriptures. Gopis were attached to Shri Krishna. Hanuman was devoted to Shri Ram. Parvati loved Shiva. Ahalya, Shabri, Draupadi and many others wholly depended on the Lord and sought refuge at His feet. In our time we have come across many devotees who have shown the same devotion towards our Master. Some chant his holy name, some sing in his praise and others meditate on him. All of them get elevated spiritually and secure a lasting peace of mind. Lord Shiva says in 'Guru Gita' that there is no spiritual position higher than that of the Guru, no penance better than serving him and no knowledge greater than the knowledge of the reality acquired through him with his grace. A true devotee identifies himself with the entire creation and then meditates upon his Guru. The spiritual aspirant knows that nothing else is greater than that Supreme Being, who transcends the world of beings prone to degeneration, decay and death. It is this transcendental Supreme Truth that the aspirant is after and attains with the grace of Bab Maharaj. We are fortunate to have a lot of literature on the life and message of Bhagavaan Ji. Shri S.N. Fotedar has written his biography. Prof. J.N.Sharma has revised that and also written many articles independently. Other erudite scholars and devotees of Bhagavaan Ji also have written a lot on him. Some have written about their experiences in relation to him and some have addressed their prayers to him. These devotee-writers include Prof A.N.Dhar, Shri B.N.Handoo Upkari, Shri Makhan Lal Kukiloo, Shri Chaman Lal Razdan, to name only a few. A lot more about him is still unknown. In fact many events connected with our Master are still unfolding and we come to know amazing accounts of fresh happenings denoting the ever presence of Bhagavaan Ji and his kindness to his devotees.
Many devotees were, therefore, desirous of having another biography of the saint written differently with a different perspective. The Jagad Guru Bhagavaan Gopi Nath Ji Charitable Foundation approached Shri T.N.Dhar 'Kundan' with the request that he take up this job. We were thrilled and excited when this erudite scholar-writer accepted our request. We were aware of his qualification and knowledge, as he had already contributed well-written articles to the 'Patrika' and the 'Prakash Bhagavaan Gopi Nath', which were well received by the esteemed readers of these journals. Shri 'Kundan' has done a good job and has produced a splendid biography of our Master in a record time. He has on the one hand studied him in the background of the galaxy of sages who form our sacred tradition and on the other hand has linked his words of spiritual wisdom to the pronouncements of various scriptures and texts from the corpus of the rich spiritual literature inherited by us. This splendid, superb and commendable work will no doubt be welcomed by one and all.
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