His Holiness Maha Mandaleshwara
Swami Shri Arjun Puri Ji Maharaj:
A Spiritualist and Perceptive Scholar of Religion
Indians are endowed with a simple nature. They prefer Shraddha (faith, involving love & reverence) to tark (reasoning or logic). Their devotion is in fact directed towards the renunciation, self – control and discipline practiced by a saint. This is the reason why people in general receive with devotion, faith and love whatever is given to them by saints.
Swami ji’s personality is complete. His programmes, messages and crusades, his serving of the mankind through various organizations, all of them will be ever hailed not only in the present but also in the future. Swami Arjunpuri ji Maharaj is to be revered by all like any other saint of ancient times. His karamas (deeds) are displayed against the religious and cultural backdrop.
To tell his devotees more about the phases of childhood, renunciation and Tapasya of our most
Reverend Swami Shri Arjunpuri ji Maharaj. We have gathered the scattered threads of his life.
So we present here an account of Swami ji’s life based on information-received from some elderly people of bhakhariya village in champaran, Bihar and active Sevakas (volunteers at service) as well as from interviews with Swami ji.
His holiness Swami Arjunpuri ji Maharaj was born at village bhakhariya situated in the historic district of Champaran in Bihar. His late father Shri Bhookhal Panday was a deeply religious person and a dedicated devotee of Lord Shiva. His mother, Shrimati Girija Devi Pandey is an extremely soft – spoken, cultured and learned lady of high qualities. Under the care and shelter of his parents he acquired knowledge and worldly experience.
Because of his proximity to such noble parents, Swami ji’s reflective nature, got imbued in his very childhood with an extraordinary gentleness and refinement of feeling. But due to his introvert disposition and preoccupation with spiritual studies, discussions and discourses, Swami Bal yogi was a misfit in the mundane matters. At the tender age of eight years, he took Sanyas (Renunciation), left home and breaking off the worldly shackles, came to Varanasi with his Guru and opted for the life of a recluse.
Thereafter, Swami ji went through an intense phase of Tapasya (meditation with strict austerity and hard discipline) for twenty-four years. Then he made an in-depth study and analysis of various religious scriptures and Granthas (Volumes). He also undertook a pada-parikrana (Walking bare foot around a sacred place with a specific mission) of Holi mother Ganges and Narmada Rivers. During this phase, he not only went on many pilgrimages but also enhanced his knowledge living with various saints and great souls. From them he received direction as well as benediction.
Subsequently Swamijii began spreading his spiritual knowledge derived from his scholarly learning throughout India. Swami Arjunpuri Ji has so far, performed many Yagyas * (celebration based on traditional rituals of oblation) and Anusthanas (religious ceremonies with a fixed aim) of both the Tantrik and Vedic traditions.
Not just limited to India, Maharaj Shri’s message has been spreading all over the world for past fifteen years. He has enlightened the nations of over 50 countries with his knowledge discourses and preachings. And the process still goes on. Maharaj Shri’s whole life is a mirror unto spiritual meditation, renunciation and Tapa from which individuals can derive inspiration, and by following his path and direction, can make their lives successful.
When Swami Ji’s father, respected Shri Bhiokhal Panday did not have any offspring for many years after marriage, he was pressurized to into a second marriage by his family members. But in spite his second marriage, he remained issueless so that his married life came to be full of despair and disappointment. One day a self realized Mahatma Swami Shri Gautham Puri Ji Maharaj, accompanied with his disciples reached Bhakhariya during his wanderings. Bhookhal Panday Ji, served Swami Ji with utmost devotion. Before returning from his sojourn Bhakhariya Guru Gautham Puri Ji Maharaj blessed Shri Panday and prophesied that he would beget five children, four sons and a daughter; but he would have to surrender and dedicate one of the sons to him (Guru Ji).
With the passage of time, Bhookhal Panday, true to the prophecy, was blessed with five children was blessed with five children (four sons and a daughter). He was leading a life of peace and comfort. Then suddenly one day, Guru Ji the giver of boom came to visit Panday Ji and happened to see the eight year old, Vidyanand Panday (Reverend Swami Ji’s name prior to his taking Sanyas). Looking at the glow on the boy’s face Guru Ji requested Bhookhal Panday to give the boy to him for the purpose of Sanyas. Mother Girija Devi who was full of maternal love, expressed her unwillingness in parting with her son. But her husband persuaded her to give her son to Guru Ji. He told her that not keeping one’s word could prove to be inauspicious; for if a self realized person was capable of blessing them with five children, he could be equally capable of taking back his blessing (i.e. the five children) back. Consequently, the child Vidyanand Panday was surrendered at the feet of Guru Ji. He was taken to Kashi (Varanasi) where he ceremonially received Sanyas and was bestowed with the name of Arjunpuri by which he is known today. While living close to his Guru Ji, the child Saint Swami Arjunpuri devoted five years to attaining knowledge, remaining engrossed in spiritual studies and gaining benefit from his pilgrimages.
Then, one day at the temple of Shri Boondi Mata situated in Daliganj in Lucknow, Guru Ji, before giving up his earthly body declared the thirteen-year-old Child Saint Swami Arjunpuri ji Maharaj as his successor and in charge of saint Mandali (Group of Saints) with all his responsibilities. While putting this hand on the head of special disciple, whose birth was due to his benediction. Guru Ji blessed him saying, ” You will fully live up to responsibilities of Sanyas which will involve quest of the self, worship of God, and a general good of mankind through religious preachings. On this path, you will attain unequalled spiritual heights. “It is only due to the blessings of Guru Ji that Arjunpuri Maharaj is a man of many splendoured genius. He is the spokesman of a unique tradition on the spiritual forum, carrying with him dignity and grace of the Mandaleshwara seat of honour. Swami Arjunpuri had\s disseminated knowledge and the message of devotion (derived from his own erudition and wisdom) across India and abroad. Following are some of his experiences of his phase of Tapa (Sadhana, meditation done under extreme austerity).
The following are some of the extract based on face-to-face interview.
Interviewer: After leaving home, how and when was your Deeksha Sanskar (Investiture of sacred thread at the time of initiation accomplishes? While giving up your home at the tender age of eight. Did n’t you experience any kind of troubled feelings, feelings of attachment or sorrow of separation?
Swami Ji: No, not the in the least. I did not experience any pangs of separation or attachment. For out of four sons Guruji asked only for me proves that my life’s aim was not Jagat (the World) but Jagadish(God of the world).
After giving up home, I accompanied Guru Ji to Varanasi where we stayed in an Ashram (Home for saints and Sadhus). Finding an auspicious moment. Guru ji gave me Deeksha (formal initiation) of Sanyas. My head was shaved off and the whole body was besmeared with Bhabhoothi (Sacred ashes if holi fire). After the ceremony of Sanyas, on returning to the Ashram I looked at myself in the mirror to find that my former handsome self and curly hair was gone. Looking at the strange but wonderful image I exclaimed, “Guruu ji what has happened? Who am I?” Guru ji looked at me with eyes full of affection and optimism and said, “You are a paribhrajak. You are an avdhooth (an ascetic). By attaining Sanyas at the age of eight years, you have undertaken a heavy responsibility of flying the flag of religion (DharmDhwaj). The aim of your life is propagation of life and realization of God. Since your previous four lives you have been a sanyasi (A saint who has renounced the worldly comforts) and there has been a special bond between you and me. Therefore, I have chosenSanyas only you.
Because of all these Sanskaras (influence of previous births) I did not experience any kind of attachment or doubts. On the contrary, happily I walked away with Guru Ji.
Interviewer: At the delicate age of mere eight years how did you manage to maintain the extremely hard and exacting discipline of the life and routine of Tapa (meditation practiced with strict austerity)? Did n’t you find it hard to adjust or experience any trouble?
Swamiji: Look brother, Sukh (joys and comforts) and Dukh (pain and suffering) are attitudes of mind. “Man ke hare man ke jeete’. (If the mind is defeated, the individual is defeated). It is the mind that experiences sorrows. A mind dedicated to feet of God never gets troubled. Because through Hath Yoga (afflicting body with severe hardship and austerity) and physical hardship it has become immune to trouble. It has been said in the Geeta that through the ears, skin and nose one experiences the Vishaya (pleasure of senses). When the mind is completely absorbed at the feet of God, trouble is not experienced at all. Even the Shool (thorn) feels like a Phool (a flower). Certain troubles are taken to be as comfortable and one does it voluntarily. There where is the question of trouble, pain or sorrow?
Interviewer: Swami Ji, Kindly tell us something about your place of Tapa (worship) as well as some of the experiences of that phase.
Swami Ji: After being deprived of Guru Ji’s presence, and his close contact, my abode of Tapa was in many places: such as Uttarkashi, Rishikesh (Himalayas) and chakrakund Naimishnaryana). Naimishnaryana has been the abode of Tapa of eight thousand “Rishis (Saints) and Maharaj Manu and Satroopa where they had the holi glimpse of Lord Rama after their Tapasya was accomplished. Maharaj Manu and Satroopa had asked Lord Rama for a boon of having a son like Himself, which was accordingly bestowed upon them.
Naimishnnarayan has come to be known as the giver of the Siddhi (spiritual powers) to saints.
I had a strong desire to avail of the experience of this wonderful pilgrimage and performAnusthanas there. That auspicious occasion arrived one day and I went to Naimishnaryana. There I had the privilege of being close to the saints of the Tapovana (Forest of the Tapa) who were full of affection for me. From them I received a direction for Sadhana (meditation) in accordance with my wishes. Every saint recognizing in me a hunger for knowledge would gladly show me the path.
After spending sometime there I sojourned at many holi places like Ayodhya, Prayagraj, Kamathgiri, Chitra koot- chanting Bhajans(Devotional songs) and performing Anusthanas. Then I went Bodh Gaya ji . Shri Baijnath Dhama (Abode, a place for worship), Shri Turkeshawari Mahadev (Bengal), Lord kapil Muni’s place to Tapa, Ganga Sagar- that was to be my place of Tapa also. For special worship of mother Goddess I went to Kamaroop Goddess (Assam). Pushayashri Devi (Pilibheet, Utter Pradesh), Chamuna Devi, Jwali ji, Niana Devi and chintapurni devi in Himachal Pradesh. I also went to mother Vaishno Devi (Jammu). I stayed at the feet of these Mother Figures and attained Punya (Holi reward for a sacred deed) of performing purely traditional worship and Anusthanas. Then I raveled across many other pilgrimages and the aim was, as always, the worshipping of God Almighty and Performing Anusthanas.
Interviewer: You have performed Tapasya and Anusthanas for past twenty-four years. During this period while you were following a strict routine of Tapa you must have gone through some spiritual and divine experiences. Kindly relate some of them.
Swamiji: O my Goodness! What have you asked this for? This is something, which is not supposed to be related. “So rasjaniye man aur kana/ Nahin rasana pahijayayee bakhana/ Sanghat bane na jaye bakhana. “It is a quotation from Ramayana, which means that whatever is experienced by eyes and mind cannot be described in words by the tongue for the ears to be heard, nor it can be understood.
How could I fully describe God’s grace and kindness? My life itself is the proof of His kindness. ‘Haun to Sada khar ko aswar/ par teri kripa ne gayand chadayo I was ever riding a donkey but through your kindness I was to sit atop an elephant).
Yet a spiritualist does get rewarded for his Sadhana and meditation. That is only for experiencing and not for preaching in public.
-Raj Kumar Sharma
Editor: Manas Manadkini