(Translated from the book, ‘Agyat Mahatama Prasang’ by respected SN Khandelwal ji, published by Vishvavidyalaya Prakshan, Varanasi.)
I was able to meet his mahayogi due to the blessings of Mahant Dr. Chander Shekhar Swami of lingayat community in the Chitranjan Park near Dashashvmedh Ghat in Varanasi. I was only 16 years old at that time. But at even that age I had cultivated interest in reading Geeta Press publication Kalyan and their special periodicals (विशेषांक). My father had collection of all the Kalyan publication, from the first to the last including both monthly, yearly and special ones too. So to explain all this does not in any way indicate some thing great on my apart but rather shows how the blessings of saints and the lord a young person starts taking interest in such subjects.
In the background of it one has to explain another important happening. In Kanpur at my maternal uncle’s house, in 1955 his guru visited him coming down from Himalayas. I had accompanied my mother to his place to attend some function. Thus we got the opportunity to have darshan of Swamiji too. He was a siddha (an adept/ master). His guru was Swami Bhoomanand, whose guru in turn was Sant Swami Purnanand of mysterious Sidh Ashram. In the life story of Baba Ram Thankur, there is details of Sidh Ashram mentioned. When I met him and offered pranam to him, he asked me to sit down. Many visitors were coming and going. Swami ji told me that he would teach Ajapa jap to me and told me to practice it. That practice will develop your mind greatly by the dint of which you will be able to shed light on various scriptures in future.
I could not understand anything at that time as to what he was saying. He made me sit in front of him and taught the technique of Ajapa jap for 15 minutes I feel great anand and divine feeling in the body. Such joy one never felt even in play of the children life, swimming in the Ganges, reading various story books etc. To talk all this here in detail will be diverting from the main subject. After 3-4 days when time came to go back to Kashi with my mother. Swami ji asked if I lived in Kashi. He told that ‘in Kashi, near Rathyatra, in house no 2-A, a very learned and a sidh Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Gopinath Kaviraj ji lives. One of his articels under the title of ‘Dharm ka Sanatan Darshan’, was printed in series in the magazine Kalyan. You may copy down that article from him and send it through post to me.’ After returning to Varanasi, I forgot all about it and got busy in my youthful routine. After some days I received a post card from my uncle reminding me of the message of Swami ji. I thought that the article asked for was printed in Kalyan and my father has whole of the collection of the magazine, but thought the whole exercise to be laborious since one did not know the exact date of publication of the article. So to save oneself from extra labor, thought a better idea of going direct to the writer himself.
At that time my father used to stay in a house at Dashashvmedh Ghat. From there often I used to cycle down to Mahmurganj park, which was at a distance of around 4 kilometers from our house. This particular house was half way. I had seen his writing often in Kalyan magazines. So one day gathering all my courage I went to the house around 2 pm. A tin sheet door to that house used to be generally closed. Inside that big door there was a small door which use to be open mostly. One has to stop over to go inside. I took my bicycle along inside. After crossing small groung one reached a building and on inquiring came to know that Gopinath Kaviraj ji lives on the first floor. Going up the stairs in the front room, I saw fair coloured, magnificent and brilliant man sitting there. His wide forehead and big deep set eyes described his wisdom and profoundness. Where he was sitting on a mattress on the floor all around there were books. On a desk 3-4 fountain pens and registers to write were lying. On the wall a few photos of saints were hanging.
The moment he saw me, he asked ‘Who is it’. Hearing his serious voice I lost all my courage to say anything. When again he focused his body piercing gaze on me then I had to say something. With great courage, I said, ‘Guruji, One Swami ji has sent me to copy one of your articles and name of the article is ‘Dharm and Sanatan Darshan’. On hearing this request he told me that this article can be had from one of his gurubhai Jeevan Shankar Yagyik. Just tell him I sent you. After this he asked about Janardan Swami. Whatever I knew about him, I told him. Atlast I folded my hands to take his leave, but at that time some higher force made me say to him that if I can come again for his darshan some time. He said ok, you may go and collect the article from Yagyik.
Thus due to that very article I had the good fortune to meet Gopinath ji. After going there for 1-2 times, he advised his librarian Pt.Shri Krishan Pant ji to give me so and so ooks to read here only. What evr books he told him to give to me were all in Bangla. All these scriptures pertained to my Gurudev Janardan Swami and his Gurus and people connected to their lineage. I had seen many Bangali scriptures at my neighbor Lakshaman Sahay ji’s house. Some of them were stories for the children. All were in Bangla. He gave me a book called Hindi-Bangla shikshak(Teacher). With the help of Lakshamn ji and this book reading Bangla text was learnt in 20 days time. After this the first book which I got for eading was ‘Krishan Kanter Uil’ meaning Will of Krishankant. Thus I had learnt to read Bangla even before meeting Kaviraj ji. Hence face no problem whatsoever in reading Kaviraj ji books. But one thing always amazed that I am a north India and does not look a Bengali from any angle. Kaviraj ji never evr asked whether I know Bangla or not? He gave me all Bengali books to read.
Now I will come on to the main subject. Main disciple and devotee of Kaviraj ji were Mahant Dr.Chandrashekhar of Lingayat math of Nipani. After coming for many days he asked me my name. He (Dr.Chandershekhar) asked me whether I knew Vishwanath Khandelwal or not. I was amazes how come he knows my brother. I conveyed to him that he is my elder brother. On hearing this Swami ji became very happy and told that your brother is know to me from earlier times. After many discussions he told me that tomorrow at 5 we will go together somewhere.
Next day I came to Kaviraj Bhawan (building) at 3 pm and 1-1.30 hrs read scriptures told by Kaviraj ji. Around 4.45 Chandrashekhar ji took me to Chitranjan-park near Dashashvmedh Ghat. Inside there under a big peepal tree there was a big platform. People whose relatives died, they used to hang Yamghant (a water pitcher for the dead soul). Under that tree with the blessings of Dr.Chandrashekhar, I had the first darshan of meditating Rameshwar jha ji. This event happened in 1959.
After that first darshan, I went to venerable Pt. Rameshwar Jha till 1979. Then from 1979-1980, only a few times great fortune of meeting him arose. Some time he will go to Kahsmir and some time to Bihar. Hence sequence of meeting him got broken. Even on his leaving the mortal frame I was not in Kashi. As suddenly the good fortune of his company was granted with same suddenness everlasting separation was also given. Form of this Shivkalp Yogi is still clear in the depths of my heart till now. The time also could not disturb even an iota of my respect towards him. Rather it kept of increasing always. This is an un-breakable Guru-disciple connection. Such a connection can be made only with the desire and grace of Param guru Shiv. Real Gurus connection with the disciple is not broken for lives and lives. In this reference only, Kaakbhushundi ji has written,
एक शूल मोही बिसर न काऊ
Ek Shool Mohi Bisar Na Kau,
गुरू कर कोमल शील सुभाऊ।
Gur Kar Komal Sheel Swabhau.
Thus only this anguish remains in the mind. This great man was born in a Brahmin family on the Pratipada of Vaishakh (season as per Indian lunar calendar), Vikrami Samvat 1962 in Patsa village which is located at the southern banks of river Kareh in Samastipur, Bihar. From his childhood he was very intelligent. His did his learning and initiation from various well known teachers of that time. In the subject of jurisprudence and grammar up to the level of Acharya he passed with gold medal. He was considered to be the top ranking in the Brahmins of Kashi and Mithila during those times. He opened a school by the name of Nityanand Sanskrit Vidyalaya after the name of his father in his village Patsa. He would make all arrangement of food and stay for students from his own side. But students were bound by two rules, that every day they will perform 1000 Gayatri mantra nd will never tell a lie.
Jha ji took instructions in Swar yog from his guru and for 14 years survived only on milk. After some years with inspiration from Gopinath Kaviraj ji and on the insistence of Rameshwar Joshi ji, he agreed to stay in his big garden and teach Shiv yog free of cost. I will write on the subject later.
He never hankered for or ever tried for any kind respect or title in his life. But at the end, a few months before leaving his body in 1981, he was awarded with top Presidential award in a group of great scholars. In 1980, Kashi Hindu Vishwavidyalaya conferred on him the title of Mahamaopadhyaya.
I myself saw great of love Gopinath Kaviraj ji towards this great scholar and yogi with my eyes. Mahamahopadhyaya Manudev Bhattacharya told that if for 10-15 days Rameshwar Jha ji failed to meet Gopinath ji, he would send his devotee Dr. Chandra Shekhar Heeremath to bring him. Gopinath ji remembered whole of the scripture of “Poornta Pratibhigya, written by Jha ji. Gopinath ji claimed that such a scripture will not be possibly written by anyone even in next 1000 years.
He and Lakshman ju, who was the head of Ishwar ashram, Guptganga, Post office Sri Nagar, Kashmir, had a very strong affinity for each other. He used to go to Kashmir every year for a period of a few months. He had such a strong bond with Gopinath ji that when ever he went to or returned from Kashmir or his village Patsa, he will make it a point to meet him. I never saw this order braking any time. Gopinath ji used to say that when ever Jha ji visited, his desire to become only his ardent listener became strong. When ever Jha ji stayed more than two months away from Kashi, he would get a letter from Kaviraj ji to return as it seems Vishwanath has left Kashi. More than 5000 slokas created by Jha ji has been written in his diaries. These are great wealth of Kashmir Shaivism. Due to the efforts of his devotees and help of Joshi family of Kashi, only his three books have been printed till date.
A few of disciples I have seen which included Dr.Jayadev Singh, Mahamahopadhyaya Gopal Shastri Darshan Keshari, Dr.Ram Murti Tripathi, Avurveda Deptt, Dr. Harish Chander Shukla, Dean Kashi Vishwavidyalaya, Dr. Chandrshekhar Swami Heeremath, Kamleshwar Tripathi, Mahamahopadhyaya Reva Prasad Dwivedi, famous translator of Tantralok etc tantric scriptures Dr.Paramhans Mishra etc. Apart from many scholars names I even do not know.
From the time I started going to Jha ji in the gardens of Joshi family, he stayed inside a small cottage there. He did not like to stay in the opulence filled house of the family. In this very cottage, what ever Jha ji agreed to have, it was provided by Joshi ji. He used to sit in this small cottage on a wooden bench. Iin front of him at a distance of 4-5 feet another such bench lying for the visitor to sit on. He always talked to one person at a time and I never ever saw two persons together in his cottage.
How stringent his rules were, an example is being given here. On that day in that room I was the listenerto Jha ji. It was some holidat that day. Joshi ji’s shop was also closed that day. Moving around he came over to enter the room. Jha ji immediately stopped him and said come later right now I am teaching. Joshi ji did not give any reply and just returned to his living quarters. I was left speechless. While returning home that day, I kept on thinking out of the two who is great? On one side is wealthy, respected person of the society who is owner of all that property, who was stopped from coming in side but did not object at all. Not for a second anything changed on his face. He was calm and serene as before. While on the other side Jha ji maharaj’s greatness, who felt the disturbance to his teachings and stopped even Joshi ji from coming inside. One was witness to this temperament of his many times.
At that time Nehru ji were alive. Jha ji stayed with Mr. Vrijkrishan Chandiwala house, who belonged to the inner circle of Gandhiji. A message was received that Nehru ji wished to meet him. Jha ji said even if God says Rameshwar come here, he will not go because God gives wealth, respect, repute and he does not desire all that. Nehru ji will also give all these things. I do not need even Mukti? I am neither bound nor free. I am always chit swaroop. This story was told by Shri Ramesh Paramhans, who was incharge of the Vishal Ashram, New Delhi.
When Dr.Chandrashekhar Heeremath Mahodaya made me have darshan of Jha ji then because of closeness of my old ancestral home, I used to go to nearby Chitranjan park to see him. His disciples and students were totally banned from coming there to see him. How he allowed me to come there to see him is really amazing for me. After coming 2-4 times he advised me to do Gayatri jap daily. My yagyopveet sanskaar had been done but I had never done gayatri more than 11 times. From there on I started doing 201 times Gayatri jap everyday. According to Jha ji without it intellect will not develop. From next day, just by looking at me he would know whether I did my jap or not, correctly or not what mistake was made. Nothing could hide from his keen insight.
He would everyday sit in Samadhi at Dashashvmedh ghat. This he has himself written in his book Samvitsvatantrya (slok 428-429). Sitting below the peepal tree his eyes closed and tears flowing from the corners of his eyes, one never knew that in what kind of bliss he is and a continuous stream of Sanskrit slokas will be issuing form his tongue. These slokas were not from an scripture but they were the representation of his inner realm experience.To understand even a single word of his oration was not possible for me alone, but even seven generation of my lineage would not have been to understand it. Just listening to it one got connected to one’s inner realm. At that age of 17 yrs, on hearing his words my young mind would go into which unknown realms, I can understand a little bit now only. That was nothing else but continuous rain of blessings of that Mahapurush on me.
One day I was irdered to reach Joshi niwas at 6 am. It was a very cold winter season time. By humble supplications I got the time changed to 7 am instead. Cold wave was sweeping, my cycle handle bar almost turned in to ice and fingers used to freeze too. Still I reached Joshi jis house on time with copy pencil thinking that my teachings will start from today. But what teachings? Instead there were talks of politics of Delhi and mistakes of Nehru ji. His policies were compared with anciet Niti shastra. This will go on for two hours every day. In between tea will be served from Joshiji’s house. Guru and disciple both will drink it. One day Jha ji took his bag from the wall and took out a box. Out of it he gave one peda (an India sweet). He said this is from his village. Every raw material of it made form the household cow’s milk. That taste still lingers on in the mouth. After that, one never tasted anything like it though one stayed in Varanasi which is famous in whole of India for its sweets. Such love and closeness for a simple boy like me brought tears to my eyes. After this what happened that was also very amazing. Jha ji personally went and brought a glass of water and asked to drink. I said Gurudev, out side there is hand pump, I could have drank myself there, why did you bother. He laughed and said ‘drink whole of it, I have given it you after offering to Shiva’. After drinking that water, mind was overjoyed with great anand. Then he said that from tomorrow he will teach me Parmarthsaar. One book I have and you buy one copy from Motilal Banarsidas, then it will be easier to study.
Next day at the right time I reached here with the scripture. The scripture was one of the main writings of Abhinav Gupt on Kashmir Shiavism. I had no knowledge whatsoever of Sanskrit. I did not know any grammar. Jha ji thought of teaching a scripture meant for greatest scholars to me who did not know even the meaning of simple Hanuman Chalisa. But some force present there was forcing one to hear to all that. One could understand only a few words here and there. Returning to the main gate of the house afterwords, even those were also forgotten. On reaching home, one opened that scripture, one could not recite even a single line out of it. Reading, hearing and understanding was a far off reality.
Next day with dejected look on face reached his place at the right time. One clearly told him that what ever was taught one could understand nothing. This scripture was being studied by Thakur Jaidev Singh and it is just beyond me. He was sitting in a mosquito net as there were so many fly’s around. He said not to worry just keep on coming and listening and time will come that it will arise on its own in your memory. After hearing a few slokas , one went back home and started thinking that in school teachers say understand, remember each word then move forward but here Gurudev is saying that understanding and remembering is not important. Just listen and at the right time everything will be understood. This is really strange.
Just thinking over it, I took my partner my cycle went to Gopinath Kavirajjis place to see if Dr.Chandershekhar ji is there who got me admitted to Jha jis teaching classes.To my great fortune, saw him descending from the stairs there. I paying my respects to him, took him to one corner of the courtyard and explained the whole situation to him.I requested him get me mukti from that scripture. Even in 10 years I can not understand it.On hearing my story, I was advised to keep some faith and courage, keep going there for a few days, just listen to what is being told, meet him after few days.
It was not that respected Jha ji were not aware of my disappointment but what was going on his inner mind no one knew. After 3-4 days he showed me a book which was titled ‘Shivstotravali’. That scripture with hundreds of slokas was written by Mahamaheshwar Acharya Utpaldev. Kashmiri Shaivacharya Laxman ju had written its Hindi translation. IT was published by Motilal Banarasidas. Like Parmarthpraksh, This copy was also bought from there. Next day along with both copies one reached Jha jis kutiya at the fixed time. After a general talk and something about Kaviraj ji, was asked if one would write a poem. On hearing this one could give no reply. One kept silent. On seeing this he advised me to write a Hindi poem on these slokas from tomorrow and every 3-4 days keep on showing the work to him. It was like out of the frying pan in to the fire. I wanted mukti from Parmarthsagar but here another new bigger calamity in the form of poem writing befell me. How can one do that, nobody taught it and never did it. In reference of poetry one only knew Hanuman Chalisa, Sundarkand of Ramayan and poems in the school course book. One’s introduction to poetry was only that much. Seeing me in dilemma, he told to go home and give it a try and surely succeed in this effort and it is his order.
After this what happened, I will not explain here. All those things will not be believed in reading or hearing both. In one moth after typing the whole Shivstotravali in Hindi poetry offered it to Gurudev. He praised me and next month while going to Kashmir took it along with him. On return he told me that out of the translation some part has been adopted by Maheshwar Laxman ju in the daily morning –evening prayers at their ashram. I did not keep any copy of it and also I felt it not my effort but as complete blessings of Jha ji alone. Hence there was no point in thinking it to be mine.Still it was such feat the mystery behind which still can not be fathomed by me. This clear example of Sadgurus kripa was seen by Dr.Harishchander Shukla, Major Mahaveer Prasad Singh, Chandershekhar Swami ji, Mahapandit Gopal Shastri Darshan Keshriji etc. Then I realized that the adage ‘Mook Hoi Vachal, Panghu Langhyate Girim’ is completely true.Some chands of that translation are still remembered as below:
बिना ग्यान जप विधि से जिसको
ईश कृपा से शिव प्रसाद प्राप्त है
समाविष्ट चित्त भक्ति सुशोभित
महापुरूष को नमस्कार है ।
This was the translation of the first shloka of Shivstotravali. Like these whole of the text was translated from Sanskrit in to Hindi in poetry form.
Earlier I remembered many couplets but now only a few are in the memory. But one had not forgotten the times spent at the feet such a saint and they are experienced even today. His voice still reverberates I ones ears though everything else will be left behind here only. His blessings will always accompany one. This seems to be the real meaning of life.
Dr.Ramesh Paramhamsa told that he came to Kashi to prepare his research paper. He stayed on rent in the house at Nagva of head of astrology department of Kashi Vishwavidyalaya Late Prof. Pandit Kedarnath Joshi. He was also disciple of Janardan Swami and hence association with him was quite natural. I introduced him to Jha ji also. The association became so strong that we decided to go to Assam to have darshan of Devi there, Jha ji and Paramhans ji also reached Guwahati during ambuvachi. Then it was decided that it was not good to go up there by any conveyance but one should walk up to the temple. Resting arrangement had already been done in the guest house of the temple. Paramhans ji knew the Mahant very well. So did not go to any hotel as we had luggage with us. Paramhans sought jha ji’s bag while going up but jha ji took Paramhansji’s bag while ascending. Paramhansji was 30 years old at that time and was having strong body but Jha ji did not listen to him. Jha ji told him that you are teerth yatri and to do seva of teerth yatri is much more fuithful than darshan of Bhagwati. If you become an obstruction in the act of my fruit reaping, I will go back directly from here and whole of the blame will be on your head. Now Paramhans j could say nothing. He told that this old man carried both his own as well Paramhams ji’s bag on his shoulders and with great inconvenience he ascended the whole mountain path. On reaching up, when the flag of the temple was visible, Jha ji folded his hands and said ‘O Mother, due to your grace today he could reap the fruit of Her darshan and yatri seva both’. Paramhans ji told that the difficulty with which Jha ji carried both the on bags his shoulders up the mountain trail, his heart wept but he could do nothing. To have company of such a saint he really felt great and blessed. One can not stop talking about the life story of such a saint who was always immersed in his atmanand and experiencing Shiv advait (oneness) darshan even in this world of illusion. He left for the realm of Shiva on 12th December, 1981 in Kashi. His last world was ‘ Now I am getting established in my real self’. Gopinath Kaviraj ji once said that as the bog black bee sucks the honey going from one flower to another, in the same way, a knowledge seeking disciple should keep on going from one guru to another. Hence number my guru’s is in dozens. Thus observing the teachings of various gurus, now I can find the common thread among various different teachings now. Thus no duality is left there. All this was achieved by the grace of sadguru Jha ji.
In this direction, Dada Sita Ram ji was my guru. He was the only initiated disciple of Kavirajji. Right from his childhood, through his married life and till his final leaving the world he stayed Gopinath jis house, even today his family lives there. From here one could know clearly the closeness of Gopinath ji with Dada Sitaram ji. A chapter on Dada jis life has been devoted in another book titled ‘Sant Mahatamaon Ke Durlabh Prasang’. One day while sitting in the room of Dada ji, discussion ensued that since one is allowed to spread the knowledge received from Kavirajji through the medium of New Papers, Advertisement and through press meets, what should be done to achieve this goal. I thought to consult Jha ji for this and on my next visit there should pose this question to him. His dwelling was only half a mile away from Kaviraj ji’s house. So I went there. He was sitting with closed eyes. For some time he did not know if any one has come. When he opened his eyes, seeing me he asked what is the matter. On being asked whole story was conveyed to him. He laughed and said this is very easy. In the morning he will go to Dada ji and accept him as his Guru, take initiation from him. On seeing me taking initiation from him, people will understand that there must be some special power in Dada ji and they will go to him. Since Gopinath ji has given Dada ji Shakti sadhana initiation, if by my taking diksha from him can provide welfare to many people than it will be thing of pleasure for me. When this message was delivered to Dadaji, none could believe it. Chandershekhar ji said that his can not be done as there is no need for such a high state yogi to take initiation. He immediately went to Jha jhi and inquired form him if the news is true. Jha ji said it is true as tomorrow morning he will go to Dadaji to take initiation. To see the greatness of Jha ji, tears came to the eyes of Chadrashekhar ji. The sankalp of Jha ji fructified so much that a great rush of initiation seekers came at the doors of Dada ji. Being great, acting like low and making others great can be the act of a great one only.