A SwanTakes Flight
A short history of the life and work of the late Shri Hans Ji Maharaj, Guru Maharaj Ji's father and Satguru before him.
Shri Hans Ji Maharaj was born in the town of Badrinath, in the mountainous region of northern India. Inspired by the dramatic spiritual experiences he received in his childhood, he put on the peasant garb of "dhoti" and "kurta" and left the stately home of his birth in search of Truth.
Shri Maharaj Ji was soon appalled by the living conditions of his people, and so he joined with Arya Samaj, a group working for practical solutions to India's problems. The Arya Samaj denounced "gurus" and the spiritual path as removing people's energy from solving the problems of day-to-day existence. But Shri Maharaj Ji soon learned that compassion for one's fellow man, even if coupled with the will and strength to act, is not enough. You have to know the true source of suffering if you are to eradicate it. When Shri Maharaj Ji met him who knew that source, he recognized him at once.
Swami Sarupanand Ji Maharaj was the Satguru of his time. When a person who longs to know perfect Truth finds the Satguru, it is not difficult for him to lay down all the toys he was using to pass the time until the real thing came along. Shri Maharaj Ji left the Arya Samaj and asked his Guru for Knowledge. "Come back tomorrow," was the Master's only answer. The next day, Shri Maharaj Ji received Knowledge and beheld for himself the divine form of God.
Shri Maharaj Ji surrendered his being totally to the will of his Guru who, he had realized, was manifesting purely the will of God. The true devotee loses his selfhood into the Self of the Lord; servant and Master become One. So Shri Maharaj Ji became one with the Satguru. At the time of his death, Shri Sarupanand Ji announced that Shri Maharaj Ji had attained the perfection which he sought and which the Satguru comes to the world to give. He proclaimed Shri Maharaj Ji to be the next Satguru.
In spite of strong opposition, some even from jealous devotees of Shri Sarupanand Ji who seized his property after his death and set up their own "Satguru," Shri Hans Ji Maharaj began his duty of spreading the Knowledge throughout India. He began giving satsang in West Pakistan, walking from town to town, often with no shelter at night and little food.
By 1930 he had made his way to Delhi. The time had come to accelerate the work. He took a room near the Delhi Cloth Mill, where his simple ways and saintly bearing soon attracted the admiration of many of the factory workers and their families. Before long, regular satsangs were being held in his home. A group of sincere and loyal followers began to grow around Shri Maharaj Ji and to help him.
The pure love which shone in the faces of Shri Maharaj Ji and those to whom he gave the Knowledge proved irresistible even among the skeptical city-dwellers of Delhi. And when Shri Maharaj Ji assured them that they did not have to leave their jobs or their families in order to become his devotees, in order to realize the nature of God, their fears of spirituality were appeased and they began to listen more closely to his promises of inner peace.
Soon the little group of premies had to rent large halls in the center of Delhi to house those who came. Still Shri Maharaj Ji guided each aspirant personally, encouraging and scolding, doing whatever was needed to mold selfish people into givers of love. He loved to sing and dance with his premies who learned quickly that spirituality and severity do not always go hand in hand. He did not remain long at a time in Delhi, however, in spite of the wealth of love for him there. He continued to walk from village to village, spreading his Light throughout India.
Shri Maharaj Ji's mission spread quickly to all parts of India and the neighboring countries. From Punjab to Calcutta, throughout Nepal and Kashmir, seekers of the Light found their rest at his feet.
"Look at modern society with all its good laws and civilization, its scientific innovations and its conquest of nature. All these represent attempts by mankind to find happiness. But we can see by looking around us that their actual results are only unrest and unhappiness, anxiety and frustration. Real happiness has not been obtained; peace has not been found; and suffering has not been removed. Instead a situation has arisen where the very existence of the human race is threatened. Man, who before was so confident, is now bewildered by his own failure; and he is looking around himself not knowing what to do next," said Shri Maharaj Ji.
But in the houses of Shri Maharaj Ji's lovers, perfect peace reigned, for living there were people who had united with the source of happiness itself.
The need for organization was becoming more and more apparent. He now had a band of premies whose sole desire was to serve him who had given them peace and happiness. Thus, in response to the desires of Shri Maharaj Ji's disciples in Delhi, ashrams were established. From here, the efforts of all of Shri Maharaj Ji's devotees could be coordinated. The centers would also act as places where all seekers of Truth might come and, putting aside worldly desires and comforts, concentrate completely upon realizing the nature of God.
Many of the followers of Shri Maharaj Ji wanted him to stay within the shelter of the ashrams and take rest. "You have thousands of strong, loyal premies," they insisted. "Let them travel to these distant towns and cities. You should stay with those who really love you." But Shri Maharaj Ji would always leave them, saying that the throne that they would have him sit upon was a prison. His own Master had commanded him to go throughout India to bring peace and Light to the burdened people. How could he forget his duty?
Sometimes he would say that those who loved him had the power to bind him by their tears, and that he needed solitude in order to go about the service his Master had given him. He would speak of the friends of his childhood, and say that if they were with him, he could never travel freely and spread peace. But always he gave those who loved him his inner presence in their hearts.
Seekers from every caste and every religion came as little children to Shri Maharaj Ji's feet. As always, the pure in heart were drawn to his presence. High government officials attended his discourses seated next to country housewives. Through Shri Maharaj Ji's Knowledge, Hindus and Christians saw beyond religion to the realization that all sects belong to God, not He to them. Still some of the more prestigious followers of Shri Maharaj Ji were becoming upset. They thought that he spent entirely too much time among the lower castes, the "untouchables" of society. Shri Maharaj Ji would always explain that God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. He knows the pain of all of His children; He is existing in each of them equally, waiting to be recognized, and His unbounded power cannot be corrupted by the touch of any man. At the feet of the Perfect Master, there is no one who is great and no one who is lowly. There is only the eternal game of father and child, giver and receiver, lover and beloved. Shri Maharaj Ji's task was to break down all barriers which separate the children of God. He came to topple the walls of Jerico, around the hearts of men.
The established religions could not brook someone who was in a position to answer the prayers of their members. They began to violently oppose the mission of Shri Maharaj Ji and to slander his name. He who could experience the Creator directly didn't need chanting, ornate temples, prayer beads and high priests. Shri Maharaj Ji, like all realized souls before him, did not bring to people another rite to perform, another hierarchy of priests who must be fed by their parishioners, or any external substitutes for God. He brought hungry souls back to communion with their Father. Directly, simply, and practically. Shri Maharaj Ji's love, his unceasing effort to reach all of India's people with the Knowledge of Truth and to inspire his disciples with the same desire and strength, bore fruit in 1960 when premies in Delhi formed Divya Sandesh Parishad or Divine Light Mission. This would not be a new sect of religion, but merely a practical means to help spread the Knowledge.
At that time, no one except Shri Maharaj Ji himself could foresee the magnitude of what was being done. Those who had personally experienced the power and glory of God's infinite form had decided to band together. The energy that would be created by their union was to begin a revolution of spirit in every country of the world. Yet only he knew.
And so Param Sant Satgurudev Shri Hans Ji Maharaj commanded his close disciples to learn English. There would be no more hiding in the caves of the Himalayas or retiring to a peaceful existence on a small country farm. The sun of Knowledge was just barely over the horizon; soon the whole world would be witnessing its first delicate rays. The long, long night was finally over. Shri Maharaj Ji had not slept during that night. He had been busy preparing the world, gathering together an army of saints. He appointed his son, our Guru Maharaj Ji, to be the next Satguru. With this, the work of Shri Maharaj Ji was done. Early in the morning of July 19, 1966, Shri Maharaj Ji sat in silent meditation, and in perfect peace he departed.
excerpted from Hans Yog Prakash
(Editor's Note: Hans Yog Prakash is a collection of the writings of Shri Hans Ji Maharaj in addition to passages from Eastern scriptures selected by him.)
One day I visited a house where a number of people had gathered. I saw them all, but I particularly noticed one of them, a disciple of mine. My eye fell on each of their faces equally, yet only one of them "caught my eye." And this was because I had never seen the others before, and so had no previous impressions in my mind regarding them. But I felt affection for my disciple.
I had seen him several times before, and so I already had some impressions about him in my mind. I had heard many people talking about him on other occasions, too, and I had often thought about him myself. So on that particular day, as soon as his image reached my mind, it came in contact with old impressions that were already there, and these impressions refreshed my memory of him. Up to that point, the impressions had been lying dormant in my mind, but as soon as his face appeared in my mind, the memories returned. And that devotee welcomed me with love, too.
We can understand from this, that whatever is brought repeatedly to the attention of the mind, establishes firm root there, and can then be activated by the slightest reference at any time.
In the course of my daily work, I come in contact with many, many people. But suppose there is one of them I love more than all the rest. Before I go to sleep at night, I try to remember everyone whom I have seen in the course of the day. Yet of all those people, the only one whose face I can recall at will is the one for whom I feel affection. His face has been imprinted on my heart, his image has been imprinted on my mind so clearly that it cannot easily be forgotten.
The reason my mind is not attached to the other faces that I saw is that they are not imprinted in my heart. For this reason, I am his whom I love, and he is mine who loves me. This attachment is a hindrance to the love of God. Saint Tulsidas says,
"Whatever love you have had
for this world,
now concentrate it all on God."
We have not come to this planet to live here forever. This world is like an inn by the side of our path. We have stopped a while in many such places before, and we have no idea how many more we shall pass through on our way. There is no telling how long this cycle of coming, staying and going has been in progress.
Indeed, the whole creation is created for the spirit, and we should realize that the spirit is not created by the creation. This entire creation has manifested itself in order to help teach the individual soul. There is no other reason for creation apart from this. The purpose of creation is to permit the individual soul to realize Truth. When the soul receives Knowledge of the Truth, it attains salvation.
The Creation is inert, untrue and changeable, like a dream. By contrast, God is manifest Truth, Consciousness and Bliss. When we have looked into the book of creation and also acquired the Knowledge of God, our soul should become realized, and should then set the book of creation aside.
If we fail to do this, we are turning our life upside down. As long as we do not realize our freedom, we will take ourselves to be like the rest of creation, and we will think the universe is planned for the sake of the body, and that it is the duty of spirit to protect the body and ensure its happiness. In this day and age we take anything which brings happiness to the body to be an act of goodness, and imagine it can lead us towards salvation.
We say of someone who overeats, "He doesn't eat to live, he lives to eat." When we look into our own lives, we will find that our own state is little different from that of the man who compulsively overeats. Since we have decided that we too are creatures in this creation, we feel attached to all the other objects of creation as brothers. Once this attachment has caught a hold on the individual soul, it begins to work like a slave. The Bhagavad-Gita tells us to work unceasingly, and indeed we do. But instead of acting as the master, we become the slave of what was made to serve us. This is why we have drifted so far from our aim, so far from what is natural for us, so far from salvation.
The main instruction for the practice of Karma Yoga is that you must perform actions, but perform them freely. Never forget that the final aim of your actions is salvation. If you look, you will see that ninety percent of the people around you who are engaged in doing actions, are performing them as slaves to the desire of bodily rewards and comforts. This is why there is so much complaining in this world. Therefore you should forget your body in the search for salvation, and setting aside the craving for physical comfort, you should perform actions, having first been filled with love for the soul. This is known as the yoga of non-attachment.
The word 'love' denotes something which is not directly perceptible. True love is not possible without total independence. You can buy a man as though he were a slave, bind him hand and foot, and force him to work for you. Certainly he will do the work, but can there be any love for you in his heart? It is the same with the soul. It has become a slave to the senses. While it is working day and night to satisfy their demands, it finds it impossible to develop love in its heart. In some cases it even becomes ready to slit people's throats in the search for sensual pleasures. However much a man who is in this state may try, he can never accomplish anything worthwhile. It matters little whether his efforts are made for the sake of himself or of his family and friends. His actions are worth nothing. So long as what we do is inspired by a desire for pleasure, we are behaving like slaves. But when true love is our inspiration, our actions will naturally bring us complete joy. There is not one action inspired by true love which does not bring peace to the mind and joy to the heart.
Knowledge, ever-present consciousness, and love - these three are always found together. We must understand that these three are our life, and that if we have one of them, automatically the other two will be present also. We must come to realize that consciousness, knowledge and love are three branches of the same tree, three waves on the same pond. The name of the primordial form is Truth-Consciousness-Bliss. Truth appears to us decorated in the form of the manifest creation. Consciousness appears as knowledge of the various parts of creation. And the element of love which is expressed in the hearts of all living beings originates from bliss. Thus, misery can never be the result of true love. Now we have to answer the question, if love is always full of bliss, then why do people in love so often appear to be grieving?
Let us take an example, one that crops up all over the world. A man loves a woman so much that he can see nothing else. His dreams and his thoughts are full of her. "0, what divine love!"
But wait, let us dissect this love according to the scriptures, and then we can understand its real nature. The man in question wants his woman to remain always by his side, to eat and drink by his side. The idea is that she should remain a virtual slave of his, as if she had nothing else to do, no independent existence. Every word he utters bears out this fact. But having made her his slave, he also turns himself into her slave. Now tell me, can the love of these two slaves be everlasting? If she leaves him for a moment, she leaves him miserable. Real love is never like this. This is just a whim. These people are caught up in their desires, which spring from sensual attraction.
Since this man has become crazy, he mistakes this feeling for love. He gets caught up in it and begins to dance, imagining his momentary and false love to be the divine love. Indeed he manages to catch other people up in his craziness too. If the woman refuses to obey his instructions, it doesn't take long for his mind to become disturbed. Misery can never be found in the path of pure love. Where there is disturbance, there is no pure love. People become involved in this other thing believing it to be love, by mistake. But it is not pure love. The day you experience pure love for anyone, whether it be your wife, your son, or anyone else, you will know the secrets of universal love, and the same day it will be absolutely clear to you just what non-attachment really is.
Real love is never attached to physical objects, but only to the consciousness within them. This consciousness is beyond physical objects; it dwells in every soul uniformly. People who are in true love experience no ups and downs. Their love is constant; it can never be destroyed. And it can never lead to grief.
It is not an easy matter to obtain this type of non-attachment. We must practice it every moment. It is seldom that this love grows by sheer coincidence. When we attain non-attachment, true love or salvation is also ours. At this point, the bondage of this world begins to crumble, and creation gives up trying to manufacture fetters and chains to bind us.