Sant Morari Bapu
From time to time, many great saints have adorned this very fortunate and holy land of Bharat (India), and this nation once again has been blessed with purity and divinity by the coming of Pujya Morari Bapu. Bapu was born on the 25th September 1946 in Talgajarda (a small village near the port of Mahuva in the State of Gujarat, India), to Prabhudas Bapu Hariyani and Savitri Ben Hariyani. Pujya Bapu has six brothers and two sisters. From the very beginning young Moraridas (Bapu) showed signs of extraordinary brilliance and spent most of his childhood under the guidance of his Grandmother often spending hours listening to folk tales of traditional India.
At the age of five Bapu began learning the Ramayana (Ram Charit Maanas) from his Grandfather and Guru, Tribhovan Das Dada. A principled and learned scholar of the Ram Charit Maanas, Tribhovandas Dada would teach five chowpais (couplets) to Bapu each day who then had to memorize them with their meaning throughout the day. The study of the Ram Charit Maanas would take place on the site today known as Chitrakut Dham in Talgajarda and has become a place of pilgrimage for thousands of people. Both Bapu’s grandparents were the guiding force behind his upbringing and the most influential persons in his life in his formative years. The nearest school was some 2km from Talgajarda and Bapu would memorize chowpais from the Ram Charit Maanas he had learnt earlier in the day as he walked to school, often, singing to the trees and the plant life on his path. On his return home Bapu had to recite back to Dadaji what he had memorized.
At school, his teacher, Ram Shanker Bhatt, remembers Bapu as a young boy who was “an introvert, quiet and an independent student”. The High School Headmaster, Narotamkaka Mehta, recalls Bapu as being an intellectual student with an unusually high regard for cultural and religious values and as “a good student of the institution”. Such was the relationship between the teachers and their pupils that in the monsoon months when the river Maalan between Talgajarda and Mahuva became waterlogged and unpassable, Bapu and his school friends were encouraged not to venture home. The teachers would, instead, accommodate the young boys safe in their homes. Bapu often cites the journey to and from school which he says played an instrumental role in allowing him to sing and understand the depths of the Ram Charit Maanas. Even today when Bapu is at home, he walks the path between Mahuva and Talgajarda (now a proper road) where the village folk join in and talk to him about the issues concerning the village.
Born in the Vaishnav Sadhu Nimbarka Parampara (lineage), Bapu was also encouraged via letters from his paternal great grand father, Mahamandleshwar Vishnu Giriji Maharaj of “Kailas Ashram” Rishikesh, on the banks of the Ganges, to be proficient in the Bhagvat Gita and the Vedas. At the age of 12, Bapu began to recite the Ram Charit Maanas by heart. Bapu recalls the birthplace of his first recital where he made a small platform out of mud and placed a portrait of Lord Ram and began to decipher to a few herdsmen who had come to quench their thirst in the evening. The shrine today is commemorated in Talgajarda with a temple of Hanumanji Maharaj and named Ram Vaadi (meaning Lord Ram’s orchard).
As years went by, Pujya Bapu began to attract the attention of the elder villagers who would test his knowledge of the Ram Charit Maanas and on every occasion the young boy would leave the elders stunned. On completing secondary school, He started a teacher training course at Shahapur College in Junagarh. Bapu today talks about his years in Junagarh where he would sit with his mala (rosary) for hours on end and his room mate being concerned would complete work on his behalf. Little wonder then that Bapu jokes that he managed a Hat-Trick by failing his exams three times. It was during this time that He spent his free time to attend discourses by well known speakers and reading scriptures or singing chowpais of the Ram Charit Maanas with music.
On completing his teacher training course he returned to Mahuva where he became a teacher at the J.Parekh High School teaching various subjects including English. During his ten years as a teacher, Bapu often took time off to listen to prominent speakers and meeting some of India’s most revered spiritual leaders, among them Vinobha Bhave, Dongreji Maharaj, Punit Maharaj and Krishna Murti. At the same time Bapu’s interest in Indian Literature and poetry grew fonder and he regularly attended sessions on various literary subjects by high ranking orators. Bapu often quotes some of the finest works by poets such as the nationally recognized Indian poet, Zaverchand Meghani, whose poem on Mahatma Gandhi inspired him tremendously. Increasingly Bapu’s quest and thirst for Ram Katha (The story of Lord Ram) began to take precedence and he would sit in the Ram Vaadi in Talgajarda singing the Ram Charit Maanas and interpreting their meanings to the villagers. Bapu’s extraordinary command and oratory style quickly gathered crowds and the first ever Ram Charit Maanas Maas Parayan ( a month long discourse on the Ram Charit Maanas) was organized at the Ram Temple in Talgajarda in the Chaitra Month of 1960. People from nearby towns and villages packed the small temple to listen to Bapu whose popularity quickly spread and subsequently led to a number of month long discourses.
The first Navaan Parayan (nine day discourse) was held in Gaandilaa in Gujarat in the presence of Pujya Ramfardasji Maharaj (a respected and revered saint from Gujarat) in May 1966. Morari Bapu’s name and command of the Ram Charit Maanas and his heart rending narrations brought people from all over India in their thousands to listen to his Ram Katha often overwhelming listeners and organizers alike. This was the beginning of a reawakening of large numbers,in particular, of young men and women listening to Ram Katha. The era of listening to Ram Katha in large numbers had begun in India and lovingly he became known as “Bapu” (meaning Father) and the first ever recital by Bapu outside India was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 1976 when He was merely 30. This was the beginning of Pujya Bapu’s untiring quest to bring about a new upliftment and commonality amongst all living beings not only in India but throughout the world. A deep sense of pride in one’s own religion once again reawakened peoples’ beliefs and at the same time learning to accept and tolerate other faiths. From 1960 to date Pujya Bapu has recited Ram Katha throughout India including places of pilgrimages at the heights Kedarnath, Badrinath and Gangotri in the Himalayas. In 1984 preceding a nine day recital in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, Bapu resided within the compounds of Bhavnagar Jail to impart a spiritual message to the prisoners and prison authorities alike. Today thousands flock to listen to Pujya Bapu’s benevolent message from the Ram Charit Maanas. Soon Bapu was to enlighten people living not just in India and Africa but in various parts of the world including the U.K. and the U.S.A
He moves among people continuously, where in his everyday life one can see a conglomeration of ideals that are the basis of a good social structure, and on the other side, smoothly harmonized spiritual practices, devoid of all harshness that so often creep up on the austere aspirants. This way of living a life, called Dharma, has been a very stable source of inspiration to people from all walks of life, both in India and abroad. His entire living is to bring many different branches and sects of religion (even of other faiths), different parts of this nation with variety of languages, and the different levels of society with a panorama of cultural variation to a common ground of undivided understanding. He shows a way of uniting not just one nation, but the whole of human race, while, at the same time preserving their individual fragrances. He expressly calls out to the humanity for love and respect for each other, because that is the only way to save the whole world from disaster and complete ruin.
People who have seen him for the last forty years say, that, he lives each principle or ideal for a length of time, realizes its worth, only then he wishes for those who listen to the Katha, to take his words not just on their face-value, but, suggests that they should see for themselves if the teachings are applicable to their problems and livable in their own lives. He looks on life as a whole, in all its variety of aspects, from a different level, and uses his extraordinary vision and insight, seeped in love, to look for an optimal solution in each situation that presents itself to him. In and through all his actions, a watchful and trained eye can see him staying above the waves of involvement, as a lotus rising above the waters and blooming for the sun, seemingly without any effort on its part. Perhaps, the most striking and realistic feature of a meeting with him is the calmness of mind and a song of inner joy, that is so often felt by so many. Even without indulging in any conversation, sorrow is forgotten. A wave of peace and purity is felt immediately. Love is his medium of teaching. Those who have the good fortune to watch him at close quarters, having done so for decades, are established in their salutation of him as an embodiment of pure love and deep compassion for.
Shree Sitaram Seva Trust (UK) under the auspices of Hanumanji Maharaj was graced with organizing the Setubandh Ram Katha on board the Cunard Princess, a Mediterranean flagship, to enable the sea world with the opportunity to listen to a Ram Katha. This benevolent Katha was to mark the beginning of Pujya Bapu’s long-standing inner wish for peace in the universe. In 1992, an International katha was staged in New York to mark Bapu’s thirty years of recitations with a variety of exhibitions and partaking events. This was followed by Pujya Bapu circumambulating (Parikramaa) the United Nations Building in New York and The White House in Washington praying for World Peace.
In July 1994 Pujya Bapu’s “Sambhav” Ram Katha brought religious leaders from various faiths on one platform in London and the entire Katha was televised live on satellite T.V.
In 1994, a Parikrama (circumambulation) of the world with the Ram Charit Maanas on the “Pushpak Ram Katha” was organized by the Shree Sadguru Seva Foundation USA At the time of giving the dates for this Katha Pujya Bapu was unaware that the start date (13th August 1994) was also the birthday of Goswami Tulsidas, the author of the Ram Charit Maanas. This must have been the wish of Lord Shiv (who had certified Goswami Tulsidaji’s Ram Charit Maanas) and Hanuman ji Maharaj (the constant listener of Ram Katha) to be able to listen to Ram Katha by a much loved and revered sant with the intention of the divine chowpais reaching every part of the world. For the very first time a Ram Katha with 250 people on board a specially refitted plane was recited at the height of 37,000 feet in different time zones crossing international boundaries, during the day or night and overwhelming all aviation and immigration regulations. The Pushpak (Plane) took off from New York with overnight stops in Los Angeles (USA), Honolulu (stopover), Nadi (Fiji), Auckland (New Zealand), Singapore, Mumbai (India), Nairobi (Kenya), London (England), and Toronto (Canada).
1996 marked Pujya Bapu’s 50th Birthday and also his 500th katha. The Gujarat City of Baroda was graced with organizing the 500th Katha during the Chaitra Navraatri (the first nine days of the month of Chaitra) in March of that year.
From 9th August to 19th August 1997, Pujya Bapu recited from the Ram Charit Manas in the most sacred of abodes at Manasarovar “Lake of the Mind” at the foot of Mount Kailas in the Himalayas. Manasarovar is a natural lake at 15,500 feet above sea level which is the source of the River Saryu which flows in Ayodhya (India ) and the origin of Ram Katha by Lord Shiva. Those privileged enough to accompany Pujya Bapu to listen to Ram Katha at Manasarovar were blessed with Pujya Bapu’s words and experience the greatest episode of their lifetime. Again, Pujya Bapu’s love and respect for the Ram Charit Manas and it’s status in resolving all miseries was recited in the most sacred abode.
The Maanas-Kailas Yatra (Pilgrimage) commenced on 26th July 1997 and concluded on 26th August 1997 taking the two hundred pilgrims during the holy Hindu Shraavan Month from Lhasa to Maansarovar. Eleven pilgrims undertook a three day circumambulation (Parikramaa) of the Mount Kailas where Lord Shiv resided with his consort Goddess Parvati. A time-capsule containing Pujya Bapu’s personal items, the Shree Ram Charit Manas and Srimad Bhagvat Gita scriptures, various books, photographs, artifacts and documents, was also be laid by Pujya Bapu to commemorate the Yatra and the Katha at Manasarovar. During the Katha, Pujya Bapu together with the pilgrims also celebrated the 500th Jayanti (birthday) of Goswami Tulsidas, the author and composer of the Shri Ramcharitmaanas on Sunday 10th August 1997, India’s 50th Independence Day on Friday the 15th August 1997 and Rakshaa Bandhan (tying an auspicious band by the Guru on the Shisya or sister on the brother wishing them a blissful year) and Purnima (full moon) on Monday the 18th August 1997.
The Manas – kailas Yatra is a focal point for all those who aspire to reach this sacred abode and for all those who were unable to join. Over the past 38 years Pujya Bapu has undertaken Ram Charit Maanas pilgrimages in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, UK, USA, in the air around the world and at sea but Maanasarovar is considered to be the most important recital ever to take place.
On Full Moon in July of every year is “Guru Purnima”, the most important day for all shishyas (disciples) to pay homage to their respective Guru (teacher). As usual, every year on Guru Purnima thousands gather to listen to and pay their respects to Pujya Morari Bapu in Talgajarda. This is the most important day in the Guru – Shisya Paramparaa and people from all over the world converge at Chitrakut Dham, Talgajarda to listen to Pujya Bapu’s divine message.