A Divine Personality
Shri Hans Ji Maharaj worked tirelessly for four decades - from 1926, to 1966 - spreading the Knowledge of God throughout India. The majority of Indians, influenced by Western education and culture, had all but forgotten the meaning and significance of para vidya, the Transcendental spiritual Knowledge which grants the soul liberation. The illiterate masses were trapped in the vise of superstition, idolatry and rituals of the Pauranic tradition. The last century had seen the rise of reformist groups such as the Arya Samaji and Brahmo Samaj, which attempted to eradicate the social evils and superstitions which had flourished in the frame of religion. These organizations, however remained by and large social reform movements which didn't place any particular importance upon spirituality and realization of the Para Vidya, even though this Knowledge is glorified in the Vedas, Upanishads and other scriptures. The Mundaka Upanishad mentions two types of Knowledge - Para, or Knowledge of God, and apara or knowledge of anything lesser. In verse 1-1-5 it says:
"Rig Veda, Jajur Veda, Sama Veda, Artharva Veda, as well as phonetics, rituals, grammar, etymology, philosophy and astrology constitute the lower apara knowledge, with the higher, or Para, is that by which the Eternal and Imperishable is realized."
The sage of the Taittiriya Upanishad praises the Para Vidya, saying,
"The Knowledge which I have transmitted to you is my commandment. This is my advice to you, this is the essence of the Vedas and the sovereign secret. This is the injunction of the Vedas and other scriptures. Practise this Knowledge and live according to it." (11-6)
Shri Hans Ji Maharaj revealed the practical knowledge of the Para Vidya, which had well-nigh vanished from India, to all aspirants irrespective of caste and creed.
It is possibly too soon to arrive at a precise evaluation of the contribution of his personality and teaching to the modern scene. Undoubtedly, however, history will testify that this unique spiritual giant cleansed religion of the dross of ritual and superstition that had obscured it, and enlarged the mental and spiritual horizon of millions of men and women. He revealed to all aspirants the spiritual entity within themselves. He offered to the public the foundation which underlies all religions and which is itself the unifying factor. He claimed that ritualistic and ceremonial aspects of religion which make them all seem disparate are actually merely the sheath which encloses the sword. A realized soul appreciates the value of the sword itself and not the sheath.
Religion has become almost a non-entity. The mushrooming of sects is due to ignorance of the Truth. These sects oppose each other. Is this Dharma? Is this true religion? Any religion which can't protect us is not religion at all. Man's natural religion teaches love and brotherhood. What is known as religion today is actually destructive, dividing people into warring groups and promoting discord and strife.
The educated of the world make even more of a mess of religion than the illiterate. These 'educated fools' whose knowledge extends only as far as the scriptures, are like the 'leaf-counters' immersed in trivia who fail to eat the mangoes. That is
why Shri Hans Ji Maharaj denounced them as 'educated parrots', who talk about religion while having no inner experience of it. Shri Maharaj Ji used to illustrate his point with this story:
"A mahatma taught a parrot do say, 'The hunter will come, he'll spread a net and throw down seeds, but don't get caught: He released the parrot back into the flock and soon all the parrots had learned the same lines. One day a hunter did come and throw a net and seeds, and all the parrots, chanting the same lesson, flew into the net and were caught. This is man's predicament. He talks about God but is caught in the net of Maya."
Maharaj Ji always quoted great masters such as Guru Nanak, Shri Ramakrishna and St Kabir, because they were realized souls and true religion is a matter of realization. At first, Shri Maharaj Ji's teachings mostly affected the urban lower middle classes as well as farmers and agricultural workers from the villages. The Brahmins, the priestly class, either opposed him, or regarded him with supercilious indifference, since, in their opinion, he had no formal knowledge of Sanskrit nor displayed any form of academic erudition. He spoke the language of the common people. The educated upper classes were also not attracted to him because they were engrossed in the pursuit of material happiness.
Maharaj Ji's love for the poor was proverbial. He loved them for their simplicity and humility. As Lord Rama said, "Only the pure in heart, in whom there is no guile or duplicity, can attain Me." Jesus Christ said, "Blessed are the pure in hearts for they shall see God."
Shri Maharaj Ji did not for a moment with to start a new sect or creed. He often said, "There is no greater traitor than the man who tries to net up a new sect in my name. I've come to unite people, not to start a new religion. Dharma is the original and eternal thing, while religions, new or old, are the root of contention."
He initiated thousands upon thousands into the true Knowledge and gave their lives new meaning. He sowed the seed of humanity in their hearts.
In the last two or three years of his life, Maharaj Ji was ail dance and bliss. Like Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he was in a state of divine ecstasy: Divinity manifested in him to such an extent that no one who came within his ambit could fail to have a spiritually elevating experience. He was the ocean of immortal Nectar in human form and upon the devotees who loved him with all their hearts, he, overflowing with love and compassion, showered this Nectar, saturating those thirsty souls.
He concluded his earthly drama on 19th July, 1966 and merged back into the Infinite whence he came, but even now his immortal words still ring in our ears:
"Never mind. If you fall you can stand up again. Don't be afraid. Just keep on going, no matter how many times you may stumble. Once you have turned to me and taken refuge in me, your salvation is assured. All you have to do is firmly attach yourself to the Holy Word. I myself will draw you upwards. Meditate on the Divine Light and Holy Name. I've closed the doors of hell for you.
'The true Guru is he who can explain what religion really is. Religion means seeing God face-to-face and knowing His eternal Name. The one who can reveal such Knowledge is the Perfect Master. No one else in the world, besides him, is perfect."