Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tapasviji - A timeless Mystic

“…He was one of the great masters who are India’s truest wealth. Emerging in every generation, they have bulwarked their land against the fate of ancient Egypt and Babylonia” : Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi.

With these words Sri Yogananda the great Master, revealed the secret of the longevity of India’s ancient culture and spiritual wealth from immemorial times to the present. A Master once said that the greatest quality of Indians is that they have the privilege to be born in India / Bharata. This sacred land may be considered the landing grounds of almost all, if not all Avataric missions. Saints and seers have ever been found here in abundance in every age, clime and time. Its pure atmosphere lends to the inner efforts of all Godly aspirants and their presence in turn adds to the vibrations and richness of its sanctity.

This is the story of one such Mahatma (Great soul) whose life was / is a living miracle itself. I first heard about Him when he made his presence felt to a participant in a Quantam gazing session. He appeared before her, smiled and said “We finally meet!” A few days later an Uncle in my neighborhood offered me a book saying it would interest me. It was the biography of the same sage. His name – Tapasviji.

It is rare that a saint such as him would make his presence known to lesser mortals of the society, entrenched in worldliness. Masters such as him are often hidden away from the misunderstanding eyes of the world. Their lives defy every rule of nature and society that most ‘cultured and modern’ people pride in and are bound by. His presence amongst us is a further sign of his grace and saintliness.

Tapasviji was born in the Royal family of Patiala, Punjab, as Prince Krishna Singh in the year 1770.
Patiala Fort where Tapasviji was born as a Prince.
This was when the Mughals ruled India. He entered mahasamadhi in the year 1955, when the British had left independent India. Thus he lived a total of 185 years. His extra lease of life may astound most. But it was his knowledge of kayakalpa, which enabled him to rejuvenate his body on 3 different occasions giving him an extended life.

How he became a renunciant is an interesting story. Fed up of the political restlessness in his fathers kingdom, which kept the state in perpetual warlike situation, the young prince rode to Delhi to meet the Emperor in an effort to bring final peace to his state. Krishna Singh’s description of Delhi and Mughal architecture and science is most fascinating. He reveled how the Mughal engineers built garden which air conditioned the atmosphere giving cool during summers and warmth during severe winters.

When the young Prince met Emperor Bahadur Shah, he found him counting his beads and taking the name of the Lord. Hearing the young Prince’s plight the Emperor looked at him and said “Prince Krishna Singh, I am happy to have met you. You want my help to establish peace in your state. Your desire in commendable. I wish to tell you that my power of interference is negligible. My writ does not run far. You have no peace of mind. I too have no peace of mind. I now feel that devotion to God brings more happiness to man than possession of an empire. I say that a saint’s life is preferable to that of a King. I now bid you farewell. Peace be with you.”

These words had a profound effect of the young Prince. He rode back, not to his kingdom but towards Haridwar. The spirit of renunciation burning within him. He gave up all his costly jewels, clothing and his sword and tying it in a bundle he wrote a note and put it around his dear horse asking anyone who found these jewels to take the responsibility of caring for his horse. With this Krishna Singh gave up the world in pursuit of the Kingdom of God.

After his 3rd Kalpa treatment in 1937
His journey from that point unto his passing is awe inspiring and magical. Traveling from one holy city to another, from the plains of middle India to the inaccessible Himalayan regions, from western points of India to Burma in the east, Krishna Singh, now known by his renunciant name of Vishnudas encountered several incredible beings and animals – from Cobras who would come and try to disturb and communicate with him, some of who would spit fire; to tigers who would shapeshift into saints assuming such a form to keep people of the world from disturbing them.

Notwithstanding these encounters and difficulties, Vishnudas undertook the most severe penance and austerities with one pointed focus, sprinting on the path of his spiritual awareness to great heights. Many divine figures and saints would appear before him in response to his efforts. He earned the name Tapasviji due to the severity of the austerities he undertook. Once he took a vow to do khade-tapasya (standing austerity) whereby he would keep standing till he reached Brindavan from his current location near Patna. Furthermore he also kept his left raised up above his head. It took him 27 years to visit Brindavan as he travelled randomly as life guided him. Throughout these 27 years he kept standing, even doing his meditation and resting in a standing pose.

One may wonder why such austerities are undertaken. Are they pleasing to God? Perhaps not! But the purpose of such efforts are to completely subdue the mind and senses and to grow over the awareness of oneself as the body or senses.

Once, in the Himalayan region he encountered another saintly figure who suggested that they journey together to the deeps of the hidden Himalayas from where they could use their joined strength of siddhis to make their way through the Himalayan portals towards Indraloka. It took them weeks to make their way through the most difficult terrain. Midway in their journey and extraordinary occurrence took place. A beautiful, celestial looking chariot drawn by four milk-white horses stopped near them. A Gandharva alighted from the chariot and made a supplication “O Mahatmas, my Pranams. Lord Indra has send me to take you both in my chariot into his presence. You can reach Indraloka by yourself but only with great difficulties. Sit in my chariot and I can swiftly take you to your destination.”  The saints accepted the offer and ascended the chariot. In a short while, an unexpected thing happened. Both saints felt giddy and became unconscious. When they came to, they found themselves back near the Badri shrine. The other saint realized the trick played on them by the celestial Gandharva being, who perhaps felt jealous or threatened by a mortal in human form entering their celestial kingdom and brought them back using his superior powers.

Tapasviji during his own travels encountered great saints. He met a 5000 year old saint who was born in Ayodhya during the time of Krishna. This saint learned from his Guru that Sri Krishna was God, and set forth to meet Him but unfortunately couldn’t as Sri Krishna had shifted to Dwaraka from Mathura. He explained the reason of his long life is that his diet included only milk and certain rare herbs and creepers called Soma-lata. Tapasviji met Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Goddess Kamakshi devi, who encourages him to give up his last possession that he had forgotten about – a diamond ring, which he had kept folded in his loin cloth as final security, when he first became a renunciant.

As he progressed on his path, his awareness grew deeper and He often had darshans Sri Krishna who would come to him in different forms and aid him and also to ask him to give up undertaking severe penance. He had the darshan of Lord Narayana and Lord Shiva. Guru Nanak also blessed him, as did Radha devi during his visit to the sacred Barsana. The Moon-Lord Chandra visited him and sage Narada took him along to the celestial worlds in the astral form.

In Alakapuri in the Himalayas, Tapasviji encountered Ashwathama, the disgraced hero from the Mahabharata war. Usually secluded, Ashwathama entertained the saint and also shared with him rare stories from the Mahabharata which according to him Sri Vyasa did not mention or had changed for reasons known best to him. With the help of Ashwathama, Tapasviji met Sri Parashurama, Sri Durvasa and Maharishi Parashara. Tapasviji also had the rare blessing of having darshans of Goddess Gangadevi.

Tapasviji, 1941
Having lived such a long life, Tapasviji encountered his Mother who had reincarnated into a new form and also his reincarnated son, who despite having his new parents instantly recognized Tapasviji as his own and clung to him begging him to keep him with him. Tapasviji accepted him as his disciple and named him Krishnadas. Krishnadas served him faithfully but when he was in his 30’s, he suddenly passed away.  With the passing of his dear disciple, Tapasviji was overwhelmed with sorrow. Sri Krishna appears before the saint and consoled him.

Other disciples found it odd that a saint of Tapasviji’s stature should be overcome by sorrow upon the passing of a disciple. Tapasviji explained,

“However great a saint maybe and even though people recognize him as sthitaprajna (One established in stillness/ calmness), his Jnanam (wisdom) is enveloped by the maya-shakti (illusion) of Eashwara (God). As such often a wise persons mind is clouded by some amount of delusion and he is moved by the notions of ‘I’ness. Though such state is temporary for a saint, during such times he too feels grief and attachment. Theoretically no embodied beings who take human birth in obedience to the laws of karma, can be fully free. Even an Avataar like Sri Rama suffered in grief for Sita and Lakshmana. Sri Krishna, a sarvajna (all-knowing) and master of Yoga, shed tears at the death of his father Vasudeva.

Thus feeling of grief in a human breast under certain circumstances is the svabhava (nature) of the mind. However in case of wise men, this state will not last long unlike ordinary humans, for who such states can destroy their peace of mind for ages and even be carried forward to other incarnations. A mahapurusha who has never been affected by grief has never been born till now from the time of creation.”

Eventually near the end of his life, Sri Tapasviji moved to south India upon the advice of Sri Krishna to help and bless devotees in the south.  Like all great saints, he took upon himself the karma of his disciples and devotees and on 12th October 1955, he suddenly got up from his bed where he had been lying sick unable to move and made his feeble body sit smartly in a padmasana pose to the astonishment of his attending disciples. Thereupon he deeply uttered Aum thrice and thus left his mortal coil.

The above is a brief sketch of the incredible life of this Princely saint, shared here to honor his presence on earth. Details can be read in the book Tapaswiji by T.S. Anantha Murthy.