” Sri Hansji Maharaj “
“ Hans Ji Maharaj ”, father and Guru of Shri Bhole Ji Maharaj, is revered by millions of people all over the world.
He spent his whole life not only teaching the spiritual path, but revealing the practical experience of ‘ Knowledge ( atmagyan ) ’ which is at the heart of all religions.
As he himself said :
“ There is only one human race. As I see it, there is only one Dharma for all human beings. Everyone takes birth and dies in the same way. Everyone’s eyes are for seeing, everyone’s ears are for hearing. The same Sun and Moon shine on us all. God’s Laws are the same for all. The only difference is how we express them in our various languages. ”
If you go into it carefully, you will find that all the holy Masters realized the True Reality and helped others to realize, it, too. They gave others the Knowledge by which they could do so. No great soul ever came to start a new religion. They came to reveal the Eternal, Natural and Universal Truth which is the same for all mankind.
Shri Hans Ji Maharaj made an indelible impression on all those who came into contact with him. He was a beloved teacher, a guiding light for those who sincerely wanted to know the answers to questions all of us have asked at one time or another.
“ early childhood and mystical experiences ”
Uttarakhand .. nestled in the Himalayas .. is famous for its spectacular scenery, pleasant valleys, sparkling streams and holy shrines. It is an ancient and sacred area where Saints, Sages and Divine Incarnations lived and practised meditation. It was here on 8th November 1900, that Satgurudev Shri Hans Ji Maharaj was born.
Even from early childhood he was inclined towards spirituality. He had mystical experiences which could not be rationally explained. Once he himself recalled his childhood saying :
“ I was often absorbed in samadhi and used to have divine visions. I would close my eyes and see divine light. I would say to myself, ‘ Others have realized God .. so why can’t I ? ’ ”
He had an unquenchable thirst to see God face to face.
As time passed, he came in contact with different sects and religious organizations. He was strongly influenced by the “ Arya Samaj ” and so was very much against superstitions, rituals and idol worship. He used to enjoy the debates between the Arya Samajis and orthodox Hindus and Muslims about the nature of God and other theological matters. However he eventually got fed up with all the text-twisting, as fundamentally he wanted a real experience of the Divine.
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“ met his Guru Swarupanand Ji Maharaj ”
It was by sheer coincidence that Maharaj Ji met Swami Swarupanand Ji Maharaj, the saint who was to become his Guru. Due to the influence of contemporary religious movements, he didn’t really believe a Guru is necessary for spiritual development. However, the first meeting with his Guru convinced him that true self-realization is impossible without a teacher. He therefore asked to be given this Knowledge of the Self, whereupon Swami Swarupanand Ji replied that he should come the next day to hear more satsang, after which he would be given ‘ updesh ’, or ‘ initiation ’.
The next day, Maharaj Ji left home to meet his Guru, but found that heavy rains had swollen a small stream he had to cross into flood proportions. Maharaj Ji attempted to forge the stream but was caught by its strong current and was swept away. There seemed to be little hope of rescue, and at this moment Maharaj Ji had only one regret .. that he would have to leave life without having received the Guru’s knowledge.
Suddenly, it seemed as if a hand had appeared and was pulling him up out of the water. The next thing he knew he was lying on the bank of the stream, safe and sound. He looked around for his rescuer, but no one could be found.
He then proceeded to the home of his Guru, who, seeing him drenched and shivering, gave him some fresh clothes and told him to change before he could hear any more satsang. Maharaj Ji was hesitant to accept the clothes from his Guru, since by tradition it is the householder who must offer and not the Guru. However, after some persuasion he took them and prepared himself. He listened to satsang and finally the four ‘ kriyas ’, or ‘ techniques ’ were imparted to him.
“ reading Bhagavad Gita ”
At first, Maharaj Ji was at a loss to understand the full meaning and import of what he had received. He returned home bewildered and pondered deeply over what he had just been revealed. He picked up a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and began reading it to see if this Knowledge was in accordance with the scriptures.
He discovered that suddenly the secrets and full meaning of the Gita became crystal clear to him and what was before a mystery was now obvious. Naturally, he was filled with reverence for this Knowledge, which had the immediate effect of making quite plain what was once hidden.
“ experiencing the Infinite ”
The next morning he awoke early, bathed and sat for meditation with great resolve and devotion, intent upon experiencing the fundamental Reality. That same morning, young Maharaj Ji entered ‘ samadhi ’ and in that state beyond all body consciousness, he experienced the Infinite.
Now, of course, his respect and reverence for the Knowledge and the Guru knew no bounds. Full of firm faith and absolute trust that what he had found was the true Knowledge, he decided to devote his life to his Guru and the dissemination of the Knowledge.
“ showing others how to meditate ”
Once he had found his Guru, he underwent a radical and fundamental transformation. He went into deep meditation for many years and, by the grace of the master, achieved enlightenment. He was the perfect example of total surrender and followed his master’s guidelines in letter and spirit, meditating himself on the Holy Name and showing others how to meditate.
Shri Maharaj Ji first of all taught and revealed the Knowledge of the Divine Light and Holy Name in Sindh and Lahore in what is now Pakistan. From the year 1930 onwards he began visiting Delhi in order to reach out to more people. He stayed in a small room in Bagh Raoji, situated in the suburb of Karol Bagh near the giant Delhi Cloth Mills.
His following gradually grew as he patiently kindled the lamp of Knowledge in others, one at a time. Soon a group of workers from the Delhi Cloth Mills became interested in him and visited him regularly. Those were the days of close association, when Shri Maharaj Ji could give personal attention to the aspirant’s progress on the path of truth. His magnanimity and cheerful disposition, along with his selfless dedication to the cause, endeared him so much to his followers that he became their object of love and reverence.
He had a very pleasing and impressive demeanor, which attracted everyone who approached him. There was an awe-inspiring charisma about him. He always practised what he preached and as such was the living embodiment of truth. He outshone everyone else and was singularly conspicuous in a crowd. His faith in the Holy Name and his own Master was rock-solid. His very presence inspired confidence, emanated a radiance and created an atmosphere of love and peace.
“ Messiah of the poor ”
Shri Maharaj Ji’s approach was not at all traditional. He was unique and so were his methods. Delhi Cloth Mill employees expressed their desire to realize God but wondered how workers like themselves could possibly do this when they didn’t have time to sit in meditation or visit the temple, nor did they have the option of renouncing the world.
Maharaj Ji told them that meditation was something that could be done at all times in all stations of life and that the Holy Name was above the petty vicissitudes of life. This appealed to them and encouraged them to the point where they looked upon him as the Messiah of the poor.
“ satsang in dharmashalas ”
The ‘ premies ’ who had the opportunity to be with him in those early years were fascinated by his way of life. He would play, swim and talk easily with them, sharing their joys and sorrows, yet always encouraging them to steer themselves on the spiritual path.
He taught them the mysteries of God in a very practical and down-to-earth fashion. He did not burden them with high philosophy. Rather he took philosophy and made it simple and understandable. His realistic approach was to harmonize worldly life with spiritual life. Generally, the disciples would assemble in a house of a fellow ‘ premie ’, where they would listen to him with rapt attention.
More and more people started coming to him, requesting that satsang programs be held in dharmashalas ( pilgrims’ inns ). Consequently, Maharaj Ji changed his method of preaching from small private gatherings to dharmashalas in Delhi and gave discourses to larger audiences. At this time he moved from Karol Bagh to Pahar Ganj, to the residence of a ‘ premie ’ named Lala Jyoti Prasad. The first ‘ Guru Puja festival ‘ was held at Jyoti Prasad’s home. After this it became an annual event.
As his message spread, Maharaj Ji held public satsang meetings, especially on the banks of the River Jamuna. He had his own natural and novel way of speaking to people. He was against all outward show and shunned the pomp that many ‘ sadhus ’ and ‘ mandaleshwars ’ would indulge in. He never posed as a religious man. He simply lived religion. He opposed all outer forms of worship such as counting of prayer beads, penances, fasting and the like.
“ silence of the mind is more important ”
Once, when he was coming back from the river, accompanied by some of his admirers, he saw a ‘ mauni baba ’ sitting cross-legged on the riverbank, answering the questions put to him by writing on the sand. Maharaj Ji went and sat down in front of the Baba. He folded his hands in prayer, raised his eyes to the heavens and said :
“ O God, You are omniscient and all powerful, perfect and the creator of all, yet I see that even You can make mistakes. For why have You given this Baba a tongue when it seems he has no need of it ? ”
At this, all were startled and the pretensions of the mauni baba collapsed in anger as he shouted, “ What are you saying ? ” At once all the spectators broke into laughter. Maharaj Ji told the Baba to the effect that “ Silence of the mind is more important, in fact indispensable, on the path to God, while silence of the tongue is but an outward show. One who does not still the mind by meditation, but only outwardly controls his senses by force, is a hypocrite. ”
“ spiritual freedom to all ”
Shri Hans Ji Maharaj will be primarily remembered for the practical technique of spiritual freedom which he made available to all, irrespective of caste, color or creed.
He was a staunch opponent of the senseless rites and rituals and the hypocrisy inflicted upon the people in the name of religion, which succeed only in dividing them into warring groups causing much avoidable distress and destruction. The religions of the world as we know them today are a miserable caricature of the original religion, the eternal religion based upon realization of the Holy Word which is within every human being and which transcends the barriers of race and religion, time and space.
By the year 1950, Maharaj Ji had acquired a large number of followers. Usually he would go on tour and stay in the homes of devotees, giving satsang in the evening and personal interviews in the morning. Wherever he went there was always a stream of people coming to have his ‘ darshan ’ and hear his discourses.
“ mahatmas dedicated to teach ”
After the year 1950, Maharaj Ji shifted from Pahar Ganj to a premie’s home in Bara Khamba Road, in New Delhi. He had a large group of disciples in Delhi by now and they started meeting together in his absence as well. At this time the first disciples decided to become part of the group of missionaries who preferred a life of meditation, service and teaching in order to spread his message. They were the first ‘ mahatmas ’, following his guidelines in full and dedicated to his teachings.
Whereas satsang programs used to take place only when Maharaj Ji was in Delhi, now regular weekly satsang meetings were held in premies’ homes. The disciples would either share their own experiences and insights or invite ‘ mahatmas ’ to come and teach them. Gradually they organized themselves into a small community of disciples and admirers faithfully revering him as their Satguru and seeking to spread his message to others.
Shri Maharaj Ji too inspired them to spread this knowledge of the Holy Name and Divine Light, as the greatest service and charity that a person can do. He agreed with Guru Nanak, who said, “ One who meditates on the Holy Name and helps others also to meditate upon it will achieve salvation. ”
“ outdoor satsang meetings ”
To start with, his message was spread by the simple method of word of mouth. However, once the premies were organized to some extent and eager to make known the greatness of their Guru to the general public, they arranged outdoor satsang meetings in local parks whenever he visited Delhi. Pamphlets were written, handbills distributed and other literature given out so that by the time Maharaj Ji arrived, large audience had gathered. The general public came to know that Maharaj Ji was a man who spoke the language of the saints. His popularity increased and there was widespread awareness of his activities and teachings.
In this manner the Knowledge spread from Delhi to large areas in U.P., especially Lucknow, Aligarh and Allahabad, as well as in the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jammu-Kashmir. Maharaj Ji sent ‘ mahatmas ’ to various districts to continue and build upon his work, and they in turn arranged large, wellpublicized programs at which he was invited to speak.
“ last years of his life ”
In the last two or three years of his life, Maharaj Ji was all dance and bliss. With a tamboura in his hands, he would sing and dance onstage, delighting the devotees with these lilas. Like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he was in a state of divine ecstasy. He proclaimed,
“ People of the world, I declare that only Guru can save mortal man from the clutches of death and maya. ”
His own devotion to his Guru was exemplary and this is what he taught to his own disciples. He was selfless and others under his tutelage learned the great art of selflessness.
On 19th July, 1966, at 3 am Shri Maharaj Ji left his mortal body.