AN IDEAL LIBERATION FROM ALL BONDAGES
AN IDEAL LIBERATION
FROM ALL BONDAGES
(An objective assessment of
Haridas Swami’s Jalasamadhi on 4-9-1994)
By Swami Ssdasiva Giri, Of Thapovanam-605756.
Naamaamruta-Pradaataaram Haridaasa-Gurum Bhaje.
Bruve Vaaram Vaaram (Haridaasa)
The most unexpected news of Haridass Giri Swami’s Mahasamadhi which took the form of Jalasamadhi in the Divine River Alakananda (a major contributor to the river system of the Ganga) just above the confluence of the Mandakini & the Alakananda in Koteswar, Rudraprayag was shockingly spreading among the devotees of Sadguru Gyanananda around the world over on 4th/5th September, 1994. Many could not believe their own ears. Opinions differed regarding the manner that led Haridass Swami to his final moment on Earth.
Some opined it was an accident through inadvertence. Some declared it was a clear case of drowning. Some others said it was a voluntary termination of life. Some others gave their versions in still more contrasting styles. There was no difference of opinion in the end result which was nothing but Haridass Giri Swami’s Mahasamadhi. But the manner in which it was achieved, varied according to the Mano-Dharma i.e. mental set up of each individual.
Those deeply committed to Haridass Giri Swami’s mission started giving conflicting statements with regard to his last moments on Earth. Some of them were found saying that the Swami was to be seen in a different but similar body on the opposite bank of Koteswar Mahadev along with the two people (a male & a female, both Singapore citizens who were part of the pilgrim party) who jumped into the swollen waters of the Alakananda to rescue the Swami without giving a thought for their own personal safety & security and who, in the process, were swept away by the roaring current of the Alakananda. They said the Swami was seen to be telling the pilgrim party on the opposite bank i.e. on the side of Koteswar Mahadev, that he was returning to their midst very soon. Saying so, the Swami along with those two started scaling the high ridge on the opposite bank of Koteswar to disappear from the pilgrim party’s sight into the woods that surround the Himalayan scenery.
The Swami had gone to the holy spot of Koteswar Mahadev with a large party of about hundred members consisting mostly of Singapore-based Tamils who were his admirers. The atmosphere at Koteswar was surcharged with unimaginable suspense at the time of Haridass Swami’s Mahasamadhi. In such a background, the vision of the Swami experienced by his admirers would easily get termed as hallucination in a world of rational and objective study and conclusion. As such, when the news of Haridass Swami’s Mahasamadhi reached me I had a feeling that I should go deep into the matter and make a thorough objective study of it whenever convenient and give the world an objective version of his Mahasamadhi. Before long the opportunity came my way on 11-4-1998 to go to Koteswar, Rudraprayag and study the subject from close quarters after having a personal darshan of Koteswar Mahadev and after getting first hand information from the local population who were witness to all that had taken place in that eventful evening of 4-9-1994 at Koteswar. Before going to the final assessment of Haridass Swami’s Mahasamadhi it will be beneficial to have a knowledge of the Himalayas and also the Swami’s mental set up. As such, I take up these issues before the final assessment.
In mythological parlance the Himalayas is said to be the abode of the Devas – the super human beings with luminous bodies. The symbolic Mount, Sumeru, is located in the Himalayas and it is said to be of pure gold. Its valley is called “Ratnasaanu” the valley of gems and there the Devas reside. Mount Kailash, which is nearby, is said to be Rajataadri, meaning a mountain of silver and this happens to be the abode of Lord Siva. Alakapuri, the abode of Lord Kubera – the Lord of wealth – is in close vicinity of Mount Kailash on the western side of it. On the southern side of Mount Kailash, lies the Divine Lake Manasarovar, having a circumference of about 80 kilometers. All the Divine Rivers of the Hindus originating in the Himalahyas viz. the Ganga, the Yamuna, the Sindhu and the Brahmaputra are said to be having a link with Lake Manasarovar.
Geographically we can see that the river system of the Ganga consists of many tributaries. In a practical sense we can see that Ganga originates at Devaprayag at the confluence of the Bhageerathi and the Alakananda, some 80 K.M. upstream of Rishikesh. 3/5ths of Ganga waters are brought by the Alakananda and 2/5ths by the Bhageerathi. The Bhageerathi originates from the vast Gangotri glaciers and brings substantive amount of Ganga waters by herself alone. Alakananda, on the other hand originates from Swargarohini glaciers lying in the north-east of Gangotri and it is believed that the Pandavas have ascended the heavens – the abode of gods – from Swargarohini mountain peak and hence the name Swargarohini for the peak. Alakananda meets the rivulet, Saraswati just about 3 K.M. up stream of Badrinath on her forward march from Swargarohini. Downstream of Badrinath many more rivulets join the Alakananda like Rishiganga. Prayag is the name given to a confluence of two or more rivers. Downstream of Joshimath, rivulet Nandakini joins Alakananda and the confluence is called Nandaprayag. Further downstream at Karnaprayag rivulet Pinder joins Alakananda. After flowing some more downstream Alakananda meets Mandakini originating from close vicinity of Kedarnath. This confluence is known as Rudraprayag. From Rudraprayag and onwards Alakananda becomes very mighty and vies for glory with Bhageerathi at the confluence of Devaprayag. During winter when the Himalayan glaciers melt much less, the Ganga would be thinly flowing. This would be between Oct. 15 and Apr. 15. During this period there wouldn’t be any competition between Alakananda and Bhageerathi at the confluence of Devaprayag. At Devaprayag Bhageerathi flows straight and becomes Ganga. Alakananda joins at a right angle. During summer the rivers get swollen to 15 or 20 times that they were in winter; partly due to excess of glacier melting and partly due to the Monsoon rains in the Himalayan belt. Here also the rivers get swollen between mid-day and mid-night due to the day- time heat and its effect on the glaciers. By mid-day only, the first melted waters of the day would reach Devaprayag taking some 5 or 6 hours to reach there from their glacier origin. Between mid-night and mid-day the rivers would be somewhat thinly flowing even in summer due to less melting activity during nights. In summer at Devaprayag, it would be an inspiring sight from mid-day to mid-night. The swollen waters of the Alakananda and the Bhageerathi would be vying with each other for precedence to enter the river bed of the Ganga. The Alakananda would enter at a right angle and for about half a minute the Bhageerathi waters would get blocked as if there were a dam at the exact confluence. In the meantime great pressure would mount in the Bhageerathi and this would enable her to push forward arresting the Alakananda completely on her left. This would go on for about half a minute by which time pressure would have mounted greatly in the Alakananda and she would push forward arresting the Bhageerathi on her right. At intervals of about 30 seconds this process would go on till the swollen rivers get thin at mid-night and also at the onset of winter.
The whole of Himalayas is said to be Deva Bhoomi i.e. the abode of divinity. It is extremely vibrant with spirituality. Pilgrims and rationalists who go to the Himalayas H as mere tourists feel alike a mood of gay abandon in that atmosphere which is an evidence of their body consciousness getting reduced in that environment. In the present administrative set up the Garhwal region consists of six districts viz. Dehra Dun, Tehri,Uttar Kashi, Pauri, Chamoli and Rudraprayag. The Rudraprayag District was born recently in 1998. To the east of Garwal Region lies the Kumaon Region where lake Naini Tal attracts tourists. Before 1959, when the kingdom of Tibet enjoyed political freedom, thousands of pilgrims from India used to visit Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar every year during summer. The city of Almora in Kumaon Region at an altitude of 6000 feet used to be the base camp for the pilgrims going to Mt. Kailash. After many years of political struggle on the part of Garhwalis and Kumaonis, wisdom has dawned in the mind of U.P. political hierarchy to carve out these two regions into a new state of Uttaranchal for the region’s economic progress.
Now let us look into the civilization of the inhabitants of these regions. Garhwalis and Kumaonis come under the category of scheduled tribes. The spoken language is called Garhwali in the Garhwal Region, an admixture of Sanskrit, Hindi, Tibetan, etc., having no alphabet of its own. The inhabitants are Hindus and they claim they are the descendants of Vedic Rishis of yore. Modern education, which is the legacy of British rule in India is not at all popular in these areas. The people are guileless at heart and as such crimes are extremely rare in these areas. It is still believed that the word theft has no relevance among these tribesmen. With modern education, rationalism dawns in the intellects of people, in general. Communism is a form of extreme rationalism and in India this is reflected in Kerala and West Bengal, through the very high standards of literacy in these states. Where modern education does not rule the intellect seriously, the faculty of intuition is very much evident. This is what we see in Garhwalis. In the light of modern education, Garhwalis can be termed as aboriginals and barbarians. But their intellects (as they are not polluted by modern education) are very vibrant and powerful to grasp the subtle principles of truth in the subtler planes of existence. Intuiting Para-Brahma or Paramatma would be much easier for a Garhwali intellect than a modern educated intellect. Very hard life in Garhwal Region also contributes to their mental purity. The people in general are very poor economically. With electric supply, now available even in remote areas of Garhwal, life is becoming somewhat easy for them these days. They have the luxury of an overhead tank for water supply, these days. Till recently they used to fetch drinking water from springs and rivulets flowing at 3 thousand feet or even more lower than their habitation and carry the water on the back of mules, etc. To be alive alone a Garhwali had to struggle very much with the environment in the Himalayas. With modern facilities and education becoming more and more popular in these areas, the Garhwalis’ intellect is also sure to lose its faculty of intuition in the days to come. In fact, I was very much surprised by the objective assessment of Garhwalis living around Koteswar, Rudraprayag, in the matter of Haridass Swami’s Mahasamadhi.
Now let us look into the mental set up of Haridass Swami towards his last moment on Earth. Those who have seen Haridass Swami cannot forget his love for ostentation and showmanship. He was extremely talented and with such a wealth of talents in his possession, it would only be a wonder if he were not ostentatious and showy. When the news of his Mahasamadhi reached me, my first impression was that he would have dug his own grave through some act of showmanship. But later only, I realized that I have been proved wrong this time. Whatever be his shortcomings, he had an exemplary virtue of Guru Bhakti and this alone has sustained him till his last moment on Earth. I always appreciated his virtues and talents unreservedly but that did not mean that I always subscribed to whatever he said and did. He had almost achieved during his lifetime itself, a rare feat that no other mortal could even think of. This is reflected in Tennangur in the form of Panduranga Mandir, Sri Madom, Nama-Sankeertana Hall etc. What he has achieved in the form of Panduranga Mandir in Tennangur is unique in the history of the world and for such a construction he can earn the state of Nitya-Soories like Sage Narada, Prahlaada, etc. for all eternity in Sri Vaikunta. Actually it became so necessary; for him to leave his body before the completion of the project at Tennangur as it was a super human achievement and no one could ever entertain a thought of living in a mortal body after such an achievement. His nervous system would not have stood the intense pressure of unlimited bliss that would result from the completion of such a project and hence he had to bid farewell to this world of mortals. Here also, he had the rare blessing of his Guru, Sadguru Swami Gyanananda Giri. It was Gyanananda who guided him to his glorious end.
In fact, Haridass Swami seemed to have planned his last moment. In September, 1993 he had visited the spot of Koteswar and then he might have had a faint vision of things to come exactly one year later. Koteswar Mahadev is a symbolic form of Siva in His formless state of Linga on the bank of Alakananda, just above the confluence of Rudra-prayag. A path close to the bank of Alakananda leads to the entrance of a rocky cave where innumerable Lingas have sprung from the floor level and the Lingas are called Koti Lingas meaning myriad Lingas. They are all Swayambhu Lingas meaning they have sprung up there without anybody’s agency. The spot is vibrant with spiritual energy. Just in front of the cave there is a low-lying area which will be above water level during the lean season and submerged by the flood-waters of the Alakananda during summer and especially between mid-day and mid-night when water level in the Alakananda would be at its peak. There would be a rise of 20 or 25 feet of water during that peak period and sometimes the swollen waters even enter the cave of Koteswar Mahadev. This is attributed to the deity of Alakananda personally doing worship and prostration to Koteswar Mahadev. In the swollen state as well as in the lean state there is a whirl-pool in front of the cave of Koteswar Mahadev and this is attributed to Alakananda doing Pradakshina or circumambulation in front of Koteswar Mahadev.
Haridass Swami was surely in a state of Shakti-Nipaata at the time of leaving his body. Shakti-Nipaata is a Tantric term, by passing through which one transcends the world of Maaya and intuits the Truth clearly in either Savikalpa Samadhi or Nirvikalpa Samadhi. It is an essential pre-requisite for the realization of Paramatman or one’s own self. Under the influence of Shakti-Nipaata the mind acquires unlimited courage and in such a state, leaving the body consciously in a state of full awareness becomes possible. The state of Shakti-Nipaata would culminate into Savikalpa-Samadhi in his case as he was a worshipper of Lord Panduranga. He used to attribute his Guru Gyanananda as Panduranga and himself as Raghumayee. It is quite certain he had the vision of Gyanananda Panduranga at that last moment. The inhabitants at Koteswar Village narrated to me that Haridass Swami was visible above the roaring waters of the Alakananda in a meditative mood for about half a kilometer downstream from the spot of the cave, in front of which he entered the waters and the two Singapore Nationals who plunged into the waters to rescue the Swami were never to be seen at all. This is quite natural as they would not have reached the state of Shakti-Nipaata at that last moment unlike the Swami. But as they sacrificed their lives for a noble cause of saving the Swami they also would have been blessed with the vision of God at that last moment. In the 6th Chapter of Bhagavat Geeta, in the 40th stanza Lord Krishna declares.
Na Hi Kalyaanakrit Kaschit Durgatim Taata Gachhati.
This statement could be made applicable in this context also. It means that one who has attempted to do a glorious act would never go to lower levels of evolution.
Haridass Swami had chosen a time to leave his body, which coincides with Pradosha-Kaala which is very sacred to Siva-Bhaktas i.e. about 4 p.m. on 4-9-1994. Before being swept away by the current, Haridass Swami would have surely intuited Lord Mahadeva in Koteswar Cave and that vision would have prompted him to take that final decision of leaving his body a little later in those waters in front of the cave. In those ice-cold waters of the Alakananda and that too in the midst of such furious current no mortal can maintain one’s mental alertness and awareness except in a state of Shakti-Nipaata. We have to understand that in the midst of such frightening environment Haridass Swami was never found to be struggling for his life. Any other mortal would have breathed his last before one can count from 1 to 10, in a violent manner. Only a saint can exhibit such presence of mind like Haridass Swami during his last couple of minutes on earth. No human being can return alive after entering those waters rushing downstream in great rapidity. The current is so swift that it carries with it boulders weighing 200 or 300 tons. There is no doubt that Haridass Swami’s Spirit has merged with his Ishta-Devata of Panduranga. The vision of Haridass Swami in the opposite bank of Koteswar Mahadev experienced by the pilgrim party immediately after he was swept away confirms that he had attained saint-hood. Only saints acquire such luminous body consisting of Anandamaya-Kosha immediately after shedding their mortal body.
Now, for us to remember his glorious end, a monument in the form a pillar has been erected in front of Koteswar Mahadev at a lower level. Water level would be much above the pillar’s height during the peak level in Alakananda. During the lean period we would be able to conduct worship to Haridass Swami, in front of the pillar. Let us pray Haridass Swami to grant us the courage to emulate his example. He has blazed such a trail for all of us to follow.
Guruji Haridass Giri Swamiji Ki Jai.
Sadguru Gyanananda Giri Maharaj Ki Jai.
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih.