Sri Ramchandra of Fategarh (Lalaji Maharaj)
Pujya Lalaji Maharaj was born on the Basant Panchami day, on the 2nd February 1873 A.D. at Fategarh in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. His father Sri Harbux Rai belonged to a very distinguished family of Kayasths. But in the changed circumstances reduced his state and assets considerably such that whatever remained were just enough to live the old aristocratic life.
Lalaji’s mother was a saintly lady. Her heart was full of devotion and she was strongly attracted towards God. Once a saint came to Farrukhabad and she went to his Satsang along with her husband’s younger brother. The melodious singing of sakhis of Saint Kabir by the saint touched her tender and devotional heart so much that tears welled up and she got into a state of absorption. This was observed by the saint who silently blessed her. Since then the love for God increased in her and she soared into Samadhi condition often.
One day an Avadhoot called at her door. He sat down and asked for food which was served to him. After partaking of it he asked for a dish of fish. As she was a Vaishnav she found herself unable to provide the same and asked her maid to make some arrangements. The maid brought the fishes from the outer kitchen of the house and the same was served to the Avadhoot. After getting satisfied with his wish, while leaving the house he asked “what ails you?” Though she did not reply the servant maid said the lady has no children. After a few moments beaming with brightness, raising his fingers towards heaven said "One... two..." and so he left. Soon after the first son Sri Ramchandra (Lalaji) was born on 2nd Feb. 1873 A.D. and another son was born on 17th Oct.1875 who was named Sri Raghubar Dayal. She breathed her last when Lalaji was only seven years of age and he was brought up by another woman who loved him very dearly.
He was educated in Urdu, Persian, and Arabic by private tutor and learnt Hindi from his mother. Later he studied at the Mission School at Farukhabad. One day while playing the game of tops with other boys, the whirling motion of the top reminded him of the work for which was born and since then he took up his spiritual preparation and work. It is the will of God that he attained perfection within a brief span of seven months. While only a student his entire system was transformed into a celestial inner light and his consciousness ascended and transcended all the known stages and reaches to reach the state of statelessness.
He was married to a noble lady of a respectable family. His father expired soon after his marriage. At this period Raja of Mainpuri had brought action against his ancestral property and he lost all the property. The luxury and comforts of the life of a landlord left he and his brother behind with the demise of their father. No certain source of income was now left with him. He had to vacate the palace like house. In the city where they used to ride on horses and palanquins, they had now to walk in the same streets wearing wooden slippers. Even then, in those distressful moments, Lalaji clearly felt that he was engulfed by the benevolence of God, all around, inside and outside. The benefaction of God is pouring around him; that he belong to Him and that He has always taken care of him like a thing that belonged to Him.
At that time one of the associates of his father who was then Collector at Farrukhabad learnt of these tragic incidents and invited him to join as paid apprentice in his office at rupees ten per month. Lalaji Maharaja grew up into a perfect specimen of graceful manhood with perfect build and average height. His outward gracefulness is just an expression of the inner harmony he enjoyed. Most remarkable were his eyes which were like two bright stars which appeared to see through everyone and everything. Sleep and wakefulness seemed to lie intermingled and in repose in those eyes which caused an awakening in a human being with a single movement of their lids. They were homes of silent prayer or sweet, silent rhetoric of persuading eyes. He was of amiable feelings and his countenance a beauty of the highest order.
Lalaji did not like luxury of any kind. The clothes he wore were simple and clean. Kurtas, shirts, pyjamas and dhotis were his usual wear. Sometimes he wore a waistcoat over his kurta and a buttoned up coat reaching down to his knees. He wore colored cap and wrapped a shawl around his shoulders in the winter. He wore no ornaments. Lalaji Saheb kept his eyes mostly down. He did not laugh aloud but simply smiled. His smile announced goodness and sweetness, and brightened others with its spiritual vivacity. He was a great lover of humanity and often used things given to him with love in spite of his own dislike for those things. He hated flattery and though he loved his followers with their faults he never failed to enforce stern discipline with love.
By nature he was always calm but was easily moved by the pains and pleasures of others. Possessed of a melodious voice, he was an adept at employing sweet language for communicating his thoughts and captivating the hearts of his audience. Rarely could he be angered. Not given to superfluous talk, he spoke as little as possible. However in answering questions put to him he dealt with them exhaustively and seldom was the inquirer left with doubt on any matter. In case there was someone who could not understand him, he brought about the desired state in that person who acquired an experience and knowledge of the subject under discussion.
Lalaji Maharaj met his Master, the great Sufi saint Hazarat Fazal Ahmad Khan Sahib Raipuri, in 1891 and spent 16 years in his company. This saint gave him full powers to train others on October 11, 1896. However he began his teaching in 1911, after he had assimilated the best of various religions had founded a new method drawing liberally from Sufism and Hinduism. His method however also makes it possible to realize ones’ true nature in God for all without giving up family life and in a short period of time. This becomes possible, thanks to the Master enshrined in their hearts and who accompanies them through the entire spiritual journey. His teachings we realise is also bringing a social and spiritual regeneration. He could raise his disciples up to the highest states (the central area) with his will. He is a pillar of Santmat (Sufism beyond the religion).
Lalaji was transferred from Kaimganj to Fatehgarh in the year 1908. He began, for most of the time, to live in seclusion and to remain lost in God. In the beginning, some teachers came to him and were transformed in no time. Finding a great change in themselves, those teachers told some students about the change wrought in their personalities without their own effort and this brought some students to Lalaji, and they also got transformed likewise. Learning of this amazing and novel method other people began to come, but Lalaji did not start mass or, regular satsangh at that time. He used to transmit, cleanse and transform them saying that his work was that of a sweeper or washer man, Who ever came to him would be cleansed through and through. After his manas (mind) was cleaned he would get a guide according to his samskaras. His motto was, no undesirable should be initiated but if one had come, he must not go back. He greatly hated to be called a guru. About imparting training, he used to say that he was only a peon to his officer. He had simply to carry out the orders of Divinity without thinking about the success or failure of his efforts.
He taught, " Never offer advice unless invited, otherwise it is likely to yield bad results. If you find any fault with anybody, pray for his freedom from it." He himself never directly asked anyone to give up any bad habit. All such bad habits and afflictions left that person in no time after he had been with him. He never talked about anyone's faults. In case it became necessary to discuss such a subject, he went mum.
Sri Lalaji considered spiritual perfection to be based on three things. 1) love for the Master 2) satsangh with the Master and 3) obedience to the Master.
He was against idol worship. Excess of tapa and japa was not liked by him. He considered love to be the greatest tapas. He preferred the middle way and regarded the meditation on the heart as the real sadhana. He attached great importance to prayer, but it was not to be for material gain. He himself constantly prayed for the soul of this world. Sri Lalaji was very particular regarding conduct. He announced in unambiguous terms that realisation of self was not possible without adhering to the standard moral code of conduct. He even forbade association and satsangh with immoral persons. He insisted that company should be kept only with those persons whose hearts are brimming with love for God and with those who could influence others with it.
He considered three things necessary for a saint 1) permanent bodily ailment 2) financial stringency and 3) nindak - one found fault with. The real sadhana is to balance the mind. He always advised to cleanse our manas (mind) with practice and sadhana and then read, otherwise Reality will be lost upon you. He advised to avoid becoming a Master and serve as a servant should. He used to say that “God has hidden himself inside our hearts and exposed us. Hide yourselves and expose God!” This is the real sadhana.
This Great Master who was a prodigy of Nature, the Ultimate Reality, brought back to humanity the long forgotten art of transmission of the Upanishadic pranasya pranah and worked out a novel method of spiritual training which completely relieved the practicant of almost all of his responsibilities. With him dawned the new era of yogic training through transmission of which he was the Master. He could bring a man to perfection simply at a glance. It was he who made it possible that a man could attain perfection in one life - rather a part of it - leading just a normal family life. He simplified the method of spiritual training to a great extent and adjusted it to suit the requirements of time.
His teachings may be shortly stated in 7 points:
Engage your body and soul in the practice of listening to every heartbeat, super imposing there with the nomenclature of the Lord (AJAPA JAP).
Pure Keep your heart, away from the corrupting influence of undesirable things and undesirable company.
Always keep attuned to the Lord; your attention should never waver for a moment deviating there from.
Concentrate your attention on the heart and keep your heart centered in the Lord.
Endeavor to attain kin-ship and attachment to the Eternal truth, the Lord of Universe.
Gradually erase the identity and try to merge in, and attain oneness with God.
Be ready always to make the Large sacrifice of life in the endeavor.
When he fell seriously ill, some of his disciples including Sri Jagdambika Prasad inquired of him about his representative. He calmly replied: “When the candle shall be lighted, the moths would themselves fly to it.” On another occasion, Sri Madan Mohal Lal of Shahjahanpur (U.P) asked the same question, Lalaji smiled and said: “Ram Chandra will be the light of the family (Ram Chandra Chirag -e- khandan hoga ).” On another occasion, Pandit Ganga Sewak put the same question and Lalaji said to him “I am leaving my representative and he will himself appear.”
In 1931 when his illness got serious he began to remain immersed in thought of God and felt heart rending pangs of love. He would say:
"Vadae vasl choon shavad nazdeek
Aatashe shauq Tez-tar gardad"
"As the coveted hour of merger with the beloved gets nearer, so increases the fire of desire of him.” A few days before His Maha Samadhi he said, “Many liberated souls are present around my bed. This is sure proof that the hour to be with my beloved is come.”
In the end he was attacked by diarrhea and consequently became so very weak that he could not walk by himself. On 14th August, 1931, the day of leaving his mortal remains he came to the puja room unaided, and all by himself lay on his bed with his eyes closed, never to be opened again. At 1 a.m. in the night the light, which had illuminated and enlightened the hearts of groaning humanity with unparalled love and changed the face of the earth, allowed itself to be extinguished.
~ ~ ~
Prayer in the memory of Samarth Guru
Sri Ramchandraji Maharaj of Fathegarh U.P
In you is the haloo of Sun’s glory
As a great connoisseur and leader, you embody the conscience of humanity
Majestic was your lifestyle; in every action of yours glimmered the light of the Universe.
In your conjugal life, there was the Peace and serenity of Samadhi
Everything from the Skies down to earth was shone with heavenly radiance.
In your discovery of Sahaj Marg, you have laid the foundation of mansion Divine
Lighting the way to redemption from suffering
You have breathed new life and with it
The garden of spirituality has blossomed
Your words evoked waves of Love
Leading us into new destiny
The candle illumined will create and attract the moths who will
Perforce burn themselves at its alter
The light of your benediction has illumined countless lamps of Love and devotion
The discerning eye beholds the garden blooming with fragrance of Bliss Divine
Ed: This story is an excerpt based on the story of Lalaji Maharaj by Pujya Babuji.
Narayana, K. C., Duty, Bodhayanti Parasparam (vol 10), 2016
Kahani, D. & Saxena, S., Autobiography of Pramsant Samarth Sadguru Mahatma Ramchandraji Maharaj alias Janab Laalaaji Maharaj