His Holiness Shree 1008 Swami Harihar Ji Maharaj, lovingly addressed as Swami Ji Maharaj or Maharaj Shree by one and all and Gurudev Maharaj or simply Gurudev, by his own disciples, was the Founder President of Geeta Ashrams worldwide.
He was once a revolutionary and a freedom-fighter. Born of noble parentage on the auspicious day of Holi Poornima in the year 1899 in Jodhpur (Rajasthan), Fateh Raj Purohit grew up in the midst of Purohits. His mother was an ardent devotee of Bhagvad Geeta and his father was a judge in the Jodhpur Court.
In his youth, he was enamored by the idea of running a publication house. In this connection, he moved from Rajasthan to Karachi where, together with others, he achieved a great success in pursuing this idea. During this period, the Indian National Movement was gathering greater strength. Leaving everything else, the young Fateh Raj joined the freedom movement. Soon, he became the President of the Sind branch of the Nav Jivan Bhartiya Sabha. He also took charge of the Satyagraha Camp at Bechaonji and served as a Lieutenant In-charge of the All India Congress Committee Session at Karachi. He also held offices of President of Sind Gayatri Prachar Mandal; Secretary of Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, etc. Later, he went on to become the Vice Chancellor of Gurukul, Rau (MP).
He was closely 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. He was chosen as the AICC delegate to the famous Tripura Congress with Subhash Chandra Bose as its President. It is said that Gurudev was never without a gun in one pocket and a copy of the Bhagvad Geeta in the other. Being of slim frame, it was no great feat for him to jump from the third floor of his house to escape an arrest. Like many other young dedicated freedom fighters, he spent several days and nights in the prison on many occasions.
With the independence of India there came a sudden and mysterious change in the personality of young Fateh Raj. He declined the invitation of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to join the political leadership of the country and opted to become a hermit. Mysterious are the ways of God, a revolutionary turned into an ascetic overnight!
An incident that affected young Fateh Raj deeply relates to his younger brother who suffered from a mysterious illness. This involved a wound on his leg that was constantly oozing. It did not respond to any treatment by any doctor. When all hopes were lost, a message came from a friend, suggesting a man of God, living in the jungles of Jabalpur and having powers to heal any ailment. As a last resort, Fateh Raj took his brother to that yogi. There, an unbelievable miracle happened – the yogi’s healing touch cured the wound pretty fast and the brother felt as if the wound never existed on his leg. This amazed Fateh and the occasion became the turning point in his life. He took initiation from that Yogi and decided to lead the life of an ascetic. He took his brother home and leaving him there departed without a word of farewell to his family. The call had come and he answered it by beginning his journey on the path of spirituality.
After long meditation and tapasya in the hills of Rajasthan, Gurudev Maharaj appeared on the soil of Mathura, the sacred birthplace of Lord Krishna. Here, he established the first Geeta Ashram on the banks of the holy Yamuna in 1947. The recitation of Shrimad Bhagvad Geeta has been going on in this place non-stop ever since for the last 63 years. The next Geeta Ashram was established in Delhi Cantonment. Its foundation was laid by the Late Dr S.R. Radhakrshnan, former President of India. A beautiful Radha-Krishna- temple was built on the site. Gurudev himself lived in a cave below the temple. This temple soon developed into a focal point for devotees coming from far and wide to congregate and listen to soul- elevating and enlightening discourses by the great Seer. In this endeavor, the residents of Delhi Cantonment, in general, and families residing in the Sadar Bazaar, in particular, played a vital role.
Gurudev’s devotees are everywhere in the world. He treated them all alike as children of one God irrespective of the fact whether it was Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur (herself a great devotee of him and his teachings) or the humble vegetable-vendor of Faridabad or the simple farmer from Ranchi. Gurudev’s love and affection encompassed every one; rich or poor, man or woman, old or young with no distinction of caste, creed, religion, and the physical boundaries of countries.
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. When asked about it, he explained that observing silence thus, he is in communion with the Lord and the process further helps him to rejuvenate himself. The experience of hearing his first sermon after the “maun” has been described as very electrifying and fulfilling spiritually.
Gurudev always addressed all individuals present in a congregation as devotees of the Lord and his very own souls. The Bhagvad Geeta, according to him, is the SONG OF GOD, sung by God Himself for the benefit of the entire world, for all mankind regardless of race, creed, color or religion. Further, he believed, “It is relevant to all at all times and climes.” He took Universalist approach in spreading the word of Geeta. Asked about his particular “sampradaya” (religious tradition), he replied, “I belong to the Lord’s sampradaya “. 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 Shree presented the Bhagvad Geeta as a scripture of the world, not belonging to any particular religion or man but as the sacred heritage of one and all without any distinction of any kind. He had mastered the divine knowledge and wisdom that emanated from the lotus lips of the Lord Himself. His discourses were simple and easy to follow and understand. He truly believed that the goodness of the message, as enshrined in the Bhagvad Geeta would ultimately spread to all men and women. And practical application of Geeta’s teachings in their lives will make them better human beings, full of peace, love, tranquility of mind and harmony, leading ultimately to ETERNAL BLISS.
On the 31st March, 2000, His Holiness left the mortal-remains behind and became BRAHMALEEN, one with the Lord.
|1899 :||• Born as Fateh Raj Purohit in Jodhpur, Rajasthan|
|1915 :||• Moved from Jodhpur to Karachi|
|1916-1924 :||• Joined the Freedom movement|
|• Lieutenant – In-charge of the All India Congress Committee Session at Karachi|
|• In-charge of the Satyagraha Camp at Bechaonji|
|• President of Sind Gayatri Prachar Mandal; Secretary of Hindi Sahitya Sammelan|
|• Vice Chancellor of Gurukul, Rau (MP)|
|• Closely associated with leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Madan Mohan Malviya, Maulana Azad, Subhash Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru|
|• AICC delegate to the famous Tripura Congress under the President-ship of Subhash Chandra Bose|
|1924-1947:||• Embraced “Sanyaas” and gave up cereal, salt and water for life|
|• Went into Tapasya in the hills of Rajasthan|
|1947:||• Appeared in Mathura to set up the first Geeta Ashram|
|1955:||• Started the Geeta Ashram Mandir and Headquarters at Delhi Cantt.|
|1966:||• Fist International Geeta Ashram (outside India) in Malaysia|
|1972:||• First International Geeta Ashram in North America (Minnesota, USA)|
|1974:||• First International Geeta Ashram in Africa (Monrovia, Liberia)|
|1975:||• First International Annual Geeta Conference held in New Delhi|
|1983:||• 90 Acres of land donated to Gurudev in Tinwari, near Jodhpur, Rajasthan|
|1995:||• Inauguration of the ambitious Geeta Dham Project|
|2000:||• Gurudev attained “Brahmaleen”|