Sant Bhagirath Das

Sant Bhagirath Das
Late Shri Janaki Mandal ji, the grandfather of Revered Swami Bhagirath Baba, was a
resident of Lalganj, a village under Rupauli Police Station of Purnia District in the
state of Bihar, India. He was an intensely devout person, and used to organise every
year a series of discourses on Bhagwat (a scripture illustrating the exploits of all the
incarnations of Lord Vishnu, especially that of His incarnation as Lord Shri Krishna)
for a fortnight spanning from Amavasya (New Moon Day) to Poornima (Full Moon
Day) of the Hindu month of Vaishakh (coinciding with the month of May usually). It
was during one such occasion that Swami Bhagirath Das ji was born – on Tuesday the
09th May of 1945, the 11th day of the light half of the month of Vaishakh – while the
discourse on the Bhagvat was going on. It is for this reason that Late Shri Janki
Mandal ji gave the name ‘Bhagvat Mandal‘ to him. His venerable mother, Late Mrs.
Dhanasi Devi, took ill immediately after his birth and, thus, the onus of his upbringing
fell upon his grandmother and aunt (father’s sister). So, Bhagirath Baba got very little
opportunity of receiving his mother’s milk. Swami Bhagirath Das ji was very quiet or
calm by nature. He loved sitting quietly in solitude. His family members would get
amazed by his temperament. Even in his childhood days he displayed a natural
attraction for sages; seeing hermits or sages he would run to them and pay his
obeisance. He did not have much inclination towards studies; he preferred rather to
sit alone with his eyes closed. When his grandma and aunt went to the farm field, he,
too, would accompany them, and as they got busy with their farming work, he would
sit on the boundary-mend of the field in a cross-legged posture and close his eyes.
This would surprise them. They tried to divert his attention by calling his name loudly
from afar, but this would have no effect on him. Then they would move closer and
shout again. Getting annoyed at being disturbed he would abruptly stand up and
leave alone for home. When he grew up as a child, his family members wanted him
to go to school, but he did not evince any interest. Following a lot of loving
persuasion and pressuring by his parents, he started going to a private school for
studies. There he displayed a very sharp memory and grasped very quickly whatever
was taught to him and, thus, came to be loved very much by his teachers. After two
years he shifted to a primary school with the kind consent of his parents. Mr. Arvind,
the Principal of this school was struck by his quiet disposition and paid him special
attention. One day Mr. Arvind told him, “Your name is Bhagvat which is also the
name of a puran (puranas are a class of voluminous work in Sanskrit dealing with
aspects of ancient Indian history, legend, mythology or theology). In our country,
there was a great, virtuous king named Bhagirath; he had, by dint of his Herculean
penance, brought the Ganga River down to the earth. That is why, I would like to give
you a new name ‘Bhagirath‘.” And he himself wrote ‘Bhagirath Mandal‘ (Mandal
being the surname) on the cover page of one of his notebooks. Since then, people
began to call him ‘Bhagirath‘. Later, when he joined into the personal attendance of
His Holiness Maharshi Mahi Paramhans ji Maharaj, looking at his exemplary self-less
and devoted ‘seva‘ (service) to his Guru, people began to call him ‘Gurusevi‘ (One
who serves the Guru). Thus, he is known by the combined name ‘Gurusevi Shri
Bhagirath Baba‘.
On passing Class III with flying colours, he expressed his desire to the Principal Mr.
Arvind Babu, “Sir, I wish to get admission to the Class IV at Dholbajja School, because
there I would be able to continue up to Class VII.” Giving his consent to the proposal,
Mr. Arvind asked him to come prepared the next day. When Bhagirath Baba went to
him the next day, Mr. Arvind Babu was ready. Bhagirath Baba touched his feet. Mr.
Arvind blessed him and took him to Mr. Madan Babu, the Head Master of Dholbajja
School and got him admitted there. Bhagirath Baba was struck with fever the same
evening as he returned home from the new school. However, the fever slowly
subsided and he subsequently began to attend the school regularly. He continued at
the school till he passed the examination of Class VII. While in the Sixth, he was
awarded the Merit Scholarship by the Welfare Department of Government which
used to be granted to a select few meritorious students. While returning home after
having taken the last paper of Class VII, Bhagirath Baba, walking through the Baluka
Maidan (name of an open space or ground), asked his friend, “Praksah (name of his
friend)! Which stream of study are you going to opt for at the high school – arts or
science? (In those days, arts and science streams used to be separated right from
Class VIII. However, now a day a common curriculum is followed till the Class X.)
Prakash ji (‘ji‘ or ‘Babu‘ are the terms used to call someone respectfully in India)
replied that he would pursue a course in medicine. Reacting to this, Bhagirath Baba
said, “Well yes! You can pursue medical education because your father is rich and
can afford to bear the higher fees. But my father is poor. He will not be able to
manage the required expenses. I think that in case I could not continue my studies
further, I would seek the shelter of some Mahatma (Great Soul, or sage), serve him
and practise all that he would command me to do.” No sooner than he had said this
that a miracle happened. He saw an old-aged Mahatma dressed in saffron clothes
sitting on the ground. He had a broad forehead, a swollen gland (or protrusion of
flesh) on the left side of his head, long white hair, flowing beards and thick
moustaches. The Mahatma was constantly staring at Bhagirath Baba as if he was
telling, “Have a good look at me. You have to be in my service only.” Looking at the
Mahatma, Bhagirath Baba respectfully bowed his head, closed his eyes and offered
his pranam. Then as he opened his eyes, Mahatma had disappeared. What was more
amazing was that the Mahatma had manifested himself to Bhagirath Baba alone;
Prakash ji had not seen him. From that very day devotion to God took deep roots
inside Bhagirath Baba who once again developed distaste for formal studies.
Nonetheless, he did take admission, obeying the instructions of his father, to Class
VIII at a High School about three kilometres from his village, but could not appear at
the annual examination of Class VIII. He still got admitted to Class IX at Dholbajja
High School and continued his education for some more time. However, just before
the Half Yearly examinations were to commence, he, as advised by his father, joined
a training programme on eradication of small pox. And with this his formal education
came to an end. After the completion of training, he stayed back home and began to
assist his brother in domestic assignments. Every now and then the captivating
picture of the Mahatma, who had shown himself on the Baluka Maidan, would flash
before his eyes. Looking at his keen affinity for satsang (spiritual gathering) one day
an old satsangi from the village, Late Shri Hanuman Das ji told him, “My Guru,
Maharshi Mehi Paramhans ji Maharaj is coming to Tikapatti (a place nearby). Please
come along, if you so desire, to have his darshan (glimpse).” Bhagirath Baba, drawn
by an unknown force, proceeded to the place with other co-villagers on the
scheduled date. He was left dumbfounded to look at the sage who was seated on the
stage, “O My God! This is precisely the same Mahatma who had granted his divine
darshan to me on the Baluka Maidan!” He could not believe his eyes. He offered his
heartfelt pranam to Him from a distance. Suddenly a spontaneous feeling flashed
through his mind, “Now I need not wander any further. I shall be in the service of this
great soul all my life. He alone would be my guide.” The very next day i.e. on the 9th
December 1966, Sadguru Maharshi Mehi Paramhans ji Maharaj initiated him at 9
PM. After being initiated when Bhagirath Baba went to Maharshi Mehi to pay his
respect the next morning, he began to gaze at him constantly as if they been very old
acquaintances; Seeing him looking at him Bhagirath Baba got Goosebumps. This time
also he was come over with an inner feeling that Gurudev would surely keep him in
his personal service. He made an offering of five annas (sixteen annas would make
one rupee of Indian currency then) at his Holy feet and went back to the Satsang
Hall. In the morning session of satsang when the Revd. Guru was being escorted to
the stage, the volunteers in their efforts to make way for him made people gathered
there stand on two sides. Bhagirath Baba also stood on one side to have a glimpse of
Gurudev from close. Walking towards the stage as Gurudev came near him, he
stopped briefly and began to look fixedly at him. “Why Gurudev keeps looking at me
repeatedly? There must be something to It.” was the thought that crossed his mind.
At the end of the afternoon session of satsang, Bhagirath Baba offered his pranam to
Gurudev and came back to his native place, Lalganj, and began to practise
meditation regularly as instructed. On one moon lit night, Bhagirath Baba recounts,
he was sleeping in his Southern veranda with his head to the north. It was about 2:30
or 3 AM. He suddenly felt that somebody was pressing his stomach with a cudgel or
stick. Then he heard the voice of Gurudev, “Oh! What is this? It is the time to
meditate and you are still sleeping? Get Up!” He suddenly woke up and saw Gurudev
in his front; He was slowly retreating (moving backwards). Bhagirath Baba was
stunned, “How come Gurudev is here at my house so late in the night!” In the light of
moon he could clearly see Gurudev who slowly disappeared. Great sants like
Gurudev oblige only deserving or worthy disciples in this way with his divine glimpse
and precious instructions. After this wonderful experience, the urge to serve him
became all the more intense in Bhagirath Baba. God always listens to prayers of
genuine devotees; Gurudev was to very soon fulfil this wish of his.
Two months after this experience, Bhagirath Baba got the news that Gurudev was to
come to Koshakipur, a village five kilometres east of his village, Lalganj. Immediately
an impulse arose within him to renounce the household life for good and join in the
service of Gurudev. But he preferred to keep this to himself for the time being.
Finding an opportune time he told his mother of Gurudev’s programme and
requested for her permission to go and see Gurudev as well as to attend the satsang
there. His mother kept silent for a moment and then told, “OK, you may go. But
come back soon.” The very next morning, he kept some eatables and the book “Ram
Charit Manas Sar Sateek” (A Commentary on Goswami Tulsidasji’s Ram Charit
Manas, written by Maharshi Mehi Paramhans) with him, paid his respects to his
mother and left home even before sun-rise. Little did she or anyone else know that
he was leaving home for ever! He was accompanied by some devotees from his
village. On reaching Koshakipur, he went to where Gurudev was staying, offered his
pranam to Gurudev and went to the Satsang Hall where satsang was to be held.
When Gurudev took his seat on the stage, he got the opportunity to fan him with a
hand-operated fan. This was the beginning of a life of service to Gurudev. It was
there after the satsang session that he spoke his mind to his co-villagers. Somehow
the news reached Gurudev also who called him and very affectionately enquired him
regarding his parents, brothers, other family members, family profession etc.
Knowing all the details, Gurudev closed his eyes for some time and then asked,
“Suppose your father comes to take you back, what would you do then?” Bhagirath
Baba every humbly replied, “I will persuade him to see my view point by explaining
everything”. Gurudev became silent for a while, and then said, “It is alright. You may
proceed to the Ashram (at Kuppaghat, Bhagalpur) and stay there for as long as you
wish. For the time being I am not coming to the Ashram. In the meanwhile you can
go and live there along with Ramlagan”. Then addressing Shri Ramlagan Baba,
Gurudev said, “Ramlagan! Keep some eatables with you and take him (Bhagirath
Baba) along to the Ashram”. Receiving his orders, Bhagirath Baba touched his feet
and left for the Kuppaghat Ashram, Bhagalpur with Revered Ramlagan Baba. There
he began mainly to look after the cows of the Ashram, to help in running the mess,
and do some gardening work also. Whenever Gurudev would come back to the
Ashram from his tours, Bhagirath Baba also got an additional opportunity of
rendering some personal service to Gurudev. Occasionally, Maharshi Mehi would
take him along on some of his propaganda missions, by temporarily entrusting the
tasks attended to by Bhagirath Baba to somebody else at the Ashram. On one such
trip to Rajgir Gurudev asked him, “For how long would you live with me?” Bhagirath
Baba replied without any hesitation, “Life-long, Gurudev!”, Gurudev kept silent at
this. On returning to Ashram, Bhagirath Baba became busy discharging his duties
with utmost concentration, and also availed himself of any opportunity that came his
way of doing personal service to Gurudev.
Observing his true devotion Revered Ram Lagan Baba submitted to Gurudev on the
15th August 1971, “Sir, kindly initiate Bhagirath ji into monk hood (renunciation) by
giving him the robes of recluse”. Most venerable Gurudev replied, “Yes, I have full
faith in him. I will initiate him into monkhood.” Then he turned to Bhagirath Baba,
“Bhagirath! Come with the saffron clothes meant for a monk.” Bhagirath Baba
brought the monk’s saffron clothes and placed them in the hands of Gurudev.
Gurudev kept those clothes for sometime in his hands, and then handed over them
to Bhagirath Baba saying, “Put these clothes on”. When Bhagirath Baba took the
clothes from his hands, Gurudev asked, “Do you have some Prasad (offering) with
you?” Bhagirath Baba replied, “Yes Lord! I have a few bananas with me”. Gurudev
then commanded, “Peel off one banana and put a small piece into my mouth”.
Bhagirath Baba took the peel off one banana and respectfully fed Gurudev one piece
of it with his own hands. Gurudev then asked, “Now wash my mouth with water.”
Bhagirath Baba cleaned his hands and washed Gurudev’s lips. Then he put on the
monk’s saffron robes and bowed himself down at the lotus feet of Gurudev, who
blessed him. Thenceforth he appointed Bhagirath Baba into his personal service and
entrusted the tasks hitherto assigned to Bhagirath Baba to some other person. On
that very day Gurudev told him, “My son! You have been given an opportunity to
serve. Do not let it ever go.” With folded hands, Bhagirath Baba replied, “My Master!
This body is meant only to serve you. Put it to any type of service you deem fit.”
About a week after this initiation into renunciation, Gurudev asked him, “Bhagirath!
How would like to serve me – as a disciple or as a son?” Bhagirath Baba says, I
thought I had already become a disciple by getting initiated, so why to miss the
golden opportunity of becoming his son, too!” So, he promptly replied, “Sir, as your
son.” From that very day Gurudev began to address him as ‘son‘ and love
accordingly.
Occasionally, Gurudev would also instruct Bhagirath Baba to address the gathering
during spiritual sessions, and he obeyed his instructions. Once he gave a speech of
about 8 to 9 minutes during the Annual General Convention at Manasi. After his
speech, Gurudev remarked, “I ask this young chap to speak because he would
propagate Santmat one day” to the thunderous applause of the gathering. Besides
showering his fatherly affection Gurudev would also teach Bhagirath Baba some of
the finer secrets of meditation and Santmat. One day Gurudev asked him one
question related to meditation and was extremely glad with the appropriate answer
given by Bhagirath Baba.
Gurudev initiated Bhagirath Baba into the Surat Shabd Yoga (Yoga of Divine Sound) in
1980. One day Gurudev, pleased with his dedicated service, remarked, “May your
son live long!” Puzzled with the statement Ram Lagan Baba who was also standing
there asked, “O Master! Is this a blessing or a curse (for a recluse)?” Gurudev smiled
and said, “A disciple is also like a son.”
In 1984 Gurudev authorised Bhagirath Baba to give initiation to the deserving
seekers in the Santmat tradition. One day Shri Dal Bahadur Baba (another monk)
approached Bhagirath Baba and said, “I travel far & wide to different parts of the
country of Nepal. People there are not so well off. They cannot afford to travel this
far (to Bhagalpur), but they are very eager to get initiated. If you could convey my
request to him, it would be a great obligation unto me.” Bhagirath Baba assured him
of passing the message on; and at his request, Gurudev, who he himself deemed to
be fit for the job, authorised Dal Bahadur Baba as a preceptor.
The service offered by Bhagirath Baba is worth emulating for all the disciples. He
served his Guru in all possible ways, such as bathing him, serving him water & food,
take him on a stroll, carry him in his lap from one place to another, to the stage, the
toilet etc. He remained with him all the time like his shadow and promptly obeyed all
his instructions considering it to be his highest duty. He would also recite from the
holy seripltures in spiritual gatherings. He took utmost care of sanity and cleanliness
during big conventions, keeping gatherings of devotees under good control etc. All
these tasks he kept on discharging till the last moment of Gurudev’s life.
On the fateful Sunday, the 8th June, 1986 at about 11 A.M. Gurudev asked him,
“Beta, aj mujhako moong ka usana khila do” (My dear son, please give me the boiled
preparation of the green gram to eat today). Bhagirath Baba got the dish prepared
by the Chef, Shri Guru Prasad Baba, and fed Gurudev, and offered him water to
drink. On getting order, he did Gurudev’s hair at about six in the evening and served
him water to drink frequently. After some time, he asked Gurudev again, “Sir, would
you have some more water?” shaking his head mildly, Gurudev said, “Nay” (No). This
was to be Bhagirath Baba’s last conversation with Gurudev. After this, Gurudev
started to slowly gather or withdraw himself within and subsequently merged into
his true self or the Almighty. By dint of his round-the-clock dedicated selfless service,
Bhagirath Baba got blessings of various types from Gurudev.
Once Gurudev had gracefully blessed him saying, “May you live long! Your devotion
would be completed in this very birth. People would take you overseas as well. I
have given everything to you… etc.” One day when Shri Shivanand Baba, a resident
of the Ashram came to offer his pranam, Gurudev asked him, “Who would propagate
Santmat after me?” With folded hands Shivanand Baba answered, “Whomever
would you select for the job, Lord!” Then pointing towards Bhagirath Baba Gurudev
said, “He will do it.” A nervous Bhagirath Baba asked, “O Lord! How would I be able
to undertake such a big responsibility?” Gurudev assured him, “Why do you get so
nervous?” Bhagirath Baba recalls, “One day Gurudev was reclining on his cot after
having a bath. Suddenly he started uttering – O Lord! O Supreme Lord! May
Bhagirath come to imbibe whatever virtues there are in me! He repeated this
sentence five times. Then he continued, “O Lord! O Supreme Lord! May Bhagirath
not come to have whatever demerits are there in me! He repeated this sentence
three times.” “I started wondering”, continues Bhagirath Baba, “Gurudev does not
have any demerits or deficiencies. He has blessed the lives of so many people. Then
why did He say – May Bhagirath not come to have whatever demerits there are in
me?” The all-knowing Gurudev read his mind and said, “My deficiency is that I am
not able to walk on my own feet. I wish you never suffer from such debility”.
Reminiscing further Bhagirath Baba says, “One evening at about eight Gurudev was
reclining on His bed. Sitting near His bed I was fanning him with a towel to keep flies
and mosquitoes away from Gurudev. Looking at me, Gurudev asked me, “were you
my relative in the previous birth?” I said, “It is why, You have kept me with You.”
Three or four days before He was to depart this world, Gurudev told him, “When I
shed my body, offer my stick, too, along with my body to flames.” His order was
executed. Bhagirath Baba placed Gurudev’s urn in His room.
After the departure of Maharshi Mehi from this world, Bhagirath Baba started his
long and hard meditation in the holy cave of Kuppaghat in which Maharshi Mehi had
realized the Self and achieved salvation. That continued for about three years. He got
some disturbance because of visiting the cave by the devotees. He tolerated it and
built a small cave on the bank of river Ganga in the premise of Kuppaghat Aashram.
In that cave he started his continuous and unceasing meditation from the year of
1990 to 1991. After that he started propagation of Santmat on the kind request of
Satsangis (Santmat-devotees).
Bhagirath Baba began to initiate seekers since 31st May 1987. More than 28,400
persons have taken initiation from him so far. Devouts from abroad like Sweden,
Australia, USA, Holland etc. enjoy the spiritual talk with Swami Bhagirath Baba. His
speeches directly touch the hearts of the audience and cast a magical influence on
them. The headgear (turban) he puts on presents a striking resemblance to Swami
Vivekananda who had incarnated to keep the flag of his Guru Swami Ramkrishna
Paramahansji Maharaj flying all over the globe. Similarly, Bhagirath Baba, too, is
playing the flag-bearer of Santmat which was so painfully nurtured & propagated by
his Guru, Maharshi Mehi Paramhansji Maharaj.
He has written six books that are full of spiritual insight, namely, “Maharshi Mehi ke
Dincharya Updesh” (Life & preachings of Maharshi Mehi), Santmat Tatva-Jnaan
Bodhini , Apne Guru Ki Yaad Main (In the remembrance of Own Guru), Maharshi
Mehi Chaitanya-Chintan, Sadhak-Piyush, Parmatm-Prapti ke Sadhan. These all books
are in Bharati (Hindi) language. English translation of all these books are in process.