Saturday, October 26, 2002
M A I N   F E A T U R E

Swami Ram and his Ram Varsha
Sansar Chandra

Swami Ram TirathSWAMI Vivekananda was the first to carry the message of Brahma Vidya or the Vedanta to the West. The other learned soul who followed in the footsteps of Vivekananda in spreading the spiritual message of India at the global level was a young Punjabi ascetic and poet-philosopher called Swami Ram Tirath. He glittered like a morning star and carried out his mission with grand success.

Born on October 22, 1873, in a Brahmin family of a remote village called Murariwala in Gujranwala district (now in Pakistan), Tirath Ram — as he was known before embracing monkhood — had to face extreme poverty during his early life. He lost his mother at the age of one and was brought up by his aunt Dharma Kaur, a religious lady who inspired him to grow up into a great spiritual teacher.

It is a pity that the old saying "whom angels love die young" came true in his case. He attained samadhi in the sacred waters of the Ganga when he was hardly 32. It is also a strange coincidence that the highly adored Shankaracharya also lived up to 32 years. Vivekananda also died young, at the age of 39.


Exceptionally gifted, Tirath passed his matriculation examination with distinction. Everybody except his father, Hiranand, wanted him to pursue higher studies. His father who lived from hand to mouth took no interest in the educational career of his son. With the help of philanthropists like Bhagat Dhanna, he went to Lahore to study and obtained his M.A. degree and a teaching assignment as lecturer in maths at F.C. College.

He had barely settled into domestic life with his wife Shivodevi and two sons when his passion to renounce the world became strong. His interaction with like-minded people and mahatmas made him forsake the mundane world. He had just completed 25 years when he resigned his job, left the family and even Lahore to serve humanity at large for the rest of his life.

According to Swami Ram, the entire universe is the reflection of Brahma. He said he who bridged the gap between atman and Brahma would merge into the latter automatically. "There is nothing beyond me" was his irrevocable conviction. "Fragrance to a flower, luster to the pearl, fluidity to the dew drops, golden shine to the sun and silvery dazzle to the moon have been bestowed by me and me alone".

Gul ko shamim gohar ko aab aur zar ko main

Deta bahaduri hoon bala shere nar ko main

Shahon ko roab aur hasinon ko husno-naaz

Deta hoon jabki deknoon utha kar nazar ko main

Suraj ko sona chand ko chandi to de chuke

According to the Vedanta, gold is one but the ornaments made out of it carry different names. Similarly water is one but it appears in various forms in ocean, river, lake, well, tank, etc. Likewise, the soul is one, but it has different forms. Swami Ram catches his glimpse in various manifestations.

Yaar ke hamne ja baja dekha

Kaheen banda kaheen khuda dekha

Soorte gul mein khilkhila ke hansa

Shakle bulbul mein chahchaha dekha

Kaheen abid bana khaeen zahid

Kaheen rindon ka peshwa dekha

One of his self-composed couplets was so dear to him that he often quoted it when he addressed Indians.

Na ham the kabhi badaparast

Na hamen ye kaife sharab hai

Labe yaar choome the khwab mein

Vahi doshe mastiye khwabi hai

(I have never been a wine addict nor I am inebriated in my cups. I kissed the lips of my love in my dream and it is the same warmth that has made me tipsy).

What he meant by life itself can be estimated from the couplet below:

Sitare doobte jaate hain our hookah pee raha hoon main

Har ik kash se chilam ki aag madham hoti jati hai

Nizame umar insaan bhi isi se miti jalti hai

Ke saans ate hain jitne zindagi kam hoti jaati hai

(The stars are setting and I am enjoying hookah. With every puff, the fire of the chilam is getting dimmed. The norms governing the longevity of the human race are quite similar to it. The more we breathe, the more we get near our heavenly abode).

The teachings of Swami Ram are so valuable that they are held in high esteem not only by his followers but also by all those interested in the higher values of life. His lectures, discussions and interviews leave an indelible impression on the mind.

When we read the reminiscences of his admirers we learn that he had a towering personality. His eyes were so magnetic, his voice so sweet, conversation so delightful that it was a real joy to sit with him, listen to him and bask in the sunshine of his smiles. His ideas were so clear, powerful and transcendental that they surprised everyone who sought his company.

It was because of his poetic skills that he could spread the message of universal brotherhood more effectively. An anthology entitled Ram Varsha (in two parts) bears testimony to his poetic genius. The work is a treat for the lovers of Vedanta and has has been rendered in sweet and lucid verses.

Although there are many good poems, "Alexandar’s meeting with a clairvoint" is quite thought-provoking. It is believed that the event depicted in this poem did occur. The emperor personally met the hermit in his hut and asked him to accompany him to Greece. The sadhu declined the offer, saying: "Jaaoon aavoon kahan kidhar ko mein, har makaan mujh mein har makaan mein main."

(Where to go and where to come from. Every abode lies within myself and there is no house without me).

The emperor who had heard a lot about the powers of the monk promised to give him a lot of wealth, but the saint retorted:

Ah Shah jo cheez tere man bhayi

Maine lajjat ata hai farmayi

(Oh King! whatever attracts you the most, I have lent charm to it).

The meeting was an eyeopener for the emperor. He was convinced that real victory lay in the subjugation of one’s desires. It is believed that it was the recluse who brought a sea change in the emperor. The emperor who came as an ambitious invader went back an apostle of peace.