Swami Rama Tirtha
Swami Rama Tirtha, Swami Rama was a great saint, philosopher and patriot. He was born over a hundred years ago in a village of Punjab.
Swami Rama was a great saint, philosopher and patriot. He was born over a hundred years ago in a village of Punjab. Goswami Tulsidas, who wrote the ‘Ramcharita Manasa’, was one of his ancestors.
Hirananda Goswami, Rama’s father, was a poor priest. Tirtha Rama was the name he gave his son. Rama lost his mother when he was barely two years of age. He was therefore brought up by his elder brother and his old aunt.
The old lady often took the boy with her to the temple and prayer halls where he saw the worship and listened to the bhajans. She told him stories from the puranas which the boy liked immensely and repeated with gusto. Rama went to the village primary school at the age of five. He learnt Persian and Urdu. He eagerly read stories from Persian books like the Gulistan.
Rama’s father betrothed him to a baby girl and got her married to him when Rama was just ten years of age. When Rama completed his primary education, he went to nearby Gujranwala for further study. He joined a high school there.
Rama lived there with a friend of his father by name Dhannu Ram. Dhannu was a copper-smith by profession, but he was a great yogi. Rama accepted Dhannu Ram as his spiritual Guru and throughout his life he revered him. From him, Rama gained some spiritual insights.
When he passed out of his school, Rama got a scholarship. He wanted to go for higher studies, but his father said no. Rama, however, joined the missionary college at Lahore. So his father became angry and cut off all financial help. Rama had to manage his studies in the college with his scholarship money. Hiranand brought Rama’s wife to Lahore and left her with Rama.
Rama underwent much trouble in meeting the expenses of keeping a family and also continuing his studies. Fortunately Rama’s uncle helped him occasionally with a little money. Rama passed his FA. as first in his university.
He studied for his BA. Unfortunately he failed. His scholarship money too stopped. Rama prayed to God. A professor of his college gave him some money. An unknown person also helped him through his Principal. In his second attempt Rama passed his BA, standing first in the province. Later he passed his MA too with distinction.
Mathematics was Rama’s favorite subject. He could write the product of two number of 17 and 18 digits each in one line within a few seconds. With practice any one can do it he said.
Rama could not get a scholarship for going to Cambridge. He did not like to sit for the Civil Service Examination. He therefore became a professor of mathematics in his own college and taught there for four years. Whenever he got time, he went to holy places. He kept a small idol of Krishna always with him for inspiration. He was thus gradually developing his spiritual powers. He studied the Upanishads, the Brahmasutras and the Gita. He read all about the six schools of Indian philosophy and the writings of saints like Kabirdas, Tukaram and others.
After preparing himself fully in this manner, he often went to Himalayan regions and began meditating on God for long periods. As a result of his intense tapas he got self-knowledge in the year 1897. Rama resigned his job in the college. He gave away everything he had in charity and he made his wife too to do so. He went with his family to Haridwar. His wife and children could not bear the hardships. So he sent them home. He proceeded to Uttarkasi for further tapas and ultimately in the year 1901 he took sanyas and changed his name into Rama Tirtha.
Rama had a close friend by name Swami Narayana. With him he wandered in the Himalayas for about six months and when he came out, he started his career as a preacher. Everyone who heard him was wonderstruck at his knowledge.
Rama mostly taught philosophical truths through stories. Hundreds of them are collected in the books of his writings called ‘In The Woods Of God Realisation’. He wanted philosophy or Vedanta to be practical. In one of his stories a servant teaches a king in a practical manner that God was present everywhere like the milk in the cow’s body and butter in the milk.
About India, he said, "I am India. My body is its land. The Himalayas are my head. Kanyakumari is my feet. Rajasthan and Gujarat are my heart. Ganga and Brahmaputra flow around my head. He predicted a great future for India. He said: "India will arise. She will shake off her laziness and rise in strength in the first half of the twentieth century. She will become more glorious and prosperous than ever before." We became independent in 1947 just as he said.
Rama went to Japan, America, Egypt and other countries. Wherever he went, people listened to his lectures with rapt attention. After this long travel Rama fell ill. He went to the Himalayan regions and lived in a cave. Wild beasts did not harm him, seeing him meditating.
In the rainy season he moved to an Ashrama near Tehri built for him by the Maharaja. A few days after his coming, the Swami went to bathe in the Ganga as usual, but was swept away by a strong current. He just said, “OM, OM, OM" and the Ganga swallowed him. They call it jala-samadhi. He was just 33 when he died.