|Spread of Maha Dharma|
How did Maha Dharma spread from India to East Africa To United Kingdom?
For centuries the land of Saurashtra (part of Gujarat, India) produced numerous scholars, warriors, artists, Sant-sadhus and Bhagats (devotees). Many travelled to Africa in search of better life and amongst them included labourers. Most of them settled in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) and played a vital part in the development of social, economical and religious sectors. Many of these were the followers participating in paath - prasadi of Bhagwan Shree Ramdevji Maharaj.
In 1927 a Sadhu set foot in Kenya with no money but expertise in carpentry and praachin bhajans called Santvani (ancient folk songs of devotion). With the grace of Shree Ramdevji Maharaj the first paath was organised in Kitale (Kenya) under his guidance as Gaadipati. The tradition then continued until 1931 when he returned to India. In 1941 he returned to Kenya and settled in Eldoret. In the same year the first Gaadi of Maha Dharma was established in Eldoret and under his auspices also Shree Ramkrishna Bhajan Mandal was formed. With this started the Maha Dharma Prachaar Yatra (The spread of Maha Dharma).
This sadhu was none other than the famous Sant Param Pujya Shree Ramdas Bapu. Devotees of Bhagwan Shree Ramdevji Maharaj in Africa continued Paath Prasadi tradition set during his earlier years in Africa. His followers increased not only in Kenya but also in Uganda. Under the leadership of Shree Hirji Bapa of Nakuru wherever and whenever Bhajan-Sammellans (Congregation of various Bhajan Mandals) were organised, where they used to commence with Santvani of Pujya Shree Ramdas Bapu. Even Hirji Bapa considered Pujya Bapu as a distinguished Sant. Whenever Paath Prasadi was organised in Nairobi, a huge crowd of Bhagats used to attend.
Under Pujya Bapu’s leadership, Maha Dharma spread widely particularly in Kenya and Uganda. In 1956 he sponsored two Sadhus from India. They were Shree Amardas Devidas Kapdee of Zarera and Shree Madhavdas Hariram Gondalia of Bhayavadar. In 1958 Pujya Bapu again sponsored the two brothers, Sadhu Bhagwandas Kandas Gondalia and Vasandas Kandas Gondalia for Santvani. These Sadhus greatly enhanced Maha Dharma and became popular. Unfortunately Sadhu Shree Bhagwandas Kandas Gondalia passed away in Kitale as a result of sudden heart failure. Pujya Bapu gave him Samadhi in Eldoret and his younger brother returned to India.
In 1961 Pujya Bapu’s younger brother Shree Mavdas Bapu left Eldoret to settle in Kakira (Uganda). He was well received by Pujya Bapu’s followers in Uganda. Then, under Shree Mavdas Bapu’s guidance and leadership the spread of Maha Dharma gained popularity in Uganda and many became his followers too. On 7th March, 1964 Pujya Shree Ramdas Bapu passed away leaving all his followers in dismay and he was given Samadhi in Eldoret. All Bhagats felt this was the end of an era as far as the world of Santvani and the Maha Dharma were concerned in Africa. Pujya Bapu’s Bhandara (Congregation of Sadhus after demise of a saint) was attended by many Sadhus in India and bhagats in Eldoret who paid their tribute to the departed soul.
Shree Bhagwandas Bapu, the eldest son of Pujya Bapu continued his father’s task with great zeal and enthusiasm but unfortunately he passed away on the 27th June, 1967 at the age of 32 years. He was given Samadhi in Eldoret alongside his father, maternal uncle and his own daughter, Purnima.
As time passed by, the living circumstances of the people took a turn due to the political situation within the country and people started to emigrate to the United Kingdom. Most of Pujya Bapu’s disciples (sevaks) also came to live in the U.K.
Pujya Bapu’s youngest son Santdas with his elder sister Krishnaben landed at Heathrow on the 27th January, 1968. With the grace of Bhagwan Shree Ramdevji Maharaj he became the Gaadipati of Paath-Prasadi organised in Slough in Berkshire. This was his first Paath in the U.K. With this began the spread of Maha Dharma in full force in the U.K. Since then the bhagats (followers) of the Maha Dharma organised many Paath-Prasadi events in various towns of the U.K. Between 1970 and 1973 Shree Mavdas Bapu, Shree Hariram Bapu of Kisumu and other Sadhu Samaj arrived in the U.K. This gave a considerable push to the spread of Maha Dharma already in full force.
The year 1979 was quite important in many ways. Sant bapu established Shree Ramdas Satsang Mandal and under that name launched “Santvani”, an LP of bhajans. In the same year Bhagat Premjibhai Masani (Malambhai) of Birmingham started celebrating Ramdev Jayanti. Moreover, the first Baar-Pahor Paath was organised in Bolton and the Gaadipati was Shree Hariram Bapu. Shree Maandas Bapu from Sodhana (Saurashtra) was also present at the function. The aims of these events were to promote and enhance Maha Dharma and to help human causes.
In 1983 the famous Bhajan - Artist of Saurashtra and first of the Naath sect of Sadhus Shree Amarnath Nathji Bapu came to the U.K. His presence was a fresh boost in promoting Maha Dharma and ancient Religious poetry i.e. Santvani. Later on, he made two more trips to the U.K.which were very successful in enhancing Maha Dharma.
In 1984 Sant bapu published “ Shree Sant Charit Manas ” a book including the life sketch of Param Pujya Sant Shree Ramdas Bapu, the significance of Maha Dharma and Sat Guru and some Bhajans. This book made its way to many parts of the world.
In 1988 East London Jan Kshatriya Sevak Mandal arranged a Baar-Pahor Paath in Forest Gate East London. Sant bapu was the Gaadipati and again for the promotion of Maha Dharma and human service he launched a set of three audio cassettes of Bhajans called Santvani 1, 2 and 3.
In the year 2000 Shree Muldas Bapu of Surat came to the U.K. to bring awareness in people of Baba Ramdevji and Maha Dharma via Shree Ramdev Bhakti-Manas Parayan holding nine day discourses on Bhagwan Ramdevji Maharaj. One of the five parayans was organised in East London by East London Bhakta Mandal under the auspices of Sant Bapu and was the most successful. One of the great achievements of Shree Ramdas Satsang Mandal have been the launching of a Website on the internet in 2001 called www.ramapir.org, the World’s first ever website on Bhagwan Shree Ramdevji Maharaj. This has been a milestone in the promotion of Maha Dharma all over the world. Sant Bapu is thankful to all those who have been a part of this project that has been a great success as well and their efforts have always been sincerely appreciated. In 2003 East London Bhakta Mandal under the guidance of Sant Bapu celebrated Ramdev Jayanti successfully. On this event for the enhancement of Maha Dharma they published Ramdev Chalisa, so that those interested and keen can recite it daily in their own time.
All these many years, of course Malambhai has continued to celebrate Ramdev Jayanti in Birmingham annually very successfully. On the other hand, the other active elements of sadhu samaj in the U.K. have continued their efforts towards the spread of Maha Dharma in the U.K. with great enthusiasm. Of course, one cannot forget the efforts in this direction of many unnamed individuals in the U.K. and elsewhere in the world.
Let us remind ourselves not to let the efforts of sadhus like Param Pujya Sant Shree Ramdas Bapu and others go in vain, setting aside the differences of religion, race, colour and creed and follow the path shown by Bhagwan Shree Ramdevji Maharaj. Stay as one and practice, promote and enhance the principles of Maha Dharma.
Shree Ramdas Satsang Mandal
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