Hans Ji Maharaj

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Hans Ram Singh Rawat
Born (1900-11-08)November 8, 1900
Gadh-ki-Sedhia, British India (in present-day Uttarakhand, India)
Died July 18, 1966(1966-07-18) (aged 65)
Alwar, India
Spouse(s) Sinduri Devi (1st)
Rajeshwari Devi (2nd, concurrent)
Children With Sindhuri Devi: Savitri
With Rajeshwari Devi: Satpal, Mahi Pal, Dharam Pal, Prem Pal
Parents Ranjit Singh Rawat and Kalindi Devi

Hans Ram Singh Rawat,[1] known as Shri Hans Ji Maharaj (November 9, 1900 – July 19, 1966), was born in Gadh-ki-Sedhia, north-east of Haridwar in present-day Uttarakhand, India. His parents were Ranjit Singh Rawat and Kalindi Devi.[2] He was considered a Satguru by his students who called him affectionally "Shri Maharaji" or just "Guru Maharaji."[3]

He had a daughter from his first wife Sinduri Devi, and four sons from his second wife Rajeshwari Devi, later known among followers as "Mata Ji"[4] and "Shri Mataji".[5]

Life and work[edit]

At the age of eight, not long after starting at the village school, Hans Ji's mother died. From that time he was raised by his aunt. As a young adult he visited many holy men in the nearby mountains and pilgrimage towns in the area now the Pakistani provinces of Sindh, Baluchistan and Punjab. He was reportedly disenchanted with these and turned to the Arya Samaj, a popular movement formed to remove caste prejudices and idolatry from Hinduism.[2]

The search for work led Hans Ji to Lahore, the capital of the former Sikh kingdom. During this time he made his first contact with Sri Swarupanand Ji, a guru in the lineage of Advait Mat, from Guna.[6] In 1923, Swarupanand taught Hans the techniques of Knowledge or kriyas, an experience of which Sri Hans later said: "I was given no mantra, but experienced Knowledge. I experienced the music and light of my heart. My mind was focused within".[2] Three years later, in 1926, Swarupanand Ji asked him to start teaching others the techniques of Knowledge, and for the subsequent 10 years Sri Hans traveled through what is today Pakistan and northern India.[7] A strong bond of teacher/disciple was formed between them which Swarupanand reportedly referred to as follows: "I am in Hans' heart and Hans is in my heart".[2]

In 1936, Sri Swarupanand Ji died in Nangli Sahib, a village near the north town of Meerut. Reported indications from Swarupanand about Hans' succession were later contested by a group of mahatmas[8] who noted that Hans Ji had married Sinduri Devi from a neighbouring village in the district of Garwal, making him a "householder", a status that in their view as renunciates was not acceptable.[9] After the rift, Sri Hans was left with only a handful of people to help him continue his work. Sri Hans branched out on his own with the understanding that he had his teacher's blessings, and continued teaching throughout the Indian sub-continent.[9]

That same year, he started presenting his message and teaching in the small town of Najibabad, near Haridwar. His talks at the time were strongly influenced by the egalitarian and reformist philosophy of the Arya Samaj, and he reportedly accepted anyone as his student, irrespective of caste, religion or status. This was an unusual stance for an Indian teacher, and it drew its share of criticism from traditional Hindus. During this year he published a book Hans Yog Prakash[10] as a first step to broadening the dissemination of his message.

During the next years, Hans Ji traveled by foot and by train to towns and villages across north India,[9] speaking at small, impromptu gatherings at train stations, or under a tree in the village grounds. By the late 1930s, Sri Hans Ji had begun visiting Delhi, teaching workers at the Delhi Cloth Mills. He travelled constantly between Haridwar and Delhi, often staying at followers' houses at Paharganj and Connaught Place, behind the new Delhi center.[2]

In 1944, as the number of students grew, Sri Hans Ji purchased a small, two floor house on the bank of the Ganges canal outside Haridwar, and named it "Prem Nagar" ("Town of Love"). The mahatmas who were helping him in a full-time capacity lived there with him in the tradition of the gurukul. Four years later, he reportedly purchased his first car, a green Austin Somerset, that assisted him in visiting nearby towns and villages in his effort to reach more people.[2]

Sri Hans Ji and his first wife, Sinduri Devi, had a daughter, Savitri, but after that Sinduri Devi was unable to have more children. As a consequence of that, and based on an understanding that Swarupanand reportedly had told him that "one day he [Hans Ji] will have a son who would play an important role", he took a second wife in Rajeshwari Devi in 1946.[4] Unlike his first wife, Rajeshwari Devi would in time become known as Mata Ji and play a prominent role in her husband's work.[4] In 1951, their first son was born (Satpal),[11] followed by three more in 1953 (Mahi Pal), 1955 (Dharam Pal), and 1957 (Prem Pal), named affectionately by Sri Hans "Sant Ji".[12]

As Sri Hans Ji Maharaj's message was spreading throughout northern India, several initiatives were taken to facilitate his work, including the publishing of a monthly magazine named Hansadesh in 1951, and the formation of the Divine Light Mission (DLM).[13] For nearly 30 years Sri Hans Ji Maharaj disseminated his message without any formal organization. After resisting suggestions for such an organization, he finally gave in to growing pressure, and the Divine Light Mission was registered in Patna in 1960,[14] to develop and structure the growing activities across India.[15] The mission aims discussed are that "in principle all religions are one" and that the understanding that "peace is indivisible" and achievable by individuals and that "disgruntled individuals and dissatisfied nations can never promote lasting peace in the world."[citation needed] It also discusses some humanitarian initiatives.[14]

By the early 1960s there were students in most large cities, towns and villages in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, and Rajastan, as well as within the Indian communities in South Africa. Meetings were still small, and Sri Hans' close relationship with his students continued. In 1963, the first of many large public programs was held in the Ram Lila grounds in New Delhi, reportedly attended by 15,000. In 1964, an event took place on Gandhi Maidan in the heart of old Delhi that attracted even larger crowds. Several ashrams were opened during that time, including a small one in Rajastan and another larger one called Satlok ("Place of Truth") located between Delhi and Haridwar.[2]

In 1965, Sri Hans attended a religious conference in New Delhi's Constitution Club that was chaired by the then Speaker of the India Parliament, Mr. Ayengar. That year Sri Hans flew for the first time when he visited his students in Jammu, Kashmir.[2]

On July 18, 1966, while visiting a small ashram in Alwar, Sri Hans fell ill, and the same day returned to Delhi by car. It is reported that he died at 3 a.m. the following morning. Three days later, in a procession led by his family and many grieving mahatmas, his ashes were taken to his home in Haridwar.[2]

Succession[edit]

During the customary 13 days of mourning following Shri Hans's death, the succession was discussed by DLM officials. The youngest son, 8-year-old Prem Rawat, addressed the crowd and was accepted by them, as well as by his mother and brothers, as the "Perfect Master".[16][17][18][19] Though Prem Rawat was officially the leader of the DLM, because of his young age authority was shared by the whole family.[12][20][21][22][23][24]

For the next eight years Hans Ji Maharaj's family supported Prem Rawat as his successor but the latter's decision to marry a Westerner in 1974 precipitated a struggle for control of DLM.[25] Mata Ji returned to India and appointed her oldest son Satpal as the new head of DLM India claiming that Prem Rawat had broken his spiritual discipline by marrying and becoming a "playboy". The Western premies remained loyal to Rawat but the marriage led to a permanent rift within the family and was also credited with causing a profound disruption in the movement.[26][27][28][29][30]

Satpal became the new head of the organization in India and later also became a prominent INC politician, being elected to the 11th and 15th Lok Sabha; he is considered a satguru by his followers.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hans Ji Maharaj, Ram Navami (Basaki) Festival, Sarojini Nagar, New Delhi, April 1965.
    "My name is Hans Ram Singh"
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hans Jayanti (2000), pp.24-37. DUO, New Delhi, Book published in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Hans Ji Maharaj's birth.
  3. ^ Current Biography Yearbook (1974), p.225, H.W. Wilson Company
  4. ^ a b c Mangalwadi, Vishal (1987). The World of Gurus. Vikas Publishing House. p. 218. 
  5. ^ "MOTHER OUSTS 'PLAYBOY' GURU", Los Angeles Times April 2, 1975, pg. 6A
  6. ^ Melton, J. Gordon, Bauman, Martin. Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices (2002), p.427, ISBN 1-57607-223-1. Shri Hans Maharaj was a disciple of Sarupanand, a guru in the lineage of Shri Paramhans Advait Mat centered in Guna, a district in the state of Madhya Pradesh
  7. ^ Melton, J. Gordon. Encyclopedia Handbook of Cults in America , p.143
  8. ^ Melton, Gordon J. Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America,(1986), pp.141-2 Garland Publishing, ISBN 0-8240-9036-5
    Early in life he encountered Sarupanand a guru of the Sant Mat tradition. Though Sarupapand Ji had told his disciples to follow Hans Maharaj Ji, after the guru's death another disciple, Varaganand, claimed the succession and took control of the guru's property.
  9. ^ a b c Geaves, Ron, From Totapuri to Maharaji: Reflections on a Lineage (Parampara), paper delivered to the 27th Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions, Regents Park College, Oxford, 22–24 March 2002
  10. ^ Hans Ji Maharaj, Hans Yog Prakash (1936) (Unknown publisher), New Delhi
  11. ^ "About Shri Satpal Ji Maharaj". 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-06. 
  12. ^ a b H. W. Wilson Company, Current Biography Year Book, v.35. (1974), p. 21.
  13. ^ Melton, J. Gordon. Encyclopedia of American Religions:5th Edition, pp. 890-891
  14. ^ a b C.L. Tandon, (secretary of the DLM) Satgurudev Sri Hans Ji Maharaj, (1970) Albion Press
  15. ^ Geaves, Ron, From Divine Light Mission to Elan Vital and Beyond: An Exploration of Change and Adaptation (2004) Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, Volume 7, Issue 3, pages 45–62, ISSN 1092-6690 (print), University of California Press.Note: Ron Geaves, a Senior Lecturer, Programme Leader and Chair in religious studies at the University of Chester in England, is a student of Prem Rawat.
  16. ^ Mangalwadi, Vishal (1992). The world of gurus. Chicago, Ill.: Cornerstone. pp. 135–136. ISBN 9780940895034. "Balyogeshwar's [Prem Rawat's] father, the founder of the Mission, had declared him to be the "born saint"; his mother, the patron of the Mission, and Bal Bhagavan [Satpal], his oldest brother [...], called him the "perfect master" [...] his mother, brother, and mahatmas (apostles) prostrated themselves at his [Prem Rawat's] feet and received his blessing." 
  17. ^ Aagaard, Johannes. Who Is Who In Guruism? (1980) "During the first 6 years of the new movement its head was Shri Hans, the father of the young Maharaj Ji, who, at the age of 8 years, succeeded his father in 1966."
  18. ^ U. S. Department of the Army, Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains (2001) pp.1-5 , The Minerva Group, ISBN 0-89875-607-3
    Following his death, Shri Hans Ji appointed the youngest of his four sons, Sant Ji, as the next Perfect Master and therefore he assumed the head of the Divine Light Mission as decreed by his father."
  19. ^ Fahlbusch E., Lochman J. M., Mbiti J., Pelikan J., Vischer L, Barret D. (Eds.) The Encyclopedia of Christianity (1998). p.861, ISBN 90-04-11316-9 "At the funeral of Shree Hans, his son Prem Pal Singh Rawat [...] comforted those who mourned his father's death with the thought that they still had perfect knowledge with them. The son himself had become the subject of this knowledge, the perfect master, in the place of his father, and took the title of "guru" and the name of Maharaj Ji, or great king, a title of respect to which other titular names were added. The honors paid him by his followers gave him the characteristic of a messianic child. These were supposedly his by nature and they helped him to eliminate rival claims from his own family."
  20. ^ Melton, Gordon J. Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America, (1986), pp.141-2 Garland Publishing, ISBN 0-8240-9036-5 "Just six years after the founding of the Mission, Shri Hans Ji Maharaj was succeeded by his younger son Prem Pal Singh Rawat, who was eight when he was recognized as the new Perfect Master and assumed the title Maharaj Ji. Maharaj Ji had been recognized as spiritually adept, even within the circle of the Holy Family, as Shri Hans' family was called. He had been initiated at the age of six [...] He assumed the role of Perfect Master at his father's funeral by telling the disciples who had gathered. [...] Though officially the autocratic leader of the Mission, because of Maharaji's age, authority was shared by the whole family."
  21. ^ Fahlbusch E., Lochman J. M., Mbiti J., Pelikan J., Vischer L, Barret D. (Eds.) The Encyclopedia of Christianity (1998). p.861, ISBN 90-04-11316-9
    "At the funeral of Shree Hans, his son Prem Pal Singh Rawat [...] comforted those who mourned his father's death with the thought that they still had perfect knowledge with them. The son himself had become the subject of this knowledge, the perfect master, in the place of his father, and took the title of "guru" and the name of Maharaj Ji, or great king, a title of respect to which other titular names were added."
  22. ^ U. S. Department of the Army, Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains (2001) pp.1-5 , The Minerva Group, ISBN 0-89875-607-3
    Following his death, Shri Hans Ji appointed the youngest of his four sons, Sant Ji as the next Perfect Master and therefore he assumed the head of the Divine Light Mission as decreed by his father."
  23. ^ People Weekly Magazine, June 16, 1975.
    "Upon the death of her husband, the mission's founder, in 1966, she [Mata Ji] endorsed her youngest son, then 8, as 'Perfect Master.'"
  24. ^ Aagaard, Johannes. Who Is Who In Guruism? (1980).
    "During the first 6 years of the new movement [DLM] its head was Sri Hans, the father of the young Maharaj Ji, who, at the age of 8 years, succeeded his father in 1966."
  25. ^ Ron Geaves in New Religions: A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities pp.201-202, Oxford University Press, USA (2004) ISBN 978-0-19-522042-1
  26. ^ Melton J. Gordon Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America. New York/London: Garland, 1986 (revised edition), ISBN 0-8240-9036-5, pp. 141-145
  27. ^ Price, Maeve (1979): "The Divine Light Mission as a social organization". Sociological Review, 27, Page 279-296. "When Maharaj Ji began to assert his independence from his mother, both as an individual and as a leader, the mission entered a period of crises, internal conflict and consequent recession. In May 1974, Maharaj Ji married an American girl, Marolyn Johnson (now called Durga Ji), in direct defiance of his mother's wishes and the event shook the mission to its foundations. This marriage brought about an exodus from the ashrams, the stable core of the mission which had been a vital means of social control, as premies flocked to get married and began to produce their own children, within customary marriage structures. It was an important turning point for the mission. The followers seemed to grow up overnight into adults with normal family responsibilities and ties. The base of support inevitably shifted from the ashrams to the wider premie community. This meant that central control was very much weakened and that the ordinary, non-ashram premie began to play a more important role in determining the mission's fortunes. At the same time, many premies were shaken by the marriage and felt almost betrayed by their leader. It is apparent that the marriage was responsible for a loss of morale and therefore of support for the mission by many premies. "
  28. ^ Richardson, James T., in Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, William H. Swatos, ed., Rowman Altamira 1998 p.141 ISBN 0-7619-8956-0 "Also, the guru married his Caucasian secretary in 1974 when he was 17, shocking many of his followers (he had championed celibacy until his marriage) and leading to many defections."
  29. ^ Olson, Carl. The Many Colors of Hinduism: A Thematic-Historical Introduction. 2007 Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-4068-2 p. 345 "The movement split after Guru Maharaj Ji married his American secretary and broke his vow of celibacy. "
  30. ^ Pilarzyk, Thomas, The Origin, Development, and Decline of a Youth Culture Religion, Review of Religious Research, Vol. 20, No. 1. (Autumn, 1978), pp. 23-43.These were cultic establishments organized by premies who wished to live a semi-religious life but independent of the jurisdiction of the larger DLM organization. Members in these living arrangements made their own rules and regulations rather than accepting dictates from the Divine United Organization. For example, many premie houses across the country in 1975 did not adhere to the celibate life, one of the requirements of ashram life.
  31. ^ "Manav Dharam". 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-06. 

External links[edit]

Quotations related to Hans Ji Maharaj at Wikiquote