Swami Hariharji Maharaj

His Holiness Shree 108 Swami Harihar Ji Maharaj, lovingly called “Swamiji or Maharaj Shree” by the general public and simply Gurudev, by his disciples, was the Founder President of Geeta Ashrams worldwide. He was born of noble parentage on the Holi Poornima day in 1899 in Jodhpur. He was named Fateh Raj Purohit. His mother was an ardent devotee of Bhagvad Geeta and his father was a judge in the Jodhpur Court. He grew up amongst the Purohits but early in youth, he became a revolutionary and a freedom fighter. The idea of running a publication house brought him to Karachi where, in cooperation with others, he succeeded in pursuing his dream. Soon, he left everything and joined the Indian freedom movement that was gathering strength and rose to become the President of the Sind Branch of the Nav Jivan Bhartiya Sabha. He also took charge of the Satyagraha Camp at Bechaonji as well as served as a Lieutenant In-charge of the All India Congress Committee Session at Karachi. He also held offices of President, Sind Gayatri Prachar Mandal; Secretary, Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, etc. and went on to become the Vice Chancellor of Gurukul, Rau (MP).  Later he became associated with leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Madan Mohan Malviya, Maulana Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru etc. When Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose came on the scene, Fateh Raj was immensely inspired by his revolutionary spirit and was later chosen as the AICC delegate to the famous Tripura Congress with Subhash Chandra Bose as its President. It is said that young Fateh was never without a gun in one pocket and a copy of the Bhagvad Geeta in the other.  Like many other freedom fighters, he spent several days and nights in the prison on many occasions.

With the independence of India, there came a mysterious change in the personality of young Fateh Raj.  Declining the invitation of Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru to join the political leadership of the country, he opted to become an hermit.  Thus, a revolutionary turned ascetic overnight. An incident that touched him deeply concerned his younger brother, suffering from an ever oozing leg wound. When all hopes were lost, a curious message arrived from a friend, suggesting a God man living in the jungles of Jabalpur and with powers to heal any ailment.  So Fateh Raj took his brother to that holy man. Miraclously, the yogi’s healing touch cured the wound completely and the occasion became the turning point in Fateh’s life. He took initiation from the Yogi and decided to lead the life of an ascetic. After long meditation in the hills of Rajasthan, Gurudev Maharaj appeared on the soil of Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Here, on the banks of the holy Yamuna in 1947, he established the first Geeta Ashram. Ever since, non-stop recitation of Shrimad Bhagvad Geeta has been in progress in this place. The next Geeta Ashram was established in Delhi Cantonment with the foundation laid by the Late Dr S.R. Radhakrshnan, former President of India.  The Radha-Krishna- temple was later built on the site.  Gurudev himself lived in a cave below this temple. It soon became a meeting point for devotees coming from far and wide to listen to enlightening discourses by the great Seer.

Gurudev treated all his devotees alike, addressing them as children of one God and his very own souls irrespective of their status, wealth, sex, caste, creed or country. For the last 80 years of his life, Gurudev Ji did not take salt, water or cereal as such.  In fact, when a devotee asked him about it, he jokingly remarked that to eat someone’s salt is to become someone’s debtor –“rini” and that he had no desire to be so.  Another example of his tapasya was “maun” or silence for a number of days”. He observed this twice each year during the month of “Shraavan” and the days of Navaraatri. While in “maun”, he would live in a secluded place giving “darshan” to his devotees only in the evening, once each day. To him, this silence was in a way communion with God.  He regarded Bhagvad Geeta as the SONG OF GOD, sung by  God Himself for the benefit of all humanity in the world. He believed that the message of Gita has universal relevance in all times and climes. And thus, he took universalist approach in spreading this message. He believed that his “sampradaya (religious tradition) is the same as that of the Lord Himself. In his own words, ” If He is a Christian, I am a Christian, If He is a Muslim, I am a Muslim, If He is a Buddhist, I am a Buddhist.”  It was from this secular perspective and Oneness of God that Maharaj Ji presented the Bhagvad Geeta as a scripture of the world, not belonging to any one particular religion or man but as a common sacred heritage of all Mankind. He had mastered the divine knowledge and wisdom contained therein and presented the same in simple and easy to understand discourses. He truly felt that the divine message would ultimately spread to all humans. And its practical application in one’s life will make the person a better human being, full of qualities, leading ultimately to “Moksha or Eternal Bliss.”

On the 31st March, 2000, His Holiness left the mortal-remains behind and became BRAHMALEEN, one with the Lord.