Our most revered Gurudev Swami Shri Geetanand ji popularly known as Veer ji, was born on 20 November 1929 in village Kamalia of district Lyallpur( now in Pakistan) in a very reputed Gosain family. He was named Prakash Dev. His father was Sh. Nand Lal Gosain & mother was Smt. Bharava Devi. His grand father Sh. Sheetal Das Gosain was an extremely religious person. All the family was devoted to Lord Krishna. The religious disposition of the family greatly influenced young Prakash Dev. Being the only son & born after six daughters, Prakash was the apple of his parents’ eyes. He was deeply loved & pampered. Affectionately he was called by several names like nikka, manga, kaka etc. His father became his first guru(teacher). His father was a strict disciplinarian. All the members were supposed to adhere to certain rules like- obedience to elders, getting up before sun rise, read a chapter of Bhagvad Geeta before taking breakfast etc. and these rules were strictly followed by one & all.
Veer ji did his matriculation from kamalia itself. Since beginning he was extremely brilliant & a promising pupil. He was a boy of contemplative nature and pondered deeply over every matter. That’s why, at a very young age his mind was illuminated to the hollowness & the transience of this world. He was just 12 years old, studying in 7th standard, when his eldest sister got married & it deeply affected him. It illustrated to him the ever- changing aspect of this world as he used to say in his discourses later on: “change is the unchangeable law of nature.” For hours together, he ruminated over the fact that this world is made of pair of opposites. Nothing is permanent in this world, everything is temporary. So its futile to run after worldly pleasures & achievements. Now he preferred to remain in solitude, away from the hustle & bustle of this world. At such a young age, the philosophical inclinations of his mind clearly illustrated the famous saying:
Coming events cast their shadows before.
His father made arrangements for his further study after he passed matriculation but he was not at all interested. Constant brooding over the transience of this world made him completely indifferent to this ephemeral world & its short –lived achievements. Very humbly he said to his father: “Dear dad! What will I do with so much of education? Kabir ji became a saint without having any formal education.” His father lovingly said to him: “I don’t want that you study to get a job & earn money, I want you to study for study sake only.”
At the time of Indo-Pak division in 1947, the family left Lyallpur & came to India. Here he did his graduation from S.A. Jain College, Ambala City. During these days an unusual incident took place. One day he was studying, trying to find answer to a certain question, when suddenly he heard an angelic voice: “why are you working so hard? You have to become a saint only.” It added fuel to the fire of detachment (from this world) already burning in his heart. That very moment, he wanted to abandon everything & devote his life to God. But it was not God’s will. That’s why, on being pressed upon by his father, he had to stay and continue with his formal education. First he completed his graduation, then yielded to his father’s wish & went to Ripudaman College, Nabha to do M.A. (Hindi). There, his simplicity, melodious voice, humility& compassionate nature won everyone’s heart. The Principal himself would come to see him in the hostel. But his constant brooding over the transience of this world left no traces of attachment in his mind with any worldly thing or relation. Over there too, that angelic voice constantly echoed in his ears. For hours together, he mused over a thing:man studies to earn, earns to eat, and eats to live, but lives for what?
What is purpose of this human life? Have we come to this world to eat, drink, breathe, attain & maintain the worldly paraphernalia, get married, have children, rear them up, then grow old, suffer from diseases and then ultimately die? Is it the be all & end all of life?? Does reproduction serve the purpose of human life? If it is so, the animals too are doing the same. Then what’s the difference between the two? Such things stormed his mind and left him restless & agitated.
While he was doing M.A., another miraculous incident took place. He was preparing for exams when suddenly the question paper appeared before his eyes before the exam. This incident reinforced & convinced him that that there is a divine power attracting him towards Godliness. He passed out his M.A. in 1951. The head of the department, Prof. B.L. Sharma urged him to go to Hindu University, Banaras to pursue PH.D. He went there and started studying. But, by now, he had become completely indifferent to the world. So, very soon he decided to come back home without completing his PH.D. On being asked by a professor, he roared: “Born in a Brahmin family, that too in Gosain family, I want to be a Brahmin in the true & genuine sense.” Then he worked as a lecturer in a private college but resigned just after 6 months only. Being absolutely dispassionate to the world, he wanted to renounce this world, go to a secluded place and devote his whole life to God. But he had to stay at home for another one and a half year due to his wailing mother & sisters. He felt suffocated at home. Worldly relations could not tether him anymore. Though he was living at home but he was a sannyasin at heart as Maharishi Vashisht says:
nivrit raagsye griham tapovanam
(Home itself becomes tapovan for a detached soul.)
He spent most of his time outdoors at some secluded places. Before sunrise, he went out to some secluded place and returned after sunset only. One of his teachers came to know about his state of mind. He called him and gave him a book of Swami Ram Tirtha: In Woods of God Realization. After reading this book, he was in an ecstatic state. His joy knew no bounds. He assimilated the ideas contained in the book to such a great extent that he became an embodiment of it. Fortunately he not only came into his contact but also had Swami Ram Tirtha as his Gurudev (spiritual guide).The vedantic ideas of Swami Ram Tirtha captivated him, especially his article-Upasana, transformed the life of Veer ji. Then he picked up a very bulky holy book- Yoga Vashisht. He relished it so much that he took food & rest only after reading it thoroughly and it took him two and a half days.
Veer ji read a lot of philosophical books but his life guide was Bhagvad Geeta. As he used to say in his discourses: “Bhagvad Geeta is the best guide, friend & philosopher” He worshiped his deity Lord Krishna in the form of Jagat guru (the greatest world teacher). Day & night he prayed to Lord Krishna with tearful eyes. Unconcerned with his body, he stood bare feet for hours together when the scorching heat of the sun on deflagrated earth during May & June.
These days usually he spent some time in a cow barn near his house. There he served cows, carried cow dung, did cleaning etc. In Hindu religion too, cow has an elevated status and its service in scriptures really esteemed high. Whenever he went out, he was dressed so simply that none could guess that he belonged to such an affluent family. Though living in a house full of all sorts of luxuries, he was leading a life of sannyasin indifferent to all worldly pleasures. His soul was enlightened & his mind illuminated to the fact that this world with all its attractions & temptations is ephemeral. Worldly pleasures are transient because this world is made of pairs of opposites.
Now he found his house totally suffocating, his heart felt like being caged & yearned for freedom. At last one day, he took permission from his mother with the words: “did u get any happiness from this world?? If not, then why do you drag me to this painful world?” His mother was speechless. Ultimately he left his house forever and became an ascetic. Before leaving his house he took the pledge: O Gurudev! Today I leave this house & come to your feet. Either I will have self- realization or I will commit suicide. But I won’t ever look back.” He moved to forest for tapa (life of austerity). It was the state of supreme renunciation when all worldly ties were broken and he dedicated himself completely to the realization of God. Lord Krishna says in Bhagvad Geeta:
asaktir anabhiṣhvaṅgaḥ putra-dāra-gṛihādiṣhu
nityaṁ cha sama-chittatvam iṣhṭāniṣhṭopapattiṣhu
– The paramount advantage of this human birth is self-realization. It is the only way to liberate our soul from transmigration.
Veer ji too dedicated himself fully to it. Day & night, he performed spiritual practices rigorously. Entirely indifferent to his body, he hardly bothered himself even with the basic needs- food, clothing & protection. Worldly difficulties could never impede him and he strided rapidly on the path of spirituality. The yearning & desperation to have the divine vision of blessed Lord Krishna made him so restless that he could not think of anything else.
Tvam asi mam bhushnam,tvam asi mam jeevanam, tvam asi mam jaldhi ratnam.
Bhavtu bhavtiham mayi satatam anurodhinah tapat mam hridayam iti yatanam.
– O my blessed Lord! You are my jewel, my life, my precious treasure, my everything. Let my mind be steadfast in your sweet memory.
Day by day his spiritual practices became more & more rigorous, his mind always focused on his goal. Keeping the mind ever alert & cautious on the path of spirituality is hard nut to crack. It’s like walking on eggshells. The most important Thing is consistency. As Lord Krishna says in Bhagvad Geeta:
yunjannevam sadaatmanam yogi niyatamanasah.
shantim nirvanaparamam matsamsthamadhigacchati.
– Thus practicing constant control of the body, mind and activities, the mystic transcendentalist, his mind regulated, attains to the kingdom of God [or the abode of Krishna] by cessation of material existence.
With indomitable spirit he kept on practicing. In fact self- realization is not a kid’s play. One has to be consistent in efforts, face unfavorable circumstances, remain focused, sacrifice all worldly pleasures, and embellish his heart with fortitude, patience, humility & perseverance as Veer ji used to sing:
Prabhu ki aur jane wale,
Prabhu ka pana khel nahi.
Keh dena asaan hai lekin,
Karke dikhana khel nahi.
Jab tak mann se kaam krodh mad lobh moh chute nahi,
Tab tak mann me Hari ka pana bacho ka koi khel nahi.
– O spiritual aspirant! Realization of God is not an easy job. It’s easier said than done. Until one gets rid of desires, anger, attachment, ego & avarice, one can’t realize God.
This was the first song composed by him. In fact it was God’s inspiration only. Later on he composed many devotional songs which are compiled in his book “Geeta Bhajanavali.” All the hymns in this book are based on BhagVad Geeta.
With indomitable spirit & unshakable faith, Veer ji moved ahead every step. He hardly cared for his food, sleep, rest or any comfort. These were the years 1951, 1952 & 1953, when he was leading the life of an ascetic. Three stanzas – 51, 52, 53 of Chapter 18 of Geeta Ji were his favorite & he was trying to inculcate the divine qualities enumerated in these stanzas. The correspondence between the respective no. of stanzas & the years was really amazing. As he used to sing later on:
San the ikyavan bavan, trepan,
Van me hi tha lukkan chippan.
Jeevan tha mera hassan, rovan,
Liya tha maine khub maza.
Wah wah wah mere Maalika,
Teri Mahima gau bhi kya?
– Those were the years of 1951, 1952 & 1953, years of hide & seek in the forest, life was full of laughs & tears, but still I relished it. O my Lord ! You are great & words fail to express your greatness.
During the days of his spiritual practice, Veer ji meticulously followed the path shown by his most revered Gurudev Swami Ram Tirtha Ji. In addition to his Gurudev, he was influenced by the ideas of Swami Shri Sivanand Ji too. Swami Shri Sivanand ji’s books resolved many mysteries like – What is meditation? How to meditate? What impedes meditation? His books like – How to get Vairagya, Necessity of Sanyasa? Dhyana Yoga, Concentration & Meditation, Mind – its Mysteries & Control etc. accelerated him on the path of spirituality. Entirely detached from everything, now there was only one burning desire in the heart – to have divine vision of blessed Lord Krishna in His most cherished form – in the form of JagadGuru (as the greatest world teacher). Sometime crying, sometime laughing, sometime dancing, and sometime sitting motionlessly in a contemplative mood – such was his strange state of mind. The queer variations in his moods could be mistaken for insanity by an on-looker but it was the most celebrated madness – madness for God. The only words on his lips these days were:
Usko hai har dam justju,
Vo dhundta hai char su.
Dildar ki hai aarzu,
Dildar kyun milta nahi.
– Day & night craving for Him, looking for Him, seeking Him, still unable to see Him. Why????
Finally after much cravings & yearnings, he was blessed by God on 17 February 1954, when the piousness of the divine hours consecrates the atmosphere with divinity. That was the moment, when Veer ji realized the omnipotent, omniscient & omnipresent Lord of the universe. Words fail to express that state. But still we can just say that in that metaphysical state, reservoir of infinite bliss opened unto him in which his soul was entirely absorbed with no consciousness of this world. In Hinduism, it is called the state of Nirvikalap Samadhi as stated in the Bhagvad Geeta:
bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaśh chāsmi tattvataḥ
tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā viśhate tad-anantaram
– One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of Me by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.
He remained in that ecstatic state for long. When he came back on the physical plane, the very first words that touched his lips were: Thanks to you O my most revered Gurudev. I am indebted to you.
In a very short span of time, at a very young age, he became a realized soul. Though he was in a state of desirelessness, but still he wished two things. First was, to have the divine vision of blessed Lord Krishna in his most cherished form – in the form of JagadGuru. The second was to see his Gurudev face-to-face once again. His both the wishes were very soon fulfilled. Now he wanted to be liberated from the cage of this body & sublimate in God forever. But God had some other plans. Lord Krishna wanted him to be the light-house for hundreds & thousands of afflicted, agonized & bewildered souls. Though Bhagvad Geeta Ji is very popular among philosophers & saints in India as well as abroad, but now Lord Krishna wanted to make it a household name and for this he chose our Veer ji.
Being inspired by Lord Krishna, Veer ji resolved to enlighten the masses with the divine knowledge of Bhagvad Geeta Ji. Now it became the mission of his life. He came to Ambala city & the very first place he started from was Grain market, Ambala city. There, most of the time, he preached in the form of question-answer. After a few days, on the appeal of the public he moved to Ram Mandir, near GT road. Gradually the number of people increased. His eloquence & enigmatic personality captivated people. But the hoo-ha of the city was intolerable for him. So he came to Mandir only when he had to deliver the lecture. He spent rest of his time in the dense woods near Baldev Nagar, Ambala city. People soon realized his desire for solitude, so a small area in that forest was cleared and a cottage was made for him. The place being far away from the city was not easily accessible but people found it irresistible and thronged in large number to listen to his euphonic voice. People loved him so much and affectionately called him “Veer Ji”. One day someone stole his few belongings in his absence. It worried people much. His father got too anxious for his safety. Even though he resisted, a piece of land was bought & a room was made for him. Veer ji delivered lectures every morning & evening. His discourses impressed one and all, but the most influenced age group was youth because of his ideas being so logical. There was an aura about him. His charismatic presence, fearlessness & honesty really enticed people. His selfless love soothed & comforted many tormented souls.
Another significant milestone was the Hitaishi Press, that was set up in 1959. The very first magazine printed here was a weekly magazine – Satsang Mala. Then there was a daily magazine – Dainik Satsang. It consisted of the articles of some other realized souls in addition to the lectures of Veer ji. There was a magazine for children too named – Masik Baal Updesh. Religious books & magazines printed there still guide people far & wide. In 1971, there started the construction of a big building named- Satsang Bhawan. With the zestful co-operation of the people, it did’t take long & the building was ready in a very short span of time. Now a vast sprawling building called Satsang Bhawan has replaced that small room. The most interesting thing about it is, that, though named Satsang Bhawan, it is still popularly known as Veer ji ki Kutiya. Instead of that dense forest, now there is a beautiful colony called Geeta Nagri. In 1975, two buses were also bought for the convenience of the public.
Veer ji read many scriptures like the GuruGranth Sahib, the Bible, the Quran, the Satyarth Prakash etc. After analyzing them all, he came to the conclusion that Bhagwad Geeta is the best, unique, un-parallel, matchless & complete in itself. Geeta Ji is the best guide, best friend & best philosopher.
Veer ji’s life was a living illustration of the Gospel of Bhagwad Geeta. He gave us exhaustive elucidations on the philosophy of Geeta jJ in the form of many books like: Geeta Pravachan, Geeta Manthan, Geeta Prashanotri, Geeta ke Moti, Geeta Gyanamrit, Geeta Chintan, Geeta Vachanamrit. His books like Vairagyya Darshan, Mann Jeete Jag Jeet, Dukh Nivaran, Ramayana Prashanotri, Ramayana Tatva, Mast Kalandar, Moha-Nivaran, Jigyasu-Prashanotri, Kabir-Dohavali and many more, still continue to inspire spiritual aspirants.
The most amazing thing is his continuous stay at one place for 50 years. He never moved from place to place to propagate the preachings of Geeta Ji. His whole day throbbed with activity like a true karma yogi. His every day routine is exemplary for all. His dedication to his mission really created a marvelous history. He not only made the philosophy of Geeta Ji comprehensible for house holders, but also over-hauled the lives of many strayed people. It’s for the great souls like him only that Lord Krishna says in Bhagwad Geeta:
na cha tasmān manuṣhyeṣhu kaśhchin me priya-kṛittamaḥ
bhavitā na cha me tasmād anyaḥ priyataro bhuvi
– There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.
Satsang Bhawan has now become the center of faith for a large number of people all over India. On 16 January 2004, he left this world for his heavenly abode leaving thousands in tears. His soul sublimated in God forever.
“Hey Geeta ke saakar Swarup,
Deh chod ban gaye Vishav roop.
Ho gaye aseem, simayein tod,
Ram gaye brahmand, virat se naata jod.
Ho nahi bhale hi nigahon ke samne tum,
Lekin ab bhi – hawao me tum, fijao me tum.
Geeta ke har Shalok me tum.
Jan jan ka Gyan, aalok me tum.”
Though, today, he is not there with us physically, still his unseen, but ever felt presence is and will always be there with us reminding us of the clarion call of Lord Krishna:
sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śharaṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyāmi mā śhuchaḥ
– Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
JAI BHAGWAD GEETE…JAI BHAGWAD GEETE…JAI BHAGWAD GEETE…