From Bhiria to Bhopal – Journey of a Sindhi Saint

History

Sant Hirdaram had to migrate to India from Bhiria, a small town of Sahiti area (Naushehro Feroz district – formerly Nawabshah) of Sindh, as a result of the partition. He left Bhiria in 1948 and settled at Pushkar in Rajasthan, from where he used to visit Bhopal where a large number of Sindhis had settled after migration. On the insistence of Sindhis of Bairagarh, Sant Hirdaram decided to shift and settle there permanently in 1962.

Known for his philanthropic endeavors and service to humanity, Sant Hirdaram was far from religious extremism and firmly believed in service to humanity. He always said: “The old, the infirm and the children are all forms of God. Serve them with heart and soul, and win laurels of the Lord”.

By Nasir Aijaz

A pall of gloom descended upon the Bairagrah Township and surrounding localities on the night of Wednesday December 21, 2006, when the Indian media flashed the news that Sant Hirdaram, known for his philanthropic endeavors in Bhopal and around, passed away at the age of 101 year at his hermitage in satellite area of Bairagarh Township after brief illness.

The shocked people rushed to the Sant’s Ashram to confirm the news of his demise. It was 9.00pm when the people learnt about Sant’s passing away, and soon the entire Bairagarh Township was shut, and the business activities remained suspended even on second day to mourn demise of a Saint who spent all his life for welfare of the human beings. His mortal remains were placed for public viewing at his Ashram before cremation till evening on second day at same Ashram.

Sant Hirdaram, who was so loved by the people, didn’t belong originally to Bhopal. He was Sindhi and had to migrate to India from Bhiria, a small town of Sahiti area (Naushehro Feroz district – formerly Nawabshah) of Sindh, as a result of the partition. He left Bhiria in 1948 and settled at Pushkar in Rajasthan, from where he used to visit Bhopal where a large number of Sindhis had settled after migration. On the insistence of Sindhis of Bairagarh, Sant Hirdaram decided to shift there in 1962.

Sant Hirdaram was far from religious extremism and firmly believed in service to humanity. He always said: “The old, the infirm and the children are all forms of God. Serve them with heart and soul, and win laurels of the Lord”.

During his stay in Pushkar, he undertook several welfare projects with the help of philanthropists and his followers. He worked under the banner of Jeev Sewa Samiti, a registered social service organization based in Ajmer, Rajasthan. With an aim to uplift the poor and needy of the society, he focused his activities mainly on the areas of morality, culture, education and health.

Sant Hirdaram had worked tirelessly to establish hospitals, maternity homes, educational institutions and homes for widows in Pushkar and later at Bairagarh. With his blessings, several eye camps, urological operations as well as mass marriages had been conducted on big scale at the aforesaid places.

After having settled permanently in Bairagarh, he again took to social work, public welfare, charity and service of poor and founded institutions like eye hospital, a number of schools for poor children, with focus on girls’ education, yoga & nature cure hospital and college, girls’ college, Science College, Commerce College, Institute of Management and several other institutions.

In Bairagarh too, Sant Hirdaram had established a non-government organization named as ‘Sant Hirdaram Swami Basantram Sewa Trust’ registered as Charitable Trust, to undertake welfare activities.

The objective of the Trust was to provide altruistic services to the old, the infirm and the poor. With a very humble beginning from a small room in 1995, the activities of the Trust are now being carried out on a larger scale from bigger premises. The new premises ‘Sant Hirdaram Kutiya’ has been built with the donation received from Didi Pushpa Motwani in the loving memory of her husband Shri K. K. Motwani, Dada Nari Dadlani of Hong Kong, Dada Kan Lakhani of Hong Kong, Jeev Sewa Sansthan, Bairagadh and other local and foreign donors. Shri Murli D. Golani has donated the adjoining building in the loving memory of his mother Smt. Giyanibai Deoomal Golani. ‘Sant Hirdaram Kutiya’ was formally inaugurated by Sidh Bhau Saheb on May 4, 2008. Today, the Trust has adequate physical infrastructures to help the less privileged and the marginalized people of the society.

Whenever any of his well off followers used to visit him, Sant Hirdaram always asked, “If you want to see me happy, if you want to appease the God, go and serve the humanity, invest on welfare projects.”

In recognition of his services to humanity, the Madhya Pradesh government renamed Bairagarh in 1995 as ‘Sant Hirdaram Nagar’ and the railway station too is called Hirdaram Nagar railway Station, as hundreds of thousands of followers from all over India and abroad used to visit Bairagarah being the center of their faith.

Born on September 21, 1906 in Ahuja family of Sikh Sants at village Bango Bihan of former Khairpur State, he chose to live in Bhiria where his grandfather and one of the famous Sants of this family Sant Hariram had established worship place known as ‘Hariram Ji Darbar’ (Hariram’s Darbar). Baba Hariram, as called by the local people, was Sant Hirdaram’s Guru.

Master Hirdaram, far away from worldly attractions since childhood, adopted ‘Sanyas’ (Renouncing the world) at the age of 13 in the guidance of his Guru Baba Hariram Sahib, and decided to remain Bal-Brahmachari (Bachelor throughout the life). Even when his Guru Baba Hariram passed away on June 19, 1947, and Sant Hirdaram was asked to assume the responsibilities as Gaadi Nasheen, he refused, and as a result one of Baba Hariram’s followers – Sant Shivaram was made the caretaker of Darbar. But alas, soon the partition was announced, and they all decided to migrate to India, although no incident of violence had taken place against Hindus and Sikhs in Bhiria. Sant Shivaram migrated to Bhelwari in Rajasthan while Sant Hirdaram left Bhiria in 1948 and first went to Jodhpur and then to Ajmer and at last established his hermitage in Pushkar Teerath Raj in 1950.

When Sant Hirdaram was born to his mother Rochalbai, he was named as ‘Ram’, but was prefixed with the Sanskrit word ‘Hirda’ or ‘Hridaya’ which means heart – The Heart of God or the Soulful Heart. “Hirdaram would become a great Saint in the future for his love to Lord and the humans, as I see,” Baba Hariram had predicted.

At childhood, Master Hirdaram always joined his grandfather and father for Pooja. He discontinued school education after having passed class three, as he was more inclined to religious, especially the spiritual knowledge. In 1919, at the age of 13, he fully devoted himself to stay in company of Baba Hariram to serve and learn. Baba Hariram imparted him all the basic principles of a ‘Brahmachari’ i.e. staying away from sexual desire, anger, greed, material world and pride, beside other basics of living a very simple life – eating a very simple food, wearing very simple clothes, doing his work himself, not to amass the wealth and not fearing of world. And he followed these guidelines of his Guru strictly for entire life. He used to wash his clothes himself; he had only one Kurta (shirt) for years and used to stitch it himself; he had also only one pair of chappals/slippers; he ate vegetable cooked without oil and salt while avoided consuming sugar and slept all his life on a sandal (wooden seat). Sant Hirdaram Sahib was a symbol of simplicity endowed with enormous spiritual strength, a great thinker of world brotherhood, a synonym of the mission to uplift the down-trodden, the sufferers, and the underprivileged.

Whosoever, be the simplest man or a dignitary like the Governor or Minister, met this spiritual soul, was impressed with his aura. BJP leader L. K. Advani also used to come for his Darshan.

Sant Hirdaram also used to visit different cities where Sindhis were settled. Mr. Prakash Khilnani , a friend hailing from Dewan Kauromal Chandanmal Khilnani of Bhiria, who is settled in USA, told that once he had opportunity of darshan of Sant Hirdaram in Baroda in 1960 when he was student of class six or seven. “My father had told that Sant Hirdaram, who hails from our village Bhiria, has come to Baroda. There was a Moolchandani family of Bhiria. They were three brothers – Dr. Veeru Mal, Kishanchand and Vasiyo Moolchandani. Sant Hirdaram was staying at Dr. Veeru Mal, where my parents took me. Sant was sitting in a room on a cot with a table in front and a plate full of sweets covered with a piece of cloth. My elder brother also came there. Sant gave each of us a sweet (Perra) but later looking in my face he again gave another sweet and told my father that as compared to his elder son, this boy will prove to be sober and obedient to you,” Prakash Khilnani told adding that it was his first and last meeting with Sant.

Sant Hirdaram is no more physically, but he is alive in the hearts of his disciples and followers who continue his mission of serving the humanity. During life-time of Sant Hirdaram one of his staunch disciples Hotchand Dhanwani was the chief executor of his benevolent wishes through various activities. For carrying out the benevolent intentions of Sant Hirdaram,  Hotchand Dhanwani was renamed by the Sant as Siddh, and people affectionately called him ‘Siddh Bhau’, (Siddh Brother).

Sidh Bhau Saheb transforms his Guru’s wishes into reality. Sidh Bhau Saheb is an eternal source of positive thoughts, relentless energy, and abundant motivation who keeps guiding and inspiring hundreds of young volunteers and humanitarians in India and abroad. Under him, Sant Hirdaram Swami Basantram Sewa Trust carries out charitable and philanthropic activities in the fields of providing food grain, rehabilitation, vocational training, education and health of the underprivileged.

They have formed different social organizations for carrying out Sant’s mission while ‘Jeev Sewa Sansthan’ operates as an apex body to co-ordinate all the benevolent activities of various organizations functioning as per the Service Philosophy of the Saint and extend helping hand. It is a public Trust having its office in Hirdaram Nagar, and is managed by a Board of Trustees from within the country and abroad who are staunch followers of Sant. His disciples have also established ‘Sindhi Dharmshala’ where his followers from all over the world stay during pilgrimage throughout the year and on the occasion of his annual anniversary at his Samadhi.

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Writer is author of book ‘Bahrawar Kha’n Bhiria – Tareekh Jo Safar’ (From Bahrawar to Bhiria – A Journey Through The History) which contains two separate chapters on Baba Hariram and Sant Hirdaram.  

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