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SHRI JAYENDRA SARASWATI - THE CLOSING OF A BIG CHAPTER OF MISSIONARY HINDUISM
Shankracharya Jayendra Saraswati and KN RaoThe news of the death of Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati did not surprise me as for six years at least, as I personally know, his health had been bad, his diabetes was not under control. The three women who had conspired against him, Sonia Gandhi, Jayalalitha and Shashikala each suffered in her own way. Jayalalitha won elections after being defeated for one term, became the Chief minister but suffered from bad health and died a mysterious death. Shashikala is in jail and her claims of leadership is not accepted in AIADMK. It makes her a weak politician. Sonia Gandhi, now suffering from some disease has retired from active politics, has handed over the presidentship of the Congress Party to her son, in the usual familiar Nehru way---dynastic succession. Sonia’s role in the sinister plot to arrest Shankaracharya Kanchi has been mentioned by the former president of India Sri Pranab Mukherjee (See appendix I).
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MOUNI BABA OF UJJAIN - ENCOURAGED ASTROLOGY AND ASTROLOGERS
Mouni Baba (www.journalofastrology.com)On 3rd March came the news of the death of Mouni Baba, three days after the mahasamadhi of Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati on the last day of February. Jayendra Saraswati, born in 1935, was 82 years when he took samadhi. In the case of Mouni Baba we never knew his age as no one knew it and it was guessed that he was ninety three years old when he took samadhi though some newspapers said that he was 108 years old then.

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YOGIJI MAHARAJ (AKSHARDHAM)

A visit to the most magnificent Akshardham temple in Delhi and my meeting with swamis made me recollect the very pleasant and enthralling memories of meeting Yogiji Maharaj in Gondal, near Rajkot in 1970. I narrated my  experiences recollecting as faithfully as I could forty one years after now, thirty eight years in 2007 when I first told about it—the ecstacy of that meeting, to Swami Atma Swaroopanand. Now they have asked me to write about it and here it is.

At the end of   December 1969, I was transferred from agitations-torn Calcutta when between 1967 and 1969, I saw and suffered like many central government officers, gheraos and strikes and insults hurled by agitators. I was posted as Senior Deputy Accountant General, Rajkot in Saurastra in Gujarat.

Rajkot then had a population of just about three lakhs, a small quiet, relatively prosperous city with throbbing atmosphere of spirituality. The residence allotted to me was near the Panchanath temple where I attended bhajans every night.

Slowly I heard about Rokadiya Hanuman Baba where I went every evening to do recitation of the Tulsikrit Ramacharit Manas and Hanuman Chalisa. The office staff seems to have reacted well to me and finding me an unusual head of office who instead of joining a club as my predecessors had done, was spending time in bhajans in the evening told me of other spiritual figures in and around Rajkot.

One such office member, perhaps Joshi (I may be wrong in recollecting his name) told me of Yogiji Maharaj in Gondal near Rajkot and the Swaminarayan cult. He asked me whether I would be interested in having his darshan. I said that I would be very happy.

Here I must point out a difference between Bengalis and other devotees in India. Bengalis have written a maximum number of books on saints of India and those who read them are well informed about them. For example detailed accounts about Trailanga Swami (Andhra) Bholanand Giri ( Punjab) Ramdas Kathiababa (Punjab) are available in Bengali biographies, may be hagiographical even in some content. The volumes (around twelve now I learn) Bharater Sadhak in Bengali is almost an mini encylopaedia in Bengali on saints of India.

I had no such advantage in reading or knowing much about Swaminarayan cult and Yogiji in 1970 before meeting Yogiji. The small bits I could pick up were:

1) The cult was founded by a saint of northern India, perhaps of Ayodhya:
2)Yogiji was fourth in the line of succession:
3) It was Yogiji who spread the Swaminarayana cult all over the world.
4) The initiated swamis in this cult were strictly to avoid money (kanchan) and women(kamini) which Ramakrishna Paramhansa had asked sadhaks to avoid totally. I have not seen this instruction being  followed so strictly, sincerely and to the letter anywhere else in the world, in India or abroad as I saw during my tours of USA (1993-95) when I visited Swaminarayan temples both in Houston and New York.

I also learnt that if these vows were violated, the initiated disciples had to do penance, nirjala upvas, or fasting even without water for a day or more.

Yogiji himself never allowed women to come near him or in his room was the further information made available to me.

5) The followers of Swaminarayan faith read the Gita and mostly the eighth (Akshar Brahma Yoga) and the fifteenth chapters (Purushottaam Yoga). Some of them recited the fifteenth chapter before taking their meals is what I also was told.

Mentally, I was prepared to see all this before visiting Gondal and having the darshan of Yogiji.

I went to Gondal at the earliest sometime in early 1970. Gondal was described as a progressive princely state during British rule, with lot of people interested in spiritual life and ayurveda. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan belonged to this place is what I was told. I was amused because in our training school in Yarrows in Simla, we had a room in which Jinnah had stayed during the famous Simla talks in pre-independence India! Gondal had many palaces worth seeing, I was told, but I told my friend that I was interested in having darshan of Yogiji and not in sight seeing.

I was taken straight to what was like an ashram with a temple. There in a room slightly spacious with carpets spread all over the floor in the middle sat Yogiji on an asana with his disciples, I presume , around and also some visitors. I was introduced to him and he called me straight to him and made to sit near him for many hours.

He was talking in Gujarati, not Hindi, but easy for me to understand. His face, radiant, his smile so broad and never leaving him, his protruding teeth, slightly shriveled body, upper part of the body totally uncovered is what I vaguely recollect now, after four decades.

He patted me on the back, as he did to everyone, with his hand, with a thud but palms soft like a cushion. That I learnt later was his way of greeting people.

I have met many saints all over India, many fakirs, but never anyone so cheerful, always smiling, so childlike and shaking his head while talking and lisping also.

Sometime after, I started falling into meditation. Often in a great temple or in the presence of a great mahatma, it has been my experience. I had, therefore, no questions to ask. His presence had divine silence inside me and around, outside. I do not remember how long that lasted but after sometime he told me and others to take prasad (meals).

Sometime after the meals we came again, sat with him and the experience of meditation and bliss flowing from it repeated.

That was the most ecstatic memory I had of my first meeting with Yogiji.

Somedays after, I was taken to him again. This time I noticed what I may have missed during my first visit. His cheerfulness was most infectious—child like simplicity yet so divine. No one could remain in any type depression was what many had told me and experienced. One of his devotees had told me that any person in utter depression had only to go and sit near him to experience it, without his even uttering anything or of even talking about his problem it vanished. He did shaktipat to some is what I also learnt. Perhaps he does it to his disciples or some chosen disciple or disciples. His cheerfulness was so infectious, all pervading.

Like during my first visit, I noticed that women were not allowed to enter his room. But there were many windows, all open from where crowds of women had his darshan.

Gujaratis, like Marwaris and Sindhis are known as generous donours for religious, charitable causes in India, traditionally always. It was during the time of Yogiji that the Swaminarayan movement spread globally; in Africa and UK I was told.

Soon Yogiji was to visit Africa I learnt.

Sometime later after I had been transferred to Ahmadabad, I lost touch with Yogiji but  remembered to have seen in Times, London, a photo of Yogiji getting into an airplane and read the story that women were not allowed, in this case air hostesses, near him  in the plane.The Times story was of course satirical without the understanding and appreciation of the vow of  brahmacharya of the Swaminarayan followers.

I had heard in 1970 that Yogiji had blessed late Shri Gulzari Lal Nanda that he would become the prime minister of India twice. After the death of Jawahar Lal Nehru, Nandaji had to act as prime minister till Lal Bahadur Shastri was elected as India’s second prime minister. Then again after the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri, he had to act as prime minister till Indira Gandhi was elected as the prime minister.

In 2011 I heard that similarly the predecessor of Yogiji , the third Guru in the line of succession in the Swaminarayana parampara, had blessed a Patel baby and said that he would become a famous man and an uncrowned king of India. That was the famous Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel.

The Swaminarayana gurus never displayed their siddhis which danced round them. Sometime in 1971, I heard that Yogiji had taken samadhi. It was like a stab in my heart. On such occasions I remember a couplet of Tulsidas.

Bandau sant asajjan charna, ubhay beech kachu nahi barna

Bichurat ek praan hari lehi , milat ek dukh dehi

“There is no difference between a saint and a villain because both cause pain---one while meeting and the other while parting.”

Keywords: KN Rao, Journal of Astrology, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Jyotish, Hindu Astrology, Indian Astrology, Akshardham, Yogiji Maharaj, Kundali

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