Sitaramdas Omkarnath Dev
A lean sadhu of godly appearance with matted hair, bearing wooden sandals of his Guru on the chest was singing Naam with a large band of followers at Jaganath Puri. Some local inhabitants had foreknowledge of his coming and had already publicized his itinerary in a pamphlet that made a prediction by a companion of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu four hundred years back! It told of the coming of a sadhu who would be preaching the Mahamantra or Naam of sixteen words. The sadhu described was Sitaramdas Omkarnath, the founder of the Akhil Bharat Jaiguru Sampradaya.
PARAM GURUDEV Sri Dasharathi Dev of Digsui was the Guru Of Thakur Sitaramdas Omkarnath. His life of total surrender to his Guru is indeed a unique example of exclusive devotion to one’s Guru.At the age of forty-five, He was commissioned by His Guru, to preach the Naam or the Mahamantra. In the days before He gave up His mortal body, Dashrathideva saw a dream set in celestial space. The dream contained a message: the Mahamantra was the only means to universal succour, in the present age. Dashrathideva conveyed this message to His disciple. By now Prabodhchandra Chatopadyaya had formally become a renunciate; he had donned the robe and assumed the name of ‘Sitaramdas Omkarnath’.
He had already set up the ‘Ramashram’ at Dumurdha. A little after being instructed by His Guru, Jagannath Deva materialized before Sitaramdas Omkarnath and instructed Him to preach the NaamHis commitment to spirituality and the work commissioned by His Guru was undiminished. A renunciate, He led the life of an ideal householder.
Order named ‘Jaiguru Sampradaya’ was established and the work of preaching Naam started almost immediately. Food and clothes were distributed to the poor and free schools were set up. Temples were built and renovated and writing of Ram Naam was undertaken on a massive scale. Diksha, or initiation was given to would-be sadhakas. For the next forty-five years, this work went on through the length and breadth of the country.Ashrams and maths were established in many parts of the country, among them the Mahamilan Math is at Kolkata and others at Uttat Kashi, Omkareshwar, Rishikesh, Vrindavana, Pushkar etc. Sanghs were started for Naamkirtan and for intellectual discourses.Many magazines and periodicals in English and Bengali were launched for furthering the purpose and mission of the Order. Under His influence, the singing of the Mahamantra or Naam became a rage at the different pilgrimage spots. The ‘abhayavani’ composed by Him spread like wildfire across the nation. During the Indo-Pak war of 1971, fought for the freedom of what is now Bangladesh , the soldiers sang the Naam prolifically. Sitaramdas Omkarnath has been described as the real general of that war which was won by India ! Senior statesmen of the times, Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Indira Gandhi, Vajpayee and others had sought His blessings.
Religious preceptors of various Hindu and non-Hindu sects acknowledged Him as much more than a sadhu… as an incarnation of Divinity. He displayed no miraculous powers; He advised everyone to take refuge in the Lord and His Name. Yet all the leading lights of the day acknowledged to having experienced divine bliss on contact with Him. Among such persons were Sufi Pir Inayat Vilayat Khan, the Buddhist Dalai Lama, Ma Anandmayi, Daya Ma of the Yogoda Satsanga, the Nepali Baba, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and other mystics. He had initiated persons of lower castes into Naam and accepted them into His fold. Among His devotees were foreigners from U.S.A. , Canada , Holland and France . He showed the greatest understanding of the different cultural milieu that they hailed from. There were Muslim and Christian devotees rubbing shoulders with the Hindu devotees. One of His Muslim devotees wrote the Naam as ‘Allah’ one lakh times and submitted the copy to Sitaramdas Omkarnath!
His writings reveal the complete and rounded nature of His spiritual accomplishment. The ‘Sudhar Dhara’ presents the nectar of the scriptures, while the ‘Naamamrit Lahiri’ represents a crossing over the vast ocean of the Hindu scriptures to present the efficacious remedy of ‘Naam’. The ‘Naadleelamrit Lahiri’ presents the abstruse concepts of Jnana Yoga. ‘Sri Sri Brahmanusandhana’ and ‘Sri Sri Omkar Sahasra Giti’ present the cream of the Upanishads. Some writings bring Him out to be a devotee of Ram while others a devotee of Shiva. His writings reveal the depth and breadth of His knowledge, which was not merely scriptural but based on personal experience.
PHILOSOPHY OF SRI SRI SITARAMDAS OMKARNATH
A proponent of Pranavavaad and doctrine of Omkar, He said all the streams of spirituality, Ganapatya, Saura, Shakta, Shaiva and Vaishnava culminate into Omkara. Commissioned by God to preach the Mahamantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare) He declared continuous singing of this mantra as a panacea. Swami Chidananda of Divine Life Society hailed Him as the Naam Avatara (Lord’s Name Incarnate) As the best course of action, a disciple must surrender to the Guru and accept devotional service as away of life. A disciple should maintain the attitude of a ‘kinkar’ (God’s or Guru’s servitor) throughout his life.
“The ultimate answer to the question ‘Who am I?’ is –I am indeed the only true principle in this world. I alone exist; I am the one who has lost the way and am searching for it. After wandering through eighty-four lakhs yonis (births) I have now become a disciple devoted to spiritual practice. In the form of Guru and the Mantra, it is I who am sporting in order to uplift myself. I am established in the Surya, Sushumna and the right eye in the most subtle form, pervading all over.” This profound truth is Thakur’s supreme sermon.
LORD JAGANNATH DARSHAN
In March 1937, he undertook a vow of silence, after relinquishing his duties as a householder, with a firm resolve that either God must appear before him and command him expressly by word of mouth, or he would leave the body and pass off in Nirvikalpa or indeterminate Samadhi. On 22nd or 23rd of April, 1937, the Lord appeared in the form of Jagannath. Years later, the Master described this experience as follows: “That night he first had a vision of bright light, a light stronger than the mid-day sun, but a light, full of life coming from the forehead of Lord Jagannath – the deity of Puri temple.As the light shown on his face, he opened his eyes to the dazzling light and he clearly saw the black image of Lord Jagannath, adorned with dazzling ornaments of diamond and precious stones, and his round eyes were staring at him. He stared back with unseeing eyes not realizing that he was in the presence of God Himself.
The stub arms of Lord Jagannath lifted in blessings and from the focused bright light Lord Krishna emerged. Lord Krishna with a flute in his hand, danced in front of him. He then realized that he was now in the presence of Lord Krishna and waited for him to speak, his eyes shedding tears, tears of joy, his heart filled with sublime quiet and fulfillment, his body shivering with pleasure and achievement. Lord Krishna, in a melodious voice directed, “Ya-Ya-nam-dige-ya” (go go – preach the Name)”. Sitaram Das’s heart overflowed with gratitude, but is soul was soaring high with inspiration and his body was trembling with emotion. Before his staring eyes could blink, Lord Krishna slowly became opaque and then vanished. The brilliant light dimmed and there was complete darkness in the room and he could no longer see Lord Jagannath. Sitaram Das crying silently prostrated towards the temple of Lord Jagannath and from his soul the answer came: “Yes my Lord, thy wish shall be obeyed”.It is because of the intervention of Lord Jagannath that the Master became accessible to all people, irrespective of caste, creed and religion.Hitherto, he was reluctant to initiate and even when he gave his initiation, it was for the select few who could undertake and succeed in passing rigorous tests, like, chanting Gayatri Mantra or Hare Krishna Mantra, at least four lakh times.But after receiving the command to preach the Name far and wide, he initiated freely without making any distinction of creed or caste or religion or insisting on any other conditions or considerations of strictness and morality.