PANDIT SHRIRAM SHARMA ACHARYA
Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya, a pioneer of spiritual renaissance was born on 20th September 1911, in Anwalkheda, Agra district, Uttar Pradesh. He scrupulously carried out the biddings of his Guru, a great Himalayan Yogi, whom he met when he was fifteen years of age. A sage, a visionary and a reformer, Acharyaji initiated a revolutionary movement for transformation of an Era, lived a disciplined life of devout austerity, visited the Himalayas several times and attained very great spiritual eminence. The Gayatri Parivar fraternity with its more 3,000 social reform centers (Shakti-peeths) are his greatest contributions to the modern world. He translated the entire Vedic Literature and accomplished a feat of writing more than 3,000 books on all aspects of life.
“ Sadhana leads to siddhi ”
I have completed seventy-eight years of my life in the year 1989.
During this long life-span, I pursued only one aim .. and that was to investigate how siddhi ( spiritual awakening ) could be attained by sadhana ( spiritual practices ).
It occurred to me that just as several scientists devoted their entire lives in doing basic research work and had thus served mankind, it should be seriously examined whether the age old belief that “ sadhana leads to siddhi ” is correct .. or not and that this experiment should be done not on others but on myself.
“ Gayatri mantra and Sanskrit ”
This idea sprang up within me when I was ten years old and dominated my thoughts till I was fifteen.
In the meanwhile, the only thing which is worth mentioning is that my father got my upnayan ( sacred thread ) ceremony performed and I was initiated into “ Gayatri mantra ” by his classmate, Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviyaji.
I completed my elementary education in the primary school of the village and my father taught me Sanskrit grammar on the basis of I completed my elementary education in the primary school of the village and my father taught me Sanskrit grammar on the basis of “ Laghu Koumudi ” and “ Siddhanta-Koumudi ”.
I used to accompany my father on his visits to rulers of princely states to deliver religious discourses on ‘ Srimad Bhagvat Purana ’ and thus I learnt Bhagvat from the beginning to the end.
There was a primary school in the village of my birth place. From the point of view of formal education, I studied only in that school.
Sanskrit has been part and parcel of our family traditions.
My father and brothers were eminent scholars of Sanskrit. Giving discourses on ancient scriptures and priest-hood were our ancestral profession. I thus acquired adequate knowledge of Sanskrit at home.
I taught Sanskrit to students up to the standard of Acharya though I do not possess any degree.
“ Marriage ”
In the meantime, I was married. My wife was disciplined, industrious, service-minded and she cooperated in all my efforts.
In this way, fifteen years of life passed.
“ Gayatri jap ”
Morning and evening worship and prayers ( sandhya-vandana ) formed part of my daily routine. At the time of my initiation, Malviyaji had told me that “ Gayatri Mantra ” was Kamdhenu of a brahmana and had enjoined me to at least perform five malas of “ Gayatri Jap ” ( chanting the mantra 540 times ) regularly ; and that it was all the more beneficial if more japs could be performed.
I kept this direction in mind and followed it regularly and religiously.
“ God’s grace descends ”
It was all of a sudden that God’s grace descended on me .. at the age of fifteen .. as if it was pre-planned and pre-destined. I got an opportunity to dedicate myself single-pointedly towards the realization of my childhood dreams.
It was the day of “ Basant Parva ”. While I was engrossed in worship, in my room, during the early hours of the morning ( brahma-muhurta ), I saw an ‘ aura ’ of light !
I was stunned, amazed and awestruck ! I rubbed my eyes to ascertain whether it was a ‘ hallucination ’ or something astral like a ‘ ghost ’ or a ‘ demon ’, but it was none of these.
An astral body of a yogi emerged in the middle of that aura of light !!
It was astral in the sense that his figure was visible although it was hanging in the empty space with an envelope of light all around it. I was wondering as to who he was. The apparition said :
“ I have been linked with you and guiding you during your past several lives. Since your child-hood is now over, I have come to impart you the necessary guidance. Probably you have no recollection of your past lives and so you are frightened and amazed. See the events of your past births and remove your doubts. ”
His grace descended on me and I had a feeling of drowsiness. I experienced, for the first time in my life .. what is known as “ yognidra ” .. a stage which is also called “ jagrat samadhi ”.
While bathing in that state of elevated consciousness, I had a cinematographic view of actual events of my several past births.
“ Divine souls test the persons ”
Seekers are always in search of Guru ( guide ). They consider themselves blessed if they happen to meet one. Often they seek worldly boons from their Gurus. Then, why had the grace of such an elevated soul been suddenly showered on me ?!
“ Was it a ‘ hallucination ’ ? ”“ Or was it something ‘ inauspicious ’ or ‘ calamitous ’ to befall me ? ”
Such fears and doubts passed through my mind after I had the first encounter with the great Guru.
He did not feel annoyed and could understand my dilemma. It appeared to me by the cheerful demeanour of his face that he appreciated my suspense. Without wasting time, he introduced himself to me and explained the reason for his appearance by reviving the memory of my past births.
The figure in my room of worship .. who was enveloped by an aura of light .. further said :
“ Your thinking is correct. Before spending their time and energy, divine souls test the persons with whom they want to establish their soul relationship. They do not appear before any ‘ Tom ’, ‘ Dick ’ or ‘ Harry ’ to fulfill his fancies !
“ No wise and discerning person ever tries to establish deep relationship with a person without considering his worthiness and eligibility. Several persons consider it beneficial to get linked with great and spiritually resplendent personages but they forget that no one likes to waste his energy and capabilities over a worthless person.
“ I had been searching through my subtle vision for a fit medium who could be directly instrumental in promoting universal welfare. This body of mine is not physical. A person having physical body has to be made a medium and used as an instrument for action on the physical realm, which cannot be directly done through an astral body.
“ These are critical times and there are great chances of mankind being grievously harmed and overwhelmed by the forces of darkness. I want to make you a medium to help solve the problems bedeviling humanity. You will get my guidance and cooperation and your shortcomings will be removed.
“ It is for this purpose that I have come to you. Till now, you were engrossed in your normal life and considered yourself as an ‘ ordinary man ’. These days nobody believes any one all of a sudden. Your doubts would not have been properly removed by a mere verbal description of your competence. Therefore, you have been given a vision about past births. ”
He further said :
“ I shall be helping you now and get all that work done through you which is essential to meet the challenges of the present times.
“ Yogis having only astral bodies cannot establish physical contacts which is possible only by embodied beings and hence the former depend for this purpose on the latter.
“ It is good that you are married. These days, it is less advantageous and rather risky to remain unmarried. In ancient times .. Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, Ganesh, Indra, Soorya .. all were married. The seven Rishis had their wives, because for proper organization and administration of Gurukuls both the father and the mother are needed. Mother provides food, residence, clothes and affection,while father looks after discipline, teachings, sanctions etc.
“ Guru is the disciple’s father .. and Guru’s wife, his mother .. according to the Rishi traditions.
“ I am very happy that you are married. There may be some interruption, but in due course, you will get as your life companion a person who has lived with you as your life partner in some of your previous lives. She will live with you throughout your life and will play a significant role in your work.
“ You were a house holder in two of your past three lives. Do not think that married life will be a hindrance in your work. In fact, it will be helpful in the present circumstances and will be conducive to better results in the task of ushering in of a new era for humanity. ”
I saw my past three lives one after the other from the beginning till the end, which were all for divine work and during which I had been instrumental in playing crucial roles in the regeneration and upliftment of the society and had initiated integrative and inclusive paths of sadhana in tune with the needs of the times, under the guidance of that Devatma who was standing before me!
I had no other aspiration and nothing to claim as my own but to follow rigorously and faithfully the directions of my master. This is what is called true “ surrender ”.
I surrendered myself at that moment to that divine soul and regarded him not only my guide but equivalent to divinity itself.
This relationship has been maintained for the past sixty three years and I have been forging ahead wholeheartedly and unhesitatingly on the path indicated by him.
No questions or doubts have ever arisen in my mind as to my capability to accomplish his will or what results my efforts will bear.
“ Sadhana .. Sadhana .. Sadhana ”
A real saint .. or his disciple .. has to tread the ancient path of sadhana propounded by Rishis, of devoting one’s life for public good as was done by Kabirdas .. Chaitanya Maha Prabhu .. Samartha Ramdas .. Ramakrishna Paramahansa .. Swami Vivekananda .. Dayananda Saraswathi etc., etc.
“ God is never pleased with those who merely chant his name ! ” ..
“ He does not need motivated worship or offerings ! ” ..
“ Chanting of God’s name is meaningful only to those who are engaged in beautifying and developing his garden, this Universe. ”
These thoughts dominated my mind throughout the day on that “ Basant Parva ”. The master clearly advised me that efforts for inner self-growth and self-improvement should go hand-in-hand with acts of public service.
Gurudev explained how I should lead my life. He took the reins of my life in his hands, directed and guided it and crowned my every effort with success.
On that day, I wholeheartedly and completely surrendered myself to Gurudev and my inmost soul silently pledged :
“ I hereby surrender to you all that I am and I have. I have not seen God but you are my God because you are guiding me towards my highest good. I will explicitly mould my life in accordance with the instructions imparted by you. ”
The instructions that Gurudev gave that day were :
Performance of twenty four Mahapunascharanas of Gayatri in twenty four years installation of an uninterruptedly lighted ghrit lamp visiting his retreat in the Himalayas four times as per his calls, and living there in some proximate place for prescribed periods for intensive spiritual pursuits (sadhana) under his direct and systematic guidance.
All these instructions have been followed throughout my life and all that has been accomplished in my life is the result of Gurudev’s grace.
A combination of determination, patience and devotion creates the firm background for spiritual awakening. Earning such merit is true discipleship, after which it takes no time to attain fulfillment. It is the attainment of merit which takes time.
Meeting of my Sadguru was an event of unique and extremely good fortune for me. Guru is needed for spiritual awakening because he discharges the dual responsibility of father and teacher. A true master is wise enough to judge the worthiness or otherwise of a seeker.
My aspirations were fulfilled all of a sudden ! No doubt, my sadhana had been started long back in previous births to attain worthiness. “ Awakening of kundalini power ”, “ God realization ”, “ liberation ” etc., are all subsequent events.
A vision of past births which Gurudev had shown to me related to spiritual masters of rare eminence who were all shining stars in the reformist tradition of Indian saints.
I had no desire to know more than what was revealed. I thought it proper to sit on one boat, remain under the benevolent protection and seek support of only one master and not to allow my faith to falter.
Those who undertake the responsibility of performing momentous tasks have to face and surmount great difficulties at every step of the uphill journey.
They have to display extraordinary fortitude. This was required of me also in ample measure.
“ Astral help from time to time ”
Gurudev has been appearing for my help from time to time. He has been immensely augmenting my own insignificant abilities with his great spiritual force and has been rescuing and uplifting me in critical moments, when my own feeble feet were on the point of staggering.
I had decided once for all that my life shall remain surrendered at his feet and I will implicitly comply with his directions.
Gurudev visited my house uninvited to make me a fit instrument for the execution of his divine assignment and got twenty-four “Gayatri Mahapurascharanas ” performed which culminated in “ Poornahuti of Gayatri Yagna” of one thousand kunds.
He not only introduced to me but also made me intimate with about one lakh of persons who formed the nucleus of Gayatri Mission and have given me their wholehearted cooperation in the stupendous task of spiritual reawakening of the masses.
“ Journeys to the Himalayas ”
During our first meeting, Gurudev had directed me to come to the Himalayas four times, for periods of about one year each, after completing twenty-four “ Mahapunascharanas of Gayatri ”.
First reason for calling me to the Himalayas was to ascertain that my soul did not feel lonely in the wilderness and solitude of nature without the requisite living facilities.
Secondly, it was to ascertain whether I could establish spiritual identity and intimacy with wild and ferocious animals living there.
Thirdly, I was to be introduced to the Rishis through whose divine pursuits ( tapasya ) the Uttarakhand region of Himalayas is so surcharged with spiritual energy that it is called “ Devabhumi ”.
These Rishis, when they were in their physical bodies, had infused divinity in the environment and had individually played significant and distinct roles in infusing and activating specific qualities of spiritual light and power in the human psyche.
“ You have to perform a very important task ”
Gurudev’s silent direction to me was to apply the available spiritual energy placed at my disposal for the simultaneous fulfillment of three objectives :
To understand how the Rishis of old, in their embodied forms, had utilized the spiritual energies at their disposal for solving the problems of their times by vanquishing the evil forces and by establishing the supremacy of divine way of life. To understand and comprehend the dimensions of the God assigned task to be accomplished through me as an instrument. To draw appropriate lessons from the successes and failures of those divine warriors ( Rishis ) in their battles against the forces of darkness ; and to devise effective strategies against the final assault of these evil forces, with the aim of banishing them from the human scene once for all. He told me that the purpose of my pilgrimage to the Himalayas was to spiritually charge and equip myself for this epoch-changing task.
Gurudev said :
“ Like us, you also have to perform a very important task through your astral body. By way of rehearsal, you will have to learn how long and in which part of the Himalayas your physical body could stay in fit condition to enable you to devote your wholehearted attention to the spiritual mastery and strength needed for the attainment of the aspired ends. ”
He continued :
“ In semi-temperate climate, the system is not subjected to the rigours of extremes of heat and cold, and all facilities for leading a normal, comfortable life are easily available. On the contrary, to live calmly and unperturbed, with minimal facilities, in the high Himalayan regions, with extreme cold and no creature comforts whatever, is a challenge and an opportunity to learn the difficult art of living. This itself is sadhana. One is required to master the body like an acrobat, subsist on leaves and edible roots and learn to live fearlessly with requisite precautions for thesafety of life and live amongst ferocious wild animals.
“ These inconveniences are there, so long as there is a physical body. All this comes to an end when one withdraws into the astral body. Then there is no botheration for safety from cold and heat, hunger and thirst, sleep and exhaustion. Physically a man can walk only up to a limited heat, hunger and thirst, sleep and exhaustion. Physically a man can walk only up to a limited distance but .. a Soul in an astral body .. can instantly reach anywhere and convey its message to the minds of thousands of persons at a time and thus its capacity to help humanity increases manifold. Illumined souls, therefore, work through their astral bodies. Their sadhanas are also different from those done physically.
“ Physical body has its limitations. Its energy is mostly spent in satisfying physical needs and worrying about weakness, sickness, old age etc. Its advantage, however, is that direct physical acts on the material plane, mutual communication and physical contacts are possible only through a physical body.
“ When physical body becomes old and descrepit, it has to be cast off and tasks initiated through it remain unfinished. That is why those who are divinely, willed to effectively work on the material plane for extended periods of time, far beyond the normal human life span, to guide, inspire and empower the chosen few in the vanguard of humanity’s upward and inward march towards God-head, have to withdraw into their astral bodies and act upon this world with far greater force and effect from that realm.
“ Your physical body will continue functioning until it has outlived its utility. You will then have to leave it and enter the astral body. Your sadhana will then be different and the range of effectiveness of your powers extraordinarily far-reaching. You will have contacts with special souls and will accomplish an epoch-changing task.
“ At an appropriate time you will be introduced to this region of Devatma Himalaya. On this side of Gomukh, saints, great souls, live in their physical bodies. You will face several difficulties in this region also. You will have to live in this region for one year each time. Besides, you will be required to stay, for four days each time, in the region known as the ‘ Heart of the Himalayas ’, which is the spiritual centre of humanity. I will remain with you.
“ Your astral body will be moulded in the usage of your physical body and you will know who live there, how they live and how you will have to live there. By having experience of living in these regions .. in physical and astral .. you will reach a state of consciousness in which Rishis remain centred for fulfillment of their specific aims.
“ In brief, this is the purpose of inviting you four times to the Himalayas. This will also encompass the spiritual training you have to undergo and the tests you have to pass. Your punascharana sadhana will not be hampered by these pursuits.
“ In ancient times, Rishis lived from Rishikesh to Gomukh according to their choice and convenience. This region has now become disturbed due to tourists, pilgrims and professionals. Also, several temples have been built to satisfy people’s curiosity relating to ancient history and to enable local people to earn their liveli-hood. ”
I was told that “ Madam Blavatsky ”, founder of Theosophy, was an eminent saint. She was in contact with highly evolved Souls living in their astral bodies. She has written in her book that there is a parliament of invisible divine saints in difficult inaccessible regions of the Himalayas. Illumined residents of this area are also known as invisible helpers.
Gurudev said :
“ It is all true. You will see all this yourself by your divine vision in this region of Himalayas, which is my abode. ”
The Tibetan area was a part and parcel of the Himalayas in those days. Now the boundaries have changed. Yet the statement of Madam Blavatsky is true.
Those living on the physical plane cannot see them but I was assured that I would be able to see them by Gurudev’s grace.
Gurudev continued :
“ Keep on waiting for my call. You will be called when it is necessary and when you will be considered fit for test. Do not be over over eager on your side ; do not start for the Himalayas of your own accord, by way of sheer curiosity. It will all be useless. It is my responsibility after you have surrendered to me. ”
Thereafter Gurudev disappeared.
“ Execution of the prescribed disciplines ”
In his first meeting, Gurudev had prescribed for me three disciplines. Twenty four “ Gayatri Mahapunascharanas ” had to be performed for twenty-four years strictly in accordance with the prescribed rules in front of a “ ghrit lamp ” to be kept lighted uninterruptedly.
The second important discipline to be undergone was of writing books for promoting the enlightened good of the masses. This was also essential for my own self-growth and self-education. This needed intense and extensive study and concentration. Side by side, public contacts had to be established to develop my organizing skills.
The third important responsibility was to play the role of a volunteer freedom-fighter in India’s struggle for independence. As a matter of fact, these programmes were not complementary to each other, but none of these became an obstacle in the progress of my sadhana and study : although, in between, I had to visit Himalayas twice. The credit for this goes to my divine guide who had taken full control of the reins of my life and had assured constant protection.
I faced this difficulty the very first day. With the starting of the series of punascharanas, I started taking the prescribed food and leading the life of an ascetic ( tapasvi ). This created havoc. People started discussing about me in their own way in sweet and sour words.
“ A Volunteer freedom-fighter ”
I was subjected to a second test in my child-hood when the Non-Cooperation Movement of the Indian National Congress started.
Gandhiji launched the Satyagraha movement, called upon true patriots to come out from the smugness of their homes, face the bullets and go to jail.
I heard the inner voice that it was a historical moment which must not be missed. I got my name enrolled in the corps of satyagrahis of that region.
All my friends, neighbours, family members, relatives came to impress upon me that what I was contemplating to do was a suicidal act. The matter got further aggravated and some relatives threatened to go on fast and commit suicide. My mother, who was my guardian, was tutored to get my name struck off as a co-inheritor ( along with my brothers ) of valuable ancestral property and get the names of other brothers entered in my place.
I listened to all these threats calmly. The question before me was : what should be given precedence, pressure of the family or the need of the times ? I made my soul and God as witnesses and decided to act according to the ‘ still small voice ’ from within.
If higher ideals are to be pursued, one has to resolutely struggle. Despite stiff opposition, I stealthily reached the place which was indicated, launched satyagraha and courted arrest.
“ Spirit of courage in my child-hood ”
There was another event of my childhood which further emboldened my spirit of courage. There was an old sweepress who was suffering from diarrhoea and had festering wounds. She used to cry bitterly but, being an untouchable, nobody entered her house. I consulted a physician about her treatment, arranged for the medicines and started attending on her and nursing her regularly.
This went on for fifteen days and she became well. She always addressed me as ‘ Bhagvan ’ so long as she was alive. In those days, at the age of thirteen, I was all alone. The whole village, including members of my own family, were against me. I kept up my courage of conviction and did not give in.
Courting arrest several times during the freedom struggle, taking the vow of performing twenty-four “ Mahapunascharanas ”, treating and serving the sweepress were all tough tests to which I was subjected in my very child-hood.
I simultaneously fought on two fronts .. against internal weaknesses and against pressures from relatives. This gave me an opportunity to awaken and strengthen my potential spiritual strength. I was greatly benefited from these tests and trials and all my programmes continued progressing towards fulfillment.
“ Mahapunascharanas ”
The series of “ Mahapunascharanas ” went on regularly. A lighted ghrit lamp was installed the very day on which sadhana was started. The responsibility of keeping it lit uninterruptedly was taken up by my wife, whom I called “ Mataji ”.
When I meditate sitting in front of the flame of this lamp, the mind gets flooded with divine light and warmth.
My speed of reading books had been forty printed pages per hour. I used to get at least two hours daily for reading. Thus, at the rate of eighty pages a day, I could read about 2,400 pages in a month, 28,800 pages in a year.
This routine has been going on for the last sixty years during which innumerable pages of books, on subjects of my interest, have been read.
After the completion of “ Mahapunascharanas ” I found more time which I devoted to studying several books and manuscripts in different libraries. This became an invaluable treasure for me.
“ I read with utmost concentration ”
I did not read a single page for recreation. All that I read was mastered with a view to acquiring proficiency in the particular subject.
The same thing applies to “ Yug Nirman Yojana ” and “ Yug Shakti Patrika ”. The secret is that I have read with utmost concentration whatever has been useful for me to gain mastery of the subjects of my interest. So all relevant references suddenly appear in my mind at the appropriate time. This, in fact, is the miracle of concentrated sadhana.
The story of studying other languages is interesting. I started writing English words in jail on a shallow iron pan ( tasla ) by using pebbles as pencil. I could lay my hand on an English newspaper “ Leader ” in jail and started reading English. I used to consult my colleagues and in about a year’s time, when I was released from jail, I had acquired fairly good knowledge of English.
Although I participated in satyagraha, launched by the Congress, in compliance with the directions from Gurudev, in the beginning I did not understand its significance. When I was given one sankalp of doing sadhana for twenty-four years, why was this period split up into two portions of ‘ five ’ and ‘ nineteen ’ years ? When thousands of persons were engaged in satyagraha movement, participation or non-participation by one more person should not have mattered much !
Gurudev had guessed my dilemma at the time of my meeting with him and his divine voice had given the guideline.
“ Yug dharma has its own importance. It should be considered as the need of times and one should rush to fulfill it leaving aside all other work, just as water has to be rushed to the site of fire. In days to come, you have to undertake several works of public contact and you will not get better opportunity than this to establish contacts with different strata of society. You will also get an opportunity for rehearsal of the experience gained in previous births and of the lessons learnt in your early age. They are not important from the point of view of personal gain but they answer a need of the times. ”
Gurudev continued :
“ In practical life, you are to be taught four lessons of (1) wisdom (2) honesty (3) responsibility (4) courage. These help in the inner growth of the Soul and develop brilliance of intellect. ”
“ Ten years in freedom struggle ”
During those ten years of my active participation in the freedom struggle, I interacted with people of different nature in and outside the jail.
In those days, mass awakening was at its highest peak. I came in contact with several brave, courageous persons with firm determination and I learnt many useful lessons from them. It took me less than a couple of years to learn the art of winning less than a couple of years to learn the art of winning over supporters, co-workers and appreciators for the stupendous task of revolutionary moral reawakening that was the primary aim and mission of my life.
I always conducted myself as a disciplined volunteer. So, whenever any volunteer was needed to serve eminent leaders, I used to be pushed forward in view of my young age.
From these contacts, I imbibed many virtues and also got the opportunities of living with Gandhiji in ‘ Sabarmati Ashram ’ and with Vinobaji in ‘ Pavnar Ashram ’. Others went to these great personages for their darshan but to me the insights provided by these contacts proved to be celestial boons.
Except for wearing khadi, I withdrew myself from active participation in all other programmes of the congress from the day of independence. This had the blessings of Bapu and the sanction of my divine guide.
“ First call of Gurudev ”
Hardly an year had passed after my first darshan of Gurudev in my room of worship on ‘ Basant Parva ’ in the year 1926, when I received in telepathic invitation .. in early year 1927 .. to visit the Himalayas and meet him again on ‘ Basant Panchami Parva ’.
My first invitation to the Himalayas was my first experience of its kind. I had no prior information about hazards which I would be required to face there. In those days, there was road and bus conveyance facility from Devprayag upto Uttarkashi only.
Gurudev wanted to test whether I had the capacity to face adverse circumstances. Anybody else placed in those circumstances would have become nervous, would turn back or would have fallen ill. But, Gurudev wanted to teach me practically that adverse circumstances could be faced and made favourable if the willpower was strong. For achieving something significant in life, one has to be strong in spirit.
My pilgrimage went on and with it continued my thinking. As man is in the habit of living in a community, he is afraid of loneliness. Darkness is another big cause of fear.
Throughout the day man lives in the light. In the night lamps are lighted to dispel darkness. But darkness in wilderness is much more frightening. A yogi has to get rid of this fear.
Fearlessness has been regarded as an important quality of spirituality. In its absence, mind remains unsteady.
“ You should not be afraid of death ”
From Uttarkashi to Gangotri there was a perilous trail prepared by pedestrians. There was a footpath also from Gangotri upto Gomukh. Tapovan is beyond Gomukh on a still higher altitude and there was no proper track leading to it. It is also a plain plateau.
One has to walk according to inner inspiration or by relying on one’s fate. After it, there is a series of high mountains before one reaches Nandanavan. This was the place where I was summoned.
I reached there at the appointed time and saw Gurudev standing there ! Our joy knew no bounds ! At first, he had visited my house. This time I came to his abode !
Our talks did not last for long, Gurudev said :
“ It was necessary to have strong will and determination to attain spiritual power. Adverse circumstances could be transformed into opportunities for self- growth. A person having the soul of a Rishi should not be afraid even of death, what to speak of tigers and lions. You have to spend most of your time under such conditions. ”
I was taken to the cave in which he had his abode and was shown a place to sleep. I had a very sound sleep, the duration of which might have been twice or thrice the time of my normal sleep. My entire fatigue and weariness of the journey disappeared, as if I had not walked at all.
“ With Rishis in inaccessible Himalayas ”
The first day was spent in having a glimpse of the Supreme Spirit in the natural beauty of Nandanavan. I did not know when the Sun set and the night approached. I was directed to go to a nearby specific cave to sleep.
Gurudev suddenly appeared that night in the cave. It was a full-moon night of poornima. Bright golden light of the moon was scattered all over the Himalayas. There was drizzling of golden particles of snow and it appeared as if drops of gold were raining far and wide.
I did not enquire about the purpose of his visit at this odd time because I understood that Gurudev had been showering his grace on me for some specific purposes. I followed him outside the cave. My feet were moving above the surface. I realized that day why there was the necessity to acquire siddhis ( supernatural powers ) of flying in the air, waking in the space.
I came out of the cave trembling with bitter cold and started moving behind Gurudev like his tail in mid-air over the golden Himalayas.
The purpose of that day’s pilgrimage was to introduce me to the “ tapasthali ( place of worship ) ” of ancient Rishis. They had all cast off their physical bodies but most of them had retained their astral bodies. Causal bodies of some of them could also be glimpsed through their astral bodies.
I suddenly found myself in a posture of folded hands with my head bowed down in deferential salutation. I was being introduced today to Rishis living in their astral and causal bodies in the Himalayas. That night was extremely important and fortunate for me.
All those Rishis were in dhyan-mudra ( meditative posture ). Gurudev told me that they often lived in that state. They did not interrupt their meditation without some valid reason. Their astral bodies along with their names were introduced to me. This spiritual treasure is the speciality and uniqueness of this region.
They all knew beforehand about my visit with Gurudev. So, whenever both of us appeared before them, they opened their eyes with a gentle smile on their lips and nodded their heads slightly in response to our salutations !
That day’s aim was to see them only and not to converse with them. A new student who had come to join their class was to be introduced so that he could be provided with the necessary help, if needed. Probably the Rishis had already been informed that I ( their embodied spiritual child ) could carry forward the divine tasks initiated by them and what my specific role would be and the strategy of action towards that end.
An astral body can arouse inner inspiration and transmit energy waves. But, a person in physical body alone can give direct and concrete guidance to embodied human beings and precipitate physical events. Divine beings, therefore, make some physically living person as the instrument for fulfilling their purpose.
With this view, Gurudev was introducing me to them and all of them .. without wasting any time and without observing any formality .. were indicating their acceptance of this offer. Thus, this divine pilgrimage continued in the night : and before dawn Gurudev returned to his abode leaving me in my cave.
“ Do whatever you are directed to do ”
I saw Rishi-lok that day, for the first and the last time. Before sending me back, Gurudev cautioned me :
“ Do not try to establish contact on your own with these Rishis and interfere in their work. If they have any direction to give, they would themselves do so. Your understanding with me has also been the same that you will not, on your own, knock at my door. Whenever necessary, I would myself approach you, achieve my purpose and arrange for all the resources.
“ Do not regard this vision which you have seen here as mere satisfaction of a curiosity. All these great divine Souls will get their purposes accomplished through you because they cannot do it themselves for want of physical bodies. It has been the tradition to establish mass contact through the medium of some fit instrument like you. Henceforth, you should regard instructions of all these Rishis as my own instructions and do whatever you are directed to do.”
What could I say except nodding my acceptance. Gurudev disappeared.
“ Clarification about the outline of future programmes ”
The next day of the stay at Nandanvan was all the more amazing. The vision of seeing Rishis along with Gurudev during the previous night was moving before my eyes like a film. As Sun spread on the velvety carpet of Nandanvan, it appeared as if heaven had descended on the Earth. Flowers of different kinds and colours were thickly scattered on the plain plateau and it appeared as if a green carpet had been spread out.
All of a sudden Gurudev appeared. Unlike the previous night, he was now in the same form of field of light in which he had appeared before me for the first time in my room of worship Gurudev said :
“ If your surrender is genuine, you have to carry out .. as life’s only mission .. the programmes chalked out for you with full devotion. The first programme is to perform twenty-four punascharanas of twenty-four lakh Gayatri mantras in twenty-four years. Great competence is required for accomplishing great works and so you have been entrusted with this first programme.
“ The second programme is two-fold. You have to continue your study and take up the translation of Sanskrit treatises composed by ancient sages into Hindi and arrange for their publication to make them easily available to the masses. This will help in rejuvenating the almost extinct divine culture which is capable of becoming the bedrock for the future global civilization.
“ Side by side, so long as you are on the physical plane, you have to facilitate publication of your writing in as many languages as possible, to make available the message of divine life on Earth to people at large. This work is related with the capability acquired by you through your first sadhana. To this end, dedicated and erudite persons will gather around you in due course of time, and will carry forward the work initiated by you.
“ The third work is to play an overt and covert role as a freedom fighter in the struggle for independence. This struggle will last till the year 1947. By that time most of your punascharanas will have been completed. This is the first phase. At present there are no indications that Britishers will easily grant independence to India and quit. But this aim is bound to be achieved even before your punascharanas are completed. By that time you will have gained ample in- depth and broadbased experience and capability to undertake with whole-hearted concentration the primary mission of your life : Establishment of a Divinized Humanity on Earth. ”
I was truly blessed by seeing the Rishis in their astral bodies and by the assurance given by Gurudev that I would have their glimpse during my next visit to the Himalayas.
Gurudev said :
“ When I summon you again, you have to be here for a period extending from six months to one year. Your body has now become fit for living in conditions prevalent here. You will have to come here three times to strengthen and ripen all that you have practiced here and all arrangements will be made to fulfill all your basic physical needs.
“ This tapasya .. in seclusion and solitude .. is also necessary because you will be able to learn patience and endurance which are needed for shifting from the physical body into the astral and from astral into the causal. The human body is afflicted by hunger, thirst, cold, heat, sleep and fatigue. One can hardly overcome them living at home because all facilities are available there. ”
Gurudev further said :
“ Our talks are now over. Go to Gangotri where arrangements have been made for your stay, food etc., and start your sadhana sitting on Bhagirath Shila, Gouri Kund. After completing austerities in solitude, return to your home. I will be watching over you regularly. ”
When I came back home, my weight had increased by eighteen pounds and my face had filled up and become radiant with an inner glow ! My vitality had considerably increased. I was always in a jovial mood !
My interview with the divine Rishis in the Himalayas changed me completely. Throughout, there was a battle going on between the carnal mind and the higher self but ultimately my higher self returned victorious from the Himalayas.
“ Second round of pilgrimage ”
A period of about ten years had passed since I had been summoned to the Himalayas to appear in the first test. It was not considered necessary to call me in between.
The struggle for Freedom of India was continuing. The weather was fine. I again received a message, after I had returned from a visit to “ Sabarmati Ashram ” in the year 1937, to reach the Himalayas. His orders could not be ignored. I informed my family members and started for the pilgrimage, the very next day.
As soon as I reached Nandanavan, Gurudev appeared before me in his astral body. My excitement and joy knew no bounds !
In my first visit, I could simply bow before them – The Rishis – and received their blessings indirectly. This time I had the privilege to listen to their messages.
Thereafter, Gurudev invited them all to attend, in astral bodies, the poornahuti of “ Sahasra-Kundi Gayatri Yagna ” which was to be performed at Mathura on the completion of “ Gayatri Mahapunascharanas ” in the year 1958.
“ Go to Mathura ”
I stayed for a day more. Explaining in detail about the poornahuti of punascharanas, Gurudev said :
“ I have been closely observing all the events and activities of the past few years of your life and rectifying the lapses, if any. I called you this time to explain to you the plans of the future. There is not much time now left for completion of your punascharanas. Go to Mathura, complete them and start the second phase of your life from Mathura. “ Next to Prayag, Mathura is a central place in the country. It is convenient from the point of view of communication. After independence, your political activities will be over, but the work towards the fulfillment of your life’s primary mission will continue ”.
Gurudev explained in detail how the work at Mathura was to be done. He also indicated the outline of the work of translation of ancient scriptures, their publication and publicity and setting up of an organization of “ Gayatri Parivar ”.
I now prepared to shift to Mathura. I had visited Mathura once but did not know anybody there. There was great scarcity of houses in those days at Mathura. I went in search of a small house suitable for the publication of “ Akhand Jyoti ”. After considerable search, I found a house in Ghiyamandi which was lying vacant for quite a long time. The land-lady was an old woman. When I asked about the rent, she said it was fifteen rupees per month.
She handed over the key of the house to me. I went inside and found that in all there were fifteen rooms in it.
I went to my village, brought my family and luggage and started living in it.
Publication of “ Akhand Jyoti ” was duly started from this house. I started corresponding with parijans and associates from here. In the first year itself, about two thousand subscribers were enrolled. I used to write letters to them and invited them for personal contacts.
“ Gayatri Yagnas ”
The Movement for sublimation of attitudes and thoughts of the masses, known as “ Vichar Kranti Abhiyan ”, was born at Mathura. My determination to sublimate the attitudes and thoughts of crores of people is being materialized through this movement.
It was in Mathura, that a comprehensive scheme was chalked out to spread the light in every village, by organizing “ Gayatri Yagnas ” and “ Yug Nirman Sammelans ” for moral, intellectual and social upliftment. All dynamic and inspired persons who had participated in the “ Sahasra-Kundi Yagna ” at Mathura, took up the responsibility to set up the branches of the Mission at their respective places and perform similar yagnas there.
All these celebrations were planned for four days each. Music and discourses were to be organized for three days in which detailed outline and working methods for implementing the three transformations were explained, and on the fourth day people were asked to take a pledge in the presence of sacrificial fire of yagna to give up vices and adopt righteous way of life.
These celebrations were most successful. About a crore of people listened to the ideology of the Mission and millions took a pledge to give up vices, blind faith and evil customs.
“ Gayatri Mission ”
A huge organiza-tion of “ Gayatri Parivar ” was formed within no time. An infrastructure of a moral reawakening movement was built up for basic transformation of thoughts and attitudes of the society through mass moral education. Later, after two decades, “ Prajna Sansthans ” and “ Swadhyaya Mandals ” were formed at places where branches had been established after the Mahayagna.
A dedicated, whole time group of workers also emerged from this yagna, who later took full and independent charge of the press, publication and publicity at Mathura, after I had shifted to “ Shantikunj ”, Haridwar, for good. Thus, this Mahayagna and subsequent celebrations throughout the country had played an important role as a background of the selection of volunteers and permanent workers at “ Shantikunj ”.
My own organizing capacity was further honed and developed. Several camps of one week, nine days and one month were organized in the limited campus of “ Gayatri Tapobhoomi ”, Mathura. After “ Sahasra-Kundi Yagna ” and “ Sat-Kundi Yagna ”, “ Panchakosi Sadhana ”,
“ Kayakalpa ” and “ Jivan Sadhana ” camps were organized at Mathura for integrated spiritual upliftment, holistic health and life-long pursuit of self-awakening respectively according to the instructions of Gurudev.
When I decided to leave Mathura and shift to Haridwar, I toured almost the entire country for about two years. At Tatanagar, Mahasamund, Bahraich, Bhilwara and Porbandar, huge “ Sahasra-Kundi Yagnas ” were performed on the same scale at which the Mahayagna at Mathura was performed.
I used to visit three places in a day and toured thousands of miles before I left for “ Agnatvas ” ( seclusion ). As a result of these extensive tours, I could lay my hands on several dedicated workers. Innumerable persons who had lived like Rishis in their past births came in my contact. I judged their capacity, enrolled them in the Parivar and thus a huge organization was set up.
“ To the Himalayas again ”
Gurudev had directed long back that I would have to go to the Himalayas again and stay there for six months. I was asked to break my emotional ties with Mathura, shift to “ Sapta Sarovar ”, Haridwar, and initiate establishment of Rishi traditions at this place which was once a “ Tapasthali ”.
I had gradually started entrusting my routine responsibilities to my wife. She had been my life-partner in two of the three previous births. During this life also, she has played the role of an inseparable soulmate and companion. In fact, her dedication, devotion and disposition for service has served as the bedrock for all my achievements.
She gladly moulded herself according to my wishes and stood firm in all adverse circumstances. My family background was of a rural landlord while she hailed from an urban family. But when the question of merging with each other arose, we effortlessly united and became one.
“ Gayatri Tapobhoomi ”
I donated my village land for building a school there and the money received from zamindari bonds was used for purchasing land for “ Gayatri Tapobhoomi ”. She donated all her ornaments for constructing the building of “ Gayatri Tapobhoomi ”. Her self-surrender and sacrifice have helped me in achieving exemplary heights in the realms of spiritual growth and service of the society.
During my earlier pilgrimage to the Himalayas, in the years 1959-60, when I stayed there for about one-and-a-half year, my wife had taken upon herself the responsibility of publication and organizing the mission in my absence. Then, after ten years, I again went to the Himalayas in the year 1971 leaving behind a large farflung spiritual family.
“ Gayatri Parivar ”
Devoted “ Gayatri Sadhaks ” .. about four lakh in numbers .. were invited from all over the country. They all took over charge of the work of educating the masses through moral and spiritual instruction. All these persons were unknown to me. But invitation letters reached them and they came at their own cost. It remains a riddle and a mystery !
The number of daily visitors and participants in the yagna was about ten lakh persons. The latter were all lodged in a number of huge camps covering an area of seven miles. No participant in the yagna was sent back without food. We had provisions sufficient only for feeding about twenty thousand people at one time. But the store became inexhaustible. More than five lakh persons were fed in this function, which lasted for five days. Provisions were left over after the celebration which were distributed free of cost to deserving persons.
All these are mysterious matters. I have described only the factual aspect of this celebration, but the underlying mystery is confined to me. Nobody could imagine how all these arrangements were made and who was behind these accomplishments. It was all the play of an invisible power.
“ Third pilgrimage to Himalayas ”
After the work at Mathura had been stabilized on a satisfactory footing, I received the third call from the Himalayas in which there was indication about the next phase of the assignment to be given to me. There had been considerable pressure in the continuing phase of work which had resulted in exhaustion, although success had been achieved. Under these circumstances, this invitation for recharging the battery was most welcome.
I set out for the pilgrimage on the prescribed day in June 1971.
Gurudev said :
“ You have to leave Mathura and shift to Haridwar and start the work of reviving the Rishi Traditions ”.
“ Establishment of Gayatri Tirtha in Shantikunj, Haridwar ”
I returned from the Himalayas in the year 1972 to Haridwar, where I had already got a small building named “ Shantikunj ” built earlier. It was sufficient for the stay of ‘ Mataji ’ and ‘ Devkanyas ’ who were living with her. More land was purchased and construction work was started. The idea was to develop it into a “ Rishi Ashram ”. In the beginning living accommodation for myself, my colleagues and guests along with a kitchen, was built.
This Ashram symbolizes “ Devatma Himalaya ” and hence symbolic temples of Ganga, Uttarakhand and Seven Rishis, other important Rishis were built here. Within two years the temple of “ Adya-Shakti Gayatri ”, wells and the meeting hall were also built and “Shantikunj” was turned into a “ Tapasthali ( a centre for spiritual pursuits ) ”. A small room for installing the idol of “ Gayatri Mata ” and the “ Akhand Deep ” had already been built earlier.
“ Shantikunj ”
The holy atmosphere of Shantikunj situated on the banks of the holy Ganga in the lap of the Himalayas surcharged with spiritual vibrations attracted and inspired hundreds of persons who participated in the series of small and big “ Gayatri-Punascharanas ” which were started here for general category of sadhaks. Side by side, the training of self-sacrificing Vanaprastha, who had dedicated their entire life in the service of this Mission, also continued.
Two hundred and fifty quarters were built in Gayatri Nagar. A big hall to accommodate about a thousand persons to listen to spiritual discourses and a Yagnasala with nine kunds were also built.
The completion of all these works took about four years. In the meantime, other works which were necessary for the revival of Rishi Traditions were also taken in hand according to feasibility.
In order to make arrangements for the message in all important languages and prepare trained workers in every region, a school of languages and religious instructions has been started in Shantikunj.
The volunteers of this Mission undertake countrywide tours and inspire about ten lakh devotees of the Mission.
The Mission’s network has been firmly established in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa and Maharashtra.
In order to vigorously extend Rishi Traditions, about a thousand self-sacrificing workers are constantly engaged in this work. For this, a “ Gurukul Aranyak ” in the tradition of Rishi Jamadagni works regularly at Shantikunj.
In reviving “ Charak Tradition ”, a garden of rare medicinal herbs has been developed in Shantikunj and research is being conducted with the help of valuable scientific instruments.
Thousands of persons have been trained so far in light music though “ Yug-Shilpi Vidyalaya ” at hantikunj and such trained persons are running schools and preparing persons in “ Yug-Sangeet ” in their respective areas.
“ Gayatri Nagar ”
The Earth is influenced by inter-planetary atmosphere. Information about this is of great importance. It becomes necessary to rectify deviations in astronomical arithmetic after every five thousand years. To revive this Science of Aryabhatta, an observatory on the lines of ancient instruments has been built in Gayatri Nagar and planetary observations, including those of Neptune, Pluto, Uranus are made and an almanac, unique of its kind, is published from here every year.
Literature of superb quality written by me so far is equivalent to the weight of my body. Articles have been written and piled up to be published and used till the year 2000 A.D. None has so far been able to concretize the aim of synthesizing spirituality with science, which is being done in “ Brahmavarchas Research Institute ”. In the near future, the authenticity of spirituality will have to be tested on the touchstone of scientific approach.
There is much hue and cry about preparing and implementing five-year plans by different countries but the plan of spiritually transforming the whole of humanity and its implementation, which is being undertaken at Shantikunj, can be termed as amazing. “ mind of a Brahmana ”
As soon as attributes of a “ Brahmana ” awaken in the inner-self of an individual, saintliness is effortlessly expressed in his actions. A “ Brahmana ” means a person who possesses the moral strength to overcome allurements and greed. He resists temptations and is happily contented in leading the life of an average citizen.
I received guidance from Gurudev in the early days of my life how to cultivate these attributes of a “ Brahmana ”. Thus, I was truly reborn as a “ Brahmana ” : my physical birth from “ Brahmana ” parents was of no significance.
A “ Brahmana ” has a huge fund of surplus energy at his disposal, as he spends only a small fraction of it to satisfy his personal and family needs.
“ A momentous task ”
A momentous task like transforming of an epoch is accomplished by the will, plan and power of God but the credit for it is given to liberated Rishi-kalpa souls.
None of the ancient Rishis have their physical bodies now although their individual consciousnesses still persist in appropriate planes of manifestation. I was introduced to all of them and was asked to follow in their foot-prints, establish an ashram at Shantikunj, Haridwar, as a symbol of “ Devatma Himalaya ” and execute the programme of revival of Rishi Traditions in such a way that the transition to the New Era may be as smooth as possible.
Shriram Sharma Acharya voluntarily shed his physical sheath on Gayatri Jayanti, 2nd June 1990.